A Merry Christmas to all…: A brief review of “…And to All A Good Night” by The Maine

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Photo source: https://www.themaineband.com/album-marketing/

It’s that time of year again. The same holiday tunes we have heard every year since our birth inundated us yet again. From TV commercials on TV to the radio and grocery stores, I’m sure you will catch “Let It Snow” more than once this season.

Now I’m not trying to be a modern-day Grinch. I’m not really against Christmas music. However, I do enjoy a bit of a respite from the monotony of traditional holiday tunes with something that still embraces the season and fits in like a crackling fire.

Luckily for me, one of my favorite bands has released their second holiday single and B-side that perfectly fits the bill. But be warned: while these wintry songs may aesthetically match a holiday theme musically, but “…And to All a Good Night” from The Maine doesn’t exactly bring on festive cheer.

“I’m having trouble sleeping like a child on Christmas Eve/ I’m restless in the night like the lights upon the tree.”

Even tingled with sadness, “Winter Means Nothing (Without You)” is an achingly beautiful song. It is a melancholy love song about the loneliness that accompanies the winter season when you have a broken heart.

12.25 follows a similar trajectory in lyrical content and musical sound. In fact. If I were going to offer any criticism, it would be that both songs on the single are thematically so similar.

“Snow falls in the quiet city/ while a fire burns inside/ and I’m wrapped up in a feeling/ got you wrapped up in my mind.”

So if you’re looking for a little break from “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “All I Want For Christmas is You,” look no further than “…And to All a Good Night” by The Maine.

 

Pop Genealogy: Harry Styles

The date was August 23, 2015. It was a day in which the collective blood ran cold in millions of fans of the British-Irish boyband One Direction. However, while there was despair abound, there was also hope. Fans were left to anticipate what the members’ solo music would yield. I personally had my bets on one horse in particular: Harry Styles. Styles had always been a stand out voice and personality in the group. For years there have been rumblings from fans that Styles was destined to be the Justin Timberlake of One Direction. Jill O’Rouke from Alloy was writing about it in 2014 saying, “I think Harry’s solo career will look different from Justin’s from a musical standpoint since he seems to have a different style. But he’s still got the pipes and the charisma.” To a degree, she was pretty accurate. With Styles’ newfound creative control, he leaned more onto sounds of 1970s rock than on the more traditional, radio-friendly released of his One Direction counterparts.

Pink Floyd

From the very first track on the record, we have glaring similarities between “Meet Me In The Hallway” and Pink Floyd’s “Breathe.” The chords are similar, and the songs both share the same rich bass tone, and vocal reverbs. “Breathe” has much more going on, with dramatic ambiance and slide guitars, but while “Meet Me In The Hallway” is a much more stripped back tune, the same feeling of ambiance still hangs in the space between its components.

Elton John

Harry Styles’ song “Woman” isn’t a far cry from Elton John’s classic “Bennie and the Jets” from the initial piano/guitar stabs that kick off both songs. Additionally, both songs employ repetitive consonant hooks between “Buh-Buh-Buh-Bennie and the Jets” and Styles’ “Wuh-Women.”

The Rolling Stones

When “Only Angel” starts, its ambient organ, operatic vocal swells and delicate piano lead you to think you’re in for “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” In reality, at the 53-second mark, we’re into a Rolling Stones strut more akin to “Bitch”. The lyrics illustrate similar sexually fueled relationships. Where The Stones sing: “When you call my name / I salivate like a Pavlov Dog,” Styles’ illustrates similar as he  “Broke a finger knocking on your bedroom door / I got splinters in my knuckles crawling cross the floor.”

 

Works Cited for this post can be found here.

Artist Profile: Judah & The Lion

I kicked off Pop Diversifies Artist Profile series with Pheonix-based Jared & The Mill, which lead me to this week’s pick, Judah & The Lion.

Judah & The Lion hails from Nashville, Tennesse and has come to be known as one of the cities most genre-bending bands. With folk twang and instrumentation, pop punch, hip-hop beats and a rock drive, they have assimilated defining characteristics of their vast influences into their own unique sound that has progressed significantly over time.

Judah Akers, Brian MacDonald, Nate Zuercher, and Spencer Cross make up the line-up of the band who first come together in 2011. Judah & The Lion, as their name suggests, initially aligned with Christian music. Their debut EP, First Fruits, being a heavily worship-themed record. Though with their next release Sweet Tennessee took a more secular turn.

