Saturday, December 26, 2009

Here's a new song of mine called Movin' On

Here's a new song that'll be on my own album in early 2010.  Its called Movin' On and is about transitions in our life, finding a way to settle into the changes that life has brought our way, and embracing them, not running away from them.  Hope you guys like it.  And if you would, go subscribe to my YouTube channel at   Thanks all.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Music Bug Continued Again

So, as I was saying, I wrote music when I was a teenager, but it wasn't the greatest.  But that is when we find the way we're supposed to go, the direction, find what we want to get out of life, music, people, etc.  So, I continued to play music in Church, playing piano for the worship team in Whittier, California.  Then eventually leading the band there for the college group at the same church, playing acoustic guitar.  All the while, I was writing music and trying to find out what kind of music I really wanted to be a part of.  So, along with leading the church band, I was asked to be a part of a band made up of friends there at the church that would eventually, with practice, play some regional youth conferences, and have some fun.  So, my first official band was called Full Service.  We actually dressed up in Dickies light blue button down short sleeve shirts, and dark blue Dickies work pants, both available at Wal-Mart.  We all dressed up in these uniforms like gas station attendants who would run out and fill up your tank, or check your oil, and played music for church kids here and there in the State of California.  Cheesy?! Yes.  Fun?! Yes, very.  Also, an interesting band, we had a singer, bass player, drummer, guitarist, myself on keyboards, a trumpet player, and a sax player.  So we were like No Doubt meets John Mayer (because of our singer's lyric and melodic influence) meets The Killers.  Weird mix, but we had fun.  There are no pics that I know available of this incarnation of musicians, nor are there any recordings except for the rehearsal tape (yes, cassette tape, kids, you can ask your parents what that is) that I have in my posession.  I did about three or four gigs with Full Service, and decided it wasn't for me.  I was at the same time working on my own music with my then girlfriend, now ex-wife.  We were doing an Out of the Grey, Lady Antebellum type thing for the christian world.  I was writing music to put an album together to start touring churches.  My style then was very acoustic guitar based, like Patty Griffin, only not as good.  I was still growing as a musician, but always consistent was the emotion that was expressed in my music.  That has never changed, nor will, because without feeling, what's the point?  So,  I and my now ex-wife continued to write music as we pursued a relationship with one another.  After getting married, she felt like settling down and wasn't feeling the music thing anymore, only after we played just a few gigs.  I was discouraged, but still spent much time writing and wondering where this music would lead me or COULD lead me.  So, one day, I got a call from a good friend, Juan Talavera.  Without Juan Talavera, the last ten years of my life wouldn't have been as amazing as they have been, and you can find out what made the last decade an incredible journey for me, that has led to my new journey.  To be continued.

Album Review of Complicated Mess by Debra Arlyn

This is an artist out of the Pacific Northwest who has a great voice, and a traditional contemporary sensibility when it comes to songwriting.  On Complicated Mess, she delves into a lot of relationship type songs and independence, finding your own identity, like the first track, Let It Go.  It is a song full of real, raw passion and the lyrics emit the longing to become who you're going to become by not trying to control the situations that shape our lives.  She recorded this at the early age of 20 and has recorded one or two albums since, but this one is on my speakers on many occasions.  And I had the opportunity to see her live and she sounds just like her records.  On this piano driven album, she finds ways to combine pop, jazz, and contemporary melodies that hold true from the first track to the last. The title track is a moving orchestration of quiet vocals mixed with simple music, but her melody in the chorus makes you want to sing along and hit repeat.  This album is truly a real expression of who she is as an artist and I hope we get to see her develop over the years.  I give this one four out of five stars. 


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Album Review of Ellipse by Imogen Heap

So who is the female voice in the chorus of the new hit song "Whatcha Say?" by Jason Derulo? Well, it is none other than british songstress, Imogen Heap. I have enjoyed her work for a very long time now. She sticks to the electronica meets samples, meets beautiful vocals formula. First of all, the sample for the Jason Derulo song is from a song called "Hide and Seek", which is off of her album Speak for Yourself. So, check it out. I also reviewed and album called Details by Frou Frou, of which she is the voice. Now, onto her new album Ellipse. It is again, very true to her form. Lilting piano supports her vocals in a lovely song called "Half Life". The acoustic guitar of "Canvas" lifts you to a place of wonder as you hear her immense vocal arrangement take over the melody that is infectious. On "Tidal", she actually samples some sounds from a Nintendo Gameboy to dress up her up tempo movement of strength and beauty. She has a way of using everyday words and turning them to mean something wonderful, while producing imagery in your head while you listen. Somewhat haunting, "2-1" offers lyrics of questioning, talking about what's out there in space, in the universe. Meanwhile, she is always referring to something else, that is inner, deeper, giving life to the thought that our hearts are a universe of emotion. Fast paced track "Aha" gives her voice the opportunity to act as melody and rhythm. This album overall takes the cake, it is an amazing third offering from this artist who continues to challenge herself and move forward and upward when it comes to music, all the while maintaining the sound she has created. I would give this album six stars if I could, but five will have to suffice. In stores now, Ellipse is newly released. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Music Bug Continued

