Needle in the Haystack: The Kicks

The Kicks are the talented winners of this week’s Needle in the Haystack. Hailing from Nashville Tennessee, these guys seem to have a ton of fun doing what they do best”creating great music. Their rock style has a unique flare that is apparent from first listen. The band is fronted by Jordan Phillips on guitar. His voice is so dangerously full, you’re tempted to kneel. The rasp of a chain smoker, the range of an albatross, be warned”this isn’t Mariah says their witty biography on OurStage.com. Simply put, the bands music  just puts you in a good mood. Take a listen below and see what we mean.

This week The Kicks are giving away a free download of their track “Hawk Eyes”. Stay tuned for more of The Kicks to come! Keep rockin’!

Tune Up: Shure KSM44A And KSM42 Condenser Microphones

I’ve covered a lot of studio tips and equipment reviews in this column over the past few weeks. However, when a company I know and trust comes out with a new gadget, I always tend to obsess over it. Such is the case this week. Just a month or two ago, Shure came out with some new great, professional-level studio microphones. The KSM series added two new members to its family: The KSM42 and the KSM44A.

While, companies come out with new gear all the time and it’s sometimes tough to fight through the noise, I find these microphones particularly interesting. I’ve used many of the KSM models throughout my years of vocal recording and I’ve had some great results. Sure, there were plenty of applications where I didn’t think the KSM’s fit, but the new additions introduce some very enticing specs. A quick visit to the Shure Website will give you point-by-point information on the new features on these mics. Here are the highlights:

KSM44A

-Multiple polar patterns: cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional

-Gold plated connectors and 24-karat gold diaphragm

-Low-frequency filter (can be altered to customize what is cancelled)

-Pop filtering integrated into metal grille

For me, this mic stands out the most because of the construction and pop-filter technology.  Most impressive, though, is the ability to change the polar pattern to suit whatever recording application you need (standard vocal, acoustic sessions, etc.).

KSM42

-Polar pattern with a large sweet spot

-Pop-filter technology in the grille (as well as an including, small pop filter on shock mount)

-Internal shock mount on the actual chassis

While this model doesn’t have the ability to change polar patterns, it does offer a cardioid pattern with a very large sweet spot (making mic positioning easier and the ability to have sound sources slightly off-center). The other interesting fact is the pop filter/shock mount technology contained within the actual microphone, giving added breath/transport noise prevention beyond external shock mounts and pop filters.

These mics are quite new so there is not much in the way of active feature reviews. But, I can say that the KSM series is very reliable (having used them in both studio and live settings). So, the standard specs of KSM’s hold true for these new mic’s in addition to the new features mentioned. While they might be out of the price-range for many home studios, their features are well worth the price if you’re looking to purchase new studio mics.

Scene & Heard: Richmond, VA

Just a short drive down Route 17 from Washington, DC, you’ll find the next stop on our Scene & Heard road trip: Richmond, VA. As the capital of “Old Dominion,” Richmond is a solid musical destination.  Though the area’s genres are quite diverse, folk, country and certain types of heavy rock music seem to dominate.

Richmond itself, as well as neighboring Virginia Beach, were notable starting points for many big-name urban artists such as D’Angelo and Pharrell. In rock and pop, Richmond has produced eclectic bands spanning from Carbon Leaf to Lamb of God. Richmond Blues/Country heavyweights include Tim Barry and River City Gang. The area’s culture makes it a hot bed for festivals and entertainment, with hundreds of DC tourists taking the trip down to explore some of the musical offerings. Most notably, Richmond has hosted the National Folk Festival (NFF) in previous years including acts like Chuck Brown, the Skatalites and The Holmes Brothers. Additionally, Richmond has a strong radio presence with pop/rock stations Q94 (94.5 FM) and Lite 98 (98.1 FM).

