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Featured Artist: Ivory Drive

Ivory Drive may be a top hat wearing quintet from Boulder, CO and they may mix jazz with folk, and classical with blues, while boasting a unique mixture of keyboards, drums, bass, saxophone, trumpet and vocals, but they’re begging you-don’t call them alternative.

But they do make a good point, and as they say themselves, labeling them alternative leaves a lot unsaid. Get to know Ivory Drive here, and listen to their current chart-topper in the indie pop channel, “Intertwined” right here.


Let us know your thoughts on this week’s featured artist in the comments!


All the way from London, England, yet coming from all over the world, Immigrants is our latest OurStage artist feature. Packing rock and roll vibes with English influence, Immigrants are the creation of four band mates, each from separate cultures, incorporating elements of Milan, Tabor and Berlin into their sound.

Although the four originally began as a blues group and influence is clear, listening to “Requiem For A Requiem”, there’s no doubt that Immigrants is full on, in your face rock. Check it out right here.


Your Country’s Right Here: Multi-Grammy Winner TobyMac Grabs Roots for Musical Feast

Go ahead and call TobyMac‘s music – the latest of which is the album Eye On It that debuted at #1 across iTunes charts last week – Christian rock if you want. And call the music made by Eric Church and Colt Ford country. Just as long as you realize that those entertainers may not stay firmly in those boxes.

There’s a reason you’ll see the sometimes rapping TobyMac pop up around country concerts and in country-flavored venues, and that’s not just because of the close connection between Christian and country formats (think Elvis Presley). It’s because anyone who listens to TobyMac music, including on his just-released album, will hear some distinct roots sounds a la John Oates‘ solo work. And who ever thought half of the pop group Hall & Oates would have such a soulful sound before he made that sound known in Nashville? Continue reading ‘Your Country’s Right Here: Multi-Grammy Winner TobyMac Grabs Roots for Musical Feast’

Mourning Bells

Warning Birds

Warning Birds is a band of Perthians led by Sam Carmody, a virtuosic singer songwriter with a bent for storytelling that tugs at the heartstrings. With his bandmates—bassist Carmen Pepper, guitarist Bensen Thomas and drummer Tim Bates—Carmody crafts dreamy, fitful indie pop. On “Sally” glistening pangs of guitar meld with gossamer layers of vocals and brisk rhythms in a tale of love gone dangerously wrong. “Plastic Palms” explodes out of the gate with soaring guitars and drums, then settles into a meditative meander through watery guitars and the intertwined vocals of Carmody and Pepper. Nowhere do these two sound more transcendent than on “Ghost Town,” a shuffling, melancholic melody with a chorus that swoons. “There must be something here,” they sing in harmony, before their voices are swallowed by rolling drums and funereal horns. Fans of Arcade Fire will love this. Put it on, sit back, and get your blissed-out brood on.

No Pain, No Fame


Kids who grow up on the streets of Detroit face their fair share of temptations. Some of them, like Se’von, dodge the dealers, boosters, and thugs through music. The rapper lets the streets inform his hip-hop, without letting them define him as a person. His songs are infused with ‘80s rock and R&B, like on “Greater” where an electric guitar wails into a motivational jam. “I’m just like everybody else,” the rapper insists. “From the gutter, no coat.” Sometimes to follow your dreams you’ve got to fly the coop. Se’von uses auto tune and a simple piano line to detail his departure on “I’m Gone,” rapping, “Love me while I’m here.” On the shimmering “Heaven,” he follows up that request with another: “Let my words be an epidural.” We’re not convinced of the power to cure labor pains through rap, but if it’s possible, Se’von’s laid-back methodology might do the trick.

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.

Family Guyz


Life on the streets can make you grow up hard. But that’s no excuse not to be good to your grandmother. Chicago rap duo GoodGrandKidz, comprised of first cousins Adrian Boykin and E.J. Wilson, manage to go H.A.M. with no disrespect to their elders. In “BMF” they lay down the law, saying, “We the good grandkids but still some bad motherf—ers” over sighing synths and a trilling Spanish guitar loop. Good as they may be, they’ve got a little devil in them, proven by lyrics like, “OMG Jesus tweets? Tell him he should follow me.” “Midnight Dreamers” has the same haunting, jazzy vibe as Lupe Fiasco’s “Daydream,” complete with a powerhouse soul singer. But on “Much Higher” it’s The Doors’ “Light My Fire” that provides the inspiration. Over shrill blasts of brass the duo aim high, saying “I’m elevated like prayers.” Even if Jesus doesn’t follow them, you should.



Spirituality is a personal thing. Some people wear theirs on their sleeve, “witnessing” to anyone willing to listen. Others prefer to keep their religion between them and their god … or gods … or goddesses. You get the picture. Wesley Forte, a.k.a. Undergrad, is definitely a member of the first camp. Raised in the church, Forte kept to the straight and narrow, dedicating his life to his beliefs. As Undergrad, he funnels his ministry into pious hip-hop and R&B. On “Man In The Mirror” he declares he’s “trying to build up the Lord’s turf” while a female chorus provides the song’s soulful hook. Digital arpeggios rain down in “What’s Your Mission” as the rapper spits out witty lines like “Is your mission to be like Microsoft and Excel?” On the swaggering “Spark The Dark” things get more urgent. “People selling their souls like retail / I gotta give glory to God.” Preach on, preacher man.

Fight Night

Flagstaff, Arizona’s Fight The Quiet has a long list of influences, from Death Can For Cutie to Foo Fighters to Guns ‘N Roses. You can catch snippets of all of them in the band’s fervent rock. There’s the gnarly guitar solo of “Sway” that tips its top hat to Slash, and the motivational artillery of “This Is The Moment” that follows the earnest, post-punk footsteps of alternative bands like Jimmy Eat World. You might think these influences are strange bedfellows, but what holds them all together is Fight The Quiet’s tenderhearted take on what it means to kick ass. Guitars chug and charge through banks of distortion, drums thrash, unrest creeps in—but as intense as things can get, the band always wears its heart on its sleeve. It’s hard to pull off lyrics like “Living without you / That ain’t living at all” while still maintaining your edge. But Fight The Quiet does it, and does it well.

The Contender

Hostyle Muggshot

Detroit, Michigan. Home to rappers like Royce da 5’9″, Obie Trice, Proof, Black Milk and—of course—Eminem. With a pedigree like that, up-and-coming Motor City MCs know they have to come correct right out of the gate. Hostyle Muggshot, a member of the Woofpac collective with rappers J-Kidd and Moe Dirdee, does just that, unapologetically delivering his hustler manifesto. On “I Am Focused,” the rapper declares, “When I’m looking for the best I am all I find,” over an onslaught of grinding guitars. Tracks like “I Don’t Sweat” and “Can’t Hold Me Back” will drive that point home even further. On the latter, Hostyle Muggshot promises to “keep my name in the air like fragrance” while shrill keyboards up the urgency. “Future” takes off at a gallop, with the rapper spitting clever lines like “I cope, I never lose hope, I bounce off the ropes, I’m a fighter.” Looks like Detroit may have another hip hop heavyweight to add to its hall of fame.

“Future” – Hotstyle Muggshot



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