Abstract: The music industry has always looked down on musical ‘faces’ who have nothing to do with music production or creation. Is this snobbery justified or are they different skills that should be treated with different forms of appreciation? Or should this distinction warrant a new kind of appreciation for creators – one that’s separate from admiration of the performer?
Here’s a (probably) familiar situation for any independent music fan (you are Y):
X: I love Rihanna; she’s so great
Y: Yeah, her music’s pretty fun, but she doesn’t write any of it so…
X: Who cares? She’s way better than [insert cool unsigned artist Y likes here]
Y: Well, at least they write their own music though – like, I have way more respect for people who actually write their own stuff.
X: But Rihanna’s such a great performer – she’s a part of the music without being a part of the music, if you get me.
Y’s defence is one I have used more times than I can count in my lifetime, and I doubt it’s one I’m likely to stop using, but, to be totally honest, it’s not one I’ve actually examined in much detail at all.
I often read interviews in which musicians say things along the lines of ‘I only care about my fans – I don’t make music for critics; it’s all for the fans, man.’
While I am obviously a crazed music lover, I don’t often pay much attention to the ins and outs of what musicians say, unless I believe it will endow me with some insight and understanding of their music that I couldn’t get at from listening alone. This opinion, however, is far from uncommon in the music world and it got me thinking about the way we think about the quality of music and our judgement thereof.
As an independent music fan, it can be tempting to think of chart music as inferior, somehow in virtue of its wide appeal. Now, as unpleasant and snobby as this view undeniably is, what’s the alternative? To think of the charts and musical popularity as some kind of quality indicator? HA! No way.
But hang on! Why not?! Well, let me examine that. Here’s a few things we’ll need to have in place before I get going:
1. X is a major label artist who writes their own songs
A week or so ago I received an email from Pixies’ mailing list. This was monumental enough in and of itself because I have been on Pixies’ mailing list for approximately a million years, and they send somewhere in the region of 2.2 emails a year, if that. The email was about their first new material in nine years, ‘Bagboy’, which in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, I’ll post here, because it has honestly been traveling through cyberspace faster than TRON (apologies to any sci-fi purists who don’t think this is an adequate or correct use of a TRON metaphor).
Dust in my Shadow EP embodies a full Parthenon of musical influences capturing aspects of Bluegrass, Rock, Folk, Blues, Red Dirt, Funk and Soul for a reverberant mix of substance and surprise. From melodic electric guitar riffs to the sweet sensibilities of an old time string band, Tornado Rose offers a fresh look at the evolutionary nature of music and transforms a wide spectrum of inspiration into pure musical fusion.
Dust in my Shadow EP is streaming at http://www.tornadorose.com/Tunes.html – where an MP3 of the hit song ’80 Acres’ is available for free download.
“Dust in my Shadow EP represents a year of soul-searching, songwriting, and really coming into our sound as a band,” said vocalist Brooke Bell. “I feel like the luckiest girl alive to get to play in a band with some of the kindest, coolest and most talented guys I know. The hardest part of making Dust in my Shadow EP was picking the genre of music we fit into because the songs on the EP are so diverse. I would consider us alternative bluegrass, alternative folk, alternative rock, alternative alternative. It is so hard to classify our style that we don’t really care to.”
Hipsters: nobody knows what they are; nobody will ever self-identify as one, but still, everybody knows that they hate them.
Well, I don’t, and if you’re a big fan of independent music, then neither should you.
Like any much-ostracized subculture, hipsters have found themselves the victims of an online target hate loop unique in its vitriol, unparalleled in its universality, and unprecedented in its weirdness. What’s to attack when you don’t know what you’re attacking? (Fig. 1)
Note how the class of hipsters and the class of non-hipsters both hate hipsters. This is just a way of saying that everyone in the world hates hipsters, or at least claims to do so.
It is an absurd wild goose chase of epic proportions because a) no-one knows what they’re attacking and b) the attacked attack and the attacked of the attacked attack and the attacked of the attacked of the attacked attack and so on, meaning this hate process probably looks more like an infinite regress spiral thing. (Fig. 2)
Where this ends, as they say, no one knows. (Or where it begins, or where the middle is, or whatever else.)
