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Favorite Band For The Moment: tUnE-yArDs

Day seven of my 30 Day Lifestyle Blogging Challenge is about my favorite band of the moment.  This one is tricky because I have so many short term obsessions when it comes to music. Hands down, I have to say that the best band I’ve listened to in weeks is tUnE-yArDs out of Oakland, CA. The band is the music project ofMerrill Garbus. I haven’t seen the live show yet, but when performing live, Garbus creates drum loops on the spot, and layers these with ukulele, voice, and electric bass.

The second tUnE-yArDs album, w h o k i l l, was released on April 19, 2011 (2 days after my birthday)

A single from it, “Bizness”, came out in February 2011. It was produced by Garbus and engineered by Eli Crews at New, Improved Studios in Oakland, California. Check out the music video here:

Check out this live performance of Gangsta live on KEXP.

Poster Process – The Black Keys

Poster Process – The Black Keys from DKNG Studios on Vimeo.

Unplugged at the Park

A couple weeks ago I jumped in the car and headed down south for a vacation and to check out the music scene in a couple cities along the way. I have to say that I was really impressed with the music happenings in Atlanta.  What comes to mind to most when talking about music down in the ATL is hip hop.  Well the city hasn’t limited itself to one genre of music any longer.  There is an expanding indie scene and many outlets for musicians to get their music heard, one of them being Unplugged at the Park.

Piedmont Park is beautiful on it’s own. Located in midtown overlooking the downtown Atlanta skyline.  The park is a buzz with many people, often with frisbees and dogs.  It’s a very relaxing, peaceful, and fun environment.  On the corner of the park sits a bar and restaurant called, Park Tavern.  There’s plenty of seating and a small brewery inside the restaurant.  Outside they have a large tent with a stage and many tables for seating. The menu features a variety of sushi and claims to have the best burgers in midtown.  Every Sunday Park Tavern hosts a free concert with national touring acts and local bands. The event is in it’s 9th consecutive season and is sponsored by Miller, Bacardi and 99X.  It’s a beyond brilliant idea and I have to wonder why every major city isn’t doing something similar.  Chicago offers free concerts at Millennium Park but it largely features classical musicians. I think it would be a great idea for mid-size cities to embrace the Park Music series to support singer-songwriters.


The event runs through to the beginning of October. The calendar of artists is worth checking out, I am familiar with quite a few bands on the roster this year. I happened to catch Joshua Fletcher & the Six Shot Romance and was very pleased to discover this band.  I knew upon arrival that I would like their music.  One of the members was running through the parking lot while slipping a pair of toms shoes on his feet.  A couple members had longer hair and the lead singer was super clean cut.  They are an eclectic group that sparked my curiosity about how they all could have came together.  Each of them were so unique and I think thats part of the reason I feel like this band is so special.   I want to see them again because it wasn’t an easy task to take in all that they have to offer.  The drummer was super cool and smooth, someone I would have loved to just sit in on a jam session with.  Joshua Fletcher had skinny jeans on that were rolled and combined with cowboy boots.  He played his guitar and harmonica with so much emotion, and pretty flawlessly I might add.  The bass player was quirky and seemed content in his own world, but still connected.  I couldn’t help but appreciate their style.  I did a quick listen of their ep after the show and it doesn’t quite do the band justice.  The beauty of their sound is perfectly captured through their live performance, with each instrument blending and layering extremely naturally.

Honestly, one of the best events I’ve been to in awhile.  Great food and music while being in a beautiful park, it’s the perfect combination.  You can’t go wrong, there is something to offer everyone. I recommend that if you are in the Atlanta area check it out at least once.  And if you know of any events going on in your city similar to Unplugged at the Park, comment or tweet me the info (@MusicITZLife).

Steel Train Album – Get It Free!

