Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “Untouchable”

I don’t know about where you live, but here in Jersey it’s just over 60 degrees and the perfect weather to drive around with your sunroof and windows open blasting music. At least that’s what I did today! I have to tell you, after being in Texas where the temperature was 80+ then coming home to 30 degrees wasn’t the nicest transition, but it’s okay because today made up for the past few days!

This brings me to this week’s “Song of the Week,” Luna Halo‘s “Untouchable.” It is one of those perfect summer songs. After seeing them live and replaying their MySpace page over and over again, I cannot get this song out of my head! Turns out Taylor Swift must love it just as much as I do since she has covered it in the past. You can listen to both versions below. Which do you like better?

For a stream of Luna Halo’s song “Untouchable” click here. You can also watch it on YouTube.

Below is Taylor Swift’s acoustic cover of “Untouchable.”



SXSW: Day Three Recap

I woke up early Friday to head to Cedar Street Courtyard for my interview with Anya Marina. Before her set, Anya talked to me about the inspiration behind some of her songs, her recording process (which involved recording one song topless to get the right vocals for the song) and overcoming people’s expectations of her not making it in the music scene. I’ll be posting the full Q&A; in the upcoming days, so check back for that.

Anya’s performance was nothing short of enjoyable. The California native had all in attendance laughing along to her stories about eating goat milk yogurt for breakfast, quitting her job to be a musician, and visits to her therapist. Highlight of the set was stand-out single “Move You” and her acoustic cover of T.I.’s “Whatever You Like.”

Next band up for Filter Magazine‘s showcase was the phenomenal Idle Warship. Truly a must-see the band, consisting of Talib Kweli, Res, and Graph Nobel among others, Idle Warship had every hand in the courtyard raised in the air during their energetic set. The Brooklyn/Philly/Toronto members had the crowd rocking so hard at one in the afternoon, you would have thought it was 1 a.m. on a Saturday night. Highly recommend catching them if you get the chance as their impeccable blend of rock, R&B; and rap is impressive.

While Idle Warship was a hard act to follow, New Hampshire-based Wild Light held their own introducing some indie music to the crowd. Wild Light definitely had the indie diehards support in the audience while performing in the scorching Austin sun.

Next band I caught at the Filter showcase was Manchester band The Whips and boy did they have the crowd’s attention. From the energetic fans surrounding me (most likely from Manchester), I felt like I was at a dance party with their computer generated electronica and strong bass and drum beats. Everyone around me was jumping with their fists pumping in the air. I headed out after their set, but still have their single, “Trash” stuck in my head.

Headed to catch Fanfarlo with the roomies after some much desired (and delicious) ice cream on 6th Street. Every indie music lover’s band, Fanfarlo switched up the typical expected showcase with a variety of instruments — from clarinet to violin — they represented indie music at it’s best at Emo’s Annex Friday afternoon.

My favorite performance of the night goes to Jason Reeves. Playing at Live.Create. Lounge as part of VH1’s Save the Music showcase, he impressed the audience with his heartfelt stories and adamant view on the importance of music in schools. Playing tracks off his most recent album, The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache (and other frightening tales), it is evident that he is a hopeful romantic as many of his tracks deal with relationships.

Before introducing “Someone, Somewhere” Reeves told the crowd the song is about “being in love and being hopeful when everyone is telling you it’s not going to happen. We have to fight and stand up for that.” With his hushed singing style towards the fade out of the track, you could sense the emotion in every song played throughout his set.

About VH1’s Save the Music campaign, Reeves said, “What’s happening in this building is so powerful. I believe music changes lives. It’s one of the only truly beautiful things we have left as human beings. This is not letting music die. Please do everything you can to save music, otherwise we’re all going to die.”

The rest of the night was a bit of a blur as plans kept changing once realizing I couldn’t catch a few bands I hoped to see (Lights Resolve, Tinted Windows, Lady Sovereign) but all wasn’t lost. I caught part of Solange‘s set at the Convention Center. Dressed to the nine, seeing Solange and her band perform had that New York City lounge feel as the lighting and dance contribution by her and her backup singers was stellar. How she dances in those heels I’ll never know, but she wowed the crowd with songs off her recent release. You can catch her set live on Direct TV so be sure to check your cable listings to be part of SXSW.

I was dying to catch Luna Halo‘s showcase after seeing them open for Switchfoot over a year ago. By far the best opening band I have ever witnessed, their blend of indie rock is impressive and their performance last night was nothing less than stellar.

Perhaps the most interesting venue to catch a show had to be Lisa Hannigan‘s set at 11 p.m. at the Central Presbyterian Church on 8th Street. While she’s no doubt an impressive talent, the dimmed lighting and laid-back vibe definitely was soporific and after catching a few songs I headed back to 6th Street to catch Nashville-based band Shirock (see below).

