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Viewer Discretion Advised: La Blogotheque – The Take Away Shows

No doubt about it, the Internet provides hours upon hours of mind-numbing entertainment. And while I’ve personally never been one of those people who becomes absorbed in watching coordinated dance moves or dads getting hit in the junk by baseballs on YouTube, I have found an online obsession that is both stimulating and inspiring. La Blogotheque is a French blog/Web site that it pretty difficult to do any decent research on since Google isn’t much for translating. But music in universal and all you need to know is the URL to enjoy this somewhat spontaneous cataclysm of creativity.

Founder Chryde aspired to mix up the music-sharing world and enlisted Vincent Moon, an independent film maker from Paris who wanted to film music in a different way. Moon is best known for R.E.M.’s Supernatural Superserious Music Video, as well as his work with other mainstream artists such as Tom Jones. Moon went on to film musicians in Paris, and The Take Away Show was born in 2006. The Take Away Show, as I’m sure you’re probably wondering, is a unique single take recording of an artist or band performing two or three tracks in an improvisational setting.

To break it down, think The Kooks traveling through the streets of Paris while young fans collect in their wake performing “Oh La La” like modern pied pipers. Or Mumford & Sons singing “Awake My Soul” to a French woman hanging out her courtyard window as they translate the chorus to her native language. Footage is left raw, few edits are made and the camera shakes with Moon’s hand as he travels from face to face, reaching odd angles of the street or trees.

The organic footage, which views as something between a live performance and a finished music video, somehow retains a lovely and haunting sound. For their Take Away Show, Phoenix hijacks a tourist bus and then plays under a bridge at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower  The band brings forward a sort of raw charisma that is lost in their smoothed over and diluted sounding records.

Earlier I referred to The Take Away Shows as being “somewhat” spontaneous because in Chryde’s explanations of each show, he goes into detail about the stressful planning that actually goes into creating something so deliciously impromptu. While he writes each bio in French, its easy to see his creative skills expand past just film making. Take this excerpt from 2007’s Take Away Show with Arcade Fire.

“During those weeks, I had been in continual contact with Vincent Morisset, who runs the Neon Bible site. Win and Régine had been responsible for coordinating our Take Away Show. We had discussed dates and places, imagining the Madeleine at night, the knoll at the íŽle de la Cité, an old café, a roundabout behind the Olympia…We checked the weather every day and despaired about the cold front that was passing through Paris. We had surveyed the entire inhumane neighborhood from top to bottom, trying to anticipate the crowd, the willpower of the group, the cold and the fatigue. Then, suddenly, we had a plan. Win asked if there was a freight elevator. We found it, Win smiled, and The Take Away Show was no longer in our hands.

We knew that The Take Away Show with Arcade Fire wouldn’t be like the others. The project was made for them because they’re of a different kind, a different essence. We had spent the afternoon with them when suddenly we realized, in a flash: yes, this group is different.

We had been playing the role of outsider the entire day, like a foreign body that latches onto the daily grind of these magnificent musicians. We had to adapt, through astonishment and wonder, as the band took up their instruments and started to play. But Arcade Fire didn’t take us as outsiders. It all seemed to unfold naturally: we entered into their logic as they awaited us and eventually swallowed us up. It was now Win Butler’s Take Away Show, and we followed.”

In honor of Arcade Fire’s 3rd release The Suburbs last week, below you can watch their very own Take Away Show, in which they perform a thrilling rendition of “Neon Bible” in a freight elevator. Be sure to check out La Blogotheque’s Web site which houses over 100 different Take Away Shows from artists like Bon Iver, Black Lips, Yeasayer, The National, Sufjan Stevens, Xiu Xiu, Andrew Bird, The Shins, Caribou and more.

Tune Up: Line 6 Pod and Tone Port

We’ve all been to a live show and seen the massive wall of speaker cabinets and amplifiers behind the band. In many ways, this display is an indicator of notoriety for an act. However, the sound usually goes into the house mixing board and out the huge PA speakers anyway. So, if they’re just placing mic’s on these amps or taking the direct-out signal, do they really need the huge cabinets? Sure, many artists love the sound of their specific amplifier but, I’ve seen a few shows where the guitar players go up there amp-less. Now in order for YOU to get that amp-powered sound with the sweetest effects on the market, you’ll need some effects processors and probably an amp modeler.

