Tag Archives: grammys

If you like Arcade Fire, then you’ll like Beach House

Arcade Fire formed in Canada in 2003. The group is a unique blend of indie-rock and orchestral music. They garnered major attention in 2004 with the release of their debut album, “Funeral”, and have continued to gain popularity ever since. In addition, they are the only band to have won their first and only Grammy in the “Album of the Year” category.

Arcade Fire - commons.wikimedia.org

Arcade Fire – commons.wikimedia.org

With seven members, Arcade Fire is a large group. Their genius blend of instruments results in a very full, diverse sound. Violin, cello, and accordion are just some of the instruments featured alongside the traditional blend of guitar, bass, and drums. The band also has both female and male vocalists.

While Arcade Fire is certainly a unique venture, their sound has clearly inspired several groups. One of these groups is called Beach House. Beach House formed in 2004 in Baltimore, Maryland. Unlike Arcade Fire, Beach House is composed of just two members, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. They have a style that is quite similar to that of Arcade Fire and has been characterized as “dream pop“.

Beach House - bandofthedayapp.com

Beach House – bandofthedayapp.com

The band attracted attention with its third album, “Teen Dream”. The album was released in 2010 and received great reviews. Stars such as Jay-Z and Beyoncé were even seen at one of the band’s shows. Like Arcade Fire, Beach House has both a female and male vocalist, although Victoria sings lead on most of their tracks. She also plays the organ, which gives the group a vaguely orchestral feel akin to that of Arcade Fire. The vocal style of both groups is echoing and almost haunting – the singers have a far-off feel to their voices that perfectly complements the full, smooth instrumental backing.

“Bloom”, Beach House’s latest album, was released in May 2012. Since then, the band has performed on various late night talk shows and at several music festivals.

Check out “Myth”, by Beach House:

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If you like The Black Keys, then you’ll like Alabama Shakes

The Black Keys is a rock duo comprised of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney. They formed the band in 2001 in Ohio and have risen to international fame in the past three years. Their breakthrough album was “Brothers”, released in 2010. The album and its accompanying single, “Tighten Up”, won a combined three Grammy Awards. The band’s latest album, “El Camino”, won this year’s Grammy for “Best Rock Album”.

The Black Keys - newsflask.com

The Black Keys – newsflask.com

Fame came a little more quickly to Alabama Shakes, a rock band formed in Alabama in 2009. Alabama Shakes was nominated for the 2013 Grammy Award for “Best New Artist”. In 2012, the band played at the Newport Folk Festival as well as Bonnaroo. Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys have a similar sound, both vocally and instrumentally.

Alabama Shakes - thedailybeast.com

Alabama Shakes – thedailybeast.com

Both bands have a distinct and traditional rock sound, reminiscent of the many projects of Jack White. Both Auerbach and Brittany Howard, the lead vocalist for Alabama Shakes, have brooding, throaty voices. They both emulate the raspy quality that is so prevalent in the voices of many passionate rock singers. The one major difference between the two? Howard is a woman! Jon Pareles, a New York Times reporter, compared her unique and soulful voice to Janis Joplin’s.

Alabama Shakes and The Black Keys rely heavily on percussion, as many rock bands do. Their screaming electric guitars define each individual song. Since the release of their album “Boys & Girls”, Alabama Shakes has appeared on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Saturday Night Live, and even David Letterman’s birthday version of The Late Show with David Letterman.

Here is Alabama Shakes’ single, “Hold On”:

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If you like Zac Brown Band, then you’ll like Love and Theft

Zac Brown Band has recorded five albums and has had nine number one singles on the Billboard country charts. The band has performed at music festivals such as Bonnaroo and won the Grammy for “Best New Artist” in 2010. There are seven members of Zac Brown Band, including lead vocalist Zac Brown.

Zac Brown of Zac Brown Band - cmt.com

Zac Brown of Zac Brown Band – cmt.com

The country group rose to fame in 2008 with the release of their single “Chicken Fried”. Many of their popular songs are characterized by lively rhythms, rock-like guitar, and rich vocals. The most distinct part of their music is the voice of Zac Brown, as well as the harmonies he creates with his band mates. Similarly, Love and Theft is characterized by the smooth vocals of Stephen Barker Liles and Eric Gunderson.

Love and Theft - hotnewcountryhits.com

Love and Theft – hotnewcountryhits.com

The country duo used to be a trio, but due to creative differences Love and Theft was downsized in 2011. They sprang onto the popular music scene with their single “Runaway” in 2009. In 2011, “Angel Eyes” became Love and Theft’s first number one single.

