BeeFM – Indiescovered 2013

It’s true. Right now is one of the best times to be an indie artist!

Social media, accessibility to home recording equipment, and a variety of distribution means have allowed independent artists to achieve what was a pipe dream less than a decade ago. In fact, aside from distribution, there’s really isn’t much a record label can offer that an ambitious band with a little business savvy can’t accomplish on their own.

Indie artists are able to release the music they want, how they want to, without the interference of playing a numbers game with a label.

As you can imagine, this has resulted in an influx of new sounds, styles, genres, and artists that you’ve probably never even heard of. For those interested in music discovery, this can be incredibly exciting challenge to take on. For those who don’t even know where to start, this can be a daunting task.

ENTER: BeeFM – Indiescovered 2013

BeeFM has taken the liberty to provide a collection of some incredible talent from around the world whose genres range from rock, jazz, soul, folk, and even a hint of country. This compilation is truly an appetizer for your ears to feast upon.

When I initially started this review, I had intended on writing this review based purely upon listening to the audio. It was a valiant attempt; however, my interest peaked after listening to only a few of the artists and needed to know more. How had I not heard of these incredible musicians?

It was like a second birthday, or Christmas in September, or just plain badassery!

Click here to get all details about the BeeFM crowdfund campaign and BeeFM Indiescovered 2013 CD

Listeners are welcomed to Indiescovered 2013 with the synth-pop track “Rising Sun” by UK powerhouse Clockwork Orange. The groove is undeniable. Vocals are spot on. I was surprised to learn about the influences of this band. There are obvious influences from progressive and electronic music, but I had not idea that industrial would end up on their list. Impressive.

If punk rock is your more your flavor check out “declaration” by Shambolic. Another UK band, the hook in this track is infectious! The sound could best be described as the sex pistols with a more digestible edge. Go ahead, put on those Chuck Taylors, raise your middle finger to “the man”, and skank the night away (wait… does anyone still skank?).

“The Motion” by Nevergreen was a track that immediately grabbed my attention. Sara Pass’ vocals are high brow enough for jazz aficionados, but can rock out with the best of ‘em. The syncopated rhythm of the chorus is accentuated by what the band is not playing. Proof that dynamics, not screaming nor distortion laden guitars, can make a song heavy.

Click here to get all details about the BeeFM crowdfund campaign and BeeFM Indiescovered 2013 CD

“Rain” by Mize and the Drive resonated with the Eddie Vedder and Roger Waters fan within me. Yes, I’m aware it’s an interesting combo, but hey, it works. The use of the saxophone was a great choice to add texture to the atmospheric sound. Kudos to these guys!

One challenge any compilation must tackle is the arrangement of songs. There must be a conscious effort to create peaks and valleys, drawing a listener in. The order of tracks can have a substantial effect on the overall listening experience. Indiescovered 2013 doesn’t disappoint; The Boondock Hippy brings a little twang to the mix with “I’ll Rest When I’m Dead”, it’s a nice counterpoint to the other genres. The male/female vocals were definitely refreshing to hear.

1… 2… 3… 4… Secret attack!

This track by JoeJoe Keys was another highlight for me. This jam does nothing but groove in the pocket. It’s funky fresh and I found myself singing the hook several hours after the song was over: secret attack… secret attack…

Experience indie music at its finest from cover to cover. Kick back and press play on your favorite media device. You’ve been warned though, you may have just found your new favorite indie artists.

Interested in purchasing the CD?

Support BeeFM’s Indiegogo campaign and quest for world domination: http://igg.me/at/beefm/x/713480

Songwriting mindmap

There’s nothing worse than writers block.  It can be downright maddening.  Hours spend writing… and rewriting… and rewriting… feeling like you’re on the cusp of something great that is just inches away.

I ran across a blog at http://www.andyharrisonmusic.com/8-step-lyric-writing-exercise that I found quite helpful.  Like many people, I am a visual learner and diagrams help me immensely.  So, I took the information and made a mind map!

This mind map is a series of prompts to assist you in focusing on the core ideas you want to write/sing about.  For each major prompt (blue) there are a series of subtopics you can write about.  With the exception of the sensory description – which should create a mental image, not simply describe – each prompt should be limited to ONE subtopic.

I was amazed at how much mapping helped with lyrics I was desperately struggling through.  Hope you can take something from this as well!

Songwriting mind map

Apps that make life just a little easier

There are tons of apps out there.  Here are just a few that I’ve found that make my like a hell of a lot easier:

Evernote – What else can I say… I FRIGGIN’ LOVE THIS APP! (yes, the bold, all-caps font were completely necessary).  I use this application for notes on the go, lyrics, musings, and even clipping web pages for reference.  The built-in audio recorder is by far one of my favorite features.

