Feature Friday: Poema

May 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

Poema is an innovative sister duo, transplants to Nashville, TN from Albuquerque, NM.  The girls, Elle and Shealeen Puckett, have seen their fair share of ups and downs in the music industry.  They started their passion and career at a young age, and making it in music has always been their dream.  Tooth & Nail Records started them on their path, but after parting with the label in early 2014, Poema was ready for a change.

That change came with the recording of a new EP, Pretty Speeches, in Nashville.  Due out July 10 and produced by Nolan Rossi, the EP is a new direction of music for the sisters. Seeking inspiration from Nashville itself, Poema set aside all distractions and laid down no boundaries as they returned to their poppy undertones on Pretty Speeches.  With a refreshing use of guitar and keys, Elle and Shealeen defy the odds of starting anew.

Beginning with the single “Go Away,” released in March, Pretty Speeches is a five-track journey showcasing the highs and lows not only of Poema, but of the music industry itself.  You can download “Go Away” now here, and look for Pretty Speeches July 10.

Starter Stories: Anna Stodart, Publicist at Golightly Media

May 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Anna Stodart, publicist at Golightly Media

I landed in New York when I was 23 years old. I had no idea what I was going to do in a city I had never been in before, let alone one as notorious as NYC.

Back home, in Brisbane, my friends and family would look at me with utter disbelief when I told them I was going to New York. I had no job prospects, and no leads to finding one, not to mention no real friends or family in the city. But I was determined to make something work.

Now, I am one third of Golightly Media–a music PR company that represents an eclectic roster of artists that are the reason why I am excited to get out of bed in the morning. And looking back, I don’t even really know how I got here.

I was born and raised in Brisbane, Australia, always knowing that I wanted to work in music in some capacity. In high school, I was always the one making mix tapes and forcing my friends to listen to bands I found on MySpace or making them stand with me while I perused the selection at Rockinghorse Records or JB Hi-fi. When I was 14 I went to what would be the first of many concerts. Chaperoned by my brother’s friend’s older sister (the only 18-year-old I deemed cool enough to escort me) I arrived bright eyed at the now defunct venue, The Arena, to see Yellowcard. Finally I was able to see a band who I admired so greatly and whose record I had listened to on repeat. But it also made me feel so small–all of a sudden I realized how far removed I was from a world that I so desperately wanted to be a part of.

So, as soon as I graduated from high school, I started volunteering at my local community radio station, 4zZz. It was here that I met Maggie Collins, the station’s music director and someone who I hold responsible for helping me find my feet in Brisbane’s own scene.

I began studying Media and Communications at Queensland University of Technology and always seemed to be keeping myself busy with internships or blogging; all while working at 4zZz in the music department, and doing the graveyard radio show on Thursday nights and the early hours of Friday mornings.

Maggie offered me additional work with her management company, Golden District, and I had the opportunity to help with day to day logistics for two prominent local bands, DZ Deathrays and The John Steel Singers.

As my university graduation date loomed closer, I felt like I was finally getting closer to the world I had first glimpsed at that concert years before. But I was even luckier that I was able to be a part of that world on a local scale. I loved living in Brisbane and the new friends I had made through music. I was (and still am!) so very proud of the local music community and scene in my hometown. But when I graduated, I was incredibly insecure and unsure of what I wanted to achieve. I had lived in Brisbane my whole life and had never done the “traveling” thing, so thought I’d give that a try. And what better place to do that than New York City.

I met Lily Golightly, my boss and the driving force behind Golightly Media, two weeks after moving to the city. I responded to a job listing, turned up at the interview (somehow wearing a matching outfit to my prospective employer) and next thing I knew I was working out of my boss’ apartment at a brand new music company.

Now, Golightly Media is based out of the Wind-up Records offices and I’ve had the opportunity to work with labels and artists I only ever dreamed of working with back in Brisbane.

Being a part of something and watching it grow from day one has been quite the trip–every day I learn something new and am so incredibly proud of what our company has achieved in such a short time.

I am so thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given, but I will take the time to say that without Lily, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Being able to work so closely with such a patient and driven individual is truly an inspiration. I am incredibly lucky to have such a strong female role model who encourages me to challenge myself every day, both professionally and personally.

Sometimes when I remember what I get to do every day I am baffled at how I even got here myself. I am still not sure what the future holds for me within the industry and to be honest, I don’t think I ever will.

My advice to anyone wanting to get a foot in the door? Go to shows, intern your heart out and get involved in any way you can–whether it’s blogging, booking shows, or even doing the graveyard shift at your college radio station.  Because those things all bring you one step closer to being able to call your passion your career, and I can guarantee that it’s all worth it.

Tuesday Tunes: A cappella

May 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

This past weekend, one of our favorite musical movies returned, bringing back a cappella with a vengeance. We took some time to compile a list of some of our favorite songs–a cappella style!

