Guest blogger and current Pandora Comedy Spotlight comedian Dan Cummins muses on the holidays…
Christmas stresses me the hell out. Let’s start there.
I feel like every year I end up rushing around at the last minute to buy gifts, terrified that I’ll spend way too much money on a bunch of poorly thought-out doodads everyone will just hate anyway.
I worry that my two kids Kyler and Monroe will LOVE the presents they get from their mom (my ex-wife), and that my gifts will quickly fall into the pile of undesirables which will be almost immediately placed in the bottom of a closet where they will remain until given to Goodwill in untouched, mint condition. Ugh.
I worry that my fiancé will get me a WAY better gift than I’ll get her, and I’ll be so riddled with shame and guilt that I’ll barely be able to enjoy my third helping of mashed potatoes and gravy. And I really worry that there won’t be enough mashed potatoes and gravy for me to have a third helping.
Anyways… Read More →
This last Tuesday, Pandora sent out the push notification: “Our music curators think you’ll love Hipster Holidays Radio this holiday season. Try it today!” If you’ve ever seeded or thumbed-up anything deemed cool, indie or “hip” – you received that notification. It’s really that simple.
Pandora is headquartered in a hip part of Oakland, California – which means each day, our employees walk streets considered by many to be a West Coast epicenter of hipsterdom. But this recent social conversation around the term “hipster” got us thinking more critically: what’s the history behind this word, anyway? Being the OCD music and pop-culture geeks that we are, the subject was researched! And, wouldn’t you know it, the word has a deep musical tie in.
The origin of the term “hipster” has nothing to do with boutique fixed-gear bicycles. But it pedals back to 1938 when Cab Calloway jokingly wrote The Hepster Dictionary to accompany his sheet music – it was a glossary of jive terms spoken by “hepcats” (African American jazz enthusiasts). So then “hepcat” evolved into “hipster” by the 1940s. In June of 1948, Anatole Broyard wrote a piece for Partisan Review entitled “A Portrait of the Hipster.” In it, he describes hipsters as blues and jazz informed delinquents on a quest for self-definition. Read More →
This Brooklyn-based comprising duo Patrick Laird (Break Of Reality) and Marnie Laird has gained a significant following on YouTube for their piano/cello covers of popular music. Their Brooklyn Sessions debut album features reinterpretations of pop hits like “Am I Wrong” originally performed by Nico & Vinz, “Chandelier” by Sia, “Centuries” by Fall Out Boy and “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith.
Despite his silly name Mr Fijiwiji produces some serious music. His latest release on Monstercat Records is much more mature than his 19-years would have you believe. Each track is an expert exercise in Chillstep, dripping with ethereal synth goodness. If Tycho and Porter Robinson made an album together, it just might sound like Keeping It Surreal. Read More →
Pomo is the next generation of futuristic synth soul, joining the HW&W Recordings team of beatmakers: Kaytranada, Ta-Ku and Stwo. As a Canadian multi-instrumentalist and producer living in Montreal, Pomo is the one to watch for cutting edge, freaky, feel good beats. His influence as a live musician on electronic production blends the two worlds perfectly. Songs like “Cloud Cruise” sound like an outer space disco ride and “How I Feel” will put you in funk-mode on the dance floor.
Moonsville Collective is an Americana string band from Orange County. They describe their music as “California Goodtime.” Influenced by folk legends like Levon Helm (The Band), Bob Dylan and Old Crow Medicine Show, the sextet is made of multi-instrumentalists including dobro, mandolin, fiddle and kazoo, (just to name a few). Since releasing their first album Cradle To The Grave in 2013, they have picked up numerous regional music awards and have played alongside artists like Wanda Jackson, Willie Watson (Old Crow Medicine Show), Donavon Frankenreiter and The White Buffalo. Read More →
Dark pop from Stockholm, Sweden and described by MTV Buzzworthy as a “…superstar in the making, surrounded by dark, gloomy synthesizers … recalling a cross between Lorde, Robyn and The Weeknd.” XOV, the moniker of Damian Ardestani, makes his US debut with the track “Animal,” featured on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack. Lorde, who got in touch with him via a Twitter direct message, curated it. He plans to release his debut EP in early 2015 under the Sony Music label.
You don’t have to be from Chicago to remember post-rock. Back in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, a small population of Windy City indie bands simultaneously shared a love for the electric guitar distortion and delay pedal-tweaking of shoegazing – as well as the heady arrangements of prog (but they insisted on calling it math-rock instead of prog). The post-rock subgenre earned its name because these bands implemented the use of rock instrumentation (guitars, bass, drums) to create non-rocking textures and soundscapes. Many of these musicians felt that it was more important to have a durable winter jacket than a lead singer, hence the then popularity of parka-clad instrumental bands like Tortoise. X Suns aren’t from Chicago. They’re from Seattle. They specialize in putting the rock back in post-rock. In most cases, this might bring it back to just rock, save X Suns’ labyrinthine changes, gorgeously layered guitar textures and songs sans singers. They are also prone to jamming on jazzy outbursts and Hawkwind inspired space-rock freak-outs. Read More →
Smashing Satellites are a Canadian electro-rock project featuring the former lead guitarist and vocalist Salvatore Costa of rock band My Darkest Days. They’ve recently introduced their debut single “Hounds,” the opening track of their first EP release, A-Side (SonicAluzion). Founded by Costa, who has been described as having one of the most powerful and unique vocal timbres in music, “Hounds” combines ‘80s style funky drums, synths and pure fun.
