How’s it going, my NoiseTrader pals? In honor of our long-awaited return to Eastside Manor for this week’s amazing session with David Ramirez, I’ve decided to revisit a few of our under-the-radar sessions for this weekend’s music recommendations. Between the audio swagger of these amazing bands and the visual splendor of Eastside Manor, these sessions are always so much fun to make and to share with you guys. Also, the current back-to-school hoopla has inspired this week’s book recommendation. It’s all coming together, man. Just let it go, it’s synergy. Alrighty, get into all the things!
Before The Apache Relay released their most recent self-titled album, they debuted a handful of new songs for their beautifully laid-back, late-night Eastside Manor Session. Known for blending 60’s pop melodies with a proficient folk-rock savviness, the band delivered a stirring set that was highlighted by the dare-you-to-dance chorus of “Katie, Queen of Tennessee” and the wonderfully slinky slide guitar of “Dose.” As a bonus, the accompanying videos for this session really capture the ambiance of Eastside Manor at night under the lights.
Shortly after releasing their sizzling album Electric Slave, Black Joe Lewis and his funk-meets-psychedelic-blues backing band stopped into Eastside Manor to throw a fuzzed-out sonic party for us. From the friendly invitation of “Come to My Party” to the swampy confession of “My Blood Ain’t Runnin’ Right,” the rock solid rhythm section and trio of funky horns provided the perfect backbone for Joe’s singing/howling hybrid and his fiery guitar work. “Skulldiggin’” was a super fun one to watch and listen back to as well.
Winning the award for longest travels to Eastside Manor, Australia’s own Boy and Bear delivered a heavy helping of sun-soaked, 70s-influenced singer-songwriter vibes and a little land down under charm for their session. Dig in to the toe-tapping keyboard groove of “Arrow Flight,” the swanky drunken sway of “Three-Headed Woman,” and the playfully mesmerizing guitar riff in “Southern Sun” to hear exactly what makes this indie-rock five-piece so special. Good luck getting their head-bobbing, feel-good riffs out of your head anytime soon.
During this time of back-to-school craziness, what better way to entertain yourself than a story that takes a “brutally honest look at the American public school system and the extreme measures many teachers take to cope with working in it.” Jonathan LaPoma’s Developing Minds tells of the struggles of a handful of college graduates during their first year of teaching at two dysfunctional schools located in Miami. Not for the faint of heart, Developing Minds will either have you furiously flipping the pages or fearfully enrolling your kids in home school.
We’re so excited to present our newest NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Session with the travel-tested troubadour David Ramirez. Combining his folk narrative songwriting style with an honest and introspective lyrical flair, Ramirez turned in one of our most intimate sessions to date. To go along with his session, we chatted with Ramirez about recording his brand new album FABLES (out 8/28), working with fellow artist and friend Noah Gundersen, and shooting a music video for “Rock and A Hard Place” in today’s post-MTV musical landscape.
NoiseTrade: Your brand new album FABLES almost feels like a personal diary set to song, like the audience is eavesdropping on you having a conversation with yourself. What inspired this deeper level of introspection and directness in your lyrics?
David Ramirez: I don’t think this “diary mindset” is new for me. Most of my songs are pretty tied to who I am, who I’ve been, and who I want to be. I think this album in particular deals with me growing older. I’m more aware of myself and what I want out of my relationship, my career, and my art.
NT: With FABLES being recorded in Seattle, did the city and the atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest shape any part of the album in any way?
Ramirez: I kind of thought it would but the influence came with the players, not the city. I think, had I written the songs up there over the course of a year or so, that the city would’ve been more present on the tunes.
NT: How did you come about working with fellow singer-songwriting Noah Gundersen to produce FABLES?
Ramirez: I needed to work with a friend on this album. I really can’t do the whole “producer” thing. I was talking to this one producer about doing the record and it really didn’t feel right. It wasn’t the guy or his vision that I disagreed with it, it really came down to comfort. In order for me to reach my potential, I need to be comfortable. That’s why I went with Noah. We’re close friends and I trust him.
