Friday, August 1, 2014

Double Feature • Non-Love-Song & Blooming

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Top: Scene from 'Non-Love-Song'. Bottom: Scene from 'Blooming'.

Tonight, the Date Night Double Feature takes a look at love. Well, young love, to be more specific. We can all remember what it was like then we were young and afraid to let our heart go from in our chest to on our sleeve. The first short for tonight it 'Non-Love-Song', a film that was written, directed and produced by Erik Gernand. It featured the acting talents of Joe Sinopoli and Lawrence Kern. It reminds us that there are all kinds of love out there, and not all of it ends up with teenagers in bed. While it might not be easy, sometimes we just have to tell our friends we love them. This is Erik Gernand's 'Non-Love-Song'.

'Blooming' was directed and produced by Harrison J. Bahe, who wrote it with Aeryn Moridae. Last year, I posted a double feature of shorts by Bahe, 'The Favor' and 'The Favor 2', both about the problems brought on by a failure to communicate. (you can find them here.) Where both those films made me laugh out loud, this one is more heartwarming. It stars the talented duo of Shanae Styles and Sammi Pechman. The soundtrack also features the wonderful song "Bright Nights" by Absent Akridge. The short takes a look at what happens when two people can truly communicate, and share a bit of themselves with another. I certainly hope you enjoy Harrison J. Bahe's 'Blooming'.

Have a great weekend!

Ready For the Weekend!

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Bay City Rollers - Saturday Night photo BayCityRollersSaturdayNight_zps10c9b559.jpg Blondie - Sunday Girl photo Blondie_Sunday_Girl_zps1b2a171c.jpg
Clockwise: Album covers from Love & Kisses; Chicago; Blondie; and Bay City Rollers.

To kick off the first weekend of August, I thought I would reach back a few decades, and jam to a very special theme. So I went back not one, not two, and not even three decades. I went back four, to the 1970s, and looked to share some songs that captures the feeling of the weekend. I start with the year 1978, the year I graduated from Smyrna High School, and prepared for my freshman year of college. About the time I was preparing for graduation, a movie hits the streets that had a great influence on the songs of summer. This was perhaps the time when Disco was most popular, having put into overdrive with the release of 'Saturday Night Fever' the year before. 'Thank God It's Friday' gave Donna Summer the song that played at almost every dance I went to that year, "Last Dance". The soundtrack also included a the group Love & Kisses, put together by European producer Alec Costandinos. In fact, Costandinos also wrote their hit song "Thank God It's Friday", which also served as the title track from the film. This is Love & Kisses singing "Thank God It's Friday".

Now, there has been nothing I have enjoyed more than a wonderful weekend afternoon I could spend with friends or family, and that is the feeling the next song give me. Before Disco could take over the airwaves, bands scored pretty well with the public. As the 1970 began, the band Chicago was starting to build a great following, with the bold sound that combined the elements of Rock with the bold horns. They made it to the charts time and time again, and in 1972, they had their biggest hit to date when "Saturday in the Park" went to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It speaks to a wonderful afternoon, enjoying the summer weather, spent with people you care for. This song just makes me feel good. From 1972, this is Chicago singing "Saturday in the Park".

Great afternoons like that often led to fun times later that evening. And if you were listening to the Bay City Rollers in 1975, you know that the best night of the week was "Saturday Night". Five Scottish boys were just starting to take over the world with their music. Alan Longmuir, Derek Longmuir, Stuart Woody Wood, Eric Faulkner and Les McKeown were compared to the Beatles as their record sales soared all across the globe. Late in 1975, with the release of an anthemic song, The Bay City Rollers scored their first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, adding the girls of another continent to their screaming fans. This is The Bay City Rollers with their huge hit, "Saturday Night".

As we started, so shall we end. Once again, I will return to 1978 for the final stop on the weekend tour. For a very long time, there was not a better part of the weekend than the time spent on Sunday morning and afternoon doing the Sunday Times crossword puzzle. But in the fall of that year, a Punk band from New York City released an album that had the public sitting up and listening. With the release of 'Parallel Lines', Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, Clem Burke, Jimmy Destri, Nigel Harrison, and Frank Infante began a ride that changed the face of music. To bring the weekend to a close, I offer you "Sunday Girl", off the great album, featuring the perfect vocals of Debbie Harry.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ásgeir • Was There Nothing

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I first discovered the music of Ásgeir via Noise Trade. It was there I was able to get a free download of some acoustic session recordings, and I was immediately intrigued. I did a bit of research, and found out the handsome singer/songwriter was a native of Iceland, where he was a big star, following the success of his debut album. His sound was so interesting to me, with the rich textures, light harmonies, and layered orchestration offered a vivid musical tapestry to enjoy.

