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Joseph Gordon-Levitt covers Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance

September 17, 2010

No, that wasn’t a typo. Yes, I’m sure.

Ladies, he made us believe in baseball in Angels in the Outfield. He won us over in 10 Things I Hate About You. He stole our hearts in 500 Days of Summer. He made us swoon in Inception (oh, those suits!). Now, he makes us go gaga.

My buddy over at TheCre8ive filled me on the video of Joseph Gordon-Levitt doing a cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance as part of’s “Summer in the City,” so I can’t take credit for the find, but my life is exponentially better now that I’ve added this to my repertoire. (I wonder, is there anything this guy’s bad at?) Also found out from this video, Lady Gaga dropped three Alfred Hitchcock references in one of her verses. Who knew?

I think I’m going to make a playlist of all my favorite covers of Bad Romance because this one and folk-rock singer-songwriter Lissie taking a stab at it really make me appreciate the song that much more.


Colin Smith makes his solo debut with The Wilderness

August 31, 2010

Are lead singers born with a specific gene or extra chromosome that forces them to take a solo hiatus from their band mates and go at it alone? Or is just a rite of passage in the music industry? Dave Matthews did it. Brandon Flowers is doing it. Colin Smith, the lead singer for the Dublin alt-rock band MRNORTH, is also following suit.

Colin takes the term singer/songwriter, strips away the sticky-sweet overtones, and boils it down to its most basic, literal sense. He writes songs. He sings those songs. (Even his name is simple and to the point. Colin Smith: You don’t get more basic than that.) All he needs is an acoustic guitar — but a knack for catchy, intriguing lyrics and surprising harmonies doesn’t hurt his cause either; his debut alum, The Wildness, is true testament to that. And once you’ve streamed through the 10 tracks, Colin Smith goes from just another face in the crowd to a name you’ll probably never forget.

The opening track, “Love,” starts off simple as an acoustic ballad. It leaves you aching for more. You feel the temperature rising. At 2 minutes in, you’re hit with it full force. Even though it starts off slow, the good stuff at the end was totally worth the wait. Take a listen for yourself and watch the video below.

While “Love” sets the tone for the rest of the album, it’s far from the song that leaves the biggest impression. The follow-up “Scratch” takes a harder approach, showing off an impressive range of vocals that are easily his selling point. But after giving the album a once over, the raw truth of  “Drunks prefers Lies” was stuck on repeat in my head.

Like most singer/songwriters, Colin leads with his emotions, emotions that drip from ever nook and cranny of the album. His songs, which have an eerie resemblance to something you’d hear from Micheal Tolcher, get you to the heart of matter. It doesn’t even matter that most of them cover a topic that’s more than over done. The way he words it makes it seem like an entirely new subject.

Colin’s also more concerned with relating to his fans than having a heavy cash flow come in. Sure, that’s a line most up-and-coming solo singers add to their repertoire, but with, Colin, it’s believable. Just take a look at his Facebook and Twitter page and you’ll see an engaging stream of conversation.

If that wasn’t enough evidence, he’s letting fans bypass iTunes (and the $9.90 download cost), giving them the option to download The Wilderness free of charge from his website because “it is more important that as many people as possible are able to have, love, and listen to the album than it is for me to make 99¢ a song…” His words, not mine. All he asks in return is to blog, tweet, link, share, add, whatever his music to your network. Not a bad price for an album that’s repeat-listen worthy, if you ask me.

The verdict: Support your aspiring singer/songwriters and splurge on The Wilderness.

Introducing the Crusade for Multiple Admin Commenters. Join me, won’t you?

August 6, 2010

Facebook Page Admin

Dear Facebook,

I’m frustrated. And you better believe I’m going to tell you why.

I’m an admin for 352 Media Group’s Facebook page. But like many Facebook pages, we have two

admins. (Our CMO Peter is the other.) Between the two of us, we always keep the page updated and make sure we have a cohesive tone for 352’s social media presence. But there’s one thing that irks me about being an admin of a page, dear Facebook: Why can’t I comment as myself and can only comment as 352 Media Group on our Facebook page? You allow me to “like” something on my company page from my personal account; I can even personally like a comment my company makes. So, why are you discriminating against the comment itself?

What’s that? You need some evidence on why this would ever be needed? I’m so glad you asked.

Click here to continue to 352 Media Group’s blog Ranting & Raving for more on this post.

Lissie covers Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance

August 3, 2010

I love Twitter. And I love Paste Magazine. And when the two get together, beautiful things happen, mostly things related to all that is awesome music.

Scrolling through my tweets this morning, I stumbled upon this one from Paste Magazine proclaiming how David Lynch announced his love for Lissie with four tweets (in a row!) about the up-and-coming folk-rock singer/songwriter. I knew who David Lynch (Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway, The Elephant Man) was, but this alleged Lissie character was still a mystery. So, I clicked.

Best click of my day. No contest.

The post itself wasn’t anything worth tweeting about — unless you’re a serious David Lynch (or Lissie) fan, I guess — but Paste put a link back to a March post they did on Lissie covering Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, re-posted below. (Thankfully, this video isn’t as eerily creepy as its predecessor.)

