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Showing posts from December, 2016

My Favorite VoicePlay Videos from 2016

Once again I've gone and saved the best, i.e. my absolute favorites, for last. If I were to make a royal court out of my favorite artists, VoicePlay would be King. Given the way that they have catapulted themselves into that position this year, it seemed only right to end 2016 with them. After all, I did write about them 22 times this year - this post included. Granted, some of those weren't exclusively VoicePlay, but still. I think it's safe to say that my love for this group is pretty well documented!

One of my favorite parts of 2016, aside from the guys themselves, has been the friendships that I've gotten to make because of them. I'm slowly getting to know more VoicePlayas and I know I've said it before, but this is a wonderful group to be a part of. We might be different in many ways, but we can bond over a love for a group. This love is always supportive and fun and it doesn't just extend to the guys, but also to anyone who considers themselves a fan.

My Favorite Home Free Videos from 2016

Continuing my little series on my favorite music videos of the year, we have Home Free. It was a good year for Home Free, albeit one that came with a brief period of uncertainty as we adjusted to the revelation that Chris would be leaving and Adam Chance would be coming in. But as I've said on here more than once, this worked out about as perfectly as it could have. Chris is doing great things and Chance fits in seamlessly. I say this with absolutely no disrespect intended towards Chris, but in a way it feels like Chance has always been there. That's how well he fits in.

The men of Home Free definitely gave their Home Fries a lot to be happy about. All of the videos they released were wonderful. So much so that trying to narrow it down to five felt pretty impossible. So, what did I end up doing you ask? Narrow it down to seven. Which is almost half of the videos they put out in 2016, but no matter.

How about we get started?

My Favorite Hollens Family Videos from 2016

After deciding that I did not want to do a best albums of 2016 post after all, I knew that I still wanted to do something to commemorate the year. I first came up with the idea to highlight my favorite music related events from the year and you can find that post right here. While working on that, I realized that I wanted to do something else. But what?

Finally, it hit me. 2016 was a terrible years in some respects, but a great one in others. For instance, it was a great year for me musically speaking. I learned about some new acts that I've come to love. What's more, I ended up becoming a bigger fan of some acts that I loved coming in. So, why not find a way to honor those acts? And why not do so by highlighting some of my favorite videos of theirs from the year? After all, 2016 was the year that I decided to launch my video spotlight series. In fact, it was my love for the music video that first inspired me to start this blog in the first place.

The decision was made. Aside…

My Top 10 Live Music Experiences of 2016

This year I decided against picking my favorite albums from 2016. The truth is that I have way too many albums left to listen to and didn't feel like trying to do a mass listening of them all like I did last year. Instead, I've decided to pick some of my favorite music related things - starting with this. My top 10 favorite live music experiences from 2016. Some of these are regular concerts and some aren't. I will say that while there were a few other great shows I went to this year, it was actually very easy to narrow it down to my ten favorite experiences. These were all shows that just stood out to me. I went through and made some photo collages of some of the pictures I took at most of these events. Six, to be exact. Out of the remaining four, two of them were musicals I saw. One was a show where I only got a few pictures that were, frankly, terrible. The last was a show where I could have taken pictures, but was too caught up in the show. Although looking back, I wi…

Video Spotlight: O Little Town of Bethlehem by VoicePlay

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful day, whether you celebrate or not. 
I am now more convinced than ever that the men of VoicePlay do in fact possess some sort of magical powers. Today's video is their most recent. Part of their Partwork series, this video features everyone but the Tony. One of the best perks of being a VoicePlay patron is that we get to see their videos a day or two sooner than everyone else. On the day that this video was released, I was chatting with a fellow VoicePlaya and friend about how ballads aren't really their thing. Then, later that day, an email arrived from their Patreon. Sidenote: their messages to their patrons are the greatest. They have a way of giving me the feels. Warm and fuzzy feels, to be specific. The one that accompanied this email legitimately made me "aw". 
A new video - this video - was posted. I couldn't tell you what song I may have been anticipating, but seeing that it was "…

Video Spotlight: This Christmas by Two Story Road

If you've never heard of Two Story Road, you're in luck because this is the 3rd time I've written about them. You can check out my review of their great self-titled EP right here and my video spotlight on their a cappella version of their song "Arson" here. But the quick introduction to Two Story Road is that they are the talented husband and wife duo of Brandon and Jamelle Fraley.

I've come to like these two a lot. They make great music and they're so entertaining to watch, as you're about to see. As soon as I watched this, I knew I was going to have to feature it. They're not afraid to be silly and those of you who know me know that I love that.

So here's their fun version of "This Christmas".

Video Spotlight: The First Noel by VoicePlay

Guys, I think we need to talk about Patreon. Specifically, VoicePlay's Patreon. Quick explanation for those of you who still aren't familiar with Patreon - it's a crowdfunding website designed to help creators create content over time. Unlike other crowdfunding sites (like, say, KickStarter), Patreon is an ongoing relationship between a creator and their fans (i.e. Patrons). As opposed to only raising money for one big project (like an album) over a specified amount of time. Patreon is one of the best things to happen that's happened to creators in a long time, in my opinion.

