the Buzz for July 2012


Gym Class Heroes (featuring Ryan Tedder) — “The Fighter”
(from The Papercut Chronicles II) — The Fighter (feat. Ryan Tedder) - The Papercut Chronicles II

Now that the cauldron is lit — the creative process of which action was easily the highlight of director Danny Boyle’s otherwise oddly muted (if not downright droll) Opening Ceremony event, a massive comedown from the stunning spectacle that kicked off the 2008 Games in Beijing — and the initial contests are underway, the Buzz officially has Olympic fever. It’s a fever that only grows more intense whenever I run across this hopelessly inspirational tune, the smashing video for which features the extraordinary John Orozco, the Bronx-born reigning national champion in men’s gymnastics who is set to score a handful of shiny hardware in London over the next couple of weeks. Over the course of the last few Games, most of the spotlight’s white-hot glare has justly tended to fall on Team USA’s female gymnasts, but hear me when I tell you that, at least on paper, we are fielding the strongest and most roundly talented quintet of young men — including past Olympian Jonathan Horton, Cuban-born sensation Danell Leyva, blue-eyed cutie Jake Dalton, and that shaky-ankled wonder boy Sam Mikulak — that we have ever placed on the world stage. As ever, stiff competition looms from China and Japan, but with the team competition beginning later today (and concluding Monday, setting up what looks to be the most hotly-contested individual all-around race in memory later in the week), I hereby predict you’ll quickly see that these five men belong squarely in the middle of the conversation for gold. (Best of luck, boys; I know I’m gonna drive my beloved nuts with it over the next few days, but I’ll be savoring every last second of your superlative brilliance.)



Best Coast — “The Only Place” (from The Only Place) — The Only Place - The Only Place (Deluxe Edition)

So many musical love letters to the mysterious magic (and magnetic allure) of the Golden State, and whereas Joni Mitchell made hers bittersweetly poetic, and Dre and 2Pac made theirs an on-and-poppin’ party jam for the ages, Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno travel a more nakedly straightforward route, taking special care to punch up the peerless practicality of the paradise life. (To wit: “We wake up / with the sun in our eyes / it’s no surprise / that we get so much done!”) A perfectly harmless summer treat which I hereby predict my Cali-‘shipping boyfriend is gonna slurp up with an overflowin’ ladle.


W.G. Snuffy Walden & Stewart Levin — “Theme from thirtysomething
(from thirtysomething [Music from the Television Series]) — Main Title (Extended Version) - Thirtysomething (Original Soundtrack)

Today would be my thirty-sixth birthday, and while I pray I never become as whiny and irritating as the ever-yapping self-involved yuppies on ABC’s beloved late-’80s drama series, I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that the idea that I’m now officially closer to forty than I am to thirty doesn’t chill me straight to the bone. (True, you’re only as old as you feel and age ain’t nothin’ but a number and blah blah blah, but that number can sometimes be awfully daunting if you stare at it from the wrong angle.) Still, among the lessons to take away from the tragic events of this weekend must surely be: we gotta embrace all that this day holds, and live it, fully and completely. (Many, many thanks for all the birthday wishes on all of the Brandon’s Buzz’s various social media platforms; they’ve all made me smile, and I deeply appreciate the sentiments.)


Wilson Phillips — “Get Together” (from California) — Get Together - California

I’m finally getting caught up with these girls’ batshit wacky reality series Still Holding On (which ran for seven incalculably crazy episodes earlier this year on TV Guide Network, and which has introduced me to my new favorite catchphrase, courtesy of über-Christian Chynna Phillips, who uttered some variation on it in every single installment: “When the Lord is on board, anything is possible!”). The series has been infinitely more entertaining than the new record — Dedicated, a collection of covers of their collective parents’ (the founding members of The Beach Boys and The Mamas and the Papas) most memorable material — the series was ostensibly designed to help promote, and that has sent me scurrying back in time to 2004 and to Dedicated‘s soothing, sterling progenitor, a terrific tribute to the music that made southern California the mecca for an entire generation of war-weary artists, musicians, and soul siblings searching for the promise of peace half a century ago.


fun. — “Some Nights” (from Some Nights) — Some Nights - Some Nights

What, you didn’t think these boys were gonna be one hit wonders, did you? (What I’m about to say may seem like irreparable heresy — if only because I can’t quite believe I’m about to make my fingers type the words — but don’t you get a distinct Fleetwood Mac-esque vibe from the entire presentation here, as though this fearlessly talented Nate Ruess kid could be Lindsey and Stevie’s long-lost love child or great-nephew or somethin’? Time will tell, obviously, if these avant-garde pop-drenched punks — probably the most compelling breakthrough act in a year loaded with same — can keep themselves relevant and riveting the way their spiritual forerunners have for nearly four full decades, but go cue up “What Makes You Think You’re the One” or even “Tusk” on your iPod and then try to tell me your ears don’t instantly detect the unique DNA markers that compose this brilliant tune’s biochemistry.)


Nelly Furtado — “Big Hoops (Bigger the Better)”
(from The Spirit Indestructible) — Big Hoops (Bigger the Better) - Big Hoops (Bigger the Better) - Single

Summer is officially upon us, and while that abominable Ke$ha has apparently crawled back under the rancid rock from which she sprang (dare we pray forever and ever?), women are still ruling the roost at pop radio, as we seem to be settling in for a stifling season full of Katy Perry (whose wholly unnecessary 3D concert film has landed in theaters with a resounding thud this weekend, although — full disclosure and all — I’m crazy about her sizzling new single, “Wide Awake”) and that brilliantly irritating import Carly Rae Jepsen (whose wafer-thin, inescapably catchy smash “Call Me Maybe” has been playing on a nonstop loop in our home ever since A stumbled upon the video, which makes me wish harder than ever that my domicile could come equipped with whatever would be the aural equivalent of a V-chip, so that only music I explicitly approve of would ever have the chance to pervade these walls). But summer 2012 promises to not be a total loss on the top 40 dial, ’cause Miss Nelly is blessedly back on the prowl, previewing her fourth English-language album with yet another adventurous, typically bombastic ball-buster that once again — as though we’d forgotten! — re-establishes Furtado as pop’s most nervy maverick.


Matchbox Twenty — “She’s So Mean” (from North) — She's So Mean - She's So Mean - Single

Knotted, tangled angst has always been this band’s money zone, and even their more lighthearted tunes — think “Unwell,” think “Real World” — mask an unmistakably dark, treacherous undercurrent rumbling beneath their vivid sing-along veneers. So what a surprising, oddly enjoyable treat to find Rob Thomas and the boys marking the fifteenth anniversary of their brilliant breakthrough (and previewing their forthcoming fifth album, due in September) with this carefree slice of sunny summer pop. (A little disheartening to understand that you’ve gotta beat La Bieber playing the game on his terms, but if this piffle gets Thomas back on pop radio during the dog days, I’ll take it.)


Michael Kiwanuka — “I’m Getting Ready” (from Home Again) — I'm Getting Ready - Home Again

Think Adele meets Jack Johnson — with a peck of Wilson Pickett peppered in for garnish — if you absolutely must have a point of comparison. But there’s something wholly original about this kid, a twentysomething Brit ’bout to enjoy a massive breakthrough with his bracing and utterly lovely debut. A wrenchingly glorious triumph.