Tag Archives: Spotify

Big Guava Music Festival 2014

Big Guava 14 Okie Balloon

The first annual Big Guava Music Festival (literally) stormed through Tampa Bay May 2 thru 4, 2014!  My prayers had been answered for this was my city’s first true music festival (besides the Sunset Music Festival), and the closest thing to Coachella to hit Tampa Bay shores.  The stormy weather may have hindered attendance the first two days, but Big Guava ended on a sunny, high-note by the third and final day.  Regardless of weather conditions, the residents of Tampa Bay need to WAKE. THE. HELL. UP!… and take advantage of such a fantastic music festival taking place in our backyard.  Coming from someone who works in the live music and concert industry, the challenge in bringing music acts to even perform in this state is difficult.  When a line-up such as this year’s Big Guava line-up is created, you get up off your couch, you buy tickets, and you attend.

As with anything new in this city, it’s just going to take time for Big Guava to reach the heights of success that it rightfully deserves.  Upon hearing Live Nation’s announcement for plans to present another Big Guava Music Festival next year, I let out a sign of relief that my prayers had once again been answered.  Hopefully, my prayers of Tampa proving not to be such a basic city will be answered when its citizens come out in droves to next year’s fest.

So enough of my tirade.  I now present, and in no particular order, my TOP 5 FAVORITE PERFORMANCES at this year’s Big Guava:


Magic Man:  There I was lying in a hammock in the Craft Beer Chill Zone at Big Guava, lounging until the next act I planned to see took the stage.  To find an available hammock in any of the Craft Beer sections at Big Guava was like finding the Holy Grail.  So when you happened to find an available one, you jump on it and rest on it as long as you can because this lethargic opportunity of downtime may not come back around again.  For me to abandon my hammock to check out the catchy music that was coming from the nearby Grove stage just goes to show what an electrifying band Magic Man are live.  Lead singer Alex Caplow stole the show, and (simply put) KILLED his band’s set with his Jagger-esque energy and moves, and vocals that soared thru the Fairground fields.  I wasn’t familiar with the pop rock band from Boston before Big Guava, but they have now become a regular staple on my Spotify.



Outkast:  The biggest disappointment of this year’s Coachella was hands-down Big Boi and Andre 3000’s much-hyped reunion.  There was no connection at all from the duo to their songs, or to the audience.  The flamboyant Andre 3000, sporting un-Andre 3000 attire comprised of a cap, hoodie and denim overalls, came across as drained, uninterested and depleted of his usual pizzazz.  The energy in the desert was a mixture of confusion and exhaustion, both from Outkast and the masses of festival-goers that began to rapidly thin out.  I cringed when Andre 3000 asked the Coachella audience if they were still there, and if they were tired.  By the time the duo performed the classic “Hey Ya!,” it was too late, for only a 1/4 of the audience that were originally lined up to see their set still remained to shake it like a Polaroid picture.  And barely did they do that.

So to my delight, Outkast invaded the Big Guava stage on their one and only Florida appearance and owned it.  The real Andre 3000 had returned, with a platinum-blonde wig and the funky, outrageous persona we’d come to love and expect.  The packed house sang along to every song, and gave the boys from Atlanta a true dirty South, warm welcome back.  After all, Outkast FINALLY proved that they were indeed back!



St. Lucia:  Jean-Philip Grobler makes the kind of music that reminds me of the breezy ballads from the 1980s that were sung by Sting, Phil Collins and Christopher Cross.  There’s a precise beauty to the way his distinctive voice sings melodies against a synthpop beat.  It’s polished.  It’s calming.  It’s cool.  Imagine how surprised I was to see his ability to also command a dancefloor as aggressively as he did when he performed the disco-fied “September” which may as well have been an ode to Dead or Alive.  St. Lucia‘s performance was commanding enough to even persuade Alex Caplow from Magic Man to let loose and dance in the middle of the festival crowd.



Chance The Rapper:  One of my absolute favorite thrills at any music festival is accidentally coming across a really amazing artist’s set, enjoying it, and thus becoming a new fan.  I was only inside of the Nectar Stage venue to cool off and sit down.  Chance The Rapper just so happened to be performing on the Nectar Stage.  Unlike Magic Man, I was actually familiar with Chance the Rapper, but his music never initially grasped me.  Truthfully, I never really gave his music a chance after his audacity to bring Justin Bieber as his surprise guest performer at this year’s Coachella.  No bueno Chance, no bueno.  So I sat down in the only air conditioned part of Big Guava, sipped on my beer, and could not help but be seduced by Chance The Rapper’s music, stage presence, and the way the near full-house was hooked and mesmerized.  Okay, Chance, you got me.  I’m a fan.  Just please, no more Justin Bieber guest performances until he gets his life together.



