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DEATH BY POP? OH JA!

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The headline on Shotgun Cracker’s Myspace page reads, “Vi slåss för kärlek!” Translation: “We fight for love!” If that’s the case, then their weaponry includes (but is not limited to): guitars, drums, keyboards, whistles, handclaps and cowbells. The Swedish band’s hyperkinetic indie pop is loud, exuberant, percussive, and most importantly, hook-y as hell. One look at the album cover for their recent release, Visual Randomization, sums it all up: An explosion of color and chaos with quirky personalities popping out here and there combine to form some compelling art. Shotgun Crackers unleash a brazen sonic attack, but it’s one you’ll happily surrender to.

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POP GOES THE PIANO

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There are two ways to deal with a Magic Man. If you’re Heart, you run away with him beg your mama to “try to understand.” If you’re Amy Crawford & The Electric, you temper your emotions with a healthy dose of skepticism.

The songwriter lays down the law with a spry piano melody and fool-me-not lyrics on her song, “Magic Man”: “Don’t tell me you’ll do the best you can / You’re wasting your time unless you’re a magic man.”  It’s infectious and effervescent piano pop with vintage textures à la The Beach Boys, only fronted by a clever girl with a lot more serotonin in her system. On her self-titled debut, Crawford and her band—The Electric—dole out a collection of upbeat gems that fall somewhere between Mates of State after a nap and Feist after a couple of sodas. Crawford’s comely vocals and nimbleness on the ivories make for some bewitching listening. In other words, it’s magic.


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MY FAVORITE HIGHWAY’S ROAD TO SUCCESS

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In today’s music industry dominated by American Idol and a wide array of pop stars, independent rock bands must often try extra hard to break out. Unlike the cliched qualities of your typically pop rock group, My Favorite Highway is a dynamic quartet that brings new meaning to the scene.

Starting much like any other band, their aspirations could not change the fact that their career’s future looked bleak. The band will be the first to admit that they were almost pushed to their limit and even considered giving up. After weeks of eating only peanut butter in the back of their tour van, the band decided enough was enough and it was time to take a different approach to writing music. David Cook (the band’s main songwriter), “began writing furiously, crafting a series of hook-filled power-pop anthems anchored by keenly felt lyrics about what [the band] was going through.” This classic case of “rising from the ashes” and overcoming adversity, won the band a long list of honors including two song placements on the MTV hit show, “The Hills,” two different Alternative Press features, and most notably, a record contract signed with Virgin Records in November of ’08.

l_9f03b9dca6ef4f5896fed39e5bf4fd9fFollowing in the footsteps of bands like Yellowcard and the Click Five, this group’s sound is chock-full of pleasing melodies, well-rounded instrumentation, and poppy song structures. Don’t let this fool you though. My Favorite Highway brings a unique sound to the pop realm with heavy, driving rhythm, and to the rock realm with a radio-friendly melodic approach.With self-proclaimed influences including Coldplay, John Mayer, and Maroon 5, the band clearly has the right idea. In fact, their latest album, How To Call a Bluff (recently re-released on Virgin Records) was originally recorded with the help of producer Paul Barber and mixing engineer Jeff Juliano (John Mayer, Dave Matthews, and Jason Mraz).

After signing to Virgin Records, the band is still humbled by the opportunities presented to them. When asked about the recent record deal, lead singer David Cook had this to say:

“It’s all very surreal. It’s very much a ‘dream come true’ kind of experience. This is something that we worked so hard for so long to attain, and it’s really cool to see all of our hard work pay off, so to speak. All of us are very excited right now, but we’re just taking it one day at a time, we know we have a long road ahead of us.”

You can catch My Favorite Highway this summer on the What Happens in Vegas Tour with The Cab, The Secret Handshake, Rocket to the Moon and fellow OurStage band, Anarbor.

MOJO THAT’S SURE TO RISE TO THE TOP

A slice of funky dance rock with a bass line Michael Jackson would be proud of and a groove that sets the mood about love and loss.

Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? That’s the description Mojo Rising gave their catchy dance track “She Woke Up To Me.” One listen and you’ll agree that it’s a keeper. This band from Melbourne, Australia just keeps popping up around OurStage. We first noticed them a few months back as part of the Triple M’s Unsigned Find competition, a contest open specifically to artists down under. Next ,we came across them in Live Performance Videos, and most recently in Pop. Each time I stumble upon one of their tracks, I stop and listen to the whole thing because I can’t help but be absorbed. And after watching the video for “She Woke Up To Me,” it’s clear their stage presence and energy is a real crowd pleaser.

These Aussie boys released their latest EP, Feel What You Feel, this past March. Currently, they’re gearing up for an onslaught of shows, releasing video blogs on their MySpace page and celebrating  their recent # 1 slot on  Australian Internet Radio thanks to “She Woke Up To Me”! I think I might just move to Australia.

Check out Mojo Rising’s list of gigs this summer, or keep even more up-to-date by following them on Twitter!