Love and Theft’s first album, “World Wide Open”, has more of a pop/rock sound with a country aftertaste. Their latest album, “Love and Theft”, has a distinct country feel. While it is relatively different from their first album, Liles and Gunderson say that they feel “Love and Theft” is a more accurate representation of the duo’s artistic and musical goals. Their songs are catchy and easy to get stuck in your head, with prominent guitar and lyrics that reflect the typical “hopeless romantic” style of many contemporary country artists.

Check out “Angel Eyes” below:

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If you like Mumford & Sons, then you’ll like The Head and the Heart

No matter how old you are or what type of music you like, you have heard of Mumford & Sons. They’ve put a refreshing spin on mainstream music and have proved that not all hope has been lost to auto-tune and Rebecca Black. The London natives recently won the Grammy for “Album of the Year” for their latest release, “Babel”.

Mumford & Sons performing at this year's Grammy Awards - guardian.co.uk

Mumford & Sons performing at this year’s Grammy Awards – guardian.co.uk

Mumford & Sons has a distinctive sound. Their folksy, almost bluegrass-like rock is full of lively guitar and banjo, layered vocals, and passion. Their music ranges from foot-stomping anthems like “I Will Wait” to slow, heartfelt tunes like “White Blank Page”.  Their vocal harmonies are perfect and haunting.

The Head and the Heart, a group from Seattle, has a similar set of qualities with one major difference – their vocal harmonies are comprised of both male and female voices. The band’s sound is more reliant on piano than guitar, but the feel of their music is akin to that of Mumford & Sons.  Both groups have an incredible amount of soul.  They sing about love, loss, and longing, and they do so in a way that makes you feel what they are feeling.

The Head and the Heart - etownian.com

The Head and the Heart – etownian.com

Having self-released their album “The Head and the Heart” in 2009, The Head and the Heart should have had a slow start. However, since the album’s release, they have opened for artists like Dave Matthews and The Decemberists as well as appeared at music festivals like Lollapalooza. The band has a pop-folk sound, relying heavily on the vocals of Josiah Johnson, Jonathan Russell, and Charity Rose Thielen. All three sing separately as well as together, giving the group a dynamic sound and a lot of room for variation in their songs.

Check out my favorite The Head and the Heart song below:

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Fun. Wins “Best New Artist” at the Grammys

The 55th annual Grammy Awards aired this past Sunday, showcasing great artists spanning multiple generations and genres.  One of the most coveted awards, “Best New Artist”, was given to the band Fun.  Fun. burst onto the scene this year with hits like “We Are Young” and “Some Nights”, catching the attention of listeners with their unique style and catchy tunes.  The group’s songs appeal to a wide audience and their instant classics have an eternally happy, anthem-like feel.


Fun. at the Grammy Awards – movies.ndtv.com

Fun. was up against Frank Ocean, Alabama Shakes, Hunter Hayes, and The Lumineers for the Grammy.  While all of the nominees made a significant impact on the musical community this past year, Fun. prevailed.  “I totally agree with the results,” said Danny Yocius, 20.  The University of Iowa sophomore continued, “I’ve been a fan of Fun. for a while now and I think they deserved it.  They got crazy popular crazy fast.”

Making it as a new artist has never been easy; being named the “best” new artist is even harder.  Many fans believe Fun.’s one-of-a-kind nature is what helped them come out on top.  The band is a cheery blend of Queen-inspired harmonies and chant-like singing.  Their lilting, memorable melodies are reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac and The Beach Boys.  Fun. frontman Nate Ruess told Spin Magazine that his other major influences include Van Morrison, Paul Simon, Smashing Pumpkins, and Kanye West.


Fun. performing live – nydailynews.com

Although being unique can be an advantage, trailblazing is not always easy for a new artist.  “It’s the fans that make it work,” said Michael Hilger, a talent scout at Mighty Toad Studios. “The artist just needs to get the music to the right people.”  Jennifer Vaile, 19, was not happy with Fun.’s win at the Grammy Awards.  “I guess I’m just more old-fashioned,” the University of Iowa sophomore said, “But I would have liked to see The Lumineers or Alabama Shakes win it.  They just seem more raw to me and more of what the music industry needs right now.”

Hilger, having worked with new artists, described how gratifying it is to finally see all of the nominees enjoy success after inevitably difficult beginnings: “You don’t have a lot of capital to work with [when you first start out] but you will do whatever you can to get your music out into a public space.  You will have your die-hard fans, who are amazing and will support you with everything you do.  But it’s the rest of the public you want behind you.  It’s not easy, but when you finally get there, it’s amazing.”

What do YOU think of Fun.’s win at the Grammy Awards?

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