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Jan 23 2015

No-Hit Wonders: Winter Gloves – “Invisible”

This is the fifth and final installment of a five-part series this week documenting songs by “no-hit wonders.” Although these artists may have had cult followings and minor success on some of the “genre” charts, they didn’t even register enough mainstream success to really qualify as “one-hit wonders.” The tracks featured in this series reached the ears of TWTR podcast host Brian Kelley one way or another, and the objective of these posts is to hopefully focus some attention on some great songs that didn’t get the notoriety they likely deserved.

Winter Gloves – “Invisible”

I stumbled onto “Invisible” by Montreal-based Winter Gloves on SiriusXM’s The Verge channel. It was love at first listen and I downloaded their first full album, 2008′s About a Girl, just before going on a three-hour road trip for work. I couldn’t stop playing that album in the car.

Their follow-up CD, 2010′s All Red, was also really good, but I was a bigger fan of “Dancing Your Heart Out,” a track from their 2011 EP titled Heart Out (see bonus video below).

Winter Gloves had a decent following in their native Canada, but they never really broke out in a big way despite a SXSW appearance and stints as opening act for bands like Tokyo Police Club and the Naked and Famous. Actually, I had the chance to see Winter Gloves and Naked and Famous in Brooklyn back in August 2011–and that show was amazing. I had high expectations for Winter Gloves as a live act, and they did not disappoint.

Alas, the band’s lead singer/songwriter, Charles F., has seemingly moved on with a new solo project called Dear Frederic, which released a five-song EP called Outlast in 2014. The title track of that EP was one of my favorite songs from last year and you can listen to it below.

BONUS VIDEO

Winter Gloves – “Dancing Your Heart Out”

Jan 20 2015

No-Hit Wonders: Oppenheimer – “OK, Let’s Take This Outside”

This is the fourth installment of a five-part series this week documenting songs by “no-hit wonders.” Although these artists may have had cult followings and minor success on some of the “genre” charts, they didn’t even register enough mainstream success to really qualify as “one-hit wonders.” The tracks featured in this series reached the ears of TWTR podcast host Brian Kelley one way or another, and the objective of these posts is to hopefully focus some attention on some great songs that didn’t get the notoriety they likely deserved.

Oppenheimer – “OK, Let’s Take This Outside”

I was exposed to Oppenheimer when the pop/electronica duo from Belfast, Ireland, opened for They Might Be Giants in Philly in November 2007. I immediately took a liking to them and wanted to hear more from them. I loved their first two albums, their self-titled debut and its follow-up, Take the Whole Midrange and Boost It. But the duo called it quits in late 2009 after starting work on a third album. This Racket Takes Its Toll was eventually released in 2012–three years after the duo’s last performance together–and included material that did not appear on the first two records.

You may have heard Oppenheimer’s music on television shows like How I Met Your Mother, Ugly Betty and Gossip Girl, but they unfortunately failed to garner mainstream success despite some really fun, catchy songs. And they were a pretty good live act, too.

BONUS VIDEO

Another cool thing about Oppenheimer was that they used my home state of New Jersey in the title of a song that appeared on Take the Whole Midrange and Boost It. Here is “Fireworks are Illegal in the State of New Jersey.”

Jan 20 2015

No-Hit Wonders: Fossil – “Moon”

This is the third installment of a five-part series this week documenting songs by “no-hit wonders.” Although these artists may have had cult followings and minor success on some of the “genre” charts, they didn’t even register enough mainstream success to really qualify as “one-hit wonders.” The tracks featured in this series reached the ears of TWTR podcast host Brian Kelley one way or another, and the objective of these posts is to hopefully focus some attention on some great songs that didn’t get the notoriety they likely deserved.

Fossil – “Moon”

“Moon” by the northern New Jersey-based band Fossil was a minor college/alternative radio hit in the mid-1990s. The song was the lead track and first single from the band’s 1995 self-titled debut album, which followed the release of an EP titled Crumb the year before. The song’s clever lyrics and driving guitars make this a really fun song.

