Category Archives: Music

Musicians, songs and interesting noise

A Legend Lost – Whitney Houston

Vania Brown ’12 | Editor

Whitney Houston is pronounced dead at the age of 48. On the eve of the Grammys, Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, released news of her death to reporters in Los Angeles this evening. The cause of death has not been revealed, though Houston was found dead by her body guard in her hotel room; there were no signs of criminal intent. She had been in rehab numerous times throughout her life, but had made a comeback in 2009 with album, I Look To You.

The world renowned R&B, pop singer, prominent in the 80s and 90s, was made famous for her songs, “Saving All My Love,” “I Have Nothing,” “Children of the Future,” and “I Will Always Love You.” Houston also had a firm acting career with her roles in the “The Preacher’s Wife,” “Waiting to Exhale,” and “The Body Guard.”

Houston leaves behind 18 year old Bobbi Kristina, her daughter with singer and ex-husband, Bobby Brown.

Houston was currently in production with her role in the remake of the film, Sparkle, said to debut this year.

From the Official Website of Whitney Houston

Let’s Have a Little Talk about “Of Monsters and Men”

Listen to Of Monsters and Men’s New Single

Emily Magruder ’13 | Staff Writer

Typically, the singles released by artists are the most generic and simply constructed songs on their albums.  But Icelandic folk/indie group Of Monsters and Men chose to release “Little Talks” as their single representing their premier CD ‘Into the Woods.’  This song showcases trumpets, an accordion, acoustic guitar and drums and vocals, who to the lay listener sound vaguely British.  Although the chorus is slightly repetitive, the creative lyrics demonstrate the young artists’ mastery of the English language.

The literal story listens in on a conversation between a man reassuring the woman he loves about the noises she hears in her home.  Metaphorically, “Little Talks” studies a young couple’s relationship and the evolution of their trust in each other.  Despite the turmoils they experience, including death, they optimistically sing about being brought home together. Little Talks proposes the unorthodox concept of a fairytale romance flourishing despite death juxtaposed by its traditional love song style.

These adorably romantic and fairytale-like lyrics are matched by whimsical instrumental.  This song is a festival of sound.  The joyful accordion is reminiscent of street performers while the staccato singing is the bustling crowds moving from attraction to attraction.  The drums, trumpet and acoustic guitars chime together emanating the warmth that can only be produced by laughter amongst friends.  This toe-tapping, finger-snapping, frivolously fun folk song is a wonderful introduction to the kind of folk/indie music that is becoming so wildly popular in the States and is a great addition to any person’s music library.

A Special Interview with Tara Ferry

Michael Breton ’12 of The Stampede recently interviewed Tara Ferry, the 21-year-old face of Burberry’s Spring/Summer 2011 campaign. His interview was published in VMAN Magazine, where it made the front page of their website.

Tara Ferry is the 21-year-old face of Burberry’s Spring/Summer 2011 campaign, and a rock musician.

You can read the interview here:

Review: The Reckoning by Needtobreathe

Matt Nunez ‘12 | Editor-In-Chief 

In the world of popular music, it can be pretty difficult to overcome the massive amount of stereotypes that come with being a Christian band. The artists feel restricted in their lyrical choice and are less willingly picked up by radio stations. So after Needtobreathe gained national respect as Christian artists after their second album, they didn’t hesitate to emphasize that they were and always had been a rock band, and a rock band only. On their fourth release, ‘The Reckoning,’ the boys from South Carolina break their Christian roots and put all of their energy into their music and show why they are one of the most creative bands around right now.

Coming out of rural South Carolina with a father as a preacher, brothers Bo (guitarist) and Bear (singer) Rhinehart were determined to show the world their cultural upbringing. Their first album, ‘Daylight,’ was released in 2006 and followed along the alternative-rock path set forth by groups such as Snow Patrol. With their sophomore release, ‘The Heat’ (2007), Needtobreathe saw some more critical acclaim for their new, more acoustic gospel focus. “Washed by the Water” reached #1 on the Christian charts and helped propel them to Group of the Year at the annual Dove Awards. As the Christian community slowly started to pull them in, they quickly broke out with ‘The Outsiders’ (2009), a record that highlights the Southern roots of the band and adds some true rock & roll flare to their setlists. “Something Beautiful” became the band’s largest hit to date and became a standard on SiriusXM Top 40 radio. The rest of the album included extensive banjo use (title track) and even honky-tonk piano on “Girl From Tennessee”. After making a name for themselves touring as supporting artists for Train and Taylor Swift, Needtobreathe decided to take their creative skills to the next level with The Reckoning, which was released on September 20th.

