Archive for December, 2011

Best of 2011 – Vyto B

December 23, 2011

I’m going to go about the ‘Best of…’ list a little differently.  I’ll do a few posts on my favourite discoveries of 2011, and since I don’t want to do it normally I’m going to kick it off with something that was recorded in 1976…because, you know, I discovered it in 2011…so it’s a Best Of… for me!!

I stumbled across this album when I discovered ‘Egg City Radio,’ a music blog that rips and archives obscure or bizarro vinyl for the world to listen to!  I found some great John Carpenter music, wild italian movie soundtracks…and Vyto B.  How to describe Vyto B…

He’s like everything I love in music and more.  The music is catchy but not typical, the subject matter quirky and memorable, and execution raw but tight…I mean, this guy plays to his own rhythm but doesn’t skip a beat, LONG before we had computers to ensure beats were not skipped.

There’s a purity to Vyto B’s amazing piece Tricentennial 2076.  It sounds like it was recorded by a great talent in a room with only microphones and time.  He uses simple instrumentation – piano and voice, guitar and voice.  I only recall one song with production (the opening of “To Commemorate An Imaginary Life That Dies Prematurely” has some creepy…slowed down voice effects).

What are the songs about?  You know, the usual stuff…miracle devices, electronic enforcers, space love.

My appreciation for his vision (yup, I said vision) stems from the title track, Tricentennial 2076.  It encompasses the entire album like the opening of a well written essay.  It’s a thesis statement with proofs.  Each song thereafter expands on what we learn in the opening track.  It’s like one of those TV series or movies where the opening sequence is surreal and bizarre, but as you go along and are explained more about the world that’s been created it suddenly makes more and more sense.

It’s how I felt watching 12oz Mouse, a show which I probably shouldn’t be comparing to but is telling: you chuckle for the opening episodes because they’re so random, and piece by piece the story explains the most obscure elements to the point that a moving clock on the wall the squirts knockout gas becomes not only integral to the plot but essentially it’s own character!

We are taken through a world in 2076 when the US Tricentennial is about to take place, where a ‘big brother’ like existence is upon us, and where we can be saved by love.  Sounds corn…trust me, the album has a camp element, but there is no corn.

And the songs are infectious.  I used to play it in the office, and we would sing the chorus to Tricentennial at the top of our lungs when it came up.

Vyto B hooked me this year.  It’s odd to say, but I’d put it as my #1 discovery of the year…but also probably the best album I’ve heard since being introduced to obscure and clever favourites in my youth, like Jazz Butcher or Rupert Hine or Captain Beefheart. I’ve been missing the feeling of discovery, of ownership, of finding something I missed and didn’t know existed but is exactly…EXACTLY…what I needed.

I admit it’s not for everyone, but I would appreciate any fans of music and musicians to give it a download and a listen.  And if you like it…head over to Facebook and look him up…he’s there, 35 years after this album was recorded, and he’s still performing.

There will be more best of 2011 posts, probably into the New Year as well!  Let me know what you thought of this kickoff…I’m sorry it wasn’t about Adele or Frank Ocean, but I figure they’re getting enough coverage everywhere else!

Take Me To The Pilot – Smart, Driven…Fun!

December 9, 2011

Hey guys!  I don’t normally write blogs which are really just an encouragement to go read another blog but I’ll make an exception.  Take Me To The Pilot, a pop-punk band out of Winnipeg, is a group of awesome guys who I’ve had the privilege of hangin with a few times this year.  I’ve seen them live more often than I’ve seen any other act in my life…which is kinda crazy, since I’ve seen a lot of artists more than once.  Their music is really catchy, they’re charming, they’re fun…if I could choose someone to hang out with for three months and make an artist-documentary, it would be them.

Mike (vocals, guitar) recently wrote a blog explaining why they’ve been so vocal recently – tweeting, facebooking, encouraging fans to be active.  It’s really just a reminder – they HAVE an active dedicated fanbase (which would probably be 20 times bigger if they had the radio play and publicity they deserve) – but it’s a good one.  Here’s a snip:

The only way we can succeed in this industry is by proving to music execs that we are ‘the real deal’, meaning ‘something they can sell’. The only way to do that is by being profitable and successful without them, which is a hell of a task.

They are smart guys, as you’ll see if you read their blog (posted December 8th…if I could link directly I would!!!).  Even if pop music isn’t your thing, please take a few seconds and read what Mike has to say.  He’s figured out the modern music industry and is working hard to succeed against all odds.

Click here to read the post, again posted December 8th.  I’d love to hear your feedback on what he has to say!

You can also find them online here:

Twitter: @TMTTP

Facebook: facebook.com/takemetothepilot

YouTube: youtube.com/TMTTPTube

Formspring (which I think is a work of genius how they’ve used it!): formspring.me/TMTTP

Remain Calm

December 6, 2011

Artists…

…it’s the end of the year. I know you want to try to squeeze in one last ‘push’ because the changing of the calendar seems like an important milestone.  Don’t worry…when December moves to January it’s no different than June moving to July…things can pick up in 30 days.

…things seem tight.  I know you’re getting desperate.  If someone is offering help it seems right to CLING to them and SQUEEZE because they might LEAVE you!  Clinging and squeezing hurts…that’s why people leave.  If you feel the urge to cling and squeeze…breathe!

…you aren’t sure what to do next?  No prob…no one does!  Best you can do is get a circle of supportive friends, figure out where you want to go next, and find someone who can help you get there.  Maybe it’s an artist who can mentor you, maybe it’s a manager, maybe it’s neither of these…maybe it’s a programmer because you want the coolest interactive music site ever!  You can do ANYTHING next, it all depends on how you want to get there!

This applies to all artists, from me (who records a new song every couple of years) to others (who record an album a year, or maybe play every weekend at a local bar, or produce beats, or have twenty years under their belt…)

People are getting desperate, and getting antsy, and getting irritable, and getting frustrated.  Those are some pretty crappy words!

Let’s turn it around…accept the challenge, take a breath, and realize that nothing has to happen overnight, and when it happens overnight it’s never sturdy enough to last very long.

Remain Calm!!!  It’ll be alright!

Sad Truths

December 1, 2011

Hiya! My name is 'One Hit Wonder Exception To The Rule!' What's your name???

Are you a musician looking to make it big??  Here is my two cents on Radio, Video and Album Sales…
  • Want to get on radio…listen to the station that best fits your genre…listen to who they play.  Write songs that could fit between the two most popular artists.  Are you pop?  Write something that can be squeezed between Katy Parry and Bruno Mars.  Rock?  Can your music squeeze between Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters?
  • Want to get on Much Music or have a popular video?  Do you have tens of thousands of dollars?  We’re talking ‘broadcast’ here.  Watch the station you would like to be played on…find out who directed the videos.  Choose one of them.  Have them direct your video.  If you’re in Canada, apply for a grant…it increases your chances of at least getting a week of airplay.
  • Want to get a number 1 album?  Find an investor.  You’re gonna be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions to get on the charts.  Do you  ‘honestly’ think Adele didn’t have millions of bucks backing her when she hit it big this summer?  Each Rihanna song costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to make.  You need co-writers, producers, marketers, distributors, ad buys, publicists, a tour in the works…

Or you could just write music you love, release it on the net to fans, and let radio, video directors, and investors come to you when the time is right.

I dunno about you guys, but I’d rather pull interest than push my songs on people…just seems like it’s worth a whole lot more in the end.

(PS. at the risk of losing all your faith in me…I only use Rebecca Black as an image because she managed to become famous with a $2000 song that was released on YouTube…I got no problem with Ms. Black!)