Monthly Archives: July 2012

You Can See The Music!

Certain music can make you feel a certain way. I suppose it’s why we find ourselves attracted to solemn music when we are blue, and upbeat music when we are happy. You might listen to some music to stay in a good mood, or switch it up to get yourself out of a foul mood.

But what if you could actually see how music makes you feel?

That’s the idea behind eMusic’s Aura project, according to eMusic Editor-in-Chief J. Edward Keyes.

“We started thinking about those ideas, and how certain albums have real emotional resonance,” says Keyes. “So the next natural step became, how can we do this in the real world, to show the connection we all have and the reaction we all have to music?”

Electromusical Energy Visualizer

Clockwise, from top-left: Lower Dens, Beach House, Iceage, A$AP Rocky

The solution: Step into the eMusic Electromusical Energy Visualizer (recently showcased at Chicago’s Pitchfork music festival), place your hands on the device, strap on some headphones, and start listening. Then you get a visualization of how that music is making you feel.

Believe it or not, there’s science behind it. The sensors on your hands pick up the electrical vibrations and fluctuations in your body while you listen to the music. Then the aura cameras translate those pulses and reflect it to you, photo-booth style. You can see mine, on the right.

So what did I learn? I like hip hop (specifically A$AP Rocky), because it makes me feel courageous and happy. Beach House, predictably, makes me feel peaceful, while Lower Dens brings out my magical and passionate sides. Copenhagen’s hottest punk band, Iceage, makes me feel ambitious and … loving?

I must say, it was extremely interesting to see and I found the results made rather good sense. So what does Keyes hope will come of all this?

“The idea is just to reinforce that eMusic is a site for people who love music, and develop strong connections with music. I really feel like we’re moving toward a time when music becomes so transient. We have a lot of cool applications for music, but I feel like it lessens that deep strong connection that a lot of us have with it.

J. Edward Keyes

J. Edward Keyes

“When I was a teenager, you saved your allowance and you bought that one record. You played it and fell in love with it and knew every corner of it. I get a little sad as I feel like we move past that, and music is just a switch you turn on and off.

“One of the things that we want to try to do is bring that back. To say: This should be an important thing. that you have a reaction and a response to, and it becomes a part of who you are.”

We love everything about eMusic’s Aura Project. Anything that helps us grow that deep appreciation–love, actually–for music is A-OK in our book. Head over to the eMusic Aura Project and experience something for yourself. You might be surprised by what you find!

Duo del Sol: It’s Finger-picking Good

by Nate O’Neil, special contributor.

Latin folk? Experimental classical? It’s hard to assign a genre to the LA-based Duo Del Sol. But we’re not picky around here. If it’s good, we’ll go with it.

The band consists of Chicago native Tom Farrell on guitar and Montevideo, Uruguay native Javier Orman on the violin. For most of their debut EP, Mira, Farrell and Orman play polyphonically yet these two men make the dissenting melodies work in this mostly instrumental project.

In the first track “A Manu,” Farrell plays Latin-style guitar riffs while Orman plays progressions that are very reminiscent of something found on a folk record. The fast progressions and decrescendos found in “A Manu” really make the track. Another great uptempo song on Mira is “Panic That Way.” Essentially, the song progresses like a suspenseful film narrative, possibly a Western horse chase through the Southwest, with Farrell’s rapid performance and Orman’s frenetic violin work.

For a softer tone, you can look to the last track called “Lights Out.” It is a very somber tune that reads like a story of heartbreak with the violin crying out for sympathy. Of all five tracks on the album, “Lights Out” sounds the most conventional. Overall, Mira is a bold musical journey worth taking. If you’re in the Chicago area, you can see them perform at Jerry’s on 1938 W. Division on July 22nd to experience their unique sound live.

Learn more about Duo del Sol on their website.
And stream Mira, here.

New Music Review: The Heart Pills

the heart pillsHave you ever heard of tin can folk punk music? No? We didn’t either, until The Heart Pills came calling. Now we can say that we not only know all about it, but we like it. A lot.

The Heart Pills hail from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Which is curious because it’s not a place you might normally associate with folk or punk. Tin cans, maybe.

Nonetheless, they just released their debut album, “To Paul, From Dad 1951″ (named after an inscription on a found book about pirates, on a sailboat, as it were.) That’s kind of an interesting story. But not nearly as interesting as the music.

The punk comes through–in some of the more frenzied songs, and when the vocals start to shake. The folk’s job is to steady the entire album, sometimes overtly and other times deftly hidden. The tin can… that’s the unexpected; the sharp edges, sometimes creepy undertones, and the down-to-earth, unapologetic disposition of the lyrics.

The Heart Pills are different, and damn good. They are one of those bands you know will quickly graduate from the local bars to more prominent venues in music-hungry cities. In August, they arrive in Chicago. We recommend you check them out.

Below are a couple of songs from their new record, and a few upcoming tour dates below that.

Hear more of the album and see a couple of videos on The Heart Pills website.

July 12: House of Rock, Eau Claire, WI
July 26: Wilson Park, Menomonie, WI
August 16: The Reptile Palace, Oshkosh, WI
August 17: TBA, Milwaukee, WI
August 18: Ace Bar, Chicago, IL
August 23: Cause Spirits and Soundbar, Minneapolis, MN
August 24: The Red Carpet, St. Cloud, MN
August 25: Quinlans, Duluth, MN
August 30: Phoenix Park, Eau Claire, WI

The Shams Band: A July Residency at Schuba’s

With all its history of greatness, you’d figure it takes a pretty special band to book a month-long residency at Schuba’s. Local favorites The Shams Band have done just that, in support of their sophomore album, Cold City.

The festivities kicked off last night, with backing from Shovel & Rope and Jeremy David Miller, and continues next Monday, July 16.

The Shams Band, if you’re not hip to them, rock a sly mix of blues and rock, bluegrass and most important, Americana. And it works. Really well, in fact.

So go ahead and extend your weekend by a day and check them out, along with some other great bands, listed in the schedule below. (Get tickets here.)

Also check out the video below–their new single from Cold City, “I’m Not Sorry.”

Monday, July 9: w/ Shovels & Rope and Jeremy David Miller (Rambos)
Monday, July 16: w/ Derek Nelson & the Musicians and Elephant Gun
Monday, July 23: Daniel Ellsworth & the Great Lakes and Young Jesus
Monday, July 30: Archie Powell & the Exports and Young Hines

[youtube]http://youtu.be/AfkU6zW55gw[/youtube]