Audio

Monday Morning Tunes: Christmas 2014 Collection

Monday Morning Tunes Christmas

As you (hopefully) cross off the last tasks on your holiday to-do list, and spend these last days before Christmas with those you love the most enjoying your annual holiday traditions, now is the perfect time for a Christmas music playlist.

We’ve got some classics, because no Christmas playlist can exist without Bing Crosby or Tony Bennett, some more recent singer/songwriters, and some bands you probably wouldn’t expect to hear doing Christmas music. I’m actually impressed by the variety of music I was able to cram into this playlist.

I’ve pretty much taken care of your complete Christmas music needs. You’re welcome.

I created this playlist using Spotify. You can listen to it above, follow, or open it up on web here.

You can also find this playlist on Rdio.

If you’re looking for other music recommendations, we’ve got you covered. Fire up our Woman Tribune’s Monday Morning Tunes playlist that includes almost every song that has been featured here in our weekly Monday Morning Tunes posts.

Monday Morning Tunes: HAIM

HAIM
jaredeberhardt/Flickr

“Listen to HAIM. HAIM makes everything better.”

My fiance’s cousin, who I have always been close to, commented with that on a Facebook status update I posted a few months ago. I had heard of HAIM before then. I listened to a few songs and made a mental note to go back and really give them a listen with my full attention, rather than just putting them on in the background while I worked. I never did get around to doing that, until very recently.

HAIM is a three-piece pop rock band originating from an exceptionally musical family in Los Angeles, California. The three sisters initally formed the band, a stylized version of their last name, in 2007. It wasn’t until 2012, however, when they were working on the band as a full-time operation. During that gap, Este Haim earned a degree in Ethnomusicology, while Danielle Haim toured as a guitarist with Jenny Lewis and the solo act of Julian Casablancas, frontman of The Strokes.

If you have heard HAIM before, it’s more than likely because of their song, “The Wire.” It is a damn good song that has been steadily picking up traction since its release. This band has had an effect on me that almost no other has ever had — their most popular song is my favorite. That never happens! Ever.

HAIM is what happens when trends come back. Their sound is rooted in retro ’80s synth pop that will give you flashbacks of leg warmers and torn off-the-shoulder t-shirts. Their ’90s R&B influences give them a  unique sound that makes it continuously more difficult to put these rocking ladies into a box.

HAIM’s first and only album, “Days Are Gone,” was released in 2013. At the end of this past summer they released the single “My Song 5” and are currently working on their follow-up album.

Music I Recently Heard on ‘The Voice’ and Then Listened to on Repeat for Days

The Voice

When it comes to competition reality shows, I pretty much stick to “The Amazing Race” and every cooking competition show ever made. I have never really gotten into talent-based competition shows like “American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent,” and “The X Factor.”

One show that has been transcending past that preference for 7 seasons now is “The Voice.” I have divulged my love for “The Voice” here on several occasions, and a few seasons back I even did weekly recaps and shared my favorite moments from each episode. I should start doing that again… Next season, maybe?

This season of “The Voice” has had its highs and lows for me. I have gone through most of the season trying to pick favorites, but one week someone will do something I really like and then by the next week I have forgotten about most of them. There are two performers that I would like to see more of, but this season has certainly been a low-point with talent when compared to past seasons.

One thing that has been memorable on the show is, of course, the music. Some songs from this season were new to me, while others I’ve been listening to for years, or on a few occasions, my whole life. There is a really great blend of music featured on “The Voice,” which I have always appreciated.

Here are some of the songs that have been covered this season on “The Voice” that have inspired me to put in my headphones and listen to on repeat for far longer than I’d care to admit.

Taylor John Williams: “Heartless”

Portland street performer Taylor John Williams added a new twist to Kanye West’s “Heartless” by slowing it down and adding his guitar to create a new version no one would expect for his blind audition performance.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFdJCdb-doY

The studio version of Taylor John Williams’ cover of “Heartless”:

Joe Kirk: “Lego House”

Joe Kirk’s blind audition surprised me. Generally, young, adorable boys who get an audition on this show tend to be of the type that know they need a few more years of work and practice before they can really compete on a show like this. Joe Kirk was eliminated in the battle rounds, but his blind audition made me go look up more of Ed Sheeran.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIH5iRZWAac

And why have I not listened to anything by Ed Sheeran beyond “A Team” before?

