Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Film Composers

With a trill of the flute or a crash of a symbol, the composer can dictate a scene, captivating the audience’s emotions. You may not know their names, they may not be in every magazine, but movies would not be the same without them.

John Williams: With 195 soundtracks and 117 awards under his baton, John Williams has become the picture of a successful film composer. He is known for his work for “Star Wars,” Harry Potter, “Jurassic Park,” “Jaws” and “Indiana Jones,” creating strong pieces that don’t lose their power amongst the grace. His music helps shape characters and scenes in a way that only music can; connecting just as much with the people in their movie theater chairs as the characters experiencing the action on screen.

Alexandre Desplat: An incredibly gifted French composer, Alexandre Desplat knows what music is right for each movie. He makes strong and authentic music, but is also very flexible in his style. He will go from the light, quirky, sounds of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Moonrise Kingdom” to the determined and empowering pieces of “The King’s Speech” and “Argo”. Although there are 171 credits to his name, there is no denying each song written and composed is magical, extending the movie beyond what’s seen.

Justin Hurwitz: “Whiplash," Oscar nominee for Best Score, would not have been the same without its innovative beats and melodies to connect each scene to the drama. “La La Land”, 2017 Oscar winner of Best Score, would have never succeeded without Hurwitz’s music adding to the heart of the musical. Although he is 31 and considered sort of green for composers, we know that his passion and understanding of music in movies makes him one to watch out for.

Hans Zimmer: You could list his 15 nominations or his six awards for his music, but nothing compares to when you listen to “Time” from “Inception,” all while watching the earth fold on Leo DiCaprio. Nothing compares to the rises and falls of “No Time For Caution” and feeling the immediacy and fear that every character is living. Hans Zimmer uses his music to add to the emotion of the piece. Not only does he make the audience sympathize with the characters, but he also makes us feel a part of the film, all with a string of notes and chords that mirror the mood. While other people may have more experience or awards, Hans Zimmer will always be the king of making the viewer feel.

Score discovery:
“Time”- Hans Zimmer, “Inception”
“The Middle of the World”- Nicolas Britell, “Moonlight”
“The Smallest Piece”- Don Romer and Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe”- Alexandre Desplat, “Moonrise Kingdom” “Engagement Party”- Justin Hurwitz, “La La Land”
“Schindler's List Theme”- John Williams, “Schindler’s List”
“Feather Theme”- The O’Neill Brothers Group, “Forest Gump”
“Domestic Pressures”- Johann Johannsson, “The Theory of Everything”
“The Imperial March”- John Williams, “The Empire Strikes Back”

Upcoming Concerts:

We The Kings-Bottom Lounge-Chicago-March 9th-7:00pm
Panic! At the Disco-Allstate Arena-Rosemont-March 11th-7:00pm
Ariana Grande-United Center-Chicago-March 14th-7:30pm
The Orwells-Metro Smart Bar-Chicago-March 16th-7:30pm
Cold War Kids-Riviera Theatre-Chicago-March 18th-8:00pm
Judah and The Lion-House of Blues-Chicago-March 23rd-8:00pm
Regina Spektor-Chicago Theatre-Chicago-March 24th-7:30pm
Lionel Richie with Mariah Carey-United Center-Chicago-March 25th-7:00pm
Bon Jovi-United Center-Chicago-March 26th-7:30pm

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Black History in Music

As February comes to a close, it feels pertinent to acknowledge that this month was dedicated to celebrating achievements made by black Americans, which is what we intend to do now. They have brought us some of the greatest music. However, it often isn’t recognized as much as white artist’s music. So, in honor of Black History Month and Diversity Week, here are a couple of the artists that changed our music for the better.


Etta James: Etta Jame once said, My mother always told me, even if a song has been done a thousand times, you can still bring something of your own to it.” This is the idea that led her to fame. Not only is James now known as one of the best female singers of her time, but also she inspired the entire black community to bring their own individuality to the music world.
Best Songs: At Last, I’d Rather Go Blind, I Just Want To Make Love To You.

