Folk-rock? Roots-rock? The gentlemen of Darlingsideweren’t too sure about either of those monikers as it relates to their music, and so they became the Northeast’s top “string-rock” outfit. Call it whatever you want, but we took notice of this band after they placed at #1 in the OurStage Rock channel twice, with an additional five Top 10s, four Top 40s, an Editor’s Pick, and a two-week appearance in the Best of the Best Top 20.
But what finally made Darlingside a lasting favorite was stumbling upon a video performance of their song “Blow The House Down,” recorded live back in 2010. “String-rock” starts to make more and more sense, as these guys clearly aren’t just a folky act leaning more heavily on the bluegrass side of things. The strings they employ have a more classical tint to them. The tension created between that proper school of music and their otherwise loose – and indeed rootsy – melodic vibe.
And we’re suckers for frontman-bassists. Especially with that Rickenbacker. So please check out Darlingside, our Artist of the Week.
Instead of “Artist of the Week,” this post should be titled, “Artist You Are Hearing All Over Commercial Pop Radio.” Unfortunately, making that latter a reality is not directly within our powers. It’s also a little wordy, and so we announce that our Artist of the Week is the incomparable Brittany Campbell.
Campbell is a singer, songwriter, and producer from New York. Sure, that describes a hundred thousand people. Campbell is better than them. Her music is the perfect storm of pop, soul, R&B, and rock. She cites Amy Winehouse, Blondie, Joni Mitchell, and Jimi Hendrix as influences. Do you really not want to get on that train? Is that how you want to live your life? Get it together, do the right thing, and listen to these songs.
Our latest Artist of the Week is The Delorians. We were captivated by this band the moment we discovered their track “Attacked By A Panther,” a track really unlike anything else we’ve heard on OurStage.
The band, out of Louisville, Kentucky, cites a wide range of influences, including but not limited to “‘classical’ music.” It’s not a surprise to see a number of ‘60s acts, from The Kinks to The Crystals, on their list. Don’t think that this is another throwback pop act, though. Their sound is indeed retro, but difficult to pin on a certain era. It’s romantic, spooky, grand, but simultaneously fuzzy and somewhat lo-fi. Yet it’s not garage rock. There are sweeping elements from the pre-rock and roll era of pop, filtered through the ‘60s and into ‘70s glam. In fact, some of their songs evoke very early Bowie, himself a student of the music-hall vocalists of the ‘40s and ‘50s. Perhaps the band has summed it up best in their one-line bio: “The Deloreans are like Sinatra in Vegas, David Lynch, and being at the beach.”
It is once again Search For The Coldest time, when our friends at Coors Light® invite MCs from across the country to show what they’ve got for the chance to be crowned COLDEST MC. Naturally, our thoughts turn to last year’s winner, Felony Fame (aka Propane Fame), who made it to the top spot on the strength of his track “Beastie Boy” and, of course, his formidable lyrical skills and ability to deliver in a live performance. Since his win in 2012, Felony Fame has been on the rise and so we’re happy to name him this week’s OurStage Artist of the Week. Coming to us from North Carolina, by way of New Jersey, Fame has a distinct sound, with a gift for rhymes and compelling imagery backed by rich sonic textures and off-kilter beats that keep listeners hooked. No wonder he’s been featured in Hip Hop Weekly, Source, XXL, and on Cam’Ron‘s U.N. presents: Heat In Here Vol. 1 and Funk Master Flex‘s IFWT: Indie Vol. 1. Hear what it’s all about:
Who would suspect that America’s best hope in fending off the vibrant young hordes of Arctic Monkeys, Fratellis, Subways, and Bloc Partys from overseas would spring not from, say, Brooklyn, but instead from Sarasota, Florida? A hopeful nation should be turning their eyes to that city’s very own The Wallies, an indie rock band with the fire, visceral appeal, and goddam great songs to stand up against any frenetic guitar chargers. Singer Neven Skoro (who, okay, originally hails from Croatia) has a casual delivery that compliments the urgency of the band, in contrast to so many singers who struggle to keep pace with the charging, post-punk smash being laid down around them. If The Strokes all took uppers and Julian Casablancas stayed down on Quaalude level, you’d have something like The Wallies.
In the past six months, OurStage, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and the OurStage community of fans have given three talented, unsigned artists the incredible, career-changing chance to show what they’ve got by featuring them as the musical guest on Kimmel’s hit late-night show. Now go backstage with the artists in these exclusive clips, as they tell their stories and prepare for their moment in the national television spotlight.
As champions of new music discovery, we often feature neophyte artists in this slot; artists just starting their careers, making new, intense, and immediate music of all kinds. Artists with serious longevity are harder to come by. Bands that stay together for a long time often lose that spark, even when the material remains good.
