I LOVE A (LISA) PARADE
Five Music Videos More Than Worth the Time
And I mean for the music. It seems to me that the world has gotten away from the very thing the music industry was built upon. These days it's video, merchandise, ringtones--- anything but the music itself. I spend many hours a week scouring the Net for artists whose music deserves much more than it is getting in this new, digitized world and am flabbergasted at how much great music there is. I know. It is hard to find the oddities in a world of superstars, but I have found a few. Here are five very impressive videos which caught my ear and then my eye.
Lisa Parade/Beautiful Possibility 2
Late one night while digging through cdbaby's new arrivals, I stumbled upon one Lisa Parade, who had evidently scored the theme music for a one-time sitcom called "Miss Guided." I remember "Miss Guided" and watched all of the few episodes the network aired, but had no clue as to the musician(s) and the theme. Well, it was Lisa Parade, whose latest album, Finding Flora, turns out to be a pop gem. Gathering a plethora of influences too numerous to list, she raged through the studio and left no survivors. Modern pop at its best and most intense.
Tom Mank & Sera Smolen/Paper Kisses
When I received Tom Mank & Sera Smolen's Where the Sun Meets the Blue CD, I had no idea who they were. That changed the second I put the CD into the player. Mank is a monster songwriter in the vein of the old folk/blues artists like Dave Van Ronk, but with a sense of the present. His music portraits range from romantic to political and when they don't reach for the heart, they embed themselves in the head. He is intelligence in music. Sera Jane Smolen, on the other hand, is music personified. Her cello supplements Mank's guitar with bass riffs and jazz phrasing as well as support from the Masters (not golf, but classical music, you dolts). This video was posted just a short time ago and has been compiled from a handful of different concerts they played this Spring. Watch it all the way through. The way they spliced it together blows my mind. New album in the future. Watch for it.
The Riptide Movement/Reno
You have to go to Ireland to hear about these guys, but I doubt that will be the case shortly. They're somewhat new on the scene and gained some press buzz by having Tony Colton of 70s rockers Heads Hands & Feet produce their new album, What About the Tip Jars? While most of us in the States don't recognize the name, in the UK, Colton's name is revered. While The Riptide Movement's music is rough edged and immediate, their sound recalls another golden era in UK rock which has been somewhat swept under the rug until recently--- the early 70s--- when names like Taste and Help Yourself and English Gypsy and Byzantium gathered small but loyal followings. Just listen to the guitar and its in-your-living-room sound and the straight-into-the-mike-minus-sound-chamber voice. To these ears, and from what I understand to those of many of the Irish youth's, it is downright refreshing.
Randy Granger/Native American Flute
Randy Granger is an anomaly in my world. Normally enthralled by electric sounds, orchestral sway, or harmonic bliss, I occasionally fall upon something amazing quite by accident. A friend told me about Granger in a roundabout way, suggesting I listen and write about his music. I did and I did and am glad he did. I am doing it again, in fact, and place this video at your disposal. In it, Granger plays his own compositions on the Native American flute between explanations of why his world and his music mean so much to him. While the music is beautiful, his sincere approach to life is downright rejuvenating.
While I didn't intend to save the best for last, Paul Curreri holds a very special place in my musical heart. His freedom and creative spirit are sadly lacking in most of today's artists, who seem to think twice before stepping over the edge. Curreri stepped over a long time ago. A magician on the guitar, he uses voice as an instrument and lyrics as a tool. He is all about the song and the experience of the song. His wife, Devon Sproule, pieced together this bit of Curreri-ana to promote the title track from his latest (and, in my opinion, best yet) album, California. The ending to fadeout is only one of the many highs I have gotten from his music. I get high just writing about it.
The crux of it is...
The music industry is a mess. The media has grown so huge so fast that keeping up with the tide of information and possibilities is next to impossible. BUT, that is no excuse to stay with the same old. When I worked retail, I used to laugh at people who claimed to want new music but bought only the tried and true. Music can be an adventure, if you let it. Sometimes all it takes is a shove in the right direction. I've given you one. Well, five, actually. Do yourself a favor. At least give them a shot. It's for your own good. Trust me.