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Generation DIY: This Is Your Year!

OSBlog02_GenDIY_MASTER_01So you’re looking for a way to further your career as an independent artist? Not sure which label is right for you, or if a label is even a possibility? Well, you’ve come to the right place. This blog will hold all the necessary tools that you’ll need to build that beautiful ship and set a course to sail on. Your music career, full steam ahead.

Here you will find weekly updates full of tips ranging from how/where to showcase your music, to different marketing tools to push your group past the local threshold and into the industry. And now that we’ve hit the digital age with full force, making an imprint on the online community is a must to survive. Start off with researching different networking sites such as your defaults: MySpace, Facebook, Twitter. Other sites you can check out and upload your music to are OurStage, Buzznet, Purevolume (just to name a few). Working on these different sites will help you showcase your music to different parts of the nation and world, expanding your digital fanbase to create the “buzz” needed to tour and gain that much deserved exposure. Next week’s post will go more into depth about different ways to utilize these Web sites without “burdening” your fans while keeping yourself proactive and fresh in the game.

With this sole purpose, this blog is here to spark some creativity; these are but building blocks, it’s up to you to build your city.

Welcome to Generation D.I.Y.

Backtracking Forward: Special DJ Clearance

OSBlog02_BktrkFWD_DJClearanceTraveling by plane with equipment and gear can be a stressful and expensive task for many musicians. With luggage surcharges, unwieldy and heavy cases and the fear of lost or damaged goods looming over one’s head, embarking on a tour may seem like one giant headache. With a little luck and a whole lot of smooth talking though, a situation can turn from bad to outstanding in a matter of seconds.

Continue Reading Special DJ Clearance

iROCK: Charged And Ready To Rock!

OSBlog02_iRock_MASTER_01With a new year ahead of us, the rock genre is still keeping its high pace with artists emerging from every nook and cranny across our nation, as well as the seasoned rockers spicing up our lives with expected new releases. As many of you know, the lines around rock have been blurred over the years with the emergence of sub genres like indie rock, electro rock, dance-rock, death rock, emo rock, etc. It’s not so easy to decipher what genre most bands are apart of (unless you check their MySpace page to see what they put down, of course), but this blog is here to help you rockers out there find your niche.

Continue reading ‘iROCK: Charged And Ready To Rock!’

Omnivore’s Delight 11: Volkova Sisters

OSBlog02_Omnivore_MASTERNeither member of the Volkova Sisters duo has the last name of Volkova and only one of them could actually be a sister, but like the fictional characters they take their name from, they are quite skilled at expressing themselves through an artistic medium. Dalma Berger and Daniel Sandor both rose to musical prominence through the well known Hungarian Rock/Folk/Trip Hop outfit Esclin Syndo, and recently decided to branch out with their own side project, giving each one the chance to write unrestricted for the first time in their lives (instead of merely lending musicianship). The band’s mission statement reads something like an attempt reinvent shoegaze music using electronic and 80s sounds, though with such a funneled objective, it’s difficult to determine their success.  However, it’s no challenge whatsoever to label this music as one hundred percent unique and intriguing.

IHJQZLRDSCXH-largeThe overwhelming majority of their material is eerie, tugging your psyche into a desolate stretch of hopelessness and fright. On “Going Way Down,” Berger’s full moon operatic howl opens the scene, accompanied by minimal percussion in the form of hand claps and effected bass, all growing in intensity until the beat drops nearly a minute in with Sandor’s devilish growl that invites the listener to “go way down” with him. When his lyrics turn to imagery of flames, the demonic symbolism of hell becomes unavoidable. A delayed synth riff, tinkering piano-like voice and melting Berger vocals enter one-by-one with the help of a limp bass drum, draining the song into its inevitably haunting conclusion.

l_84dfb0e73d6f42debdb7d46294366e9bWeather” begins with a heavily-doctored vocal riff from Berger who is quickly accompanied in unison by Sandor, and effectively proves the duo’s musical talent. Soon enough, Dalma’s layered falsetto pads the otherwise minimal set up of a syncopated synth riff and lavish trumpet line. When it all comes together, the sound is bordering on that of a shuffle or offbeat polka. As is the case with most of their compositions, these separate voices all roll into one smooth creation in the end— in this song’s case multiple voices and trumpets harmonize fluently.