We Are the Champions” – Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, other music stars
Chains (cover)” – Bea Miller
All of Me (cover)” – The Filharmonic
I Choose Love” – Kings Road A Cappella
Fix You” – Naturally 7
Float On” – Broad Street Line
FourFiveSeconds” – Gentleman’s Rule
Evolution of Beyonce” – Pentatonix
Uptown Funk” – Mike Tompkins ft. Max Schneider
Make You Feel My Love” – Straight No Chaser

Album Review: Liza Anne – “TWO”

May 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

Liza Anne's sophomore album,

via Bullhorn Publicity

Review by Bailey Garno

Past Feature Friday artist Liza Anne has some exciting news for fans that have fawned over the delicate and thoughtful vocals of this Georgia native. On top of the highly-praised release of her new single “Take it Back,” we can officially say that the premiere of her second full-length album, appropriately titled TWO, is set for a May 19th release date.  Recorded in Nashville with Zachary Dyke (COIN) and mixed and mastered by Chad Wahlbrink (the Soil & the Sun), Music Creates Us got a private stream of the independently released sophomore album that is equal parts old and new.

Liza’s first follow-up to her debut LP was “Room,” a strong track that demonstrates Liza’s continued ability to draw natural images with her words that in turn evoke strong and relatable feelings for her listeners.  Lines like “Because I saw, black as a night, ocean’s abyss of her in your eyes” are just as ambiguous as they are tangible, lending to an originality in songwriting that is impressive even more so considering the artist’s young age.  Indie Trendsetters featured the single, writing that “[Liza’s] voice is so strong that as it soars, the outside world fades away and all that’s left is you and the music.”

The second single to be featured off the upcoming album was “Take it Back,” which was made available through all music services on April 7th.  I was struck by the opening chords of this song and at first I couldn’t pinpoint why.  Then, I realized how similar the single’s sound is to James Bay’s “Hear Your Heart,” and then I realized how alike Liza Anne and James Bay are as gender counterparts!

Take it Back” features more pop elements than the first single, with an upbeat tempo and some soft synthetic sounds.  The video for this track premiered via Popular Music on April 27th and has a sort of ’80s high school prom look to it, with Liza and her band playing amidst a bed of colorful confetti on a dimmed basketball court.  It hints that the young singer-songwriter has a tamed wild side, demonstrated through brief clips of Liza swinging her short hair back and forth and dancing freely.

The first track on the album is “Lost” which sounds more like The Colder Months (2014) to those familiar with the first album.  Here, the lap steel, banjo, and acoustic that is characteristic of first-round Liza Anne is heard again.  There is a painful beauty about “Lost.”  In it, Liza whispers about the heavy conflict of love, singing “I’m my own worst enemy, I’m doing it to myself.”  There is a far-off sound to the vocals, playing in the theme of what it means to be lost in love, and once again there isn’t a detail overlooked.

Next up on TWO is an upbeat track that has a fun percussion break about two-thirds of the way through.  “Northern Wind” reminds us once again of the maturity of this young artist, with thoughtful lyrical work that doesn’t settle for simple, already-heard lines.  Liza Anne is a musical poet, breathing life into her work with her many references to nature that lend directly to the tone of a piece.  I particularly enjoy “Northern Wind” because it’s fun and is a bit adventurous for the folk singer.

Next on the track list is the second single, “Take it Back,” followed by the fourth track, “Low Tide.”  From the start, there is a pulse to this song which very slowly and gradually builds.  The build sets listeners up to anticipate a climactic bridge with a  powerful rupture of sound, but it doesn’t ever really break into anything.  By the end of the nearly four minute build, I’m left searching rather disappointingly for something more.  “Low Tide” feels more like an interlude in the album; and perhaps its meant to be, appearing about halfway through the track list.

Following “Low Tide” is “Room,” the first single and a track that picks up the pace of the album again.  Next is “Overnight,” another favorite for me because of the strong emotional response I had to it.  Gone are the breezy, soft vocals that are so unique to Liza; instead, the dark tone and grovel to every utterance of “overnight” creates the effect of a storm brewing.  A cool electric guitar adds even more grit to this tune.

Wrapping up the album is “Ocean,” which couples simple piano chords and Liza’s beautiful soprano to create what is arguably the most compelling song off the album.  Settled softly in the background are odd whisperings, like voices in a performance hall or a train station.  It is as if Liza Anne is trying to be heard above the commotion as she sings with absolute earnestness about a distant love.  Liza Anne makes every track feel very intimate, almost like she’s doing this for herself more than anyone else; but “Ocean” feels even more so like a call to someone we don’t know about.  I like that the album ends with this track because it feels like there is more that needs to be said.

Overall, TWO is another outstanding compilation for the young artist.  Since The Colder Months, Liza Anne has received a lot of recognition, and the latest two singles helped usher her back in the spotlight before this second album is released.  Now, having peeked TWO, I can confidently assure our readers that you will want to have a listen for yourself come May 19th!

Rating: 4/5
Recommended Tracks:
“Take It Back”

Starter Stories: Johnny Minardi, Founder of Self Titled Management

May 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

Johnny Minardi

Hello, my name is Johnny Minardi. I run Self Titled Management and A&R for Equal Vision Records. I got my start in music as an avid fan and wanted to be more involved. I signed up for many street teams of the bands I was listening to so I could promote the music I loved. I was going to a lot of shows and befriended a bunch of local bands that I thought were incredible. They were always putting out their own music so I decided why not start a record label and get them all grouped together to make more noise.