Temptations: This group inspired movies like the Five Heartbeats, groups like the Jackson Five and people like Beyonce. The Temptations, a group of five soulful men with equally soulful harmonies, was one of the first groups to put Motown on the map and bring soul and funk to the black community. Even today, groups like Earth, Wind, and Fire credit their music inspiration to this group.
Best Songs: My Girl, Get Ready, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.

Will Smith: Ok, so he’s the Prince of Bel Air. We get it. When you think of Will Smith, you don’t think of his music or Jazzy Jeff, but rather think of his acting in Pursuit of Happyness or Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. But here is why we should think of his music without Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff, the rap community may not even exist. The duo revolutionized rap and R&B music into what we know today and made it so popular that the Grammy’s made the Best of Rap category. Without the “Fresh Prince,” music today would not be the same.
Best Songs: Gettin’ Jiggy With It, Men in Black, Miami

Marvin Gaye: A truly charming man, Marvin Gaye once said, “I think I’ve got a real thing going. I love people. I love life, and I love nature, and I can’t see why other people can’t be like that.” As one of the founders of Motown, Gaye’s message of love has been prevalent in all of his R&B songs.
Best Songs: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I Heard it Through the Grapevine, and Let’s Get it On

Jimi Hendrix: Known famously for his revolutionary guitar skills, Jimi Hendrix, a rock legend, excited audiences by providing a new sound. Hendrix was electrifying on stage, gaining quite the following. Two grand performances by him include lighting his guitar on fire at a festival and performing the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock, a symbol of peace amongst the troubling times of black equality and the Vietnam War draftings.
Best Songs: Star Spangled Banner performed at Woodstock, Purple Haze, and All Along the Watchtower

Louis Armstrong: Trumpeter, composer, and singer Louis Armstrong revolutionized the world as one of the first black people to become popular. He popularized jazz music, all while simultaneously making the trumpet the instrument of his time. Armstrong is still known to the black community as one of the greatest musicians to have breathed and has ensured his place as an icon.
Best Songs: Star Dust, La Vie En Rose, and What a Wonderful World


Upcoming Concerts:


Vanessa Carlton- City Winery- Chicago, IL- Feb 24th- 8:00pm


Bad Suns- The Rave Bar- Milwaukee, WI- March 5th- 7:00 pm


The Japanese House-Bottom Lounge-Chicago, IL-Feb 25th-7:30pm


Devendra Banhart-Thalia Hall-Chicago, IL-March 6th-8:00pm


Panic! At the Disco-Allstate Arena-Rosemont, IL-March 11th-7:00pm


Ariana Grande-United Center-Chicago, IL-March 14th-7:30pm


Regina Spektor-Chicago Theatre-Chicago, IL-March 24th-7:30pm

Lionel Richie with Mariah Carey-United Center-Chicago, IL-March 25th-7:00pm

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Women in Music


In a world where it feels like every field is male dominated, it’s good to be reminded of girl power. As Beyonce once said, “We run the world!” After seeing marches around the country last month, it only feels fair to acknowledge the women who run music. Here are a couple of our favorite fierce, femme artists, who remind us that girl power is only a play button away.


Amy Winehouse: Amy Winehouse has some serious soul. If you can’t pick that up from her vocals (and pretty depressing) lyrics, you can tell by her deep, expressive voice. The Grammy winner made the 27 Club when she died in 2011, but still left a lovely legacy.
Best Songs: Cover of “Valerie,” “Rehab,” and “Back to Black.”


Regina Spektor: A singer and pianist, Regina Spektor became a popular indie artist in 2004. Her combination of storytelling and poetry culminates in her music, which has been featured in movies like 500 Days of Summer and Kubo. Spektor's unique blend of old style pop music and new indie music can only be described as her own.
Best Songs: “Folding Chair,” “Samson,” and “Hero.”