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In my research, I also learned Ásgeir was working in the studio, recording an English-language album that would introduce him to the rest of the world. He was working with out American artist John Grant, who was living in Iceland at the time. Grant was offering up translations of Ásgeir's songs, and the result was the album 'In the Silence'. The translated lyrics shine a light on the poetic side of the music, adding yet another layer to the acoustic landscape. I just discovered the music video for "Was There Nothing?", and knew I wanted to share it with you. I love the was the camera glides over his body, and along his guitar, allowing us in closer to the artist, and to be washed with the sound and visuals of his performance. This is Ásgeir with the music video for "Was There Nothing?".

I must admit, when I first heard the album, this song was an early favorite. There is something about the dreamy quality that spoke to me. "Was There Nothing?" can be found on the album 'In the Silence'. You can purchase it on iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about Ásgeir, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter.

Drake Jensen • Everytime I See Your Picture

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It seems like while I thought handsome Canadian Country crooner Drake Jensen was relaxing between releases, he was hard at work. I know that because he has released his first music video from his upcoming album, 'Retro'. This will be his third studio album, and if "Everytime I See Your Picture" is any indication of the quality, I can't wait to hear it. The song is a cover of the 1983 hit by Canadian performer Luba. I heard from Drake that it was a favorite, and now I can understand why. The bombastic power ballad was written by Luba Kowalchyk and Pierre Marchand, and her recording was her first song to make it to the Canadian Pop charts, well in to the Top 40 at #26.

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It seems when Drake went back to the studio, he had the good sense to once again with work music producer Jonathan Edwards of Corvidae Music, who also mixed and mastered the track. And, while he was at it, Edwards also directed this music video. Together, the two have given the song a seamless transition from Pop/Rock to Country. The song seems like a perfect choice for Drake, who delivers a great performance, managing both the vocal and emotional range of the song. I hope you enjoy Drake Jensen with "Everytime I See Your Picture".

"Everytime I See Your Picture" is the first single off the upcoming album , 'Retro'. While it isn't available to purchase as a single or as part of a pre-order, you can still pick up music from this talented artist. If I could, I'd pre-order this album, just to get this wonderful song. You can purchase Drake's latest release, 'Outlaw', from iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby. For more information about Drake, visit his official website. You can also 'like' Drake on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

All-4-One • I Swear

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In July of 1994, the song "I Swear" made the second appearance on the Billboard Hot 100, but this time it sounded very different. Gary Baker and Frank J. Myers wrote a ballad that was first released by singer John Michael Montgomery, whose version of the song went to #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, and #44 on the Hot 100. But a few months later, the group All-4-One released their R&B version of the song, and soon it was the sound of the summer. You see, this time, the song made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, not for one week, but for eleven consecutive weeks. Today marks the 20th anniversary of the songs final week on top of the charts, but securing that Jamie Jones, Delious Kennedy, Alfred Nevarez, and Tony Borowiak defined the sound of the summer. This is "I Swear" by All-4-One.

Brings back memories, at least for me...

The Paisley Fields • Not Gonna Be Friends

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I have been meaning to catch up with The Paisley Fields here on the blog, but due to being a bit of a scatter-brain for the year-to-date, it has slipped by. Never one to totally give up, I am taking the opportunity now to share with you their latest music video, one I live very much. But first, I would introduce you to the band, and the members plying their trade. The Paisley Fields is, at its heart, a Country band, but with some special trimming. Their inspiration comes from Dolly Parton, Elton John, Tom Waits and Elvis Presley, proving to have a Country core with Pop sensibilities. But truly at the core are James Wilson, on vocals and keyboards, Jessica Kimple and Cassie Naaktgeboren on vocals, Joe Kimple on guitar, Rob Knopper on drums, and Ryan Pearson on bass. I enjoy the music they make, and am in love with their latest single, "Not Gonna Be Friends". Lucky for us all, it is also the latest music video from the band.

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Not only do I love the title, but I am also crazy about the song. "Not Gonna Be Friends" was written by James Wilson, who has already been names a two-time ASCAP songwriters’ award winner. It tackles a feeling most of us know just a bit too well. You know, when the relationship is over, and he wants to be friends, but at that moment, you have absolutely no desire to see him with anyone else. Time might make it easier, and often does. But while it is still fresh, the feelings are just a bit too raw. This is the music video for "Not Gonna Be Friends", featuring the band, and some hot boys 'living' the story.

I have to say, this song is part of my summer playlist, and just love when it comes on. You can purchase "Not Gonna Be Friends" from iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about The Paisley Fields, visit their official website. You can also 'like' them on Facebook, and 'follow' them on Twitter.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sam Dickinson to Release Deluxe Edition

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I was first introduced to the music of Sam Dickinson by J.D. Doyle of Queer Music Heritage, and I happily thanked him shortly thereafter. Dickinson's music is bold, bright, and contagious, in all the best ways. I swear, I was singing along from the start! And as Sam is about to release his "The Stories That Occurred Deluxe Edition', a 37-track reissue of his debut album, I also had the opportunity to ask a few questions, to gain a bit more insight into this talented young man from England. I was thrilled to get this chance, for he had me with the chorus of "How It Used To Be". To show you just how easy that was, here is "How It Used To Be (Music F Funk Remix)", soon to be available on the 'The Stories That Occurred Deluxe Edition'.