Taylor Phelan: “Sweater Weather”

I heard The Neighbourhood’s “Sweater Weather” before, numerous times. Then I heard Taylor Phelan perform it. This blind audition instantly made me wonder what this guy’s future album could sound like. Taylor was eliminated in the live rounds of “The Voice,” but I’m genuinely excited to see what he does next.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fk5t_jw0vKQ

The studio version of Taylor Phelan’s cover of “Sweater Weather”:

Griffin vs. Luke Wade: “Maybe I’m Amazed”

Luke Wade is one of the few contestants this season that is consistently incredible. He is damn memorable, and every performance he has given on “The Voice” has been perfection. Luke Wade is still going strong in “The Voice” live rounds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc6oqtcOi_E

The studio version of Griffin and Luke Wade’s cover of “Maybe I’m Amazed”:

Jean Kelley: “Chandelier”

I enjoyed Jean Kelley’s theatrics during her performance of “Chandelier.” Someone get this girl a theater. Also, I am a huge Sia fan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wksRctZJN-I

I have been listening to Sia’s piano version of “Chandelier” a lot lately. As if you didn’t think the song could get more emotional.

Reagan James: “Try”

I don’t think I’ve heard anything from Colbie Caillat since her duet with Jason Mraz for “Lucky.” Before then, it was when her first album “Coco” was released in 2007 and the single “Bubbly” became an instant earworm. Then I heard her new song, “Try,” performed by Reagan James.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1ty5iqVK-Y

I was pretty thrilled to be hearing Colbie Caillat again. Despite her putting out multiple albums over the years, she hadn’t caught my attention again until now, and this song is incredible.

Matt McAndrew: “Take Me to Church”

Matt McAndrew gets points for his performance of “Take Me to Church” solely because he is the first person to ever growl on “The Voice” stage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwYCTjO_knw

That, and for introducing me to this Hozier song that is the most recent to be added to my most-listened-to playlist.

Do you watch “The Voice?” Have any favorite contestants you’re rooting for?

Monday Morning Tunes: Trampled by Turtles

Trampled by Turtles
wfuv/Flickr

I think we can all agree that if we happened to be a victim of robbery in which the items we used to express the most vulnerable and real parts of ourselves (and make a living) were stolen, the appropriate actions would be to file a police report and then wallow forever. But Dave Simonett did not wallow forever after his car was ransacked and most of his music gear was stolen while playing a show with his band at the time. Instead, armed with a single acoustic guitar, he pieced together a new band lodged solidly within genres that didn’t require amplification — folk and bluegrass.

Legend has it that this is how Trampled by Turtles was born, out of the ashes of thievery and loss and into the vortex of a new genre it would take years to win the fans of. Luckily, everything worked out and I am able to write about them now.

What is particularly cool about Trampled by Turtles is the fact that none of the five musicians in the band had ever played bluegrass music before uniting with Simonett. Fiddle player Ryan Young had previously been playing drums in a speed metal band and bassist Tim Saxhaug had played in a jam band. A mandolin and banjo round out the sound and the product has been an evolving experiment until they finally found their sound with their fourth album, “Duluth,” named for the Minnesota town the band formed in.

I generally like to think that I know what I’ll like when it comes to music. I know what genres I tend to gravitate towards at least. While folk music has always been very high on my list of personal favorite music, the idea of bluegrass turned me off, and classic bluegrass still does. For some reason or another, my brain has always had a certain aversion to bluegrass. Color me surprised when I listened to Trampled by Turtles, immediately recognized the strong bluegrass sound, and decided I liked it. I pretty much started thinking about everything in life with the mindset that at 28 years old, I have absolutely no idea what I really like and dislike.

I adore the fact that Trampled by Turtles won me over and that their music made me reevaluate what I had thought were my tastes. I am now a more open-minded person when it comes to the artistry of music and not paying attention to what genre it happens to be housed in, but appreciating a sound simply for what it is.

Monday Morning Tunes: Chris Pureka

Chris Pureka
butohmedusa/Flickr

I have been a huge fan of Chris Pureka for years. Many years. So many years, in fact, that I remember listening to her tracks on MySpace back when MySpace was the place to be and there was no Facebook. Yeah, I KNOW.

Chris Pureka is aching, desperate longing wrapped in a soothing rasp. It is music that makes you turn inward, into your own history of love, loss, and the depths that make each of us undeniably human, until you begin to ache right along to the sound of the strumming guitar.

I was an avid listener of Chris Pureka’s introspective stories since the first album, “Driving North,” was released and I immediately latched onto the song “Burning Bridges.” The recorded version is phenomenal, but there is a certain kind of magic in hearing it performed live.

I remember exactly where I was, physically as well as metaphorically in my life, when I first heard this song. I distinctly remember listening to it on repeat more times than I could ever possibly count and singing it louder than (thankfully) anyone else will ever have to hear. It has been 10 years since “Driving North” was released, but when I pulled this song up to listen to just last night, I remembered every single word, every minute inflection, every emotion it made me feel that first time I heard it.

I had very much the same chain reaction to the song “31 and Falling” from the 2006 album, “Dryland.”

