I first heard Bearcats on Facebook some time ago while dorking around between classes and was instantly amused with what I found. Since the release of their recent album, my initial response panned out to be much more than my usual affection towards local band. Bringing a chilled out Pixies-esk tone to the table with a big dose of British indie drive and hook, Bearcats show some real maturity for their first venture as a band. Formerly called Alt Alt, the group itself currently calls Provo home, but hails from Brigham City in Northern Utah. The three-piece stems from high school friendships (which by my judgment wasn’t that long ago) and have since found great cohesion musically. Continue reading “Bearcats – This Wildfire Magic review”→
The thought of trying to condense some thoughts on getting the best possible guitar tracks into a single blog entry seemed almost overwhelming! So, I’m covering a few highlights on electric guitars in this installment and will hit on acoustics later. As with past articles, I’ll assume that many of the people reading this are involved in the recording and production of their own albums, and additionally, I’ll assume that there are non-guitarists and beginners reading, so I’ll build this from a basic starting point. Continue reading “Music Production and Sound Quality: Electric Guitars!”→
I had a conversation with Ian Fowles last week about “celebrity status” in Mormonism. Mormons tend to have a fascination with other Mormons who achieve greatness in art, music, film, etc. Evidence for this would be the Famous Mormons website, of course Linescratchers, and a few other sites online with lists of well-known Mormon celebrities. Even more infamous is our tendency of “wishful thinking” rumors. These are rumors that a certain celebrity is Mormon, even when they’re not and have never been (Elvis, Steve Martin, Alice Cooper, etc.), based on an exaggerated rumor, or some sort of slight interaction with the church at some point.
Why do we care so much? Actually, that’s a pretty good question. We Mormons spent the first half of our history as a very peculiar people, living in the mountains with our polygamous wives, stealing passers-by and forcing them to swear oaths of loyalty to Brigham Young in the Salt Lake Temple. Okay, well, that’s perhaps it wasn’t that, but it’s no lie that we weren’t exactly “assimilated” into American culture. Peculiarly, sometime in the last 100 years, we’ve reversed this image. Now, we’re the clean-cut, conservative representatives of traditional (some would now even say outmoded) American family values. Explaining how we managed such a reversal is beyond my abilities and the scope of this article, but suffice it to say that we are uniquely concerned with how we blend in to American society. So perhaps we like hearing about Mormon celebrities because it means we’ve “arrived” on the American scene. Not only does it mean we’ve successfully blended into American culture, it also means we have talented members of the church out there being recognized for their skills. Continue reading “…but are they active?”→
The Backgrounds: uncommonly good music from a commonly-named musician.
Andy Martin, lead singer of The Backgrounds, laments the fact that there are so many other musicians named Andy Martin. “I think there’s an ’80s hair metal guy, and maybe a killer trombone player named Andy Martin. I got tired of so many other musicians named Andy Martin. It kept me up at night,” says Martin, who is originally from Pittsburgh and now resides in Philadelphia. Martin followed up his eponymous 2007 debut album with the 2010 release of This Town, which was released under the new moniker The Backgrounds.
Despite the name change, Martin remains the driving force behind the music, which showcases a fusion of folk, blues, and classic rock elements. Other than keyboardist Mikel Azpiroz, none of the accompanying musicians on This Town played with Martin on his 2007 self-titled debut album. Rather than being part of a collaborative effort, Martin does most of the legwork in composing and executing his vision of the music. “I have no idea how to jam,” Martin freely admits. “I work out most of the songs and structure myself, and then try to share [my vision] with everyone else.” Continue reading “The Backgrounds – This Town review and interview”→
The Other Side of Down is the latest offering from LDS singer and American Idol alumni, David Archuleta. Being LDS, a musician, engineer, and producer may qualify me to critique this album, but my greatest qualification might actually be that I am the father of 3 young girls who fit a significant demographic portion of his fan base. Also, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to hear David sing live, in a very “up close and personal”, accapella performance – so I’ve seen his talent in its most raw and simple form, and was eager to compare that to the production of his newest album.
David’s producers have tried to squeeze him into a radio-friendly, tween-compatible, pop format. For the most part, they’ve succeeded, but stylistically this album feels just a bit “forced” at times. Sure, it fits the format in many ways – catchy melodies, electronic beats, loads of synth sounds, lots of layering and production quality, and of course the terribly over-used “telephone” sounding effect on vocal delays and overdubs. But there are noticable differences between this album and many of the cookie-cutter masses. Continue reading “David Archuleta – The Other Side of Down review”→
I had a discussion with my family over the weekend about lazy songwriters that developed into a discussion about what makes music “good.” In that discussion, I arrogantly monopolized the conversation in the interest of trying to be funny, which I’m prone to doing, except I think I did it at the expense of my actual ideas, looking like a jerk in the process. To rectify this, I wanted to write down a few of my thoughts about songwriting here. If people are going to think I’m a pretentious jerk, I want them to do it for the right reasons. Also, feel free to disagree if you wish (have at it in the comments section).
I showed my uncles a live video of a band called Axis of Awesome who perform a song called “4 Chords” on YouTube, which contains a little profanity, so I won’t link it here (you can search for it yourself if you wish). Suffice it to say that they write a medley containing about 30 hit pop songs that use the same chord progression (I – V – vi – IV). Non-musicians may not be able to fully appreciate how this progression is like sandpaper against our ears, but I think the Axis of Awesome at least introduced a lot of people to the problem. It’s the songwriting equivalent to painting bowls of fruit or watercolor sailboats, and people actually intentionally buy that stuff.
Our first featured band from Down Under, Mayan Fox is an exotic and eclectic pop group with an impressive blend of sounds. Having already made a splash in our podcast, Mayan Fox is an optimistic and catchy band with a very world-conscious lineup. Nate and Maria Hamon, husband and wife, not only write, sing, and perform music but also speak out about issues that are often overlooked in America, especially that of forced labor and slavery all around the world. I got in touch with Nate and Maria and asked them about their influences, the causes that motivate them, their music, and their faith, and they graciously agreed to have their interview published here. For everyone who enjoys music that is as fun as it is deep, read on. Continue reading “Mayan Fox”→