Well the moment is here. As we prepare for 2007 I look back at all the wonderful time 2006 gave me. While I reflect of the year pass I think of some of the great music featured on Party Hour. So for the last show of 2006 while every one else is counting down till the ball drops, I’m counting down my top 15 Party Hour tracks. I would like to thank all of you who tune in to party hour every week and I want to let you know the shows are going to keep getting better. We get new music every week and are updating the site on a regular basis. I know myself and the rest of the staff have worked very hard to get to where we are now, so lets pat our selves on the back and get ready to rock this up coming 2007. Hit me up on the email or on my myspace page. Peace & HAPPY NEW YEAR!
As 2006 comes to an end, it's only appropriate that BTR pays tribute to our favorite songs of the year. So, I decided to do it in the traditional way by counting down my top 10 picks from the year. Obviously, it's been an amazing year here at BTR, and there has been a lot of stellar music for all of us to enjoy, but these tracks hit home for some reason or another, and I've got a feeling they'll be popping up in playlists on BTR for years to come. So, without further ado... here are my top 10 track of 2006. 10)  Lonely Girl Sophe Lux An interesting concoction, mixing powerful lyrics, rousing instrumentals, and creating a sound all their own. Sophe Lux is a newer band to BTR but I couldn't possibly leave them out of the countdown and I'm looking forward to hearing more from them in the future as well. 9)   Neighbor Crazy Kyle Mann Combo The song was originally called 'Neighbor Cathy' but the switch in name just made it that much more incredible. 8)  Thanks For Your Time Gotye Every track on Gotye's album, Like Drawing Blood, comes packed with amazing production and killer lyrics to boot. To be a standout track amongst a collection of them is a pretty insane task and this track will blow you out of the water. 7)  Make Me L.E.O. This band which pays tribute to the 70's icons ELO is the perfect soundtrack for anyone looking to have a good time. All of their tracks will get your head-bobbing but this one has an almost addicting appeal. If you look through my I-tunes at the tracks with the most amount of plays this one is topping the list... and that isn't a coincidence. 6)  Left Behind Ugly Duckling This song is great , and it's greatness can be summed up in one lyric. "Designed like a porcupine - untouchable. I'm a four-course meal, you're a lunchable." 5)  Lartigue Casey Shea This song will forever take me back to CMJ's and my front and center seat for The Undisputed Heavyweights show. Wonderfully written and beautifully sang, Casey Shea plus this track will brighten anyone's day. 4)  Wraith Pinned To The Mist (and other games) Of Montreal We hear it's likeness everyday in those Outback commercials and we still can't get sick of it. In fact when we hear the commercial it just makes us crave the original... and a Bloomin' Onion. 3)  Stickin' Around The Heathens Paying homage to my home-state of Florida this song practically brings tears to my eyes. Well, maybe not quite tears but it does muster up some intense emotions for the Sunshine State (and it's pretty rockin' too). 2)  Feelin' Good Feelin' Great E.A.R.T.H.  This song will get the party started, keep it going, and take you home.  I haven't looked back through my playlists for the year but I guarantee this track would be at the top of the list for most spins. Love this group and this song. 1)  Every Time I Make A Girl Cry I Know I've Done My Job Band Marino I think the wonderfulness that is this song is summed up strictly in the doesn't get much better than that. Unless, of course, you have a fabulously talented group to back it up. Powerful vocals, fun lyrics, great instrumentals...just a catchy tune altogether.
Some great albums came this year, but you know me and my specialty.  Here’s a list of my favorite albums to come out this year, and I’m gonna keep it reggae based, aleast as much as I can:   Panic In Babylon - Lee “Scratch” Perry - Great album from a legend with a new backing band “The White Belly Rats” from Switzerland.  Real roots inspired drum and bass driven dub with heavy organ and synthesizer layers.  It’s “Scratch” in the 21st century.  It really doesn’t get much better.   Love Trio in Dub Feat. U-Roy – This one is for electronic fans and dub fans, it’s a little for everyone here.  Some of it sounds like electro-pop with a legendary toaster on top and the rest sounds like new era dub with U-Roy doing what he does.  I was blown away from the first track on.   Sublime Box Set (Everything Under The Sun) – It’s been 10 years since lead singer and guitarist Bradley Nowell died and its hard to think of a new generation of high school kids not experiencing the sound and feeling Sublime had.  This box set compiles live, rare and some not so rare tracks for the diehard or the average Sublime fan.  This box set just proves good music is timeless.   Waterhouse Redemption – Sizzla – A total throwback album with a modern dancehall vibe.  All the riddims are captured from the Jammy digital days of dancehall circa 1980’s.  Really like an entire dubplate album with Sizzla tearing up each track one by one.  It’s great for the new dancehall fan or the old school purist.   Radiodread – Easy Star Allstars – Another complete album cover by the Allstars, this time taking on the challenging act of dubbing up Radiohead’s OK Computer.  Great full album, you can listen all the way from start to finish and enjoy it, much like the original OK Computer.  Different famous reggae artists featured throughout the album, including Toots and the Maytals, Horace Andy, Israel Vibration and Morgan Heritage make it that much more amazing.   The reggae world also lost some great musicians this year, and I would like to honor and remember 2 of these influencial artists:   Desmond Dekker -         one of the founders of ska/reggae music, known from the song “Israelites” Joseph Hill -         lead singer of culture, a roots reggae voice that will forever live on   Alright folks, enjoy your holiday, don’t gain too much wait, and stuff your stockings with some of these cool albums. Enjoy!
As long as you survive, ha ha! Just kidding everybody. Please drive safe wherever your bound, whether it's to Grandma's house, Mom and Dads, the liquor store, or Toys 'R' Us. People get raucous on the roads this time o' year, myself included, so we all need to be extra vigilant. We hooked up a new specialty show to accompany your journey, called Roadside Assistance, and you can find it by looking to yo left, within the BTR queue. All us DJs contributed our favorite traveling songs to it, and the end result is something quite fantastic. Also, I finally got the Hefty! Records specialty show put together, so if you dig on smooth electronic beats and ambient atmospheres, please click on it. It's perfect for that wine tasting you're hosting next weekend, and boasts a faint aroma of huckleberries. All that said, I don't know if anybody else has seen this, but there's a video floating about the web featuring Donald Tump, one in which he completely trashes Rosie O'Donnell. It's one of the funniest things I've seen in months, and I highly recommend you go watch it. I've had beef with that woman ever since she ruined the ending of Fight Club on her show back in 1999,  Who spoils the twist ending of a film when it's been out for less than a week, or ever, for that matter? Anyway, I hope everyone has a smashing holiday, and I'd like to doff my hat and say thank you for tuning into BTR this year. We're trying our best to make it the best radio station on Earth, and we appreciate you swinging by for a listen. Much love! That said, please feel free to hit me up at if there are any songs you would like to hear, bands you would like to see added, or subjects you would like discussed. Don't be a stranger...
Howdy Friends, So, has anyone heard of Alexandra Patsavas? She's my idol. The woman is a complete genius and even if  you don't know her name, you've probably witnessed her creative brilliance. She's a Music Supervisor and has worked on some of the top shows on television and a plethora of films to boot.  The song choice for any one scene can totally make or break the film or TV show... and this woman is defiantely making them.  She's worked on such projects as Grey's Anatomy, The O.C., John Tucker Must Die, The Invisible (2007),Carnivale, Without a Trace, Roswell,  and Boston Public; just to name a few!  Ms. Patsavas is bringing many independent bands into the spotlight, which means those of us here at BTR have much in common with her. In fact alot of the bands she's placed in the limelight can be heard right here on BTR. (ie: Pinback, Sufjan Stevens, Bedouin Soundclash).  I'm not really sure what I'm getting at here... other than the fact that I love anyone supporting music, espcially indie music and Alexandra Patsavas is definately one of my favs.  So, if anyone knows her... please tell her she's my idol and I'd like to have a cup of coffee with her and talk shop. Happy Holidays! Em  
Had the pleasure of meeting up with a member of BTR artists DJ Monkey while out in Los Angeles last week. Ironically, Joey Alkes is from New York City so obviously this lifelong east coaster had much to talk about music, sports, and otherwise... Among the topics, the evergrowing popularity of his band worldwide, which has dicated their city tour roster. Though sporadically touring and the large band being so scattered across the US, it's great to hear they go where they know their fans are...even as far as Eastern Europe! Bands that aren't backed with funds always amaze me with their commitment to touring. Most times these bands lose money on such tours, but for many (as I was told) it's more about the passion for the music, the fans, and a little promotion. It does help that DJ Monkey's lyrics are political in nature---and politically swinging in a way that would be popular among worldwide audiences these days. This is not to say the band isn't touring domestically too; in fact they are. Joey says they strike that balance and it all becomes one world to them... What better platform for them than BTR?? Catch an exclusive debut of some new music by DJ Monkey on BTR next Wednesday! Until then, happy holidays!
I'm feeling unseasonably scrooge-like this year. What happened? Suddenly I can't wait for these two weeks to be over and for life to (sort of) return to normal. I think all the cold weather I had hoped for in December might come next month. Hmmm.  My birthday is in a week. That is .... exciting? Maybe it's global warming. Maybe it's Maybelline.
  Nina Simone once sang, it’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, and we at BTR…well, we’re feeling pretty good. Our weekly programming has been given a nice beefing up as of late, and we’d like to let you know what these new shows are. Don’t worry, you won’t be quizzed on this.   Everyone has their own musical tastes, so we are giving you more genre-specific shows. All of our DJ’s strive to find you the best of the best in independent music, so maybe you’ll find your new favorite act. We’re catering to you (yes you), so plan your soundtrack accordingly.   What does BTR have in store for you? Well, take a look at our handy dandy programming schedule for the daily rundown. Some highlights include our regional shows. Past shows have highlighted Atlanta, Canada, and Boston. There’s more on the horizon as BTR plans to expand its regional programming with music from across the globe. Hosted by various DJ’s, there’s a little bit of everything for everyone within this rotating show.   Just in time for your holiday travels, BTR’s DJ’s got together and picked their favorite songs to help pass the time. The show entitled, Roadside Assistance, includes 3 song selections from 9 of BTR’s DJ’s.The 100 minute-plus show boasts a diverse mix of songs specially tailored to make that trip to Grandma’s fly-by.     Airing on BTR every Tuesday is BTR Live Studio. This breaking show features local bands from New York City recording exclusive live sessions at Blue Ribbon Studios in Manhattan. Hosted by BTR’s Program Director, Maia Macdonald, the show features incredible live performances from up-and-comers and interviews with the artists as well. Even more live music can be found Fridays on BTR as DJ Jeff brings you Live at Monsterland. This show, like Monsterland, features live music recordings in NYC, but Jeff brings it to you from across the bridge in Brooklyn.   For those of you who spend most of your time with your fingers pounding on some type of keyboard, BTR has a show for you. The Blog Show is a tag team effort between two of the internet’s premiere music bloggers, where each chooses two bands to showcase and fawn over. The weekly show also features “blogger of the week” and recaps of their daily escapes as indie-rock obsessed fans in New York City.   Getting ready to go out and party? Well, DJ Latola’s Thursday show entitled Dapper Fitting Drinking Hour, brings you lots of up-beat tunes to put a bounce in your step as you’re applying make-up and spiking your hair, for a night on the town. Then, when you’re looking your best and ready to party, DJ J-Dayz has the soundtrack for you, it’s called Party Hour and it comes at you Saturdays here on BTR.   If you want it, we’ve got it- Including classic BTR favorites, such as The Darkside (metal), The Third Rail (hip/hop), and the Worldwide Hour.  We’re also featuring some all new programming in The Folk Wave, The Jazz Hole, and Ladies Skate Only. All of our specialty shows are hosted by DJs passionate in the genre and excited to share their latest underground music findings with you. DJ Laura is no exception, and she’s coming to you with a brand new show this week, The Jam Session. She’s searched high and low to bring you an hour packed with the best independent jam bands out there. The debut shows includes Everyone Orchestra, The Disco Biscuits, and String Cheese Incident, bands who encapsulate the idea of ‘jam’ with their unique uses of improvisation and experimentation, all while creating a harmonious sound.    We’ve got everything you could ever want, and need here. Check it out, discover something new, and keep checking back. This is only the beginning.
Well, the year is winding down, and everybody's compiling lists. Best albums of 2006, best songs of 2006, best films of 2006, funniest moments of 2006, worst trends of 2006, etc. It just goes on forever, like the cold that's been going around (and coming back). We have a few of our own here on the BTR website, with this being the latest addition. Here are five of our most favorite new albums currently in rotation, as chosen by the DJs. Plus Device Puncture A mystery fit for Scooby and Shaggy, Plus Device is an electronically beat-driven project comprised of two "well-known" producers who are intent on keeping their true identities a secret. The duo initially attracted a bevy of attention with the single "Body Heat," which became a staple at in-the-know dance clubs across the world. Their debut full-length for Chicago's Hefty Records is a further fleshing out of that idea, with Daft Punk-tight bass and smoking erotic grooves. Eliot Lipp Steele Street Scraps EP Originally hailing from Tacoma, Washington, Eliot Lipp is a truly gifted manipulator of the synthesizer. He makes the kind of head-nodding beats that gangsters walk in slow-motion to, you know, music so chilled out that condensation appears on the speakers. Just listen to the song "Flashlight," soon to be featured in one of those Geico caveman commercials. You'll wish you were that fly. The Muggabears Teenage Cop EP A trio from Brooklyn, The Muggabears make it a point to state that they are not, in fact, "cute and cuddlesome." Think of their sound as sugar in the raw, versus sugar-coated, with sudden changes in shift and fantastically visceral guitar-work. It has a definite Fugazi feel at times, but it's sure as hell no rehash. We can't wait to hear what comes next fom this band, and as soon as you hear the perfect "I'm Coming True," you'll need no further convincing from us.  Sophe Lux Waking The Mystics There is a distinct Edwardian-era vibe to Sophe Lux, a quartet from Portland, Oregon consisting of three talented ladies and one drum-playing gent. The star of this operatic show is Ms. Gwyneth Haynes, who writes hilariously unexpected lyrics and sings them with a vibrant, swashbuckling flair. Her voice is so operatically charged, in fact, that I can't picture Ms. Haynes in anything but a crenlin-enhanced ball gown. It makes Waking The Mystics an extremely vibrant experience, one not easily forgotten. Be sure to peep "God Doesn't Take American Express." The Inner Banks s/t It would be easy to sit here and tell you how good this duo from New York is, but an even better idea would be to listen for yourself. BTR's very own Maia McDonald recently recorded an exclusive set with The Inner Banks at Blue Ribbon Sound in NYC, complete with an interview and a jaw-dropping live performance, including the stellar "Buried West." Just look to your left within the BTR Player queue, and you'll be listening to it right quick. Needless to say it's a damn good hour of music. LINK TO THIS ARTICLE - -
.... should never be used to make coffee. It's been that kind of a week. We've got lots of new programming going on these days, very exciting stuff for listeners. Had a recording session last night at Blue Ribbon Sound with the boys of A Brief Smile. They will be the featured guest on my Tuesday show BTR LIve Studio, airing the day after Christmas (December 26, 2006.) Next week, One Ring Zero will be on the show. Here's a picture of me looking surly last night at the session. I'll be guest DJing FolkWave this weekend. Listen in on Saturday. I rearranged my apartment again and things are so wonderful now. Except for the plumbing problem. More later folks.
Label: Hefty! Records Established: 1995 Hometown: Chicago Founder: John Hughes III Independent: Yes Roster: Eliot Lipp, Plus Device, Radicalfashion, Slicker/John Hughes, Phil Ranelin, Solo Andata, Retina.IT, Telefon Tel Aviv, Some Water And Sun & L'Altra, Victor Bermon, Samadha, Spanova Friends: The Aluminum Group, Beneath Autumn Sky, Bill Ding, Chisel Drill Hammer, Euphone, Ghosts + Vodka , A Grape Dope, Ilium, John McEntire (Tortoise, The Sea And Cake), Mondii, Savath+Savalas, Super ESP, T.Raumschmiere, Twine BTR Add Date: 12.11.2006 Notes: We're very happy to be welcoming the Hefty! roster into the fold here at BTR, and to celebrate,  DJ Latola put together a 100 minute long specialty show featuring nothing but Hefty! artists, making for the perfect introduction to this fantastic Chicago label. Look for it in the BTR Player Menu!
There's a delicate balance that must be taken to create a good and authentic reggae dub or roots album that can withstand the test of time, especially with the current day recording equipment.  Its almost harder to try and authenticate the old sound of the past with new equipment that exists to actually make life easier.  Because artists and producers have all this new stuff the sound can become too perfect in the studio.  Reggae isn't perfect in its form, its structure should be tight but its feel should be loose and free.  With an over produced reggae album, the feel is the first thing to go.  Here are some tips I found hold true for all you reggae artists creating out there. 1.  Embrace the home studio - You don't need to shell out big bucks for studio time when and if you have the means to record at home.  As long as you are working with someone who knows what you’re doing, you can get a great sound from jamming in a comfortable place rather than being on the clock in a fancy studio. 2.  Electro! - Most of, if not all, of the best dub albums put out after 2000 have included electronica or electronic elements.  It is extremely hard to recreate a sound from 1979 Jamaica so make a new sound for 2007.  Dr. Israel, Gorrilaz, Mad Professor, Lee "Scratch" Perry all use new technology and create genius stuff.  Dub is an art form that grew out of accessibility, remember that!  3.  Careful with the Layers - Reggae is drum and bass music.  If it stops being drum and bass music it is no longer reggae.  Before you start thinking about organs, pianos, guitars, vocals or anything else, get the drum and bass down.  Take a week listening to just those 2 tracks until you have the low end pumping and the snare cracking to your liking.  Then move on, but don't mask those tracks with new ones.  Compliment them, otherwise it sounds too busy and unfocused. I could go on all day here, and I will in the near future so check for the updates, and if you have any of your own shoot me an email and ill be happy to comment.  Blessing DJ Drew  
DJRePete on the road out in LA where Tower Records stores in the streets of Santa Monica just show signs of the impending end. Giant signs pointing to the end and sales fill the windows... While my previous entry on this pointed to the changing of the times (good and bad), I mean to convey simply the reality in this entry. Walking through the store, there's very little left...nostalgic collectors have already snatched up the gems.  That said, this musicologist and collector felt compelled to buy something (I'll keep the identity to myself :)). But the most compelling thing I saw was a guy talking to the employees at the counter until well after closing. The workers, I'm sure, are exhausted these days---physically, emotionally, etc. But they wouldn't turn away this bubbling customer who nostaligcally talked about concerts and artists of days gone by.... But, as I've said, that is the past, Breakthru is the future!
Howdy Friends, So, things are pretty hectic these days with the holidays upon us. I still havn't done ANY shopping!  Yup, I havn't bought one thing. So, I will most likely write a list of people down and hit up the mall for a one day festival of buying. Hopefully you are more prepared then I am! Moving on to more important things. In case you live under a rock, THE GATORS ARE IN THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!!! AAAAA!  As a graduate of The University of Florida, I AM COMPLETELY STOKED! We got a basketball national title last year and have the chance to compete for another national title this year. It's surely great to be a Florida Gator! And I must speak on all the controversy surrounding the BCS. I think the right team is in the championship and not just because I am a fan. Check out the schedules, compare, and get back to me if you disagree. I can almost guarantee that if Ohio State or Michigan had to play in the SEC they would definately have a loss-or-two more. That's all I'm gonna say about that. Alrighty, time to talk music. I've got a brand new addition of 'Ladies Skate Only' debuting this Sunday. Everyday I find more and more great female artists and it rocks! I think one of the standout artists on this weeks show is Sophe Lux. They are from Portland, Oregon and their music is jaw-dropping!  Very intense, a bit dark, and awesome!  There is tons of other great stuff too... so check it out and let me know what you think at We'll talk soon! - Em P.S. Do Partridges really frequent pear trees?
Yes this week is poppin’ off in New York City. Two bands that I’ve featured on Party Hour are performing this week. SWEET! First one of my favorite up and coming Indie rock bands Tigercity will be performing TONITE! That’s right tonight December 6th, Tigercity will be performing at The Mercury Lounge (217 E Houston St , New York 10002) 8:30 pm. Tickets are only $10 and also performing that night are The White Rabbits & The Grates. Another excellent show is on Friday December 8th with Diamond Nights. They will be performing at Supreme Trading (213 n 8th St Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 11211). Diamond Nights perform at 10 pm. If you are in the area and are into Indie Rock then theses are two shows you don’t wanna miss. Look for more of both of these bands featured on Party Hour each and every week. That’s that for now. Hit me up on my My Space! Check out the bands my space pages too:
Monday's got new music from Kinetic, Bing Ji Ling, and Moto & Mouse. I give Moto & Mouse my crack award of the week, cause I can't get off their stuff. If you don't know about world music yet, have some choice starters from Manu Dibango and the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band. If you have any messages for me, send them to My other e-mail has been on the fritz lately, so I apologize for any unanswered letters that may have transpired. My move to Miami has been fun so far, besides some broken equipment and first hand accounts of how crazy drivers are. Where's a good transit system when you need it? There are two shows this week I hope to report back on. The first is a DJ Spam solo set at Collins Park on the beach. The second is with the Spam Allstars at Hoy Como Ayer. From there I hope to dig into the Miami scene a little deeper, now that I'm of age and able to stay up until 9 AM. Adios until then. -Phillip Nguyen
Every time I exit the Avalon, Paradise, and occasionally at the Mid East, T.T.'s and Harpers, some struggling independent artist hands me a flyer. These 6" x 4" pieces of computer paper often have an upcoming concert printed on them, or sometimes just the name of the band and their MySpace page. These are fine designs for their audience. However, when I'm handed a piece of paper, I can't help but think of Mitch Hedberg... "Whenever I walk, people try to hand me out flyers. And when someone tries to hand me out a flyer, it's kinda like they're saying 'Here, you throw this away.'" It's not that I have a problem with the flyer itself; I've made them before (there's an image of one on this blog). It's a matter of handing someone who is exiting a concert a piece of computer paper. That person is exhausted, and is probably only thinking one or all of three things: water, food, chair/bed/somewhere to rest. It's my job to promote the scene, so I accept these flyers. But when exiting a concert, if there's a flimsy piece of paper put in my hand, I fold it up into a cute little square and tuck it into my pocket. I read it the next morning because it might help my job, but I'd imagine most people just throw it out. So was it really worth spending your time and money at Kinkos to print those out? If you're going to flyer, and I encourage it whole-heartedly, think about your materials. Thicker, glossy paper is a smart investment. I can't fold that up. So I stick it in my purse and later when I'm trying to find my keys, my fingers run over something smooth and I'm intrigued. I read it. Always. And if it's really that important to you, why not print out stickers? If someone hands me a sticker, it's like, hey cool, a present. I'll keep that, maybe stick it on something important later. Or add a decoration and think of your band. And if you're totally into it, why not a CD? Then I'll really take you seriously.
Hey wuts good every 1? Hope every ones holiday was fun and plentiful as mine was. It seems as soon as one holiday is ending the next one right around the corner. Okay so here is my list Santa: 1. Nintendo Wii 2. The new Zelda game for Nintendo Wii. I haven’t played video games in a minute but I saw this new system and was blow away. This sh*t is banana’s! The way you control the games is beyond kool. Check it out if you haven’t seen it already.   Is some music news, the band Tigercity will be playing on December 6th @ the Mercury Lounge in New York City. They will be playing with the White Rabbits and The Grates. Tickets are only $10 bucks!!! What a deal! I’ll be their supporting independent rock music from New York. In the more mainstream-commercial end of news, I am spinning in Times Square @ the MTV Store every Saturday night from 6-10 pm for the next 6 weeks. I am also working on a new hip-hop mix tape with a good friend of mine DJ Rampage. So be on the look for that in the next 3 weeks.   Hit me up on my MYSPACE page
I was recently talking to some friends about BTR and of course they touted the great on demand aspect of the station. And the fact that it's fresh content and varying genre's. The beauty of it is we, as DJs, can cherry pick to give you the very best our BTR artists have to offer. But there's oh so much more... It became apparent to me when a friend started playing tracks by longtime BTR artist Sufjan Stevens that I hadn't even heard. She had learned of the artist through BTR and was now acquainting herself beyond the "picked cherries." I suppose more traditional radio was in this dilema upon the dawning era of albums, but I feel the need to remind as a service to our artists, as well as being a fan! A lot of what I try to do with my shows, as do my fellow DJs, is put together a great mix that flows, tells a story, and introduces you to music you haven't heard before. But what we aim to do more often is implore you to seek out these artists because we aren't able to get all of their tracks on air. Soon, BTR will launch it's music store, which will be a great source for these albums! Let BTR be your jumping off point, your daily consumption of new music and artists. But then remember to digest. It's all about the music...
  Is there ever a typical day in the life of an indie rock band? While some waste their days in cubicles, waiting for the 5 PM whistle to take off their tie and strap on a guitar, others are playing John Madden football, eating Chipotle, and pondering the technology of a toasted cinnamon sugar bagel. Ah, the life of a college student. Or in this case…the tale of a little band named Princeton.   Don’t get confused. Princeton, the band, is not from New Jersey. In fact, they are from the polar opposite, the sunny land of Los Angeles. The young band, consisting of a pair of twins and their best friend, has made a splash on the blogosphere with their lo-fi addictive indie pop. And while the band may be young (the three members have just turned 21), they are proving that age is just a relative number.   “Our age plays a big factor in how we’re regarded as a band both positively and negatively,” explains Ben Usen, pianist. “It’s always nice hearing comments on how mature we sound for being only 21. But at the same time it is easy for people to throw us into the whole “independent scene” with thousands of people our age in bands who just want to get signed.”   “For some reason people think that we are exceptionally young from our pictures or something, but being 21 doesn’t seem that young,” adds Matt Kivel, one of the twins. “I mean people are in the army at 18, it doesn’t seem like you would need to be any older than that to be in a band. But I think the ‘young’ thing will stop being a novelty in about a year or two…I just wish I could grow some facial hair and prove to everyone that I did In fact go through puberty.”   While balancing school life (each member is at a different college) and band life, the trio found themselves all in the grand city of London in 2005. What resulted was their self-released debut A Case Of The Emperor’s Clothes, a collection of songs recorded with one microphone, one acoustic guitar, a cheap keyboard, six pairs of hands, three sets of vocal chords, and one small egg shaker. It’s the kind of indie pop you find yourself returning to, harboring on classic melodies from the likes of The Kinks, with a youthful edge.   “Most of [the album] was recorded in Ben’s flat in London as well as mine,” explains Matt Kivel. “It was a really fun and relaxed environment. I remember people would come in and out of the room as we recorded and listen to what we were doing. The walls in Ben’s flat were pretty thin so I think everybody who lived there got to hear what we were doing.”   “My fondest memory is recording ‘Blackbeard’ harmonies in Ben's room, drunk,” adds Jesse Kivel. “I told him to listen to them. He was excited. I was excited. Then we played beer pong with all of these British kids.”   It’s impossible to ignore the enthusiasm that Princeton exudes, both as musicians and on record. While in London, the band gained a loyal fan base. According to Jesse, booking shows was a “silly affair,” running around the city, dropping off demos and pretending to be on tour. A favorite show? Playing a pizza parlor. “All of the bands were so friendly and we all got on stage at the end and played Folson Prison Blues,” he explains.   Now back in LA, the band has opened for such noteable acts like My Brightest Diamond and has returned to the daily grind of life of a college student, with a bright future closer than they may think. We caught up with the band to delve a bit deeper into their time in London, their appreciation of blogs, and the next chapter in the band’s life.   I know you all were studying in London in the time, but why did you choose that city? Jesse: Basically we all suck at foreign languages so that really narrowed our areas of study. In addition, I had been to London before, had a great time, and that always lingered in the back of my mind. Ben: I wanted to live in a big city, and the English language seemed appropriate. My business school allowed me to take business classes there so I could still graduate in 4 years. And then Matt and Jesse were there so it all made sense. It was the first time since High School that we were in the same place for more then 2 months. Matt: London is a really nice city, it’s also very expensive. By going there I was hoping to bankrupt myself and my entire family.   How do UK crowds differ from American? Jesse: There were good nights and bad nights. One pub I remember playing at we booked the gig because Ben's dad was in town and there was literally five people there. When the show ended I felt like crying. Ben: They are pretty similar, except I’d say they were friendlier. This could be correlated with the fact that everyone at UK venues always had a pint in hand. Matt: The UK crowds tend to have more classic drunks…guys who wouldn’t leave the bar if it were being demolished around them. Those guys often took to us immediately, whereas the sober people tended to sit quietly just as they do in America. So I guess alcohol helps with crowd participation.   Will you stick with keeping future recordings to a lo-fi, raw sound, or opt for something different? Jesse:  Lo-fi is something that we were forced into because of circumstance. If we could do it over we would have wanted to do more to the recording. But we also enjoy making our own records and using our own equipment, which means no studio and therefore sound quality is sometimes compromised. The goal for the next record is to take a long time and try every idea we have for every song. We want to use string and horn arrangements as well as electronic elements so it is going to be quite different. Matt: We want to continue honing our own recording space and do the future records on our own. The idea of a large studio is pretty intimidating and I like the idea of living in the same place as I record. We can work at any hour with no restrictions, and hone the sound slowly. Ben: Future recordings will offer a large variety of instrumentation, experimentation and spankin’ new harmonies, all with a home-recording feel. What I really like about A Case of the Emperor’s Clothes is that it sounds like we are playing right there in the room.   You guys have made your wave on the blogs. Do you readily read blogs? Jesse: I do read a few blogs daily…Fabulist, My Old Kentucky, The Underrated Blog, wink, wink. So on the whole, I think blogs can be useful in getting out a lot of unheard music. But, what I like most about Fabulist in particular is that it is not all about music. I find the ones with variety to be the most entertaining and original. Ben: To be honest, I wasn’t completely aware of the blog scene until they started writing about us. Ever since being exposed to them I have often been found in the computer lab in-between classes reading numerous blogs. This new hobby has put a large dent in my bank account, due to the plethora of CD’s I have purchased after reading recommendations and reviews of new albums. Matt: I don't actively read blogs, but maybe someday soon.   While of course the blog world helps get relatively unknown bands out there to the masses, are you worried at all about being too hyped? Jesse: Of course I am. I am scared about everything! Every step with this band is scary because you never know if it’s the right one. I am happy and grateful for the fact that blogs like us and want to talk about us but I am always scared that good press will motivate someone to write something really mean and scathing, which I assume will inevitably happen. But these things keep me up at night, questioning if the press is good and if the hype is the right kind and all of that stuff. I mean, if I was 56 years old and had made an avant gard folk album in the 60's I would feel pretty secure about all the press I was getting right now, but being 21, "naive" and making indie pop, its like taking a lamb to the slaughter...Actually one of the pubs we played at in London was called the slaughtered lamb, potential Irony? Ben: Yes. I would rather exceed people’s expectations when they hear us then disappoint their high hopes.   What's next? Plans to tour? Jesse: Well no tour plans of yet, we are all going to finish up our years but we have some shows interspersed between holidays and stuff. So we have one show this year December 28th at the Echo in Echo Park (Los Angeles) so every body come and tell your friends. We will be 8 or 9 strong and ready to rock in the new year early! Ben: After we graduate in May, we are going to live together and start to put together a permanent full-lineup for the band. We want to focus on the Los Angeles area for at least a little while before going on tour. Plus Matt wants a dog, so we might have to take care of it for a few months before we abandon it on tour. I would love to play shows in NYC, when the timing is right. Matt: We plan to finish school and then go back to LA and then try to make it on Broadway. Ben and I have been working on this soft-shoe routine for about three years. I think we have a lot of potential.   Check out Princeton at or
December is only two days away and this city is still too hot. What the hell is going on? I just bought a sampler and it is going to change my life. We've got a lot of awesome new music into the station recently. DJ Latola is putting together a showcase of Hefty records that will air in another week and half - it is going to spectacular. I am trying to decide whether to buy Pro Tools or another program for my home studio. I would buy Logic if I had a Mac, but I am PC bound - a nice, clean, empty PC waiting for music. Finally got my midi hooked up the other day. Also life changing. Writing a lot new songs. This is wonderful news as I've been on hiatus for a short while. As for my Friday live show - VERY good and exciting things are in the works but I'll have to tell you about them later. Peace.
Today I leave behind my teenage years. The emergence into my 20s encourages reminiscing about the days I dressed myself up in tall boots and shiny fabric, teased my hair and ran around the house doing my best rockstar impression. (The boots were packed away last night at 11 o'clock.) Coming to terms with the fact that that will never be a reality was tough. But I think that my friends and family have played into this and toyed with my emotions; they had me thinking that this whole DJ gig would kind of be a low-key version of rockstardom. It all started with my good friend Frank, who always asked me questions like, "What are you doing tonight, DJ Laura? Being your usual rockstar self?" I used to take it as kind, friendly mockery, but then Frank clued me in. Being put on guest lists for concerts, talking with bands before and after shows, and having roughly thirty new contacts in my phone of managers and cute percussionists is kind of reaching the coveted levels of rock. I really started to get into this. When my friends introduced me to others, they'd say things like, "Don't you know DJ Laura?" Then one of my Boston artists told me about a show his band was playing at All-Asia, which is usually only a 21+ venue. I told him of my underage situation and reminded him of the x's on my hands when we first met. He asked, "But you're in the big leagues now, can't you just tell them who you are?" The bouncer at the door didn't know me. The only live music I listened to that night was from the guy at the T station. Then while walking past those good people on the street who ask you if you have a moment for the environment, Frank said, "She's DJ Laura. Her moments are for rock!" Okay, so I felt like tough shit for five minutes at a time throughout about a month. But as a young, naive, starry-eyed teenager, that's to be expected, right? I'm 20 now. I just go by Laura.
Sometimes there just isn't enough room...And I came up with some pretty lame questions as well. But they called me out it, which I got a kick out of... BTR: What is your most favorite outfits to perform in, as a band, and why, pray tell? Nick Turner: Well, I know Cry’s favourite is to be naked. The shocking thing is that I’ve actually started getting used to seeing Cry drum naked. He won’t record a song unless he’s as naked as the day he was born, and he’s really quite hairy! At least Tiger Mountain approves of this approach though, helps us get in touch with nature. Nick Ley: My favorite (correct spelling) actually is the gym clothes. Makes me feel sexy to wear tight shorts and shirt that is a size too small. Gets the ladies going as well, and our live show is really all about empowering women and making them feel proud that only they can give birth. As far as the exercise theme goes... exercise is good for you. Healthy people buy records. Ryan Hendrix: We wore all white once, and I liked the THX 1138 reference. Colin Fleishacker: My favorite theme thus far is the family theme, because I’m the slutty daughter. I get to wear this badass miniskirt I stole off of one of my fellow sorority sisters. I traded a bottle of ranch for it. It fits like a glove and gives me incredible ventilation whilst playing onstage. Plus Nick looks cute in overalls. Cry Suter: For one of our shows I only wore white boxer briefs and painted my entire body white. Later, I was painted every colour of the rainbow whilst flailing my arms wildly on stage. It was a riot. The best part was after the show. Since the show was at an outdoor festival I couldn’t just hop in the shower. So, I found a nearby coffee shop with an amply sized industrial sink, stripped down to my birthday suit and curled up into the fetal position in the sink and washed the paint off with liquid hand soap. It took like 45 minutes, people were pounding on the door, wondering why I had taken up residence in the bathroom. One of those moments that I will not soon forget. BTR: You all seem to be having a lot of fun making this music, and I must say, it's whole hell of a lot of fun to listen to. What's the secret? Nick Turner: Smiling whilst you sing, that’s the secret of the Colourmusic vocals. Tiger Mountain taught us that when he came back from his travels to Tibet. The ‘inner smile’, he calls it. As far as the music, I like it to feel real – so not too polished is what I personally strive for. Nick Ley: I think what Nicky T is trying to say is "Why would we tell you our secret? So you can turn around and print this up? Let the whole world see it? Huh!? Well... nice try." I think that's what he meant. Ryan Hendrix: Honestly, not knowing what you are doing is the guiding light of the band. Colin Fleishacker: I never have fun when we play together. It’s the most boring thing ever. It’s way too serious. Cry Suter: Red Bull. BTR: Is the band more coffee, or more tea? I would guess tea... Nick Turner: I’m tea with milk, my family are tea addicts. Nick Ley: Coffee - black; tea - hot and peach. Ryan Hendrix: I’m cheap coffee - lots of sugar, lots of cream. I can’t wake up in the morning and I can’t go to sleep at night. Colin Fleishacker: I float in between both, but I probably favor coffee a little bit more. Cry Suter: Red Bull (I'm hoping for an endorsement).
