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Discourse & Dischord

The Good

2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees announced

Champagne’s a flowin’ at the homes of Bon Jovi, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, LL Cool J and Dr. John, who among others, were all nominated into the 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week. The induction ceremony will take place on March 14th in Cleveland, Ohio. We would like an Alice Cooper/Neil Diamond duet please … to whoever is taking requests.

Joe Jonas is ridin’ solo

Following in his little bro’s footsteps, or maybe heeding the advice of Jason Derülo, Joe Jonas announced plans to record a solo all by himself. Something with “a sexier, Justin Timberlake vibe,” says the Middle One. Sexier than “Camp Rock”? Can it be done? We’ll all find out in 2011…

The Bad

Mariah Carey falls in Singapore

If you’re gonna fall, fall with class. Like Mariah Carey, who took a tumble in Singapore but smiled the whole way down. Then things got a little more diva-ish when Carey yelled for her assistant to come help her take her shoes off while the band kept playing “Make It Happen.” Check it out below.

Katy Perry avenges her “Sesame Street” snub

On SNL this past weekend, Katy Perry avenged her Sesame Street-banned bust by donning a low-cut Elmo t-shirt and bouncing around on a sofa. Those muppets must be seeing red!

The Ugly

MC Hammer starts beef with Jay Z

This would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Back story: On Kanye West’s song “So Appalled,” Jay-Z delivers a line about “blowing through $30,000 like Hammer.” Well, Mr. MC Hammer was none too pleased about that, and responded on Twitter by linking to a video of himself beating up a punching bag. “You want my attention [Jigga] you got it.” Punch, punch, punch. It’s all kind of embarrassing and feeble, but we’ll play along. Please Hammer, don’t hurt him!


Soul Searching: Jeremy James

There are a few important qualities that we search for when “Soul Searching” for artists. Significant industry accomplishments, a unique style and ridiculous vocals to name a few. Jeremy James has all these and then some! James has shared the same stage with an extensive and impressive list of artists including India Arie, Erykah Badu and John Legend. As for Jeremy’s voice, it’s often described as a mix found somewhere between Stevie Wonder and Seal. Although these are two enormous shoes to fill, we can definitely see where they’re coming from!

Jeremy’s music is creative, and it’s apparent that he’s not just a singer— he’s a songwriter and talented overall musician. In his song, “U Should Know” take a listen to the old school/new school mix in both the vocals and backing track. We’ve included four of Jeremy’s tracks below to stream. Which one do you like the best? Any comments for or about the artist are always appreciated. Let us know what you think!

Tune Up: M-Audio Axiom Review

A couple weeks ago, I talked about using software synthesis to beef up your recordings or live sound. However, if you want to perform those synths you’ve built, the easiest way to do so is with a keyboard. How do you connect a keyboard to your computer? Well, most of you probably know that a MIDI controller is a pretty obvious concept. They all do the same thing, right? So you wouldn’t need to worry too much about which one you buy, right? Well, it’s not quite as simple as that. This week, I’m reviewing what have become my favorite MIDI controllers on the market: M-Audio’s line of USB-connected/powered keyboard controllers, branded Axiom.

The Axiom comes in a few different sizes: 25-, 49- and 61-key varieties. They also offer a “pro” line which has comparable features plus a few added perks. For this review, I’ll focus on the Axiom 49 for its affordability, features and flexibility. The Axiom 49 keyboard has enough octaves to give you the ability to play realistic piano lines, but it’s also portable enough to easily carry from show to show or from studio to studio.

Now that we have the right size, let’s look at some important specs for this M-Audio Axiom 49:

  • 49 semi-weighted keys with assignable aftertouch
  • 8 knobs, 9 sliders, all assignable
  • 8 assignable pads
  • 15 assignable trigger buttons
  • snapshot capabilities

While the keyboard has a lot of different specs, I’ve listed things that I look for in a solid MIDI controller. First, you need some solid keys that are velocity sensitive for a realistic feel during performance. Next, you want assignable knobs and buttons, so you can trigger on-screen knobs quickly without fussing with a mouse (e.g., you can set it up so that a specific knob on your keyboard controls a specific knob or function on the software view). You also want to be able to take quick snapshots on the keyboard so you can quickly switch between sounds (much like presets on a hardware synth). Finally, where the Axiom stands out most is its inclusion of trigger pads right on the device. This is unique among most MIDI keyboards out there as it gives you the ability to use drums pads when controlling drum samples, eliminating the need to purchase a separate USB drum pad controller or drum machine.

