Entertaining Angels

Modern and accessible rock

The Fabulous Hot Finks

Throwback rock with gutsy vocals and tasty hooks

Brent Kinseth

Intimate acoustic folk

Far Beyond Rescue

Hymns that rock

Mustard and the Works

Melodic rock

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ryan McClelland on Going Pro

Ryan McClelland of Spokane Bass Lessons and Bass Matter has recently posted the first in a two part series regarding the label "Professional Musician," titled, "The Starving Doctor". His candor on such a misunderstood issue is refreshing, and he doesn't pull any punches when comparing a career in the arts to a more pragmatic industry:

"If you’re a musician, you’re an artist. Welcome to a bitter sweet world filled with passion, competition, a lot of loose rules, a lot of opinions, and some fragile egos. How come you never see a movie about a starving doctor? He’s couch surfing from place to place, just waiting for the right place to apply his skills, borrowing money from friends, maybe a bit behind on a shower, and more often than not lost in day dream and refusing to give up his passion. Society generally sees him as a mooch scraping by, and family is tossing out subtle or even very loud hints that it’s time to grow up. Then, he gets his big break and gets to be a famous doctor at some fancy hospital making tons of cash. His family tells him how lucky he was because only about 0.001% of doctors will ever be able to pay the bills doing it after all the time, money, effort and school involved, but...he was just that good. Wow! That movie would suck! However, replace that with a guitarist, writer, painter or general artists, and now we’re talking about some good cinema! Wait..I think they’ve made that movie once or a 1,000 times already.

My fellow artists, please let us call it like it is. Our art is difficult, takes enormous dedication, education, practice, skill, is highly personal, ingrained in cultures world wide, and the majority of non-artists will never understand. This doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate it, but they won’t understand. There are few non-artists that would even care if you called yourself a professional musician; this label really only matters to well...other artists."

Ryan goes on to relate that western culture is of little to no help in this area. As society continues to elevate celebrity status, musicians of all pursuits and backgrounds are susceptible to tremendous pressure to attain some nebulous level of income, wealth, and status. These have little or nothing to do with the laborious creative process that yields great music, and I appreciate that he has drawn attention to that fact.

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records

We Love YouTube...and Avec Sans

Avec Sans
This week's YouTube artist selection has much more to do with musical creativity than with any arresting visual component. While the video itself lends little to the overall composition, the departure from the original Bon Iver track is so striking, I find myself coming back to it again and again.

Hailing from London, UK, Avec Sans is a fledgling duo just getting their feet wet in the music industry. Comparisons to some of Sarah McLachlan's vocal remix tracks are inevitable, but I found the electro influence on the cover tune to be a welcome one*. Additionally, this particular cover has that rarest of qualities in derivative work—the ability to stand on its own.

Enjoy this up-tempo version of Bon Iver's "Perth" below:

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records

*It is worth noting that nearly 30,000 other listeners shared this same opinion (as of the writing of this post), as demonstrated by their frequent play on SoundCloud.

Yet Another Free Track from the SPCS Archives

The roots of Southparkcrawlspace Records are closely tied to deejaying and remixing. It is in this spirit of production that I share with you another of many trax from back in the day. As you enjoy, feel free to share the old skool goodness with your friends.

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records

Chris Herndon on What Makes a Good Live Show

Flabbergaster Music
Within the last decade, our society has experienced a momentous shift in the way we receive and experience music. At one point, artists were able to make a moderate living off of recorded music while touring to support their record. Those days are to a minimum—nearly a dim memory, at this point. The stage is, and has always been, a musician’s full-time platform because it is where they influence others the most. It is very frustrating to see an artist who cannot match their studio efforts with their live presence. Here, we will discuss the live aspect of music and the importance behind good stage presence, how it effect’s the audience, and ultimately—your career.

Good stage presence is no accident. It with comes strategy, manners, and a sense of humility. Being a musician on the rise is comparable to running for office—you have to give people a reason to want to listen to you. Artists that have captivated their audience over a long period of time may have a better grip on their listeners, but even then, they have to be proactive; it doesn’t hurt to plan out your show, either, whether it is getting everyone to jump at the same time, teaching the crowd a new song and giving them the mic for them to yell into during their favorite parts, or using Adobe Audition to make an alluring intro (which most bands are doing these days).

Bands are becoming very creative in refining their stage presence because it is where their talent shines and their inspiration reaches those who matter the most—their fans. Vocalist Jordan Pundik from New Found Glory specified that he learned to get in the crowd’s face from all the hardcore bands they played with in NFG's early days—playing shows as teenagers in a pop punk band. He said he adapted his stage presence based upon that, but also learned that kids come to shows because they want to be entertained; they want to walk away knowing their time and money were well spent, and even have the feeling that their contribution mattered to the band. Jordan said that 10 years ago, but I recently caught NFG at Warped Tour, and they haven’t compromised their stage values one bit. They are still engaging, and they still put on a memorable show.