MS MR:  This New York duo’s Secondhand Rapture album was an honorable mention on my annual Top Albums of Year List for 2013.  Their dark indie rock sound may have been a noticeable contrast to being the earliest and very first performance on a very sunny Florida day, but MS MR brought along enthusiasm, spirit and soul to their set.  Vocalist Lizzy Plapinger’s scratchy yet soulful voice is what instantly reeled me in to liking MS MR, and it is an instrument that did not disappoint in a live setting.  A small bonus for seeing them live was me FINALLY learning how to pronounce their name.  All this time, I referred to them as “M. S. M. R.” when they their actual band name is pronounced “Miss Mister.”


Please click on thumbnail to enlarge / view photo: 

…until next year’s  Big Guava!

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Okie’s Favorite Albums of 2013

Halfway through the first month of 2014, and I am finally able to compile my annual list of my favorite albums of 2013.  So what was the holdup?  I simply forgot what music was actually released last year.  Last year more than any other, I jumped around from album to album, from song to song, from artist to artist.  No one album completely owned my eardrums the entire year.  Sure, there were a handful of albums that received their healthy rotation of spins, but nothing comparable to years before where I played an album from front to back, left to right and back again nearly the entire 365 days.  It wasn’t that last year’s crop of releases weren’t addictive, but moreso that there was way too much music to listen to!

So in alphabetical order, here are my favorite albums of 2013:

Anxiety by Autre Ne Veut
I was shocked to find out that Arthur Ashin, the voice behind Autre Ne Veut was American, born and raised.  I fail to give the U.S. its proper due when such a unique-sounding album is released by automatically assuming that the responsible artist MUST be from anywhere but here.  What genre do you classify the music on Anxiety?  I never once wondered until I started to write this entry. Alternative R&B?  Perhaps.  New Soul?  Maybe.  Great Music?  Most definitely.  And that is all you need to know.



BEYONCE‘ by Beyonce’
In the year of overhyped  and underwhelming releases from everyone’s pop diva faves, Queen Bey emerged overnight literally out of nowhere to prove that she’s the “Supreme” of the music industry: well respected, critically acclaimed, admired by the kids and still owning the popular music landscape.  BEYONCE’ finds Mrs. Carter channeling everyone from Madonna (“Haunted”) to Alicia Keys (“Heaven”) to Drake (“Mine”), but doing it so effortlessly and sometimes even better.


Cupid Deluxe by Blood Orange
It was reported that British singer-songwriter Dev Hynes’ penned songs for Britney Spears’ most recent album failed to make the cut.  If any of them sounded half as vulnerable and personal yet utterly sweet as the tracks on the second album by Blood Orange, the electronic musical project of Hynes, than it’s surely Britney Jean’s loss.



The Bones of What You Believe by Chvrches
Scottish synth-poppers Chvrches pick up where La Roux last left, yet simplify that sound with more refined vocals (courtesy of lead singer Lauren Mayberry) and an overall much crisper sound.  It’s the perfect album that can double as the one to pump out loudly in your car, or to play at a much lower volume while working at the office.  Try it either way.



Settle by Disclosure
Don’t get me wrong, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories is a fine album.  It’s just that it didn’t do what Disclosure’s Settle accomplished: persuading you to join the dancefloor.  If Daft Punk’s album was the sound of disco and electronic music making love, Settle was full-on, hardcore audio penetration between 90s house and any lucky listener.



Ice On The Dune by Empire of the Sun
Their look?  Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: The Atlantic City Musical directed by Bobby Trendy.  Their sound?  A meteor shower of frothy dream pop that I am head over metallic-baby blue stiletto heel in love with.



Days Are Gone by Haim
One moment: Fleetwood Mac.  Another: Expose’.  Chrissie Hynde’s un-biological daughters released one of the catchiest albums of the year filled with hooks that required dedicated effort to sing along to because of the oft-rapid fire singing.  Need proof?  Sing “Falling” or “Forever” during your next shower.



