LISTEN: The Mars Volta— “Zed and Two Naughts”

LISTEN: The Mars Volta— “Zed and Two Naughts”

LISTEN: The Mars Volta— “Zed and Two Naughts”

It’s a magical thing when technological beats and prog rock lyrics blend in a way that gives you chills. Formed in 2011, The Mars Volta has always had this ability.

In what can only be described as post-modern rock verging towards a mash of jazz-fusion, Mars Volta’s new track from their latest “In Absentia”  album is creepy yet ethereal.

Throughout the album, the passion and consistency of Cedric Bixler-Zavala's voice radiates in beautiful obscurity.   Take a listen!


Film in Review: A Moving Portrayal of Abandonment and Hope in 'The Kid with a Bike'

Film in Review: A Moving Portrayal of Abandonment and Hope in 'The Kid with a Bike'

 Film in Review: A Moving Portrayal of Abandonment and Hope in 'The Kid with a Bike'
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Thomas Doret and Cécile De France star in  "The Kid with a Bike." Photo credit: Christine Plenus
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There’s something beautiful about the unrefined trust and truth in the eyes of a child, unscathed by the harshness or dishonesty of the world. Then something changes. You lie, you get hurt, you hurt others—you grow up. The newest Jean-Pierre and LucDardenne film, “The Kid with a Bike” documents this change, or rather, this ascent into adulthood.

Premiering at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, the film won the Grand Prix award, the festival’s second-highest recognition. “The Kid with a Bike” also won awards at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival, as well as the New York Film Festival.

“The Kid with a Bike” (“Le Gamin au vélo”), jumps off of the screen as a naïvely dramatic coming-of-age story with a bit of childhood angst.

 Buy tickets to this film

The French film, subtitled in English, follows the young Cyril, (played by newcomer Thomas Doret), as he attempts to cope with the trials of abandonment, loss, and simply growing up.

11-year old Cyril is the son to a cruel father (Jérémie Renier) who defies Cyril's expectations by placing him in a foster home and completely cutting him out of his life without any sort of reason or resolution.

To make matters worse, Cyril wholeheartedly ignores his father’s continuous acts of oblivion, selfishness, and betrayal as he still contains some sort of childish hope.  Though, when his hope ultimately dissipates, Cyril falls into complete and utter rebellion against himself and all those around him.

Throughout the film, Cyril circulates around Seraing (Belgium in Province of Liege) on his beloved bike—spiraling in and out of innocence as he meets a number of individuals along the way, who help define his adolescence and form his developing character.

On his journey, Cyril befriends Samantha (Cécile De France), a local hairdresser who acts as his compassionate caretaker despite his sometimes anguished, violentand unruly behavior.

Ultimately though, Cyril chooses love over loss as he asks to live full-time with Samantha.

Although simple in nature, “The Kid with a Bike” exudes a profound amount of heartfelt passion and humane authenticity that makes this film moving.

The film is very powerful, showing wholly unscripted emotions displayed in response to real situations.

There’s no fluff, no overzealous or Hollywood-like exaggerations—the film is raw yet truthful in its nature and its core.
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The Kid With a Bike opens today in select theaters, click here  for theaters and showtimes.


LISTEN: The Doors — “She Smells So Nice”

LISTEN: The Doors — “She Smells So Nice”

LISTEN: The Doors — “She Smells So Nice”

Jim Morrison was the epitome of an anti-hero: while beautifully articulate, his inflammatory personality helped forge his distorted moral code, which was based on little more than absurdity.

With Morrison as a front man, The Doors helped define a generation. They were unruly and completely defied the status quo.  At the same time, they were poetic and contained a degree of genuine musicianship that helped ignite a revolution of music and culture.

“She Smells So Nice” is the first Doors track to be released in 40 years, and contains lyrics from the late Lizard King himself.

The song, which resonates hauntingly yet truthfully in The Doors’ lyrical style, was discovered by L.A. Woman co-producer Bruce Botnick.  Take a listen!


LISTEN: John Mayer — “Shadow Days”

LISTEN: John Mayer — “Shadow Days”

LISTEN: John Mayer — “Shadow Days”

Shadow Days by johnmayer

“Did you know that you could be wrong/ And swear you're right? / Some people been known/ To do it all their lives,” John Mayer sings at the opening of “Shadow Days” from his upcoming anticipated album “Born and Raised.”