I thought the best way to start was to go to the beginning. I had to ask him if music was an important part of his family when Sam was growing up? "It was important to listen to it," Sam replied, "music has always been a part of my life. I am however, the only performer in my family."

So what was some of the early music Sam listened to? "M People, Lighthouse Family, Gabrielle, Texas," he told me. "Basically the 90’s soul revival was huge for me, I grew up listening to it, learning about it and loving it. Thank God it’s making a comeback now!"

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As a longtime fan of music, including a preoccupation with British music, I knew that Newcastle Upon Tyne has given the world some impressive music, from The Animals to Bryan Ferry (of Roxy Music fame) to Dire Straits. Add Prefab Sprout and a couple of other artists, like Sting, Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys, Cheryl Cole of Girls Aloud, and Andy Taylor of Duran Duran, which is quite an impressive collection. So I was dying to know, has Newcastle affected him musically? "I wouldn’t say it’s affected me hugely musically. Newcastle isn’t known for its soul music unlike cities such as Manchester and London. I’ve always been a bit of an outcast on the local music scene and I’m quite happy for it to stay that way too, I’m doing something a little different and long may that last! Obviously, it’s great to see so many amazing artists come from the region because it brings attention to the place."

I had to ask whose music inspires him now? "Exactly the same people who inspired me when growing up," he answered. (You can see the list just above the pictures of the handsome singer, two paragraphs up.) "I still listen to them all regularly."

I know how I would do it, but I was interested in knowing how Sam would describe his music. After all, I've described it in a couple of posts featuring his music! "Quirky, soulful pop," he answered quickly. "It’s not heavy to listen to and pays homage to the soul of years gone by. It’s nice easy listening." I had also asked what song he'd include with this interview, and he volunteered "Away From Me", the second track on 'The Stories That Occurred'. I hope you enjoy "Away From Me (Acoustic)".

I love to find out more about an artist, so I asked if he could duet with anyone, who would it be? And if you could write a song with anyone, who would it be? "I always say Mary J Blige or Anastacia, simply because I think the voices would blend together," he answered quickly. "Anastacia always seems to write with great writers so any of her team. Ben Hartman also writes amazing songs, I’d love one of his!"

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Since the impetus for the interview was the new release, I had to ask what excites Sam most about the new of 'The Stories That Occurred Deluxe Edition'? "The fact I get to relaunch this album in all its glory," he replied honestly, "I can put the lessons I learnt last year to the test to try and improve on it. I fully believe in this album, and honestly think it’s a great album! The more people who can hear that the better as far as I am concerned. I gave up a house for this album! It also gives people the chance to hear the songs in different ways whether it be acoustic, remixes and instrumentals. You have your Saturday night pre-party build up and your Sunday chill out, that’s what I’m excited about."

Since the 'Deluxe Edition' includes several remixes, I was interested in knowing if there are any DJs he'd like to remix your music that haven't yet? "I’m not sure anyone specific but I always encourage DJ’s remixing my music," he told me spiritedly. "I love to hear the different feels they can all bring to one track. There are some great remixes on this album that I’m very excited for people to hear. Some are outright dance and others are a slight hint of where I am going musically with my next album." And when it comes to great remixes on the new released, I was very excited about the inclusion of one of my personal faves, with a spicy new feel. This is "I've Gone, I've Quit (EIGHTminusEIGHT Remix)".

Let's face it, we all have music on our iPods that might surprise some of our friends. Mine would be the greatest hits collection of Westlife, the Irish boy band who made me happy for over a decade. I had to ask him, what is the guilty pleasure people might find on Sam's iPod? "I have a love for all things Spice Girls," he said with a smile, "either solo or band stuff, so most likely that!"

Finally, I couldn't resist asking about the future. Has Sam started working on new music? "Yes," he exclaimed proudly! "It’s so exciting, I am loving writing again. I premiered a new song called ‘Hold on High’ during my last tour and it got a standing ovation at EVERY show, that’s a first! I mean, this was the first time people have heard that song and it brought them to do that. I’ve also had some great music to work too and had songs submitted from the people behind Conchita Wurst’s "Rise like a Phoenix". It’s all very exciting to try new songs out; the album will take a much more modern soul approach but still be Sam through and through. I’m not abandoning my soul."

That is great news, for I am not going to abandon my soul man, either. You can pre-order your copy of 'The Stories That Occurred Deluxe Edition' from iTunes. To learn more about Sam Dickinson, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook.


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