Magic Men

Really Old Airplanes + Cat

There’s something about the music of Really Old Airplanes that reminds one of old nautical towns with their creaking buildings, eccentric townsfolk and a salt-cured way of life. Or maybe that’s just us. But there’s no arguing the fact that the Tacoma band’s music is steeped in a sort of roughshod romance. Armed with an unusual assortment of instruments”ukulele, keyboards, bass, drums, cello and bells”Really Old Airplanes lead you into a world of slightly disheveled, bright-eyed melodies. Perennials wheezes and twinkles with bells and accordion. Singer Kory Mathis delivers a swaying, sing-a-long chorus that could bring a tear to any drunkard’s eye: Shoulder to shoulder, it’s over and we’ve met our end. Pleasantries holds you in thrall with fluid, fluttering strings, horns and croaking keys. Likewise Crown, with its big, swirling constellation of keyboards and harpsichord, casts its own sort of folk magic. Fans of Neutral Milk Hotel, Beirut or Decemberists”you’re gonna wanna get all up on this.



Amy Kuney To Gain Industry Insight From Vet Rob Stevenson

It’s safe to say Premium Members seriously brought the heat in the August Artist Access Competition. With a mentoring session with A&R icon Rob Stevenson at stake, how could they not? His stellar industry track record includes breaking bands like The Killers, Fall Out Boy, Sum 41 and Saliva as well as helping further the careers of Katy Perry, Decemberists, 30 Seconds to Mars and Beastie Boys. The tracks were epic, the battles hard fought and now that the dust has settled, only one artist remains.

Meet Amy Kuney, an on-the-rise SoCal singer-songwriter fit to take the stadium pop scene by storm. If you’ve got a hankering for big hooks and driving beats with a touch of female folk, Kuney will be happy to oblige. Her track “Gasoline Rainbows” earned her some real talk with Rob Stevenson and we’re pumped to see how he lends his years of experience to her already promising career.

Scope the below playlist for more of her tracks.

Jazz Cats Want Free Strings | Premium Members Chase Their Big Break – Judge Now!

This August, a veritable boatload of OurStage’s finest acts are giving it their all for a chance to win some incredible opportunities.

Ernie Ball Jazz

Artists in the Jazz Channel are exercising their jazz hands for a chance to win a year’s supply of strings and accessories from Ernie Ball. If you fancy yourself a fan of Coltrane, Davis, Armstrong and Ellington, then lend your finely-tuned ear to judging by August 29th.

Artist Access

OurStage Premium Members in the August “Artist Access” Competition are shooting for a sit-down mentoring session with music mogul Rob Stevenson, founder of For The Win! (FTW!). Stevenson is the former President of Virgin Records and Executive Vice President for A&R at Island Def Jam Music Group. His stellar track record includes breaking bands like The Killers, Fall Out Boy, Sum 41 and Saliva as well as helping further the careers of Katy Perry, Decemberists, 30 Seconds to Mars and Beastie Boys. For an aspiring star, becoming so much as a blip on an industry player’s radar can mean big things. Judge in the “Artist Access” Competition by August 31st and help put one lucky act on the map.

Don't Miss Your Chance To Chat With Heavyweight Rob Stevenson

Grabbing face time with a powerhouse music executive is high on the to-do list for many aspiring artists but it’s no easy task to accomplish. The OurStage Artist Access Competition seeks to bridge the gap.  If you want a shot at a mentoring session with industry staple Rob Stevens, then sign up for OurStage Premium Membership today and enter the August Artists Access Competition by August 23rd.

Formerly the President of Virgin Records and Executive Vice President for A&R at Island Def Jam Music Group, Stevenson is currently the founder of For The Win! (FTW!). His stellar industry track record includes breaking bands like The Killers, Fall Out Boy, Sum 41 and Saliva as well as helping further the careers of Katy Perry, Decemberists, 30 Seconds to Mars and Beastie Boys.

Your big time music career could be closer than you think”all you have to do is enter. Fans: If you want to help these rising stars catch the experience of a lifetime, lend your ears to the channel by August 31st. We guarantee they’ll love you for it. Check out the top tracks below.

Premium Members: Your Mentoring Session With Rob Stevenson Awaits

We’re taking things up a notch for OurStage premium members ” offering exclusive career-boosting opportunities to help rising artists take their game to the next level. The Artist Access Competition series has already awarded winners Dusty the Robodrum, All Found Out and Jenna Bryson mentoring sessions with industry legends Bruce Tyler and Don Ienner.  In August, Premium Members will get their chance to meet face-to-face with Rob Stevenson.

