Our favorite way to share the music we love is through our intimate sessions where we investigate some of today's most prolific musical minds. Whether it's in a hotel room or on the roof of our office, we set out to find the ideal atmosphere that suits the tune of each individual artist. Throughout 2012, we not only worked with an outstanding collection of musicians, but we feel as though we stepped our game up aesthetically in the A/V department.
We had a tough time narrowing down five of our favorite sessions in 2012. Apparently, the decision was just as difficult for you as well, considering the race for first place was decided by only two votes.
The results are listed in order below. Thanks for voting!
The Kooks rose to prominence in the mid-aughts with their British invasion-channeling swagger - like bits of Beatles and other Brit-pop performers of the flower-era, slipping hand-holding and smiles into their joyful choruses. Fiercely catchy (and operating like a less severe Arctic Monkeys) they've lost none of their potency, despite a deeper connection into the era they are so often associated with. Their third studio LP Junk of the Heart is a bit more soulful, as lead singer Luke Pritchard explains in their session interview, a bit more in tune with the way pop and soul were basically married back in the early 70s. In a sunny West Side studio space, the band played three of their most contagious constructions to date - the naturally appealing love-letter "Rosie," their latest title track "Junk of the Heart," and one of our favorites off their debut studio album "Ooh La," an alleged dedication to the late model Audrey Lindvall. Watch them jangle their way through all three, but beware... these are melodies that will glue themselves to your brain for weeks at a time, even after one listen.
There is something truly unique about the music that pours out of the four lads who comprise the experimental, indie outfit, Alt-J. It has a sparkling, melodious quality in the way the guitars fizzle in a bed of digital mist. But there are odd chanting harmonies, crunchy riffs that'll snap your teeth, and, most notably, a disjointed, percussive approach that's mightier than all. It's all helped to stew a bit of a phenomenon on the band's side of the Atlantic. The band snatched themselves a nomination for the prestigious Mercury Prize for their debut, An Awesome Wave (which is just about the best way to describe what lies within). Here in the US, the band is currently spreading the gospel one city at a time. That meant a quick stop at The Cutting Room Studios in NYC for a live-to-air session with our friends at KEXP Seattle. In its aftermath, we're obviously converted...and we don't think you stand a chance either.
Milo Greene are a bit spoiled in the vocal department; so much so that when asked about their rousing leads and rich harmonies, all the LA outfit could do was crack up. It's either a joke or they've just become used to being showered in such compliments. The thing about it though is that there's no power struggle at play here. Milo Greene distributes four voices beautifully across a driving, folky surface, as witnessed in our capture of the band's "Americana Dream Pop." Sounds like something you'd slurp down during a Williamsburg, BK, artisanal heat wave, right? Right... so we decided to take the band to that very locale, setting up shop in one of The Wythe Hotel's very snazzy band rooms, overlooking the East River and Manhattan's majestic, Midtown sweep of buildings. It's a gorgeous setting for a gorgeous band. Have a look.
Though she got her start lending her sweet voice to Damien Rice's music all those years ago, Irish songwriter Lisa Hannigan has been busy discovering her own musical fortune in recent years. Following the success of her solo debut Sea Sew, Hannigan paired with vaunted, American songwriter Joe Henry to produce her newest collection of songs, befittingly titled Passenger. It's a gorgeous set of songs inspired by the whirl of traveling and tour life, and you'll want to get your hands on it. To celebrate its release, Hannigan stopped in New York, taking time to visit us on a beautiful rooftop in the West Village. Bringing along a guitar, a ukulele, and a voice that hints at whimsy and innocence in its melodic turns, Hannigan played spectacular, paired down versions of "Knots," "O Sleep," and "Little Bird," all of which hail from Passenger. In between, Hannigan touches on her fortunate musical background, the allure of the road, and how it all helped to inspire this new set of songs.
5. Chiddy Bang at The Bowery Electric (Full Session Cut)
This session ain't no soggy bowl of frosted flakes. Nor is it a greasy sausage, egg, and cheese from your local fast food counter. What we're serving up is some honest to god nourishment, courtesy of a couple of hip-hop pranksters from the city of brotherly love. Chiddy Bang - the stars of our latest slice of video cuisine - has a few years of underground material to their name. But aside from their frustratingly short EP The Preview, the band waited far too long to take their hip-pop hybrids to the masses. They finally released a proper full length debut, which they appropriately Christened Breakfast. It's a snazzy offering, maybe best exemplified here with their soulful performance of first single "Ray Charles." Chiddy and Xaphoon also dip back back in time just a bit, dusting off a performance of "The Opposite of Adults;" a jam that got them on a lot of people's radars to begin with. Rounding out the performance, the duo bring it back to Breakfast, begging you to "Mind Your Manners". That means chew on this one with your mouth closed...although that might be hard with all the jaw-dropping rhymes. Dig in.