David Ramirez: An Introduction

While I’ve been listening to him for a couple years now, this week I’ve really been getting acquainted with the work of Texas bred singer/songwriter David Ramirez over the last couple of weeks.  As I’ve been reading more about him, it is clear that the reasons I enjoy him are pretty widely shared by his fan base. He writes and sings about real life. Plain and simple. Each and every one of us who has lived any part of life can relate intimately to his lyrics. I’ve found many comments online about his work, but the one I keep going back to is an article published last week by Vivian Nunez, “I want the love that’s found in ‘Bad Days’  . While this specific article goes a bit deeper into the love that Ramirez discusses in “The Bad Days” it clearly illustrates the connection that a listener has to his music.

When I was thinking about writing this post, it became really difficult to choose just a few songs to feature. It changed about every day or so as I was thinking of this. So I am go with those that I am feeling today.

As referenced above, “The Bad Days”, is a song about real life love. This isn’t a fairytale love that exists in pop songs and movies:

“There are gonna be days when the love is so thin

The days are a game that we just can’t win

There are gonna be days you might want to be free

There are gonna be days that you hate me

But hold on strong

Don’t let go

We’ll carry on I know we can find a way

Cause you’re still my girl in the bad days”

These words hit me every single time I listen to this song. This is the real love. I’ve been fortunate to see this type of love in both my parents and grandparents. It’s not easy. But the good days outweigh the bad days.  I think this is why Ramirez speaks to me. He sings songs about real life.

In a similar vein, “Shoeboxes” describes finding items from a past love. There is no doubt in my mind that Ramirez has experienced this situation in order to have written these types of lyrics:  

“So I suppose you’ll be in every song I sing

If not written in my words, you’ll be hidden in these strings

Cuz how could I ever forget my first love

My first woman, first truth, first child from above

But why do I hang onto your pictures

Why have I not just thrown out that dress

Cuz it kills me to see you, but it kills me not to

It kills me to remember, oh and it kills me to forget”

I am sure there are hundreds of thousands of people who can relate to  this, but listening to this song it is like he wrote it just for me as it speaks directly to experiences I’ve also had. Ramirez writes songs that are not just his…they are also the songs of the listener.

The song “An Introduction” has the same autobiographical stance, but is different both topically and musically from the previous two songs. In this song, Ramirez is found having a spiritual crisis, which is something I would believe most of us can relate to.

“My biggest fear in the world

Is introducing myself in the grave

After all my years living free

I don’t have much to say

Oh the longer I live the more I know I’m gonna die

And the more questions I have the less I want to try

Time was winning so many times I stopped keeping score

Tell me where to find the Lord”

I’ve never been one to listen to to music and not listen to the lyrics. So perhaps that is where my mind has been it over the last couple weeks that Ramirez has been on constant rotation.

Lyrics and Music

I am a sucker for lyrics. I love the music in a song, don’t get me wrong. The melody, the structure, unique instrumentation…but lyrics are what I come back to. Like anything in life, it is not universal, but I pay attention to what the song  is saying, and often will fall in love with a song just based upon lyrics alone. For this entry into the Sandy Beats, I am going to highlight a few songs with lyrics that have particularly struck me.

First up is a new song. I don’t have the confidence that @Begt has listened to this song as she  tends to avoid the subject when I bring it up…Folk Trio The Lumineers hit it big a few years back with “Ho Hey”. The song was everywhere. Just this year they released their first two singles from their forthcoming Cleopatra. The first single released “Ophelia” made me forget that we had been waiting almost 4 years for a new song. Their second single, the namesake for the album, “Cleopatra” has made it clear to me that the 4 years was worth it.

The lyrics that are particularly impactful for me are near the end of the song:

“But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I’ll be on time

And the only gifts from my Lord were a birth and a divorce
But I’ve read this script and the costume fits, so I’ll play my part”

I am not one to interpret lyrics as I think they mean something different to the listener, so there you have it.

