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Exclusive Q&A: Corey Smith Blazes His Own Path

If any mention of “DIY” only brings to mind the unintelligible screaming of safety-pinned punks, it might surprise you to hear about the incredible independent success of a country artist like Corey Smith. On the strength of his devoted fan base and catchy tunes, Smith has sold over 900,000 digital singles and over 200,000 records independently. Though he released his most recent album The Broken Record on Average Joe’s Entertainment, Smith has stayed true to his independent roots, re-recording past crowd favorites such as “Twenty-One” with new studio polish. We recently caught up with Smith to chat about his grassroots success, his collaboration with producer Rick Beato and how a teaching gig isn’t that different from a music career.

OS: You’ve had an incredible amount of success without any type of record label backing.  How did you garner such a loyal grassroots following?

CS: I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this question over the past few years, and unfortunately I’m still a long ways from answering it.  There are many, many tremendously talented artists out there and, for whatever reason, only a few of them are able to break through and gain a substantial fan base.  If I knew the secret formula, I’d be able to make a fortune writing books, teaching classes or running my own record label.

There was a time when I thought I had the answers, when I thought I understood what was going on, but experience has proven me wrong time and time again.  Fans aren’t a product of just the songwriting or just heavy touring or just social media or just file sharing. They are a product of all those things and more.

All I know is I love writing songs.  I love recording them.  I love performing them.  I can’t imagine my life without music in it, without art in it.  Like breathing or eating or drinking, it’s become a part of who I am and ultimately, the joy I get from the process of creating is the only true measure of my success.

Am I happy I have a fan base? Truly.  Do I know how it came to happen?  Not really. But I thank God that it did.

Continue reading ‘Exclusive Q&A: Corey Smith Blazes His Own Path’

Poptarts: Transmit Now

Since beginning their music career in 2008, this pop rock quintet from Central Florida have aimed to take over the power pop rock world full-speed ahead. One of the band’s first gigs was a slot at the Orlando stop on the 2008 Warped Tour.  After singing to Warner Bros. subsidiary Silent Majority Group (home of bands such as Candlebox and Tantric) a little over a year ago, Transmit Now have since shared the stage with Anberlin and Mayday Parade. (Boston bands: Click here for your chance to play with Anberlin and Mayday Parade!) They also teamed up with producers Pete Thornton and Brooks Paschal (Paramore, Shinedown) for their 2009 Test, Test EP. Now, you may have heard these guys during the 2010 People’s Choice Awards on CBS when their song “Let’s Go Out Tonight” was played while Hugh Jackman accepted his award for Best Action Hero. Even before they were signed, their song “Tarantism” was featured on MTV’s Video Music Awards as well as Paris Hilton’s My New BFF. Most recently, the band was featured in the popular teen magazine J-14 as one of the weekly Hot Bands this past February. Maybe you think credits ranging from Paris Hilton’s and teen rags makes Transmit Now seem like they’re all fluff. You would be wrong.

These guys follow an extremely rigorous touring schedule and will be heading out across the southeast May 27th to promote their first full-length album Downtown Merry-Go-Round. The album will be available on iTunes April 20th with an in-store release date set for May 25th — so keep an eye out!

Check out their OurStage playlist below and their MySpace for upcoming tour dates!

Under Supervision: Alice In Wonderland

When Tim Burton announced he would be directing Alice in Wonderland, fans everywhere rejoiced. Burton’s wonderfully creepy style combined with the classic Lewis Carroll story is a perfect match. Then the track listing for the accompanying soundtrack was released. Many were comforted to find Danny Elfman on board to do the score however critics immediately questioned the Top 40 lineup.  Did the Almost Alice music supervisors take a cue from the Mad Hatter when making the final choices for the compilation?  I gave the album a listen to decide for myself.

The first track, “Alice (Underground)” by Avril Lavigne is a powerful track that sounds different than her usual pop rock fare. While you can’t deny Lavigne’s catchy pop allure, the song doesn’t really hit home as much as it should. Boasting a softer sound, All American Rejects’s decent track, “The Poison” follows Lavigne.  Then Owl City and Metro Station appear to quickly remind listeners of the album’s Top-40 sensibilities. Unfortunately, their contributions,“The Technicolor Phase” and “Where’s My Angel” lack quality.  Shinedown manages to pull off some evocative vocals, but sounds as run-of-the-mill as their predecessors.

Kerli

Kerli, a great addition to the album, lends her her eerie style to two songs.  “Strange,” performed with Tokio Hotel, doesn’t show off the singer’s creepy side enough while the overwhelming dance beat on her solo song, “Tea Party” doesn’t quite fit the film’s mood.  3OH!3’s track, “Follow Me Down,” isn’t as blatantly obnoxious as their previous hits.  In fact, Neon Hitch lends her soothing voice to the track, making it pretty memorable. An odd follow-up to 3OH!3 is Robert Smith’s “Very Good Advice.” The song is more weird than enjoyable, but still manages to capture Alice.

3Oh!3

The long-awaited collaboration from Mark Hoppus and Pete Wentz, “In Transit” is underwhelming — a boring, droning song when compared to the rest of the album (perhaps that’s why it’s placed between two slower tracks). The Plain White T’s manage to steal Hoppus and Wentz’s thunder with a stripped tune, “Welcome to Mystery.” Franz Ferdinand follows with something a slower, vaudeville-influenced tune,“The Lobster Quadrille.”  “Running Out Of Time,” from Motion City Soundtrack lightens the mood with a light, airy sound that the soundtrack needs more of. Then Wolfmother’s “Fell Down A Hole” booms in, loud and rocking. A great track on it’s own, the harder rock sounds doesn’t necessarily vibe with the rest of the album. The refreshing “White Rabbit” by Grace Potter and the Nocturals is the album’s true gem. A cover of the Jefferson Airplane hit, the vocals are strong and loud with a balance of hard and airy guitar backing.  The album concludes with They Might Be Giants and “You Are Old, Father William,” a silly tune based on the poem by Lewis Carrol but a fantastic close to an otherwise flat album.

Overall, the album has a few hits and a lot of misses. The songs that shine do so brightly and the ones that severely lack quality are, at least, terribly catchy. As a compliment to Burton’s film, most tracks fail in comparison to Danny Elfman’s score. His work, as well as the actual film, is generating far more excitement. As a whole, I’ll just say this soundtrack won’t be fielding any GRAMMY nominations soon.

Here’s the full track listing:

1. “Alice (Underground)” performed by Avril Lavigne
2. “The Poison” performed by The All American Rejects
3. “The Technicolor Phase” performed by Owl City
4. “Her Name Is Alice” performed by Shinedown
5. “Painting Flowers” performed by All Time Low
6. “Where’s My Angel” performed by Metro Station
7. “Strange” performed by Tokio Hotel and Kerli
8. “Follow Me Down” performed by 3Oh!3 featuring Neon Hitch
9. “Very Good Advice” performed by Robert Smith
10. “In Transit” performed by Mark Hoppus with Pete Wentz
11. “Welcome to Mystery” performed by Plain White T’s
12. “Tea Party” performed by Kerli
13. “The Lobster Quadrille” performed by Franz Ferdinand
14. “Running Out of Time” performed by Motion City Soundtrack
15. “Fell Down a Hole” performed by Wolfmother
16. “White Rabbit” performed by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals

17. “You Are Old, Father William” performed by They Might Be Giants

 


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