Song of the Week Videos

Video Wednesday: Featuring Cage the Elephant, J Lewis and Theresa Andersson

I’ve been receiving numerous emails debuting new videos from artists. Rather than hold off until the end of the week, I figured I’d feature some of my favorites today. There are plenty more out there, so if I missed any you’ve been diggin’ lately be sure to leave them in the comments!

I interviewed Theresa Andersson during CMJ back in 2008 and was truly impressed by her performance. The one woman band plays multiple instruments throughout her set with the help of loop pedals. Watch her perform “Oh Mary” below. The video is the newest clip from her soon-to-be-released DVD, “Theresa Andersson: Live at Le Petit” due out April 24.

J Lewis blends pop, hip-hop, and R&B; throughout his debut video “Dancin’ For Me” featuring Flo Rida. His soulful vocals are sure to be a hit on the Billboard charts. Except his first album release later this year. Check out his music video below.

[dailymotion id=video/xcod87]
J Lewis Feat. Flo Rida – “Dancin’ For Me” OFFICIAL Video
Uploaded by thatsfunny. – See the latest featured music videos.

Cage the Elephant sure know how to party. You can find them jumping from school buses, lighting fireworks and crowd surfing at a house party in their latest video “In One Ear.” It may even inspire you to have your own house party…hopefully with minimal damage.

What did I miss? Which videos can’t you stop watching? Leave them in the comments and maybe I’ll feature some on the blog.

CD Reviews

What Are Your Favorite Albums and Songs of 2008?

I know all the music bloggers and magazines have been writing about their favorite albums, songs and moments of 2008, but instead of reading another journalist’s massive “best of” list for 2008, I’m more curious to know YOUR favorites. Was there an album you continually had on repeat in your car or your iTunes play list? What song could you absolutely not get out of your head no matter how hard you tried? What about your least favorite song you seemingly couldn’t escape from wherever you went — be it your drive to work, shopping at the mall or at your favorite bar? I’d love to read your “best of” lists! Plus, it’ll give me some new music to listen to as I ring in 2009!

Below, I’ll post some of the music I’ve featured on my blog this year — hinting at 10 of my favorites to give you some possibilities of new music to check out for yourself. Take a listen. I think you’ll enjoy them as well.

Brent Shuttleworth‘s video for “When I Reach California” below.


Joshua Radin – “I’d Rather Be With You” listen here.

Jason Reeves – “You In A Song.” For Windows click here, for Quicktime click here.

Brett Dennen‘s music video for “Make You Crazy” featuring Mandy Moore below.


Passenger – “Night Vision Binoculars” check out here.

Pete Murray performing “Opportunity” live below with John Mayer or check out the music video here.


Serena Ryder – “Brand New Love” here. For Windows users you can listen here.

Sia performing on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. For Windows. For Quicktime.

Theresa Andersson‘s video for “Birds Fly Away” recorded live in her kitchen.


Lastly, Ray LaMontagne‘s “You Are the Best Thing.” You can listen to it here for Windows Media or here for Quicktime if you haven’t yet.

What do you think? Can’t wait to read your lists! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Festivals Interviews

Theresa Andersson

I spoke with Theresa Andersson during CMJ week right before her amazing live performance where she played multiple instruments with the help of two loop pedals, all while dancing throughout her set — truly a sight to see. Theresa spoke to me about her writing process, recording her album in her kitchen, as well as her inspiration which draws upon living in New Orleans combined with her Swedish roots.

If that isn’t interesting enough for you, when listening closely to tracks on her latest album, Hummingbird, Go! you can hear birds chirping outside her kitchen window while sirens are blaring in the background. Not your average recording, Hummingbird, Go! is full of depth and if you listen closely you can pick up much of the surrounding environment. While Theresa is pretty certain her next album won’t be recorded in her kitchen, she does plan on continuing her demos there. And after watching the video below, I can’t wait to hear what she comes up with next.

Watch the video for “Birds Fly Away” recorded live in Theresa’s kitchen below to get a feel for her music and be sure to read the complete interview below.


What can people who come to see you perform expect? I’ve heard your live show is amazing and you use two loop pedals while performing.
I have a pretty interesting setup. It really starts with a big, white shag rug on the floor since I play barefoot so I can turn knobs with my toes and operate the pedals. I have two loop pedals on a big board that sort of looks like a boomerang shaped in front of me. It’s two-layered and there are pedals on either side of the board on the ends of it and in between there’s a whole bunch of pedals for switching pedals and for effects. Then, I have drums to my left, just three drums and some chimes and various percussion stuff. In front of me are two microphones, one I use for looping and one for vocal and then I have a violin and dulcimer and record player onstage. All these things I use to create the songs and build them up and I loop and record everything live.