Mandolins, bagpipes, trumpets, and of course banjos all contribute to the musical context of the new album and make ‘The Reckoning’ Needtobreathe’s most ambitious project to date. The first track of the album, “Oohs and Ahhs”, begins as an acoustic bass line but builds into a raucous blend of distortion and drums that sets the energy of the album. The loud noises are soon complemented by the acoustic patterns of “White Fences”. The first single from the album, “Slumber” comes a few tracks later and is driven by a powerful melody and even blend of acoustic and electric guitars. The next song, “The Reckoning” is the band’s reflection on growing out of obscurity and is the biggest anthem on the album. “Able” is an experimental piano ballad that sounds an awful lot like the band’s contemporary counterparts Mumford & Sons before breaking into a more “country road” reflection. The calm demeanor of the song is soon forgotten once “Maybe They’re Onto Us” begins. “Wanted Man” comes next, with a musical texture that rivals OneRepublic’s “Good Life” for feel-good song of the year. The true Needtobreathe sound is reflected later in “Devil’s Been Talkin,’” a banjo-inspired tune that features a deep, rich context of musical variety and an incredible chorus of voices. The album ends on a more reflective note with “Learn to Love,” a duet with Ella Mae Bowen, a solo country singer. It is the perfect end to an album that captures the highs and lows of being a traveling band who is built off of Christian roots, which although less obvious, are still prevalent on the album.

By a mere creativity standpoint, Needtobreathe is miles ahead of their generation of musicians, who are more inclined to have others write their songs and provide generic beats to sing along to. Although hearing such sounds as a banjo, mandolin, or trumpet along with Christian lyrics, it is unmistakable after hearing them that Needtobreathe is a true rock band. Lead singer Bear Rhinehart’s powerful voice is without a doubt the driving force in the band, a quality that has been passed through only a few other rock artists such as Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. The band is currently touring as the supporting act for Taylor Swift and is playing in some of the biggest stadiums in America. On September 14th, they also made their national network debut with a guest performance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Rumor has it that they will be heading out for a solo tour next Spring so keep your eyes pealed for signs that Needtobreathe is coming to town. If I were to guess, I would say that they’ll become much easier to spot over the next few months.

“Beauty in the Spaces”

Fred Hughes Jazz Trio performs in BMHS FADE Colloquium

Matt Nunez ‘12 | Editor-In-Chief

On the evening of Monday, September 26, Bishop McNamara Students had the opportunity to learn a new language, and watch a jazz band while doing it.

As the first part of the 2011-12 FADE series, the Fred Hughes Jazz Trio performed to a full theater of McNamara students and parents. The two major themes for the night were music as a language and the use of spaces (not playing) within jazz to complement the time spent playing.

“This [soloing] is always a conversation that we’re having,” explained Fred Hughes, pianist of the three part band, “I’m always trying to improve my voice and language.”

The three musicians – pianist, bassist and drummer – took time to answer questions and discuss their musical lives between songs. The students in attendance were eager to ask about improvisation, pursuing music in college, and even closing one’s eyes while playing. To the last question, drummer Frank Russo responded, “I just wanna close my eyes and feel it.” Hughes added on to that saying, “It’s allowing the creativity to flow.”

When asked about the influences on their music, each responded with jazz greats of their respective instruments. For bassist Keith Mohler, the inspiration came from Charlie Haden; for Russo, the great drummer Elvin Jones. Hughes claims that he is constantly inspired by jazz pianists but his favorite “depends on what I feel the deficiencies in my music are at the time.” Although not giving a clear answer, Hughes cited pianist Johnny Mandel as an influence before breaking into Mandel’s own “Theme From M*A*S*H”.

The music throughout the evening encompassed a few different types of jazz, but kept mostly to the standard swing beat. Several originals by Hughes were played with a few cover songs thrown in such as Mandel’s composition as well as “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck. Between songs, Hughes would address the musicians in the crowd specifically by asking them to look for certain rhythm changes as well as pay attention to the “spaces” between notes.

“The music you make is in your ears, your head, and your heart,” explained Russo, “Music is sound and it’s silence and sometimes the silence is just as important as the sound.”

The performance was the first in the series of FADE Colloquiums hosted by Bishop McNamara. FADE (Fine Arts Diploma Endorsement) is an arts program that recognizes dancers, singers, or musicians for their artistic achievements at McNamara by a special note on the diploma received at graduation. FADE students are required to attend a certain number of performances each year.

