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Artist Feature: As It Starts

Although I may be biased with my unexplainable affection for Seattle, whenever I discover a new band from that area, my expectations are high. After all, it’s the home of Nirvana and Starbucks. When you’re in Nirvana town, the community has to be a little critical, right?

For indie pop outfit, As It Starts, it’s hard to believe this has ever been a concern. Citing influences from Adele to Death Cab for Cutie, these guys cover everything from acoustic serenades to folk rock riffs. Take a listen to “Symphonies” below and let us know what you think!

 

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”’

Confused and Puzzled…? – Gorillaz, James Murphy, and Andre 3000 (Updated 02/23/12)

Expect the unexpected. Converse has announced they’ll be releasing a collaborative track and music video featuring three top names: Gorillaz, James Murphy, and Andre 3000. Due to drop February 23, the anticipation increased after Seattle ‘s alternative rock station 107.7 The End posted a making-of video on their show – the “Daily Swarm.” Here’s what we know: it’s entitled “DoYaThing” and the video will be – of course – a hybrid of cartoon animation and film. In addition to this “sneak peak,” Jamie Hewlett, the cartoonist behind the Gorillaz characters, released a storyboard/teaser of the video. However, the direction of the video remains unclear because of the two additional artists involved. To leave you even more confused than you already are…lets just say, “I smash 2-D’s face in the wall…” and “Get out of my bed…” (see videos).

Update:

Take out your Converse and enjoy “DoYaThing!” Holding true to the Gorillaz’s signature sound, the track’s groove is funky and downtempo, but Andre 3000′s abstract lyrics and fast rapping style provides the upbeat energy of Outkast, giving the song a truly unique favor.  Also, Jamie Hewlett’s input provides some cool electronic sensations. Overall, it’s simply a bangin’ collaborative tune you’ve got to experience for yourself. Check it out by clicking the link above and keep on groovin’!

Below is the official “making-of” video released by Converse, as well as Jamie Hewlett’s storyboard:


Exclusive Q&A: Minus The Bear Celebrate Ten Years Of Intricate Indie Rock

Forget about dog years. Bands years are even more unforgiving. Ten of them can seem like one hundred when a group is constantly out on the road or in the studio. Luckily, the rigors of touring life haven’t dampened the spirits of Seattle-based indie rockers Minus The Bear. After writing songs all summer for the follow up to last year’s Omni, they’re embarking on a national tour to celebrate their tenth anniversary this fall. We sat down with bassist Cory Murchy to discuss the band’s favorite Seattle venues, their predilection toward remixes and what it’s like to look back on ten years of hard work.

OS: This fall you guys are playing your 10 Year Anniversary Tour.  Where did you think the band would be in ten years when you began playing together?

CM: You know, when we first started playing I don’t think we had a vision far outside of just having it be something that we did as a side project. We were all in bands before and had bands going on at that time. But I will say that once we started writing songs and did get a little more serious we just wanted to do this as long as we possibly could and let the band run its course. We’ve been stoked that it’s taken us ten years so far.

OS: How do you look back on some of the earliest Minus The Bear songs, like those on Highly Refined Pirates?

CM: It’s always fun to revisit them and listen to the records all in sequence to check out where we were musically. For us, they’re little time capsules as far as what was going on at that time. Maybe it doesn’t even have to do with the song, but certain songs can remind us of certain places in our lives, which is cool. It’s kind of a retrospective of our lives. It’s neat to have that sort of marker.

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q&A: Minus The Bear Celebrate Ten Years Of Intricate Indie Rock’

Metal Monday: Wolves In The Throne Room Trace “Celestial Lineage”

For some time in the metal community, there has been a divide between those who do things traditionally and those who work outside of the box. Historically, there aren’t a lot of bands that bridge this gap (at least not immediately). Wolves In The Throne Room are the exception. While they technically play black metal, they don’t share much else in common with that genre, style or culture. As they’ve addressed in numerous interviews over the last few years, they don’t really believe in the black metal imagery, and they choose not to participate in many activities deemed as “the norm” for the metal community, including moshing at shows.

