I’m lying in bed, have been fighting debilitating health complications for over a month now, and as dark as it sounds, it’s hard to find joy in much. TV gets old, I don’t have the patience for movies, books aren’t as entertaining as they usually are. But a soothing new piano jam from Kygo seems to be doing the trick this morning. I’ll be listening to this on repeat today. Reminds me a bit of the music I used to hear on the stereo speakers when I woke up each summer in Maine as a child – always piano-based, often void of lyrics. The likes of Paul Sullivan and George Winston. With this type of creation, Kygo might be on his way to joining Sullivan and Winston in that metaphorical trophy case in my mind – one that I mostly think of as locked and untouchable.
Hear Kygo’s other Piano Jams: Piano Jam 1 || Piano Jam 2
Let’s just call this at face value: Troye Sivan is on fire. The 20-year-old Aussie is a rocketship headed towards that supposed life on Mars, and you should probably consider getting onboard. Since posting his first video on YouTube in 2007, Troye has become an online personality, connecting with his global fanbase through regular video diaries, social media interaction and new music releases. Troye is far from conventional, and his YouTube launchpad and social media noise should not divert you away from what we’re all here for: the music.
On September 4, 2015, Troye Sivan released his EP WILD via Warner Music Group. WILD is undeniably exceptional – a compilation of 6 songs that both stand alone and blend together to produce electro-pop magic. In a highlight track “FOOLS”, Troye speaks of a kryptonite lover, one with whom you envision an idyllic future only to blame yourself when it shatters to pieces:
I see swimming pools and living rooms and aeroplanes
I see a little house on the hill and childrens’ names
I see quiet nights poured over ice and Tanqueray
But everything is shattering and it’s my mistake
Only fools fall for you, only fools fall
Only fools do what I do, only fools fall..
His lyrics are a genuine call for help, advice — “so what do I do now? I don’t keep love around” — he sings alongside haunting beats with Aussie singer/rapper Tkay Maidza on “DKLA”. In his collaboration with the fabulous kiwi duo Broods, Troye pleads: “take me back to the basics and the simple life”- wanting to be put at “EASE”. Don’t we all? I certainly do.
WILD is familiar yet intriguing; bold yet unassuming. Simply put, it’s the start of something big for the young Troye Sivan. I know you just met me, but trust me on this one. You won’t regret giving this Internet sensation a listen.
I received nothing but positive feedback when I posted Kygo’s first Piano Jam, so I imagine people might be excited to know that Kygo has released a second Piano Jam. This one is even less produced than the first one – it’s nothing more than the sound of a grand piano. Kygo started to take piano lessons at age six and continued until he was about 16, when he decided to stop the lessons and start making his own music with a MIDI after watching many YouTube videos. As somebody who also took lessons for about 10 years, I can hear the classical influences in this piece. I can also say that I clearly did not get as much out of my ten years of piano lessons as Kygo did. In another life, I might have to take those lessons more seriously so I could sit down and create something as simple and beautiful as this. Loving it.
One of the last times I wrote about Birdy, I put out a very personal piece about finding myself and related it to Birdy finding herself through putting her own spin on the work of others. Fast forward almost four years and a lot has changed for Birdy.
First, she’s aged 4 years, making her 19 now. Yes, she was born in 1996, which may not come as a shock to some of you reading this, but to my old self, that’s incredible. (I don’t believe in Lorde making the age thing irrelevant in music. It is still phenomenal to me that people this young have done so much.)
Second of all, her breakthrough single, that cover of “Skinny Love,” earned platinum certification six times in Australia. Her debut album that was released that year (2011) peaked at #1 in Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands. She contributed three songs to the soundtrack for the movie The Fault in Our Stars, she contributed one song to the soundtrack for The Hunger Games, and she contributed one song that she released with Mumford & Sons to the Pixar film Brave. Oh and for that last song, she received a Grammy nomination.
So let’s just say it hasn’t been a quiet ride for little miss Birdy. And the momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing. We have a new song from Birdy, a collaboration with British singer-songwriter Rhodes, that is quite the stunner. I’ve been on the hunt for beautiful piano-backed music recently, so when this fell in my lap, I gushed over it. But I’ve since played it again and again and I think this gushing is going to last me some time. This feels emotional, it feels real, and it feels right. I mean, when it breaks out into a full choir-style chorus, I just die. So good. Gahhhh.
