Take it from me, Keith Ward Trio’s music rocks – want a free copy of the Syracuse grad’s new album?

Keith Ward's first album, '3 Days Till Next Year,' was recorded at Syracuse University in 2005.

I’ve been a fan of Keith Ward‘s music ever since he and I were in the same class in Syracuse University’s music industry program six, seven years ago. While I was more interested in the marketing, production and management side of the business (I can’t sing or play an instrument besides the turntables), he was more interested in simply making the music. And he does it well.

If you’ve ever been a fan of the gentler side of Ben Folds’ piano rock or wanted to hear a slightly jazzier version of Matt Nathanson, then his adult pop-rock sound is right up your alley.

His 2005 debut, 3 Days Till Next Year, was recorded at Syracuse University and includes my personal favorite track “#1.” It was downloaded more than 70,000 times when iTunes featured it as the Free Download of The Week. After graduating from SU, he recorded his second album Take Your Time and took it to prestigious venues such as New York City’s Bowery Ballroom and Sullivan Hall as well as The Troubadour in London.

On Tuesday, the singer-songwriter released his third opus, Take It From Me, with bassist Mike Chiavaro and drummer Jared Schonig backing him up as the Keith Ward Trio. Co-produced by Ward and Justin King at King’s Vinegar Hill Sound in Brooklyn, NY, you can get the album on iTunes and Spotify Worldwide or preview it at keithwardmusic.com.

Or you can get your own copy for free…

First Run Records is holding a “Tell your friends giveaway!” The first 50 people who click the Facebook ‘like’ button at the bottom of keithwardmusic.com will get a free copy of the new album. Just email firstrunrecords@gmail.com afterwards to tell them where you would like your copy sent to.

Here’s Keith Ward performing “What It’s Like” from the new album, live at London’s Half Moon Putney:

Please support Keith by checking out his music. He’s a Central New York native and a graduate of Fayetteville-Manlius High School and Syracuse University. Also, not only is it important to support independent music (especially the artists making GOOD music!) but he’s always been an awesome, humble guy with a great sense of humor and a friendly smile for everyone. Happy listening!

Fatboy Slim sings along with ‘Praise You’ – this video made me smile so much

I am a huge fan of Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook (aka The BPA, aka Beats International, aka Pizzaman, aka Freakpower, and so on…).

The 48-year-old musician has been somewhat reluctant to embrace social media, but he’s always open to trying new fun things. So when he was performing at Electro Venice Festival in June with Deadmau5, he asked if he could borrow the mouse-headed DJ’s helmet-strap camera. Fatboy put it on, and recorded himself kicking off his set with “Praise You,” even singing along (albeit not as well as the vocalist) with the record.

That’s the way music performances should be: fun, full of life, and a little ridiculous. This made me smile so hard, and I admit, when I’m DJing, I have trouble sometimes not getting caught up in the music and singing (or dancing) along.

Best 4th of July songs? My favorite music for watching fireworks on Independence Day

What's on your 4th of July soundtrack?

It’s Independence Day – what songs do you want to hear while watching fireworks light the night sky? You can listen to patriotic songs like “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The USA” if you want, or even country anthems like Toby Keith’s “Courtesy Of The Red White & Blue” but I prefer a more varied mix for my soundtrack to seeing those beautiful explosions in the sky*. Yes, 4th of July is the celebration of our nation’s birthday (we’re 235 years young!) but a lot of the songs I prefer on this holiday are about the whimsy and romance of sharing the view with someone special — or the heartbreak of watching those bottle rockets alone. Here’s what I listen to on this holiday:

Soundgarden – “4th of July”
If the world were really going to end on July 4th like aliens tried to do in Will Smith’s Independence Day, this would definitely be an appropriate track to hear.

Martina McBride – “Independence Day”
The only country song I enjoy on 4th of July, though McBride’s brand of the genre and most modern country isn’t really true “country” anyway.

Mariah Carey – “4th Of July”
“Truly I have never felt the same inside like that Fourth of July…” This song makes me the saddest on this list, but it’s a beautiful track and I could listen to it all day.