Celestial Lineage album art

Stating that Celestial Lineage is a big departure from WITTR’s previous material would be a bit lofty, but there are certainly noticeable differences from what had become typical for the band over the course of three records. Previously, the band had played somewhat straightforward atmospheric black metal. Lots of thick textures over the top of buzzing, tremolo-picked guitar lines, hardened by unrelenting blast beats and machine-like drumming. These sounds are still present on Celestial Lineage, but the band adds even more to the mix. The most striking addition can be heard in the very first section of music on the album where choir vocalist Jessika Kenney makes her chilling entrance, which provides an absolutely haunting vocal performance alongside a sparse atmospheric intro.

Continue reading ‘Metal Monday: Wolves In The Throne Room Trace “Celestial Lineage”’

Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: 2011′s Most Anticipated Rock Albums

Last week, we covered ten of our favorite rock albums for 2010, which included records from My Chemical Romance, VersaEmerge, Foxy Shazam and more.

With new records from Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Kanye West, Coldplay and Beyoncé scheduled to drop, 2011 is already shaping up to be a big year for music.  This week, we’re taking a look at ten of the most anticipated rock releases, which stretch across subgenres from hardcore to electronica to indie rock.

Andrew McMahon of Jack's Mannequin

Jack’s Mannequin – TBA

After 2008′s heartfelt release The Glass Passenger, Jack’s Mannequin frontman Andrew McMahon is ready to release new material. Passenger, which chronicled McMahon’s battle with leukemia, was a darker record then sunny debut Everything in Transit. But going on what we’ve heard so far, the new release will be yet another masterpiece, with plenty of well-executed piano-drenched pop rock.

Death Cab for Cutie – Codes and Keys (Spring)

Indie rock kings Death Cab for Cutie will be releasing their seventh album early next year. Frontman Ben Gibbard promises that this record will be “less guitar-centric” than any of Death Cab’s previous records, which have typically been of slower, chord-based song structure. Lyrically, bassist Nick Harmer insists that this album will have a much broader emotional scope than 2008′s Narrow Stairs.

Pete Wentz and Bebe Rexha of Black Cards

Black Cards – TBA

After the band announced their hiatus, Fall Out Boy‘s Pete Wentz decided to keep doing what he does best—make undeniably catchy pop music. Teaming up with then-unknown vocalist Bebe Rexha, Saves the Day drummer Spencer Peterson and The Receiving End of Sirens guitarist Nate Patterson, Wentz created Black Cards. The group’s music (especially Rexha’s vibrato-soaked vocals) is reminscent of early No Doubt, with an influx of dance-worthy electronic beats.

Taking Back Sunday – TBA (Spring)

Taking Back Sunday‘s lineup has changed so many times that their Wikipedia page has a full chart to help fans understand the eleven-year timeline of the group’s career. After a few missteps with new members—even frontman Adam Lazzara apologized for 2009′s New Again—the original lineup is back, making this one of the most anticipated releases for any fan of TBS’ genre-defining album, Tell All Your Friends. From the sounds of the demos that have already been posted, it looks like TBS is returning to their roots and ready to make a big comeback.

No Doubt – TBA

No Doubt

It’s amazing to think that ska-princess-turned-pop-superstar Gwen Stefani had any time in 2010 to return to the studio and make a brand new record with her band, No Doubt. Since the band’s humble beginnings in the late ’80s, Stefani has become a powerhouse solo artist, entrepreneur, fashion designer, wife and mother. But, somehow, she was able to make some time for writing music, and No Doubt’s comeback album is eagerly awaited by fans young and old. As of now, details have been pretty hush-hush about this release, but we’re betting that the new No Doubt will be bigger and better than ever.

Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows (D.R.U.G.S.) – February

After a full-year hiatus from the stage, charismatic ex-Chiodos frontman Craig Owens is back. Joined by members of Underminded, From First to Last, Story of the Year and Matchbook Romance, Owens has already made a huge splash on the modern rock scene with his new project, D.R.U.G.S. The band will be releasing their album in February, before they head out on Alternative Press’ AP Spring Tour 2011. From the sounds of the tracks already released, this post-hardcore supergroup is poised for a massive takeover.

fun.

fun. –  TBA (Summer)

As we learned in our Q&A with Nate Ruess of fun., the group is hard at work on their sophomore LP and are hoping to release it next summer. The band’s debut album, Aim and Ignite, was an exciting, refreshing and eclectic mix of everything from indie pop to showtunes. Fans are definitely on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what this band will do next.