Overgrown by James Blake
One may have to be in a certain mood when listening to James Blake’s second studio album.  It’s that same mood one has to be in when pressing play on a Sade album, or more recently, anything by Frank Ocean.  I am in love with Mr. Blake’s voice: haunting, emotional and a few times androgynous, so I suppose that I am always in the mood to listen to his soulful album.



Yeezus by Kanye West
Love him or hate him, there is a reason why North West’s daddy is topping most year-end Critics’ Best Of list with his sixth studio album.  Never content staying within one defined genre of music, Yeezus finds Mr. West delving deeper into industrial and electronic music.   The result: an aggressive, frantic and maddening soundscape of vainglorious perfection.



Pure Heroine by Lorde
Lorde’s debut album is on this list?  Yes, the 17-year-old Kiwi responsible for releasing the song (“Royals”) that might cause my ears to bleed if I am ever subjected to hearing it again managed to put out the best pop album of the year.  (To prevent any potential BeyHive sting, BEYONCE‘ is an R&B album.)  In fact, “Royals” is my least favorite song on the entire album that sounds like the lovechild of Robyn and Lana Del Rey blessed by The xx.



Special Shout-Outs to Secondhand Rapture by MS MR, Bad Blood by Bastille, Dinner Will Be Served by Chasing Grace and the Twin Rivers EP by Big Scary who all received ample plays on my Spotify this year.

From last year’s post – My favorite albums of 2012:

  • King Con by Alex Winston
  • Kill for Love by Chromatics
  • Ten$ion by Die Antwoord
  • Halcyon by Ellie Goulding
  • Our Version of Events by Emeli Sande
  • A Joyful Noise by Gossip
  • Visions by Grimes
  • Rollerskater EP by Lindbergh Palace
  • Kaleidoscope Dream by Miguel
  • True EP by Solange
  • Confess by Twin Shadow
  • Nocturne by Wild Nothing

Click on a thumbnail to enlarge / view this year’s covers of my favorite albums of 2013:

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Where Life Begins

My mother has 9 brothers and sisters.  From them, I have over 60 first cousins and 50 second cousins.  Being that my family was either living in Europe or on the opposite U.S. coast, I didn’t have much interaction with my extended family growing up  In fact, I first met the majority of my relatives at my grandmother’s memorial service in Seattle nearly 8 years ago.  They welcomed me with open, loving arms.  They fed me.  They housed me.  They shared their personal stories, photos and memories with me.   These people were my blood, and it sadly took the tragedy of my grandmother’s passing to introduce us to one another.  

Last month, I was reunited with a handful of my relatives and family but thankfully for a much happier occasion: to celebrate Trina’s wedding to Dwight.   So much time had passed since we last saw one another that even my own nieces and nephews had no clue who I was or that I even existed.  The last time I saw any of my brother’s children, they were pretty much all newborns or just learning how to walk.  Now these babies were all grown up, talking and being very inquisitive, wondering how I knew each of their names, ages and what costumes they each sported this past Halloween.  In fact, most of them knew that they were in town for “a girl named Trina’s” wedding, but none of them remembered or knew that Trina was their aunt and their father’s sister.  It was the absolute cutest thing when they finally put everything together and figured out that we were all related.

Wedding Nephews Nieces Collage

Trina and Dwight’s sunset wedding was gorgeous.  

One of the many highlights of the evening was my Uncle Mikuli’s (mom’s second youngest brother) toast.  As he welcomed Dwight to the family, he placed an emphasis on the value of family citing how many traveled from New Zealand, Samoa and all over the world just to be there.  He then introduced the money dance, an island tradition at Samoan weddings.  Despite my sister’s wedding being very non-traditional, it was a welcome homage to my family’s roots, a souvenir of the past and a reminder to always remember the importance of family.

fam·i·ly  fam(ə)lē  noun:  where life begins and love never ends

[Fun Fact: I’ve been told by numerous cousins that my siblings and I are the most “Americanized” of the family, and that we even speak with slight Southern accents. (?!)]  

Wedding Katrina Wedding Aisle

PhotoGrid_1384113052678Wedding Flower Girls 1Weddng Okie Katrina 1Wedding Katrina KevinWedding Christian Jayden Wedding Kids


Congratulations again Dwight and Katrina!

Wedding Katrina Dwight


“Faded” by Bear Mountain… the latest ‘PRESS REPEAT’ song on Spotify!

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Summer Anthems of 2013

With Memorial Day weekend officially coming to a conclusion, it is time to create a new Spotify playlist for my compiled annual list of 2013’s songs of summer.  These are the songs that should be on repeat during the next three months of air conditioning, fro yo and watching the last season of Dexter.