Some of the best amp modeling technology out there (for both guitar and bass applications) is from Line 6. Most specifically their POD® guitar effects processor. If you play guitar, you’ve definitely heard about it. This portable effects processor can save a bunch of presets for ease of access and can be controlled by various foot petals, making it an ideal candidate for a live guitarist. Line 6, of course preloads many of their amps with the same technology they use in the PODs®. Our personal favorite application is the POD® technology as included in the software package that accompanies the Line 6 TonePort/POD Studioâ„¢series. These devices are USB connectible recording interfaces that come in a wide variety of input types and channels. First, we’ll review the TonePort®, and then we’ll give you some of my favorite guitar settings using the POD® effects and amp-modeling technology.

TonePort/POD Studioâ„¢:

This audio interface is one my choices for tracking guitars, bass and vocals in a home studio setting. The line offers the UX1, UX2 and UX8 interfaces, respectively featuring 1, 2 and 8 simultaneous recording inputs into your digital audio workstation (DAW). This guitar amp/effects sound legend broke onto the recording interface scene with huge success. We picked up a UX2 a few years ago as an interface to use for electronic compositions and song demo recording. However, it quickly became our go-to device for portable recording and professional-quality singer/songwriter tracks. UX2 has two 48v-enabled XLR inputs for stereo micing (or two separate mono mic’s), as well as two Hi-Z TRS inputs for recording direct in (one of which is even padded). It’s got the standard analog outs and even S/PDIF for a stereo digital output. Finally, it has a couple of amp meters that can be assigned to any audio ins or outs from the software the comes with the interface.

Even though many studios don’t use Line 6 recording devices, the actual recording technology in the POD Studio â„¢ is awesome (and becoming more and more popular every day). They also come with the POD Farm modeling/effects package. These are, of course, the awesome sounds that guitarists have come to enjoy in the POD® effects processor used for live settings. This way, you can run these effects through your DAW as a plug-in, and you are essentially given a very intuitive, computer screen control.

POD® Amp Modeling/Effects

This brings us to a discussion of the actual modules and effects you can achieve using the POD® technology. The POD® guitar effects processor designed for use in live settings has become somewhat of a standard for processing. Many pros use the sounds, and as mentioned, you can go onstage using the device directly with the PA. This is because the amp modeling simulates many of the tube and solid state amps made famous in the music industry. The technology goes much further, however. You can string together stomp boxes, amps, processors, rack units and expression pedals. With so many combination possibilities, you can really achieve any sound you want. The software and the POD® device come with a lot of presets as well, giving you the tools to sound specifically like some of the most famous guitar tracks out there.

Now, we promised to give you a couple great patching examples. Below, you’ll find accompanying screenshots using our slightly older version of the Gearbox software (which includes much of processing modules and accompanies the Toneport devices). Note: An updated POD Farm screenshot is shown above.

Clean/Full Delay:

For this effect, we start with their Mr. Clean preset and edit from there. This setup gives us a great, washy sound with complicated instances of delay. This is perfect for a U2-esque bed of delay-produced polyrhythms. We’ll provide you with the amp model we used as well as the virtual effects boxes. Here’s what it looks like:

Amp: 1987 Jazz Clean with matching 2×12 Cabinet

Modules: Gate (add a bit more decay), Volume, Delay (increase feedback and sync tempo with song), Reverb (add a bit more “dry” to the mix), Microphone Placement (40%, Condenser Mic), Comp and EQ (adjust to taste).

Full Distortion:

We’d like to also show you a great distortion tone that can be used for a full rock sound. For this one, we like to start with Line 6’s American Punk preset. The sound is gritty but full and well-rounded. It’s enough to turn any modern rock song into an epic arrangement. Here’s the screen shot:

Amp: 1968 Plexi Lead 100 with 1×15 1962 Thunder Cabinet

Module: Gate, Volume, Stomp (Classic Distortion with higher tone and higher drive), EQ (adjusted to taste) and Reverb (with only a tiny bit of wet in the wet/dry mix).

In closing, we hope we’ve given you some insight on the POD ®technology. We’ve only scratched the surface and given you a fraction of the things you can achieve with this modeling technology. Obviously, we recommend toying around with the presets and making your own. Feel free to use our examples as a springboard. POD ®technology is really the best of all worlds.