NT: What were some of the unique experiences that come along with being produced by another artist? How was it different that just working with a straight-up (non-artist) producer?
Ramirez: It was all about the song. Noah was there to serve the song, where maybe some producers are there to record the song. He saw and heard things that I couldn’t and I trusted his judgement. He changed progressions, melodies, and the entire feel of some tunes. It really pushed me and at times it hurt my ego, but all of it was necessary.
NT: After years of touring as a solo artist, you’re changing things up and working on building a backing band for touring. What sparked the switch and how has that process been working out for you?
Ramirez: This is something I’ve been planning for years. The solo thing was great and I truly loved it but that’s not what I dreamed about when I first started playing music. I want collaboration. I want brotherhood. I want family. I want rock and roll. This is my first headline tour and I think it’s an appropriate time to bring the boys out.
NT: You recently shot an incredibly cool music video for “Rock and A Hard Place” that was directed by Ryan Booth of Serialbox Presents. Can you tell us about your experience shooting the video and about your personal feelings regarding the role you think music videos play in today’s post-MTV music scene.
Ramirez: The video was a blast. I was so thankful that both Ryan and Keir signed on to make it happen. My involvement was pretty minimal. The concept pretty much came from my manager then we got together with Ryan to flesh out the details. It all came together pretty easily.
I’m not sure what role music videos have in today’s culture but I’ll always make them. It’s so fun and inspiring to work together with friends. I’m not too concerned with what happens with the final product. The process, to me, holds a ton of value.
NT: Finally, in the spirit of your “Rock and A Hard Place” music video, what are your personal Top 5 favorite music videos of all-time?
Ramirez: Feist’s “1234,” Coldplay’s “Strawberry Swing,” OK Go’s “Here it Goes Again,” Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal,” and Radiohead’s “No Surprises.”
Howdy, howdy, NoiseTraders! Another weekend, another weekend wrap-up… ain’t life grand like that? We’re working on some really exciting features that are coming down the pike for you guys and I can excitedly say that we’re almost done pinning the bow on our next NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Session. It’ll be out next week (more details below) and we couldn’t be more stoked for it! We’re also doing some interesting things behind the scenes for our artists, so if that includes you, please take a quick moment and fill out our short Artist Survey (located HERE). Other than that, enjoy your weekend, my friends. Alrighty, get into all the things!
With the newest installment of our NoiseTrade Eastside Manor Sessions hitting our digital shelves this coming Thursday, I thought it might be a good idea to bring anyone who’s not familiar with David Ramirez up to speed. With a confessional, acoustic songwriting style and a whiskey-soaked, road-weary rasp, Ramirez sonically lands somewhere between Nebraska-era Springsteen and Ryan Adams circa Cold Roses/Jacksonville City Nights/29. Ramirez opens his NoiseTrade Sampler with a beautiful acoustic version of “The Bad Days” from 2013’s The Rooster EP, but it is his closing cover of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” from Radioplay that really showcases his range, both vocally and emotionally.
Simply self-described as a “will-she-or-won’t-she story about accidentally falling in love”, Alma’s “For A Poet” is a soulful jazz-pop ditty that brings to mind Corinne Bailey Rae or a poppier Lauryn Hill. “For A Poet” initially came out last summer, a few months before her debut full length Tactics was officially released. Both releases can be found on our site, so consider “For A Poet” an aural appetizer to whet your appetite for the full-plate offering of Tactics. Her Madison, WI-to-Chicago, IL-to-Los Angeles, CA journey shines through in her musical melting pot style. If your ears are in the market for smooth poetics set over jazz-laced guitars and R&B-flavored rhythms, Alma may have exactly what you need.
I seriously can’t get enough of Hanging From The Rafters and their dreamy debut album Box of Songs. The ambient trip-hop trio has such an experimental sound and each of the eight songs on the album is truly transformative in its own unique way. Mixing trance-like guitars, hypnotic grooves, and lead singer Lolly Brown’s enchanting vocal, Hanging From The Rafters provides a lush, layered listening experience.
