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Songs Of The Revolution: Will Dailey

Oh my god, you guys, it’s time for a new installment of Songs of the Revolution! For those not hip to it, Songs of the Revolution is a series in which we capture some exclusive, stripped-down recordings by both established and up-and-coming artists as they tour through our town. We offer them to you as streaming video and free audio download. And it is awesome.

This week, we feature hometown hero Will Dailey. Will’s newest record, made with his band, The Rivals and released by Universal/Republic, has brought the singer-songwriter to a new level. In addition to being a regular on the Farm Aid tour and having won multiple Boston Music Awards, Will’s songs have been heard all over television and radio. After a recent gig, Will and longtime drummer Dave Brophy stopped in at Moontower Studio to record versions of an older song, a newer song, and a new spin on a classic cover.

Please enjoy.

Coat of Many Colors

Awkword

Lots of rappers spit about the spoils of their stardom—Bentleys, diamonds, Louis Vuitton luggage. Not many, and maybe none, have taken all that money they’ve made through record sales and donated it to charity. Except, that is, New York rapper and activist Awkword. His album, World View, featured contributions from artists in 20 countries and benefited Guns 4 Cameras, a nonprofit dedicated to ending street violence. And though his mission is serious, Awkword’s got a quicksilver wit that permeates most of his tracks. On the buoyant, reggae-influenced “Stay Spittin’, Stay Flowin’” he takes listeners through the chambers of the heart, from the vena cava to the aorta. Then, on “Colors,” he turns his attention to the color wheel, rapping “My blood is red, but I stay blue like Barack” over a Motown loop. Only on “Requiem” do you get a sense of Awkword’s intensity. “I’m here to lift you up / I can also take you down.” Stay on his good side; it’s a pretty inspiring place to be.

No Pain, No Fame

Se'von

Kids who grow up on the streets of Detroit face their fair share of temptations. Some of them, like Se’von, dodge the dealers, boosters, and thugs through music. The rapper lets the streets inform his hip-hop, without letting them define him as a person. His songs are infused with ‘80s rock and R&B, like on “Greater” where an electric guitar wails into a motivational jam. “I’m just like everybody else,” the rapper insists. “From the gutter, no coat.” Sometimes to follow your dreams you’ve got to fly the coop. Se’von uses auto tune and a simple piano line to detail his departure on “I’m Gone,” rapping, “Love me while I’m here.” On the shimmering “Heaven,” he follows up that request with another: “Let my words be an epidural.” We’re not convinced of the power to cure labor pains through rap, but if it’s possible, Se’von’s laid-back methodology might do the trick.

The Voice

Hannah Acfield

Most families keep a bowl of fruit on the dining table. Hannah Acfield’s kept one full of maracas, tin whistles, clap sticks, and harmonicas, which helps explain how the Melbourne artist ended up with a guitar in her arms years later. Acfield’s folk songs cover the stuff of ordinary life—the beginning of a new relationship, the end of a long one, and the little traumas that make us who we are. On the sublime “This One Knows,” the singer recalls the first blush of love with an acoustic guitar and warm, lilting vocals that show off her antipodean cadence. But don’t believe us—Gotye himself says that Acfield’s voice “engages you instantly.” “This One Knows” is summery melody steeped in nostalgia that’s best played while driving with the windows down. But not all memories are as warm. On “My Tomorrow” Acfield recounts a violent mugging, and produces a defiant folk rocker in the process. Tragedy and tambourines are strange bedfellows, but under Acfield’s artful guidance, everything’s in its right place.

Soundcheck: White Rappers Making Waves

The road has been rough for Southern rapper, Yelawolf, whose Interscope debut, Radioactive delivered less than stellar sales and prompted his label to drastically diminish its promotional support. Health problems plagued the emcee as well, with a ruptured spleen delaying both his sophomore album and a much-needed promotional tour. To make matters worse, he’s currently not very happy with his label situation.

“I don’t fuckin’ know anybody up there, not no one. I’ve never fuckin’ walked up in the building. The couple of people that I do know are friends of mine and that’s it,” he told HipHopDX.

“They obviously can’t have their hands on everything—there’s a lot of fuckin’ artists under the wings of a big label like that, so when you become part of a label or a situation that fuckin’ massive, you have to just really be smart about how you handle your business and make that your team in on-point with everything single thing and you’re paying attention to every single detail. If you lose that, then sometimes you get caught up.”

Despite the difficult circumstances, the Alabama native has released two mix tapes; The Slumdon Bridge and Heart of Dixie. If all goes accordingto plan, he’ll do another mix tape with Travis Barker and Big K.R.I.T. He’s also set to drop his sophomore album, Love Story along with a sequel of sorts, Trunk Muzik Returns. He has had to take his business into his hands, but it’s been a reluctant transition.

