Sometimes, an artist’s career trajectory is carefully planned. From label contracts and recording budgets to marketing strategies and touring schedules, the build up to a debut album is often less about music and more about business. However, there are always exceptions to every rule and singer/songwriter Justin Vernon is one of those exceptions. The origins of his band, Bon Iver, and their 2007 debut album started almost by accident and the subsequent commercial success of the band has always been about the music and nothing else. Sure, critical success and two Grammy Awards are always good for ‘business’ but for Vernon, it has always been about the music. And to think that it all started in a cabin in Wisconsin…
Month: August 2019
AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: REDD KROSS/BEYOND THE DOOR
We are so very lucky that Redd Kross exists. Formed by brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald in 1978, the band has gone through numerous line-up shuffles – plus a few name changes (from The Tourists to Red Cross to Redd Kross) – over the decades. However, the band’s love of classic Pop, Punk and Rock ‘n’ Roll and their fascination with everything pop culture has made them one of the most beloved bands by anyone ‘in the know’. Better yet, they appeal to a wide spectrum of fans – from Punk to Power Pop. Redd Kross fans might be the same ones you’ll see at a Black Flag show or a Cheap Trick gig. And more than likely, the band’s fans own records by Annette Funicello, adore Peter Sellers movies, and prefer Quisp over Quake cereal. Redd Kross represent the fun side of life. There might still be heartbreak and sorrow in Redd Kross’ universe but nothing that a Buzzcocks 7” single can’t cure!
AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: OH SEES/FACE STABBER
Musicians, by and large, carve their own paths. They take their influences, fuse them together, and create their own noise. Some of those musicians absorb more influences and make adjustments to their own sound along the way. While some of them might be distracted by the bright lights of YouTube viral videos and social media sycophants, we are still left with those that make music because they want/need/have to. Success might be their ultimate goal but how do you measure success anyway? Is a ‘one hit wonder’ like Starbuck more successful than artists like R. Stevie Moore or Daniel Johnston, two enormously creative artists that have built up devoted fanbases without even the slightest hint of massive commercial success? Some say that the hitmakers win out, but in all actuality, the winners are the fans who can enjoy the commercial Top 40 cheese while also enjoying those artists that inspire us to take chances, to move forward, and to be ourselves…
THE RUBINOOS: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with Jon Rubin, Tommy Dunbar, and Chuck Prophet!
SPAZ: FROM HOME is just about to be released. How are you feeling about the album and the reaction you’ve had to it so far?
JON RUBIN: I love the record and the way it was recorded and I think it sounds exciting. I am completely blown away by both fan reaction and the reaction from people less familiar with The Rubinoos.
TOMMY DUNBAR: It might be a little early to gauge the response, but I’ll say it was super fun making the record! Writing with Chuck Prophet was a total pleasure, and the rehearsals were a joy as always. But what really set it apart for me, was that we got to set up and play in a really great studio, with minimal overdubs. Also, Chuck introduced us to our wonderful engineer, Mr. Paul Kolderie. It’s a rare thing to be able to only worry about playing and singing, at least these days.
AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: SMOOTH HOUND SMITH/DOG IN A MANGER
Smooth Hound Smith has come a long way since they formed in Southern California. Yes, you read that right – Smooth Hound Smith is a they, not a he or a she. Comprised of multi-instrumentalist Zack Smith and his wife, vocalist/percussionist Caitlin Doyle-Smith, the duo formed in Southern California back in 2012. Caitlin was performing with her band Dustbowl Revival and Zack sat in on one of their sets. Without even realizing it, the seeds of their future were planted at that very moment. Caitlin would eventually add percussion and vocals to Zack’s ‘one man band’ performances. Marriage would soon follow. Eventually, Zack’s ‘one man band’ concept was cast aside, replaced with the introduction of Smooth Hound Smith as a duo. Along the way, Zack and Caitlin left the comforts of Southern California, eventually settling in East Nashville, Tennessee.
THE RUBINOOS’ From Home reviewed!
Some things are inevitable – someone from the ‘older generation’ (age 50+) will hear a classic ‘60s Pop tune on the radio and utter, “They don’t make music like this anymore!” His friends will nod in agreement or offer a fist bump and, once the song is over, they go off to take a nap. I’m sure that scenario is being played out somewhere in this world at this very moment…
AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BERLIN/TRANSENDANCE
The history of Synth/Electro Pop band Berlin spans four decades and includes a healthy handful of hit singles, a few musical detours, a break-up, some reunions, and a legacy that refused to die. The roots of the band were planted in 1978 when John Crawford formed his first band, The Toys. Within a year, the band had changed their name to Berlin and the core line-up featured vocalist Terri Nunn, keyboardist/guitarist David Diamond, and bassist Crawford. Nunn left after the release of their debut album and the band soldiered on with a new vocalist before briefly calling it a day. With band members pursuing other projects, Crawford decided to revive Berlin for an EP side-project. He reached out to Nunn, who agreed to rejoin. When PLEASURE VICTIM was released in 1982, its success surprised everyone. Armed with three classic radio hits – “Sex (I’m A…)”, “The Metro”, and “Masquerade” – PLEASURE VICTIM was a smash and paved the way for even more success.