Suzy and The Swizzle Sticks Debut

I would go to see Susan Werner sing the alphabet. Last night, in a quaint Pennsylvania town, Susan Werner served up top notch alphabet soup. Through cryptic Tweets, Werner alluded she was going to participate in a show at Puck, a small music venue in Doylestown, Pennsylvania on Monday night. Details? Notice? Devoted Werner fans are not worried about details, instead they follow their beloved songwriter on a whim.

Susan Werner has an eclectic, albeit genius back catalogue. She has garnered critical acclaim for records like I Can't Be New and The Gospel Truth, penning classic popular songs ready for a new great American songbook and an agnostic's gospel/bluegrass spin on the gospel, respectively.

An accomplished pianist, incredible lyricist whose live performances weave wit and musicality effortlessly, so what brings us to Suzy and The Swizzle Sticks? I'm not even sure Susan Werner knows.

Most recently touring in support of her latest album, Hayseed, Werner's theme was agriculture. Jazz, gospel, farming. Mix in a few classical pieces, and you begin to understand why Werner fans didn't raise an eyebrow when she toyed via Twitter she was going to be in PA to "catch" a new band.  

Fans found Werner on a Monday night in a basement venue perfectly suited for the debut of Suzy and The Swizzle Sticks. One walked down a few stairs to find a dimly lit room full of tables with a drum kit and keyboard facing one another in the center of the room. The actual stage was in the background, and remained unused for the night. Susan Werner put her on twist on covers from the 1970's and a few 80's classics. Songs made famous by The Eagles, "Heartache Tonight," Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop," "Welcome Back" (Welcome Back, Kotter's theme song), and even Dolly Parton were included in the set.

Susan Werner encouraged the audience to sing a long, and by the end of the evening, it was comfortable. Good comfortable. Werner sat in the middle of the room filled with tables of people who were comfortable with singing along with their table-mates, or settling in to listen with another glass of wine.

Werner joked throughout the night, "Ah, it's a little cheesy, no?" She asked people to find her on Facebook or Twitter and let her know what they thought of the night, the name, "Should Velveeta be mentioned?"

If The Adventures of Velveeta continue, count me in for another Suzy and The Swizzle Sticks performance.

Find Susan Werner on Facebook (facebook.com/susanwernerpage), and Twitter (@swernermusic) for new, perhaps cryptic messages about possible future Suzy and The Swizzle Sticks' performances.

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PonoMusic: We Hear You Loud & Not So Loud, But Clear

A "revolution in the way people can listen" to music says PonoMusic founder, Neil Young. The PonoPlayer was unveiled during the 2014 South by Southwest Festival. It was an event like many, media ready with laptops eager to break any news, first.

Neil Young, and a new music player? It wasn't just any old festival keynote. Many involved with PonoMusic are calling it a "revolution" in the way a consumer will hear music. An audiophile and techie, I listened carefully. As it turns out, listening carefully is exactly what the PonoPlayer allows one to do.

Throughout the process of recording, mixing, and mastering in a studio, one hears the reverb of a crisp clash of a hi-hat or final strum of a guitar. That is, all of the subtleties instruments produce as they are being played and recorded, one hears during playback in a studio. The PonoMusic team created the PonoPlayer, a pocket-sized device, which allows listeners to hear their favorite music in stunning, as close to studio as one can get, quality.

(Photo: PonoMusic Team)

A high resolution master copy of your favorite artist's original recording is a huge file. While demand for portable music has increased, the size of the original file has had to shrink. In order to fit a recording onto a CD, the original file is compressed. In order to carry around thousands of mp3 files on our various pocket sized devices, the files are compressed more, squeezing most of the aforementioned subtleties and all of the incredible ear candy from the original master recording.

The PonoMusic team aims to give the music consumer the choice to hear their music with all of the original ear tingling goodness the artist intended, and heard during studio playback.

From the team, "PonoMusic starts with the best ingredients – artist-approved digital masters sourced directly from all the major music labels. Every artist you know and love, plus new releases as they come out. PonoMusic honors the music at the level it was created – it holds up a mirror to the artists’ original vision, reflecting it with perfect clarity."

Is it worth it? I was geeking out upon first listen. I went to Kickstarter, and preordered ASAP. The PonoMusic project was fully funded within 24 hours. Less than twenty days remain to take advantage of the perks of the Kickstarter campaign. Discounts on the retail price, limited edition "artist series" players are up for grabs (your PonoPlayer will be chrome with the artist's signature etched on the side), etc.

PonoMusic is a complete ecosystem. Purchase your PonoPlayer, which easily fits into most pockets or purses, and next the ear-tingling music. High-resolution digital albums at Ponomusic.com are expected to cost between $14.99 -$24.99. The PonoMusic team states, "For this price you get the best quality digital music available anywhere, you own these albums forever - they don’t live only in the cloud, but also on your computer and backup disc, and you can play them anytime you wish on your PonoPlayer or other compatible devices. We will also be offering many of your favorite individual songs. We'll let you know the pricing soon."

A music fan? It is worth a visit to PonoMusic's website to read more: http://www.ponomusic.com

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SXSW 2014: Musicians to Watch

As those of us in the Northeast region of the US shoveled out from snow this winter, we dreamed of Austin in March! The Buzz About is thrilled to be a part of another SXSW Festival. 2014 brings lots of exciting film, technology, musicians, and loads of people to the incredible city of Austin, Texas. We confess our excitement at catching Kendrick Lamar and sneaking a peak at Lady Gaga as they headline major events, but we wanted to share who we are most looking forward to seeing perform, and who we think you should know or may know soon after the festival ends.

