Feature Friday: Colour The Atlas

July 3, 2015 § Leave a comment

Colour The AtlasFeature by Bailey Garno

More and more often musicians and followers of music alike come across unrecognizable collections of words slammed together to describe new mixes of genres.  These genres once were divisible by stark boundaries, but with technology and the increasing need to stand out, boundaries have become blurred.  Take the hot young, UK band, Colour the Atlas, for instance.

Born out of Swindon, the foursome describes themselves as alternative trip hop, which must be one of the coolest genre titles I have heard yet.  The group has stepped into the limelight for the release of their third EP.  Titled Amethyst, the EP became available for download in the UK June 29, and will hit the States sometime in September.

For our American readers who want a taste of Amethyst now, “Scared” is available for your listening and viewing pleasure.  “Scared” is the group’s single off the EP.  I’m a sucker for male-female harmonies, so this track, fueled by the achingly beautiful vocals of lead vocalist/keyboard player Jess Hall and guitarist Alex Stone, is one I can listen to in the dead of the night or in the quiet hours of the morning.  It’s one big climactic crawl, finishing with a gusto and finally fizzling out in the last seconds.  The duet reminds me of a song I found by Snow Patrol featuring Martha Wainwright (“Set Fire to the Third Bar”).  “Scared” would be more alternative folk like “Set Fire” if it weren’t for the dusting of electronic over its acoustics.  The band plays on this in the production of their music video.  Available on YouTube, artsy symbols and signs that are more familiar on a computer screen overlay the natural, black and white shots in the background.  It’s very visually appealing and stimulating.

Jess Hall, Alex Stone, Andy Vincent (bass) and Stef Pysanczyn (drums) together make up Colour the Atlas, a band whose name is derived from their mutual desire to travel the world and color in a map by doing so.  Influenced by the likes of Radiohead and Massive Attack, Amethyst is produced by Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, George Ezra) and will be available for download in the U.S. this September.  In the meantime, follow the band on Twitter and Facebook for updates on the EP’s release.

Tuesday Tunes: Pride

June 30, 2015 § Leave a comment

Pride Month 2015

via CommonDreams

In honor of SCOTUS’ ruling on Friday and the celebratory events of the weekend, Music Creates Us is dedicating this week’s Tuesday Tunes to PRIDE!  Be sure to share what songs mean #LoveWins to you!

“Respect” – Aretha Franklin
“Born This Way” – Lady Gaga
“Just A Girl” – No Doubt
“Diva” – Beyonce
“Beautiful” – Christina Aguilera
“Who You Are” – Jessie J
“Same Love” – Macklemore
“Brave” – Sara Bareilles
“True Colors” – Cyndi Lauper
“Brave Honest Beautiful” – Fifth Harmony
“Stand Up” – The Cab
“Your Song” – Elton John
“I’ll Cover You” – RENT
“I Want to Break Free” – Queen
“Love Is On Its Way” – Jonas Brothers

Album Review: Unbreakable Smile

June 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

20150428010137!Unbreakable_Smile

Tori Kelly, an up-and-comer from California who has been mentored under the wings of Ed Sheeran, finally released her debut LP, Unbreakable Smile. For fans of the soulful, heartfelt singer-songwriter, it seems this release was a long day coming. Kelly has opened for Sheeran in the last couple years, and got her true introduction this year at the Billboard Music Awards in May, performing her single, “Nobody Love.” Now, with Unbreakable Smile finally released, the world can truly recognize Kelly’s talent.

The album opens with “Where I Belong,” and the first words are the perfect introduction to who Tori Kelly is as an artist, and more importantly, as a person. “I’m just a girl with her guitar, trying to give you my whole heart,” Kelly sings, and the sincerity yet musicality is simple and beautiful, easily making you want to hear more of Kelly’s talent on guitar and with her vocals.

The first full song is the title track, “Unbreakable Smile,” and it is Tori Kelly to a “T.” It’s message is reminiscent of Meghan Trainor, completely empowering to the female artist and just being true to yourself, whether it’s in music or just everyday life. It’s also incredibility catchy—a mix of fast and slow that is just pure fun. “Unbreakable Smile” is the perfect opener for Kelly, setting the album up for sure success.

Her single, “Nobody Love,” follows, continuing the upbeat, honest attitude that seems to follow Kelly and her flouncy curls.

“Expensive” is next, starting off with a fun, jazzy mix. It could easily be Kelly’s next single, with definite “summer jam” potential. Her own musical talent is a little lacking—it’s more Christina Aguilera than typical Tori Kelly with guitar and soulful vocals. The lyrics are still empowering, however, if a little cliché, asserting that “money don’t buy love.” But I have to admit, it still had me dancing in my chair.

“Should’ve Been Us” has an almost Beyoncé feel to it, but it is an R&B side of Tori Kelly that should be familiar to her fans. The track gives a little more testament to Kelly’s vocal range; her straining voice is emotional and captivating.