Katy Perry – “Firework”
This song has nothing to do with the holiday, and it’s the only time I’ve ever heard anyone refer to fireworks in the singular, but I love the overall message and the lyrically fist-pumping chorus.

Aimee Mann – “4th of July”
“Today’s the fourth of July, another June has gone by, and when they light up our town I just think ‘what a waste of gunpowder and sky,’ I’m certain that I am alone in harboring thoughts of our home…”

Plain White T’s – “Fireworks”
Probably the happiest song on this list: “Fireworks flyin’ whenever we’re together, I know, you know, that I know you love me.”

Bruce Springsteen – “Independence Day”
A troubled, quiet song representing the Boss’s many mixed emotions regarding patriotism.

Jimmy Eat World – “Just Watch The Fireworks”
Jim’s promise to see the fireworks with a lost love is an anthem for who’s ever been riddled with insomnia, waiting for them to come back.

Elliott Smith – “Independence Day”

“Gonna spend the day higher than high…” Elliott Smith truly was a Roman candle that blazed brightly and briefly on the music scene (he won an Oscar for Best Original Song with “Miss Misery” in Good Will Hunting) for a short time before his tragic suicide.

What songs do you have on your 4th of July soundtrack? Leave a comment!

*Note: There is also a band called Explosions In The Sky, which is worth checking out if you dig rock-based instrumental landscapes. Their music isn’t bad, but it’s better as background music than on your iPod workout mix, which is why so much of their stuff has appeared on the TV show “Friday Night Lights.”

Chillin’ like a villain: My all-time top 5 Bob Dylan songs

Today is Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday. It may surprise you, but my first concert was actually Bob Dylan when I was 12 (which would mean he was 56). Being 12, I didn’t know any Bob Dylan songs except for “that ‘everybody must get stoned’ song” and the one from Dangerous Minds, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” (It was 1996.)

He didn’t play either song, which meant the concert was hard to enjoy but as I’ve grown older I’ve realized what an expansive catalog the guy has — hundreds of songs. I still don’t get the movie I’m Not There and I still think he’s a crap singer and a weak electric guitar player, but the man is undeniably a genius and has written some fantastic songs. Here are my five (plus one) favorite tracks by the troubadour himself:

1. “The Man In Me”
You gotta love the scene in The Big Lebowski when the Dude trips out to this song:

2. “Trouble In Mind”
Dylan didn’t write this blues classic, but I love his version — it’s sadly not on YouTube. Here’s a version by Leon Russell, Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt:

3. “The Times Are A-Changin'”
A timeless classic. I especially love the way it was used in the opening scene of Watchmen.

4. “Heart Of Mine”
Dylan wrote this great song, but Peter Malick Group and Norah Jones do it better.

5. “Like A Rolling Stone”
Another Dylan classic that’ll still be relevant in 50 years.

6. “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)” – Mark Ronson Remix
Honorable mention — I love the modernization and the funky horns added by Ronson.

Happy birthday, Bob! Keep on chillin’ like a villain, Mr. Dylan.

Last Requests: 25 songs you need to hear before the world ends

Judgment Day, the Rapture and the end of the world may or may not take place starting May 21, 2011… But as long as humankind is mortal, all of us will see an end one day or another. So if you have a bucket list, I suggest you try and make a dent in it and do everything you want to do — start with exposing your ears to good music. Here are 25 amazing songs that, if you’ve never heard before, you need to listen to NOW:

1. Playing For Change – “Stand By Me”
One camera and one microphone captured street musicians around the world performing this Ben E. King cover. In a word? Amazing.

2. The Dears – “The Ballad of Human Kindness”
Possibly my favorite indie rock song of all time. The message is powerful and the lyrics are infectious.

3. Peter Malick Group – “Heart Of Mine” feat. Norah Jones

Bob Dylan is a fantastic songwriter but a terrible singer. So just let Norah Jones sing his songs and they’ll all be amazing.

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OFWGKTA and Tyler The Creator: Is this the ‘odd future’ of hip-hop music?

