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Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: Broomfiller

Having already offered up successful rock groups like Sum 41, Billy Talent, Finger Eleven and Alexisonfire, Canada is now bringing us punk group Broomfiller.

With energetic guitars and quick, straight-forward drum beats, Broomfiller’s sound is reminiscent of bands like Anti-Flag, Alkaline Trio and MXPX. The vocals, provided by frontman Richard Leko, are characteristically punk: a style in which casual yelling is preferred over technically “correct” singing. But if you can’t get behind that, you’ll be happy to know that Broomfiller are not one-trick ponies. Their slower numbers, such as “One Last Time” and “I Won’t Leave You There” from their 2006 album Enter the Storm, are closer in style to Nirvana and Staind. Leko’s vocals are deeper and much more focused on these tracks, which are still strong even when up against the more complex structure of the group’s fast punk songs.

After one listen to the intro of “Windsor Bukkake,” you’ll definitely begin to wonder what Broomfiller’s live show must be like. One thing’s for sure, these guys are no strangers to the road. They have toured extensively across Canada and the US since 2002, including spots on the Vans Warped Tour and performances at the International Pop Overthrow Festival and Canadian Music Week Festival.

In addition to touring and recording two albums, Broomfiller have been racking up awards in both Canada and America. They took home “Best International Artist” at both the Empire Music Awards and the Orange County Music Awards and were nominated for the same title at the Southern California Music Awards. They’ve also been nominated for “Best Punk/Alternative Group” at the South Bay Music Awards and “Best Independent Album” at the Toronto Independent Music Awards in addition to reaching the Top 10 of the Punk Charts three times and the Best of Rock Chart here on OurStage, where they stayed for fourteen weeks!

Get your air guitars ready and check out Broomfiller in the player below!

Hip Hop Habit: Club Hop Playlist

Hip Hop HabitFor any of you who’ve been reading this column on a regular basis, today’s post might seem like a bit of a wild card. That’s because it is. Club hop, party rap, whatever you want to call it, is rarely featured in Hip Hop Habit for the simple reason there’s not much to say about it past the beat. The rhymes are usually redundant and the messages blatantly clear, but that doesn’t mean rap of this sort doesn’t hold any importance. Today’s post is a playlist dedicated to this type of music, check it out below and let us know if you have anything to add!

Metal Monday: Electric Wizard – Black Masses [Review]

Revivalist trends, such as the rise of the classic thrash sound, have permeated the metal scene in recent years.  The bands associated with these trends are often criticized for not being entirely authentic (and in many cases, rightfully so). Some bands, however, just understand what it is to be a band with a classic and authentic throwback sound. Electric Wizard is one of these bands. Though they’ve recorded six albums previous to Black Masses, the band only recently locked in a bona fide sound. As heavy, doomy and stonerific as ever, Black Masses has a very specific feel to it that hasn’t existed in modern music for quite some time—a guitar sound reminiscent of a thick Tony Iommi power chord circa the early 1970s, despair-ridden vocals that fit right between an Ozzy-led Black Sabbath and Diamond Head.

Acquiring the classic heavy and doom metal sound in today’s age is quite a special thing. Bands need to sound as though they’re playing live and haven’t cut and pasted the record together. The balance and reverb on all tracks need to mesh; if your vocalist sounds like he’s in a giant cathedral but your guitarists sound like they’re standing outside, then  you’re missing the mark. Though Electric Wizard perfect the classic recording sound on this record, it’s nothing like the classic heavy metal in terms of songwriting, it takes more cues from the band’s roots in 1990′s stoner metal in this regard. The difference, however, is that Electric Wizard have gotten less aggressive and more doomy with every release—Black Masses included.

Though Black Masses is a great album, it is one with niche appeal. There are no immediate hooks, catchy choruses or even memorable lines to pick out of the crowd. From the very first riff, Black Masses bludgeons your ears with an extremely forceful and heavy sound, and does so for sixty straight minutes. If you’re looking for a droning, lumbering and extremely heavy listen—it doesn’t get much better than this (certainly not in 2010). Black Masses might just be Electric Wizard’s best release to date, an unlikely feat for a stoner/doom band these days.

Black Masses can be ordered from the Rise Above Records Webstore, Newbury Comics (including online) and iTunes Store.

Can Tabloid Overexposure Make and Break Pop Stars?

