Arcade Fire Debut "Afterlife" Music Video

If there’s one band that’s been making headline after headline lately, it’s Arcade Fire. From the recent success of Reflektor to their controversial live show dress code, it seems the band has no plans of settling down. And why should they? Hot off the heels of their tour announcement, the band has just released a new music video for “Afterlife,” directed by Emily Kai Bock. The clip takes us deep into the dreamland of a father and his children, to a world filled with laundromats, parties, and beautiful black and white imagery. Check out the video for yourself below.  (more…)

Bankruptcy, Health Problems Could Cause Cat Power To Cancel European Tour Dates

It sounds like Cat Power has had a tough couple of months. Last night, the singer posted a cryptic Instagram photo with a long, confessional caption. According to the post, the singer has recently been struggling with bankruptcy and other health problems including Angioedema, the rapid swelling of subcutaneous tissue. Cat Power, whose real name is Chan Marshall, supposedly became sick the day that Sun, her ninth album, came out in September. Given her recent health struggles and possible bankruptcy, the singer is contemplating canceling her upcoming European tour dates. Marshall has had a difficult time maintaining her health in recent years. In 2006, the singer struggled with substance abuse and a mental breakdown that replaced the tour for her new album The Greatest with a stay in Miami’s Mount Sinai Medical Center.

Marshall’s struggles with her health may be unique, but her financial woes are not uncommon for even top independent artists. A recent Vulture piece revealed that Grizzly Bear, the poster boys for large-scale indie success, struggle to afford health care, and that lead singer Ed Droste still lives in the same 450-square-foot Brooklyn apartment that he inhabited during the recording of the band’s first album. Marshall may be going through a hard time, but she can at least take some solace in knowing that she’s not the only one.

Check out OurStage artist Jesse Lafser if you’re a fan of Cat Power!

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Vocal Points: In Perfect Harmony

Let’s face it, much of popular music these days is cookie-cutter stuff”melodies that are easy to sing along to with mediocre lyrical content and little to no emphasis or inclusion of the intricate vocal harmonies which make music so interesting. Layering these harmonies add a really cool, depth to music which allow listeners to discover something new about the music with every listen. But now that the lifespan of a hit song is much shorter, and music tends to be more shallow, much of the importance and depth of vocal harmony has been forgotten.

But there are still bands who “get” harmony. A great example is Grizzly Bear, an indie band whose four members, Chris Bear, Daniel Rossen, Ed Droste and Chris Taylor all contribute unique vocals to their music. Both Droste’s and Rossen’s tenor voices are different, but the way that they come together with the upper-range voices of Bear and Taylor is truly stunning. Grizzly Bear’s phenomenal attention to details in music is so well done, making for a sound unlike anything else. And in live performance by this band succeeds at an even higher level. Grizzly Bear makes these complicated harmonies come together seamlessly, channeling a choir while still being full of life and fun to watch.


The Heartwarming Heartbreak Behind The Greatest Album Never Made

Named “most famous unfinished album” by Rolling Stone, the Beach Boys SMiLE was slated to be the much-anticipated follow up to the highly-influential eleventh studio album Pet Sounds. The recording of SMiLE was strange in itself, as it marked creator Brian Wilson‘s spiral into a state of depression and paranoia, famously concerned that fires breaking out in the neighborhood of the studio where they were recording were a result of the music.

Session musicians were made to wear fireman’s hats to record songs, a grand piano was placed in a colossal sandbox in the living room and another room was decorated as a bedouin tent. Despite bizarre behavior and mental collapse, Wilson was praised as both functional and professional in the studio. “Our next album will be better than ‘Pet Sounds,'” he said in 1966.  But it never happened, and SMiLE was shelved, presumably because it was just too far out for the time and the other band members.

Now, almost fifty years later, SMiLE has been unleashed on a new generation. Wilson tells us via phone that the simple hope behind releasing The SMiLE Sessions is that “people like what we did, because it was really good music.”

And good music it is, perhaps made all the more intriguing by its twisted past. Listening to an album meant to push the boundaries of popular music forty years ago in this new strange future where Lady Gaga rules the charts is enough to make any music fan reassess the road to rock revolution. You’d be hard pressed to find a band these days that doesn’t count the Beach Boys as an influence. Daniel Rosen of Grizzly Bear “fell in love with [SMiLE] as a piece of music, even though I didn’t know quite what it was supposed to be.”

