Tuesday, 12 October 2010

2010FM - October Edition One

Another bumper edition of 2010FM so no waffle just the background to the bands and one or to opinions, take it as read regarding each artist that if we include them, we like them!

Unsolved Mysteries start us off this time around and just makes our spirit soar, superb music that is full of fun, energy and is very very catchy. The official stuff says's - Marc Jacobs designer by day, BMX rider by trade, and all around energized front man, Jon Lynn draws his inspiration from everything weird that you barely recall from childhood memories and channels it into his spangly electro-pop group Unsolved Mysteries. Originally starting off as a solo-project in 2004, Unsolved Mysteries eventually expanded to include producer Colin Alexander and guitarists Bryan Keller and James Chapman, to further groom their sound to the chiseled, mystic dance pop that it is today.

The latest full-length album, Tragic Trouble is a collection of warped pop songs with tints of The Radio Dept’s hazy electro, New Order’s synth-rock and the Cocteau Twin’s dream pop. Ranging from the crack-catchy, whistle ditty “You Only Live Once” to the textured space anthems like “Pen15”, Tragic Trouble has garnered major hand claps from both national publications such as Nylon Magazine and W Magazine as well as international acclaim with a front page of MTV Brazil website. Tragic Trouble is for sale at Marc Jacobs stores across the US and Europe.

Featured Track: Pen 15.
Website: MySpace. Buy: Tragic Trouble [Explicit]
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Alfa, aka Zak Aldridge, has been hard at work over the last year working on his debut EP, which is nearing completion. Recently, to coincide with the recent releases of his two latest remixes, he gave us a brand new original track 'Sky Patrol'.

I do not know much about Alfa beyond the info provided with this superb instrumental piece, we do however really look forward to hearing more. Info tells us - A unique evolution of electro, Alfa's music is music for the car, for your headphones, and for late nights with late night girls. A focus on melody and crisp production separates Alfa from his contemporaries, who seem much more interested in either going as heavy as possible, or washing out their sounds as much as possible.

Sky Patrol itself is Alfa's first original release since his songs that were on Binary's compilation, LA Lights. Sky Patrol is just a small taste of what you can expect from his EP. Zak has been working with various singers, guitarists, and session players while crafting the songs for the release.
Your not going to be able to keep still to this track even if dance is not your bag!

Featured Track: Sky Patrol.
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Jason Poe is new to the Beehive and I like the sound of this guy. We are informed that - In April of 2010, Jason embarked on a songwriting exercise of writing, recording and producing seven songs in seven days, and releasing them immediately to his fans. The results were seven inspiring, well-structured pop gems. This nose to the grindstone exercise proved Jason's dedication to arranging a genuine original song, and allowing his fans access to a true and fresh songwriting experience.

Two of Jason's "7 in 7" songs will be featured on the new album "Now is the Winter," which takes it's title from the opening line of Shakespeare's "Richard III" - "Now is the winter of our discontent." The title alludes to the themes of discontent and hope which weave themselves through each track on the album.

Jason’s songwriting abilities have won him loyal fans ranging from his roots in the Midwest to Austin, Texas, the live music capitol of the world. Producer CJ Eiriksson (U2, Matchbox Twenty, Jack’s Mannequin) is now working with Jason to help him fine tune his first solo album which will be released in the fall of 2010.

Keep an ear out for Jason, this is well crafted music with some superb hooks and quality production.

Featured Track: Black Clouds.
Website: Official.
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I will be totally up front and say that I struggle with most hip hop and rap music. I realise just how popular it is, I guess that for some reason I could never make the jump from reggae Motown and soul to this genre.

However Gangstagrass have absolutely bridged some of the gap and have left me both fascinated and intrigued. I just love this incredible mix of styles and rather than ramble on heres the story in full.

Gangstagrass, was just nominated for an Emmy for the theme song of the hit FX series: Justified. The show stars award winning actor Timothy Olyphant and features the song “Long Hard Times to Come”, written exclusively for the show by Gangstagrass!

Sometimes you just know what has to be done and you can’t put it off any longer. History has to be made and there is no other way to do it than to just jump in the deep end and start swimming. In the summer of 2007, Brooklyn based producer, singer, and songwriter Rench was at such a crossroad. He had been producing honky-tonk infused trip-hop albums of his own material for several years, and had also developed a stable of NYC emcees that were recording at his studio.

All along he had an idea in the back of his head that just wouldn’t go away – take rap vocals, add beats, along with classic bluegrass for all the instrumentation and call it Gangstagrass. You see Rench had always had a love for both country music and hip-hop. As a kid growing up in Southern California, Rench spent recess breakdancing to Run-DMC on cardboard boxes and evenings hearing his father’s country and bluegrass records. It turns out he was not alone.