As a bonus, check out my Summer Anthems list from last year!

“Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities

“I could show you love | In a tidal wave of mystery | You’ll still be standing next to me”…  The Los Angeles duo known as Capital Cities deliver a feel-good optimistic message in this undeniably catchy indie-pop song that has summer anthem stamped all over it.  Bonus points to any song that includes an addictive trumpet riff.

“Falling” by Haim

“Into the fire feeling higher than the truth | I’m falling | I can feel the heat but I’m not burning”… Blending sounds of folk, pop and R&B, this Los Angeles group concoct a song that begs to be danced to in the middle of a California desert. Fun Fact: Haim is the last name of the three sisters in this group: Este, Danielle and Alana Haim.  This generation’s Wilson Phillips?

“Alive” by Empire of the Sun

Say hello to the future | Freedom is within you | Giving makes us feel good”…  Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore are back!… and no those aren’t the names of the latest Sean Cody sensations, but the Australian duo of Empire of the Sun who brought us one of the all-time summer anthems “Walking on a Dream.”  Their latest single boasts anthemic singing and a declaration of feeling alive.

“Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey

Hot summer nights mid July | When you and I were forever wild | The crazy days, the city lights | The way you’d play with me like a child”…  the theme song of director Baz Luhrman’s splashy The Great Gatsby reboot is as hauntingly gorgeous as songstress Lana Del Rey’s debut single “Video Games.”  Love or hate Gatsby or any other Baz-helmed film, you cannot deny the power of the scenes he crafts of two lovers who lay eyes on one another while the film’s theme song plays in the background.  He hit the cinematic jackpot when Leonardo Dicaprio first sees Claire Danes in Romeo + Juliet set to the sounds of Desree’s “Kissing You”, and does it again when Leonardo’s Gatsby and Carey Mulligan’s Daisy reunite to “Young and Beautiful.”

“Waiting All Night” by Rudimental featuring Ella Eyre

“I’ve been waiting all night for you to tell me what you want | tell me, tell me that you need me”…  “Waiting All Night” stormed to the top of the UK charts fueled by the perfectly paired drum and bass surge and the rich vocals of Ella Eyre.  So whip out the glow sticks, blast this thumper on full-volume and listen to what the UK kids fell in love with.

“#Beautiful” by Miguel featuring Mariah Carey Mariah Carey featuring Miguel

“You’re beautiful, good lord, you’re f-cking beautiful | And I cant pretend that that doesnt mean a thing to me”… okay, so truthfully Miguel owns this song and he overshadows Mimi very effortlessly.  And yeah, the hashtag in the song title is a bit irksome and not one live performance of this song has slayed since its release.  (Last week’s Good Morning America anyone?)  But on the upside, a Mariah Carey single has not sounded this laid-back and groovy since “Always Be My Baby” which was released nearly 17 years ago.  So hats off to MC!

“Love Is All I Got” by Feed Me with Crystal Fighters

“Wake your soul with love in the morning | Feed your soul with love in the evening | Expand your soul with love on the weekend | Cause love is all I got”… One wouldn’t think this was a typical Feed Me song until DJ Jon Gooch’s signature dubstep climax unleashes a minute and 15 seconds in.  Bonus: Check out the equally catchy but different summer-worthy track “You & I” from Crystal Fighters.

“Imagine It Was Us” by Jessie Ware

“I don’t know if this is wrong, but it’s crept into my mind | I don’t know if this is love, but I think it’s worth a try”… Critics hailed her debut album as one of the best of last year, so when British singer-songwriter finally brought her Devotion album to the States, she thankfully included this 90s dancefloor groove.  It’s a throwback to the pre-Y2K era when the dance songs were R&B-flavored and being belted out by Lisa Stansfield, Cathy Dennis and Tara Kemp.  Jessie is just as much of a 90s bitch.

“Get Lucky” by Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams

“Like the legend of the phoenix | All ends with beginnings | What keeps the planet spinning | The force from the beginning”…  Ever since reports surfaced that the electronic duo was back in the studio collaborating with disco pioneers Nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder, anticipation for new Daft Punk material reached fever pitch heights .  The French musicians deliver a worthy comeback single featuring the silky smooth vocals of Pharrell Williams, living up to every fanclub member of the Daft Club’s expectations.

