December 22 - 16
Album: Nothing’s Real – Polydor 2016
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The alias of British artist Aleksandra Lilah Denton, Shura first emerged in 2014 with the immediately arresting song “Touch,” the first in a string of singles that confidently introduced her sultry 80s-steeped R&B/pop sound. Last year she unveiled a few more stellar singles, appeared on an excellent single from fellow up-and-coming UK talent Mura Masa, and anticipation for her debut album consequently increased to a fever pitch. Fortunately, her debut album Nothing’s Real delivers on the promise of those early singles, yielding one of my favorite pop albums of 2016. Stacked with all of her prior standout singles and seamlessly sequenced to paint a full, cinematic, and expansive sonic landscape in just under an hour, Shura’s first full-length album offers a mature yet playful spin on the nostalgic and romantic tropes of 80s pop with a slick, refreshing, contemporary R&B touch.
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December 8 - 16
As we inch closer to the new year, we reflect on everything that has happened in the music industry in 2016.
This year has been marked with many heartaches, with the passing of some of our legendary musicians like David Bowie, Prince, Sharon Jones and Leonard Cohen to name a few. But, there have also been some bright spots in the music world with so many amazing releases and new artists emerging.
At PlayNetwork, our music supervision team stays on top of the current trends in music, and work to program these new releases and artists in our branded playlists. As our holiday gift to you, we present our 12 Days of Music, a collection of album reviews from our music supervisors highlighting their favorite albums of 2016. You may not find many of these on year end charts, but these albums are earworms that you should discover sooner rather than later.
To kick it off, I would like to share with you my favorite album of the year.
Album: A Moon Shape Pool – XL 2016
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September 6 - 16
With the summer months coming to an end and fall just around the corner, we’ve created a list of songs that our talented group of Music Supervisors have been listening to lately, be it spinning these tunes DJ’ing at clubs, relaxing at home while finding that next un-discovered artist, or curating these selections for the many clients we program for around the globe. One of our seasoned music supervisors, Alex Espinosa, has selected a few of his favorites below that will take you on a journey where the sun starts to fade and the cold nights get longer.
Artist: Rob Crow
Track: Business Interruptus
Besides being from my hometown of San Diego and seeing his previous band, Pinkback, numerous times, Rob Crow’s solo efforts never seems to amaze me with how current he tends to be with his indie sounds of using heavy bass and amazing melodies. With his current band called, Gloomy Place, and the single “Business Interruptus” this trend still exist. Local San Diego club, The Casbah, which was my home away from home in the early 90s makes an appearance in the accompanied video below as well.... Read More
April 6 - 16
Check out what our music supervisors are listening to this month in our Music Discovery playlist for April. Also featured are some great songs to help lift your spirits into spring, hand picked by Alex Ruder, one of our music supervisors.
Following months of constant rain, grey days, and early sunsets here in the Pacific Northwest, I welcome the transition into spring with wide open arms. Time to finally roll the car windows down and jam out to some feel-good music. While I’d still bump these tracks year-round, these 5 new tracks are all sounding especially nice in the sunshine.
Artist: The Range
The Range is the alias of Brooklyn-via-Providence electronic producer James Hinton. He’s been bubbling up from the underground over the last five years with standout releases on fantastic incubator labels such as Astro Nautico and Donky Pitch. His new sophomore album Potential marks his first release on Domino Records, a major look for an artist largely making beats out of his bedroom. His new record is based around samples he discovered while going down YouTube rabbit holes,... Read More
April 4 - 16
As a music lover of all things new and fresh, I was checking out the many music blogs and stumbled upon the track “Young Rebels” by TW Walsh. After the first deep bass drum kicks of the song, I was hooked. With the mixture of synth sounds and keyboard swashes, this track by Massachusetts born Timothy William Walsh has a retro 80s feel to it that is popular with today’s indie crowd looking for something that stands out from the norm. “Young Rebels” actually reminds me of my youth when I was really into Gary Numan and The Cars.
Working as a songwriter, producer and engineer, TW had his hands on different projects before joining Seattle Indie band, Pedro The Lion back in 2003. He has since provided production assistance from anyone from Sufjan Stevens to Crystal Skulls. After spending 18 months with a mysterious illness he attributed to insomnia and bad dieting, TW Walsh got into Eastern Mysticism which had him thinking of ways of bringing classic music production techniques into today’s modern technology.
This is noticeable on his latest release Fruitless Research out now on indie label, Graveface Records with a collaboration in production duties with Yuuki Matthews who also has worked with Crystal Skulls as well as The Shins.... Read More
December 17 - 15
Every year, our Music Supervisors, who range from DJs to label owners, dive through hundreds of albums and thousands of songs to find perfect and unique songs that will fit seamlessly into the audio strategies for our brands. After many years of curating playlists myself, I’ve come to realize that our clients just want one thing: to stand out from the droves of other brands by sharing songs that pique the interest of their customers. Now that the end of the year is upon us, we’ve put our artistic audiophile brains together to come up with some standouts in music discovery, some of which you’ve heard already playing at your local coffeehouse or fashion boutique and some you’ve never heard before.
