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Tag: Mad Men
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Tag: "Mad Men"

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Modern Men

Don Drapery

Don’t let the name fool you — Don Drapery isn’t a hotshot curtain maker who works at a company called Sewing-Cooper. It’s a Columbus, Ohio, band made up of two enterprising musicians: Jason Turner and Dan Gillis. In fact, the only obvious thing the band has in common with Mad Men is its love of retro. Vintage R&B and surf guitars trade time with post-punk angles and rhythms in Don Drapery’s catalog of songs. “Folks In Charge” is a loose-limbed, herky jerky rocker brimming with a rough sort of joy. On “I Can’t Apologize,” the duo combines ’50s-era pop tropes with modern-day sentiments like, “You say everything sucks.” From the spaghetti guitars of “No Place To Raise A Child” to the sparkle and distortion of “Hard To Survive,” Don Drapery gives a callback to rock’s glory days without losing their footing in the modern age.

Needle In The Haystack Artist Takeover: Ma’ayan Castel

If you haven’t already checked out this week’s Needle In The Haystack artist shame on you. Ma’ayan Castel is a Hebrew beauty with the voice to match. You can check her out on MTV Music and download a free track of her hit “Now I Don’t”, but no one can tell you about her influences and aspirations better than Ma’ayan herself. Read on…

Quick! What….

…is playing on your iPod right now? The Black Keys, Tinariwen, Muse . . .

…do you and your bandmates disagree on? McDonald’s.

…do you agree on? Coffee.

…did you dream about last night? My dog Luna.

…is your favorite meal on the road? Anything my mom cooked.

…is your favorite dance move? The Butterfly!

…instrument do you wish you could play? The Sitar, I took a few lessons in India, enough to totally cut my finger but not nearly enough to count. In India they practice most of their lives before they go out and perform…. just like young bands today… Not!

My name, Ma’ayan, is Hebrew for wishing-well. Hard to pronounce, I know. My parents obviously had no idea they would end up moving my sisters and I to the States.  I’m a singer, songwriter, musician and somewhat of a synth-tweeking-geek.  I have been making music since I can remember. Probably around the same time I learned to read and write I also learned to press play/rec on my trusty little tape machine. The first song I heard that changed my life forever was “Creep” by Radiohead! I was on a ski trip with a few other families, all of us teenagers piled into a car probably looking to do something we weren’t supposed to, and I remember looking out the window at the stars when the song came on and I felt my skin start tingling, then when that crunchy guitar hit, my heart just exploded and I knew.

I have been influenced by so many different artists and styles of music from The Police to Nina Simone,  Queen to World and Electronica.  The last couple of years Ihave been playing a ton of shows in New York and Boston and the experience has really shaped my writing. I always think about the live aspect because I find it so real and exciting, and my fans have been so amazing to me that I love putting on a great show for them.  It’s really been interesting to be able to connect with young hip-hop kids, hipsters, mothers, daughters, artists, musicians, and the occasional creepy old man… haha! I’ve had the privilege of opening for some real cool acts too like VV Brown or having artists I respect like Wyclef Jean, calling my song “Now I Don’t” a smash.

My dream scenario as a musician is doing shows like Coachella or Glastonbury with a sea of people going crazy, singing along, or scoring a Sophia Coppola film for example. I also wouldn’t mind making a hot music video with “Don Draper” of Mad Men….  but I have to keep my feet on the ground because this is not the easiest climate for independent musicians. Being an independent artist means doing everything yourself, and I mean e-ve-ry-thing. It’s a lot, but I have been lucky to have great fans and to find a musical soul-mate in my writing partner and producer Leo Mellace. We have very different musical backgrounds but that is exactly what makes the magic happen. Right now we are working on a new project that I’m really excited about and I actually have to stop here because I’m heading to the studio to record vocals.

-Ma’ayan Castel

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Ellen starts music label, signs Greyson Chance

Greyson Chance on Ellen

OK, remember last week when we made up that big lie about wunderkind Greyson Chance being signed to Interscope? Kidding! Yeah, looks like that was just one of those Internet rumors. Sahhrrry. Chance was actually signed by Ellen DeGeneres — he’ll be the first artist on her brand new label, Eleven Eleven Records. We’re not sure if Eleven Eleven is actually an imprint of Interscope or an indie, and until we’re sure, we’re not saying a word.

Ludacris builds playground for Atlanta school kids


That Luda, bless his heart. When he’s not going door-to-door reminding people to fill out their Census forms, he’s providing for the children. This past weekend the rapper joined volunteers to help construct a playground for Venetian Hills Elementary School in Atlanta. The charity event was a collaboration between KaBoom — a national nonprofit that provides play areas to underserved areas —The Ludacris Foundation, United Healthcare’s “Do Good. Live Well” campaign and EIF’s iParticipate program. Look, we knew how low he could go, we just never knew he was such do-gooder to boot . Hats off to you, Mr. Bridges.

The Bad

Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato break up

Sniff. Sad. Moving on …

Lady Gaga tested for Lupus

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga revealed to the London Times this week that she underwent testing for Lupus after collapsing from exhaustion and cancelling shows in March. But when it comes to the results of those tests, she’s keeping her lips sealed. “I don’t want anyone to be worried,” she explains. The singer lost an aunt to the disease, which is genetic and causes the body’s immune system to attack itself. Lucky for all of us little monsters, Lady Gaga is superhuman and immortal. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

The Ugly

Liza Minnelli sings “Single Ladies” for SATC2

Liza Minnelli

Looks like Liza Minnelli will be croaking out Beyoncé’s hit in the new Sex and the City movie. According to SATC2 promos, the 64-year-old performer tackles the number during a wedding scene. And, since Minnelli has a brand new replacement knee, maybe she’ll even attempt to do the choreography, too. That would be infinitely better than watching the chicken dance.