“I just don’t want to fuckin’ do business, man, what the fuck. I’m a rapper, I’m an artist. I pay my manager to handle all that shit. I don’t even like talking like this, I feel like a nerd to even be bothered with the business of it,” he said. “I want to be creative. I don’t want to worry with this shit. I want to fuckin’ make my music and tour and do what I do. Unfortunately, you have to pay attention to it, and that’s kinda like what I’ve been forced into this past couple years. All of that like, pent-up, ‘What the fuck is going on?!’ type of shit is gonna be coming out in my music and everything that I do. Even with the bad, it’s really fueling everything that I’m doing in a positive way because it’s only making me hungrier.”

Machine Gun Kelly is ready to release his debut album, Lace Up in August. Last week, he revealed his thoughts on the first LP he’ll release from the house that Diddy built, and promised some serious support from collaborators like DMX, Bun B, and Tech N9ne among others.

“I got legends on there. DMX. Me, Tech N9ne, and Twista on one track, the song everybody wanted to hear. Fuckin’ Eminem, I’m just playing. That would have been certified platinum…Bun B. Everyone’s really like legends,” he told VladTV

“Lace Up is a lifestyle. Everything I stand for, it’s everything my fans stand for.  It’s tattooed on our bodies for life. It’s something I will never explain to the general public because it’s something beautiful that you have to discover for yourself. You have to find your own meaning in it,” he said. “But the album is definitely one of the best albums of the decade and will be a problem at The Grammy’s 100 percent. Regardless if my singles haven’t taken off the way that we wanted them to it’s all a part of the journey because I believe that because I never caught that quick-winded hype I’ll be around for a long, long time.”

Once pitted against each other as competitors, it seems these two emcees have more in common than their skin color and affinity for rhyming.  Yelawolf and Machine Gun Kelly will be wowing crowds with new music at Guerrilla Union’s ‘Rock The Bells’ Music Festival in August.

Love and War

EarlyRise

“There’s nothing wrong with being different,” Orly Lari sings on “Wasteland” over a torrent of guitars and drums. And being different, to EarlyRise, means raging against the powers that seek to tear us down. Lari, along with co-conspirator/guitarist Raz Klinghoffer has created a leitmotif of unrest that carries over from one punishing track to the next. On “Wasteland” the bass gurgles, guitars shriek, drums thrash, and Lari’s climbing vocals offer the only succor from the storm. Every song is a battlefield. From the sinister slouch of “Become Mad” to the stuttering, crashing “Face Me,” EarlyRise delivers hard rock that’s as angsty as it is melodic. On the latter, Lari sings, “I’m not afraid anymore as I declare war.” You may as well surrender.

Lita Ford Cuts the Crap

OurStage, Guitar Player magazine, and Ernie Ball are teaming up this summer to offer aspiring guitarists a chance to win the ultimate Grand Prize. Enter the Guitar Player “Take The Lead” Competition by August 17 for your shot to win your very own feature in Guitar Player magazine, a year’s supply of strings and accessories from Ernie Ball, and more! Throughout the competition, we’ll be bringing you exclusive editorial content fresh from guitarplayer.com — enjoy!

“THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ME,” exclaims Lita Ford when I mention her previous album, 2009’s Wicked Wonderland. “It was out of my control. There are so many devices and plug-ins and all kinds of crap on everything. That’s not who I am. When I first started playing, I figured if I couldn’t cut it as a guitar player just plugging straight into an amplifier, then I should stop playing guitar. Effects, layering, stacking—f**k that! Just plug in the damn guitar and play it.”

And that’s just what Ford and producer Gary Hoey did on her new release, Living Like a Runaway [SPV/Steamhammer].

“Gary got me immediately,” says Ford. “So this album was all about what I love about pure and basic rock music. We did vocals and guitars first, to ensure we captured the bare emotion of the songs, and then we cut bass and drums. If playing to a click track took away from the feel I wanted, then we didn’t use one. The other musicians had to play to my time.

“I’m a real feel person, and it was so great to get back to that. In fact, seeing a Pink Floyd documentary on VH1 Classics really inspired me while we were recording. Their stuff was so real—they just went with what was in their hearts and laid it down. That was it. And they’d come up with this beautiful journey of music. After watching that show, I was even more determined that nothing fake or calculated get on this album.”

Ford used mostly comfy “old friends” while tracking Living Like a Runaway.

“My BC Rich ‘Black Widow’ Warlocks are so damn powerful,” she says. “Nothing beats those. They’ve got the beef for big crunch power chords and long, sustaining solos. I’ve got preamp switches built into some of them, and when you click on the preamp, it will blow your ass through the freaking wall. I also used my BC Rich Stoli vodkabottle guitar—which sounds like death—a new DBZ Bolero, and a Taylor Grand Symphony acoustic. My favorite strings are GHS Boomers, gauged .009-.042, and I use this bizarre-looking pick that Ritchie Blackmore once gave me. I loved that pick so much I used it exclusively for three months during a Runaways tour with the Ramones. Happily, Pickboy makes them now—they used to be so hard to come by. For amps, we used Marshall JCM 800s, Peavey 5150s, and old Soldanos. My cables are Monster Cable and custom models from guitarcables.com with kill switches on the jacks.”