Betty Who

Australian native, we adore everything about Betty Who. Her vocals, live performances, and genuine love and energy for her work is refreshing.
Check our tour dates and more info at bettywhomusic.com



Sohn

First caught Sohn live in the UK, and on April 7th, he releases Tremors, his debut solo album.
Look for tour dates, and more info at sohnmusic.com



Samsaya

Samsaya's energy and overall musicality are infectious.
More info: http://www.samsaya.com/



Incan Abraham

"World infused psychedelic pop" write Incan Abraham to describe their sound. It is intricate sound, but so easy on the ear.
More info: http://incanabraham.com/



Jessica Lea Mayfield

Minimalist? Occasionally, but she should make Kent, Ohio proud. We love Jessica's vibe.
More info: http://jessicaleamayfield.com/



Lydia Loveless

Lydia returns to SXSW with her signature cool country stylings.
More info: http://lydialoveless.com/



Tomas Barfod

Polyrhythm and pop? Meet the genius of Tomas Barfod. Nina K adds her pure vocals to the single from Barfod's latest project, and we are hooked.
More info: http://tomasbarfod.com/



The Last Internationale

New York based rockers, The Last Internationale, will bring their fierce guitars and haunting vocals to SXSW. Rock done right.
More info: http://thelastinternationale.com/

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This Buzz for You: Elizabeth & the Catapult, Like It Never Happened

When she sings, "I wish I didn't give a fuck," Elizabeth Ziman, Elizabeth in Elizabeth & the Catapult, smiles the sweetest smile you can imagine in spite of (or, perhaps, because of) such line. The track, "Wish I Didn't," is both a bitter and biting love song (and, admittedly, my favorite) from Ziman's album, and is a good one-track example of what to expect from Like It Never Happened: catchy pop, but with delightful incongruities that leave you wondering where this kind of pop has been.

Just as you don't expect a line containing "fuck" to come after the layered vocal opening of "Wish I Didn't," you don't expect the album's first track, "Happy Pop" to not be happy. It's in the title, after all. Yet, the immediacy of the hard, plucked, repetitive piano notes combine with lyrics about the music industry, expectation/approval, and listener consumption that are frank, honest, and realistic. Ziman is unafraid in this album to tell it exactly how she sees it--an honesty that's not always comfortable to hear, if what you're expecting is mass consumption manufactured happy pop. Her forthrightness never seems or sounds like a drag: while musical arrangements have a simplified feel, they are playful and playfully inventive. The tracks "Sugar Covered Poison" and "Please Yourself," for example, sound as if you're entering under the big top into a world of carnival burlesque and, somehow, neither sounds out of place listening to the album as whole.

Compared to the band's earlier releases, Like It Never Happened is more lyrically driven, as Ziman admits she "wasn't trying to be as clever or as intricate musically." This back-to-basics simplicity is emphasized in her choice to include a cover of Daniel Johnston's "True Love Will Find You In The End," set simply to Ziman's piano playing. The track's arrangement forces you to focus on Johnston's lyrics and song writing style, which Ziman describes as "so primitive...but somehow says so much in so few words." The same can be said of Ziman's own track "Someday Soon," for its similar quiet and ability to pack a lot into seemingly sparse turns of phrase.

Ziman describes Like It Never Happened as "organic, effortless, inspired, fast, and furious." I say, if you're one of many who's endured what seems an interminable winter, Like It Never Happened is a very fine, fun way to welcome your ears to Spring.

Like It Never Happened is available now.

To keep an eye on Elizabeth & the Catapult's performance dates, check out her website.

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Grammy 2014 Predictions: Who Will Win vs. Who Should Win

Grammy 2014 Predictions: Who Will Win - Who Should Win

The 56th annual Grammy Awards will take place this Sunday night (Jan. 26) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. We’ve debated the headlines; where are Miley and Gaga, will Katy Roar or Sara be Brave, and why on earth didn’t Lorde get a best new artist nod? Eight members of our staff sat over kale laced smoothies, and discussed our love of Kacey Musgraves, Neko Case, and Alabama Shakes, although we do not believe any will win in their respective categories. Instead, we came to an agreement on who we think will vs. should take home the coveted Grammy Award in the following fourteen categories...

Record of The Year:

Prediction - Get Lucky, Daft Punk
Should - Get Lucky, Daft Punk

Album of The Year:

Prediction - The Heist, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
Should -  good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick Lamar

Song of The Year:

Prediction - “Royals,” Joel Little & Ella Yelich O'Connor, songwriters (Lorde)
Should - “Same Love,” Ben Haggerty, Mary Lambert & Ryan Lewis, songwriters (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Mary Lambert)

Best New Artist:

Prediction - Ed Sheerran
Should - Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Best Pop Solo Performance:

Prediction - “Royals,” Lorde
Should - “Royals,” Lorde

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:

Prediction - “Get Lucky,” Daft Punk
Should - “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell

Best Pop Vocal Album:

Prediction - Pure Heroine, Lorde
Should - Unorthodox Jukebox, Bruno Mars

Best Rock Performance:

Prediction - “Radioactive,” Imagine Dragons
Should - “Always Alright,” Alabama Shakes

Best Rock Album:

Prediction - Mechanical Bull, Kings of Leon
Should - The Next Day, David Bowie

Best Alternative Music Album:

Prediction - Modern Vampires of The City, Vampire Weekend
Should - Trouble Will Find Me, The National

Best R&B Album:

Prediction - Girl On Fire, Alicia Keys
Should - Girl On Fire, Alicia Keys

Best Rap Album:

Prediction - good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick Lamar
Should - good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick Lamar

Best Country Album:

Prediction - Red, Taylor Swift
Should - Red, Taylor Swift

Best Urban Contemporary Album:

Prediction - Unapologetic, Rihanna
Should - Love and War, Tamar Braxton

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