Metal Monday: Q&A with Cephalic Carnage

Self-described rocky mountain hydro grind veterans Cephalic Carnage are fresh off a spot on this year’s Summer Slaughter Tour, about to release their sixth studio album, Misled By Certainty and head overseas for another European tour.  It doesn’t sound like they’ve got time to catch their breath really, but we still managed to talk with guitarist Steve Goldberg to see how things were going between tours and to ask about the new album:

MtD: First off, how was Summer Slaughter this year?

CC: Pretty awesome man, the shows have been really good.   The downsides are the long days and long drives.  You don’t get much personal time, but the shows have been awesome.

MtD: Your stage antics are a lot different than the other bands on the Summer Slaughter, do you think the crowds receive them well?

cephalic carnageCC: Yeah, I think they do. We have a bit more of a comedy factor in the live setting, like funny samples and stuff like that going on. So yeah, we think it’s received pretty well.

MtD: So, how are the crowds receiving the new songs from Misled By Certainty?

CC: It’s going over good too.  Not really getting the same pits as we did with the old stuff, but everyone’s really pumped about it and absorbing it and we’ve been getting really positive reactions”you know, loud cheers and everything.

MtD: Can you give us a little insight to Misled By Certainty, and how you got the name for it?

CC: Oh, the title can pretty much relate to anything.  Like, an example would be that we put about $2,000 into our van and were certain things would be good and we were set” but sure enough we blew a transmission first week into it. So it’s just kinda scenarios like that, never count your chickens before they hatch.

MtD: So, how about the first single, Abraxas of Filth, what exactly is an Abraxas?

CC: [Talking to someone else in the band] What does Abraxas mean?

It’s like an ancient God, and apparently he hasn’t bathed in a while, so he’s pretty filthy.

Misled By CertaintyMtD: Now, with the new album there was a preorder contest where the grand prize is a vaporizer, how did this idea come about?

CC: There’s this place called Silver Surfer out in Colorado who kinda sponsored us as a band, and we just wanted to have some kinda cool promotion for a grand prize and they were kind enough to donate to the cause.  Whomever wins that should be pretty happy because those things rule.

MtD: So, it’s no secret that you guys are pro-marijuana; do you ever catch any grief about it on tour?

CC: Nah, no issues.  Maybe some like, podunk country cop you know, but we never really get any flack about it.  People these days tend to be pretty pro-pot.

MtD: Now that you’re done with Summer Slaughter, you’re off to Europe to headline a tourwhat are you most excited about being back in Europe for?

CC: Oh man, just the good times over there.  Europe’s the best place to tour.  Get back over there with our buddies Psycroptic and just looking forward to hanging out, playing some shows, and having fun.

MtD: You’re also on that tour in Europe with Ion Dissonance”is it your first full tour with them?

CC: Nah, the first summer slaughter tour four years ago actually.  There’s also this band called Our Penance, and I’ve heard their songs on the Internet actually, and they’re pretty ridiculously brutal so I’m excited to check them out.  The other band’s Discarnate, whom I haven’t heard yet.

Misled By Certainty drops on August 31th on Relapse Records” and you’d be a fool not to buy it (get it here).   The tracks posted to the band’s MySpace page promise more of the same great Cephalic Carnage from Xenosapien and Anomalies”so, we’re all in for a treat.  If you happen to be located in Europe, you’d also do well by your ears to check out their tour with Psycroptic, Ion Dissonance and more.

Just Dance

Moving Picture Show

There are times, after one too many cups of coffee or a heated exchange, when your body gets hot, your blood starts buzzing and you feel like if you don’t move, like RIGHT NOW, you may explode into million pieces. This is exactly the sort of adrenaline rush that courses through the music of L.A.’s Moving Picture Show. But instead of urging you to jump out of your skin or throw a punch, these guys want you to dance it out. Resistance is futile, especially if you’re starting with the tangled guitars and synth spasms of Perfect World. Just try and keep your Converse off the dance floor. Games Without Frontiers is sexy, stylized dance rock that lurches and struts, while Control Freak is dapper, subversive and drenched in minor key dread. Irresistibly kinetic, utterly cool, Moving Picture Show is destined to be a dance party staple. Put them on, turn up the volume and let them rock that body.

Download of the Week: The Black Rabbits

This week’s Needle in the Haystack artist are the perfect mix of classic and alternative rock. Originally hailing from Orlando, Florida and now stationed in North Carolina, The Black Rabbits are quickly making strides and growing in popularity.  The band has received some great news coverage including features in Connections and CrankIt Magazine, Orlando Weekly, Miami New Times, and Fox News. The band has recently finished up an east coast tour and recorded their debut EP, which was produced by some big players including Stan Lynch (producer for the Eagles and drummer for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) and Billy Chapin of Chapin Music Group. The band’s unique but approachable sound makes them an exciting artist to feature.