With Sir Ian McKellan’s Mr. Holmes still holding strong at movie theaters, why not brush up on some classic Sherlock with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Compiling the first 12 stories of the infamous detective’s adventures, this eBook echoes the way they were initially published as a single collection back in 1892. There’s even an additional interactive layer in this version as well.
With the release of his newest album, Imaginary Man, NoiseTrade was able to reach out to Rayland Baxter about his evolved sound and writing style that is vivid even through a short interaction with him. Whether it be through his stylization while writing or the way he admits to the growth between albums, there’s no denying that Baxter has a passion for the music and the community in his native city of Nashville. Check out our interview with Baxter below and pick up his newest album Imaginary Man, in stores now.
NoiseTrade: Your second album, Imaginary Man, just came out and has more of an old country sound not as present in your first album, Feathers & Fishhooks. Do you attribute this evolved sound to personal and musical growth and if so where do you see your continuing growth taking your newest album?
Rayland Baxter: i think its proper for every aLbum to have its own identity but at the same time exist under the sonic and styListic umbreLLa created by the artist. for me, imaginary man is just the next step in aLL of that. i think im a better musician and songwriter and singer than i was a few years ago so its onLy naturaL that the sound from record to record wiLL change in some forms and fashions. as Long as the song is good…everything eLse faLLs right into pLace. in terms of where i see it goin…I have nooooo idea and i Love that i have no idea. every day i Learn more so im just puttin memories in the bank and tryin to take notes when i feeL the need.
NT: Your father, Bucky Baxter, is featured on this newest album playing pedal steel. Was there any reasoning behind this or did it just kind of fall in to place?
Baxter: ah yes the oL buckman…when I was first gettin my music man thing goin on, he and i wouLd pLay on a reguLar basis…he was a great coach during the earLy formative years…but these days we dont pLay together that often…im waiting for some speciaL occasion…maybe i can fLy him out to red rocks if we ever get to do a big show there. my pops has a very speciaL approach to music and I think i Learn aLot from him. he pLays the pedaL steeL so beautifuLLy but at the same time its tough…same for him…hes a beautifuL and gentLe human but hes thick and tough and definateLy one of a kind.
NT: I read that Imaginary Man has a deeper meaning for you than just the album title, the theme runs throughout the album. Who is this imaginary man, or men, that are with you through your journeys?
Baxter: we aLL have that imaginary person or two or ten in our minds that we taLk to or try to reLate with or dream for…in my case, the imaginary man is a companion that heLped write aLL of these songs with me. imaginary man grew up in detroit michigan and kicked it with sixto rodriguez…imaginary man spent days in the desert with no food water or Love…imaginary man stared into space and time traveLLed and taLked to super heroes and mythicaL creatures that i wiLL never get to meet. you can say hes my ghost writer and we hang aLL day Long everyday.
NT: As someone who is from the Nashville area, you use quite a bit of imagery of the city, like in “Memories of Old Hickory.” But you also use to travel a lot as a young child. How has that traveling and those memories shaped your songwriting and musicianship?
Baxter: spending aLot of time traveLLing around the states as a kid…i got to have a pretty adventurous youth…I spent aLot of time in the mountains…aLL over the country…and expLoring the outdoors with my mom or my dad or by myseLf and my mentaL army of imaginary men…i remember driving everywhere…nashviLLe to maryLand…nashviLLe to nova scotia…nashviLLe to LA…nashviLLe to wyoming…it’s no surprise i spend haLf of most days driving around the country for a Living…we drove everywhere and Listened to aLot of music…aLL kinds…my mom was into everyone from inxs and the beatLes to joan osbourne and patti smith and so on. my pops got me hooked on jimi hendrix and bob dyLan and the cLassic country and oLd bLuegrass…i had aLot of ingredients in my meLting pot to add to throughout my Life. however, i wasnt much of a musician until my earLy 20s…i got an acoustic guitar for christmas when i was 19 and started jammin on that thing…i havent stopped jammin. jamm jamm jamm jamm.