Grouplove: Grouplove has 6 members, 5 males, and only 1 female. That one girl is Hannah Hooper, a strong lead singer that carries the fun sound that Grouplove is known for. Without her vocals and spunk, Grouplove would be a boy band and almost unrecognizable from any other male indie band.
Best Songs: “Tongue Tied,” “Ways To Go,” and “Welcome to Your Life.”


Maggie Rogers: A blend of execution in percussion, creative note progressions, and indie vocals. Maggie Rogers blends her soul and experiences into all of her music. Her beautiful flowing lyrics leave a lasting impression and feeling to everyone who listens.
Best Songs: “Alaska,” “On + Off,” and “Dog Years.”


Lorde: She’s young, some people may say too young, but she oozes with experience. Although Lorde’s music is a perfect example of alternative music blending with a pop feeling, the best part are the lyrics. Each song making a different statement-- about connecting to others, loving, and living life.
Best Songs: “The Love Club,” “Buzzcut Season,” and “Ribs.”


Sylvan Esso: Although the group is made up of two people, the star of this group is the female lead singer, Amelie Meath. Her voice continually reminds the listeners why they are listening to the music. Without her beautiful melodies mixing with the new age sounds, this band's hits would be close to nothing.
Best Songs: “Coffee,” “Hey Mami,” and “Radio.”


Upcoming Concerts:


Landlady- Schubas- Chicago, IL- Feb. 8th-8:00pm


Tove Lo- House of Blues- Chicago, IL- Feb. 16th- 7:00 pm


Young the Giant- the Rav- Milwaukee, WI- Feb. 17th- 7:00 pm


Maroon 5- BMO Harris Bradley Center- Milwaukee, WI- Feb. 20th- 7:00 pm


Wilco- The Chicago Theatre- Chicago, IL- Feb. 22nd- 7:00pm


Vanessa Carlton- City Winery- Chicago, IL- Feb 24th- 8:00pm


Bad Suns- The Rave Bar- Milwaukee, WI- March 5th- 7:00 pm






Thursday, January 26, 2017

Popular

No matter what your taste in music is, the occasional catchy popular song will find its way into your head and leave you humming one of the Top 40 Hits of the week. Popular music can often get criticized (you either love it or you hate it), but the intention for the music is to become popular. Artists and producers know how to make a song that numerous people will love. It can be fake, or auto tuned, or only feature four chords over and over again, but it can also be charming. Songs that people love can create bonds over a common interest. Weed out the bad music, and find some good pieces in the large pool of favorites.


The Chainsmokers: In the past, electronic and pop music were separate. Pop music was restricted to it’s basic chords and beats and kept its fan base with catchy vocals, meanwhile electronic used its eccentric beats, but had nothing to hold the audience’s attention without vocals. Then came the Chainsmokers. This band is innovating the newest form of pop music and making it their own. With songs like “Roses,” and “Closer,” reaching the top of the charts for both pop and EDM, you can tell that the duo has a lot passion for the music they create. Their sound is better than their competition, more electrifying. The Chainsmoker’s songs are the ultimate sing-along-with-your friends-as-you-bust-out-embarrassing-moves-in-the-car. The upbeat and catchy melodies ensure this band is never absent at a dance party.


Blurryface: You can say a lot about Twenty One Pilots. Some people think they’re overdone, others think they are life changing. No matter what you say about them, the fact is they’re popular for a reason. Their latest album, Blurryface, showcases all of the reasons that they are so popular. Blurryface is a character the lead singer, Tyler Joseph, made up to reflect all of his insecurities. Through every emotion, they relate to their audience. “Tear in my Heart,” demonstrates how love can make you vulnerable. “Heavydirtysoul,” shows a positive spin on feeling helpless. “We Don’t Believe What’s on TV” gives you hope for the future and the sincerity in the lyrics of “The Judge” makes your head and heart skip a beat. Their rock beat combined with authentic lyrics and messages makes this album one that no one should miss, even Twenty One Pilots cynics.


