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Greg’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Albums Of 2013

We’re saying farewell to our co-op Greg, who was a lifesaver for us here at OurStage, as he picked up tasks ranging from Community to Account Management, to Editorial. If you’re a frequent reader of Plugged In, you’ve no doubt read his work. We asked Greg to list some of his music picks for 2013:

Last week, we recapped our favorite releases from the past year. Now, as we bid 2012 adieu, we welcome 2013 and all of the awesomeness it has in store. While there are so many great releases to look forward to, coming up with this list couldn’t have been easier for me. Most of these records are still in the early stages of post-production, but I say it’s never too early to get excited. So here are my top 5 most anticipated albums of 2013 (in no particular order):

City and Colour – (Title TBA)
2011′s Little Hell really put Canadian rock star Dallas Green on the mainstream map. His 3rd full-length solo album was his most powerful yet. Now, after leaving Alexisonfire, his band of 10 years, to focus full time on City and Colour, we can only imagine that the sky is the limit for this talented singer-songwriter. Green wrapped up recording for the fourth album this past November and expects to release it sometime early-mid 2013.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – (Title TBA)
Dillinger are one of those legendary bands who go years without releasing a new album, but then when they do, you realize the wait was worth it. 2010′s Option Paralysis was possibly the most eclectic and eccentric installment by the brutal math-core wizards. With recording for their fifth full-length in the bag, fans are primed for the release this Spring.

Bad Rabbits – (Titles TBA)
In 2009, these Boston locals burst onto the scene with their groundbreaking debut EP Stick Up Kids, 7 songs of non-stop head banging funk soul party pop. On that release alone, they’ve had outstanding momentum, including their run on the 2011 Vans Warped Tour. However, as infectious as those songs are, three years is too long to go without giving fans more. Luckily, Bad Rabbits have a whole arsenal of finished recordings just waiting to be released via shotgun blast in 2013. Get ready for two more EPs, along with videos, limited edition merch, new live dates, and more.

Queens Of The Stone Age – (Title TBA)
The most anticipated rock album of 2013 may be the new Queens Of The Stone Age record. Not only has it been over five years since Josh Homme‘s last release with the project, but now, among all of the rotating members that have played in the band, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl has returned on drums along with Nick Oliveri on bass. As two of the quintessential members of QOTSA’s breakthrough album Songs For The Deaf, they helped define the band as many fans know it today. Now that they’re back on board and finished recording, we can only imagine the sheer magnitude of this next album, due out early this year.

More Like This:

OurStage’s Staff Favorites From 2012
OurStage’s End Of The World Playlist; Songs For The Apocalypse

Holiday Album Review: CeeLo Green – “CeeLo’s Magic Moment”

It’s that magical time of year when we get to hear all of our favorite Christmas and holiday classics. In honor of this festive occasion, we decided to review one of the most popular and highly anticipated holiday albums that came out this season, CeeLo’s Magic Moment by R&B singer CeeLo Green.

By now you are probably sick of hearing all the same old carols over and over, but if there’s anyone to breathe new life into these standards it’s CeeLo. As you can imagine, he brings a certain element of class and glamour to each track, while also introducing some fitting originals. However, the first half of the 14-track record is about all you need to get into the Christmas spirit. After that, it gets a bit boring.

Though needless to say, CeeLo has captured this “magic moment” the one way he knows best, with nostalgic soulful 70′s style flair mixed with contemporary pop sensibility. His duet with fellow The Voice judge Christina Aguilera on “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is surprisingly reserved and charming, whereas one might have expected the two powerhouse singers to overdo it. Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of rifs and runs between the two, but they manage to balance them dynamically with the smokey jazz club vibe.

To continue this feeling, CeeLo follows up with a cover of Donny Hathaway‘s “This Christmas.” With smooth basslines, orchestral brass accents, and subtle strokes of clean guitar , the 70′s homage sounds like it was recored in the same era in which it was written. Of course, this must lead into a smooth downtempo version of “The Christmas Song,” which sounds like it easily could have been the work of R. Kelly. Yet, there’s something uniquely comforting about Green’s voice that makes this track an instant standard for holiday radioplay. In fact, many of these renditions are so respectfully executed that I am sure they will be welcomed into the ever-growing repertoire of iconic holiday classics. With the slick production quality and “sexy” R&B/jazz vibe, I can picture this album being the soundtrack to some high-class New York penthouse Christmas party.

