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Music Monday: 25 Songs About a Girl(‘s Name)

I’m trying something different with Music Monday today. I didn’t attend any concerts this week, foolishly skipping Jason Mraz Saturday evening and turning down Elliott Brood tickets Saturday night on account of an early (and long) day Sunday, so I have no reviews to pass on. Instead, I’m going to pass on some song recommendations.

It would be too easy to just pick an assortment of songs, so I picked a theme. While listening to Elvis Costello this week, I began to think about the best songs whose title is a girl’s name (inspired by his two amazing songs “Veronica” and “Allison” More on them later). I wondered if I could construct a full list. To limit it further, we’re only taking songs titled that consist solely of a name, so no “Anna Begins” by Counting Crows, much to my chagrin. Here’s what I came up with instead.

Here are 24 of my favourites, with an additional song thrown in because it inspired the title of this post. I’ve even assembled these songs as a playlist on Blip.fm for your listening pleasure.

Happy Monday! Here are the songs. with blurbs and bonus links for a few of my favourites.

The Academy Is… – About A Girl
This great pop-punk song inspired the title of the post, so it gets a bonus inclusion. Worth a listen in any case.
Arkells – Abigail
Ben Folds Five – Kate
Two Hours Traffic – Jezebel
Jack Johnson – Taylor

Love the guitar work throughout this, especially at the beginning.
The Allman Brothers – Melissa
Elvis Costello – Veronica
Franz Ferdinand – Jacqueline

A great song with a great guitar riff; probably my favourite off of their eponymously titled debut album.
Fleetwood Mac – Rhiannon
When I was running in a student council election back in my university days, I was out campaigning and I introduced myself to a girl who told me her name was Rhiannon. I responded “have you heard the Fleetwood Mac song “Rhiannon”, to which she replied, tersely, “everyone says that to me”. Suffice to say, I’m pretty sure she didn’t vote for me. True story. If you’re reading this, sorry about that, Rhiannon.
The Kinks – Lola
Death Cab for Cutie – Cath…

Having listened to it a few times recently, I can say that ‘Narrow Stairs’ is a totally underrated album.
Ray Lamontagne – Jolene
Just a beautiful, haunting song. I also recommend Hannah, but I couldn’t find a good version of on blip.fm. Instead, YouTube comes to the rescue. Check out this great version.
Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson
Going old school! Great lyrics, great tune, from a great movie (The Graduate). I especially love the part about Joe DiMaggio.
The Lemonheads – Mrs. Robinson
Great cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic.
The Allman Brothers – Jessica
The lone instrumental. Such great work from the Allman Brothers here. If this song doesn’t pick up your day, nothing will.
Fenix TX – Phoebe Cates
Metro Station – Kelsey
A surprise inclusion? This song sounds to me like a synth-pop Third Eye Blind tune. A marriage that works quite well in my books. Don’t judge until you’ve listened.
Michael Jackson – Billie Jean
I was at a shopping mall on a random Saturday this summer. I walked into a store and “Billie Jean” was on. I stopped, and thought to myself, “this is a really good song”. I had forgotten, not having listened to much MJ for so many years. Five days later, the King of Pop was dead and we all rediscovered his music.
Bonus “Billie Jean” covers: Mos Def and Steven Page/Danny Michel.
Blink 182 – Josie
I became a Blink fan listening to ‘Dude Ranch’ in Grade 10. This is one of my favourite tracks, an homage to an excellent girlfriend. How can you not love a girl who stays up late watching “Vacation”.
The Police – Roxanne
Goo Goo Dolls – Iris
Rod Stewart – Maggie May
Barenaked Ladies – Jane

Ben Folds – Gracie
Elvis Costello – Alison
Saving the best for last. Probably my favourite tune on this list. Everything about it is top-notch. The tight, melodic sound. Elvis’ voice. The words, a combination of resignation and a final plea. So, so, so good. My favourite Elvis tune of all time.

As a bonus, here he is playing it on his first ever television appearance. Enjoy!

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Music Monday: The Gaslight Anthem in Concert

I had never heard of The Gaslight Anthem until Christmas morning last year. My brother bought me their CDs for Christmas, telling me “they’re a mix of punk and Bruce Springsteen, so I figured you’d like them”. Sometimes, I am a very easy person to figure out.

The Gaslight Anthem have released two albums – their debut album ‘Sink or Swim’ is edgier, with more of a punk feel. Their follow up, ‘The ’59 Sound’, moves into a more melodic sound, incorporating a greater diversity of sounds. Both are awesome. (Their EP ‘Senor and the Queen’ is pretty good too).

