Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I first heard Scottish band June on DJ Bluetone’s webcast last week and was immediately captivated by their sound - full of solid, gut grabbing rhythms and waves of guitar chords both lush and jagged, topped off with the sublime and screeching vocals of Jen Bain, the band’s lead singer - a post-punk chanteuse to rival the best of them.

According to Gareth Burnett, the band’s drummer, June has only been performing together for about three months and had their first live show just two weeks ago.  I find this nearly impossible to believe.  Prior to learning of their nascent status I’d have sworn they’d been together for years. Recordings posted to their MySpace site are taken from live sets and are, as such, a bit rough around the edges.  Still, their songs are well-crafted and sophisticated, their performances tight, consistent and full of what I can only describe as (I know it sounds oh, so cliche) raw power.  

I loathe comparing bands to one another as I feel it does more to limit, than to enhance, one’s experience of any particular body of work.  And I frankly find relying too heavily on such comparisons to be just plain lazy.  At the same time, it is an undeniably useful way to provide a frame of reference for those reading about music they have not yet heard.   So, as a necessary evil I provide the following (qualified) comparisons:

“Bring You Down” reminds me of Yeah Yeah Yeahs (and, I sheepishly admit, a bit of early Divinyls), particularly as regards Bain’s audacious vocals.  The song “Numb,” a retro-late-60s Blues/Rock homage, hearkens to songs such as Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and Janice Joplin’s version of “Summertime.”  “Breathe into Me” puts me in mind of Sonic Youth in places and a bit of early Siouxsie and the Banshees in others.  

Among the influences the band members themselves cite are Nickelback, Rage Against the Machine and Paramore.  I’d have to agree that the comparison to Paramore is spot on.  However, I actually prefer June’s unpolished verve to Nickelback’s “well produced,” manicured rumblings any day.  More and more lately I’m finding hard rock music that’s been refined and processed in a recording studio about as useful as a campfire someone’s poured cold water over, let sit for several hours, and then had the nerve to claimed it as an excellent place to warm one’s hands. 

As for future plans, June will be backing up London-based band NIXA on Feb 1st.  They then plan to have a new EP available by April and a new album by summer.  I also expect DJ Bluetone to play more of their recordings in the future, so you’re likely to find them there, as well.


Monday, January 25, 2010

DJ Bluetone Webcast Today

Don't forget to check out DJ Bluetone's webcast on Justin TV today 1pm Pacific, 4pm Eastern.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I’ve got a few updates today on some of the bands I’ve written about in past blog entries: 

   LC Messinger (aka When Girls Collide), informed me that Crush M Records will release Brian Lambert’s premier CD Spell For Happiness mid-February and Brian will begin touring Texas for the first phase of the CD’s promotion. 

   Patrick Doval is working on a new album, so far he’s got one song in the can and a second in production.

kill the drama has 15 new songs ready to begin recording spring 2010.  The album, tentatively titled The Burning Streets, should be ready by the summer.

Ryan Wirth (aka Psykids Army) is working on 6 new songs for a live performance, writing tracks for multi-instrumentalists to play live in a pre setup environment.  He plans to have players moving through the audience while performing songs.  He has 2 songs complete so far.  No date set as yet for performances to begin.  I’ll let you know where and when as soon as I know.

Desert Owls will be launching three new releases Friday, March 19th, 2010 at Casa Del Popolo in Montreal: WHO?, the band’s debut EP will be available online, at retail stores and @ Casa del Popolo the night of the performance. The “GOGOGO” mini-disc single will be available throughout Montreal in all Distroboto machines.  New video for the song “WHO?” will be available on Youtube as of the March 19th.

That’s about it for now.  I’ll keep posting updates as they arrive.  

Oh, and if I’ve left anybody out, please let me know.  

Also, if you’d like me to write about your unsigned band/musician/act, etc. just send me an email at


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

DJ Bluetone - The Aftermath

Hope you got a chance to watch DJ Bluetone’s webcast on JustinTV Monday.  If not, you can visit his archive at this link.  Even so, one must sit in on at least one live show.  Just isn’t the same without the streaming chat.

I was also elated that he played three of my songs this past show - “Patient,” “Labor Day” and “Land.”  I’ve only been posting music for public consumption for a couple months now - never heard any of my songs broadcast from anywhere other than my home computer.  I received some great listener comments and was extremely flattered to be included in the company of the other acts Bluetone chose to play.  He promised to give me a spin on his next webcast as well, so please tune in and show your support next Monday from 9pm to Midnight BST - 1pm on the West Coast, 4pm on the East.

Among the artists he played, I wanted to mention a few that I found exceptionally worth a listen:

I will definitely be writing more on these bands in the near future.


Monday, January 18, 2010

More Bluetone

Got my mother visiting from out of town, which is why I haven’t been blogging the past few days.  She’s here ‘til tomorrow, so today’s post will be very brief.  

In fact, I have only this to say:

Don’t forget to check out the DJ Bluetone webcast today on JustingTV beginning at 9pm British Summer Time - that’s 1pm Pacific, 2pm Mountain, 3pm Central, 4pm Eastern in the US.  Anywhere else in the world, you’ll have to work it out for yourself.  Sorry.  The show runs 3 hours and, rumor has it, Bluetone will be playing some of my music today - so I have a vested interest in increasing his audience.  

