For the past few months, I have been taking singing classes with the most wonderful teacher, Mamselle Ruiz. There are no words to describe how lucky I feel to be learning this skill from such a beautiful person with a voice that I have been admiring for years.
Deciding to join this singing class has been one of my best decisions in the past few years. So, why singing? If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you’ll have noticed that I’m a bit of a music junkie (here are a few articles on the subject). However, the only thing missing was that I myself never dared to become the musician. I’ve been asked many times whether or not I played an instrument and to be honest, I was kind of embarrassed to say no. Coming from two families with several musicians, I had no excuses not to learn something, be it djembe drumming or piano (both of which we had at home). Yet I didn’t feel a calling to learn these instruments.
Discovering a great new band is one of the best feelings in the world, isn’t it? OK, maybe you guys don’t share my enthusiasm but I thought I would write an article with some of my favourite sources to find good tunes, since I get asked this question on a semi-regular basis.
Sometimes, trying to make musical discoveries on the Internet is not an easy task. There are so many websites that cover the subject, from niche sites to music magazines. Here are some great places to start:
1) NPR: First listen
For those not from the USA, NPR stands for National Public Radio. NPR has some great programs that are worth listening to including, but not limited to, great musical content. There are many podcasts available on the website but one of my favourite things to check out is the First Listen page, which features exclusive full-length previews of new albums by a wide variety of artists. As I publish this article, we can listen to new music by Ty Segall, Japandroids and Tift Merritt, among others.
Also stay posted to the NPR website or Facebook page for the yearly playlist that is released for SXSW. You get to download 100 songs by artists playing at the festival and the choices are consistently good (I keep at least 2/3 of the songs and have discovered great artists through this list). This is the 2016 Austin 100 list if you’d like to check it out.
* By the way, the new US administration is threatening to cut government funding for public radios, which is a terrible shame because the programming is extremely rich, promoting all forms of culture and political discourse. I know that this isn’t my country but I will still be sending money to chip in.
2) NPR: Tiny desk concerts
Bob Boilen’s tiny desk in the NPR offices has been turned into a stage for some of the best artists currently in the music scene, from Adele to Ana Tijoux, John Legend to Edwarde Sharpe and the magnetic zeros. These intimate concerts are fun, compelling and make for a great environment where the musicians’ talents truly shine. Plus, the sound quality is excellent, which is great considering that these are live performances. New videos are released most weeks.
Here are 6 of my favourite performances ever on Tiny Desk:
So, after making a list of my favourite movies of the year, here is a list of songs I loved in 2016. The fact that they made it on the list doesn’t mean that they were released in that year but they did get a lot of plays on my IPOD. There’s something for everyone in here, from jazz to alternative, pop to mariachi… Enjoy!
Benjamin Biolay – la débandade
Gaada Diwane Bechar – Zina L’aamama
Tomas Jensen – Dale Duro
Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math
Carseat headrest – Vincent
Vieux Farka Touré and Julia Easterlin – I’m not done
Philippe Brach – Crystel
Leonard Cohen – You want it darker
Lisa Leblanc – I love you, I don’t love you, I don’t know
The Calais sessions- Kandahar
Mariachi Flor de Toloache- Dicen
De la soul – Pain
Safia Nolin (feat. Marie Carmen)- Entre l’ombre et la lumière
I went to see a lot of movies this year. All told, I’d say I pushed the doors of a movie theater about 50 times. Was 2016 a good year for cinema? Based on what I saw, I would say yes. Only twice did I come out of the room dissapointed (and in one case, that word is quite an understatement. More on that later). Some films were masterpieces and others were understated gems. Here is my list :
Yet another music post. What can I say? Maybe its the singing classes or the 50-odd concerts I’ve attended this year. Music is, more than ever, a huge part of my life.
I’ve had this question in mind for years now. Such a silly question but also a fun conversation piece when getting to know new people (especially music fans): If you could only listen to 5 bands (or singers) for the rest of your lives, which ones would you choose?
I hear you saying: what a terrible prospect! And it is, but idea of having to choose 5 groups forces you to make tough choices and to think about the groups that hold the most importance in your life (or that you know you will never get sick of). I mean, you would have to listen to each and every song by these bands at least 100 times, if not more.
My top 5 has barely changed in years, the first four have never changed and number 5 varied a few times (Ana Tijoux and Rufus Wainwright were in the running). So here it is.