Category Archives: Tracks

Warrior by Mark Foster, A-Trak, and Kimbra

I’d like to preface this post by mentioning a few things: (1) I have been absent from WordPress for quite a long time–I’m going to make an effort to change that this summer (2) The inspiration for this track post came from watching and listening to the song live at the Greek Theater in Berkeley this past weekend.  The show was really impressive and all of the performers had something different to offer.  Kimbra turned out to be an exciting performer with a unique voice.  Mayer Hawthorne was a throwback with loads of charm and never failed to get the crowd involved.  Finally, Foster the People sounded amazing live, put on an entertaining show, and proved themselves to be at the forefront of the indie scene.

Warrior by Mark Foster (lead singer and frontman of Foster the People), Kimbra, and Canadian DJ A-Trak, is a catchy, electropop tune that wonderfully showcases each of these artists.  From start to finish, this song captivated my attention for a number of reasons.  The production on the beat is enticing and had me toe-tapping from the start with its quick computerized drum beat.  I love Kimbra’s voice for the verses, along with Foster’s contributions on the chorus.  Foster demonstrated the ability to construct songs with refreshingly memorable choruses in Foster the People’s debut album (‘Torches’) with songs like ‘Pumped Up Kicks,’ ‘Helena Beat,’ and ‘Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls).’  There isn’t really a single song on ‘Torches’ that fails to deliver a successful chorus.  Toward the end of ‘Warrior’ is a breakdown with a haunting melody from Kimbra, which wraps up the track nicely.  I look forward to seeing what each of these artists has to offer in the future, and have a strong hunch that Foster the People and Kimbra will continue to make names for themselves in the industry.

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Finding Love: My Musical Journey

Music has long been a huge part of my life.  Around the time I hit puberty and started thinking more about girls, music helped me sort out and identify my emotions.  I can still recall the artists, albums, and songs I listened to as relationships emerged or fell apart.  While the music might not have always been of the highest quality (see: Nick Lachey), it could easily be paired with the way I was feeling.

As much as I loved and needed music, I never studied or learned how to analyze or create it.  Though there are exceptions to the rule, I tend to believe in the sports-music dichotomy: at a young age one tends to choose between the two.  In my case, I took the athletic route.  I studied Tae Kwon Do, played competitive soccer, excelled in basketball, and earned All-League honors on my high school tennis team.  At the time, I was never encouraged to pursue music.  It just didn’t seem to be written in my DNA.

After finishing my degree at UC Davis, I came back home to begin my life as an adult.  It turned out to be one of the most difficult times of my life.  Many factors contributed to serious anxiety and hopelessness, including unemployment and the end of my first serious relationship.  Slowly, I was able to pull myself out of the darkness.  I made some key life changes and channeled my energy and emotion into a newfound hobby.

In January of 2010 I began playing guitar.  At first, it was a real struggle.  I couldn’t seem to figure anything out, and at times I would get frustrated.  All I wanted to do was recreate some of the beautiful music that I loved so much.  With practice, I could play simple chords and piece together popular, identifiable songs.  I was proud of myself, and with this improvement came the desire to create something that I could call my own.  From the fire of pent up emotion that I had stored within myself rose the ash of artistic expression.  I began writing very cheesy songs with honest lyrics and simple chord progressions.  While I couldn’t sing, I decided it didn’t really matter.  It was always my goal to “not sound terrible.”

Over time, I compiled a number of songs.  Some were better than others, but all tracked my emotional growth.  At one point in early February of 2011 I wrote a song called “Love is a Hoax.”  As the title indicates, I was distraught with the direction my love life was headed–nowhere.  I had been actively using a few different online dating sites for nearly a year with no success.  I was unhappy and on the verge of giving up.

Then, miraculously, she entered my life.  Browsing one of the aforementioned dating sites, I came across a familiar face.  I couldn’t place where I had seen her before, but immediately sent a message to find out.  As it turned out, we had been in the same kindergarten class.  The memory of her adorable five-year-old class picture flashed into my mind, and I couldn’t believe the odds.  She responded to my initial message and we began to ‘catch up’ on a regular basis.

I tend to be on the cautious side and I have never been particularly skilled in the art of charming women.  Nonetheless, I decided early on this was a girl worth taking risks for.  I quickly weaseled my way into her plans, meeting up for a walk at a local park that we both frequented.  She was easy to talk to, gorgeous, and seemingly out of my league.  When I found out she was a true blue Golden State Warriors fan (a hard thing to find), I concluded that she was truly something special.

This was on a Monday. On Wednesday we played tennis (she put me to shame and had me racing all over the court) and ate dinner.  I still remember her telling me some sort of story involving one of her students farting, and it had me cracking up.  That Friday we saw a movie (Unknown with Liam Neeson) and ate some food while we watched the Warriors get their asses handed to them by the Hawks.  I drove her home and we shared our first kiss when I walked her to the door.  We spent the next day in San Francisco, and I will never forget laying on the grass in the Yerba Buena Gardens looking up at the city skyline.  I knew at that moment that I had found something remarkable.

I think one of the scariest things out there is telling someone ‘I love you.’  A few months into the relationship I knew that I felt love and desperately wanted to tell her.  Unfortunately, fear had the best of me and I postponed the occasion for a good one or two months.  I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to turn my car around after leaving her house, just so that I could make it known to her in a big romantic gesture.  I channeled this love into perhaps the most meaningful song that I’ve written, ‘Something Unsaid.’  While eventually I was able to tell her and it ended up enhancing our relationship tenfold, I’ll never forgot composing this song. We’ve been together for nearly ten months now.  I’m so lucky that I can wake up everyday knowing that I have her in my life.

“I was lost and lonely on a mixed up ride; But since I met you I’ve felt so much inside; The other night I left something unsaid; So here it goes in this song instead, I love you”

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Blood by The Middle East

One of my favorite movies from this year was ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love.’ It was really funny, genuine, well put together, and had a great cast. I was also surprised by the quality of the soundtrack. One standout song was Blood by The Middle East, an Australian collective of very talented musicians. The combination of acoustic guitar and tender lead vocals with several added elements (various percussive instruments, xylophone, harmonizing, humming/whistling, etc.) result in a beautifully composed  product. Unfortunately, The Middle East split earlier this year, which is a real shame. Don’t be surprised to see a post for their latest studio album ‘I Want That You Are Always Happy’ in the near future.

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Goodbye Sky Harbor by Jimmy Eat World

I have been a fan of Jimmy Eat World since high school. They’re an awesome band that have paved the way for many alternative, emo, and punk artists. One of my favorite albums of all time is their self-titled record (more commonly remembered as the Bleed American album), which contains a slew of hits including ‘The Middle’ and ‘Sweetness.’ Lucky for me, I have been able to see J.E.W. in concert twice, the most recent time being at the Fillmore in San Francisco. They performed the Bleed American album in its entirety, and I was truly in heaven. I don’t think I’ve ever worked up more of a sweat at a concert…

The thing is, the album only runs around 47 minutes for 11 songs. The crowd pretty much expected a lengthy encore, and we were NOT disappointed. Their opener in the encore was a song I had never heard, but I was completely blown away. Goodbye Sky Harbor is the closing number from their ‘Clarity’ album. It features some really nice instrumentation and great buildups throughout the song. I must say that I was most impressed by the looping section that begins at around the three minute mark (and dominates the majority of the song). Lead singer Jim Adkins really shows off his vocal abilities and blends multiple layers of sound to create something spectacular.

The album version might be a bit excessive and ambitious for some, so I will include the condensed live version from the Fillmore show below.

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