Behind the Mic: Hitting the Streets

One of the toughest parts about being a musician is getting people who aren’t your friends to care about your band. With a bit of luck and some effective persuasion, you can turn casual fans and acquaintences into a solid street team: a group of people who use grassroots marketing to promote your band.

Most street teams are sent on “missions” to hang flyers or pass out stickers. While these materials are relatively cheap to produce and provide, they are ultimately forgettable. Developing more creative missions will not only better engage your street team,  it will make your promotion more effective.

Florida pop-punk band Automatic Loveletter has a massive street team, with representatives in over one hundred cities and twenty countries. The band has always encouraged members to come up with creative missions of their own, offering free tickets, merch and exclusive online content to whoever comes up with the most unique marketing idea.

In January of 2009, Automatic Loveletter street team members competed with each other by posting pictures of all the creative ways they promoted the band. One fan took photos of supermarket foods re-labeled with Automatic Loveletter’s name and Web site address.  Another fan who worked in a video store placed a promotion card inside every DVD rental. Others decorated their cars, held posters on the side of the road and put mini flyers in clothing at their local mall.

Take a tip from Automatic Loveletter”make your street team missions fun, challenging and creative. Your fans will get much more passionate about their work and your band’s name will be far more memorable.

The Winter of Our Content

Winterbloom

Supergroups can go both ways”the members’ star power can collide and spectacularly self implode with one hit, a la Velvet Revolver and Audioslave. Or they can integrate more gracefully and enjoy a longer ride, like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Winterbloom is almost certainly destined for lasting adoration. The side project of five, renowned Boston-based singer-songwriters already selling-out shows on their own”the group coalesced after what was supposed to be a one-off performance together at a Cambridge club. Listen to just one of their songs and you’ll understand why the audience fell hard that night. Start with The Alchemist, a full collaboration between member songwriters Antje Duvekot, Anne Heaton, Meg Hutchinson, Rose Polenzani and Natalia Zukerman. Sparse and lovely, the tune familiarizes the audience with each voice in turn”every ridge and notch, every barb and lilt. Apart, their timbres are completely unique, but together they melt into sailing harmonies that bring on the chills. Rexroth’s Daughter is alt-country perfection, a quixotic and dusty union of lap steel and burnished croons. For Tumbalalaika (The Riddle) Winterbloom trades Americana for a Slavic folk song”haunting and dark. There’s an enormous amount of talent at this table so you’ll want to sit with these songs a good while.

GuacaMusic: Flamenco

Is flamenco Latin?

Think about it. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the words Latin music? Is it salsa? Reggeaton? Cumbia?

Whatever it is, it probably isn’t flamenco. Well, you should know that, just like many great things Latin, this magical music has its roots in Spain, the “Madre Patria” (Homeland) of most Latin American countries.

If you’ve been to Spain, or know any españoles, you probably know that the main elements of flamenco”the poetical cante (song), the guitar, the baile (dance)”are true staples of España. The truth is, flamenco is also a huge element of today’s Latin American music.

Here at OurStage, you can find an array of talented artists that incorporate flamenco into their music creations. Take for example the remarkable Paralamera by Six Strings and a Piece of Wood, a combination of flamenco and rumba that will transport you to Madrid or Sevilla in no time.

Now, if you are feeling in Spain already, spice it up by playing any song by Jeffrey Briggs, a classical and flamenco guitarist who also plays Latin American music. Briggs has studied with Spanish flamenco guitarist Juan Serrano, Nubian Oud player Hamza el Din and Argentinian charango virtuoso Jaime Torres. Pay extra attention to the piece Rumba Flamenca and try to trace the origins of rumba, as it traveled from Africa to Cuba and then back to Spain.

Did you know that flamenco has a deep gypsy influence?

Por favor, do not miss exploring the music of Inner Gypsy, a guitar player and a flute player who found each other in New York City and became music soulmates. Play Gypsychology on OurStage right now and see how flamenco rhumba meets acoustic jazz fusion with exquisite results.

For other flamenco flavored pieces with a gypsy touch, follow some of the songs by The Carmen Milagro Band on OurStage. Carmen writes songs inspired by the Romanian Gypsy vibe, and combines elements of Latin rock and hip hop. Listen to Milagro and you will shake shake like a maraca!