There are plenty of fun tracks for the whole family, though. “All I Need Is Love” is an upbeat original featuring none other than the jolly old Muppets themselves. While the song is a bit awkward, upon listening, you can tell it was clearly made for the video, which is fun and hilarious. Believe it or not, however; the track that follows is probably the most interesting and unusual piece on the record. Green teams up with the all-male a capella group Straight No Chaser for a comically theatrical rendition of “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch,” interspersed with excerpts from the original Dr. Seuss text.

This is about where the album reaches its peak. Some of the songs that follow are more obscure, like “River” and the heavily religious “Mary, Did You Know?,” both of which are beautifully performed, but just a little too solemn. Almost too typically, Green tackles Mariah Carrey‘s “All I Want For Christmas,” without straying too much from the original, making for a pretty blasé listen. Of course, not to be short on cameos, Green throws in one last duet with renowned adult contemporary singer Rod Stewart and the famous Trombone Shorty. Still, the impact is not nearly as lasting as the first half of the album. However, he elegantly closes with possibly the best cover on the record. Green’s version of “Silent Night” is soothing and poignant at first, building in dynamics with a marching rhythm, multiple modulations, and an uplifting orchestral and choral arrangement to finish.

Although there are plenty of Christmas albums that come out every year, CeeLo’s Magic Moment strikes just the right balance of fresh and traditional, without being too cheesy. Whether you like it or not, these songs are here to stay and will likely become a regular addition to annual Christmas shopping playlists.

If you like CeeLo Green, then you might also like Ourstage’s own Jasper Sawyer.

More Like This:

Review: Colbie Caillat’s ‘Christmas In The Sand’
The Editorialist: 8 Holiday Covers You Need To Hear
FUN. Cover Christmas Classic, “Sleigh Ride”

Eclectic Approach Behind The Scenes at Jimmy Kimmel Live! (Video)

Remember how OurStage took one talented band’s dream of dominating the national stage, rocking out in front of a huge live audience, and making their way into the hearts and homes of millions, and turned it into a reality?

So do we.

On October 1, 2012, OurStage gave the opportunity of a lifetime to electro-funk rockers Eclectic Approach, as we sent them off to Hollywood to perform on Jimmy Kimmel Live! for a broadcast audience of almost 2 million viewers.

Eclectic Approach has been on an upward trajectory at breakneck speeds since winning Season 2 of The OurStage Panel earlier this year. Check out the band’s inspirational journey and performance on Kimmel‘s hit late-night talk show, RIGHT HERE.

Metal Monday: Metal Fusion

Metal, as a genre, is pretty distinct and not very easily digestible by most people (but you probably already knew that). From time to time, there are some acts that crossover to other genres or slip into the mainstream and start to gain some traction. Alongside the crossover acts are bands that decide they like to play metal as well as another genre–so much so that they decide to play both simultaneously. Over the years this has led to some very interesting results; some awesome, some not. Metal fusion: apparently a thing.

What are the most prominent and successful styles of music fused with metal, you ask? No fusions so far really seemed to have caught on to become a movement, but the one that could is jazz metal. Both jazz and metal seem to have a perception of and focus on extremely proficient musicians, soloing and grand showings of musicianship. Mostly populated by solo instrumentalists (like shred guitarist Steve Vai, for example), many of these artists are also very closely related to their “classical metal” counterparts like Yngwie Malmsteen. Jazz metal isn’t solely filled with solo acts, however, as bands like Exivious and Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects prove. As an aside, some musicians just choose to jump ship on metal to join a jazz fusion band, such as Chris Poland (ex-Megadeth) joining the jazz fusion band Ohm:.