The soulful singer-songwriter released his new single earlier this week. “Shadow Days” is faithful to John Mayer’s poignant and sincere style of documenting the trials of heartbreak, change and the longing essence of true love with a simple kind of hopefulness that’s both inspiring and genuine.

As Mayer sings soothingly with his signature soft rock allure, he ascends from his previous place in the shadowed lands of loss and desire to a place of light and inner peace. And as he does so, he appears to be urging mankind to take his lead and ascend from the shadowed lands. Take a listen.


LISTEN: Regina Spektor — “All the Rowboats”

LISTEN: Regina Spektor — “All the Rowboats”

LISTEN: Regina Spektor — “All the Rowboats”

Regina Spektor, the Russian-American singer/songwriter full of passion and prose, never ceases to paint a poetic picture in her music.

Spektor studied classical piano at the Manhattan School of Music, and ever since, she has proven herself a truly visionary songwriter and piano player.

With her new single, “All the Rowboats” from her upcoming album “What We Saw From the Cheap Seats,” Spektor's beautifully disjointed narratives come full circle in another patchwork of musicality with an overwhelmingly literary feel.

Her songs are distant dreams, vignettes of everyday life and weaving brainstorms of eloquent alliterations.

“Rowboats” might be simple in spirit, yet it provides a glimpse into the expansiveness of true human existence with all its complexities, all its subtleties and all its imperfections. Take a listen.


Music In Review: Guns N' Roses Live at the Fillmore in Silver Spring

Music In Review: Guns N' Roses Live at the Fillmore in Silver Spring

Music In Review: Guns N' Roses Live at the Fillmore in Silver Spring
Axl Rose, lead singer of Guns N' Roses live at the Fillmore

For me, it’s always been about the music. My father was editor of the iconic hard rock publication RIP Magazine, which was birthed when Guns N’ Roses' Appetite for Destruction appeared out of nowhere to take over the world.

When I informed now author Lonn Friend that I was going to review Guns N’ Roses, it was as if my life had come full circle.  “You know, Meg,” said my dad, “You actually saw GN’R when you were an evolving fetus. Through the portal of your mom’s womb, you witnessed Axl Rose stage dive at the Park Plaza Hotel during the 3rd Anniversary RIP party in October 1989.”

Ever since that prenatal concert experience, I’ve longed to see the explosive energy attributed to “Paradise City” live and hear the revolutionary defining screams and squeals of Axl Rose in person.

GNR Performing "Paradise City" Live
at The Fillmore

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Last Thursday night, despite the ramblings circulating around as a result of mixed reviews and harsh criticism of Axl Rose’s performance during GNR’s Chinese Democracy tour, Rose’s persona and pipes soared to infinite degrees in the quaint Fillmore Club in Silver Spring, Maryland for three and a half electrifying hours.

Starting just after midnight, the show contained a hearty combination of old and new by intertwining many of the band’s classics with those songs born from the second incarnation of the group that’s poised to enter the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame next month.

The faithful crowd mimicked every heroic lyric as Axl wailed memorably through beloved ballads like “November Rain,” Sweet Child of Mine,” and “Patience.”

For the 2,000 lucky locals in the sardine packed room, there was sheer acceptance of all the material passionately delivered from one of rock’s most enigmatic and dazzling figures.

Guns N’ Roses’ songs have helped define a generation of music. They were raw, unscripted and jammed pack with the luscious allure of pure sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Guns N’ Roses was not just a band. They were a movement, a musical revolution of human expression, imagination,and freedom.

And it is clear that the songs of such an archetypal band in human history will continue to reverberate, influence and delineate for decades to come.


LISTEN: Lady Danville — “Better Side”

LISTEN: Lady Danville — “Better Side”

LISTEN: Lady Danville — “Better Side”

When I was first introduced to Lady Danville in Los Angeles a couple summers ago, I was overcome by a certain kind of charming musical sincerity.

Formed in 2007, the boys of Lady Danville have created a cheerful yet profound sort of storytelling set to music in their new “Operating” EP.

Composed of Michael Garner, Dan Chang and Matt Frankel, Lady Danville originated as a cappella group in Los Angeles, and their music  reflects this harmonious permutation of vocals.

Their new song, “Better Side” mirrors this authenticity of soul, heart and chillingly contagious conveyance.


LISTEN: Air — “Cosmic Trip”

LISTEN: Air — “Cosmic Trip”

LISTEN: Air — “Cosmic Trip”

Perhaps the fusion of cinematic and musical art forms is the way of the future. In today’s society, artists are looking more and more to the past as a nostalgic means of collaboration and contemporary rejuvenation.

