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December Winner Of Score SKINS Music Project Featured On MTV

MTV and OurStage joined forces again in December 2010 to kick off the “Score SKINS Music Project,” offering artists maximum exposure by getting their song featured on the mega-networks’ new teen drama SKINS. November winners Vic and Gab recently had their winning song “So Long, So Tired” featured on the show and now it’s time for December’s winner to take the stage. Introducing Unsolved Mysteries, the “mystic” songwriting collaboration between Jon Lynn and Colin Alexander. The duo lists Three Six Mafia, New Order and Keith Sweat as primary influences in their songwriting style, which they describe as being evocative of weird childhood memories. The guys caught the ears of the music supervisors at MTV with their song “You Only Live Once,” a bizarre yet catchy electronic / indie rock anthem. The song recently premiered on the Monday, February 28th episode of SKINS. Congratulations!

FREE DOWNLOAD: Needle In The Haystack French Cassettes

Sometimes when a band has a million members its easy to recognize. Arcade Fire, for instance, with its huge roster (we’re still not exactly sure whether its nine or ten) throws in sounds, instruments, vocals, hoots and hollers with such veracity into both songs and live performance that its virtually impossible not to recognize this is not your average sized group. While this week’s Needle In The Haystack artist, French Cassettes‘ musician count isn’t in double digits, six is still a lot of people to cram into a practice space— let alone a song-writing session. But the French-pop group makes it work, and somehow seamlessly conceptualizes songs like “Seahorse” with simple execution and clean transitions of what appears to be a lot of different views, like rolling vocals spliced with electrified guitars.

Check out the chaos that goes into a recording session with the French Cassettes below, and download the magic that comes out of it with “Seahorse”.

Neuman’s Own: Brett Loewenstern And The Revenge Of The Nerds

You’ve seen him lending his witty talents to the OurStage Magazine here and there, and now we’re happy to announce that Joshua Neuman will be laying the smack down on all things music in his own OurStage column, Neuman’s Own. Josh cut his teeth in journalism in the hyper-frenetic world of obituary writing at his college newspaper. Next, he became the Music Editor of Heeb Magazine, but after running out of versions of “Hava Negilah” to review, he soon became the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief. Music, however, still remained an important part of his life, whether he was in the shower or hanging from a poll at the Hunkamania strip club in Atlantic City, NJ. Get a daily dose of Josh on Twitter.

He’s Richard Simmons meets Lilith Fair, but somehow he’s still got game. Unassuming 16-year-old Brett Loewenstern made it to the Top 24 of the tenth season of American Idol last week. To be sure, he’s far from the best singer in the Top 24, but as everybody knows, Idol isn’t a singing contest—it’s a less-than-scientific experiment to produce that ephemeral cultural commodity known as the “pop star.” Nervous and twitchy, singing about acceptance and holding hands with his competitors, Loewenstern may seem too fainthearted for the fracas ahead of him. And for those reasons, it feels jarring to imagine the Boca Raton-native having the heart of an assassin. But what if Loewenstern is playing all of us?

It’s been four years since “Sanjayamania” was running wild, but for the public’s attitude towards freaks and geeks, it’s been a hundred.  After Sanjaya Malakar earned a spot in the Top 24 (the judges, at times, praising his performances to that point), the Indian/Italian-American increasingly found himself as the laughing stock of the competition. Simon Cowell increasingly bludgeoned him and mainstream commentators participated in the chorus of mean-spiritednes: Andy Samberg sent him up on SNL, Sanjay’s “pony-hawk” became the most ridiculed fashion statement in the show’s history and Howard Stern encouraged his listeners to vote for Sanjaya to undermine the contest. Sanjay took it all in, never fought back, and the public ate it all up.

But it’s no longer 2007 and “bullying” has taken center stage in American zeitgeist. And Loewenstern—or perhaps more specifically, the show’s ratings-obsessedproducers—can’t seem to call enough attention to the fact that he was picked on back in his hometown. When we were first introduced to him in New Orleans he confessed:

“Growing up, starting in about the third grade, people would pick on me.  I was never really invited to birthday parties and they would call me a dork and a geek. It was really hard for me…. I want to give a message to kids and bullies. Be yourself….” Loewenstern sang “Bohemian Rhapsody” at his audition, but when the judges gave him the thumbs up the show’s producers cut to a different song by Queen—“We Are the Champions,” the campy number that was also the anthem in Revenge of the Nerds.

Perhaps somewhat strategically, Loewenstern has embraced this role. When given the chance to perform any song in the world during Hollywood Week he chose an original he wrote about being picked on: “Every time I look in the mirror I see a stranger staring back at me/Wanna hold his hand, tell him it’ll be okay…. I’ve got my bulletproof vest and I am no longer scared.”

Then, just to drive home the point, during his post-performance interview he uttered to the camera: “I would like to say to the people that tried to bring me down, bully me…I’m done with being a victim.”

Indeed, watch a few Loewenstern performances on YouTube. He’s a lot more confident than he is leading on.

If Loewenstern increasingly wins over the public with his revenge of the nerds persona then it might be bad news for Jordan Dorsey and Clint Jun Gamboa—who the show framed as bullies-in-the-making during Hollywood Week when neither wanted to perform with Jacee Badeaux.

Idol is not taking a stand against bullies—it’s cynically and calculatingly exploiting the public’s desire to take one. In this light, having Loewenstern sit side-by-side with the talented Badeaux helped inoculate the show from the charge of bullying while ousting a competitor who wouldn’t bode well for their bottom line.

That being said, it’s virtually impossible in the current climate to imagine Loewenstern suffering a Sanjaya-like fate. Times have changed too much and the redheaded performer seems too shrewd to not miss out on playing this cultural moment for all it’s worth. Whether it’s enough to crown him the next American Idol remains to be seen, but to the bullies back in Boca Raton: he’s already had the last laugh.

Needle In The Haystack: French Cassettes

This week’s Needle In The Haystack artist French Cassettes hails from Ripon, California. And while we’re not sure if that’s anywhere near Indio, we think the winds of Coachella may have been blowing through, as whiffs of festival favorites like The Black Keys and Local Natives can be picked up in both their melodies and vocal stylings. The French Cassettes take it a step further, invoking both their moniker and Parisian singer songwriter influences.

Learn more about the six piece below, and stay tuned for more from the French Cassettes all week long.

For fans of: Arcade Fire, Cold War Kids, The White Stripes

Backstage With Kate Tucker

It goes without saying, but there are some pretty interesting and talented artists here on OurStage. We’ve been lucky to be part of the incredible journey that is the life of an independent musician, and you’ve been lucky in the fact that we brought cameras along with us. Starting today we’re going to be sharing a brand new video series with the OurStage community highlighting the highs, lows, inspirations and achievements of some very special OurStage artists. So sit back and relax, because you’re Backstage With OurStage.

Check out the first video below of singer-guitarist-songwriter Kate Tucker giving us a behind-the-scenes look at her life and music and offering insight into growing up in a family of truck drivers, what inspires her and winning an opening spot at LILITH 2010.

 


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