I started Little League Records (which turned into LLR Recordings) when I was 18 and ran it for 4 years. I knew absolutely no one in the music industry and made countless mistakes along the way, but it was a great way to learn every detail about finding bands, making records, marketing records, selling records, touring, etc. Some very costly and expensive lessons but lessons nonetheless. A few of the bands I released on LLR went on to sign to bigger labels (The Academy Is…/Fueled By Ramen, Hidden In Plain View/Drive Thru, Gatsbys American Dream/Fearless, August Premier/Fueled By Ramen) so I would meet more and more people at labels each time. I eventually closed up shop and began working at Fueled By Ramen. I spent 8 years there from 2004-2012.

After FBR, I started Self Titled Management to represent producers and mixers that I loved working with over the past 10 years. I now work with 11 producers/mixers/mastering engineers and help them with every aspect of their careers. I recently started working with the incredible Equal Vision Records as well as doing A&R/Marketing.

My advice for others would be to prove your worth. If you apply for jobs and no one is willing to hire you, create your own space and prove you’re a valuable asset to their company. There is no blue print for success in the music industry so learn as much as you can, network, don’t be an asshole, and work harder than anyone else in order to achieve whatever your goal may be.

Tuesday Tunes: Treat Yourself

May 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

This week is all about unwinding and taking a break! We know it’s a crazy time, so it’s always nice to sit back and soak up some good tunes.  Here are just a few we at MCU turn to when we need to relax and treat ourselves.

All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers
Around My Head – Cage the Elephant
From Eden – Hozier
Weight of Living, Pt. 1 – Bastille
Don’t Lie – Vampire Weekend
Here – Alessia Cara
Miles Away – The Maine
Mountains – Yuna
Renegades – X Ambassadors
Hurricane – Misterwives
The Writer – Ellie Goulding
Pressure – The 1975
Treacherous – Taylor Swift
Home – Ella Eyre
Luna – Bombay Bicycle Club

Show Review: The Maine’s American Candy Tour

May 12, 2015 § Leave a comment

The Maine performs at Syracuse's The Lost Horizon

As a former pop-punk enthusiast, it seems as though all my once “favorite bands ever” fell off the radar or lost a member or two (or several) along the way. However, one of the few has survived and continues to deliver great music with each new album. That band just happens to be The Maine.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of seeing The Maine on their American Candy Tour at Syracuse’s The Lost Horizon. Honestly, it was a weird feeling going into this show. I hadn’t listened to The Maine’s last album, Forever Halloween, and I just began listening to American Candy a few weeks prior to the show. Basically this was a “why not?” moment of nostalgia.

The last time I saw The Maine was May 2010, exactly 5 years ago from this show at the same venue. I was getting ready to graduate high school and enter my freshman year of college, so obviously “Growing Up” from The Maine’s Black & White was in constant rotation. That show I actually got to meet John and have the Facebook profile picture to prove it.

Fast forward to now, I’m a college graduate with a “big girl job” and more “sophisticated” musical tastes (JK, I’m an avid Directioner), and walking into this venue for the first time in 5 years felt like a perpetual #throwbackthursday. I wasn’t aware of the headliners, The Technicolors, Knuckle Puck, and Real Friends, but I must say I was really impressed with the three of them! It was a little shocking to see how young they were (Knuckle Puck’s bassist was away at prom), but I found myself bobbing along to each of their songs. I was also impressed by their stage presence and how devoted their fan base was, especially being in Syracuse, New York. There’s no better feeling than seeing a group of people excited about their favorite line from a song.

Shortly after Real Friends left the stage the lights dimmed and a bright neon “M” starting pulsing towards the back. The Maine ran out, filled with excitement, and opened with their newest track, “Miles Away.” I couldn’t help but flashback to the band circa the Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop days, with a sense of awe at how much they’ve changed over the years. The band has developed a more mature sound and American Candy has become an instant favorite.

In between songs John proved to be just as funny as I remember, chatting and laughing with the crowd and holding impromptu Q&A sessions. I think no matter how old I get it’s always funny, and refreshing, to see musicians act like normal people and relate to the audience.

The set list was stacked with songs both old and new, highlights including “Growing Up,” “Inside of You,” “My Heroine,” and title track “American Candy.” In the middle of the set, the band disappeared and only John and a guitar were left on stage. My friend and I gave each other a knowing glance and knew “Into Your Arms” was up next. The small venue, which disappointingly began to dissipate by this point, was filled with several little voices singing along to every word.

The band came back and played a few more songs before closing with “Right Girl.” This was such a great song to close with. Everyone was singing along and dancing and the show ended really strong. It’s amazing to think about how much these songs meant to me and how many memories they bring back, like the countless times Black & White was played on road trips.

Overall, The Maine put on a great show and I’m happy I got to take that trip down memory lane with them. What’s even more impressive is that they’ve not only managed to keep their original fan base hooked, but also captivated a new, younger group as well.

The US leg of the American Candy Tour ends May 20. Get more information on tour dates on their website, and be sure to listen to their fifth LP, American Candy.

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