Hit the jump for the full lyrics.
There’s no hiding how much I love piano jams. So when I saw last week that Kygo had released something he titled “Piano Jam,” I thought it might too good to be true. And after listening, it just might be. This is the type of shit that makes me think it’s time I buy a keyboard and dust off my old piano “skills,” if you can call being able to read sheet music poorly “skills.”
Side note: saw Elton John at Outside Lands last night. Talk about piano inspiration. Holy shit, can that legend work wonders on a piano!
Anyway, press play on this one, put it on repeat if you’d like. It’s so simple and so good.
As a continuation of my last gushing post over the soundtrack for Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here, I’ve now fallen deeply, deeply in love with the title track for the motion picture’s soundtrack by Cat Power and Coldplay. Let’s start with that, shall we? Cat Power — an often quiet character, relatively unknown to the masses — teams up with Coldplay, the band that has taken the public journey from cool to uncool to cool again. That’s an unexpected pairing, but it’s absolutely beautiful. It starts with just Cat Power’s gorgeous voice and emotional lyrics over Coldplay’s piano, and that would be enough to melt my heart. But then the harmonizing begins, and it’s brought to a whole new level. And then the instrumentals get heavier just after the 2:00 mark, and bam, you guys. That’s all it takes. That right there is musical perfection.
Listen to the song below and I challenge you not to fall in love with the song. In fact, I take that back. Let yourself fall; it’s a beautiful thing. And if you haven’t yet, you may also let yourself fall in love with two other songs from the soundtrack: Heavenly Father and So Now What. Hit the jump for the lyrics for “Wish I Was Here.”
I fell in love with Alice Boman the first time I ever heard her song “Waiting.” Since then, I’ve listened to that song over and over again. Today I fell deeper in love with her when I heard “What” for the first time. Both songs have a vintage vibe, but a timeless message. Sometimes I ask myself whether I fell in love with a song for its lyrics or its instrumentals, and often times I can pick one or the other. But with Alice’s music, it’s really hard to pick one, because she marries the two perfectly. Simple put, it’s light instrumentals alongside dark lyrics. The two come together to form something truly beautiful.
Music becomes addicting when you can really feel the message that it’s sending. Something tells me that every human (we all have hearts, after all) can relate to the message in Alice Boman’s latest single, “What.” We’ve all wondered if our love is unrequited, but few of us could put our thoughts down as eloquently as Alice just has. Read the lyrics after the jump.
January is all about resolutions, right? It’s probably everybody’s most productive month of the year – you’re trying new things, you’re dusting off old things you used to love, and you’re doing it all to better yourself. (Or maybe you’re doing none of these things, but someday when you get to be as old as I am, you will do these things.)
My first few days of January are typically spent thinking about the things I can do that will make me a better person. It takes time to think about the things that make you happy and that you love. And sometimes you’ll find that there are things you love but you just don’t know how much yet. So far this year (keep in mind it is only January 17th, but I’m not trying to doubt myself here) I’m finding that cooking and eating well is becoming a thing I could learn to love – it makes me feel good about myself. I’ve known that fitness makes me feel good about myself, so I’m going to try to take that to a new level – take more classes, try new things, break out of my comfort zone.
It didn’t take any soul searching to figure out that I love Sam Smith‘s voice. The purity of his voice was what led the guy’s name to be written all over our Best of 2013 lists – he had multiple appearances on our Best Songs of 2013 list, and he’d likely be on more lists, but he didn’t release an album in 2013. Luckily he let out a new song this week (which is simply stunning) and he’s got an album on its way. (Pre-order Money On My Mind, due out February 16th.) Bring it on, 2014!
I wanted you to know that you’re the one designed for me/ a distant stranger that I will complete/ I know you’re out there, we’re meant to be/ So keep your head down and make it to me
1. Ferro Montanino from Winnipeg, Canada proves that is possible for one man to entirely remake Skrillex’s Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites on a piano. Though there are few moments when I enjoy Skrillex, this song of his is one of them, and Ferro makes it arguable even more enjoyable on the ivory keys.