I saw them perform at the Starlite Room in Edmonton earlier this year, and this Saturday caught them at the Edmonton Event Centre on their second time through this year.

Anticipating an early set (doors were at 6, show at 7), we showed up shortly after 8. The second of three opening acts, The Loved Ones, were on stage.

The Loved Ones

The Loved Ones, a punk band from Philadelphia, aren’t high on originality – they sound similar to any number of punk acts that might have been on a Tony Hawk video game soundtrack ten years ago – but are definitely worth checking out if you like that sound. I enjoyed them a lot; it took me back to my teen years when I listened to more punk music and would go to Warped Tour. They put on a fun set, playing with a lot of energy and interacting well with the crowd. At one point, the lead singer took away someone’s phone in the front row, telling him/her “you’re in rock and roll class right now!” Though they don’t look like a punk band, the Loved Ones acquitted themselves well, both as musicians and performers, and I think they won over a lot of fans besides myself.

Murder By Death

The final opening act was Murder By Death, a rock band from Indiana. With a name like theirs, I was expecting a hardcore/thrash act, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out they were nothing like that. Unlike The Loved Ones, their sound is hard to classify. A 4-piece band with a guitarist/singer, bass player, drummer, and keyboard player/cellist, Murder By Death is part Johnny Cash, part punk, part rockabilly, part Doors. Or something like that, they’re tough to categorize. They acquitted themselves well, playing a songs in a number of different styles and putting on an entertaining set. I’m keen to check out their albums in the next few days.

The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem came out and broke right into “High & Lonesome”. They played most of the songs off of ‘The ’59 Sound’, a number off of ‘Sink or Swim’ and a couple off of ‘Senor and the Queen’, including a great version of “Blue Jeans & White T-Shirts” during the encore. Other highlights included a version of “I’da Called You Woody, Joe”, which was preceded by part of “The Wanderer” by Dion (they used to play “Stand By Me” as the intro).

Brian Fallon of The Gaslight Anthem

Gaslight are a great live show. The thing that stands out is just how much they seem to be enjoying themselves, Brian Fallon especially. This interview gives you a good feel for Fallon’s appreciation for music. You can hear it in the lyrics, which reference (and in some cases directly quote) artists such as Counting Crows and Bruce Springsteen.

After the show, Andy and I were talking about this – it’s refreshing to see someone who seems to enjoy being a rock star. It’s become trendy (probably starting with Kurt Cobain) to either pretend you resent or are indifferent to being a rock star, or in the case someone like Adam Duritz, to actually resent the accompaniments of fame and success. Seeing Brian Fallon’s enthusiasm is refreshing and totally invigorating. He has fun, and has a great time interacting with the crowd. Makes for an even better live show.

Brian Fallon

Also, besides being a great live show, their music kicks ass. It makes me want to quit my job and start a band.

Check them out; they’re my second Music Monday pick.

Here’s a video clip of them playing “Great Expectations” at the Edmonton show.

Music Monday: Matthew Barber in Concert

You might not have heard of Matthew Barber, a singer-songwriter from Toronto. You might have heard of his more famous sister Jill; if you haven’t given her brother a listen, you are missing out.

I first heard Matthew Barber about 2 1/2 years ago. I saw him open for Chris Isaak at the Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton. Appearing solo on stage, just him and an acoustic guitar, he played a killer short set. I saw him at the Myer Horowitz Theatre last spring (while on tour with Jill) and he played another amazing show. He came to Edmonton on Friday, and I couldn’t miss another opportunity to see him.

Matthew Barber

Barber played the Haven Social Club on Stony Plain Road, an intimate venue with great acoustics. Playing solo, just him on electric guitar or keyboard, Barber delivered another great set.

He went through a number of songs from his most recent album, ‘Ghost Notes’, and mixed in a few of his older songs as well as covers of Hank Williams and Jill Barber. He’s also in the process of recording a new album, and played 2-3 songs off of the upcoming work, including one about hitting the open road that Andy and I agree will sound amazing with a full band.

Matthew Barber

Barber, a talented lyricist and musician, should be playing bigger venues than Haven, which must seat only 100-200 people. In time, he probably will. If you like the singer-songwriter style, give Matthew Barber a listen, especially his album ‘Ghost Notes’, and you won’t be disappointed. He’s the first of two music monday recommendations today.

I’ll be adding a few more photos from the show here.

Music Monday: Fall Shows in Edmonton

On Twitter, there is a common thread every Monday. Using the #musicmonday hashtag, people recommend songs or bands they’re listening to right now. I’m going to start a similar recurring feature on this site.