BTR's gone through a lot of changes in the past year--for the better, no doubt. Upon initially joining the station and starting to listen to BTR artists, I often found myself comparing them to more mainstream artists. Even just recently, I made reference to a band sounding like the Killers. I often talk about our hip-hop artists out of Chicago and compare them to a Kanye or Common (which I should probably stop since he's started that incredibly-left-field Gap ad campaign--anyone else scandalized by that??). But in recent weeks/months, looking at the relatively new BTR artists, I've started to draw comparisons between BTR artists rather than the mainstream. Of course since this mentality speaks more to the core BTR listeners, I try to remain generic, but often wonder if the listeners are "getting" the references. It may be too soon for all listeners to recall artists of six months ago, but as BTR grows it's core audience, the exclusivity of the artist knowledge bank will cease to exist. In the meantime, keep your requests coming:
Well another holiday is among us and it seems like this year just flew past me. I mean ‘damn’ its almost X-Mas already. As well as my B-day coming up (hint, hint, in case you want to get me a present its on Dec 22nd). It was a great year for me. I got to do the ESPN winter X-games for the 2nd year in a row, not to mention I got to the spin the after party for Shaun White, X-Games & 2006 Olympic Champion, last month I opened up for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Bowery Ballroom and I got my very own show on BTR. I’m kinda taking it all in at the moment and reflecting on how much fun I had and how hard I’ve worked. I think I may deserve a vacation soon and may just take myself up on it.   Last weeks show was great. I got to introduce the world to some really good music. Sure some of the people I featured were friends and/or business related, but the fact of the matter is, its good music. I’ve been playing “Hacienda” & “Ya’ll Betta Hide” by the producer Naty. The story goes like so; about a year and a half ago I was spinning at a club in NYC called Vela. It was a real hot spot at the time, on one of the most poppin’ blocks in all of Manhattan, West 21st. One night a tall and dreaded out mofo stepped up and introduced him self. He told me about what he does and the whole scenario I usually here at a club when some one is in the music biz them selves. Every one is an artist or doing some thing to get “put on”. He gave me a CD and was mad humble like. He said just listen to it if you like it play it, if not all good. Weeks followed and I saw Naty at the club again. I let him know that I listened to the track and that I really dug it. However, the NYC Club scene is pretty main stream, I mean if you play any thing that’s not top 40 at some clubs the crowd will look at you like you’re a three headed chicken with no legs. You get what I’m trying to say. So I was like “Yo I’ll play it and let it bump for like a verse and a chorus”. The crowd dug it but definitely wanted to go back to the bubble gum tunes that there spoon-fed to like. Naty and myself kept in contact as time passed letting each other know what we both got going on, this and that. He kept giving me more music and introduced me to the artist he’s been working with. The more he gave me the more I saw his talents improving. When the opportunity for BTR came along I knew I’d put his work on because it good. It’s fresh, danceable, creative and even catchy. Keep a close eye on him people because he is bound to blow up and I was the first DJ to put him out for the world to enjoy. If you want more info on Naty or the artist he works with (Loose Change & Street Flame), hit me up and I can direct you to him.   So say “word”. That’s that for now. Keep listening to party hour and I will keep giving you good music to have fun to.   - J.Dayz
It's pretty lame, but like so many other bands, my first impression of Professor Murder was their myspace profile picture. A bloody shame to see that before hearing the music (albeit for only a few seconds) but such is the plague of social networking sites. That said, it then showed a colorful cartoon of a somewhat adrogynous character, wearing blue jeans, a brown trenchcoat, matching fedora and a bag over its head. The character slouched on a row of those tell-tale orange subway seats, legs together and hands in its pockets. It struck me as what one of those hooded phantoms from Pac-Man would look like with a torso and a full set of appendages, minus the goggling eyes. I found it vastly intriguing, if for no better reason than it was incredibly vague. What stop is that thing getting off at, I wondered, and is he tight with the Elephant Man...Then the music kicked in, wood blocks and cow bells punctuating fat shag carpets of percussion, whilst odd protest-style exclamations dicated strange actions, such as "Champion! Knees up, splash!"  After throughly perusing the page, I discovered the hooded cat came from a much larger picture, one that makes up the cover art for the band's first EP, Professor Murder Rides The Subway. It turns out our cowled friend is sitting next to what looks like L.L. Cool J from back in the day, ghettoblaster and all. Further down the car is a hippie that could be a young David Crosby, a green-suited diver with a sticker-spotted suitcase, a female bodybuilder, barbeque grill, cat, and Woody Woodpecker's red feathered cousin beating a pair of bongoes, amongst other things. What does it all mean, I've no idea. Probably nothing. I've no idea why a cartoon character with a paper bag on its head sticks in my brain. It's like how you can't remember your 13th birthday party, but you remember drinking from a water fountain at your brother's tennis practice the year before. Surely it was nothing of consequence, but there it is, neatly filed amongst all the other random memories in your mental filing cabinet. Odd. Perhaps it's because the music is so good.
One of the more fun parts about BTR sometimes goes unnoticed by even our most faithful of listeners. I'm talking, the BTR specialty shows... With a few changes lately, I figured I'd update. While highly rated, what's often missed is how these programs make BTR unique in it's programming. The regular daily shows comprise quite the varied taste, tweaked by each individual DJ. What's better is that our equally varied audiences have the choice to delve further into a genre they enjoy listening to on BTR. Maybe the world artists are your thing? DJ Wynn's got that covered every Wednesday. Live sets? Turn to PD extrodinaire Maia on Fridays. Metal Mondays are handled by DJ Darkside. Tuesday's Third Rail is where to find Hip-hop's underground. And hit up DJ Drew on Thursday for Reggae. And what's better? BTR's specialty roster is ever-changing with featured programs like the Jazz Hole, The Blog Show, Party Hour, Folk, and Club Cavern. As I often preach, keep poking around on this's sure to please; especially!
My introduction into reggae music was like many white suburban kids, through the band Sublime.  I didn’t grow up in Jamaica and didn’t really know all there is to know about Jamaican music so Sublime was my way into that world. It’s fair to say that although Sublime definitely wore its influences right on the surface, they did create a new genre that has and is now being called “California reggae”.  It was an easier way to swallow reggae music for a white American audience, many of whom lived a laid back surfer, beach lifestyle.    I remember speaking to Sublime’s manager, a friend of mine, who helped create the Skunk record label. Miguel said it was  “white boy reggae.”  I guess there is some truth to this, but I don’t think it somehow waters down the genre that is an extension of African music.  Sublime did a great service to the genre by redefining it for an entire generation and people, but California reggae is now in a new stage.  Sublime ended in 1996 after the tragic death of lead singer Brad Nowel, almost 10 years ago, which means kids in high school could go without knowing who Sublime was.    The California sound is still being represented though, with bands like Slightly Stoopid and Pepper.  These bands, when they started, were seen as copycats of Sublime. It was difficult for them to differentiate themselves from that classification.  Now that Sublime is not in the forefront of the scene, it’s their job to educate the high school masses on what reggae music is.  I see a lack of creativity from these artists, although there are some signs of life in budding bands all over the country.  As dancehall lives in the realm of hip hop, Cali style reggae lingers in the rock area. It could be a really nice change for pop rock to revert back to skate and surf music.
I'm sitting here in the New York office with the sun beaming into the window and gleaming on all of BTR's new music submissions. It is unseasonably warm in the city right now. Yesterday in a walk through Central Park I witnessed rollerblading-in-shorts. No joke! Today's Monsterland show features David Deporis - very cool guy and very good songwriter. You should have a listen! Tonight I'm getting taken out to dinner, always a wonderful thing, and enjoying the park a bit more while it's still so warm. Tomorrow DJ Pat and I are going to the Bar/None Records 20th anniversary party in Brooklyn. Fun stuff! I really can't believe its already November 10. I feel like I'm in a funny stand-still where it just stays summertime perpetually. So strange. It will have to be cooler by December. Please!
BTR’s DJs and staff members were running all over New York City last week chasing after the next big acts to hit the indie scene. Thank goodness there are a lot of us, as we all got to see tons of amazing music. But naturally, everyone has their favorites. Check out which shows we picked below! DJ Emily: The Undisputed Heavyweights @ Rockwood Music Hall I was able to take in many shows during my time in NYC for CMJ. However, the one that stands out the most is the first one I saw. We stopped by a quaint little bar called Rockwood Music Hall and the intimate setting was exactly what I was in the mood for. Being able to sit down comfortably and enjoy a glass of wine really hit the spot and set the mood for what was about to take place. One of my favorite BTR bands, The Undisputed Heavyweights took the stage and performed their asses off. Casey Shea lead the way with a split personality show, half the time he was singing sweetly to the ladies in the audience and the other half he was a gospel preacher screaming at everyone to make some noise. The entire show was spot on from beginning to end and my front and center seat made it the highlight of my trip to CMJ. DJ L: CSS @The Bowery Ballroom It was an explosion from Brazil with the colorful and always amped up CSS. Dressing as if they ransacked David Lee Roth's closet, the five lovely ladies and one dude had the entire venue jumping. With crowd favorites like “Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above” and “Meeting Paris Hilton,” corky front woman, known as LOVEFOXXX, made sure everyone was having a grand ol' time with her off-the-wall comments and rainbow leopard-print spandex pants. True to fashion, it was a thrilling high-energy performance from the electronic club rock import and no one was left unsatisfied. DJ Latola: Professor Murder @ Pianos I was immensely curious to see how P-Murder pulled off their live show, and I was not disappointed in the least. They played all the tracks off of their fantastic EP, Professor Murder Rides The Subway, and everybody managed to survive. The only sour note was a scrappy looking gent who recorded the performance within my bubble of circumference, in such a way that the view was often rudely obstructed. I should have murdered his arse.   Maia Macdonald: Snowden @ White Rabbit I recorded Snowden’s Gothamist set for DJ L’s show this week. The performance was delicate, cozy and haunting - words I wouldn't normally use to describe this band. I came to the show expecting a truly acoustic performance, but what I heard was a stripped down, very much electrified performance, with their songs sounding meditative, raw, and resonant. Jordan's vocals were crisp and the whole band sounded so alive. They grew louder and more climactic towards the end of their set, impressing new and old fans alike. They clearly transfixed the entire audience. DJ Drew: Blackvova @ The Lion’s Den Blackova is an amazing reggae dub act who did their first show ever for the ROIR showcase for CMJ Thursday night at the Lion's Den.  The group is the digital dub creations of Darryl Jennifer, bass player of the legendary Bad Brains, and it was recreated from computer built to live set just for this show.  On guitar was the incredibly talented Dr. Know, also of the Bad Brains, and I can't forget the ridiculous drum work of Chuck Treese.  It was the highlight of the ROIR show for me, and CMJ as a whole. If it is only their first on stage gig, I can imagine what the next one's will be like. DJ Pat: Van She @ The Annex This weekend I saw way to many great bands to pick one as a favorite.  However, I will pick one band that truly grabbed my attention and made me want to dance all night long.  I was thrilled on Friday night to find myself in front of Van She as they captivated an audience at The Annex.  This Australian band is surely worth seeing. Rachael Darmanin: Birdmonster @ Sin-e You’d think I’d get sick of seeing the same band over and over again. Especially when they only have one album out that I may or may not have listened to on repeat and memorized every song for the last year. But there’s something inherently special when you see San Francisco’s Birdmonster play live. They not only give it everything they have (complete with symbol thrashing, sweat, and screams), but you can tell they love every minute while on that stage. Their last show of the CMJ week was by far the best I’ve seen them, throwing in old favorites like “Resurrection Song,” “Janine” and “All The Holes In The Walls.” Although it sounds quite cliché these days, it’s true: this band is meant to be seen live. DJ Wynn: Cansei de Ser Sexy (C.S.S) @ Bowery Ballroom An energetic band that provided flashes of 80's fashion and sound, C.S.S. stole the show away from The Shins, The Thermals, and The Album Leaf. Not to mention they don't follow the popular "T-H-E" name formula. Lead singer, LOVEFOXXX, won me over with her aerobic dance moves and hypnotic spandex pants (they had a cheetah design on the front half and a rainbow pattern on the back.) Their brand of electropop and danceable funk shook up a New York crowd infamous for viewing shows with feet planted and arms folded. I thank them for adding a few new moves to my repertoire. Lee Williams: o’death @ The Delancey o’death was my favorite show followed by White Rabbits.  This really isn't a fair assignment because there were so many great shows.  But o’ death was insanely good and wonderfully original (I am trying to shy away from "awesome" or "amazing" but I don't really like the use of "wonderfully" either). They are best characterized as goth country. The use of an empty gasoline can as part of a drum kit, chains, the lack of shirts and an armpit death's head tattoo really made an impression on me.  The audience definitely lent to the ambiance especially the part of the audience that was partaking in a mosh pit/ho down.  The band made me feel like I was in Southern Ohio and I can say this because I am from Ohio.  
Back from CMJ, yes indeed! I reaped much joy from the fantastic spread of artists who performed, although it was a bit overbearing. Every night there were about 10-15 bands/artists whom I wanted to witness live, but money was scant, and since venues are spread all about the sprawling NYC metropolis, it was pretty much pick one show and hope to have chosen wisely. I almost considered jumping someone for their CMJ badge. Seriously, what other night of the year are The Black Angels, Snowden, Aloha, My Brightest Diamond and The Decemberists playing damn near simultaneously? Who to pick? It made for quite a series of difficult decisions...but I persevered. I think the Kanine/Say Hey showcase at Pianos was the highlight for me, although getting locked in the hotel bathroom with my beautiful wife was an adventure. It's a good thing the cleaning lady stopped by, as neither of us had our cell phones handy. We broke the doorknob trying to get out, and recieved strange looks from the hotel staff for the rest of the week, which was rather funny. What was least funny, ironically, were all the vultures in Times Square who accosted us without restraint, damn near every day. If I ever hear someone ask "Do you like comedy?" again, I'm going to push them in front of moving car, and laugh maniacally. Of course I understand that Comedy Central/The Improv need to sell tickets, but must they send out comics-in-training to do it, who are ridiculously obnoxious and punch-worthy assertive? By the fourth day, I began to hate comedy, and that's coming from a guy who grew up watching The State, Kids in the Hall and Ren & Stimpy, never mind commercials from the late 80s and early 90s. Ah well, what to do. I'm not trying to hate on anybody, but everybody's got a threshhold for these things, and I was at my threshing point, if such a phrase exists.
Being Election Day, I thought it would be appropriate to touch on the subject which is otherwise not much of a topic at BTR: politics. BTR is of course a music station with no political agenda, featuring artists and DJs of all walks. Generally the rat race of the political arena is far from heard on the station. However, once in a while an artist comes along that strays from this norm. I suppose it's only natural that lyrics would play in to social happenings. Whether it's economics, social values, or military action, a country amid any timeperiod can be captured by the music of the time. Obviously there's plenty of precedents, at least through the history of rock, and subsequent genres. One such BTR artist of recent note is Copperpot who's track "Forgive Me" (in collaboration with KRS One, Akbar, and KB) touches on the issue of the Iraq war, as well as it's domestic social effects. Keep an ear out for this song in today's edition of BTR.
What a rainy day in New York City. My jeans, shirt, vest, and socks hanging from my bicycle are a testament to the extreme downpour I experienced walking through Central Park on my way home today. Damn that crosstown bus. Post election day is a crazy time. And by that I mean crazy gooood. And Donald Rumsfeld retiring?  And, Britney divorcing K-Fed? I didn’t realize how much I cared, but WOW I do. Sort of. Guess what else? Saw Ruined Music and Bryan of Man in Gray on MTV today. That’s sort of a lie, I don’t have cable, but Rachael pointed it out to me and I watched on the internetzz. Got me thinking about the whole concept. It’s so true. I get so mad at good music, ruined. Speaking of MiG, I couldnt make it to their Knitting Factory show during CMJ. I owe Tina an email (are you reading this?) - and am surely coming to one of the upcoming shows in early December (see you there!) Tonight I went to the opening night of the Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival at the Museum of Natural History. The premiere movie was this documentary “Doc” about Doc Humes , made by his daughter, with her sisters in attendance. Doc Humes was a big deal. And crazy, and brilliant, and I’ve got to go track down his books now. “Men Die” in particular. How had I never heard of this guy before ??? We’ve got a great Monsterland show up this week - Dave Deporis came by the studio, so be sure to listen! It'll be up in the BTR player Friday at noon. - Maia Macdonald
howdy friends! So, last week the BTR crew met up in NYC for CMJ! It was a great time for all... for numerous reasons.  First off, we got to meet some of our co-workers who up until this point were nothing but voices and e-mails. It was really great to meet some of the voices that we've come to know so well. Second, MUSIC!! We were in the middle of so many awesome shows it was tough to pick which ones to go to. Lucky for me I was pointed in the direction of The Undisputed Heavyweights. What an amazing show! Definately my favorite stop on the CMJ Tour. They played at small bar, The Rockwood Music Hall and the intimate setting was perfect for getting up close and personal with the band. I learned that the lead singer, Casey Shea has stunningly white teeth, which are filling free to boot...  They played my favorite track "Lartigue" and covered one of my favs from Sinatra, "Fly Me To The Moon" as well.  I liked this band ALOT the first time I heard them... but now that I 've seen their live show, I'm completely in love! PLEASE if you have the opprotunity go check these guys out... you won't regret it!! -- EM
CMJ's was filled with music, food, and costumes (even after Halloween. My favorites were Tyrone Biggums and Axel Rose.) Here are my top moments that will stay vivid even when I'm old and rocking a stringy mustache like an   ancient Asian Kung Fu master. Take note Grasshopper. Tied for 5) The Undisputed Heavyweights and Professor Murder playing in venues right around the corner from each other. Casey Shea and his Heavyweights chose a smooth piano bar with ambient lighting and friendly folk. The poofy haired lead singer was a mix between a Southern Preacher and a gregarious old chum who could spit insults and still be loved. He stole glasses of wine, the owner's wife, and the sound guy's pants, and he still had the crowd in his palm. Professor Murder played in a more traditional venue, but it was still intimate enough for me to creep to the front of the stage. The band kept the dance party going the entire time and the fan favorite "Free Stress Test" was just as good live as it is blaring from my speakers. The live version I witnessed also featured the lead from Mixel Pixel. I wish the New York crowds would dance more, but that won't stop me from shaking it right. 4) Stripped down Snowden Set at the White Rabbit. First off, this was my favorite venue because of the great acoustics and the free candy in pumpkins at the bar. Snowden tried out slower versions of their tracks in a van just before taking stage, so they considered it an Improv performance. Anti-Anti was still amazing even without the dance beats. The silent crowd agreed as they watched with chins rested on butterfly hands and eyes fixed forward. I had a chance to have dinner with the band afterwards, and I'm glad to report that they are all swell guys with good friends who showed me around the city for a couple of hours. 3) Not related to music in any way, but a certain pair of D.J's locked themselves in their bathroom for a half an hour. They were finally saved when the cleaning crew came to restock their room with little bottles of shampoo and plain white towels. To them, it was funny for one minute, and then they realized they were stuck in the Jon. To me.... it will stay funny until I get locked in a porta-potty because of Karma. 2) Seeing David Cross at The Shins gig at the Bowery Ballroom. The Shins were good (even though they sounded better the farther you got away from the stage), but the emotional highlight was seeing comedian David Cross with a cute girl sitting on his lap. At first I thought it was one of the many New Yorkers with a beard and chic glasses, but later his identity was confirmed and I said hello. He said hi back. (Side Note: I heard a story about a David Cross impersonator who stole the comedian's identity to sleep with women. Who knew looking like David Cross could get you laid?) 1) Cansei de Ser Sexy (C.S.S) at the Bowery Ballroom. Better then The Shins, better then The "hyped up" Thermals and even better then the enjoyable shoegaze of The Album Leaf was Cansei de Ser Sexy (Tired Of Being Sexy) or C.S.S which is easier for fans to scream. Their music is a mix between video game beats and dance funk similar to The Strokes first album. The lead singer had me captivated with her broken Brazilian English, her "I Dream of Jeannie" dance moves, and her spandex pants which had a cheetah print on the front and a rainbow print on the back (maybe it was switched around, but hopefully you can get an image.) She was also the only lead singer that I saw do a stage dive, followed by a crowd surf back to finish the song. That takes precise timing and I can appreciate the theatrics.  
It has been 25 years since The Slits took hiatus. Within those 25 years a lot has changed, but one thing remains the same: The Slits know how to rock. Ari Up (Arianna Forster) and bass guitarists Tessa Pollitt have teamed up with a new gang of girls for their brand new EP Revenge Of The Killer Slits and performed an exclusive set for BTR at Monsterland Studios. The all female punk band is most notorious for their opening slot for The Clash back in 1977 and forming alliances with many of the genre’s biggest names, including The Sex Pistols and Siouxsie And The Banshees. Ari Up was only 14 when the band formed, and after a 25 year hiatus, it’s proven to be most beneficial. Even with a slight left turn to Jamiaca and a self-imposed exile, she’s back with full-fledged determination. Their latest EP is just over 10 minutes long but jam-packed with a trio of raw stabs. Ari Up and Pollitt show that time can pass, but the music will always remain the same. There’s a certain amount of assumptions when thinking of an all female punk group. Lucky for us, it’s bands like The Slits that defined those stereotypes in the first place. Feel privileged when listening to their set at Welcome To Monsterland…you just don’t know how long it’ll be until you hear them again. Revenge Of The Killer Slits was released October 17, just prior to the new band hitting the road. Ari Up and Pollitt are joined by Sex Pistols' drummer Paul Cook and Adam and the Ants guitarist Marco Pirroni plus a handful of punk celebrity daughters as backup singers, including Cook's daughter Holly, Pollitt’s daughter Phoebe and Clash guitarist Mick Jones' daughter Lauren. Check out all their upcoming tour dates over at
Every year hundreds of indie rock’s buzziest bands take over the greater part of downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn for 120 hours of nonstop music. Looking at the official schedule is overwhelming enough, not to mention daytime showcases and unofficial parties. Don’t worry. BTR is here to help. We picked out five acts that you cannot afford to miss, or else you’ll be kicking yourself a week later. 1. Ra Ra Riot Ra Ra Riot has unofficially been named "band to watch" at this years CMJ, with a total of six showcases over the four day festival. With just a three song demo and a gorgeous live show, this band has buzz written all over it. This six-piece band from Syracuse has a little more than your average indie rock band, thanks to a wonderful inclusion of two string players. They may be young, and just at the beginning of their career, but something tells me they’ll be sticking around for a while. Shows: October 31 @ Pianos, November 1 @ Pianos (Kanine Records Showcase), November 2 @ Hiro Ballroom (Marie Antoinette Release Party), November 3 @ Studio B (Product Shop NYC Show), November 4 @ Sin-e (Underrated Blog Show), November 4 @ Club Midway (Modular Records Showcase) 2. The Thermals There’s nothing better than a packed crowd during a rowdy punk show. The Thermals are the best bet for this year’s festival. This Portland based trio whose latest album The Body The Blood The Machine transcends their previous work, striving for a concept album while still keeping it accessible. Even though the band has been together for over five years, the recent introduction of a new drummer has breathed fresh air into the band. This is definitely something you won’t want to miss. Shows: November 2 @ Bowery Ballroom (Sub Pop Showcase), November 3 @ Fontana’s (Brooklyn Vegan Showcase), November 3 @ Studio B (Product Shop NYC Showcase) 3. Girl Talk It’s easy to write off Pittsburgh native Greg Gillis as just another novelty act. His DJ alter ego, Girl Talk is every bit as pop centered as the name signifies. His latest album Night Ripper is one big mashup of every one hit wonder and pop tune you could imagine, fusing genres and beats in a not so a-typical way. So why bother checking out his set? Because it’s bound to be the sweatiest, dance party you’ll ever attend. Seriously. Shows: November 1 @ Mercury Lounge 4. White Rabbits This band is completely fun. I say this in the most genuine way. We saw this six piece NYC band last week for the first time and can’t wait to go back. With all the instrument trading and the two drummers, they play the type of music that you can dance to. No, this is not an 80's new wave knockoff, or electronic outfit that you've heard 109812 times before. This is the kind of dance music that consists of pounding calypso beats, wailing melodies, and songs that are instantly memorable. We may have to stop ourselves from jumping up and joining the band on stage. Sometimes we can’t help ourselves. Shows: November 1 @ Pianos (Say Hey Records Showcase), November 4 @ Cake Shop (Gigantic Music Showcase) 5. Cloud Cult It’s a treat each time this band comes to New York. It should be a treat for anyone who finds themselves in the presence of this five-piece outfit from Minnesota. Not only have they created some of the most effectively executed albums of our generation, but they never cease to amaze us live. Some (we won’t name names) have even been brought to tears. Lead singer Craig Minowa borders that very fine line between emotional and artistic, and we thank him for every note and sound. There isn’t really anything out there today that’s comparable. Shows: November 3 @ Mercury Lounge
Founded by Lio and Kay Kanine toward the end of 2002, the label known as Kanine Records has quickly grown into one of the most important miners of underground musical talent in the New York area. In four short years, Kanine has amassed a staggering roster of quality bands, (listed below) some of which have since been picked up by heavy hitting labels like Sub Pop and Warp. We're ecstatic to be playing Kanine artists here on BTR, which is why we've hooked up the Kanine Specialty Show and this brief introduction to their treasure-laden vault. Enjoy! The iOs One of the newer bands in the Kanine kennel, the Brooklyn-based iOs craft whimsical indie pop worthy of the highest accolades. Begun by Chris Punsalan and Autumn Proemm in 2005, the concept eventually blossomed into a five-piece, and 2006 saw the release of their first full-length, In Sunday Songs. Listening to it is like anxiously awaiting the sound of the ice cream truck from around the corner, all shimmering childhood memories of final bells and flattened bicycle tires. This is the perfect album for that first drive in spring time, you know, when you can finally roll the windows down after six months of recycled air. Mixel Pixel According to the band's bio, chief Pixel Rob Corradetti survived a lightning strike at the tender age of 15, an event that  "altered his perception of sound and color." Now that sounds like the beginning of a fantastic comic book series, one with fully immersed audio and astounding four dimensional depth. Fittingly, Mixel Pixel is not here to provide a soundtrack for your poker night, they are here to help you suckle the milky thoughts of the universal mass consciousness, a sound they liken to their home state of Delaware. It sounds very confusing, and somewhat bizarre, yet the music is not. Oh sure, there are ridiculously complex arrangements afoot, but the overall sound is quite cohesive, like good packing snow. Professor Murder Professor Murder discovered their sound when lead singer and auxilliary beat-inducer Michael Bell-Smith threw down his guitar, letting the bass and synthesizers assume the spotlight. Bell-Smith then focused on his unique vocal style, matching energetic chants to the bombast of Eddie Craven's drum kit. Further distilled through Tony Plunkett's throbbing bass and absolutely gorgeous synth anthems from Jesse Cohen, it's likely that death from this NYC quartet involves a bounce house with electrified floors. Wood blocks and cow bells punctuate fat shag carpets of percussion, whilst protest-style exclamations dictate action through a cheerleader's megaphone. It makes a raucous atmosphere ripe for dancing, and a righteous experience for anyone with an ear for rhythm. Indeed, Professor Murder Rides The Subway is the best EP we've heard in a long while. Grizzly Bear When Grizzly Bear dropped Horn of Plenty back in 2004, just about everyone within the underground music community noticed. A miraculously weighty 4 track effort, the initial blueprint consisted of recordings made via a small hand held tape recorder, which experimentalist Edward Droste spent 15 months putting together. Then Christopher Bear got involved, and a chemical reaction took place, one that quietly spread with steady touring and the additions of Chris Taylor and Dan Rossen. The album became a classic, and was reissued in 2005 with a fat series of remixes by some rather notable heads (Drew Daniel, Castanets and Owen Pallet, amongst others). It's altogether dense, introspective music, the kind that will follow you to bed at night and further illustrate otherwise unexplainable dreams. But one has to be ready for that. Are you? The Izzys Breathing new life into that played-out sound of 'rock' (not indie rock, folk rock, space rock, alt rock, math rock or prog rock, just plain ol' ROCK), The Izzys are here to bring things back to the raw fundamentals. They make brevity a key factor within their music, resulting in tightly crafted songs that hit with the familiarity of deja vu. To not like it after the first  listen is somewhat impossible, and you may find yourself playing it on that cherished drive/walk home from the corner bar, whether drunk or sober. I have to admit, beer tastes ten times better with The Izzys barnstorming the speakers. Mommy and Daddy A duo that first met in a philosophy course at George Mason University in 1998, Vivian Sarratt and Edmond Hallas got hitched two years later, and moved to NYC to become Mommy and Daddy. It wasn't long before the couple attracted attention, utilizing a fuzzed-out bass guitar style thicker than Sportin' Waves pomade. Interestingly, both husband and wife play the instrument, and trade off within their live set to take turns at singing, which is surprisingly soulful. Kinky keyboards and a pounding drum machine help to make the music bombinate as if electrically charged, an overall crashing production worthy of that fabled one point twenty-one gigawatts. The Oxford Collapse On their debut release for Kanine, Some Wilderness, The Oxford Collapse create what could be described as a kind of metropolitan surf rock, at least for tracks like "Land!" and "Melting The Ice Queen." The Brooklyn trio often switches styles throughout the vast expanse of the album, but it's an automatic transition, with nary heave nor jolt. The catapult of drumstruck riffs in "The Money You Have is Maybe Too Little" tastes of Modest Mouse, while the magnificent "whoahhhh hoahhhhhhhs" in "Totally Gay, Totally Fat" smack of Danzig-era Misfits. In fact, it's kind of hard to predict what will come next, save for the barrage of shit-hot guitar riffs that pepper the album like buckshot. It's the sound of a band bursting at the seams with fantastic ideas, some of which were further illustrated on their second album, A Good Ground, although their was a significant change in personnel in between. The band has since graduated to Sub Pop Records, once again proving the excellent farm system in place at Kanine.  Rockethouse Wade Settle and Gerry Rustic do not star in porn films, although the names sure smack of such. Alongside Andrew Sicco and Mikey Iams, the four form Rockethouse, a banging transmogrification of neon that reflects unchecked in the form of pulsating sound waves. Music of this sort makes me wish I was part android, with a bass tube for a heart and a Jacob's Ladder as a backbone. Then I could fully appreciate the coming electronic apocalypse, displayed here through a masterful manipulation of knobs, keys, mice, buttons, sliders and sockets, never mind a slew of guitars. Kanine released these Weapons of Mass Distortion in 2005, and the band is now preparing to drop their second full-length, Rising Sun, on Japan's Fabtone Records December 6th. The Flesh The giant mouth of a ravenous shark graced the cover of this foursome's three song Death Connection EP for Kanine, and the music followed suit, devouring pages in important music periodicals across the globe.  It's a voyeuristic effort, rife with both beats and lyrics that haven't showered, and don't need to. Dirt isn't enough to disguise the titillating phernomes sweat by The Flesh. Four Volts Formerly known as Bunsen Honeydew (after the Muppet, which incurred legal wrath from Henson, forcing the band to change their moniker) Four Volts erupt with caffeinated sing alongs and post-punkish romps through carelessness; an altogether uplifting racket that sticks in your craw like pop rocks. Where the hell was this album when I was in high school, with no responsibilities? If ever you play hooky, and end up on that anxious drive to the head shop for a new toy, Triple Your Work Force should be the soundtrack. And if you dig on singing in the shower, hook up some rubber grippies on the floor before bumping this. Things could get exciting.
A relatively young independent label, the California-based Cheap Lullaby Records got its start a scant three years ago, when Randy Wooten (Randy and the Bloody Lovelies) Eric Holden (reknowned bassist, producer) and Joe Ross (accomplished Full Sail graduate) decided it was needed. The trio believed that artist development was the main priority in the label game, like it was in the good ol' days, and the idea has since taken off toward a beautiful fruition. Cheap Lullaby now has international distribution, a TV and film music division, a state of the art recording studio in Venice Beach, and a roster of extremely talented artists. It's hard to believe so much could be accomplished in just three years, but it's obvious the three life-long friends know exactly what they are doing. It seems almost unfair that one label can boast such an impressive lineup of musicians. Cheap Lullaby has so many insanely talented artists, we couldn't help but add them all into rotation here at BTR and we couldn't be happier to be playing them... L.E.O First off, what does Alpacas Orgling mean? As the title of L.E.O.'s debut album, it's a justifiable question, and one with a hilarious answer befitting such  ridiculously upbeat music. An alpaca is a type of stunted camel with a cult following, and an orgle is the noise a llama makes when trying to arrouse a female. Both animals are part of the same family, so it's safe to assume what you're assuming. Indeed, one couldn't come up with a better introduction to the sound of L.E.O., a supergroup of sorts featuring members of Chicago, The Black Crowes, Hanson (!), and Jellyfish, amongst others. The act is fronted by Bleu McAuley, a Boston native known for eclectic rock anthems and fruitful collaborations. In fact, you may have heard his songs on both the Spider-Man and Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! soundtracks. L.E.O. came about from McAuley's desire to pay tribute to one of his favorite bands, the Electric Light Orchestra, and the wonderful work of Jeff Lynne. It's pop ear candy at it's finest. Robin Mckelle Bringing back the big band sound, Robin McKelle is a jazz singer with both style and flair. She masterfully emulates the swinging sound of the 40's and 50's on the amazing Introducing Robin McKelle, a 12 song feast of covers fitting for any speakeasy. People often compare her to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, but neither of those ladies had such excellet production to sweeten the sound, or a nose ring. McKelle was born in Rochester, New York, and played piano and keys in high school before attending college at the University of Miami, where she earned her degree from the Berklee College of Music. Soon after she was singing back-up for the Boston Pops, all the while planning her debut album, which she financed out of her own pocket. Then Cheap Lullaby scooped her up, and the rest, as they say, is history. Randy and the Bloody Lovelies People can't seem to figure out if Randy and Bloody Lovelies are in fact rock music, country music, or a hybrid of both. The only certain thing is that their latest effort, Lift, is chock-full of addictive, instantly likeable pop songs, the kind begging to be set free by a large boombox at the shore.   The one-man band (although you wouldn't guess it by the name) of Randy Wooten focuses on the theme of elevators throughout the album, to the point that the superstitious thirteenth song is nowhere to be found. It's an interesting angle to take, and it works well, rare for the typical concept album. Songs like "Nadine," "Isabella," and "Pop" are required listening for anyone looking to get down in an elevator, or preparing to go out for a night of adventure. Sylvie Lewis Tangos and Tantrums, the debut album from Sylvie Lewis, is not your typical singer-songwriter fair. You won't find lyrics in the liner notes, only diary-style entries about the songs, drink recipes, random musings, and witty humor; an approach that's beyond refreshing. The music itself follows suit, a free-flowing mix of ballads, frank anecdotes and complete lack of cheese. She has a relaxed timbre to her voice, easy on the ears and unbelievably honest, which makes the unexpected content of her lyrics that much more satisfying. It's jazzy stuff, sure, but so appealing that anyone could get into it.     Gus Black Based out of Los Angeles, this singer-songwriter has an ear for the melancholy, good for both rainy days and introspection. Black tells stories with the best of them, a lot of which, although not especially cheery, make for music that is immensely satisfying. Of course, it helps that his voice is surprisingly wide in range, with a rich vibrato, which smacks a bit of Starsailor's James Walsh at times. If you've ever seen the original Scream film, you've heard Gus already, as his cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear The Reaper" was featured in the scene where the two teens almost have sex. Some would say it's bad to break into the industry with a cover (Alien Ant farm, anyone?) but Gus is just too damn talented to ignore. His latest effort, Autumn Days, hit stores back in August, just in time for, well, autumn, so go pick it up. The BellRays Widely known for playing rambunctious live shows, The BellRays are part rock, part punk, part soul and part jazz, if that makes any sense. Lead singer Lisa Kekaula works the microphone as if her very life depended upon it, and the rest of the band backs her up with a sonic barrage capable of bringing the roof down. Listening to their album Have a Little Faith is one surprise after another, and it's hard to tell what genre the quartet from Riverside, California is going to hit you with next. The title track "Have a Little Faith in Me" would be right at home on a film noir soundtrack, while "Detroit Breakdown" makes for a wild mosh pit, and "Tell the Lie" is perfect for pimping around in the Cadillac on Saturday night. The 'Rays are currently on tour in Europe, so those of us in the states will have to settle for staring at the band's super cool concert posters until they return. Tobias Froberg Before blossoming as a solo artist, Tobias Froberg was a nomad guitarist and pianist for various outfits, as well as a columnist for Scandinavian newspapers and magazines. In 2004 he scored a nomination for Album of the Year with his debut effort For Elisabeth Wherever She Is, at the Swedish indie Grammys. Now, two years later, he has dropped his sophomore effort Somewhere in the City, an album featuring astounding arrangements and memorable choruses, never mind Froberg's appealing accent. It would be somewhat trite to call Froberg the Swedish Sufjan Stevens, but he makes a hell of a case for it. In fact, this very well could be one of the best albums to come our way in a long while, so be sure to sink your teeth into it vampire-style. A succulent starting point could be "What a Day," a breezy, carefree cut that will take you back to the summer gone. You can find all of the Cheap Lullaby artists here on BTR, check out the Cheap Lullaby specialty show for an introductory sampler, and find them online at
Note: This blog will have little to nothing to do about music... it's just me venting. OK, so I don't sleep alot. This doesn't mean I'm not lying around in bed alot... I do that, sure. Luckily I have a laptop and a husband who roams about at night as well. So, it's currently 7am on a Saturday and I went to bed around 3-4am. I'm wide awake and in good spirits... aside from the fact that I'd rather be sleeping. Now, I go through phases with this insomnia. In a month or so, I'll be sleeping all the time. Currently though it is a bit of a pain and as I was sitting here roaming the internet I realized that I have a problem... I CAN'T SPELL! Or at least I think I can't spell and therefore due to modern technologies I reference a certain dictionary site (which will remain nameless) far too often. Seriously, I've already checked it three times since I started this blog. All three times on words which I spelled correctly. Why can't I just trust myself.?(by the way, just looked up 'correctly' .. it's right) What did our parents do before spell check and instant dictionary on the internet? I mean, as a child when we couldn't spell something our teachers told us to look it up in the dictionary and we would think, "how am I supposed to look it up, if I can't spell it." But with the advent of internet dictionary no need to try numerous pages, we get a little message saying "Did You Mean"... followed by a list of 30 choices. Though I think it sucks, I will continue to look up words...even though I'm aware that 'music' doesn't end in a 'Q' , 'drum set' is two words, and 'guitar' doesn't have a silent 'B'.  (what do you know? I did get some music info in this blog.) -- EM
Tuesday, October 24th... Michigan band Tally Hall playing Maxwells at 11th and Washington St in Hoboken, NJ... I live two blocks from the show, so I have no excuse but to check out this great BTR artist in person! If you're in the area, hope you decide to join. Otherwise, stay tuned to my shows for a review of the concert, plus some choice Tally Hall Tracks!
