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Manchester Orchestra Cover The Faces

Manchester Orchestra have become the latest band to appear on The A.V. Club’s ongoing covers series.

Premiering live on The Onion-owned site this afternoon, Manchester Orchestra perform an acoustic rendition of The Faces’ “Oh La La.” The folky rock classic is delivered with precision accuracy from the indie rock favorites, leading more than a few of our staffers to hit repeat (more than once). You can stream the song on The A.V. Club’s fancy sessions page.

Manchester Orchestra have been working on new material, but no release dates have been set. Stay tuned for further updates in the weeks ahead.

Album Review: Minus The Bear – “Infinity Overhead”

Infinity Overhead, the fifth LP from Seattle-based indie math-rock band Minus The Bear might be the group’s most mature and eclectic record yet.

Right away, the first sound you hear as track 1, “Steal And Blood,” starts is distorted guitar. Much to the dismay of those who may be yearning for some more Omni-ous synth power, that first sound proudly marks the return of the guitar as MTB’s primary instrumental focus and sets the tone for the rest of the album. However, that doesn’t mean the record is completely void of synths and electronic effects (Oh don’t you worry, there are plenty of those). In fact, the mixture of tones on Infinity Overhead is more eclectic yet balanced as a whole than ever before. It’s clear that over the past decade, the guys in Minus The Bear have truly mastered dynamics and flow within an album. This new product seems to be an accumulation of everything they have learned in that time. The sound is still unequivocally “them,” but in a way that is re-inspired and more “mature.” Continue reading ‘Album Review: Minus The Bear – “Infinity Overhead”’

Songs of the Revolution: O’Brother

It’s that time again. New music revolution time. Every couple of weeks, we offer a new Songs of the Revolution session with some of our favorite artists, featuring exclusive, stripped-down performances and some free downloads. This week: O’Brother.

Atlanta’s O’Brother has released only one full-length album so far — 2011’s Garden Window — but they are already road-tested pros with a loyal and rapidly growing fanbase. Having completed tours with the likes of Manchester Orchestra and The Features, the band was crossing the country on their first major co-headlining jaunt (with Junius) when we caught up with them in Boston. While the rest of the band decompressed in the parking lot after a long drive, singer Tanner Merritt borrowed someone’s old guitar and banged out three affecting performances in the studio. Merritt’s extra-laid-back and unassuming demeanor belied the tense atmospheric shift that occurred in the room as soon as he starting singing. Check out the streaming videos and download the tracks… for free!

 

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VMA Nominations 2011: What MTV Did Different This Year

The MTV Video Music Awards have always been a major source of drama in the world of music and A-list celebrities. From the 2003 Madonna and Britney Spears kiss to the more recent Kanye West and Taylor Swift incident, this annual awards show is constantly providing fans with something to talk about. But is that the only reason the program draws in viewers? The VMAs differ from more traditional award shows such as the GRAMMY Awards not only because fans can vote, but because there’s also the feeling that anything can happen. It seems that the hype is not built up around who will take home the most Moon Men, but what superstar with shock us the most.

In the past couple of years, the same few artists have been nominated for almost every category. The winners of each award have been fairly easy to predict and there have rarely been any surprises in the nominations or winners. This year, it seems like MTV is taking a different approach. While the nominees are fairly varied (Lady Gaga isn’t even nominated for Best Music Video), it’s curious as to how they came up with these choices. Lesser-known bands (by mainstream standards) like Manchester Orchestra, Foster The People, and Cage The Elephant were all nominated for their music videos this year. The problem is, MTV barely features bands like these on TV. In fact, there are rarely any music videos played on the channel, unless you’re watching in the wee hours of the morning. How much do MTV’s nominations and musical opinions really matter to the general public?

Foster The People

Cage The Elephant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe this is MTV’s way of trying to stay relevant in the music world. The nominated artists have definitely made an impact in the past year. They have appeared on late night shows and played the biggest music festivals across the country. But MTV doesn’t recognize most of these artists except for this one night. Do the Music Video Awards mean anything for music or are they just for show and amusement?

Check out the 2011 nominees here and vote for your favorites!

