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The Honor Roll: Videos You Don’t Want to Miss

The Honor RollWelcome to our second Honor Roll video playlist. Just in case you missed them, here are some killer vids featuring acrobats, clowns, street dances, talking rainbow tiki men and other completely normal, everyday things. These videos all competed in the Rock and Pop Video Channels last month.  If you dig them, drop by the Artists’ pages and let them know!

Continue reading ‘The Honor Roll: Videos You Don’t Want to Miss’

Brave Hearts

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Florida's Finest: Boxer and Clover

Plenty of successful pop-punk bands call Florida home—Dashboard Confessional, Further Seems Forever, New Found Glory, Yellowcard. Maybe it’s teenage rebellion against the state’s bountiful sunshine and retirees that produces so many pale, restless rockers. Whatever the case may be, here’s another entry to add to Florida’s pop-punk wiki: Orlando’s Boxer and Clover. Listen to “Adding to 100 Years of Silence” and you’ll hear all the touchstones— fuzzed-out, chugging guitars, methodical drum-pummeling, call-and-response chants and heart-on-tattoo-sleeve lyricism (see chorus: We all dance and let our hearts collide / Bring it back to a better time/ When the world was young and we all felt so alive). Boxer and Clover keeps it tight and interesting, with polyrhythmic arrangements and catchy, sing-a-long melodies. One detail that may separate the band from the pack is their cover of Alicia Key’s “No One.” Even if the execution is a little shaky, it’s still pretty courageous.

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Fine Tunings: Moonlighting with Adrian Connor

OSBlog02_FineTunings_AdrianSicknessIf you like sweet pop music served up with a side of snark, you’ll love Adrian and the Sickness, the Austin-based, all-female power pop trio fronted by guitarist/songwriter/ vocalist Adrian Connor.

AATS, as she calls the band, got together in 2004 and has put out 3 studio albums and a live CD/DVD set on Adrian’s own Fantom Records. Both Adrian and drummer Melodie Zapata play in Seattle’s legendary all-woman AC/DC tribute band, Hell’s Belles, with bass player Heather Webb rounding out ATTS. The band’s latest album, the newly-released B.F.D. was produced by Go-Go’s bassist and fellow Austin resident Kathy Valentine.

Hell's Belles

Hell's Belles

It takes a formidable guitarist to undertake the role of a female Angus Young and Adrian has taken the gig (inherited from Hell’s Belles founder Amy Stolzenbach in 2002) to a new level, stalking the stage like Angus and sending her trademark dreadlocks airborne every chance she gets. She wails on iconic classics like, “Highway to Hell,” and “You Shook Me All Night Long.” But it is in Adrian’s own project, Adrian and the Sickness, where her own songwriting and playing strengths take center stage.

I asked the busy and outspoken Adrian Connor to compare and contrast her bands, her two musical homes and how she got my very favorite Go-Go to produce her album. Continue reading ‘Fine Tunings: Moonlighting with Adrian Connor’

Liner Notes: The Orkids – “Paper Dolls”

Ready to meet the mastermind behind one of the most popular girl-power songs on OurStage? Little do you know that “Paper Dolls” by The Orkids was actually penned by a guy! While vocal duties for the Athens, GA-based electropop group are taken care of by leading lady Sandra Gallardo, this track was written by their guitarist Adam Monica. Hear what Adam had to say about the songwriting process:

Continue reading ‘Liner Notes: The Orkids – “Paper Dolls”’

Download of the Week: Wes Kirkpatrick

Wes Kirkpatrick has been one of 2009′s stand outs on OurStage. Wes has the distinction of earning the top channel prize in our Alt Country/Americana, Soft Rock, and Acoustic channels this year. This week’s download is the OurStage fan favorite “Superstition”, which earned him his #1 spot in Acoustic this past August. Hopefully he’ll continue to keep up his track record with the fans in 2010!

Boys Like Girls

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So Happy Together: Pinboys

If music is a universal language, then pop-punk is global slang— snappy, direct and favored by the young. Pinboys, a rock quartet from Denmark, deliver pop-punk nuggets that require no translation. The group features both female and male singers: the first a breathy femme fatale and the second an earnest emo rocker who injects the songs with jolts of urgency.