        I decided after hearing a piano player named Keith Green, that I wanted to play like he did.  I heard him play notes that made me feel so much that I wanted to make other people feel that way as well.  So, I, at age 14, bought a chord book, a very inexpensive Casio keyboard, and started practicing to learn the piano.  I would put on the headphones and play along with one finger the melodies of the songs on the radio.  Then after about six months of learning chords on the piano, mixed with being able to play by ear, I was able to play songs on the piano.  My Mom was so happy cause she really likes the piano, as was my Dad. 
       In the next couple of years, I would spend my free time in my room with headphones on learning all kinds of songs, from Elton John to U2, to Metallica, to Worship music on the piano.  I couldn't stop playing.  It was my teenage escape, but what I didn't know, was it would lead to some pretty amazing things in my life.  Again, music mixed with the choices i've made has moved me here and there in small ways and gargantuan ways.  I was always trying to learn what those huge artists had done with the notes, how they had taken the music somewhere no one had ever done before, and I knew that I wanted that more than anything.  So, my desire grew and I wasn't just interested in sticking with one instrument (the piano), when music itself is so much more, I bought a nylon string guitar from my friend Rhiannon (yes, she was named after the song).  I started to listen to any music with acoustic guitar in it and bought my chord book and learned all my chords over the next couple of years.  My Mom wasn't as happy about the guitar as she was about the Piano.  I think her exact words were, "Steven, you are talented and gifted at the piano, not at guitar".  I would laugh and say, Mom, music is the gift.  We still laugh about that.  Anyway, the next progressive step in my search and my pursuit of this thing was to write my own songs.  The first song I ever wrote was to my two youth pastors who were leaving to go to Church far far away.  It was a tribute and a thank you for their mentoring me.  It wasn't a very good song, but it was from the heart, which is what music should be first and foremost.  My second song was for my first girlfriend.  Again, not a great song, but again, truly from the heart.  I believe that music should be felt, that an emotion should be conveyed, whether it be happiness, sadness, joy, peace, passion, hope.  These are what music means to me.  I will continue this rant again soon.  Thanks for following and listening.

Album Review of City Lights by Brett Bixby

Okay, if you like acoustic music, Brett Bixby's City Lights has taken acoustic to a new level with warm melodies, a quiet voice, and atmospheric lyrics that make you think, and help you relax about life.  The first three tracks are a perfect introduction to his ability to play and let the music breathe while giving life to the vocals with cool melodies.  "Umbrella" is a ballad that holds your attention like a sentimental moment.  "Fireside" is truly the essential folk/acoustic song.  The first lyric "Do you know where I can get me some momentum, I've been lookin' but there isn't much to spare" grabs you with a beautiful string arrangment behind his quiet rhythmic acoustic guitar.  Through the rest of the tracks you won't be dissappointed as he puts his soul to C.D., and still is able to leave some mystery to who he is as an artist.  The last track, "Memento", is like him saying goodnight as he leaves you after 10 tracks of beautiful acoustic music that should be more well known than it is.  This independent singer/songwriter that resides in Long Beach, California is doing other things musically currently, but hopefully he will grace us with another album in the near future.  If you ever have a chance to see him live, he does his album complete justice.  Find him online.  And I give him the full five stars for City Lights, one of the finest albums in my opinion.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Album Review of Remain by Tyrone Wells

Okay, just a note, I used to play little open mic shows with Tyrone in Fullerton, California before he was a big star. So, because of that, I have had the chance to follow his career from humble beginnings to opening to big crowds all across the country. This newest album, Remain, is amazing. It was recorded in London and has as I like to call them, lush vocals, sweet, crisp production, and the thing that we all look for in music, some great style. His voice rings with so much soul in tracks like Sink or Swim, which was featured on Grey's Anatomy, while the title track leaves you feeling hopeful and ready to start your day with your head held high. Some of you might be saying, come on, its just a record, but truthfully, this album is one of my new favorites. In "More", he poses the question of why we're here over the sounds of a big beautiful ballad. He is an artist of honesty, integrity, and I can say from personal experience, humility. He is truthfully one of those artists we should support, because he tries to bring out the best in his music, which can bring out the best of us in those moments when we question ourselves. And, if you happen to get the chance to see him live, his band is one of the tightest bands i've ever seen, probably because they've played like a billion shows in the last few years. And his vocals are dead on, note for note. You won't be dissappointed with Tyrone Wells' Remain. It gets the full five stars from me.

Tyrone Wells Official Website

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Album Review of Play On by Carrie Underwood

Okay, here's what I think of Carrie Underwood. She, from minute one on American Idol, was absolutely phenomonal. She was consistent week after week and then when her first record came out, I was incredibly impressed. You know, hit single after hit single, then her second album. Same thing, hit after hit. So, I thought after hearing Play On's first single, Cowboy Cassanova, which was obviously written and marketed for radio, I thought, well, she's doin' it again, only this time I wasn't so enthused about the whole thing. You know, like when a group like Rascal Flatts dominates the charts for so many albums, you think, alright already, let someone else have a turn right?! But here's the thing about Carrie's third and newest album, which I proudly own. Not only is every other song on the album unlike her Radio Single, "Cowboy Cassanova", but they are all phenomonal songs. The song "Quitter" is amazing. The melody and quiet feeling of the music just moves you with each note and rhythm. And then "Unapologize" continues Carrie Underwood's independent woman nature and gives her voice the land to roam free so to speak, as if she needs land to roam. So, this is probably not a big surprise to any of you who have read any of my other reviews, but this album gets the full five out of five stars. On that note, I will be reviewing albums in the future that might not be so pleasureable to me, but for the time being, I am trying to give album reviews of albums that have moved me beyond measure. So, I hope that you all enjoy any of the suggestions that I offer musically. Enjoy.