The tabloids giveth. The tabloids taketh away. Where would Jon and Kate Gosselin, Kim Kardashian and the former stars of The Hills and Laguna Beach be without them? Even Jessica Simpson extended her pop stardom when she became a regular in gossip magazines. Most people probably know Tara Reid not from American Pie or anything else in her filmography (which includes movies directed by Robert Altman and the Coen brothers), but from her tabloid trajectory, which began in the early ’00s as the fiancée of then-MTV Total Request Live host Carson Daly. And Paris Hilton owes both her name recognition and “career”—which would include the modest success of Paris, her 2006 pop album—to tabloid notoriety.

While tabloid exposure broke down Reid’s career as effectively as it built up her fame, that old gossip mill has never really churned in Lindsay Lohan’s favor. She’s spent so many years starring on the cover of every tabloid in the business that most people seem to have forgotten that she was once a talented actress and promising singer. A similar thing happened to Whitney Houston during her Bobby Brown years and more recently with her failed “comeback.” Where’s George Michael’s career these days? And it took Michael Jackson’s 2009 death to remind the masses of his remarkable music talent.

Then there’s LeAnn Rimes. Once a multi-platinum music star, she spent less time on the charts in the past year than she did in the tabloids after leaving her husband for married actor Eddie Cibrian (both Rimes and Cibrian are now divorced from their respective spouses and publicly an engaged couple, though Rimes and Cibrian’s ex still catfight on E! and elsewhere). Longtime fans who fell in love with her when she had her first hit at age 13 might never forgive and forget watching her sordid romantic drama play out in the press. “Swingin’,” her first single since becoming a tabloid fixture spent only four weeks on Billboard‘s country singles chart last summer, peaking at No. 57, which doesn’t bode well for her upcoming album, Lady and Gentlemen. Even public apologies and “setting the record straight” interviews, such as those resulting from the backlash of her Shape magazine cover  last month, and more recently on her ABC exclusive interview last week, haven’t done much to sway public perception (or record sales) in her favor.

Too bad Rimes isn’t a movie star. Historically actresses seem to have had it easier when it comes to cheating scandals. In the ’50s, Ingrid Bergman had an extramarital affair with Italian director Roberto Rossellini, got pregnant and left her husband. She spent several years in self-imposed exile from Hollywood—and was denounced by the U.S. Senate—but eventually returned to Hollywood and won two more Oscars. In the ’60s, Elizabeth Taylor was rewarded with the first of two Oscars after stealing Debbie Reynolds’ husband, Eddie Fischer. Whether Angelina Jolie actually stole Brad Pitt from Jennifer Aniston is now almost beside the point since all three of their careers continue to thrive. And even though Julia Roberts, who hooked up with husband Danny Moder while he was married to someone else, is no longer the most bankable woman in Hollywood, her star still shines brightly.

But God help the certified pop star who spends too much time in the tabloids, whether or not cheating is involved. In August, Fantasia Barrino, accused of snatching another woman’s husband, sought relief from public scandal by downing a bottle of pills. Chris Brown is still atoning for his violent sins against Rihanna. Though we’ll have to wait for Amy Winehouse’s next album (rumored to be coming in January and by all accounts seems to be again delayed) to assess the career damage done by her tabloid-documented problems with drugs, alcohol and a wayward husband, her reputation took a major hit. So did Mariah Carey’s after her breakdown in 2001, and the ton of bad press she received because of it nearly ruined her career. When I interviewed her the following year, she complained that the media went out of their way to make her look like an idiot.

Britney Spears probably would say they did the same thing to her. Despite her recent rebound after years of being a punching bag for gossip reporters, she’s no longer the commercial titan she once was. John Mayer’s sales are okay, but he‘s kind of a joke. And it will be interesting to see how Taylor Swift’s apparent preference for high-profile tabloid bait— reportedly including Mayer and, most recently, Jake Gyllenhaal—will affect her career.

As for Rimes, it’s hard to imagine her career recovering any time soon  from her indiscretion unless Cibrian ends up dragging her heart around. The gossip magazines would be all over it—months of “LeAnn Heartbroken Over Being Dumped,” followed by “How LeAnn Put Her Heart Back Together.” Comeback, Phase 1: Complete. Because nothing says, “Please forgive me— and start buying my records again,” like having your heart broken and mended on the cover of Us Weekly.

By Jeremy Helligar

Jeremy Helligar is a former staff writer for People, Teen People, Us Weekly and Entertainment Weekly, who now writes about celebrities and pop culture from his couch in Buenos Aires.