Artist: Wild Ones
Track: Dim The Lights
Portland based band ‘Wild Ones’ starts us off with a track that made topped many of our Music Supervisor’s lists of their favorite songs of the year. Daniel Sullivan’s gritty voice sounds like she’s walking the streets under the dim lights of Manhattan–and we have found this track fits nicely with many of our brand’s sonic strategies.... Read More
November 23 - 15
Artist: Natalia LaFourcade
Track: Hasta La Raiz
Mexican born Natalia LaFourcade has been making music since the late 90’s when she was part of the trio girl band called ‘Twist’. She then decided to go solo at the tender age of 17 releasing her first album in 2003 simply titled Natalia LaFourcade. She has since released 4 other albums, but her biggest breakthrough came with her much acclaimed and personal album to date ‘Hasta La Raiz’ that garnered 6 Latin Grammy nominations and 5 wins including Record of the Year, and Song of the Year for her song ‘Hasta La Raiz’ off the same album. Look for more to come from this amazing singer song-writer from Veracruz.
Other tracks from Natalia LaFourcade... Read More
August 11 - 15
August may signal the end of summer to some, but for our music supervisors, August is a time for upbeat and cool music that contrasts these long hot days. Among the songs selected by the Global Music Supervision team, four songs have been featured as quintessential summer jams by Music Supervisor, Alex Espinosa. Check out the playlist, featuring songs from Waster, U R, World Beneath The Sea and Railway Lines.
WIN WIN – “Waster”
My first selection comes by New York band WIN WIN. Their song Waster was an exciting fine by way of shopping for music at Amoeba record store while on a business trip. With its buzz worthy chorus, off centered guitar riffs and the not so subtle hand clapping has this track, off of their latest release ‘Primaries’ as a standout for me.
Beach Baby – “U R”
My next selection is from the English band Beach Baby. With its shoegaze sound and laid back beach feel, their new single U R reminds me of the days of skipping school to go surfing with best friends. Look for them to tour stateside in the coming fall.
Brave Shores – “World Beneath The Sea”
World Beneath The Sea by Canadian brother and sister act Brave Shores entranced my musical senses with their drum loops and synths sounds.... Read More
July 23 - 14
Alex Espinosa is a Music Supervisor at PlayNetwork with over 16 years of experience working directly with brands around the world. Though he’s worked in radio in the past, his passion lies in creating music experiences for his clients. Alex has created the soundtracks for brands ranging from Taco Cabana and On The Border to Godiva and Nautica.
Quinceañera’s are usually reserved for Latina girls celebrating ones 15th birthday. With the Latin Alternative Music Conference (or LAMC for short) now celebrating their 15th anniversary, this was a celebration of music and how far this conference, held in NYC, has come. I’ve been attending LAMC for 10 years and was asked to speak on a panel aptly titled, “What Actually Moves the Needle?”. What’s great about LAMC are the hungry musicians and fans from all over Latin America who attend and listening to the pulse of what’s happening in world of Latin Alternative music. One of the reasons why this conference means so much to me is not because of my love for Latin music and discovering new bands, but because it makes me hopeful for where this genre is going.
First up was French/Chilean Hip Hop artist Ana Tijoux playing at the Central Park Summer Stage.... Read More
May 3 - 12
Cinco de Mayo…5th of May…what does this mean? To me, when I was a child, I just saw my family drinking margaritas and cervezas and having a good time on this date every year. I also thought this was Mexico’s Independence Day for many years, but it’s not. This date is actually important to the United States as well; and no, I’m not drinking right now. You see, Cinco de Mayo is the date when Mexican troops stormed and defeated Napoleon’s French invading army in the battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862. Napoleon III and France wanted to invade and defeat Mexico so they could get to the vulnerable United States who was already weak from its own Civil War.
So now you say “Where does the music come into play?” Here is the best part. After Mexico defeated the French, many Mexican rancheros that fought in the war brought out their acoustic guitars and started singing and playing festive songs in a style that would later be known as Mariachi. For our clients on this holiday we’ve developed a Cinco de Mayo program that has a bit of everything that is festive from Mariachi, Rancheras, Cumbias,... Read More
April 5 - 12
Doing the tour thing from coast to coast in a van is a way of paying your dues in the music world of rock-n-roll. Everyone from Elvis to the Rolling Stones has done it and I’m sure countless of musicians will continue the tradition in the future. I remember in my early twenties riding along with a friend’s band doing the California stretch in a week playing in five towns and taking turns behind their trusted van only to stop for food, beer and the occasional bathroom stop (in my case, we used the old milk gallon trick). Paste magazine has posted an article where nine bands ranging from Maps & Atlases to Cursive tell their stories of the joy on touring in a VAN!!!
