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Jason Aldean Wants You To Check Out ‘My Kinda Party’

Jason Aldean knows what his fans like.

Any doubters need only tune into the buzz around the just-released album My Kinda Party. Not only does the sound follow Aldean’s country-meets-aggressive-edgy guitars voice, but the November 2nd release includes his first duet—with Kelly Clarkson who he handpicked to join him on the song “Don’t You Want To Stay.” Choosing Clarkson, who’s well known for pop, is just another way Aldean shows he isn’t afraid to expand his country sound into areas fans will enjoy. The two will sing a duet on the 44th Annual CMA Awards airing live from 8 to 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Nov. 10th.

“I constantly listen to all different kinds of music but I never am listening to someone’s record and thinking I should [copy] part of it,” said Aldean of his influence. “I know exactly what I want stuff to sound like in the studio. The sound I want, the way I sing and phrase words, that evolved from what I listened to when I was growing up.”

Ever since his self-titled debut album was released in 2005, followed by Relentless in 2007 and Wide Open in 2009, Aldean has stayed with the “sound that brought me to the party.” That sound is based in country with roots extending back to George Strait, Conway Twitty and Ronnie Milsap.

After learning to play guitar when he was a teen, Aldean seemingly shot into the on-ramp for the big time very quickly with a publishing deal and recording contract  in his early 20s. Although his career stalled for a time—and Aldean said he thought about leaving Nashville to return to Georgia—his first album was akin to a stone thrown in a pond. His particular ripple effects were chart topping singles including “Big Green Tractor,” “She’s Country” and “Johnny Cash.”

“I think it’s one of those things you have to stick with what you do,” said Aldean. “Lucky for me, I hung around long enough that [radio DJs] realized I wasn’t going anywhere so thought they’d better start playing my song. Really, the more you go out and play shows the more people start to hear what is you do…and it all comes together.”

Not that Aldean is resting on any laurels. Consider this latest album. Every day he had off touring was spent in the studio sifting through songs that he thought would work on the album. Although he is a prolific songwriter himself, he said he didn’t have any qualms about not having self-penned tunes on the album.

“I just want the best songs for the album,” he said. “Even though I consider my music country, I try to make the guitars a little more aggressive [than some] people might expect. I like to have the songs have a little more of an edge to them.”

Pulling extra edge into his music is one reason he chose Kelly Clarkson as his duet partner.

“Kelly is somebody to me who was a little different. She wasn’t a safe choice or predictable,” said Aldean noting her soulful, blues-tinged singing style. “Plus, I am a fan. I love her voice and her vocal style. I felt like she would add a cool part to the record.”

So committed was Aldean to ensuring his album would reflect his dedication to his fans, that he included 15 tracks.

“I’ve never recorded 15 tracks for an album before,” he said. “We worked harder on this album than we’ve ever worked on any other. In this economy, I want fans to know that I want to give them as much as possible for their money. ”

By Nancy Dunham

Nancy Dunham writes about music for Country Weekly, AOL Music’s site The Boot, The Washington Post, Relix and other publications.

Behind the Mic: What’s The Deal With Record Deals?

There’s no question that the music industry has changed drastically in the past few years. As the power has shifted from the major labels to nearly anyone with Internet access, it’s hard to tell what artists really need to do to get their careers off the ground. After all, it could take years of constant touring, promoting, spending money you don’t have  and sleeping in a van to finally get your big break…or you could become a celebrity overnight thanks to YouTube, MySpace and Twitter.

So, what’s the deal with record deals, anyway? Should you try to get signed on an independent (“indie”) label or a major label? Do you even need one at all?

Indie label Epitaph Records is home to acts such as Weezer and Every Time I Die

In general, indie labels tend to be like small businesses. They typically sign a small number of semi-established acts and have much less funding than a major. Examples of indie labels include Epitaph, Victory, Saddle Creek and Fueled By Ramen. On the other hand, major labels have big budgets and are similar to corporations. They are fast to sign acts with huge followings and many marketable qualities, and can put much more money into their artists’ careers. Examples of major labels include Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and EMI.