You may have noticed my lack of posts these past few weeks.  It’s certainly not for lack of good music.  In fact the past month I have been attached to my ipod, I’m extremely pleased with my collection lately!  Find me on Grooveshark (@MusicITZLife) because I’m about to make a new summer playlist for everyone to enjoy! I do however have a severe case of writers block, but I couldn’t let it get in the way of sharing this news.  It’s been one year since the release of Steel Train’s self titled album and in celebration they are giving the album away this week for FREE!


I’m sure many of you are already aware that this is one of my favorite bands of all time!  Their tracks Bullet & Turnpike Ghost made my list of most memorable songs of 2010.  I have also been fortunate to see them live many times.  I love seeing them in concert, they are so energetic and fun.  I feel so connected to their music, they are truly lyrical geniuses.  This is one band that I just appreciate and am continually inspired by.


So when this news popped up on my newsfeed an hour ago I knew I just had to share it with you guys.  I’m really excited about this giveaway because it’s the perfect opportunity for me to share some of my favorite music with you.  Honestly, it’s free so there is absolutely no risk involved.  You don’t have to worry about spending a dime and never listening to it.  If you decide their sound isn’t your thing (which I can almost assure you that won’t be the case, because they have material that will appeal to just about everyone) you can simply delete it off your computer.  But please, don’t miss this opportunity to get an amazing album for free.  For my sanity… just download it!

You can get your free copy at



Concert Review: Andrew Belle & Matt Hires at Lincoln Hall

It’s no secret that my favorite venue of all time is House of Blues in Chicago.  In my mind, nothing compares to the architecture, history and overall vibe of the place.  However, I stopped by Lincoln Hall on Sunday night to catch Chicago’s very own Andrew Belle perform and I will say that Lincoln Hall has definitely made its way up there as another one of my favorite venues, at least in Chicago anyway.

Andrew Belle

Seeing a show at House of Blues is an experience in itself, no matter which band you’re going there to watch.  Lincoln Hall instead, absorbs the vibe of the crowd to create a different atmosphere at every show.  The sound quality is fantastic – probably the best I’ve ever experienced.  The size is very intimate and the place is simple, allowing you to focus on the brilliance on stage.

He’s a fairly new artist, he’s from Chicago, and I’m always curious to see what kind of musicians this city is putting out.  (I’ve also been somewhat consumed in the hip hop industry for the last couple months and have been needing a break so, I was looking forward to checking out this show.)  You may have noticed recently that Andrew Belle’s music has been making the rounds on all your favorite TV shows.  I’ve always liked what I’ve heard from him.  My favorite track “Open Your Eyes” was featured on Grey’s Anatomy last season.

Overall, it was a good night.  Belle played with his full band, which added a lot of different layers and elements to the music that really don’t come across on his albums.  However, the constant fog emanating from the stage was a bit of an annoyance.  One song after another, starting off softly, building into an eventual explosion with the band blowing your face off, this became tiresome as well.  In the grand scheme of things there is nothing wrong with that type of vibe, but when it happens during every song, there’s no opportunity to appreciate it.

Sorry to say that I guess mostly, Belle’s performance was disappointing.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a big fan of Andrew Belle.  This guy is a lyrical genius who tells some incredible stories through his music and he has a beautiful voice.  But the band overpowered him and were a distraction from the real talent.  However, the performance did show me that Andrew Belle is a diverse artist and not your run-of-the-mill acoustic, singer/songwriter.

In general, the show was very Coldplay-esque.  If you’re into that type of sound, I definitely recommend checking Belle out.  However, if you’re expecting to hear what you have on his albums, there’s not of much of a connection there.

Matt Hires

The night wasn’t a complete disappointment.  It was actually far from that.  Matt Hires flew in from Tampa to open the show.  I thought I knew what to expect from him.  I had seen him 3 and a half years prior at House of Blues here in Chicago.  I liked his performance back then, enough to remember his name.  More recently I had heard his song, “Honey, Let Me Sing You A Song,” here and there.  I was looking forward to catching him perform again, but not necessarily excited.