Q&A With Manchester Orchestra

The roaring vocals and ferocious riffs that populated Manchester Orchestra‘s sophomore album Mean Everything To Nothing earned the five piece both  fans and critical acclaim in 2009. Now, almost exactly two years later, the Atlanta-based rockers are back with Simple Math, an alternately hard-hitting and slow-burning record that’s as intricate and enjoyable as each of their previous releases. As anticipation of Simple Math continues to build, we sat down with bassist Jonathan Corley to talk about exploring new musical styles, the pressure of topping Mean Everything to Nothing and Kevin Devine‘s freestyle raps.

OS: You guys had a wildly successful album in 2009’s Mean Everything To Nothing—did you feel like that was looming over you as you worked on Simple Math?

JC: After METN’s success, there was certainly pressure to create something better. I don’t think it’s a bad thing though. That expectation didn’t seem as “looming” or daunting but, instead, forced innovation and required creativity. Simple Math moves in directions that we, as a band, have never been before. It reaches into a couple of sonic head spaces that I’m not sure our fans would expect from us. The success of previous albums challenges us to create something new.

OS: When we first heard about the upcoming album, it was tentatively titled “Let Go of Your Sorrowful Groaning” and you were demoing twenty-nine tracks. How many times did you completely revamp the record as you were working on it?

JC: “Let Go of Your Sorrowful Groaning” was certainly thrown around as a title during the early stages of the album. In fact, it is still a line in the second song of our record: “So let go of your sorrowful groaning/ Let go of the ones you admire/ It’s not like I was devious or boastful/ My arms waving, I’m saying goodbye“. The song “Simple Math” came together pretty immediately, and conceptually, it defines the record very well. We worked in different stages to demo most songs a couple of times before reworking them in studio. There was more time and effort poured into the creation of Simple Math than anything else we’ve released in the past.

OS: How does it feel that that the album is already being hailed as one of the most anticipated releases of 2011?

JC: I know that our entire band is more excited about this release than just about anything else. I’m honestly very proud of the album, and can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

OS: The title track is a far cry from what we heard on Like A Virgin Losing A Child. Have you consciously shifted your sound or has it been a natural progression?

JC: The shift occurred very naturally. Since METN, we have continued to grow as musicians and evolve as a band. Even the live shows indicate a change in the dynamic of some of our older songs.

OS: Your songs alternate between very gritty, hard-rock tracks and beautiful, orchestral arrangements. Is it tough to completely change gears like that while you’re recording?

JC: It wasn’t difficult to switch between recording strings and a “gritty” track. Each one of the songs on Simple Math feels fully realized. We bounced back and forth between Atlanta and Nashville to make the record but I’m not sure that it could have gone any better. The tracks with strings were incredibly fascinating to hear progress.

OS: Now that you’ve utilized an orchestra and a children’s choir, is there anything sonically that you haven’t tried yet and really want to work into your songs in the future?

JC: As we approach future albums, I can only hope that we’re doing something that hasn’t been heard before. It’s the only reason that I listen to new albums. The bands that I end up listening to the most have found a way to constantly surprise you with new material, something new.

OS: Do you have any plans to keep working on Bad Books—the collaboration with Kevin Devine?

JC: I can’t wait to work on a future Bad Books album. During the months that we put that together, I had more than a blast. Even the touring; we approached venues that I haven’t played in years and it truly made me appreciate a lot of things like many of the nights that moved forward with some sort of freestyle-rap. The recording process was pretty simple and seamless back at home. The next Bad Books release should be a whole lot of fun.

OS: What can you tell us about your co-headlining tour with Cage the Elephant? How did that come about?

JC: We’ve known the Cage guys for a couple of years and they’re great friends. I’m anticipating some really fun shows with them. We first met while touring with Silversun Pickups, and they have quickly become some of my favorite people from Nashville.

Don’t miss Manchester Orchestra on tour, and check out the video for “Simple Math” below!

Generation DIY: REMIX!

You successfully wrote and recorded an album, sold it at shows and online. Feels good doesn’t it? Now what happens 3 months after the release date? Do you rush back into the studio to record more songs? For most, recording is not possible since they’re likely to be out on tour or playing shows to help support the release. So, let’s look at different avenues to venture down to help keep your name relevant and on top of the charts. This week’s Generation DIY will talk about remixing original music as well as the benefits of having tracks remixed by other artists.

