Monday, December 4, 2017

The History of Christmas Music

As the holidays approach, you practically can’t go anywhere without hearing Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”. It follows you in the grocery store, or at your friend’s house or in the hallways a minute before the bell rings. Christmas music isn’t anything new, and the tradition of singing songs during the holidays has been around for awhile. In honor of the season, here is my gift to you: the history of Christmas music.

Pre-1700s: Carols were sung in Europe, but were not about Christmas. The earliest Xmas songs date back to the Middle Ages and were inspired by bible verses.

1700s: Baroque composer, George Frideric Handel, publishes a book of carols including popular songs like “Joy to the World”, “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “O Come All Ye Faithful”.

1857: Arguably one of the most popular Christmas songs, “Jingle Bells”, is written by James Pierpont as a song to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Late 1800s: As traditions — such as decorating a tree and opening presents — became more popular during the holiday, so did Christmas music. This was the time when songs such as “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Away in a Manger” were first created.

1930s: To distract from the Great Depression, happy Christmas songs like “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” and “Winter Wonderland” were created and popularized by Perry Como and the Andrew Sisters.

1942: Bing Crosby releases his Christmas album, “Merry Christmas”, featuring the song “White Christmas”. In 2007, two research organizations, Edison Media Research and Pinnacle Media Worldwide, surveyed for the most beloved Christmas song. In both surveys, “White Christmas” recorded by Crosby was voted number one.

1971: “Merry Xmas (War is Over)” was released by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, proving that sometimes a Christmas song is more than just a Christmas song; in this case, a protest to the Vietnam War. It’s also just a really good song.

1980s: Songs like “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and “Jingle Bell Rock” are debuted in the 80s, giving a new life to xmas music.

1994: Mariah Carey simultaneously releases her hit single “All I Want for Christmas is You” and happens to change the world.

2010s: Today, many popular artists cover famous Christmas songs or even write their own. Many artists have a least one Christmas album out there to be enjoyed in December and not listened to all year long. In my personal opinion, these popular albums will never match the classic xmas sounds from Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Crosby, but there are still some worth listening to.

Best of Christmas Past: “Carol of the Bells” - Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” - Frank Sinatra, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” - John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” - Andy Williams, “White Christmas” - Bing Crosby, “What Christmas Means to Me” - Stevie Wonder

Best of Christmas Present: “Christmas Wrapping” - The Waitresses, “Christmas Lights” - Coldplay, “Christmas in L.A.” - Vulfpeck, “Carol of Bells” - Pentatonix, “Santa Baby” - Ariana Grande, “Jingle Bells (feat. The Puppini Sisters)” - Micheal Buble

Best of Christmas Future:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Music For Days

This is the time in the year where school might seem likes it’s moving slowly and you are living for the weekends. Luckily for us, certain artists can push you through a long day or, for those weekends, make a good day better.

An artist for each day of the week:

Monday: To get the week started on a good note, listen to Miniature Tigers. This whimsical, upbeat band was based in New York and has been releasing new music since 2006. Their music has a cool, yet fun vibe to it. Miniature Tigers work through a lot of emotions, but ultimately their songs can be an automatic mood lifter for those rough Monday mornings.
Best Songs: “Cannibal Queen”, “Tropical Birds” and “Annie Qakley”

Tuesday: For the painful second-Monday, listen to Turnover. Their music’s genre is dream pop, which is basically when alternative rock meets neo-psychedelia. All three of their albums are different, developing from a little angsty to a confident indie sound. They have great melodies and catchy songs to dominate Tuesdays with.
Best Songs: “Humming”, “New Scream” and “Butterfly Dream”

Wednesday: For those sleepy Wednesday mornings, listen to Mac DeMarco. He is a chill person and it reflects in his music. It is soft rock and features recognizable low frequency bass, flat drums and vibrato effects. He sings poetry and his songs can be very relaxing. Whether you are happy or sad, lively or tired, the right Mac DeMarco song is out there for your mood.
Best Songs: “Without Me”, “Salad Days” and “Cooking Up Something Good”

Thursday: For slow days, listen to The Last Shadow Puppets. This band was formed in 2008 by the best members of several alternative rock bands, including Arctic Monkeys and The Rascals. They took a break and then returned with a new album in 2016. Alex Turner, the lead singer, has a very distinct and captivating voice, which creates enchanting melodies to push you through those dreaded Thursdays.
Best Songs: “Miracle Aligner”, “My Mistakes Were Made For You” and “Aviation”