NT: Your single “Yellow Eyes” seems to be about moving on and moving forward, not really holding on to the past. Can you go in to more detail about that?
Baxter: the song ‘yeLLow eyes’…it’s a song about moving on yes…and a song about seLf refLection and doin your best not to repeat the same mistakes you aLready made…about knowing that sometimes you gotta keep your head down and bLinders on so that you can do what youre supposed to do with your Life or at that certain moment…to me the song touches aLot of bases…but honestLy dont Listen to me…its whatever you want it to be about reaLLy.
With their brand new album Mont Royal coming out August 28 on Roll Call Records, we chatted with the LoPresti brothers of The Lighthouse and the Whaler for our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One (or Two). In this special SXSW Revisited edition, Michael and Matthew reminisce about their multi-year treks to SXSW, expound on a couple of songs from Mont Royal, open up about their new song “Brothers” (exclusive to their NoiseTrade sampler), and how they navigate the rough waters of being siblings and band mates.
NoiseTrade: To start things off, thanks so much for playing The Swan Dive and for being a part of our SXSW Day Parties this year! How was your 2015 SXSW experience overall?
Michael: Thanks for having us, it was a stellar show! We had some really awesome showcases this year and that makes SX so much more encouraging but I love that at SX I feel like I never slow down. I walk and load in and play a show and see Bill Murray and eat and sleep a little and get soaked in the rain and load in and play another show and walk some more. I mean I could go on but you get the picture.
NT: How did this year’s SXSW festivities compare to years past for you? What sticks out as your most memorable SXSW experience this time around?
Michael: We’ve been to SX for a few years now but this one was the best, all the shows were really great and I think I had the most fun I’ve ever had. SXSW can be really stressful but I had no stress this time around just a lot of fun. Our official showcase was the most memorable moment for me. The show was on a covered stage outside and it was raining but the place was packed and it really embodied the festival atmosphere.
Matthew: In past years we were in all industry shows which can make for weird crowd atmosphere. This time including the Noisetrade show all our shows were open to the public so the crowds were great and our fans could see us multiple times.
NT: Your NoiseTrade Brothers Sampler features two brand new songs from your upcoming album Mont Royal (out 8/28). What can you tell us about the writing and recording of “In Motion” and “In the Open”?
Michael: My brother Matthew was listening to a few rough ideas I’d been recording on my phone and he heard the melody and guitar line for what would eventually become “In Motion”. He heard it and turned to me and said “we have to work on this next practice” I fleshed it out and I think that song came together in a few practices. “In The Open” I spent a lot of time on by myself really trying to get the feeling right. It’s one of my favorite songs from the record.
Matthew: I was listening to some ideas on Mike’s phone when I heard his idea for “In Motion” with him and an acoustic guitar. I was like, we have to expand this. I think we wrote it with the band in two sessions. “In the Open” was more complete when Mike brought it to us and it was good but really came to life in studio with our producers touch.
NT: Your NoiseTrade sampler also includes the exclusive non-album track “Brothers” – an emotionally heavy song dealing with sacrifice, commitment, and familial relationships. What’s the story behind this beautifully weighty song?
Michael: It deals with my perceptions of loyalty. I’ve always had this idea in my head that I would be the kind of person that would be there for the people I cared about when they needed me most even if they wouldn’t do the same for me, not in a malicious way, just because that isn’t their priority. I want to be the kind of person that sacrifices for those closest to me even if it cost me, that’s who I want to be. The song is my way of working through that identity.
Matthew: I’ll let Mike take this one more. But for me as one of four brothers we have a high value for being there for each other and sacrificing for family. Our grandfather and our younger brother both served in the military and it has great meaning to us to honor people who sacrificed for us to live freely.
NT: You guys have chosen to donate the money from this sampler to Wounded Warriors (let me know if this has changed and I’ll reword it). What can you tell us about your connection to that organization and about your heart towards veterans overall?
