A band can spring forth from any number of scenarios”a successful one-off collaboration, approaching a musician after a gig, just goofing off with some friends ¦ the smell of toast. So goes the genesis story of Mad June, a band of four women from Montreal who decided to form a band over breakfast. Leaving sunshine and comfort in the kitchen, the band’s songcraft revolves around brooding, stylized rock. On Here Again, slinky basslines, rolling drums and the low gulp of guitar create a tempest of confusion and doubt. The sinister Polaroid tackles the media’s skewed perception of beauty with urgent, angular pangs”a moody little rocker redolent of Blonde Redhead. If you need a break from the brooding, skip to 24”an up-tempo, coursing number about love gone awry”or The Stranger Ones, where the band puts a Benatar-esque spin on youth in revolt. Just make sure you give November a listen. Manic and playful with a catchy chorus that turns a nice Figure 8”that song alone makes you wish more people would eat toast together.
With a rapidly growing international fan base, a single appearing on the hit show 90210 and CBC radio coverage, Darrelle London is on the right track to stardom. London’s voice carries a very sweet tone and her songs are just plain fun to listen to! The Canadian artist has packed venues in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Halifax and now is joining us as this week’s Needle in the Haystack winner. Darrelle London is also the latest artist signed to celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton’s new record label, which has drastically increased her international fan base.
She is in the process of recording two new songs she wrote with Chantal Kreviazuk. In the meantime, download the free track below to get a taste of her music. Stay tuned for more Darrelle London to come this week!
The first thing most people think of when they hear Washington, DC isn’t usually music. Think stone monuments, war memorials and politics. No one would expect anything else from our nation’s capital. Of course, sometimes people forget that DC is a major metropolitan area. And, with a large population and a urban environment comes a vibrant music scene.
In the case of Washington, DC, its music history is almost as old and diverse as its politics. Fittingly, one of the first famous musicians hailing from DC was John Phillip Sousa. He founded the Marine Corps band and even wrote some of the most famous military/patriotic marches of all time. The scene has impressive roots in the jazz/blues department thanks to artists like Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton and Bo Diddley. DC also puts itself on the map in the soul genre with famous artists like Marvin Gaye and Roberta Flack. Hardcore punk legends Minor Threat also hail from DC. But DC’s most recent claim to fame is go-go music, which is a characteristic brand of dance/hip hop music.
Naturally, it’s important to mention a scene’s classical roots. DC contains three of the most famous US orchestras: The Washington Symphony Orchestra, the Washington National Opera and the National Symphony Orchestra. The symphonies play at the historic Kennedy Center where they feature standard repertoire and new works every weekend. The Kennedy Center also features many multi-purpose spaces for pop/rock acts in addition to the more classical/modern performances. Over the summer, you can catch the NSO performing at Wolf Trap for their thematic concert series.
Moving on to nightlife, DC has a handful of notable rock clubs. My two recommendations for a nightly stop are The Red & The Black Bar and Rock & Roll Hotel. These places offer nightly entertainment from typical bar fair (like trivia and cover bands), to all-out weekend productions with some of DC’s finest new original rock acts.
Of course, DC has much more to offer than just standard rock clubs. I caught up with OurStage hip hop/funk band Mambo Sauce to see what they thought about the vibe of DC. The band combines full instrumentation, gritty distorted guitars, impeccable emcee flow and powerful female R&B vocals all in one versatile package. Their sound, landing somewhere between The Roots and Black Eyed Peas, is aptly accompanied by the name Mambo Sauce”a clear reference to the complex flavor of the fried chicken dipping sauce made famous in the DC area. The band told me, “The music scene is really picking up compared to the years of the past¦[It] used to be dominated by go-go music but as of late, the cit has really been embracing variety. This embracement, however hasn’t changed the fact that DC can be a tough scene to break into, as is the case with many of the major markets we’ve looked at. Mambo Sauce refers to the audiences’ tendency to be critical of live acts as them being stuck in the cool zone. However, much like any major city though, if you bring your best, the crowd will respond.
Mambo Sauce frequents many DC venues including the State Theatre, 930 Club and The Santa Fe Café. They recommend any of these venues to a touring band or an eager visitor of the DC area. With such an impressive list of accolades, the band is certainly a DC music authority. They’re song Welcome to DC has had a plethora of placements including being in the rotation for MTV, VH1 and BET, being used for Washington Wizards Commercials, Comcast Redskin’s highlight reels and BET 2009 Hip Hop Honors awards.
Next week marks the official end of August’s regular judging season, and unfortunately the end of summer as well. Luckily, there are tons of hot music videos on OurStage to keep you sizzling through September. But your favorite artists and directors need your help to climb the charts and claim the grand video prize of $1,000. Just imagine all the cool stuff you could do in a music video with that kind of cash padding. As we near the end of the month, some killer videos are closing in on that coveted top spot. So make sure to put your voting chops to good use and check out some of the videos climbing the charts below.