“Come and Get It” by Selena Gomez

“You got the kind of love that I want, let me get that | And baby once I get it, I’m yours no take-backs”… Selena Gomez?  Selena Gomez?!  Really?!  Yes, really!  Leave it to Taylor Swift’s B.F.F. to release that ineludible pop song that you can’t help but sing along to each and every billionth time that it is played.  It’s that annoyingly catchy song that gets stuck inside your head all day.  It’s that pop perfection classic you cannot escape.  It’s that song you hate to absolutely love.

Now stock those coolers full of ice and don’t forget to bring your koozie and headphones for it’s going to be one long, hot summer with a one helluva summer season soundtrack.

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Commencement to Be

Robby HS Graduation

It seems like just yesterday that the above photo was taken… me watching 18-year-old Robby graduate from High School. 

And then just two weeks ago…

Robby Graduation Okie 2

…Robby graduated from college and moved to Fort Liquordale!  Huh?  WTF?!  Where the @#$% is time going?!

Robby officially became a USF Alumni, and relocated down south with A.J.  To celebrate this achievement, he hosted a nearly 8-hour bar crawl that terrorized my liver and checking account sauntered through the hot spots of Ybor City.  And to celebrate this very same achievement my way, I will post 5 of My Favorite Things about Robby.  Let’s begin:

#1:  Paula Deen… I mean, Robby introduced me to his famous McDonalds Apple Pie & Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae concoction-in-a-bowl dessert.

#2:  Robby forced me to watch the Game of Thrones Series Recap.  After I stopped watching the show during its snoozefest second season, he promised that the current Season 3 was worth watching the show again.  A mere 10 minutes of my life and I am officially all caught up on Game of Thrones.  Bring on the damn dragons!

#3:  Robby watched Madonna’s Truth or Dare documentary and afterwards, remarked that he totally understood why my friends and I act the way we do.  (Now that I think about it… was that even a compliment??!)

#4:  Robby’s random insightful but hilarious text messages like the one he sent when describing his first impressions of being a new resident to the Fort Lauderdale area.  See below:

Robby Text Message

and last but not least…

As two gigantic music fanatics, Robby and I are constantly trying to introduce new and great songs to one another.  The “oh I’ve already heard this before” and the “I’m not really feeling this one” do often pop-up in our conversation.  So when a great song is truly introduced to one of us by the other, it becomes a mini-event.  When Robby first played “Blood” by The Middle East, I instantly fell head over heels for that song and had to immediately add it to my Current Favorites Playlist on Spotify.  To my surprise, the song was already on there.  So Robby playing “Blood” wasn’t my virgin time hearing it.  I still don’t remember ever adding that song to my playlist.  Nor did I ever figure out when exactly I first heard it either.  But just like mine and Robby’s close friendship, there really is no explanation for something that was meant to be.  Oh and #5: Robby has great taste in music.

Congratulations again to my old soul friend for graduating!

Robby Graduation ZOYA

Photo by Branden Hollywood

Please click on a thumbnail to enlarge / view photo:

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Congratulations, Happy Holidays & Farewell

Congratulations, Cheers, Farewell… it seems that the trend this year was for every celebratory event to conclude with a goodbye.  (Click here.)  I have always disliked saying goodbye and try to make the situation as short, sweet and to-the-point as possible.  Last weekend was yet another weekend filled with commemorative celebrations followed by a goodbye.

I know a handful of people who have been in school since what seems like 48 B.C.  When I first met Bryan 7-8 years ago, I thought that he too would be one of those people I refer to as a lifetime student: a person who takes one class every other semester and swears to the high heavens and Madonna that graduation is the ultimate goal.  Well what do you know?  Last weekend, Bryan graduated from USF with not just his Bachelors but his Masters degree and threw a party to celebrate.   So congratulations to Bryan for busting his ass and working so hard to accomplish his goal, for proving me wrong in my very initial assumption and for putting up with Jocelyn’s 40-balloons graduation gift.

Bryan Okie 1 Bryan Jocelyn 2 Bryan Boys Jocelyn Balloons 2 Jocelyn Balloons 1

After recouping from Bryan’s Greygoose-filled evening the night before, I had a Holiday Dinner with friends to attend at Texas de Brazil the next day.  My good friends Cheri and Mike were in town from Los Angeles for just one day, and maximized their brief time in Tampa by inviting their closest friends to dinner.  Every year, my best friends and I throw a Holiday Party / Gift Exchange.  Given everyone’s crazy schedules this year, Cheri & Mike’s dinner doubled as this year’s Gift Exchange.  As always, it was wonderful to see Cheri and Mike again, to consume 931 lbs of meat at Texas de Brazil and to remind yourself how friends can also become your family.  Happy Holidays and cheers to Cheri, Mike and everyone and anyone else who is reading this!