No matter if it’s rumba or Latin rock, Spanish influences are all over la musica latina.  Now that you’ve try it please let us know: isn’t anything better with a touch of flamenco?

Winning Artists Open For HANSON, Hang Out With The Brothers

In  June, the first batch of winners for the “Shout It Out With HANSON” Competition earned coveted spots opening for the pop trio on July and August dates of their summer Shout It Out tour.  We reached out to winners Delta Rae, Brightside Drive and Jeffrey James after their sets to hear about their experiences and are happy to share their stories with you.

Sayreville Winner Brightside Drive

Sayreville, NJ winners Brightside Drive opened for HANSON at the Starland Ballroom. The band played to a receptive crowd, selling numerous copies of their CD and picking up new fans on Facebook. They explained,  “Opening for HANSON was such a great experience. All the fans that came out were so great (even after waiting in the line for hours) and it was awesome performing for all of them.  I think at one point even HANSON was watching us which was surreal! The publicity from playing the show was huge! Our fan base has definitely expanded. So many people wanted copies of our CD, Transitions. Plus many other fans headed over to our Facebook page to talk to us, get to learn more about us, and become our friend!”

Jeffrey James Band & HANSON

Nashville winner Jeffrey James played to a sold out crowd at their set at the Wild Horse Saloon. The band told us, “We played to a few thousand people. HANSON’s fans were very receptive to us. They seemed to enjoy the set a lot and I got many many great comments from the fans after we were done. As well, when I got home that night my Twitter followers had almost doubled.” Jeffrey James and his band amped up their performance for the large audience and received warm responses to their new material. “My band and I knew that we had to take our energy levels up a couple notches to play to a crowd that size. As the opening act, we had to win over an audience who, for the most part, had never seen us play. We may be recording a new song that we played at the show that got an amazing response.”

Delta Rae

North Carolina natives Delta Rae drove 11 hours from New York to Asheville, NC to play their opening slot at the Orange Peel. Little did they know, HANSON would be interviewing THEM upon arrival. The band said, “We were lucky enough to do a live interview with HANSON right before the show, and have gotten a lot of great attention from that. Part of the interview is performing a few acoustic songs for the Hanson bros, after which Isaac Hanson generously said, ‘Wow, I think we should be opening for them.’ Couldn’t have been nicer guys.”

Q&A With Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers

With their new release The Bear, Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers have taken a raw approach to their music. The album features the country/folk songwriting of Stephen Kellogg with the tight instrumentation and raw vocal harmonies of the Sixers; all presented in a package of recordings that is simple and to the point. The band also recently released a recording of their 1,000th show entitled Live From The Heart. The narrative way in which the band enters the stage (one member at a time, one song at a time) pays homage to their ability to write songs that are cryptic yet present a clear story.

Check out what Kellogg had to say when we caught up with him to ask about his songwriting, the latest studio release and the Sixers’ live set.

OS: You’ve referred to your upbringing as one filled with aristocrats and farmers. What do you mean by this and did you take anything musical/lyrical from it?

SK: When I hear our music, it kind of makes total sense to me. You can point to the apple falling not too far from the tree. My dad’s side of the family”that’s the side that was from western Massachussetts”were all farmers. You know, there’d be like pig roasts. I distinctly remember my uncle breaking off a broomstick to make drumsticks. They’d play Grateful Dead songs and Eagles and Cat Stevens, etc. So on that side of the family, I was exposed to this really of the people approach to music. No one was professional, but that’s just how they were with music.

My mom’s side of the family was super educated. My grandfather had his PhD and my Grandma’s got her Masters. Everybody went to school. They brought me to the metropolitan opera once a season growing up. I got this more intellectual approach to music. It was still heart-felt though, just more thought-based. So I feel like when I look at our music, it’s very simple, but I think the lyrics skew more towards literary images and stuff. I think that makes sense when I look at my upbringing. The lyrics are definitely not always extremely overt. Sometimes there’s stuff going on that you have to kind of dig in to figure out what’s being said. I enjoy that in music, but at the same time I never think our music is very elitest or high-minded. I think it’s very much for the people.

OS: The band has been defined as everything from rock to country to indie. Where do you think your music actually falls in this spectrum?

