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

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Interview with Stetson and Cia of Songs of the Fall

Knee deep in a recent YouTube search for regional indie talent, I stumbled across Songs of the Fall. Though they currently hail from Nashville, Stetson is a former resident of Colorado. I am not normally drawn to bluegrass and country of this flavor, but their sensitive and sensible approach hooked me straight away. A far cry from the heavy-handed sounds that often populate the pop country radio channels, SOTF handle their music with kid gloves, giving dignity to each note. I was interested to know more, and Stetson and Cia graciously took time out of their busy schedules to field a few questions about their experiences with music.

SPCS Records: Where and when did your journey with music begin?

Cia: We met in 2010 through a mutual friend. I (Cia) was closing out a 12 year bluegrass career with the band Cherryholmes. Stetson had been playing the singer-songwriter circuit in Colorado and Arizona as well as guiding fly fishing and elk hunting in Colorado and Alaska. We were introduced by the engineer at Skaggs Place Studios.

SPCS Records: What musical styles or concepts keep you going on your journey?

Stetson: We both enjoy a lot of old country, bluegrass, and roots music. As writers, we try to keep it as genuine and real to life as possible. We chose the name, "Songs of the Fall," because we write a lot about the falls we go through in life. Whether falling in and out of love, on hard times or temptations, life is about the fall and how we deal with it and grow.

SPCS Records: What has been your favorite venue to play thus far? Why does it stand out?

Cia: We had the honor of playing several awesome venues this year like the Highline Ballroom in NYC, The Varsity Theatre in Minneapolis., and The Paramount Theatre in Bristol as the supporting act for Crowder. If we had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa. The history and atmosphere there are amazing!

SPCS Records: Often times, our culture of celebrity skews the expectations of young artists. Have there been any surprises for you in the music industry so far? If so, what has been the biggest?

Cia: We have found it to be disappointing that so much of the industry seems to be money and image driven, as opposed to it being just truly about the music.

SPCS Records: What does "success" in the music industry look like for you personally?

Stetson: I think that people enjoying and connecting with our music and us making enough money to pay our bills is a success all in itself. Because so many people think that if you don't "hit it big," you aren't successful. If we can continue to get up on stage and play our music and continue to write our own music, there's a sense of satisfaction and success in that.

SPCS Records: Stetson, Cia, thank you for your time today.

Stetson and Cia's latest endeavors can be seen and heard here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Examining Business Strategy as an Independent Creative Professional

In a revolutionary age of digital everything, contemporary artists are fed advice from every angle until the cacophony of noise is nearly too much to bear. Social media platforms rise and fall and seemingly each new day brings with it a shiny sparkling best practice to consider. Distilling the static has proven to be too much for many musicians I rub shoulders with and the creative community has become even more polarized with a growing divide between rabid early adopters and disenfranchised pessimists.

In 2012, an event was created to assist the creative community in innovative ways to stay agile and profitable in the volatile online marketplace. XOXO, the brainchild of Andy Baio and Andy McMillan, is still in its infant stages, but is already drawing notable players such as  Dropbox, Etsy, and Squarespace.

At this year's conference, Jack Conte of Pomplamoose was one of the keynote speakers. His candid lecture on his creative endeavors, the trappings of success, and the shift in online marketing is very relevant and well-informed. The delivery is signature tongue-in-cheek Jack, but the message is very insightful and patently applicable to the independent working artist.

It is not our usual form to feature videos in the tens of minutes in length, but this issue is of such financial urgency and so rooted in the issues of creative identity that we couldn't help but share.

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records

Friday, September 20, 2013

We Love YouTube...and The Cleverlys

I was recently scouring YouTube for local and regional rock bands native to the Rocky Mountain region. After searching no fewer than 30 pages of content, I was completely dissatisfied and disgusted. Either the rumors are true that Colorado is pretty lacking in musical talent, or we are home to one of the largest collections of non-SEOed rock band videos in North America.