Michael: Well, my connection really comes through others. Firstly my brother and grandfather both served in wartime and from the age of 6 until I was 18 I wanted to be a Navy SEAL. That actually was all I wanted to do. Circumstances in my life changed my direction on that but I never really lost that connection internally to it. That and a few of my best friends, guys I grew up with since birth, served in some of the most intense areas of Afghanistan and Iraq and came back wounded both mentally and physically. I strongly believe our veterans deserve our respect and help when they need it.
Matthew: Expanding on my last answer I really value people who sacrifice for others to have a better life and to live in a better world. As a culture we can sometimes be so self indulgent and to take a step back and give back to those who sacrificed for us I think is really important.
NT: Finally, we’ve all heard the stories of the unique intricacies that can come along with having two brothers in a band (Oasis, Black Crowes, CCR, The Kinks, Kings of Leon, etc.). What has helped you guys steer clear of all the feuding and fighting we’ve seen in some other sibling-based bands?
Michael: We fight sometimes, ha. My brother and I grew up in a pretty tight group of friends that we’re still close with to this day so I guess that’s helped us to stay close and keep things cool.
Matthew: Haha, we definitely fight like brothers. You know the right words to get under each other’s skin. But I think overall we have a really great relationship because, but not limited to, the fact that we have the same goal, beauty through music. Mike is the leader and I got his back til I die. Or until he tries to change my drum part, then it’s on.
When writer Will Hodge (@will_hodge) isn’t caught beneath the landslide in a champagne supernova in the sky, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Hey, you guys! Hope all is going swell in each of your own little worlds. Let me be the first to welcome you to the weekend with another batch of test-driven tunes and an enticing eBook that have all been hand-picked for your perusal. As always, all of my free recommendations come with a money-back guarantee, so throw caution to the wind and give them all a spin! Also, if you missed it earlier in the week, be sure to check out our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One with the soul-sopped, fleet-footed frontman Nathaniel Rateliff and be sure to grab his new album Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats next Friday (out 8/21 on Stax Records). Alrighty, get into all the things!
Jesus High II by NC-based rapper Applejaxx is getting ready to celebrate its first birthday next month and if you missed it the first time around, here’s your chance to make good. Earlier this year, I highlighted Applejaxx’s A Night at the Movies EP and praised his ability to weave humor into his social commentary without ever forsaking one for the other. Much like Foreknown of the infinitely talented Humble Beast crew, Applejaxx mixes glossy production values with a super smooth delivery and sprinkles the perfect amount of nostalgic nuggets of pop culture references throughout. To start things off, spin “Turn Up” a couple times in a row and your weekend will be set for success.
Cardinal is the debut EP from Son & Thief, a new indie-rock trio hailing from the sacred sonic soil of Athens, GA. Home state bias aside, I found myself really impressed with the depth of songwriting and the production values on the young band’s first release. Landing somewhere between Death Cab for Cutie’s emo-pop aesthetics and the layered BGVs of The Beach Boys, the six songs on Cardinal glide along on a relaxed groove that never feels rushed or unsure of itself. Opening track “Lock & Key” and closer “7th Mended Mess” feel like the strongest songs, but the early rock vibe of “You Don’t Want That” perfectly nails a sound that I hope the band explores even more as it goes along.
If you’re in the mood for some spot-on, melodic alterna-power-pop, then Cleveland’s Joshua Jesty has got a little something for you, man. it’s your fault everything’s alright is the final EP in a 4-chapter collection of songs about a bunny that finally finds “someone with which to blow up the world.” While not exactly a literal narrative of those exact ingredients, the songs convey the myriad of emotions that color such a relationship. So far, my favorite tracks are probably “time gives me the screw” and the gorgeous acoustic track “here” that finishes up the album (and the overall story).
Fans of well-crafted, epic myth-worlds full of flawed heroes, ancient evils, magical occurrences, and tongue-twisting geographical locations will find much to love in Ryan Peter’s When Twins War: Book I. Following in the footsteps of such literary luminaries as Tolkien and Martin, Peter has created a lush, intricately-detailed realm for his characters and their stories. Visit the twin cities of Iza-Kiêrre and Ben-Kiêrre, delve into the lives of Tarkanyon the Outlander and Gerald, and get lost in the fantastical expanse of Lexedore in When Twins War: Book I.
