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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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!
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
Songwriter George David Weiss dies
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.
Jay-Z woulda robbed Chris Martin’s ass back in the day
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 ¦
- Britney Spears goes manga
- Lady Gaga hangs with KISS
- Cee-Lo’s new track is NSFW
- Jay-Z to open for U2 on Australia leg of tour
- George Michael pleads guilty to driving under influence
- Miley Cyrus gets spanked by her mom
- Wyclef disqualified in run for presidency of Haiti
- Lauryn Hill returns to the stage
- Libertines play first reunion show
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!
I know guitar players out there who own pedal boards that are worth more than their guitars or amps. Many players are constantly trolling through music stores looking for that next great used pedal, sometimes spending hundreds of dollars a pop. For this week’s tech article, I’m going to pick one of the many stomp box brands out there and review a couple of their products. While there are many pedal providers (some big, some small), I went with DMB Pedals this week for one simple reason: I’ve used their pedals and trust their construction.
While I myself am not an electric guitar player (I play bass in rock settings and acoustic guitar in singer/songwriter settings), I respect every bit of what DMB has done. This year they have revamped some of my favorite DMB pedals and have even come out with a couple brand new models. They’ve released The Bumble, Foxy Pirate, Lexi and Americana. Here, I’ll talk about the newly revamped Americana pedal as well as DMB’s staple, Stellar Drive.
Lately, I’ve really been into the country/folk rock sound. There’s nothing more satisfying than a simple song with open-chord accompaniment. In today’s music industry, it’s important to have an American sound. For that, we have the aptly-named Americana pedal from DMB. They’ve had this pedal before but just recently released a four-knob version. The difference between the two versions is that the 4-knob contains a clean control in addition to the drive, level and tone controls. I personally find this fourth knob really handy because it allows you to have a great Americana juxtaposition between a dirty, heavily-driven sound and a clean, folk-like sound.
In general, this pedal has seemed a bit more raw than a standard overdrive pedal. Where it shines, though, is in the open chords (hence why I use it for more folk-rock songs). It seems to give me some more upper frequencies as well. While it may lack a little in fullness, it makes up for it in true American grit/flavor. Additionally, as mentioned above, you can add a touch of clean to your sound by using that fourth knob. Overall, it’s a great unit.
This pedal seems to be, for lack of a better term, a more traditional overdrive pedal. Right off the bat, it is clearly a fuller option. The mids and lows come through extremely well. What I find most impressive about this though, though, is its versatility. With this unit, you can also get a fourth clean knob to add a bit of a third dimension to your sound (as noted by a DMB reviewer). The sound is somewhere between alt rock and blues rock, with solid overdrive grit for lead guitar riffs and full inner frequencies for rhythm guitar enforcement. In general I find this pedal effective, although at times it seems a little difficult to break up the sound beyond recognition. I sometimes like my overdrive pedals to have enough drive headroom to give me a fuzz-like sound; this pedal keeps the guitar’s tone fully intact all the way through. It’s a only minor setback though, and Stellar Drive will guarantee a full, reliable tone for any rock/funk guitarist.
Overall, DMB is a very solid manufacturer. There is often a waitlist for their products so I recommend heading to their website and ordering a product as soon as they announce it, before demand becomes too great. DMB do make and guarantee each one of their pedals. And while you sometimes have to wait for the product’s completion, the quality is worth it. These pedals are unique, versatile and rugged: a great addition to anyone’s board.