It’s a very interesting format of playing because the pedals are definitely limiting and in the beginning when I started using them, it was really difficult. I had to spend many, many hours just figuring things out. I would spend 8 to 10 hours a day for weeks and weeks. It takes about three weeks to four weeks to really get a song in my body. I can rehearse them quicker then that, but to really feel like they’re me. I actually ended up having to break everything down to the beat. I had to figure out what to do with each beat. On some songs, especially when I set them up, between the first and second instrument I might do nine or ten different things. I have to switch things, turn things on and off and I do all that all with my toes while I’m playing it so I had to really think everything through. It became this dance with the pedals that I had to work out. After a while I started thinking of it as a dance, that’s when it really became fun. I actually ended up falling a lot in the beginning. I’ll be standing on one leg and I’ll stretch the other one out, skip steps or jump. At one point I have to stand on my heels and hit two pedals at the same time, so I couldn’t keep my balance at first. I had to take dance lessons from a friend of mine, just to figure out how to do it, how ballet dancers do it. Sometimes when I’m here in the city I’ll see shows. Recently I saw the New York City Ballet. When I saw them, I was like, “Okay, they can do all that, I should have no problem learning to hold my balance.”

So much concentration goes into every performance. Are you ever scared you’re going to mess something up or push the wrong button?
If I push the wrong button, what I’ve learned to do is to keep playing without making a mistake. I’m so comfortable with it now that the loop pedals are more of an instrument to me now since I’ve done it for a while. I play it like it’s an instrument so if I make a mistake it’s not such a big deal. It’s impossible to make it perfect at all times, but that’s what gives it a charm and that’s what gives each performance its uniqueness. The two pedals don’t synchronize with each other, so I have to do all the synchronizing. I think the loop pedal itself, there’s nothing new about it. It’s been around for a really long time and many people have used it. It’s perhaps the way I use it that’s a little bit different.

Tell me about recording your album. You recorded it all in your kitchen?
Yeah, that’s right. It wasn’t really planned. I wrote the record in New Orleans, most of it, and I ended up downloading everything in my kitchen. I have a laptop and I used Garage Band. It has its limitations too, so I would just use it to make the sounds and make it feel good when recording the demo. When the producer heard it, he really liked the way it sounded and he asked me, “Where did you record this?” and I said, “In my kitchen!” and he said, “Well, let’s make the record in your kitchen.” So we made the record in the kitchen.

I also had played all the instruments on the demo, but I didn’t really think that we were going to keep me as the only musician on the record. I thought, for sure we’re going to have a drummer and a bass player and all these things. Tobias Froberg, who produced it, he had seen me play the solo show when it was in its infancy and he really wanted to capture that vibe of one person doing something and he encouraged me to play everything so we went that route. I’m really glad we did because it has been a wonderful experience so far.

Do you have a favorite song that you enjoy playing live?
I love “Birds Fly Away.” Actually, each song is unique and they all have a specific role in the set. I really wanted to bring the listener on a journey when they listen to the set. I always think its best when you hear it from beginning to end because it goes into different spectrums of the musical language I use. “Birds Fly Away” is a really good song. I like playing “Hi-Low” a lot too, that’s probably the most complicated song I play, it’s a fun song to play too.

How long did it take to put together your live show?
I completed my rig after the record was mixed, so that was in March and then I really went into rehearsing a lot and then I hit the road. I spent maybe a month completing the show, but then it took a long time of playing to really get in my body. I would make a lot of mistakes in the beginning, I would be really nervous, but maybe those mistakes were something that I recognized. To me, I’ve reached the point where it’s really a musical instrument to me. It’s just another way of playing songs and playing music. I want the audience to really feel like they’re in the music and not worry so much about, “Oh my God is she going to fall or step on the wrong pedal?”

What is your typical songwriting process?
Well, I found a new way of writing on this record. I thi
nk because I started with thi
s looping thing, I started thinking of music in different ways. It sort of broke me out of my habits a little bit. So I decided to do the same thing for my writing. I started collecting ideas for a long time and I would spend a lot of time just working on melodies first and singing little snippets of stuff and not be so judgmental with myself and just collect ideas and go back and listen to them again. And not try to finish stuff and just be playful and have fun with it.

