To call the Alabama Shakes a throwback band isn’t doing them justice, but there is a nostalgic, culturally deep feel to their female-fronted debut, Boys and Girls. Brittany Howard is the main vocal force over a combination of blues rock and Memphis soul. Simple, honest lyrics become epic and heart-twisting with Howard at the helm. It’s no wonder that the Alabama Shakes have gained the attention of NPR, Jack White, and major record labels in less than a year of hawking their EP on the indie circuit. If you’re looking for the perfect summer block party album, Boys and Girls is it.
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You’ve got your grill ready. Your (legal) firecrackers are piled high. Your friends and family have brought the snacks. But where’s your Fourth of July music? Celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and the American spirit with these patriotic songs.
Click here for the soundtrack to your 4th of July party.
I must recommend two new CDs because they are both so fabulous! If you want to get lost in the 1920s, check out the soundtracks for Midnight in Paris and Boardwalk Empire. These two outstanding albums let you toe-tap to swell Jazz Age songs.
“Disco will never be over…Something like this, that was this big and this important and this great, will never die. Oh, for a few years – maybe many years – it’ll be considered passé and ridiculous. It will be misrepresented and caricatured and sneered at, or – worse – completely ignored. People will laugh about John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, white polyester suits and platform shoes and people going like this [strikes disco pose], but we had nothing to do with those things and still loved disco. Those who didn’t understand will never understand: disco was much more, and much better, than all that. Disco was too great and too much fun to be gone forever!”
– Jeff Nash from The Last Days of Disco
Click here to get back into disco.
The Leningrad Cowboys – a Slavic folk band tagged as “the worst rock ‘n’ roll band in the world” – travel to America in search of success. That’s about as far as plot goes in Leningrad Cowboys Go America, an absurdist comedy that satirizes Americana, the immigrant experience, and the Soviet political system.
If a burning love has you all shook up and shuttered deep in a heartbreak hotel, the only thing that can help you and your blue suede shoes is the king himself, Elvis. Whether you’re a new fan or old, the Library has plenty of Elvis books, movies, and music to sate you.
To surrender to the best Elvis fiction, nonfiction, movies, and music, click here.
Does the constant noise of modern life rumple your spirits? Let Emma: Music from the Miramax Motion Picture transport you to a quieter time. This 1996 Academy Award winner for Best Musical or Comedy Score lightly trips along with soft, delicate melodies and the occasional touch of drama. Whimsical string arrangements and romantic woodwind solos dance airily, providing the perfect background for moments of relaxation and daydreams. With this recording, composer Rachel Portman became one of only three women to win a Scoring Oscar, triumphing over frequent nominees Alan Menken, Randy Newman, and Hans Zimmer. Jane Austen would certainly approve.
It’s not often that a movie begins with the break-up of its titular characters, but Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is designed to defy expectations. Filmed in the style of cinema verité, the story follows the couple separately after trumpeter Guy begins a dalliance with another young woman. Music, a passion for both, is woven throughout in the form of jam sessions and a handful of musical numbers which expose the emotional currents at the core. Originally created as a film school project, Guy and Madeline made its debut at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival and features a score recorded by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra.
For some movie stars, Hollywood is not enough. Actors have a long tradition of trying to cross over into other careers – mainly into music. Bruce Willis and Eddie Murphy tried in the ‘80s, Keanu Reeves and Russell Crowe in the ‘90s…but were any of them any good?
Click here to see if any current celebrity musicians can carry a tune.
There’s more to Irish music than the Chieftains, Gaelic Storm, and Riverdance soundtracks. U2, The Cranberries, Thin Lizzy — these are only a few of the awesome modern rock bands to come out of Ireland.
If you’d rather rock out than folk out this St. Patrick’s Day (or any other time), click here.