As you may have noticed from my first post of the year, the band I am listening to the most so far in 2016 is The Strumbellas . Their lyrics just hit me. Their second single off of the forthcoming Hope is no different. In “Shovels and Dirt” the Strumbellas once again address mortality with the lyrics:

” Well it ain’t worth living if you don’t get hurt

I got a head full of darkness and darkness is good

cuz’ if we all die young and the we don’t get hurt”

Finally, NYC based Sharon Van Etten has proven to be a good soundtrack for me for the last few years. One of the songs from Tramp called “We Are Fine” has been one of my favorites since I first heard it.

“It’s okay to feel
Everything is real
Nothing left to steal
‘Cause we’re alright, we’re alright”

I’ve listened to a few live versions as well as the recorded version many times. Her emotion seems to come out each and every time.

What are some of your favorite lyrics?

The Feels

Music is my outlet. It has been that way for a while. There are emotions that are much better felt with music accompanying them. I had thought about titling this post “Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness” but lets be real, I am nowhere near emo enough to use a Smashing Pumpkins title for this post. I mean, I love the Pumpkins as much as the next guy who was in high school in the 1990’s, but I am a grown ass man now, so I won’t use such titles.

However, I don’t want to let you believe that there isn’t some “emo” in the post…but I’ll let the music speak for itself.

In listening to artists for the upcoming LouFest 2015 I found myself gravitating to Strand of Oaks. His music is a bit more “rock-ish” than I often listen to…but his lyrics drew me in. His lyrics on his newest record HEAL are very introspective and relate back to his personal struggles over the past few years that this amazing article from Spin outline. After spending some time with Strand of Oaks and the record HEAL, this went from a “I’ll see SOO if the timing works out at LouFest” to “Unless he’s up against Brandon Flowers I am seeing this man perform”.

I love the entire record HEAL, so it is hard to figure out what song to play, but “Shut In” wins.

I greatly slowed down my show going over the last few months. I needed to take more time for life. I had a list of shows I was considering, and knew that I wouldn’t make some. However, there was one show I couldn’t miss. After years (literally) of @begt raving about the John Butler Trio, I had to go see this band when they came through Las Vegas. I don’t know if they had ever performed here, so I didn’t want to miss out. The crowd was spectacular. Each time I go to a show that caters to a more hippy crowd, I am surprised to see the people come out of the wood work in Las Vegas. I am sure many came in for the show, but it is always good to see these people are around. I loved the entire show, each song was great and John Butler is one of the best guitar players I’ve ever seen. There was one song in particular which took me to another world. I think @begt texted me during the show saying that this song can change your life. I will say that I’ve divided my concert going life into two parts. Before I heard “Ocean” performed live, and after.

Here is “Ocean” from the Live at Red Rocks DVD (seeing him and Red Rocks would be amazing).

I am not sure how I stumbled upon AURORA, a Norwegian singer. Her songs are all very haunting as her voice is very ethereal. Her songs also tell a heck of a story. Here is “Awakening” from Running with The Wolves”. 

My favorite album of 2015 (so far) is Of Monsters and Men’s Beneath the Skin. It is my opinion that this record is leaps and bounds better than their first (which I also quite enjoyed). The lyrics have matured significantly and the music has become a bit more complex (while still maintaining the OMAM sound). I enjoy each song from the record, but my favorite is “Hunger”. They lyrics are devastatingly real.

Here is “Hunger”:

There is enough of the feelings for one post. Stay tuned for LouFest previews coming soon.

Happy New (Year) Sounds!

Happy New Year! It’s still January, so it still counts, right?

This year I’m giving myself 5-day mini challenges in order to make weekdays a bit more memorable than previous years. I wrote a bunch of 5-day challenges in paper and put them all in a box. Each Monday, I pull out a piece of paper and see what’s going to be the deal of the week. This week, I started on Tuesday. Why? I was stick Monday and I had left the box of challenges at the office.

Anyway, this week my challenge is to find 5 new bands. Bands I like, of course. When I saw the paper I got excited, but now, just mere hours later, I’m a bit worried.

There are so many sounds online… in the vastness of the interwebs. I already listened to several new (to me) bands and haven’t really liked any. I’m in for a real challenge here, and I will keep you posted.

Wish me luck. Or better yet, recommend me unknown sounds.

