Monday, November 23, 2009

New Music Monday

I'm sorry, Billy. I been remiss, kid, I see that now. Consider this my public apology. Leavin' you to pages and pages of Gmail submissions from artists, friends, A/R people, DJs, and anyone else who is desperate enough to get heard that they're willing to give our lil' ole blog a shot left you with quite a chore. I found that out when I started going through some of that stuff last week.

Don't get me wrong, all you fledgling bands and artists. We appreciate being considered as an outlet for releasing and supporting new music. I think Billy has made that point more than once. But it is a fair amount of work keeping up with the emails. But we like getting them. It gives us a bit of street cred for those readers who go beyond our friends and families. I'd wager we get about 10 emails a day (I don't check it very often, so that is a guess) from people who would like us to consider their music. The guys at saidthegramophone.com say that they get between 150-200 submissions a day, so all things are relative. But it is work.

Much of what we get, I don't really like. Like most everybody else, I'm looking for a hook, a sound, a distinctive something that makes me think I would listen to the song again. But, most new artists don't quite have that. Paul Westerberg once said in a song, "You were my first glimmer of light." It's that glimmer that I'm looking for, too, just the tiniest crack of the light of the future for the musicians involved.

By the way, if I were trying to get heard, here's what I'd do: skip the press kit, the who said what about the band, the hard-to-hear comparisons with better known musicians, the statements of joy or coolness from the artist himself or herself. I'd just make it as easy as I possibly could. That would mean I would send my best mp3 (just one), the one I think kicks as (because if I don't think it, who will?) with the shortest note, something like, "Dear Bottom of the Glass, I hope you will post my song. I think it's best one. I'm sending it to you with no strings attached so you can help to spread the word. Thanks."

Notice a couple of things. We appreciate the personal touch that suggests you are sending it to us personally, and not mass-blanketing every blog you can find, even if you are. Notice also that you don't have to kiss our asses about how much you like the blog and all of that. Most of the blog ass-kissers will say something in their email that reveals they really didn't read the blog in the first place.

So, with no further ado, here are some songs that came our way that caught my interest:

Bullet and SnowFox--"Bad Days" (mp3)

"Bad Days" is a quality pop song that straddles the generations. I can hear Shirley Manson singing it on a Garbage cd; I can hear one of today's singing starlets getting ahold of it and using it to pump up a live concert. The song's simple, insistent, guitar-and-drum driven beat leads into a catchy chorus with (I'm guessing) intentionally-cheesy background vocals. It's a well-produced track that keeps guitars and vocals prominent, with only occasional keyboard touches. Even though the song follows the basic verse/chorus structure, it adds little twists and flourishes to that structure. By coincidence, Butch Walker's "Maybe It's Just Me," from the OC soundtrack cd (my daughter owns it, I swear) came on right after "Bad Day" on Itunes, and it seemed like a logical progression. Very professional, confident song.

Clarence Bucaro--"Let Me Let Go Of You" (mp3)

Clarence Bucaro has cut a cd called New Orleans, and this track certainly captures that vibe with its fairly-straightforward rhythm and blues approach. Everything works here. The instrumentation--guitar, bass, drums, and, especially organ--provides a tight, sympathetic background to Bucaro's strong vocals. As a singer, Bucaro travels in the land somewhere between Van Morrison and Macy Gray. When he double-tracks his voice on the second verse, he increases the emotional power quite effectively. Only slight complaint, after an engaging organ solo, the song fades out. It sounds more like an edit than a complete track.




Kuba Oms--"Beautiful Uncertainty" (mp3)

Kuba Oms has that who-does-he-sound-like quality to his voice, at least until he hits the falsetto chorus. You can tell he's listened to what's on the radio from "Meet Virginia" to Matchbox Twenty, and it makes his music immediately catchy. I like the the guitar sound--not too produced, right up front. The lyrics probably wander a little too much--in the first few lines he's "thinking" about the government and the war, but quickly shifts to a hot girl and to asking for a handout. The lyrics never really justify the title. The instrumental break in the middle, with its Genesis-style guitar and synthesizer and chant "This is not my world" seems a little out of place to these ears because they kill the beat of the song. But the song sticks in my head.


Peter Squires--"Witch" (mp3)

This little ditty simply amuses me. I'm a big fan of vindictive songs, and this one is a clumsily-endearing take on that genre. The woman who has done him wrong has literally turned into a witch, and so the narrator finds himself with no choice to to shoot her with flaming arrows or burn her at the stake. Though he claims to hope that the "human inside" will one day return, this is an empty hope, since he can only tolerate her if he never sees her again. The high-pitched backing vocals which only exclaim "Witch!" are a nice touch.