Formerly the President of Virgin Records and Executive Vice President for A&R at Island Def Jam Music Group, Stevenson is currently a partner of FTW. His stellar industry track record includes breaking bands like The Killers, Fall Out Boy, Sum 41, and Saliva and furthering the careers of Katy Perry, The Decemberists, 30 Seconds to Mars and Beastie Boys.

Looking for your big break? Sign up for an OurStage Premium Membership today and enter the August Artist Access Competition by August 23 ” you could be steps away from face time with an industry powerhouse!

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Record Store Day has banner day in sales

Record Store Day began in 2007 to both celebrate and breathe a little life into the independently-owned record stores still in existence. The event takes place the third Saturday of April every year. Artists from all over the world release limited edition material to drum up sales. This year’s participating acts included Foo Fighters, Flaming Lips, Guided By Voices, Franz Ferdinand, Rolling Stones, Radiohead and Decemberists. According to Nielsen SoundScan, independent stores album sales rose 39% last week due to the event. Last year’s Record Store Day resulted in a boost of only 3%. Great news for indie record stores and their tatted and bespectacled clerks in Yo La Tengo t-shirts who get to keep the dream alive a little longer.

Coachella, Coachella, Coachella. Oh”and Coachella.

Much of this week’s music coverage consisted of round-ups of the many artists taking the stage at the Coachella Music Festival. We’ll distill it down to the finer points for you. Cee Lo got pissed when he was forced off the stage after running over the allotted time, making his performance of his hit, F— You, entirely a propos. Kanye West did right by his fans and delivered a galvanizing, 140-minute set that covered all his hits. Arcade Fire delighted Rihanna and thousands more with their performance, which ended with glowing bouncy balls being dropped over the audience while the band sang their hit, Wake Up. Check out the video clip below.

The Bad

TV On The Radio mourn loss of Gerard Smith

TV On The Radio bassist Gerard Smith passed away this week after battling lung cancer. The band canceled five shows and released a statement on their Web site that read, We are very sad to announce the death of our beloved friend and bandmate, Gerard Smith, following a courageous fight against lung cancer. Gerard passed away the morning of April 20th, 2011. We will miss him terribly. R.I.P.

Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga release album covers

We’re just curious as to which one is your favorite: Lady Gaga as half woman, half bike, or Lil Wayne as half kindergartener, half gangsta.

The Ugly

Beyoncé releases Girls (Who Run The World)

Beyoncé released her new single, Girls (Who Run The World), this week and for some the jury’s still out. The track is an ambitious, sprawling jam that samples Major Lazer’s Pon De Floor. We’re not sure if the word hook applies here, but give it a listen down below and decide for yourselves. Oh, and if you want to see two guys seriously displeased with the latest offering from Sasha Fierce, click here. A word to the wise”when you’re recording a show for YouTube, don’t leave to take a phone call from your sister in the middle of it.

The Game detained in Canada

The Game was en route to Nova Scotia from LA for a show at the Halifax Forum when he was detained by customs agents in Canada. The rapper will either be deported or jailed for violating Canada’s immigration entry laws. (Apparently jerks aren’t allowed to enter Canada. Folks!)


Chart-Topping Indie Acts

Remember the year 2000? When the world stopped panicking about Y2K and N’Sync topped the Billboard charts, selling 2.42 million copies of their sophomore record No Strings Attached in just one week? Oh, what a difference a decade makes. Today we scoff at Y2K hysteria, and artists rarely (read: never) see those kinds of astronomical sales. But on a positive note, this means that smaller acts can climb their way up the charts, and in 2011 a number of indie artists are finding their way to the top”albeit with significantly smaller sales figures.

It was California-based alt-rockers Cake who kicked off the year of unlikely chart-toppers. Showroom of Compassion”the band’s first record in more than ten years”debuted at the top of the Billboard Top 200, giving them their first Number 1 album of their career. The Decemberists followed with The King Is Dead, bumping Cake from the top spot to earn their first number one record. Then came Amos Lee, who earned his first number one album with his third full-length Mission Bell.

We’d love to tell you that the news is all good”that smaller acts are finally seeing sales that match their talent. Unfortunately, while these artists have been breaking records with their Number 1  hits, the numbers tell a different story. Cake’s Showroom of Compassion sold only 44,000 copies, making it the lowest-selling Number 1 record since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. The Decemberists fared slightly better, managing to move 94,000 copies in their first week atop the charts. It looked like album sales were increasing, but just two weeks after Cake set the record for fewest copies sold to earn a Number 1 slot, Mission Bell sold a meager 40,000 copies to claim the title.

