Monthly Archives: December 2010

Beyond the Blogosphere pt. 1

*I apologize upfront if this article appears to be somewhat injudicious. I had a great conversation with one of my friends in the band Attention System and essentially this is the end result.

Blame my imaginary editor for grammar errors and lack of cohesion. She works in a remote office with Charlie the Unicorn on Candy Mountain.

Over the past few years there have been major changes in the music business. The music industry will never be what it used to. Nonetheless, in order to gain media exposure, music artists still have to find a way to sort through all the clutter and mess of the Internet and without the old gatekeepers of yesteryear this has become increasingly difficult. These keys have been passed onto new heirs. Now music fans are relying on music blogs to get turned onto new artists and people aren’t purchasing magazines off the rack to see who the next hype is. Blogs have become very important in the new music business and many blog writers are extremely influential.

That’s fine on one hand, but on the other hand, blogs do not have to adhere to the same code of media ethics and journalistic standards that the major media outlets do. Many blogs are started at the grassroots level and may consist of only one of two people operating out of a basement or office cubicle at their real day job. In addition, many music and entertainment journalists are primarily concerned with maintaining their street credibility amongst other writers. Blog journalists have a tendency to push the envelope too far and feel a persistent need to promote music that is avant-garde and very abstract. What happens is at the ground level you have several blogs mirroring the same obscure content. This leaves a major gap between what’s underground and music that actually has the capacity to break through and connect with the mainstream. It appears at times as if nobody, but handpicked corporate creations, are making it above ground because the underground has become too extreme, too isolated and too insular.

But, in all fairness to bloggers, if music blogs have indeed become the defacto gatekeepers of the media industry, they deserve to be compensated for it. Music magazines and radio stations have always made the majority of their revenue from ad sales. An ad agency typically identifies and approaches various media outlets for ad space based on their circulation numbers and target demographics. Megablogs like Pitchfork Media, Stereogum and Gorilla Vs Bear have already established relationships with some of the bigger indie labels; however the vast majority of bloggers have little to no ad revenue and sales. If record labels want to advertise for the artists they feel will connect with the mainstream, they need to pay for it. However, once this happens, music blogs must remain wary of the fact that they now have a readership to maintain and circulation numbers to worry about. Traditionally, if you were or are a blogger, it’s been easy to skirt off fears of having a low readership. It didn’t matter because you were laboring strictly for the love of the subject that you blogged about.

The enormous breach between music that is covered on blogs and what is featured on mainstream radio still exists. If the blogs represent the press side of the mass media spectrum, why is their content not aligning with what is being put in rotation at Clear Channel stations? I feel this answer lies in the concentration of media ownership and reveals that there is an corporate oligopoly within one given media industry that inadvertently relies on a citizen driven media industry. In other words, one side of the mass media spectrum is highly concentrated, commercially driven and vehemently loyal to sponsors. The other side is much more relaxed and free-wheeling, showcasing content based on the love, not sponsorship dollars. It’s the classic case of corporate media versus citizen media. However, I will cover more of this in my next installment, stay tuned.

 

 

Odist Preps New Album with Grammy Winning Producer

This is a reprint from Creative Loafing’s Crib Notes blog. Thanks Kristin Dionne Thomas!

A little while ago, I sat and chatted with one of my favorite local drummers, Sarah Wilson, about her instrumental band Odist, which has been buzzing about for the past year or so in Atlanta’s progressive scene. At the time she was excited about the prospect of the band recording its next project with a big name, but she was hesitant to reveal more details until it was set in stone.

“Definitely within this past year things have been picking up speed,” Wilson said two months ago. “We have a lot of exciting things going on next year. We’re doing pre-production right now on our new album, and we will possibly be recording with a Grammy Award-winning artist. As soon as we know for sure it’s going to happen, we will let everyone know.”

Since then, Odist has confirmed that the artist in question is none other than Isaiah “Ikey” Owens. The keyboardist of the Mars Volta now has his own band, Free Moral Agents, which Odist played with in October at a particularly memorable show at the Five Spot in Little Five Points. Odist will be heading out to Long Beach, Cali. to record with Ikey at Compound Studios.

A member of Atlanta’s Hijacking Music collective, Odist has been together for about three years and is poised to make waves beyond the local scene when the band embarks on its first west coast tour in the spring.

Odist‘s last album, On the 49th Day (released last year), was a dark and fairly aggressive album, especially with such standout tunes as “Behemoth.” On this upcoming album, however, Sarah looks forward to a new direction for Odist. “We’re writing some chill parts in songs. On one part we’re excited about, I actually put down my sticks and play maracas and a tambourine, and Jason does some smooth bass lines, and Parker is doing the atmospheric guitar licks. It sounds really cool, you can definitely expect some chill sounds on this one.”

NYE SHOW: Odist with Nigredo and The Humboldt Trio. $5. 9 p.m. Fri., Dec. 31. The Music Room, 24 Waddell St. 404-734-4319.

Best of New Years Eve 2010

New Years Eve is right around the corner and if you’re looking for some good entertainment in the Atlanta and Athens areas to help you kick off 2011, there are options aplenty. Here are the starters:

Of Montreal @ 40 Watt (Athens)

Sea Lions, Sonen @ Highland Inn Ballroom

Nigredo, Humboldt Trio, Odist @ the Music Room

Dubconscious, Glitch Mob @ New Earth Music Hall

Dead Rabbits, Young Orchids, the NEC & more @ Star Bar

{Photos} Attention System @ Smith’s Olde Bar 12.11.2010

Photos by Kevin Griggs

Featured Show of the Week

Feast of Violet Interview

Allen Taylor is a busy guy. He’s a member of the Atlanta based electronica group Roman Photos and just released a new solo record called Botany Charm under the moniker Feast of Violet. I felt Botany Charm was a superb record and it was featured as one of the “Best Albums of 2010 ” by  Shot From Guns. I really wanted to pick Allen’s brain after hearing that album. I finally had a chance to sit down with him and discuss Feast of Violet and get his thoughts on niche genres and the music industry.

