Artist Highlight | For Mallory

Hello and welcome to my newest music series: Artist Highlight!

I generally wanted a space to talk about a single musician or band a month, but back in early April, when I went up north to visit with my family, my cousin’s daughter brought her violin and played us some songs she’s been learning in her class. She did a really great job and after the performance I asked her how she was able to play it and she explained to us in great detail. I hope she continues to play the violin or maybe switch/take on another instrument later on, if she ever does this, I hope it’s the cello! I love the cello just as much as I love the violin.

A little later I asked her if she’d ever heard of Lindsey Stirling before, and she told me no, which really puzzled me but then again, it didn’t, because in school, she’s probably forced to know classic works and nursery rhymes at this stage, so in a way to help introduce her and everybody else who happens to read this, to other violinists!


Let’s start with the lovely Lindsey Stirling.

I didn’t find out about her through America’s Got Talent in 2010, I actually found her on YouTube like most people–but I think I would have enjoyed seeing her on the show a lot! Anyways, the first song I heard was “Crystalize” of course and remember seeing the music video, thinking these two really work together. Although her music was considered hip hop on the show, for this song she had kicked up the dubstep hype that was going around at that time. I was hooked to her channel my whole senior year and honestly believe she cemented my drive for modern symphonic music.

Before Lindsey came into my life, the first violinist I was ever “introduced’ to was back in 2004, this year at its core was a changing time for me. I had just started on my hip hop phase and so I was listening to a lot of unique beats on my own without being heavily influenced by my mother. The song in question was Twista’s “Overnight Celebrity” as it features an actual violist on the track, Miri Ben-Air. I remember watching the music video for the song and was stuck by the fact there was a woman violinist. It seems kind of scary that this was the second time I was listening to two very different genres of music together and absolutely loving and wanting more of it. I had begun this a year before when Evanescence’s debut album came out in 2003.

After the song disappeared, I didn’t find anything like it again until around late 2007 or early 2008. I had found these two girl groups from England, bond and eScala. They were not your average girl groups of that time, they never actually sang, they were a string quartet. This was my first show that if you’re a part of a group, you don’t a singer. Unfortunately, by the time I had found both of them, they were on hiatus and honestly haven’t released anything new for a couple of decades.

Later on in my life, this would sort of happen again as I had discovered Apocalyptica, which was originally a tribute band for Metallica out of Finland! They have three celloists and one drummer and they make symphonic metal music. I’ve talked a bit about them over the years. They have a lot of cool songs like “Broken Pieces” with Lacey Sturm and “White Room” with Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix.

There is another group I found back in 2015 I think, it was when the symphonic metal band Kamelot came out with “Silverthorn” as it was the band’s first album with a new singer. They had a song called “My Confession” and they featured the German group Eklipse and even though they were all woman, I wouldn’t consider them a pop-y, although they have done some covers of David Guetta’s “Titanium” with Sia, and ‘Cry Me a River” by Justin Timberlake, they do like to take risks and create renditions of popular rock songs, and my favorite is still “Weak Fantasy by Nightwish.

Back in 2017, when I was on Netflix, I had found the Han Zimmer: Live in Prague and was just stunned by the fact that this huge music producer was getting together with his longtime friends and putting on shows for everyone. I mean, he performed at Lollapalooza a couple of years ago! How in the heck does that happen?! Anyways, the show itself was absolutely amazing and I will not lie, I totally cried when Lebo M came out to perform some of “The Lion King” songs on stage! There were a lot of elements I enjoyed but I really fell in love with the violinist Rusanda Panfill and celloist Tina Guo. You may already know Tina’s work without even know it as she is the one who did the Wonder Woman main theme. These ladies really play beautifully and definitely recommend that concert to anyone.

I was never truly able to learn to read music nor do I feel the need to play any instrument, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love seeing other artists become so passionate with their work though, it’s so interesting to see these musicians put everything into their work. Whenever I watch concerts on YouTube, I love to see them basically one eye on the maestro and the other on the sheets on the podium in front of them. They tend to have some intense facial expressions and they always seems to change with whatever tempo they are playing at that moment.

If you would like to check out the artists I’ve mentioned and/or any others (because I had an even bigger list to start, but we’d be here forever!) that fit in this post, click here to the Spotify playlist!

snowflake

Blogmas | December Playlist

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Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone that celebrates Christmas is enjoying their time with family and friends.

I’ve decided that today will be my final ‘Blogmas’ post of the year. Since I will be including two playlist in the couple of weeks, I thought it would be smart to schedule this one a little earlier than normally.

Here are my Top 21 favorite songs I listened to this month! I’ve also included 6 holiday tracks at the bottom of the playlist too.