Pureka has released five albums in total on the independent label Sad Rabbit Records. Despite my boundless love for the two songs I have discussed at (too much?) length here, each album is an excellent example of an artist’s ability to put words to the messes so many of us know too well, mostly about love and things that can hurt.

Chris Pureka has shared the stage with other like-minded talent like Dar Williams, Ani Difranco, Melissa Ferrick, Alix Olson, Peter Mulvey, and Martin Sexton. Her music has been compared to artists including Bruce Springsteen, Gillian Welch, and Patty Griffin.

Monday Morning Tunes: Katie Herzig

Katie Herzig
butohmedusa/Flickr

Me and a very good friend of mine have always loved sharing music with one another. It’s our thing, along with having what some might call inappropriate conversations that could easily be labeled as “TMI.” Obviously, we have the best conversations. We also both have incredibly varied taste in music, and in all of the years we have known each other (something like 13 years now, wow how time flies), some of our favorite music has come at the recommendation of the other.

When I first heard Katie Herzig, I messaged her with the demand that she listen immediately, but I had so many favorite songs that I couldn’t choose. Asking someone to listen to just a few songs instead of an entire album is a disservice, especially when it comes to Katie Herzig. She is better than the snippets of her work that I could send in a quick Facebook message. Her catalog of work is so much better when it is given the time and attention it rightly deserves. You will appreciate everything she puts into her sweet, twangy sound and the construction of a catchy melody held up by the integrity of a whole lot of heart.

Katie Herzig has been part of the music industry since the late 90s, all the while being an independent artist not signed to any major label. This is something that I have an immense amount of respect for, given the fact that my fiance is an independent professional musician. I know first-hand that this road is not always an easy one, but the freedom it allows you means that the music you put out is 100% authentically your own, and you afford yourself the luxury of always remaining true to yourself.

Quite a few of Katie Herzig’s songs have been featured in television shows (most notably “Grey’s Anatomy,” six different songs in six different episodes, as well as “Smallville,” “One Tree Hill,” “Pretty Little Liars,” and “Cougar Town,” among others), commercials, movies, as well as the movie trailer for Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks.”

Katie Herzig appeared in the 2008 independent documentary, “A Nashville State of Mind,” and was featured in the campaign “30 Songs/30 Days” supporting Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Katie Herzig is a female singer-songwriter that will carve out of a place in your heart and cuddle up inside of it. She has shared the stage with the likes of Brandi Carlile and Missy Higgins, both of which she can easily hold her own next to. She is simply a mesmerizing, heartfelt treat.

Monday Morning Tunes: The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars
thequeenshall/Flickr

It shouldn’t have taken me until now to write about The Civil Wars, or at least mention them. Since it has taken me until now to dedicate a Monday Morning Tunes post to them, I have to tell you that this incredible, four-time Grammy Award-winning duo has officially parted ways.

Having been on an “indefinite hiatus” since late 2012, Joy Williams and John Paul White released a statement in early August announcing that their musical partnership had come to an end. The only work the Civil Wars have put out during the time of their hiatus has been the “Bare Bones EP” that featured alternate versions of the songs “Oh Henry” and “Eavesdrop” and acoustic versions of four other, previously-released songs.

So why was I compelled to write about the Civil Wars now? Well, it seems as if their song “Poison & Wine” has suddenly appeared everywhere, regardless of the fact that it was released three years ago on the “Barton Hollow” album.

I have a few go-to music resources I utilize throughout a typical workweek and no matter which I put on, this song always eventually shows up. I’ve loved it from the first time I heard it and I know you will too.

“Poison & Wine” was also used in its 3-minute and 39-second entirety during a montage at the end of a season 6 episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Fun fact.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what is truly the best of the Civil Wars. They have received critical acclaim for nearly everything they have released.

In 2012, the Civil Wars won their first and second Grammy Awards, for their album “Barton Hollow” and for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, respectively. The next year they took home their third Grammy in the category of Best Song Written For Visual Media for their collaboration with Taylor Swift on the song “Safe & Sound” for “The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond” soundtrack.

Their 2013 self-titled album helped them scoop up their fourth Grammy in 2014, again for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

It’s unfortunate that the Civil Wars have decided to part ways, especially considering their repeated, widespread success. Then again, that much success has been known to poison relationships. We’ll probably never know why the Civil Wars decided to call it quits, but we do know that Joy Williams will not be leaving the music industry behind.

In their final farewell statement, she said:

Looking ahead, I’m excited to share the music that I am writing and recording in the midst of this difficult transition. I’ve loved being back in the studio, and have missed performing live. I look forward to seeing you soon.”

At least we have that to look forward to.

Monday Morning Tunes: Sia

Sia
laubarnes/Flickr

I have been on a total Sia kick lately. Cannot get enough of her.

