May 27, 2013

Best Pop on on the radio - Jukebox The Ghost

Welcome Summer and rolling down the window to blast music.  I don't know about you but this time of year with more hours of daylight, I like my music brighter too.  I wanna sing along and tap out a beat on the doorframe.  If I was one for taking the time to actually make playlists, I would have a Summer playlist.  But even if I did make that playlist, my car is just a little too old and doesn't have a way to plug in the "pod" so when I switch sweaters and cords out of the closet and dresser to make room for the tank tops and shorts, I do the same with my CDs. All that heavy Winter music gets slotted in the CD case and the Summer discs move into the console and glove box.

I learned about Juke Box the Ghost, a trio from Philly, when they opened for Bare Naked Ladies in November 2011.  Ben, Tommy and Jesse owned the stage and kept it together when Ed gave them their last night of tour present by dancing in nothing but a towel during their slow, romantic ballad.  No only did they perform the song without a hitch, when BNL brought them on stage to perform with them for the encore, all of Jukebox came out in towels.  This guys had some serious street cred.

Since then I've seen Jukebox The Ghost a few times.  I've interviewed Ben and Tommy.  These guys have real chops. Although all have college degrees, only Ben's is in music.   That doesn't matter though.  These guys know how to write, compose, arrange and perform.  Their sound is very signature and today, two years later, I still refer to it as "Raffi for grown ups" but I mean that in an extremely positive way.  Ben's piano combined with lyrics that tend to be tongue in cheek, make you smile separate JTG from the boring stuff on the radio.

Jukebox The Ghost have three great albums in their catalog and every one is as good as the one before it with the first one being really great.  You can buy them here or at their shows this Summer.   They will be touring with their idols Guster and others.  Jukebox The Ghost spends a lot of time on the road so make sure to check their site often.  I guarantee once you hear them, you will have them playing in your car, at the beach or backyard parties all Summer long.  What are you waiting for?  Go listen here!

May 18, 2013

Best pop...Daft Punk sets off chain reaction

Let's start with Daft Punk as pop.  Really?  Well yeah.  The first thing I think of when I think pop is the dance music. The next thing is a whole lot of strong hooks.  Daft Punk draws from the very heart and roots of disco.  In the 70's Donna Summer, George McCrae, The Village People, and Gloria Gaynor were blaring out of our car radios all the time.  4-on-the-floor was the beat of the day.  Daft Punk builds on those models then replaces old Moogs with all manner of current electronic manipulation.

It was no stretch for the French duo to call on geniuses Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers to work with them on "Get Lucky", the first single from the new album "Random Access Memories" which drops next week.  Now this is a track that will see radio play because Pharell is one of corporate radio's latest sweethearts.  But will it get more people listening to Daft Punk?  Will future tracks from the record see any attention?  That remains to be seen.  One thing I will project is that the album does make the Billboard Top5 in its first week due to the size of Daft Punk's fanbase.

But back to "Get Lucky".  On the surface I kind of wanted to hate it because it is just more of the same thing that is currently on terrestrial radio.  The lyrics have no meat or potatoes, just a lot of sexual fluff.  But then I realized when I'm dancing in a club I don't want some deep human condition message coming through the speakers.  I want to dance and "Get Lucky" will get people doing just that.  My other disappointment is Pharell's vocals.  Very thin.  I love all the signature DP elements and Nile's guitar line shines through bringing funk with a real pedigree.  But again, the vocal just gets lost.


Other artists started covering the song before it even hit the terrestrial airwaves.  Heck, it's an easy enough track to play with.  Thankfully it wasn't long before one of my favorite artists who already has Nile Rodgers collab cred grabbed this song by the hair at the back of its neck and dragged it kicking and screaming into his studio, beat the shit out of it and came out with THIS:

YES!! Sam Sparro needs to do a lot more of this.

So this week's recommendations for "best pop not on the radio"?  The entire Daft Punk catalog and Sam Sparro once again (and always).

Also watch Nile's episode of the "Random Access Memories" Collaborators Series here:

He states exactly what I started this post with "They went back to go forward". Nile is also working with La Roux on her new record. I adore this man.

Don't forget to order Daft Punk's new album next week or buy a digital download.  The robots will not disappoint.

May 4, 2013

The best pop music not on the radio - Cobra Starship

Yeah, I know...another band that actually did do some time on the Top40.  However, one that has disappeared as quickly.  Gabe and his new dance pop band came out of the gate with the theme song for Snakes On A Plane.  He also got some help from old friends The Academy Is..., Gym Class Heroes and The Sounds. Well, step back into the way-back machine here.  Gabe Saporta had fronted pop-punk band, Midtown, from 1998-2005.  Members of Cobra Starship all had 6-degrees of separation to Midtown.

The video for Snakes On A Plane (Bring It) also included cameos by Pete Wentz (Fallout Boy) and Sam Jackson himself.  These things help propel Cobra into the spotlight.  Combined with Gabe's great, if not quirky marketing of "his vision" the resulted in their first album and a whole lot of support from the Fueled By Ramen bunch, things took off.  Cobra Starship did their first tour as the opener for Gym Class.  They would later be added to one of TAI's headlining tour after spending the summer of 2007 with FOB on the Honda Civic Tour.

Today they have four albums to their credit and most of those tracks are great, if not a little cheesy, pop dance music and Cobra Starship owns every one of those songs and their sound.  In 2011 they worked with two of the biggest names in pop songwriting, Ryan Tedder and Kara DioGuardi.  Recorded or live, this band is a lot of fun and doesn't tend to take itself seriously while still loving what they are doing.

Although they're not super busy right now-college shows and remixes released last year, they still keep their blog and social networks up to date.  Hopefully we'll get some new music in the future.  But for now, there's plenty in the current catalog so check out their site, and their Facebook and or listen on Spotify.

Next week I go across the pond to introduce you to Miss Lilly Allen.  Moving through Spring and into the summer you will learn about Jukebox The Ghost, Atomic Tom and Young London.  So keep checking back. Happy Free Comic Book and Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you.