The Gray Kid – Lonely Love BreakThru Radio Video Contest BreakThru Radio, the Internet’s voice of the World’s Best Independent Music, is giving all budding film makers the chance to shoot their very own music video with up and coming LA rapper The Gray Kid. Contestants are asked to submit a 1-minute short film based that includes The Gray Kid’s song Lonely Love, for their directorial debut. Not only will they have their 15 minutes of fame, but they will also win a SONY SZ Laptop and all the video editing software needed to go pro. The winner will be chosen on November 6, and will shoot the video with The Gray Kid on November 14, 2006. First runner up will win a Sony PSP2, and runner up will win a Sony DVD Collection. The staff of BreakThru Radio and The Gray Kid himself will choose winners. Contestants can submit their original one-minute short with the submission form below.   Videos may be sent via email to or by snailmail to the address below: BreakThru Radio The Gray Kid Contest 954 Lexington Avenue, Suite 199 New York, NY10012   There are no prerequisites for the submission – just be creative! Download “Lonely Love” for free at   Submissions are due no later than November 6, 2006.   Rules and regulations are below.   Good luck!!  Name :  Address :  e-mail :  School :  Video Submission :  Signature : *NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.   All entries become property of BreakThru Radio. Void where prohibited. Starts 10/11/06. Ends 11/11/06. Restrictions apply. 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By using the Site or participation in any contest associated therewith, you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions, its Privacy Policy, and any Participation Agreement or other agreement you are required to enter into with BTR Video Contest in conjunction with your use, or participation in a contest. If you do not agree to these terms and conditions, please do not use the Site or participate in any contest associated therewith. BTR Video Contest reserves the right at any time to: (1) change the terms of this Agreement; (2) change the Site or the Services, including eliminating or discontinuing any content on or feature of any Site; or (3) impose or change any fees or charges for use of the Site or Services. 2.       BTR VIDEO CONTEST A. SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS Create an original 60-second video for The Gray Kid. We only ask that you keep it apolitical, positive, legal, original, and inspiring. Think of it as a piece that celebrates the spirit of Indie Music and BreakThru Radio.(as herein further defined, "Submission") to BTR Video Contest that may be shown on the Site. Programs longer than 1 minute will not be eligible and will not be included in the contest or multimedia clips, stories or character ideas, screenplays, songs, or original artwork (“Submission”). Persons wishing to enter may provide as many different Submissions as they wish using the form provided on the Site. The format of a video Submission should be compatible with Apple QuickTime or Windows Media, at a resolution of 320 wide by 240 high. In order for a Submission to qualify ("Qualifying Submission"), you must include all information requested by BTR Video Contest, including your name, a current mailing address, telephone number, a signed copy of this document, e-mail address, and a brief written description of the clips being submitted, as well as comply with the other requirements as described herein including, for example, agreeing to any release, consent or indemnity agreements provided by BTR Video Contest. B. SUBMISSION PERIOD Submissions will be accepted during the period starting from October 11, 2006 at 12:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time) through November 6, 2006 at 11:59 PM (Eastern Daylight Savings Time) ("Submission Period"). All Submissions must be received by BTR Video Contest during the Submission Period to be considered a Qualifying Submission and to be eligible for inclusion in the contest or to be eligible to receive any prize. C. JUDGING A selected number of Qualifying Submissions, chosen by BTR Video Contest, in its sole discretion ("Selected Qualifying Submissions"), will be made available for viewing by visitors to the Site. The judge’s decision is, in all matters, final and not subject to appeal. BTR Video Contest judges will be selected as the winner of the Contest ("Contest Winner"). The next top two (2) Winning Entries, as determined by the judges, will be selected as runners-up of the Contest ("Contest Runner-Up" or, collectively, "Contest Runners-Up"). The Contest Winner and the Contest Runners-Up will be announced on the Site during the week of November 13, 2006. BTR Video Contest does not guarantee that any Submission will be made available for viewing on the website by BTR Video Contest or will be viewed or viewable by any visitors to the Site and is under no obligation whatsoever to make any Submissions available for viewing on the Site. BTR Video Contest is not responsible for any Submission that is not successfully received. For example, BTR Video Contest is not responsible for lost, damaged, incomplete or misdirected Submissions, in whatever format, under any circumstances. All Submissions may be used and exploited by BTR Video Contest in any manner, in all media, for any purpose, in perpetuity anywhere in the universe. Please keep a copy of your Submission. BTR Video Contest reserves the right to destroy, erase, or otherwise dispose of all Submissions. At BTR Video Contest' sole option, any Submission may be retained and, in the sole discretion of BTR Video Contest, used and reused in any subsequent edition of the contest, or any other event and for any other purpose, whether related to the contest, the Site or otherwise, in any media now existing or hereafter invented, discovered or created, in perpetuity, throughout the universe. BTR Video Contest reserves the right to edit and/or alter any Submission in any manner whatsoever and you waive any rights of "droit moral" or other similar rights. However, BTR Video Contest is not obligated to use, edit and/or alter any Submission. BTR Video Contest' decisions as to all contest matters are final and nonappealable. All Submissions are subject to the terms of these rules and all Contestants agree to be bound by these rules and the decisions of BTR Video Contest. BTR Video Contest reserves the right to amend these rules at any time. BTR Video Contest may, in its sole discretion, take whatever measures BTR Video Contest deems necessary or appropriate to preserve the integrity of the contest. BTR Video Contest reserves the right to use alternative judging and/or voting procedures, as determined by BTR Video Contest. BTR Video Contest reserves the right to at any time change voting eligibility, contest rules and procedures. D. PRIZES Grand Prize - The Contest Winner will be awarded a Grand Prize consisting of: (1) Sony SZ Laptop including Sony video editing software and an opportunity to shoot a music video with The Gray Kid on November 14, 2006 in New York City (no transportation will be included) ; and, (2) Other Prizes - First Contest Runner-Up will win  a Sony PSP2, and Second Contest Runner-Up will win a Sony DVD Collection. Prizes will be awarded to the person(s) submitting the Qualifying Submission, provided they certify and establish to BTR Video Contest' satisfaction that they are the owner(s) of the Qualifying Submission and further provided that they have complied with the official rules and have signed all necessary forms and releases as determined by BTR Video Contest. Winners of any prize are solely responsible for all federal, state and local taxes. Submitted materials will be the sole and exclusive property of BTR Video Contest and may be used, reused, exhibited and exploited by BTR Video Contest in any manner it determines in all media existing or hereafter created, developed, invented or discovered, in perpetuity throughout the universe in BTR Video Contest sole discretion. E. ELIGIBILITY Submissions created for commercial purposes are not eligible for any prizes. Employees of BreakThru Products, LLC,, or any of its subsidiaries, and affiliated companies and anyone involved in the production, or administration of the contest, as well as immediate family/same household members of anyone so employed or engaged are not eligible for prize awards. Contest is open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia. Void in Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S.Virgin Islands and other U.S. territories, and where prohibited or restricted by law. BTR Video Contest reserves the right to at any time implement new eligibility criteria and/or modify existing eligibility criteria, including, without limitation, geographical and age restrictions. Persons under the age of 18 may enter, but written parental consent will be required before their Submissions entries will be considered. The parental consent form may be found on the Site and must be completed in full and signed by a minor's custodial parent or legal guardian and submitted at the time of making a Submission. You must sign and return to BTR Video Contest a Release and Indemnity in the form presented on the Site attesting, among other things, to the fact that you are the rightful owners of the Submission and that the Submission may be submitted and broadcast without obtaining permission from or making any payment to any third party. All persons appearing in the Submission must sign consent forms and/or releases (which shall grant to BTR Video Contest the right to use such person's name, voice and likeness as contained in the Submission) before the Submission can be eligible to be exhibited for prize awards. A custodial parent or legal guardian must sign the consent/release form for minors. Failure to provide requested releases and/or consents will result in disqualification of a contestant. These release and/or consent forms will be provided by BTR Video Contest. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a Submission constitutes the submitter's permission to use the Submission (and the name, voice, photograph and likeness of the submitter) in and in connection with the Site, Submission and the contest and all exploitations thereof, including, without limitation, advertising and promotion, in all media, throughout the universe, and, further, constitutes the submitter's representation that all necessary consents and permissions therefore have been obtained. F. RELEASES By provision of a Submission, you agree to release, discharge, indemnify and hold harmless BTR Video Contest, their respective parent, subsidiary and affiliated companies, licensees, and assigns, and their respective officers, directors, employees, agents and representatives from any claim or liability arising from or related to the Submission, participation in this contest (or any related sweepstakes), and/or acceptance or use of any prize. You must sign all consent forms, general releases and other authorizations in the form provided by BTR Video Contest or your Submission will not be considered for exhibition and will be eliminated from consideration and made ineligible to win any prize. Releases will include, among other things, a statement that the Submission is the exclusive property of the person making the Submission and that all necessary and appropriate releases have been obtained from all persons appearing in the Submission. Releases must be obtained from all identifiable persons depicted in videos. Parent or guardian must sign the consent/release form for minors. G. SUBMISSIONS Any material that you transmit to BTR Video Contest or post anywhere on the Site or through the Services may be used by BTR Video Contest or its affiliates. Also any material that you send to BTR Video Contest or post anywhere on the Site or through the Services, including, without limitation, any Unsolicited Submissions (as defined below), bulletin board posting, chat room message, or similar message ("Postings") may be used by BTR Video Contest or its affiliates, partners, or sponsors throughout the world in perpetuity for any purpose, including, but not limited to, reproduction, disclosure, transmission, publication, broadcast, posting and sublicensing, and may be modified to enable or complement any such use. Furthermore, you acknowledge that BTR Video Contest is free to use any ideas, concepts, know-how, or techniques contained in any submissions and/or Postings for any purpose whatsoever including, but not limited to, developing, manufacturing and marketing products using such information. Collectively, any submission and the content contained therein are referred to as "Submissions" herein H. UNSOLICITED SUBMISSIONS You shall not post, send or bring to BTR Video Contest' attention any creative materials of any kind, apart from your Submissions, if any, submitted in connection with a BTR Video Contest sponsored contest (or any contest sponsored by a third party but hosted on the Site), such as videos or multimedia clips, or original artwork (collectively, "Unsolicited Submissions"), unless you agree to BTR Video Contest' use thereof as described herein. BTR Video Contest hopes you will understand that it is the intent of this policy regarding Unsolicited Submissions to avoid the possibility of future misunderstandings when projects developed independently might seem to others to be similar to their own creative work. If you send BTR Video Contest any Unsolicited Submissions despite your foregoing obligation not to do so, BTR Video Contest takes no responsibility and will have no liability with respect to the use by anyone (including BTR Video Contest) of such Unsolicited Submissions or any portion thereof. None of the Unsolicited Submissions shall be subject to any obligation, whether of confidentiality, attribution, or otherwise, on BTR Video Contest' part and BTR Video Contest shall not be liable for any use or disclosure of any Unsolicited Submissions. Further, by sending BTR Video Contest Unsolicited Submissions you release, waive any claims with regard to, and hold harmless BTR Video Contest (and its business partners, affiliates, sponsors, officers, directors, agents, employees, and any parent companies) from and against any and all claims of any kind that are or could be asserted with respect to any use, license, sublicense (through multiple tiers), assignment, reproduction, distribution (through multiple tiers), creation of derivative works of, public performances, public display, digital performances, sales, offers, and other uses of any kind of such Unsolicited Submissions in any media now known or hereafter developed, for any purpose whatsoever. 3.       OWNERSHIP AND RESTRICTIONS ON USE OF MATERIALS The Site is owned and operated by BTR Video Contest in conjunction with BTR Video Contest' affiliates, licensors, partners, and others pursuant to contractual arrangements. You may not copy, reproduce, republish, upload, post, transmit or distribute materials from the Site in any way, without BTR Video Contest' prior written permission, except you may download one copy of such material on any single computer for your personal, non-commercial home use only, provided you keep intact, without change, each such material and all copyright and other proprietary notices in or on such material. Modification of the materials (including, without limitation, modification of any Submission for any purpose) or use of the materials for any other purpose is a violation of BTR Video Contest' copyright and other proprietary rights, and is strictly prohibited. You acknowledge that you do not acquire any ownership rights by using the Site. If you download any material that BTR Video Contest makes available on the Site, such material, including any software, text files, screenplays reviews, audio files, video files, data files, images incorporated in any material or generated by any software, and data accompanying any software or materials (collectively, the "Downloads"), are licensed on a limited basis to you by BTR Video Contest (or through BTR Video Contest by the owner of such Downloads) only for your personal, non-commercial use in connection with your use of the Site as permitted by this Agreement, or to fulfill any obligations you may have under any other agreement that you have or are required to enter into in connection with the Site. Title to the Downloads is not transferred to you. You may own the medium on which the Downloads are recorded, but (as between you and BTR Video Contest) BTR Video Contest retains all right, title, and interest in and to the Downloads, and all intellectual property rights therein. You may not sell, decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, license, or otherwise transfer the Downloads to any third party. The following trademarks: BREAKTHRU, BTR VIDEO CONTEST, BTR VIDEO CONTEST CONTEST, and all associated Videos and domain names, including, without limitation, BREAKTHRURADIO.COM, are the trade names, trademarks, service marks, Videos, and/or domain names of BTR Video Contest or its licensors ("BreakThru Marks"). Other trademarks, service marks, Videos, and/or domain names used on the Site or in the Services (including, without limitation, the individual names of film, TV or other entertainment shows and providers and the domain names associated therewith), where not the property of BTR Video Contest, are the trademarks, service marks, Videos, and/or domain names of their respective owners ("Third Party Marks"). You agree that you will not challenge the respective ownership rights of BTR Video Contest or any third party in or to the BreakThru Marks or the Third Party Marks, and that you will not register or attempt to register any trademark, service mark, Video, and/or domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to any of the BreakThru Marks or Third Party Marks. 4.       CODE OF CONDUCT While using the Site or the Services, you agree not to: 1.       Restrict or inhibit any other visitor or Member from using the Site or the Services; 2.       Transmit any content or information that is unlawful, fraudulent, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene or otherwise objectionable, or infringes on BTR Video Contest' or any third party's intellectual property or other rights; 3.       Transmit any information, software, or other material that contains a virus, worm, time bomb, Trojan horse, or other harmful or disruptive component; 4.       Use the Site or Services for any unlawful purpose; 5.       Modify, adapt, sublicense, translate, sell, reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble any portion of the Site, the Services, or the software underlying either of them, or modify any materials downloaded from the Site; 6.       Modify, copy, or tamper with any screenplay or any other content that you may access through the Site; 7.       Use any screenplay or other content that you might access through the Site for any reason other than reading or reviewing such screenplay or content; 8.       Harvest, collect, or disclose information about other Site visitors or Members without their express consent; or 9.       Use any robot, spider, site search/retrieval application, or other manual or automatic device or process to retrieve, index, "data mine," or in any way reproduce or circumvent the navigational structure or presentation of the Site, the Services or their contents, unless otherwise permitted by BTR Video Contest. While using the Site and/or Services, you agree to comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations. BTR Video Contest has no obligation to monitor the Site or any materials that you transmit to the Site (including, without limitation, any Submission or other Material). However, you acknowledge and agree that BTR Video Contest has the right to monitor the Site and the materials you transmit, from time to time, and to disclose any information (including your personally identifiable information) to any third party in order to operate the Site properly; to protect BTR Video Contest, the Site, the Services, BTR Video Contest' sponsors, partners, affiliates, and BTR Video Contest' Members and visitors; and to comply with any legal obligations, regulations, or governmental requests. (See BTR Video Contest' Privacy Policy for further details.) 5.       COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (the "DMCA") provides recourse for copyright owners who believe that material appearing on the Internet infringes their rights under U.S. copyright law. If you believe in good faith that materials BTR Video Contest hosts infringe your copyright, you (or your agent) may send BTR Video Contest a notification requesting that the material be removed, or access to it blocked. To be effective, the notification must include the following: 1.       A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed; 2.       Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site; 3.       Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material; 4.       Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted; and 5.       A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. If you believe in good faith that a notice of copyright infringement has been wrongly filed against you, the DMCA permits you to send BTR Video Contest a counter-notice. Notices and counter-notices must meet statutory requirements imposed by the DMCA, including, without limitation, a statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed. If BTR Video Contest receives a proper notification (or if BTR Video Contest believes in BTR Video Contest' sole discretion) that any materials submitted by you (including any Submission) allegedly violate another person's or entity's rights, BTR Video Contest reserves the right to withdraw and remove the affected material from BTR Video Contest' Site, at any time in BTR Video Contest' absolute discretion. One place to find more information is the U.S. Copyright Office web site, currently located at Notices and counter-notices for the Site should be sent to BTR Video Contest at . Alternatively, you may contact BTR Video Contest via U.S. mail at: BTR Video Contest, 954 Lexington Avenue, Suite 199, New York, NY10021, Attn.: BTR Video Contest DMCA Notices Administrator. This contact information is for notices of copyright infringement only. BTR Video Contest suggests that you consult your legal advisor before filing a notice or counter-notice. Also, be aware that there can be penalties for false claims. 6.       PRIVACY POLICY BTR Video Contest requires you to read BTR Video Contest' Privacy Policy, which (in addition to this Agreement, and any specific Participation Agreement by which you may be bound) sets out how BTR Video Contest collects and use any information you submit to BTR Video Contest or through the Site, including any information submitted in connection with such sweepstakes, contests, and games. You must be at least 18 years old to register for a BTR Video Contest or the Site. If you are under the age of 13, or are a parent of a child under the age of 13, please be aware that BTR Video Contest does not permit registration by children under the age of 13, and do not knowingly collect any information from children of any age. 7.       JURISDICTIONAL ISSUES Unless otherwise specified, the materials in the Site are presented solely for the purpose of promoting the entertainment, information, and community resources and services available in, and other uses in, the United States. BTR Video Contest controls and operates the Site from within the State of New York, United States of America. BTR Video Contest makes no representation that materials on or made available through the Site are appropriate or available for use in other locations. Those who choose to access the Site from other locations do so on their own initiative and are responsible for compliance with local laws, if and to the extent such local laws are applicable. The Downloads are further subject to United States export controls. No Downloads may be downloaded or otherwise exported or re-exported (i) into (or to a national or resident of) Cuba, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Serbia (Yugoslavia) or any other country to which the U.S. has embargoed goods; or (ii) to anyone on the U.S. Treasury Department's list of Specially Designated Nationals or the U.S. Commerce Department's Table of Deny Orders. By downloading or (as applicable) using the Site, the Services, or the Downloads, you represent and warrant that you are not located in, under the control of, or a national or resident of any such country or on any such list. BTR Video Contest reserves the right to limit the availability of the Site and/or the provision of any service, program, or other product described thereon to any person, geographic area, or jurisdiction, at any time and in BTR Video Contest' sole discretion, and to limit or change the quantities and nature of any such service, program, or other product that BTR Video Contest provides at any time. 8.       TERMINATION BTR Video Contest reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to terminate your access to all or part of this Site, with or without notice. 9.       DISCLAIMERS THE MATERIALS CONTAINED ON AND/OR IN THE SITEAND SERVICES, AND ANY PRODUCT OR SERVICE OBTAINED THROUGH THE SITEAND/OR SERVICES ARE PROVIDED "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMISSIBLE PURSUANT TO APPLICABLE LAW, BTR VIDEO CONTEST AND ITS AFFILIATES, SUPPLIERS, AND AGENTS DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF TITLE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY, AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. Applicable law may not allow the exclusion of implied warranties, so the above exclusions may not apply to you. BTR VIDEO CONTEST AND ITS AFFILIATES, SUPPLIERS, AND AGENTS DO NOT WARRANT THAT YOUR USE OF THE SERVICES, THE SITE, OR THE DOWNLOADS WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED, ERROR-FREE, OR SECURE, THAT DEFECTS WILL BE CORRECTED, OR THAT THE SERVICES OR THE SITE (OR THE SERVER(S) THAT MAKE(S) THEM AVAILABLE) OR DOWNLOADS AREFREE OF VIRUSES OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS. YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OBTAINING AND MAINTAINING ALL TELEPHONE, COMPUTER HARDWARE AND OTHER EQUIPMENT NEEDED TO ACCESS AND USE THE SERVICES, ANDALL CHARGES RELATED THERETO. YOU ASSUME TOTAL RESPONSIBILITY AND RISK FOR YOUR USE OF THE SERVICES, SITE, AND THE DOWNLOADS AND YOUR RELIANCE THEREON. NO OPINION, ADVICE, OR STATEMENT OF BTR VIDEO CONTEST OR ITS AFFILIATES, SUPPLIERS, OR AGENTS, WHETHER MADE ON THE SITE, IN THE SERVICES, DOWNLOADS, OR OTHERWISE, SHALL CREATE ANY WARRANTY. BTR Video Contest neither endorses nor is responsible for any opinion, advice, information, content, or statement made, provided, or displayed on the Site, through the Services, or on or in any Download. WITHOUT LIMITING THE GENERALITY OF THE FOREGOING, BTR VIDEO CONTEST DISCLAIMS ANY WARRANTY THAT ANY MULTIMEDIA, POSTING, OR OTHER MATERIAL ON THE SITE IS APPROPRIATE FOR ANY PARTICULAR AUDIENCE OR USER, OR THAT SUCH MATERIAL IS FREE OF OFFENSIVE, INDECENT, OBSCENE, DEFAMATORY OR OTHER POTENTIALLY INAPPROPRIATE ELEMENTS OR ASPECTS. YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT BTR VIDEO CONTEST DOES NOT AND CANNOT REVIEW AND MONITOR MATERIAL ON THE SITE, AND YOU HEREBY AGREE THAT BTR VIDEO CONTEST SHALL HAVE NO LIABILITY FOR ANY DAMAGES OR COSTS THAT MAY ARISE FROM BTR VIDEO CONTEST' PUBLICATION OR YOUR EXPOSURE TO, OR ACCESS TO ANY MULTIMEDIA, POSTING OR OTHER CONTENT ON THE SITE. Under no circumstances will BTR Video Contest or BTR Video Contest' affiliates, suppliers, or agents be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on or BTR Video Contest' publication of such information obtained through the Site or Services. Remember that it is your responsibility to evaluate the accuracy and reliability of any opinion, advice, information, or statement available on the Site or through the Services. A possibility exists that the Site and/or Services could include inaccuracies or errors. Additionally, a possibility exists that unauthorized alterations could be made by third parties to the Site or Services, or to certain Downloads. Although BTR Video Contest attempts to ensure the integrity of the Site, Services, and Downloads, BTR Video Contest makes no guarantees as to their completeness or correctness. THE SITEAND SERVICES MAY CONTAINS LINKS TO THIRD-PARTY SITES. THOSE THIRD-PARTY SITES ARE NOT UNDER THE CONTROL OF BTR VIDEO CONTEST AND BTR VIDEO CONTEST IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONTENT ON ANY LINKED SITE. IF YOU ACCESS A THIRD-PARTY SITE FROM BTR VIDEO CONTEST' SITE, THEN YOU DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK. BTR VIDEO CONTEST PROVIDES LINKS AS A CONVENIENCE, AND THE INCLUSION OF THE LINK DOES NOT IMPLY THAT BTR VIDEO CONTEST ENDORSES OR ACCEPTS ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CONTENT ON THOSE THIRD-PARTY SITES. 10.   LIMITATION OF LIABILITY NEITHER BTR VIDEO CONTEST NOR ITS SUPPLIERS, AFFILIATES, AGENTS OR SPONSORS ARE RESPONSIBLE OR LIABLE FOR ANY INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, PUNITIVE OR OTHER DAMAGES UNDER ANY CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE, STRICT LIABILITY OR OTHER THEORY ARISING OUT OF OR RELATING IN ANY WAY TO THE SITEAND/OR CONTENT CONTAINED ON THE SITE, THE SERVICES, THE DOWNLOADS, OR ANY PRODUCT OR SERVICE MADE AVAILABLE THROUGH THE SITE. YOUR SOLE REMEDY FOR DISSATISFACTION WITH ANY PORTION OF THE SITE, THE SERVICE, THE DOWNLOADS, AND/OR CONTENT CONTAINED WITHIN THE SITE IS TO STOP USING THE SITE, THE SERVICE, AND/OR THE DOWNLOADS, AS APPLICABLE. THE SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE MAXIMUM LIABILITY TO BTR VIDEO CONTEST AND ITS AFFILIATES FOR ALL DAMAGES, LOSSES, AND CAUSES OF ACTION (WHETHER IN CONTRACT, TORT (INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION NEGLIGENCE), OR OTHERWISE) SHALL BE THE TOTAL AMOUNT PAID BY YOU, IF ANY, TO ACCESS THE SERVICES. 11.   INDEMNIFICATION You shall be fully responsible for any violation of this Agreement or of any other agreement between you and BTR Video Contest that is referred to herein (including but not limited to the Privacy Policy, and any Participation Agreement). You agree to indemnify, defend and hold BTR Video Contest, BTR Video Contest' officers, directors, employees, agents, partners, affiliates, sponsors, and representatives harmless from and against any and all claims, damages, losses, costs (including reasonable attorneys' fees), or other expenses that arise directly or indirectly out of or from (a) your breach of this Agreement, including without limitation, any violation of the Code of Conduct set forth in Section II - CODE OF CONDUCT, above; (b) any allegation that any materials that you submit to BTR Video Contest or transmit to or post on the Site infringe or otherwise violate the copyright, trademark, trade secret or other intellectual property or other rights of, or defame, any third party; (c) your activities in connection with the Site, the Services, or the Downloads, and/or (d) your relationship with BTR Video Contest, or any of its respective partners, affiliates, sponsors, or agent, or any of their employees or representatives. 12.   ARBITRATION In the event of any dispute arising out of or in connection with the site, regardless of the number or identity of defendant(s) or plaintiff(s), such dispute shall be submitted to arbitration in the County of New York, State of New York, in accordance with the rules and regulations of the American Arbitration Association then in effect (as amended herein), provided that said arbitration shall be heard before a single arbitrator, selected pursuant to such rules and regulations, and shall be conducted on an expedited basis and in confidence. The arbitrator selected pursuant to this provision shall have at least ten (10) years of related intellectual property experience, be well acquainted with the entertainment, Internet, and new media industries, and shall not have the power to impose punitive damages. Each party hereby waives any and all rights and benefits which it might otherwise have or be entitled to under federal law or the laws of New York or any other state to litigate any such dispute in court, it being the intention of the parties to arbitrate, according to the provisions of this Agreement, all such disputes. The arbitrator's decision shall be controlled by the terms and conditions of this Agreement and any other agreements you may enter into with BTR Video Contest, and shall be final and binding, and shall provide for each party to bear its own costs of arbitration and attorneys' fees. Each party expressly waives any right to a jury. Any award favorable to you, if related to any submission or use of any materials owned or created by you or under your control (including Material, or any other content or information of any kind), shall be limited to the fixing of compensation which shall bear a reasonable relation to compensation customarily paid by BTR Video Contest (or its constituent members) for similar material, taking into account your creative experience at the time the material was submitted, the nature of the material, and any amount received by you for other material created before the submission of the disputed material to BTR Video Contest. Judgment upon the award of the arbitrator may be entered or enforced in any court of competent jurisdiction. If either party shall fail to appear at the hearing on the date designated in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association, or shall otherwise fail to participate in the arbitration proceeding, the arbitrator is hereby empowered to proceed ex parte. In the event of any dispute concerning this Agreement, BTR Video Contest' terms of use, BTR Video Contest' Privacy Policy, any Participation Agreement, or any other agreement between you and BTR Video Contest, your sole and exclusive remedy shall be to seek damages pursuant to an arbitration authorized by this Section XII. ARBITRATION, and in no event will you be entitled to seek injunctive or other equitable relief. If you do not agree to these requirements (or any other provision herein), do not enter the Contest or use the Site. 13.   MISCELLANEOUS This Agreement is governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of New York, United States of America, without regards to its principles of conflicts of law. You hereby agree to submit to arbitration as set forth in Section XII. ARBITRATION, in the County of New York, New York, United States of America, and waive any jurisdictional, venue, or inconvenient forum objections to such arbitration or location. If any provision of this Agreement is found to be unlawful, void, or for any reason unenforceable, then that provision shall be deemed severable from this Agreement and shall not affect the validity and enforceability of any remaining provisions. This Agreement, together with any agreement referred to herein (including the Privacy Policy, any Participation Agreement, and any other agreement between you and BTR Video Contest), constitutes the entire Agreement between BTR Video Contest relating to the subject matter described herein and supersedes and any all prior or contemporaneous written or oral agreements between BTR Video Contest. This Agreement is not assignable, transferable or sublicenseable by you except with BTR Video Contest' prior written consent, and any such transfer, assignment or sublicense shall be null and void. No waiver by either party of any breach or default hereunder shall be deemed to be a waiver of any preceding or subsequent breach or default. Any heading, caption or paragraph title
It's not good to feel old when you're only 23, but that's the feeling that creeps over me when I go out these days. I can still shake it with the best of them, that's never the issue. It just seems every time I have a beverage with friends at the local tavern, I end up surrounded by gits (a popular term for young ones down in Miami, pronounced like grits but with a J.)  The rare time I strike up a conversation with anybody, the topic of music always comes up. Usually because one of the primary small talk questions is "What do you do?" and I respond with "I'm an on-line radio DJ." Pretty harmless so far, but then an excited "Oh yeah!" comes out and  they ask what kind of music I spin. I'm proud of my job so this initial interaction is never the problem. My real beef comes from the "Huhs" and "I never heard of them" responses I get from people who have no concept of music pre-Spears. I'm not anti-youth, but I remember exploring different music options other then what was fed to me on the radio when I was young. Here I go making the "when I was young" statements, a sure sign of aging.  On the brighter side, I have a new edition of Worldwide BTR on the music player. Camille has won over my heart and I declare my love for her on the show, Ska Cubano and Bia give their different interpretations of Marian, and a new track from the Gotan Project that wreaks of seduction so it must be the dance of love.   If the Tango Song helps you in the love department, I guess you just owe me a jumping, double high-five the next time we meet. I'll be waiting.   Cheers, Phillip Nguyen (DJ Wynn)
Since the early days of my love for reggae music to now, I’ve seen the music, the genre, the live shows and the culture change.  Some for the better, some for the worse, but I would have to say as a whole, reggae music has now more than ever found its way into the nooks and cranny’s of pop culture.  The progression of the music always amazes me, how something that came from a small section of the world from a small group of people, really only for themselves at first, can reach the ends of the world and really be felt and understood as strongly as though who’ve created those original rhythms.  With that said, here are what I see as some of the newest themes and changes in reggae music today.   The club hip hop scene is still going strong.  You will hear reggae that is considered popular and most widely accepted by most commercial outlets.  Reggae and reggaeton have found their way into these clubs and become as popular as some of those crunk tunes.  Part of this is because you can only listen to so much crunk music before your brain implodes.   The upside to all of this is that dancehall music, is dividing between what is seen as almost a new form of roots music for the older generations of dancehall fans and new school dancehall music.  I still think artists are blending styles and catering to both kind of fans but I see the division taking shape.  Older riddims are being used again while culture riddim mixes are being put out left and right.  Sizzla just did an entire album of King Jammy riddims which he called waterhouse redemption.  The conscious decision for artists to embrace their religions and stop the “slackness” has carried over to a new revival of dancehall music. Traditionalists like me can appreciate that.   So much good stuff people, listen to my show for all of it, and make sure you let me know what you like.  I’m always up for suggestions and ill always keep you informed on the good irie news of the moment.   - DJ Drew
SO, this weekend rocked! I had such a blast at The Atlantis Music Conference in Atlanta, GA. There were so many great bands to check out, I barely new where to begin. I’ll just give you the highlights.   1)      I got to hang out with DJ L. The lady knows her stuff when it comes to the A-T-L. We checked out quite a few great venues and had an awesome time. 2)      As a panelist at the event, I got to do Rock Demo Critiques. Pretty much bands brought in a demo, we listened to a few tracks, and told them what we thought. I was totally nervous about the whole thing… I’m sure the bands were much more nervous. I mean, your presenting your music in front of DJ’s, A&Rs, Producers, etc. Anyway, it was here that I found many new bands to bring to you here on BTR. 3)      One of those bands was Sparky’s Flaw out of Virginia. Seriously, what a GREAT BAND! They are very young and formed just a few years ago in high school. They had it all! Great lyrics, great melodies, great instrumentals, and the boys are cuties too, which always helps! I think they were one of few bands where everyone was just like… they’ve got it! 4)      Another great band was Hamelin from Alabama! Definitely one to check out! They’ve got great instrumentals and the lead singer has an amazing voice. 5)      Got to check out quite a few shows.  My two favorites were Band Marino and Pendleton. Band Marino’s performance is always SPOT ON! They were great. Pendleton also put on a great show.   This weekend was really stellar all around. If you have a chance to go next year… I would definitely do so! There are shows all over town and lots to do in Atlanta as well. I’m pretty sure you’ll see DJ L and I back in action next year!   -- EM
If you've ever read any of the writing here on BTR, you may have noticed a serious lack of negative criticism. It's not because we unilaterally dig everything we hear, or that we're a bunch of happy-faced saps. Indeed, far from it. The fact of the matter is, us DJs only play the music we like, and those of us writing follow suit. We're not going to bother weaving words together for an artist/band whose music we don't enjoy. That said, it does make eveything seem a little skewed. People who don't know any better will just think we love every album that ends up in our mailbox. Actually, it kind of reminds me of a few ladies I dated once, who, when I asked what kind of music they liked, replied with: "Oh, I like everything!" There couldn't be a worse possible answer, you know? It might as well be code for "I have no taste."  But, I admit, whenever anybody asks me the same question, I become instantly flummoxed. It's like asking someone what kind of food they like. It may be a good night for pan-seared pea snaps and venison, or sweet potato leek stew and pork chops.  Answering that question depends on what kind of mood I'm in, and it's never a quick conversation.  I might feel like stomping about the house to Pantera. Or perhaps I'll hum along with The Clientele while walking the dog. Or maybe I'll lie down to sleep with the Kronos Quartet to soothe me. By the way, I don't think I've ever eaten any of those foods, except for the pork chops.  David Cross has a bit  where he talks about waiting on line for the people in front of him to order food, and the 'pan-seared pea snaps' line was so funny I had to incorporate it here. But I'm getting off topic. The point is, there is a massive amount of music I dislike, and I could go on for hours sarcastically trashing it (and would have a great deal of  fun doing it). On the other hand, I'm blessed in that I don't have to do that, and it  would be a waste of words, since I could spend the same amount of time talking about a band I really like.
