Last week was the perfect week to end 2014 on a high note. I’ve been lucky with this year – it started off “eh” and ended up being one of the most positive years (work and personally) that I’ve had in a long time.
I was looking forward to last Tuesday because I was going with friends to see A Johnnyswim Christmas at The Hamilton (which is now literally a block away from the new job – SWEET!). But, then the unthinkable happened – D’Angelo released “Black Messiah” the day before. No warning, no ads, no nothing….just dropped the album on ITunes and Amazon.com at midnight and watch the internet blow up.
I won’t even attempt to review the album – there are people paid to break down each song and technical nature of it, but I will share my thoughts. I’ve been a fan of D’Angelo since his first album. That should come to no surprise to people who know me; I am drawn to older music. After breaking down the importance of the SOS Band during a basketball game, a friend’s coworker told me that I was born 20 years too late.
This is how I feel about D’Angelo. From the moment Brown Sugar dropped, listening to him was like digging the crates for Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield or Wilson Pickett albums. He has an old soul and I appreciate that. Black Messiah reminds me of these older albums – albums with a message to them, albums that make you really listen…like stop multi-tasking, sit your ass down and pay attention. Like any new album, I’ve listened to it multiple times to really give it a chance to hit me from all levels, and it’s done that. It’s a reminder that music can make you think and move you to make true changes.
I highly recommend it. So far, my favorite songs are 1000 Deaths and The Door.
So, I had 24 hours of complete D’Angelo frenzy until my attention turned to Johnnswim. I’ve been a fan of this duo (and their awesome fellow band members) for about 4 or 5 years now. An intern at a previous job clued me in on them and I was hooked. However, it wasn’t until I had a chance to see them live that I fell in love.
Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez are the couple we all want to hate – but can’t. They are hilarious on stage and invite you into their world so effortlessly that you can’t help but adore them. The back and forth between them during songs, and the bands ridiculous talent makes you realize good people do win the race.
2013-14 has been a whirlwind for these guys. Like most indie artists, Johnnyswim would put out EPs, of 3 or 4 songs a couple times a year and they have a wonderful YouTube presence. Then, after 6 years fans were treated to the ultimate Diamonds – their first full album. And, what an album it is. I’ll admit, it’s one of the few that I’ll listen to from beginning to end without skippin over a track.
This year they also released A Johnnyswim Christmas, 7 tracks of Christmas joy with their own twist on the classics. I quickly scooped it up along with tickets to see them perform the songs live. I’ll admit it, I wasn’t feeling Christmas this year, with the new job I didn’t have the time to head to the West Coast where my immediate family now resides. But, this concert, which started with video of both Amanda and Abner as children on Christmas Day, infused me with the Christmas spirit.
The crew I went with had a blast for almost 2 hours of singing, laughing and clapping along. During the concert, they debuted a song written to help raise money for an organization working to improve the lives of children in villages in India. You can actually download Hallelujah from Itunes and Amazon with all the proceeds going to Visiting Orphans.
This is how cool they are.
Merry Christmas everyone!! See you next week.