Alex Espinosa – Associate Music Supervisor
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March 27 - 12
With SXSW happening but once a year, flocks of musicians and bands make their trek to Austin, Texas for the one-off chance of making an impact on the thousands in attendance. Once such act; La Vida Boheme who hails from Caracas, Venezuela made that impact at this year’s SXSW music festival two weeks ago. Being dubbed as the next big thing in the Rock En Espanol movement with influences ranging from 80’s punk to Electronic Dance music, La Vida Boheme tore through their set at The Parish dressed all in white with blue and green paint splattered all over them. Their latest release “Nuestra” on Nacional Records, received two Latin Grammy nominations for best rock album as well as one for best rock song for “Radio Capital”. Led by singer Henry D’Anthenay, these guys are making people take notice not only for their eclectic shows but also as a staying powerhouse in Latin music. NPR Music put out their “Possibly Life-Changing Music Discoveries from SXSW 2012” and La Vida Boheme made that list with flying colors, no pun intended.
Alex Espinosa – Associate Music Supervisor
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February 23 - 12
Here’s a name to share with you: ‘Mati Zundel”. This artist from Buenos Aires, Argentina is on the ZZK label, who are starting to release intriguing new Latin releases that are based on Cumbia, Urbano and Electronica dub beats. With Mati’s new release titled “Amazonico Gravitante”, the elements he mixes are something that are not normal in the Latin world; he mixes Cumbia, Urbano, Electronica and Latin Folk to create an artisanal sound that will hopefully have other’s following in his steps.
Here’s a video of the new single “Señor Montecostes”…disfruta!
Alex Espinosa, Associate Music Supervisor
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January 23 - 12
Every year around April, masses of music lovers from around the globe attend this 3-day festival which has grown immensely since its inception in 1999. With over 25,000 people attending the inaugural event that had headliners Beck and Rage Against The Machine, this festival is now a haven for the up and coming artist, established acts or the ever recurrence of bands reuniting for that one off show for the festival.
Indio, CA and its surrounding neighbors of Palm Desert and Palm Springs has always been a location where retirees go to and relax in their Bermuda shorts and black socks or play some leisurely golf. Since 1999 though, the Empire Polo Grounds, which is this huge oasis of irrigated lawn right smack in the middle of Indio has been the sight of the Coachella Music Festival (back then being called just Coachella).
With acts ranging from Roger Waters to Thievery Corporation, you’ll get everything here via the many music tents and stages situated all around the grounds. In one tent, you may get M.I.A. performing to a hip hop crowd and then in another tent, you may here a spoken word performance by the legendary Leonard Cohen. ... Read More
January 20 - 12
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ms. Etta James
“At Last” is a song that will always remain buried in my memory as a song that not only makes me feel relaxed but also reminds me of my mother as I was growing up. You see, before I knew who the Stones or the Beatles were, I would hear this song play on my mother’s old Crosley record player during the holidays and always knew she was baking cookies.
Miss Peaches or better known as Etta James has that effect on people. Back in 2000 Rolling Stone Magazine ranked her #62 in their list of 100 greatest artist of all time. With her bluesy voice with a touch of gospel elements as well as her influence on so many singer/songwriters, she should be rated much better than #62. She was loved by many and worshiped by others and her voice will live on forever. Ms. Etta James passed away on January 20, 2012 at the tender age of 73.
Alex Espinosa – Music Coordinator
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January 3 - 12
Happy New Year world! We continue our look back at 2011 in music…
Alex Espinosa, our newest member on the Music Services team, gives us a look at his favorite albums from 2011 which includes a few Latin artists you may not have heard of. Disfruten!
The Black Keys – El Camino (Nonesuch)
For having just two members as their core, this blues rock band from Akron, Ohio put the crunch in dirty blues rock. Their seventh release titled “El Camino” was such a surprise to me from the start that I couldn’t wait until I heard every track. With the first single “Lonely Boy” that has this guitar riff and analog synth sound at the start; I immediately wanted more. El Camino delivers especially with my favorite on the album “Run Right Back”. This song has not only sex appeal but that dirty, kick the dirt type of sound that gives the Keys a swagger like the days of Bowie and T-Rex. Listen to “Run Right Back” here
Hello Seahorse – Lejos, No Tan Lejos (Nacional Records)
Mexico’s indie sensation, Hello Seahorse latest release titled “Lejos, No Tan Lejos” which translates to “Far,... Read More