What? It's Tuesday and I'm going WHERE to get the week's new album? With the announcement a few days old, I admit I'm still coming to terms with the closing of the Tower Records franchise. It's had me evaluating the industry (both past and present) as well as picturing the future. At one time, someone felt the same way I do when the record was replaced--first by various stages of tape technology and eventually the CD. But we music fans survived, not too many miss the hiss of the record, and a new age of digital recording became the standard. But now the download era has eclipsed even this, as technology and instant gratification have yielded to ever smaller digital music players and instant downloads. Soon even the CD will be long gone and we'll have converted to virtual digital albums. Agreed, there is a lot of good that comes out of all of this. Money is saved by not having to create ever-bigger stores in Times Square, only to charge rip-off prices on CDs in order to pay the rent. Downloads are cheaper (for now??). One can now choose to download only the songs they want, and pay less than the cost of the entire album. And it's not the end of the world for the diehards. Album seekers still have the option of purchasing entire albums, and extras such as album art has already begun to appear on iPods and music players which are embedded in the music files. But maybe this sort of thing is for the timebeing, to appease the diehards. Perhaps the biggest casualty is future generations of diehard fans. It didn't take a Nostradamus-caliber prediction to see this coming. Most of today's teenagers do not have album collections; they have have song collections on their computers and iPod-type devices. And who can blame them? This is in no way an all-inclusive statement, but a good amount of the "popular" music these days is single driven, not album. The album is a dying breed, and with it, the stores that sell said albums. And without labelling Tower Records as anything in particular, Mom and Pop record stores have been closing for the past two decades, as franchise stores began replacing them. Remember the movie Empire Records? Aside from being an entertaining flick, the plot had a bit of truth for the era. So, what do we really lose with music stores--if they indeed all close eventually?  No more excitement standing in line on Tuesdays when new albums come out (instant online checkouts). No more listening booths for sampling music (iTunes previewing). And (perhaps already gone with the loss of the Mom-Pop stores) no more second hand CD bins to trove through looking for gems (ebay). No more CD release parties at a store (virtual concerts online?). Tough to let go of the nostalgia, and interesting for me personally--being such a proponent of digital music and different outlets for music. I know my fellow BTR DJs and I tend to promote more than just singles on the station. We don't aim to hit you over the head with the same single by an artist over and over. We covet our artists and explore their albums. Not trying to defend, necessarily, but hoping the level of appreciation for the music, albums, and artists can still be conveyed even without the tangibles of a store and a record. I suppose it's up to the digital outlets to ensure that happens. Moving forward, I hope others take BTR's lead. Maybe I'm wrong and one day we'll have digital music storefronts--just fewer of them for a novelty. Regardless, we're far from all music stores closing. But if it happens, I'd miss my Tuesdays... Let me know your thoughts, email
I was convinced from the first moment I walked into Mercury Lounge and saw five young men wearing different colored ties. At the time, I know nothing about Tally Hall, an indie pop band out of Ann Arbor. All I knew is that my friends had sung their praises and I had some time to kill. I left that night an instant fan, and with a very genuine smile on my face.   You see Tally Hall is not like every other band you find by accident. Their music is not what the cool kids consider hip, and their recent success is due to a very passionate word of mouth. Without any major label backing or promotional team, you will find a packed venue across the country full of kids singing along to every catchy song. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve traveled long distances for one of their shows; there’s something inherently addictive about their music, quality songwriting matched with a fun live show is just the beginning.   What started as a side project with the Tally Hall kids were still in school has landed them spots on MTV “You Hear It First” and sold out shows. And while their songs laud on less serious nature, the band is anything but a joke. In fact, Tally Hall’s keyboardist Andrew Horowitz won the 2004 BMI John Lennon Scholorship for writing “Good Day,” and was presented the award by Yoko Ono herself.   There’s a very fine line between underground and pop, and between novelty act and a credible band. I sat down with two members of Tally Hall, Rob Cantor (guitar, vocals) and Ross Federman (drums) to discuss how to deal with popularity, without changing their own personal style.   BTR: How do you define music that is underground? Ross: I would consider it that is music that spreads by word of mouth than promotional money. It’s hard to say, because there are underground promotions too. Anything you hear on the radio and what is on TV isn’t underground, rather it’ss when your friend says ‘hey listen to this band you’ve never heard of that’s really good’. That to me is what I define underground music scene. Rob: I agree.   BTR: Do you consider Tally Hall to be underground? Rob: At this point, yes, we are definitely underground. We don’t have a promotional budget and everything we’ve done so far is gradual. But we wouldn’t avoid money being spent to promote our music. There’s a common confliction between having a budget and selling out, with degradation of the quality of the art. I don’t think they go hand in hand. I think that we can have a company pushing us and still maintain our integrity.   BTR: And yet your music is undeniably considered pop, and by definition that means popular. Can pop music still be considered underground? Rob: Yes, but then the term becomes ironic. But maybe that is good. There isn’t any reason to have pop music all over the radio. Pop is antiquated, just like when alternative music no longer became alternative. It’s just an empty label.   BTR: Is it ever a concern that things like wearing colored ties or singing songs about the Olsen twins hinders your credibility? Rob: Yeah, we worry about things like that. I think we are growing up a little bit. We are getting into more advanced songwriting and wanting to tackle more interesting and trying issues. We learn from our past but I can’t predict what direction the band will get on the next release.   BTR: What do you say to critics who think of you as a novelty band or in the worst-case scenario, a joke? Ross: I always felt that the music and the image of the band should be appreciated on whatever level listeners want to. If someone listens to the band on one demographic, without a sarcastic view, and they like haring songs about Mary Kate and Ashley then great. But then someone else who is more of a music critic that would maybe say, why are they doing this, they can still get entertainment out of it. Either way, whatever level anyone wants to look at the music is totally acceptable. I like that it can be looked at in many different ways. If you can come at it from every angle, then that’s better than being trapped.   BTR: What are you hoping to get out of all of this? Rob: Artistic freedom and lifestyle freedom. We’re not at a point where we can do exactly what we want with our time and resources. We’d like to have a little bit more flexibility Ross: The ultimate goal is to get our music to as many people as possible, and still maintain it being our music. Some people do a lot of great things that so few people are exposed to. At least to me, to come across to a larger audience will be making it. At that point it doesn’t depend on other people liking it, but that it then is out there for everyone to make up their mind.   Feel free to make up your own mind by listening to Tally Hall on BTR. And check out the band on tour for the rest of the year, hitting up every coast and in between. For more information and some hilarious self-made videos, check out the band at or  
What a concert Friday night by the BTR band Skidmore Fountain. The band is so diverse in their tracks; the 3 track EP we play on BTR doesn't quite capture the band's sound. Among the reasons they're unique, instead of a bass guitarist (though some bass guitar is in their recorded tracks) they perform live with a cellist. Can't wait for the full length album. In fact, of the 3 track EP, they only played Up in the Air. The rest sounds great. When can we expect an album? Well, I got to talking after the concert with the band's drummer who gave me a little insight. Tune into my show tomorrow to find out! Kudos to the venue too, the Knitting Factory. They've been host to a few BTR co-sponsored gigs, so I'm no stranger. But this one was on their bottom level stage. The venue is so cavernous, amazing. I know for a fact that at least a few BTR listeners made it out. But don't fret; if you missed them, they'll be playing again in New York City soon...
Last week, I stood in an overly crowded venue flabbergasted by the band in front of me. One part orchestral, one part rock, the six-piece band could have easily been a mess of sound. But no, the Syracuse band also known as Ra Ra Riot is anything but a mess. Instead they invited the New York crowd to dance and sing along to their seamlessly crafted songs. There’s a good chance you have yet to hear about Ra Ra Riot, but something tells me you will very soon. In the very short time they have been a band (just under a year) and with the very short EP they have produced (three songs), they have won the hearts of a dedicated fanbase, and are slated for a successful future. In New York, of all places, where bands are eaten alive on a nightly basis, there wasn’t an unhappy face in the crowd. They sang along to every song, with the kind of passion that you wouldn’t expect to be shown for a young band. Let me introduce to you what may just be your new favorite band. I caught up with guitarist Milo Bonacci and violinist Rebecca Zeller after their show in New York, to chat about their Syracuse roots, implementing a string section into indie rock, and what’s in store for their promising future. BTR: How do your shows in Syracuse differ from playing elsewhere? Milo: During the school year, we would play at least once a week... since most of us have graduated; our Syracuse shows are now less frequent. However, there still seems to be much enthusiasm from the SU crowd...playing a Syracuse show is usually, for the most part, very encouraging. Rebecca: Agreed.  I love playing at Syracuse because everyone in the crowd is dancing. While bad crowds don't necessarily make bad shows, good crowds make exceptionally enjoyable shows. BTR: What made you decide to include strings in your band? Was that the idea from the start? Milo: Last fall, I had wanted to start a new band... I think at the time I was looking for anybody who could play anything… However, for a long time I had wanted to work with strings. I met Rebecca in my electronic music composition class last day of the fall semester. We talked over the winter break about the possibility of finding other strings and she ended up introducing me to Allie. I had no idea whether or not it would work... I had no idea how classically trained musicians would take to the rock band format... Rebecca: I don't know why they wanted strings but when Milo approached me, I was thrilled to be involved with something other than classical music. I thought Allie would love it too, and thought it would be nice not to be the only girl. BTR: Tell me about the recording process for the demo. Milo: We confirmed with a recording studio two days in advance (we had been on a waiting list), which left us very little time to iron out relatively new songs. At the time, we had only been together for about 10 weeks... basically, we reworked a few songs the day before we went into the studio. The recording process was pretty straightforward: lay down the bass and drum tracks, overdub the guitar, piano, strings and vocals separately... after which, we spent a few hours mixing and mastering. I think next time around we would opt to go the more 'live' route, i.e. not so many overdubs... I think most of us feel that the recording is lacking something that happens when we play live. BTR: Plans to record a full-length any time soon? Milo: Yes. So far, the plan is to start tracking in January/February... however, there is a debate within the band as to where and how we are going to do it. BTR: With invites to play radio shows and a noticeable increase of buzz on the internet, are you worried that things are going too quickly? Do you think the internet in general can be both beneficial and detrimental for a young band? Milo: From the start, the plan has always been to move quickly. We set ourselves up with an ambitious set of goals, I think. We had our first show scheduled before we even had our first practice... that has been the attitude all along. Since most of us were only a few months away from graduating and getting real jobs, I think we were in a rush to move quickly and make the most out of it. BTR: Are you all out of school now with full-time jobs? How do you manage the time between touring and keeping a job? Milo: I don't have a full time job. In fact I don't have any job as of now... hopefully that changes soon. However, I think that we are going to hold off on touring for now and focus mostly on writing and recording. Rebecca: I have a part time job. I’m still shocked that they let me take off six weeks to tour, let me come back, and are letting me take off another week and a half to play more shows and CMJ.  I think I’m just really lucky. BTR: How do you define success? Milo: I’ve always thought that success is synonymous with being content. As long as I am able to write and play music that I enjoy, pay off my student loans, and eat regularly, I’d consider myself successful... Rebecca: I guess I agree with that. I guess I would define success as being able to tour around the country and play packed venues in every city. BTR: With so many indie bands out there that people can easily find thanks to myspace, blogs, etc – how do you hope to distinguish yourselves, either through music and/or your live show? Rebecca:  I can only speak for myself but I don't really think about how to distinguish ourselves when we write music and perform.  I don't think making it is all about being the most original and/or different. I know this sounds corny but we really just are ourselves right down to what we wear on stage. So many bands have an image that it seems they feel they have to live up to all the time… I think we just rely on our music.  Nothing else really matters. Milo: My number one goal/concern is to make music that I am excited about. I’ve been playing in bands for 10 years now, and I’ve only ever wanted to do things that I find interesting. Once in a while, other people pick up on that and it eventually catches on. With Ra Ra Riot, I guess, I am not desperate to distinguish ourselves from the thousands of other indie/pop bands out there… I am simply making music that I enjoy making. It is nice to know that there happens to be some people who enjoy listening.
If you're in the New York City area, I hope you'll join me at the Knitting Factory at 11pm this Friday to check out BTR artist Skidmore Fountain. If you haven't had the pleasure, take it from me--they're great live! And if not for the music, come for the promotional toys! A while back I mentioned on my show that Skidmore Fountain has the most unique promo giveaways. Last concert I went to, the lead singer gave me a bunch of smasher marbles with their EP cover on it. Awesome... But if you can't make it, I'll be sure to write up a review and perhaps some photos! I gotta hit up DJ L to figure out her snazzy system of doing that!
Is there such a thing as a perfect mix? Many have pondered this question, including the 2000 film adaptation of Nick Horby’s novel, High Fidelity, in which John Cusak, a compulsive list maker speaks to the job’s complexity. “You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” The history of the mix began with tape, where music geeks would spend hours contemplating the order and the presentation. Then came the ability to burn CDs, and mixes became a staple birthday present or a companion for a long car ride. In our digital age, a mix is simply a click on the wheel of your iPod where you can make a “hopelessly romantic” or “angry at the world” mix. Apple Computers even created the “iMix” on their music jukebox, and iTunes which allows users to post their mixes for others to purchase. Total mixes to date are just under 100,000. Whatever the era, just what is this “subtle art” that John Cusak speaks of? Is there such thing as an art to making a mix? According to Jim Januszewski, 32, a software engineer from Seattle and creator of, there most definitely is. The mix is a personal expression, a musical representation of a time, a place, or a feeling, according to Januszewski, who has been making mixes ever since high school. He created the website in December of 1997, pre-MP3 players when CD burners were just becoming available for a reasonable price. He did it to “fill a niche on the internet to archive this craft of media pastiche that emerged with the ubiquity of the cassette,” according to Januszewski. receives about 100,000 visitors a month and has over 74,000 mixes posted, with more added each day. Visitors can view mixes without downloads, solely to honor the craftsmanship. It still exhibits many of what Januszewski considers “luddites” posting cassette mixes, but now there are more CD Mixes and MP3 playlists available. How does a novice attempt to create this musical journey? While he finds the idea of a ‘perfect’ mix too subjective, for Januszewski it would be a “potent blend of nostalgia and genre.” And while making a mix cannot be taught to a note, there are certainly tips that you can keep in mind. Choose a title – it helps distinguish mixes. Make sure to include the date as well, so that when you look back and ask yourself why you had Hanson’s “Mmmm Bop” on your mix in 1995, you can cringe and blame it on being young. Juxtaposition and cohesiveness are key: pick a theme, no matter how simple, and stick with it. Even if it is just “Happy Songs” make sure you don’t throw in REM’s “Everybody Hurts”—it could get confusing. Technically, make sure the levels are all equal and the spaces between songs are equivalent. If you plan to give it as a gift, make sure the lyrics are a clear representation of your intent. If you are trying to break up with your girlfriend, eliminate any songs that have “love” or “forever.” Consider a rough draft. CDRs and blank tapes aren’t too expensive. See what works or what could be missing. Use a piece of paper and a pen and write down or draw a picture of what you feel while listening to it. Make sure that’s what’s you want to represent. Presentation is important, especially on a tape or CD. With innovative computer programs, they can look quite snazzy. For those of you who are artistic, use your trusty markers for the personal touch. Just make sure that the song names are visible. And if you weren’t convinced about just how important mixes are, check out some famous faces who love them just as much as we do.   Director and screenwriter Cameron Crowe creates numerous mix tapes for each of his films. It has been reported that he gives the tapes out to actors to help them identify with their roles. In Almost Famous, Kate Hudson’s tape consisted of mostly Joni Mitchell In Joe Meno’s fantastic third novel, Hairstyles of the Damned, protagonist Brian revises the tape he wishes to give to his best friend Gretchen to proclaim his love. The many versions of the tape sit in his pocket for much of the novel. Zach Braff attached a mix with the script for his hit indie debut, Garden State, when trying to sell it. Many producers passed up on the film, but still listen to his mix in the car. The tape comprised of The Shins and Frou Frou, which eventually became the film’s Grammy winning soundtrack. Everyone from blogger Sarah Ultragrrrl Lewitinn and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore are getting book deals on mixes alone. Ultragrrrl’s The Pocket DJ features every type of mix imaginable from “Songs to Tune Out Your Chatty Coworkers” to “Songs for Your Haunted House.” On the other hand, Moore focuses on the mixtape-culture and history in his coffee table staple Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture.  
Looks like myself , DJ Wynn and DJ Emily are all going to hit up the Ohmega Watts show tonight at the Common Grounds in G-Ville. I'll be posting a full report on what transpires sometime next week, so check back to the main page, if indeed ye like that good hip hop. In other news, I just got off the phone with Chris Watson of Park the Van Records, and it looks like we're going ahead with a specialty show featuring all the dapper bands on his label (The Teeth, Dr. Dog, The Capitol Years, National Eye, Jukbox, etc). And the lovely DJ Emily will soon be doing a specialty show on Cheap Lullaby Records (The Bellrays, Gus Black, Randy and the Bloody Lovelies, Tobias Froberg, Robin McKelle, L.E.O., etc)! It's a lot to swaller, I know. There is just so much good music to listen to... Also, I have a brand new IamIsee track to begin my show this Friday, and it's one of the best sets of bars I've heard in a long time. The man has the most ridiculously succinct wordplay, and it boggles my mind that a major label has not scooped him up yet. His  observations on pop culture and philosphy never fail to amaze me, never mind the utter bombast with which he destroys the microphone. DJ Demon's production on the track is a perfect match for the original invisible man, with one of the most suitable samples to ever bump up against a tightly wound rhyme...namely, "AWWWWWW SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!" And to top it all off, Demon begins the cut with a quote from the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. It's just so damn satisfying! To hell with that food nonsense...
The amount of music that we listen to at BTR in the off hours is ridiculous. I'm currently surrounded by hundreds of albums, not to mention the plethora of music available on-line and the new records en route to our office every day. There are definitely worse ways to make a living, but I'm afraid that I may have picked up some bad habits while searching for quality tunes. First off, a band's name doesn't dictate how much I enjoy their music, but it does determine the order of when I listen to it.  I tend to put bands with the lead singer in the name towards the bottom of the pile and if there is a day of the week thrown in somewhere, I can almost predict how the band will sound. This may seem naive, but  it's more of a pattern I've noticed from all of the hours I've logged in with my headphones. Another bad habit I have is something I call the "Record Label Exec. Syndrome." During the first listening of a band's music, I scan for something to hook me instantly. A guitar riff that would drag me onto the dance floor, a voice I could fall asleep to, or maybe beats that make me want to play the track at ungodly volumes in my Civic. This leads to plenty of quick listening sessions where I drag the search bar through a song until I hear something I like. Now it's time for the disclaimer: 1) I don't write off bands completely because of their names and 2) Most if not all songs are meant to be listened to the whole way through. It takes time, but I eventually listen to everything that is sent to me, even the albums with a generic picture of a scantily clad woman on the cover. As for the song scanning, I may pass on a track initially, but I always go back for a second and third listening because you can't grasp a song from a ten second clip. So if you share my neurosis, it's all right. Just be aware of it, because you can miss out on some great artists if you take other variables into account besides the music, which is what matters most.
If you’ve listened to BTR for a while, you’ve heard quite the laundry list of music and artists. Having been with the station for just over a year now, it’s been great to be introduced to all of these bands especially as they start garnering more success of their own—concerts, subsequent albums, airplay, cult followings, etc.   At the station, we strive to play some new music for you every day. Even if it’s just a new single by a BTR artist, the freshest angle is our daily goal.   Through the year and half of BTR’s existence, though, we’ve been introduced to more and more listeners who might not have heard some of the great music we had early on.   In honor of being here a year, I plan to spin a few of these artists for you next week. Not the whole show, but just some old BTR favorites where they fit in to the music mix. After all, the flow is always key.   And while our artists need no help in sounding as great as they do, I’m happy we can at least provide the platform for you to hear them—the next best thing, the alternative to the flavor of the week. So, in that respect, I like to think BTR provides a helping hand for the artists.   So stay tuned for next Wednesday’s show and feel free to email me with any BTR requests!  
So, this past week was awesome for me. I checked out a GREAT show on Wednesday night here in Gainesville at the Sidebar. The lovely gents from Band Marino played a great set to a packed club. Please, please, please... if they come your way go see them, they rock! The guys actually ended up crashing at our place after the show before heading out early in the morning to make their way toward Tennessee for a battle of the bands. I haven't heard the outcome of the event yet. I'm thinking they won! Maybe I'm biased? Things were even better on Friday night because I got to check out 3 awesome BTR bands. The Swear, Second Shift, and Beautiful Mess played at my favorite little bar in Jacksonville; Jackrabbits. The bar is great! Stickers from all the bands that have played there before adorn the walls, they only serve beer, and the sound is pretty darn good. They have Guiness on tap, so I'm set. It was my first time seeing The Swear and Second Shift and they were both great acts! I have seen Beautiful Mess on numerous occasions, as they are one of my FAVORITE bands. I'd say this show was probably the best I'd seen. It was their triumphant return to Jacksonville after a move to Atlanta and well... it ROCKED! They are so talented. I'm being a bit vague here because I want you to read my article. It should be up Wednesday and you can learn all about the magical time I had in Jax. Coming up this week are 2 more shows! Tomorrow is Sufjan Stevens in Orlando. I'm not 100% sure I'm gonna make it. You see, my husband and I have one ticket (for those of you who don't know... my husband is DJ Latola). We are both quite big fans of the man and I don't know how it's going to work out yet... but I'm sure one of us will make the trek. Later this week I'm seeing Tom Petty... yeah, he's not a BTR artist but the man is a legend. I love his music and him... he's actually from Gainesville! Sweet! It should be a great show. Alright friends, I'm out for now. READ MY ARTICLE and LISTEN TO MY SHOW! Check out all the other exciting stuff going on here as well! -- Em
School has been back in session for almost a month, and everybody is burning through music at twice the usual rate. Bus rides, lunch breaks and long campus walks are sapping up the strength of the strongest batteries, never mind the freshness of that album you bought a few weeks ago. We require more, more, more!  Luckily the DJs at BTR have been busy foraging for the latest in quality sonic vittles, having fantastic success. Here’s a list of ten albums we’ve been grooving to as of late, new to the BTR library and bound to please you aurally.     Fire and Ice Cream Bing Ji Ling According to legend, Quinn Luke was born in the back of his parents’ Chinese ice cream truck while en route to a rural California hospital. In honor of his auspicious entry into this world, the baby was given the name Bing Ji Ling, the Chinese word for “ice cream.” He has since evolved into a modern day master of funk and soul, creating music perfect for hot summer house parties and discotheque roller skating rinks. We’re longtime supporters of his music here on BTR, and we’re tickled to announce that his new album, Fire and Ice Cream, will be hitting stores in mid-October. Of course, we’ll be playing it exclusively here on BTR until then. Key Track: “Forever”     Shy Child One with the Sun Straight from the sound coffers of the New York City-based Say Hey records, Shy Child is in fact a brazen duo with nary a self conscious nod. Pete Cafarella and Nate Smith create bouncy electronically-laced bangers, best appreciated during recess and that time of night when you’re getting ready to go out. We’re eagerly awaiting the group’s latest effort, currently being recorded and produced by Chris Zane (Calla, Les Savy Fav, Asobi Seksu) and Paul Epworth (Bloc Party, The Rapture, Maximo Park). Keep an eye out for a Shy Child show if you’re in the U.K.   Key Track: “Summer”   The Brobecks Named after a mysterious girl who always got called to the principal’s office, The Brobecks are a dance-friendly indie pop rock outfit from the great state of Utah. Their album, Good Night and Have a Pleasant Tomorrow, is a front-runner for album of the year, boasting so many instantly addictable tracks that methamphetamine is now officially pissed. And yes, half the band are indeed Mormons, which just further intensifies our belief that it's only a matter of time before The Brobecks take over the booming realm of indie rock. Key Track: “Bike Ride”     Be He Me Annuals For a solid description of this ridiculously good album, please read the excellent interview with lead singer Adam Baker, right here on the BTR website, by Rachael Darmanin. Needless to say, we are very excited…   Key Track: “Brother”     Paparazzi Lightning Ghostland Observatory Imagine a mass of sleazy photographers rolling through the Haunted Mansion at Disney World, the flashbulbs on their cameras electrocuting the darkness like mutant fireflies. Such imagery sprouts easily after looking at this perfectly named band and album title, which could be the best we’ve seen all year. This duo from Austin comes correct with a masterful blend of synth-driven soul and rabble rousing rock, the kind that screams for sweat. It’s as if Daft Punk got drunk Led Zeppelin while watching a bunch of those old-school break dancing films from the early 80’s. Key Track: “Sad Sad City”     Another Early Evening Earmint Boasting a slew of well-produced instrumental hip hop tracks, Another Early Evening is one of those perfect albums to marinate on while whilst walking the city streets at night. These beat-driven opuses could be compared to the work of Herbaliser, DJ Shadow, DJ Food and Dan the Automator. Of course, that’s not to say there are no rhymes on the album; indeed there are, with guest appearances by Diverse, Psalm 1, Murs and plenty more of Chi-Towns best underground talents. But the album belongs to Earmint, the self-proclaimed “bedroom producer” who works as a graphic designer by day.    Key Track: “Cut to Carchase”     s/t Diet For everybody who digs the purple jolly rancher, this quartet from Columbus, Ohio has a vibe unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. They mix styles like a crazed chemist bent on inventing something completely new, and they almost succeed. Pounding, oddly placed drums beats are key to their sound, as are electronically distorted vocals and instrumentation, never mind the fuzzed out guitar shredding. Somehow it all manages to coalesce into something extraordinary, although it may take a few listens to realize what their hatching. Not an album for the casual listener, but a perfect one to scare those Dave Matthews fans with.     Key Track: “Image This Alone”     Hollywood EP Walter Meego It may just be an EP, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find two better-produced dance tracks that aren’t gay. “Through a Keyhole” and “Hollywood” (plus a remix apiece) both rumble with thunderbolt bass, intuitive grooves and electronically-laced vocals, all chiseled tightly together within a throbbing atmosphere that people can move to. The dance-friendly force is comprised of the singer/songwriter Justin Sconza, the DJ Jarret Spiegel, and the manipulator of everything else electronically powered, Colin Yarck, with the full-on Walter Meego persona representing the city of Champaign, Ill-a-noise. We challenge you to not nod your head to this. Key Track: Both!   Midnight Green Modill Comprised of the smooth flowing MC Racecar and the swerve driving beatsmith K Kruz, Modill is a relatively new hip-hop outfit hailing from Chicago, Illinois, with Midnight Green being their debut album. Top-notch guest appearances by Longshot, Thaione Davis, Diverse and Dave from De La Soul bring immediate credibility to the album, which hits hard and quick, most songs clocking in well under three minutes. It all smacks structurally of Gang Starr, with chilled-out observations and head nodding tracks from start to finish.   Key Track: “Nightly”     Life Before 40 Low Life Records Compilation   Pretty much “The” underground hip hop label of the United Kingdom, Low Life Records has been churning out quality music for the past 14 years, with this compilation album being their 40th release (hence the title). It includes stellar tracks from Braintax, Verb T, Jehst, Mystro, Rodney P, Skinnyman and Task Force, amongst others. If ever you wanted the perfect introduction to the absolute best of British hip-hop, this action-packed album is most definitely it. Hit after hit after hit after hit, for real.    Key Track: “Ricochet”   Goodnight, and Have a Pleasant Tomorrow
Adam Baker is sitting in a nature park by his North Carolina house and he’s completely nervous. He will have to get used to the limelight soon, if his debut album Be He Me from his six-piece band Annuals is any proof. With one of the most promising albums of 2006, Baker and his band have succeeded in melding genres and influences to create a ripe and organic new sound. Having already earned the attention from the online music world, Annuals are on the eve of a much-hyped tour. “Am I babbling too much?” he asks me half way through the interview. I assure him he is not. Baker is the real deal. Unhinged and worried, excited and humble. After my conversation, I thought to myself that I had just talked to someone that may be considered one our generation’s musical greats. Still so young, but playing since he was just thirteen, he has a debut album that will shock and inspire. Baker will have to get used to all this…very quickly. BREAKTHRU RADIO: So I hear that you are only 19 years and yet listening to the album, I find that really hard to believe. ADAM BAKER: Well I recently turned 20, but around the time that I started the band, I was 18 and19…so if you round it off okay, I am 19. BTR: How long have you been playing and when did you become serious about starting a band? AB: I have been playing music since I was 13 with another group called Sedona that has some of the same members [Kenny Florence on the guitar and Mike Robinson on bass]. The whole time I was in the band I started recording my own songs, I was taking a bunch of audio recording classes in high school. After a while, all my friends started listening to them, and told me to get it going. We are all good friends so we started playing in both bands, which we still do. BTR: What kind of music did you listen to growing up? AB: Anything by Mike Patton and Mr. Bungle. I still consider them living. Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys, David Byrne. Bjork always. I like a lot of weird stuff like country and Brad Paisley is my favorite artist right now. But I grew up on punk, straight up since I was 12 or 13… it was the only music I could play in those days. BTR: What kind of punk? AB: Whatever my friends were listening to. A lot of Bouncing Souls, old Saves The Day in their early years, Alkaline Trio. I always understood the mentality of real punk, but I could never get in the music. So I guess you could say I was listening to pop punk. BTR: Is there much of a music scene in North Carolina? AB: There’s a wonderful music scene, it’s the best state in the country and the world. We have a loving music scene where everyone has been so supportive. It’s mostly centered around Chapel Hill, which is about 15 to 20 minutes away from me. I have been playing shows in the Sedona outfit since I was 14. There are so many house shows asides from venues too. Everyone here is always listening to new music. BTR: Did you ever run in any problems being underage? AB: There are countless stories, but we did get respect from some people mostly from sound guys. We pretty much tried not to let our ages get out. Kenny is still 19 and started at 12 years old playing the guitar. Some of the bands' parents were worried, but not my mom in particular. My dad was a drummer in the past. But it was weird being at shows with 25 year olds when I was 14. It was very surreal to go to school the next day. BTR: Do all of your parents approve of you being in a band? AB: My mom lives in Beauford along the coast, and she makes the drive to see and hang out with me at shows. I can hear her fucking screaming from the back row. A lot of the others’ parents come to the shows too. They are all happy that we are starting to find a way to make this work. BTR: Are you still in school? AB: I didn’t finish high school; it was a really weird story. I didn’t go for the last 4 months. Then I got a call and they said hey man, do you want to pick up your diploma? It was a sweet sweet glitch. I got kicked out for undisclosed reasons and yet they let me graduate anyway. It was always hard to concentrate on school…I had better things to do. BTR: Where was Be He Me recorded? AB: The main recording of the record was done in a little tiny practice space in North Carolina. All we had was a 10x10 room so we went to New York to record things like pianos. There were a lot of great string players that we used and that’s definitely an aspect we wanted to include. We then went to LA to mix it. But the heart of the album was recorded at home. BTR: Were most of the songs written beforehand? AB: All the songs were done in my eyes before we went anywhere. They were done before we signed with Ace Fu. But still going to NY and LA, there were so many things that we didn’t have down here that we could use. BTR: Are you the primary songwriter or how are these songs then formulated? AB: I record a lot of the things on my own, but Kenny inputs a lot of stuff. He is seriously a prodigy guitar player at 19 years old. There are some parts that if I’m not cutting it when it comes to guitar majesty, I call him up and he’ll put a solo in. It takes him five minutes. I write and record a lot of it myself, and since I already know how to record it is easier for me. Everyone has a lot of input but in the beginning, the writing and original recordings were just me. BTR: Tell me about the recording process of Be He Me, because it sounds very technical to me and yet in a very organic way. AB: It took a long time. Even though I have some training, my teacher in school was terrible but at least I had a lot of practice. It’s a big problem with me because I don’t like leaving a song until it’s done. I’ll often spend a day and a half to two days with a song without getting up. I bring bread and stuff, but it’s a very nice aspect for me to be in. I have a hard time recording with a lot of people, it’s nice to sit there for two days, and turn off my phone. It’s very therapeutic. If you could see one of my sessions, you’d be overwhelmed. BTR: Do some songs take much longer than others? AB: There are always the ones that I think are my favorites that take extra time, and those are the ones that hurt me. I completely ruined my back by the way I sit, so now I have to go to a chiropractor and do all these exercises. “Sway” was recorded when I was 17 and I only had 8 track. And then out of nowhere a year and a half ago, I was bored and started rerecording it again. I didn’t expect it to be on the record, so I just took it too far. BTR: I think what I like most about your album is that when someone asks me what it sounds like, I can’t quite put my finger on it. There seems to be so many aspects and influences on it that each time it almost sounds like a completely new album. Was that intentional and if so, do you think that may be detrimental in finding new audiences? AB: It’s been a real problem because we have to classify ourselves a lot lately. I don’t know if it was intentional. When I started writing songs, I just didn’t think about it. It just came out. I hear the influences in there and then I get worried, but people don’t seem to notice. I guess I’m covering my tracks. I guess it’s something to be proud of – if people are having a hard time classifying or comparing us to other bands, that’s okay. BTR: So you got a nice stamp of approval from the almighty Pitchfork. Since then, the blogs have been going a bit crazy over you guys. How much do you rely on the internet to spread the word and do you ever worry that it may be a bit much too soon? AB: We always worry that it will all just stop. One day we’ll wake up and there will be nothing. But we don’t rely on the internet, I don’t think. I would know how. But we definitely do embrace what they give us. Pitchfork are really nice guys, from the beginning even before the record was done they really liked it. From there, it has been a nice stepping stone. We don’t know how it will turn out because the record isn’t even out yet. BTR: Do you read music blogs? AB: When they first started happening, I read them. But after awhile they all say the same things over and over again. Now I just check to make sure they get our name right. It’s Annuals not The Annuals. If they say we’re bad, that’s better than no press at all. We try not to pay too much attention to it, so we don’t get too wrapped up in ourselves or miss it when we are gone. We try to stay in the worst mindset. BTR: You guys are about to go out on tour and while I missed the show last time here but I’ll be sure to catch you this time. From the pictures I’ve seen, it appears one of you dresses up in some animal costume. Is this a regular routine? AB: That would be me. Honestly I’m not trying to bullshit, I just like dressing up a lot. It helps me get into a fun character and get into fun on stage. I like to do jumping jacks and pushups on stage. It's a very energetic event for the band. We try to be theatrical at times, but not gimmicky. I’m thinking of giving up the costume thing but it’s fun for me. It still is fun and every show I play. Without it I don’t feel right. BTR: Has it always been the same costume? AB: There have been many costumes, but the one I wear the most is a choir robe and a cathead. It was something that I can’t even begin to explain. It’s not a deep feeling or anything, but when I look down and I see myself in a robe, I know I’m crazy. It gets me hyped. And I think it looks good on me. BTR: What can one expect from your live show that they may not see with other bands? I hear at one point you have three guys playing the drums? AB: You can always expect an immense amount of energy from all of us. People have fainted and blacked out. We try and give it our all. We go to shows a lot and we see bands that are not energetic…you can listen to an album anytime. Every song we play sounds different. We switch around instruments all the time. We all sing and all that stuff. You can expect six people giving their all. BTR: You will be teaming up with Art Brut and Tapes ‘n Tapes for a couple shows. Have you met the guys from the bands before? AB: I like Tapes ‘n Tapes and from what I’ve heard they sold a bunch of records without being signed. His voice is very gritty and makes me really want to lay down with him. Art Brut is just wonderful. I have been listening to them for a while and they are on the radio all the time. I’m really looking forward to meeting them. It’s good to hang out with people that want you around, we are all banking on that. BTR: Is there anything you hope to learn from them about how crazy this whole instant hype can be? AB: We are still a little fish in a big pond. We are all very young. They’ve been doing it for a while and I guess I can learn how to take these things. I may be 20 years old, but I certainly don’t feel it. I don’t know how to deal with it, people who are 20 years older than me and are pros. Here I am, with this shit that was recorded in my basement. You gotta be able to see through things, I just don’t know what to look through and look straight at. I just want to learn so much, and accumulate memories with great people. I don’t like being home. I want to be gone all the time. BTR: How would you define success? Is there anything in particular that you want to achieve to then be able to say, ok, I made it. AB: Success would come in two different queues. One, I want to be able to never work again; I just want to work on music, whether it is production or mixing projects or being on tour. The other tier is that I want to buy my mom a house, really badly. She wants something off the coast, waterfront, and I want to get that for her one day, dammit. The first tier is much more easily achieved. BTR: Your debut album is coming out in October, but I read about an EP this summer. Did that ever get released? AB: It was released off of the label that we formed down here in North Carolina called Terpsikhore. A friend of ours has been backing us, and he was the one who put me in a studio in the first place. In the early days, I was working on a cheap piece of shit, but he started listening to it and saw some potential. After a while we started a label and gave it a shot. They released the EP under their name. It’s not in stores or online, but it will be in the next few weeks. It has one song the same, the rest are b-sides. Kenny wrote one of the songs, so get it just for his song. BTR: I know that your album isn’t even released yet, but I’m already itching to hear more. Are you continuously writing new songs and will they sound anything like what we’ve already heard? AB: It is hard to get through a week without writing any songs. I can sit down and write a song that makes me happy relatively easily. The second record is already laid out and done. I couldn’t say if they sound the same. It’s hard for me to define it. I’m much more close to it. It’s different to me than anything else. The songs are done but they were recorded here. Now we have more open doors with producers and string players, and we’re trying to get an orchestra. There are a lot of things to be done outside my little bubble, but it’s already done on my end. Check out Annuals on their website at or Be He Me will be released on October 17 through Ace Fu Records.
