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The Good Guy

David Moisan

Unflappable affability may not be an official style of music, but it is a sensibility that draws a lot of fans. Musicians like Jason Mraz, Jason Castro and Jack Johnson are as well loved for their breezy melodies as they are for their perceived approachability. They’re cool, man. And so is David Moisan, as far as we can tell. The Louisville native crafts folksy, friendly, insouciant melodies like the dusty “Mexico.” But he’s also a purveyor of slinky funk, evident in the excellent “Don’t Need To Worry ‘Bout Me.” Like a modest version of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine, Moisan declares, ‘Y’all best better get in the groove,” his falsetto sailing upward over electric riffage, the snarl of bass and an entirely dancey beat. Things get a little graver on the theatrical “Grave,” a cautionary dirge that builds to a climax of zipping guitars, trilling keys and shattering drums. It’s darker terrain for sure, but Moisan has a light touch. Give him a listen—chances are you’ll be asking for more Mr. Nice Guy.

“Don’t Need To Worry Bout Me” – Dave Moisan

Riffs, Rants & Rumors: Olivia Tremor Control’s Elephant 6 Revival

These days, the Apples in Stereo, Of Montreal and Jeff “Neutral Milk Hotel” Mangum, when regarded out of context, seem to have little in common beyond their status as indie-rock cult heroes. But a decade and a half ago, they were sonic and spiritual kin as part of the Elephant 6 collective. The Apples in Stereo’s debut, the 1993 EP Tidal Wave, was the first release from the E6 camp, which was founded by Mangum along with members of the Apples and Olivia Tremor Control. At various points, E6 HQ has been located in Denver, CO, Ruston, LA, and Athens, GA, but from the beginning it was an offbeat cabal of underground artists besotted with ‘60s psych-pop, filtering it through their own eccentric sensibilities in classic DIY fashion.

Flagship band Olivia Tremor Control disbanded in 1999, but they popped up again at 2005’s All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival, and now they’re set to make a full-fledged comeback, reminding the world of the E6 heyday’s glory in the process. OTC co-founder Bill Doss recalls that the band began under the name Flying Machine, which he swiftly changed to Synthetic Flying Machine upon discovering that the former was the name of James Taylor’s pre-stardom band.  “Of course somebody in the ‘60s had a band called the Flying Machine,” he says wryly. Doss started the band Mangum and Will Cullen Hart, with Eric Harris and John Fernandes joining in 1995, after Mangum’s departure. “Jeff decided to focus on doing Neutral Milk Hotel stuff,” recalls Fernandes, “so I joined to play bass. Eventually I started playing other things like violin and clarinet in the band as well.”

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Kurt Cobain Can Be Surprisingly Difficult To Work With And Other Tales From The Studio

Famous albums always maintain a certain mystique. The legacy, the monumental impact and the personalities surrounding landmark efforts turn albums into larger-than-life things. That’s why we watched Behind The Music and Pop Up Video on VH1. And that’s why we salivate when we get a little bit of insight from the people that helped make those albums what they are. People like Butch Vig.

If you’re not familiar with Vig and his work, you can check out his credited recording work here. Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, Depeche Mode, AFI. The list of bands Vig’s produced for goes on and on. But his arguably most famous production gig was one of his most tumultuous. Vig was tapped to record the major label debut for then fledgling Seattle-based grunge band Nirvana. So how was it for Vig to helm the production for Nevermind, the biggest album of the ’90s? Well, Kurt Cobain can be somewhat difficult to work with. Surprise!

“Kurt was charming and witty, but he would go through these mood swings,” Vig reveals in a feature in Rolling Stone. While Cobain and Vig would often butt heads during the mixing process for the record, Kurt would eventually go on the record saying that Vig did a fine job of engineering the record and blamed any perceived “slickness” of the the album on himself. What a guy!

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Funk Soul Brother

Luke Wade and No Civilians

Luke Wade might have grown up to be another Texas jock if not for a paintball that veered straight into his eye as a teen, altering the course of his life. As gruesome as that injury must have been, it was, in a way, serendipitous. Forced to explore interests that didn’t require perfect eyesight, Wade picked up the guitar and found a new calling. Now, as Luke Wade and No Civilians, the songwriter crafts soulful, rhythmic, layered rock full of tales of relationship wins and losses. “Strangest Angels” sets off on a bass saunter with spooky keys, streams of brass and jazzy guitars darting in and out. “Ghost On A Wire” is a mid-tempo meander through memories of a past love where he muses that, “today’s friends are tomorrow’s ghosts.” Wade’s a romantic, and nowhere is that more evident than on “Quiet As You Can,” an acoustic lullaby where quavering keys and the sepulchral blast of horns wrap the melody in vintage soul a la Otis Redding. Maybe he’s not on the field putting points on the scoreboard, but there’s no question that Wade is winning.

“Quiet As You Can” – Luke Wade and No Civilians

Metal Monday: Riff Fest 2011

Over the years, the cornerstone of many great metal songs has been the almighty riff. Think of just about any legendary metal song, and there’s a pretty fair chance it also features a great riff. Slayer’s “Raining Blood”? Check. Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”? Check. Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”? Check. The list goes on, and on, and on. We here at OurStage believe in the power of the almighty riff. So, to help honor it’s greatness, we’ve found eight killer OurStage metal tracks that riff, and riff hard. Everything from super heavy riffs to blisteringly fast thrash riffs to hyper-technical death metal riffs—we’ve got you covered.

