Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Video Of The Day - John Mayer, Keith Urban Money For Nothing

Guitar gods John Mayer and Keith Urban joined forces Saturday night for a dual-headlining concert at The Gorge. Each played their own set and had the other join them for a few songs. Lucky concert-goers got to experience a nearly four hour concert. AMAZING.

Keith and John have played together before, teaming up for an awesome episode of Crossroads. They did some of the songs together that they did there (I'm On Fire, Gravity and Til Summer Comes Around are must-sees, especially if you like a good guitar orgy) and added a few new ones, including the show's closing number, "Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits.

Video of "Money For Nothing" from iowalw:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dancing With The Stars S11 Cast Announced

The cast for the 11th season of Dancing with the Stars was announced live during ABC's summer reality show The Bachelor Pad. And that makes me very thankful I live on the West Coast and don't have to sit through that to find out what's going on.

Unfortunately, the show is continuing this disturbing trend of casting reality "stars." Following in the footsteps of Kate Gosselin is The Situation. I'm thrilled. Can you tell? :| And let's not even talk about Bristol Palin. ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW, SHOW?!

The full cast list:
Brandy (singer)
Jennifer Grey (actress)
Margaret Cho (comedienne)
Audrina Patridge (reality star)
Florence Henderson (actress)
Bristol Palin (ugh. She has no title. WTF-ever)
Michael Bolton (singer)
The Situation (reality star)
David Hasslehoff (actor)
Kurt Warner (football player)
Kyle Massey (Disney actor/rapper)
Rick Fox (basketball player)

Celebrity pairings will be announced on Wednesday. There are rumors that Jennifer Grey will be paired with Derek Hough. I. AM. SHOCKED. Only not. One of these days, the show will get off his jock and pair him with someone who's a challenge. They should have put him with Florence Henderson. Even Julianne got a dud once (Adam Carolla). I call it right now - he and Jennifer will make the finals, where they'll recreate the Dirty Dancing dance with the lift. Bleh.
  
In other DwtS news, Edyta Sliwinska has quit the show. She had been the only professional who had been on every season.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chris Daughtry Performs With Carlos Santana

Chris Daughtry performed Def Leppard's "Photograph" with Carlos Santana Wednesday night at a launch event at the Joint in Las Vegas for Santana's upcoming album Guitar Heaven. Also performing at the show were India.Arie on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and Gavin Rossdale on "Bang A Gong".

Here's video of Chris's performance, from cspannie:


Guitar Heaven drops on Sept. 21 (pre-order on Amazon.com).

Tracklist:
1. Whole Lotta Love (featuring Chris Cornell)
2. Can't You Hear Me Knocking (featuring Scott Weiland)
3. Sunshine Of Your Love (featuring Rob Thomas)
4. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (featuring India.Arie & Yo-Yo Ma)
5. Photograph (featuring Chris Daughtry)
6. Back In Black (featuring Nas and Janelle MonĂ¡e)
7. Riders On The Storm (featuring Chester Bennington & Ray Manzarek)
8. Smoke On The Water (featuring Jacoby Shaddix)
9. Dance The Night Away (featuring Pat Monahan)
10. Bang A Gong (featuring Gavin Rossdale)
11. Little Wing (featuring Joe Cocker)
12. I Ain't Superstitious (featuring Jonny Lang)

John Mayer Opens For John Mayer At Hollywood Bowl

John Mayer gave concert-goers a special treat at the Hollywood Bowl on Sunday night, doing a four-song set with pianist Brad Mehldau prior to his regular set. Or as he called it, "Hi, I'm John Mayer opening for John Mayer."

Mayer sang "The Wind Cries Mary" by Jimi Hendrix, "Can't Find My Way Home" by Blind Faith, "Going To California" (Led Zeppelin)/"Stop This Train" and "Bittersweet Symphony" by The Verve, all stripped down. It was incredible. And only the beginning of an amazing show.

The Wind Cries Mary:


Can't Find My Way Home:


Going To California/Stop This Train:


Bittersweet Symphony:


After a quick tear-down, Mayer came back onstage to play his regular set. The setlist was: Chest Fever/Vultures, Clarity, Why Georgia, Ain't No Sunshine, Perfectly Lonely, I Don't Trust Myself (With Loving You), Heartbreak Warfare, Gravity, Who Says, Waiting On A World To Change, Do You Know Me, Half Of My Heart (with Don't Stop Believing), Edge of Desire (encore). Many of the songs in the set turned into extended versions thanks to banter in the middle of the song (Gravity) or just jamming out.

I've heard that he changes his setlist a lot, which I LOVE, although I'm a little sad I didn't get Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, which he played the next show at Irvine, but then again, they didn't get Why Georgia, or the whole piano set. But knowing that there's no set setlist makes me want to go to more shows, which is really smart for performers and really great for people who go to multiple concerts.

And Mayer is incredible in concert. Say what you will about his personal life, but his musicianship is world-class. He's also hilarious. His banter between songs (and even during) was A+. Before playing "Do You Know Me", he introduced it as a deep album cut and said that if you're not a fan of deep album cuts "now's the time you may want to use the bathroom." There were also vuvuzela, Ticketmaster and "rich dad section" jokes. During Gravity, he talks about how when he's in LA he ends up "drunk around complete shitheads" and "in the asshole of LA" (oh the perils of being famous) and how he hates it. So he says, "Will you take me out sometime to the places you like to go? Can we just go to PF Chang's? Because my heart is about to die." And then he goes on some wicked guitar solo where he's playing it on the ground, then on the drum cymbal at the end. That whole video pretty much sums up the entire night.

Gravity:


Do You Know Me:


Why Georgia:


Edge of Desire:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kris Allen To Tour With Lifehouse In Fall

Two of my favorite acts - Kris Allen and Lifehouse - will be touring together this fall. Needless to say, this makes me a very happy camper! They begin their 26-date tour on Oct. 15 in Mashantucket, CT. The tour wraps up on Nov. 24 in Portland, OR.

Tickets for most of the October shows, plus a few in November, go on sale Saturday at 10 am local time.

I've seen both Lifehouse and Kris several times this summer, and they're such a great fit musically. I think both have had to (successfully) battle misconceptions of what their live performances are like. You hear Lifehouse on the radio, and a good chunk of their huge hits are ballads, but they even rock those out, and they put on a great show. Same goes for Kris - some people expected his shows to be just him strumming a guitar and singing acoustic songs all night. HARDLY (Although when he does, it's glorious!).

Prior to announcing Kris as their support act, Lifehouse had been touting their opener as someone they are fans of and as someone who "rules." They previously played a show with Kris in June at the Alice Summerthing in San Francisco. One of the DJs at Radio Alice talked to Lifehouse lead singer Jason Wade during Kris's set, and Jason said that Kris had a "sick voice".

Lifehouse/Kris Allen Fall Tour Dates:
October 15 - Mashantucket, CT, MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods (Buy Tickets)
October 16 - Boston, MA, Orpheum Theatre (Buy Tickets)
October 17 - New York, NY, Roseland Ballroom (Buy Tickets)
October 19 - Westbury, NY, NYCB Theatre At Westbury (via Pollstar)
October 20 - Philadelphia, PA, Electric Factory (Buy Tickets)
October 23 - Atlantic City, NJ, Tropicana Casino & Resort (Buy Tickets)
October 24 - Washington, DC, Constitution Hall (Buy Tickets)
October 26 - Atlanta, GA, Tabernacle (Buy Tickets)
October 29 - Springfield, MO, O'reilly Family Event Center (Buy Tickets)
October 30 - Grant, OK, Choctaw Casino & Resort (Buy Tickets)
October 31 - Houston, TX, Verizon Wireless Theater
November 2 - Dallas, TX, Palladium Ballroom (Buy Tickets: On sale 9/18)
November 4 - Kansas City, MO, Uptown Theater (Buy Tickets)
November 5 - Chicago, IL, Chicago Theatre (Buy Tickets: On sale 9/17)
November 8 - Detroit, MI, Fillmore-Detroit (Buy Tickets)
November 9 - St. Louis, MO, Pageant (Buy Tickets: On sale 9/17, 5 pm)
November 11 - Milwaukee, WI, Eagles Ballroom (Buy Tickets)
November 12 - Des Moines, IA, Val Air Ballroom (Buy Tickets: On sale 9/17)
November 14 - Denver, CO, Ogden Theatre (Buy Tickets: On sale 9/18)
November 15 - Salt Lake City, UT, In The Venue (Buy Tickets: On sale 9/18)
November 16 - Reno, NV, Knitting Factory (Buy Tickets: On sale 9/17)
November 18 - Los Angeles, CA, Gibson Amphitheatre (Buy Tickets: Presale: 9/16; Regular sale 9/18)
November 19 - Las Vegas, NV, The Joint (Buy Tickets: Presale 9/16, Regular sale 9/18)
November 20 - Temecula, CA, Pechanga Resort & Casino (Buy Tickets)
November 21 - San Francisco, CA, Nob Hill Masonic Center (Buy Tickets: On sale 9/18)
November 23 - Seattle, WA, WaMu Theatre (Buy Tickets)
November 24 - Portland, OR, Roseland Theatre (Buy Tickets: Presale 9/15, Regular sale 9/17)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mat Kearney Acoustic Show - Hermosa Beach

Mat Kearney is on tour this summer doing small acoustic shows around the country. He stopped at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach, CA for a sold-out intimate performance on Thursday evening.

The show was just Mat and his (hot) guitarist Tyler Burkum. Mat mostly played guitar but also played a few songs on keyboard. He puts on a great show, whether full band or simply acoustic. He kept the audience engaged throughout, whether it be through audience sing-alongs, or heartfelt singing, or storytelling. Mat sang a new song, "Rochester", which he wrote about his father, who he said listens to it every day and cries a lot. He also shared the story about "All I Need", which was written for two friends whose lives were affected by Hurricane Katrina. That performance was one of the top highlights of the night for me.

Mat also played some songs via request ("Annie" and "Bullet", the latter of which he could barely remember the lyrics to). The songs by request thing, however, escalated into having some audience members shout out requests the rest of the night, which seemed to start to annoy even him, but he handled the situation with humor and a little snark, which I always appreciate.

At the end of his set, he brought up an audience member to play the Samsonite (an old suitcase they stomp on to make percussion noises) during "Dancing in the Dark." It's pretty awesome, and the guy, Sam, did a great job keeping the beat. For the encore, Mat sang a new song (?) "Heartbreak" (with boombox accompaniment) and ended the night with his biggest hit to date, "Nothing Left To Lose."

Opening for Mat was half of the Jane Carrey Band. Jane is adorable - nice voice, folksy sound, fun banter. Jane sang about eight songs, including a song called "Sexy Man In A Death Metal Band" and a pretty cover of The Beatles' "Blackbird". And I found out after her set that she is actor Jim Carrey's daughter! Pretty cool, eh? I had noooo idea!

Mat's acoustic tour is ending soon, so if you're in the remaining areas and can somehow get tickets, go! (TOUR DATES)

Breathe In, Breathe Out:


Annie:


Bullet:


Dancing In The Dark:


Heartbreak:


Jane Carrey - Blackbird:


And some videos from my friend, ocamy24:

Fire And Rain:


Where We Gonna Go From Here:


Rochester:


Nothing Left To Lose:


Photos:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Truth Comes Out

Kris Allen's long-awaited music video for "The Truth" finally premiered today, first on VH1 and then tonight on the Yahoo Music website. The video is directed by cinematographer Aaron Platt, who also directed OneRepublic's "Apologize" and served as the Director of Photography for Kris's "Live Like We're Dying" video.

The video is shot beautifully. The cinematography (as expected from a cinematographer) is outstanding. Kris looks great in it, as does Pat Monahan. It's definitely more abstract (yeah, I don't really get it, but then again, I'm the type that sometimes needs an anvil dropped on my head), and they could have done more story-wise, but it's so pretty to look at that the storyline really takes a backseat for me. Plus ... flaming guitar! Exploding chandeliers!

Watch the video below:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Kris Allen, Keith Urban Sing Jack And Diane

In their fourth show together, Kris Allen and Keith Urban tried on a new cover at the Indiana State Fair, replacing "Boys of Summer" with "Jack and Diane" by Indiana native John Mellencamp.

This is a great crowd song, and they really engaged the audience with the sing-along. In fact, Kris was having so much fun with the sing-along he kept on going with it while Keith was trying to move on to the rest of the song. OOPS! It's so adorkable though, especially when they start laughing after they get to the end of that part. Keith did warn the audience at the beginning that they've never played the song "which hopefully won't be apparent". LOL. But for the most part it wasn't. I thought it sounded great and was a lot of fun to watch.

Check out video here, from Kris's YouTube:



And another video, from supox30:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lauren Froderman Wins SYTYCD Season 7

In an ironic twist, Lauren Froderman, the last girl standing for the last four weeks, exhibited some major girl power in becoming the So You Think You Can Dance Season 7 champion. This season was pretty much a sausage-fest, with three girls in a row going out at the top of the season, leaving behind just Lauren and one other girl to contend with six guys. After Ashley Galvan went down in seventh place due to an injury, Lauren was the only female left in the competition, and week-by-week, she slayed the competition and took the title in a mild upset over Kent Boyd, who finished second, and Robert Roldan, who finished third.

Lauren is the third female winner in seven seasons, joining Season 3's Sabra Johnson and Season 5's Jeanine Mason.

The finale was a two-hour build-up to the winning announcement, with the judges selecting some of the standout performances of the season. Unfortunately, due to the ridiculous amount of injuries this year, some of the real standouts couldn't be performed (i.e. nearly everything by Alex Wong, Ashley and Ade's contemporary). And since they couldn't exactly make it the Lauren and Kent show, I think they had to pick a few dances that really had no business being there (i.e. Billy/Robert Bollywood) and omit some that should have been (i.e. Kent/Lauren's prom dance, Jose/Twitch/Dominic/Comfort hip-hop, Billy/Kathryn "Jar of Hearts"). Also, notice that AdeChike had just one dance? Not that I can think of other dances he did that were standouts, but they must really disdain him to only have him do one routine when he came in fourth place.

Anyway, Alex's injury didn't stop the show from reprising his infamous hip-hop dance with Twitch. They got a special celebrity guest to do his part in the dance - Ellen DeGeneres! Not even gonna lie - I thought this would be lame. But she did a great job and kept it super-entertaining. She's no Alex Wong, but who is?

5 rewind moments from the finale:
1. Lauren's winning moment and subsequent Gatorade bath
2. Ellen DeGeneres doing a credible and hilarious take on Alex Wong's dance with Twitch. Her "surprise" entrance, with that nod to Twitch and Katee's door routine from Season 4, was perfection.
3. Quest Crew's routine. They are amazing! Entertaining, intricate and breath-taking choreography delivered with such precision and style. They are sick.
4. UK winner Charlie Bruce & Neil doing a Mandy Moore routine. She's a GORGEOUS dancer. Her extension and lines are phenomenal, and that routine was so lovely and daring all at the same time.
5. Russell and Lil C dancing together. Russell was outdoing Lil C there in the beginning!

5 fast forward moments:
1. Mia Michael's makeup.
2. The selection of reprise performances - only the Top 6 performed (Alexie, Cristina and Melinda must feel like the bastard children of this season), no ballroom chosen (notice that the Kent/Anya dance wasn't actually chosen by one of the judges), and Billy and Robert's Bollywood as one of the favorites (too much Bollywood this season!)
3. Nigel's cheesy bit about not being able to dance.
4. The awkward performance style (and possible lip-syncing?) of Black Gold.
5. Tap routine by the Manzari Brothers that went on about 2 minutes too long (sorry - not a fan of tap!)

The Routines/Music:
Opening Group Number - choreographed by Christopher Scott
"Ra" by Nathan Lanier

Kent/Neil - Broadway, choreographed by Tyce Diori (Kenny Ortega selection)
"Shoeless Joe From Hannibal Mo" from Damn Yankees (1994 original Broadway cast) (iTunes | Amazon)

Billy/Ade - Contemporary, choreographed by Stacey Tookey (Nigel Lythgoe selection)
"Mad World (Alternate)" by Michael Andrews feat. Gary Jules (iTunes | Amazon)

Quest Crew
"Suzy" by Caravan Palace (iTunes | Amazon)

AdeChike/Comfort - Hip-Hop, choreographed by Tabitha & Napoleon (Mia Michaels selection)
"Fallin'" by Alicia Keys (iTunes | Amazon)

"Romance" montage
"L-O-V-E" by Joss Stone (iTunes | Amazon)

Kent/Anya
"My First Kiss" by 3OH!3/Kesha (iTunes | Amazon)

Robert/Dominic - Hip-Hop, choreographed by Tabitha & Napoleon (Tyce Diorio selection)
"Scars" by Basement Jaxx feat. Kelis, Meleka & Chipmunk (iTunes | Amazon)

National Dance Day video
"Club Can't Handle Me" by Flo Rida feat. David Guetta (iTunes | Amazon)

Lauren/Pasha - Argentine Tango, choreographed by Miriam & Leonardo (Nigel Lythgoe selection)
"Oblivion" by Astor Piazzolla (iTunes | Amazon)

Robert/Allison - Contemporary, choreographed by Travis Wall (Adam Shankman selection)
"Fix You" by Coldplay (iTunes | Amazon)

Russell Ferguson/Lil C
"Hazardous" by Buckmout

Jose/Dominic - Break-Dancing, choreographed by Tabitha & Napoleon (Mary Murphy selection)
"Battle For The Beat" by District 78 (iTunes | Amazon)

Charlie Bruce/Neil Haskell - Contemporary choreographed by Mandy Moore
"I Surrender" by Celine Dion (iTunes | Amazon)

Robert goodbye video
"Something To Hope For" by The Undeserving (iTunes | Amazon)

Lauren/Twitch - Hip-Hop, choreographed by Tabitha & Napoleon (Adam Shankman selection)
"My Chick Bad" by Ludacris & Nicki Minaj (iTunes | Amazon)

Alex/Allison - Jazz, choreographed by Sonya Tayeh
"Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley (iTunes | Amazon)

Billy/Robert - Bollywood, choreographed by Nakul (Stacey Tookey selection)
"Ganesh" from the Bombay Dreams soundtrack (iTunes | Amazon)

Kent/Neil - Contemporary, choreographed by Travis Wall (Mia Michaels selection)
"How It Ends" by DeVotchKa (iTunes | Amazon)

Black Gold performance
"Shine" (iTunes | Amazon)

Twitch/Ellen - Hip-Hop, choreographed by Tabitha & Napoleon
"Outta Your Mind" by Lil Jon & LMFAO (iTunes | Amazon)

Kent and Lauren video
"Goodbye" by Ry Cuming

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

SYTYCD7 Finale - Up For Grabs?

The Top 3 on So You Think You Can Dance duked it out in the finale tonight. Coming in, I was convinced there was nothing anyone could do to take this away from Kent Boyd, who I think has had the competition wrapped up ever since Alex Wong was forced out due to injury. The judges certainly haven't shied away from practically anointing him the winner since.

While I still think he has this in the bag, particularly after his stunning contemporary routine with Allison, both Lauren Forderman and Robert Roldan made strong cases for winner status with a great contemporary piece of their own. Robert also had the other standout routine of the night for me, the Broadway number with Kathryn.

This final three may not have been the best final three ever, Adam Shankman (hello, Joshua, Twitch and Katee!), but all three are pretty much equally deserving of the win, in my opinion.