Friday: For good-time Fridays, listen to Spendtime Palace. Although they are a relatively new band, they are on a quick rise. They carry their music with incredible instrument playing and an energetic beat. All their songs are alternative rock, but jazzy. Their music is perfect for hanging out with friends or if you are in need of a good jam.
Best Songs: “Sonora”, “Get It Straight” and “Pay Per View”

Saturday: For happy weekend days, listen to The Growlers. The California-based band began six years ago, and have since released six incredible albums. They have a surfer vibe with a more rock beat, pioneering a genre which has been labelled as “Beach Goth”. Lead singer Brooks Nielsen has a very unique, yet charming and relaxing voice, sure to take you far away from Libertyville.
Best Songs: “Going Gets Tough”, “California” and “Naked Kids”

Sunday: For the Sunday spent with loved ones, listen to some Family and Friends. Similar to The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons, their music is folky. It is transformed through their strong guitar playing, which nicely pairs with their warm and genuine lyrics. Perfect for those simple, yet beautiful life moments.
Best Songs: “My Life, My Love”, “Love, and Other Drugs” and “Vestiges”

Upcoming Concerts:
+Arcade Fire-Oct. 30-United Center-Chicago
+The Weeknd-Nov. 2-United Center-Chicago
+Macklemore-Nov. 4-House of Blues-Chicago
+Kid Cudi-Nov. 4 and 5-Aragon Ballroom-Chicago
+Guns N’ Roses-Nov. 6-United Center-Chicago
+Bleachers-Nov. 11 and 12-Riviera Theatre-Chicago

+Grace VanderWaal-Nov. 15-Park West-Chicago

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fall Music

The weather may be deceiving, but as of September 23rd, fall is officially here. During this season, music can often complete moments of walking in the leaves, carving pumpkins or sipping cider with your family. When I think of fall music, I think of comfortable, homey songs that make me feel good. Light tunes. Indie voices. Soft acoustics. Below is a playlist of best songs to listen to in fall, and the charming lyrics that make them that way:

“September” by Earth, Wind, and Fire
Do you remember the 21st night of September? Love was changing the minds of pretenders while chasing the clouds away.

“Leaves that Turn Green” by Simon and Garfunkel
And the leaves that are green turn to brown, and they wither with the wind, and they crumble in your hand.

“November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses
So never mind the darkness, we still can find a way, ‘cause nothin’ lasts forever, even cold November rain.

“Autumn Leaves” by The Walters
The constellation it’s moving and it’s passing, autumn leaves, they have just begun.

“We’re Going To Be Friends” by The White Stripes
Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell.

“My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion” by Flaming Lips
They tell us autumn’s a comin’ and soon everything around us will die.

“Tiger Striped Sky” by Roo Panes
Half the world was pulling on his colors, as nights turned into day to the hours, a glow was coming down, coming down, I don’t know why but it felt like a tiger striped sky.

“Featherstone” by Paper Kites
She went out to the hay in the morning grace, She went out and got lost in a tall hedge maze.

“Autumn Sweater” by Yo La Tengo
Me with nothing to say, and you in your autumn sweater.

Upcoming Concerts:
+Glass Animals-September 28th-Aragon Ballroom-Chicago-7:30pm
+Fleet Foxes-October 3rd and 4th-Chicago Theatre-7:30pm
+Japanese Breakfast-October 4th-Subterranean-Chicago-8:30pm
+Atlas Genius-October 5th-Bottom Lounge-Chicago-6pm
+The Script-October 6th-Riviera Theatre-Chicago-7:30pm
+The Growlers-October 6th-Vic Theater-Chicago-9:30pm
+Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull-October 7th-Rosemont-7:30pm
+Pixies-October 8th-Chicago Theatre-7:30pm
+A$AP Mob-October 11th-UIC Pavilion-Chicago-7:30pm

+Zedd-October 12th-Aragon Ballroom-Chicago-8pm

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Four albums released this summer you might have missed

Summer gifts us with happy memories, glowing skin, more than five hours of sleep and most wonderfully, new music. Artists often release new albums during summer for those windows-down, carefree moments. Of course with so many new songs to explore, there may be a few you might miss. Here are four albums released this summer you might have skipped:

“Fenn” by Tom Rosenthal:
“Fenn”, composed and named after the birth of his second child, is an album created from the loving mind of Tom Rosenthal. The album features feel good songs completed with trumpets, choirs, and beautiful, original songwriting. “Fenn” focuses on the troubling times of 2016, but more importantly, rising above them.
Check out “Fenn”, “Quite Short for a Goalkeeper” and “Throw the Fear”

“Relaxer” by Alt-J:
Trust me on this, this album will rock your world. “Relaxer” is the third album from the indie-pop  band, Alt-J. Although a bit strange at times, the overall sound is stellar.  An album like no other, it features strings, a boys choir, guest female singers, sounds of tourists in a Cathedral in England and an electric keyboard purchased by the band for $1 on Ebay.     
Check out “House of the Rising Sun”, “3WW” and “In Cold Blood”

“Melodrama” by Lorde:
After a four year drought, Lorde is back with her second album, and it exceeds expectations. The album is concentrated on breakups, the loneliness that comes with them and the types of emotions you experience as a young adult, positive or negative. “Melodrama” stars rich ballads and complex-simple songs, guaranteed to give listeners goosebumps.
Check out “Green Light”, “Liability” and “Writer in the Dark”

“Sacred Hearts Club” by Foster the People
The third album for Foster the People, “Sacred Hearts Club”, is a new, less-tame sound from the band compared to past years. The songs are hazy and practically feel dreamed up. The album was made for the night. Filled with songs to dance to, the indie-pop album exerts a psychedelic mood.
Check out “I Love My Friends”, “Sit Next to Me” and “Time to Get Closer”

Back to School Playlist:
“School” by Frankie Cosmos
“Oxford Comma” by Vampire Weekend
“Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People
“Our Swords” by Band of Horses
“The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World
“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears
“The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire
“Expectations” by Belle & Sebastian
“The Kids Don’t Want Wanna Come Home” by Declan McKenna

Upcoming Concerts:

+Andy Grammer-September 9th-RiverEdge Park-Aurora-7pm
+Young the Giant with Cold War Kids-September 9th-Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island-Chicago-7pm
+Stevie Nicks-September 9th and 10th-Ravinia-Highland Park-7:30pm
+Pink-September 9th-Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre Chicago-Tinley Park-8pm

+Ed Sheeran-September 15th and 16th-Allstate Arena-Rosemont-7:30pm

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Songs for your summer

Every time anyone even says the word we lose it. All year we dream about what it would be like to get those months off. We dream about how amazing it will be to cruise around in weather that is finally above 40 degrees. When it’s finally here, all we want to do is celebrate. So, here are the music essentials that will cover all you need this summer. Each playlist will help you relax a little more and hopefully become your go-to summer songs.

Driving Around (or road trip): Nothing is more freeing than the feeling you get when you roll your windows down, let your hair down, feel the wind hit your face and let the summer breeze fill your lungs. It’s the feeling of pure happiness. At that moment, everything can be upbeat. The only thing that can match that is an equally freeing and happy playlist.

Playlist: “Morocco”- Moon Taxi, “See the Sun”- Henry Hall, “What A Day”- Greg Laswell, “Backstreet Lovers”- The Crookes, “When I Get Older”- Wild Party, “Under the Cover of Darkness”- the Strokes, “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)”- the Talking Heads, “Constant Conversations”- Passion Pit, “The Girl”- City in Colour, “We Don’t Need Our Heads”- A Great Big Pile of Leaves, “Elevate”- St. Lucia

Summer Nights: We all need a break. For the past 10 months, we have been cooped up in a classroom after classroom looking at the glimmer of sunlight trying to break through the dying trees with no success. Lucky for us, it’s time to let that go. We get the chance now to spend the nights how we please. We can run around with our friends and go out to see the beautiful scenery that will be blooming around us. So, here is a playlist for those nights, when your music should be just as relaxed as you are.

Summer Nights Playlist- “Driving to Hawaii”- Summer Salt, “Dear to Me”- Electric Guest, “Vacation”- Florist, “Holding Roses”- Twin Peaks, “Chihiro”- Yoste, “Sunset Lover”- Petite Biscuit, “Polaroids”- Josh Jacobson, “Indian Food”- Dumbo Gets Mad, “Am I Just One”- Carey Ott, “Little Brother”- Ella Vos, “Dog Years”- Maggie Rogers, “Take You”- Early Eyes,

Jams for the Summer: Whether you’re outside or inside, with friends or alone, cool nights or sunny days: Whatever the time or weather, summer is the perfect time to break out your favorite songs or find new songs that you can continually jam to. These are some of our favorites.