Download their track “Emotion” below and let us know what you think. There will be more Black Rabbits to come this week, so stay tuned!

Scene & Heard: Denver, CO

After heading through major metropolitan areas and cities with huge geographic boundaries, I’d like to share with you this week a market that is quite literally a breath of fresh air. Unlike the booming east coast rock scenes and the Midwestern indie and hip-hop markets, Denver, CO, fits the folk/country stereotype with which it has been cast. The Rocky Mountains and the historic frontier paint vivid pictures for narrative folk tunes and clawhammer-based campfire songs. It’s such a clear vibe that folk artists often pay homage to Denver in their songs. The most notable of these artists was John Denver, who advocated for the environment, scene and general vibes of Denver in his widely known folk/Americana music.

Denver’s reputation doesn’t end there. When the city’s folk clubs hosted Bob Dylan and Judy Collins early in their careers, the publicity covering the music scene subsequently picked up momentum. Artists like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix frequented Denver venues when they started to gain popularity. The local jazz history is quite strong as well and has lasted into the modern jazz era. Other genres that have found their place here over the years have been grunge (sticking with the true Seattle aesthetic), heavy metal, jam-band and punk rock.

Denver contains a lot of major venues that cater to huge touring acts throughout the year. The Ogden Theatre‘s upcoming calendar contains bands like The Hold Steady, Thrice and Minus the Bear. The Filmore Auditorium often contains even bigger shows with upcoming sets from Silversun Pickups, Band of Horses and Black Label Society.

Going a little smaller, though, you’ll find clubs like The Mercury Café. This organic, alternative energy-powered café houses folk, jazz and poetry shows and offers a renowned menu of organic food. For another small venue that caters more to rock acts, we’ll turn to OurStage act Hello Kavita. While they have been seen on the huge stage at The Ogden, Hello Kavita also credits the Hi-Dive with being a standard Denver club for them. The Hi-Dive fits better with the indie/rock and Americana aesthetic.

[Denver] is a very communal scene, so a lot of us play in different bands, comments drummer Leor Manelis. Limiting yourself to playing with only a few people seems antithetical to being a musician. He recommends that a visitor check out The Westword, Denver’s go-to arts publication. It’s hard to go wrong”you have the Meadowlark, the Hi-Dive, Larimer Lounge, the Gothic and Bluebird

Hello Kavita fuses folk/pop with driving indie rock. Their catchy melodies and clear moods catch a listener’s ear almost immediately. The band’s music has been featured in numerous indie films and local licensing deals. They’ve even secured slots at major local venues like The Ogden. They’ve also frequented the OurStage charts with several Top Ten badges.

Make sure you check out their profile to stay tuned for their upcoming shows. If you’re heading to Denver, remember Manelis’s promise that the music of Denver will allow for one hell of a night.

Poptarts: Danielle Barbe

Lately, rock and pop go hand in hand. Listeners seem to crave music with both driving intensity and a hook. Luckily, Danielle Barbe is a textbook example of how pop music can be supported by arrangements that satisfy an audience with heavier tastes. With a sound that  lies somewhere between Sheryl Crow and Ashlee Simpson, Barbe released her self-titled album back in March. The track “Ghost Town” opens with a complex guitar bed complete with U2-esque reverb and delay. The verse builds with sustained melodies and palm-muted guitars until finally arriving at the chorus. I will be surprised if you aren’t humming that chorus at least once later today.
It’s no shock to learn that Luke Ebbin (Bon Jovie, Plain White T’s, All American Rejects) produced this latest release, or that her songs have caught the ears of music supervisors. Over at CBS, they featured “Ghost Town” on an episode of Ghost Whisperer (you can catch a webisode featuring her song here). And, they even asked her to perform for the the cast and crew of Ghost Whisperer at their 100th episode celebration in Hollywood this past March. Her licensing accomplishments don’t stop there. If you’re flying Delta this summer, listen for “Ghost Town” there too. You might be lucky enough to be on one of the 45,000 flights where they’re featuring the song.
Barbe is no slouch on the live circuit either. She has shared the stage with major acts such as The Cult, Tantric and Rusted Root. She’s also performed at the Sundance Film Festival and SXSW. She’s keeping the rock/pop relationship alive by performing with newly reformed rock act Fuel on their tour this summer. Check out her profile for details soon.