OurStage band Gills and Wings are no strangers to playing in the Richmond area. This Hush Sound-esque band combines their strong songwriting style with bouncy piano chords and guitar riff harmonies like those of Queen.  To pinpoint a genre with these guys wouldn’t really do them justice. Take a listen for yourself:

Based out of Richmond themselves, the band are no strangers to the club circuit. “Gallery 5 is an art gallery/music venue hybrid…It’s an opportunity for us to expose ourselves to art enthusiasts and other Richmond-ers we might not have otherwise been able to play for,” commented the guys when asked what their favorite Richmond venue was to play. “The atmosphere is great and the passersby are always very receptive”.
“Seeing the reaction of [a Richmond] audience has altered our perspective of what kind of boundaries and freedom a band could have.” They went on to mention that scene is very eclectic, containing genres like Latin, jazz (as heard at Balliceaux), hip hop (as heard at Cafe Diem), grass roots, funk and rock. The underlying theme of our interview with the guys was simply that there are a large number of venues, and what genre will be heard really depends on what night you go there. “For music goers, The National, Canal Club and The Camel…are just a few venues off the top of [our] head that feature excellent music. Check the lineup on a given night…to see if it’s worth your while.”
Gills and Wings have had songs featured on MTV’s The Real World and were actually in the process of shooting the new music video for their song “Rebirth of a Nation” when we caught up with them. Head over to their OurStage profile to stay tuned for its release.

New Music Biz 101: Online Music Creation

In this blog series, we’ve focused a lot on marketing your music to the masses. This particular post will delve into the music creation process. Of course, because we’re on the topic of the new music industry we’ll be taking a slightly different approach. Indaba music is a web-based company that allows musicians to come together to collaboratively record, edit and mix tracks online.

Indaba recently underwent some exciting changes, launching a major update to the site. Notable changes include an upgraded interface along with new music sales features which let you sell on iTunes and directly to fans while keeping 100% of the revenue. You can also easily share royalties with your collaborators. In addition, Indaba upgraded their media management allowing you to increase your storage to 50gbs and control your account from one place.

What does it cost to participate? Believe it or not it’s free! Of course, there are premium accounts which give you additional functionality. Their pro version is $50 dollars per year, and their platinum version is $250 per year. For those just interested in making music and having fun with this platform, there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between the two accounts.  However, the paid accounts do let you use their premium effects and audio clips. The premium accounts seem to focus on the distribution process of the new music you create on the site with an online store and iTunes distribution.

Overall the idea is really great, and it truly does let you collaborate in ways previously impossible. Check out the site and let us know what you think. If you’ve created any tracks using the site, we’d love to hear them!

Needle in the Haystack Follow Up: The Black Rabbits

First, there was the free track. Next, there was the feature on MTVmusic.com. Then the fun Tweet & A on Wednesday! Now, we have an interview with talented NITH artist, The Black Rabbits, to bring this week’s promotion to a close. Let us know what you think and stay tuned for next week’s Needle in the Haystack with OurStage and MTVmusic.com!

Rock, Pop And Country Winners Announced For The Intel Superstars Competition!

The Intel “Superstars” Competition kicked off in August offering rock, pop and country artists their chance to compete for the ultimate prize package from Intel and Cakewalk. The judging took place on Intel’s Facebook page and the competition was fierce throughout the entire month.  The Top 5 ranked artists in each of the three Intel “Superstars” Music Channels are getting hooked up with prize packages including personal computers based on Intel® Coreâ„¢ Processor technology and Cakewalk music software. The competition continues throughout October, giving Latin, singer-songwriter and urban artists a shot at these amazing prizes. The Top 20 artists in each of the six Intel “Superstars” Music Channels will be automatically entered to win $10,000 dollars from Intel, to be determined by a panel of industry experts in January 2011. You can check out all of the August winning artists and their music below:

Rock Winners

Xolie Morra and the Strange Kind | Brave Chandeliers | John Allred | Jules Larson | Joker to the Thief

Pop Winners

Jason Eaton | The Girlfriend Season | Lauren Barrett | Matt Brouwer | Sara Lindsay

Country Winners

ChickenGrease | Matt Bailie | Michael Sonders | Aria Summer | Lauren Strange


Discourse & Dischord

The Good

New Arcade Fire video brings it home … to your home

Remember when Arcade Fire came out with that incredible (and creepy) interactive video for Neon Bible and we all thought THERE’S NO WAY THEY CAN TOP THIS. Well, Montreal’s finest just topped that. Check out their interactive video for We Used to Wait, which uses Google Maps to incorporate your childhood home address into the footage. Customized nostalgia. There’s no way they can top that ¦ right?