Volkova Sisters are just now wrapping up their debut album, and, at the time this column is being written, only have 4 MySpace friends and 1 OurStage fan. Join the following so you can say you helped propel them into the public eye!

Backtracking Forward: Jazz Vinyl Fraud

OSBlog02_BktrkFWD_JazzVinylFraudDrama rarely strikes the record community. Besides the occasional scuffle between buyers and dealers at trade shows or the apprehension of a shoplifting hooligan, there really isn’t a lot of breaking news to report regarding vinyl and the law—until now. In October of 2009, a seller by the name of Nautiluso listed approximately 150 ridiculously rare jazz and classical LPs on eBay. Auctioning some of the most desirable jazz discs in the world, the sale caused quite a stir in the collector community.

Continue Reading Jazz Vinyl Fraud

Under Covers 11: New Year’s Songs

OSBlog02_UnderCovers_MASTER1It wasn’t until attempting to change a car tire on the side of the highway in the single digit weather this morning that I realized winter is here for good. It’s about time, as far as I’m concerned. Whether it’s due to my childhood indulgence in all things snow or simply looking forward to reuniting with family, I’ve always had an affinity for the wintertime. Conveniently, this fondness usually peaks around the holidays and start of the new year then I start to get sick of the permafrost and dead things. Still, my adoration for cold things, relaxation and looking ahead has been shared by many a recording artist over the decades, even by some here on OurStage.

LHFDVUZWWLRR-largePerhaps the most well known wintertime pop standard in this country is “Winter Wonderland.” Originally written in 1934 by composer Felix Bernard and lyricist Richard B. Smith, the piece has been recorded hundreds of times by such names as Bing Crosby and Bob Dylan. With these two artists in mind, it goes without saying that the various renditions are quite diverse, and that goes for OurStage interpretations as well. Pete Hopkins and his band have redone the song with warm acoustics and the ubiquitous sleigh bells percussion, not to mention a nicely-crafted solo and confident vocals. With multiple modulations and all, the song is unavoidably cliché but in that charming holiday kind of way.

BHKNZSAAOQJX-320x240I originally set out with the intention of dedicating this post to strictly New Year’s songs. It wasn’t long before I realized there are very few songs traditionally dedicated to the coming age. In fact, there’s really only one: the 400-year-old “Auld Lang Syne.” The song’s heartwarming lyrics and infectious melody are the two main reasons why it’s become New Year’s tradition in English and American culture.  Having mastered her talents through the “top echelon of musical theatre on Broadway and International Stages,” Racquel Roberts is the perfect candidate to perform an uplifting makeover on a ridiculously-aged song.  With piano, slide guitar, brushed percussion, strings and cozy harmonies, Roberts’ version teeters into the open-hearted soul realm, in a sense emphatically answering “no” to the question of whether or not old acquaintances should be forgot. She even infuses sound bytes of a conversation between two lonely singles with no plans for the holidays, a dreaded scenario many of us are all too familiar with. In good company or alone, Racquel’s rich rendition is bound to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Check out these songs and more on the OurStage Holiday Channel! The winner is being selected soon so make sure to get your vote on before it’s too late!

Backtracking Forward: Wanted On Wax IV

OSBlog02_BktrkFWD_WantedOnWaxIVIn my ideal world, everyone would have access to a vinyl press in their own backyard. Cutting discs would be as easy as ripping a CD. Until this happens, I will be digging in the OurStage archives each month to bestow upon the reader an artist whose music I would love to hear on vinyl. This month, the psychedelic sounds of New Jersey’s own Grip Weeds grace the virtual turntable.