I highly recommend coming up with the $45/year for premium membership.  The 1 gig monthly upload limit and the ability to keep a backup notebook on my smart phone is a piece of mind in itself.

HootSuite – This is one of the best social media management tools I’ve used! Because I only manage a couple of twitter pages and my personal Facebook page, the free version is perfectly sufficient. Yes, you can call me a cheap skate. Yes, I’ll probably tell you to fu** right off. To be honest, the pro version is a bit spendy at $9.95/month. They also have an enterprise version (for a top-secret, fight-club “we don’t talk about it” price).

One of the many features I really like about HootSuite is that it allows you to integrate other applications – such as RSS feeds, Instagram, and Tumblr – all within your dashboard.  This is also one of the only platforms that has Google+ integration, which is awesome!

HootSuite has also unveiled a feature that allows internal conversations among team members and colleagues in real-time. It’s a very cool feature that I look forward on using more.

Hojoki - This application ties everything together. Put your keys is similar to a social networking site within your applications such as Evernote, HootSuite, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google calendar, Twitter, and a slew of other apps you may or may not use.  The threaded conversation is a great way to stay up to speed on what’s going on across multiple applications.

WordPress logoWordPress - what started out as a simple blogging platform has evolved into a Web design powerhouse.  WordPress is my first choice as a platform for website development!  There are tons of SEO benefits; just try doing a web search and you will find a plethora of information about how this works.  In layman’s terms… this ranks you higher in an organic web search without having to pay money. BONUS!

If you can use MS word you can use WordPress. It’s just that simple.

Square - As a performing musician this application is a godsend.  Previously, I was using a merchant account that not only had a monthly fee, but also processing fees on top of that… needless to say, that hurt the slim margins we already had.  Square charges and you only pay when the transactions processed. Additionally the charge a 2.75 percent transaction fee very reasonable considering you can swipe MasterCard Visa American Express or Discover cards.  This app can increase

dropbox logoDropbox - Ahh yes, cloud storage!  This has been an invaluable tool when collaborating with fellow musicians where proximity is an issue.  Out of all the cloud storage programs I’ve used, Dropbox is the most reliable and seems to have the fastest sync times.

Brown Paper Tickets – I started using this application more and more considering the change in environment with the music industry. Brown Paper Tickets (BPT) allows you to act as your own ticket vendor by scheduling, advertising, marketing. Essentially you cut out 1 more person as a middleman with their finger in the pie… this means more money for you as an artist.

The Dear Hunter – The Color Spectrum (Complete Collection)

The Dear Hunter – The Color Spectrum

The Dear Hunter is the brain child of Casey Crescenzo, formerly of the Boston-based emo act The Receiving End of Sirens. While Crescenzo had initially started this project as a creative outlet for songs that didn’t fit the conventional mold of an emo band, the project grew into something bigger than Crescenzo anticipated.

However, it wasn’t until 2010 that Crescenzo took a break from the 6 part story line to work on a concept album entitled: the Color Spectrum. Comprised of nine EP’s (36 songs), each color of the ROYGBIV spectrum is interpreted by means of musical expression. Taking on this challenge must have been a daunting task.

Simply stated, The Dear Hunter nails it!

The Color Spectrum (the complete collection) is a truly unique album is that it appeals to such a wide range of audiences. By digging deeper than cliché interpretations of color “blue” is not just sad and “green” is not simply the color of jealousy.

While, texturally, the collection of songs on the black EP is enveloping and brooding they verge industrial electronica. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. One gets a sense of power and presence from these tracks. Moving onward to the red EP, the aesthetics become more intense, edgy, and passionate before warming up to the indie-rock sound of the orange EP. By the time listeners get to the yellow album, you can almost feel a warming glow of radiance from your headphones. There is also a counter point of desire and youthful infatuation.

Crescenzo further displays his depth of skill by shifting the stylistic approach from folk-inspired songs on the green EP to a 1950-esque Buddy Holly timbre (Tripping In Triplets) before diving into complete ambience on the indigo and violet songs. Finally, there is a sense of weightlessness, reverence, and melodic luminosity in the white EP before completing the nearly 2.4 hour journey.

Refreshingly enough, many of the B-sides on the complete collection could stand alone as singles unto themselves.

Recommended tracks:
Filth and Squalor (Black) – Click to listen
We’ve Got A Score To Settle (Red) – Click to listen
Misplaced Devotion (Yellow) – Click to listen
The Inheritance (Green) – Click to listen
Tripping In Triplets (Blue) – Click to listen
Lillian (Violet) – Click to listen

Originally posted on http://blog.beefm.com/2013/02/23/the-dear-hunter-the-color-spectrum-complete-collection/