In addition to decent airplay of the accompanying video (above)–an homage to sci-fi “B” movies–on MTV, “Moon” was played quite often on 106.3 FM WHTG, a popular modern rock station located in Eatontown, N.J. That was how I heard this great, little-heard/mostly forgotten gem from the ’90s.

This October 2012 post by Alternative Nation looks back at Fossil and reports that singer/guitarist/co-founder Bob O’Gureck was making a living as a real estate agent in New Jersey. However, a Google search these days turn up a lawyer named Robert O’Gureck based out of Jersey City, so I wonder if that is him.

Again, this song should have been a huge hit.

 

Jan 19 2015

No-Hit Wonders: Lost Tricks – “All Around U”

This is the second installment of a five-part series this week documenting songs by “no-hit wonders.” Although these artists may have had cult followings and minor success on some of the “genre” charts, they didn’t even register enough mainstream success to really qualify as “one-hit wonders.” The tracks featured in this series reached the ears of TWTR podcast host Brian Kelley one way or another, and the objective of these posts is to hopefully focus some attention on some great songs that didn’t get the notoriety they likely deserved.

Lost Tricks – “All Around U” (rdio sign-in required)

rdio sign-in required

In September 2008, I attended a special Ben Folds performance at the SoHo Apple Store in New York City. While waiting in line outside the store, someone started handing out copies of a self-titled EP from a band called The Lost Tricks. After the Ben Folds show and spending some time in the city, I took PATH back to Hoboken, where I had parked my car. Because I couldn’t get any of my usual radio stations up there and there was too much interference to use my iPod’s FM transmitter, I popped the Lost Tricks CD into my car stereo. It turned out to be five tracks of piano-pop goodness. My favorite song was the one spotlighted above, “All Around U,” with “FreeMan” (see video below) a close second.

Lost Tricks (the “the” was dropped at some point) was the music project of actor/musician Trev Oswalt, who was based in Brooklyn when that EP wound up in my hands. However, he was originally from Oregon. A few years later, Lost Tricks was no more and it’s hard to find anything recent that refers to the band. BUT…I did find a Trevor Oswalt with a photography business based in Portland with a studio in New York City, and based on a profile photo on the company’s Facebook page, I’m pretty confident it’s the same Trevor Oswalt.

But, man…that Lost Tricks EP is amazing. It’s such a shame so few people ever heard it.

Lost Tricks – “FreeMan”

 

Jan 19 2015

No-Hit Wonders: Pitty Sing – “Radio”

This is the first installment of a five-part series this week documenting songs by “no-hit wonders.” Although these artists may have had cult followings and minor success on some of the “genre” charts, they didn’t even register enough mainstream success to really qualify as “one-hit wonders.” The tracks featured in this series reached the ears of TWTR podcast host Brian Kelley one way or another, and the objective of these posts is to hopefully focus some attention on some great songs that didn’t get the notoriety they likely deserved.

Pitty Sing – “Radio”

It was some time in 2004 or 2005, and I was driving on the New Jersey Turnpike on my way to a weekend sports writing gig I had back then. I was listening to my favorite radio station, 88.5 FM WXPN, and the on-air person announced the next song was from a Brooklyn-based band called Pitty Sing. The song they played was “Radio” and it didn’t take long to check all the right boxes on my checklist of musical preferences.  Arena rock drum intro…check. Driving, distorted guitar riff…check. Synths…check. 80s pop/rock sensibilities…check. Catchy chorus…check.

I reached for a pen and a scrap of paper and wrote down the name of the band and the song title so I could quickly find and download it from iTunes when I was back at my computer.

Unfortunately, as this In Music We Trust article from 2005 points out, the marketing for “Radio” was somewhat mishandled and this great dance-pop/rock song never really went anywhere–aside from apparently being pre-loaded into Creative Zen, Microsoft Zune and other MP3 players.