I would really be inspired by different textures of things. I see music in colors and textures a lot. So, I might sit and look at this board behind us here and try to sing that or I would draw something and try to sing it and make a melody out of something I was drawing, just to break my mind out of its normal habits. And I found that it was a really enjoyable process and it took the pressure off somehow. It was really playful and in the end, I think I gave myself more freedom and the end result is a lot more pleasing to me. It also felt like definitely my most personal songs on this record as a whole, the fact that I wrote all the music and I explored all these different ideas. It was very exciting.

I love your song “Japanese Art.”
Tobias actually wrote the lyrics to that song. He sat in my kitchen and I have a book about Japanese Art and he looked at it and he just started flowing. We’re both from Gotland, so we had to put Gotland in there and we both travel a lot. It was a little bit of a whimsical song, but it definitely plays up the joyfulness of that song. That’s what I was trying to do, I was trying to write music that would say something and then the lyrics would fall in place. I didn’t write any of the lyrics on this record. Tobias wrote a few of the lyrics and then I worked with a female poet from New Orleans, Jessica Faust. She’s phenomenal. She’s actually a professor at UNO. And I had asked her to help me find some female poets and she gave me some of her own poetry and I was floored. I cried when I read it and it moved me so much. I asked her if she’d be interested in trying to do something like this. I gave her finished melodies and asked her to write words to fit my melodies. It couldn’t have been easy, but she did a great job. I feel like it came out of me, she did such a great job.

Do you have a favorite city to play?
I love playing in New York. I love it! It’s always fun here. Sometimes you just stumble on places and you have a magical night. It depends on all the circumstances too. I played in Milwaukee opening for Mason Jennings and it was a wonderful show, I really loved the audience there. The other night I went to Knoxville, Tennessee, to play a radio show and ended up playing a benefit that night and that was a great experience too. I like New York because it’s a very diverse crowd; it changes every time I come.

What can fans expect from your next album?
I feel like I’ve really found myself and really arrived here with this album. I really think that all the time that I’ve lived in New Orleans combined with me letting all my Swedish influences and my Swedish roots come back out is something that I really enjoy and I’m going to keep working on that. I’m very influenced by New Orleans rhythms as you can hear on “Birds Fly Away,” I’ve even sample Smokey Johnson on there. I’m going to keep working on that. I’m also going to keep working on my textures. I have some big ideas in my head and I’m going to play around with it around Christmas time.

Is your showcase at CMJ different than the typical concert?
My show is so intense that unfortunately, for me to put something new in the show, it’s hard to do unless I have some serious rehearsal time. In the past, I could just get together with the band and do a two-hour rehearsal and then be able to play that. I actually have to get into rehearsal space with all my gear, do a couple days of rehearsing and I haven’t had the luxury of that. My show is pretty much worked out. Of course no one knows how tonight’s going to happen. I am excited because I know there are a lot of special guests in the audience that are invited by my publicists so that’s going to be nice but of course I’m a little bit nervous. I want to make a good impression. In New Orleans you don’t get so much of that, you don’t get so much industry and you don’t have high pressure situations all the time. It’s been challenging to be in those situations to really have to bring my super A-game every time I perform. But, I love challenges and I love to step up. I’m just hoping to make the audience feel like they’re able to step into my world tonight with everything else that’s been going on.

You’ve been getting some great press. Rolling Stone featured you recently.
Yes! I know, I’m so excited! When I started this record, I really erased any kind of ideas of wanting to fit into a format or trying to be something or have a specific sound, any of that stuff, just out of my mind. None of that. I really tried to just make a record that I could be proud of and a record that was personal and real from the heart.

And, I think when you listen to Hummingbird, Go! you’ll agree. For more on Theresa, be sure to check out her MySpace and see when she’s playing a tour nearby. It will surely be a unique performance you will never forget.

Concert Reviews Festivals

Bring on the Swedes: Theresa Andersson, Tobias Froberg

Wednesday’s lineup at the Living Room proved to be quite an unconventional night of music. Comical Swedish artist and producer Tobias Froberg took the stage shortly after 8 p.m., while phenomenal one-woman band Theresa Andersson followed soon after.

Drawing laughs from the audience by prefacing each song throughout the night, Froberg ended each song introduction saying, “and I wrote a song about that because I’m a singer-songwriter,” with Napoleon Dynamite-esque glasses and a voice that recalls Ben Folds. The crowd loved his never-ending sarcasm and anxiously waited on the edge of their seats to hear what he said next.