The keyboard is connected and powered via USB bus, so it’s simple and plug-and-play. There are also MIDI ins/outs as well as a power adapter input for added flexibility. Overall, I have had some of the most realistic sounds, feels and takes with this specific controller. While it is a little heavier than I would like my controllers, it makes up for it in features and size. I strongly recommend this for any live, studio or hobby musician.

B.o.B.’s Big Year

Born Bobby Ray Simmons Jr., B.o.B. is the latest young rapper taking the pop world by storm.  You could say the rock-loving rapper is on a roll of sorts and showing no signs of slowing down. His singles turned to summer anthems overnight and earned him five VMA nominations, as well as nods for BET and Teen Choice Awards. B.o.B. performed to packed crowds from the main stage at Coachella and Lollapalooza, and caught the attention of more than just hip hop fans.

Photo by Wuz Good Courtesy of Atlantic Records

He just watched his third consecutive single, “Magic,” soar to the top ten charts and score him an Adidas commercial featuring the song.  B.o.B. received his first BMI Urban Music Award in September, where President and CEO, Del Bryant, called him “the future of music.” The Southern sensation opened the show to an industry-packed crowd with his hits, “Nothin’ On You” and “Airplanes,” accompanied by nothing but his guitar.  A couple days later, he took the stage alongside Paramore front-woman, Hayley Williams for a show-stopping performance of “Airplanes” at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.  His debut album, B.o.B. presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray was released earlier this year by TI’s Atlantic imprint, Grand Hustle Records and features cameos by an eclectic bunch including Eminem, Janelle Monae, Lupe Fiasco, and Weezer front-man, Rivers Cuomo.  The album shot to Number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 in its first week, making B.o.B the thirteenth male solo artist to achieve such success with a debut release.  His unique, clever delivery coupled with his unusual affection for instruments and artistry makes him a welcomed rarity to the sometimes stagnant style of pop-rap.  This fall, B.o.B. will hit the road with Paramore when he joins them for their UK tour before gearing up for his own cross-country caravan, The Shootin’ For The Stars Tour.

By Cortney Wills

Cortney Wills is a pop culture journalist born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has lived in LA, Chicago and NYC and enjoys all things entertainment.

Behind the Mic: Mailing List Management

When managed correctly, mailing lists can be the ultimate key to fan engagement. A mailing list is a directory of fan names and their contact information (e-mail address, phone number and city/state are all good to have). The easiest way to collect this information is to bring a “guestbook” with you to every show. You can leave the guestbook at your merch table, or bring it around to the crowd after your set. You should also have a sign up form on your Web site and MySpace page.

Lady Gaga's mailing list updates fans on her latest contest & music video.

To make signing up more appealing to your new fans, you should offer an incentive. For example, announce on stage that anyone who signs up for the mailing list will get a free CD, t-shirt or song download.

Let’s say you’ve got the contact information for twenty new fans. What now?

Create a spreadsheet (we recommend a Google Doc so all band members can easily update the list) and include columns for your fans’ names and all other info you asked for. Make sure you update the list after each show.

Thanks to this text alert, fans found out that the band's set time had changed.

Next, you might want to join a mailing list site, such as, to help you brand and distribute your mailings in a professional manner. They will also offer well-designed e-mail templates, remind you when to send news out and help manage your contact list.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what constitutes “news”. Use your mail to announce upcoming shows, album releases, new songs, reviews and new merch. You can also use it to promote new videos, blog posts and, of course, your competitions on OurStage!

In addition to email, you can also use texting to reach your fans. Sites such as offer easy-to-use mobile alert creation and are used by artists like Rascal Flatts and Justin Bieber.

Of course, mobile alerts can’t be as in-depth as email newsletters, but the advantage here is guaranteed instant delivery to the palm of your fans’ hands. These updates are perfect for announcing a “flash sale,” last minute set time change or sending a reminder for a day-of album release or show.

Update fans at least once a month and encourage them to follow your social networking sites for day-to-day announcements and show invitations. Keeping your fans in the loop can make a huge difference in your album sales and show turnouts, so always stay in touch!

