Monday, December 31, 2012

Musical Monday: Best of 2012

I tried to pick my top 10 songs of 2012, I really did. But I have such trouble picking favorites, the only way that made sense to showcase the songs I loved this year was not to make a numerically ordered list (how could I rank & measure Macklemore against Julia Stone in any way that could truly compare their music fairly. So instead I decided to share the top 3 songs that got me through each month. The only restriction I gave myself in this list is that since it is a "best of 2012" list they either had to be released in 2012 or late 2011.

*a quick explanation on lack of Gotye in the top songs of 2012:  I discovered his music in February 2011 & bought Making Mirrors when it was released in Australia in August 2011 and subsequently rocked out on repeat until the end of the year. For me, 2011 was the year of Gotye, even though I went to 2 concerts of his in 2012 which were awesome, the magic and obsession of discovery has given way to a comfortable, less prominent but still ever-present appreciation.

Without further ado, here are my Top 36 of 2012


The 2011 Triple J Hottest 100 gave me a lot of great music to start off the new year. And KEXP's Iceland Airwaves gave me Of Monsters and Men and their super-catchy "Little Talks"
Matt Corby: Brother 

Of Monsters and Men: Little Talks

Bombay Bicycle Club: Shuffle


February was all about escaping the madness through music, and Marathon Runner became my Spring-time anthem, I even used the lyrics as headers in a law school paper.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: Make the Money

Yellow Ostrich: Marathon Runner

The Lumineers: Ho Hey


Lushlife: Teenage Dream

Ramona Falls: Spore

Kimbra: Come Into My Head


April Showers brought some sad nostalgia but also comforting reflection.
David's Lyre: Hearbeat

Gossling: Love Fall Foul

Dana Buoy: So Lucky


Happy songs were fitting for all the celebrations of May
Ramona Falls: Archimedes Plutonium

Gossling: Wild Love

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: Can't Hold Us Feat. Ray Dalton


Songs that got me through Bar Review, either epic soundtracks, positive messages, of complex beats to fall into to pause from studying. I credit "When It Builds" especially for helping me get through certain sections of Bar Review *cough* Wills & Trusts and therefore helping me pass the VA Bar)
Shadows on Stars: When It Builds

Alt-J: Fitzpleasure

Alt-J: Taro


More happy/upbeat songs, I'm still waiting for Yuna to blow up, she's great and Stereogum voted Japandroids The House That Heaven Built  the Song of the Summer. Also, a zen Matt Corby track he released for free which I listen to almost every yoga practice, it puts me in such a lovely place.
Yuna: Live Your Life

Japandroids: The House that Heaven Built

Matt Corby: Coloured Stones and Walls


August was about rekindling the love for old favorite musicians. I went to the Gentlemen of the Road festival and it renewed my love for Mumford, I also rediscovered Stars with their new album North and Ingrid Michaelson on YouTube made me realize how great she still is.

Mumford & Sons: Below My Feet

Stars: Hold on When You Get Love and Let Go When You Get It

Ingrid Michaelson: Fire


No theme in Septermber, just good music.
Imagine Dragons: Tiptoe

Hot Chip: Let Me Be Him

Julia Stone: Let's Forget All The Things That We Say (Feat. Benjamin Biolay)


Again, no theme here, just songs I kept replaying.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: BomBom Feat. The Teaching

Stars: Walls

NO: What's Your Name


This was an angsty month for me, evidenced by the girl-tastic jams with lyrics like "if you're still breathing, you're the lucky one" and "don't tell me our youth is running out"
Daughter: Youth

HAIM: Go Slow

Foxes: Youth


Christmas, nostalgia, and the years end meant these were the tracks of my December.
Sufjan Stevens: Christmas Unicorn

Kishi Bashi: Manchester

Husky: History's Door

I'm excited for what 2013 will hold. Were any of these your favorites from 2012? What songs define your past year? I'd love to hear in the comments section below or find me on twitter: @itzbizr

Monday, December 24, 2012

Blue Christmas: Thank God for Kids

Because it's Christmas. Because there are 27 people whose murders shocked the world.  Because many were beautiful innocent children.  Because they are near to my heart right now and should not be forgotten. Because, the darkness threatened to overshadow the light, but the Light has and will always conquer the darkness.

Because in the midst of asking how this could happen, we can all thank God for the gift of children everywhere, and for the joy and laughter and smiles of those kids in Newtown, Connecticut shared on this earth before they were taken from it.