Behind jazz and classical fusions with metal, metal fused with electronic dance music has taken a very strong hold in the last handful of years. Born from the industrial metal movement that started mostly in the ’90s with bands like Nine Inch Nails, the current trend takes the sound a bit farther. Bands like Enter Shikari feature heavy amounts of dance rhythms and synthesized keyboards alongside their hardcore-tinged sound one their debut album Take To The Skies back in 2007. More recently, Earache Records band The Browning dropped their debut album Burn This World which features and even heavier amount of metal and electronic music smashed together. The Browning’s song “Bloodlust” is a fantastic illustration of this juxtaposition, switching quickly and often between trance/house and deathcore.

Some fusions, however, are not taken so kindly. I’m sure we all remember rap metal, right? The year was 1987, and the boys in Anthrax and the fellows in Public Enemy decided it would be awesome to do a song together: and it was. Theresulting remake of “Bring The Noise” was great. A couple years later, Rage Against The Machine dropped their debut, and that, too, was awesome. Unfortunately many of the bands inspired by these acts turned out to not be so great,  (See: Limp Bizkit or Crazytown, who were both very famous for a couple years).

That’s not all, either, some other metal fusion genres include funk metal and folk metal.  Bands like Machinae Supremacy and Skindred even come up with their own metal fusion subgenres (Machinae Supremacy call themselves “SID Metal” and Skindred “ragga metal” by the way).

OurStage even has a handful of solid acts that pair metal and other genres together to create very unique music, including Brothers Fighting, Mara, MAG Project, The Living, The Last Barbarians and LaughingSkull. Check out some of their tunes in the player below!

Press Shuffle: Songs To Rock Out To

I challenge you to find someone that doesn’t like rock music. You may find this task nearly impossible to do, and the reason is simple: Rock music is incredibly diverse and influential. It’s been the music of every generation since the ’50s, and it’s still as relevant as ever. Nowadays, there’s a plethora of sub-genres that have spawned throughout the years from subcultures in many regions of the world, and each of these has its own defining identity. In homage to the rock genre (much used as an umbrella term), we’ve collected many catchy songs from this super set and chosen a select few representatives to showcase the variety of rockin’ music we’ve got available here on OurStage. Don’t let these guys intimidate you; head on over to the Rock Channels and get ready to discover more future rock stars.

Water and Bodies

Continue reading ‘Press Shuffle: Songs To Rock Out To’

Play At The Legendary Sarasota Blues Fest

Booker T. & The MG’s, Buddy Guy, Greg Allman, Dr. John and Ike Turner—what do these legends all have in common? They’ve all rocked the stage at the Sarasota Blues Fest. This year, you could too. All you have to do is enter the “Sarasota Blues Fest” Competition on OurStage!

Submit your song by July 25, 2011 for your chance to win. Five finalists will be selected from the Top 20 ranked artists in the competition to perform at The Gator Club on August 13, 2011. From there, the competition judges will choose one Grand Prize Winner to receive $750 cash and a performance at Sarasota Blues Fest on November 5, 2011! Don’t let the festival name fool you; the competition is open to all blues, soul, R&B, gospel, world, jazz, southern rock and funk artists, so get out there and enter!

Fans: For your tireless efforts ranking the best artists in Florida, we’ve got a little kickback in store. Judge by August 5, 2011, and you could be one of five fans to win two tickets to the festival. Enjoy the good tunes while basking in the beautiful Florida sun—it doesn’t get much better than that.

Blues Man Scott Seabock Takes Home Year Supply Of Strings From Ernie Ball

Singin’ the blues ain’t easy. It requires a delicate balance of great storytelling, serious chops and a drive to make the all-too-familiar twelve-bar format your own. This May, Ernie Ball sponsored the Blues Channel to award one talented blues artist a year’s supply of strings and accessories. Looks like they found their man.

Introducing Scott Seabock, whose track “The Blues Are Like A Woman” climbed all the way to the top of the channel in May. Scott is what you might call a musical jack-of-all-trades—dabbling in blues, R&B, funk, rock and more. While the world was watching The Beatles break on Ed Sullivan, Scott was jamming out to Sly Stone and Otis Redding, influences that shine through in his music.