New Music Biz 101: Digital Distribution

Shifts in the music industry have leveled the playing field for independent artists in many ways. One such way is musical distribution. Because we live in a digital age, distribution is taking place in high volumes online. There are a numerous solutions to distributing your music digitally, and we’re going to give an overview of a few of these options.

Tunecore

This company is a massive aggregator of distribution platforms. The idea is that they are a one-stop shop for getting your music on iTunes, Amazon MP3, emusic, etc. Their Web site is easy to maneuver and understand. In addition, their pricing is reasonable considering the number of platforms you’re able to get your music on. At $9.99 per single, and $47.99 per album, it’s a no brainer for a new release.

SoundCloud

If you’ve ever wanted to find an easy way to get your music around the web quickly and easily, SoundCloud is your solution. This platform allows you to promptly send and receive music tracks which is great for collaborating on different mixes or mastered versions of your work with your band mates. Additionally, the company offers artsy widgets that look good on most Web sites. The service starts off free at the base level and ramps up to different price points as you add in additional functionality and trackability.

Fair Share Music

Fair Share Music is a very cool idea for any artist trying to make a difference in the world. The platform is designed around donating a share of the tracks sold on the Web site to a charity of the buyers choice (within their database). Although still in beta, the website offers over 8.5 million tracks to download. They donate 50% of their profits to the selected charity!

With all these cool ways to distribute your music for cheap, there’s no reason not to share your music with the world! As always we’d love to hear about your methods of digital distribution.

Folkin' Around: Q&A With Matthew Perryman Jones

We’ve brought you a lot of album reviews, OurStage artist features and playlists here on the Folkin’ Around series. If you recall our feature on Pocket Satellite, you may remember that the use of harmonies is a common and current folk practice. We showed you Matthew Perryman Jones’ and Katie Herzig’s performance of “Where the Road Meets the Sun” as an example of girl-boy harmonies (P.S., have you caught Katie Herzig with OurStage artist Andrew Belle in the new video for “Static Waves”?).  Well, we’ve now reached the end of our road here on Folkin’ Around and we’ve decided to bring you a Q&A with Matthew Perryman Jones himself.

Jones is an accomplished singer/songwriter from Nashville, TN, and he has the track record to support that resume. He’s been featured on countless TV shows and has toured the globe. Check out what he had to say about songwriting, television licensing and his current projects.

OS: Your style seems to combine folk songwriting with electric arrangements. At what point in the writing process do these extra layers come in, and do you work with producers to achieve them?

That’s the stuff that goes back to when I was younger”REM, the old-school U2. So I’ve always lived that, and I really wanted to make some records that incorporated more of an environment for the song; I wanted to create with different instruments. I did a record in 2000 which is definitely more of a folk-based thing. But during the last couple of records, I’ve been working with a producer that I really like”how he arranges the songs and the sounds he’s been able to get. I just didn’t want to be the guy with the guitar. I was personally getting tired of that”I spent most of the nineties just me and my guitar. So I really wanted to explore creating a musical environment for the song. It’s funny because the next record I do is probably going to be more stripped down. You kind of tend to swing one way or the other, because you get tired of one thing and you’ve got to just go to the next thing. So the next record might be completely different than the last two.

OS: Some of your most striking accomplishments are effective song placements (probably Grey’s Anatomy is the most notable). Do these placements change your outlook on the songs?

MPJ: Oh, that’s an interesting question. I don’t know if I’ve really thought about that too much. Every time it’s been really cool”I don’t see every one that airs. I’ve noticed on most of them, they’ve been really cool. I felt they were really appropriate; they want to hear a certain kind of emotion. Even thematically, the song may be a different thing, but there’s an emotion that they’re going for. The folks that work in film and TV that are placing the songs are really tasteful. So it doesn’t really change my outlook on the song.

There was a song called Swallow the Sea off my last record that was on Royal Pains. They played it during a time where there was this guy who was a drug addict and he was going through withdrawal. That was one where I was like Man, they really got the feeling of the song. It’s a song about futility, and it was kind of like the culmination of this guy’s story, coming up to his withdrawal. The film/TV thing that’s going on today, what I really appreciate is that the people really do listen to the music. They’re not looking for a hook or how short the song is. They’re like what does this song mean and what does it feel like? They’re putting it up against real life drama, so they want it to be real. Which is the refreshing part about it. They want something that’s human, that’s real, that’s emotive. It’s really what music should be.

OS: “Where the Road Meets the Sun” is a very interesting collaboration with Katie Herzig. How did you two work together as far as writing this song?