EMI artist Snoop Dogg

Essentially, in order to know what kind of label you want to be on, you need to figure out who you are as an artist. Try to compile a written plan for your career. What is your genre? Target audience? What are other acts your target audience likes and why? What have those acts done that helped them succeed? Do some shopping and start a list of labels you like that will help you realize your goals. Once you have the list narrowed down, you’ll need to learn how to effectively and appropriately get the attention of A&R executives.

If the idea of being on a record label doesn’t appeal to you, fear not: it is possible to have a successful career as a musician without a label. Let’s not forget that when Radiohead released In Rainbows without a record label and at any price the customer chose, they saw 1.2 million downloads before it was even physically in stores! With so many free outlets available (including OurStage, of course!), more unsigned musicians are able to be discovered without having to send out demos and press kits to add to the growing pile at an A&R’s desk.

Do you need a label? Not necessarily. Ultimately, the choice is up to you. But whether you choose to stay unsigned or try to get signed by a label, always keep your ideal goals in mind and stay true to what makes you unique!

Icy Hot

Stephanie Bosch

Once Stephanie Bosch emerged on the Edmonton scene, it didn’t take long for people to sit up and take note. Within one year of the release of her first EP the Canadian chanteuse was being asked to play with the likes of Steve Earle, Tracy Chapman and Sara McLachlin. Why all the fuss? Put on “Flash Freeze” and you’ll get it. Bosch is not only the owner of a lilting voice, coated in honey and treacle, but she’s a gifted songwriter, too. A doleful violin, guitar and drums combine for a searing strike on “Flash Freeze,” but if melancholic waltzes aren’t your thing, skip over to “My Room” for a playful romp or “Broken Hearted Fool” for a mischievous vagabond shuffle. Bosch is one of those songwriters who’s hard to corral into one style or genre. But her free spirit makes for a more interesting trip.

GuacaMusic: Alexandra Villar

You just broke up with someone you love. What is the best thing to do now?

a)    Cry your eyes out

b)   Act as if nothing happened

c)    Go partying and dance the night away

You guessed C, right? Latin music will always advocate for partying as a remedy to even the most complicated of all problems. And this is actually what artist Alexandra Villar invites us to do with her song “De Fiesta”, one of our favorite Latin tracks in the last few months.

OurStage artist Alexandra Villar has many reasons to be in the mood to party.  “De Fiesta” has landed in the Top 10 Latin charts several times, and is a favorite among OurStage fans.

Alexandra’s unique talent combines different musical influences from Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the US. In her OurStage profile, she describes herself as an “artist of fusions” and explains that her music is an expression of the “new woman, one that is accompanied by her lifelong dream.”

If you know a little bit about Alexandra’s background, you will understand why music has always been her dream. She was the lead vocalist and guitarist of the group Lapizlázuli for over six years, and then finally released her first solo album Sentir under the independent label Ítoko Records.

Through her songs, Alexandra aims to motivate listeners to be optimistic even in the most adverse circumstances. Like “De Fiesta”, some of her other songs portray the ambivalence of feeling low while staying positive and hopeful.

If you are in the mood to party, and especially if you aren’t, listen to this playlist and remember that La Fiesta is the best remedy for a broken heart. ¡Provecho!

Tis The Season…For A Holiday Song Competition!

We know, we know.  We’re still nursing our Halloween candy hangovers, but we swear we already saw Santa at the department store and—let’s face it—it’s only a matter of days now before the decorations start coming out. So what better way to get in the holiday spirit than starting up a Holiday Song Channel? Starting November 1st, artists can take their best shot at spreading holiday cheer across the web. Think you’ve got the next “Frosty The Snowman” or “Jingle Bells” under your cap? We want to hear it!

Upload your best holiday jingle, ditty, tune—you get it—to OurStage’s Holiday Song Channel. Your entry must be an original composition or a public domain cover and, of course, holiday spirited in nature. So get creative, get cheerful and get into the spirit of things. The competition will run right up until December 31st and the winner will get $100 and a crack at the site-wide $5,000 grand prize. Bet that will help pay off all those holiday shopping debts!