SK: That’s a good question, and it kind of depends on what day you catch me on. Every time I draw a line in the sand about where I think we fit in, I end up feeling different a few days later. I think of it as Americana/Rock ‘n’ Roll or songwriter rock, if that’s easier.

OS: Coming from a solo career, how do you fit your songwriting in with band collaborations and arrangements?
SK: I kind of had my thing going”not on any grand scale, but I had definitely left all my jobs for it. So when I met Boots and Kit and we all really wanted to play together, I kind of had a pretty distinct idea of where I was wanting to go. I think originally, the guys came on and were like alright, let’s just play with this songwriter. So, there was never really any  discussion of it being a total democracy. It was always just sort of my world view. Pretty rapidly, it became a band. It became a thing where what we were doing was about the three of us, not just me.
That was when we started calling ourselves the Sixers.

Over the years, like most relationships, I think we started to collaborate more. Because we got to know each other better, there was more shared ground to work on. I think it’s important that if I’m going to sing most of the songs, I’ve got to believe what I’m singing, and the guys really supported that. That’s one of the reasons the Sixers worked. As we’ve grown together, we also share a lot of the same viewpoints now, so it’s easier to write together and do more things in conjunction.

OS: You guys played an armed forces tour including a show at the embassy in Israel. What made you want to bring your music to these settings?

SK: We had a band meeting a few years back. We said, What do all of our heroes have that we don’t have? It was a pretty small list. A lot of what we wanted with our lives”getting to play music, paying our bills that way”that was all there. One of the things we thought our heroes had that we didn’t was a little more purpose in the world. So, we started asking this question, What are some things that we all care about?  One thing that we came up with was the fact that we’re really glad that none of us ever had to serve in the military. We appreciate that there are people that sign up to do that. The other thing is kids. We all agreed that it was a good thing to give back to the youth of the world. So what we did do was we took up some causes. Since we weren’t really in a position to contribute much financially, we were like how can we give back to these organizations?

So, at that point, we asked our manager to find a way that we could volunteer our services, and he did. He got us into some children’s hospitals to start doing some gigs, and he hooked us up with the Armed Forces Entertainment which is responsible for sending bands overseas. That was great. So it took a while to put it all together, but last year we got to spend about five weeks doing shows on the bases for the families there, and the soldiers. It was great.

OS: The Bear has an interesting sound as far as instrumentation and mixing. What was the studio process like for this release?

SK: This was complex. It was our first record in a long time, and we were on our third label, three records, etc. There was just so much staring us down. We were having a hard time making a decision about it. In the end, we opted to go record with a bunch of different producers. With one guy, Tom Schick,  the process was like: come in, everyone set up in the same room, throw a whole bunch of microphones up and try and get a magical performance. A lot of records are made one instrument at a time. In this case, we would even invite guests so that we could all play at once. At times there were 5 or 6 other people playing with the Sixers. So we’d have 5 or 6 people tracking at once in a really small room. That’s how Tom works, and when we’d mix it, it wasn’t all digitally saved in there. If you mixed and you liked it, you kept it. In some of the cases, the rough mixes are what’s on the album, because we thought we had a better feeling or thought it was truer. I’m not sure that’s the perfect way to make a record, but that was the process. That’s what we did with the tracks with Tom.

The other tracks were done with Sam Kassirer. We worked with him because we like the way he plays piano, and we feel like he pushes the boundaries groove-wise. He did some of the odder tracks, like Dying Wish of a Teenager. That process was different. The house was freezing cold, and that’s almost all that I remember about how the songs were made. I was sitting on the woodstove, and would play and sing. We then put everything on around that. So, two really different styles, and it made for an eclectic feeling record. That record really felt like a necessary step”making a record in a way that we’d never tried before.

OS: Yeah I think that comes through really well on the record.

SK: Cool. I know there’s people who like some of our polished stuff more. It’s just one record. I think the great thing about our fan base is they’d support us doing whatever it is we need to do at the time to keep the right blood in the band.

OS: You just released Live From the Heart, a recording of your 1,000th show. What was the energy like during this set?

