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Code Red

Blameshift’s steady rise to the upper strata of commercial music is the product of not just talent, but serious marketing mojo. First the band became road warriors, criss-crossing across the country in a bus fueled by corn oil and building a bi-coastal fan base. Those diehard fans allowed Blameshift to finance their first record through Kickstarter and release free downloads in exchange for a “like” on Facebook. Their strategy paid off, exposing their polished hard rock to new fans and sponsors, and netting them placement on The Real World and Call of Duty. Blameshift’s music is as heavy as it is catchy, driven by the siren song of Jenny Mann. Guitars chug and strike through mountains of distortion, drums are pummeled to within an inch of their life, and Mann’s voice pierces through it all. Start with “Ghost” or “Killing Me” for a dose of dark and fitful rock. If you like to dance through all the drama, we recommend the sinister, polyrhythmic rocker,“The Sirens Are Set.” “Are you ready?” Mann asks. “This could last forever.” Cool by us.

Wake Up

The City Never Sleeps

Though the members of The City Never Sleeps hail from all corners of New York state—Albany, Middletown, and Oneonta—none live in the city to which their name refers. The irony ends there, however. Musically, TCNS is all about earnestness delivered via tight, stylized songs with snap. On “Mr. Hide” a percussive bass, jutting guitars, and glossy boy-girl harmonies create a taut little rocker buffed to a shine, with a gnarly guitar solo to boot. “Return to Sender” features an exhaustive revue of guitars that stretch, scribble, grunt, and thrust all over the pop rock melody. But on “Crumble At The Fault,” the band switches things up, sewing a bit of jazz into the blissed-out ballad. Glistening guitars nip and synths sigh as singer John Glenn admits, “Sometimes I feel just fine.” We know the feeling, dude.

Ghost in the Machine

Fred LaLande

Like many artists, Fred LaLande’s musical education began at home. And though he’s played several instruments since the age of 12, these days the Montreal-based artist spends more time on the keyboard creating experimental electronic music and less time in bands. LaLande’s solo career centers on the manipulation and layering of samples from the public domain. The result is an alien species of sound—dark, futuristic, a little frightening, and completely entrancing. Take, for instance, “Clomplexity,” where metallic textures spin and ricochet through the slow genesis of something unknown and terrifying. Things continue to fall apart in “Andromeda.” Synthesizers wail as they melt, air raid sirens sound in the distance, and a salvo of electric guitars is fired off. But even after such a battle, traces of humanity remain. On “Here Again” LaLande builds a softer, more utopian soundscape with whistles, yawning textures, and the dull chime of bells. Living through the second coming is pretty exciting, but you’ll be glad for a little post-war relief.

Songs Of The Revolution: Mieka Pauley

It’s time now for the next installment of Songs of The Revolution, our new series in which we throw free downloads around like we’re made of free downloads. Simply put, we catch some of our favorite artists as they come to town and record an exclusive session with them. As a nice little bonus, you can watch and listen to video recordings of the sessions before you download the tracks.

Now, if you’ve been following OurStage lately, you know that we’re big fans of New York-based artist Mieka Pauley. So much so that we just invited her to perform at our showcase for this year’s New Music Seminar and to join our newly-established Artist Advisory Board. And just to show that we can’t get enough Mieka, we grabbed her recently on her way to Cambridge’s Lizard Lounge, where she was having a release party for her new record, The Science Of Making Choices, and asked her to perform a few songs for us. Two of those songs, “Marked Man” and “Wreck,” are from the new record, while “We’re All Gonna Die” is a favorite from a 2009 EP. Check out these fantastic exclusive performances to see what all the buzz is about.

DO IT NOW.

 

Boulevard of Dreams

Hollywood Boulevard is where legends leave their names. All along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, entertainment icons share the same stretch of concrete: Michael Jackson; Diana Ross; Billy Joel. Just a stone’s throw away, an artist by the name of D. Hollywood (the “D” is for “dirty”) is plotting his own rise. A multi-instrumentalist, daredevil, and eccentric, Hollywood’s bombastic personality is inextricable from his rakish style of west coast rock. “My Name Is Love” is made up of lurching, low-throttle guitars, synths, and Hollywood’s wild child lyricism. “My name is love and I’m a liar” he sneers. Drums and vocals provide the meat of “Chutes and Ladders.” It’s lo-fi, extra dirty rock delivered in lashes. But Hollywood’s greatest moment comes in “On Fire,” an impossibly catchy anthem with big, swaggering guitars. “I’m going out tonight, gonna set the world on fire,” he promises. We believe him.