The routines:

Kent/Lauren G. - Bollywood choreographed by Nakul
"Om Mangalam" from Kambakkht Ishq (soundtrack) (iTunes)

Lauren/Twitch - Hip-hop choreographed by Tabitha & Napoleon
"Power" by Kanye West (iTunes | Amazon)

Robert/Mark - Jazz choreographed by Tyce Diorio
"Whip It" by Devo (iTunes | Amazon)

Kent solo
"The Finish Line" by Train (iTunes | Amazon)

Lauren/Robert - Contemporary choreographed by Dee Caspary
"That Home" by Cinematic Orchestra (iTunes | Amazon)

Kent/Lauren - Jazz choreographed by Mandy Moore
"Hip To Be Square" by Huey Lewis & The News (iTunes | Amazon)

Robert solo
"The District Sleeps Alone" choreographed by The Postal Service (iTunes | Amazon)

Kent/Allison - Contemporary by Stacey Tookey
"Sundrenched World (Live Session)" by Joshua Radin (iTunes)

Lauren solo
"I'm Goin' Down" by Mary J. Blige (iTunes | Amazon)

Robert/Kathryn - Broadyway choreographed by Spencer Liff
"Cool" from West Side Story (1961 soundtrack) (iTunes | Amazon)

Lauren/Pasha - Cha-Cha choreographed by Tony Meredith & Melanie LaPatin
"Not Myself Tonight" by Christina Aguilera (iTunes | Amazon)

Kent/Robert - Malevos Tango choreographed by Miriam Larici & Leonardo Barrionuevo
"The Chosen/Drum Addict" by Taylor Long

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Adam Lambert Covers 20th Century Boy

Adam Lambert added a new cover to his set at Tuesday's concert in Erie, PA, singing T-Rex's "20th Century Boy". The song is on the soundtrack of his favorite movie, Velvet Goldmine (It's also on Guitar Hero 5, if anyone wants to try playing it). The glam-rock song is perfect for Adam.

Video from mndchngr:

Monday, August 09, 2010

Video Of The Day - Sara Bareilles Revamps Single Ladies

This week's Billboard Mashup Mondays features Sara Bareilles revamping Beyonce's "Single Ladies". It's a really cool interpretation of the song!



Sara's new album, Kaleidoscope Heart, comes out next month.

BTW - I really want to see Kris Allen on this someday. He definitely knows a thing or two about reinterpreting songs.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Kris Allen, Chris Daughtry Duet On Send Me All Your Angels

For the first time ever, Kris Allen and Chris Daughtry sang together the song they co-wrote, "Send Me All Your Angels", Friday night in Hershey, PA. Kris opened for Daughtry and sang eight songs, the sixth of which was their duet. The track is only available on Kris's Wal-Mart exclusive CD, so buy it there if you want the song!

Chris sang the second verse, and he and Kris joined together for the remainder of the song. It sounds amazing! The harmonies at the end are awesome.

HD-quality vid, from transplant42:



And more straight-on from ocamy24:



Kris's setlist was: Can't Stay Away, Heartless/Gangsta's Paradise, The Truth, Alright With Me, Is It Over, Send Me All Your Angels (with Chris Daughtry), Live Like We're Dying and Come Together.

Daughtry added a really nice acoustic cover of Rocket Man to his setlist (video by jst300z):

Video Of The Day - Kid Freestylers

I tweeted this last night after Quest Crew member and So You Think You Can Dance All-Star Dominic Sandoval (@d_TRIX) tweeted a link to it. It's video of 3 kids - Gavin, Kris & Kida - freestyling like total bad-asses. These kids are AMAZING! And they're only 8 and 9 years old!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

David Archuleta Something 'Bout Love Video Premiere

Making its debut today on VEVO was David Archuleta's commercial for Sony electronics ... I mean, his music video for "Something 'Bout Love".

It's been about a year since Archie's last video for "A Little Too Not Over You", and he definitely looks a lot more mature (I swear he's aged about 5 years here, so now he looks 17 instead of 12. And the director certainly gave us enough close-ups of him to study this). And Archie has also gotten an upgrade in cameras (not to mention a Sony Ericsson phone)! He's using a Sony Cybershot camera now instead of what I'm only going to assume was a generic craptastic camera like Apex that was the co-star of his last video (btw, I have a Sony Cybershot AND a Panasonic Lumix. The Lumix kicks the Cybershot's ass. Just sayin'!)

