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|Written by Mike Cullen|
|Wednesday, 04 April 2012 00:00|
Fun. -- "All Alright"
New York City-based Fun. (don't forget the period) have started gaining some major airplay and recognition with their recently released sophomore album, Some Nights. "All Alright" was recently released as the free single of the week on iTunes, and I figured I would give the song, and the band, a chance. They are your typical indie pop outfit, an almost poppier version of Panic! At the Disco (not surprising since they've performed with Panic! before, and share a record label with them). "All Alright" is all about putting up a front in the face of adversity (I get the impression from the lyrics that it's likely about a failed relationship or running into an ex).
The song is catchy enough, but it feels a bit "so what" at the end, which means, I'll likely forget about it completely until it comes on my iPod randomly one day.
John Mayer -- "Shadow Days"
John Mayer absolves himself of twelve years' worth of dickish behavior in under four minutes. No, seriously, he does. I'm definitely one of those John Mayer fans (the few, the proud), that can recognize that the guy is a genius when it comes to music, but good lord he has an ego that just cannot be contained (I'm sure his hit "Bigger Than My Body" was an ode to his raging egoism).
"Shadow Days" continues Mayer's trend of writing soft guitar rock, and, while the track is good enough, I find myself wanting him to do something new. He's become an artist that I will buy the singles but largely ignore album releases because it just feels like the same old thing. Mayer was perhaps at his best when he was doing the blues, and I often wish he would revisit that genre and that period in his career.
Ariane Moffatt -- "Too Late"
Ariane Moffatt is known more as a Francophone singer here in Canada, so it comes with a bit of surprise that her latest album, MA, is an all English-language affair, and the first time that Moffatt has written extensive in English. "Too Late," the first promotional single from the album is an electro-pop affair that is slinky, sexy, and absolutely seductive. Moffatt has managed to emulate all the good aspects of electro-pop, given it a very Scandinavian-pop influenced lyrics (think Robyn, Oh Land & Lykke Li), and just let loose with not only dramatic effect but also an incredibly fantastic slice of pop music.
Rufus Wainwright -- "Out of the Game"
A track that he previewed last fall, "Out of the Game" serves as a cautionary tale about celebrity. Wainwright laments about being out of the musical spotlight and out of the game, but it's also a tongue-in-cheek song about the majority of material we see on Youtube (re: idiots), and the impact that a culture of immediacy and nobodies becoming momentary somebodies has on our world.
As a lead single, it does lack a bit of punch, but, as a Rufus Wainwright song, it's absolutely brilliant with its rising crescendo leading into the chorus and a flourish of guitar work. If this is an indication of what to expect on the forthcoming album of the same name, I have a feeling I'm going to instantly fall in love with it.
Jann Arden -- Uncovering Canada Tour
Note: Set list is from her Toronto show, but it's nearly identical for Ottawa
Set list: Mr. McLennen, Wishing That, Saved, Misty Blue (Dorothy Moore cover), Insensitive, The Devil Won, Ode to a Friend, You Are Everything/Set Fire to the Rain (Adele cover), Sleepless/I Would Die For You/Could I Be Your Girl/Sound Of, Where No One Knows Me, Waiting in Canada, Unloved, In My Room (Brian Wilson cover), You Don't Own Me (Lesley Gore cover), I Can't Make You Stay, Good Mother Encore: Rocket Man (Elton John cover), Is That All There Is (Peggy Lee cover)
This concert is my third time seeing Jann Arden, and the Alberta songstress never ceases to amaze me. On tour to support her second collection of covers released last fall, Arden mixes stories, song, and lot of audience interaction to a nearly two hour show that was heavy on covers (including some tracks that didn't make the album), and some of her own biggest hits.
Even though the format of her show doesn't change per se (she's always been a storyteller on stage, and she certainly doesn't dance), I marvel at how much presence she truly has on stage. Sure, she is really just standing on stage, walking around with a microphone in hand, but her voice carries with such strength, and the warmth in her performance makes you forget that she isn't cavorting about on stage for a couple of hours at a time. An almost lounge-like experience (even though she performed at the National Arts Centre in March), it feels like you were sitting in your living room, and she was performing in front of you. Cozy, intimate, and a lot of fun.
An Ottawa native, Mike is a public servant by day, and a self-professed music and comic book junkie the rest of the time. He also contributes to the Local Tourist Ottawa blog and his random music, comic book and culture musings can be read on /scribbles.
Tags: ariane moffatt, covers are cool too, crushing ego, fun, green, jann arden, john mayer, music, review, rocking the mike, rufus wainwright