Cheri Group

Cheri Boys

Cheri Girls

Cheri Okie

Cheri Jocelyn

Cheri Billy

Cheri Linley

Cheri Robby

Cheri Jaime

Cheri JadenCheri NielyCheri Kristin Cheri JonCheri JessCheri Jaime Jaden

The celebratory weekend concluded on a bittersweet note with my friends Jamal and Lorena leaving Tampa and moving to Los Angeles.  I first met Lorena through mutual friends three years ago, and since then we’ve traveled together, lived with one another (best roommate ever), worked together, shared a toy poodle (and the best dog ever) named Zoe and devoured chili dogs and taters in the middle of my living room floor at 4am.  Although I will miss her and Jamal dearly, its encouraging to know that my annual trip to California is right around the corner.  So for now, farewell to Lorena and Jamal.

Okie Lorena Jamal Okie Lorena


I willl conclude this entry with a lyric video for the song “I Am Yours” by the band Churchill.  Right now, the band is right on the brink of taking off with their hypnotic and catchy current single “Change” but this particular song has been receiving much more love on my iPod and Spotify.

Congratulations… Cheers… and Goodbye… but Hello to new music!

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‘Kill for Love’ by Chromatics

For the past couple of days, I haven’t been able to listen to any other album than ChromaticsKill for Love on Spotify.  Seriously, I have become obsessed with the music on this album.  Maybe because electronic and dance music governed my Spotify Playlists’ attention over the last 12 months, and I am just grasping for something, anything new and dissimilar?  Or perhaps, Chromatics attained the feat of creating such bewitching music on Kill for Love that it would be a crime for me to go back to listening to Avicii, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Felix Cartal all day at work as I am accustomed?

I did some clicking swiping around online to discover more about Chromatics, and was pleasantly surprised to find that their Italians Do It Better labelmates include Glass Candy and Desire whom I both love.  After I first heard “Under Your Spell” by Desire (featured in the 2011 Ryan Gosling film Drive), I was immediately intrigued by this newfound retro-sound.  Chromatics refine that retro-sound and elevate it to the next level by weaving a fusion of genres that range from cinematic noir-electro to New Wave ethereal pop.  Kill for Love presents a lo-key and lo-fi musical landscape that actually elicits excitement.

Ruth Radelet is the primary vocalist of Chromatics, and her voice colorlessly glides amid the collision of sounds on such standout tracks as “Back From The Grave” and “Lady.”  One of the obvious standouts on Kill for Love is the Portland, Oregon band’s take on the Neil Young 1979 classic “Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)” simply rechristened as “Into The Black.”  This song is infamously known for its’ “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” lyric that was written in Kurt Cobain’s 1994 suicide letter.  Shot in Super 8 footage by director Alberto Rossini, the music video [below] adds even more layers of mystery to an already intriguing single.

With iTunes and Spotify, I’m not one to purchase actual CD’s these days but I couldn’t resist Kill for Love‘s bargain-basement $5.00 price tag on the Italians Do It Better Label website.  Embrace music and creativity by purchasing a copy online RIGHT HERE.


“Into The Black” by Chromatics

…and just because: here’s Oasis’s rocked out take on “Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black” Live At Wembley in 2000

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“Angels” by The xx

So The xx finally released their much anticipated new single “Angels” yesterday, and to no surprise, it’s been a constant staple on my iPod, iTunes, Spotify, you name it.  My friend and yoga instructor and Prosecco bottle-chugging partner Melissa Carroll turned me on to The xx.  I remember her exact words when telling me about them: “oh Okie, it’s great music to play when writing… even though it’s stoner music for most people.”  And that it has been since that very introduction.  (I’m not referring to it as ganja background music.)

Vocals have not sounded more pure or as effortless as singer Romy Madley Croft’s do on “Angels.”  (Extra kudos to her name being Romy.)  Even stripped of any layered production, the song soothingly glides along yet reigns as the English band’s most powerful song to date.  Earlier interviews stated that the English indie-pop band’s next album would move into a more dance-oriented sound.  However, they chose their most mimimalist song to release as their lead single from an alleged “club” album.