Rench took the dive. He cancelled all other plans and spent the next month sequestered in his basement studio, several boxes from his classic bluegrass album collection by his side. The rappers he had worked with had no idea about the likes of Ralph Stanley, Bill Monroe or the Carter Family, but agreed nonetheless to let Rench use their vocals. He emerged with what is now known as Gangstagrass: Volume 1, a 22 track epic album of heavy hip-hop rhymes perfectly blended with old-time banjo riffs and bluesy Dobro slides. Rench promptly offered the whole album as a free download. Over the next two years word of the “Volume 1” spread like wildfire and the consensus was, you may not think country music and hip-hop music could go together. Think again.

After several hundred thousand downloads the Gangstagrass sound was clawing its way onto the American musical landscape. In early 2010, the free album got into the hands of the producers of a new FX show titled Justified. The show follows Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), who is a throwback law man, complete with a Stetson hat, cowboy boots, and a semi-automatic pistol in his hip holster. The producers felt that Rench’s music fit the “Wild West meets modern-day society” theme of the show, and asked Rench to create a new Gangstagrass track for the show’s opening theme music.

Rench worked with Bronx native and younger brother of early hip-hop stars Special K (Treacherous Three) and T La Rock (“It’s Yours”), T.O.N.E-z (an emcee featured on several tracks of Gangstagrass: Volume 1) to create “Long Hard Times To Come” for the Justified theme song. At this time there were to be no bluegrass samples – the instrumentation would come from live bluegrass musicians. Rench assembled an all-star team of pickers to join him at his Brooklyn studio and re-create the Gangstagrass sound. The live instrumentation far surpassed what Rench had made before. The hip-hop/bluegrass hybrid had truly come to fruition.

Work began immediately on a full length album featuring the full-on, no holds barred sound of hot bluegrass (Matt Check on banjo, Todd Livingston on Dobro, Jason Cade on fiddle) and T.O.N.E-z’s raw Bronx rhymes. In May 2010 the album Lightning On The Strings, Thunder On The Mic was released to the eager ears of fans across the country that had searched out the makers of Justified’s theme song. A few months later, “Long Hard Times To Come” was recognized with an Emmy nomination (Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music), and the cat was out of the bag. Gangstagrass had staked its claim among American music genres.

Although country music and hip-hop are perceived to be diametrically opposed music styles, the appeal of Gangstagrass is easy to understand. Gangstagrass was born out of a sincere love for good music and an “I just don’t give a f##k” attitude towards sonic boundaries.

“If you just pay attention to the charts, you get this idea that there is black music and white music, as if different genres serve two completely separate audiences. That’s just not true,” says Rench. “There are a lot of people out there with Hank Williams and Jay-Z on their mp3 player.” Gangstagrass is not just for big hip-hop or country fans. It is also for fans of good music of all types, who aren’t afraid to transcend the habit of musical segregation. Gangstagrass is true blue American music that is here to stay
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Featured Track: Put Your Hands Up High.
Website: Official.
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The Real Nasty have been busy since we first mentioned them back in June. When I was asked recently to take a listen to their new album and perhaps give them another mention my rather grumpy attitude was 'it had better be good then'.

It is and I am more than pleased to be able to share a track of my choice from the new album.

As a reminder - The Real Nasty is a power trio based out of the San Francisco Bay Area known for their ability to flow from country to rock with a raw force that leaves audiences reeling. Their huge sound and large repertoire is bolstered by the unique instrumentation of upright bass, guitar, and cajon (an Afro-Cuban box drum) and their music offers a fresh approach that “stomps through the same fields once occupied by Led Zeppelin and Johnny Cash, [with] even some Pixies-esque weirdness to keep everyone on their toes”(SF Weekly).

The new album titled 'Strangers and Friends' hit the streets just a few days back on October 8th - if you like the featured track you will not be disappointed!

Featured Track: Girl On The Mountain.
Website: MySpace.
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I am seriously enjoying listening to SJ Tucker. A mixture of folk, blues, Celtic and comedy I know that I will be looking to get hold of far more than the introductory songs recently provided.

Some background as follows - “Without our songs and stories, we are nothing.” This one phrase tells you what you need to know about SJ Tucker. Multi-instrumentalist, road warrior, front woman, back office bard, songwriter and rallying point; yes, she is all of these things. More than most, though, more than anything, she is a storyteller. She is the voice of lore at the campfire and the sharp laughter of modern myth, a vanguard of the Mythpunk movement with a gypsy Celtic folk rock sound that cannot be ignored. With one hand on her art and the other held out to you, she is songs and stories, community and wit.