Expectations by Lauren Jauregui
Let It Go (Africanized Cover) by Alex Boye feat. Once Voice Children’s Choir
Everything I Need by Skylar Grey
Black Butterfly by Leaves’ Eyes
Way To Break My Heart by Ed Sheeran & Skrillex
Bet’amen Bel Sodfi by Carole Samaha
Love Me by Stanaj
Post Malone by Sam Feldt featuring RANI
Blndside by Icon For Hire
Gimme Brain by Travis Barker featuring Lil Wayne & Rick Ross
Boomition by Celestina
Teeth by 5 Seconds Of Summer
Outlaws & Outsiders by Corey Marks featuring Travis Tritt, Ivan Moody, & Mick Mars
If We Have Each Other by Alec Benjamin
Lose You To Love Me by Selena Gomez
Silhouette by Krigare

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year by Andy Williams
Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy by Lindsey Stirling
O Holy Night by Upon Wings *review here
Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow by Vaughn Monroe & His Orchestra
Somewhere In My Memory by John Williams
Carols Of The Bells by Lindsey Stirling

If you would like to check out the rest of my December playlist, I have added the Spotify link right below because you know I listen to a lot of music 24/7. Enjoy the tunes!

What were you listening to this December? What is your ultimate holiday song(s)?

snowflake

Album Review: “Warmer In The Winter” by Lindsey Stirling

22447526_1626421390755518_1809023922_nLast week, I published my review of Celtic Woman’s newest Christmas album and I said that I was thinking about putting up two others to be counted as part of a Blogmas! So this is your second, and I will say, I didn’t know about this until it popped up on my “new music” on Spotify one day and I thought I’d take advantage of the opportunity and review it too!

If you are not familiar with Lindsey Stirling, she is usually a electronic violinist. In Celtic Woman both Mairead Nesbitt and Tara McNeil play fiddle and violin, but it’s mostly the traditional way. Lindsey has done covers before, but she always adds her own flare and it can sound very pop or electronica. She was on America’s Got Talent a few years ago and has released three other albums, but this will be her first holiday album. I have not heard any of the songs beforehand so I’m not sure if they’ll be instrumentals or have guest singers on certain songs, which as I’ve seen on the tracklist there are a few featured, so we’re going to dive into this together!

Let’s get started with “Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy” and this definitely has that pop, but playful style that Lindsey usually brings out in her music. I actually love this, it’s one of my favorites. If I ever got the chance to see a ballet of the Nutcracker, I’d be one happy camper! I’m happy it still has the slow, but fun sound and it also has that dance vibe going on too. The second is “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” which features Sabrina Carpenter, a singer that I’ve been loving lately! I like the sultry, but fun jazz-y vibe of this track. I say “sultry” because of Sabrina’s tone and the horns section. Next we have “Christmas C’mon” that features singer and rapper Becky G and I know this is going to be weird, but this has a country sound to it. Becky’s voice gives it a nice pop vibe, but it’s actually Lindsey and her skills that are giving off that sound that makes me think of upbeat country music

Fourth track is “Carol Of The Bells” and I was wondering if I was going to like this one or not, but I knew Lindsey would do a fantastic job with it. It is all instrumental, but if you know me very well, you know that I have a soft spot for these types of songs. You still get that familiar sound of the original song, but it’s all violin with an added synthesizer. And then we have “Angels We Have Heard On High” and I really love the classical sound of just the violin and orchestra in the background. You also have these soft little vocalizations too, which I’m guessing is Lindsey giving it an added dash of sparkle to the song. I really do love how artists and bands are trying to modernize these Christmas songs, but sometimes going old fashioned works too!

There’s “I Saw Three Ships” and I’ve never heard of this one, but I found it a little odd that it sort of sounded like an Irish song, since it was so jam packed with tones that you’d normally hear with a traditional Celtic Woman song. I loved it! Anyways, next we have “Let It Snow” and the sound is different, the violin gives it a country vibe again, but then again it also has this jazz-y feel to it too. It’s very interesting. Oh, both of these songs are instrumentals and I love them dearly for that! There’s something cool about this next song though, it is an original Christmas song! I don’t know about you, but I never hear of these anymore! It features another musician Trombone Shorty and I love this. I’m just not sure who is the vocalist though, Lindsey has only done the soft “oohs” and “ahs” in the background of her songs, but never fully sang the songs, so maybe because this is something she came up with and she sang to it too.