After a recent and ugly divorce (“I left with the shirt on my back”) — as well as suffering through career decisions made mostly by her former husband — Ford views Living Like a Runaway as a heartfelt manifesto of freedom and empowerment.

“I’m free to pursue my dreams now, and answer to no one,” she says. “What’s so great about rock music is that there are no rules. You can do whatever you want. So, right now, I’m just being Lita.”

Published by Michael Molenda, Guitar Player Magazine

 

OS @ Warped Series: This Week On Warped Tour — Week 3

Hello OurStage!

This is Tour Manager James checking in from the Orlando, FL date of Van’s Warped Tour 2012. For the last month, I have been riding aboard the OurStage.com tour bus with Larry G(ee) and his band, as well as a few stage hands, and thought it might be a nice change of pace to shed some light on my day-to-day life here on the world’s largest traveling music festival.

Every morning, I rise around 7:00am and check with our driver (Jens) to learn about our arrival  time and whatever information he is able to offer about the venue. We arrive and I wake up Larry so he and I can begin promoting the day’s performance. We stroll the venue, setup merch, locate stages, promote on social networks, drink coffee, and sweat the equivalent of roughly two gallons of water before getting the day’s set times at 10am. Once that happens, the grounds become a rampage of managers and promo kids doing their best to get the word out about their act’s time. It’s hectic, it’s crazy, it’s Warped before gates.

Once the gates open, the real day can finally begin. The band and I regroup from our morning promotion then set off to promote within the gates until (and usually after) the performance. When Larry has somewhere to be, something gig-related to do, or when the band is in need, I’m there. When they perform, I’m there both as manager and photographer. On the rare occasion the day allows for me to have some time to explore the grounds, I do my best to catch as many sets as possible (most of which I’ve shared on the OS Warped Tumblr) and, if at all possible, shower.

Evening brings a cooler temperature, but our efforts never end before dark. I assist Larry and his band as needed, begin packing up our belongings, and do my best to catch a glimpse of the sunset before diving into some editing work on the day’s photos. It’s tiring, and most of the time you want to sleep for days on end, but the night Warped Tour crew BBQ keeps us up and lifts even the lowest spirits. It’s one of those rare moments when everyone from main stage to catering is really together, and not one has passed that’s let us down.

After all this, Larry, his band, the crew, and I return to the bus and exchange stories before bed. It’s a long, long day, but one you’re always excited to begin again in the morning.

I’ll be writing another entry next week highlighting my favorite moments of this tour, but for now, here are a few of my favorite images thus far:

The Constellations

Patent Pending

Mirk

Larry g(EE)

Avion Roe

 

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Songs of the Revolution: O’Brother

It’s that time again. New music revolution time. Every couple of weeks, we offer a new Songs of the Revolution session with some of our favorite artists, featuring exclusive, stripped-down performances and some free downloads. This week: O’Brother.

Atlanta’s O’Brother has released only one full-length album so far — 2011’s Garden Window — but they are already road-tested pros with a loyal and rapidly growing fanbase. Having completed tours with the likes of Manchester Orchestra and The Features, the band was crossing the country on their first major co-headlining jaunt (with Junius) when we caught up with them in Boston. While the rest of the band decompressed in the parking lot after a long drive, singer Tanner Merritt borrowed someone’s old guitar and banged out three affecting performances in the studio. Merritt’s extra-laid-back and unassuming demeanor belied the tense atmospheric shift that occurred in the room as soon as he starting singing. Check out the streaming videos and download the tracks… for free!

 

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Old Soul

Merrily James

Seattle native Merrily James began as a gospel ingenue before being picked up, at the tender age of 17, by “Showtime at the Apollo” to perform in front of a national audience. Since then, she’s shared the stage with legends ranging from Linda Ronstadt to Smokey Robinson and Bobby McFerrin. Though she’s able to hold her own with elder statesmen, James’ music appeals to youngbloods, too. “Street With No Name” is spacious piano balladry—desolate and sweet. Here, the singer’s voice is dusky and soft, but on the jazzy “Get Up Go Out” she loosens up for some soulful motivation. Muted horns and wah-wah pedals help create a lazy, vintage vibe. Things aren’t always so peachy, though, and on “Long Long Time” James has a little fun with wordplay while taking a lover to task. “Not a little rip that a stitch will fix / Now your tricks don’t look so slick” she croons. It’s a torchy little number that showcases the Merrily James trifecta: vivid lyrics, a limber voice that warms every word, and an old soul.

 


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