Amazingly, there are many similarities in sound and style to The Killers, whose mega-successful Hot Fuss was released around the same time as Pitty Sing’s self-titled album, so you would think a wide audience was primed for that type of sound. Yet, The Killers became international stars while Pitty Sing faded into oblivion.

Pitty Sing’s leader, Paul Holmes, went on to form another short-lived band called Paul and the Patients. Today, he calls himself an “artist, composer and producer working in NYC and L.A.” and can be found on SoundCloud.

As a YouTube comment under the video notes: “In a just universe, this would have been a monster hit.”

 

Jan 13 2015

Podcast to return January 26 after “No-Hit Wonders” blog series

The retooled Tandem With The Random podcast will return Monday, January 26, 2015, and will feature a discussion based on a series of blog posts the preceding week (January 19-23) focusing on “No-Hit Wonders”–now-defunct music acts who produced songs that became favorites of TWTR podcast host Brian Kelley without ever garnering mainstream “hit” status.

There are so many “No-Hit Wonders” to choose from, but the blog series will focus on these:

  • Pitty Sing – “Radio” – Monday, January 19
  • Lost Tricks – “All Around U” – Tuesday, January 20
  • Fossil – “Moon” – Wednesday, January 21
  • Oppenheimer – “OK, Let’s Take This Outside” – Thursday, January 22
  • Winter Gloves – “Invisible” – Friday, January 23

Stay tuned.

 

Dec 31 2014

Podcast status for 2015

So…we’re about to enter 2015 and the last four times the calendar has turned to January, I have brought back the Tandem With The Random podcast for another season.

But this year is a little different. The full-time job I started in August 2014 doesn’t allow me the flexibility I used to have in conducting research and interviews. I also have limited time to work on the episodes themselves. Plus, I may be doing some behind-the-scenes production work for a couple of side projects.

More importantly, my wife and I have a second son on the way in late February/early March, so that will further limit time to devote to this little hobby of mine.

But I want TWTR to continue so I’m going to try a new format that doesn’t rely so much on interviews–although I may try to conduct a few “virtual” interviews by e-mailing questions to people and asking them to record their responses into a digital file they can send back to me.

For the most part, though, I envision the 2015 version of TWTR to be short, story-based episodes featuring mostly just me talking. This way, I’m not waiting on interviews and can get a few of these “in the can” and ready to post before the new baby comes along.

Stay tuned…and Happy New Year!

Nov 17 2014

Some quick thoughts on Band Aid 30

Band Aid 30

So there’s a new, reworked version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” that’s been recorded to help in the fight to stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa–and it just happens to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first version of the song, which was the work of Bob Geldof and Midge Ure (one of my personal musical heroes).

 


Buy the song. Stop the virus. #BandAid30
Download now on iTunes – http://po.st/DoTheyKnow
Google Play – http://po.st/DoTheyKnowGp
Please donate: http://www.bandaid30.com/donate
CD single pre-order here: http://po.st/CDsingle
Pre-order it on Amazon here: http://po.st/DoTheyKnowAm

Overall, I really like the new version, which I didn’t really expect. I know it’s not the greatest song in the world–and both Geldof and Ure are its harshest critics at times–but it was groundbreaking for its time in 1984, when the goal was to help fight hunger in Ethiopia.

The Independent | Band Aid 30 lyrics: Reworked Ebola-themed ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ revealed

Upon repeat listenings of the new version, I’d have to say the two weakest links are Sam Smith and Chris Martin. Smith has an interesting vocal quality, but needs to hone the actual skill of singing. In his first line, his ”Christmas time” sounds more like “Christmas dime.” I have no freakin’ clue what he’s slurring in his second part during the bridge–that’s a mess and I can only assume that was the best take they could get in the limited time they had to record the song (which happened this past Saturday in London). I know Smith is one of the hottest artists on the planet right now, but I just don’t get it. The blandness of his songs doesn’t do anything to cover up the many flaws in his vocal style either.

