Now, this chick, she is my absolute obsession at the moment. (And I’m not even going to apologize for how creepy that sounded.) ZZ Ward, whose real name is Zsuszsanna hence the abbreviation, is a R&B/soul singer with a touch of bluegrass. My brother-in-law best described her as a weird combination of Amy Winehouse and Sara Bareilles, and, I must say, that’s a pretty perfect description. There is something else in her voice though. Something I’m having trouble putting my finger on, but who cares? It’s the intangible.
Ward’s entire debut album, Til the Casket Drops displays her vocal prowess as she floats from note to note with such grace and poise. It is a smash, with a handful of solid guest stars such as Kendrick Lamar and The O’Mys. I personally love Move Like You Stole It and 365 Days if you want to get up and groove a little. If you’d prefer a gorgeous ballad, Last Love Song is your pick. It’s your basic ode to a love gone wrong, but ZZ has a way of hooking you with her vocal runs and keeping you there with her talent on the guitar. She’s the real deal, yo, even if she wears a weird hat for her signature look.
When I first heard about this band, through a friend of a friend, I was a little hesitant. I get a lot of recommendations for rock bands, and very few of them end up panning out for me. I just don’t like when a singer screams at me with very little actual notes. I was, in this case, pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong.
I was told that MMR is an LA-based rock band, which is true if you ignore the fact that two members are from the UK and one is from New York. I will give my friend this: They do currently live, play, and are trying to get a record deal out on the west coast. This band’s sound is modern rock with just enough 80’s hairband nostalgia to be awesome but not dated. The guitar is absolutely ridiculous (in the best possible way), and the bass line always comes in at a really interesting point. Mia Swier, the band’s lead vocalist and resident bad-ass chick of the bunch, is a solid choice to lead the group. Her vocals can, on occasion, feel a bit forced, but seeing as she was the bassist in her previous two projects, I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. There is an edge to her voice that can’t be taught like vocal phrasing and breath control can.
The best thing about this band? They put their entire EP up on bandcamp for free. There’s literally nothing to lose by checking them out, so do it before they get signed, make a record, and are forced to charge you for it! Knock on the Door is a personal favorite of mine. It can power you through any bad day, tough workout, or just be used as an excuse to headbang in the car. The lead single is Running on Empty, if you’d prefer to check that out instead. It’s a close second for my top pick.
The next band on my musical journey is a group I stumbled upon last June, while living out in Colorado. Now, the fact that this album is still on heavy rotation in my iPod is quite a feat, seeing as how I have the attention span of a gnat on a good day. That’s the thing about this group’s debut disc, it sticks with you. Literally every song is my favorite the moment it starts because every one has a solid guitar driving the beat, infectious vocals, and a chorus you can get behind. (The gratuitous use of the key-tar doesn’t hurt their case either.)
I have had the opportunity to see Walk the Moon live, and, let me tell you, completely worth it if you get the chance. They put on the best show I’ve seen all year. (Grace Potter and the Nocturnals is a close second, but I digress.) Their fans have a love for face-paint, and the show’s vibe is so upbeat and fun that it is impossible not to jump around with the group. They were so good, that I’m seeing them twice in one year, which is simply unheard of in my world of grad-student budgeting.
Although every song on the album is fantastic, personal favorites include Shiver, Shiver, a sexy little tune to groove to, and Anna Sun, a powerhouse rock song to belt out in the car with the windows down.
Now, who should I start us off with? Perhaps an old school ode like the Beatles, but are my musings really necessary to solidify years of proof that they are one of the most influential musical groups of all time? I think not.
Instead, I’ll go with Haim. If you are not yet familiar, this is a cooler, female version of Hanson. (And I mean this with no disrespect to Hanson. I think they are one of the greatest things to come out of the 90’s. If you don’t immediately sing along to MmmBop, there is something wrong with you.)
This LA-based group has opened for everyone from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros to Ke$ha. They’re currently rocking out the festival circuit, and I for one cannot wait to see them at Lollapalooza. These girls are a weird mix of Fleetwood Mac and everything beautiful about early 90’s pop/R&B, and the combination is fantastic. Falling is guaranteed to make you dance with every listen, and the intro vocals on Better Off hook you into the world’s catchiest tell-off jam. Do yourself a favor and download any of their singles. You won’t be disappointed. I will be patiently waiting for the album release.
I feel we should begin this metaphorical journey with one blanket statement: I am not musically gifted. At all. I can sing well enough to know that I shouldn’t, and I can read music at the exact level necessary to pass middle school band classes. What I am, however, is an appreciator of all things musical. I wish with every fiber of my being that I could wail like Adele or rock out on the bass or flail on the drums without looking like a four year old learning to swim, but, sadly, it’s just not in the cards for me.
Instead, I go to concerts and buys albums. (Yes. I cannot break the habit of calling them albums. Don’t know why, since I was born in the 80’s, not 1965.) With all that in mind, this is a collection of my musings on music, both current and old, from any genre that is tickling my fancy at the moment. You are free to disagree, make suggestions, completely ignore everything I say and never return again. That’s the beauty of the internet people. Enjoy!