A fascinating hybrid of geography and experience, SJ Tucker is a constant musical journey woman born to the sticky, mean delta humidity of Dumas, Arkansas. In that same swirling, sweltering air, Tucker’s musical education began at the age of 3 when her grandfather brought home an LP of The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour and dropped the needle on her Fisher-Price toy record player. Bound to the The Beatles from that moment on, her love for music grew with church choir and piano in elementary school, guitar and songwriting in high school, and her first singer/songwriter performance at the age of 17.

The featured track is just one dimension of SJ Tucker and she does indeed span the genres mentioned above, check her out soon!


Featured Track: Salad Of Doom.
Website: Official.
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I do not know much about Cock and Swan beyond the fact that I really like the track we can share below, the info that came with it (copied below) and most importantly how much I want to hear more!

Johnny and Ola started making music together in 2003, on a Tascam 4-track in a tiny bedroom in Bothell, Washington.  They now write and record in a white brick bunker by the river.  Their music is inspired by old analog synthesizers, unplanned samples, giant vintage bass drums, and faded colors.  Bands in a similar frame of mind include Boards of Canada and Mum.  Others have said that “Cock and Swan's heavy electronics and keyboard/bass grooves reference Tortoise, Portishead and Brian Eno.” (Erik Neumann, The Seattle Weekly)  They often produce, record and play live with other Dandelion Gold artists, such as Shana Cleveland (of The Curious Mystery, K Records) and Brad Dunn  (founding member of The Curious Mystery).

Featured Track: Stash.
Website: MySpace.
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Mutual Benefit aka Jordan Lee plays off kilter pop songs backed by a wide variety of sounds including homemade electronics, banjo, expired bacon bits percussion and overambitious harmonies. The music sounds a bit like Sufjan Stevens if he had been dropping acid with the Velvet Underground instead of going to church. Spider Heaven, Mutual Benefits' newest release, was recorded and inspired by parks, basements, and attics in rural Ohio where Jordan transplanted to from Austin, TX. When not experimenting with sound and thought, Jordan also happily runs a DIY tape label and radio show called Kassette Klub. Spider Heaven will be available digitally on October 5th and on cassette October 12th (comes with a free digital download upon purchase and also includes the Drifting EP). Each tape sleeve is handmade by the artist and features one-of-a-kind art collaged from thrift store children's books and vintage National Geographic magazines.

I have only heard one song from the new album 'Spider Heaven' however in order to try and tempt you to also consider the benefits of obtaining the Drifting EP I have featured a song from that.

Featured Track: Here.
Website: Kassette Klub.
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OK the promo says's 'Fresh off their wild and raucous 2008 release, One Shoe Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Portland, Oregon’s The Ascetic Junkies are back with a new LP, This Cage Has No Bottom. Maintaining their endearing blend of pop-infused folk tunes, the new record is a rough and rowdy barn dance of a record, showcasing what is at the core of the Junkies magic: Matt Harmon and Kali Giaritta’s raw and infectious harmonies.'

We say this is superb music that makes us smile and feel good. Some excellent harmonies and crafted musicianship but above all else it just feels like they are enjoying every moment despite the heavily callused-fingers and soar throats we are told they suffered making this fine music.

Featured track: Get What You Want Get What You Need.
Website: MySpace.
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Another band that are new to me are Roman Photos and I have to say I just love the layers and mood of the featured track. So here is some background - Roman Photos have crafted a sound that is by turn a romantic yet urban blend of various kinds of electronic music. Taking cues from genres like disco, synth-pop, techno and trip-hop, they bring emotion to a genre more known for atmospheres and rhythm. The band recently released a free digital EP as well a 7” on Army of Bad Luck (run by Josh from Deerhunter) and will see the release of the Decline/These Arms 7” via Double Phantom Records on December 7th.

"Here’s what’s cool about this: the wistful vocals that float effortlessly above the music, the buzzing density of the entire song, the warm thump drawn out from minimal techno and into a more rock-based world. “Decline” works because of its low-key unpretentious aspirations. It could easily be just another hazy dance track in a year full of hazy dance tracks, but the attention to detail—the little key pings and surprisingly confident vocals make it stand out." -- The Fader.

Roman Photos are: David Mansfield (Vox/Drums/Percussion/Electronics), Chris Daresta (Bass/Keyboards), Drew Haddon (Keybaords/ Electronics), Allen Taylor (Keyboards/ Electronics).

Featured Track: Decline.
Website: MySpace.
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I am really looking forward to the release of the new album by Jonah based on the couple of tracks I have heard so far and feel my usual embarrassed self for not knowing all about them considering how long they have been about and just how good their music is! 