Darius Rucker Adds To His Country Collateral With Charleston, SC 1966

After enjoying years of success, most rock stars either keep running on the same old treadmill and continually chase the Platinum-plated carrot at the end of the stick, or sit by their guitar-shaped pools sipping margaritas and giving pithy quotes to obsequious documentarians. In 2008, with 22 years of Hootie & The Blowfish in the rearview mirror, singer Darius Rucker refused both of those alternatives, instead transforming himself into a country star. It wasn’t as huge a leap as one might think —these days, the reigning sound in Nashville isn’t too far from the kind of heartland rock Rucker’s band helped to pioneer. Even so, Rucker’s fledgling country career bloomed with startling speed; his first country album, Learn To Live, went Platinum, spawning three No. 1 singles and making Rucker the first African-American to score a No. 1 country hit since Charley Pride 25 years earlier.

Even for the head Hootie, that’s a lot to live up to, but now Rucker has leaped into the country fray again with Charleston, SC 1966— named for his hometown and birth year—and it looks like he made the right call. The album’s first single, “Come Back Song,” has already climbed to the No. 2 spot in the country charts, and the rest of the record isn’t exactly lacking in hit potential either, from the driving opening cut “This” to a honky-tonkin’ duet with Brad Paisley on “I Don’t Care.”

Of course, part of Rucker’s appeal, even from the earliest Hootie days, has always been his ability to come across like the quintessential guy-next-door type—albeit one capable of blowing down your door with his big, booming voice. That same kind of down-home, unpretentious “aw shucks” vibe speaks to a whole different audience when it’s coming from underneath a cowboy hat —okay, Rucker doesn’t actually wear one, it’s just a symbolic chapeau—especially on tunes like “Southern State of Mind,” where the sweet-natured South Carolinan finds himself apologizing to affronted females for old-fashioned behavior like opening their doors and being polite.

Even in the wake of Learn To Live’s success, Rucker takes a similarly humble attitude when explaining his approach to the new album. Most artists in his position would probably blather on about how much of a departure their latest record is, and how they’re blazing a bold, new path this time around. Not Rucker. With his typical brand of disarming modesty, he simply assesses “I don’t think we set out to reinvent the wheel or do a new sound. I think this record is more of an expansion of the last record than anything else. It’s like picking up where the last record left off.” With a tour schedule that runs all the way through March of 2011 and includes a string of dates on Brad Paisley’s H20 World Tour, it looks like the stage is set (literally) for Rucker to do plenty more expanding on his country success in the months to come. In the meantime, we’re just hoping that he doesn’t inspire big ideas in the heads of too many other rockers who made their name in the ‘90s; Rucker taking a Nashville turn is one thing, but the world probably isn’t ready for a Green Day bluegrass album.

Darius Rucker Tour Dates:

11/4 – Milwaukee, WI, Riverside Theater SOLD OUT

11/5 – Springfield, MO, O’Reilly Family Event Center

11/6 – Hinckley, MN, Grand Casino Hinckley Event Center

11/12 – Uncasville, CT, Mohegan Sun Casino

11/13 – Rochester, NY, Blue Cross Arena

11/14 – Hampton Beach, NH, Hampton Beach Casino

More at DariusRucker.com

By Jim Allen

Jim Allen has contributed to a wide range of print and online outlets including RollingStone.com, MOJO, Village Voice, Uncut, VH1.com, iTunes, All Music Guide, CMT.com, The Advocate, Prefix, Blurt and many more.

Q&A With Good Charlotte

Bands can easily fade away like a passing trend, but Good Charlotte remain at the forefront of the scene they helped create a decade ago. The band, which includes now-celebrity twins Joel and Benji Madden, has released four studio albums and toured worldwide, while at the same time adjusting to life in the limelight and an ever-changing music industry.

Today, the band releases their brand new album, Cardiology, a record that was originally finished in January and set to release in March. Feeling unsatisfied with the final product, Good Charlotte returned to the drawing board and created a pop-punk record that they are truly proud of. We got the chance to speak with bassist Paul Thomas about life for GC a decade after the debut, being in a band with celebrities and the changes that occur when a young band grows up.