SK: Oh man, I’ll tell you. It was cool. We knew it was our 1,000th, but we didn’t necessarily think it was going to be a big deal. It was really cool building up to it. It’s so easy to be in pursuit of things, and try and advance your career, and get more people to hear your music. We’ve flown under the radar pretty much, in the broad sense, for 6 or 7 years now. But, you always want that opportunity for a wide audience to hear what you have to offer them.Leading up to this thing, with all the nice emails we got, and all the guests coming out to join us on the show. It just made us feel so good, like Wow, we’ve been doing something right for the last few years. This is a worthwhile life experience. That was the biggest thing getting ready to go onstage. We all felt a little emotional. It was special.

On the album, there’s no moment cut. There’s nothing shortened, no song cut because we screwed it up or something. There are times where I’m like Oh man, shut up Kellogg. Like, listening to myself talk. That’s how the band is. Listening back to it, we wanted to put it out for everybody who couldn’t be there. I know that night, being with the audience, it all felt magical. I figure this album’s mostly going to be listened to by fans of the band anyway, so let them experience how it was.

OS: With such a milestone as playing 1,000 shows, what is the best lesson you’ve learned for putting on a great live show?

SK: That’s a good question, a great question. I think the biggest thing is that you can’t ever give up on a show. You have to go out there and try to stay focused and keep giving it. Because this is such a good question, I’ve never answered it before, but I love it as a question. It’s important to remember that it might just be one person that needs what you have to give them that night. I have been guilty of letting a show go, because I didn’t think it was going to live up to an expectation or something. Amazingly when you don’t give up on a show”which is something we started to do in the last couple of years”it might just be that one song you play at the end of the night that can really impact someone’s life. They might end up being a fan for life. Shows are little mini microchosms of life. Things go great, and then things go totally crappy. It’s a living, breathing organism. It’s full of hope, disappointment, excitement, and humor. So the important thing is not to get it perfectly, but just simply don’t give up on it.

OS: Can concert-goers expect any surprises during your upcoming fall tour?

SK: Well, it’s our first time headlining in two years. It’s the first time with Sam Getz, and we really have our band together. We’ve planned an amazing show that’s got it all, in terms of highs and lows. I think this is going to be as good as any show that anybody is going to go to this fall. I don’t intend that in an arrogant way, because I’m not that way as a person. I just know that we have so much enthusiasm for this tour and what we’re doing and making sure that the whole show is everything that rock ‘n’ roll is. It’s got enough Bon Jovi to make you want to pump your fist, but enough heartbreak in the Ray Lamontagne and the songwriter way. That’s kind of the meld that we’re putting together. When people ask why they should go see the show, I tell them I’ll give them they’re money back if they don’t like it. Tell me and I’ll send you a damn check. I think you’re going to like it

OS: Has anyone ever taken you up on that?

SK: Nah. People tease me about it all the time, but nobody’s ever asked me for it. I know there have been a few people along the way that haven’t liked the show, because sometimes you can’t please everybody. But man, most people who come are glad they did.

Be sure to pick up Live From The Heart during the band’s tour this fall. Here are some of the upcoming dates:

9/07- Spokane, WA, The Seaside

9/08- Seattle, WA, The Triple Door

9/09- Seattle, WA, The Triple Door

9/10- Portland, OR, Aladdin Theater

9/11- San Francisco, CA, The Independent

9/12- Santa Cruz, CA, Moe’s Alley

9/14- San Luis Obispo, CA, Downtown Brewing Co

9/15- Solana Beach, CA, Bell Up Tavern

9/16- West Hollywood, CA, The Troubadour

9/17 – Salt Lake City, UT, The State Room

9/18- Denver, CO, Bluebird Theater


Rock 'n' Roll Call: Fancy Me Yet

Though teenage rock queens like Avril Lavigne and Michelle Branch flooded the US airwaves in the early 2000s, they were barely audible in Latin America. Thankfully talented sixteen-year-old singer-songwriter Natasha Jeanne (a.k.a. JD Natasha), who was signed to EMI Latin, was there to pick up the slack.  Back in 2005, her debut album Imperfecta/Imperfect scored three Latin GRAMMY nominations.

Following this success, Jeanne traded in her guitar for a keyboard and formed indie-pop band Fancy Me Yet in 2009. The Miami-based band mixes Jeanne’s catchy synth parts with drummer Chris Bernard’s poppy dance beats, while guitarist Alex Darren adds rock flavor and fullness to each track. Fancy Me Yet’s newest recordings, including upbeat anthem “Said It All (Renovated),” show that this trio have the chops to draw complimentary comparisons to big names like The Killers and Cobra Starship.

