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Music Review: Patrick Stump ‘This City’

PatrickStumpThisCity

Photo | Lockerz

Patrick Stump (Lead Singer, Fall Out Boy) recently finished up his first complete solo album ‘Soul Punk’, due in October, and I recently got the chance to hear his first single ‘This City’.

‘This City’ featuring Lupe Fiasco is a pop tribute to his hometown of Chicago. I wanted to write a quick post about this track purely because it’s obvious to me that it’s going to be big. How do I know that? Well, the song isn’t life changing but it is written by someone who obviously understands what it takes to write a hit song. He chose to use a chord progression that has been featured in countless pop singles. Most recently in Jay Sean’s ‘Down’ and Chris Brown’s ‘Forever’… which both became massive hits. It’s simple, it’s repetitive and it’s exactly what he needs to break through the preconceptions of becoming a solo act. Take a listen and let me know what you think in the comments section (below).

[youtube width=”560″ height=”349″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhTYFuRWheU[/youtube]

Music Review: Nelson ‘Lightning Strikes Twice’

Nelson Lightning Strikes Twice

Photo | NearOldRocker

I’m going to attempt to tell you about Nelson’s new album, Lightning Strikes Twice. Honestly, I’m hesitant to even write about this because it’s so difficult for me to explain just how great it is. Regardless, I’ll at least take a shot at it.

In case you forgot who Nelson is, I’ll bring you up to speed. In 1990, Nelson released their debut album After The Rain. By September of that same year, their single ‘(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection‘ became their first No. 1 hit in the United States. I would do an entire biography on their lives, but basically all you need to know is that they were “those rock band twins with the long blonde hair” who are also the sons of the late Ricky Nelson (and grandsons of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson). Nelsonmania only lasted from about 1990-1992, but they have continued to write new music and release albums ever since.

A few years ago, an Italian record label contacted the band and discussed if they’d be interested in creating an album as a follow-up to After The Rain. Their collective vision was to make this album as if it were to be released in 1993, at the end of the hair metal era but before the grunge scene. A few years later, Lightning Strikes Twice was born. Plain and simple, this is the most unexpected album I’ve ever heard. It feels like this was a secret album that they made immediately after their release of “Love and Affection” but they waited twenty years to release it. I decided against doing a track-by-track review because honestly it would take me a week to properly describe each track. Why? Because this album doesn’t make any sense to me and I love that. I can honestly say that I have never heard a band properly replicate the sound of their success years after their heyday… until now. Most bands cross over into the mainstream with one hit song. Then they take that success, go into the studio and create a follow-up album that’s completely different because “this is the music they’ve always wanted to make”. It may have taken twenty years, but they’ve finally managed to create a proper follow-up album for their original fans. Back to their roots with huge guitar melodies and epic ballads, Nelson has proven that they are a fine wine from the early 90s; Better with time. Yes, I seriously just compared Nelson to a fine wine.

If you don’t listen to these tracks, something is wrong with you:

How Can I Miss You?
Reminds me of “Love and Affection” & “After The Rain”, yet still unique.

[youtube width=”560″ height=”349″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ady-oewGUSE[/youtube]

 

To Get Back To You
Reminds me of “Nobody Wins In The End”.

[youtube width=”560″ height=”349″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq87-Fpsa_Y[/youtube]

A New Radio Format: ‘Millennial Hits’

BritneySpearsNsync

Photo | She-speakeasy.tumblr

This week, it hit me! What have I never heard on the radio? Before I explain, I should probably let you know that I grew up in a house with 4 sisters… meaning my childhood was a musical cocktail of boy bands and pop sensations.

Back to my point, what haven’t I heard on the radio? To understand what I mean, you should know that there are many different types of radio formats. From ‘Active Rock’ and ‘Contemporary Hit Radio’ to ‘Adult Album Alternative’ and ‘Top 40’, these formats define the station’s musical identity, which ultimately defines their audience. I currently work at a ‘Hot AC’ station. Most ‘Hot AC’ stations play commercial pop and rock music released within the last fifteen to twenty years and focus on appealing to general listeners rather than people who are solely interested in hearing only current releases.

Alright, so why am I giving you a lesson on radio formats? Basically, I discovered a format that hasn’t been tapped yet. When I was 9 years old (1999 to be exact), my older sisters (like most teenage girls at the time) were crazy about the current boy bands and pop idols. I’m talking about Backstreet Boys, Nsync, Destiny’s Child, Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera, 98 Degrees, Britney Spears and TLC (trust me just wait, I’ll name more later). My point is that no radio station (that I know of) has committed their format to this style. Why? Have they forgotten that these groups dominated Top 40 radio for almost 7 years (1997 to about 2003)?! It feels to me that some programmers haven’t considered creating a new format like this due solely to the fact that radio was so overly saturated with these bands back-in-the-day, so they assume listeners are still sick of it. Plain and simple, who cares what you ‘assume’? Musical taste is subjective. Instead of studying your ‘market research’ revealing how huge conglomerations feel about ‘what the listener really wants’, how about using some common sense! You can’t deny that these bands absolutely owned the airwaves in the late 90s and early 2000s. Mr. Radio Exec, remember turning on the radio in 1999? Remember how listeners used to call and request songs all the time?! Remember how you used to make a lot of money? Hmm… seems like some things just kinda work. My sidetracked point here is… stop relying on your ‘research’ and start relying on your gut. The second you choose to do that, you’ll finally start genuinely enjoying your job.