OS: The music industry has been through a huge transformation since Good Charlotte first started out a decade ago. Has it been difficult to adapt to the changes?

PT: Yeah, it’s a lot different now than before, like you said. It’s been difficult, but we’re trying. You’ve got to do a lot of online work and a lot of touring. It’s brought it back to like… it really matters about touring and building fantasies. Just hitting the road nonstop. It’s cool because it’s like the music has to be better to cut through now, it can’t just be fabricated and thrown in your face.

OS:  One big change for the band is having two members become as famous for their personal lives as they are for their talent. Has that impacted the band?

PT: It is what it is, you know? They’re just living their lives and we’re still doing the same thing that we’ve been doing. It’s been a good thing. We’ve been able to keep touring and doing our thing for ten years now. Hopefully we’ll still be able to keep doing it for another ten.

OS: Joel started off writing lyrics about high school and now he’s writing songs about his kids. Are you intentionally aiming your music to an older audience or is your songwriting more a reflection on where you are in your personal lives?

PT: That’s just what it’s always been about, what’s going on in our lives. Talking about where we are. It’s not like we’re aiming it towards anything, it’s just that’s what’s going on now. We’re not in high school, we’re having babies. The twins are really truthful with their lyrics, like when they talk about their lives and families…they just can’t help but write about what’s going on. If babies are being born, there’s gonna be a baby song, you know it! (laughs)

OS: Do you have any plans for commemorating the ten-year anniversary of your self-titled record this year?

PT: We haven’t really talked about that too much…we’re all focused on Cardiology right now. But it’s not a bad idea, maybe I’ll bring it up! (laughs).

OS: It seems to be a big trend lately. A lot of bands are getting back together, doing reunion tours, re-releasing albums…

PT: I think it’s a great idea. I hope all those shows do well for those bands. We’ve talked about something like that before but we definitely have not been focusing on that lately.

OS: Your last album, Good Morning Revival, was more of a pop record than your previous releases. Has your sound evolved again on Cardiology?

PT: I think pop has always been part of our sound, no matter what the albums sound like. The twins can’t help but write catchy pop songs. The music to it is always changing. We’re always trying to do something different. We don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. I think Cardiology sets itself apart…I think every album is completely different. It’s still Good Charlotte, I don’t think any album doesn’t sound like us.

OS: So it’s still Good Charlotte, just a different take on it?

PT: Totally.

OS: Cardiology was finished awhile ago, but you decided to throw everything out and start over with a new producer and a new record label. What was the reason for that decision?

PT: We just weren’t feeling it, you know? Things weren’t feeling right.  We established a lot of good relationships with Sony and it was a peaceful parting. We were just ready to move on to a new label that would be a little more energetic and focusing on us instead of other bands. Capitol is really making us feel that way. We haven’t felt this much love from a label since The Young and The Hopeless, so we’re really excited. Things are hopefully winding up really well here and that’s what we wanted. We wanted a proper setup for a release and stuff instead of everything just being pushed out there when we weren’t ready, so that’s why we took so long with this one.

OS: Some of the bands you’ve been on tour with recently were fans when your first record came out. What is it like to play shows with bands who grew up listening to your music?

PT: It’s a lot of fun. They all told us they were fans every day! It was really cool. It definitely made me feel a little older…we’re not the “spring chickens” on the tour buses. We started so young and we were always the youngest, but now that’s just not the case. But it was cool. A lot of the bands made us feel really good about ourselves.

Pick up Cardiology, in stores and on iTunes now…and check out the music video for the first single, “Like It’s Her Birthday” below!

Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: Punk Goes Pop, Volume 3

It’s been ten years since the release of Punk Goes Metal, the first of a nine-disc set of cover compilations released by Fearless Records. Today, the tenth installment in the series, Punk Goes Pop, Volume 3, hits shelves.

Upon first view of the tracklisting, you may be surprised to see which artists appear on this record. While the early Punk Goes… albums featured scene staples like Yellowcard, The Starting Line, Thrice and Taking Back Sunday, Punk Goes Pop, Volume 3‘s lineup includes few artists that the average music listener would know (and certainly no bands that truly qualify as “punk”). The question from here on out, then, is: Can the underdogs pull their weight?

The album starts off with a cover of Jay Sean‘s “Down” by “crunkcore” duo Breathe Carolina. Unfortunately for Breathe Carolina, the very mention of “crunkcore” will be enough to keep many from giving this track a chance.

Crunkcore duo Breathe Carolina open the record with their cover of Jay Sean's "Down"

“Down” does set the tone for most of the record, though, which reflects the hottest trend in pop rock: the electronic-meets-screamo style made famous by bands like Attack Attack! and 3OH!3. If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, be warned: you probably won’t like most of Punk Goes Pop, Volume 3.

The third track, a cover of Lady Gaga‘s “Bad Romance,” comes to us from OurStage band Artist Vs Poet. Though it’s been covered a million times already, this is a solid version of it and remains very true to the original.

Another highlight of the record is Mayday Parade‘s cover of Jason Derülo‘s “In My Head.” Vocalist Derek Sanders can hit all the high notes without relying on autotune, and the track as a whole is refreshingly straight forward and not overproduced.

We Came As Romans' cover of "My Love" might just give JT a run for his money

After the harmony-laden pop vocals of Sparks the Rescue‘s cover of “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum fade out, you may be caught off-guard by the growls of We Came As Romans vocalist David Stephens. Romans’ cover of “My Love” actually ends the record nicely, though, with clean vocalist Kyle Pavone’s Justin Timberlake-like croon going head-to-head with breakdowns and synth riffs.

Unfortunately, covers do not always do the original song justice (you’ll probably find yourself skipping The Ready Set‘s bland version of B.o.B and Hayley Williams’ “Airplanes”), but if you’re a fan of teen “popcore,” you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised with this collection.

Pick up Punk Goes Pop, Volume 3 in record stores and online today and check out Mayday Parade’s cover of “In My Head” below!

Tracklisting:

1. Breathe Carolina – “Down” (originally recorded by Jay Sean ft. Lil Wayne)
2. Woe, Is Me – “Hot ‘N Cold” (originally recorded by Katy Perry)
3. Artist Vs Poet – “Bad Romance” (originally recorded by Lady GaGa)
4. Mayday Parade – “In My Head” (originally recorded by Jason Derülo)
5. Asking Alexandria – “Right Now (Na Na Na)” (originally recorded by Akon)
6. This Century – “Paper Planes” (originally recorded by M.I.A.)
7. The Word Alive – “Heartless” (originally recorded by Kanye West)
8. Family Force 5 – “Bulletproof” (originally recorded by La Roux)
9. Of Mice & Men – “Blame It” (originally recorded by Jamie Foxx ft. T-Pain)
10. Miss May I – “Run This Town” (originally recorded by Jay-Z ft. Kanye West and Rihanna)
11. The Ready Set – “Airplanes” (originally recorded by B.o.B ft. Hayley Williams)
12. Cute Is What We Aim For – “Dead And Gone” (originally recorded by T.I. ft. Justin Timberlake)
13. Sparks The Rescue – “Need You Now” (originally recorded by Lady Antebellum)
14. We Came As Romans – “My Love” (originally recorded by Justin Timberlake ft. T.I.)


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!

Calling All Judges To The Intel Superstars Competition

Back in July,  the launch of the Intel “Superstars” Competition offered artists nationwide the chance to win some amazing prize packages including personal computers based on Intel® Core™ technology and equipped with music producing software from Cakewalk, industry leaders of music creation and recording software. The competition initially took place across six genre-specific channels including Latin, urban, singer-songwriter, rock, pop and country. The Top 20 artists in each of these channels earned themselves a spot in the Intel “Superstars” Finals Competition for a shot at winning $10,000. The winner will be determined in January 2011 by a panel of music industry experts including Bruce Tyler, former EVP of Sony Music. These artists need YOU to judge in the Intel “Superstars” Finals Music Channel so the best artists can find their way to the top. So whether you’re are a fan of latin, urban, singer-songwriter, pop, rock or country, head to the Intel “Superstars” Finals Channel now. Your vote may give these artists the push they need to make it to the spotlight. For official rules and competition information click HERE.

 


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