Join us in congratulating Scott on his win, and be sure to hit up the playlist below to sample more of his sounds.

Your Summer Playlist Has Arrived!

It’s official, summer’s here—time to kick out the jams. It’s no surprise that with great weather comes great tunes, and we’ve got plenty on OurStage.

With this in mind, we’re launching the “Rock ‘n’ Popsicles” Competition to give OurStage artists a chance to show us their best summer songs. The prize? Promotion directed to the entire OurStage community in our exclusive “Rock ‘n’ Popsicles” playlist, of course! Enter by June 22, 2011 and you’re ready to rock. At the end of the month, the OurStage Editor at Large will comb the channel for the juiciest cuts to include in the playlist.

All submissions must contain summer-themed lyrics and fall into these genres: singer songwriter (male), singer songwriter (female), folk, pop, indie pop, indie rock, soft rock, rock, alternative, southern rock, funk, modern rock.

Not sure if your song is a good fit? Check out the playlist below to help you decide.

Around The World In 80 Songs: Arik D Shahar

Dear Travelers,

Our journey has ended. Together, we have traveled the world through the music of amazing OurStage artists and now it is time to say goodbye. Thanks to these talented artists, we were able to see places like India, Portugal and Norway. We had the opportunity to experience foreign cultures, and understand how music really shapes the world.

In this last post, we’ll land in Haifa, a city in the north of Israel, to explore the music of Arik Shahar, a very talented artist who has been making music since he was tenyears old. We picked Arik based on his ability to master different types of music and engage fans in different channels. Just the kind of things we believe make a great world music artist.

If you haven’t heard about Arik yet, just wait. He is rapidly gaining fame in Israel, playing with well-known bands and musicians such as Arkadi Duchin, Micha Shitrit, Eeyl Shechter, Barak Hanoch and others. In fact, for a period of time he had an important roll in the start up of popular bands that originated in Haifa, such as the Haverim Shel Natasha and Av Tipus.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Arik is that he has the ability to play a variety of instruments and write songs in many different genres. Here on OurStage, his pieces have been regulars on the top charts in different channels, such as jazz, funk and blues.

Among OurStage fans, Arik’s most popular song is “Calle Ocho,” a piece that won the channel prize in jazz this past July. Play it and you’ll start to fall in love with Arik’s music.

Another favorite is “Closer Than Ever,” a song that has gotten rave reviews from fans in our Funk Channel.

In love already? We can’t blame you. Arik is another example of how great world music can be and how there aren’t any geographic limitations for true talent.

We say goodbye to this blog but we encourage you to keep visiting our World Channel to hear more amazing international acts on OurStage. Keep using music as a way to travel and explore new and exciting places. Farewell and bon voyage!

GuacaMusic: Luci

What do you get when you add pop, R&B, funk and a touch of Latin?

The answer is simple: You get amazing music. Just ask Luci, a talented artist from Peru that has been writing exciting Latin songs for years. Lately, her song “Live It Up” has been getting rave reviews from OurStage fans, who seem to love her mix of Latin flavors and the excitement of her voice

Play Luci’s song “Live It Up” and you’ll understand why this spicy combination of traditional salsa and lively, modern sounds is rapidly raising through the top charts on OurStage’s Latin Channel.

Luci’s singular style is due, in large part, to her bicultural upbringing. Although she was born in Lima, Peru, she spent a large part of her childhood living in the US. She argues that her style comes from a sea of influences varying from Celia Cruz and Christina Aguilera, to Aerosmith and Stevie Wonder.

After years of prepping herself to make it big in the music scene, Luci released her debut EP in May of last year, getting very positive comments from critics and fans. She is continually writing fresh, new music and remains ambitious about her passion for producing, dancing and dressmaking for her shows.

Besides “Live It Up”, other great songs by Luci include “Save the World“, “Entertainer” and “Chocamos“. Don’t miss Luci’s Latin flavors on OurStage. You’ll fall in love with her sabor. ¡Provecho!

 


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