Billboard Hot 100 Favorites #1

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In honor of hitting 5,000 views today, I decided to do something special. Just because I write about less-than-mainstream music sometimes does not mean I have no ounce of soul. AKA I do not consider myself a hipster. If you do, go ahead, but I thought I would share my favorite mainstream music picks. So let’s jump right into this, I’ll even give quick ratings!

Disclosure: I will not write about songs that I have already given “Hear It First” articles. These songs and their positions are as of the week of January 17, 2015 on the America (‘Murica!) chart. You can read about each song below the jump:

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Music Recommendation – Single – John Haesemeyer, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

john-haesemeyerJohn Haesemeyer’s album Mirrors has not been his only contribution to music recently; He also released a funk-pop-type Christmas anthem called O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. There is a Soul-like emotion to the track that makes it a mellow piece good for sipping hot cocoa and enjoying an evening.

Haesemeyer’s cover of the classic Christmas should spark reminder of the holiday season and help fuel the enjoyment so many people have for it. Most have heard the song, and know its slow pace and tempo. Haesemeyer uses this to his advantage and takes the type of artistry and production on his sophomore album by translating it into this classic. He cites growing up with it every Christmas and having to perform in choir every year.

Of any song for this singer to cover, this is the perfect fit. It translates incredibly with his sound, and gives the whole song a holiday-inspiring feel. It is perfect for playing around the house and keeping on at low-key parties.

Overall, I would rate the cover at:

9.5/10

The song is great, though it hardly changes the general sound. It puts enough effort forward to make it different, but not specifically unique from any other version. Regardless, it is a cover of a Christmas classic and sounds beautiful in Haesemeyer’s voice.

You can get more information on the song at MuzicNotez.com by clicking here. You can stream the song and watch its corresponding music video below:

-Austin Heath

Album Review – John Haesemeyer, “Three Mirrors”

john-haesemeyerJohn Haesemeyer’s soft-rock-esque/kind-of-Country-ish music sounds immensely professional, between nicely-worked deep vocals and rich instrumentals. His work on sophomore album Three Mirrors is an impressive follow up to the debut album Come Along Quickly, and might even trump it. The seven-track album was created with focus and energy stuffed into each individual song. San-Francisco-based Haesemeyer shows a high level of dedication and effort put forward in creating this album and each song.

But what happens when songs are given the proper time and energy, yet do not come forth as beautiful as imagined? If we are using baking terms, let’s say each cookie is cut right and a snowman does not end up looking like a mis-shaped ding dong, but do they come out of the oven soft and delicious?

Well, in order to see how “scrumptious” Three Mirrors is, we should break down the album track-by-track:

1. “Three Mirrors” – The title track of the album gives a general sense of what to expect throughout. At first listen, I almost assume I am listening to a Country album. I believe the production and tuning is so well-enforced, however, that it is safe to call it Soft Rock. The melodious track is calm and only changes tempo at the long-note for a chorus. The bridge features a beautiful amount of string instruments that form together superbly. The song is made to be elegant and a slow ballad, and it pulls this off quite well. My only disappointment is how the vocals sound a bit rough to start the album. The song gives vibes of a calmer Imagine Dragons.

9/10

2. “Two Of Me” – While the first track is a solid start, Two Of Me follows it up with an even better hit. It takes any vocal issues from the previous song and fixes them, along with adding its own twist to the title track. The hard work on production is incredibly apparent on Two Of Me. This is my favorite song on the album, and reminds me a lot of Bread’s music and emphasis on soft guitar and piano.

9.75/10

3. “Think I’m Going Down” – The guitar in Think I’m Going Down brings more nostalgia in similarity to Bread’s instrumentals, but Think I’m Going Down has a bit more of a Soul-y vibe than the previous two. The hook is simple but not overly-boring, and is made to be sung out loud after a couple of listens. It reels the listener in to finish the album, which is the third song’s role on an album of such few songs. Another great song on Three Mirrors, and one of the best.

9.5/10

4. “Church Of My Childhood” – I get a much-more Country feeling from Church Of My Childhood, which comes off as emotional and heart-felt. The pace picks up as the song progresses, though sadly a bit late. Hearing the song in full will definitely give it the fullest appeal, though I do wish the song had picked up a bit earlier. Otherwise, a solid follow up to three great songs.