Oak Ridge Boys: Thank God for Kids
If it weren't for kids have you ever thought
There wouldn't be no Santa Claus
Or look what the stork just brought
Thank God for kids

And we'd all live in a quiet house
With out Big Bird or Mickey Mouse
And kool aid on the couch
Thank God for kids

Thank God for kids, there's magic for a while
A special kind of sunshine in a smile
Do you ever stop to think or wonder why
The nearest thing to heaven is a child

Daddy, how does this thing fly?
And a hundred other where's and whys
I really don't know but I try
Thank God for kids

And when I look down in those trusting eyes
That look to me, I realize
There's a love that I can't buy
Thank God for kids

Thank God for kids, there's magic for a while
A special kind of sunshine in a smile
Do you ever stop to think or wonder why
The nearest thing to heaven is a child

And when you get down on your knees tonight
Thank the Lord for His guiding light
And pray they turn out right
Thank God for kids

Thank God for kids.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Musical Monday: Christmas Unicorns!

So today's blog is brought to you by Christmas non-human entities =). We have Christmas Unicorns, Christmas Ghosts, Christmas Hippos, and of course that magical snowman who lives on the edge!

Sufjan Stevens: Christmas Unicorn
A song about how we're all uniquely outcasts, and don't quite feel we deserve Christmas in our own ways, but that's why Christmas happened and happens every year! Even if you're wary of artsy, indie, angsty music, it is totally worth getting through the first 5-6 minutes to the slow build to a dance-tastic, "It's alright, I love you" filled joyful groove (the beat finally drops about 6:30). I love how Sufjan is constantly changing and experimenting with his sounds and so evolves as an artist with each song. I would've LOVED to have seen his latest tour but he was in DC over Thanksgiving & I couldn't convince Grandma to go =)

A Muppet Christmas Carol: It Feels Like Christmas

So i pretended to be a celebrity and totally live-tweeted my first (of many) viewing of the movie this year, that's how much I love it! The message of this song is so wonderful to: "in all the ways that you show love it feels like Christmas... the message if you hear it, is make it last all year!"

Gayla Peevey: I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas

I LOVED this song growing up because imagining a Hippo standing next to a Christmas tree is just too hilarious! Just picture it: a real live, aggressively irate (hippos are not Chill Charlies, like they want you to believe) hippo standing with a giant bow on its head or around it's stomach, too funny!

Bing Crosby: Frosty the Snowman
And it's just not Christmas without good old Frosty the snowman. A reminder that life is short so why not enjoy it and have fun (although I'd draw the line before provoking a traffic cop, but then again I'm not quite as bold as an animated snowman)

What are some of your favorite songs of the season? I'd love to know in the comments section!

Follow me on Twitter: @itzbizr

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Musical Monday, err Thursday: Oppa GOTR style

Forgive me for the bandwagony style title, but I just had to find a way to nod to one of the most interesting pop music hits of the year, Gangnam style. I also need to apologize b/c whoops, it's already the 13th and I've not posted yet this month... That's 2 Musical Mondays I've missed. APOLOGIES! 

Now that that's over with the real theme behind today's post is the Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Tour. Basically this summer, Mumford & Sons coordinated 4 awesome music festivals nationwide, highlighting the musical history of the four cities. I went with friend to the Bristol, TN/VA Stopover, heard great music, went antiquing, saw more mustaches than I could count, and had a great time!

They even had lovely little photo-shoot opportunities set up, and a mustache on a helicopter!

I'm also doing something new and using only live versions of the song, since that's how I experienced them-slash-now have them on the compilation CD.

HAIM: Go Slow

I was able to see part of their performance at Bristol, but unfortunately not this song. So I'm super stoked to have the live-recording version from the compilation CD. I actually like the live version better than the recorded one, there's a much more 80s synth-tastic vibe and the vocals intertwine into an awesome tapestry of awesomicity =)

Dawes: A Little Bit of Everything
I was also lucky enough to see Dawes play at Bristol and they were great! This is a nice mellow jam about an attempted suicide, regret-fueled binge-eating, & the power of love, you can close your eyes and sway to.

The Very Best: Kondaine
Now after that downer, it's Super-party-dance-time! They look like they're having so much fun and its hard not to catch their infectious smiles and let the beat carry you to at least a bit of shoulder dancing.

Gogol Bordello: Start Wearing Purple
An oldie but goodie. They weren't at Bristol so I can only imagine what this was like live. Seeing the footage from this 2007 concert I'm sure it was pretty crazy!