Jams: “Dissolve Me” -Alt-J, “Mr. Blue Sky” -Electric Light Orchestra, “Lake Shore Drive” -Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah, “The Wanderer” -Dion, “Here Comes Your Man” -Pixies, “In the Summertime” -Mungo Jerry, “Naked Kids” -Grouplove, “Come On Eileen” -Dexys Midnight Runners, “Houdini” -Foster The People, “Baby You’re Out” -Mac Demarco

Gluskin’s Recommendation: To finish off our final post of the 2016-17 school year, we asked our Drops of Ink teacher, Mr. Michael Gluskin about his taste in music and any last recommendations for our listeners. What he often looks for is music that is genuine and raw, rather than meaningless “noise and sounds,” he explained. The simple beauty of the violin in a Coldplay song, or the underlying banjo behind many Mumford and Sons songs provide a perfect example of the type of organic sound Mr. Gluskin looks for in his music, which, for some people, is just the way to relax and prepare for a break.

Gluskin’s playlist: “Strawberry Swing”- Coldplay, “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall”-Coldplay, “The Cave”- Mumford and Sons, “I Will Wait”-Mumford and Sons, “Budapest”-George Ezra, “Feel Again”- OneRepublic, “Beautiful Day”-U2, “Sleep On The Floor”-The Lumineers, “From Finner”-Of Monsters and Men, “Higher Than The Sun”- Keane, “Southern Sun”- Boy & Bear, “Mess Is Mine”- Vance Joy

Upcoming Summer Festivals:

Chicago Gospel Music Festival- Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center- Chicago- June 2-3

Spring Awakening- Addams/Medill Park, University Village/ Little Italy- Chicago- June 9-11

Mamby on the Beach- Oakwood Beach- Chicago- June 24-25

Summerfest- Henry Maier Festival Park- Milwaukee- June 28-July 9

Taste of Chicago- Grant Park- Chicago- July 5-9

Pitchfork- Union Park- Chicago- July 14-16

Lollapalooza- Grant Park- Chicago- August 3-6

North Coast Music Festival- Union Park- Chicago- September 1-3

Thursday, May 4, 2017

8 bands you may not know but you should.

  1. Mild High Club:  This eclectic group is specifically for those of us who need to unwind a little. Their elongated rhythms and methodical placement of notes in a sequential order convey a modern sense of relaxation and positivity to anyone who listens.
Songs: “Homage,” “Tessellation.”
  1. Ezra Furman: Whatever mood you’re in: defeated or upbeat, lost or found Ezra Furman has a song for it. His music mix elements of classic rock with new age pop and clever lyrics to showcase everything that you have been missing out on.
Songs: “Mysterious Power,” “Little Piece of Trash.”
  1. Beirut: There is a lot to be said about a good rhythm in music. It highlights the best part of the song, and if it is altered in any way, the song completely changes. Beirut is the perfect example of how rhythm can create a song. While their lyrics and song are good, their rhythm is beautiful and unmistakable.
Songs: “No No No,” “Gibraltar.”
  1. Foxygen: Rock was meant to break tradition, so they should never mix or work together. Foxygen proves that wrong. This group uses their unique sound and lyrics to attract indie audiences from all over. With their mellow rock and contemporary jazz, they prove that sometimes opposites attract.
Songs: “Follow the Leader,” “How Can You Really.”
  1. Belle & Sebastian: For those really happy days, when you’re feeling yourself and everything around you, pop in an earbud and listen to Belle & Sebastian. But don’t worry, the upbeat sounds don’t distract from their brilliant and genuine lyrics.
           Songs: “Piazza New York Catcher,” “Boy with the Arab Strip.”
  1. Tom Rosenthal: Tom Rosenthal is a good, wholehearted man, that he creates his music to match his persona. His slow melodies belong in the clouds.
Songs: “Middle of My Mind,” “All of them Dreams.”
  1. Apache Relay: This band from Nashville, Tennessee creates very sentimental folk-rock music. Think Mumford and Sons, but with a chiller vibe.
Songs: “Power Hungry Animals,” “Good as Gold.”
  1. Happy Fits: A foot-tapping, feel-good band, The Happy Fits create music very true to their name. It’s suggested you listen to them when you are in a good mood or want to be in one because they are sure to cheer you up.  A bonus about this band is that they use their music to raise money for various charities!
Songs: “Too Late,” “Dirty Imbecile.”