I can now say that watching Hires perform made me want to come home and book a flight to see his next show.  I am completely blown away by how much he’s grown as a performer – it was like night and day.  And although it was obvious that the talent was always there, the performance quality was lacking before.  Hires went from shy and slightly boring (sorry Matt!) to an incredibly charming, seasoned musician – and talk about someone that can tell a story!  His set was completely captivating and I’m not sure I ever took my eyes off of him.  (Not bad for someone that’s on stage with only his guitar).  Matt Hires has so much character in his voice (think Mumford, Bob Dylan, Wilco, Ryan Adams), but at the same time he has a sound all of his own.  With a vibrato unlike any I’ve ever heard before, plus his whistling which packs a punch slightly less than that of Andrew Bird, but adds more of a soothing melody, I had no idea what just hit me.  He made it all look so easy.

What Hires is able to do on stage is anything but simple.  It is raw, honest, and real.  I think I even used the word “magical” that night and I was revived.  It reminded me of my passion for music.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember why I wanted to work in this industry in the first place, as Lady Gaga and American Idol are what people are paying attention to.  It’s so easy to become jaded and cynical.  But Matt Hires reminded me why I love this business and the kind of music that matters to me.  I feel like I owe him something for saving me.  I definitely needed someone to kick me into gear so I could keep pursuing my dream, and to remind me what I’m fighting for.  One listen to his song “Rock N’ Roll Heart” and I knew that we had an understanding of one another.  Finally my dear Stylebust readers – someone I can share with you guys that is a complete life changer!  He stole the show.

This isn’t the last you’ll hear about Matt Hires from me.  Check out his latest Live Sessions EP.  He’s also going to be on the West Coast touring with Marc Broussard in a couple weeks (maybe I’ll see you there)!  There’s also been a lot of buzz recently surrounding his cover of MGMT’s “Kids.”  Check out the video of him performing it below:

Scotty McCreery Crowned American Idol

The was quite possibly the worst Idol finale that I have sat through.  But I have come to terms with the fact that Idol is never going to be exactly how I think it should be.  I actually didn’t even vote for the finale.  I just didn’t seem to care.  So we finally have a winner… Scotty McCreery.  I have to say that even leading up to the finale I just didn’t think it was possible for him to win the whole thing.  I was wrong.  I find it interesting how some people say there is no way he could be played on country radio (most reasons given are because of his quirkiness) and then others are all about him and think he’s perfect.  I’m anxious to see what happens.  There’s no way radio can just black ball the American Idol winner, but truly his single is not impressive.  I think its beyond corny, which won’t help with the naysayers.  But yet, most of the other first singles from winners weren’t that great either.

The finale was rather boring.  The performers were not that impressive.  I think Casey got sort of screwed performing with Jack Black.  I wasn’t the least bit surprised seeing JLo perform with her hubby.  Remember a couple weeks ago how I mentioned how it was disappointing that we never got to see her dancing skills in her performance?  Well, she’s not the type that wants her talent to go unnoticed.  So they found a way to work it in, just to show that she’s worthy of something.  I thought the girls Beyonce medley was pretty great and I liked that it was topped off with queen B herself.  I have to wonder if Jennifer is a little envious of Beyonce.  I mean she just slaughters her in every category, it’s like JLo just move on over.  The two do not even come close to comparing.  What was TLC doing there?  Like, where did they even come from?  I’m not ok with seeing them on stage without Left Eye, it’s just not the same.  And they lip-synced, really… just go away.  I didn’t like the compilation of songs that the boys performed.  I thoroughly enjoyed Steven Tyler’s performance, felt it was the best one of the night but entirely too short.  That note he hit at the end, wowza!

Scotty’s performance with Tim McGraw was magical.  I thought Lauren was completely overpowered by Carrie Underwood, who looked fab by the way.  I could not get over her legs, someone please put me on her diet!