Cobra Starship – TBA

Still riding high off the success of their latest record, Hot Mess, Cobra Starship have already begun recording their next album. Hot Mess spawned the 2009 smash “Good Girls Go Bad” and launched the band from the small-scale modern rock scene to rulers of Top 40 radio. Though no details have been released about the new album, Cobra’s history dictates that it will be chock-full of undeniably catchy, dance-worthy rock numbers.

The Mars Volta – TBA

Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez of The Mars Volta

GRAMMY-award winning experimental rock group The Mars Volta have kept pretty quiet about their upcoming release, which will be the sixth in the band’s career. The band entered pre-production back in May, and guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez recently announced via Twitter that they were putting the finishing touches on the record. This will also be the first record where vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala will be writing all of his own lyrics, with no guidelines or concept provided by chief songwriter Lopez.

Emery – TBA (January/February)

Seattle-based rock group Emery delighted their fans when they returned to their roots on 2009′s …In Shallow Seas We Sail. Full of charging instrumentation, sweeping vocals and shimmering with top-notch production, the record left Emery fans satisfied, but also craving more. The band announced that they are planning to release the album in the early months of 2011, hopefully with some tour dates to follow!

What records are you most looking forward to hearing in 2011? Let us know in the comments!

Needle In The Haystack: Go Periscope

New Year, new music! Welcome to the jump start of 2011′s Needle In The Haystack. Hailing from Seattle, Go Periscope‘s music is anything but dreary. In fact, it could be the perfect antidote for the rainy landscape of the band’s homestead.

Featured in Editor 2010 Picks: Heavy Rotation Playlist, Go Periscope serves up fist pumping eighties music infused with modern twists on pop songs. They recently released a killer take of Day N’ Night (Kid Cudi) Vs. Crush Me (Go Periscope) and their cover of Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite” could give the original a run for its money.

Listen and learn more in the sweet vid below, and check back over the week to see more interviews, posts and songs from Go Periscope. Also be sure to check out the homepage to grab a free download of “Crush Me”.

For fans of: 3OH3!, Odd Year, Metro Station, The All-American Rejects, Cobra Starship

Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: Best Of OurStage 2010

This year was certainly a huge one for rock on OurStage. Our 2010 competitions allowed winning artists to play with incredible acts, such as Bon Jovi, Hanson, the Goo Goo Dolls, Mayday Parade, Anberlin and John Mayer.

Outside of the site, our artists have received national radio airplay, scored festival performance sets and had songs placed in TV shows, commercials and movie trailers. From experimental to pop punk, here are 10 of the best OurStage rock artists from 2010!

The Worsties

The Worsties

It takes a very talented band to be able to reach the Number 1 spot on the Best of Rock Charts, and The Worsties kept that spot for 20 weeks! After having their songs placed on MTV and Oxygen, the band won the coveted opening spot for Bon Jovi and Kid Rock in Chicago. Take a listen to “What’s Her Face” in the player below—we guarantee you’ll be headbanging with this female-fronted rock outfit in no time.

Eclectic Approach

As their name suggests, Seattle’s Eclectic Approach pull from a variety of influences to make funky pop rock that is sure to get you off your feet. Meeting somewhere between Maroon 5 and the Black Eyed Peas, Eclectic Approach have got it all— tight beats, catchy hooks, sweet guitar licks and smooth vocals. This year was a big for these guys thanks to six Top 10 wins, including two in the “Shout It Out with HANSON” Competition (they ended up opening for the trio in Portland, OR). Check out “Cool” in the player below and be sure to add it to your next party playlist!

Again and Again

They’ve played at the Vans Warped Tour, sold over 150,000 records and had their album mixed by top modern rock producer Marc Hudson (Chiodos, Saves the Day). They’re Again and Again from Renton, WA and they’re shaping up to be the next big electronic pop rock act. While competing in the “SUBWAY Fresh Artists” Competition (they finished in the Top 10 for their region), the bad was out on tour across the US. Listen to “Excuse This Honesty” in the player below and get ready to mark your calendars with future tour dates!