Fred Hughes was raised as a musician and began performing at twelve years-old. He currently performs at the Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor and has played, taught, and conducted music his whole life. He joined the US Army Band and after a service in Korea, came back to America and devoted more time to his professional life as a musician.

To see a more pictures from the performance, head over to ZOOM On McNamara

Bye-Bye Heart Throb, Hello Bad Boy

Chris Brown’s new take on his music and career

Taylor Parker ‘12
Staff Writer

Between all of Chris Brown’s new tattoos and scandals, there is actually still an artist there. His new album, F.A.M.E, is the most diverse piece of work from Brown to date.

Chris first hit the scene in 2005 with his hit single “Run It” and his first album self titled, Chris Brown. Needless to say he has come a long way from songs like “Yo (Excuse Me Miss),” “Gimme That,” “Say Goodbye,” and “Poppin.” These songs mainly appealed to young girls between the ages of 10 and 17, which was fine because Chris himself was only 16 at the time. Any age group could sing his songs and the most risky song on the Chris Brown album was, “Gimme That”; “Momma you may be 3 years older but you hot (gimme that)/ You be talking like you like what I got (gimme that)/ I know you like it how I lean in the ‘lac/ You could be in the back saying (gimme, gimme, gimme)”

That was as PG-13 as it got.

Whatever happened from 2005-2007 surely changed Chris Brown’s attitude towards his career. His second album Exclusive, which dropped in 2007, put Chris Brown at the age of 18. Songs like, “Take You Down,” “Kiss Kiss” and “Wall to Wall” were no longer the sweet love songs that caught the attention and hearts of young girls all over the world. These songs were now appealing to older girls ages 16-20 and they were not leaving anything up to the imagination. The album did not do so well aside from its three hit singles and seemed to incorporate more Pop songs than the R&B music he became famous for.

In 2009 after Chris Brown’s scandal with Rihanna where he was charged for domestic violence, came his third album Graffiti. It was an album that had no substance and was not well-rounded to say the least. This album was filled with a lot of apology songs to Rihanna and other songs that were frankly just not good. Songs like, “Crawl,” “So cold” and “I’ll Go,” were Chris Brown’s way of apologizing for what he did to Rihanna and in short they were quite pathetic. Then there was the song “Lucky Me”, which was Chris Brown’s attempt to get sympathy from the public. He sings, “ I gotta pose for the cameras/ Even when my world’s falling down I still wear a smile/ Lucky me/ Even though I’m so damaged/ I gotta pick myself up and perform for the crowd/ Lucky me/ Pray none of my loved ones wanna be stars/ Cause nobody said it’d be so hard/ Wouldn’t put this on no one else/ Yeah, Lucky me.” It would seem that this was the downfall of Chris’s career.

To change the direction of his somewhat failing career, Chris Brown signed with Lil Wayne’s Young Money crew and the change became noticeable in his music. Chris Brown was back with a vengeance releasing his first mixtape, In My Zone. He held nothing back and for the first time had a parental discretion label due to the before mentioned suggestive title. Months later there was the release of his second mixtape, Fan of a Fan, a collaboration with Tyga. This was Chris telling the world that he can rap and that he can keep up with stars such as Young Money. In My Zone was Chris’s way of expressing how he has matured into adulthood. With his two mixtapes, and singles such as, “No BS,” “Deuces,” and “Ain’t Thinkin’ ‘Bout You,” Chris helped popularize the playing of mixtape songs on the radio. However Chris Brown’s In My Zone mixtape was so provocative that only one single released and even the video for that song has a parental advisory before you can view it. Obviously Chris was trying to make a statement with this CD.

Today Chris has worked with producers such as Benni Benassi, DJ Frank E, Diplo, and Kevin McCall to put together one of the most well-rounded albums from the artist yet. It’s as if Chris has combined his 3 albums and 2 mixtapes into one coherent piece of work. F.A.M.E which was released on March 18, 2011, stands for Forgiving All My Enemies and Fans Are My Everything. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 Chart, and sold over 270,000 copies the first week. He already has 4 hit singles from the album which include, “Deuces,” “No BS,” “Yeah 3x,” and “Look At Me Now,” featuring Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne. Songs, “Up To You,” “All Back,” and “I Should’ve Kissed You,” are a representation of the slow and sweet love songs from his first album Chris Brown. Then he has his pop songs, “Say It With Me,” “Yeah 3x” and “Oh My Love,” which represent his second album Exclusive. They make you want to get up and dance or at least bob your head. Graffiti is represented by the songs, “She Ain’t You,” which has a Michael Jackson sample and Beautiful People which gives a different outlook on life. “Deuces” and “Look at Me Now,” are reflections of the mixtape Fan of a Fan and, “No BS,” comes from the In My Zone mixtape. Overall Chris Brown’s music has been a reflection of his career and it will be interesting to see what he does next.