I, of course wanted to see a Paul performance with Bob Dylan or Rod Stewart.  Or even Ryan Adams, his cover of “Come Pick Me Up” was a big highlight for me, and I thought Idol was going in the right direction after that… but maybe there’s just not enough mainstream followers for someone like him to come on.  It’s also probably a lost cause to get Indie music lovers to even try to watch American Idol.  I’m one of the few that tunes in, I’m sure.

I have a total love-hate relationship with this season.  I think they had some truly talented individuals, Casey, Haley, Paul, Pia, and James.  All five of them had their own style and brought something new to the stage.  It’s always exciting to see where they will go from here.  Thanks for checking in with the blog all season long.  I have had a lot of fun getting to talk to you all about the show every week.  Keep following the blog, I have some exciting stuff coming up to share with you.  Adios to Season 10!  Congrats to Scotty!

American Idol Recap

Here’s a short recap for ya’ll.  Haley Reinhart was sent home tonight on Idol.  If you have been keeping up with this blog, I’m sure you are aware of how disappointed this has made me.

Haley started out the night singing a gutsy Led Zeppelin song and killed it.  She followed up with Stevie Nick’s track, Rhiannon, I thought it was brilliant.  Then came the judges pick.  The judges chose Alanis Morisette’s, “You Oughta Know.”  Hmmm… I don’t understand.  They wanted Haley to sing an emo/angst bad ass song?  Had Haley of chosen this for herself, the judges would be freaking out and tell her how wrong the song choice was.  The entire competition they were pushing her towards a jazz/blues sound, and that music worked for her.  I mean I just don’t get it.  I love Alanis, that album was one of the first that I bought & I have so much respect for the entire movement.  But for Haley, why did they choose such an angry song for her?  Regardless of tonights outcome Haley had one of her best nights performance wise, so she definitely went out with a bang.  I was hoping she would stick around and be able to pick up some of James Durbin’s votes to make it through to the finale.  Onwards and upwards Haley Reinhart, I couldn’t be more impressed with an American Idol contestant.  She truly was the best in my eyes.

But alas we have a finale with Lauren and Scotty.  They both had spectacular performances last night.  I think Scotty seemed more nervous than usual.  Possibly being in the bottom two last week rattled him.  I liked his decision to sing Lonestar.  As I watched him perform I wondered how many times he had sang along to that song casually back home in North Carolina.  Who doesn’t like that song anyway?  It was enjoyable.

I was disappointed with Laurens rendition of The Band Perry’s track, “If I Die Young.”  It’s one of my favorite songs right now and I think the appeal to that song is the beautiful harmonies.  The band is a group of siblings and in my opinion no one can sing together like family.  Lauren didn’t impress me much with it.  I encourage anyone who hasn’t heard that song to check it out, it’s phenomenal.

I have no idea who I want to win between Scotty and Lauren.  They are both extremely likable kids.  I think both would make great American Idols.  Scotty is definitely the front runner.  You never know what can happen though.  I’m just looking forward to the finale.  I’m ready to see Paul McDonald, Casey Abrams, and of course Haley Reinhart back on the stage.  Who are you rooting for?


American Idol: Top 4

Not sure where to begin with this Idol nonsense.  It may have been the worst top 4 performances that I’ve ever seen.   I was highly disappointed in all the song choices.  I was even more disappointed in the judges and the production.   I have plenty of conspiracy theories, and based on what I’m reading on other blogs and Twitter, I’m not the only one.   The motives behind why they are partial to certain contestants over others is something that I have yet to figure out.  It’s certainly made for a frustrating season to watch as a viewer.


Lets get into it.   James begins the show with “Don’t Stop Believing.” My first thought was, oh, interesting that he’s the lead performer and won’t close out the show.  Little did I know that they would switch it around at the end to give him the “pimp spot.”   So James not only opens the show, but he then gets to for the 4th time this season close it out.   So let’s get around to my second thought, who doesn’t know this song? How many times have you gone to a karaoke bar and not heard someone belt this out.   I think the song choice was a great one, but he didn’t do anything with it.  The judges are always talking about James adding his style to songs.   This could have worked had he have added a rocker vibe to it.

