10 Muscians You’ve Probably Never Heard Of, But Need to Give a Listen, pt. 2

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Great Big Sea

Canadian folk/rock/Irish band Great Big Sea are celebrating their 20th Anniversary as a band this year. Since 1993, the band has been performing their upbeat blend of traditional Irish folk and pop music all over the world. Great Big Sea has had huge success in their home Province of Newfoundland and nearly all of their albums have gone platinum or gold in Canada. They’re also members of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

With the rise in popularity of the folk music sound, their tunes would fit right in along side more popular bands like Mumford and Sons, the Lumineers and Flogging Molly. Definitely an largely undiscovered gem in the genre – at least in the United States.

Albums: Great Big Sea, Up, Rant and Roar, Turn, Sea of No Cares, Something Beautiful, The Hard and the Easy, Fortune’s Favor, Safe Upon the Shore, XX
Songs You Should Download: Mari Mac, End of the World, Can’t Stop Falling, Sea of No Cares, Excursion Around the Bay


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Halestorm

Bother and sister Arejay and Lzzy Hale formed Halestorm in 1998 when Lzzy was 14 and Arejay just 11 – the siblings released an independent EP the following year. In 2005, after adding a two more guitar players, the band signed a record deal with Atlantic and have been touring heavily to promote their two albums ever since.

Undoubtedly, Lzzy has one of the strongest female voices in rock today. Her vocals have a raw energy, reminiscence of Janis Joplin and Joan Jett, but with a little softer edge to them. Crunchy rock guitars and piano melodies round out Halestorm’s sound.

In 2013, the band finally got a nod of recognition from critics, when they were nominated for and won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance.

Albums: Halestorm, The Strange Case of…
Songs You Should Download: I Get Off, It’s Not You, Better Sorry than Safe, I Miss the Misery, Break In, Love Bites (So Do I)


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Kate Voegele

Singer-songwriter Kate Voegele was the first artist signed to Myspace Records. Tom Anderson, founder of Myspace.com, heard her music on her Myspace page and signed her shortly after. Since then, she’s gone on to record three albums and also had a reoccurring role as Mia Catalano on the CW television series One Tree Hill.

If you’re into guitar driven, female pop in the vein of Sheryl Crow, Jewel or Michelle Branch, then you should give Kate a listen.

Albums: Don’t Look Away, A Fine Mess, Gravity
Songs You Should Download: Only Fooling Myself, 99 Times, Who You Are Without Me, Say You’re Mine, Enough for Always


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Ingram Hill

Memphis-based pop/rock/country band Ingram Hill had a minor chart hit back in 2004 with “Almost Perfect” from their debut album June’s Picture Show and went on to open for the likes of Maroon 5 and Guster. The band’s earlier albums lean more toward 90s sounding pop/rock, with catchy melodies and vocal harmonies, however their latest effort delves more into country/rock territory.

Those that enjoy 90s bands like Sister Hazel, Hanson or Matchbox Twenty will dig Ingram Hill’s first 3 albums. Those that enjoy the country flavorings of early Rascal Flatts will be drawn more toward their latest release.

Albums: June’s Picture Show, Cold in California, Look Your Best, Ingram Hill
Songs You Should Download: Almost Perfect, Chicago, Four Letter Word, Will I Ever Make it Home, Broken Lover, Why Don’t You


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Tristan Prettyman

Chances are, you’ve never heard Tristan Prettyman’s music, but you’ve most definitely heard a song written about her. Remember that huge hit Jason Mraz had a few years ago called “I Won’t Give Up On Love”? That song is about her. Prettyman and Mraz were engaged for a time – when the pair broke up, Mraz wrote an entire albums worth of songs about the end of their relationship. Tristan turned around and did the same -although her newest album Cedar & Gold tells a much different story about the break-up than what people got from Mraz.

Whether you’re looking for breezy love songs or sad break-up tunes, Tristan Prettyman’s music has a little something for everyone. Her sound is similar to Jack Johnson, but with a feminine twist. Fans of Colbie Caillat, Sara Barilles and Jewel will dig her sound.