How long have you been actively involved in the Atlanta music scene?

 I moved to Atlanta in 2006 for school and during that time, I met Philip and Caitlin from Carnivores, and David from my band. We were all just record geeks at that point who liked to hang out and go to shows and party. I didn’t really make any music then, just drawings and little sound experiments, nothing serious or cohesive, just trying to have fun.

Then Double Phantom was started by David and Philip to put out early Carnivores records and I was the only one in our little circle who knew how to use Photoshop. I made record covers, put stuff into templates, and stuff like that. Double Phantom was how I got involved in the music scene, met everyone and learned the ropes. I joined Roman Photos almost by chance in the summer of 2009. That was my first time ever being in a band and my first time ever playing synthesizer, so I’m still pretty new to the “playing in a band in Atlanta” music thing (laughs).

 Have you always performed electronic music or do you delve into different genres?

 I have been obsessed with electronic music for as long as I can remember, starting with video game soundtracks as a kid (laughs). I’m kind of hard-wired towards electronic music. Actually most of my music before I joined Roman Photos was all acoustic, room-recorded noise stuff, and the process was digital and electronic. It wasn’t until last year that I started using synthesizers. I never realized how much a little machine would be such a big part of my life.

 Were there any major concepts or themes that you mapped out before recording Feast of Violet?

 Nothing consciously…I wanted to make a connection between my drawings and the stuff I was making for Roman Photos, so I kind of set out to make my recordings fit as a middle ground. Most of the conscious planning was an emphasis on texture, rhythm, flow, movement, and atmosphere. The songs were there before I thought about putting out a release.

 Feast of Violet sounds very different from Roman Photos. Did you seek a dramatic and new path before starting this project?

 Well mainly I consider myself a visual artist as my primary craft, and then music as my secondary craft. My favorite artists are ones that tend to blur the lines between mediums to create this kind of interdisciplinary blob of “art perspective,” rather than just a song or drawing. I just wanted a way to take ideas about drawing and put them into sound, like a certain pattern or color or shape could be translated into different rhythms, synth tones, or effects.

In Roman Photos, the live aspect definitely plays a role in the song writing, so with Feast of Violet, I just explored those concepts that didn’t work with Roman Photos (laughs).

 Let’s talk about electronic music and niche genres for a minute – do you label yourself as a niche artist?

 I wouldn’t necessarily label myself as a niche artist, no one likes those kinds of limitations, but I have to admit the sound is very specific, with a specific few artists to compare it to. I guess it just ends up being a niche thing.

 Do you feel being labeled as a “niche artist” benefits and/or detracts from your general appeal?

 I think it depends upon the intent of the music. I think bands, whether they like to admit it or not, consider their audience in their song writing. Personally with the Feast of Violet ep, I didn’t expect anyone to really connect or listen to the songs, so I just considered my friends and other artists I knew as the audience, so I guess for those recordings; it’s totally a limited “niche” perspective.

 With Roman Photos, however, we totally think about gaining access to this intangible middle ground to which everyone can relate. We want to tap into that while maintaining full artistic integrity and it is extremely difficult and confusing at times.  I know plenty of artists who don’t care about their labeling and placement and make the most amazing music that will probably be unappreciated for years. I also know many artists who give that up to force themselves to be popular and miss something important in the process.

It’s hard to say, really. Being a niche artist is both good and bad, depending on what you want from your art.

 In the past couple years, so much mainstream music has derived its influences from “niche” genres. Considering how popular electronic groups like Animal Collective and Hot Chip have become, would you even consider electronic music as a part of a separate sub-genre of music?

 Of course electronic music is its own distinct genre of music and that genre goes into the deepest, most esoteric realms imaginable. I believe sounds are tools to achieve a certain end and it doesn’t really matter what genres artists utilize to find their sounds. It totally depends about song writing.

 Like “My Girls,” by Animal Collective for example. That song would still be brilliant and totally accessible, no matter what types of sounds were used. Just their decision to use electronics made the song that much better and unique. The barriers between genres are totally breaking down. Genres don’t matter, songwriting matters.

 Mainstream artists like Lady Gaga, MIA and Kanye West are placing so much emphasis on artistry, image and craft – the entire mainstream music culture appears to be shifting. Do you feel that we need to redefine what we label as “the mainstream?”

 Well the definition of the mainstream changes constantly, just like underground culture. It totally has to do with the complete switch over to Internet and blog culture. So the marketing of huge artists has to keep up, there always has to be something to talk about and share with these artists. There is so, so, so much music these days, pop stars have to be over the top and kind of like Madonna to be able to be talked about. There has to be a story to follow in this age.

 What can people expect from Feast of Violet and Roman Photos in 2011?

 Roman Photos just put out two seven inches, one on Army of Bad Luck, and the other on Double Phantom. We’re working on our first album right now, so that should be done in the late spring. I’m really excited about the record, we’re really pushing ourselves. Other than that, I’m working on another Feast of Violet EP over the winter, so that should be out in a few months  on Double Phantom Digital. The songs right now are very tight and synth driven, very clean. After the next EP, I’ll be focusing my energy on Roman Photos, and preparing for some art shows in the summer. 2011 is going to be a fun and busy year.

To hear Feast of Violet, click here

For Roman Photos, click here

Featured Show of the Week