Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Precious Night With Caley

Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams, aka "Caley", have been bestest musical buddies since they met as contestants on American Idol Season X, and last night they teamed up for a most enjoyable night of playful banter, music and fan interaction on the set of the hip new pay-per-view online music platform, Stageit. 

Both have done Stageit in the past, but this was the first time they collaborated on one. They nailed it, too. A 51 minute set-mix of their own originals and unique covers gave the Caley-crazed audience a lot of great material to instant message about. 

Haley was typically gorgeous as hell, and her voice was absofuckinglutely, posifuckingtively immaculate bell-to-bell. Casey showed he can do everything musical, with a mastery of multiple musical instruments, solid singing, and a very chill, hipster-doofus vibe that you couldn't help but dig. No manic, wild-eyed Casey here...dude was a total pro.

Opening with a half-serious, but charming, Monster Mash intro, they then transitioned into a most excellent cover of the Weezer's laid back groove Islands in the Sun. It was such great shit I messaged them as much when the song was concluding, and, groovily enough, Casey read my message aloud (in G-rated form) with a personal shout-out to the magnificent, beloved, hilarious, handsome, and unceasingly humble Kenny Poo.

Soon after, they performed Kenny Poo personal request, "Precious", by the great Esperanza Spalding. The song is one of my alltime faves, and they were BRILLIANT, with Haley nailing every note and Casey lending wonderful harmonies and upright bass coolness. I especially appreciated Haley looking off to the side camera before they started the song to say, "love know who you are."

I certainly do know, because, after all, I are, and I love ya back, babay!

Now, thank God I'm so unflinchingly modest, because, if not, one can only imagine how full of myself I could have become getting that message from the beautiful and talented Haley. Not to worry, though; my humility TOTALLY ROCKS, so suck on that, losers!

Another cool moment was when Haley gave a birthday shout-out to teen Halien "Janelleypoo". Clearly, there is something irresistible about the Poo army.


So much great music and scatting came next on jazzy/bluesy numbers like Haley's awesome new single, My Cake, and their beloved Caley cover of Hit The Road Jack from Casey's self-titled album, I was rendered virtually verklempt. Had to talk amongst myself for awhile. 

Topic: Caley: Occasional duet performers, or get in the fucking studio and crush out an album of amazing shit for us!!

Another major highlight came when they did a super soulful cover of a song I never heard before called Sail. It was so off the hook I had to hunt down the original by Awolnation on YouTube and check it out. It was so inferior to the Caley version I don't think Awolnation should be allowed to claim it as their own anymore.

OK, time for a negative moment, kiddies. Close your eyes and ears if you don't like any criticism of Haley, starting....NOW!

One thing that annoys the shit out of me is when Haley grabs a cell phone and sings the lyrics because she didn't rehearse enough to commit them to memory. That's what happened on Nightmare Before Christmas, and it's inexcusable, girl! Remember, preparation plus improvisation can create inspiration, but don't skip the preparation part, damn it! You CRUSHED THAT BEAUTIFUL SONG vocally, so much so I was almost willing to overlook the failure to learn the lyrics...but not quite.

OK, rant off. Those of you who couldn't read the criticism are welcome to return.

They adorably signed off for the night with a Monster Mash outro. Perfect ending to an event that left everyone longing for more. Sometimes Stageit shows can be boring as hell...well, there wasn't a second of that here. They were fabtuckulous, and I was thoroughly entertained the entire 51 minutes. It went by like 51 seconds.

I hope we get to see more frequent collaborations from this fun-loving duo moving forward, because there is seriously something unique and special between them. Great talent, great energy and great synergy. 


Poo out.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

TOP SECRET MUSIC REVIEW: Phillip Phillips - iTunes Session

SHHHHH!!! KEEP IT DOWN! This review is completely on the down low, as I've been notified by super secret suits at UMG that any and all media mention of Phillip Phillips' new iTunes Session is strictly prohibited under penalty of death by Miley Cyrus video twerking torture.