After more than an hour of looking, I abandoned my search string and tried something totally random—piano rock band plus bluegrass cover. The video below from The Cleverlys came up in the results list and I was instantly intrigued. Either their version of The Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian" would be completely pathetic or mind blowing and amazing. At this point, I had no tolerance for something that fell in between.

Having been alive to recall the original tune being played on the jukebox at a local restaurant, and currently residing in the host city of the Flying W Wranglers, I was on pins and needles as the video buffered. I couldn't have been more awestruck by what I witnessed unfold before my eyes, as one of the most polished and technically superb bluegrass groups crafted such an unlikely version of an 80s classic.

Adding to my impression was the revelation that the musician playing the upright bass is blind. Multi-talented, synchronous, creative, and unexpected? I am an instant fan.

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Salute to American Ingenuity

Southparkcrawlspace Records has its roots in Alesis ADAT technology. Thanks to a sales associate at Sweetwater Sound, we quickly had a simple recording setup with a relatively easy learning curve. As ADAT technology continued to evolve, so did SPCS Records, embracing the shift to higher resolution audio and greater track count. Along the way, we developed a great affinity for the optical lightpipe interface, which greatly influenced our recent purchase of a heavily modified Behringer ADA8000.

Because of a tip received from our friend Brad Nyght, we researched a company from the Chicago metropolitan area known as Black Lion Audio. Customers love BLA and there is plenty of positive feedback online.

"[The ADA8000 Modification] results in a sound that is strikingly more open and textured, with far greater detail and micro-dynamics.  The common response we receive regarding this mod is that it has the sonic effect of taking a blanket off of the speakers!" 

"...we not only perform the op-amp upgrade, but we replace vital analog signal caps with capacitors of dramatically higher quality for both the inputs and outputs.  We also perform converter decoupling using the same techniques found in our Alesis AI-3 Premium upgrade, our acclaimed Signature Series modifications, and in our widely-praised FM192.  After this upgrade, the ADA8000 will have a much wider stereo field, a smoother & more defined bass, and sweeter-sounding highs."—blacklionaudio.com

After searching for a preamp that could transmit digital audio with zero signal loss and no added noise, the BLA blurb sounded amazing. We placed an ADA8000 on order through Gear Orphanage, and waited impatiently for its arrival. After putting the preamp through its paces with various microphones, both passive and active, we were completely blown away. So transparent! So quiet! Simply amazing, especially considering the price tag.

We immediately added this piece of gear to our list of must haves for any small to medium project studio. Moreover, we are placing the spotlight on the good folks at Black Lion Audio for their American Ingenuity and expertise in modifying decent gear to make it truly great.

Thank you, BLA, and keep up the good work!

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records

Friday, August 30, 2013

Interview with Chris Mullen of the Chris Mullen Band

Having known Chris Mullen since his early days with the post hardcore group, Against All Odds, it's been our pleasure to see him continue his journey in the music industry.  Recently, we had the opportunity to ask him about his story.

SPCS Records: What got you interested in music?

CM: Friends, honestly. I mean, I was always interested in music to a degree, but never really got encouraged that way as a kid, and I kind of felt like I wouldn't be any good at it. But, in middle school and high school, I had a lot of friends that we really into punk rock, and I just got hooked on the energy and feeling and expression that came out of music. My friends were also the ones who first pushed me to begin singing, which led to everything else.
SPCS Records: Which artists have most influenced the direction you've chosen with music?

CM: My music influences are based more on content, than on music genre or style alone. I feel a connection to a well written lyric that comes from a place of truth. So, in that way, I continue to be influenced by old punk rock albums that I used to listen to, like Blindside and Dogwood. And I am also influenced by new songwriters like Rocky Votolato, Ben Howard, and David Ramirez. I even really dig good hip hop lryicists like Mike Shinoda, and Eminem. They all influence me in different ways, but they are all there.

SPCS Records: What advice would you offer a musician that is just getting started?