A steady flow between songs helps keep an audience occupied by motivating them to engage beyond the bare minimum. It is not necessary to pause after every song and tell the audience what the song is about. Instead, maybe pick one or two songs that have the most significance behind them and share it, on the condition that it motivates the audience in a relevant way. When there is no reason to pause, have a song transition in mind so there is no dead air. Stage presence also means knowing the "when and where" when it comes to rocking out, and what is appropriate for each genre. If you play like Matchbox 20, rocking out like you’re August Burns Red may appear silly and confuse the audience. However, there is also a double standard attached to it—artists must also have the courage to try something new but should also know when to quit if it seems counter-productive.

The live aspect of music remains to be the driving force behind a musician’s career because society has deemed it so. People would rather go to a live show and buy merch than have to pay for an overpriced cd, and money earned from sales on iTunes are comparable to sprinkles on a cupcake. Recorded music is still a valid medium, but there is nothing compared to a good live show where the set list flows just right and the stage presence shines. Historically speaking, we are back to where we started—with a few modifications. Bottom line: touring and playing live (and playing live well) is what it takes to succeed as a musician in the modern day and age…and succeeding is a term I will not use lightly on this subject. Playing music because you love it has greatly surpassed the desire for fortune and fame—something that is gradually falling to the wayside.

—C.Herndon, Flabbergaster Music

Ryan McClelland on Keeping it Clean

In a blog post this summer, our friend Ryan McClelland highlighted an often underrated facet of musical polish—the ballad. In a day when quick genres such as metal are grabbing the ears and iPods of many musicians, it is quite easy to gloss over the technique that makes the music possible. Ryan shares his own experiences with tightening up in his post, "Cleanliness is Close To Awesomeness!"

"With a general disdain for Classical Music, being forced into it was perhaps one of the best musical trials I’ve been through. You see, Classical music is planned, structured, layered with synergy and intention, even if it is chaotic at times, and very beautiful. I didn’t really understand this until I was handed a bow and thrown into the pit playing my double bass. I had all of these notes on the page in front of me instead of a chord progression. My mind filled with a dark cloud that blanketed my freedom of expression and restrained my artistry. This was unacceptable, and I wasn’t having even a gram of fun. 

So with all of my frustrations at the surface, I began to play the assigned music. I quickly noticed small cringing from some of the other instrumentalists in my section. A few polite comments “Hey, Ry, you’re just a bit behind. Hey, Ry, a tad flat buddy. Hey, Ry, you're drowning the cellos. Hey, Ry…….” It never ended. So leaving Orchestra that day, head hung low, pretty embarrassed and not really understanding why I struggled the way I did, I went home, grabbed my sheet music, my [metro]nome, rosin and a fresh dose of ego. “This is the easiest thing to do. Predetermined patterns, volumes, notes, movements and parts all laid out for me. No prob!” I really focused on precision and playing clean. Hitting the right note spot on the first time, play it at the right volume, get the right tone, and so on. This exercise was surprisingly difficult. Not nearly as “forgiving” as most other genres. I had to bring that metronome down to a a third of the designated tempo just to have the time needed to be very clear and ready for what I was supposed to do next."

Personally, I encountered this most recently when recording a local hardcore band. Each band member had musical potential, but when combined, it became mostly discordant anarchy. I gently suggested utilizing a click track during the session or reconvening at a later date, but both ideas were hastily tabled.

Ryan emphasizes one of the lost elements in our instant-download-just-click-here culture—time. Not enough can be said for slowing down, focusing in, and giving your music the attention to detail that it deserves.

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records

We Love YouTube...and Nick Matev

Nick Matev
Over the last decade, online music has taken on a life of its own, benefiting both artists and music listeners alike. As the internet world of music gains more traction through vehicles such as CDBaby, Pandora, YouTube, and Facebook, traditional music entities have started to endorse the change. A recent study has shown that social media is a majority force behind music sales to the young generation. Music videos shared on the YouTube platform are creating career opportunities for musicians that were never previously possible.

It is in that spirit that we will be featuring some enjoyable talent in the coming weeks and months. Some artists will have accompanying interviews in addition to their video content. Some artists will be amateur, and some will be working musicians. But all will be referenced through their presence on YouTube. Enjoy this week's selection from Florida by way of Ukraine—Nick Matev. His synthy take on Coldplay's "Paradise" is a fun and fairly polished rendition worthy of inclusion on our blog. Take a look/listen below!

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Another Free Track from the SPCS Archives

The roots of Southparkcrawlspace Records are closely tied to deejaying and remixing. It is in this spirit of production that I share with you another of many trax from back in the day. As you enjoy, feel free to share the old skool goodness with your friends.

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records