So please, take a few minutes out of your busy day today and support us poor, starving musicians and those who are devoting their time to our cause.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

DJ Bluetone

Over the past weekend I made contact with DJ Bluetone, a Scottish DJ (VJ?) who hosts his own show on JustinTV (Monday nights - or afternoons if you happen to be stateside).  Like me, he focuses on promoting unsigned bands he’s found on MySpace.  I’d intended to catch his premier show this week, but got my British Summer and Pacific Daylight Times a bit mixed up.  Fortunately, he does archive his program, so one can still catch Monday’s broadcast here

As I write this I am listening to (and periodically watching) the archived show.  It’s quirky and kitschy, a bit rough around the edges, but worth a watch.  DJ Bluetone sits in what appears to be a room in his home, surrounded by images of amplifiers and a mirror ball (and an intermittent sword-carrying dominatrix), spinning music, commenting on the songs and artists, conducting live video interviews - and occasionally humming along with the tunes.  There are a few technical glitches, which, for me, add to the charm of the experience.  Promoting unsigned acts (as well as being part of one) is a labor of love (definitely not profit).  One must do what one can with lots of determination and very little funding. 

DJ Bluetone’s got great taste, plays a wide variety of sounds and will introduce you to music you’re unlikely to hear in any one place (unless you have the patience to sift through all the unsigned acts on MySpace, which I highly recommend, if you don’t have a job and never leave your room).  

If you’d like to hear your music featured on DJ Bluetone’s show, he encourages you to contact him at his MySpace site.  I also encourage any and all who read this to support DJ Bluetone and check out his show.

He begins spinning at 9pm BST - 4pm on the American east coast and 1pm in the west, again on JustinTV.  You can also follow him on Twitter.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Frequency Theater

Yesterday, Nate Butler, aka Frequency Theater, requested that I listen to his music and review it on my blog.  This being the first time I’ve received such a request, I was both elated and daunted.  On the one hand, I was flattered that Nate thought so much of my writing.  On the other, I worried I might not like the music and would have to either write a negative review about somebody who’d been very nice to me, or lie and make only really positive comments I didn’t actually believe.

Thankfully, I didn’t find the need to do either.  In fact, after sampling a couple tracks at Frequency Theater’s MySpace site I went to iTunes and downloaded the debut release, Fly GalleryFly Gallery is a powerful, driven and passion-filled collection, full of extramusical surprises and artfully layered sonic tiers which I’ve found more intriguing through multiple listenings.

In terms of musical style, as with many artists, it would be far too easy to categorize FT within some easily digestible genre (say, Electronica or Industrial), then carve away what’s a bit different and allow that to dangle out there as the one identifying factor making this act stand apart from every other that’s doing roughly the same thing.  In this case that different ‘something’ would be Nate Butler’s upbeat lyrical approach - a style that stands in flagrant contrast against a backdrop of troubled and downward gazing cohorts.  

Frequency Theater’s own website rhetoric describes the act as one that “strives to inspire the audience to believe in themselves, to push to become their best version of themselves and to doubt their doubters.”  Further, a review also posted at the site quips:  “Music fans wondering what Trent Reznor might sound like on a happy day, look no further.”  In all honesty, after first reading these I feared the songs would be too simplistic and naive or vapidly didactic.  (Yes, alas, I am one of those who often confuses woe with depth).  And honestly, who wants to hear Trent Reznor on a good day?  Isn’t it his job to suffer for our listening pleasure?  And what is one to expect after such a comment?  July Andrews singing “I want to f*ck you like an animal?”

But these songs are not simply a sea of loud samples and bangs with cheery, Pollyanna lyrics floating on top.  Indeed, aside from the song The Charismatic, I found the lyrics subtle, complex and enigmatic - driven by the same intensity and misgiving one might expect of the more nihilistic offerings from Trent Reznor or Robert Smith.  

What I do find most compelling in all this is Nate Butler’s daring to rub that industrial angst against the grain a bit by infusing that rage with a bit of hope, conjuring something fresh and new that is brash and nuanced; full of anguish and inspiration.  


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Beatnik Jr.

This is my first entry of the New Year... I guess I must have overslept or something and missed the first four days.  Actually, I’ve been working on my own music this past week, a task I’ve neglected lately in favor of promoting my older material and writing about great unsigned acts, such as my favorite of the day, Beatnik Jr.  

Beatnik Jr. is an enigmatic band from LA with that rare ability to experiment without being so dissonant as to appeal to only a small sliver of listeners.  As one of five finalists for the 2009 Hard Rock Ambassadors of Rock Battle of the Bands, Beatnik Jr. proved it possible to appeal to a popular audience while simultaneously maintaining a high degree of originality.

Their genre is a bit difficult to pin down.  According to the band’s own press releases “Fans have referred to Beatnik Jr.'s music as sounding similar to Radiohead, The Faint, The Postal Service, Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, and even The Beatles.”  I would also add The Flaming Lips and at times Death Cab For Cutie to that list - the latter particularly in regards to lead singer John Maro’s vocal style.  

Still, I lament the need to compare one band to another, especially in this case.  I think it suffices to say that Beatnik Jr. manages to genre blend, to beg and borrow and to innovate all at the same time.  Their songs are full of sonic surprises set to uptempo pop-beats and melodies, resulting in a sound that is both fresh and familiar.  Their recordings are tight, well-produced and endlessly listenable.  

For more on Beatnik Jr. you can read Liberty London Girl’s blog and visit the band’s MySpace page.  They also have five tracks available to download from iTunes.  

And since you’ll already be checking these guys out at MySpace, you might as well stop by My MySpace page to see and hear what I’ve been doing lately as well : ) [That’s meant to be a sheepish grin, BTW]