So, I was at the Whigs show a few weeks ago when a very odd thing happened. I bring it up because it struck me as hilarious, and I'm amazed that I was privy to such a dedicated display of politeness under drunken influence. The place was pretty well-packed, and I was leaning against a support beam near the middle, taking notes. I watched as a scruffy looking gentleman worked his way out from the middle of the crowd, rather painstakingly, toward the bar. He had a half-full beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, both of which impeded his journey. When he finally arrived at his destination, he took one last drag on his cigarette before clumsily stubbing it out in a large ashtray. It was obvious he had been drinking a bit.  Then he turned around, went back the way he had come, and resumed his position in the middle of the mass, taking a large gulp from his glass. I couldn't believe it! 99% of people at a show will throw their burnt square on the ground and forget about it. Some actually take the time to heel it out, of course, or maybe the cat standing next door will do it, if they care enough. Forget all that if the person has been drinking a lot. So, I just wanted to acknowledge such a fine display of manners, the likes of which I doubt I'll see again soon. And it was damn funny too.
DJ L recently recommended a BTR band to me. Now, when anyone recommends a band to me, friend/colleague/both, I always give it a fair listen, and an intent listen. Sometimes, I'll admit, that with the stacks of CDs lying around my work area, it tends to take me a while to get to an album. I suppose it's a personality thing. I need to give every band a fair chance and an undivided listen. It does help if I'm in the mood for the genre I'm taking in. As I've mentioned in previous posts (and DJ L shares this), I have a sort of music taste A.D.D. But as I take in this new band, I hope you out there in listener land do the same with the new BTR artists that strike your fancy. The beauty of BTR is that we're not told to play anything. As musicologists, we play with an open mind with feedback from fans and our own personal tastes. We DJs are not just button pushers; we're fans too! That's just one of the things that makes BTR great. Both listener and deliverer are enthusiasts! And, as for this band that DJ L is recommending… tune in next week and I'll be sure to mention it on my show and give it a spin for you…
Here’s something to consider. If you are a fan of independent music, chances are you discovered a lot of your favorite bands at a live show. Most of the bands I’ve come to love usually ended up opening for a band I already knew, or I just happened to wander into a venue and be wowed. I like going to shows. I try and make it out to at least three a week, and living in New York City helps my addiction. Sometimes I have a hard time walking past venues without going in on my walk home. It’s just so alluring isn’t it? The fact that a live experience is a one-time thing, never again will that same show happened again. It makes you feel special and downright good inside. And there’s always that added bonus when you can brag to your friends that you saw [insert band name here] for the first time [insert venue here] in front of 10 people. And now they are huge. Because of my concert going experience, I’ve learned a few things. There is certain acceptable etiquette when you attend small shows that you need to respect, right down to where you should stand. Apparently it’s a given that there will be at least five feet of empty space between the band and the start of the crowd. It must be fear of getting sucked in on stage, or something, because I never understood the distance. No one wants to be that kid standing by himself right up at the front, but I say go for it. More power to you. The people in the front of the crowd will most likely be photographers. You would think that small indie shows wouldn’t get their fair amount of press people out, but you’d think wrong. Everyone’s a critic these days with the advent of the blog world, so keep a look out for them. [Note: the bigger the camera, the more popular the publication, or so it seems] Behind the bloggers will be the regular showgoers, who chances are read the blogs of the bloggers in front of them. Confusing? Yes. But these are the die-hard fans that you can go crazy with. It’s a 50/50 chance that they will dance, depending on the music. Most will stand there with their arms crossed but will bob their head. If you have some head bobbing, the band should be pleased. Then you’ll have that group who probably have had too much to drink and will start pushing into you. Just smile and nod, these aren’t the kind of people you want to mess with. Just focus on the band. And then you have the suits. And the “elders” (note: in hipsterland, its anyone over 30). They are usually centered around the bar, which most of the time is located in the back of the venue. The suits (A&R folks who want to sign the ‘next big band’) are easy to spot out; they stick out amongst the ripped jeans and t-shirts. And the elders are always good fun. They will always tell you that they will stop going to this shows one day, but you know they can’t stay away. They love it too much. So now that you have the layout, here are some rules that you may choose to obey.  If you are tall, check behind you. No one likes the tall guy who stands in front of everyone else. You’ll be able to see just fine from the back; don’t ruin the experience for everyone else. Bands: you can tell the crowd to move up as much as possible, but they probably wont. Why not incorporate it into a song? We aren’t talking any “Time Warp” cheesiness, but I think you can find something creative. The more you drink, the louder your voice gets. Try and save your chitchat for between the songs. And if you are going to sing, I’m in full support. Just keep it at a lower volume than the band. No one paid to see you. I love technology, but there’s got to be some regulations in regards to concert photography. Whether its on your cool digi camera, your cell phone, sidekick, whatever – there’s one thing you need to remember. Keep the flash to a minimum. Concert pictures come out better without the flash anyways. Give it a shot. Don’t just go to be scene. You know what those people are called right? They are no fun. Get there early for the opening band, and stay for full sets. No one will remember if you went that show or not, but you will remember how great that band was. Trust me, it’s worth your energy. Girls: leave the heels at home. Boys: keep the hair gel to a minimum. Say hi to the band after the show. They aren’t as scary as they look. Bands really want to know their fans and are ever so appreciative of you coming out and showing your support. Why not buy some merch too? These bands are working their little bottoms of and need all the help they can get. Went to a great show lately and can’t keep your comments inside? Why not get your thoughts up on BTR! We’d love to post some of your reviews and pictures. Email if you have any recent show reviews. Photo by Crackers United
Remember the first song you heard and said, "Wow, that's completely the way I'm feeling?" Typically, people start thoroughly interpreting lyrics and applying them to their own lives in their early teen years; generally prompted by periods of love or breakup, success or failure, life and death. What I mean is that typically, at least for me, life circumstances prompt these applicable interpretations rather than just the song. This is not to say I don't follow along with the lyrics and interpret them, but rather I don't apply them to my own life under normal circumstances. Now, while there's nothing going on in my life (that I know of) that would put me in this sort of "Socrates-mood," recently it WAS the song that hit me. To be fair, it's been a week of mainly rainy days in the New York area, and much of the southern US. It's those rainy days that tend to keep me indoors, of course tuned to BTR, and reading---thus feeling philosophical. And in my moist moments of interpretation, I've found myself delving into the minds of our BTR artists as I take in their poetic voicetracks. But one song did stand out. That song was none other than "Run Me Out Of Town" by BTR artist Jason Brouwer. Now, I won't go on into detail about my interprative musings. Rather, I invite you to take a listen tomorrow, as I will play the song and let you be the Socrates. Afterwards, shoot me an email and let me know what you think...
I have a confession: I'm addicted to blogs. I wake up every morning and check my list of hundreds of music blogs. I read them all, throughout the day, into the night. It’s an addiction that I am readily able to admit because, well... I’m a blogger too. Blogs, or what are known as weblogs for the less computer savvy, is the internet’s latest form of online journalism. Anyone can create their own free blog, and can post about anything they want. Music blogs seem to be the most popular, as many are posting free music from up-and-coming bands that normally wouldn’t have this kind of immediate exposure. When I first started blogging, the idea was still novel. The idea that any jack and jane could voice their opinions about music was incentive enough, but to have people actually read, from places across the country and around the world, was incredible. In the beginning, bloggers were all about exposing an audience to new music. Sadly, things have started to change. Naturally, the industry has taken notice. Major labels are seeking out bloggers to create an unwarranted buzz. Some bloggers are using their latest celebrity status to chastise why they began the blog in the first place. Competition has gotten fierce over who mentioned this or that band first. Much of the innocence is lost with popularity, which seems to be a trend in this industry. Like I said, I’m still an addict and it is because there are still blogs out there that are out on the battle fields, scouring through each city and town to discover your new favorite band. Below is a guide to those bloggers we’ve come to love and adore here at BTR, and a little bit about their musical tastes. Name : Justin Gage Site : Bloggin’ since: 2005 Location: Los Angeles, CA Favorite live experience:  The National @ The Troubadour, West Hollywood, CA Current band of choice: Right now I cannot stop listening to Howlin' Rain's debut album.  It's Ethan from Comets On Fire plus some other psych-rock folks turning it down and doing an indie-rock take on the style of The Allman Brothers, Band of Gypsys, and Grateful Dead.  Not to be missed in a live setting either. Name : Coolfer Site : Bloggin’ since: August 2003 Location: Just moved to Nashville from NYC Favorite live experience: I think the Tom Waits show I saw in Nashville in early August was the best show I've seen in the last three years. Current band of choice: I'm wearing out the latest Mew album right now (and have been for weeks). My tastes span eras and genres, and this band really hits the sweet spot on many of them. I'm a fan of falsetto-singing indie rock. I'm a fan of prog. I'm a fan of Dinosaur Jr (whose J Mascis sings on a song, and whose influence can be heard from the vocals to the bottom-heavy explosiveness of the band). I'm a fan of psychedlic. At the end of the day I'm a sucker for a good hook, which this album has plenty of. Mew has synthesized a lot of different kinds of music that I personally like, so enjoying this album is automatic. Name: Dany Sloan Site: Bloggin’ since: May 2005 Location: Boston, MA Favorite live experience: Seeing Birdmonster several times at SXSW 2k6 Current band of choice: I love the Plan B album -- it hasn't hit the States yet, but I am glad that there is still great grime coming out. Name: Matthew Perpetua Site: Bloggin’ since: February 2002 Location: Astoria, Queens Favorite live experience: All-request (read: several Pavement songs) solo acoustic Stephen Malkmus and the final NYC Sleater-Kinney show are the major highlights of 2006 thus far. Current band of choice: A Sunny Day In Glasgow for sounding like cassettes of 80s DIY bands that have melted in someone's car; Marit Larsen for making pop songs that are so elegantly composed and so full of youth and spirit; Erase Errata for stepping up and becoming one of the few truly great punk bands existing right now; Girl Talk for making a mix that is like the answer to the question "what's so great about pop music?" Name: Brian Site: Bloggin’ since: May 2005 Location: Michigan Favorite live experience: Seeing The Rapture opening for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in Detroit, everything was just insanely fun that night and no one was caught standing still and just watching. Current band of choice: I haven't been able to get enough of Tyondai Braxton, he is an amazing musician who is doing something completely original but is sadly just flying by most people unnoticed. His work with Battles is incredible and I am extremely excited to hear where his solo material goes now that he signed to Warp records. Name: Chris Cantalini Site: Bloggin’ since: March 2005 Location: Dallas, TX Favorite live experience: Arcade Fire and The Black Keys at Stubb's in Austin, TX. Current band of choice: St. Vincent. She's amazing. Name: Connor Site: Bloggin’ since: November 2005 Location: The Biggest Lil' State In The Union (RI) Favorite live experience: Pitchfork Festival '06 - great line-up, energizing performances, and a very hospitable fest, despite the heat! Current band of choice: There's this amazing band called Arizona that just released their debut, Welcome Back Dear Children.  It's an amazing album, shows TONS of experience even though it's their first album.  Their sound is all over the place, from Beatles-esq psychedelia, to Modest Mouse style freakouts... this will probably be your new favorite band...fair warning. Name: Nora K Site: Bloggin’ since: January 2004 Location: Brooklyn, NY Favorite live experience: Probably seeing Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at Pianos before they became the crazy sensation that they are now. They played a residency there the entire month of January and I went every single night. Either that or seeing David Byrne play with the Arcade Fire during the encore of their Irving Plaza show. Current band of choice: Tally Hall, an amazing band from Ann Arbor Michigan. I think some bloggers and industry people are quick to dismiss them as a novelty act, but I've never had more fun at a show or seen an unsigned band with a more devoted following. Def. worth checking out! Name: Nikki Bridges Site: Bloggin’ since: August 2005 Location: Brooklyn, New York... soon to be blogging from the trendiest-of-the-trendy cities Madison, Wisconsin Favorite live experience: My favorite live experience so far has to be when Casey and Jeff from The Undisputed Heavyweights played a set at my elementary school.  There are now a few children who want to grow their hair long and be rock stars running around Hunts Point. Current band of choice: Division Day.  There are very few bands that can sing a lyric like "I want your blood inside my head" over bouncing piano chords and leave you smiling at the end. Name: David Gutowski Site: Bloggin' since: January 2002 Location: North Alabama, USA Favorite live experience: There have been many standout live moments, but John Darnielle playing "Golden Boy" live for the first time ever at Athens Popfest a couple of weeks ago almost blew my mind. Current band of choice: After several months, I am still enjoying Casey Dienel's debut album, Wind-up Canary. I get so many discs in the mail, I find myself using it as a audio palate cleanser. Its clever songwriting and simple melodies stand out, the album is all substance in an indie music scene too often rued by style. Name: Audrey / Melody Nelson Site: Bloggin’ since: October 2002 Location: New York Favorite live experience: PJ Harvey at The Knitting Factory - June 2, 2004 Current band of choice: The Knife's new album "Silent Shout", for the incredibly twisted, dark, yet seductive electro-pop. Nothing quite like it out there at the moment. Name: Ryan Matteson Site: Bloggin’ since: 2005 Location: Madison, WI Favorite live experience: Broken Social Scene at Lollapalooza. That just happened. Current band of choice: Hot Chip put out The Warning this year and, while I liked it at first listen I didn't love the album.  That all changed when I saw them live recently in Chicago.  Since that performance I've listened to that album about 11 times, and that's just what iTunes is recording and doesn't take into consideration how many times I've played my vinyl copy. The thing that makes me the most excited about this album is that it's so outside the realm of things that I would normally listen to, and that's good to get into and feel out from time to time. Can't recommend the band or album enough. Name : Dodge Site : Bloggin’ since: January 2005 Location: Indianapolis, IN Favorite live experience: Lolla 2006, SXSW 2005, ACL 2005, Lolla 2005, Pitchfork 2006, Midwest Music Summit 2006 Current band of choice: Girl Talk's Night Ripper. It's 'Name That Tune' crossed with best party you've ever been to.  Kings & Queens - Organs + guitars + great vocal harmonies = hot! Silversun Pickups - Best band and album of 2006 Name: Jerry Yeti Site: Bloggin’ since: March 2005 Location: New York, NY Favorite live experience: Wrens @ Mercury Lounge, CMJ 05.  I had just seen the Arcade Fire early that night and they came across as uneven.  The Wrens played late into the night downtown and nothing has been comparable since. Current band of choice: Helios.  Melodic, intentional, nuanced, and peaceful. Name: JAX Site: Bloggin’ since: May 2005 Location: Hollywood, CA Favorite live experience: Toss Up.  Arcade Fire at Coachella 2005 (really doesn’t get better than the sun setting behind the band in the most picturesque location possible) or Cold War Kids at The Echo February 2006. We all knew that was it – This band is going be be huge   Current band of choice: Briertone (indie, bluegrass, southern rock). I seriously cannot say enough good things about this band. They are truly fantastic live and have a style all their own. Its really hard to classify them, which is what I love most about them. Name: Daniel Richmond Beirne Site: Bloggin’ since: 2004 Location: Montreal, Canada Favorite live experience: Losing my virginity?  Is that what you mean? Current band of choice: The Low Lows - get out of your hammock, stop counting your money, put down your cookies and get this album. The Low Lows are like three glasses of whine (sic), an unexpected phone call, and a solution to the turmoil that old flame represents.  At times, Fire On The Bright Sky feels like a musical, like an off-Broadway type, the kind David Byrne likes to do, but more Mercury Rev and Lou Reed eating both sides of the same piece of spaghetti.  At other times, the album feels like a short story, like with a twist ending and bunch of archetypes that we don't have time to meet fully, yet we completely understand.  Oh, grrrr, listen and tell me! Name: Rachelandthecity Site: Bloggin’ since: October 2003 Location: Memphis, TN Favorite live experience: Blogging Lollapalooza!! Current band of choice: Everyone on Makeshift Music, a label here in Memphis is great! From Snowglobe to Blair Combest to Holly Cole - they have had some really great releases this year! The genre's are all over the place from Americana to Folk to Indie Rock all with great instrumentation and insightful lyrics...and they all play on each other's records so they call themselves the Makeshift Mafia. I am also looking forward to the new Coach and Four record which is also on Makeshift, but the best album I have heard this year is Jamie Randolph's Villain - which is a more theatrical indie rock Ryan Adam's style album. Name: Wes Site: Bloggin’ since: 2005 Location: Brooklyn, NY Favorite live experience: Arcade Fire @ Summer Stage w/ David Bowie Current band of choice: Killer Mike, Devendra, Sufjan, Timbaland, Nada Surf, Petra Haden, and a few of my friends such as Mike Grubbs, Casey Shea, Jeff Jacobson, Derek James, and Jay-Z. Name: Miss Modernage Site:, Bloggin’ since: 2001 Location: NYC Favorite live experience: Seeing the White Stripes at Union Square in 2002. Current band of choice: I love this British band called The Kooks. I think they sound distinctly different than anything going on right now. They sound like The Beatles meets The Kinks--very poppy, but with a slight edge. So many songs off their album are absolute gems, but if I had to pick one, I would say "Eddie's Gun" is the track you absolutely have to listen to. They haven't come to America yet, but their first show is in October in NYC and I cannot wait. Name: Matt Weir... I think I probably should've chosen a pseudonym for my TMT writing since we all sound like lazy jerks 24/7/364. (We give presents on Christmas just like everyone else.) Site: Bloggin’ since: 2003 Location: Evanston, IL Favorite live experience: I went to India last winter and rode a bike around this bird sanctuary for a few days. I just looked at storks, ate egg sandwiches and hummed to sunrises and sunsets. I think that experience has everything to do with music even though it has very little also. And, anyway, rural India is a very "live" place--much more live than, say, Band of Horses at a 1,000-capacity venue or some similar indie-is-the-new-corporate fare. Current band of choice: I was real stoked for an August Fat Worm of Error To-The-Midwest Tour... and when it got canceled I shook my angry fist down their skronk collage rabbit hole. There aren't enough bands like FWoE... extremely challenging yet totally joyful. I can't wait for them to start releasing smells instead of sounds. Name: Matt Jordan Site: Bloggin’ since: 2004 Location: Lexington, KY Favorite live experience: Radiohead @ Bonnaroo Current band of choice: Bishop Allen. Who would have guessed that one of America's best kept secrets currently reside in its most populated area? Hailing from New York, Bishop Allen are currently in the middle of one of the most ambitious projects I've ever heard of. They're writing and releasing an EP every month for all of 2006. With their unique pop-folk blend, there was no question in my mind that they had the SKILL to pull it off, but now we're seeing that they've got the willpower as well. The best part? It's all leading up to the release of their second album, Clementines, which is sure to make 2007 worth waking up for.
Where else can you get DJs in Vancouver, Florida, Atlanta, New York and bands everywhere in between and abroad? Yep, BTR…   This concept kinda hit me like a ton of bricks the other day. Of course I’ve been DJing at BTR for a year now and it’s not like I wasn’t aware of how far-reaching the station is.   But when you think of terrestrial radio as well as satellite radio, you really are getting a smaller-scale perspective. Sure, there are outlets out there with more than just a local studio and listener base. Syndicated shows reach mass audiences with toll-free 800 numbers and internet streaming. Satellite radio has studios across the US with different DJs, typically famous people. But is their content and perspective really that global?   I don’t intend to knock such outlets. It’s all we’ve ever had. But I mean to illustrate how BTR is different, in a ton of bricks kinda way. Take for example DJ Wynn’s World specialty show. That’s not just a DJ in Vancouver spinning some tracks. That’s a DJ in Vancouver’s perspective on content from across the globe.   This perspective is extended through the daily BTR programs with artists from New Zealand to Belgium to South Africa!   Domestically, BTR is also a forum where DJ’s and listeners can relate. DJ Emily can reminisce about her youthful connection to a backwoods reference in a Truckstop Honeymoon track. Or DJ Latola and I can poke fun at our native “filthy Jersey.”   Overall what I mean to convey is that when it comes to enlightening diversity here at BTR, I’ll let you in on a little secret… we’re just getting started… stay tuned!  
It has been my full intention to move to Vancouver to tackle the music of the Pacific Northwest for the ever expanding Breakthru Radio. I guess now would be a good time to tell you that my move isn't going exactly as planned. Those Canadians are keeping their land locked down tight. The process of immigrating there takes about a year and the phone number to call in order to find out more about your Visa status can only be called within Canada. I didn't want to catch their comedic accent anyways. Even though my trek has been halted for now, the music must go on. The Pacific Northwest is comprised of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. We all know about the bustling music scene found in Seattle and Vancouver, but Portland has been building buzz as the latest garden of fresh music. Idaho and Montana...not so much. Idaho is more famous as a one-liner (you da ho) and Montana has great scenery, but out in the mountains there are hardly any electrical sockets to plug a guitar into. To get more acquainted with artists from this scenic territory, attend the Bumbershoot festival in downtown Seattle starting Sept 2. You’ll be able to enjoy music, comedy, spoken word, visual performances and film on display for three days during the Labor Day weekend. Currently on the bill are BTR artists Mountain Con, The Bellrays, and Blue Scholars. The bigger names include Atmosphere, Kanye West, Spoon, and even new wave legends Blondie. There will be a bevy of local artists attending and BTR is ready to introduce you to a few fresh faces from the Northwest. So strap your hiking boots on and get ready for a tour of this majestic region. When Things Are Better Romance (Seattle, WA) My black wardrobe and mascara days are behind me, but 80's goth rock still gets my dancing shoes itching for action. Even when their song pronounces that "Paris is burning," Romance still delivers jangling guitar riffs perfect for swaying to and fro on a misty dance floor. Romance is following the post-punk palette, but their sound isn't as romantic as Interpol or as blatantly obvious as The Editors. The bass lines trace a path to the climax of the song. Along the way, Drew Jackson's baritone vocals invoke the likes of Bauhaus and Sisters of Mercy. Take note: if your fingernails are painted black right now, you should be salivating. King Of Hearts Korby Lenker (Small Town, Idaho) He's been in more bands than Dave Navarro, so it was about time singer/songwriter Korby Lenker tried out the producer's chair for his latest release King Of Hearts. By the sound of things, Korby is mashing together all of his lessons from his previous six albums to create a polished record that strays from his traditional acoustic-country folk style. He tries on a bluegrass farmer's cap, a pop visor, and the straw hat of roots rock. He sounds marvelous with all of them. Korby is living proof that a five-month diet of grilled cheese sandwiches and bluegrass festivals isn't such a bad thing. This Is The New You Derby (Portland, OR) Pop music receives a bad rap because it has been known to cause a bleeding of the ears. Easy to mass produce yet difficult to master, I'd like to think that Derby's new album This Is The New You is giving pop music a pep talk. Derby is standing behind pop and looking into a mirror saying, "Pop, what are you doing with all these scantily clad singers and spot-on choreography? You're hanging around the wrong crowd. Don't you remember the good old days of melodies you can hum to and harmonies that make you feel at home?" Leave it to Derby to reinvigorate your thirst for pop. This is what I remember it tasting like when The Beatles and David Bowie produced the stuff. Kick Up The Dust Blood Meridian ( Vancouver, B.C) Blood Meridian's style of grungy country is perfect for the rainy days when your girl leaves you and there's only a bottle of Jim Beam to keep you company. These songs tell stories. The band is good at what they do, but their music has a carefree attitude that sounds like it would rather be lying in a hammock than playing shows. This isn't an insult, it was conveyed from one of the catchier tracks on the album "Work Hard, For What?" They're cool and they know it, but they don't care. Now cool. Eightrack Mind Eightrack Mind (Bozeman, MT) Hip-hop in Montana? Hip-Hop artists that believe in playing their own instruments? Turntables, trumpets, guitars, piano keys, drums and emcees. One of my favorite Hip-Hop acts, The Roots, believes in the same philosophy of live and studio instrumentation and I'm surprised more groups haven't followed suit. They've got the slow jam rap, the funky groove rap and the classic fat beats rap. Candy coated rappers getting fat off of sugar rhymes should watch their backs, because Eightrack Mind is ravenous for a piece of the pie.
It's been a little over a month since my last (and first) blog and my plans to move to Vancouver have already been squashed. Call it bad timing or over optimistic dreams, what ever it is Canada will not be my next home. That doesn't mean I have ruled out the Northwest as a home. Three cities I am looking into are Seattle, Portland, and Sacremento. Maybe not Seattle because it can be pricey, but an hour out of the city would be fine. If there any listeners from these cities that have advice for me, please send me an e-mail. I could use advice from people with good taste in music. I still plan on putting together a specialty show featuring music from the Northwest, but until then you can listen to my collection of World Music playing right now. You see that music player to the left. Pretty nifty huh? Press the Wynn World Music button and you'll experience musical styles from around the world. Featured in this installment is a first time hip-hop collaboration between southern Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal and northern Sudanese composer Abdel Gadir Salim. This musical alliance forged the album Ceasefire, which mixes hip-hop lyrics and intricate melodies. A the end of the set you can find the upbeat Jamaican-Cuban  hybrid of Ska Cubano. In their music you'll hear reggae, Brazilian beats, big band brass and bits of mambo and ska. This melting pot is ready to be dipped into. Let me know what you think of the new show and hopefully I'll keep up with this blog thing. I'm still getting the hang of it. Cheers, Phillip Nguyen (DJ Wynn)
When Casey Shea was four years old, he was standing backstage and refused to perform. His mother owned a dance company in Louisiana and she tried to calm his nerves. It was the first time he was to be on a stage, but we know now not to be his last. Mrs. Shea turned to her son and told him that Michael Jackson wouldn’t be afraid to perform. This sparked the young tyke to then moonwalk across the stage. The crowd went wild.  Shea was hooked. “That [performance] might have been the first time that triggered my nonsense antics on stage,” Shea recollects, now 26 and frontman of the NYC based band The Undisputed Heavyweights. Watching Shea perform, you’d never expect him to be afraid of the spotlight. As he begins a set at Manhattan’s downtown venue, Rockwood Music Hall, he demands not only attention but participation from the wide-eyed audience in front of him. “Can I get an Amen?” Shea yells, triggering a soul-like manic that only gets increases throughout the set. The Undisputed Heavyweights, a cleverly titled group, is unlike any I’ve seen. In fact, I’m willing to go on record and say they are the best live show this city has to offer. Not content with sticking with one musical genre, the brainchild of its three core members (Shea, Wes Verhoeve, and Jeff Jacobson) mix folk, soul, and unadulterated entertainment to a growing fanbase. Outside the small venue, fans climbed the banisters for a look at the Shea’s antics. Inside, Rockwood was packed to capacity with the entire crowd singing along. Halfway through the set, Shea turned his back, ran his hands through his frizzed out brown hair, and shook out his body. When he turned around, his hair stood on end and he was wearing a pair of black sunglasses, a prop that has become a show staple. This all preceded the climax of The Heavyweight’s set, their crowd-pleaser “Bitches Be Trippin’.” At times, I wonder if Shea should be committed into an insane asylum – he heckles everyone from the audience to members of his own band (telling Jacobson he can’t play, and Verhoeve that he doesn’t appreciate his European smell). However it’s a persona that is only acted out on stage, because off stage, Shea is anything but showy. “It just kind of happened,” he explains of his on stage alter ego. “When we first started writing songs, we kept it open to write any type of songs that we wanted to do.” At their first show at Sidewalk Café, Shea didn’t know what came over him. “I was going off on some tirade and for whatever reason I shouted ‘Can I get an amen?!’ Then the whole crowd shouted it back. And it hit me – this was great.” Over time, Shea’s entertaining performance has developed, and been a work in progress. “It was that first show that sparked the ‘Baptist on crack’ bit. You learn something new at every show…in my musical adventure here on earth.” However, it should be noted that The Undisputed Heavyweights are not all show. In order to gain new fans, one must keep an open mind – but it isn’t as hard as one might think. Behind Shea’s antics is an impressive grouping of some of New York’s finest musicians. While it’s hard to pin them down into one specific genre, each song is a carefully constructed gem that stays in your head for days. And added with Shea’s performance, it’s quickly becoming a word of mouth sensation. “Musically, you can’t just be a performer,” Shea explains adding that he finds everyone from Jim Morrison to Jim Carrey as inspirations. “You can’t just completely put it out there and not be able to sing. But when someone can really impress you, and make you smile and laugh – man, that’s really good.” The Undisputed Heavyweights insist that their live show will translate outside of the New York City music scene, and are currently recording a live EP. “There’s something to be said about our live show and why people talk about it and bring their friends out. If we had all the money in the world, we’d put out a live DVD. People have to see it and hear it to really understand.” Back at Rockwood, I can tell this audience has felt the connection Shea strives for in each and every show. He invites the crowd to sing along to “Roll Your Windows Down,” a simply beautiful folk song that is instantly recognizable. I look around and notice that every person is singing along, and loudly at that. At the end of their song, Shea wipes the sweat off of his face, and asks the crowd to give him one more “Amen!”  The crowd’s enthusiasm is at an all time high and they are grinning from ear to ear. They scream it back to him. “Yeaaaah!” he screeches. Shea is obviously pleased. Visit The Undisputed Heavyweights at their appropriately titled website, or at Photos: Beatrice Evangelista
Internally here at BTR, we DJs were recently asked to pick a few favorite artists and tracks from recent airings. While the intentions of this exercise were definitely lawful and constructive, anyone who truly loves music knows how much of a dilemma that is…   How does one define “favorite?” Do you go with the best within a genre? Do you judge on lyrics? Do you judge on complexity? Do you judge on originality? Or, as an unbiased disc jockey, do you dare go by your frank, personal feelings on an artist/song?   These questions abounded me when I set forth on these decisions…   I suppose it’s the “overall-ness” of picking favorites that creates the problem. It’s almost as if you want to choose favorites and then explain in a few sentences why that artist/song made the cut—thereby justifying them to yourself and those who may judge your list.   It could be a personality thing. DJ L and I both tend to tout our self-diagnosed A.D.D. when it comes to our music preferences. It really depends on what kind of mood I’m in. You might catch me on a Hip-Hop kick, and you’ll get one or two Indie Alt. tracks in there. Or perhaps I’ll have a hankering for some Rock, leaving little room for any of my otherwise coveted Electronica favorites.   Anyway, after a few hours (yes, hours) of thumbing through the BTR library, I did finally manage to come to terms with my list of “favorites.” Admittedly, though, it did take a nervous, cliff-jumping mouse-click to finally send them off (with almost immediate regret, ha!).   But in the end, I went with a myriad of criteria equal in complexity to Jerry Seinfeld’s dating standards.   As for the list? I shalt not disclose for fear of being judged!   But feel free to email me your favorite 5 BTR artist/tracks, and perhaps I’ll reveal!    
I’ve noticed something of late, my recent music tastes have been driven by bands that not only connect with me on the traditional fan and musician relationship but make me laugh in the process. I’m the type of person that really struggles to find anything too serious in life and I spend most of my time being a clown or an idiot for the amusement of myself and others. With my love of music it only makes sense that humor and music connect as one force very strongly with me. I’ve heard it said that a lot of comedians wish they could be musicians, but only some are really capable of both. I’m not saying that a comedian that writes music as his or her act is somehow the next Bob Dylan genius singer songwriter; it’s more the idea of a “good funny band.” To me a band that can really make fun of it self, make fun of bands that take themselves too seriously, and can make fun of trite subject matters with their own style of music that is really at the same time a display of true musical talent is a rare and precious thing. Bands like “Ween” and “Tenacious D” come to mind.   I think my love of humor and music comes from 2 early sources, Weird Al and Spinal Tap. Weird Al will never be taken seriously (much like me by my friends and family), especially as a talented musician, because of the character he has made for himself. I however look past all of that and see a man who, with his band, can cover pop music better than a lot of the bands paid to play it. His act is consistent, creative, and when I was a young child pretty funny (I would rather listen to “Like a Surgeon” than anything Madonna has put out in the last 15 years). As for Spinal Tap, the ultimate spoof of a metal band that is actually too close to accurate in many cases to be considered a parody, shows that any rock band that thinks they aren’t a joke almost definitely is. So if you want to laugh along with your favorite bands, I would suggest listening to their live albums. You can catch some of the best stuff between songs while they interact with each other and the audience. This is some of the funniest stuff, and it also gets you to understand their frame of mind as they write their music.  