CM: I feel unqualified to answer this question because I still feel like I am starting out—even though I've been at it for a while. I guess just to take time away from music to live life. Don't forget where you come from, but, even more importantly, don't stop being a person with real relationships and real experiences and friends that you relate to apart from your art. Too many artists have created this alternate reality of music and performance-centered exsistence, and they lose a relatable, neccesary part of who they are...in my opinion.

SPCS Records: What type of venue is your favorite to play?

CM: One with people in it, hah! But seriously, if there is no crowd to give that energy back to you, you eventually run out of energy. I love my music, but even I don't want to just play a three hour set to myself. More specifically, I like small venues, but real venues. I have played a lot of restaurants and bars, and, when the venue is food and drink first, music second, you have to fight for a place in the audience's attention. A small venue that is music first, bar and food second, is my favorite type... to play or to listen at.

SPCS Records: Thank you for your time today, Chris.

Chris Mullen's latest endeavors can be seen and heard here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Tip of the Hat to Mashups

During a recent search on YouTube for an innovative cover of Robbie Williams' smash hit single "Feel" from a decade ago, I found a lot of awful, typical YT swill. But I also stumbled upon an extremely prolific indie deejay and producer, Ronald Koenders, aka DJ Magic Baron (MB). Though the video production is not overly compelling, the audio is seamless and well executed.

While mashup covers have become the norm on YT, this one strikes at the heart of SPCS Records. In 2002, DJ Tayza released an album titled, "Homemade Trak Star" on the SPCS label. Included on the disc was a mashup featuring the Chemical Brothers' "Morning Lemon" against Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." Though the Koenders mashup is purely studio work, whereas the DJ Tayza mix was completely live, the spirit of creativity is the same.

I reached out to DJ MB, but received no response*. So, I can't tell you any more than to encourage you to geek out over Koenders' masterful interweaving of Robbie Williams and Adele Adkins.

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records
*UPDATE: Since the writing of this post, DJ MB has contacted SPCS Records and assures us that he is still busy creating tasty mashups of all varieties.

Friday, August 16, 2013

We Love YouTube...and Who vs Who

This week's YouTube selection is strictly about fun ear candy. I first stumbled onto Who vs Who's music during a search for a compelling, rock-infused cover of the smash hit ballad "The A Team," by Ed Sheeran. While their version brings back memories of fun times with groups such as American Hi-Fi and Sum 41, it's their original single that really grabbed my attention.

Sure, Who vs Who quickly draws obvious comparisons to Paramore and even some of the raw, early sounds of No Doubt, but I always enjoy hearing a European interpretation of American Punk. With energetic vocals and a tight rhythm section, it's no wonder that Who vs Who has won several local competitions in the Netherlands.

Their single "Trying" is a fun and youthful track with lots of tasteful touches in its production. Mastered by world-renowned engineer Ted Jensen, there is much to enjoy in this relatively unknown video.

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Interview with Mychal Cohen of Campfire OK

We had the pleasure of seeing Mychal Cohen and his band, Campfire OK on their recent tour with Anberlin. Mychal was gracious enough to field a few questions about his personal journey with music. 

SPCS Records: What first got you interested in music?

MC: I remember being about 12 years old, and having a group of friends that said they were starting a band. For some reason I just decided I was going to be in it. I had loved music up till that point because of my mother, but for some reason never thought about playing. After the 12 year old me decided I was going to join a band, I asked for a guitar, and got a bass. I had no idea what it was. But I just started playing, and listening, and playing, and listening.

SPCS Records: What keeps you interested in music?

MC: Constantly listening to music that I did not think was interesting. I know that sounds strange, but I look at some genres that have huge amounts of listeners and think, "There must be something awesome in there." So, I start listening to music that I don't actually like at first, and learn to find the cool parts in it. Also, playing music with friends, and having listeners who are extremely generous. Having people tell you they care about your music is reason enough to continue doing it, but having friends in your band is like icing on a cake.

SPCS Records: Do you have what you consider to be an indispensable piece of gear? If so,  what is it, and why is it crucial to you?