And Chris Martin’s voice is just grating as usual–like nails on a chalkboard. Of course, I’m one of the biggest anti-Coldplay folks in the world so I’ll admit to bias on that one. Sinead O’Connor’s vocals are kind of weak, too, but there’s a hint of desperation in them that kind of fits the song so I’ve become accepting of them.

Everyone else does a real nice job. I’m a huge fan of Elbow and frontman Guy Garvey’s part (at the 1:26 mark of the video above) is fantastic…wish he got more to do, actually.

In my opinion, though, the real star of this latest version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” is Rita Ora, who amazingly only had 90 minutes to record her parts so she could get back to her filming commitments on UK’s version of The Voice. I’m not sure if it was planned going into the recording or if Ure and Paul Epworth picked up on it while producing the track, but she got some prime spots to shine here. Ora sings the first line as the beat kicks in after the One Direction/Ed Sheeran introduction, and then she gets the soaring vocal that leads wonderfully into the ”feel the world/heal the world” chorus (as opposed to the original’s “feed the world”). Plus, she gets a little lead part during the chorus. It’s subtle in the mix, but once you see it in the video, you can pick it up with your ears.

BuzzFeed has a post identifying who sings what in the 2014 version.


This post originally appeared on Tandem With The Random host Brian Kelley’s personal blog.

Jul 29 2014

Curtain rises on New Jersey Stage online magazine

New Jersey Stage logoA new, online magazine covering the arts throughout New Jersey was recently launched by former Tandem With The Random podcast guest Gary Wien (Ep. 11 | Show Notes).

New Jersey Stage contains features on and interviews with artists from the Garden State as well as with national artists performing in the area.

“Two things make the magazine unique,” said Wien, who publishes the magazine through Wine Time Media, in a press release announcing the launch. “One is the way articles come alive with the help of audio and video clips. The other is the way the magazine can be read on any computer, tablet, or even a smart phone. In fact, it’s actually designed to look great for mobile users.”

The debut issue, available now for free at http://www.newjerseystage.com/magazine, includes interviews with:

  • New Jersey musician Jack Skuller who recently was awarded the Holly Prize by the Songwriters Hall of Fame
  • Comedian Dom Irrera, who is performing at the Tropicana in Atlantic City
  • Filmmaker Daniel Goodman, who is currently shooting the film “I’m From New Jersey”
  • Playwright Robert Caisley whose latest work, “Lucky Me,” is being presented at NJ Rep
  • Comedian Colin Quinn who is performing at the Newton Theatre
  • Music industry professional Andrew Curry, who is producing “Here Comes The Reign Again,” a new compilation of classic ‘80s British artists covered by musicians of today

In addition, the issue contains artwork by Rob Tanico, poetry by J. Sales, reviews of the films “Boyhood” and “Grand Central,” an exclusive music video by Bruce Tunkel, a music industry column by Rosemary Conte, and an original comic strip by Gene Pompilio.

“I believe digital magazines are the best way to promote arts-related events,” said Wien, who previously published the popular Upstage Magazine. “Film reviews with actual movie trailers, record reviews with MP3s or music videos, and theatrical productions with scenes from rehearsals or opening night—all enhance the reader’s experience.“

In addition to the monthly publication, the main New Jersey Stage Web site includes news and features on a daily basis at http://www.NewJerseyStage.com.

May 07 2014

Tandem With The Random 033 – Johnsville Centrifuge (05.07.2014)

Tandem With The Random 033 – Johnsville Centrifuge (05.07.2014)

This episode of the podcast features the story of Naval Air Development Center, Johnsville, and the Johnsville Centrifuge, which was used to train nearly all of the United States’ early astronauts. Mike Maguire, president of the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum, and Sam Cravero, current owner of the centrifuge building, are interviewed…plus a few random thoughts. File size: 6.5 MB. Time: 28 min., 00 sec. Host: Brian Kelley.

Show Notes for TWTR Podcast 033

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