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The Figgs: Artists Of The Week

The Figgs

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: Pro Artist Of The Week, New LP Review

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 Elliott Smith/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.

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Blondfire: OurStage Pro Artist Of The Week

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.

In November, Blondfire released the Where The Kids Are EP. They’ll be on tour through March before hitching up with Surfer Blood and Foals through April, May, and June. Check out all tour dates and more info here.

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Clinton Sparks: The OurStage Interview

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.

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Bronze Radio Return: Pro Artist Of The Week

If only American Idol would take a cue from their own background music… Recent seasons of the hit game show and now cultural institution have THRICE featured our friends Bronze Radio Return, most recently on last week’s episode. The band have been a song placement machine lately, providing the soundtrack for a recent PGA ad on ESPN, in addition to spots for Nissan, on HBO, and on several prime-time network shows.

But their broadcast near-ubiquity is not the reason we love them so. It is of course because of the music – a positively ideal blend of classic roots music and modern rock. The key to making this formula work, as Bronze Radio Return does, is authenticity. Their sound and songs possess the burned-in feel of music unburdened by time. As individual musicians and as a functioning unit, they are apparent naturals. All reasons why we have selected them as this week’s OurStage Pro Artist of the Week.

We’ve been fans of the band for a long time, and are lucky to have caught them live several times, including a performance at last year’s South by Southwest festival. And we’ll be there when they rock the Rock Boat cruise at the end of this month. The band expects to release their new LP sometime this year, but meanwhile they have a new single called “Further On,” available on iTunes. See the video for their song “Shake, Shake, Shake” after the jump, and click here to listen to some more Bronze Radio Return on OurStage.

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Y La Bamba

Y La Bamba

Smash crossover folk-pop chart-toppers The Lumineers have taken the music world by surprise, and have been traversing the globe to capitalize on their recent radio successes, with venues in several cities being upgraded to meet the demand. The most recent leg of their tour created some additional buzz with the addition of Portland Oregon’s Y La Bamba as a support act. Unsuspecting audiences have been mesmerized by the six piece band’s blend of atmospheric indie folk and traditional Latin sounds, featuring lyrics in both English and Spanish. Singer-songwriter Luzelena Mendoza slowly pieced her band together while evolving her sound from home recordings to bigger productions, collaborating with The DecemberistsChris Funk and Los LobosSteve Berlin.

Catch the band at Boston’s House of Blues tonight, February 4, and later on March 1 at Seattle’s Showbox at the Market. We’ll keep you updated as dates are added. If you’re not near one of those cities, tide yourself over with this performance from NPR, and stay tuned for an exclusive OurStage session with the band, coming soon. Check out the official video for “Michoacán” after the jump.

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Soundtrax: Reunion Edition

Reunion Edition by OurStage on Grooveshark

Recently there’s been a surge in reunion confirmations, from Fall Out Boy to The Postal Service, and with each new announcement comes a wave of nostalgia. With once forgotten lyrics now flooding our mind, we’ve created a special reunion playlist for those wishing to relive the years that brought us hits such as “Sugar, We’re Going Down” and “What’s My Age Again?” You’ll find old favorites on the list including Soundgarden, Fleetwood Mac, Blink-182Black Flag, and of course, Fall Out Boy and The Postal Service.

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Featured Artist: Alex da Ponte

Straight out of Memphis, TN and citing influences like Tegan and Sara, Nirvana, Johnny Cash, and Muse, this week’s featured artist, Alex da Ponte is about as diverse as they come. In addition to a range of musical influences, there’s no shortage of literary and historical references within da Ponte’s lyrical library. With a voice both feminine and strong, backed by engaging instrumentals, you’ll be playing her OurStage chart topper, “Leaves” on repeat.

You can check out “Leaves“ off her 2012 debut full-length, NIGHTMARES below.

Lyn Saga: OurStage Pro Artist Of The Week

Having just released her excellent new album Venice, Los Angeles’ Lyn Saga is looking at a golden 2013. Through sheer force of her musical confidence, Saga reclaims the term ‘power pop’ from the would-be dismissive music critics of the world. It’s feel good music; galloping songs with a crunch that somehow soothes. Saga, a classically trained guitarist, filters the catchiest hooks of the alternative pop era through personal lyrics into a unique but not unfamiliar experience. We’re thrilled to name her our Pro Artist of the Week. Listen to the title track from Venice below (and note the Weezer nod at the very end):

New Single Release: Paramore’s “Now”

For those of you who have been waiting to hear some new music from Paramore, the three years of burning anticipation can be quelled for at least a little while. Yesterday, the band released their first single, entitled “Now.” The song is from their upcoming self-titled album, available April 9. To listen to the single, click here and peruse the multiple pre-order options available.

Since members/brothers Josh and Zac Farro left the band back in 2010, the group has shown no signs of disbanding and, judging by the new single, is going strong. The track pulls heavily from the Gwen Stefani/No Doubt school of sing-talking during the verses, as well as some of the more grandiose production techniques of Muse. Additionally, singer Hayley Williams has admitted getting more into EDM over the past year, which has also subtly made its way into the mix. Enjoy.

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