Official promo tells us the following - Portland, Oregon's Jonah has been a familiar name among the city's ever changing music scene for almost ten years. The band's latest full length, The Wonder and the Thrill, stands strong as their truest and most accessible recording to date, to be released nationally on November 9th, 2010.

Like most artists, Jonah has evolved over the years. The Wonder and the Thrill reveals a departure from the band's Brit-pop origins, unveiling a somewhat simpler and softer approach to their arrangements, instrumentation and overall recording. Front man Henry Curl delivers skillfully delicate and yet sometimes prodigious choruses, delicately threaded over, around and through warm, understated harmonies that are reminiscent of Travis front man Fran Healy or maybe Matt Hales of Aqualung fame. These elements maybe most evident on the opening track "Please Let Go," while "Bees" shines bright as a catchy, upbeat anthem that will satisfy both loyal fans and new listeners. Not to be completely missed however is Jonah's signature blend of careening guitars and brimming choruses. These elements are fewer and farther between on The Wonder and the Thrill, giving the record a greater sense of spaciousness and poise.

Featured Track: Please Let Go.
Website: Official.
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RAUSCH has been studying, writing, practicing, performing, and otherwise living music relentlessly ever since the day his parents all but wrote him off as a pianist at eight years of age. This obsession recently landed him a degree from the prestigious Ithaca College School of Music in New York, where he won recognition as concerto competition finalist with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. A diverse following began to build as his tireless vision of resuscitating rock and roll collided headfirst with his obligations to “serious music.” For the encore of an ambitious recital on the eve of his 21st birthday, his 13-piece band joined him in tribute to Guns N Roses. November Rain took a classical music school to tears.

We are also told - Following this artistic triumph, RAUSCH took on the real world. He played countless gigs and submerged himself into all things music. Fresh off the heels of an internship with Sony Music Studios, he received the title of “Manager of the Year” at age 25 (the youngest to ever achieve this honor), as top producer at a highly respected Steinway & Sons piano retailer. From academia to corporate America, he learned much about the inner-workings of the music industry. In the end, all this first-hand experience only reinforced the urgency in chasing a life-long vision.

Having been listening to RAUSCH for the first time today whilst putting this feature together his inclusion became an absolute must. Superb keyboards, piano and guitar, excellent compositions and a real personal feel have left me just wanting to hear more.

Featured Track: It Happens.
Website: Official.
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We finish this addition on a high and after some terrific new music from a variety genres and very talented people that is no mean achievement!

Hailing from Iceland For a Minor Reflection comprises of four 20-year-olds from Reykjavík, Iceland. Their music is best described as energetic, melodious post-rock, though being the natural creative visionaries they are, the band expand and even subvert their style with almost every song.

Starting life as a hard rock duo in a tiny garage in Reykjavík, Iceland, For a Minor Reflection (FaMR) morphed into an indie rock trio (for a week or so) and a blues quartet (for a little longer) before finally arriving at their current incarnation: instrumental post-rockers du jour.
We are also told - Back in 2007, the quartet struck up a fan base with their self-produced debut album Reistu þig við, sólin er komin á loft... (Rise, the sun’s up...), a mesmerizing, hour-long tapestry featuring six songs and recorded over a weekend in their friend’s studio. This record, as well as their energetic live shows, earned them a slew of accolades, including favourable comparisons to Explosions in the Sky, Caspain and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Their fellow Icelanders Sigur Rós even described them as “a band with the potential to out Mogwai”.

Following a scintillating live performance at 2007’s Iceland Airwaves, FaMR were invited to undertake a two-week 2008 tour in the USA and Canada. Later in the same year the band were invited to do 15 dates with Sigur Rós on a European tour and used the opportunity to release their album on iTunes, as well as selling it on the tour. The band sold out on the 2000 albums they manufactured bringing the total sales figures of this modest demo recorded in a home studio to 5000 copies.

Needless to say the tour with Sigur Rós attracted the attention of a lot of promoters which landed them a showcase slot at Eurosonic at the start of 2009 and a months headline tour in Europe early summer last year Spending the rest of the summer writing a new album FaMR chose the Sigur Ros studio in Iceland to record 10 new songs with LA producer Scott Hackwith. The album is is called ‘Höldum í átt að óreiðu’ (Heading towards chaos).

This is superb music and I can only wonder over what is in the water in Iceland (beyond an endless supply of ice) that gives artists from their such creative talent!

Featured Track: Kastljos.
Website: Official.
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Featured Tracks:

1 comment:

Music for Songwriters said...

great list of songs and artist you got here...some of them i haven't heard of before...but im starting to like their music...thanks for sharing...