8.75/10

5. “Back To College” – Again, the vocals get a bit rough and flow starts to break down. The song is passionate, and features impressively-tuned notes from Haesemeyer. The lyricism is intriguing in its story and emotion, but the song as a whole just feels a bit awkward when putting the instruments against the more intense voice of Haesemeyer on Back To College.

7/10

6. “Vancouver’s Shore” ft. Leah Tysse – I was glad when I saw this album had a feature, as I hoped it could be a turning point that made the last song worth hearing. Every song is important in keeping an album worth listening, and song number six had an important role. Both voices compliment each other well, but have little-to-no overlap and make the song feel hardly like a duet. At the points when they come together, the sound is lovely and instruments back up each voice nicely. While the overlaps are predictable in timing, they are worth hearing and both voices coming together sound excellent (though each is enjoyable alone, especially Tysse).

9/10

7. “Bright White” – I could see anyone finishing off the album after the previous song, so Bright White closes it out for listeners. The pace picks up a bit quicker than previous songs, and the sound is similar to the soul-like feel of Think I’m Going Down. The lyricism is not as impressive, nor are the vocals. The song is a nice ending to the album, especially when we hear the strings on the bridge again. However, it seems to repeat problems of previous songs. That being said, hard work on production is evident and the song’s humming caps off the album as a whole smoothly.

7.75/10

So overall, the album averages out to be about:

8.25/10

Basically, the cookies came out nicely, though they became a bit dry after a couple of days. The album has some beautiful moments, but I feel a sense of disappointment in re-occuring mistakes. Artists like Aloe Blacc, Imagine Dragons, and Bread come to mind when I hear Haesemeyer perform. My biggest hope for a follow-up album would be a better flow in lyrics to the music and a better transition in pace (or any on some songs, which hold a sound a bit too similar at times). Of course, Haesemeyer does pull off the Soft-Rock and Country feeling excellently and any fan of the genres should tune in.

You can go over to MuzicNotez.com and hear the full album, along with getting some know-how on Haesemeyer and his music:

http://www.muzicnotez.com/magazine/2014/09/john-haesemeyers-new-album-three-mirrors/

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – BUNT., Harmonica

I do not want it to look like I messed up the title, BUNT. actually has the period at the end of its name. Just like fun. and why. No I mean like why would you do that, it only confuses me.

In all honesty I find Harmonica a decent Country song, though it is hard for me to judge a song of a genre I hardly pay attention to. This review is basically the same as Gordon Ramsey reviewing bicycle brands or the viewers of HotNewHipHop.com rating, well, any song. I never listen to the biased viewer votes (all the Young Thug lovers can screw off to another site please).

Again, I will not be very good at this, so even in a Country recommendation I am bound to mention Hip-Hop for some uncalled-for reason. But Harmonica is an upbeat track that almost sounds like Future on a country song. The beat is quite different from what I imagined Country music sounding like, and the originality of the track is definitely notable. Unfortunately the acoustic guitar alongside the beat can get a bit tedious and just feels like it is forcing the song to be Country. Basically what I am trying to say is the song is closer to EDM/Dance than Country.

Well this sucks, now I am hardly even reviewing a Country song like my goal was. So much for changing things up tonight, procrastination wins a deceitful victory over me. Regardless, the song deserves a solid 9.25/10. It is Country x EDM and is innovative in that it leans more towards Country than, say, Wake Me Up tries to. The Harmonica is evident, so the title does not lie.

Give the song a listen below:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Hunter Hayes, If It’s Just Me

Hunter Hayes is one of the few Country artists who I can listen to, and some of the others hardly count as Country. If It’s Just Me has definitely bumped up into my favorite Hunter Hayes song.

The first verse transitions into the hook a little rough, going from a low-key sound into loud guitar and percussion. However the quality of Hayes’ voice is excellent and really compliments the instrumentals, which are good on their own (see the guitar-filled bridge).

If It’s Just Me is the thirteenth track on Hayes’ Storyline. Overall I would rate the song at about 9.25/10. Go ahead and give the song a listen below:

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Gavin DeGraw, Best I Ever Had

I said in my introduction that I do not do much Country, and if this does not belong in that genre I would rather know. However I do really like this song and I expected it to have a lot more listens than it does. That’s why I recommend a listen to it.

The song features a lot of instruments in the background of Gavin DeGraw’s voice but rounds out to have good stuff from both ends. Overall I give the song a 8.5/10, I can see it appealing to some but not others. Give it a listen below:

-Austin Heath