“What Child Is This” is next and it’s another instrumental. It has a welcoming, but mysterious sound to it. I love these types of songs, as the more elements the musician adds to it, the more emotion you get from everything. You just feel like spinning in a white dress, or at least what’s I thought as I listened to the song. Next, we have a familiar song and it is “All I Want For Christmas” but I will say that because of the slow tempo of the introduction, you can’t tell what it is until the very last notes and then you want to slap yourself for not knowing it right away! It is upbeat and playful; makes you want to dance along to the beat! It’s great, but I think I miss the words.

The last three songs of the standard edition start with another original track, “Time To Fall In Love” and it features Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low. I think between the two songs that Lindsey wrote for this album, this one sounds more in the Christmas-y theme as far as lyrics go. I’m not saying I hated the other one though, it’s good, but does it match the tone of a holiday record though? Anyways, I also think this one has more of a pop-rock sound to it, and Lindsey is taking a backseat on it, although she has a solo, it just kind of sounds like ATL type of song. Next we have “Jingle Bell Rock” and this has become an iconic song, makes in part to the movie Means Girls but I love the jazz take to it. My papaw would probably like it since he was so into big band music! Lastly, we have one of my absolute favorites “Silent Night” and it is naturally a slow, somber-y, type of song anyways but I think Lindsey went that extra mile and made it even more beautiful with adding only the “ahhs” of the choir instead somebody singing it all the way through, it’s actually really beautiful.

I was very happy with this album! I thought with Lindsey’s first Christmas album, I think she did a great job. It was beautiful and unforgettable. I’m glad she stayed true to her style of music and didn’t force herself to add multiple singers to the favorite holiday songs, sometimes the instruments can say a lot more than what we think, they can bring out more emotions to the listener.

Have you heard of Lindsey Stirling’s new Christmas album, “Warmer In The Winter” yet? What were your thoughts on it?

snowflake

Song Review: “Stereotypes” by Black Violin

I have one real weakness in music. Difference.

It’s one of the things I strive to find in every genre, artist or band. I like to be surprised with my music. I always go for things that are a little out of the box. I get bored with what I hear on the radio and even on my iPod that whenever I get into this mood, I have to go out of my way to find something out of the ordinary, but maybe in a way that’s a good thing. It’s almost like a secret club, you’ve invited to listen to something different and everybody doesn’t know about it and when they want to, you get to be the one to invite them in or keep them out.

I am a big fan of instrumental groups like Finnish group Apocalypatica to all female French group Elikpse and lastly American violinist Lindsey Stirling. Now I’ve found a duo called Black Violin and they’re from Florida. These two dudes creating music with only a violin and viola, but they’re songs are in all types of genres. I found this album on Spotify after not having it for four days! Technically I saw this as a win for me! Truth be told, if I see a violin or piano as a cover for anything, music, books etc there’s a pretty good chance I’ll cave and check it out. When I put it in my Starred playlist, I thought it was only one song. Nope, it put ALL 11 tracks on it. While I was busy removing the tracks on the playlist, I kept up one of the songs included and figured out my first theory was right. Kev Marcus and Will Baptiste are creating beautiful music with real instruments, but they’re doing it in different genres! I was sold and I had only heard one song!

I had originally wanted to do an album review, but I decided to shorten it down because there are far too many songs for me to talk about, I’m really sorry! Honestly though, their title track “Stereotypes” is amazing!! I think the story behind each part has like a double meaning to it. The song starts off pretty slow, almost creepy like and it breaks off with each one going on their own in different sections. These are classical instruments that you’re used to hearing in symphonies and during ballet showcases, but they have made this song sound more like hip hop. I’ve always felt that with hip hop music there’s a firm tone to it, almost like when an artist has said something truthful or what they care about, You can feel the emotions through the music too. Although it’s a very strong sound, it’s really simple too. You can basically only hear the violin, viola and synth beat. I mean, that’s it and sometimes that’s all that is needed to create something interesting.

And then while you’ve got this incredible music, there’s the word part; It’s not lyrics or a poem really the first section is of different voices, women, men, and children saying what the definition of the word “stereotype” means. I thought it was very interesting to not use that in the actual song, but while this section is being played on the music video you’ve got people in different clothes, whether it’s a doctor’s uniform, a young girl in a dress, or a guy looking like a “terrorist” since us Americans think everybody from the Middle East is out to kill us. We stereotyped them because of what happened in 2001, which I understand why people would but not EVERYBODY in this world wants to kill people. Some of us want world peace. I love the last bit of the song though! Since I don’t know who is who because I just found them, but one of them says what his perspective of what people tend to think about him and how he feels about stereotyped. It was all very educational in a way!

If anybody is curious I have listened to the whole album and it’s like REALLY good! You should definitely check it out!

Have you heard of Black Violin before? You may have, just so you know! What do you think of the concept of this song? What’s your thoughts about it?