Cipher House Rules

Dylan "Sly" Synclaire

In the game of rap, the cipher is where true talent emerges: two MCs going toe-to-toe in a battle of wits and words. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Dylan “Sly” Synclaire was a master of the cipher, woodshedding in the schoolyard before moving to LA to launch his career to the next level. His first output demonstrates the years spent perfecting his swerve. Like B.o.B., Synclaire is an affable rapper, injecting his lyrics with easy humor. In “Mercedes Benz” he admits that while he may be driving a “hooptie,” his “swagger’s on 10 like I’m in a Mercedes Benz,” as the beat sizzles and pops like a firecracker. Many of Synclaire’s tracks are laid back, like the breezy, R&B-soul of “Crush,” or the swelling pseudo strings of “I Know.” But don’t mistake this West Coast MC for a softie. “AIA” samples Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” for a rapid-fire assault. “This is a full contact sport, if you ain’t built for it, get off the court,” Synclaire spits. Any MC who wants to battle, beware. This dude’s packing some serious lyrical heat.

Needle in the Haystack: The Orkids

Colorful and fun, this pop electro-rock band out of Athens, Georgia is crowned this week’s Needle in the Haystack winner. The Orkids started off as a studio project for the two founding members, Adam and Sandra, but is now fully decked out as a five-piece rock band with some serious talent. These guys are no joke. The Orkids have a very professional sound and seem to gig on a regular basis thanks to their fun and catchy pop sound.

The band’s track “Told You So” is one of our favorites!  Once those vocals grab your attention, you’ll be craving more. But don’t take our word for it though. Listen for yourself below.

Stay tuned because we’re going to be “hanging out” with The Orkids all week getting all sorts of info from them during multiple interviews and a Tweet & A! Should be a blast, so stay tuned.

Scene & Heard: Paris, France

Almost a full year ago, our resident metal head Munson the Destroyer decided to delve into the passionate hardcore scene of Paris, France. He conducted an interview with OurStage hardcore rock act Danforth. While they mentioned that the Parisian hardcore scene in particular is rather small, we decided we’d get back in touch with them to dig a little deeper and find out about Paris’s music scene as a whole. This also happens to be the last stop in our multi-city, multi-country, transcontinental trip on Scene & Heard. This week, we are glad to bring you the music of Paris, France.

In terms of the arts, Paris is one of the most influential cities in history. French music has been characteristic and respected in every era of artistic revolution — in the Renaissance,  Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras, all the way through to today. Concert and art music have evolved through many forms in the city, seeing the pioneering of the electronic art music of the 1900s called musique concrète. The Paris Conservatory of Music remains one of the top international schools for composition and performance.

Of course today the popular music realm in Paris is just as relevant as any other major market. French artists seem to identify pretty passionately with their music scenes and tend to opt for promotion/performance within France rather than abroad. Artists like Gojira, Phoenix and Daft Punk hail from Paris itself. In terms of venues, Paris has an abundance of performance spaces to offer. Elysée Montmartre hosts international acts like Jason Derulo, Broken Social Scene and Spoon as well as French acts like Collectif Métissé. For huge arena shows, head to Bercy to the Palais Omnisports. This sporting arena also hosts musical acts like Shakira, Guns N’ Roses and Ozzy Osbourne.

Danforth Live

Of course, to get a closer look, we’ll turn again to a local OurStage band. Danforth has some interesting perspectives on the scene. “For a band . . . it is better to catch regular organizers [of shows] and plan early,” they advise. “For a visitor . . . head to the Oberkampf and Pigalle areas where there are many venues and bars.” In general, the band seems to constantly reiterate how dense a scene it really is. It’s crowded, full of mixed genres, all in a small radius. In terms of Paris hardcore, they say, “It’s a small scene if you look at other countries like Germany or Belgium, but it’s very rich and full of life and energy!” The band reiterates the Elysée Montmarte as one of their favorite venues as well.

Danforth is in-your-face driving hardcore with a heavy dose of “street hXc” as the band puts it. They describe their own influences as a mixture of metal, hardcore and French hip-hop — truly supporting the eclectic nature of the scene in which they began. The band have shared the stage with Hatebreed, Agnostic Front, Walls of Jericho and Skarhead. With groovy breakdowns, fist-clenching shouts and a touch of hip-hop, it’s not surprise that they’ve also been featured on French and German television and short movies from around the world.

Currently the band is promoting the recent video for their song “Predator.” When we last left off, they had only posted a teaser online. Well, we are pleased to present you with some true Paris hardcore flavor; here is Danforth’s full 3D video:

Danforth are gearing up for more touring through the end of 201o and plan to release a new album in 2011. Keep an eye out for that. As for Scene & Heard, it’s been a long ride and we’ve seen a lot of great cities, passionate artists and signature vibes. We hope we’ve inspired you to step outside the comfort box that is your hometown and see what the rest of the world has to offer.