Take, for instance, “Murder,” a playful and slinky romp where singer Anne Kalstrub’s seductive coos drive co-singer Jakob Thalund to strident wails. The ballad “Crashing Cars” is a lesson in economy; acoustic guitar, vocals and kick drum combine to create a sweet (maybe even saccharine) and evocative little melody.

Pinboys’ arrangements don’t reinvent any wheels — guitars, bass and drums deliver simple hooks, but leave the spotlight on emotive vocal performances. If you prefer your music with lots of bells and whistles, keep looking. But if you’re content with simple and catchy pop punk that tickles the id, Pinboys speak your language.

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Download of the Week: Krista Thanks OurStage

J Records recording artist Krista has certainly come a long way since joining OurStage. With one of the largest fan bases on the site and a Top 10 spot in the Pop Channel, this Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter made quite the impression with her street savvy, yet soulful style. Afterall, not every singer gets to lay claim to working with legendary producer Camus Cecil (Gavin DeGraw, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner), being signed by industry veteran Clive Davis and opening for American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. Her Cinderella-story rise to fame is one of inspiration. After a hard-knock childhood in a rough Brooklyn neighborhood, the young Krista found her escape through music, turning to songwriting and poetry instead of succumbing to negative factors in her life. Drawing upon varied musical influences like Sarah McLachlan and Celine Dion (not to mention multiple genres spanning from hip hop to rock) she found her sound by weaving together whatever moved her.

In September Krista dropped her debut full length Taking Back Brooklyn which includes a heavy hitting track about overcoming heartache entitled “Crash and Burn.” Krista wants to thank the OurStage community for their support by offering this song as a free download. If you dig this song you should check out Krista’s exclusive live acoustic performance video of it here. Maybe we ought to be the ones thanking her. Enjoy!

Joyful Noises

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Which one's the squirrel?

There is quirky, and then there is You Say France & I Whistle, a band from Stockholm who play toys as instruments, sing inexhaustibly of cats and consult an imaginary squirrel band member.

Though there may not necessarily be method to the group’s madness, there’s definitely melody. In fact, You Say France & I Whistle may have produced some of the finest indie pop since MGMT’s “Oracular Spectacular.” No joke.

The band’s manic melody “When Lovers Die” is dance-party ready with bubbly keys, jangling guitars and uber-sweet boy/girl harmonies cranking up the serotonin level like Arcade Fire on ecstasy. But it’s “Take My Shoes” that provides the biggest emotional bang. At first singer Patrik Marcus’ narrative sounds like the mutterings of a madman set against a chorus of xylophones, washboards and pots and pans. But as the melody builds, so does clarity: “Everyone’s barking when we could be howling like wolves.” By the time You Say France reaches this explosive, transcendent climax, you’ll be howling alongside them.


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Omnivore’s Delight 9: Rachel Lauren

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“Its not about how many notes or beats you have. If you have people feeling something, feeling what you are feeling, that’s what jazz is about.” – Rachel Lauren

Jazz standards and their indelible style will always remain, the question is where. Will they continue their downward decline out of the public eye and into nothing but historical record? Or will Continue reading ‘Omnivore’s Delight 9: Rachel Lauren’

Pluck o’ the Irish

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Cold Hands, Warm Hearts: The Guggenheim Grotto

Plenty of Irish folk bands have found eager listeners on American soil over the years, beginning with the Chieftains and Clancy Brothers in the 60s and 70s. If Irish folk popularity had waned a bit in recent years, the 2007 Irish musical “Once,” and its resulting folk duo, the Swell Season, reindoctrinated audiences here in the States. So it’s no surprise that another duo of Dubliners, The Guggenheim Grotto, is riding a wave of success stateside as well.

The twosome is comprised of Mick Lynch and Kevin May, who create lush and euphoric folk pop with just a handful of stringed instruments, a keyboard and some pretty great vocal harmonies. “Her Beautiful Ideas” begins with marching beat and a funereal organ and then breaks into a soaring pop chorus of pulsing guitar and bubbling bass lines. Likewise, “Fee Da Da Dee” is a dreamy synth pop melody that harkens back to ‘80s dance floors. Sometimes complex, sometimes deceptively simple, The Guggenheim Grotto’s arrangements are almost always infused with joy. If you’re seeking solace in a sad song, maybe put on the soundtrack to “Once.” Otherwise, we recommend spinning these guys – just make sure you clear some room to dance.

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