Bicoastal comedian Barry Rothbart is capping off a busy couple of years with his debut album, Streets of Fire. After being named one of Variety’s “10 Comics to Watch in 2013,” he also appeared alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street later that year. Rothbart made his late night television debut on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, followed by appearances on Conan, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and Adam Devine’s House Party. On his release from ASpecialThing Records, Rothbart smoothly delivers the funny as he ponders the weird confidence of little kids, points out that all advice sounds exactly the same, wishes Liam Neeson was his dad and recounts his adventures in making a fool of himself at the Burger King drive-thru. His loose, improvisational crowd work is a rarity on any comedy album and establishes him as a unique new voice in the genre. Be sure to keep your ears open for the delightfully bizarre bonus track. Read More →
Zella Day is an up-and-coming indie pop artist based out of Los Angeles who has been described as the “happier version of Lana Del Rey.” She came to attention in 2011 with her haunting, stripped-back cover of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army,” which lead her to playing six shows at SXSW this year. With influences ranging from Mason Jennings, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, old western films and her Arizona mountain town upbringing; her eponymous debut EP showcases just that – with the addition of drum machines and electronics.
At only 18-years-old Swedish-born Didrick is a triple threat: DJ, producer and multi-instrumentalist. He’s done official remixes for Cazzette and Avicii & Nicky Romero, but he is also well known for remixing 78 tracks released by Monstercat Records into a single song, performed live. The track features a string quartet, swingin’ horns and a guitar solo even Slash would love. He’s definitely not your average electro house banger. If you breathe, sleep and eat EDM; Didrick should be your next course.
Self-proclaimed “perma-teenage mermaids,” buzzing two girl, two guy Orange County band The Aquadolls are currently a hot item in the Burger Records scene. They combine highly energetic garage pop melodies with sixties surf-guitar riffs in the vein of Shannon & The Clams, Best Coast and Black Lips. Wade into tracks like “Wander” and “We Are Free” off their upcoming album Stoked On You and get stoked for sunny Southern Californian sounds this winter. Read More →
LOLAWOLF is a new trio featuring the vocals of Zoe Kravitz, daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. She’s also well known for her acting roles in Divergent and X-Men: First Class. The Lolawolf EP was characterized by Pitchfork as “surging electronic pop” while Neon Gold called their track “Drive (Los Angeles)” “…a perfect piece of distinctive, melody-driven, back-to-the-future synth candy.” We think it sounds like Kesha and Banks on a trap binge!
Jack + Eliza
Childhood friends turned collaborators Jack + Eliza take a stripped-down approach towards ‘60s psychedelia. Armed with just their vocals and electric guitars, they’ve teamed with producer Chris Zane (Passion Pit, Mumford & Sons) combining the harmonies of bands like The Beach Boys and The Mamas & The Papas with stripped-down contemporaries The xx and Father John Misty. Check out the duo’s catchy single “Hold The Line.”
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LION BABE are a soulful, buzzing New York duo made up of singer-songwriter/performance artist Jillian Hervey and instrumentalist/producer Lucas Goodman. Their track “Treat Me Like Fire” mixes Motown and 70s soul with contemporary production and their latest jam “Jump Hi” features an appearance by Childish Gambino. Both tracks are off their forthcoming major label debut EP.
Twang and Round
Check out one of the latest artists signed to Average Joes Entertainment, the Nashville label founded by Country music rapper Colt Ford. Twang and Round are country, southern rap and rock comprising members Duo Vernon Roach (aka “Kuntry Twang”) and Brad Davis (aka “Lil Round”). Their debut single “All Wired Up” was featured on the latest Muddiggers compilation. They also just released their debut EP Pour Another Round, featuring the track “Grand Daddy Long Legs” with an appearance by Tyler Wood from the Discovery Channel show Moonshiners. Read More →
Around mid October I went costume shopping and heard Christmas carols wafting from the store’s speakers – a full two weeks before Halloween! Does anyone care about timing anymore? We do. No matter what your taste in music is, Pandora’s Curation Team and I have your Halloween soundtracks covered. Our Family Halloween station is more fun than frightening – I’d love to teach my sister’s kids how do dance “The Monster Mash.” And if Ray Parker Jr. “…ain’t afraid of no ghost,” why should they be? A couple of the Halloween parties I’ve been invited to are Walking Dead themed. That’s why I’m loading up my phone with Halloween Party – it makes me want to drink pumpkin ale and dance like the zombies in “Thriller.” Also, you don’t have to enjoy Halloween ironically to dig Hipster Halloween. It’s got everything from Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall to Dead Moon and The Black Keys. And should your inner goth be craving some darker cuts, tune into to Ghostly Grooves. Or for a more sophisticated way to induce goosebumps, click on Spooky Symphonies while reading some Edgar Allan Poe.
Of course, Halloween Metal is my favorite. While curating this station, I was getting all kinds of awesome memory flashbacks. Fittingly, one of my earliest metal memories took place on Halloween. In second grade, my best friend Dave and I convinced our parents to buy us KISS costumes. Back then you could get a plastic mask and accompanying Halloween smock in a grocery store for the price of a couple cheeseburgers. Dave wanted to be Gene Simmons and I wanted to be Ace Frehley (admittedly, part of me still wants to be Ace Frehley). But as Dave and I put on these costumes, I remember looking in the mirror and feeling kind of dumb. Because even back then I knew that the real “Space Ace” wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a plastic bib with a picture of himself that read, “Ace Frehley!” Still, that night our trick-or-treating efforts yielded tons of candy. Read More →