OK - enough talking in parentheses (really, I'll stop now) ... here's the video for "Something 'Bout Love":

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Video Of The Day: John Mayer, Pat Monahan Cover Boys Of Summer

"Boys of Summer" seems to be the duet of choice this year between two male singers. Kris Allen and Keith Urban have already covered it twice in concert, and now John Mayer and Train lead singer Pat Monahan are joining the party, singing it at their concert last night in New Jersey.

Methinks they need more practice. Pat swallowed a bunch of lines in his verse.

Video from laurenleialoha:



Here's Kris and Keith's awesome version from the first time they sang it together in April, from ocamy24:

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ryan Star's 11:59 Now Available

One of the biggest reasons why people don't buy albums anymore is because you can cherry-pick the individual tracks you like and just buy those instead of buying the whole album and never listening to more than a few of the tracks. I'm more of an album buyer than single buyer, but it's still pretty rare to find a CD filled with tracks I know and love. Dropping this week is one of those rare don't-skip-a-song CDs for me - Ryan Star's 11:59.

(Disclaimer: I've been a huge Ryan Star fan for four years and have been waiting for this CD forever, but in all objectivity here, this is a fantastic CD.)

Buy 11:59 on iTunes
Buy 11:59 (Deluxe Version) on iTunes (includes 3 bonus tracks + 3 music videos)
Buy 11:59 on Amazon.com

Ryan's biggest hit so far is "Breathe", which has hit Top 15 on the Mediabase HAC charts, but you may have heard a few other songs on the CD, especially if you have seen him on tour in the past few years, with David Cook or solo. "Brand New Day" is the theme song for the Fox drama Lie To Me. The romantic-sounding "Last Train Home" was on the P.S. I Love You soundtrack and got a few spins on radio last year. "This Could Be The Year" and "Right Now" have been used on TV for sports montages and commercials. And if you watched Rock Star: Supernova when Ryan was a contestant, you'll remember "Back of Your Car" (on the deluxe version) from the week he sang an original song.

There are a few other reworked tracks of songs Ryan has recorded in the past - "We Might Fall" and "Losing Your Memory" also get makeovers. "Losing Your Memory" is the song that reeled me in, and I didn't think I could love it more, but this recorded version is EPIC. The instrumentation and the build-up in the bridge is so awesome. "We Might Fall" also has much more instrumentation compared to the last recorded version that I'm still getting used to, but it was always one of my favorites from the Songs from the Eye of an Elephant CD.

Another song that sounds different than what I was used to is "11:59", which is the first new song I ever heard from Ryan after Rockstar, back in 2006. I was there the second time he ever played the song, at the House of Blues in Anaheim, and he played it acoustic, just him and his guitar. I definitely have a soft spot for the stripped-down version, and the first time I heard the song the way it's recorded, I kind of went :|. But I got over it pretty quickly when I listened to it on the CD. It's just straight-up an awesome song lyrically, thematically and melodically. It's the perfect ending song to the album (if you don't have the deluxe version, that is!), wrapping up all the carpe diem themes from the previous songs with this one where he finds his moment, his 11:59.

As far as the relatively new songs go (i.e. the ones I hadn't heard until they popped up on Rate the Music and Promosquad), "Unbreak" might need some time to grow on me. I'm finding the chorus to be a bit too predictable. I still like it though. But "Start A Fire", on the other hand ... that is a hot track and the kind of song that could potentially blow up. I really like the driving piano rock sound. Incidentally, this song was literally a last-minute addition to the CD and basically recorded in two days (ironic, considering the whole album took about four years to make!).

There are three extra songs on the deluxe version: the aforementioned "Back of Your Car", which is really something to be seen live, when Ryan brings a ridiculous amount of energy to the song; "You and Me" (written by Ryan and Raine Maida), which I fell in love with instantly the first time I heard it and a song that needs to find its way to a movie soundtrack; and "Gonna Make It Right", which is another song that sounds soundtrack-worthy (although I can say that for almost every song on this CD!).

So if you've gotten this far and still aren't convinced, go to iTunes and download "Breathe", which is the Free Single of the Week. And if you like that, I'm pretty sure you will like the rest of the CD. It's on sale right now for just $7.99 (regular version only, but you can also buy the bonus tracks individually at iTunes).