Tyler, The Creator is the frontman of Odd Future, an increasingly popular hip-hop group. If this is where the genre is headed, it's an odd future, indeed.

If you’ve heard someone say “Free Earl” recently, then you’re at least vaguely familiar with OFWGKTA — Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, or Odd Future, for short — a loose collective of hip-hop artists that are all barely out of high school. The Internet buzz has created a mythical amount of fame for a group that has yet to really scratch the surface, though hipster rap fans and indie music bloggers all claim to love them. I just don’t get it (yet), personally.

NYMag recently asked if frontman Tyler The Creator was a musical visionary, or just an obnoxious teenager with a record contract? I listened to his first major release, Goblin, and it’s this insanely dark collection of violent characters imagined by Tyler. On one track he’s a vampire who likes “bitches who suck d**k and wash dishes.” On other tracks he’s paradoxically violent and anti-violent at the same time. He claims he’s not a homophobe, but he’ll drop gay slurs without hesitation. He has necrophiliac serial killer fantasies and will tell anyone to go f**k themselves. (But he might not mean it. He’s either just spewing what any other angry adolescent male would in his situation, or he’s creating mystery on a Bob Dylan scale.)

The music, meanwhile, is an unclassifiable mix of dreamy electro, jazz, 60’s acid trips, and trip hop – there’s nothing you can dance to, though I do quite enjoy the track “Yonkers.” The rest is… interesting, and unique. But is it good? It might be. But I don’t like it, and I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe I don’t have patience for fictional songs when Tyler and his motley crew’s real story seems like it would be more interesting. Maybe the hype just isn’t meeting their product — yet. I definitely see a lot of potential, though.

As for the group? Odd Future, who loves to incite audiences, may already be getting exactly what they want. They canceled a Detroit show recently because fans were throwing beer bottles at them, and they started a “near riot” on Boston’s Newbury Street that led to this embarrassing report by Fox News in Boston:

Earl The Sweatshirt, by the way, is the man everyone wants to free. He’s not in jail. Part of Odd Future’s myth (or it could be real – who knows?) is that Earl is one of their amazingly talented members who can’t release any music because his mother has him under house arrest in Samoa. When Earl turns 18, he’ll potentially be allowed to leave and start recording again — until then, “Free Earl” has become synonymous with anger and calls for violence against Earl’s mother.

Oh, and in an interesting new development, Tegan and Sara started a beef with Tyler The Creator when they wrote a lengthy complaint on their website: “Why should I care about this music or its ‘brilliance’ when the message is so repulsive and irresponsible?… When will misogynistic and homophobic ranting and raving result in meaningful repercussions in the entertainment industry? When will they be treated with the same seriousness as racist and anti-Semitic offenses?”

Tyler’s response on Twitter? “If Tegan And Sara Need Some Hard D**k, Hit Me Up!”

If you like Odd Future and Tyler The Creator, please explain to me why. Until then, I’m just going to hope that they grow up quickly and start letting the music speak for itself. Good music will always speak for itself and, so far, all I’m hearing is a bunch of angry kids making noise.

“Here’s looking at you, Kid-N-Play.” Play the #Oscars #Grammys #mashup Game!

"I'll get you my pretty, and your little Snoop Dogg too!" #Oscars #Grammys #mashup

Let’s play a fun game!

Since the Oscars were last night (and they were boring, from what I hear – I didn’t even bother watching) let’s play a game! Mashup your favorite movie quote with a famous artist! Here’s a few to get you started:

“Nobody puts Babyface in a corner.”
“Goonies never say Diana Ross!”
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could Missy Elliott.”
“I’m B.B. King of the world!”
“Here’s looking at you, Kid-N-Play.”

Share yours on Twitter with #Oscars #Grammys #mashup or leave a comment below with yours! If you include @deafgeoff if your tweet I’ll add them to this blog later :)

Live-blogging the 2011 Grammys – award winners, photos, reactions and snide remarks

I didn’t think I’d end up doing this, but I can’t resist. I only take four awards shows seriously (Grammys, Oscars, Emmys, Tonys) and the Grammys are my favorite. I live-blogged my thoughts from the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards – share yours!