Mumford & Sons-Below My Feet
One of their newer tracks. I can't get enough of the lyrics "keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn." While their chord progression remains predictable by now (you can say that about most any rock/pop artist though), it is predictably wonderful and one of my favorite things is shout-singing along to the "Ahhhs," creating and weaving in my own version of harmonies, so it's different every time. Their music also makes me happy in a way few other artists can. Also, this has a brief intro by Joseph Gordon Levitt so if it's not your type of music you can  just watch the first 3 seconds on repeat for awhile =)

Did you go to any great live shows or music festivals in 2012? Or is there any concert that stuck with you for awhile, I'd love to hear about it in the comments, or follow me on twitter for more music updates: @itzbizr

Monday, November 26, 2012

Musical Monday: Cool Covers

So I find a lot of my covers on Like a Version, a feature on the Australian radio station Triple J where the musicians come and play one of their own songs and then add a twist to a song by someone else. Last week I highlighted Josh Pyke's cover of the Jezebel's Endless Summer. I felt inspired to create a list of some of my favorite covers. Here's what I came up with:

Matt Corby: Lonely Boy (the Black Keys cover)
This performance is so heart-achingly raw and wonderful. The slowed down tempo, stripped to acoustic guitar allows Matt to create such a dynamic vocal performance that gives a new twist to the song.

Missy Higgins: Heart's a Mess (Gotye cover)
This is already one of my favorite songs so it's safe to say not only will I love any version, but I will also never think any comes close to the original.  This cover is one of my favorites because Missy has such an emotive voice and stripping it down to just her and the piano adds more than it takes away. It's also interesting to hear the lyrics and imagine the original scenario flipped on its head to a woman's perspective. Another cool thing is that I saw Missy Higgins tour with Gotye in September so it's cool to see her play his stuff before the whole tour happened.

Jimmy Eat World: Last Christmas
Now I love T. Swift as much as the next guitar playing gal, but Jimmy Eat World has my heart when it comes to covering the song "Last Christmas." Something about this version captures the more hopeful side of the song, while still conveying the original hurt behind the lyrics.

Angus and Julia Stone: You're the One that I Want (Grease cover)
For some reason it seems most of the covers I like are slowed down, moody versions of songs, maybe I'm more emo than I'll admit but I do really like this cover sung by Julia Stone of the Grease hit. Also, one of my favorits SYTYCD (So You Think You Can Dance) contestants did one of her 30 second solos to this song so I always see that in my head when I hear "I got chiiiiiillls".

The Rocket Summer: Hey Ya (Outkast cover)

I can't yet find a good quality video that shows Bryce looping all the instruments and the full song but I'll update this post as soon as I do. What makes this cover cool is that I saw it performed live in the His Instruments Your Voices tour. The Rocket Summer is basically this really talented musician/composer/singer/performer named Bryce Avary who plays basically any instrument. It was really neat to see the whole song slowly built piece by piece, and finally figure out what it was.

There are other cover's out there that I like, for example Anya Marina's Whatever You Like (T.I. cover), or any Karmin Music cover but I needed to cut off the list at some point or else this post would never end.

Do you have any favorite covers? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section! I LOVE sharing music and I'd love to hear what you'd recommend!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Musical Monday (Tuesday Again): Summer Come Back!

In Which I Lament The Summer That Wasn't

Today's theme ignores the fact that Thanksgiving and The Most Wonderful Time of the Year are right around the corner & instead encapsulates my sentiments for most of late October-mid November: fall is great and wonderful but I missed my summer this year I want it back!

The Drums: Let's Go Surfing

A perfect summer boardwalk song. Not since Nelly have we had a better woven-in version of "Shimmy Shimmy Coco-Pop" (or "DownDown Baby," whatever it's called) to a radio friendly tune.

Surfaris: Wipeout

I can't have summer without this jam. And the cackling laugh just taunts me that its another 7 months until summer begins.

Dana Buoy: So Lucky

I know I've highlighted this song before but my blog my rules, I do what I want (plus last time it was just the EP cover not a music video).  Anyways, I can't hear this song without thinking of relaxing at the beach seeing a vast expanse of ocean across the horizon and that wonderfully full feeling you get realizing how amazing it it yo witness such grandeur.

The Jezabels: Endless Summer

Epic drumbeats, a ridiculous vocal range, passionately ambiguous but dark/nostalgic lyrics, must be the Jezabels. The video is just as epic w/ a cinematic Beauty & the Beast-esque storyline, horses, & Australian ranch.

Josh Pyke: Endless Summer (Jezebel Cover)

Then because today's selection is based on my own sad nostalgia for the summer that wasn't (2012 will always be the summer that wasn't just b/c it was filled with studying for the bar, which I don't want to remember anyway), here's Josh Pyke's acoustic - and therefore more raw & emotional by default - cover of Endless Summer for Triple J's Like a Version. Sidenote: Next week theme will be Cool Covers w/ a link to Triple J and some of my favorite "Like a Versions"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Musical Monday (Tuesday): Epic Youth Battle

So this post is late due mostly to the fact that I didn;t have internet for most of yesterday or the weekend in general as I took in the sights, sounds, and kickball feilds of New Orleans LA.  While my team wasn't the Circuit Cup National Champions, we did make it to the finals and take it to 5 extra innings, not too shabby.