Air, composed of French duo Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel, has been creating ambient melodies for quite some time.

They’re travelers of space and instigators of mind-opening adventures to other worlds. Air’s first album in three years, Le Voyage Dans la Lune is inspired by the 1902 silent sci-fi film by visionary French filmmaker and magician Georges Méliès.

Méliès, one of the first avant-garde filmmakers, tried to set atmospheres, passions, and imaginations into motion through moving images on the big screen. For the first time in history, people could congregate in a dreamlike environment with other individuals similar to themselves, and in a sense, see time itself recaptured. It was said that his films were the stuff of dreams.

Taking the title of Air’s new album to heart, Le Voyage Dans La Lune comes across as a cosmic journey to the moon meant to act as a modern soundtrack to Méliès’ imaginative and timeless film.

The special-edition package of the album even comes with a DVD of Méliès’ film. One of the highlights of the record, “Cosmic Trip” is full of trancelike mystery, prevailing beats, and synthetic swirls of sound.

However, the whole record should be listened to in its entirety, from start to finish, as a surreal narrative of sorts.


LISTEN: Cyril Niccolai — “Our Revolution”

LISTEN: Cyril Niccolai — “Our Revolution”

LISTEN: Cyril Niccolai — “Our Revolution”

It’s clear that revolution is in the air—on the radio stations, in the streets, on the minds, and in the hearts of those that believe that the human race can evolve to a place of peaceful wakefulness, freedom and respect.

Born and raised in the imaginatively serene beach town by the sea in the South of France, Cyril Niccolai, lead singer of the French band The Fairchilds, has adapted this air of revolution as his personal and professional mantra.

As a child, Niccolai reveled in the works of classical icons like Beethoven, Chopin, and visionaries like Dvorak, and one can hear resonances of influence from the Beatles, Pearl Jam, and Guns N’ Roses in Niccolai’s music.

With young aspirations of being a doctor, Niccolai left the medical path when he moved to Paris to pursue a career in musical theatre.

Since them, Niccolai has been completely enthralled in the musical process. The Fairchilds’ first album Our Revolution was released last October and Niccolai is currently busy doing promotional tours in America.

On his inspiration and creative motivations, Niccolai explains to Meets Obsession, “What music and arts in general can do is to talk about problems, reveal injustice, shout and encourage love and brotherhood and try to awake people’s consciousnesses so they can adjust their behavior or try to make things change.”

Niccolai’s main goal is to construct a musical archetype capable of touching souls on a multifaceted, profound, and most importantly, human level. There’s a degree of reflective optimism and strong-willed sincerity that resonates from Niccolai’s inspiring lyrics and instrumental dexterity. The title song “Our Revolution,” off his debut album, has the arsenal power and expressive intention to instigate revolutions of action, thought, and emotion.


LISTEN: Nada Surf — “When I Was Young”

Sometimes inspiration comes at unexpected times and from unexpected places. But when it comes, one must embrace and revel in that inspiration wholeheartedly and completely.

While sitting in my Philosophy and Film class last week, my professor announced that his son, none other than the lead singer of world-renowned band Nada Surf was coming out with a new album.

Full of philosophical and cosmological lyrical inquisition, Nada Surf’s sixth album, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy is set for release this Tuesday January 24th.

Lead singer, guitarist, and philosophical sage of comforting harmonies and whirling melodic landscapes, Matthew Caws exposes his heart and soul honestly and openly in “When I was Young,” one of the most notable tracks off the new album.

The entirety of the album dives deep into a dreamy introspection on time, nostalgia, and life’s beautifully fleeting and momentary nature.

The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy is both moving and enlightening, allowing one to abandon reality for a second and float in an alternative musical reality.

This album is sure to revolutionize and secure Nada’s Surf’s enduring sound and may even prove to be one of the best rock albums of the year.


LISTEN: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals — “Paris (Ooh La La)”

LISTEN: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals — “Paris (Ooh La La)”

LISTEN: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals — “Paris (Ooh La La)”

The track “Paris (Ooh La La)” off of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ self entitled third studio album contains both edgy classic rock roots and an electrically modern pop appeal.

Grace Potter’s refreshing voice—full of gusto—is soulful, bluesy, and bursting with a mysterious allure that’s sure to set her apart from other female musicians around today.

"Paris (Ooh La La)" radiates like an anthem for those free in spirit and open in mind to the power of music. This song demonstrates Grace Potter’s alternative yet seductively honest essence that she infuses into her music.