5:38pm – I am dumbfounded by people’s reactions to Arcade Fire winning the Best Album category. Hipsters who’ve been saying they’re awesome are now complaining that they’ve become ‘the new U2’ while the other half is objecting that a more mainstream artist didn’t win. In other words, no one’s happy with it.

Look, let me explain something. 99 times out of 100, the Grammy Award is given to the more talented artist, not the more popular one. A lot of people objected when Herbie Hancock won Album Of The Year in 2008 – an album that sold less than 150,000 copies – but you know what? The River was a phenomenal album. Listen to Herbie’s rendition of “When Love Comes To Town” with Joss Stone & Jonny Lang and tell me I’m wrong. Just try.

Same thing here. Lady Gaga’s talented (albeit overrated), and Katy Perry’s popular, and Eminem still sells albums almost like Napster never even existed. But none of them had an album, an ALBUM, that was as well-written and well-rounded as The Suburbs by Arcade Fire. Gaga’s Fame Monster wasn’t as good as her first album, and Eminem hasn’t done anything creatively “wow” since 8 Mile. (And if you try and tell me Katy Perry had the best album of the year, you’re revealing yourself as a narrow-minded person who accepts what’s popular as what’s good. Perry had a couple good songs, like “Firework” and “Teenage Dream,” but two songs don’t make an entire album great.)

Long story short? Get over it. And certainly don’t judge an album you haven’t listened to. If you want to see the most popular artist win, go watch the VMAs or the Billboard Music Awards. If you want to see the most talented win, then you can watch the Grammys. (And for the record, I’m not even an Arcade Fire fan. I just recognize that “Wake Up” is a fantastic song and The Suburbs is phenomenal album.)

* * * * *

7:00am – I re-read the list of winners and nominees for each category, and I still agree that the only snub was for Cee-Lo Green not winning Record Of The Year. I would’ve liked to see The Band Perry win Best Country Song for “If I Die Young,” but to be nominated when you’re still relatively unknown (they lost to Lady A) is amazing. I was happy to see Carolina Chocolate Drops, John Legend & The Roots, Ray LaMontagne, and The Black Keys win Grammys, they all deserved them. And I 100% agreed with Crazy Heart winning the Grammy for Best Soundtrack – “Glee” does some great music, but none of their performances are Grammy-worthy.

11:35pm – FYI, there are 109 Grammy categories and they only televised eight of them.

11:30pm – Here’s the complete list of Grammy Award Winners & Nominees. My only big complaint is probably for Record Of The Year – Cee-Lo Green deserved that one. I even agree with Herbie Hancock’s “Imagine” winning Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals, believe it or not. It’s a little amazing that Justin Bieber didn’t win anything, but he’ll get his chance another year. He’s young, but clearly talented. I also would’ve preferred BT to win Best Electronic Album (La Roux won), but BT’s done better albums in the past and he’ll do even better ones in the future. Continue reading

5 Predictions for the Black Eyed Peas #SuperBowl Halftime Show

I’m excited for the Super Bowl XLV halftime show for three reasons: Black. Eyed. Peas.

Black Eyed Peas are, like, so predictable... or are they?

First of all, Fergie’s existence in the group means this is the first halftime show for the Super Bowl with a female artist since Nipplegate 2004.

Second, also since Janet and Justin, this is the first halftime act under the age of 50 as networks played it safe the last six years: Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, Prince, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and The Who. (The oldest Black Eyed Pea, apl.de.ap, is only 36.)

Third, as someone who’s seen BEP perform live, I can tell you that they are talented, energetic and fun performers.

So what can we expect at this year’s halftime show? Place your bets, people.
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FREE download of Rock ‘N’ Roller Derby – a DJ mix by DeafGeoff

Click here to download for free!

In summer 2010, I made a new DJ mix called Rock ‘N’ Roller Derby. As a special gift for New Year’s, I’m letting everyone have it for free – click here to download!

Track listing for DeafGeoff’s Rock ‘N’ Roller Derby:
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