Continue Reading Wanted On Wax IV

Omnivore’s Delight 10: Lola Maxwell

OSBlog02_Omnivore_MASTERMusic fans who are quick to criticize  mainstream hip hop are often hard pressed to name specific examples of what they consider to be “legitimate” hip hop. Sure, the quality of rap seen and heard on MTV and commercial radio might worry some purists, but there are still emcees in the game moving beyond the hype, infusing poetic lyrics and style into their rhymes. One such artist is DC’s Lola Maxwell.

Now kids, as seasonal gift-giving rolls around, it’s best not to judge the value of a gift by the size of the package it comes in. The same goes for people. Lola Maxwell may be only 5 ft tall, but she packs a verbal punch tougher than almost any up-and-coming rapper today. Two years ago, 20-year-old Maxwell entered college with the goal of obtaining JJNRYFQYCOPW-520x520 a degree in fashion merchandising. Judging by the outfits in her pictures, she is still very much a fashionista, just now with another dimension: music. She’s passionate enough about this new artistic development to dream big; hoping to revolutionize the way the female emcees are seen, and thrusting “real” hip hop back into the mainstream. Not to be confused with the people she looks up to (there are none), those who inspire Maxwell include legendary lyricists Lauryn Hill, Lupe Fiasco, Gnarles Barkley and Outkast. Her own music sounds like a spunky mixture of all these things: confident enough to wade through the ego-tripping, male-dominated landscape, but not overly arrogant. More often than not, she sounds like a relaxed college kid with her eyes on the road ahead:

“Chill for a second let my rhyme/ ridin’ my lovely Honda, yeah 95/ plus one smackin’ on some bubble gum/ aviators driftin’ out to the sun/ sittin’ in my eyes grubbin’ on some Mickey fries/ focus on the road to my fame I reprise.”

And at other times, acting like she’s already made it:

“Welcome to my world where I keep it so ravishing/ Imaginin’ the competition lookin’ like my faded denim/ no color let my words go head and hover over your heads like a halo/ I’m high up like the yayo”

WDOFVGJWRSSM-520x520Her lyrics are accentuated by some pretty killer beats, all composed by peers with ostensible musical knowledge. The soothing “Southside Driftin” walks on stilts via a staccato trumpet riff and march like snare while vibes glue everything together in the background. The sultry “Sour Amaretto” is the closest pastor-daughter Maxwell gets to a love song, and is supported by choppy rhythm and vocal harmonies.

For now, Lola is focusing on recording more material for her mixtapes and rapping around the DMV whenever she gets the chance. If you live in the greater DC area, check her out before it starts costing you money!

Backtracking Forward: Humble Beginnings

OSBlog02_BktrkFWD_HumbleBeginnings For the countless number of bands that have formed, performed and faded away over time, only a small fraction of musicians have gone on to achieve greater notoriety with another band or solo career. With “Humble Beginnings,” I will explore the early years of various groups that fostered the talent of a musician who went on to become a household name. Initial recordings are sometimes swept under the rug  of obscurity while others are embraced  and re-released. Though times have changed and the music industry is remarkably different, it doesn’t change the fact that everyone needs to get their start somewhere. Today we look at the first long players by Billy Joel and Max Weinberg.

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50 States in 50 Weeks… Week 27: Utah


Fun Facts:  State Motto: Industry, State Song: “Utah, We Love Thee,” State Cooking Pot: Dutch Oven

Home of: David Archuleta, Jewel, The Used

The Venues:

DRlogo2Originally from a neighboring state, this writer has been privy to the geologic jewels Utah has to offer for years. When these spectacular canyons and desert rock formations are combined with outdoor music festivals, the result is breathtaking. The Desert Rocks Music Festival (hosting more styles than just desert rock) is a 2 day camping festival located in the desert outside Moab with a past roster that includes The Derek Trucks Band, Del The Funky Homosapien, Hot Buttered Rum, Alkoholics, and The Motet. Though subject to inclement weather (such as flash floods literally washing tents away forever), this small festival in the middle of nowhere (just follow the directions down the dirt road) is bound to be a good time if you can find it!
Continue reading ’50 States in 50 Weeks… Week 27: Utah’


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