So, I'm sure we're all loving the new site! It's gonna be even more awesome once we get more videos up, that's what I'm waiting for. Did you know there's going to be a new download store? You'll be able to support all the artists you've come to know and love here on BTR. So, yeah... along the lines of the new site, if you have any questions please send them my way. I'll be much abliged to answer any of your questions or concerns. On to music... Lately, I have developed this strange addiction to Alternative Country music. I've always been a huge Wilco fan and I'll attibute them to opening my eyes to this genre. I'm sure by now you've heard The Heathens and Band Marino here on BTR. Can I just tell you how IN LOVE I am with these two bands. They are both from Orlando, Florida and I am hooked!! The Heathens latest album, "Big White House," is a must have for any music lover. It's one of those albums you can listen to from beginning to end again, and again, and again! If you are from Florida, track number one will definately make you proud of your roots. The track is called 'Stickin' Around,' and the opening lyrics give me chills because they make me so happy. Heck, the whole song does nothing but make me smile. How can you not love the opening though, "I've got fair-weather friends but the weather's always fair down in F-L-A, I got sunny days, Friends who care." So True! On to my other obsession, Band Marino. The goup has a new album coming out next month and I'm dying to get my hands on it. I've seen their live show and it's killer! Definately one of those shows that leaves you wanting more. I got a preview of their new tracks when they were last in Gainesville, FL and I can tell you that this album is going to ROCK! My favorite track is "Everytime I make A Girl Cry, I Know I've Done My Job". Yeah, it's a long title... but isn't it great! It's a fun sing-a-long song at their show. We've had a sample track for a while here on BTR but they are putting the finishing touches on it for the album and if I havn't said it before... I can't wait! OK my friends, here is where I recruit your help. I'm putting together an Alternative Country specialty show for BTR. I'm doing a good job finding music on my own but I know you've got a band you're dying to recommend to me. Basically, I want to get the lines of communication open here so, HELP ME OUT!  E-mail me anytime, and I promise I'll get back to you ASAP! Hope your week is super! xoxo, Em
So, are you enjoyin’ this new snazzy website? We at BTR are lovin’ it! So many ways to keep tabs with listeners and get the word out about the BTR artists. My favorite new feature---if you haven’t seen it yet---the geo concert calendar! No longer do you have to sift through long lists. Just punch up the map and see what’s going on in your area. Awesome… Keep pokin’ around; there’s always somethin’ new abrewin’… On to this week’s ramblings… I’ve always had a mini internal cheering section for little known bands or artists. As you may have seen in my bio or profile, I’ve long dubbed this the “John Mayer effect.” I witnessed two such effects this week here at BTR… Of Montreal So since I didn’t feel the need to fry my iPod in my car during last week’s Northeast heat wave, I was reduced to some terrestrial radio (for shame!!). For those who don’t know NYC radio, it’s actually pretty horrid. But I digress… So I catch a commercial. I didn't realize it was a commercial at first because it was definitely "Wraith Pinned to Mist and Other Games" by Of Montreal--which you often hear on BTR, especially my shows. I recognized it immediately and was ecstatic for the band. But then I realized the lyrics were changed. This was not the song I knew, but it was the song I knew in jingle form! Of Montreal had sold out to Outback Steakhouse. While my initial feeling was sadness, I recalled how only a few summers ago the band Jet gained a huge following off of some commercial work. Hopefully through some exposure and BTR spins, Of Montreal can achieve similar fame for the great band they are. In the meantime I hope they’re making some cash… Sufjan Stevens This story isn’t nearly as long or as exciting, but long-time BTR artist Sufjan Stevens was recommended to me by a friend this week. I found it mildly humorous since we’ve been playing the artist for many months now. At the same time, I’m happy the artist is picking up steam. As for the friend, I’ve since recommended they listen to BTR more often, ha!
Lately I find myself convincing bands that it is no longer necessary to sign a record deal to make it in the music industry. There are music blogs and communities such as MySpace that can help garner national exposure in ways we didn’t see coming even two years ago. But once the naïve dream of a DIY revolution passes, it’s clear that there is, like most things in life, much more to it. Take the band Birdmonster for example. After their three song EP landed them significant buzz in blogland, the band decided to take the less traveled path and fund their first full-length album themselves. Would they become the indie saviors I’ve been searching for? Maybe..but maybe not. “We don’t have a mentality of being anti-label,” David Klein, the band’s guitarist explains to me. “For this record we really wanted to maintain control of the whole entire process. We put our own money into it and it was our baby." Their debut, No Midnight, is a collection of pure raw and rowdy, harboring on genres as diverse as alt-country, punk, and good old-fashioned rock ‘n roll. To raise over $10,000 for the recording, printing, and mastering of the album, the band looked to friends, families, and their own savings for help. “We weren’t living in straight poverty; we were just going out less to restaurants and bars. Nothing was purchased unless it was for the album,” Klein explained. “The goal was to put out the album, so that’s all we focused on. Anything that could be cut, got cut.” Last December, Klein quit his day job to take on managing his own band, which now results in a 24-hour job. Each Birdmonster takes on different aspects of the day-to-day tasks when not on tour: bassist Justin Tenuto helps with the artwork for shows and maintains the band’s blog, drummer Zach Winter helps out with the internet marketing, while singer Peter Arcuni focuses on writing new lyrics for their next album, in between answering emails.   “We’d like to spend 100% of our time on writing music, but we also have to run the band. It’s going to be rewarding in the long run,” says Klein. “Hopefully if we do sign a label deal, we’ll know how things work. If anyone does anything shady, we’ll be aware.” The risk is beginning to pay off. The band self-released No Midnight just after playing at this year’s SXSW Music Festival, and have been touring relentlessly since. This fall, Birdmonster will headline their first national tour. Like fellow successful DIY act, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the band recently signed a distribution deal with the NY based indie label, SpinArt. The band retains the rights to their masters, while SpinArt will re-release No Midnight on August 29 to record stores across the country. “The best part about doing it on your own is the freedom of it,” Klein said. “No one can tell us what we can or can't do.” For example, Birdmonster openly lets people download some of their music, providing free mp3s to the blogs that helped them gain exposure in the first place. “We have a mindset that if people like the music they’ll buy it. I guess if we were on a label they would have written a lot of angry letters to the blogs.” It’s too soon to tell whether Birdmonster will stick it out on their own for the long haul. Klein is the first to admit that there is no security blanket without a label and that there is still money owed. Included in his advice to young DIY bands starting: take things seriously, stay organized, and plan ahead. “But still have tons of fun,” Klein quickly adds. “If you are on your own schedule and you want to go out and party until 4 AM – do it. Just come home, pound some water, and then get back to work.” To find out more about Birdmonster, visit or
So, the new website is finally here! We've been waiting in anticipation for this day to come! Needless to say, this site is much more interactive and we're hoping to cater it to what you want. We'll continue to bring you all the best new music from unsigned and independent artist and now sooo much more! Be sure to check out all the new features and let me know what you think about them. I spend most of my time in front of the computer and I'd love to hear from you. Please send me any suggestions, comments, or song requests for my show...they're all greatly appreciated!! Just shoot me an E-mail to I promise I'll write back! This site is about supporting all the amazing artists out there and in turn, about the people who support them... that's you!  Let me know what YOU want to hear, who YOU listening to, and who YOU want to know more about. I'm here to serve! Hope you enjoy the new site!    -- Em
The summer is nearly over, and school is soon to be back in session, to the chagrin of students everywhere. It’s been a busy month for us here at BTR, what with all the new DJs mixing into the rotation, never mind the hullabaloo of perfecting the second coming of the BTR website. We’re busting our humps to hook it up as soon as possible, and we want it to be nothing short of perfect. In the meantime, our mailbox has been overflowing with padded envelopes, and we wanted to take a minute to tell you about some of the amazing albums being added to the BTR library for immediate consumption. It’s getting difficult to narrow it down to ten, and we may have to expand the count to 20 as the months progress. Take a gander friends, and listen up for all of them here on BTR! Passover The Black Angels Just when you thought the Austin music scene couldn’t get any better, The Black Angels descend from the Texas sky, bringing back the fuzzed-out wall of psychedelic sound that made the Velvet Underground legendary. Passover is one of those rare politically charged albums that actually comes across as genuine, anchored by the haunting vocals of Alex Maas, a man who sounds as if he has never been happy. Oh sure, he’s talking about a war that ended over 30 years ago, but, what the hell, he’s got a point. Like Drawing Blood Gotye Rocketing out of the Outback with more samples than a wine tasting, Wally DeBacker unleashes over 50 minutes of perfectly arranged puzzle pieces, creating a sound comparable to that of both DJ Shadow and the Avalanches. Amazingly, he did it all from his home computer, which was set up in at least three different apartments over the course of two years, thanks to shifty roommates. You can hear the pain in his voice, which is by far one of the most appealing aspects of the album. But don't go thinking this is a downer of a listen; DeBacker has one song which is completley about phone sex. Bang For the Buck Ugly Duckling “Designed like a porcupine, untouchable. I’m a full course meal, you’re a Lunchable.” DJ Wynn has been laughing at that line ever since we added Ugly Duckling about two weeks back, and it’s a good indicator for the rest of the album, which is positively bursting with endlessly comical and quotable rhymes. Never mind the fact that the production by Young Einstein is outstanding, in every sense of the word. What’s amazing is that Ugly Duckling has been around since 1993, the year Bill Clinton became president. If only BTR had been around then... Play Dead Tomihira Smacking at times of Joy Division and the Cure (amongst other bands best suited for black clothing) this power trio hailing from the foggy climes of San Francisco features the beautifully doomed vocals of Dean Tomihira, whose mood should change once the band takes off. It seems inevitable, as the music is carefully crafted, expertly wrought and bound to impact anyone with an ear for melancholy. The best part about the album, however, is the production quality on the drums, which pop and snap like electric snares from the 80s. It’s so crisp that no amount of milk could make it soggy (or lighter in color, for that matter). S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M One Be Lo Well, here’s another ridiculously dense hip hop album that most people won’t have the patience to absorb. Formerly known as OneManArmy, the newly christened One Be Lo sounds a whole heck of a lot like Mos Def, in terms of both voice and rhyming style. His flow is easy on the ears, which is good because he drops a lot of knowledge over the 79 minutes that comprises the album. It’s kind of like listening to GZA/Genius in that respect, as his rhymes have to marinate on your mind before their meaning becomes clear. As far as the beats go, well, they are not meant for house parties, but they will get your head bobbing on an introspective and thoughtful nod. No Midnight Birdmonster One can imagine Godzilla posting up against something called a Birdmonster. The resulting impact on the Tokyo skyline would no doubt be major, and, relatively speaking, the amount of buzz being generated by this 4-piece from San Francisco is getting just as crazy. Their full-length album delivers upon everything hinted upon within their 3-song EP, and all of us here at BTR are rather excited about it. The music is straight-up rock and roll, with a quick pulse and cathedral-reaching heights of rising action. A great album for the weekend road trip, it’s bound to become a staple in your mp3 player. Big White House The Heathens It’s hard not to get behind The Heathens. All they want to do is purchase the big white house in central Florida, where there is room for all of their friends to stay and drink. Very much a family affair, the quintet from Orlando brings a stripped-down, alt-country kind of roots rock, perfect for clearing out the tables, stacking the chairs and dancing with your drunken sweetheart. They recently wowed the oft-finicky crowd at the Common Grounds in Gainesville, FL, survived a near-catastrophic encounter with West Virginian mountain folk, and completed their first southeastern tour. Afrolution Volume 1 The Original African Hip Hop Collection That’s right, featuring the best hip hop from eight different African countries, off the fledgling Afrolution record label. We’re all about supporting the indie labels here at BTR, especially when the music is so damn good. This compilation album is an awakening from the mother land, and we're hoping that this is the first of many solid releases from Afrolution. Standout tracks like ‘Mjanja,’ ‘Kilonsele,’ and ‘Revolution’ are reason enough to peep this effort, which was a long time in the making. Entropy Begins at Home Faux Pas Gotye describes him as “the elusive three-buttocked man,” but we got a hold of Tim Shiel, the man behind Faux Pas, and debunked the anatomical myth. It turns out he’s got quite a knack for sniffing out the perfect sample, however, and this musical journey is a solid representation of Shiel’s crate-digging talents. The beats are both mellow and marauding, produced with a tight flair at a small expense. “I record on my computer, with some software, a cheap midi keyboard and a pair of speakers that my uncle made himself in the 80s,” says Shiel. “It’s neither a glamorous nor hi-tech setup; I just work with what equipment I can afford, which isn't much.” We love that. s/t Half Acre Day About a year ago, I went about procuring this album from Seattle’s Half Acre Day, and didn’t get it until a few weeks ago. Now that’s a long time to wait for one album, but it was well worth the wait. Universally agreeable music like this doesn’t come along very often, especially when it’s both original and well-produced to boot. Imagine what would happen if They Might Be Giants were spliced together with The Shins and The Toadies, and you’ll be on your way to wrangling a hold of Half Acre Day’s sound. They’re helping to redefine the “Seattle sound” of old, exchanging the trademarks of grunge for more upbeat music that people can dance to. Just don’t fly any kites around these guys…
My heart is overflowing with pain right now. It's not because of that burrito I had earlier today, that's another type of pain altogether. This pain can be traced back to a girl rejecting my proposal. A girl I thought was "the one." She was supposed to save me from this horrible dating matrix riddled with uncertainty, and now I am thrust back into it alone, heartbroken and ready to mope. Everyone has heard this story before. Especially the burrito part. One moment you are laughing and planning your life together and then the next you are screaming and splitting your stuff up. It's not one of the brightest moments in my twenty-three years, but it comes along with the package deal of life. For there to be happiness, there must be sadness. Good and evil. Married and single.   Hard times call for good music. It should get your head straight again or just make you so emotional you will start crying a fjord (no way I'm referencing a Timberlake track there.) Either option is cathartic and good for the soul. Maybe it's the sentimental shard stuck somewhere between my liver and heart, but when I am going through emotional times I find that putting on tunes helps me through it. Certain tracks have this ethereal quality that hovers over you providing support in times of need. Have consolation in knowing that music will never leave you unless the power goes out. I offer to you five tracks to listen to if you are ever in the predicament of pain. Play them loud for everyone to hear or play them to yourself with your headphones on. Just remember while listening to them that most of these songs were probably inspired by pain. So all that hurt you are feeling now can be used for good later.     Gotye, "Hearts A Mess" - A track for the introspective type, the minimalist qualities of this song give you a lot of time to think to yourself. It starts off with the pluck of a harp followed by a simple tribal beat and thrown in for good measure is an organ riff. The strings that lead into the chorus only highlight the raw emotion of the song. Gotye's haunting voice is perfect for the down-trodden much like Bright Eyes is. By the time you hear Gotye screaming "I'm desperate to connect" you'll realize how true shrieking is done. Step outside now if you are feeling the notion and give it a try. You don't have to scream those exact words, but if you do, a new friend might hear you and wonder how sensitive you are. Music can lead you to friends.      Blood Meridian, "Your Boyfriend's Blues" - Nothing like a touch of country to get those emotions stirring. I'm actually not a big fan of the genre, but this song is upbeat enough to keep me interested and the storyteller components of the track make it appealing. That, and the lead singer doesn't have that country twang in his voice I despise. This song is meant for reminiscing. It calls upon images such as waiting for a phone call (done that), star-crossed lovers (been there) and walks of shame (just had one.) Put this on your MP3 player and go take a walk by yourself. You'll feel better by the time you get home.    Collective Efforts, "The Worst Is Over" - When you are at your lowest point crying by yourself, not showering, and eating anything chocolate, you need to realize that this isn't the end of your life. Just the end of a chapter. These four M.C's are pooling their collective efforts to get your mood in the upright position just by listening to the chorus, "It's all right/What will it take/To show you that it's O.K" The piano beat that starts off the track is a sign of bright things to come. It follows you throughout the song in a high tone that is comforting like homemade cooking. Hip-Hop that isn't about cars, women and gold chains? Who knew?     The Rakes, "Retreat" - Play this when you are ready to get on with your life. You can take any amount of time to reach this point, just try not to exceed three months. A quarter of a year is a lot of time to just mope around, so maybe you should start off with this one. These guys are from the U.K so they know how to enunciate when they sing making every lyric crystal. The words that struck me the hardest were "Everything is temporary these days" Not terribly romantic, but it is near the truth, which is what you need to hear to set you free. Once you are on the road to emotional freedom, follow the path looped throughout the song, "Walk home/Come down/Retreat/To sleep/Hook up again/This time next week."    The A-Sides, "Everybody Knows The Way" - Only play this song when your mourning period is completely over. It will give you cavities on the first listen it's so sweet. Some may even find it uncalled for in certain dark scenarios. However, if you are 1) In a happy go lucky mood 2) A fan of the Beach Boys or 3) Ready to skip, then put this song on repeat. It has the vibe of a 70's sitcom theme song, but the harmonies are on spot and the message is rosy enough to make the blackest heart smile. Sometimes a positive message is enough to get you over that last hump of melancholy.  
I used to have this stigma about blogging. Who would want to listen to my thoughts? Don't people just complain and whine on these things? Of course that didn't stop me from reading others'. Needless to say my first blog starts….now: Living in a world where money regulates the volume of voice, I like to think there's originality left and an audience seeking such creativity. There's just a deficiency in platforms to disperse it. Enter BTR… But you are here, listening already (presumably)… Let me hark upon others who haven't yet discovered the "other side." Now before I go on, I don't mean to come off with my nose in the air. With a sort of elitist attitude that I know something others don't or that only the music I listen to is good. (For a good example of this, see the UK book or US movie 'High Fidelity'—though that whole attitude had a completely different context there, but you gather…). I actually mean quite the opposite. It's what we don't know that might be the greatest thing ever. What if the next great songwriter came and went because he or she wasn't able to get their music exposed, albeit lack of marketing know-how or financial reasons or the "who you know" factor? Now there are some out there that will argue that it's just capitalism working… Money talks, etc. Well I suggest that the currency is talent. Being a great marketer doesn't make you a better band. It just makes your band better-known. Another caveat I should mention is that I truly do believe there's talent in the mainstream. I don't believe indie's the only way to go. Most all mainstreams were an indie at one time (unless they won some idol-type program). But taking in an appetite of mainstream has to come with the knowledge that there IS more out there. Just because there's a lack of options at your finger-tips doesn't mean you should conform or be complacent with what you've got. Strive for more or better. Isn't that capitalism? Hopefully BTR can serve as one of those places, one of those platforms, one of those voices for the arts. Oye, heavy topic for a first blog, but I promise these will get better, more personal, and less 'anti-establishment with a side of establishment,' haha… All in all, I shouldn't complain. I enjoy learning about new bands, and hearing the next big thing before anyone (nose in air), don't you? No, I shouldn't complain. But then again, isn't that what blogging's for? (end at a full-circle, wouldn't wanna repete…)
After graduating from the University of Florida back in December of 2004, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Now that’s not special, not in the least. Most of my friends felt the same way, and rare was the cat who knew exactly what their next move was going to be. The ironic thing was, before college, I had known exactly what I wanted to do. I had forever fantasized about being a radio DJ, but after three solid years working at the college radio station (which was quite commercial in nature) my dreams had been terribly darkened. First of all, I was not allowed to play the music I liked. In fact, I had no say in the matter whatsoever, as all the music programming was pre-determined by statistics and research. Thus, I became a liar, endorsing horrible bands with fake enthusiasm, as if I actually enjoyed the over-produced drivel of nu-metal bands like Shinedown and Three Days Grace. I can’t emphasize enough how hard it was to do that, especially when there was such good music out there going unheard. Second, I had to come to terms with the fact that radio is a business, like any other. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but the complete lack of taste and concern for playing quality music, versus packaged product, was very hard to swallow, especially for a rabid music aficionado. The songs we played were buffers between commercials, and the music itself was so formulaically programmed with the ‘hits’ that there was no room for exceptions. Third, the station was firmly entrenched within the active rock format, which means that nothing outside that category would ever be played, or even considered. Oh sure, every now and then there would be a crossover ‘hit’ (i.e. Coldplay) that would suddenly be thrown into rotation for maximum commercial benefit, but only after the station’s consultant had given it the green light. So, although I learned a lot about the business, and worked with some great people, the overall experience was very disheartening. I no longer wanted to be a DJ, as it wasn’t anything like I thought it would be, or should be, for that matter. For a while I kicked around the idea of going to graduate school, but in the end I decided to move to New York City, to “find my fame and fortune,” as they say. And so began the job hunt. I found some good leads, hooked up a couple of interviews, and sent off what seemed like thousands of resume packages. I was about 2 months into it when I saw an ad on Craigslist that didn’t seem plausible. The exact wording escapes me, but it went something like this: “Are you sick of commercial radio? Do you want to work for a station that plays nothing but unsigned, independent and underground artists? Our DJs are ‘musicologists,’ and they pick the music they want to play, with no one looking over their shoulder. We are an internet radio station, based in New York City, and we are looking for interns to help build our music library with the best unheard music out there.” I thought it was a farce, being the complete antidote to all the gripes listed above. A radio station with that kind of mission statement sounded too good to be true, as it made perfect sense. The mere possibility of it was enough to vanquish my doubts about working in radio, however, and I applied with the quickness.  I scored the internship a scant two weeks later, and was shortly thereafter given one task to accomplish: “Go find music.” I did it with zeal, and was surprised to learn how difficult it was to solicit music for airplay. No one knew what BTR was at that time, and without any kind of history, precedent, or long-term web presence, most of the artists I contacted never bothered to respond. Why should they have? Like me, they probably thought it sounded too good to be true. I mean, c’mon, an internet radio station that plays only underground music from unsigned and independent artists? With DJs who actually know about music? With no commercials? Pure fantastical whimsy! It got better with each passing week, however, and people began to realize that BTR was for real. Bands like The Fatales, The Giraffes, Bedouin Soundclash, Beautiful Mess, Beat Radio and The Main Drag were some of the first to believe in our concept, as well as artists such as I Am Jen, D. Goode, Saphin, Matisyahu and I Am I See. Their music helped to establish our identity and presence on the internet, making our quest concrete. Fast forward 12 months to the present, and it’s now been a year since the official birth of BTR on the internet, to the chagrin of commercial radio stations everywhere. Our numbers have continued to grow at a ridiculous rate, and we owe it all to the listeners who have supported us throughout, making us the fastest growing internet radio station on the planet, bar none. That said, we are extremely proud to be celebrating our very first birthday, with the launch of a brand new, supercharged BTR website. We’ve been working on it for over six months, and just about all the bugs have been completely eradicated. In fact, it will be dropping onto your Favorites list any day now, and we can’t wait to hear what you think about it. So, much love and thanks to you, the music aficionado, without whom none of this would have ever been possible. You can rest assured we’re going to keep on doing what we’re best at, and that’s playing the best music you’ve never heard before. Solid!    
Everybody gets it, but nobody wants it. Oh sure, every now and then you turn it on, full of the same foolish optimism Linus had when he waited all night for the Great Pumpkin to arrive…but nothing happens. Enter BTR. We began quiet-like, you know, assessing the situation with a basic webpage, some quality ear candy and no real listeners to speak of. Fast forward to now, and over 450,000 people a day are hitting up our new supercharged website, thirsting for a flavor not to be tasted on the FM dial. Think of it as the polar opposite of commercial radio. BTR works because our music is decided by the personalities of us DJs, not consultants, research, sponsors or payola. Bands don't need a record deal or a distribution agreement to get their music heard; they just need some original music and the desire to broadcast it on a free platform. I realize this seems too good to be true, and, even worse, it makes sense. I've spoken to a few musicians already who don't believe what I'm saying, and who can blame them? I'm sure a lot of artists out there have been snookered by the suited folk, and it's left such a bad taste in their mouth that even the OG hardcore Listerine can't wash it out. Well, consider Breakthru the minty-fresh solution. We believe in what we're doing, and a lot of other people do as well. After 12 lunar cycles, we can report that over 3 million heads a week are nodding at our URL, and the number is growing. Most revolutions begin underground, and we're gathering our grenades and positioning our paratroopers. All we need is music, and not the kind that is marketed like a Happy Meal. We need your music, the home-grown organic good shit that is good for the body and soul, not just filling and fast like a bag of banality from the drive-thru. All that said, I'd like to thank everyone who has been listening. I can't put into words how much I appreciate it, and I'm just glad I can hook you up with some fresh music to get you through the day. Please let me know if you have any suggestions, or bands you know of that you would like to hear on BTR. I'm always available @ Solid! introduced me to Morningbell and Swayze....Dear and Glorious Physician and Band Marino.... and countless other artists that have helped shape my musical tastes for the past five years. I've been wading in these waters for too long though, and now I must dive into an ocean. I'm packing my bags and selling all my furniture to head North to the Native Land, O'Mighty Canada. The Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade and The Stills. All Canadian. I'm using all my birthday wishes for the next ten years so that I may try to catch every single musical act I've missed out on because I lived in the South for so long. Once I am settled in by August, expect a full report on the music scene in Vancouver. There's also lots of land to cover in Canada so let's hope that gas prices go down so I can start planning my musical roadtrip.
In the 1987 film, The Lost Boys, there is a scene in which a teenage vampire is killed via an arrow through the heart. The bolt goes clean through the fellow's torso, with the force of the impact propelling him backward, against a large stereo, into which the metal tip of the arrow sticks. As a result, the sound system turns on, blasting a barrage of eighties hair metal whilst simultaneously electrifying the vampire into a smoking husk. The coup de grace, however, is when Corey Haim's character delivers the obligatory post-death punch line, a classic far better than any to be found in an Arnold Schwarzenegger flick. He gleefully quips: "Death by Stereo!" Without a doubt the best line in the film, its cult status was secured when a hardcore band from Orange County made it their moniker in 1996. Of course, it's the thought-provoking idea that someone could actually be killed by music that makes the phrase so memorable. One would be hard-pressed, however, to come up with an example of such a tragedy. Legend has it that Brian Wilson suffered a mental breakdown upon hearing "Strawberry Fields Forever," after driving home from the studio one night. The Beatles succeeded in beating Wilson to the audio production punch, and it damn near killed the head Beach Boy to know he'd been trumped. But he eventually recovered, and although he's suffered numerous breakdowns since, he's still alive and kicking. In the metal heyday of the 1980's, Ozzy Osbourne released his best solo album, Blizzard of Ozz, which had the infamous ‘"Suicide Solution" as the fifth track. The song became controversial when a teenager by the name of John McCollum shot himself while listening to the album, and the resulting court case went all the way to the California Court of Appeals. In the end, the court ruled that Ozzy's song was not responsible for the boy's death, stating that Ozzy had the right to express his viewpoint, and that it should not be taken literally. It's the writer's opinion that the court ruled correctly, but given the nature of the subject (and the serious lack of examples in which death may have been caused by music, however remotely) it seemed worth mentioning. But nevermind all that. We're concerned with the opposite circumstance, in which people's lives have been saved by the intervention of music. In fact, we have two artists in rotation on BTR who say they wouldn't be alive today if not for their ability to create music. The first is Travis Atria, the gifted lead vocalist and guitarist for the Gainesville-based band Morningbell. Many of their songs, including the beautifully wrought ‘Ballad of Basooney and La Cucaracha,' have become favorites amongst us BTR DJs. Yet the story behind it and the recording of Morningbell's Forgetting to Wake Up is quite shocking. The year before the band began to work on their second album, Atria says he suffered though a major relapse of Lyme disease, a sickness he has dealt with for the past 11 years. "I had to give myself IV antibiotics five days a week, with a catheter in my chest," says Atria. "It took about three hours for the medicine to infuse, so I was basically sitting on the couch for three hours a day, always feeling like shit." "For reasons that would take a few pages to explain, I started going through a chemical depression, and it got really bad, to the point where I thought I might not be alive for much longer, to be quite honest," he continues. "Around that time, I wrote ‘Something Keeps Sucking My Brain into Outer Space,' and I really think that song saved my life, because it gave me something to look forward to. I liked it, and wanted to make a new album, so it gave me a goal." With new inspiration, Atria says he began to write songs directly to himself, just in order to feel better. "The Ballad of Basooney and La Cucaracha" came out of this period, as did "Everything Will Matter." "Frankly, it is a song about why you shouldn't kill yourself," says Atria. The second album becomes much weightier within this context, via Atria's triumph of life over death through the creation of music. Instead of conjuring up the simple imagery of failed alarm clocks and missed appointments, Forgetting to Wake Up illustrates the need to not take life for granted, and that nothing one does is ever in vain. The same thing could be said in the case of singer-songwriter Brian Christinzio (aka B.C. Camplight) whose salvation through music has been an ongoing process, one that is by no means a completed quest. When I questioned him about the mysterious "mental illness" that led to the creation of his amazing debut album Hide, Run Away, the answer was enough to knock me down. In fact, the story is downright mind-boggling, and it is best told in Christinzio's own words... Says Christinzio, "After high school, I gradually started to notice that my personality was changing. After a brief college stint, I completely crashed. I lost my long term girlfriend, lost my job, and had no idea who or what I was." "All of these things were happening because my brain was very slowly getting sick. I became completely depersonalized. Everything felt unreal and dream-like. My family and friends became very unfamiliar to me, and even scarier was the fact that everyone I didn't know seemed very familiar." "I have always been hyper-aware of my mind and body. So, on the one hand, it was helpful that I could recognize that I was getting sick. Most people that go through what I did are unable to realize that they are changing," continues Christinzio. "On the other hand, this sort of heightened awareness of my brain was very scary, and it probably augmented the seriousness of my condition. I tried my absolute best to act normally so my family wouldn't be scared, and I saw countless doctors." "One breakthrough came when I was 19. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, a disease where your thyroid gland stops working. A lot of the mental symptoms I was showing were consistent with this disease. However, I probably had hypothyroidism for a long time, and even with treatment I knew I would never feel healthy." "After my thyroid levels returned to normal levels - with medicine - my mental condition worsened still. I was diagnosed with everything, including severe paranoid depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, manic anxiety, et cetera. From the ages of 19 to 21, I more or less stayed in bed because it was really painful to look at the outside world. I wanted to see everything like I did when I was normal. Everything seemed so distorted and surreal. I started getting visual hallucinations like one would from LSD, such as trails and halos. I gained over 100 pounds and ballooned to 360 lbs." "I was dying." "Sometime in 2001, with the ounce of motivation I had left, I made a push to get back into music. It had always been the one thing I had control over, and I could do it better than anyone I knew. I began collaborating with songwriter Bill Ricchini, and I helped him launch his debut record. The exposure to the music scene kept my motivation going. Everyone had always told me I shouldn't be a sideman, and that I should be releasing my own songs." "In 2003 I began to feel strong again. I was on no psychiatric medicine. There is no reason I can think of that I began to improve other than I was supposed to be writing records, and I was starting to realize this. I wrote my debut record Hide, Run Away in pretty short order. I decided to do everything myself, except for the engineering and playing of the drums. I went into the studio and came out two weeks later with my first record." "I've since started to return to at least a resemblance of my former self, probably on the strength of the reaction to the record. I still have times where I wake up and know that I'm mentally fucked for that day. Coincidentally, I've been in a bit of a relapse mode for the past couple of weeks." "But my bad days now beat my good days then." "I've decided to set my goals high, and I now obsess over writing the next great American pop record, instead of my health. I have lost over 100 pounds, and when I'm not on tour or doing music, I'm boxing or playing basketball. It's been tough, but in a weird way I'm glad it happened." One wonders whether or not Christinzio could have created the album without being so impossibly afflicted. Of course, the same could be said for Syd Barrett, or Van Gogh, or even the Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Nash. Who can say if there is a connection between mental illness and creativity? In any event, Christinzio and Atria are alike in that they both have relied on music to cleanse themselves of both mental and physical illness, to the point that is has saved their very lives. That may not be as entertaining as the notion of "death by stereo," but it sure is inspiring for those of us that truly love music. I suppose Bob Marley said it best: "When it hits you, you feel no pain." Link to this article:
July is kind of like the Wednesday of summer. By the time July rolls around you've shaken off the dust. You've had a few bar-b-ques, you've gotten a sunburn – you're pretty much in the swing of things. You hit July in stride, milking it for all it's worth, knowing that the end of summer is just over the next horizon. Sorry. I guess that sounds a little depressing, especially since most people love summer more than any other season. Well, we've got just the thing to cheer you up: 10 new albums to take with you into the apex of the warmest months. As promised, there's lots of hip-hop. The singer/songwriter genre also makes its presence known with two strong entries for July. And don't forget the dub! Two new dub or dub-esque titles are making their debut this month and they are smokin. Of course, you're free to pick your own favorites, email the DJs with your requests, or just fast-forward to the next track. That's the beauty of podcasting and internet radio. However, we recommend that you study up in advance so that you know what to listen for. It is because of this that we offer you a quick breakdown on 10 hot albums new for July on BTR. The Unusual El Da Sensei Any hip-hop fan worth his salt knows about El Da Sensei. As one half of The Artifacts, he helped start the whole backpack movement in the mid-90s. You know, that combination of graffiti culture and hip-hop style that is now so successfully marketed across the world. El's first solo album was released in 2002 and featured J-Live, Sadat X, and Pharoah Monch, among others. Now he's back with round two, and it's an album full of classic sounds. El Da Sensei raps with a smooth, mature voice, and his beats bump with a combination of Brand Nubian-esque funk and new school production tricks. This is hip-hop you pretty much have to respect. Tuff Love Royce This album is a top contender for best add of the month. Royce is a live band that touches on blues, indie rock, electronica, and hip hop to make something that is totally unique. That being said, the group has toured with RJD2 and Outerlimitz, and it's easy to see how they can all get on the same vibe. The album comes to us courtesy of our friends at Galapagos4, who, it should be noted, write some of the best one-sheet fodder in the business. Check it: "Subtle, alluring vocals sit atop warm, glowing bass and percussive tremors signature to Royce's rumble and snap sound. Were it possible for a record to push itself off its belly and walk the earth, Tuff Love would be roaming the alleys and dirt lots of Chicago on legs gilded in heartbreak." New Heavy Dub Trio Coming straight outta Brooklyn, this trio takes some traditional dub-style rhythms and smacks them up with punk rock ju-jitsu. It's hard not to love a record that keeps you guessing like this one does. Just when you think the band has committed to a balls-out rocker, they make a slithery transition into a spaced out reggae jam. Not only does Dub Trio prove themselves worthy of their nickname, "the Sonic Youth of dub," but they've even got a guest vocal from Mike Patton on the track "Not Alone." So cool. Elevator Ride Bronwen Exter The beautiful Ms. Exter is the third and final member of what is arguably New York's most talented singer/songwriter triumvirate. Her older brother Trevor pretty much rules the Sidewalk Café school of anti-folk artists with his cello and semi-sultry love songs. Significant other Jonathan Spottiswoode (who shares production credit on this album) has mastered a unique brand of cabaret-style Americana that packs the lower east side clubs. Now it appears that Bronwen, after taking a backseat to the talents of the other two, may be the most enchanting of them all. Exter possess a breathy, ethereal singing voice that is reminiscent of Rickie Lee Jones and the Cowboy Junkies' Margo Timmins. Elevator Ride is full of enchanting tales of scorned women, the Deep South, and intoxicating tropical nights, with Exter's voice creating alternating senses of narcotic tranquility and tragic nightmare. Plus, there's a song called "Crack Cocaine." Basically, if you don't like this album, then there's something wrong with you. s/t Bill Laswell Meets Roots Tonic In case the two names in the title don't instantly send your cool meter off the charts, I'll break it down for you: Roots Tonic is Matisyahu's band – i.e. one of the most talented groups of session musicians on the scene today. And Bill Laswell, in short, is the mothafuckin man! He's a super producer extraordinaire and an exceptional musician who's played with everybody from Mick Jagger to John Zorn. Oh, and you know that song by Herbie Hancock called "Rockit?" He wrote that. So what you have here is a revolutionary dub sound clash. Roots Tonic plays a bunch of slinky, funked up reggae jams and Bill Laswell works the knobs and faders to turn it into a futurist space dub masterpiece. It is the shiznit! Shoes Of A Beast Peter Toh Let's hear it for the first guy in a long time to bring some originality to the singer/songwriter genre. Peter Toh is equal parts hipster, pop singer, club kid, and bedroom electronica producer, and he brings all of these elements into his music. The songs on this EP pulse with a kind of stilted funk reminiscent of early 80s dance tracks. Keyboards shiver in and out of the mix like something from chill-out room at an early morning rave, and somehow the whole thing gets put into a conventional rock song format. Over it all Toh sings with a voice that is somewhere between James Blunt and Peter Gabriel. You've got to respect somebody who can cover this much territory and keep it all on the same page. Songs From The Bottom Black Eyed Susan This is not at all what I expected from the album art. I thought BES was going be some kind of sappy acoustic thing, but I guess that's what I get for judging an album by its cover. Black Eyed Susan is actually straight-ahead southern soul with just a touch of Jamiriquoi-style hippie funk to make it pop. But don't let that clown's name soil your impression of this band. They're definitely a crowd pleaser and I'm pretty sure you'll like them too. Sunset Lodge Glue In case you haven't heard, DJ L is beside herself with joy that we're adding this album. Why, you ask? Perhaps it's scratchy beats and melancholy soul samples. Maybe it's the conscious lyricism. Maybe it's the fact Glue's producer Maker spent all of 2004 as the house DJ for Galapagos4. Or maybe L just has a soft spot for bookish hip hop artists who dedicate their album to Leonard Peltier's continued struggle for justice. Somebody better write that girl an email and get some answers… Inverness Way Jondonson This a charming little indie rock EP touched with just the right amount of bedroom fuzz. Is that description a little too cryptic for you? Let's ask the band how they describe their sound... "Over the past 4 years their sound has evolved from rudderless Rorschach experimentation into a compelling amalgam of lo-fi avante garde, indie-pop, psychedelia and country twang. Inverness Way, Jondonson's debut CD, was recorded in the guest room of a small 60's ranch near the 285 perimeter - the next best thing to tape hiss." Yep, that's about right. Hello Hello The A-Sides This Philadelphia band describes their sound as "maximalist pop music." Of course some might say that coming up with a special expression just to describe the kind of music you play is a bit much, but it kind of works for these guys. Starting with the basic indie rock template, they expand to include all the big sounding pop-rock bands – from the Beach Boys to XTC. Lyrics can get a little saccharine in places, but what do expect from music that makes you feel this good?