Pop Discovery: Starboy-The Weeknd, 24K Magic-Bruno Mars, Paris-The Chainsmokers, Genghis Kahn-Miike Snow, All Time Low-Jon Bellion, Cold Water-Major Lazer feat Justin Bieber, HandClap- Fitz and the Tantrums, Not Afraid Anymore-Halsey, Juke Jam-Chance the Rapper, Death of a Bachelor-Panic! At the Disco, Hold Up-Beyonce, Never Be Like You-Flume


Pop Chill: Castle on the Hill-Ed Sheeran, I Don’t Know My Name-Grace Vanderwaal, i hate u, i love u-gnash, This Town-Niall Horan, Love Me Know-John Legend, Way Down We Go-Kaleo,  Too Good-Drake, Pray You Catch Me- Beyonce, When We Were Young-Adele, 7 Years-Lukas Graham, Love Yourself-Justin Bieber, The Judge-Twenty One Pilots


Upcoming Concerts:


Twenty One Pilots-United Center-Chicago, IL-1/28/2017-7:00pm


Jacob Sartorius!!!!!!!-House of Blues-Chicago, IL-1/29/2017-6:30pm


Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Britten and Tchaikovsky)-Chicago Symphony Center-Chicago, IL- Feb. 3&4 -8:00pm


Riff Raff-Portage Theater-Chicago, IL-2/4/2017-7:00pm


I Love the 90s Show ft. Vanilla Ice, Salt N Pepa, Coolio (along with other food items)-BMO Harris Bank Center-Rockford, IL-2/10/2017-7:00pm


Cherub and The Floozies-Riviera Theatre-Chicago-2/10/2017 9:00pm

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Our Favorites

It’s a new year! Time to celebrate and embrace the change that comes with 2017. We decided that this would be a perfect time to showcase some of our personal favorites. Our music taste is very similar, so we picked an artist and album that we both thoroughly enjoy. The new year brings about many opportunities to discover new music, so pay attention. Ask your friends, cool classmates, even strangers what they are listening to. Try to catch songs that are playing in restaurants or hotel lobbies or stores or bowling alleys. Shazam everything! Continue to listen to your old, endearing collection of favorites, but also wander into the unfamiliar territory of new music. There is so much more to discover.

Artist of the Week- The Walters- The Walters are the ultimate feel good band. Pick a happy memory and there is a Walters’ song that could effortlessly fit that mood. This group of Chicago natives has reached small audiences using their emotion and poignant messages about relationships today. Made up of five men, they are a younger band having only been together for a little over two years. Their songs explore different sounds, from the rock of “Hunk Beach,” to the pure, mellow emotion in “I Love You So”. Their vocals are charming and while listening, you become enchanted with not only the music they produce, but themselves as individuals. That’s how enthralling it is. “Autumn Leaves” and “New Girl” prove this. The mixture of smooth indie and crafty lyrics create songs to adore. With one listen, you will fall in love with these boys.  

Album of the Week- The Next Thing- Each song on Frankie Cosmos’s album “The Next Thing” is an experience. It carries the audience through the lightheartedness of “Outside with the Cuties” to the emotion wrapped inside “Young.” Frankie Cosmos (real name Greta Kline) transcends the emotions of the listeners through her second album. Although only 22, Cosmos relates to people of all ages through heartbreak, relaxation and melodies to match. Her lyrics read like beautiful poetry, and listening to her sweet voice, you feel thoughtful and reflective. She feels personal, as if she wrote the song as a gift to you. Writer Lindsay Zoladz for the New York Magazine described Frankie’s message as a “melodic reminder that the wisest, wittiest person in the room is rarely the loudest one but instead that unassuming girl in the corner, grinning contentedly at her untied shoes”. This sums up Frankie perfectly. The authenticity in her music is something that is lacking in the music industry. It’s striking and refreshing to create a sound truly cherished by everyone.