Luck Be A Lady

Whether talent comes from gods in heaven sprinkling it on the chosen few, or from a lucky combination of genetic material, it’s seldom a fair shake. So don’t hold it against sisters Kamille and Kelly Rudisill that they happen to be very good at several things, among them soccer, dance and song. Classically trained with degrees in music, the duo writes, produces and performs their own material under the moniker Karmina. It’s impressive on paper, but more so when you listen to the music. Karmina’s seamless, lustrous harmonies are redolent of Wilson Philips, but updated for a younger, hipper audience. “The Kiss” is fulsome pop, polished to a high-pro glow, but that doesn’t mean the emotion doesn’t come through. Plaintive and restless, the melody tugs at your heart while tickling your id. “Slow Down” is a driving song—layered with soft, lilting harmonies but equally insistent. Karmina is just starting out and the future for any young artist is uncertain. Good news is, they’ve got talent in spades. All they need is a little luck.


GuacaMusic: Tangos

Some people say it takes two to tango, but Mikael Berkowitsch masters tango music all by himself. Berkowitsch has been in the Top 10 OurStage charts in 2009 and 2010. His incredible composition “Tango Runing“, serves as a fine example of the exquisite tangos that exist on our site.

If you are familiar with tangos, you know that these are both the most fascinating and the most complicated of all compositions. In a sense, tangos are bitter, sweet, melancholic and joyful, all at the same time. Just think about Berkowitsch’s ”Tango Runing”, didn’t it make you feel gloomy, then cheerful, then happy, then sad?

This is exactly why tango is magic. No other music can make you dig into your emotions so deeply, or move you to tears of sadness and joy.

Although the golden age of tango is considered to be the period between 1935 and 1952, the later decades have seen outstanding pieces, particularly in the recent trends that are often described as electro tango or tango fusion, where the pieces are full of electronic, jazz and experimental influences. Just consider Gotan Project or Bajofondo Tango Club.

If you are ready to take a culinary trip to the world of OurStage tango, you’ve come to the right place. Besides Berkowisch’s spectacular piece, we have some other great tangos to offer:

  • For a traditional taste of Argentinian Tango, try “Tango Azul” by Jordi Torrens, an artist living in Barcelona who wonders why he hasn’t moved to Buenos Aires yet. His music definitely transports us to Caminito in the La Boca neighborhood. Simply delicious.
  • Looking to grab a bite of tango with jazzy influence? We recommend the delicious music of Tangoentres, a trio made up by guitarist Julian Garcia, Marcelo Coceres on the drums, and Santiago Alvarez on the double bass.
  • If what you are craving is something out of the ordinary, savor “Experimentango by Angelini Music, the project of Argentinean artist Mauro Angelini. Mauro’s style combines tango with influences from house music, chill out, lounge, rock, western, Argentinean folklore, reggae and others.
  • Finally, if what you really want to do is seat back, relax and enjoy a good Bife de Lomo, play “Turn Around Tango” by K.R. Percy & The Corporation. Tasty!

Enjoy this playlist. !Provecho!

Q&A With Guster

In today’s age, it’s trendy to be green and environmentally-conscious. The band Guster, however, pursued a career with the environment in mind long before it was “trendy.” In the beginning, two of the band’s original members studied environmental science at Tuft’s University. Years later, guitarist/vocalist Adam Gardner and his wife began a charity called Reverb to focus on how bands can tour and perform without such an adverse effect on the world around them. Activism aside, the band has also acquired a great deal of industry respect with their optimistic, emotionally-driven music and down-to-earth stage presence.

Lead singer/guitarist Ryan Miller took the time to answer some questions about the band’s songwriting, activism and their upcoming album Easy Wonderful. Check out what he had to say!

OS: Being multi-instrumentalists, how do you guys decide what instruments you each play in a given song?

RM: Well, we always kind of joke that we pick the hardest thing to play and just give it to Joe. It’s not necessarily true, but there is something to that. We all write on different instruments. On records, we all play different things, but it’s not necessarily the same instrument we play live. Some people are better at bass, and sometimes I have to sing and it’s hard for me to play that part at the same time. It’s really a trial and error kind of thing.

OS: When you go to record an album then, what is the studio/writing process like?

RM: Songs have genesis in many different ways. Sometimes it’s on guitar, sometimes on a jam and sometimes on a computer. Usually if it starts on guitar, we’ll start there. Sometimes the guitar won’t even be in the final version. It’s pretty open. We don’t really have any rules, except maybe that the best idea wins. That’s the M.O. in the studio. It’s easy to keep the ego out if we just say “best idea wins”.