Being a patron allows you to support your creators in a way that essentially makes you a small part of their creating process. Whether you donate $1 or $100 per creation, you are helping your creator(s) do what they love to do. You are helping them make their content. Every little bit helps. 
Here's what's been driving me crazy about VoicePlay's Patreon. The website allows creators to…

Video Spotlight: Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer by Home Free

Ah, you gotta love the men of Home Free. One day they might bring you to tears with a gorgeous, heartwarming arrangement full of those luscious harmonies of theirs. The next they come out with something like this. I know many of the people reading this will have already seen this video, but for those of you who haven't? Given what song it is, it will not surprise you to see that this is a funny video. One that managed to keep my giggling pretty much the entire time.

Before we get to it, though, I want to take the opportunity to talk about their Christmas tour, a Country Christmas. I got to see it when they came to the TPAC here in Nashville and it was great. As expected. This was the fourth time I've seen them, but two of those times were sets at CMAFest that only lasted for roughly 40 minutes or so. I also got to see their Grand Ole Opry debut where they, like everyone during their Opry debut, just did two songs. Making this show the first full length Home Free concert. They …

Video Spotlight: Wookiee for Christmas by VoicePlay

If you happened to read my album review of ECHO's self-titled album, you know that I declared Geoff to be the Obi-Wan Kenobi of a cappella music. Not even a VoicePlay post and he walks away with a new title. That's because Geoff has played an integral role in this, my aca-addiction. Or, if we're going to go full on ridiculous (and we are), we could also refer to him as Geoffobi-Wan Castenobi. Castellunobi? Or...maybe we'll just stick with Geoff. That might be best. 
In any event, that declaration paired with the recent release of new Star Wars movie, Rogue One,  made the choice to write about this particular cover next pretty easy. Although VoicePlay, in true VoicePlayish fashion, almost made me change course. Again. How? By releasing a Partwork that I think is the prettiest thing they've ever done. Rest assured, a spotlight on that in more than likely coming. In fact, there's also a chance of a spotlight on their version of "The First Noel", but I d…

Album Review: It Must Be Christmas by Chris Young

Every time I listen to Chris Young sing, I wonder how it's possible for all of the country music award shows to ignore him. Oh sure, he has been nominated a few times, but he gets snubbed more often than not. I'll never understand it. He is one of the best male singers that the genre has to offer and all of his albums to date have been wonderful. He's a great performer and as nice as they come. So what gives? 
Of course, when all is said and done, Chris is doing very well these days. His popularity has grown so much since I first saw him on Nashville Star and it's been fun to watch. It Must be Christmas is his first Christmas album and it's a great one. True to form. That wonderfully warm and rich voice of his is on full display. He doesn't take too many risks on this, choosing to go with a more traditional approach. It suits him well. Very well indeed. 
So let's talk about each of the tracks. 

Video Spotlight: Home for the Holidays by ECHO

In getting ready to write this, I had to chuckle at how Christmasy November turned out what with all the Christmas albums I ended up reviewing. This, from a person who usually prefers to only listen to Christmas music in December. Yet here we are about midway through December and none of the posts so far this month have had anything to do with Christmas. Time to remedy that, I think. What better way to do so by saving ECHO's Christmas for the end of our little ECHO trilogy? The first two installments are right below this one on the main page. But if you're feeling lazy, the first installment about their album can be found here and the ECHO mishmash can be found here.

"Home for the Holidays" is a beautiful medley. The perfect medley to bring us back to Christmas, if you ask me. So how about we get right to it?

An ECHO mishmash

For this second installment of this mini-ECHO series or whatever you wish to call it, we have a mishmash of things. This was originally only going to be a song review, but where's the fun in that? Actually, I was thinking that this would be a good way to cover as many ECHO related things as possible. Because sometimes you need to go all out with something. In this case, that something would be introducing the world (well, my readers) to the wonders of this group.

We have an EP review, a mini-video spotlight and a song review all mixed up together. This is the first time I've attempted something like this, so we'll see how it works out. Go with it.

Album Review: Echo by ECHO

All a cappella roads appear to lead back to Geoff Castellucci.

I say this because it seems like a bunch of the a cappella artists that I've come to love have had something to do with him. Those of you who know the story of how I became such a fan of a cappella music know that it all began with a medley. A medley that was performed by Home Free. A medley that I would later learn was arranged by Geoff and his arranging and rhythm producing partner in crime, Layne Stein. A medley that sparked my love for Home Free which in turn led me to VoicePlay. If you've spent any time on here over the past couple of years, you are well aware that I am a full-fledged VoicePlayaholic. It was through Geoff that I learned about ECHO earlier this year. Geoff Castellucci, the Obi-Wan Kenobi of a cappella music, y'all.
It is here that I feel obliged to offer a word of warning for anyone who may dare to keep reading past this point.  If you choose to proceed, you must do so with the utmost caut…

Video Spotlight: Don't Stop Believin' by VoicePlay

Earlier this year, I wondered if Eli and Geoff were evil geniuses or not. Now, I can't help thinking that the group has some kind of weird magical ability. This year, I've been making an effort to plan things out better in an attempt to avoid having long stretches of time go by without any updates. It's worked out well. Some of the time. The rest of the time? Not so much.

See, I'll have my notebook full of ideas and make up a schedule that makes sense to me. Then it happens. Something great gets uploaded, more often than not by these guys, and bam. Schedule? Out the window. See, once again I was going to wait just a bit longer before writing a new VoicePlay related post. Once again, I had decided what the next VoicePlay post would be. And it wasn't this. I'll give the guys extra credit for this one: they also managed to somewhat change another upcoming post about them. This is, of course, entirely coincidental. It just happens...and keeps happening. Over and ov…