THE PRINCES OF PARANOIA

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Quoth the French existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre: “Hell is other people.”

It’s a heck of a philosophy to build a record around, but one that struck a chord with American Princes. Not only does the Little Rock band reference Sartre in the title of their excellent 2008 release, Other People, they also inject their power-pop with a good dose of his social unease. Co-frontmen Collins Kilgore and David Slade take turns intoning jittery refrains such as, “I have never felt so alone,” and “You can’t change yourself / You can’t change the world.” Sounds pretty bleak on paper, yet the power of this group lies in their ability to deliver anxious manifestos as hook-laden rock on par with the Wrens and Hot Hot Heat.

Daedal and fearless, Other People takes listeners on a brilliant joyride through pop, new wave, even a little reggae.  One thing’s for certain, paranoia never felt so good.

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THE SOUNDTRACK TO SUMMER ROMANCE

Remember the good old days of summer love? When the boyfriend or girlfriend you meet at camp was the center of your universe for two whole months until you went home and  completely forgot about them? Of course summer love isn’t just for pre-teens.  The warm weather has a way of getting everyone in the mood. So whether you’re looking for romance this summer or already have it, these songs will set the stage. We chose tracks about summer loves past and present that are sure to make you reminisce about those golden days at camp.


V FACTORY DEBUTS LOVE STRUCK MUSIC VIDEO

Last week, OurStage favorite, V Factory debuted the music video for their single, “Love Struck” and we have a sneak peek right here. Check out the scoop from our partner site, AOL Music to get a behind-the-scenes perspective on the slaughterhouse backdrop, not to mention those hot dance moves.

V Factory introduced “Love Struck” to the OurStage community last fall and it soon became a favorite on the Pop Channel, garnering both positive reviews and comments from fans. OurStage member Johnny J.Trevino wrote “WOW!!! I love the sound. Got a little Timbaland feel in there. Love It!!!” while OurStage staffer Chris Sita added, “You guys sound pretty tight. I can see boy bands coming back into fashion.”

Of course, it was only a matter of time before V Factory’s  OurStage success spread to an even larger music community.  The band is quickly moving up the radio charts and you can see their cute, talented faces on MTV, FOX Los Angeles and Radio Disney. Join their OurStage fanclub  to  stay tuned for more exciting news from V Factory as they get ready to launch their debut, self-titled album.

SHORELINES END TO RELEASE NEW EP

Popular OurStage quintet Shorelines End is celebrating their new EP Cold Summer Night with an all ages CD release show this Saturday in Plano, Texas. Cold Summer Night offers five new tracks from the Dallas, Texas-based band—each song showcasing the polished yet rocking sound that’s helping the band gain a solid stream of media attention.

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Over the past few years, the band’s profile has steadily risen thanks to a front page feature on PureVolume, an invitation to play a label showcase as part of the Amplify Music Conference and, of course, an AOL Music feature from OurStage. Shorelines End may garner even more interest as they switch things up with their EP release strategy. Unlike Michael Zapruder, the band is releasing their disc before the digital album is available for download in mid-June, and this could very well be the key to get fans to forgo downloading since the CD is the only purchase option.


Make no mistake, Shorelines End totally own their sound, spanning genres from Pop to Alternative to Modern Rock. It’s the perfect mix to kick off a summer party, or to get you pumped up for one of Shorelines End’s upcoming shows.

VIDEOSONGS & GRAPEFRUITS: SOMETHING FUN WHEN IT’S ALL BEEN DONE

There are so many music videos out there these days that it has become a real challenge to come up with something original. No matter how great the director and how great the song, there are only so many styles, so many angles to take, and so many effects to edit in later. All this can leave a band asking, “How can we create something unique and interesting to visually accompany our song?”

Pomplamoose has an answer.

Their video for the song “Hail Mary” has been doing well in the Pop Music Video channel all month. It isn’t your average video; they call it a VideoSong. It’s not quite a “live performance,” though it is made up of elements that are entirely recorded live. According to the video’s description:

A VideoSong is a new Medium with two rules: 1. What you see is what you hear (no lip-syncing for instruments or voice). 2. If you hear it, at some point you see it (no hidden sounds).

The band is comprised of Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn and is based in Corte Madera, California. Both are multi-instrumentalists who enjoy making music on their own and have come together to form Pomplamoose, which is a creative misspelling of pamplemousse, the French word for grapefruit. Whether there’s meaning behind that or not, it doesn’t really matter. The name is an appropriate title for a fun band with fun music and videos.

DOWNLOAD OF THE WEEK: ALEX MEJIAS

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Many of us find it difficult to play instruments, sing, write songs and the like. It appears it comes pretty easy to Alex Mejias, so easy that for years music was on the back burner as he passed his Bar exam after graduating from UVA Law School! Alex is now pursuing his professional music career, and strives to differentiate himself from the other singer/songwriters. This week’s free download free download was ranked number seven in contemporary/soft rock for July 2008. Enjoy his song, Where Hope Remains, and keep an eye on him for more to come!

 


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