Coexist, The xx’s second album, will be released on September 10, 2012 which cannot come any sooner since the band’s first album, xx, is still on my playlists’ heavy rotation.

“Light reflects from your shadow
It is more than I thought could exist
You move through the room
Like breathing was easy
If someone believed me
They would be
As in love with you as I am…”
from “Angels” by The xx

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Make It Last Forever

What a fun-filled seven days that I’ve just lived through.  Let’s face it, yours truly is an old man!  My definition of “fun” is what the majority would consider lowkey, but I had the great fortune to spend time one-on-one with some very dear friends.

The past Fourth of July holidays, I was either lying on my mother’s couch pregnant with a food baby named Gluttony Tilo or lying on my couch watching a “Real Housewives of (insert city here)” marathon despite the fact that I’ve already watched each episode to the point of memorizing the cast’s dialogue word-for-word.  This year, I had zero plans.  Mom was working.  Brother Ricky was out of town.  And sister Trina was in Orlando.  My plan this year was to sit on my couch watching a “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” marathon an educational documentary while allowing my stomach to growl at all of the Instagram filtered photos of everyone’s plates full of BBQ.

Luckily and thankfully, Robby called me and invited me over to his parents house in St. Pete for dinner, and then Fireworks-viewing at his friend Kelly’s pad downtown.  Upon entering Robby’s parental units’ house, it was clear that I would instantly have a connection with Mr. & Mrs. Nichols given the “Springsteen Country” sign in honor of my idol Bruce that greeted me at their doorway.  Robby is nearly 12 years younger than me.  I met him when he was a High School senior at my very first Square One event called “GO!” and instantly clicked with him.  Despite the more-than-a-decade age difference, I told Robby’s parents at dinner that he is an “old soul.”  I’ve had more intellectual and intelligent conversations with this 21-year-old than I’ve ever had with people my own age.  A HUGE Thank You to Robby for being my personal Will Smith and saving my 2012 Independence Day from being invaded by boredom!

This past Saturday, I had 2nd Row tickets with Jess to the Fresh Music Festival at the newly $35M renovated USF Sun Dome.  (Thank You Sara Webster!)  The Fresh Music Festival was a concert featuring old school R&B acts and legends Keith Sweat, Guy, SWV and K-Ci & JoJo.

Back in the day, prehistoric times if you will, I listened to nothing but R&B and hip-hop music.  It wasn’t until my Freshmen year of High School when my friend Beth Shaw lent me the “Little Earthquakes” album by Tori Amos that I began to broaden my taste in music.  Seeing these R&B acts perform such classics as “Weak” and “Make It Last Forever” and “Let’s Chill” right dead smack in front of me was a glorious reliving of my elementary and middle school days growing up.  Thank You Jess Hille for the photos below!

Robby’s friend A.J. was in town from Fort Laudy, and we decided to have a weekend of zen staring with Saturday morning Yoga in the Park, smoking shisha at Zoya and opting to skip watermelon mimosas and Mexican brunch at Miguel’s on Kennedy to dine at the Wat Mongkolrata Thai Temple on Sunday.

I ended my weekend of zen with one of my favorite people, Dawn.  She took me to see Moonrise Kingdom, the latest film by writer-director Wes Anderson.  I am fully aware that it’s virtually uncool not to love anything that Wes Anderson touches.  He’s always had a hit-or-miss track record with me, but I can attest that Moonrise Kingdom is hands-down my favorite and most enjoyable film in his filmography.  Go see it!

Since music is a huge part of my life, I decided to conclude each and every posting with a song that I am loving at the moment.  However, since the past 7 days were near-perfect, I will end this posting with two songs.

First up: “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” comes from Father John Misty, former Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman’s new solo project, and is a repeat staple on my Spotify playlist.

Lastly but not least-ly, I just had to post one of the greatest R&B songs of all-time… “Twisted” by Keith Sweat (with Kut Klose).  Only fitting since I’ve been singing the song since seeing him perform it live a few days ago.

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The Top 10 Singles of 2011

Looking back at 2011, my Spotify music player was definitely on overdrive.  There were far too many addictive songs and albums released last year, that narrowing it down to a Top 10 List would be like the Octomom having to pick her favorite 10 out of her brood of 16 children.  Translation: making this list was difficult!

Below is a listing of my favorite released singles of 2011.  Otherwise, non-released tracks like “I Would Do Anything For You” by Foster The People and the entire Love Child EP by Ella Riot would have dominated this list.