You can either be confused by SMiLE or just go with it. A sprawling, contorted work with a massive track listing and disorienting cycle of orchestral miniatures that fight each other in transition from one song to the next. But the highlight here is imagining what was, and what could have been. The sessions material provide a glimpse at Wilson’s madness-fueled-genius as he patiently discusses mood, tempo and timing, with only the occasional hash or LSD discussion. “We were quite thrilled with what we discovered in the can,” he says.  “It was hard to remember because we were doing so many drugs, you know.”

Wilson resurrected SMiLE in 2003, and released the newly recorded version the next year. But he calls this month’s release “a more extensive and extrapolation of the theme, like many, many extrapolations of ‘Heroes and Villains’.” Almost a full disc of “Heroes and Villains” fragments, actually, with another entire CD of “Good Vibrations” available as part of a limited edition 5CD box set.

“If you’re gonna write the song,” Wilson says, “Write the whole song. Don’t crap out halfway through it.” SMiLE may never be completely finished, but its certainly more than just a collection of songs that were never fully realized. The SMiLE Sessions are a deep and disturbing relic of what may have been the Beach Boys’ magnum opus, an unanswered love letter to the psychedelic era. No crapping out here.

Buy SMiLE now and check out the extensive track listing after the jump.


Mellow Rockers Misions Win Mentoring Session With Bruce Tyler

Take the piano steady drive of Coldplay, the sonic aesthetic of Grizzly Bear and shake it all up with some good ol’ fashioned pop writing and you’ve got Misions. The Henryetta, OK quartet has been making waves on OurStage since last summer”placing in the Top 10 during the regional rounds of the Shout It Out With HANSON and Subway Fresh Artistsâ„¢ Competitions.

The band is still turning heads, specifically those of the judges in the May Artist Access Premium Member Competition. Their hard work has earned them a mentoring session with industry veteran Bruce Tyler! Tyler’s music career spans over twenty-five years and includes having a hand in the success of artists like John Mayer, John Legend, Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, The Fray and many more. He currently employs his entrepreneurial expertise to some of the most influential companies and artists in music.

Tyler will be sitting down with the guys in NYC to share with them his years of experience in the music business. Join us in congratulating Misions on their win, and check out some more mellow tracks from the group in the playlist below.


Harmony: Indie Rock Finds Its Voice(s)

Ask a music fan in their late 30s or 40s “ preferably one stuck in their formidable years, and not an old hipster “ to define indie rock as a sound, and you’ll unquestionably hear some semblance of these words: Loud. Abrasive. Anti-Authority. Forward-thinking. Think about indie-rock forebears, and some may even call them unlistenable: Sonic Youth reveled in noise; Lou Reed couldn’t sing to save his life; Michael Stipe’s lyrics made no sense. And yet, in the past few years, an unmistakable trend’s emerged that’s made indie rock something entirely different “ in a word, beautiful.

That trend is harmony, the melding of vocals singing different notes to create a full, hopefully gorgeous chord. Admittedly, harmony has been a trait of indie rock since the early years (Kim Deal and Frank Black dabbled, as did Kurt Cobain and Dave Grohl) but only recently has it become an indie-rock trademark, rather than a side note. Blame (or thank) The Shins, whose New Slang made Natalie Portman swoon and Zach Braff famous six years ago, opened the door to indie-rock sensitivity in a way it’d never been opened before.

Only in the last couple of years has harmony become zeitgeist-y, though. First came the Fleet Foxes, the ultra-hyped, superbly bearded Seattle band whose atmospheric, folksy Sun Giant was the toast of 2008, thanks to singer Robert Pecknold’s harmonizing with all of his band mates to create glorious, seemingly impossible vocal collosi that are at once overwhelming and majestic. Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear broke out last year with Veckatimest, which took the Fleet Foxes lushness and weirded it up, the group-sings so striking, they won the band the top spot on the Wall Street Journal’s list of the best records of 2009. And now, Angelenos Local Natives take the trend a step further, with the foursome bringing the fuzz of electric guitars (and the jumpy rhythms of bands like the Talking Heads) to the party, busting out three-and-sometimes-four part harmonies that’re both electrifying and soothing, occasionally simultaneously. Listening to them “ or any of their predecessors “ may not be an anti-authority statement the way, say, listening to Iggy was in 1972, but so what: who needs attitude when you can have lusciousness, instead?

-Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller is the LA editor of and has been writing about music professionally for over a decade for publications including the Los Angeles Times, Relix, and