Albums: Twentythree, Hello…x, Cedar & Gold
Songs You Should Download: Love, Love, Love; Always Feel this Way, Madly, My oh My, I Was Gonna Marry You

2013 Grammy Awards Recap

The Grammy Awards are my favorite awards show all year – partly because I’m such a huge fan of music and partly because I enjoy picking the winners and seeing how many I get right. I’ve been watching the Grammys for as long as I can remember & still have several years in the late 90s taped on old VHS tapes. (Side note: I’m still bitter about Paula Cole and her hairy armpits robbing Hanson of the Best New Artist Grammy in 1998 – it was a tragic moment for a 14-year-old super fan.)

The past few Grammy Awards have just been so-so, but last night was one of the best I had seen in a long time. There were a few, good surprises, like Kelly Clarkson’s AMAZING album Stronger winning (and beating Fun, the favorite to win) for Best Pop Vocal Album. And as a long-time fan of the female-fronted rock band Halestorm, I was pleasantly surprised to see them win their first Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal performance.

The Black Keys had a fantastic performance and went on to win best Rock Album, best Rock Song and best Rock Performance for Lonely Boy. 

In the Country category, Little Big Town is FINALLY getting some recognition from the recording industry and stealing awards away from Lady Antebellum, who in my opinion, shouldn’t be winning them anyway. I am disappointed that Miranda Lambert lost to Zac Brown Band for the Best Country album, though.

The Grammys got it right by awarding Mumford and Sons’ Babel the Album of the Year and it’s refreshing to see a fantastic folk-rock band like Mumford and Sons winning in major categories as well as outselling Justin Beiber on the charts.

So let’s talk about the performances. Taylor Swift opened the show with We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and while she sounded great, her performance was really quite baffling. Why she chose a stage get-up resembling something from Alice in Wonderland is beyond me, but it really just did not work. She should take a few cues from Kelly Clarkson, whose tribute to Carol King and Patti Page was simple and straight-forward but showed that if you’ve got the voice, you don’t need all the flashy gimmicks to go along with your performance. I believe KC could sing anything and it would sound amazing.

I’m not a fan of reggae, but the Bob Marley tribute with Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Sting and Ziggy and Damien Marley was a pretty fun time. Bruno Mars has been killing it lately with his songs and stint as a SNL host and I think his star is only going to get brighter.

Speaking of Rihanna, it was nice to see her do a stripped down performance for once. The song may not have been that exciting, but sometimes her vocals can get lost in her flashy performances. It was nice to be reminded that the girl can actually sing. Now if only she’d use her brain to ditch Chris Brown.

Let’s talk let-downs. Country wasn’t cool last night. Miranda Lambert’s duet with Dierks Bentley sounded weak and strained. Over You was one of the best Country songs last year, but the beautiful melody somehow got lost in the overpowering backing band. A real disappointment.

Carrie Underwood’s color-changing dress distracted everyone from her flawless performance, not to mention she had to stay in one spot throughout her medley of Blown Away/Two Black Cadillacs.

Frank Ocean’s performance was off-key and bland. His song, Forest Gump, sounded like a bunch of random ideas thrown together over a few piano chords. I do not get this guy at all.

While, the Lumineers easily have one of the catchiest and sweetest songs of the year,  they’re just not meant to play for big stadiums. Their style and sound works best in a theater or intimate club & while it’s great to see an indie act get some well-deserved recognition, I have a feeling they’re going to be a one-hit wonder.

I’m probably going to get a lot of flack for this, but Justin Timberlake’s new song is terrible. It conjures images of leisure suits, disco ball and the Bee Gees and I can’t help but think that if this song is the best thing he can come up with after a seven year hiatus from music, then he should probably stick to writing funny songs with Andy Sandberg for SNL skits.

All in all, though, it was a pretty good night of performances and well deserved winners. Only 364 days until the 2014 Grammys 😉