Music Review >> A Rocket To The Moon – ‘Wild & Free’

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Music Review >> fun. – ‘Some Nights’

Indie pop band fun. is hitting their stride on their sophomore effort, Some Nights. The album features the band’s anthemic hit single, “We Are Young (featuring Janelle Monáe).” The track has been featured on Glee and in an ad for Chevy Sonic, which was shown during Super Bowl XLVI.

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Music Review >> Glee Cast – “Michael”

First things first, I realize Glee took on Michael Jackson songs and that not everyone in the world is thrilled about it, but I look at it like this: It’s a tribute episode. The show utilized its talented cast and gave a handful of MJ’s classics a go. It’s completely ballsy on the show’s part, but I respect it.

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Music Review >> Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers – ‘Gift Horse’

Last month, Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers (Kit “Goose” Karlson, Brian “Boots” Factor, and Sam “Steamer” Getz) released their fifth studio album, Gift Horse. It’s the band’s second release with Vanguard Records.

“There’s the old saying, ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,’ which translated as showing appreciation for what you have,” Kellogg commented in the band’s press release.

“That’s exactly what this record’s about – appreciation that I have a job right now in 2011, with all that’s going on economically in our country; appreciation for my family, because there’s nothing that I value more; and appreciation of America in general.”

Produced by Mark Weinberg, the songs on Gift Horse have a classic rock, almost Americana kind of vibe about them. You can tell by just how these songs were written from personal anecdotes. The entire album plays out like a collective book of stories on life and family.

Kellogg has taken his storyteller writing style and really captured moments within his life and turned them into meaningful music. This is demonstrated on tracks like the uptempo “1993,” which is the story of how he and wife met and fell in love and “Noelle, Noelle,” which is written in admiration of his daughter, which is probably the sweetest song on the record. In songs such as “Gravity” and “Roots and Wings,” Kellogg sings of lessons learned from his family.

Gift Horse’s lead single, “Gravity,” is an upbeat tune about enjoying and appreciating the life you have now, instead of worrying about what lies ahead. I like that the arrangment really fits the song; coming off lighthearted and fun and truly drawing that picture of leaving your woes at the door and enjoying what’s right in front of you.

“Roots and Wings” is one of my favorites on the record. The song speaks to doing the best you can with your kids, but when the time comes to let them off to explore the world, you handle the change as best you can. Arrangement-wise, the song has a very anthem feel to it; I can see it being a great track to hear performed live.

Music Review >> Kelly Clarkson – ‘Stronger’

Multiplatinum artist Kelly Clarkson unleashed her fifth studio album, Stronger, as a special Monday release on October 24. Known for her incredibly powerful and soulful vocal prowess and her unabashedly honest lyrics, Clarkson is showcased on Stronger at her all-time best.

“What separates this album are the vocals,” Clarkson said in a press release. “They sound richer and fuller, and, for the first time, how I sound when I’m performing live. The producers I worked with just let me sing and be me. They didn’t strip away the personality.”

“And it was one of those things where if the people I’m working with have confidence in me, I have more confidence in myself and that changed everything. I can’t wait to perform these songs on tour. I think that’s the best way to get to know an artist, and where you get to see actual personality, because we can’t hide much onstage.”

Clarkson co-wrote five of the 13 tracks on Stronger, which was produced by heavy hitters Rodney Jerkins, Greg Kurstin, Josh Abraham, and Toby Gad.

With the high energy dance-pop title track, “What Only Kills You (Stronger),” Clarkson belts out an empowerment anthem about not allowing the end of a relationship to be the end of her.

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Music Review >> Tim Halperin – ‘Rise and Fall’

The day after his American Idol contract was up, season 10 alum Tim Halperin released his debut full-length album, Rise and Fall, on September 27.

Halperin began working on the album prior to his Idol journey in August of 2010. Working with producer, Jordan Critz, Halperin selected 13 tracks that he felt gave a well-rounded representation of himself.

“With this record, because it’s my first full-length album, I wanted to make sure that it was the most me. That it had songs on it that I felt like best represented who I am, not only as a songwriter, but as a person,” he explained to me during our interview earlier this week.

I think Halperin definitely accomplished that goal. Rise and Fall is comprised of songs about life, love, and heartbreak.

His first single, “The Last Song,” is currently in the top ten on the Singer/Songwriters Songs chart on iTunes. Halperin told me this past June that the tune was one of the first songs recorded for Rise and Fall about a year and a half ago.

“It just turned out really well, and I think that that song gives people a good picture of who I am, and also that my music is very honest and straightforward. I like to throw all my emotions on the table, because I think people can relate best to honest music,” he said.

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Music Review >> Glee Cast – “The Purple Piano Project”

Season three of Glee kicked off last week, which means my love for Gleeked out cover songs is on like Donkey Kong!