Playing Dirty

Stephanie White and the Philth Harmonics

Stephanie White was one of the Top 21 female vocalists on American Idol season five, and though the New Jersey native didn’t make it as far as Taylor Hicks, it wasn’t for a lack of talent. White’s got the limber croon of a jazz chanteuse combined with a pop sensibility that makes her music appealing to the masses. With her band of merry musicians, the Philth Harmonics, the singer creates a gumbo of jazz, funk, ska, and even a little Caribbean. “Cheat On My BFFL” is a cautionary tale for jerk wads wrapped up in a party. The bass bubbles, the guitars strut, the horns bleat, and the girl sings a warning to men who mean her friends harm. Keep the party going with the sultry “Prove It” or the creeping jazz funk of “Trying To Dream For You.” Hey, Taylor Hickseat your heart out.

 

Divided We Fall

June Divided

The genesis story of June Divided isn’t that different from the vast majority of bands. Boy meets girl at college. Boy and girl write songs in dorm rooms. Boy and girl find drummer through Craigstlist; recruit college buddy on bass. But not every band immediately goes on to gigs at SXSW, Warped Tour, and mtvU. The velocity of June Divided’s career can be attributed to the band’s potent pop rock. Think Jimmy Eats world meets Thrice meets Paramore. On “Bullet” jagged guitars intersect with the candy-coated barb of singer Melissa Menago’s vocals. It’s a joyride through distortion and melody, meant to be cranked up and rocked out to. The adrenaline levels don’t dip in “Perfect Storm” where guitars are braided together, drums crash, and Menago’s plaintive voice reaches up into the firmament. “I think this might be the calm before the storm,” she sings. So do we.

Small Room, Big Sound And The Next Huge Rock Band

Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown Perform at OurStage's NMS Showcase in NYC

If you’ve looked at the Billboard Rock Charts lately you may be wondering what’s happening to the state of the genre. With chart-toppers like Grouplove, fun., and M83, it feels like the industry is in need of a good ole rock revival. Enter Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown. The Nashville quartet have made it their mission to perserve all that is holy with rock ‘n’ roll and are converting followers one live performance at a time.

Last week the audience of the East Village haunt Arelene’s Grocery were treated to an electrifying performance by Tyler Bryant (vox, guitar), Graham Whitford (rythymn guitar), Caleb Crosby (drums), and Gabe Anderson (filling in on bass). The band was in town for a few days to attend the premiere of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer (Bryant played guitar on the film’s score), to attend OurStage’s Artist Advisory Board meeting, and to showcase at the New Music Seminar. Check out their performance of “Kick The Habit” live at Arlene’s:

 

Devil in the Details

Stateside

Stateside isn’t a band for the faint of heart. Made up of Mike Tarry, Chip Su, Jeff Meiers, Phil Zepeda, and Jeff Zager, the group crafts explosive hardcore that raises the hackles. “Bridges Worth Burning” combines serrated guitars, thunderous drums, and the guttural heaving of Tarry for polyrhythmic, bipolar screamo you can feel in your solar plexus. Like singers Mike Patton and Chester Bennington, Tarry tempers his barbaric bellows with melodic, plaintive singing. On “The Eve” surging guitars and drums create a tempest over which Tarry moans, “I’m wasting away.” But things aren’t always so bleak. “Make Your Move” is a motivational anthem about the city that never sleeps wrapped up in roiling guitars and semiautomatic drums. Maybe lyrics like “Broadway’s alive and calling me home” and hardcore make strange bedfellows, but even the devil gets to take a day off.

Early Risers

AM to AM

AM to AM is led by Will Tendy, a guitarist/songwriter/producer/engineer who’s manned the sound board for indie luminaries like Melissa Auf der Maur and Morningwood. But his skills at the console are just one of the many reasons AM to AM sounds so good. Tendy—along with bandmates Sarah Goldstone, Jonathan Schmidt, Peter Recine, and Derek McWilliams—builds dynamic, swaggering rockers layer by layer. “Spot of Light,” with its rhythmic lashings and high falsetto soul, makes for a jagged dance party. There’s a lot going on here—stomping drums, bluesy guitars, choppy keys, and big digital swaths of fuzz. But Tendy’s production chops bring all the elements working together for the common good. “Sew” and “Outline” set forth gunfire guitars, pummeling drums, and polyrhythms for intense, stylized melees. But if you want a kinder kind of lashing, skip to “Pop As Science” and see how one of their bubblier melodies can still hurt so good.

 


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