First, we have the straight-forward “Psycho Intentions” by Reign of Fury (above). Riffs fast, riffs hard and melts faces. No more, no less. Well, except the ludicrous guitar shredding and slight acoustic break in the middle, but we’re cool with that. Continue reading ‘Metal Monday: Riff Fest 2011′

Tasty Tracks And Tasty Treats

Here at OurStage there are few things that we enjoy as much as music, but one of our obsessions that comes pretty damn close is our love of food. So imagine our delight when several musicians announced new, culinary side projects. Train released a Petite Sirah wine that will finally let fans know what “Drops of Jupiter” taste like, AC/DC announced a line of fine wines named after their hits—including “Highway to Hell” and “You Shook Me All Night Long”—and former Blur bassist Alex James is now selling his cheeses in the UK.

We did a little digging and as it turns out, the relationship between musicians and foodies is very strong. Yes, plenty of artists offer ways to get your drink on like a rock star (Sammy Hagar has his own brand of tequila), but many are restaurant owners, chefs and even critics! From giants like KISS Coffeehouses and Jimmy Buffet‘s Margaritaville Cafes to smaller, quainter cafes like Moby‘s adorable Teany in New York City, artist-owned eateries have been popping up all over the place. Even J. Lo got into the restaurant game a few years ago; unfortunately, the Mexican eatery “Madre’s” closed its doors in 2008 after six years. (Still better than Britney‘s joint “Nyla,” which lasted less than a year.)

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Vocal Points: Lead Singer Syndrome Strikes Again?

Hayley Williams, lead singer of the band Paramore, possesses an incredible voice. Not only is she naturally talented, she’s worked hard on her voice with coach Brett Manning since she was  thirteen years old. It is clear that these lessons have taught her control, and have strengthened her vocals. But while the kind of strength, passion and personality which Hayley portrays onstage have aided her music career, they’ve also resulted in negative effects offstage.

Hayley has consistently stressed to the public that she wants people to care about the band as a whole, but she still comes across as the band’s shining star. With her spunky attitude, ever-changing hair color and her powerhouse voice, fans cannot ignore her. The band’s songs are often composed of pretty standard rock progressions, but the way that she attacks every note with precision sets them apart from other acts. Additionally, her strong voice allows her opportunities which the other band members cannot take part in—a recording contract with Atlantic Records and the guest spot on B.o.B‘s hit song “Airplanes” for example.

Back in December 2010, rumors of her overbearing voice surfaced after original members Josh and Zac Farro left the band and issued an exit statement which alleged that the band had become all about Hayley. The brothers said that they could no longer put up with what they called a “manufactured band” and made it clear that they felt their own voices could not be heard while in Paramore. And while the Farro brothers had always seemed like crucial ingredients in the band’s success, Hayley and remaining members Taylor York and Jeremy Davis decided to proceed without Josh and Zac. Nothing could stop Hayley from moving forward and continuing to show what a sensation she is. And the successful release of their first single without the Farro brothers, “Monster” proves the point.

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Aimless Again Vs. Blink-182

Anyone who is currently in their twentiess has, at least at one point in time, listened to Blink-182. The band’s combination of pop hooks, punk aesthetic, and general goofy humor endeared them to countless teenagers worldwide at the turn of the last decade. Whether you want to admit it or not, they were a big deal. And considering the amount of buzz their reunion tour and upcoming comeback album have generated, they still are. So with that in mind, our latest edition of Vs. brings you Aimless Again, a talented young group of musicians bringing their own take on pop punk to a new generation of kids.

OurStage's Aimless Again

Blink-182

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hailing from Long Island, Aimless Again use the same fusion of punk aggression and pop sensibility that helped Blink-182 achieve so much success. Their song “Flabbergast” is a perfect example of this balance. This song has all the elements of a great Blink song: punchy bass lines, fast and aggressive drumming, crunchy lead guitar lines and catchy vocals. They use the classic alternative rock dynamic of ‘soft, loud, soft’ to great effect here. Thunderous and energetic to start, the noise gets turned down for the verses to let the vocals take the spotlight. But once the chorus kicks in, the amps get turned to eleven and the drums pound away faster than ever.

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88 MPH: Goo Goo Dolls Are More Than Just Replacements

The Goo Goo Dolls have all the trademark characteristics of any generic, commercially-viable pop rock band: the numerous multiplatinum albums, the heavy radio play, the chart-topping monster singles. But behind these established markers of commercial success hides a specter from rock ‘n’ roll’s past. While the Goos have indeed become one of the most successful pop rock acts in the last twenty years, their sound is rooted in the influence of a band famous for its spectacular failure to gain widespread acceptance and its well-documented hatred of everything mainstream.

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The EditoriaList: Thirteen Greatest First Tracks On Debut Albums

There’s something about the first song on ANY album. It sets a tone, gives you an idea of what you’re in for. But the first song on an artist’s first album is often something special. It doesn’t have to be, of course, but it’s an opportunity for a musical manifesto that some artists have really taken advantage of. Sometimes it’s instantly obvious that the track is destined to be a classic, most times the song isn’t even the best song in the artist’s catalog yet has that special feeling and then sometimes it’s only in retrospect that we can see what a statement it was and how the artist’s subsequent career bore that out. I’m sure I will think of others that should be on this list, but here are some of my favorites and, by implication, yours (if you have taste, which you do, because you’re reading this).

13. Foo Fighters – “This Is A Call” from Foo Fighters

The first post-Nirvana sounds from Dave Grohl were not mind-blowingly incongruous with his old band, but it was still exciting to hear something so solid and confident from that camp in those sad days when criminals like Silverchair and Bush attempted to fill the Cobain void.

Continue reading ‘The EditoriaList: Thirteen Greatest First Tracks On Debut Albums’

 


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