Georgia’s Favorites Playlist- Black Balloons- Local Natives, It’s Real- Real Estate, Adversity- Beach Fossils, Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games- of Montreal, Feel It All Around-Washed Out, Polish Girl- Neon Indian, These Days- Dr. Dog, Needle- Born Ruffians, Under the Pressure- the War on Drugs, Follow the Leader- Foxygen,

Rachel’s Favorites Playlist- Ms-Alt-J, Tattoos-Angus Maude, Sedona-Houndmouth, Piazza New York Catcher-Belle & Sebastian, Wetsuit-The Vaccines, Sex Tourists-French Kicks, Sea Swallow Me- Cocteau Twins, Home-Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, All of Them Dreams-Tom Rosenthal



Upcoming Concerts:

Ezra Furman- Lincoln Hall- Chicago, IL- 1/12/2016- 9:00pm

Lukas Graham-House of Blues-Chicago, IL-1/17/2017-6:00pm

The Lumineers-Allstate Arena-Rosemont, IL-1/20/2017-7:00pm

Kings of Leon-United Center-Chicago, IL-1/23/2017-7:30pm

Twenty One Pilots-United Center-Chicago, IL-1/28/2017-7:00pm

Jacob Sartorius!!!!!!!-House of Blues-Chicago, IL-1/29/2017-6:30pm

Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Britten and Tchaikovsky)-Chicago Symphony Center-Chicago, IL- Feb. 3&4 -8:00pm

Riff Raff-Portage Theater-Chicago, IL-2/4/2017-7:00pm

I Love the 90s Show ft. Vanilla Ice, Salt N Pepa, Coolio (along with other food items)-BMO Harris Bank Center-Rockford, IL-2/10/2017-7:00pm

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Mozart and Finals


The most dreaded week of the school year is upon us, much quicker than expected: finals week. And well some students might feel confident going into it, most of us are pulling our hair out, trying to figure out how we can compensate for the lack of work we did all semester. Thank you, Roger Hub, for that Final Grade Calculator. Music has always been a satisfying de-stresser and in times like this, we could all use a little less stress in our lives. Although students are allowed to listen to what they want while they study (the sound of rain, jazz, screamo, silence perhaps), there have been studies that listening to classical music while doing school work is immensely beneficial for their grades and their mental well being. Beethoven is great, don’t get me wrong, but research has shown that it is Mozart that contributes the most to the brain.  It can give one short term improvement on performance in tests, cognitive skills, and have a beneficial impact on one’s mental health.
Named The Mozart Effect, this hypothesis was first introduced into the world in 1991 by a French researcher Alfred A. Tomatis in his book Pourquoi Mozart? (Why Mozart?): He claimed listening to Mozart’s music can raise one’s intelligence quotient (IQ) as well as “increase verbal, emotional, and spatial intelligence, improve concentration and memory, enhance right-brain creative processes and strengthen intuitive thinking skills”.  This seems very odd, however it does make sense. Symmetries and pattern characteristics of music are fundamentally connected to the symmetries and patterns researchers are tracking in brain waves. Music consciousness and spatial cognitive skills and long term sequencing operations are all worked out on the right side of the brain. So, while you are cramming facts in your brain in preparation for finals, take a breather. Remember to relax, study but stay calm and treat yourself to the beauty (and benefits) of Mozart’s music.

Side Note: We created two playlists for you. One of them is our favorite classical music (heavy on the Mozart of course). If that doesn’t quite do it for you, then check out our de-stressing playlist for some mellow tunes.

Favorite Classical Playlist: Requiem: Lacrimosa- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Apres Une Reve- Gabriel Faure, The Nutcracker - Ballet, Op.71, No.12- Arabian- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Piano Sonata No. 12 in F, K.322: 2. Adagio- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,Symphony No. 83 in G Minor, ‘La Poule’: III. Minuetto (Allegretto) & Trio- Franz Joseph Haydn, Sonata in F Minor, K.466 (L. 118)- Domenico Scarlatti, The Moldau (From Ma Vlast)- Bedrich Smetana, Due pupille amabili, K. 439- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sonata K331 First Movement, Impromptu No.4 in C sharp minor, Op. 66- Chopin

