Bruno Mars – Count On Me

Count On Me (Bruno Mars)

Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

A few days ago I found myself at a life celebration for a little girl in my community who had been stricken down by a rare form of cancer at age 7. There were over 1000 people in attendance and it was a beautiful show of solidarity, strength, and love. The little girl’s older sister played a beautiful song accompanied by acoustic guitar, dedicated to her sister. Me being me, I’d never heard it before. The song (if you haven’t guessed) was Count On Me by Bruno Mars. The songs played at the life service were songs that the little girl had enjoyed during her too brief life. In that context, I had to evaluate how I perceive things just a bit. I imagined kids singing and laughing along to this song, life’s realities far from mind. So, when I got home from the life celebration, I sought out the song that had been played. And what I found was a joy to listen to. Life affirming lyrics that espoused loyalty, a catchy melody, and perfect acoustic guitar. “If you’re tossin‘ and you’re turnin‘ / And you just can’t fall asleep / I’ll sing a song beside you / And if you ever forget how much you really mean to me / Every day I will remind you”. The song was the 5th single released from the 2010 album Doo-Wops & Hooligans and was a bigger hit in New Zealand and Australia. I should probably explore more of what Bruno Mars has done, though I’ve shied away since he seems to be everywhere. I’ll tell you what though – as great as the original version is (embedded below), it is only the 2nd best version I’ve ever heard. The best was at the life celebration a few days ago, a sister lamenting the loss of her younger sister singing her heart out. It is a moment I’ll never forget.

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Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz

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I honestly never thought I’d ever review – much less listen to – a record by Miley Cyrus of Hannah Montana fame. In fact, the fake hipster and indie elitist inside of me still can’t quite come to terms with this turn of events. At any rate – long story short: TV / pop star erases her goody two shoes image a few years ago by revealing more and more of herself, makes friends with the lead singer of The Flaming Lips, collaborates on a few songs and eventually this leads to the free release of the double album Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.

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Broken Bells – After the Disco

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Broken Bells return with their long-awaited 2nd record. The reviews have ranged from over the top accolades to mediocre, based on a perceived over saturation of all things related to Danger Mouse, 1/2 of Broken Bells. Broken Bells are an indie super group, or is it super duo? Princess Padmé may have told J.D. in the movie Garden State that The Shins would change his life, but I’ve always been partial to this side project of The Shins lead singer James Mercer and Danger Mouse. Danger Mouse also moonlights as 1/2 of Gnarls Barkley and producer extraordinaire. James Mercer leads The Shins who started out as Flake Music, releasing 1 album under that moniker before The Shins released the album that changed the life of Princess Padmé. The new record leans more towards what we’ve heard from Danger Mouse, with impassioned vocals from Mr. Mercer.

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The Barmines – There’s Never Any Romance

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Brotherly love – I’m from the city that promotes it, but it isn’t always the easiest thing to live by. My brother and I are 3 years apart, which can be brutal during the teenage years. We had our moments of not getting along, though I’ll feign amnesia when asked if fists were ever raised. 15 years later we are worlds apart in New Zealand and Washington State. Pacific is the gulf between us. So it goes. In music, we’ve had the Gallagher brothers (Oasis), the brothers Gibb (Bee Gees), the Robinson brothers (The Black Crowes), among others. Sibling rivalry or sibling camaraderie? It doesn’t really matter as long as the music inspires. The Barmines are a new band out of Leeds, England composed of 2 sets of siblings. A potentially volatile mix, their debut EP is a masterful debut.

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Coconut Records – West Coast

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Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Mention a Hollywood actor or actress who has a music project they are promoting and you can usually count on a collective groan (I’d usually be among them). Over the years there have been a few artists who have broken the mold of half-baked musical projects by Hollywood stars, and Jason Schwartzman’s Coconut Records is probably my favorite (Zooey Deschanel’s She & Him is a close second). Coconut Records is basically Jason Schwartzman’s solo project, where he plays all the instruments and invites friends to help out on a few tracks (yes, Deschanel is one of them). Far from a pure vanity project, it came about after Schwartzman left the band Phantom Planet in 2003 (where he had served as drummer from 1994 until his departure). Originally set to focus on his film career after laying the tunes to rest, it proved to be an impossible task to say goodbye to music. 2007 saw the release of the debut Coconut Records album, Nighttiming. Melodies inspired by The Beatles with an indie flair, the entire album is worth picking up. The tune that resonates with me deeply is West Coast – 3 1/2 minutes of pop melancholy that encapsulates longing and loss perfectly. I always think of this song when I’m saying goodbye to friends & family in Philadelphia and getting ready to head back to the Seattle area. These words capture my thoughts:

And I miss you
I’m goin’ back home to the West Coast
I wish you would’ve put yourself in my suitcase
I love you
Standin’ all alone in a black coat
I miss you
I’m goin’ back home to the West Coast

Nine Inch Nails – Hesitation Marks

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2013 is proving to be an amazing year for the return of artists who first rose to fame in previous decades. For electronic tinged music, this is especially so. Earlier this year we saw the unexpected return of David Bowie, with a strong album that brought to mind his “Berlin Trilogy” musically and visually (that cropped cover of the Heroes album is a conversation starter). The Pet Shop Boys followed suit a few months later by delivering their strongest album in years, a hard-hitting, beat heavy masterpiece. It only figures that with the 70’s and 80’s represented this year, the final part of the trilogy would be filled with a band who really took off in the 90’s, Nine Inch Nails.

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Hey Hey! I Love The Monkees!

The_Monkees_AlbumMention The Monkees to a group of people and watch the varied responses – it should be a sport unto itself. Even now – 47 years after the debut of The Monkees television show along with the start of a string of hits (top-selling act of 1967) – some of the reactions will be a scoff along with a dismissive “I guess somebody still likes them”. I discovered The Monkees during their mid 80’s revival, watching reruns of the television show on MTV. My Dad seemed to revel in the revival and could seemingly recite all the verses to the band’s bizarre (and funny) “Zilch” sketch / song. My name is Jason, and I LOVE The Monkees.

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