All That You Are – Exile Kings
Currently Competing in Rock Videos
One Way Love – ColorFire
Currently Competing in Pop Videos
When you think Israel, you might not immediately think of great pop music. Civil unrest and tense political/religious environment have been making headlines for decades. Drawing visitors of almost every major religion in the world, this tiny middle eastern country isn’t tiny in reputation. Although originally from Canada, Dorine Levy bases her musical career in the cultural coastal city of Tel Aviv. Living in such a diverse, conflict-ridden country, it’s no wonder her music follows its own agenda.
On the surface, her songs appear to be straight-forward pop with a soft rock feel. After a few listens though, there’s something more. Her natural-sounding vocals and simple acoustic-bass-drums arrangements support her songs’ bittersweet moods. While there are, of course, catchy choruses (take “Sun” for example), Levy deals with intense themes and emotional phrasing in almost all of her songs.
After releasing an EP back in 2008, Levy has received several placements including a spot on Delta Airlines’ Indie Pop channel as well as being featured in retail stores in the UK. She’s even secured a spot on the Music Oz Awards (broadcast from Australia) as one of the Top 5 International artists of 2010. Currently, Levy is working on a new album, set to be released in 2011. The album is being tracked/mixed by Yoad Nevo (Pet Shop Boys, Bryan Adams).Be sure to check out her OurStage profile and listen to her song “Sun”.
We’ve been through a lot of folk topics and artists with you on the Folkin’ Around column. Some of them are newcomers to OurStage and others are veterans. For a while now, Todd Kessler has been one of my go-to artists when I want a relaxing song with meaningful subject matter. Having won awards on OurStage for both folk and alternative country competitions, I thought it was time to feature him.
His song Golden Bird begins with steady acoustic guitar strumming and a straight-forward vocal performance. When the female voice comes in, it’s hard not to be interested. Throughout are conversational melodies between the characters juxtaposed with moments of fulfilling harmony. Add subtle piano accents and you have a piece that has been received with rave reviews. Take a listen:
Based in Chicago, Kessler is the front man for Todd Kessler & the New Folk. They have garnered significant regional press coverage drawing comparisons to Bob Dylan and even a melodic reference to Led Zeppelin. The band gigs regularly in the Illinois area, playing several shows this summer. Be sure to check out his profile and stay tuned for news about more shows and perhaps an upcoming release.
To wrap up this week’s Needle in the Haystack, we present this cool video featuring our phone interview with Lion of Ido. As you can tell, this band is fantastic, and it was a pleasure interviewing them this week!
Check out the video below and, if you haven’t already, grab their track from Monday’s Download of the Week!
Check it! Every Friday on the OurStage Blog, we will be featuring exclusive content from the one-and-only VIBE.com. Stay tuned for weekly photos, music, news and reviews coming straight from the source that’s redefining hip hop.
Breaking: Wyclef’s Run For Haitian Presidency Is Denied
Wyclef has led the Haitian people as an ambassador, musician and philanthropist. But for now that’s as far as his leadership will extend.
According to Reuters, ‘Clef’s bid to run as president of his native Haiti has been denied by officials due to lack of residency.
A nine-person electorial council decided that the founding Fugees member”who was born in Port-au-Prince and raised from age 9 in New York and New Jersey”was not eligible to run for Haiti’s highest office. Continue reading on Vibe.com…
The Eminem Cover Story: Dying To Live
Eminem is a 37-year-old dad who goes to work every day and has a fantasy football team. He is trying really hard to be normal. Of course it’s too late for that. His childhood was totally fucked. His drug addiction to a myriad of prescription pills and alcohol nearly killed him. He is incredibly talented”only guys like Kobe Bryant and Roger Federer know what it’s like to be that damn good at something. And once again, he stands alone as the biggest rap star in the world. In June, his seventh studio album Recovery sold 741,000 copies during its first week. That’s more than Drake sold. That’s more than Jay-Z sold last time out. Hell, that’s more than even Justin Bieber sold. Some people were surprised. Others were not. Either way, it’s quite the comeback story. Continue reading on Vibe.com…
Rookie Watch: Is Vado The Future Of New York Hip-Hop?
He might draw a striking resemblance to a young Shyne Po who signed to Bad Boy a decade ago, but Cam’Ron protegé Vado is officially the hottest new New York City rapper. The Harlem-bred Teeyon Vado Winfree has the city riding behind him from his memorable appearances on the DJ Drama-hosted Boss of All Bosses mixtape series, which he co-starred in alongside Killa Cam.
With a heavily ’90s influenced rhyme style and vernacular that is as Harlem as Willie Burger and Rich Porter, Vado (˜Violence And Drugs Only’) is currently working on his first release with Cam, Gunz & Butta, due out next month on E1 Records. Killa was M.I.A., but we tracked down his cohort at his record label HQs and let the interrogations commence. Continue reading on Vibe.com…