Freakin’ amazing. She also does some pretty inspiring covers of Bob Dylan’s Ramona and Kid Cudi’s Pursuit of Happiness on her YouTube channel, and her debut album Catching a Tiger is worth a listen, though I haven’t given it a full run through yet because Bad Romance has been on repeat.

So, does it top Greyson Chance’s performance of Paparazzi at his middle school talent show? Probably. But I have to admit that I’m a little terrified of what the legion of Greysonites might do if I challenge his reign as Best Lady Gaga Cover of All Time, so I’ll stick with saying that it’s now officially a shared title.

Behind the lyrics: Q&A with Benjy Davis Project

July 10, 2010

Before they took the stage, the two rarely resembled people of the same ZIP code, not to mention the same band. Benjy was perched at the far corner of the bar in jeans and a baggy T-shirt, sucking on a longneck and aimlessly watching the 24-inch TV. Mic, being noticeably more hipster of the two, was sipping his red wine behind an array of T-shirts and CDs from the three musicians booked for the night’s show. When their set neared, he pulled out a piece of notebook paper, hunched over the table and began formulating what could only be their set list — and a good one at that.

But when the beat dropped for their opener, “Still Sweet” — a song I didn’t know until this set list since I bought Dust before they re-released the record on the Rock Ridge Music label — there was no denying it: Benjy Davis and Mic Capdevielle had chemistry you only see in people who’ve been friends since high school and band mates since the beginning.

Live at Jack Rabbits

I sat down with Benjy Davis Project before their opening-night show at Jack Rabbits in Jacksonville, which was the farthest east they’ve been. As for show itself, the 4-hour, round-trip drive from Gainesville paid off: Every note was worth it. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the venue. If you haven’t been there, Jack Rabbits is, literally, a hole in a cement wall in the middle of downtown Jacksonville. While Mic raved about fish tacos from High Tide Burrito Company next door, to me, there was nothing decent about the Jack Rabbits.

The punk-rock ambiance didn’t suit well for the band’s southern-folk sounds, and while the crowd that did turn out were true fans, there weren’t enough of them. Benjy, Mic (or really Rock Ridge), if you’re really looking to infiltrate the Sunshine State, I’d pull a Corey Smith and play the Friday night (Oct. 8 ) before the UF vs. LSU football game on Oct. 9 in Gainesville; the Venue or Common Grounds is calling your name. There’s nothing like heating up an old rivalry than putting Louisiana locals and Florida fanatics in one room with some good music. Hell, I’d even offer to help spread the word across Gator Nation headquarters. Anyway, on to the interview.

Erin: What’s the difference between opening night and your 8th show?

Benjy: If we’re playing a weekend, you kind of get tired after the first show. But for this, I think our bodies trained ourselves to get a lot of energy, and we can coast it out a lot longer. So, we’re just busting at the seams. We’re going to figure out a good set list and try to hit the right one.

Do you usually play with a set list?

Benjy: Yeah, but if we’re just doing random stuff we won’t try and keep on, but for this show, we’ll try to hammer it out. It’s not going to be sloppy or anything.

Mic: And because it’s a new market, we don’t know what we’re going to receive. Someone might come out here and call out a song, and it might not be up there, but it’s cool that someone in this area wants to hear a specific song. We’d play it.

So true. You guys are both pretty laid back, but you have a lot of critics that say you just write about drinking beer and getting stoned. How do you respond?

Benjy Davis

Benjy: I’ve never intended to write fiction, and it’s not like we’re not trying to be all cool, or anything. I mean,

why can’t you have a party song? If you want to get a full-scale scope of what’s going on in my every day, there’s going to be a stupid song in there somewhere.

What do you think is the stupidest song to day?

Benjy: Oh god, Cajun Crawfish Boil. I hate that song; I don’t know why we put it on the record. There are some other contenders, but that’s life, you know.

And your current favorite song?

Mic: “Aftermath” is really cool.

Benjy: I’ve been playing “Slow Wind” a lot. Any new stuff, really. That’s one of the reasons why we keep writing new songs.

Have you written anything since Lost Souls Like Us came out?

Benjy: Not a word. I don’t even think I’ve held a pen since then.

What do you like more: touring or creating the album?

Mic: Touring is fun, but it’s work, you know. The studio is fun, and you are working on your own personal time, but that’s the fun stuff: creating things and listening back the first time. And by the time you hit the road, the album’s out, and you’ve been playing enough, and your ears are already used to it, so essentially you’re trying to create new things about it, trying to add into it and give it more of that feeling.

So, do you try to have a new sound with every live show?

Benjy: No, we sound pretty much like the album on tour. We’re not a jam band just because we have short attention spans. And we hope everyone else does.

Mic: We would look at each other and be like, “Do you even know where the hell we are?”

Benjy: “Are you down with this song because I am?”

Do you feel off the crowd when you play?

Benjy: Yeah, I’m so guilty of that; it’s a bad example. If it’s a bummer crowd, I’m in a bad mood. I just close my eyes and pretend like I’m surfing or something.