Take One Car live at Bamboozle

Take One Car

Millerton, NY’s experimental rock group Take One Car have had an extremely successful year. Having released their full-length album When the Ceiling Meets The Floor last year, the band set out to tour and promote their effort as much as possible in 2010. Their hard work paid off when they were selected to perform TWICE at New Jersey’s Bamboozle festival in May (once at Hoodwink, covering At The Drive-In, and a daytime set on Saturday, as themselves). The group followed their Bamboozle performances with more touring, competing in Airwalk Unsigned Hero Contest and opening for the likes of VersaEmerge and The Gay Blades. Check out “The Menagerie” in the player below and be sure to stay tuned, because these guys (and girl) will be releasing a new album next year! They’ve also been invited back to Bamboozle for 2011, so don’t miss their set!

Transmit Now

Can you imagine watching the People’s Choice Awards and hearing your song play as Hugh Jackman accepts his award for Best Action Hero? Well, Tampa, Florida’s pop rock group Transmit Now experienced it in 2010. Additionally, they were featured in J-14 Magazine as a weekly “Hot Band” and released their first full-length album, Downtown Merry-Go-Round. Listen to “Let’s Go Out Tonight” in the player below and blast it on your next night out!

Bronze Radio Return

Bronze Radio Return won fans over in 2010 with their smooth and sultry indie rock. With a warm acoustic sound, Bronze Radio Return are easily compared to Damien Rice and Coldplay. They won the coveted John Mayer “Side Stage Warfare” Competition for the Boston date and racked up four more Top 10 wins in Acoustic, Indie Rock and Modern Rock Channels. Check out “Digital Love” in the player below by BRR, a band that MySpace Records calls one of the best unsigned groups.

Cedar Avenue

Minneapolis acoustic rock outfit Cedar Avenue had great success on OurStage this year. They opened for Hanson in Milwaukee, had their song placed on ABC’s Cougartown and had eight Top 10 wins on the site, including the “SUBWAY Fresh Artists” Competition for their region. Fronted by husband and wife team Derrin and Jesse Mathews, Cedar Avenue has also opened for sold out crowds at Augustana, A Fine Frenzy and Graham Colton concerts. Check out “Up North” in the player below and get ready to rock!

Orange Avenue

Orange Avenue

From one avenue to the next, pop rock group Orange Avenue was named as one of MTV’s newest Buzzworthy bands for 2010. They’ve shared the stage with the All American Rejects, Rihanna, Smash Mouth and more, and had three Top 10 wins on OurStage, including one for their region in the “SUBWAY Fresh Artists” Competition. They also had their music featured on “MLB Tonight” and their video for “Just Refrain” was played at the Winter Olympics. Listen to the track in the player below and be on the lookout for Orange Avenue on MTV and on the radio!

The Appreciation Post

After being named Alternative Press’ Top Unsigned Band in 2009, The Appreciation Post took 2010 by storm. In addition to releasing two EPs, the group also competed in the “Converse Battle of the Bands” Competition and took home the title of champion after opening for Mayday Parade and Anberlin. Check out the synth-heavy “The Beating of a Lifetime” in the player below and check out the band’s webstore for awesome deals and free music!

The Black Rabbits

Indie rock group The Black Rabbits spent 2010 as both the winners of a year’s worth of guitar strings from Ernie Ball and one of our Needle in the Haystack artists. They were subsequently signed to Rock Ridge Music and have been working hard putting together their debut album! Listen to “Emotion” in the player below and stay tuned for new music coming soon!

We’re already looking forward to meeting the next rock stars of 2011! Who were your favorite OS rock artists this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Q&A With Jim Henke, Vice President of Exhibitions and Curatorial Affairs at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. is home to an invaluable collection of information and artifacts from the world’s greatest rock artists. The nonprofit organization also exists as an educational institution to help teach music enthusiats of all ages.

In January of 2012, the Hall of Fame will be opening a brand new Library and Archives, which will be the world’s most comprehensive collection of documents, music and videos relating to rock music. We had the opportunity to speak with Jim Henke, Vice President of Exhibitions and Curatorial Affairs, to hear all about this incredible new building, as well as the amazing artifacts and educational opportunities at the Hall of Fame.

OS: What do you take into consideration when nominating artists for induction into the Hall of Fame?

JH: The only real rule is that they become eligible 25 years after the release of their first recording. From there, we try to take into account things like the longevity of their career, the impact they had on other artists, innovation, superiority in their style and technique and musical excellence. It’s not based on record sales, it’s basically based on how important of an artist they were and the quality of their body of work.

OS: How typically does the museum procure for its rare memorabilia collection? From private collections? Estates?