Enough with the recap, let's get to today's music post. I have two current up-and-coming songs that are stuck in my head this week and they both happen to have the same name, which can only mean one thing for today's post:
Prepare your mind for two Youths duking it out in the battle for your ears and heart!

Daughter: Youth

In this corner, championed by KEXP Seattle is the British trio, lead by Elena Tonra.  With a quiet passion they creates a dark, brooding, atmospheric tale of "setting fire to our insides for fun to distract our hearts" and "lovers that went wrong." The subtle melody of the electric guitar weaves magic as it interplays with her contemplative, regretfully angry vocals and the dynamic drumbeat.

Foxes: Youth

In the other corner, championed by Dianna Agron and the crew at You Me & Charlie comes Louisa Rose Allen, also hailing from across the pond (Britain), who performs under the name Foxes. This "Youth" definitely has a bolder more danceable beat, while still maintaining meaningful lyrics: "a thousand dreams I'm holding heavy." The beat definitely take center stage alongside her voice, nostalgic and pleading as she cries "don't tell me our youth is running out," after a brief pseudo-climax, both the beat and her voice regain power & confidence as the song builds to a close.

So who won? It's like picking which child is your favorite, but I'm keeping my own bias to myself. I'd love to hear which one you prefer and why! Drop a  comment below!

Friday, November 9, 2012

(Super)Fun Friday: Kickball and Cooking

So tomorrow I jet off to New Orleans to play for the National Kickball Title (I know how absurd that sounds but there's actually a lot of strategy and athletic ability that goes into an adult kickball game, and I've really missed having a team to belong to and something to REALLY play for in a sport).  My team, OSC, is actually quite good, in fact we won the WAKA World (National) Championship tournament in Vegas last month.

(OSC at the Harrisburg, PA tournament in June 2012)

It's also SUPERFUN because my sisters and I all play for the same team and when we get together and get competitive, it's impossible not to have a fun time!
uuber presh-to-the-ish, no?

And what also makes this (Super)Fun Friday is that I took a break from job applications this week to splice together my very own audition for The Next Food Network Star! Well, not really, but the way the job search is going, I'm not ruling it out as an alternative.  Anyways, here's a video where I show you how to make Jerk Chicken Chili! The recipe is included in the info-doobly-doo beneath the video on YouTube if you want to make some yourself.  It's SUPER sencillo (easy), and RIDICULOUSLY DELICIOUS. 

 It's one of the first big dishes I discovered and made entirely on my own so it will always be a special recipe in the filing-cabinet of my heart.

Anyways, hope you have a Fabulously Fun Friday and see you for the next Musical Monday!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Musical Monday: Banjo-rific!

Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a very judgmental person... the one exception is that I totally judge people based on whether or not they like banjos.  I think banjos are the most interestingunder-appreciated, complex, AMERICAN, and awesome instrument out there. If I was a musical instrument, I would be a banjo (or maybe an accordion).

Josh Turner: Would You Go With Me?
Oh, that voice! When put with the banjo, I DIE of overexposure to awesome every time I listen to this song!

Dixie Chicks: Cowboy Take Me Away
Political agenda and drama aside, these ladies could ROCK! This was one of their slower jams but man did I sing this all the way through middle school!

Redemption Hill Music: Rock of Ages
When I lived in Richmond, I was blessed by Redemption Hill Church in so many ways, not least of all by the Ah-MAZING music every week.  The quality of music being played by so many diverse instruments was fantastic. Every Sunday I spied a banjo in the band setup made it that much better of a service =). The church just came out with a new EP, which you can get here!

Mumford and Sons: Roll Away Your Stone
I can't have a best-of banjo list and not mention Mumford & Sons, they helped bring banjo mainstream (outside of country music). Also, the banjo player has some sweet groove-tastic moves as he plays. This is one of my favorite songs of theirs and was splendidly done each time I saw them live.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Musical Thursday?!? Special Post

So listening to music while driving through a hurricane makes the entire experience more potent, the lyrics pop in your brain, the drumbeats pound in your heart, and the melodies echo through your ears. 

Basically, my adrenaline fueled 2-hour drive through Hurricane Sandy (when it was still technically a Hurricane) from Richmond back to NoVA while listening to KEXP's Music that Matters Podcast, made this already epic piece of "post-anthemic rock" (apparently that's a thing now, see here) even more EPIC! Like any tremendously happy news, I can no longer contain it, thus this special post.