The music from the season premiere, “The Purple Piano Project,” included  songs from The Go-Go’s, Barbra Streisand, Tom Jones, Anything Goes, Annie Get Your Gun, and Hairspray.

The Go-Go’s’ “We Got The Beat” features Lea Michele (Rachel), Naya Rivera (Santana), and Heather Morris (Brittany) on lead vocals. All of the ladies sound pretty fantastic. As much as I enjoy Michele’s voice. It was nice to hear her share the vocal spotlight with Rivera and Morris. Overall, what I really enjoy about this track is that it feels that Glee is going back to basics with this season’s music by making songs from the 1980s staples in our iTunes playlists.

Keepin’ it real, I have to admit that I did not watch much of The Glee Project this summer. I maybe caught about four episodes, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I had no idea what to expect when Lindsay Pearce (Harmony) took her turn in the spotlight this week.

Pearce took on a mash-up of “Anything Goes”/“Anything You Can Do” from Anything Goes and Annie Get Your Gun. Oh my gosh. I truly hope this isn’t the last we hear from Pearce this season, because her voice is phenomenal! The closing notes on the song give me chills just thinking about it. Definitely check out her track this week.

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Music Review >> Trevor Hall – ‘Everything Everytime Everywhere’

Everything Everytime Everywhere, the latest album from Vanguard Records recording artist, Trevor Hall is set to be released this week.

The 11-track album was produced by Jimmy Messer and boasts such musicians as Aaron Dugan, who has longtime played for Matisyahu (guitar), Brian Lang (bass), and Aaron Sterling (drums).

Influenced by his musical heroes Ben Harper and Bob Marley, Hall showcases his ability to write songs about life, love and community set to pop/rock/reggae beats that should appeal to the masses.

Everything Everytime Everywhere is the follow-up to Hall’s self-titled album, which was released back in 2009.

“With the last album, I was exploring more,” Hall said in a press release. “I was going through a struggle with myself, and all that grittiness came out. With this one, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had much greater conviction.”

Look no further than Hall’s lead single, “Brand New Day,” to find the conviction he speaks of. The pop-rock anthemic tune speaks of letting go and embracing the present. The uplifting song is a great track to lead off with, because it paves the way for Hall’s lyrics to leave their musical message.

Standout tracks on Everything Everytime Everywhere include “Fire,” “Te Amo, and my personal favorite, “Dr. Suess.” What I like in particular about these three tracks is that they highlight the the vocal versatility of Hall’s voice. There’s a unique quality to his voice that truly separates him from other male singers today.

“Fire” is one of those tracks that as soon as you turn it on, it’s gonna make you want to move. The overall feel to the track is rock with reggae flavor thrown in for good measure. Cherine Anderson lends her voice as she throws down an impressive lyrical flow.

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Music Review >> Glee Cast – “The Sue Sylvester Bowl Shuffle”

Glee returns this Sunday for a special episode that’s airing right after Super Bowl XLV. This new episode contains four brand new tracks from the Glee Cast.

Lea Michele (Rachel) and Mark Salling (Puck) duet on the popular Lady Antebellum song, “Need You Now.” I have always wanted to hear these two sing a duet together, so it is such a treat to have it happen. The two singers were given a great track to sing, that fits pretty perfectly with their ongoing storyline.

I really liked that Michele and Salling didn’t try to do carbon copies of the original vocals for this track. Michele has a beautiful voice for ballads. I feel like sometimes she does struggle with the more contemporary tracks, but “Need You Now” fits her voice like a glove. Salling really adapts his voice well for this track, and really shows a softer side of his vocals that the audience doesn’t hear too often from him. Singing together on the chorus, both singers sound fantastic. The singers’ vocals compliment each other, and have personally left me wanting another duet from them.

I think Cory Monteith sounds good on lead vocals on the Glee version of The Zombies’ “She’s Not There.” The tone of his voice was really nice. However, during the chorus with all the guys from New Directions singing together, I felt like I was being yelled at. That doesn’t work for me. I don’t want to sing-a-long when I feel that I am being yelled at.

In the upcoming episode, we once again hear from Dalton Academy’s Warblers who sing Destiny’s Child hit song, “Bills, Bills, Bills.” The song features cast member Darren Criss (Blaine) on lead vocals.

Criss is showing some vocal versatility on his part with this track. If you’ve listened to his EP, you kind have the idea that he’s more of a folk-pop singer. He really embraced the spirit of this track and infused the attitude of the lyrics into his vocal. I really liked hearing Criss on an R&B track, because it allowed him to show a more soulful side to his voice.
Continue reading Music Review >> Glee Cast – “The Sue Sylvester Bowl Shuffle”