What Shirock has been doing in relation to promoting their debut album, Everything Burns is inspiring. The band has launched a non-profit organization called Everything Burns as a way to encourage and enable people to help those in need by providing awareness of various charities throughout their tours. The idea behind Everything Burns is “not to get stuck in the mundane,” said frontman Chuck. “Engaging in culture and getting involved [is what’s important]” he continued. Truly a stand-up example to all musicians, I’m interested to see where Shirock will be in a few years.

Wow, totally didn’t realize I caught 10 shows until I finished writing this post! Definitely the place to be for the music addict, SXSW obviously has the most versatile line-up you’ll see anywhere. Didn’t catch Metallica or The Decemberists unfortunately but the rest of the festival looks promising as I’ll be seeing Third Eye Blind‘s performance tonight at Stubb’s! Keep reading for updates throughout the rest of the weekend and into next week!

P.S. Hopefully I won’t be losing all respect from you readers, but one of the highlights of the night had to be running into Chris Kirkpatrick from ‘N Sync right off 6th Street. My inner 13-year-old obsessed boy band fan came out and I’m still regretting not taking a picture with him. I know, I’m a music journalist and gotta be professional but ‘N Sync! Takes me back. Cue “Tearin’ Up My Heart” . . .

Concert Reviews

Switchfoot Rocks Rutgers

The energy was high all night – from opening band Luna Halo joking with the crowd when introducing themselves as Switchfoot to Switchfoot’s encore performance, hardly a seat in the house was inhabited, as many were dancing and jumping along in the aisles.

I’ve seen Switchfoot several times over the past few years and every time they’re better than the last. The music, the atmosphere, the unexpected. Frontman Jon Foreman always is a crowd pleaser and the band never disappoints.

The opening chords of “Meant to Live” began shortly after 9 p.m. at the Rutgers Athletic Center, drawing screams from the crowd as the band quickly segued into their first song of the night, “Oh! Gravity,” of their latest album of the same name. The energy was intense and stayed like that until the end of their nearly 90-minute set.

Switchfoot performed 14 songs throughout the night, many of their old, classic, fan-favorites such as Jon’s solo acoustic encore performances of “Only Hope” and “Dare You To Move” as well as a new song, “This Is Home,” which will be featured in the upcoming movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. When Jon announced the new song screams were heard throughout the RAC, as to which point he joked, “You haven’t even heard it yet, you can’t scream!” The song started out with a solid keyboard feature from Jerome Fontamillas before Jon began singing. Despite having only begun playing the song recently on tour, many fans already knew all the words and could be heard singing along while swaying their cell phones in the air, slowing the night down for a while.

Highlights of the night included edgy guitar-based song, “Dirty Second Hands” and slower number, “On Fire.” Towards the end of “Dirty Second Hands” Jon stole the cymbal from drummer Chad Butler and ferociously hit it with a drumstick, spinning in circles for the remainder of the song. Jon then started off “On Fire” on harmonica before walking into the crowd, climbing up the bleachers, all while singing and taking pictures with fans before finishing the song.

It’s hard to tell the crowd favorite, as everyone surrounding me was singing along to each song word for word. The audience was diverse, made up of college students as well as parents with young children and other New Jersey natives. While some songs featured in their set didn’t stray too much from their album, others brought new life on stage, such as “Gone” which was prefaced with a cover of Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” to which Jon told the crowd, “I can safely say this is the only Beyoncé cover we’re going to do all night.” After a few bars of the song, Switchfoot went into “Gone,” where Jon’s singing took a pause to an almost rap-like number as he spoke the words to most of the song, jumping on and off the drum kit a few times.

After jumping into the crowd to grab a sign from a fan, titled “We Are One Tonight” Jon placed it next to a nearby speaker before playing the song, joking, “This is incase I forget the lyrics.” Soon after, a fan ran up and tossed him a mug, which right after catching he put some water into and then drank from. Jon later told the crowd, “The reason we decided to be an independent band is because of all you guys singing along.”

The Switchfoot fan base is an extremely dedicated group and after every show the band takes time out to sign autographs and talk with fans. After Saturday’s show the guys could be found hanging out next to the stage with fans while Jon played a 15 minute set of songs from his recently released EP’s as well as some older Switchfoot songs such as “Amy’s Song.”

Luna Halo opened the night and was, by far, the best supporting band I’ve ever come across in concert. Based in Nashville, the band has a strong rock sound and frontman Nathan Barlowe has a stage presence like none other I’ve seen. Playing nearly a 40-minute set, Luna Halo’s performance had everyone standing up and clapping along, not always an easy feat for an opening band. His facial expressions and stage antics while playing guitar was entertaining in itself, at one point he was rolling around onstage while playing guitar. The music was solid with strong, but not overpowering, guitar and drum accompaniment, never concealing Barlowe’s vocals.

Despite the audience not being too familiar with some of their songs, Luna Halo had the audience singing along to their cover of A-Ha’s “Take On Me” while lead singer Nathan joked with the crowd dancing along to their performance, saying, “I feel like Bon Jovi tonight. It’s great!”

Be sure to check Wendy Hu’s Flickr page for more photos of the show. For more information on Switchfoot check out their website and to listen to Luna Halo check out their MySpace.