10.  Patrick Stump with Lupe Fiasco – “This City

The former lead singer of Fall Out Boy’s debut single barely flaunted the Prince-esque funk of his debut Soul Punk album.  But what this single lacked in pomp, it made up with an anthemic hook for anyone with hometown city pride.  If this single were the Billboard Top 10 hit it should’ve been, perhaps we would be seeing the newly svelte Patrick Stump starring in his own weight loss commercial rotated in between Jennifer Hudson, Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson’s.

9.  Young The Giant – “My Body

The boys of California captured the charm of their self-titled debut with this song that they had the honor to perform at the 2011 MTV VMA’s.  Whatever the true meaning of the song: the constant battle with a drug addiction or resisting the urges of going back to an unhealthy relationship, “My Body” left me “wanting more.”  FYI: Check out remixes by Tokyo Police Club and Two Door Cinema on the band’s Remixes EP.

8.  Angus and Julia Stone – “Hold On

The fragility in Julia’s voice.  That haunting melody.  The hypnotic allure of it all.  The Australian brother & sister duo released a ballad as depressing yet beautiful as any of the ‘you don’t love me’ song classics before it.  Listen with a glass of wine and a Kleenex handy.

7.  Clare Maguire – “The Shield And The Sword

What if you paired the flash & pizzazz of Lady Gaga with the vocals of Annie Lennox, and added a splash of Cher?  Clare Maguire has been described as just that since hitting the scene in the UK.  “The Shield And The Sword” is just one of the many standout tracks on the songstress’ Light After Dark album.

6.  M83 – “Midnight City

Every time that I went out to The Castle nightclub in Ybor City, I would hope and pray that I would hear this song.  The opening sequence of this song sounds like a Battle Cry, begging to be danced to.  Those times I was lucky enough to hear it while on a dancefloor, the experience was as if a Call To Arms was indeed issued out and everyone who just wanted to dance was summoned.

5.  Benny Benassi with Gary GO – “Cinema (Skrillex Remix)”

Cinema” is the song that made me rethink and change my stance on the entire dubstep movement.  So perfectly crafted in its intricacies and hook, I became a fan of not only dubstep music, but an admirer of the current reigning dubstep God,  24-year-old Sonny Moore a.k.a Skrillex.  Even Kanye West tweeted how the Skrillex remix of “Cinema” is “one of the greatest works of art ever made.”

4.  Lloyd featuring Andre 3000 – “Dedication To My Ex (Miss That)

Profane.  Vulgar.  Brilliant.  R&B artist Lloyd certainly does not hold back on expressing himself in this insanely catchy thumper about how an ex-lover’s “p*ssy” is now a stranger.  Disregard the censored version that replaces the word “p*ssy” with “lovin” and revel in the original version in all of its dirty glory.

3.  Britney Spears – “Till The World Ends

The early part of 2011 saw much-hyped new singles from pop divas Lady Gaga and Beyonce, but it was Miss Spears who stole the show with this dance anthem from her seventh studio album, Femme Fatale.  What Prince’s “1999” was to the Y2K generation on the evening of December 31, 1999, “Till The World Ends” will be the same on the night of December 21, 2012 and beyond.

2.  Lana Del Rey – “Video Games

Since they ceased playing music videos to make room for their infiltration of reality shows, I haven’t watched MTV in what seems like forever.  So imagine my surprise when I was flipping through channels on my TV and stumbled upon this music video on MTV of all places. I was completely taken aback.  Everything about this song was a breath of fresh air amid today’s pop landscape.  Okay, so Miss Del Rey’s most recent musical performance on SNL was a big, fat dud?  This song still remains undeniable in its beauty and mystery.

1.  Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris – “We Found Love

This may seem like an obvious choice given its vast mainstream appeal, but RiRi truly delivered a timeless dancefloor classic that echoed the 1990’s Euro-dance pop of Black Box while harmoniously blending with the modern nu-disco, dance sound of the song’s writer & producer Calvin Harris.  I have been a Calvin Harris fan since his triumphant 2007 I Created Disco album, so it was exciting to see his name atop of the Billboard charts even if it was second billing to the Barbadian princess of radio.  “We Found Love” is as a song of the times.  When many accused mainstream pop music as being too boring, “We Found Love” glared brightly as the pop music gem on the charts and radio amid what others perceived as a hopeless place.

Check out the Top 10 Songs of 2011 from our friends over at GLOGANDVLOG here.

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