“First Heartbreak” is the first slow song on the album, a true breakup song. Kelly showcases more of her range, from the deeper, slower beginning to the heartfelt strain of the chorus. It takes the music and emotion of “Should’ve Been Us” to the next level in an almost cumulative manner.

“I Was Made For Loving You” might be the most anticipated song off the album because it features Ed Sheeran himself. It opens with the sweet and subtle voice of Kelly, accompanied by a lovely guitar melody that is reminiscent of Sheeran–his “Tenerife Sea” in particular. Sheeran comes in on the second verse, bringing the emotional level up a notch. It is a beautiful duet, the artists’ voices paired much more perfectly than Sheeran’s other duets, like Taylor Swift, for example. But with such talent together (Kelly and Sheeran) the words almost get lost, and what could be a truly meaningful song is not quite there.

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Starter Stories: Matt Brown, Founder of Haulix

June 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

Haulix

If you are unsure of what career path to jump into, go work at an unfavorable job for a year or so.

Back in the late ’90s, mine was at a factory in Winona, Minnesota. We welded frames that are used to suspend neon lights on the walls of bars. Very exciting indeed, but all sarcasm aside, we would have to stand at our welding machine for hours on end. The work was dirty, monotonous, and my arms would get burnt from discharged fire pellets. An hour or so into my shift, all I would smell was a mixture of welding fumes and burnt skin.  The working movements would eventually become second nature and time was spent thinking, which soon evolved into deep soul searching.

By that time, the dot-com bubble was in full effect and I took a liking to computers. To me, the thought of sitting in a clean office cubicle would be a dream come true, and the direct opposite of what I was used to at the welding job.  I decided to move to the Twin Cities and enroll in community college for Computer Science.  I wanted to dive in head first but also keep my education costs down and so a two-year program seemed a perfect fit for me.

While in college, I could tell I was headed in the right direction because the material I was studying was exciting to me.  The passion dug so deep, I was working on building websites outside of school on my own time. I was like a sponge, always reading programming and design books, trying to soak up as much information as possible.

Alongside computers, music continued to play a huge role in my life. I played the drums throughout my school years and later in a couple cover bands. A year into college, I was working with a friend who introduced me to the world of metal music outside of what was mainstream in the U.S.  I quickly became hooked.  There was so much to discover and an endless amount of new material getting released each month!

We got to thinking one day back then, why not start a project that involved computer programming, graphic design, and our love of [metal] music?  MetalReview.com was soon born.  It was sort of a “blog” before blogs were commonplace.  Buddies and I found it amazing that record labels would send us promo CDs before an album was released so that we could review them and have readers from all over the globe have faith in our opinions.

That one website continued to blossom and grow.  It was the centerpiece alongside my degree in job interviews — and was actually the deciding factor that landed me a few of my first Web Developer jobs.  I ended up running the site for over a decade and it would end up linking me to my next venture, which was a digital promo software company named Haulix.

The moral of the story, career paths are never a straight line.  Back in 1998 while standing next to that welding machine, if a genie would have told me 11 years later I would create a tech company that would bring in millions of dollars, I wouldn’t have believed it.  That goes to say, never give up and accept the fact that your path to success will come with many twists and turns.  If you are thinking of giving up, realize that the glorious finish line might unknowingly be right around the corner.

Tuesday Tunes: Summer

June 23, 2015 § Leave a comment

summer

Sunday not only marked the longest day of the year, it was also the first day of summer!  In true Olaf fashion, we are welcoming the season with some of our favorite upbeat, beach, and party jams.  What’s on your playlist to kick off everyone’s favorite time of year?

“Where Are U Now” (feat. Justin Bieber) – Jack U, Diplo, Skrillex
“OctaHate” – Ryn Weaver
“Beach” – Still Parade
“Blue Sky” – The Allman Brothers Band
“The Change of Seasons” – Sweet Thing
“Nightswimming” – R.E.M.
“21” – Hunter Hayes
“Wait On Me” – Rixton
“Summer Love” – Justin Timberlake
“10,000 Emerald Pools – BØRNS
“Clouds” – One Direction
“Rescue” – Yuna
“All You Had To Do Was Stay” – Taylor Swift
“Single for the Summer” – Sam Hunt
Hearts on Fire” – Mayve

Review: r.e.l debuts self-titled EP

June 18, 2015 § Leave a comment

r.e.lReview by Bailey Garno

Praised for it’s stimulating synthetic sounds and the artist’s own vocal prowess, singles “Salt” and “Headed for the Sun” foretold fun-loving party pop tracks on r.e.l.’s future EP.  This past May, the Los Angeles native responded to those expectations with the self-titled EP, r.e.l..  It features her two singles plus four other tracks in what makes a dreamy compilation perfect for your pregame playlist.