Key of Awesome spoof Owl City in “Electronic Wuss”

Ugly for Owl City, but hilarious for the rest of us.  Musical parody group, Key of Awesome,  delivered a sonic smackdown to the maudlin vomit that is “Fireflies” with their spoof, “Electronic Wuss.” Enjoy.



osblog_finetunings_07I’ll admit it, I’m a little bit obsessed with Mad Men, the hit series that impeccably recreates the decadence, repression and cherished “family values” of the early ‘60s. The story of the upscale Draper family, who appear to have everything, is viewed through the lens of patriarch, Don Draper, an up-and-coming but mysterious Madison Avenue advertising agency executive.

The show drips with authenticity through a prism of what was and is no longer socially acceptable (drinking, smoking, littering, talking). What I have found especially fascinating about the show, are the three lead female characters. There’s Betty, the beautiful but depressed dutiful wife and mother; Peggy, the ambitious career woman struggling to be taken seriously by the men in the office; and Joan, the head secretary/sexpot who sleeps with her married boss, but keeps all the other “girls” in the office in their place.

In the Mad Men era, women were seen but not heard. Betty, Peggy and Joan lived their fictitious lives with feelings hidden under wraps (it wouldn’t be ladylike to do otherwise) and numerous disappointments —mostly caused by the men in their lives—to themselves. A woman’s place was in the home and her role was as confining as her corset.

Last week on my blog, I interviewed writer Jessica Hopper. When I asked her to name the most challenging aspect of writing her book, “The Girls’ Guide to Rocking,” she said:

“The careers of many women, before the women’s lib era often had a similar trajectory that involved being robbed of their royalties by a bad pimp-like boyfriend/manager figure.”

Maybe I have seen one too many episodes of Mad Men, but that line really stuck with me. I wondered, are women more musically independent now or are most still overshadowed by a more powerful and occasionally nefarious male authority?

I posed this question up to a friend of mine who has a successful male trifecta on her resume: a famous father, a famous ex-husband and a famous cut on a famous male musician’s famous debut album. That’s a whole lotta famous. But it’s a sticky wicket if you want to be taken seriously as an artist on your own terms. “I don’t want people to think I’m just a groupie, like Pamela DesBarres,” she says.

These days, Miss Pamela teaches writing classes, but even though she was a member of the band, the GTOs, everyone knows her for the classic memoir I’m with the Band, which details her numerous sexual dalliances with famous rock stars.

Once you become known for the famous male company you keep, is it possible to surpass that public perception and be your own woman?

Courtney Love will forever be associated with Kurt Cobain, an identity she realizes puts her in a league she wouldn’t be in otherwise, and a role she nurtures. There’s no doubt that marriage to Kurt raised Courtney’s profile. Yet, this bonus neutralizes a significant amount of her own artistic integrity because his name will forever be attached to hers.

Yoko Ono has always been demonized by the perception that she was responsible for the break-up of the Beatles. No matter how many albums she records, she will forever be overshadowed by John Lennon’s legacy.

Drummer Meg White inspired an entire generation of young girls to play drums. But when The White Stripes started out, Meg and Jack, formerly married, were coy about the nature of their relationship and pretended to be siblings. Meg has taken a lot of heat for not being as musically savvy as Jack and will likely always be associated with him.

Alanis Morissette? It is often argued that her success belongs to songwriter, Glen Ballard, who wrote the songs on her breakout album, Jagged Little Pill.

Joan Jett defers business decisions to her long-time producer, Kenny Laguna. But long before Kenny, Joan’s first band, The Runaways, was heavily influenced by male producer and limelight stealer, Kim Fowley.

No matter what she does musically, Shania Twain will forever be entwained with her ex-husband, producer Mutt Lange.

Ronnie Spector? Some people believe that producer and husband Phil Spector was entirely responsible for the hits. “Anyone could have sung those songs,” a pro-Phil journalist once told me.

And once you have divorced your musical partner, can you ever go back to being just yourself? Carole King? Gerry Goffin. Ellie Greenwich? Jeff Barry. Cher? Sonny. Carly Simon? James Taylor.

Fleetwood Mac? The material culled from two couple break-ups within the band proved to be more than just Rumors.

Even one-time tough gal Pat Benatar co-bills her husband, guitarist Neil Geraldo on the marquis.

Janet Jackson owes her career to the five male Jacksons that came before.

Miley Cyrus long-ago eclipsed the fame of her “Achey Breaky” dad but probably would not have had a shot without him. Jessica and Ashlee Simpson both had father Joe in charge.

Would anyone care about Lisa Marie Presley if it weren’t for her ultra-famous DNA? And I don’t mean Priscilla’s.

My pal Jeff argues that the reason so many female artists appear to have male svengalis at the helm of their careers is because, “there are just more of them,” he says. But I disagree. I believe the music industry frowns on women who don’t show up with a male stamp of approval to get them through the door.

Of course, there is Madonna and Bonnie Raitt and Patti Smith and Tori Amos, artists we all agree are indisputably in charge. But it sure has been a long time since one female artist showed up that everyone knew and agreed that, without question, was the one that wore the pants in both her songwriting and her business decisions.

The only example I can think of where the reverse scenario is true is with actor, Tom Arnold, who rode Rosanne Barr’s coat-tails to fame. But that’s not about music.

It may seem like we’ve come a long way, baby, but in some r-e-s-p-e-c-t-s, when it comes to being taken seriously on their own as musicians, women still have a long way to go.


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