Then there’s The Figgs, who just celebrated their 25th year together (they formed as teens in Saratoga Springs, NY), and who are still making vibrant, creative, and constantly evolving pop music that transcends time and age, putting many a young, hyped-up indie band to shame.
Having recently released The Figgs Anthology: 1000 People Grinning, the band can look back at a career that includes 12 studio albums, two live albums, several EPs and singles, and a slew of side projects (members have played with Soul Asylum, NRBQ, and Tommy Stinson, and the group has had a long-running stint as Graham Parker‘s backing band). Remarkably, the last few records the band has released have been their best. Where other bands become complacent in time, The Figgs have become a lean, confident, powerful unit, taking creative risks to achieve frequent moments of pop perfection. Their sound is clean and simple, but not unadorned. The lyrics are entertaining, insightful, funny, ironic, self-referential. They are indeed known as a pop band, because the songs are most often quick and to the point, but few bands playing live today rock as hard. Most importantly, they know the groove intimately – feeling it is obviously priority one for The Figgs. And that is timeless.
They are not a new band, but you might not know them. So we invite you to discover The Figgs.
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper is this week’s OurStage Pro Artist of the Week. You may remember her (a.k.a. Aly Spaltro) from such exclusive recording sessions as OurStage’s Songs of the Revolution or from such MTV Needle in the Haystack spotlights as this one.
OurStage Songs of the Revolution session:
The music of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper is, in quick summary, impactful, melodic, abstract, often stark, and drenched in alluring imagery. Usually armed only with her instrument (which can vary) and confident voice, Spaltro commands the attention of any audience.
In the three years since her first feature on OurStage, the initially impressive Maine to Brooklyn transplant has grown even further as a songwriter and performer, and has gained a growing swell of well-deserved national attention. This week, she releases her new LP for Ba Da Bing! Records, Ripely Pine.
In contrast with her prior releases, which were often home demos marked by sonic and stylistic experimentation, Ripely Pine is beautifully recorded – perhaps as close to ‘slick’ as she, or we, would want the music to be. The spare nature of Lady Lamb’s music is essential to its force – her voice is the driver and the focus. Yet somehow Spaltro and producer Nadim Issa manage to create a soft atmosphere around her plaintive vocals and un-adorned guitar that make it all feel quite lush. Between the ambient noise, layered vocals, and well-tamed reverb, songs like “Little Brother” are as potent and fulfilling as though they were fully orchestrated. Conversely, “Mezzanine” features significant string and woodwind parts, yet strikes as hard as any punk song.
New to the table are full-band songs like “Bird Balloon,” which swings in an ElliottSmith/Heatmiser kind of way, with a very Smiths-esque melodic turn in one section (since we’re doling out comparisons) and a very pretty break-down bridge. Yes, it veers pretty wildly, and that is one of the hallmarks of the record, and one of Spaltro’s unique talents – she is quite an arranger. While some songs remain simple, they rarely have easily classifiable verse-chorus-bridge parts, and the more complicated songs are built with parts that are more like movements.
Ripely Pine is bizarre and beautiful, the fully realized sound of a musical thinker whose output could be described as joyous, despite its often melancholy imagery and its frankly pained and raw delivery. It is simply a thrill to listen to music so unpredictable and in love with music itself.
This week’s Pro Artist of the Week Blondfire have released a new video for their smashing song “Where The Kids Are.” Directed by Andrew Renzi (who recently had his short film Karaoke! showcase at Sundance and had his feature Franny workshopped at the Sundance Writer’s Lab), the video mimics the smooth transitions of youth via the logic of dreams. How did I get from the car to the party? Well, there was this ladder hanging over my head…
It really is rather beautiful to look at and it compliments the song’s lyrics nicely. And, of course, the song is great.
Fans of MGMT and Metric will find a lot to love in the brother-sister team of Erica and Bruce Driscoll. As Blondfire, they explore sonic territory in the mode of the aforementioned bands, but with a special energy, powerful lyrical imagery, and especially catchy grooves.
Clinton Sparks is blowing up. From producing Lady Gaga, Pitbull, and so many more, to being lowered via helicopter into his own “Awesome Party” at The Palms in Las Vegas (and pretty much everything in between), the man has arrived. He’s a 360 degree personality, making it happen for other artists and for himself, starting in earnest with his September 2012 single “Watch You.”
Now he’s got a new video and a third edition of his My Awesome Mixtape, and dozens of new projects on the horizon. He came into our studio last week to talk about how he got to where he is, how music became his life, what’s next for him, and what advice he has for aspiring artists. Here is part one of our two-part interview – look for part two on Monday. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for a chance to win a copy of My Awesome Mixtape 3.