When listening to the lyrics behind each song, a more serious side of Froberg was revealed while playing piano and acoustic guitar. Before beginning “She Is Becoming Her Mother Again” he said, “Sometimes when I call my mother and father I find myself sounding exactly like them. Even though you love your parents, you don’t want to become them . . . but you do.”

Before playing last song of the night, “God’s Highway,” accompanied by Theresa Andersson and Ane Brun, Froeberg informed the audience that after the show, “I’m going to sit downstairs in the basement and sniff some glue” to which the crowd erupted in laughter. Definitely the comical performer, Froeberg kept the audience attentive throughout the somewhat more mellow songs in his set.

One-woman band Theresa Andersson took the stage at 9 p.m. playing a 50-minute set. With the stage covered in a white shag rug, Andersson could be seen utilizing two loop pedals with her bare feet throughout her entire performance, syncing up each instrument she played — guitar, drums, violin, dulcimer, tambourine and chimes.

“I’m not going to talk. I’m just going to make some noise,” Andersson told the packed room. “Welcome to my kitchen by the way. You’re getting the whole show tonight.”

Definitely not your average performance, Andersson explained her set as being somewhat like a dance. “After a while I started thinking of it as a dance, that’s when it really became fun.” She even took dance lessons from a friend in preparation for her live show. “I actually ended up falling a lot in the beginning. I’ll be standing on one leg and stretching the other one out, skip steps or jump. At one point I’ll have to stand on my heels and hit two pedals at the same time, so I couldn’t keep my balance at first,” she says.

Spending about a month putting together her live show, Andersson said it took a while to really get the music in her body. “I would make a lot of mistakes in the beginning. I would be really nervous, but maybe those mistakes were something that [only] I recognized,” she says. “To me, I’ve reached the point where it’s really a musical instrument. It’s just another way of playing songs and playing music.”

Andersson’s soulful vocals and friendly onstage banter made for an enjoyable set. At times, the audience seemed to be intently and silently watching her performance to which she said, “Don’t be shy. There’s just one of me and so many of you out there.”

Before her show, Andersson explained that she wants the audience to “really feel that they’re in the music and not worry so much about, ‘Oh my God is she going to fall or step on the wrong pedal?'” She seemed to get this across by her second song of the night and current YouTube sensation, “Na Na Na.” A fun and upbeat song, Andersson had the audience relaxed and at ease watching her dance around the stage all while playing multiple instruments.

One of Andersson’s favorites to play live, “Birds Fly Away,” is a New Orleans-inspired song which samples Smokey Johnson and has that soulful ’60s feel, reminiscent of the Supremes. Definitely the crowd favorite, the audience was clapping along with Andersson throughout most of the song and screams could be heard towards the end of her performance.

“Each song is unique and they all have a specific role in the set,” Andersson says. “I really wanted to bring the listener on a journey when they listen to the set. I always think its best when you hear it from beginning to end because it goes into different spectrums of the musical language I use.”

And Wednesday night she definitely brought the audience on a unique journey. Ending her set to thunderous applause and a standing ovation, Theresa Andersson is one artist who stands out from the crowd.

You can read this post originally on the CMJ blog here. Check out the video of Theresa Andersson’s song “Birds Fly Away” below, performed live at home in her kitchen.


Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “Na Na Na”

Day four of CMJ and I’m feeling the exhaustion kick in. I’ve seen a bunch of great shows and had some awesome interviews, so stay tuned for those. This week’s song is Swedish singer-songwriter Theresa Andersson‘s “Na Na Na.” I sat down with Theresa before her performance Wednesday night at the Living Room and she talked to me about her latest album (which she recorded live in her kitchen) as well as her incredible live show where she is a one woman band, playing multiple instruments with the help of two loop pedals. It’s really a sight to see. You can get a sense of it below with the video of her playing live in her kitchen.

I also asked Theresa if she gets stage fright anymore since she’s been performing for quite a few years to which she pretty much said no. However, after having to restart her first song of the night she jokingly mentioned our interview by saying, “I really screwed this one up. I had an interview earlier and was asked if I get nervous at these shows anymore and I said, ‘No, I got it.’ You’re getting the whole show tonight.” You never really think of how much one interview can have an impact on a performer since they have tons of interviews lined up throughout the week at a festival like CMJ. So, for my future interviews I think I’m going to stop asking the “stage fright” question, just in case. What do you think?