When writer Will Hodge (@will_hodge) isn’t one of these late-model children waiting for the king, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
In our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One, we chatted with Nathaniel Rateliff about his new retro-soul album Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, his move from solo artist to band leader, and the Blue Brothers-inspired music video for “S.O.B.” – the lead single from the band’s self-titled debut. Hot on the heels of their late night television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last week, dig into our enlightening discussion with the frenetic frontman.
NoiseTrade: There’s a nostalgic, reverb-drenched, garage-soul aesthetic running through your new single “S.O.B.” from your upcoming album Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats (out 8/21). How’d you capture that retro-tinged sound so perfectly and what albums did you use as inspiration?
Nathaniel Rateliff: We just tried to have fun and serve the songs as best we could. If you add old, shitty gear and Richard Swift to the mix and leave the mistakes, I guess this is what you end up with.
As far as inspiration, I’ve been listening to The Band, Chambers Brothers, Otis Redding, and Sam and Dave and the rest of the Stax and Volt catalog.
NT: Being that you’re mostly known as somewhat of a solo artist, what inspired the jump to a full-band album as Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats?
Rateliff: I’ve toured with a band a much as I could for the past 7 years. For the most part, I’m still playing with the same band. I know the style is different but the content is still the same. I’ve loved Soul and R&B for most of my life and have wanted to try my hand at it for a long time. It just took a while to figure out.
NT: What does it mean for you to have this album be released on the iconic Stax Records label? Do you feel a special kindred spirit with the rest of the legendary roster?
Rateliff: Well, I love all the artists and their sound. It is more than an honor to be on the roster.
NT: I absolutely love the Blues Brothers feel of the “S.O.B.” music video. Whose idea was the prison performance and was it as much fun to shoot as it looked?
Rateliff: It was an idea that a few of us had separately and it came together naturally. It was a blast to shoot. If you add five bottles of Jack Daniels to anything, it’s fun.
NT: When was the first moment you found out that you had that big banshee voice inside of you and how did you start weaving the soul element into it?
Rateliff: I can’t pinpoint a moment when I realized my voice… I mean, I didn’t get bitten by a radioactive backup singer and wake up with super soul powers or anything. I’ve always had a deep love and respect for this kind of music and I think there has always been an element of it in the way I write songs. I’ve never wanted to limit myself to a particular genre or style and I don’t think I could’ve ever felt like I’d fully expressed myself musically if I hadn’t put this band together and made this record.
This music is really demanding of the performer… you have to put your heart and your back into it. It requires stamina and confidence. I guess the time was just right. I finally felt ready to do it, so here it is.
NT: Finally, do you have a favorite Stax Record release that you think everyone should listen to before doing anything else?
Rateliff: There’s so much in the catalog, it’s hard to say. I would suggest Otis Redding’s Live in London and Paris.
Will’s Weekend Wrap-Up: Wild Ones, The Dollyrots, Saint Cecilia and the Melody Makers, and CJ Casciotta
NoiseTraders, mount up. “It was a clear black night, a clear white moon…” Man, it’s always the right time for some old school Warren G, my friends. However, if a little mid-90s G-funk ain’t your bag, I’ve got a few other sonic selections for you to sample. Between a new sizzling synth-pop single to ease summer towards the door, a collaborative split EP of punk bands covering each others songs, and a loose, folksy hymnsing captured live, there’s much to love in this week’s batch of recommendations. I hope you enjoy the book pick as well, since it posits a fresh way to look at how to make stuff that matters and because it gave me my new power phrase: “Branding is for cows!” Combined with a firmly slammed fist on the nearest flat surface, this mantra has proven to be quite the convincing closer. Alrighty, get into all the things!