LISTEN: Saint Motel — “At Least I Have Nothing

LISTEN: Saint Motel — “At Least I Have Nothing"

LISTEN: Saint Motel — “At Least I Have Nothing"

Los Angeles-based indie pop-rock quartet Saint Motel has done it again with their infectious rifts and imaginative appeal on their new single "At Least I Have Nothing" off of their first 7"1 vinyl record.

Frontman AJ Jackson’s soothing and supernatural voice radiates like something from another time and place, and the lyrics  from "At Least I Have Nothing"  might be interpreted as a poetically debauched plea for finding something out of nothing and the ironic meaning of emptiness.

When asked about the meaning of song, the quirky singer told Meets Obsession magazine, “Like every Saint Motel song, the meaning is open to (and encouraged for) interpretation. In some ways, "At Least I Have Nothing" is a fucked up look at the bright side of utter despair. When you have nothing, maybe that nothingness is actually something...freedom."

And with revolutionary lines like "And I had such high hopes for our generation./If we had some goals we could reach out and take them./Instead we're apart, no movement to follow./We are just stuck inside their business model," Saint Motel is creating a new kind of platform for musical expression - one that's utterly energetic, creative, visionary, and insightful.


LISTEN: Smashing Pumpkins — “Rocket” off the Reissued Siamese Dream

LISTEN: Smashing Pumpkins — “Rocket” off the Reissued Siamese Dream

LISTEN: Smashing Pumpkins — “Rocket” off the Reissued Siamese Dream

Billy Corgan has always contained the mysterious power to pierce deep into ones soul with his disturbingly beautiful lyrics and bawling voice since the beginning of his musical career.

Last month, the Smashing Pumpkins' 1993 album, Siamese Dream was reissued and remastered containing tons of new extra features. The new reissued addition includes a raw and intimate DVD of live performances and commentary by Corgan, as well as photographs and interviews with the band.

The album is a physical remembrance of the deep and dire impact Smashing Pumpkins has had on the face of rock ‘n’ roll and the American youth culture. The Smashing Pumpkins embodied the angst of a generation, searching and pondering those existential questions pertaining to life, love and growing up.

Their music was and still is a movement that inspires and connects. And influential songs like “Rocket” off of Siamese Dreams represent the dominant yet profound influence of a distinct shift in musical dynamics.

Songs like these can always use a revisiting…so take a LISTEN.


LISTEN: Thomas Dybdahl — “A Love Story”

LISTEN: Thomas Dybdahl — “A Love Story”

LISTEN: Thomas Dybdahl — “A Love Story”

I was introduced to Norwegian singer-songwriter Thomas Dybdahl this past week when he opened for Tori Amos on her Night of Hunters Tour at the beautifully intricate Orpheum Theatre in Downtown Los Angeles. I was instantly blown away by the profound sincerity that echoed from his chilling voice as he performed.  Dybdahl is heartfelt, immensely talented, and refreshing, and when he sings, he seems to be resurrecting the musical style and distressing emotion of iconic figures like Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake.

Tori Amos’ tour is sure to introduce the American audience to Dybdahl who is already quite well-known in Norway.

His “A Love Story” song off of his most recent album Songs, released this past July, is prosaic, insightful, and beautifully chilling. Take a LISTEN.


LISTEN: “Video Games” off upcoming album Born to Die by Lana Del Rey

LISTEN: Lana Del Rey — “Video Games”

LISTEN: “Video Games” off upcoming album Born to Die by Lana Del Rey

There’s a degree of luminous, cinematic appeal that radiates from Lana Del Rey’s music and appearance that’s hard to pin point. Born Elizabeth Grant in New York City, Del Rey is an up and coming singer-songwriter who seems to create a certain archetype of paradoxically retro storytelling in her music.

El Rey released her first EP entitled Kill Kill in 2010 and is set to release her debut record with a major label called Born to Die in January of 2012. It's no doubt that she is beautiful and talented. And although it’s clear that her inspiration stems from the likes of classic artists like Lana Turner, she’s also cited Kurt Cobain as a source of inspiration in both songwriting and poetic introspection.

Del Rey’s voice is melodic, ironic and seductive. “Video Games,” a single off the upcoming album, has established a significant degree of attention for its delightfully crafted soothing melodies and alluringly old-fashioned lyrical appeal.

And despite the many ruthless critiques she’s received in recent months questioning her personal and musical degree of authenticity, I’m still intrigued to hear the entirety of Born to Die next month.