March 27 - 15
SXSW Music 2015 had more closed streets, more rain, up-and-coming hip-hop and slow-burning R&B than 2014–luckily all countered by a whole lot less bloated branding or force-fed blockbuster acts. But for me, this year was all about the female-fronted bands. The many, amazing female vocalists that owned stages throughout: from MCs and rocking belters, to singer-songwriter and indie darlings.
If you’ve read any recap of SXSW Music, then you already know that Courtney Barnett charmed audiences with her deadpan delivery and throwaway genius. She is so low-key and unpretentious, and she mesmerizes with her strangely affecting narratives. Lucky for you–NY-based WFUV filmed the same darn show I went to, so you can have even better sight lines than I did!
Dessa, the Minneapolis-based MC and singer from the indie hip-hop collective Doomtree, captured the audience (literally capturing their cameras by grabbing them from their hands to film the crowd) during her solo set at Karma Lounge. I recommend a revisit of her underrated 2014 release Parts of Speech, as well as this intimate footage of her from the awesome KEXP-FM live session.... Read More
December 18 - 14
Another year means another deluge of music our Music Supervisors (also known as DJs/label owners/artists/rockstars) comb through; each week, hundreds of albums are given a spin to find the freshest tracks for the brands they curate for. Their collective audiophile escapades have been harnessed to create our best songs of 2014 list. We’re streaming these and more on our Top Songs of 2014 BrandRadio – just scroll down or click here to tune in.
MARK CAMPBELL :: Music Supervisor
Annie Lennox – “You Belong To Me”
On her third album of cover songs, Annie Lennox pays a visit to the world of the Great American Songbook. “You Belong To Me”, with its poignant lyrics of longing and heartache, fully exemplifies the album’s overall theme – a desire to come home again. Her vocals (solid and sincere) and the song’s arrangement deliver a stirring and contemporary take on a classic tune from America’s rich musical history.
SEAN HORTON :: Senior Music Supervisor / Music Strategy & Development
St. Vincent – “Prince Johnny”
Though musically they’re light-years apart,... Read More
December 10 - 14
Associate Music Supervisor Alex Ruder reviews and programs music for a small but diverse range of brands here at PlayNetwork. With extensive knowledge of the indie electronica and pop music landscape, he dials in on some of the year’s best undiscovered music.
Familiar big name pop acts such as Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, Pharrell Williams, and Taylor Swift have largely dominated the charts this year. And while I can’t deny that these artists make some incredibly infectious tracks, there are plenty of artists making equally catchy tracks that haven’t quite caught the ears of millions yet. In my never-ending attempt to expose artists and songs that I feel are worth your ears’ attention, here are 10 pop songs from 2014 that you won’t find on Billboard’s or iTunes’ top charts or racking up multimillion views on YouTube:
[hover over song title for Alex’s commentary]... Read More
November 18 - 14
As part of our PlayLive concert series, we bring exceptional, diverse, artistic talent to the PlayNetwork offices, exposing our Music Supervisors to new and up-and-coming artists from around the globe. Many of these artists are already playing in-store at your favorite retailers, while others are on the horizon of breaking. Much of what we do hinges on music discovery for our brands, turning them into tastemakers for their consumers.
Juno award-winning Canadian artist LIGHTS recently performed cuts from her latest release, “Little Machines”, at our Redmond headquarters. Lights blew onto the electropop scene in 2008 with her hit “Drive My Soul”, and her brand of gleaming, heartfelt pop music has continued to captivate fans around the globe.
“Running With The Boys” opened the set, with the kind of powerful chorus you’d expect to hear chanted in arenas. “Up We Go” showcases Light’s gorgeously fun vocals, only surpassed by her on-stage energy. Much has been said about Light’s road to rediscovery during the writing of “Little Machines” (she shared that the verse for “Muscle Memory” came to her as she drew a bubble bath), but her story for the album’s closer, “Don’t Go Home Without Me”,... Read More
October 28 - 14
Alex Espinosa, one of our veteran Music Supervisors in Seattle, shares why he still buys and collects music in, arguably, its most nostalgic form.
Records–as I like to call them–have been a big part of my life as long as I can remember. Ever since grabbing one of my older brothers’ Beatles records, hearing that distinctive cracking sound before the music started–it’s been a love affair still going strong today. You see, music is such a huge part of my life that I’ve made a career out of it for the past 25 years, and it all started with that first glance and that first feel of holding a record.
Some enthusiasts argue that the sound of a record playing is much richer and warmer than that of a compact disc; others like the simplicity of just downloading a song digitally from virtually any platform on the web. I, on the other hand, like to treat music like that of being in a relationship. I know it may sound a little weird and cliché, but I truly enjoy the satisfaction of being able to study the cover artwork and liner notes before placing the wax onto my record player.... Read More
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
PlayNetwork... Read More