My Verano Sounds Like This

Slow shutter summerI’m a child of March. In El Salvador, March is the hottest month of the year. The cicadas come out and we all go to the beach. I am a child of the Summer. And I always celebrate it with music and some kind of art project (like that year when I documented my entire summer in film photographs). This year has been a bit different for me and I’ve been on rough path for a couple of months. I have been able to travel some, which helps me clear my mind, but I haven’t even made an official B Gutierrez 2014 Summer Playlist, or haven’t worked on any art projects. Well, I applied to a couple, but they’ve been rejected. But then, last night, when I got out of a store and the heavy hot air hit my face, I realized we are officially in the Dog Days. So I’ve decided to re-start things.

When it comes to summer music, I could go anywhere. I spent one entire summer listening to nothing but early-2000’s Latin-american reggae. And there was another summer where I made this play list called “Tropical” and it had a lot of old school bachata and vallenato, sprinkled with a little Jack Johnson. Then there was the Summer of Jack Johnson.. that playlist was called “Pacific Love,” but it was just all Jack’s music with (maybe) Bob Marley’s Legend included. I’m not even kidding.

Then, in 2010, I discovered Mausi. That was the year I had Rye Rye’s “Sunshine” on repeat until Mausi came to my rescue with the gem that is “Sol.”

If you don’t get happy with that video/song combo, I don’t think we can be friends. The song alone, which was created for that specific video, is amazing. I read (here) that this is what started Mausi. They took a trip to Italy and then edited down the video to 3 minutes, then created a song from it. And because of the Internet, they are now a band. Pretty amazing, right? No wonder I couldn’t find anything else by them when I got super obsessed with Sol.

Mausi has continued creating summer jams. And they have so many mixes and remixes… It’s a wonderful world to get lost in. I wish I had access to all of their material. Here are the rest of the original songs:

And their latest summer jam “My Friend Has A Swimming Pool”

As I told you, I have plenty of other summer jams, but this season has been odd. And Mausi has come to the rescue. So, for now, Mausi is all I want to share.

My car told me yesterday at lunch that it was 99*F outside. My car tends to exaggerate when it comes to heat, so it was probably a few degrees under that. The air has been heavy with this Southern humidity and it feels healing. So here’s to celebrating the rest of the season of the sun!

The Sounds of Summer

I know that I owe you and the world a wrap up of May. And trust me, I am working on it. But in the meantime, lets talk summer songs. Summer starts on Friday, so what better way to start off right with some amazing tunes for the upcoming season. We also want to know your summer songs… and @begt, @bernard and I are going to share with you our songs of summer.

So here I go…

I know this song came out this past fall, but it screams summer to me. We Are Twin is a an LA based Duo with international roots. Currently they only have a 5 song EP out, but hopefully have more soon. Off of their self-titled EP here is “The Way We Touch”.

Up next is a band that @Begt knows, but I just stumbled on to this spring. New York based electro-rock-ish Ghost Beach combines synths, rock, beach and a little bit of psychedelica to craft some truly unique music. I am excited because they are touring with Cherub this fall and will have stops in both Fayetteville and Las Vegas.  Here is “Miracle” off of their first full-length record, Blonde. If you don’t move around a bit listening to this song, I will question your humanity.

SoCal (OC) based The Colourist have a similar vibe to other SoCal favorites (Family of the Year, Grouplove, the Mowgli’s, etc) but clearly have their own sound. While this song could be called a song of last summer, I’ve only recently heard it, and this is my list, so this is a song for this summer. Here is “Little Games” from their self-titled 2014 release.

We are going to go across the pond for this next one. I was exposed to Lux Lisbon through The Twitter, and am so thankful for it. This Durham, England based 5 piece band has a sound reminiscent of a young Killers, but with a bit more of that English swagger. To be honest, I am a fan of all of their songs I’ve heard, but their new single “Memento Mori” is on my current rotation. I do hope this band catches fire and visits the US in the near the future. Here is “Memento Mori” from their forthcoming full-length Your Heart is a Weapon the Size of Your First.

Last but not least, my favorite Atlanta based outfit, Paper Lights, with a more slower summer evening reflection type song, “Never Let You Go”. I don’t know what it is about this band, but I am just really digging everything they put out. Here is “Never Let You Go” which is currently available on iTunes but isn’t on an album or EP at this moment.

So what are your songs for this start of the summer?