De-stressing playlist: Cherry Wine- Hozier, Emerald and Stone- Brian Eno, Time Wind Down- Brian Berger, Northern Lights- Lights & Motion, All Will Be Well- The Gabe Dixon Band, Telescope- Mandy Smith, Drive- Oh Wonder, Caving- Seavera, In Dreams- Ben Howard, Untitled- Matt Corby

Upcoming Concerts:

Ellie Goulding- Allstate Arena- Chicago, IL- 12/14/2016-9:00pm

Twin Peaks- Thalia Hall- Chicago, IL- 12/18/2016- 8:00pm

Snoop Dogg- Riverside Theatre- Milwaukee, WI- 12/22/2016- 8:00pm

Audacity- The Metal Grill- Cudahy, WI- 12/30/2016- 5:00pm

Flume- Donald E. Stephens Convention Center- Rosemont, IL- 12/30/2016- 7:00pm

Diane Coffee- Schubas- Chicago, IL- 12/31/2016- 7:00pm

Ezra Furman- Lincoln Hall- Chicago, IL- 1/12/2016- 9:00pm

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas

Tis’ the season to celebrate the holidays! Every year as December 25th rapidly approaches and Macy’s decorate their venue with festive lights and magnificent trees, radio stations begin to play sweet notes and carols day and night. While some love to join in on the tunes, others are critical of why Christmas music dominates the holiday season. Whatever your preference may be, the “fa la la”’s of the season are being sung wherever you go.

Pro-Christmas Music: Christmas music is so much more than just music. It represents happiness that only comes once every year. It represents people coming together and singing loudly about joy. The familiar, loveable songs ring in the background as families decorate the tree and get cozy around the fire. It can also be versatile to fit any occasion. You want to jam? “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey.  You want to chill with a cup of hot chocolate admiring the snow? “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby.  It is more than just sound, it is a feeling that can only be felt around Christmas time. It is music for happiness. Whenever Christmas season rolls around, excitement fills the air. The music is just a reminder of the excitement and joy that happens when the season comes around.

Anti-Christmas Music: Does the music industry realize that Christmas is not the only holiday in December? Of course, Christmas music means so much for people who celebrate Christmas, but what about those who don’t? The only song I can think of that doesn’t have to do with the coming of Christ is the “dreidel song, ” and I’m sure that the Jewish community would want so much more from their holiday than just a song about a wooden toy. Not to mention that for how much Christmas supports modesty, all of the female pop stars who decide to sing a Christmas ballad to make a little money always seem to find their way into Santa-themed lingerie. But the worst part of Christmas music, no matter how much you hate it, there is no escape. It plays in the doctor's office, it plays on every radio station, it plays in the park. It’s everywhere.

Slow Xmas Playlist:  Carol of the Bells,  White Christmas-Bing Crosby, Silver Bells, Christmas Lights-Coldplay, River-Sarah McLachlan, White Winter Hymnal-Fleet Foxes or Pentatonix, The Christmas Song-Nat King Cole, Walking In the Air, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas-Frank Sinatra, Baby, It’s Cold Outside- James Taylor

A get-away-from-Christmas discovery playlist: Hunk Beach- the Walters, Mysterious Power- Ezra Furman, Needle- Born Ruffians, When I Get Older- Wild Party, Call Me in The Afternoon- Half Moon Run, Lonesome- Dr. Dog, Greek Tragedy- The Wombats, Long Distance- The Districts, When I Get Home- Post Animal

Bastille- The Rave/Eagles Club- Milwaukee, WI- 12/8/2016- 7:30 pm

G-Eazy- All-State Arena- Chicago, IL- 12/10/2016- 7:00pm

The Oh Hellos- Thalia Hall- Chicago, IL- 12/10/2016- 7:00 pm

Snoop Dogg- Riverside Theatre- Milwaukee, WI- 12/22/2016- 8:00 pm

Flume- Donald E. Stephens Convention- Rosemont, IL- 12/30/2016- 7:00pm