MPJ: There’s actually a pretty cool story to this song. We write together quite a bit. It was probably about two or three years ago; we just got together and wrote the song in my kitchen. We came up with it and really liked it. It was originally about a scene in Central Park. Angel wings spread over water, one wishes. It’s that famous fountain in Central Park that everyone goes to with the angels over it. It’s just a story about two people. So we wrote it, and it just kind of sat around. We put the lyrics and GarageBand recordings on both of our computers. And it happened that both of our computers at different times had crashed and we lost all of it.

We were actually asked to have a song in a movie that I think was called Dear John. They had asked us to write a song together for the movie. I was like, What was that song we wrote a while ago . . . ? Katie was like, Well, I lost it when my computer crashed. We thought it would be awesome if we could remember but we were really having trouble. Then I got a text from Katie at like 2 in the morning saying that she remembered it. She apparently was just going to sleep and the song just came to her. So she got up, went to her computer and recorded everything she could remember. So we got together and finished the song. And that’s how it came about. The Dear John people decided it just didn’t fit for the scene. We had recorded it and everything, and like two weeks later it ended up going onto the season finale of Grey’s. I’m glad we rediscovered it, because I really like it.

OS: You’ve got a show coming up with Herzig. When was the last time you played with her?

MPJ: I’ve done some shows and she’ll come up and sing with me. If she’s around, we’ll try and do that song together. We’ve done a couple tours together, but that’s been a few years. There was this one time where she was playing in Atlanta and I was at home in Nashville, and people were requesting Where the Road Meets the Sun. So she called me on the phone and I basically sang the song on speakerphone into the microphone live in Atlanta. I don’t think it really turned out that well, but it was probably pretty entertaining for the people there.

OS: It’s been a while since you’ve done an official release. When can we expect a new one?

Currently, I’m actually working on a new full-length. I’m just in the thick of writing for it. The goal is to maybe have it out by the first of the year, but I’m not sure if that will happen. I have a lot of stuff that’s different, so I’m trying to take the time to make something special.

Stay tuned for Jones’ new album and, if you missed him with Herzig, stay tuned for more fall dates. Here are a couple already announced:

9/15 Vienna, VA ” Jammin’ Java

9/30 Birmingham, AL ” Samford Univeristy


Needle in the Haystack Follow Up: Darrelle London

To close this week’s Needle in the Haystack, we’ve created a short video featuring Darrelle London! Earlier in the week she was featured on MTVMusic.com, and offered OurStage a free track download.

Keep your eyes on London as her career takes off!

Discourse & Dischord


The Good

College Humor is afraid

Eminem isn’t afraid anymore. But unfortunately, his impersonator in CollegeHumor’s parody of Not Afraid is. Aliens, clowns, land sharks, ghost snakes”everything gives this guy the willies. Check out the super scary video below.

Kanye will release a song a week until Christmas

You heard it right. First up is Power, which you can download here. Merry Christmas!

The Bad

Songwriter George David Weiss dies

George David Weiss

George David Weiss, a songwriter best known for penning classics such as What a Wonderful World and The Lion Sleeps Tonight passed away on Monday. Weiss’ songs were recorded by artists ranging from Elvis to Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. Weiss was 89-years-old.

The Ugly

Jay-Z woulda robbed Chris Martin’s ass back in the day

Jay-Z

Jay-Z and Chris Martin are good buds now, but if the Coldplay frontman had wandered into the Marcy projects back in the day, dude would have gotten jacked. As Jay-Z told Q Magazine, I was a different person then”I wasn’t open to the world and different cultures. I would have been, ‘Yo! Who are you? Give me your money.’ Not sure what Jigga would have done with 20 quid in the ghetto, but anywho ¦

Miscellany

Soul Searching: Britten

There are some artists out there that you listen to and think to yourself, Why isn’t this person a household name? This week’s featured musician is one of such artist who goes by the name of Britten. Britten is a musical force not to be reckoned with”mixing the uplifting and feel good nature of pop with the vocal skills and styles of R&B. It seems as though most musicians are generally inspired at a young age by legendary artists, and Britten is no exception. His influences derive from huge names like Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Prince and Michael Jackson. The appeal of these influential artists is clearly heard in Britten’s music.

Although Britten has the vocals down pat, he really shines as a musician through his song writing. His songs are catchy and well though out. He uses creative harmonies to get his lyrics presented in a fun and exciting way. According to his OurStage profile, ‘Not So Ordinary’ was the first song I seriously wrote. I didn’t know much, but I knew I was tired of hearing people say the same ole’ stuff in the same ole’ way. His music is comfortable to listen to, but most certainly unique.

Check out the streamable tracks below and let us know what you think! If there are any R&B artists that you think have serious soul, let us know!