The first three tracks are likely the strongest out of the six, featuring two new songs in addition to the fun, out of this world single, “Headed for the Sun.”  “All That Bite” kicks off the EP.  In verse, r.e.l. frontrunner, Arielle Sitrick, gives off a smooth R&B sound singing in her rich lower register; but then, the chorus unexpectedly picks up in tempo and Sitrick swings into a higher register.  It’s a pretty jarring transition, but given how eclectic and original the rest of the EP is, it works.  “All That Bite” is totally fun and a likely favorite for listeners.

Another favorite for me is “Plateau.”  I was singing along with the chorus in no time.  The vibes on this track are chill and I’m again reminded how comparable Sitrick is to the also young, pop dream sensation, Lorde.

Things slow down with the beautiful ballad, “Growing Pains” and the easy-listening but somber “Love Your Neighbor.”  These songs especially demonstrate Sitrick’s songwriting abilities, which are thoughtful and totally deviate from the rather unoriginal stuff we hear on the radio nowadays.  Although I don’t believe these two can compare to the party favorites “All That Bite” and “Plateau,” they do show how versatile r.e.l. is and that this fun-loving artist has a soft side.

For a listen to the full track list, head on over to SoundCloud now and give us your thoughts on past Feature Friday artist, r.e.l..

Rating: 3/5
Recommended Tracks:
“Headed for the Sun”
“Plateau”

Starter Stories: Meijin, founder of Rocker Stalker

June 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

Meijin, founder of Rocker Stalker

Greetings, Music Creates Us readers! I think it’s perfect that I am contributing here as music has indeed created me. I am the founder of Rocker Stalker (sounds scarier than it really is), a Brooklyn-based blog, and booking and promotions start-up.

Music has always been a huge part of my life.  A musician myself, I grew up loving and appreciating every aspect of the art. From the time I was three years old, I was always picky when it came to soundtracks, insisting on oldies, most specifically The Beach Boys, when I had a choice in tunes.

Fast forwarding to middle school/high school, my infatuation with music beyond my years led to a “Classic Rock Appreciation Club,” where we worshiped the legends. Throughout high school I volunteered at KCRW in my hometown, which introduced me to local acts, fusing my love of past, present, and future generations of  bands. I was fortunate enough to meet an act in LA called Run Run Run, who truly jumpstarted my entrepreneurial spirit and gained me access to the scene of local bands. I  wanted to know why bands who were so great were not getting the exposure they deserved.  Doing what I could at seventeen, I interviewed them for my  high school  newspaper. Because I attended a pretty conservative school, it was edited down to meaningless.

Frustrated that my hard work would never make its intended impression, I took my journalism elsewhere, submitting to magazines and websites all over LA. Shockingly, I received positive feedback and my journalistic endeavors took flight. Through these efforts I was able to discover and meet more bands  than I had known existed, interviewing and reviewing artists who, to this day, are doing  big things and are still my favorites (Matt Costa, Semi Precious Weapons,  and Alberta Cross, to name a few).

In college, I continued writing for magazines  (and could finally attend shows without X’s on my hands), pushing  with all my might for emerging artists. Starting up a radio show, I expanded my medium for promoting indie bands, airing their music alongside classics on a show I named “Two Faces of Rock.”

Along with my own show, my college internships led me down the path of radio, including stints at Q104.3 in NYC and KRTH 101 in LA. But the most influential station I got involved with was Indie 103.1 in LA. With a philosophy of community and genuine love for local music and bands-on-the-rise, the station only further inspired me to dedicate my life to indies (shout out to Jose Galvan, Joe Escalante, Mark Sovel, and TK!).

I moved to New York in 2009 after a few summer visits and one CMJ Music Marathon experience. New York is a hotbed of up-and-coming bands with no shortage of artists who need a platform on which to be showcased. Landing a gig with The Deli Magazine, I wrote profusely about all the bands I could. I began receiving requests from outside of NYC for features, but because The Deli is locally specific, I felt my options were limited.  The only logical solution was to start my own publication and Rocker Stalker was born.

Because I’m never satisfied with doing ONE thing, I believed that beyond journalism, live music was the other key to getting an artist exposed to an audience beyond their own reach.  I took a chance reaching out to venues and thankfully, some great bands took a chance on me and allowed me to book them.   I had truly found my niche and began pursuing bigger and better opportunities, including SXSW, Northside Festival, and CMJ.

Since its inception, Rocker Stalker has broadened its focus internationally, booking bands from coast to coast and Canada. Next, I am turning my sights to creating other sister branches for PR and management and expanding booking services to include short-run tours. I can’t wait to see where this crazy music industry takes me and who I meet along the way.

My advice to anyone looking to make a stamp on music or on the artists in general is to not give up on your core beliefs or let people bring you down.  No one plays nice in a competitive industry, and the only person you can truly depend on is yourself. Your passion for what you do will prevail, and your authenticity will show through at the end of the day and get you further than stepping on others. Two wise men once said, “Be excellent to each other.”

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