OK, now that we've agreed to keep this just between us, let me reveal the hidden truths you're not supposed to know about. Phillip Phillips, the new Platinum selling recording artist who was just nominated for an AMA for Best New Artist, and won American Idol XI, and is currently on a nationwide tour with John Mayer, secretly released an unplugged iTunes Session album October 8th featuring songs from his debut studio album World From The Side Of The Moon.

No, there was no pre-order sale or promotion. No, there was no press release. No, there was no mention of it on his website. In fact, there was not an announcement of any kind except a couple tweets mid day of the release by Phillip and his girlfriend, Hannah Blackwell.

The purpose of keeping this album top secret to only those who may accidentally stumble across it browsing iTunes remains a mystery. Had Phillip been an independent artist who was completely unknown to the general public, the release without any media or fan notification would still be a bit bizarre. Even unaffiliated artists give some advanced notice on social media to their fans and followers alerting them of the upcoming album release.

Yet, this remains for whatever reason absolutely unmentioned. Google the album under news and no media appears as of this typing 2 days after the official secret release.

Still, much to the chagrin of UMG enterprises, a lot of people ARE finding it. Right now it sits #33 overall on iTunes albums. That's an incredible number for an unannounced album with zero publicity, and is testimony to both Phillip's popularity and the quality of the album itself.

What makes this hidden gem so special is that it reveals the true depth of Phillip's guitar mastery, and the full richness of his vocal tones. The only song on World From The Side Of the Moon that captured this stripped down essence of Phillip is "Hazel", which is brilliant, and happens to be one of his two or three best songs. Now, we have a whole album of that stripped, raw acoustic vibe to appreciate and enjoy.

The setlist is a collection of 8 songs from his studio album, and 1 new cover (Crazy) that he's performed live several times. Best of all, his greatest work to date, the masterpiece of masterpieces, the greatest single song of all time, is FINALLY available on iTunes. Take Me Away is a song brilliant beyond compare, yet until iTunes Session came out it only was available via Target Deluxe CD, and that's not an easy one to find.

While the unplugged version pf Take Me Away loses the complexity and richness of the classical piano intro, the smokey jazz affect of a tenor sax, and the driving rock intensity of an electric guitar, the song is crafted and written so beautifully it still works magnificently when stripped to the bone of just Phillip with his six string.

One song that clearly benefits from the acoustic arrangement is Where We Came From. The album version got smothered in pop, but at its core its a meaty song highlighted by some very intricate guitar work. With all the unnecessary excess stripped away, it transforms from being just a decent song drowning in formula pop rock to one of the very best tunes on the album.

The only song that I felt took a small step back here was Man On The Moon. One of my very favorites off World, and the track I've long advocated to be his next official single, the guitar arrangement on the intro is a bit out of sync compared to the original World version and as performed on his live shows. Seems two guitars were stepping on each other to do a job that's better suited for one.

Oh, and my other pet peeve is that I love hearing the "Oh, oh, oh yeah" segue from the guitar intro into the opening verse, and that's absent here (as with his live shows). I love the way it sets the tone of the song, and implore P2 to toss it back in moving forward for ol' Kenny Poo's sake!

Overall, the album is deep, rich, fun, light, heavy, intense, happy, sad, pissed, and...well, very well balanced. You can't help but loop over and over again. It's infectious. Go buy it, but don't tell anyone else. Remember, it's very existence strictly confidential.

Below is the set list. Click here to purchase on iTunes.

  1. Where We Came From
  2. Man On The Moon
  3. Home
  4. Crazy
  5. Take Me Away
  6. Gone, Gone, Gone
  7. Hold On
  8. Tell Me A Story
  9. A Fool's Dance

COMING UP ON THE NEXT POO: Longtime Poo favorite Pia Toscano makes her big screen debut in the major motion picture, Grace Unplugged. Hope to catch it this weekend and get a review out next week.

Poo out!