Religious affiliation wasn’t the only thing to progress in Judah & The Lion’s music. Their early releases were pretty straight forward folk, but each release held a little more experimentation. Sweet Tennessee (2013) and Kids These Days (2014) took on a nu-folk or indie-folk sound much akin to Mumford & Sons.

The band truly broke the mold last year with Folk Hop N’ Roll where they introduced thumping hip-hop beats under their folk base, and poppier vocals atop. This was the record that really caught my attention. With such prominent influences that I had rarely heard combined. In fact, when I first heard the single Take It All Back, I was at first transplanted back to a number of pop/punk shows I’ve attended in the past. To top the gang vocal shouting “So I take it all back, take it all back, take it all back / I take it all back just to have you” under staccato mandolin and banjo was interesting enough, but add the metronomic drum machine high hat and 808 and I knew then I had to listen further.

Judah & The Lion is certainly an inventive departure to the common folk music that has been so popular since Mumford & Son broke nu-folk into the mainstream. With their penchant for reinvention, I look forward to seeing where they go from here.

What are some of your favorite genre-bending artists?

Artist Profile: Jared & The Mill

Before I began this new journey to musical expansion, I had to tackle one problem in particular. How would I find new music?

When I discovered the My New Music Mix curated by Apple Music, I knew that it would become a valuable resource. The playlist refreshes every Friday with songs Apple Music thinks I will like based on my play history. It can be pretty hit or miss (emphasize the miss), but it certainly takes some of the work out of searching for new material.

The first major hit I discovered thanks to Apple Music was a band called Jared & The Mill.

Jared & The Mill is a Western Indie Rock/Folk band based out of Phoenix, Arizona; a setting so prominent in the band’s hearts that it can be heard in every song.

The band looks and sounds as if they fit just as well in a bar as they do in an arena. Each song consisting of captivating and catchy melodies, lively rhythms, and a traditional folk instrumentation is expertly crafted in ways that make each song unique.

I don’t listen to much Country or Folk these days, but discovering this band opened my eyes to genres that I have been long overlooking.

To date, Jared & The Mill have 3 records including one full-length and 2 EPs.

I listened to the releases in reverse-chronological order. Starting with their 2016 EP “Orme Dugas,” and finishing with their one full-length release “Western Expansion.”

Hearing their progression in reverse was an unorthodox way to hear how far they have come.

Every release has had something to offer, but their later releases grabbed my attention with more urgency whereas “Western Expansion” took a little longer to grow on me.

I had mentioned the significance of their hometown of Pheonix, Arizona earlier. Now, I’ve never been to the city myself, but their passion for their home has played an unprecedented highlight for me and their music. So many of their songs come tinged with just a little touch of the heartache that comes from the gratefully homesick. It’s a bittersweet tone that resonated deeply with me.

A bittersweet tone for a bittersweet life.
Jared and The Mill’s music can be found on iTunes, Apple Music, and Spotify.

Jared and The Mill on the web:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

YouTube

 

 

 

 

Pop Diversifies January Playlist

Welcome to 2017!

With the new year, I figured it was about time to get this show on the road. So without further ado, I present my first official Pop Diversifies playlist!

For the next few weeks I will be listening to this playlist, comprised mostly of bands I’ve never really listened to before, and at the end of the month I will be back to report what really struck a chord with me and what did not.

So far I’ve had a really good feeling about Golden Coast, so we’ll see what a deeper listen will reveal!

What are you listening to this month?

I am a fan.

I think one of lives greatest struggles is really learning about yourself. It seems inconsequential at any given moment as we forge our way through our day to day, that is until we’re suddenly told to “tell me about yourself,” in that dream job interview or writing up that online dating profile. Suddenly we have to find a way to define our little intricacies into one concise snapshot.

There is really only one thing I can say without any sort of hesitance.

I am a fan.

I lose my composure completely when one of my favorite artists comes on unexpectantly in public. I’ve traveled arguably insane distances for concerts. Imported CDs and singles from overseas just to have something tangible to hold and I believe my favorite feeling in the world is getting to tune in the radio and listen to the world debut of a new song from one of my favorite artists.

This blog highlights that feeling, while also expanding into new frontiers.

I hope these things will resonate with readers of this blog.

I hope to share and celebrate our favorites while being open to discovering something new.

Are you a mega-fan of any particular bands or artists? What makes your favorite so special to you?

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