Mic Capdevielle

Do you have a preshow routine or anything before you go on?

Benjy: Yeah, we haven’t done it in a while, though. When we were doing it, we were more of a band. It does involve a huddle, but when just me and Mic do it, it just ends up looking like we’re hugging.

Can I see it?

Mic: No, that’s G-14 classified.

You used to play a lot of collegiate, fraternity parties around Auburn and Baton Rouge. How was the transition like to playing at more venues?

Benjy: It took awhile. We found ourselves in that (open-bar, frat parties) five nights a week, and we got burned out. People were throwing beer, and I’m like “I don’t even like these people.” They just scream for the last song of our set the entire time.

Mic: It’s always cool to do something like this because you have people that really want to be here. For the open-party shows, they’re there, but they’re there for other motives.

Yeah, I remember those type of parties. What’s the craziest thing that ever happened to you at a show?

Benjy: I had a girl throw beer on me. It was the first time in my life I’ve ever felt violated. It was song 2 or 3 in the set, and I think we were playing “I Love You.” I didn’t know who it was. I guess she thought I would appreciate it.

Do you usually go out a lot when you’re home or just like to stay in?

Benjy: Every day smells like tailgate to us, so when we do get home, we don’t want to go out and throw down or anything. I’m usually just hanging out with my girlfriend for 48 hours because I just hope she’s there the next time I’m back.

Mic: We’re not home much, so when we are, it’s good to just be there.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Mic: I like playing with remote control helicopters. I’ve got three of them.

Benjy: That’s not guilty! Not compared to mine. I could name a pretty big whopper one. I don’t know if I want to say it.

C’mon you have to say it now.

Benjy: Well, um, I read the Twilight series.

Really? How did you get into that?

Benjy: Well, my girlfriend was reading the book, so I went out and bought it, and didn’t think anything of it, but in retrospect the lady looked at me like I was pretty weird. I read it, and that shit just gets you like Harry Potter.

End note: Because of the lack of a back room — another strike against you, Jack Rabbits — the preshow huddle didn’t make an appearance that night, even after Mic promised I could join. And you better believe that I’ll be holding them to that the next time I’m at a show.

Mic Capdevielle, Erin Everhart, Benjy Davis

Mic Capdevielle, Erin Everhart, Benjy Davis

Yes! Free websites do exist (for nonprofits)

June 5, 2010

Is it considered a paid sponsorship if you’re reblogging a blog you did for your business’s blog? While I was technically getting paid to write the first post, I’m going to have to lean on the side of no since this is technically considered “my own time.” Rationalizing? Maybe, but I’m OK with that.

Gainesville’s AdFed hosted its Marketing & Advertising 101 for Nonprofits and Small Businesses workshop Friday morning at the Thomas Center here in Gainesville, and 352 Media Group’s CMO Peter VanRysdam unveiled the coolest thing to hit the web since left-side navigation.

352 created DesignYour.Org to give nonprofit organizations the opportunity to have a custom website with fully functional CMS tool, all without breaking their budget. AKA: It’s free, as long as you can prove you’re a legit nonprofit organization. You can read more this service over at Ranting and Raving, Helping Nonprofits One Free Website at a Time, or visit DesignYour.Org.

If surgeons do pro-bono surgeries for people without health insurance, why can’t a web design company do the same thing for nonprofits?

Going viral: Find me at 352 Media Group’s Ranting and Raving

May 21, 2010

A few weeks ago, I left book publishing in my past, packed up my apartment and moved (back) to Gainesville, Florida to take a new position at the web design company 352 Media Group, the company I coincidentally interned for in the spring 2009 semester. (Side note: Who knew that internships actually leading to full-time jobs wasn’t just an old wives’ tale told by old journalism junkies — even if the full-time job came a year after the internship ended? Anyone?)

If you’ve been a religious subscriber to “Is the Juice Worth Squeeze?”, you might have noticed this when my brief bio was updated to include “social media mastermind.”  While my official title at 352 Media Group is “Marketing Associate,” I’m operating under a jack-of-all-trades-type position, briefly bulleted as follows:

  • Grand poo-bah of the new website: With the launch of a new website comes piles and piles of updates/inclusions/content that needs to be managed
  • Social media consultant: Since Facebook has decided it now wishes to dominate your entire Internet experience, and it seems to be working, 352 is building social media packages for our clients based on Open Graph.
  • SEO/keyword/content management: I write. That’s what I do.  It was only a matter of time that I translated news articles into website content and blog posts.
  • Resident grammar stickler: I’m a firm believe that no one here knows the correct usage of the apostrophe. It is my duty in life to teach them.
  • I blog: You now also find me oozing wisdom over at the award-winning blog, Ranting &  Raving.

Click over there now to check out my first post: Choosing the Best Keywords to Increase Your Search Engine Rankings. Good keywords: It’s a topic that’s been discussed as long as Google has been indexing Web pages. (Yes, it’s still Web pages, even though it’s now “website,” but that rant is saved for another post.)