Discovery Playlist: "Foreign Bodies" - Radiation City, "Seattle Party"- Chastity Belt, "Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)"- Father John Misty, "Man in the Sixties"- Balue, "Hunk Beach"- the Walters, "Lost in the Light"- the Bahamas, "In This Shirt"- The Irrepressibles, "Archie, Marry Me"- Alvvays

Upcoming Concerts:

Vulfpeck- May 6th- Metro- Chicago- 7:00pm

Frankie Cosmos- May 12th- Vic Theatre- Chicago- 7:00 pm

Father John Misty- May 15th- Chicago Theatre- Chicago- 6:30 pm

Tears for Fears- May 15th- Allstate Arena- Chicago- 7:00 pm

Mac DeMarco- May 16th- Vic Theatre- Chicago- 7:30 pm

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fun and Funky

You know the feeling. When that song gets you to jump around, and the vibe flows from your ears to the tips of your toes and all the back again. These songs make you wanna get up, and dance and they can only be described as funky. Here are our selections of bands that will get your toes tapping and hips moving to some much needed groovy beats.

Vulfpeck: From just a listen, you’d assume they are foreign. Maybe somewhere in Europe? However, this Ann Arbor band proves to any listener that funky sounds come from anywhere. Their original sound can only be characterized as funky in the best possible way. Ask anyone who has listened to “Back Pocket” or “1612,” they will probably tell you the same thing: Vulfpeck makes you want to dance. The groove that their music carries makes even the stiffest listeners happy.

Motown: When people think of fun and grooving, most people’s mind runs to Motown. Originally known for the Hitsville U.S.A studio, the accepting scene and vibe surrounding this company’s music was not only adored and promoted throughout the black community but also appreciated by listeners everywhere. Groups like the O’Jays, the Temptations, the Supremes and the Jackson Five all owe their start to Motown. Even their reputation began to slow down, the legacy still continued.

Earth wind and fire: Probably one of the funkiest bands of this century, Earth, Wind & Fire fuses soul and jazz to R&B and disco. The band was started in 1970 and are still performing music today. Earth, Wind & Fire exudes genuine spirit. Their most famous songs, “September,” “Boogie Wonderland” and “Let’s Groove,” are sure to put their audience into a trance. But the best part of listening to Earth, Wind, and Fire is that you know you’ll probably find yourself busting out your funkiest dance moves, no matter who you are.

Kid Bloom: With some funky instruments and upbeat tones,  Kid Bloom creates music that has a modern day 70’s psychedelic feel. Their sounds exert groove, taking you to 50 places in your mind during a three-minute song. Kid Bloom is fairly new with only six songs (all of which are incredible), but they are gradually growing in their popularity. Perfect for a chill hangout or driving home at night, their songs are awe-inspiring.  

Current Groovy Tunes: “Electric U”-Kid Bloom, “Farrah Fawcett Hair”-Capital Cities, “Three Weeks”-Perpetual Groove, “Disciples”-Tame Impala, “When I Get Home” - Post Animal, “Zodiac Shit”- Flying Lotus, “Back Pocket”-Vulfpeck,

Throwback Groovy Tunes: “Boogie Wonderland”-Earth, Wind & Fire, “Baby I’m Yours”-Breakbot, “You Make My Dreams”-Daryl Hall & John Oates, “September”-Earth, Wind and Fire, “Love Train”- the O’Jays, “Superstition”-Stevie Wonder, “Crazy”-Gnarls Barkley, “Supersonic Rocket Ship”-The Kinks, “Take on Me”-A-ha,

Upcoming concerts:

Judah and The Lion-House of Blues-Chicago-March 23rd-8:00 pm

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

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

Bon Jovi-United Center-Chicago-March 26th-7:30 pm

Foxygen-Vic Theater-Chicago-March 31st-8:00 pm

Bowling for Soup-Bottom Lounge-Chicago-March 31st-8:00 pm

Bastille-Aragon Ballroom-Chicago-April 3rd-7:30pm

Hippo Campus-Metro Smart Bar-Chicago-April 7th-7:30 pm

John Mayer-United Center-Chicago-April 11th-7:30 pm