The exterior of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

JH: Most of the stuff we have comes directly from the artists and their families or their managers. It varies, but I’d say that 25% of what we have on exhibit here comes from the artists, their families or people who are associated with them. For example, right now, we have an exhibit on Bruce Springsteen. Most of the items came from Bruce directly, but there were a couple collectors out there who had fairly decent collections, so we also borrowed some pieces from them to fill in some of the holes.

OS: What should we expect to see in the new archive/library?

JH: It’s going to operate on two levels. One level will be more of a normal library that the general public can go into, where we’ll have books, magazines, periodicals. People will also be able to access music over the computers, and we’ll also have a lot of videos. The museum itself has been open for fifteen years and we’ve done a lot of events here, and virtually all of them have been filmed. We do a program every year called American Music Masters, where we honor one of our inductees with a week-long series of events and various performances. We’ve done maybe ten of those and we filmed all of them, but that footage has never been available. We also have a program called The Hall of Fame Serieswhere we bring in the inductees and we’ll interview them and often they’ll perform. The archive part of it will be more for students, scholars, historians and journalists. You’ll make an appointment to come in and we’ll have certain collections from various people and it’s their private papers…it could be contracts, correspondence, set lists, manuscripts. So, if someone’s writing a book or if someone’s doing a thesis, they’ll have a private room with an archivist and they’ll be able to go through these people’s papers.

OS: Why, now, is the library starting this archive?

JH: We talked about having a library and archive ever since before we opened and originally it was going to be here at the museum, but we never had quite the proper space. But it’s always been something that’s been on our radar, and we’ve always wanted something where we could preserve the history of rock and roll and allow historians and scholars access to stuff. We looked at other places in the Cleveland area…and there’s a college here called Cuyahoga Community College. Their president has been on our board since day one and has been very active. They also have a program called Recording Arts and Technology and a music production program. It turns out they were building a new building for that program, so their president thought they could build a larger building and we could put our library in there. The building’s complete and we have staff in there now and they’re cataloging everything. It won’t be open to the public until sometime next year, but we’re getting everything up and running.

A look inside the Bruce Springsteen exhibit, on display until February 27, 2011

OS: The Hall has a lot of different educational programs, particularly in classroom settings. How are the topics for classes determined?

JH: We have a program called “Toddler Rock” that’s open to preschool kids. They come in and we use music to teach them, the alphabet and counting. Then we have a program called “Rockin’ the Schools,” which is [offered to students in] kindergarten through twelfth grade. Those classes are taught here at the museum in our theater upstairs. Basically, we take rock and roll and try to use it to each about other things. For our first grade to fourth grade kids, we have a class called “Tell Me Something Good: Music and the Language Arts.” They listen to music and hear some of the stories and they examine how lyrics can establish setting, introduce characters, develop plot and narrative. We have another class called “Rock and Roll and the Science of Sound” and that’s for grades five through eight…it looks more at the audio aspect of rock and roll and how sound travels into our ears. We have another class called “The Message: The Birth of Hip Hop Culture,” which talks about hip hop and what was going on in our culture when hip hop was developing back in the ’70s. We try to go beyond music and talk about sociology or mathematics or science. We also have a distance learning program called “On the Road,” where we use interactive video conferencing technology to go into schools all across the country. We also do college-level classes.

OS: How will the Archive factor into the educational initiatives?

JM: With the kinds of things we’ll have there and having these very personal papers from a lot of people, one of the things we talked about was doing academic conferences and maybe tying it back to an exhibit. It will definitely help us to expand our educational offerings.

OS: What are some of the more interesting,  rare and noteworthy acquisitions you’ve procured?

