Tuesday, May 27, 2014

An early preview of the 2015 Grammys

Although Grammy nominations won't be announced until December and the ceremony itself doesn't take place until February 2015, it's always fun to take an early look at the current standings of who's likely to get nominated. At this point we're already 3/4 of the way through the eligibility period, so we have possibly already heard most of the nominees, but there is still a lot of time left, so don't take these predictions as definite. Once it gets closer to nomination time, I'll post my final guesses, so make sure to check back for that. For this post, I'm only examining the general field categories: Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best New Artist. Here are the current contenders for the 57th Grammy Awards, as I see it.

Album of the Year

1. Beyoncé - Beyoncé
What's in its favor: The world was turned upside down when Bey released her fifth album unannounced without any promotion and a music video created for each track. It became one of the biggest musical events of the decade. It also doesn't hurt that sales have been robust and it got not only some of the best reviews of her career, but for the year in general.
What might work against it: Albums by superstars in this category tend to have more than one big hit. So far it's only been "Drunk In Love."

2. Pharrell Williams - G I R L
What's in its favor: The momentum from all the goodwill he received during the summer of 2013 has carried over thanks to a little song called "Happy." The album has also been well-received by critics and yet to fall below #20 of the Billboard Top 200 nearly three months after its release.
What might work against it: Unless the critical reception has been absolutely astronomical, nominees here don't make it off the basis of just one song. Its chances hinge mainly on the chart performance of new single "Come Get It Bae" at this point.

3. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
What's in its favor: I've talked before about how the Grammys are trying to slowly regain credibility by rewarding acts that are seen as hip and purveyors of quality music. Arcade Fire has one of the strongest combinations of hip and mainstream going for them, which will continue to make them perennial contenders in AOTY. Reflektor was highly lauded upon release and in case you forgot, they actually beat out Eminem and Lady Gaga in this category a few years ago.
What might work against: The Suburbs, their past AOTY winner, was released during the summer and the surprise at its #1 debut shot them up in the eyes of the mainstream. By the time the eligibility period concluded at the end of September, the album was still relatively fresh. Reflektor was practically released at the beginning of the eligibility period, so there's a strong case it might already be forgotten.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

#classicalbumtweets: Rumours

This is the fourth time I've done #classicalbumtweets. Each time I feel like there's more that I can do to make it better, so if you have any constructive feedback, I'd be willing to listen. Next month, I'll be doing D'Angelo's Voodoo, so make sure to come back for that one. The focus will still be on blockbuster albums that nearly everyone has heard, but from time to time I also want to take on critical faves that were extremely popular and have a large following as well.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Recent interviews on Noteworthy: Alice Smith, Adeline Michele of Escort, Speedy Ortiz & more

Back here again to share some interviews I did on Noteworthy. If you want to listen to the show live, you can do so every Monday from 6PM-8PM CST at http://uicradio.org. There's even an app you can download for your mobile device as well on that site. Here's what I've put in the vault since my last round-up.

Adeline Michele of Escort
One of the things that I didn't take into account was the amount of bands on the concert bill for that night. What that meant was that there was nary a quiet spot to be found at Metro, so portions of this interview with Adeline was recorded on a stairwell. It was slightly chaotic, but it felt fun because it made us feel like little kids.

"Came Out Of A Lady" is such a well-crafted pop tune and it's not very often that you find folks with jazz backgrounds able to create something that catchy. We discussed a bit about what it was like to transition from a world of theory to one of modern songwriting.

Cloud Control
I was fighting off a cold, which is why my voice sounded extra seasoned here. One of my favorite things to do when interviewing a band is to ask them a fun question to begin with. For me, it helps to distinguish the different personalities as a listener. Cloud Control was pretty game when the topic of Harry Potter movies came up and I think that helped to set the tone for the rest of the interview.

The Range
I was still kind of recovering on this one as well (although I'll never admit to being fully sick). Overall, he was pretty excited to talk about his creative process and I feel like with electronic artists, there's always so much more to delve into than the time I usually allow for interviews. If you listen to the songs, there's all kinds of things one could explore as far as moods and certain techniques.