Nine months after the release of Back to Basics, NYC-based musical scientist Melanie Edwards returns with her sixth album, entitled Las Rosas. Recorded over February and March of this year in San Ramon, Costa Rica, Las Rosas uses ambient sounds of the Costa Rican jungle as a backdrop.Edwards has the habit of choosing new production locations with every album she makes (the previous one, Back to Basics, had her recording in the woods in Finland), but Las Rosas seems totake the immersion further—the animals, ocean waves, and thunder actually play on this record. Shortly after her return to New York City, I spoke to Melanie about Costa Rica, her new album, and perfectionism in the studio.
You recorded your newest album, Las Rosas, in Costa Rica and used a lot of nature’s ambient sounds. How did the location fit in with what you wanted to create and express here? How did the ambient sounds fit in?
Once upon a time, there was brilliant and wonderful wizard who created a magical technology called the internet. The great minds of the time were so excited about the new technology, they decided to join forces and work together in harmony, for the good of the people. There job; to make the internet accessible to the working class and to discover a new way of connecting villages throughout the land. The collection of great minds hailed their breakthrough as, The World Wide Web.
Just as the great technologies before it, many artisans, musicians, craftsmen and businessmen saw great opportunity for wealth, at a time when there was none. They created games, digital music boxes, moving pictures, and knowledge gateways. They launched magnificent and wondrous portals into the human experience. A wave of renaissance spread through the land as the people shared technology and ideas. There was a long and prosperous period when a vast number of new businesses and people flourished. In time, many businessmen grew wealthy beyond their dreams.
The two young brothers in acoustic-pop band Minor Soul have a bit of a complicated background — I’d tell you where they’re from, but I’m still not quite sure. To be honest, I’m not entirely certain that they even know for sure. What I do know is that Jack and Max Wagner were born in England, grew up in Hong Kong, and now live in New York. To spice up their bio even more, the two brothers even made a few pit stops along the way, including one in Los Angeles, where they joined forces with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) at Henson Studios to record some songs. Later that year, Minor Soul released a video for “Beneath my Skin”, a song that came out of these sessions.
These days, Minor Soul is staying extremely present online by releasing videos on YouTube, as well as posting tunes that might one day end up on an official Minor Soul release. But, before they release an album, the guys are keen on making an impression on their latest city of residence — New York, New York. Their latest song/video, “Streets of New York”, was produced and co-written with renown hit maker, Toby Gad; whether you’ve heard Minor Soul play before or not, the catchy number is a good briefing on where the band is in 2012, both literally and figuratively.
K Marie Music - There's a new artist making her moves in the hip-hop scene these days, and she is definitely outside the box for this musical genre. Her name is Kelsey Marie, (K Marie), and along with her blonde hair and blue eyes, she is bringing a different approach to her music. The young rapper scored a hit with her music video Bang Bang last summer, which quickly scored tens of thousands of YouTube views, and she has a new single on datpiff.com entitled Don’t Let The Blue Eyes Fool You.
Mon Dec-02 2:44am
David Niari - DAVID NIARI : The More You Pause The Louder It Plays "There is a war going on outside..." Crying is rhythm-less and sighing lacks melody. Perfect pitch is never required of a mourner. In what key does the hurt wail? Finding oneself lost in this kind of soliloquy is a universal destination; easily found by many not seeking it.
Wed Nov-20 6:21am
Freekstile - Being inspired by Japanese culture and the streets of Brooklyn, Freekstile decided to combine the two influences in his music to help portray a picture of how he viewed life through his own eyes.
Sun Aug-18 4:24pm
Kyron Leslie - Last year, after I wrote “Reverse” and performed it for the first time. Being able to express what I was going through, accompanied by the arrangement, just felt good. So, I made a commitment to myself to make music that I wanted to hear and pursue it wholeheartedly.
Kyron Leslie's debut single "Reverse" now available on iTunes:
Mon Jun-10 1:53am
Sonicjar Music - We love music, we are passionate about it. We love music in any of its form. From a 30 second Ad Music, to an item number in a bollywood feature film to a unplugged acoustic music album. We love music because while we are making it, it does not seem like we are working. We love music because music has the power to connect with people emotionally, it has power to mend hearts and bring people closer. And that’s why we are here to help you out with any of your musical needs.
Fri Jun-07 2:52am
Loose Screws - We recently got a chance to catch up with Loose Screws, a new rap trio from Muncie, IN with a sound different from anything you've heard on radio, etc. The group, which consist of three members are currently promoting their first single, “I’m A Star”(available on iTunes) and working on NEW music.
Wed May-29 3:48am