So Andrew, how would this new station sound? Well, thanks for asking, imaginary man. Remember the huge hits, including ‘one-hit-wonders’ from these few years? That’s it! Only play those hits. Well Andrew, isn’t this a small selection of music? Hmmm, thank you again for asking, imaginary gentleman! I consider a song a ‘hit’ if it makes it to #40 (or below) on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles chart. Obviously, we still have some playable ‘break out hits’ that charted much lower BUT right now let’s just say that each year we have AT LEAST 40 hits to play with. Seven years multiplied by 40 songs per year = 280 songs. Plenty of songs for a well balanced rotation. All I’m imagining here is a format that plays all that crazy hooky, crazy poppy, teen madness music. I would name more bands, but I’ve created an iTunes playlist (below) to help illustrate my point. Every single song on that playlist is a hit. For people above the age of 20, every single song on that playlist is a hit because it recalls memories of their adolescence. This is the sole reason that this format would absolutely succeed. Unfortunately, the majority of music-based radio stations are glorified jukeboxes. No personality combined with a selection of music that sounds exactly the same as each similar format around the country. The minute you inspire an emotion by helping the listener recall fond memories is the minute you develop a personal relationship with that listener. That personal relationship equals success.

Check out the playlist below and let me know in the comments section how you feel about it.

Skylar Grey’s Near Future

Skylar Grey Invisible

Photo | CheckTheBlog.net

A little over a month ago, I wrote a post about Skylar Grey and I said a few things in the podcast in anticipation of her writing her own single sometime in the near future. Well, “the near future” came much sooner than I thought. Skylar recently finished up her new album ‘Invincible’ and I got the chance to hear her leading single ‘Invisible’ yesterday. (Not yet available for download)

[youtube width=”560″ height=”349″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWMjUbdOw9M&feature=related[/youtube]

 

I work as a Local Producer for Kidd Kraddick in the Morning and believe it or not they had Skylar in as a guest yesterday morning. She did an amazing acoustic medley of ‘Coming Home‘, ‘I Need A Doctor‘ and ‘Love The Way You Lie‘ (Below).

 

She’s such an incredible musician and I’m excited to see where this new album takes her. As soon as I get info on the release date, I’ll post it.

A Letter To A Movie Theater Owner – Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D (updated)

Typing on MacBook Pro

Photo | aless&ro

When I get a chance to see a movie, I expect a fairly high quality viewing experience. I can forgive the occasional dim projector bulb or slightly low volume level… but sometimes, the theater’s presentation of a film is so poor that I have to run out into the lobby and let the management know. When this doesn’t work, which it rarely does… I write ‘A Letter To A Movie Theater Owner’.

Dear Marginally Successful Movie Theater Owner,

How are you? If you just answered that question out loud, I wouldn’t be surprised. Anyway, I recently came into your theater and purchased a ticket for ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D’. Boy, I was in for quite a surprise! I didn’t realize that this film’s audio was mixed so that the surround sound speakers were 5x louder than the front. I didn’t even realize this was a new trend in Hollywood filmmaking! Boy do I feel stupid now! Believe you me, I used to enjoy being able to hear the character’s dialogue clearly during the course of a film, but sir, I’m not one to stand in the way of Hollywood progress.

When I sat down in your theater, I was immediately impressed by the seven people who also chose to see this film. Shia LaBeouf’s performance always makes me laugh! Although in this performance I noticed that he chose to speak in a dampened tone, as if talking through a closed sleeping bag. For a moment I questioned this, but then I realized, what do I know?! I’m just an average Joe! I’ll leave the real filmmaking to the professionals. When the battle sequences began further into the film, I noticed that the majority of these seven people were startled by the significant difference in volume levels between the front and surround speakers. What a riot!

Not only were your ticket prices reasonable, but I feel as if I got twice the return on my investment! During the heavy dialogue parts of the film, I not only got to enjoy Michael Bay’s fine craftsmanship but I also had the pleasure of hearing every comment from the women behind my seat. Usually, due to the volume level of the film I’m seeing, I’m unable to hear others’ comments. But sir, I’ve seen the light! Instead of spending paltry time researching movie reviews after the film, thanks to these women I was able to hear an immediate film review… during the film!

I just wanted to take a few minutes and write you a letter of appreciation. This experience taught me a lot. Hollywood filmmaking involves a variety of subtle techniques that the layman (like myself) just can’t understand. Audio, video, projector, camera… It’s just a whirlwind of information that frankly, I’m choosing to leave in the hands of the professionals.

Thank you again!

Andrew Silanskas
Average Citizen

 

UPDATE: Well, three days later… they responded! I was slightly concerned that my sarcasm was too subtle in my email to them, but it looks like they actually understood my sentiments.

Dear Mr. Silanskas,
Thank you for your feedback on your recent visit to our theater in *****.  Our sound tech has been alerted to the issues you mention and they will be addressed.  The sound system at this location is one of the best available and we will not tolerate sub-par presentation.  I know you have many entertainment options and I appreciate you choosing ***** Cinemas.
Sincerely,
***** *****
***** Cinemas
District Manager

Wow, It actually worked?! I guess I’ll find out soon if they actually did anything about it or if they just send a generic email to everyone who complains. I’m skeptical… but hopeful (but mostly skeptical).