2. The Internet has been abuzz over Disclosure’s song “Latch” recently. And rightfully so. But we need to take a minute and direct our attention to this piano cover of the same song by a Soundcloud user by the name of kongsingwei. Stunning.
3. I can’t find much out about Jason Bolea. All I can find in a quick Internet search is his Soundcloud page, which has a picture of an Asian kid with his parents, and two songs. One of them is this piano cover of Coldplay’s “Paradise,” which might actually be even more beautiful than the original. Get it, stranger.
4. You’re entering dangerous territory when you try to cover Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games,” because all things crazy about LDR aside, this is one of the more beautiful songs released in the past couple of years. So if you’re considering remixing/covering/mashing it, stop yourself now. Unless your name is…James Franco? Yeah, that’s weird too. Whoever this guy is, though, he can play piano like a pro. You did it justice, sir.
5. Evan Duffy is a bit of a phenomenon in the music world. He’s an award-winning composer whose main focus is writing musical scores for films and video games, but his covers are not to be overlooked. And they haven’t been. He’s received praise from artists including Deadmau5, Zedd, Alex Clare, Skrillex and Madeon. My favorite of his solely piano covers is this cover of Madeon’s “Finale.” It builds as it goes, and by the end you’ll wonder if this guy is for real.
Denai Moore hadn’t crossed my radar before this evening, but I stumbled across this absolutely stunning song and video on Disco Naivete and knew immediately this this song would stick with me for a while. Aside from the simple piano acoustics and the sheer beauty of Denai Moore’s voice and harmonizations, what hit me the most were the lyrics of the song. I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but clearly that’s what really sucks me in with music. Yes, it’s essential to me that it presents itself well sonically, but if the lyrics strike a chord with me–if it’s relatable or is emotional enough to feel real–that’s when I’m really touched by a song. That’s the case with “Gone” by Denai Moore. Watch the remarkable video below, and I encourage you to watch for the pain in not just Denai Moore’s voice and eyes, but also to notice the simplicity in the product and direction of the video. It mirrors the message of the song: simple yet real. You can also hit the jump to read my best stab at all of the lyrics. If you can read through them all without feeling at least a small shudder of sadness, you might be a robot.
“Gone” is the second single off of Denai Moore’s upcoming EP Saudade coming out April 22. Hear the first single, “Flaws,” after the jump.
Sam Smith might be the male version of Adele. That voice! It gives me the chills. Can you imagine being able to sing like this? I’d never let a word come out of my mouth without it being in song. I’d probably record all of my posts in song and provide them to yall in SoundCloud players. That would be the best. Alas, I suck at singing. But Sam Smith does NOT. He’s got a very soulful vibe to his music, which paired with the beautiful background music in this debut single “Lay Me Down,” is just perfect.
It’s no secret that I love a song with a good piano section in it. If you were to get a dollar every time I said that on this blog, you’d likely be a rich fool by now. I hope it doesn’t get too repetitive when I write about it, but it probably does. The thing is, though, that can really make a song for me. I came across this cover of John Cale’s “Fear A Man’s Best Friend” by ANR (Awesome New Republic) today, and the piano melted my heart immediately.
I started to ask myself today why it is that I love piano in songs so much. Is it that the sound pleases my ears more than any other instrument? Perhaps. But I think it’s got more to do with the memories it brings up in my mind. I started taking piano lessons in Kindergarten with this incredibly kind old man named Louis Pizzolato. I’m not even sure if that’s how you spell his name because he was always referred to as Mr. P. He was a white-haired man, very old (never knew just how old, but appeared to be in his 80’s or 90’s), and he always had a bucket of candy in his office. To call it an office might be an extreme, because really it was a room next to the cafeteria at my school that could fit an old man, a piano, some candy, a couple shelves of music books, and a kid eager to learn. Nothing more than that. The lighting was always dim in that room, maybe because the window to the outside was about 6 inches by 6 inches, if I recall correctly. There were two other rooms just like this one, one on both sides, but I never knew much about those rooms. The most I ever heard was that those piano teachers rotated in and out a lot. They didn’t stick around for long. Mr. P, on the other hand, was there day in, day out, for years.
[Hit the jump to continue reading]