It’s becoming rare to find bands that still play sincere dance music, and Fancy Me Yet are certainly one of them. These OurStagers have found their place in the top of the charts and show the potential to stay there for quite some time.

Hip Hop Habit: Tone Trezure

Every child has a dance you understand/ every child has to grow into a woman. At least that’s how Tone Trezure sees it. For her, the juvenile dance was rebellion, a dance fortunately accompanied by the dream of making it big in hip hop. Thanks in no small part to her dazzling vocals and unique beats, that dream stayed by her side during her transition into womanhood. If you think you’ve heard her shimmering pipes before, it’s probably because you have. A phenomenal blend of happenstance and talent has landed Tone Trezure (born Latonya Geneva Givens) some pretty amazing opportunities over the years, most noticeably the chance to sing backups on Snoop Dogg‘s “Promise I” from 2004’s R&G(Rhythm & Gangsta) and Xzibit‘s “Ride or Die” of his 2004 LP Weapons of Mass Destruction. But let’s not get distracted here, this is a hip hop column after all. Tone Trezure’s singing is gorgeous, but you wouldn’t be reading about her if she didn’t have an agile flow and intelligent rhymes to match.

Tone Trezure The autobiographical My Destiny is a first person narrative looking back on Tone’s cycle of ambition, from the inspired (Since I could remember/ way back when I wanted fame and fortune/ used to stand in front of the mirror and portrait/ my brush was my mic and the fans was Moses) to the discouraged (but fabrication raised a bull-headed kid/ prevailed to rebel because I didn’t want the biz). She was confused out of the gate, but got her shit straight when she saw the light, a truth spelled out in the chorus. The track’s disjointed instrumentals, consisting primarily of a purring bass and plucky guitar, are glued together by Givens’ warm resolved vocals when she sings and reliable verbal rhythm when she raps. Evidence of Tone’s musical talent and creativity”this Mozart of drumming plays 6 instruments, and is well versed in jazz, classical and modern gospel”is easily found here, predominantly in her ability to keep the track moving with minimal percussion (nothing but bass kicks on 1 and hand claps on 2&4) and repetitive half step modulations throughout to change things up. How many rap songs have a modulation?

Made it big? Not yet. But she’s on her way. On top of the aforementioned collaborations, she’s made music with Erykah Badu, Pharoahe Monche, Rick Ross, Quincy Jones and a slew of indie artists. Who can deny a resume like that? A line of EPs, including one featuring duets with her mother (gospel recording artist Cherry Givens), is in the works to lead up to her premier LP, which hopefully will hit shelves soon. Before her fame erupts, check her sound out in the player below and let us know what you think about her style in the comments!

Metal Monday: A Vision Grotesque

Not many bands on OurStage have had continual success for as long as A Vision Grotesque has. Having won the Death Metal/Grindcore channel in September 2008, and then the Metal channel in May 2010, with numerous top 10 finishes over the last few years and a five-week stint in the Best of the Best Rock top 100 ” A Vision Grotesque are truly a force to be reckoned with.

A Vision Grotesque is a band that has had no shortages of bumps in the road over their six years as a band, having shifted the members often from release to release and show to show. In the last three years AVG has released two full-length albums and an EP, with different lineups throughout and as a result, each with a distinct sound. The most-constant member of the band is the vocalist, Joe Grotesque. Determined to keep making great metal and getting it out into the world, after their first full-length, the band self-released their next EP and full-length (Waking up to Hell and Metaphysical Hypnosis, respectively).

Since the release of Metaphysical Hypnosis, the band has been looking to further solidify their lineup with permanent members and write more material for their next release. As of May 15th, the band had two songs nearly completed, songs that have been reported to be of a direction more progressive than ever before. The band’s guitarist, Charles J.A.L. (Jerk at Large), claims that “The new stuff is without a doubt going to be above and beyond anything we’ve ever attempted before. It’s the logical evolution of where things have been going for the past five years.” Which means that listeners are really in for a treat if his claim holds true.

So now that you know who A Vision Grotesque is,  you can hear what they’re all about.