OS: Guster has always had an interesting “sales rep” program. What does this entail?

RM: We don’t really do it anymore. It kind of started before the Internet was really around. Now that you can kind of get music instantly, it defeats the purpose a little. I’m not sure if we still have any rep’s officially. When we started, we did it because we didn’t have a record deal. We had friends that wanted to support the band, so we would just empower them to do so. I don’t think it really works the same way—we don’t send kids records anymore. There are still people that “spread the gospel” so to speak, but it’s not an officially sanctioned program.

OS: How do your exclusive EP’s (Pasty Tapes) tie in?

RM: That just came as a way to pay back the fans who had been out there “banging on walls” for us. We’re still sort of doing it, but I don’t think it’s a “reward system” as much. It’s just that if you’re a fan of the band, it’s free. Everything is aimed towards “free”. We would put different versions, or songs we hadn’t released anywhere else on the EP’s. They were sort of fan-only B-side compilations.

OS: Please describe the Reverb charity organization and what Guster’s role is in it.

RM: Adam and his wife Lauren started that a few years. Guster were sort of guinea pigs for a lot of its early ideas before they went to Maroon 5, John Legend, The Roots, Willie Nelson, etc. The idea came from the fact that we were touring all the time, and we were leaving this “wake” of garbage. We felt like it was a pretty wasteful enterprise. Adam’s wife had studied environmental programs in college, and they put their heads together to see how we could tour less impactfully. This was years ago, before the whole “green thing” caught on and was trendy. They established themselves as a pretty solid not-for-profit organization that was out to help musicians shrink their footprint a little bit.

They do a tour every summer—The Campus Consciousness Tour. It has a lot of tabling and environmental things involved. It’s like a travelling road show of bands, sponsors and lectures on how to do things more sustainably on campus. We’ve done that a few times as well.

OS: You guys are being selective with your tour dates for the rest of the summer. Why did you choose to play the Life is Good Festival?

RM: We had a very small window. The record is coming out in October. We were just trying to fit everything in—we have four kids and counting between the three original members. There’s a real balance between family and touring. We’re trying to satisfy everybody’s adult needs. That was just sort of our Boston play before the record and then we’ll do bigger shows as the record rolls out. We’re planning a big winter tour, some college dates in the spring, and then a big summer tour. So we’ll be on the road for a good year.

There’s some overlap too with the environmental stuff and the Life Is Good Festival. I know a lot of the proceeds go to a good cause. We like playing festivals where we can play in front of other audiences, there’s a lot of cool bands and the whole “kid” component seems kind of funny.

OS: Easy Wonderful is set to drop in October, and you’ve released a couple of tracks from the album. Why are you giving “Bad Bad World” away to your fans for free?

RM: Things are kind of moving towards “free” at this point, like I mentioned. The best thing to do to promote a good record is to just let people “have at it”. We’re slowly doing that. We’re going to leak a bunch of tracks as we go, and hopefully people will get into it and get excited for the record. It took us a really long time to make it, so we’re trying to get everybody back into the spirit of it.

OS: How do you guys actually choose the tracks you give away for free?

RM: I don’t know. It’s sort of a democratic process—what was really representative of the album, and what doesn’t feel like a subtle outlier or anything. If it were up to me, we would just give away all of our records. I think people mostly steal our music anyway. But, we have a record company, and I don’t think they’d be too psyched about that. We’re trying to figure out a way to make a living playing music (like all the bands out there). We’re trying to find that sweet spot between giving stuff away and giving people a lot of value for their money when they do actually buy stuff.

We’re basically planning toward the end of 2011. So, there’s nothing but plans for the next year and a half to support the record. We had an option to not sign another major label deal, but we decided to do it because we were really proud of the record that we made. We really wanted a lot of people to hear it. We’re really amped up to go promote it in every way—on the road, through video, Internet stuff and TV. We’re excited to do it. “Do You Love Me” will probably end up being the first video.

Catch Guster on tour now!

9/28 – Troubadour, Hollywood, CA

10/1- War Memorial Auditorium, Nashville, TN

10/2 – The Fillmore Charlotte, Charlotte, NC

10/8- Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

10/9 – The Pageant, Saint Louis, MO

10/10- Egyption Room at Murat Center, Indianapolis, IN

10/12 – Slowdown, Omaha, NE

10/13 – Beaumont Club, Kansas City, MO

10/15 – Overture Center for the Arts: Capitol Theatre, Madison, WI

10/16- Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, MI

Rock ‘n’ Roll Call: Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

Rockstar gamers rejoice! Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock was finally released today.