But did anyone even notice that it wasn’t good? He sang off key, it was boring, it was screechy and just plain hurt my ears.   But yet the judges are his biggest cheerleader.  I was looking forwarded to his second performance, “Love Potion No. 9.”  But he added his rock vibe and the song was lost in translation for me.  I guess he’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t with me.   But I truly was feeling the acoustic version he was performing for Gaga and could see that as being a better performance.   But what’s the use in talking about James anymore, is anyone listening?

Back to Haley world.  Randy talked about the difficulty in singing “Don’t Stop Believing,” excuse me… “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson is killer.   I know this from personal experience of trying to belt this out alone in my car.  This song is so tough with the notes, runs, and emotion.   I don’t think it was the best song choice for the mere fact of having to cut the song time down.   This is a perfect song that you can’t change, it has an impeccable amount of build up and explosion.   It didn’t translate well because she had to make the jump from a calm soulful beginning to screaming emotion.  Sooooo the judges didn’t like it, imagine that.   And this time I could see where the comments were coming from, where other times I think that they are way off.  But they are always picking on her.   The problem I have is how they went on and on about it.   It has to be so hard for her.  I know people don’t like to see her talk back, but put yourself in her shoes.   She’s just trying to defend herself.  I wouldn’t care in the least if they were giving the sort of feedback they give her to everyone.   James performed that Journey song right before her and it was terrible.  But all James got was praise, it’s getting to be ridiculous how much they hate on Haley.

Even after watching two more contestants perform, the judges go back only to reiterate the fact that Haley’s performance was the worst.   This is just moments before her second performance on a live show.  How does one pull themself together?   They completely rattled her and I think that was the goal.  I thought this week would play in her favor since she did such an incredible job last week with her rendition of Gaga’s “You and I.”  Funny how not much if anything was mentioned in the reel about the performance.   I know that footage has to be there, Gaga would have said something about it upon meeting her.  I also have a strong feeling that Gaga digs Haley’s voice and style.   It’s interesting that there wasn’t a whole lot to take away from the Gaga clip with Haley, besides an acting/drama lesson?   Her second performance of, “I Who Have Nothing,” was certainly an improvement.  I would have liked to have seen her do a more exciting/fun song.   Thankfully she didn’t because it would have been hard to come out and have fun after the first round.


Scotty, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt with the Alan Jackson song, “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning.”   It’s hard though, I think mostly due to my PR background, I’m always questioning peoples motives.  I mean come on, could this type of song be chosen at a better time?   I really don’t think so, and I would find it hard to believe he wasn’t prepped for the pre-interview for the song.   He said all the right things.  And he’s just a kid, to capture that emotion has got to be difficult.   He had to of been about 6 years old when 9/11 happened.  However, I will say this… he did an excellent job of telling the story.   As much as I was doubting his involvement with the song choice, there were moments in the song that gave me the chills.   Which, again is probably due to everything that is happening in our country right now.  It was a smart move.  Now his second song, lordy… so bad.  He performed, “Young Blood,” by the Coasters.  What were those crazy eyes?  I have no words.   The young girls love him, I don’t think that performance hurt him much as far as voting is concerned but really what was that?  So creepy.

Both songs Lauren performed were amazing.  She is my overall winner of the night, hands down.  I was worried how she would recover from her near departure last week.   She sang Martina McBrides, “Anyway” and Elvis Presleys, “Trouble.”  I mean the second song was a little out there, because she’s the furthest thing from evil. I think it could have been better had she have been able to channel the character a little more.  But wow, the first song she just belted out beautifully (again a song about natural disasters, could it have come at a better time?)  And the second song she had fun with. It was a great night for her.

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