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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