These dismal sales have the industry poised for one of its worst years ever. In the week ending January 30th, while Amos Lee was atop the charts, overall album sales totaled 5.3 million units. According to Billboard, that puts sales down 18% from the comparable week of 2010, when sales reached 6.5 million.

But wait! There’s hope! Before you decide that this is a sign of the end times for the industry, consider the success of digital downloads, which Billboard reports aren’t suffering as much. While Cake was racking up the tiny number of sales they needed to earn a Number 1 slot, Britney Spears’ latest single “Hold it Against Me” was downloaded 411,000 times. Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” saw opening week digital sales of 448,000. And during the week that Amos Lee broke the record, digital downloads were down just 1 percent from the comparable week of 2010.

So maybe there is hope for the independent artists out there. Perhaps pop stars will rule the world of digital downloads, while fans with indie sensibilities (and CD players) continue to purchase physical copies of their music. Or maybe, as Cake’s Vince DiFiore told OurStage in February, [Fans] must feel sorry for us, or something like that, buying our record instead of getting it for free.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Timbaland announces Timbo Thursdays

First Kanye West announced he would release a free download every Friday, dubbing them G.O.O.D. Fridays. Then Swizz Beats jumped on board with Monster Mondays, wherein HE would ALSO release a free track. Now Timbaland is getting in on the free-for-all with Timbo Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter to see if he puts his music where his mouth is.

New album, free track from The Decemberists

The Decemberists have announced the release date and title of their new album. We don’t want to spoil the surprise, so head over to their Web site for all the details, and a free MP3 of Down By The Water. Off you go now.

The Bad

Kanye West considered the worst thing about Dubya’s presidency

Of all the many less-than-stellar moments of George W. Bush’s tenure in the Oval Office, it was Kanye West calling him racist in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that really stuck in his craw. In his new book, Bush recalls telling his wife it was the worst moment of his presidency. Let’s be clear, that would be worse than 9-11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the actual devastation of Katrina. Words. From a rapper. Were the worst. To quote West himself, no one man should have all that power.

John Mayer links malaria to Justin Bieber in PSA

Funny, and a little inappropriate”in other words, your typical John Mayer public speaking engagement. In this PSA for Malaria No More, Mayer urges donors to help African children reach Justin Bieber’s age. With your help, by buying a malaria net for just $1, we can help, by the end of the year, to get these kids to Bieber. Next year we’ll go Jonas Brothers; after that Twilight kids, but baby steps, baby steps. Let’s get them to Bieber. See the PSA in its entirety below.

The Ugly

King Hammer releases terrible video

Oh boy. OK, so here’s the back story again for those who missed it. In Jay-Z’s track So Appalled, he took a swipe at MC Hammer with the lyric, Unlike Hammer $30 million can’t hurt me. Hammer wasn’t having that, and went straight to work crafting a bush league rebuttal called Better Run Run. The cringe-worthy video is below. Watch a dude who is supposed to be Jay-Z get chased through the woods by a devil, and then get baptized by Hammer. Which part is scarier? You tell us.

Demi Lovato throws down in airport

When Disney stars go bad, they go real bad. Teen sweetheart Demi Lovato dropped off the Jonas Brothers tour after a physical altercation with a backup dancer in an airport in Peru this week. Lovato, who is reported to have battled bulimia, promptly checked herself into a treatment facility.


The Bees Mees

Jared Mees
Not a mug shot: Jared Mees

On his boozy sing-along, In the Fall, singer/songwriter/composer Jared Mees salutes the music out there that warms my insides / And makes my days a tiny little bit more de-miserified [sic]. Listening to it, that one stanza encapsulates much of what Mees’ musicology is all about ” a depth of feeling channeled wryly through slapdash folk rock. With his reedy, whiskey-weathered voice, Mees charges from one verse to the next breathlessly, dragging listeners herky-jerky through the rollicking melody, where accordions wheeze and drums stomp along gamely. On the lurching Bees, Mees adds a smattering of strings and winsome female vocals to mix. The radio’s on and it’s turning my heart into gold, he sings. Maybe it’s the viola, pulsing insistently, maybe it’s Mees’ plainspoken delivery of poignant musings that makes it all so charming. Whatever the secret to his songcraft is, it’s definitely a  de-miserifier.