There is no other time of the year that offers more promise than the first warm days of June. School is out, the boss turns his head the other way if you skip out early on a Friday, and the whole summer stretches out in front of you in a seemingly endless parade of bar-b-ques, sun burns, and cheap American beer. It goes without saying that you will need some music to accompany you on your pursuit of the season’s smallest string bikini, and as always, we’ve got you covered. This month on BTR you will hear a lot of new rock n roll - in all varieties (don’t worry, next month is almost all hip hop). There’s some loud punk for the bonfire out at the beach, some heavy backbeat for the inevitable house party, and some gentle indie rock for the inevitable hangover the next morning. We’ve even got some psychedelic stuff for those times when you need to, um, reflect. Of course, you’re free to pick your own favorites, email the DJs with your requests, or just fast-forward to the next track. That’s the beauty of podcasting and internet radio. However, we recommend that you study up in advance so that you know what to listen for. It is because of this that we offer you a quick breakdown on 10 hot albums new for June on BTR. “Have A Little Faith” - The BellRays These guys are masters - if not the progenitors - of the maximum rock n soul sound. Their last album combined punk rock and old school R&B in each song to terrific effect. Each song bristled with raw emotion and really loud guitars. This time out, the band has separated their two seemingly disparate interests. In doing so, they demonstrate how good they are at both. Songs like “Snotgun” and “Detroit Breakdown” come kicking out your speakers with rumbling bass lines and sweet riffage, while “Tell The Lie” and “Everyday I Think Of You” offer up 70s funk and Motown soul, respectively. The band appears tighter and more interested in exploration on this record as well. And as always, Lisa Kekaula sounds like a young Tina Turner after whuppin’ Ike’s ass. “Hello Graphic Missile” - Conner DJ Caleb says: To put it briefly, this is hot shit. “Hello Graphic Missile” is a bitchin album, and BTR got an advance copy (official release date is June 10). Conner is a very good band from Lawrence, KN that has suffered terrifically for being good. See, their big debut release was called “White Cube” and it was almost better than this record. Unfortunately, at exactly the same time they released it, the Strokes started to get really big, and Conner vocalist James Duft was using a VERY similar vocal distortion and singing style, and both bands had that same guitar sound. So basically they just came off as a mirror to the whole Strokes/Williamsburg movement, and weren't getting a lot of positive mileage because of it. They were forced to abandon the vocal effect, and restructure their sound and image. Sort of. The drums have more of a dance rhythm and the guitars are drier, but people will probably still try to hate on this record. Whatever. As I said at before, this is hot shit. “Manifest” - GSX Blistering hard rock that’s reminiscent of very early grunge – you know, back when it was basically glorified punk rock played by a bunch of guys who actually knew how to handle their instruments. Think “Louder Than Love”-era Soundgarden or late Mother Love Bone. Aside from the heavy riffs and tightly wound rhythm section, the biggest draw is vocalist Sarah Greenwood, whose voice can go from a seductive growl to a blood-curdling yell in the space of one verse. “Misadventures in Radiology” - Andrew Morgan The sound and the production on this record are epic. Part of this album was recorded in LA in Elliot Smith's studio when Andrew had record prospects. Then that fell through, and he returned to Kansas to do the rest in local studios with university musicians. He recorded the church bell sounds in the Campanile, a giant WWII memorial bell tower on the top of the University of Kansas campus. The tracks are definitely down-tempo, but in a good way. It falls approximately halfway between Elliot Smith and Sufjan Stevens, on one end being depressing and on another being contemplative and meandering. That being said, it’s all in a pop format. Chances are you’ll like it. “The Standard” - Psyche Origami Listeners of DJ L’s shows should be familiar with this Arc The Finger artist. Psyche O (as they call themselves) is hip hop of the underground variety – although not overtly political or “conscious” per se. For the most part they offer up comic observations about day-to-day life with laid-back funk beats and lots of scratching. Oh, and “The Standard” is a concept album about working at a gas station, which means it’s got lots of funny-ass skits about good customer service. “Sancho Panza” - Mountain Con Anybody who has been listening to DJ Max Power’s show knows how excited he is to have this band in the BTR library. This is, without question, one of the best albums we’ve picked up this year. Mountain Con blends 60s pop harmonies with a turn of the century indie rock sensibility and modern hip hop production techniques to create a sound that is innovative, refreshing, and so catchy. You pretty much have to love this band, although you can have your pick of reasons why; It can be the fuzzy, early glam guitar sound that gives them the same T.Rex vibe that makes the M’s so good OR the fact that they wrote a song about building a rocket in their backyard made out of trash OR their ability to turn a phrase like “devotion is so 20th century” into one of the best sing-a-long choruses ever OR the fact that they have a DJ who plays all of the guitar solos by scratching! Or you could even love this band because, despite what seems like a grocery list of gimmicks, they pull off one of the tightest, most cohesive records of the year. Totally sweet! “S&M “ - Spottiswoode & McMahon This is a side project from Jonathan Spottiswoode and Riley McMahon, the guitar player from Spott’s Enemies band. While the songwriting source is clearly still the same guy, the sound is pretty different. Here the music has more of a gypsy cabaret bent to it - the kind of thing you might hear at some weird improv art show in San Francisco. Nonetheless, it’s still Spootiswoode, with his trademark voice and quirky songs about ghosts, drunks, lovers, and Ukrainian girls. “Revenge” - Architects Architects are the slightly altered reformation of the Gadjits, a ska band from Kansas City that was on Hellcat Records. This definitely falls more in the punk part of the punk/ska/hardcore Venn diagram, but it certainly relies on traits from all three genres. Lead singer Brandon Phillips has an awesome two-packs-a-day voice that compliments the band’s raw power. For those of you who need a popular reference point, you could say this is like a Rancid album produced by Social Distortion. “With the Hands of the Hunter it all Becomes Dead” - Summerbirds In The Cellar All credit goes to DJ Emily for this one. She knew one of the members back in high school, and apparently the guy was a tireless promoter of his music. It’s kind of like new wave mixed with space-pop, but the vocals have a little bit of a Garfunkel feel on some of the songs. The music has a pleasant schizophrenia, like when you listen to it, you can’t decide if you want to just chill or if you want to get up and dance. “Quatre Fois Rien” - Pixel Apparently it’s no longer cool to dis the French, but here at BTR that’s never been our style anyway, so we hope nobody gets the wrong idea. Pixel’s music is fantastic, lots of strings, but the vocals are a bit…French, for lack of a better term. Lead vocalist Nassib doesn't really sing, he does more of the Lou Reed/spoken word thing. The music is great, but some of the songs’ profundity may be lost on you if you don’t speak the language. And by the way, none of the DJs on BTR do, so for added comic enjoyment, keep your ears peeled for this on-air announcement: "That was Pixel, with Les Guerriers du Sommeil!"
With outfits like The M’s, Headlights, The Like Young, of Montreal, Mates of State and numerous others, it’s easy to see why Polyvinyl Records has become a respected force in the world of indie music. The label was founded ten years ago by Matt and Darcie Lunsford, in Danville, Illinois. It started off as a fanzine called the Polyvinyl Press, which the couple ran while they were still in high school. At the time, they were tight with members of Braid, a quartet from Champaign-Urbana, who convinced the Lunsfords to release their 7 inch single. It was the first official Polyvinyl release, and although Braid disbanded back in 1999, the label has kept on, building up a bewildering roster of bands in the process. Their method of recruiting new bands has been key to the label's success, although Polyvinyl publicist Seth Hubbard says there is no set formula. “We usually make sure that the bands are some what established by the time we work with them. They have to have a tour history, good press, a booking agent and sometimes even a manager. It makes a lot more sense to work with bands that already have those things in place, then having to try and set all that stuff up for your bands.” Unsigned artists, please take note. A Myspace page is not enough. So far, 2006 has been a good year for Polyvinyl. The M’s have become one of the most talked-about bands of the year, based upon their amazing sophomore effort, Future Women, which dropped in February. March saw the re-release of three classics by of Montreal, as well as another impressive effort by Mates of State. A new album by Joan of Arc is on the horizon for the end of the summer, and spring has seen new albums by both The Like Young and Aloha. The newest addition to the Polyvinyl family, Headlights (out of Champaign, IL) will see their first full-length drop on August 22nd, hopefully continuing the amazing journey that began with the Enemies EP. “You will be hearing a lot about that band over the next few years,” promises an excited Hubbard. Some may have already heard Headlights pop-rock sound as their music has been featured on the hit show, ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ and they recently played the famed SXSW festival. In short, the Polyvinyl label is a never-ending gobstopper of flavor, with a sound to suit just about everyone. To hear all of these bands and learn more, just check out the Polyvinyl specialty show running all this week here on BTR. You can also visit the Polyvinyl website at
It’s time to collect a new batch of sweat-stained ticket stubs! With summer on deck, all of us BTR DJ’s are gearing up for the inevitable onslaught of stadium tours and weekend music festivals, never mind the brutal sunburn that comes with them. First on my itinerary is the 5th Annual Florida Music Festival and Conference, in Orlando, taking place this week from Wednesday to Saturday. With 250 bands spread across 15 stages over a three-day shellacking of the auditory senses, it’s a fine way to pop the summer concert cherry. So, I’m strapping on my cutlass and taking the sloop down to the Sunshine State, where I’ll hand out a treasure trove of BTR booty and nod my head with the best of Florida’s underground music scene. I’ll be skipping the opening night headliner, however, which is Third-Eye Blind. I don’t really feel them, nor do I understand why they have the top slot. In fact, it’s a crime, because Morningbell is playing the same night, at the AKA Lounge! They're one of Gainesville's best, never mind one of the most friendly bands I've ever met. I missed their live set the last time I was in Gainesville, due to a ruptured appendix. But I’ll be in attendance for this show, which should be the perfect beginning for a weekend of non-stop musical debauchery. Friday night is going to be a logistical nightmare, because Band Marino hits the Backbooth at 11, and then Dear & Glorious Physician plays at 11:30 at the AKA Lounge. You know I can't miss a visit with the good doctor, considering they're one of the most played bands on the Synapse. But Band Marino is supposed to be a good live show as well, and DJ Emily swears by them. Then, to make matters worse, I have to return to the Backbooth at 1 for Summerbirds in the Cellar, a band we just added to the stacks here at the BTR. If you haven't heard them yet, I'd say they sound like the best parts of a New Wave band combined with the creativity of an art-rock ensemble. Of course, none of this takes into account all the other bands that are playing at the same time, a few of which I’ve heard are very good. So it looks like I’ll have to take on the role of The Decider, like our president, and hope that I end up making the right choice. Never mind the fact I’m hoping to stumble upon some great bands that I have not yet become acquainted with. It's been my experience that the best shows are the ones in which you have no idea what to expect, in terms of both the music and the performance. For example, I saw Fishbone at the Middle East in Cambridge, Massachusetts, back in the late Nineties, and although I had heard of them before, I had never actually listened to any of their music. It was a good thing too, because a Fishbone studio album isn’t that exciting. For whatever reason, the songs just don’t come across with the same power or attitude. Personally, I think it’s because they never worked with the right producer, like a Steve Albini or a Tchad Blake. Anyway, before they took the stage, I saw Walter Kibby II (who sings and plays trumpet) sitting toward the back of the drum riser, huffing on a blunt. This led me to believe the show was going to be a relaxed affair, without much to look at or say “Oh Shit!” about. Of course, I was completely wrong, because Fishbone tore the roof off, playing for almost three hours and becoming more energetic with every minute. In fact, it was almost too much to believe. I imagined them stabbing syringes full of adrenaline into their chests during the 10 seconds of darkness between songs, like maddened asthmatics. My ears rang for four days afterward, and I was convinced I had suffered irreparable damage to my hearing. In any event, it sticks in my memory to this day, because I had no idea what was going to happen that night. And with a weekend like this one coming up, where every underground band will be performing to impress the record label reps, the possibility for a similar mind-blowing experience is damn good. That’s why I’m pumped up about Saturday, as all the bands playing in the afternoon are ones I am unfamiliar with. The problem will be deciding which of the 24 acts to check out. As soon as the sun sets, however, it’s off the Blue Room for Vaya (a DJ Max Power favorite) and Alphabet City, and then I’ll try to hit up Heavy Mojo at the Wall Street Plaza. I figure I'll be pretty tired at that point, but, you know, like that pervert R. Kelly once said, "after the show it's the after party, and after the party it's the hotel lobby!" All of the aforementioned bands are in rotation here on BTR (except R. Kelly, of course) and most of them claim Florida as their home, whether it's the Treasure Coast, the Gulf Coast, Gainesville-north or Miami-south. The best part is, the wrist band that grants you access to all 250 bands is only $25! Now that's some good shit, especially when compared to a whole hell of a lot of other musical events on the immediate horizon. In fact, I'd say it's the perfect way to kick off your summer. I'll see you there.
We have a new logo. Not only that, but the new BTR website is currently under construction. We would like to get our listeners involved - to help capture the spirit of BTR through a range of creative visuals and to help make the debut of the new site a grand affair. However, being the champions of indie music that we are, we haven’t really embraced the corporate ways of the mainstream. That’s just not how we do things. We’re not about to hire an expensive marketing agency to put together a survey group, compile statistics and then have them come back to us with a detailed spreadsheet of what the young kids are into these days. We’d like this whole project to be untouched by corporate hands. So we decided to turn to our audience, confident that you know what you want better than anybody else does. And thus a contest was born. Of course, some of you are artistically inclined and are just waiting to work on a cool project that will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people all over the world. The rest of you, however, are all like, “Yeah, but what’s in it for me?” (As if international recognition wasn’t enough!) The answer to that is: one of three fabulous prizes. First prize is a brand new Sony VAIO SZ laptop. Second prize is a Sony PSP. Third prize is a big-ass box of DVDs – real ones too, not those $5 bootlegs you’ve been buying on the subway. Regardless of whether you’re doing it for the fame, the glory, or the fancy laptop computer, this is an opportunity to express yourself creatively for a cause that hopefully you hold dear. Lest you forget, BTR plays only unsigned and independent artists. We are the antidote to the radio status quo, the oasis in a sea of mediocre radio stations all programmed by one guy with his hand in the pocket of the machine. Here at BTR we give you credit for taste, intelligence, and curiosity. We know that you don’t want hear the same 10 songs by the same group of artists repeated over and over again. It makes sense then, that we also give you credit for creativity. We figure no one knows us better than the people who listen to us everyday. Who better to tell the world about what we do? So here’s the deal; we’re giving you free reign. Basically you just have create some piece of art that includes the new BTR logo. It can be a t-shirt, a poster, a painting, a crop circle – whatever. Go ahead and shoot a music video on your cell-phone if that’s how the spirit moves you. All we ask is that you keep it legal, original, and positive. That being said, please keep in mind that this is a contest. A video of a guy getting kicked in the crotch (although that’s always funny) will probably not rise to the top – even if he is wearing a BTR t-shirt. The winning entries will not only feature the BTR logo, but will also hopefully capture the indie spirit. Yes, we know that capturing something as fleeting and metaphorical as the indie spirit is difficult – but that’s why they call it art. For more information on the contest, including all the details, fine print, and specifics on the prizes, click on the ‘contest’ link in “Breaking News” section on the homepage.
By now all of you out there know the deal: It’s a new month and that means it’s time for a breakdown of the newest music here on BTR. Normally we focus on new singles, because that’s how things are done in radio land. Part of the reason for that is record companies and radio stations think listeners don’t have the attention spans necessary to take in a whole album. Instead, they would rather play one song, over and over again, until it’s stuck in your head like a brain leech, and you’re forced to go out and spend your hard-earned dollars on an album that you’ve never really heard. Here at BTR we know that our listeners are better, smarter, and generally more interesting (not to mention cooler and more attractive). Besides, our DJs aren’t limited to one single from an artist that has a whole album full of great tracks. BTR DJs pick and play the music they like – the music that you want to hear. So this month, we’re hipping you to 10 new albums to listen for. That’s over 120 brand new songs made available to you, for free, from the best unsigned and indie artists in the world. Can we get a what what? Of course, you’re free to pick your own favorites, email the DJs with your requests, or just fast-forward to the next track. That’s the beauty of podcasting and internet radio. However, we recommend that you study up in advance so that you know what to listen for. It is because of this that we offer you a quick breakdown on 10 hot albums new for May on BTR. From Here To There Girls In Hawaii They’re not really girls and they’re not really from Hawaii – they’re from Belgium. They play emotive, textural art rock that sounds like a cross between Grandaddy and Beat Radio - except that every once in a while a heavy Belgian accent sneaks through. It’s interesting to note that while other countries lag far behind on current culture trends, the Belgians apparently have their finger on the pulse of the American indie rock movement. First Light's Freeze Castanets The second Castanets album picks up where the first left off, stringing together disembodied fragments of gothic Americana with brief, freaky interludes. “Rusty,” “ethereal,” “indie,” “atmosphere,” and “rock” are the words that jump to mind. For lack of a better description, it's kind of like of the male version of Portishead, but much more accessible. DJ Latola says, “It's a good album to go to sleep to, and I know because I do it every Monday on the bus.” In Between Shaggy Manatee Shaggy Manatee is half of Quake Trap Records (the other half is Yoko Solo, duh). This is Shaggy’s newest solo album. It’s still the freaked-out electro hip-hop that these guys are known for, but Shaggy’s style is a little more…accessible. The tracks on this disc actually play as individual songs instead of the psycho-disco landscapes that Yoko is known for. Shaggy and his QT brethren continue to push the envelope of hip-hop and electronic music in general. Sometimes you just want to listen to a simple pop song that you can whistle in the shower, and that’s fine. But when you want a glimpse of what the post-electro hip-hop heads of the future will be listening to, email your DJ and tell ‘em to spin something from this record. Everything In 3 Parts The Golden Dogs   This Canadian band does it all. The group is basically the singing/songwriting team of Dave Azzolini and Jessica Grassia, with the addition of some shit hot studio musicians. This album moves effortlessly through the decades, blending British Invasion harmonies with 70s FM rock and 90s power pop, and throwing in some very current indie rock sounds for good measure. I hear so many different things on this record – The Kinks, The Flaming Lips, Belle & Sebastian, NRBQ, Queens Of The Stone Age – just to name a few. One thing is for certain - these songs are all super catchy. You should only listen to this album if you’re comfortable with The Golden Dogs buying real estate in your mind. Learning By Musical Montage & Forgetting to Wake Up Morningbell   Two albums from one of Gainesville's best. They're a psychedelic rock band with a comedic twist and a penchant for animal rights. They are equally fond of pop vocal harmonies and 70s rock guitar riffage. Of course you’re hearing them first here on BTR, but don’t be surprised if start hearing a lot more from these guys. Evolution Fight CYNE A great addition to the BTR hip-hop stacks. The beats are top-notch, the lyrics are conscious, and the production is tight. This group dabbles in some experimental ideas, using strange doo-wop samples and broken, slow-mo beats. However, they never go so far out as to leave the audience behind. This album is refreshing and accessible. Also, for those working on their music trivia, CYNE stands for “cultivating your new experience.” So now you know. Tight Lines The Saps Some of these tracks you’ll be familiar with from the EP we added a few months back. Otherwise this is a brand new album from these guys. It hasn’t officially been released yet – we only have it because they literally handed a custom decorated promo copy to us at their show here in NY. Anyway, if you know and love these guys, then there’s lots more to love on this CD. True to form, The Saps deliver hard rockin’ songs about failure, disappointment, and righteous indignation, yet they still manage to make you want to go out drinking and have a good time. Really, how can you not love The Saps? The Sunlandic Twins Of Montreal DJ Latola says: “You will either hate this band or love them. I don't believe there is a middle ground. They have ridiculous harmonies and candy land soundscapes, and you'll swear you've heard it before. Some of it is downright Saturday morning cartoons stock, to be sure, but they do it extremely well. When I saw them live, almost every body was dancing. There’s a reason they call it feel-good music.” The Working Class Dad Micall Parknsun In my humble opinion, a lot of UK hip-hop is garbage – too deeply rooted in garage and 2-step to be really listenable. But this shit is pretty tight. The album features Ninja Tune-style beats underneath slick rhymes spat in a charming Cockney accent (innit?). Not quite as rough as Roots Manuva and not as affected as Dizzy Rascal. I would say it’s closer to the style of Braintax and that guy that always raps on Mr. Scruff records. Check it out if you want to hear something a little different, yet still familiar. Sleep Is The Enemy Danko Jones Heavy three chord guitar rock a la AC/DC or Urge Overkill, fronted by an eccentric lead singer. The thing is, along with the crunchy guitars and the punker drum breaks, Mr. Jones is almost always singing love songs – albeit crude ones (sample lyric: “Baby I’d break my dick off just for you”). This comes courtesy of our friends at Razor & Tie Records, home of The Giraffes. Apparently they are pretty big advocates of the sleaze rock genre over there. Fortunately for them (and us) they do it very well.
Reppin’ for your hood is an essential component of hip hop. Even when rap music was still just a New York thing, the block got more shout outs than money, hoes, and clothes. Hip hop and the places it comes from are inextricably connected, so it makes sense that regional pride – and regional sound – factor heavily into the culture. Enter “hyphy,” the Bay Area sound that has been blasting at clubs and sideshows in cities east of San Francisco since early 2000. Hyphy may be relatively new to the rest of the country, but it already has half a decade’s worth of history under its belt in Northern California. The word itself, coined by rapper Keak Da Sneak, is an amalgam of “hyper” and “fly.” Broadly defined, it refers to a style, a dance, a form of self-expression, and a musical sub-genre. It was initially conceived as a response from Bay Area rappers who were tired of seeing their style hijacked by other, more commercially successful members of the hip hop industry. Hyphy has now evolved to the point that many in the East Bay consider it a way of life. To delve into Northern California hip hop culture - and the minutiae of the hyphy style in particular - is a story unto itself. Suffice it to say that it involves ‘sideshows’ (a wild, highly illegal street race/block party/car show), a clothing style that’s a cross between N.W.A. and George Clinton, and a cracked-out Jitterbug that bears a striking resemblance to the Humpty Dance. But what is most compelling about hyphy is the sound. Sometimes described as “post-crunk,” it blends old-school Oakland beats with contemporary hip hop vocal delivery. Think of Three 6 Mafia rapping over an old Too $hort track that’s been spiced up with video game noises and heavy breathing. The fast paced, intricate wordplay revolves around themes of partying and acting dumb – which is to say letting go of all inhibitions and getting straight buck-wild. Noticeably absent are the thugged-out posturing and singular infatuation with money and success that are endemic in mainstream rap. In effect, these Bay Area artists are giving the finger to the rest of the industry by working a style in which the basic premise is not giving a shit. Of course, you can’t forget that this whole thing started as a way of demanding respect. The Bay was the birthplace of collar poppin’, yokin’, whips, and the “izzle” in “fo shizzle.” Now that the Bay Area seems to have a legitimate movement on its hands, they’re looking for some recognition from the rest of the country – mainly in the form of record sales. The question is, will anybody buy it? Acclaimed producer and hyphy pioneer Rick Rock has invested his faith in The Federation, a group whose album he produced and conceptualized. Packaged alongside the conventional hip hop fare are several hyphy tracks targeted at hoods beyond the hood. The track “Get Dumb” typifies the hyphy style and its so-called “yellow bus” mentality. A minimalist drum track smashes out the rhythm, accompanied by a Super Mario Bros. bass line and some asthmatic beat boxing. The song “Donkey” uses a clubbed-up hyphy track to expound on the virtues of callipygous women. No points for originality there, although it does sound like they recorded an actual donkey braying in the mix. Conveniently enough, the track with the most potential is also the one with the easiest name to remember: “Hyphy.” That track gets a big assist from E-40, the veteran Bay Area rapper and unofficial ambassador of hyphy. Although not exclusive to the hyphy sound, E-40 is putting his name and reputation behind the movement in hopes that it will bring the Bay Area the recognition it deserves. For his new single “Tell Me When To Go,” he compiled all the elements of hyphy into a ridiculously catchy dance track. Lil’ Jon, the reigning king of crunk, produced the beat – a simple banger with an easy-to-chant chorus. E-40 trades verses with Keak Da Sneak, and over the course of the song they cover dippin’, scrapers, ghostridin’, giggin’, the thizzle dance, and just about every possible incarnation of the word “dumb.” It’s like the entire essence of hyphy distilled down into a single music video. Its success will likely determine the speed at which the hyphy movement spreads – or whether or not it spreads at all. Beyond asking if hyphy will succeed nationally, many Bay Area hip hop artists are asking “Do we want it to?” San Francisco and Oakland have a rich hip hop tradition, one that’s steeped in street style, social activism, and gangster intellectualism. Del, The Hieroglyphics, and The Coup are still flying well below the mainstream radar. Casual still hasn’t sold a million records. Azeem probably never will. Sure hyphy is loud, boisterous, and popular with the kids. But is a movement that sports the credo “Get Dumb” really what the Bay Area wants to present to the world? After all, Oakland has only recently begun to live down the legacy of MC Hammer and his infamous pants. It’s possible that in hyping hyphy, The Town is using the wrong metric for measuring success. Oakland hasn’t gotten much respect since the days of Tupac and the long standing desire for attention has left the entire Bay Area confused as to how to get it. The underground continues to do what they do, wearing their obscurity like a badge of honor. The rest have simply gotten tired of watching other artists make money off their material. Rather than throw a bunch of ideas against the wall to see what sticks, Bay Area hip hop artists are going with a formula that has proven successful in local trials. It’s clear that hyphy is a marketable concept, but it may also be a quick fix. If hyphy proves to be a passing fad, then the Bay Area hip hop community will have spent itself in vain. In doing so, they may have inadvertently put off the national recognition they seek by another several years. Approaching hyphy with the glass half full however, 2006 may be the year that The Bay finally gets its due. Lil’ Jon and E-40 have combined their efforts to produce a hyphy DVD entitled “The Hype On Hyphy: Town Bizness From The Yay.” The Federation is starting to see increased airplay in markets outside of the Bay Area. There’s even a hyphy energy drink on the way. Hyphy could prove to be the trend that brings national recognition and major label money back to the Bay. Of course, a rising tide raises all ships. With the spotlight back on the Bay Area, some of the smaller stars might also get a chance to shine. The national jury is still out on hyphy. For now most listeners are content to let Houston and Atlanta entertain them. But the time may soon come when hip hop fans grow tired of the Dirty South and look West in search of something a little dumb.
It’s no joke. April brings showers and another new batch of music to BreakThru Radio. But let's stop right there with the lame clichés about April. What you really came to see is what’s hot this month on BTR. As always, your favorite DJs have been hard at work picking the hits for your listening pleasure. And as always, there is tons of new stuff. Narrowing it down to ten songs to talk about was a difficult task. Indeed, it was only possible through many late nights of tedious deliberation and excessive consumption of caffeine and Chinese take-out. Of course, you’re free to pick your own favorites, email the DJs with your requests, or just fast-forward to the next track. That’s the beauty of podcasting and internet radio. However, we recommend that you study up in advance so that you know what to listen for. It is because of this that we offer you a quick breakdown on 10 hot singles new for April on BTR. Circular Situation Bing Ji Ling Bouncing back and forth between New York and San Francisco, Bing has managed to absorb just about all the funk and soul this country has in between the two coasts. This song could easily be a lost track from Shuggie Otis, Tony! Toni! Toné!, or Beck – or all three put together. Just as he spans the country, Bing Ji Ling spans the generations of soul music, knocking out a song that your little sister will like just as much as your baby mama will. Good Enough To Eat Alex Valentine   A word of advice for all the would-be singer/songwriters out there: before you go into the studio to record your opus about life, love, and loss, you might want to think about production and melody a little bit. This is just a simple song about a broken heart, but Valentine nails it on the music. Dub style drum loops give way to delicate guitar arpeggios that compliment the singer’s sad voice. And check the restraint on the string section; they come in for just a little rhythmic pulse on the second half of the chorus. Belissimo! This is gourmet music from a genre that generally offers only stale leftovers. Nebula Vaya   This song packs a big punch. In just under four minutes, the band manages to quote just about every indie rock trend of the last five years. It’s not a Frankenstein though; the song works because it uses these pieces to build to a fabulous crescendo. They begin with an uber catchy Strokes-esque guitar riff and move quickly into the dynamics of Hot Hot Heat. From there they add a dash of late 90s power pop and finish with a flourish of thunder a la Queens Of The Stone Age. Despite how it sounds, the song is far from derivative. Rather, it is a nice snapshot of rock n roll as it exists in early 2006. Electrified Dressy Bessy   Sassy garage rock with a rhythm section that sounds like it was hijacked from Detroit. Just trashy enough to be sexy. This is the kind of song that will make you want to drink cheap beer and/or shop for tight fitting clothes. That’s the power of rock n roll. Christine Monsters Are Waiting You should put this track somewhere accessible on your playlist. That way, if you’re ever riding the L train and some jaunty hipster tries to engage you in a quick game of iPod wars, you’ll be ready. Even if they hit you with some rare French import that you can only get at the Tom Vek after-party, all you have to do is flash your screen. The words “Monsters Are Waiting” will bring them shame and you glory - all at the same time.   Seriously, this song is that cool. Blink Blue Scholars Say what you will about the whole conscious hip hop movement, their beats are tight. This Seattle duo mixes jazzy guitar samples and tight drum lines to make a bed for their politically charged rhymes. In between the crackle of an old record and a brassy horn line they talk shit about war, foreign policy, class struggle, and American anti-intellectualism. To quote the first verse, even if your own personal politics lay elsewhere on the spectrum, this track will make you “bob to the beat as if nodding in agreement.” Counterpoint The Hate My Day Jobs This is rough around the edges punk rock with a sassy downtown sensibility. The vocals sound like they might tear through your speakers at any moment. This might freak some people out, but that’s kind of the point (counterpoint!). Besides, the guitar riff on the chorus is so incredibly sweet that you’ll be completely high on pure rock fury before the second verse even rolls around. Emily Dickinson Crazy Low Budget Delinquent white boy hip hop. Is that officially a genre? The rhymes are kind of like what Eminem might have sounded like if he grew up in Brooklyn and never got famous. Clever and cantankerous, MC dusMite deftly switches from self-deprecating humor to harsh critiques of anybody who crosses his path. Also, the beat is wicked hot – a cross between the jazzy sounds of Tribe Called Quest and the gritty funk of El-P and Company Flow. Numbers Game Foreign Islands This falls almost exactly in between Franz Ferdinand and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. In other words, a spastic, slightly arrogant take on dance punk. The buzz saw bass line anchors the track to the ground while the rest of the band shoots for the brightest part of the disco ball. Lots of handclaps, whistles, and a girl moaning “ooh” and “ah” all over the chorus. What else do you need to get the party started? La Salvadora Lorenzo Goetz Everybody loves these guys for their accessible dance beats and ridiculously catchy choruses. They’re like the band that will never make you mad. What they will do, however, is through you a curveball from time to time. Take this song for example. Doing their best to channel a drunken night in Tijuana, they close out their new EP with three minutes of Tex-Mex guitar work and haunting percussion. Fortunately for Lorenzo Goetz indie rock has worked out well so far, but it’s comforting to know that they could always find work as a mariachi band if they needed to.
In 1990, Lollapalooza was conceived by Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Farrell, ostensibly as a farewell tour for the band. But more than a last hoorah, Lollapalooza began the mass dissemination of so-called alternative music. Crossing popular music's rigidly drawn genre lines gave the festival an air of independence from corporate rock. Perhaps more importantly, the touring festival brought underground culture from the coasts into the heartland, and it brought dollar signs into the eyes of record executives everywhere. Alternative music was so named because of the contrast it offered to the mainstream. Grunge, industrial electronica, and hybrid strains of hip hop were sweeping the nation in the early 90s. In doing so they were dismantling decades of rock clichés – in their own small way. The heavy focus on glamour, style, and a relentlessly upbeat party attitude were all dismissed by alternative rockers. Ironically, it only took a few years for alternative music to develop its own grocery list of clichés. “Alternative” music has become almost a complete misnomer. It is unquestionably the standard in modern rock music. If it’s loud, if there are tattoos and piercings, songs about divorced parents, and the target audience is disaffected suburban youth, then chances are it is alternative music. Alternative music now has countless sub-genres within other sub-genres, many of them distinguishable only by the amount of mascara worn by the lead singer. The name has begun to lose traction as more and more people ask the question, “Alternative to what?” Alternative music’s path to popularity was predictable. Initially the genre offered something new and appealing, albeit by making small adjustments to standard rock conventions. Essentially, the same loud guitars, rebellious attitudes, and destitute appearance that kids all over the world found attractive were also highly marketable. Soon enough, everyone was either playing or listening to alternative music. Like anything else, this level of popularity couldn’t be sustained forever without becoming stretched too thin. Alternative music was absorbed into the mainstream and the music industry juggernaut chugged on. Fast forward now through the rise of hip hop, the ridiculous techno/rave scene, the dot com boom, and American Idol. The artsy kids are once again dissatisfied with what the industry is offering. Armed with a DIY ethic and a desire for intelligence and creativity, they start their own little record labels. They record clever little rock songs that feature jangling guitars, charming vocal melodies, and, often times, electronic effects and drum programming pilfered from other genres. At first it wasn’t necessarily even a cohesive sound. When struggling to define indie rock at the turn of the century, a friend used to simply refer to them as “those little bands.” But “indie rock” as it is now understood has come into its own. It has its own distinctive style, production values, and even loosely regimented standards for instrumentation. Indie bands build on the holy rock trinity of drums, bass, and guitar. Bonus points are awarded for analogue keyboards, drum machines, or a quirky, unexpected instrument, like a banjo or bass clarinet. The widespread proliferation of the indie rock formula dawned on me a few months ago while watching a conspicuously average indie rock band. Onstage, four guys in their 20s were making their way through a mid-tempo rock song about computers and monkeys. All the band members sported a soft beard and a boho chic wardrobe. Each song blended inoffensively into the next. The girls in the audience swayed back and forth, while the male audience members (most of them indistinguishable from the band) drank beer and concentrated on the chord changes. It was apparent that this was a perfect example of the indie rock sound. The music, while not bad, was also not that good. It would be easy to name four or five bands that sound exactly the same. Most people in the audience that night would have been just as content to listen to any of those other bands. It wouldn’t matter as long as it was indie rock, because that’s what they’re into. Like “alternative,” the word “indie” means something particular in music. Specifically it refers to the fact the artist has no affiliation with a major label. The message is that the band is therefore in complete artistic control and free to produce whatever kind of music they like. What does it mean then, that as indie rock becomes more and more popular, indie rock bands start to sound more and more alike? How long will it be before major labels have their own stables of “indie rock” bands? Most music aficionados view the popularization of a music brand like the gentrification of a rough neighborhood. First, the artists move in and start doing something cool with the neglected and unrefined space. Then some money comes in and there is a brief window of time in which art and commerce are working together in harmony. Eventually it becomes too nice, the artists lose interest, and everybody complains about how they can’t afford to live there anymore. The question is, where are we on that curve? It’s difficult to say because the widespread popularity of indie rock can either be the key to its longevity or the cause of its downfall. As the talent pool becomes more diluted, the outliers may seek artistic higher ground. This would inevitably be the harbinger of something new. However, with the growing popularity of non-conventional media, the indie ethic has spread far and wide. A movement that has artistic freedom and a defiance of convention at its roots is bound to see a long return. With an audience willing to embrace the exceptional, indie rock becomes an open-ended contest to discover the band with the best idea. In either case, a rejection of formula is always healthy. Art in any form should always be challenged and reinvented before it becomes stale. Whatever the next movement in popular music is – be it six months from now or five years from now – will invariably come as a welcome departure from the style that seduced us a short time before. We can only hope that whatever kind of music that is, someone has the foresight to give it a name that won’t become the next year’s oxymoron. Too many indie bands to choose from? Let the BTR DJs do the work for you. Tune in to hear the newest and best.