This is actually the second time I have written about Sia here on Woman Tribune. The first time was back in 2010, when she spoke out about developing a panic disorder after being outed as bisexual by celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton. Losing her privacy at the height of her fame and suddenly inundated by the peering eyes of the public, she suffered panic attacks and ultimately decided to step out of the limelight.

After the 2010 release of her fourth album, “We Are Born,” Sia stopped putting out music under her own name. On top of living with a panic disorder, she became addicted to drugs and alcohol and had survived a suicide attempt before entering rehab.

When Sia returned to the music industry, she returned as merely a songwriter. Her writing chops are responsible for chart-topping hits like Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” “Perfume” by Britney Spears, “Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)” performed by Ne-Yo, Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts,” she wrote “Cannonball” for Lea Michele after the untimely death of Cory Monteith, and she even co-wrote the World Cup anthem “We Are One.”

Of course you may have heard Sia before. Her song “Breathe Me” is what propelled her popularity with American audiences after it was featured during the monumental closing sequence of HBO’s award-winning show “Six Feet Under,” only one of the most incredible shows to have ever aired on television.

Last month, Sia released her first album in four years, “1000 Forms Of Fear.” It is spectacular. Sia’s personal music comeback has been amazing, and if you’ve turned on the radio at all recently, it’s likely you’ve been hearing a lot of “Chandelier.”

When I looked up the song “Chandelier” on YouTube, I saw that Sara Bareilles covered it during a live show in Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s pretty great, as Sara Bareilles usually is. It also made an appearance on “The Voice,” performed by kick ass rocker Kat Perkins.

But while it may be the song getting the most attention right now, “Chandelier” is only the tip of the greatness on “1000 Forms Of Fear.” I recently went an entire day listening to nothing but “Elastic Heart” on repeat. I’m not even kidding. Then the next day I woke up and put it on again. I think I’m doing that thing where you listen to a song obsessively until you get so sick of it you never want to hear it again, except I’m not getting sick of hearing it.

An alternate version of “Elastic Heart” was recorded with The Weeknd and Diplo for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack.

I’m ecstatic that Sia has decided to release a new album. It’s obvious that she has heaps of talent, but even more important than that, it seems that she has found her footing in the public world once again. This time I hope she fits more comfortably in the nook she has successfully carved out for herself.

6 Spotify Playlists to Wake Up To

Spotify headphones

The best thing about Spotify, besides being able to listen to virtually any music that has ever been released to the public and for free no less, is the ability to create and follow playlists. This feature has opened Spotify up to become the newest version of the mix tape, and there isn’t a person out there who doesn’t love a good mix tape.

Here are 6 playlists currently on Spotify perfectly tailored to start your day (and especially your Monday) off right.

Songs to Sing in the Shower

Amp up your morning by singing along to these classic hit tracks while you shower.

Digster RISE & SHINE INDIE

The alarm clock has never sounded so good. Enjoy your morning with these uplifting, cheery indie rock songs.

Rock & Roll Wake Up

Get up and get moving with these energizing rock tracks.

Caffeine Rush

A dose of coffee with the mash-up of perfect tracks that will get you buzzin’ faster than ever before.

Mood Booster

Get happy with this pick-me-up playlist full of feel good songs!

Get Happy

Songs for cheering up!

Honorable Mention

If you’re looking for some of the best classic and current love songs out there, check out the Love Me Then Love Me More playlist.

Monday Morning Tunes: Broods

Broods
wfuv / Flickr

It’s safe to say that if you’re looking for some new music, specifically if you’re into alternative/indie rock and pop, you might want to pay attention to what’s coming out of New Zealand. Numerous solo artists, duos, and bands from this area of the world have hit it big with American audiences, such as Lorde, Kimbra, The Naked and Famous, as well as influential classics The Bats and The Clean.

New Zealand’s music culture only continues to flourish. Latest to come across my radar is Broods, a brother-sister electronic pop duo made up of vocalist Georgia Nott and multi-instrumentalist Caleb Nott.

The siblings began making music together when they were kids and went on to win the “Richmond’s Got Talent” competition in 2010. They were also part of the indie rock band The Peasants that won the 2011 Smokefreerockquest music competition. They didn’t pursue Broods until 2013, when they both dropped out of university to focus on the creation and writing for their new band. Sacrificing their education for a music career, while risky, looks like it is really paying off, and quickly.

Broods’ debut single “Bridges” was released online in October 2013 and was immediately picked up by music blogs and even MTV. It was during an episode of “Catfish” (DO NOT JUDGE) where I first heard the song and made it a point to remember their name to look up later.

I am so glad I did.

So far, Broods has only released their self-titled EP, released in January 2014. I’ve listened to it dozens of times, and it is a really solid 6-track teaser.

Broods’ first full-length album is due out at the end of August.