I go to a fair number of concerts, and I listen to a lot of music. I like sharing new music and hearing recommendations from other people. Music Monday posts will focus on new bands I’m into, shows I go to, or other recommendations along those lines.

To kick it off, here is an overview of some of the shows I’m looking to catch in Edmonton over the next two months, or in some cases, would if I was available (note: I still need to buy tix for most of these shows, so I may miss out on some if they sell out). I encourage you to check out these artists, and if you have the opportunity, to see them in person.

September 25: Matthew Barber (Haven Social Club)
Barber, the sibling of better-known artist Jill Barber, is a talented Canadian singer-songwriter who is currently recording his fourth album. I discovered Barber two years ago when I saw him open for Chris Isaak, and saw him perform last spring while on tour with Jill. He’s a talented live performer, and will no doubt put on a heck of a show in a small venue.

September 25: Two Hours Traffic (Pawn Shop)
I loved their album ‘Little Jabs’, and hear they are a great live show. Unfortunately, I already bought tickets for another show that night so I’ll have to catch them on their next visit.

September 26: The Gaslight Anthem (Edmonton Events Centre)
I love this band. After buying me their albums for Christmas last year, my brother described them to me as a mix between Bruce Springsteen and a punk band, which is pretty accurate. Brian Fallon is a talented songwriter, and the band as a whole plays with a lot of energy and emotion. Their show at the Starlite Room in April was fantastic, and I’m excited to see them again.

October 2: Library Voices (Flow Lounge & Grill)
I saw this band at The Hydeaway All-Ages Space earlier this year, and they were a revealation. A 10-piece band that plays with energy and writes well-constructed songs. I won’t be able to make this show, but I recommend you give them a listen and check out their show if you can.

October 3: Elliott Brood (Starlite Lounge)/Jason Mraz (Jubilee Auditorium)
I like both of these artists, but haven’t decided if I’ll go to the shows. I like each successive Mraz album less than the previous one – ‘Waiting for My Rocket to Come’ is great, ‘Mr. A-Z’ is pretty good, and ‘We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things’ is decent, but not spectacular. But, I have heard he’s a good live show.

I liked Elliott Brood’s 2008 album ‘Mountain Meadows’, and have heard they’re a really good live show. I could be persuaded to go to either one.

October 13: Jay-Z (Rexall Place)
H-O-V-A! I’ve been a Jay-Z fan since I first heard his stuff in the late ’90s. I’m looking forward to seeing how he does as a live performer. I also hope he plays more of his older stuff. Or he could just play The Black Album from start to finish and I’d be very happy.

October 14: Chris Isaak (Jubilee Auditorium)
I won’t be attending this show, but having seen him two years ago in the same venue, I can attest to the fact that he’s a great live performer. If you even remotely like his music, he’s a must-see show. He even wears a suit made out of mirrors.

October 16: Sarah Cole (Haven Social Club)
I plugged Sarah in my Friday post. Her and her band are talented musicians, and have always put on a good show when I’ve seen them live. This is Sarah’s CD release party too.

October 21: Amy Millan (Myer Horowitz Theatre)
I’m a big fan of Stars (Amy’s band), and liked Amy’s first solo album too. I haven’t listened to the entire new album yet, but I dig her cover of Death Cab’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”. My co-worker Marilyn, who generally has good taste in music, also recommends the opening act, Bahamas.

October 31: Metric (The Jubilee Auditorium)
Keyboad/Synth-rock at its best. I love this band, especially their latest album, ‘Fantasies’. I’ve never seen them live, but I’m looking forward to hearing them in a fairly intimate setting. I picked up tickets about 10 rows back – one of the first couple of rows on the right terrace. Should be awesome.

November 2: Marianas Trench (Edmonton Events Centre)
I love pop-punk music. It’s true. It’s fun to listen to, and I find it makes for a good live show as well. Marianas Trench is an energetic band, and will no doubt put on a good show.

November 18: Justin Rutledge (McDougall United Church)
With three albums under his belt, Justin is starting to develop a following. I caught him at a session at Calgary Folk Fest, and he put on a good show. The acoustics at McDougall are really good, and this should be a great venue for him.

There are a number of other shows I might end up going to see. The above are my ‘would really like to see’ list. On my ‘maybe’ list are the following shows:
September 22 – Cuff the Duke (Pawn Shop)
September 27 – Final Fantasy (McDougall)
October 30 – Dan Mangan (Haven Social Club)
October 30 – Young Galaxy (Flow Lounge & Grill)

If you’re going to any of the above shows, let me know and we can connect. You could also buy me a ticket, so I don’t go broke attending concerts.