We So Excited for Rebecca Black

Screenshot from the official Rebecca Black video for "Friday." Click to see the original video.

Elise Nagy ‘12 | Staff Writer

If you forgot what comes after Thursday, have no fear. Rebbecca Black will never fail to remind you what comes next: it’s Friday… In her song “Friday”, what are the odds that the song would be called Friday? The song Friday starts off in the same tone of voice that babies use to express their dislike of their soiled diapers — with whining. “Gotta be fresh” apparently means getting ready in the morning, and catching a ride to school with your 12-year-old friends who just so happen to have their licenses.

After Rebbecca talks about getting fresh, she then talks about some decisions she has to make. Should she kick it in the front seat? Or sit in the back seat? It’s people like Rebbecca Black that feed the stereotype of fame-hungry rich girls who use their money to advertise their non-existent talent. She can relate to Paris Hilton, who has used her money for fame, an amazing reality trash TV star who is looking for a new BFF.

She’s no one-trick pony; she also produced another worthless song called “Prom Night,” which tops her tough decisions in Friday. She gets pretty deep in this song, talking about a boy asking her to dance at prom. “We’re dancing in the sky / His eyes are great because they are brown.” So if they were blue, they wouldn’t be great?

So the message Rebbeca Black is trying to send through her music is that no matter how worthless, no matter how much of a joke your work is, and no matter how much you can’t sing, you can still put what you call talent out there and make money.

Tik Tok Make It Stop

Tik Tok Make It Stop

Why the pop sensation Ke$ha should not be famous

By Elise Nagy’12
Staff Writer

If you’re like me, you’ve heard and hated the repetitive meaningless lyrics and sounds of Ke$ha.

Elise Nagy '12, Columnist for The Stampede

She began her career in 2006, but she was not fully recognized until she appeared in Flo Rida’s “Right Round.” In that particular song you see how Ke$ha has no deep part in the song or lyrics, the only part you hear her is attempt at backup vocals repeatedly saying, “You spin my head right round, right round…..” then it fades to auto-tune. Now I’m not against auto-tune but I am against the lack of creativity. The still-frequent use of auto-tune in Ke$ha`s songs is either to stall time in her songs because her lyrics won’t make the cut for the whole song, or simply because she is poorly trying to be unique in her sounds.

Some people listen to songs only for their beat, but in Ke$ha’s case, that is the only thing you can listen to in her music. In her song “Tik Tok,” she talks about what she does to prepare for a party, and when I say “talk” I mean she literally talks. The way she performs her songs can barely be classified as vocals.

If you haven’t seen any of Ke$ha’s videos, you might think she still has some hope of a music career through her videos. But whatever video you choose, it is still just as much of a letdown as her music. The video “Tik Tok” does not get you more interested in the song, but actually makes you detest it more. Her repetitive dance moves, similar to her repetitive lyrics, can be seen in every shot of the video. Not that you wouldn’t want to be distracted from the song, but her sexual moments and cries for attention take away from what is left of the song.

Her videos make you wonder what is actually making her so popular. Is it her sexuality, beats, or her lyrics? It definitely is not her talent, or poor efforts to be a decent pop artist. You would think that Ke$ha`s claimed strong influences such as Blondie, The Talking Heads and Prince, could combine to create a strong respectable pop star, but actually it creates a mess, and a feeding ground for teeny-boppers. While you are at homecoming, belting out Ke$ha lyrics and dancing all over people to her songs, just remember what an amazing artist she really is…

Battle of the Bands

Marie Blair ’11
Staff Writer

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…champions?! This past weekend, the BMHS bands went to Flowers High School for a competition. The Wind Ensemble, Concert band, and Symphonic band performed exceptionally, and most were excited by the outcome.  However, Symphonic band felt they could have done better.

Even so, none of the bands scored lower than a II (I being the highest), which is truly outstanding. The songs performed include some of the following: Armed Force Parade, Concord, Creed and Exaltation.

As the Spring trip and other performances loom in the near future, some of these songs, as well as others, are likely to be played.  Congratulations Bishop McNamara Band Program!