The game includes over 90 songs from the likes of KISS, Black Sabbath, Rush, Muse, Queen and Megadeth. In addition, it is the first Guitar Hero game to feature a story mode, known as Quest Mode. Narrated by KISS’ Gene Simmons, players will complete songs to move further in their quest to save rock ‘n’ roll.

Warriors of Rock: Here is your brand new axe!

Players can also engage in Party Play and Quickplay+ mode, which offers 13 gameplay challenges for each disc track and many downloadable songs from Guitar Hero World Tour.

As in previous releases, players can choose to play guitar, drums or sing vocals. An exciting new addition to this game is the updated guitar controller, which is now “shredding”-enabled and complete with a swappable body for custom designs.

Saving rock one track at a time!

Guitar Hero is also breaking new ground by collaborating with Soundgarden to release the first video game/album bundle. Soundgarden’s new compilation album Telephantasm is bundled with the first one million Warriors of Rock games. In addition, you can download the entire album to play on Warriors of Rock.

Below is the trailer for the game, for those of you who are still in the dark. If you can tear yourself away from this epic rock adventure, let us know what your favorite songs and game features are!

OurStage Hip Hop Habit: IB

Taming your  jealousy of another person’s success becomes a lot easier when you keep in mind that everyone’s just trying to make it. Same goes for the world of musicians. The collection of artists here on OurStage consists of minnows and sharks with careers both static and mobile, perhaps the latter of which is best exemplified in female emcee IB. To be fair, this girl is connected. Like really, really well connected. From her familial ties to the Knowles family (yes, that would be the family of Beyoncé Knowles) to the star-studded guest spots in her OurStage catalog (Wale makes an appearance), it appears on paper that she’s off to the races. In reality that hasn’t happened yet, but if her fantastic output remains consistent, it will soon.

Hailing from Houston’s storied third ward, IB literally grew up in the shadow of Destiny’s Child. Wanting so much to emulate Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle, IB and her friends started up their own girl pop group and took it as far as they could before realizing they were too young and just weren’t ready for the big time. Whether she regrets skipping out on what could have been is irrelevant, but her rhymes prove that if nothing else, she did a lot of learning in her second lease on adolescence, evidence of which can be found in her fantastic raps.

IB Press PhotoDear Daisy” steps foot in the door with a soggy sax/brass interplay and guitar riff that sounds inherited from boastfully Kentuckian rappers Cunninlynguists. The mood is dismal from the start, as IB uses the mild instrumental tones as a landscape on which paint her sorry past: “Did you grow up with one brother/ no mother/ junkie daddy/ are you happy/ that’s me/ cause if so that explains exactly/ why I’m an easy target so you just attack me.” The justified venting continues throughout “Dear Daisy,” IB leaving no sour character in her past unpunished. From ex-lovers to slighting haters, the stories IB tells down memory lane make the fact that she’s made it to where she is today even more impressive, and gives legitimacy to the meaning behind her moniker, Incredibly Brave.

That down-in-the-dumps mentality is nowhere to be found in “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Me Now,” despite the open verse profiling a maybe/maybe not so fictional drug arrest. If “Dear Daisy” was a slow-paced drive through rotten nostalgia, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Me Now” puts the pedal to the metal as IB uses an extended car metaphor to describe just how commanding her momentum has become. “Within my city they hatin’/ bypassin’ me like I’m fakin’/ there’s way too many takin’ my ideas and runnin’/ but my headlights are bright/ I can see them comin’/ I don’t slam on my breaks/ I smash on the gas a bit harder.” Instrumentally, this tune carries same melancholic atmosphere but the chord changes resolve to a resolution tinted with hope, a resolution cemented in Chris Styles’ empowering chorus soliloquy: “I’m gon’ show the world and everybody who ever hated/ you can’t change it/ I’ve done made it/ ain’t no stopping me now.”

As long as she doesn’t get cold feet about the biz, there’s little that can go wrong from here on out. Having earned invaluable connections and experience from a management stint with Matthew Knowles Music World Entertainment and opened for blockbuster names the likes of Wale and Drake, it won’t be long before this battered underdog climbs out of the pits and sings for all the world to hear.


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