We’ve all seen it before, the glorious B-sides. Many times artists will release a B-sides CD that mirrors the original A/B sides of a vinyl record. The B-side usually contained songs that never made it to the original LP but was a band favorite and something they wanted to share with their fans. Moving forward into the digital age, artists have taken this great idea and turned it into a moneymaking machine. Traditionally a band or artist will support the release of their album by touring the country, hitting many markets to burn their music and image into the minds of their fans. However, for those of us who do not get the luxury of seeing them live, listening to the same songs for a few months can get, well quite exhausting. In many cases the band (or label) will release a B-sides that will feature acoustic tracks, remixed tracks from the album, even rare songs that were recorded but never made the cut. So you go from LP release date in January to B-Sides EP release date in late March and presto, you’ve kept yourself relevant in the music market.

Although B-sides guarantee more sales as well as something your fans can grab and hold onto, remixing a single track can go a long way. For instance look at One Republic’s track “Apologize.” The original cut of the song, must I say it, is quite dry and solemn—it’s depressing to listen to. However, with a seasoned producer like Timbaland in the picture, the song is revamped with some bells and whistles, better production and a little more spice to the vocals. What do you have now? A Top 40 hit. Would you look at that! After releasing an album that didn’t hit the mainstream market, a remix (mind you by a known producer) pushed this band past regular checkpoints right into the limelight. Now One Republic may not be the best example for young artists, since they have been around for a while and are much larger than those of us starting out, however this example still shows that being creative with a hint of ingenuity can go a long way.

Remixes can be done in many different ways: for instance taking a different genre and splicing elements into your existing song (i.e. rock artists that use hip-hop or salsa beats to give their music a Latin feel). You can also take a full band track and strip it down into an acoustic track. This doesn’t mean you have to play the same version as the original. Give the song some life and spice—it’s acoustic, you don’t have much behind you so make it interesting. Some artists choose to go the other way and create an electronic version of a song, which surprisingly enough may be picked up by DJs to be used in clubs. If the track is catchy enough, it’d be a great way to field exposure without having to personally step out of your boundaries. Think outside the box—it’s the best way to make your mark.

Remember it’s all about being one step ahead of the game and having a fresh outlook on both your music and your market. In the end, we’re all after one thing: to live the dream. Try and WOW your audience with some a unique spin on your original tracks. You never know, it may just cause a ripple effect that leads to your big break.

Keep the hustle alive Generation DIY. Let’s continue livin’ the dream.

Below I added some links to the One Republic original and remixed track as well as for those of you indie fans a remix of Manchester Orchestra’s “Shake It Out” done by P.O.S. Enjoy!

One Republic – Apologize (Original Version)
One Republic – Apologize (Timbaland Remix)

Manchester Orchestra – Shake It Out (Original version)
Manchester Orchestra – Shake It Out (P.O.S. Remix)

ARTISTS ASK: MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA

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Lil_Quiz317's ready for his close up.

Lil_Quiz317's ready for his close up.

As an artist I feel I have everything it takes to make it big in the industry. If I met with an actual producer or A&R person I feel I’d get signed on the spot… My question is how do I get an actual A&R or producer to hear my music?

-Bryan Alderson a.k.a. Lil_Quiz317



Hey Bryan- From what I have seen and experienced in the recent years, labels are looking for bands that are making things happen on their own. They want to see a band that has already written a ton of songs, released an album or EP and are out touring, already building a fanbase. So the best way to get noticed by A&R or even just your local record producer is really to just get out there and start making things happen on your own. Spend some time really working on writing more songs than you need. Get out and play them live. Make an album. It is easy to find someone with decent recording gear and a good enough ear to make a decent demo. Then do everything you can to get out on the road. Start in the few markets within a couple hours of your home and hit them once a month or every other month at least. While doing all of this, you need to be sure to focus a lot of energy on your online presence and promote your shows as much as possible. Build fans and stay in touch with those fans. Once you have good songs, a decent recording, are out playing shows (and playing them well), and have a growing fanbase, people will start to pay attention. At this point, you have to remember that attention from these people doesn’t mean all that much of anything. Even signing a record deal doesn’t guarantee success or even a release. So focus your energy on being the best artist you can be and figuring out how to be as successful as possible even if a label doesn’t come along. There is nothing worse than a great artist burning out just from waiting around.

-Jeremiah Edmond of Manchester Orchestra

Jeremiah of Manchester Orchestra gives him directions to the spotlight.

Jeremiah of Manchester Orchestra gives him directions to the spotlight.

 


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