Although it seems summer is ready to start its slow fade into fall, there’s still a little left for some sun-soaked songs to close out the season. Enter “Dim the Lights” from indie-pop darlings Wild Ones. “Dim the Lights” is a windows-down, synth-laced explosion of melody driven by the crystal clear vocals of frontwoman Danielle Sullivan. Used as the lead single from their sophomore EP Heatwave, the synth-pop singalong is a creative continuation of the sound they crafted on their debut album Keep it Safe (currently available on our site as well). Heatwave is available in its entirety from the never-miss geniuses at Topshelf Records
Isn’t it always nice to find a genuine mutual admiration society between two bands? Members of husband-and-wife punk duo The Dollyrots and pop punk foursome Bowling for Soup have been friends, tour mates, and co-recording buds for quite a few years now. As they are about to head out on a joint tour of the US and the UK starting in September, both bands have decided to release “a stoked-for-tour sampler” featuring each band covering three songs from the other’s repertoire. After 2011’s The Dollyrots vs. Bowling for Soup and 2012’s One Big Happy, this marks the third split EP the bands have co-released together.
When a band describes their album in terms of Amish quiltmakers leaving intentional mistakes in each piece to remind them of their own humble humanity, there’s a good chance the listener is in for an authentically unique experience. Saint Cecilia and the Melody Makers is rag-tag collection of friends who gathered together and played through a collection of hymns on “guitars, shakers, bells, harmonicas, drums, kazoos, our voices, and other toys.” If you’re looking for a little whimsy in your acoustic hymn work (much like The Welcome Wagon), then this album’s for you.
If you’re like me, “branding” is one of those corporatized buzzwords that carries a bit of negative connotation and gets lumped in with other inauthentic offenders like “networking,” “remarketing,” and the like. However, there is some validity behind the reasons and purposes of a branding… uh, strategy (ugh). Author CJ Casciotta helps navigate these tricky waters, by delineating between branding (“imprinting your ideas onto others”) and belonging (“tapping into the identity that already exists in people”) in a most helpful, educational, and refreshingly meaningful way.
When writer Will Hodge (@will_hodge) isn’t hooksing a left on 21 and Lewis, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Konichiwa, NoiseTraders-san! I’m not usually one to toot our own horn too much on a week’s-worth of features, but for this week… TOOT TOOT, you guys. In case you missed any of it, this week we featured a wonderfully eclectic sampler of new songs, demos, and rarities from alt-rock phenom Tracy Bonham, a stunning new album primer with EP sidecar from singer-songwriter Noah Gundersen, and an exclusive batch of exciting live tracks (with bonus interview) from violinist/dancer Lindsey Stirling. Our cup runneth over, for sure. If all three offerings aren’t already in your music library, you’ll want to remedy that with the quickness. While you’re doing that, I’ve also got a few more recommendations to download while you’re roaming around the site. Genre-wise, it’s all a mixed bag, but there’s a common denominator that they all share of being well worth your time. Alrighty, get into all the things!
I first wrote about Phoenix-based rapper Jordan Taylor back in April and I believe it’s high time to rep another one of his hip-hop street hymns. The first time around I described him as “grungy hip-hop with innovative production and hope-fueled, street-wise rhymes.” After listening to his newest single “Ambition,” I need to add “molasses smooth flow over atmospheric, thick-beat tracks” to the mix. Hear me now friends, Taylor is one to keep your eyes on. He’s an incredibly talented lyricist and his creative production choices showcase a confidence that many young rappers end up taking years to develop (if they even get there at all). Taylor seems to already at that level and his career is just getting started. I also love the fact that many of his songs contain snippets of Tupac interviews, which is totally extra icing on the cake for me.
My first experience hearing the Spin Doctors was somewhere around the spring of 1992 and my friend Todd and I would spin their Pocket Full of Kryptonite album at every youth group function that summer like it was Abbey Road or Pet Sounds. If you would have had told me then that the scat-singing, fun-time frontman would eventually become an endearing acoustic-loving singer-songwriter, I’d have called you straight-up crazy. However, Spin Doctors lead singer Chris Barron has done exactly that. Currently, he’s been releasing a series of singles that will be on his forthcoming solo album If I Stop Laughing, I’ll Cry. “Angels and One-Armed Jugglers” is his newest single and, along with being one of the strongest songs he’s released so far, it gets bonus points for being the song that contains the lyric that spawned the album title.