MC: Yes. I bought a piano when I was 13 at a garage sale for $120 in Arizona, and started playing it on a daily basis when I was 16. It just reminds me of where I came from. It sounds kinda bad, but it sounds like me, so I have a huge affinity for it. It has moved with me in every house I have lived in, and will continue to do so until it breaks.

SPCS Records: In your experience, is private instruction important to musical growth?

MC: I think private musical instruction is extremely important. I think budding musicians need to be able to hear how other musicians think about their instruments, how they feel about playing, learn how to communicate with them, and how to be comfortable not being comfortable in a musical setting. I feel that learning music is just like learning whatever language you speak first. You have to have someone or a group of people show you how to do it, and in what context. I also strongly feel that at a certain point, every musician must travel on their own musical path without instruction. It is the only way they can find their musical personality.

SPCS Records: Is your personal songwriting process more of a solo or a collaborative effort?

MC: My songwriting is much more of a personal process to begin with. I write all of the lyrics, chord progressions, and forms of the songs. But at a certain point I need the rest of my band to come in and develop the sound. Everyone brings an interesting element to the table, and luckily for me, they are both smart and the let me direct their musical path within a song, just like they direct where they see the song going. So in a way, it is both.

SPCS Records: Mychal, thank you for your time today.

MC: Thanks so much!!

Mychal Cohen's latest endeavors can be seen and heard here.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

We Love YouTube...and Dirty Loops

This week's YouTube selection starts off something like, "Holy halftones, Batman!" Thanks to Drew Bartels of 232 Music Studios, I have been thoroughly enjoying the various cover selections by the Dirty Loops available online. If I recall correctly, Drew's comment to me was, "You'd never guess this was a (insert Top 40s pop icon name here) cover unless you saw the title of the video."

Their unlikely combination of counterintuitive band name, emo-goth-punk-looking bassist, and mature jazz fusion (think early Stevie Wonder) constructs made them an instant classic in my estimation.

Steve Lukather raved, "This destroyed me. I LOVE it! THESE guys should be #1 across the world. Music would be a better place with cats at THIS level..."

Highly intelligent music with noticeable varied backgrounds and outrageous skill level are immediately recognizable traits of this group. Not only will you, the listener, rethink this Adele hit, but you may also question the music currently populating your digital media player.

Enjoy their video below:

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records

Thursday, March 14, 2013

We Have a Crush...on Orange Amps

Admittedly, I started my days as a guitarist as a harsh solid state snob. My access to boutique-amplifier-sized piles of cash was limited, and I was surrounded by graying bar flies that endlessly spouted off about the good old days in their cover bands. My paltry summer job earnings barely bought me an integrated circuit distortion pedal on clearance, so maybe my bitterness towards vacuum tubes was predictable.

As the band I was performing with started to play large venues with better sound systems, my love of solid state began earning me comments such as, "Brittle tone, bro," and "Too muddy, man." I upgraded the pickups on my guitar, bought an amplifier with a larger speaker,  and kept pressing on in my rejection of what I assumed was old school.

Years later, I discovered concerts requiring more than a dollar fifty or a non-perishable food item for admittance. It was while watching artists such as The Cranberries, Collective Soul, Skillet, and Switchfoot that I began to see and hear what the mixing engineers had been commenting about. Tubes. Big, fat, glowing vacuum tubes.

About this time, I had the privilege of working with a band known as The Fabulous Hot Finks. Their guitarist played through an Orange brand amplifier and speaker cabinet, and the sound was nothing short of life altering. He indulged my curiousity by allowing me to mess with the gain and equalization settings. Any shreds of my lingering solid state speculation quickly fled, and I basked in the warmth of the tones from his guitar rig.

I didn't tell my girlfriend at the time, but I had found my new crush. It was Orange amplifiers.

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New SPCS Track on SoundCloud

The early days of Southparkcrawlspace Records were heavily influenced by groups such as Prodigal Sons. This tune is a tribute to that influence and attempts to emulate the best elements of the minimalist, early PS sounds. As you enjoy, feel free to share the old skool goodness with your friends.

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records