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.
Stumbling upon a great new band is nothing new for regulars of OurStage – there are hidden gems all over the place. When we came across The Hush Sound on the site, we were floored by the joy and originality of their music, and then realized that the name sounded so familiar because they’ve been a successful band for about a decade, having released their first record, So Sudden, in 2005. Yes, we had to look in our own backyard to discover a band we’d been hearing about for years. What can we say, sometimes we’re lazy. (Ok, ok, some of us already knew).
Two more records followed, released in 2006 and 2008 by the famed indie Fueled by Ramen, before the band took a lengthy hiatus. In the last year, they’ve been performing together and recording again. Yesterday, The A.V. Club posted their new track, “Not A Stranger,” and today will see the debut of their new digital 7″, titled “45.” Or is it “Forty-five?” The world may never know. No, that’s not true, the world will find out at noon EST.
James, here – your faithful OurStage editor and social media coordinator. I’m writing you from atop the Norwegian Peal, a gigantic cruise ship transformed into the 13th annual ROCK BOAT that is currently sailing somewhere near the Bahamas. It’s 85 degrees and cloudy here, but still gorgeous, and we are less than an hour from our third full day of rock and roll. I would have written sooner, but satellite-based Internet is not exactly what you would call a reliable form of communication. Don’t worry though, I’ve been carrying around my camera on all our adventures, and will have plenty to share with you all when I return.
The Rock Boat XIII departed from the Port Of Miami on Sunday night just a short while after the sun had begun to set. Organizers passed out shots of (festival sponsor) Cabo Wabo tequila to everyone of age, and a toast was held to celebrate the beginning of our journey. Later, from the pool deck, (also known as the top floor), attendees watched NEEDTOBREATHE play a full one-hour set while the lights illuminating the Florida coast slowly slipped out of sight.
The first two days were spent on Great Stirrup Cay, a tiny island outfitted with a large, ocean front stage specifically setup for this event. The boat’s 2000+ attendees were taxied from the ship to shore by a fleet of small tender boats, then set free to roam the land, take part in a number of aquatic attractions, eat BBQ, and of course, rock out in the sun. I saw festival hosts Sister Hazel play both full band and acoustic sets, as well as emerging acts like OS favorites Bronze Radio Return, all from the comfort of the ocean (it was way too hot to stand on the beach).
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.
Wilco‘s Solid Sound Festival is announcing the line-up for their Solid Sound Festival over the course of the alphabet. That is, they are slowly posting the names of the acts in alphabetical order over on their Facebook page.
I wonder how long country music awards shows think they’re going to be able to claim Taylor Swift as a country artist. I think that train has sailed. Swift was among this year’s nominees for Album of the Year at the Country Music Awards for her shit-kickin’, twang fest Red, and garnered four other nominations, including Entertainer of the Year. Miranda Lambert, another Entertainer of the Year nominee, ties Swift with a total of five nominations.
The big leaders, though, are Eric Church, with seven nominations around his album Chief, and Hunter Hayes, with six, including Song of the Year and Single of the Year (because maybe the Song of the Year will be a deep cut, right?) for his song “Wanted.”
The 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be broadcast live on CBS on April 7th and will be hosted this year by Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton.
Los Angeles’ Family Of The Year performed a couple of songs for the Jimmy Kimmel Live! audience last night. The band played their single “Hero,” a heartbreaking indie folk ballad, as well as St. Croix, which is offered as a bonus track on the JKL site.
Family Of The Year released their debut LP Loma Vista in 2012 on Nettwerk Records and are currently on tour throughout the U.S. Click here for dates.
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.
Spin.com has posted a series of images from the scene inside New York’s Madison Square Garden when, as we reported last week, electro popsters (and Boston’s own) Passion Pit played the legendary venue with openers Matt & Kim and Icona Pop.
It’s one thing to hear about and understand that these relatively un-assuming indie bands have risen to the level where they can fill MSG. It’s quite another to gaze at the photo evidence and get a sense of the intensity that must have gone down, in the midst of a near-blizzard, no less, when these acts took the stage.
As Spin puts it, “Here’s what happens when the little guys become the big guys.”