The Music Man: Five blogs in one

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The Music Man: Five blogs in one

Justin Curto, JagWire managing editor

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This past week, I have had so many blog ideas floating around in my head. As one musical event after another happened, all involving artists I am in love with, I cringed at the thought of only being able to write about one thing this week. So, I decided to write about all of my blog topics in one post.

Hippo Campus made a music video for “Souls”

Ever since I found out about Hippo Campus — a fun-loving, young band from Minnesota that epitomizes everything good about indie rock — I’ve been in love with the band’s music. I have listened to its EP, “Bashful Creatures,” at least 20 times, and “Souls” was always a clear favorite for me. I already enjoyed “Little Grace,” the band’s first single, as well, so I was really excited when Hippo Campus released the “Souls” music video.

The video itself is both intriguing and well-made. Even though I may not understand the meaning of it, I still enjoy watching it. While I do not know if “Souls” is a confirmed second single, I would like nothing more than for it to impact radio and be played by stations like alternative stations like 96.5 The Buzz (especially in anticipation of Hippo Campus’ show at the Arvest Bank Theatre at The Midland with the Mowgli’s and Fences on Thursday, April 2, which I will be attending and reviewing — stay tuned for that).

My buddies in AJR released a debut album

In case you don’t know, I’m in love with kings of DIY indie pop Adam, Jack and Ryan Met — together comprising pop trio AJR. I’ve written about the band’s early music and reviewed its second EP, “Infinity,” so now I feel indebted to mention that AJR released its debut album, “Living Room,” today. When I first listened to it, I died — because I was so proud and because the album was so good.

I had heard most of the songs on “Living Room” before, either through the band’s EPs “Infinity” and “I’m Ready” or through content posted to their YouTube channel forever ago. New songs like “Thirsty,” “The Green and the Town” and “Big Idea” really surprised me with their inventive production, flawless vocals and creative songwriting. Also, my personal favorite AJR song ever, “The World Is a Marble Heart,” made a reappearance on this album after missing the cut for “I’m Ready” and “Infinity.” I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the ever-so-perfect Adam, Jack and Ryan but, if “Living Room” is any indicator, AJR will only move upward.

Meg Myers released her major label debut, “Sorry,” and The Buzz world premiered it

I wrote about Meg Myers previously, and included her EP “Make a Shadow” on my top five albums of 2014. If you can’t tell, I’m quite the fan. I had known she was slated to release a single in anticipation of her first full-length record, but I did not hear until Friday that her song would premiere on The Buzz (#KCBreaksBands). As it turns out, I happened to be at a Board of Education meeting when The Buzz actually played her single, fittingly titled “Sorry,” so I couldn’t listen until it was released worldwide yesterday. This didn’t hinder my love, though.

“Sorry” is somewhat experimental for Myers, but still includes many of her music’s staples. The verses feature soft, breathy vocals — an interesting twist — but these soon turn into the powerful, angry singing that makes up a lot of her appeal. The song meshes electronic and rock music very well, with an intriguing electronic introduction that builds to heavy guitars with electronic backing. Lazlo at The Buzz said he thinks this is the track that will put Myers in the spotlight nationwide and, after listening, I completely agree.

Nate Ruess released his debut solo single, “Nothing Without Love”

I’ve been a fan of fun. ever since I heard “Some Nights” in full, so I was disappointed when I heard the band wasn’t making a new record in 2015. There was a glimmer of hope, though, as multi-instrumentalist Jack Antonoff had been performing with his side project, Bleachers (which I wrote about last year), for a while, multi-instrumentalist Andrew Dost was scoring movies and lead vocalist Nate Ruess had promised a solo album. When I finally heard his debut single, all of my disappointment had left.

“Nothing Without Love” takes everything I loved about Ruess in fun. — his awe-inspiring vocal range, beautiful lyrics and overall anthemic music — and puts a slightly different spin on it. It’s a more synth-heavy track than most of “Some Nights” and “Aim and Ignite,” and also doesn’t feature any of Ruess’ nearly signature use of vocoder or autotune to play with his voice. Hearing him sing his heart out without this is equally as good, though, and exactly what I want to hear in his debut full-length album.

I became the biggest Catfish and the Bottlemen fan in the world

As I toiled away at some school work Saturday night, YouTube recommended I listen to Catfish and the Bottlemen cover “Black Skinhead” by Kanye West, with “Howlin’ for You” by The Black Keys and “Shoot the Runner” by Kasabian interpolated in for good measure. I had heard the band’s song “Kathleen” on The Buzz before, but that was basically it. As I listened to the cover and continued with my work, I became hooked — eventually listening to the band’s cover of Rita Ora’s “I Will Never Let You Down,” lead vocalist/guitarist Van McCann’s cover of The Killers’ “Read My Mind” (with a bit of “Ignition (Remix)” by R. Kelly) and Catfish and the Bottlemen’s entire debut album, “The Balcony,” each at least five times over the next day.

Impressed by their punk-influenced indie sound reminiscent of early Arctic Monkeys (think “Fluorescent Adolescent”) and The Strokes (who McCann has also covered), I sought out more of their material, finding “Poetry and Fuel,” a 2009 EP, and “The Beautiful Decay,” a 2010 EP. Those (coupled with an unabashed proclamation of a man crush on McCann) solidified my status as “huge fan.” I already can’t wait for a new album from them, but I’ll probably be fine with “The Balcony” for now, as it is a solid release without one dull moment.

And that, essentially, was my week in music. I really hope you check out Hippo Campus’ new video, AJR’s debut album, Meg Myers and Nate Ruess’ new songs and everything Catfish and the Bottlemen have ever done in their musical career. (OK, that last request may not be too realistic.) Hopefully you’ll find something you like in at least one of these artists, or maybe obsess over all of them like I do.

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