New Music Biz 101: The New Social Network

In Steve Jobs’ keynote address on September 1st,Apple announced the newest social network for musicians. Since the launch of Ping, there has been a lot of controversy on the actual usefulness or value of the platform. We’re going to take a quick look at Ping from an artist perspective.

For those who don’t already know, Ping is a social network and recommendation system that allows users to follow artists and see short “Twitter-like” posts by friends and artists that they’re connected to on the network. Artist profiles aren’t as easily created as they are on MySpace, and you currently need to be approved to join.

The easiest way to get on Ping is through a company that distributes to third parties like Tunecore and Nimbit. Most of the sites that help you get your music on iTunes are now able to get your artist page up and running on Ping. When experimenting with this process, we used Nimbit to see how difficult it was to get going. We found it relatively easy to get started. It involved asking a few questions about you as an artist and Nimbit sends the information over to apple for approval. Apple then responds shortly after.

When looking at an artist profile you’re able to see an activity stream as well as upcoming concerts and a few additional links. As you can probably imagine, the artist interface includes the ability to sell your music using the iTunes store. As an artist, you’re able to upload photos, videos and text updates similarly to Facebook.

The big question of course becomes, is Ping going to be the MySpace killer? In our opinion, that is yet to be seen. Ping is very cool in theory, but has yet to show anything overly impressive. Running a social network inside of a desktop application has proven to be dangerously slow. Users really hate any site that runs slowly, and this could potentially hinder Ping’s growth. But as time goes on, the Ping user base grows. And as new updates and additions begin to be released, we’ll have a better sense of its true value.

Needle in the Haystack: Follow Up

It’s been an amazing week learning more about Mon Cheri. We found out a lot about them including that they love their fans,as well as some good old beer! In addition to playing great music, the band has an awesome sense of humor and seem like fun to hang out with! If you haven’t taken a listen to Mon Cheri, check out the blog post from the beginning of the week where they gave away the free track, “Psyche”! You can also find the band featured on MTVmusic.com here!

Stay tuned for next week’s Needle in the Haystack artist, and, as always, drop a comment if you dig what you hear from Mon Cheri!

Elektra Records Catches a Buzz, Breaks on Through

For almost a decade, music business insiders thought Jac Holzman was a nut. A college student at the time he founded independent label Elektra Records in 1950, Holzman released only folk and international music on his imprint, plowing every cent he made from titles like Kentucky Mountain Family by Jean Ritchie and Mexican Folk Songs by Cynthia Gooding into subsequent releases. Ten years and 200 or so releases later Holzman and Elektra were cast in a different light, suddenly making tons of money with the Authentic Sound Effects series, discs packed with short segments featuring the sounds of door buzzers, whip cracks, avalanches, car crashes and just about any other conceivable action sound. The source material came from field recordings made around New York City and elsewhere, and was basically free so Elektra had no royalties or artist fees to pay; with everyone from audiophiles to closet stoners wanting a copy it was like printing money. The story of the stroke of genius that took Elektra from labor of love to budding power player is just one of many recounted in detail in Becoming Elektra: The True Story of Jac Holzman’s Visionary Record Label, the latest title from music publicist and rock journalist Mick Houghton. Houghton covers the label’s folk era thoroughly but it’s the period after the sound effects coup that most readers will be more familiar with; that’s when money from the sales of more than a million Authentic Sound Effects records gave Elektra enough cash to sign the Doors and break on through to rock ‘n’ roll. In 1973 Holzman left Elektra, by then a major label affiliated with Warner Bros. and home to seminal groups like the Stooges and Queen, and that’s where the Becoming Elektra story ends. Presented here as a coffee table book and rich with photos, album cover graphics and label documents like  royalty statements (monetarily quaint by today’s standards) and a letter to Iggy Pop, Becoming Elektra will further enlighten those who have the liner notes from their old Harry Chapin and Atomic Rooster albums memorized as well as inspire anyone involved with a fledgling indie label.

Becoming Elektra: The True Story of Jac Holzman’s Visionary Record Label

Jawbone Press

$29.95

304 Pages

By Kevin Wierzbicki

Kevin Wierzbicki is a music and travel writer based in Arizona. His articles about music, travel and music-related travel have been published in the likes of USA Today, The Arizona Republic, Desert Living Magazine, Campus Circle in Los Angeles and Antimusic.com.

 


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