Smiling Cynic is the work of producer-songwriter Christopher Hawes and he has generously enriched NoiseTrade’s sonic catacombs with 11 lush, electro-pop releases (gotta catch ‘em all!). My current Smiling Cynic favorite is his Do Robots Have A God? EP, due in large part to the mesmerizing instrumental track “Beat Me” that I can’t seem to listen to enough. Something about the mixture of percussive elements and the stereo-panned electro-drum fills bring to mind some of my favorite Moby moments and the pulsing washes of synth layer everything in a relaxing wave of sound that creatively compliments all of the rhythmic action going on underneath.
Lance Shaubert’s Life After Aesthetics is a short, philosophical book that reads like a themed collection of essays mashing up big-thought questions about beauty and art with history, pop culture, and humor. According to Schaubert, the book “compares Adele to Geoffrey Chaucer, evaluates Hitler based on Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette, and asks the question: do elephants cry?” With a cover sporting a man emulating The Thinker and wearing an Incredible Hulk boxing glove and a four-foot afro, it’s safe to say you’ve been summarily warned as to what you will be presented with in its pages.
When writer Will Hodge (@will_hodge) isn’t wanting to buy you rockets, you can find him running off at the keyboard about music, concerts, and vinyl at My So-Called Soundtrack
Get to know a little more about acclaimed violinist/dancer Lindsey Stirling in this exclusive NoiseTrade One-on-One Interview where she discusses how she came up with her unique pairing of classical violin with hip-hop and electronica elements, how she started incorporating intricate choreography into her performances, and why her new live DVD Live from London is a fantastic way to experience the full scope of her artistry.
NoiseTrade: What made you first want to incorporate dance into your violin playing? Were you just curious to see if two of your passions could be incorporated together or was it something more intentional?
Lindsey Stirling: When I was preparing to go to collage I competed in a talent competition in order to win scholarship money. There were several violinist, one of which was the best in the state so I decided to fill my routine with charisma. I didn’t want to just impress, I wanted to perform, I wanted to entertain. In the beginning it was extremely simple but the audience’s reaction was electrifying. I’d never felt so charged and I knew that I’d stumbled upon my passion.
NT: When did you first start mixing your classical violin playing with elements of hip-hop and electronica? Do you remember what caused those first sparks of inspiration?
Stirling: I had gotten burned out on classical music. I just wasn’t enjoying the violin anymore so in attempts to reinvigorate my passion, I started to play along with my favorite radio hits and I began to be excited again. After experimenting with different styles I found my sound and started writing.
NT: Is it possible to describe what is going on in your brain when you are simultaneously playing an intricate violin piece and conducting full body choreography?
Stirling: It totally depends on the moment and also how far into the tour we are. Sometimes I’m focused more on making sure my violin playing is precise, other times I’m focusing on my balance as I do a leg extension, there are moments when it am completely tuned in to looking into the eyes of my fans and connecting with the audience and sometimes my mind is just plain wandering and I suddenly am brought back to the fact that “oh my gosh focus, you’re in front of 5,000 people.”
NT: Do you ever feel that your recorded albums only show a portion of your artistry or are limiting in any way (being that they are only audio)? Do you feel that your new live concert DVD Live from London will help to present the full experience of what you have to offer?
Stirling: I definitely feel like my art is meant to be visual. The music is only half of the painting which is why I love live performing. I love being able to bring the music to life on stage and it’s really exciting to have a live DVD that anyone can now experience.
NT: As you prepare to head out on your summer tour at the beginning of August, is there a special moment or two during the show that you are really looking forward to every night from a performance perspective?
Stirling: There are so many moments that I look forward to. There are several moments where the audience definitely gets surprised and every night I look forward to hearing the gasps and applause, and I love seeing the little kids pointing at certain elements in excitement. It makes the show new and fresh every night because I can see it for the first time through the eyes of someone else.