Here's a preview of the lyrical phrases that caught my breath and continue to waft through my mind:
"I was in love with a heartbeat;
"I'm singing of a lonesome day;
"She wears a red dress out when it's grey; she's out there looking for love in the morning."
"I'll send doves to let you know"
"See the sun turn around and run away"

Without further ado, here's the song.

NO: What's Your Name?

You can get their EP on their Bandcamp page:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Musical Monday: SuperStorm Edition!

Hurricane, well sorry I guess now she's downgraded to SuperStorm, Sandy has largely passed the area and luckily my friends and family were relatively unscathed. Those who lost lives, a loved one, or property my heart is with you. Here are some songs that played in my head while the storm passed, with some of their more pertinent storm-themed lyrics.

Ramona Falls: The Space Between Lightning and Thunder
"I feel alive when the weathers violent, I live to smell the change in the air"
I actually tweeted this & got a response from the band themselves, felt like a rockstar: 
 Stay safe dear east coast friends “: "I feel alive when the weather's violent" -  "

The Doors: Riders on the Storm
"Riders on the storm, into this house we're born, into this world we're thrown"

Garth Brooks: The Thunder Rolls
"As the storm blows on out of control, deep in her heart the thunder rolls"

Mumford & Sons: After the Storm
"and after the storm... on my knees and out of luck I look up... there will come a time you'll see with no more fear and love will not break your heart"

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Musical Monday: Great Walls

So it's not like my own personal life crises are influencing the song choices this week. Nope, not at all. This has nothing to do with the metaphorical walls I feel closing in on me as I face the realization of another year gone, student loans looming and no permanent employment to speak of. Or even the fact that simply publishing a blog poast feels like an obstacle to overcome at the present moment.  Or that I have had these songs selected for well over a month and simply hitting the "Publish" button has seemed too daunting a task. No this had no influence on this weeks (months?) theme.

Stars -- Walls
Off of the latest album from Canadian indie band Stars, another solid track displaying why they've been one of my favorites for so long.

The Rocket Summer -- Walls
Not new by any means but a powerful simple song about how important it is to be there for someone and to remember & thank the people who are there for us.

Matt Corby -- Coloured Stones and Walls
I used this one as an intro to my yoga class I used to teach. It always put me in the right mindset, relaxed, open-minded, connected, & anticipating what's next to come. Hopefully it will continue to do so.

Bedouin Soundclash -- Walls Fall Down
Again, not new but still great. "When the walls fall down you begin," what a perfect sentiment for this place I find myself. Now I just gotta start knocking some of these dang walls down, so I can "begin"

Monday, September 3, 2012

Musical Monday: Sounds & Places

As half of America sojourned across this great land for one last summer adventure this Labor Day, I figured it's be the perfect inspiration for this week's Musical Monday selection: Songs With The Names of Places.

Shovels and Rope - Birmingham
First off is the newest song in the playlist today.  The band is called Shovels and Rope and they're a married duo with heart and soul bursting through as they belt out harmonies, in this case with gospel roots and a southern kick.   Their 2012 album is called O' Be Joyful and you be hard-pressed not to tap your foot and smile along to this tune.

Bon Iver - Calgary
Bon Iver is awesome. Calgary hosted the Olympics once. You should watch Cool Runnings.

The Weeknd - Montreal

Since we're already in Canada, might as well find another song that plays tribute to that country. The Weeknd made both of his albums freely downloadable from his website although I'm not sure if that was a limited time thing.  Some of the songs are NSFW but unless this one says something inappropriate in French, you should be fine but I might wear headphones in case anyone within hearing space is sensitive.

New Navy - Zimbabwe
Well, fancy that, a song about vacation and travelling.  How appropriate.  This track was named #67 on Triple J's Hottest 100 Countdown for 2011 (a post you can read about here). The catchy tune really makes my want to visit that country in southern Africa, I could use another holiday.

Angus & Julia Stone - Santa Monica Dream
Well, now let's return the the good ol US of A, and have some Aussies sing about their California Dreamin (see what I did there). A mellow brother/sister duo that have since split to pursue their own sounds in music, Julia Stone with her album By the Horns and Angus Stone recently released Broken Brights, yet their collaborations remain my favorites.

The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio
Matt Berninger's baritone holds a special place in my ears. Off the album High Violet released a few years back, Bloodbuzz Ohio reminds us that try as we might we can't go home again. Or at least thats part of my interpretation, what do you think?

Hopefully you found some new music and maybe even a new place to vacation on your next holiday!