No man can stop the hands of time. Nor can any DJ. As such, March is already upon us and there’s nothing we can do about it. Really though, as far as your favorite musicologists are concerned, there’s not much difference between the passing months. We spend almost all of our waking hours in dirty little rock clubs, underground record shops, and staring into the abyss of the internet trying to find new artists worthy of our listeners’ ears. As DJ Latola says, “The underground music scene is indeed vast, and we have to continually separate the pyrite from the platinum.” Of course, you’re free to pick your own favorites, email the DJs with your requests, or just fast-forward to the next track. That’s the beauty of podcasting and internet radio. However, we recommend that you study up in advance so that you know what to listen for. It is because of this that we offer you a quick breakdown on 10 hot singles new for March on BTR. La Lindsey Y-O-U   This song starts out as an epic prog-rock instrumental, made up of equal parts Radiohead and Yes. The guitars swirl around a menacing keyboard line that sounds like it was poached from the soundtrack of a 1980s dramatic thriller. But just as you start thinking you’ve got another ironic throwback on your hands, YOU flips the script and throws down some serious white-boy soul. Best of all, lead singer Nicholas Niespodziani belts out this ode to physical beauty in the highest falsetto you’re likely to hear this side of Mariah Carey. Velvet Crush JB   If there is such a thing as hip hop noir, this is it. JB is up to his usual tricks, telling blunted tales of California pimpin’. His lyrics flow over the down-tempo beat as the sound of rain and a plaintive hook simmer in the background. If Jack Kerouc was alive and listening to hip hop, this would be his jam. Bethany Second Shift   It’s pop rock with gritty, distorted guitars that give it a touch of punk flavor. Reminiscent of the Foo Fighters, but with more of a party spirit. You can blast this one at the skate park or the pool party you throw the next time your parents are out of town. Black Betty Kudu Imagine you took a little bit of Delta Blues, a drum sample from Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks,” Diana Ross’ voice and hairdo, and added whatever good you could extract from the early electro-clash scene and mixed it all up. Chances are the result would be something ugly. Amazingly, Kudu pulls it off like a flasher’s overcoat. This song will make you want to buy an old Cadillac Coupe De Ville and drive around the lower east side talking shit to all the pretenders. Center Of The World Teenage Prayers Teenage Prayers are a wolf in sheep’s clothing. At first listen, you might think you put in an oldies CD by mistake. This track has the melodious, up-tempo keyboards and enough “do-do-do-da-doos” to fit in alongside anything from rock n roll’s pre-pubescent years. However, the band’s true nature is revealed in the lyrics. Get ready for sex, booze, and liberal use of the F word to go along with those irresistible teeny-bopper melodies. NY Song Modern Skirts   These days, DJ L can’t go five minutes without talking about this band – and for good reason. The piano-centric indie rock sounds refreshing, even as it’s played with one of the dozens of other new and amazing bands coming out of the Atlanta/Athens corridor. This track has touch of Billy Joel, but the band should know that’s meant as a compliment. Lest anybody get the wrong idea, we’ll leave you with their own words from the band’s myspace page: “Piano popsicles melting with timely licks from golden tongues.” Contradiction Azeem & Variable Unit For a brief time in the early ‘90s, the Bay Area was the funkiest place in the country. An extended family of young, bad-ass musicians was taking their jazz chops and their love of hip hop and combining them to make some of the slickest music since Tower Of Power. All too soon however, a wave of dot-coms and techno music came and forced that sound into hibernation. Now, Wide Hive Records in Berkeley, CA is starting to poke at that sleeping bear. The result is tracks like this one, featuring West Coast-style conscious lyricism and a slammin’ live band. The Real Estate Cubik & Origami When the above mentioned dot-com/techno explosion happened, half the musicians moved to Oakland and either became teachers or started selling weed. The other half adapted to their new environment and immediately started to imitate and incorporate the new electronic sounds. The result was the electro/live band hybrid. This track represents some of the best of that amalgamation. Keyboards and samples give this track a conventional down-tempo feel, but the live bass and drums make it sound like it came from the back room of a smoky jazz club. Trucker Speed The M’s   This song chugs along like a psychedelic ‘70s rock rumba. The drums clatter in and out of the frame while the guitars ride wave after wave of fuzzed-out distortion. Best of all, the vocals soar with rough-around-the-edges harmonies that bring to mind both the Kinks and the Flaming Lips. This is the perfect song for that moment, at the end of a long day of barbequing, swimming, and drinking, when you finally realize that you’re drunk. Can’t Hear You Coming The Whigs   It’s no secret that DJ Max Power can’t get enough of this album. The trick is narrowing it down to one track to put at the top of the list. “Ok, Alright” came in a close second, but in the end the rhythm section was the deciding factor. The bass and drums pulse along in perfect lock step. Cowbells jangle loudly on either side of the chorus, the guitars are cranked up, and, as if that weren’t enough, a full horn section comes in for the last 20 seconds of the song! This is how rock n roll is supposed to sound.
The ship has pretty much sailed on the hip hop scene in the dirty south. For the last few years, southern rappers have released more than enough hits to earn their respective hometowns the credibility to run with the big dogs on either coast. But the southern states haven’t seen a rock movement of their own since the ‘70s (Austin doesn’t count). But a movement has been brewing. Over the last decade, while rap stars hogged the spotlight, a close-knit group of southern indie rock bands has been steadily perfecting their art. This new wave of bands, coming from Charlotte, North Carolina, Athens, Georgia and centering in Atlanta are both individual and, at the same time, of a piece. The unifying factor seems to be a high level of musicianship and a love of southern cooking. The warmer weather might also be a factor. Or the proverbial southern funk. It’s hard to put a finger on it. The music is evocative, soulful, and laden with great pop hooks. Whatever it is, this ain’t your daddy’s southern rock. The following albums are three great examples of the diverse new southern indie rock sound: Give ‘Em All A Big Fat Lip The Whigs This album was recorded over a month of warm summer evenings in an empty colonial mansion in downtown Athens – and you can tell. You can almost hear the sweat, old wood and barbequed chicken in each track. The bass lines pulse with a rich analogue sound and singer Parker Gispert’s vocals have a old church-like tone thanks to the big empty rooms of the mansion. Think Kings of Leon crossed with NRBQ. This is the perfect album to listen to on the way to a party and/or a fishing trip. There’s An Elephant In The Room The Noises 10 The brainchild of singer/songwriter Jason Scavone, this band is reason alone to visit Charlotte, NC. Scavone’s voice is the perfect combination of sweet and mournful, and he’s backed by a band that follows him closely as he goes from euphoric highs to heartbreaking lows. This album also benefits from a rich analogue sound. Keyboards hum with pawnshop perfection, matched by Hammond organ and crisp drums. Sitting comfortably in the mix you can often hear a Memphis/Stax-style rhythm guitar playing slick lines to fill out the melody.  The track “Horse Latitudes” is hands down the best song on this album. That it’s not a #1 single is further proof that there’s no justice in this world. Buona Fortuna EP Trances Arc This Atlanta band plays what they describe as “polished garage rock.” That’s as apt a description as you’re likely to find anywhere. The band has been playing together for almost ten years and they’ve developed a sound that can’t really be compared to anything on the air today. The EP boasts a very solid rhythm section bumping along beneath jangley, treble laden guitars. True to form, the instruments all sound like they were recorded somewhere warm and easy going. However, BTR’s DJ L believes that singer Eric Toledo is what draws you in. His voice has a heartfelt quality that’s hard to describe, although L says, “Seeing them live says it all.” For those seeking more instant gratification, check out the track “Geronimo.” It may not say it all, but it definitely says what you need to hear.   (with additional reporting by Lauren Aparicio) All three bands are now in rotation on BreakThru Radio.
When Mike Maines was five years old, he would drag a big chain out of his apartment complex and swing it. The steel links would smack against the wall of the concrete breezeway, making fantastic noise and fleeting sparks. It was his favorite thing to do, and he recorded the sound on a boombox with a built-in mic. Little Mike recorded everything, whether it was strange noises he made with his mouth, impressions of people, or little songs he whipped up on the guitar and piano, instruments he was already learning how to play. In 4th grade he joined his first band. "It was a weird little ensemble in my school called Orff, which was about me and 20 other kids singing and playing marimba,” says Mike. “It basically hooked me." Now 26 years old, Mike has created and recorded enough exceptional music to spark an incendiary music scene. As master and commander of Arkain Records, Arkain Studios and the soon-to-be Arkain Compound, Mike is a major reason that Gainesville, Florida has become a mecca for indie music. A sucker for sound waves, he has been obsessed with the science of music for as long as he can remember. Like many of his peers, the discovery of jazz led to a major mutation in musical development, and Mike developed an infatuation at the tender age of 12. Over the next six years, he played the trumpet, euphonium and French horn at all levels of public school competition, both jazz and classical. In tenth grade he started recording again, this time with a "shit little keyboard and a tape deck," putting together over ten "crap" albums worth of music. Concurrently there grew a passion for composition, and the desire to make movie soundtracks, so Mike learned how to use the computer programs Encore and Finale. He sank hours and hours into the software, producing 12 albums worth of material and experience. "During all of this music junk, I was a little computer hacker nerd, and my handle was Arkain. It was some dumb word I made up based on the word "arcane," says Mike. "So that's where the name came from." True, the genesis of the Arkain namesake may be dumb, but don't think for one second that Mike is some slacker musican. He didn't drop-out of high school or talk a bunch of shit about 'his band' whilst pumping gas. No, before Mike started Arkain, he completed six years at the University of Florida, earning a master's degree in electrical engineering. "I am a third generation electrician, and have been since I was old enough to hold a screwdriver. My intent was to get an EE so I could design and build recording equipment," says Mike. But he didn't wait for a degree. Mike was designing and assembling electronic contraptions all throughout college. In fact, food became secondary to software, and he starved on Ramen noodles in order to satiate his appetite for building recording equipment. Of course, he was also busy recording music, either his own or that of his friends. Unfortunately, there weren't many avant-garde based improv musicians to be found in Gainesville, so Mike spent most of his time locked up in a room, recording endlessly. 'Twas the “toddler stage of Arkain Studios.” "I was also working as a studio musician in a few 'real' studios, and I said, 'I can do this for real too,' and so I did. I began by recording Swayze, for free, with the intent to release it under Arkain. I graduated and we released both a record and an LP," says Mike. There have been 36 official Arkain releases thus far, with plenty more on the way. Says Mike, "I never re-released any of my older albums, mainly because they suck, and what's really the point?” As bad as all 2,000 of those albums may sound, they represent hours and hours of valuable production experience, and it’s not surprising that most of the bands on Arkain Records feature Mike in some capacity. Besides being the one-man wrecking crew behind both Aspe and Moto & Mouse (a la Nine Inch Nails), he’s also a crucial component of Swayze, Red Canary, Prader-Willi, Mother Marshmallow, Monitor and Monolith. “It is very family oriented, with lots of cross-breeding, and it's definitely geared toward productivity. Everyone gets recording/mixing/mastering time via Arkain Studios, and all the support I can supply. I sign people, rather than 'bands,' and this usually provides more of a jazz atmosphere. It allows the cross-breeding to be more comfortable, minimizing competition. Music is all too often looked at as competitive, rather than expressive," says Mike. But don't get the wrong idea; it's not all jazz music on Arkain Records. "There is everything from acoustic music to all out avante-noise. I like a lot of different styles of music, and I don't think there is any reason to stay in one genre," says Mike. Indeed, he isn’t staying in just one aspect of the music business either, and Arkain is not your typical indie record label. Eventually, Mike wants to build (what has become known as) the 'Arkain Compound,' "which is basically a farm with a few barns," explains Mike. "There will be one barn for the label, one for the studio and one for the electronics construction. Everything from recording to screen printing will be done in-house. I'm already doing this in my house in Gainesville, but the compound will house label members, and will be efficiently set-up to also employ label members, so that more time can be spent doing what they love, which is making music. No funny Kool-Aid, but a real self-sustaining music community." "Hopefully, once all the gears are turning, the machine will run itself, with everyone benefiting. The studio will get business from the label exposure, while keeping recording costs low for the label. The business from the studio will help finance Arkain Audio Electronics, which will be started next spring. The electronics will feed the label, and around and around it will go," says Mike. Listen to the Arkain Records Specialty Hour all week here on Break Thru! Just skip to the second show on the Break Thru Player, and it shall commence forthwith. Peep the Arkain website @
It all started with a little white headphone. You, or perhaps someone like you, saw someone else plugged into an ergonomic little device. This device seemed to excuse them from the humdrum rhythm of daily life, and grant them access to a portable discotheque filled with a hand picked roster of stars. Like any good fad, it cast a spell on everyone it came in contact with. You had to have one. So you made that purchase and willingly became a banner for one of the most successful advertising campaigns in recent history. Once you had one, other people saw you, witnessed your transportation, and they had to have one as well. Soon enough, headphones replaced boom boxes, playlists began to replace mixtapes, and now the home computer threatens to put the record stores out of business. The radio stations (which mostly suck anyway) are falling one by one. It won’t be long before talk radio and commercials are the only residents of the ghost town known as the FM dial. The funny thing is, for many people, their iPod (or cell phone or PDA or other mp3 player) is just a fashion accessory. Like Ugg boots or designer jeans, these gadgets convey status and a certain hip factor that has become essential for life in the new millennium. Many people rushed to purchase them simply from fear of being left behind. They gave little thought to the fact these devices even have a function. Once you’ve paid the money though, the thing starts to burn a hole in your pocket. You can’t just stick the little white buds in your ears and fake musical bliss. So you read the instructions and you load some music onto it. Maybe you start with your old CDs, and then mix in a couple new tracks that you downloaded. Then one day you hit shuffle. All of a sudden you’ve got your own personal radio station right there in your head; stuff you haven’t heard for years, stuff you would never hear on the radio. You hear music that speaks to you, that moves you, that rocks your world specifically. You quickly realize that it’s not only your entire CD collection in your hand; it’s the biggest innovation in music since your granny’s Victrola. More importantly, the iPod is quickly becoming the great equalizer. Along with the home computer and innovative recording software, it is helping to bring music by the people, for the people to the people. The old model held that only those with the money and power of the mighty record industry behind them could get their music heard by the masses. As such, people were generally grateful for what they got. Milli Vanilli? Sure. If you live in Kansas and never hear anything else, why not? You really didn’t have any other choice. Now, that little white box in your pocket allows you to harness the power of the world wide web and things are different. According to Yahoo! News, eighty-five percent of people between the ages of 16 and 24 now site the internet as their main source for music. As a result, little bands have become much bigger bands even while flaunting their disregard for the old system. This smarter, more modern do-it-yourself approach has the music industry quaking in its boots. The old model has worked so well for so long, they naturally assumed that it would last forever. But it is getting harder and harder to force-feed their high-gloss, overpriced product to the music buying public. Now that they’ve seen how green the grass is on the other side, this newly empowered public won’t be rushing back any time soon. P2P networks, podcasts, and online radio stations (which are totally rad, btw) have spread like wild fire. Spreading with them is a flourishing indie music scene that embraces a variety of music unheard of on conventional radio. Anybody with a computer and a microphone can send their music out into the ether to be judged by the public. If it’s not that good, all that’s lost is time – not a multi-million dollar production and advertising budget. If it’s genuinely good, then for once somebody worthy is on the receiving end of your money and admiration. It seems that the earbud wearing masses have chosen quality and variety over smoke and mirrors. It may seem like a simple illustration of the butterfly effect, but it’s bigger than that. It is the soundtrack of our lives, and more often now it is being determined by the people most familiar with our lives. It is you, or someone like you. In a world where even the graffiti has a corporate sponsor this autonomy is something to be grateful for. And to think this all came from a little white headphone - a marvelous piece of technology masquerading as a fashion accessory.
From iTunes to cell phone bling tones, public access to music has become easier, faster and more widespread in the last five years. But, says Atlanta native Lauren Aparicio, there's still great music out there that's not being heard—especially music by Atlanta artists. Aparicio, better known to thousands as DJ L, is one of six DJs on the Internet radio station Breakthru Radio (, which aims to "give something back to artists who sound amazing but just aren't getting played or recognized," she says. Aparicio takes that concept down to the local level with "In the Mix," a show that spotlights Atlanta artists she feels have been unjustly ignored. "I really feel Atlanta is the New York City of the South," she says. "We are really underestimated in terms of our music scene." Aparicio had always been interested in music growing up, attending shows by No Doubt and 311 at the age of 13. But it wasn't until she returned to Atlanta after attending Valdosta State University that she realized just how good Atlanta's local music scene was. "Our Atlanta scene is blowing up, not only commercially but musically," she says. Aparicio had just spent the past four years as a DJ at Valdosta's college radio station, working her way up to become its promotions director. Upon learning about Breakthru, she applied for an on-air slot as "a shot in the dark." One demo tape and an interview later, she won the job. Breakthru is committed to exposing what Aparicio calls "unheard, unsigned artists." Part of her job description entails discovering new talent to add to the station's online library, in addition to hosting her weekly show "Out There," which airs each Thursday. She also enjoys the freedom to pick and play artists she likes, she says, noting that Breakthru founder Cal Rifkin "wanted to have an outlet for DJs and musicians at the same time. He wanted to go back to the old days where DJs got to pick what they would spin." DJ L "In the Mix" Weekly, starting Feb. 20 "Out There" Every Thursday In addition to their regular weekly shows, which draw from the station's repertoire of unsigned artists, each Breakthru DJ hosts a specialty show themed around a genre of music, such as indie-rock or hip-hop, or Aparicio's Atlanta-themed program, which graduates to a weekly format starting Feb. 20. "There are a lot of great acts here that are underestimated," she says. "The Modern Skirts are the Ben Folds Five of 2006. Heavy Mojo is full of energy. Trances Arc is just unbelievable." She also mentions the Swear as a favorite. Through attending shows, sampling CDs and talking to musicians and managers, Aparicio settles upon the acts that make their way onto "In the Mix." That task got much easier after she started a page on the popular Web site Myspace, which she calls "a lifesaver. Bands are finding me now." The concept of commercial-free radio showcasing unsigned artists seems to be catching on with more than just the DJs. Recently Breakthru's listeners hit 15 million, with 200,000 downloads a day. (Aparicio averages 225,000 listeners per week.) And soon the site's music will be available through iTunes for 99 cents per song. Internet radio, Aparicio says, "is going to give commercial radio a run for its money." But this new kind of radio, with its focus on new, unheard music, does produce challenges that regular DJs working from rigid playlists don't encounter. "People think being a DJ is easy, that you just play the music you like," Aparicio says. In essence, she continues, like the other Breakthru DJs, she's like a program director, trying to figure out which artists will move her listeners as much (or more) as it moves her. "It doesn't have to blow my socks off," she says. "But if I'm jamming to it and other people are jamming to it, I'm all about it. Good music is good music. It doesn't matter what form it takes." Source: Atlanta Sunday Paper
It’s been a busy January thus far at BTR. We’ve got something cooking on every burner, and within the next two weeks we’ll be able to reveal the contents of a massive stock pot, so don’t fill up on fruitcake. Of course, we’re still spending the majority of our time spelunking. The underground music scene is indeed vast, and we have to continually separate the pyrite from the platinum. Every amazing new sound we stumble upon comes after slogging through a bevy of garbage, a lot of which has that pretentious singer-songwriter stench. As DJ Max Power said a few days ago, “We’re sure as hell not looking for the next American Idol!” Indeed, we’re on the prowl for substance; a sound that leaves you rapt and begging for more. So here are ten songs we have recently discovered, ones we think are doing their own thing, and worthy of your attention. Of course, all of them are in rotation here on BTR. Anywhere But Here Behavior Behavior is the name of the band, and also the production studio from whence it came. Like Nine Inch Nails, it all stems from the work of one man - producer/composer Michael McCann. This song features funky drums and a taut rubber band bass-line, both of which are highlighted by a pulsating buzz-saw effect that stays with you long after the song echoes the outro. Boats and Birds gregoRy and the hawK Nothing beats beginning a song with a tremendous bass drop. Just ask DJ Magic Mike. The technique is used a bit differently here, adding dramatic punctuation to the pensive guitar plucking that pilots this song. Meredith, whom I assume is the hawk, speaks/sings ethereally of stardust and the West, yet it doesn’t come off as trite. She manages to succeed where Icarus failed, namely because she chose night over day, which is when this song sounds best. Ninja, Please New Roman Empire When I asked Ryan Malina of New Roman Empire if I could play this song, he said: “It’s funny how much people like that song. Maybe I'll tell someone the story behind it sometime.” From this we can glean it’s a story we don’t necessarily want to hear? If anything, it might shatter the relaxed mental state that “Ninja, Please” inspires. Electronically ambient, with no vocals to clutter the butter-smooth mosey of the drum-line, it would be the perfect background music for a golf tournament on the moon. Ninjas are too quick to be this chilled out. Lyrical Rhapsody for the Cell Phone Abusers Kyle Mann Combo Beginning with a piano riff that sounds as if someone is about to get murdered, “Lyrical Rhapsody for the Cell-Phone Abusers” suddenly turns into an adventure of Indiana Jones-type bombast, rollicking through four minutes of frantic time-changes that set the saloon walls on fire. Only 19 years-old, Kyle Mann is here to remind the world how exciting a balls-out piano-pounder can be, especially when flanked by a skilled upright bassist and skinsman. A Handful of Words Sankofa “Remember when Hilton was a hotel and not a whore?” Such is the question spat by Fort Wayne, Indiana MC Sankofa during the third verse on “A Handful of Words.” He knows “rap reviews are quick to write about a social reference, as if that’s a measure of the dopest vocal presence.” Busted! Indeed Sankofa does have a strong vocal presence, which is gruff around the edges and greedy for vocabulary. It goes well with pounding production from the Moth, who informed me that there is no bass at all on this track; just really hard drum hits. It’s odd to imagine hip-hop without a bass line, but the Moth done did it, and Sankofa blessed it. Not That Kind Revolution 74 The latest in a new spurt of bands maximizing the keyboard to Killers effect. Out of the United Kingdom, these five blokes commence the foot-tapping with quick hits of indie power-pop. You’ll want to point your finger and accuse someone when lead singer Jon Swain erupts “Say it isn’t so!” Hello I Am I See It’s a perfect introduction to the sure-footed and smart rapping style of the original invisible man, I Am I See, from Westchester, PA. He’s got the skills, the image and the knowledge to be a force in the world of hip-hop, and all of us here at BTR can’t wait to hear him spit his next verse. He's got some nice ones on this track: "You got too close the sun, with wings made of wax/how can one man change things in the whole state of rap?/Fade to black on these actors and their monetary stature/break free from the machine and the greed it manufactures.” Oh what! Horse Latitudes The Noises 10 First, what the hell is a horse latitude? If you’re truly interested, check the link: Mr. Ed would not have been a fan. Don’t confuse the song with the one done by the Doors back in 1967. This 5-piece from Charlotte, North Carolina has a completely different sound, and lead singer Jason Scavone has more in common with Matthew Bellamy than he does with Jim Morrison. Neither band, however, would sound the same without their keyboardist driving things along. Having Fun The Giraffes This Brooklyn quartet is bringing the sleaze back to heavy metal - or as they call it "Cock in Mouth Rock.” This selection, from their new release on Razor and Tie, rolls on a chorus of “having fun with assholes,” and benefits from tight musicianship and well-placed double bass fills. I predict a slowly churning mosh-pit, one in which your boots better be laced up tight and sure, especially toward the end. London Bridges Ivy League I just heard this song yesterday, and it’s perfect for all you sportin’ the flowing white linen suit on the promenade. It smacks of Antonio Carlos Jobim, but when was that ever anything but a blessing? Hearing these lilting guitar chords in the midst of a grim January is like getting a sneak peek at summer. You’ll be sad when it ends, like when that patch of sun turns back into carpet.
It’s hard to say whether it started with trucker hats, happy hour discounts on PBR, or widespread fascination with the mullet. But at some point during the last 3 years, the early 80s became a focal point for youth culture. While many parts of the country never stopped loving NASCAR and cheap American beer, city kids have taken the white trash ethos into a fully ironic embrace. For anybody who stuck their head under the hood of a Camaro in ’83 and has yet to come out, here’s the news: You are awesome again. Musically speaking, the early half of the 1980s was a transitional period. The 70s had started strong, but finished in a confusing mash-up of punk and disco. The new wave sound was making its way across the Atlantic, but there was a generation of younger brothers and sisters that weren’t done rocking out. These kids didn’t really embrace anarchy and most of them lived too far out in the suburbs to be affected by the new fangled pulse of electronic music. They simply wanted some loud guitars and a little satanic imagery to go with the new bong they had made in wood shop. And so began the golden age of heavy metal. Black Sabbath opened the door and bands like Metallica and Megadath rushed in. Heavy on the riffage and machine gun drumming, these bands stepped up to fill the arenas left empty by Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy. For a brief moment in time, much of America existed in a euphoric state of muscle cars and perfect hair – and the soundtrack to that moment totally kicked ass. Soon enough though, the kids got a little older and started paying more attention to the look of heavy metal than to the sound. MTV came to life during that time, and if you watched the videos with the sound off, all you saw was a bunch of nicely coiffed dudes in tight pants. The balls of Metallica lost out to the bangs of Whitesnake, and from there it was a slippery slope. Guns ‘n’ Roses gave us a glimmer of hope, but it was pretty much a lost cause at that point. When grunge came kicking and screaming into the 90s, we were so happy to be done with hair bands that we began dressing like lumber jacks with hardly a whimper of protest. A lot has happened since then. Heavy metal has gone through so many mutations that most of its forms are recognizable only to experts. Try to tell the difference between Black Metal and Death Metal, or Grind Core and Thrash Core. To the untrained ear most of it sounds like Sabbath played at double speed with the Cookie Monster on lead vocals. But they say that every twenty years, the old becomes new again. More and more that seems to be the case. Somewhere between the trucker hats and ironic facial hair, kids started wearing Iron Maiden t-shirts. From there it was only a short leap to throwing on the first Metallica album during a party one night. After 6 or 7 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, “Seek & Destroy” starts to sound pretty good. All of a sudden, we have a bunch of guys drunk on cheap American beer listening to early 80s metal at full volume. Of course they all probably have a few tattoos and at least one of them has a moustache. They were thinking of starting a band anyway - and that’s when the light bulb goes on. At least this is how I envision it happening. One way or another, a new crop of bands has sprung up, all of them playing “new old heavy metal.” The best of these – Early Man and The Sword – are doing their best to wipe out the associations between heavy metal and 20 years worth of spandex and hairspray. Instead, bands of their ilk favor loud guitars, skull-crushing drums, and a panoply of sexual and pseudo-satanic imagery. God bless them for it. Until now, your only choices for loud, aggressive music were gangsta rap and the extreme, unlistenable forms of techno. Perhaps the best example from this new crop of metal bands is Early Man. Their album “Closing In” – recently released on Matador Records - rumbles with double and triple tracked guitars, chainsaw bass lines, and animalistic drumming. Singer Mike Conte wails as though his one goal is to make Ozzy proud. And true to form, the song names are all vaguely malicious and evil. I mean, if you were drunk and taking apart your carburetor, would you want to listen to anything other than “Thrill Of The Kill” or “Feeding Frenzy?” Even has picked up on the association between new and old. Shoppers looking to buy Metallica’s “Kill ‘Em All” on the site are also advised to check out Early Man’s new release. In truth however, The Sword, from Austin, TX, are better suited to inherit Metallica’s throne. Like Metallica, The Sword likes to stretch out over long instrumental passages, with tempo changes that veer from ominously slow to ideal headbanger speed. The drumming is reminiscent of Lars Ulrich’s syncopated attack and it wraps around the Hetfield-style moan of the vocals. Best of all, The Sword have fully embraced the medieval imagery that their name implies. At least a third of the band’s website is devoted to sword fighting and techniques for fatally wounding your enemies. There is also a section in which they proudly display their gear, called – you guessed it – “The Armory.” Ultimately, it’s hard to say whether or not the new old metal is the product of cool by association. When even VH-1 is running specials glorifying a decade we finally forgot, it’s safe to assume the aesthetic that started with a funny haircut has trickled all the way down. But does one Motorhead shirt make a movement? It’s possible that people have simply reached the end of their tolerance for singer/songwriters. After years of listening to acoustic ballads of life, love, and loss it’s refreshing to crank up the stereo and rock out to a song about kickin’ ass. That’s how they did it in 1983. It seems the time is right to revisit the period in American history during which our priorities were loud guitars, cheap beer, and perfect hair. Why not? It sounded good, it felt good, and it looked good. As they say, everything old is new again. Peep Early Man @ & The Sword @
Year-end “best of” lists are great because they allow you to get an entire year’s worth music, movies, or celebrity gossip at a glance. The DJs here at BTR have used their expertise to painstakingly sort through their massive CD collections in order to give you the break down on 365 days worth of music - in a format that you can read in less than 5 minutes. Of course, that’s what we’d like you to believe. The truth of the matter is that we’re still totally hung over from New Year’s Eve. We couldn’t even get out of bed long enough to make this a Top 10 list. But whatevs. We still know what we’re talking about. DJ RePete:   Broken in All the Right Places - I Am Jen She was definitely the most beloved BreakThru artist by initial listeners. I think we played her record ad naseum, but I still can't get enough of this artist. Unique sound and fun tracks. This single in particular is just the best of the best. Merecedes 300d  - Oucho Sparks A blend of electronica and guitar. As a DJ/musicologist I loved this track because it blends genres, keeps the diversity going, and has a great lead in to talk over. Positive listener feedback confirmed it. Waiting - Taxi Doll Another band that has perfected the blend of electronica and guitar. Tracks have been great for remixing. Can you tell where my BreakThru  tastes lie? Dozens of Roses - Racecar  Although I haven't picked up on Caleb's gripe that these guys have religious undertones, and even if they do, I can't deny how much I like  this song and this band. The experimental funky remixes are a pleasure to listen to. Each of their tracks is diverse. No, they're not all good, but the good ones are really good.   Tree Tops - Beat Radio Rhyming and soft, this track with multiple vocal tracks has a Shins quality to it. As pure an example of indie poetry as one could get. DJ Max Power:   Great Wide Spinout – Madras Embodies pretty much everything good about indie rock over the last 5 years: Cool, lo-fi electronics, clever switches between crisp funk and melodic distortion, and beautiful yet melancholy vocals. Muy Macho – Lorenzo Goetz Fuzzed out guitars, a kick-ass drummer and a chorus that goes “…you say I never ***k you on the floor, but I’m here to prove you wrong.” It’s only rock n’ roll, but I like it. Ebethron – The Sword Heavy metal has gone from its stoner roots, into an even heavier satanic period, through an awkward big hair phase, and then split into a thousand tiny sub-genres. Thanks to the current trend of white trash kitsch however, we are seeing a reprise of the golden mullet period between the heavy and the heavier. So, uh, that’s what this is. Maintenance Man – Horace Dodd Thinly veiled sexual innuendo in the form of a slick hip hop track. Basically ladies, if your man can’t get your furnace hot enough, you can call up HD and he will “fix loose pipes with his 8 inch wrench.” No need for subtitles on that one. Golden Sky – IamIsee Don’t forget about the underground. This track will remind you of why you started listening to hip hop in the first place. The beat is crafted around a nicely tweaked soul sample and his delivery is like Rakim meets J5. Not only that, but his myspace page lists MF Doom, Madlib, and DJ Q Bert along with 594 other friends. You just can’t rep any harder than that. DJ L:   King without a Crown - Matisyahu The resurrection of Bob Marley or reinventive reggae? Either way, Matisyahu is a force to be reckoned with - as cheesy at that may sound. His new spin on reggae completes 2005 with promises of a long future in music. Eggshells - Trances Arc Atlanta band Trances Arc is a diamond in the rough. Mostly known in the Southeast, TA has polished vocals, feel-good lyrics, and original music. Eggshells, from the ‘Buona Fortuna EP,’ is just a glimpse of their growing talent. When the Night Feels My Song - Bedouin Soundclash Wow! Fun and impressive music all rolled into one kick-ass tune! They evoke lighthearted smiles from you to a passerby as you cruise down a busy street with this song playing over and over in your head. The music supervisor on the ‘Garden State’ soundtrack must have missed this one. Sucker! Broken in All the Right Places  - I Am Jen Her voice is straight-forward and her music is funky and light. A bit of techno mixed with the lost sound of early ‘90s pop. I Am Jen is on the go and in my iPod and should be in yours soon! The Cosmonaut  - The Fatales You could compare The Fatales to a lot of the new music out today. But there is something a little bit more edgy and raw to this band. "Cosmonaut" sheds layer after layer of beautiful vocals, keyboards, and melodies. Clever and inspiring. A great show to experience live! DJ Caleb:   Tree Tops & A Million Miles - Beat Radio Both have a bare, understated quality that makes you appreciate the rawness of the real song. Since the recordings that we play are just skillfully initiated four-track demos, raw is exactly what they are. I can't wait to catch an early copy of the larger production they're working on right now. Go it Alone - Noonday Underground Has a timeless but dated quality. It sounds like it's straight out of a late ‘70s soundtrack. I've listened to more music from this band, and it's all really eclectic. They do what they do well. Wide Awake - Canon Canon's tracks just hook me, especially "Wide Awake". For my listening, it fits in as kind of a minor key Get Up Kids. I know that's not how it sounds to you, but that's how my brain arranges it. Caffeine  The vocalist does a good job of hooking you into the story with memorable verse catches. I like that. Lorenzo Goetz This Midwestern band does a great job of keeping things chill and fast paced. I find myself listening to LG a lot, and I can vouch that their sound transfers to the live environment very well. DJ Latola:   Monster in the Canyon - Pyramid The production is amazing, the arrangement perfect. What can I say? It gets better every time I listen to it. Optimistic Love – Velveteen Pink Bringing back the funk! Music like this inspired the bubble butt. Amen. Bright Eyes/The Swell - Kunek Ah, witnessing the masterful work of music that builds. Someone should give these guys a film to score. Hollows - Madras Another song that builds and blasts with raw emotion. I want to jump off a building at 2:41 and pull the ripcord at 2:56. Mr. Fixx It - Saphin Saphin has been making good music for awhile, but this is a giant step forward. A galactic journey from beginning to end, it's the establishment of Saphin the Sage.