One of the museum's most impressive items: John Lennon's Sgt. Pepper uniform

JH: We have a great collection from Jim Morrison’s parents. It turns out that they kept every piece of paper related to his life, from the hospital bill from when his mother gave birth to him to virtually all of his school report cards. In an interview for Rolling Stone back in the 6’0s, they asked him what the first poem he ever wrote was, and he said it was called “The Pony Express”…they [his parents] actually had his hand written manuscript of that. So that’s one of our great collections because it really is very thorough. It goes through his college years and formation of  The Doors, Jim had a falling out with his father and when he was arrested for allegedly exposing himself on stage down in Florida, the probation officer down there wrote his father a letter, asking what Jim’s shape was. Jim’s father wrote back this really sad letter about how he hadn’t talked to his son in many years. So there’s this gap through part of The Doors’ years and there’s letters between his father and different legal officials, and then there’s the official announcement from the American embassy in France that he had died. That’s a really nice collection. Yoko Ono has been very good to the museum, we have a great representation of John Lennon. We have a Sgt. Pepper uniform, a lot of his handwritten lyrics, report cards, different correspondence, a couple of his guitars. Similarly, we have a very good relationship with Jimi Hendrix‘s estate. As a young man, he was interested in becoming an artist, so we have all these different paintings that he did when he was younger. It’s interesting because there are a couple of rock band pictures, but there are also a lot of sports drawings that he did. You don’t really think of Jimi Hendrix as being a football fan but he did these different drawings of football players. We have a great collection from U2 that goes back to record company rejection letters, when they were first sending around their demo tapes…those are funny. We have some correspondence between the different band members and some lyrics manuscripts, some guitars and stage outfits. There’s pretty much something for everyone, no matter what your tastes are. We have sections that deal with the roots of rock and roll, the blues and rhythm and blues and gospel and country and folk. We have another section that looks at different cities and the history of rock and roll. It starts with Memphis in the ’50s and then includes Detroit during the Motown years and San Francisco during the psychedelic era and Los Angeles during the singer/songwriter country rock era and it ends in Seattle during grunge. There’s a lot of stuff here!

OS: The new library is already garnering some notable media coverage. What do you hope it will do for the Rock  & Roll Hall of Fame’s already renowned collection?

JH: I think it expands what we’re looking for and the fact that we’re actively out collecting for the library and archives. We’re going to musicians and producers and people in the music business, trying to get their papers. I think it will deepen our collection and broaden the extent of what it is. We’ll have many more documents to show how a lot of the music developed.

Check out the video below to watch Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins induct Queen into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001!

Hip Hop Habit: Micah B

Hip Hop HabitMusical genre labels are a funny thing. Terms like “underground” hip hop and “indie” rock exist to attract fans who define their tastes outside the mainstream noise, but what happens when the acts belonging to these categories net themselves an enormous following? The classic case is that of Kurt Cobain and his unwanted yet astronomical success with Nirvana, but I’m going to use this platform to illuminate another northwestern subterranean dweller: Micah B. Their sounds are different but the mentality is similar. Seems there’s just something about spooky Washington state that breeds artists flying delightedly below the commercial radar, several of whom wind up wildly successful. With 30,000 Twitter followers, 2,300 fans on Facebook and 45,000 plays of the first track to leak from his upcoming release on YouTube, Micah B could be the next to break.

Of course there is a flaw, Micah is a tease. I say this not because he promises to deliver and then disappoints, in fact quite the opposite is true. Instead, it’s because his songs dump you right after you’ve been hooked. However, aside from the fact that his longest piece is just short of two minutes, this recent high school grad fills that handicapping space with enough poetic punch to make us forgive him. At least for now.

Micah B. OurStage Hip Hop HabitThe aforementioned single to leak from his Zom-B Mixtape (available now), “When I’m High,” is one of those songs. Jerking tears precipitous as Seattle’s infamous rain, this overcast song’s content is contrary to what its ironic title might have you thinking at first glance. It chronicles the familiar saga of a love lost with Micah relating the gap between his ecstatic highs and grim lows using rhymes like “I don’t really trip cause the walls closed in/ I’m settin’ shop down like the spot’s closin’/ stonin’ I’m lookin’ like the chosen/ my Jesus piece gleams off the sun and stays frozen” that hit home for anyone who’s ever experienced the creeping onset of deep-seated depression.

A perkier yet equally witty Micah is put on display in “Say Something Freeverse,” a playful beat that lays framework for his entertaining ego to shine. From channeling rock legend Warren Zevon in rap form through lines like “Sleep when I’m dead no slumber for a hustler” to cringe-worthy but guiltily gratifying statements of self affirmation like “I’m hot dog, plenty mustard,” Micah proves here he’s capable of making you smile if nothing else.

The play counts and fan interaction on his various web pages speak not only for the success of his budding career, but also for the fact that growing a movement organically with no support from a label is more possible now than ever if you have the right formula. Check him out around the web, and be sure to grab a copy of the recently released Zom-B Mixtape!

 


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