Kanye releases another track on his Web site

This one is called Monster and features an eclectic all-star lineup of Nicki Minaj, Justin Vernon from Bon Iver, Jay-Z and Rick Ross. What happens when indie-folk and hip hop collide? Find out here.

The Bad

John Lennon’s toilet sells for $15,000

That’s a lot of money for a porcelain throne, even if it once belonged to rock royalty. No butts about it.

The Ugly

Guns N’ Roses bomb at Leeds & Reading

Unless you’re easily shocked, the following will come as no surprise. Guns N’ Roses performance at England’s Leeds and Reading festivals left a lot to be desired. Like, for instance, punctuality. The band showed up an hour late to Reading and had to cut their performance short due to strict curfew laws. A few days later they repeated the tardiness at Leeds and were cut short again. Axl Rose took to Twitter to explain to fans, claiming there was a deal in place for the band to continue after curfew and someone wasn’t informed, [someone] changed their mind … or [it] was a con. By most reports, the performances were terrible, so thank goodness for cons and curfews.

Taylor Momsen is drinking the haterade

Taylor Momsen may have begun her career as the adorable Cindy Lou, but she’s become quite the Grinch in her off-camera life. Trying a little too hard to be tough and anti-establishment, the Pretty Reckless singer has spat the haterade out at Miley Cyrus, public toilets, Rihanna and her band name. We kind of hate that last one, too.

Miscellany

Artist Diary: Sarah Solovay Performs On John Mayer's Battle Studies Tour

The John Mayer Sidestage Warfare Competition put OurStage artists on stages across the country during Mayer’s Battle Studies Tour. Sarah Solovay, a 16-year-old New York native, won the opportunity to perform in Scranton, Pennsylvania on July 24th. “Getting to open for someone who’s so talented was really an honor,” recalls Solovay. “The whole experience was surreal, from showing up and sound-checking to performing and then to watching Train and John Mayer perform after me. Overall, the show left me incredibly inspired.” Solovay took time to sit down with OurStage and share a little about herself including the performance on the Battle Studies Tour. Check out the video below to hear all about her experience, or head to her OurStage profile to listen to more music from this young up-and-coming performer.

www.ourstage.com

Soul Searching: Young Marquis

This week’s Soul Searching pick is a young, rising star  ready to make his mark on the music industry. With a strong musical resume, a heck of a lot of talent and motivation, Young Marquis is moving on up towards big things. The relative unique sound to his voice shows that, despite the auto-tuned tone quality, Marquis definitely has the real chops to back it up.

Young Marquis is also a talented dancer, leading his two back-up dancers with style during live performances. It’s no surprise then that this multitalented artist has landed performances alongside Plies, Bobby V, Ray J, Lloyd, V.I.C, Petey Pablo and Bow Wow just to name a few. Take a listen to his track Never Again found below and let us know what you think!

Attention Indie Pop Artists! Win A Years Supply Of Strings From Ernie Ball!

We’re in the midst of a revolution. Harmonies, synthesizers and weird tambourines, Indie Pop is exploding from every instrument imaginable. But the guitar will never go unwanted. And while your synthesizer won’t exactly wear out, guitar strings will always snap, pop and twang (hey, those sound like notes from the newest hip song you haven’t even heard yet!). Luckily the folks at Ernie Ball got you Indie Pop stars covered. At the end of the month, Ernie Ball will choose one lucky artist or band from the Indie Pop Music Channel here on OurStage to win a year’s supply of free strings and accessories. So go ahead, get weird with it, Ernie Ball will make sure the basics are taken care of.

Take a listen to some artists currently competing in the Indie Pop Music Channel: