Time for someone to make a great album titled “Yellow” or “Green”, because the Simpson’s The Yellow Album really was no Simpsons Sing the Blues, and Ron Carter’s Yellow & Green might be hard bop / post bop, but it sounds more like elevator music to me. Basically, all the yellow and green titled albums are by bands with names like, “Kottonmouth Kings”… (seriously). Now I’m starting to think there might be a curse on Yellow/Green albums to be purely stoner garbage or cartoon character trash. Best of luck to musician everywhere in beating the Curse of the Yellow & Green.
- Kellie Hogan, Creative Director
Really, what I mean is nobody should think they couldn’t learn an instrument. The world has never been smaller than it is today because of that endless resource of information and cavernous well of procrastination known as the Internet. It can be used as a powerful tool to get you over the hump of learning an instrument.
I don’t want this to just address all the creatively inclined people that are already into the idea of the creative output as a huge part of our lives in this overly accessible world: designing, or writing, or filming, or whatever they’ve got going on. It’s everybody else as well that I’d like to cordially and openly invite to the world of music making.
A common misconception when the question first arises, if you should learn an instrument, is that it’s not the perfect time to do so. It most certainly is. Anytime is the perfect time to set aside thirty minutes every day to get into something new and mind-blowingly rewarding. It doesn’t need to be any more than a hobby for you mentally, but the emotional pay out will grow exponentially.
So let’s lay this out, what are a number of steps you can take?
You should probably find an instrument.
This doesn’t need to be an arduous process, and your final decision is not final at all, and can be molded as you grow in your musical assuredness. Really, if you’re completely new to the concept of learning or playing an instrument, grab anything that strikes your immediate and whelming fancy.
There’s a good chance your town has a Guitar Center. That’s a good thing for you because Guitar Center is totally about newcomers to music, so everything there is hands on and ready to be tried out. It also isn’t even close to only being about guitars, which is another great thing. Depending on your town, they’re usually Wal-Mart warehouse sized buildings, so they can house a huge amount of gear. Other than a huge selection of guitars, they’ll carry basses, drums, and tons of keyboards. If it’s a good Guitar Center, they’ll also shelf a huge number of brass and woodwind instruments, which is awesome because maybe not everybody wants to be in Dokken, you know?
Definitely turn to the Internet in your search as well, as it is an invaluable resource to budding musicians and there’s a huge number of online stores, including Guitar Center’s own, that will list tons of really fun instruments along with resources like books and DVDs for that kind of learner, one who maybe isn’t totally capable of doing it all by ear just yet. Check out Musician’s Friend, Sweetwater, Chuck Levin’s, Long & McQuade, WWBW, and definitely check out your local Craigslist. Ebay is also full of unique instruments that you wouldn’t be able to find from the more established brands.
Figure it out!
Once again, the Internet can be your best friend in this situation, but I think a much more valuable and worthwhile resource of musical knowledge would be another musician. There is a huge chance someone you know plays an instrument, and even if all your friends are in the same position as you, learn something together. Other guitarists or trumpeters or pianists can all help each other. If you still don’t know anybody, get to the high school in town and ask the band teacher, if he’s a loser and is a little too keen on the idea of “private instruction” turn back to our old friend the web.
There’s an incredible new website for budding guitarists called Instinct. It’s awesome. Check it out, and see if it lines up with how you learn. Also YouTube is overflowing with how-to videos, even something as simple as this overly-nervous-but-still-pretty-helpful video on proper saxophone embouchure can set you down the right path. This slow-talker trudges through holding the violin bow properly, and this mustached guy teaches how to play Joni Mitchell’s a Case of You on Appalachian dulcimer.
Do your thing.
It’s not about being an incredible player, it doesn’t matter if you never play for anyone. This is really about leading a more fulfilling life. The ability to express yourself either through learning parts by ear or on paper, or through coming up with your own musical ideas, will be all the reward in the world, whether you sell out the Royal Albert Hall or not. But please, please find people to play with. Sharing music was its original intention, and it always will be.
The hump, however, is your first biggest challenge - getting past your own hang-ups and being a beginner at something again. Remember learning to walk? Me neither.
-Mike Kerr, Staff Writer
…that came out this year that maybe you heard or maybe you didn’t, but that doesn’t really mean anything because every one experiences things differently and absorbs information differently or something- click through for links!
Shields by Grizzly Bear- There is such a beautiful, concise tone to the entirety of Shields. The craft of their songwriting has grown so deep, and it feels so much like they really composed together and universally love these songs.
Swing Lo Magellan by Dirty Projectors- This very well may be my favourite album of the year. Led Zeppelin and Al Green, or Black Flag and Robert Glasper, or any other combination of real experimenters- this is Swing Lo, a cacophony of insane ideas that flow so musically, and it is surprising how musical it all is, because if taken out of context many of the sounds and moments on this album would just never work by themselves; a true coalescing.
stop being on my side by Infinity Girl- Boston’s new gazers open minds to numbingly raucous noise, and startling quiet- all with shoes untied and glasses slipping off their noses. They achieve real beauty by shifting rapidly between the obvious and the subtle.
Barchords by Bahamas- Like a kid in a candy store, Afie Jurvanen can’t really turn anything down; especially his own ideas. He’s so excited to be in the studio making his own solemn, subtle, beautifully melodic music that every now and again the cheese slips through but fortunately for us and him, the heart-warming vibe and casual movement of these songs keep it an incredibly easy album to listen through.
everything feels bad all at once by the human fly- I wish I had this album two years ago, for personal reasons. It feels like, at the same time that it is being completely honest with me, it is also hiding something. A darker magic keeps the album moving forward and you can’t pull one song out, or skip another, it sits all together outside of time.
The Keeps by The Keeps- If Edgar Allen Poe had the chance to write bluegrass tunes, I’m pretty sure The Keeps would say he stole from them. Their effortless transitions between real old time, and challenging new bluegrass is something to behold.
back 2 the high life by Walsh- The perfect album to play GTA III to. I forgot what year it was for quite some time.
Lonerism by Tame Impala- The strongest vibes all year. You can’t not smile and feel a breeze in your hair, and you definitely can’t ignore how much Kevin Parker sounds like a certain bespectacled Beatle.
Love this Giant by David Byrne & St. Vincent- One of the deepest sonic explorations to be achieved this year. I had to commit to listening to this album; I found myself trying to multitask while listening, and was soon wandering aimlessly around my house lost in the scape of this musical obelisk.
-Mike Kerr, Staff Writer
Wardy and The Biebz. I love both of these men in very different ways. M. Ward is an extremely talented guitarist, singer and songwriter with eight solo albums, one album with Monsters of Folk, three with She & Him, and a plethora of writing and producing credits. Bottom Line: he’s perfect in every single way.
Everybody knows about J-Biebz. And I think THAT very fact is why he (well it’s not him but it’s clearly supposed to be) is the star of M. Ward’s new video. (“There is a singer everyone knows/He makes round with the late night shows”).
Here is the video for “Me and My Shadow”, the first video from M. Ward’s latest album A Wasteland Companion (Merge; 2012).
Watch it because it’s the point of this here damn article.
The song on its own is great. The title is an ode to the classic song of the same name, made popular by Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. in which Ol’ Blue Eyes sings, “Me and my shadow/We’re closer than smog when it clings to L.A./We’re closer than Bobby is to J.F.K/Not a soul can bust this team in two/We stick together like glue”. However, Ward’s lyrics are of a different sort of person-shadow relationship. He talks about Bieber as if he’s an illusion. (To clarify I don’t think the song is actually about Bieber or actually anyone in particular).
What the hell is this? Is Not-Bieber’s “shadow” his psycho manager? Does his hat say ”Swagger”? Is it not totally obvious that M. Ward had nothing to do with this video, and that some dude named Scott Jacobson (who wrote for John Stuart and Bob’s Burger’s) directed it instead?
I think the video is just supposed to be a funny interpretation of the story in M. Ward’s lyrics, which - knowing Matt as well as I do - is probably much deeper and more poetic than a Justin Bieber analogy could ever be.
So he was just trying something new. I’ll cut him some slack. But this video is a total fail.
Someone in the Youtube comments suggested it may work better with an LMFAO song. ‘Nuff said.
- Kellie Hogan, Creative Director
This is by no means an objective list. If you don’t like the bands listed here, I’m not going to call you names or say you have no taste. These aren’t even necessarily my favorite bands. These are just some bands I feel deserve bigger followings. You may disagree, and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, it’s encouraged. You should never like a band just because someone says you should. *cough cough* Pitchfork *cough cough*
These guys are a fun, three/four-piece band currently residing in Seattle. They write songs about everything from baseball cards to giant centipedes.
Originally formed in Chicago, the band began as a small basement project of lead singer David Crane. Crane made the decision to quit his day job as a Chicago public school teacher and move to Seattle, where he teamed up with friends Mark McKenzie and Josh Goodman to form what would go on to become what is now known as BOAT. Their first album Songs That You Might Not Like (2006) set a fun, quirky standard for the band, which they never strayed from, even three albums later.
BOAT will be releasing a new LP within the next year.
Eternal Summers is a shoegaze band from Roanoke, Virginia. Of course, they would probably reject the shoegaze label, opting for something like “dream punk” instead, which is fairly accurate as well.
Recently, the band has been doing regional tours around the Virginia/D.C. area, and they have played a fair number of shows in New York. With the release of their latest album Correct Behavior, they’ve begun to garner some notoriety and will be opening for Nada Surf in December. They are also planning a larger U.S. tour. So keep your eyes open. They may be coming to a city near you!
Gold-Bears have described themselves as “a crash-pop band from Atlanta, Georgia.” I would say that’s an accurate statement and would venture to throw a little post-twee in there as well.
These guys are just plain fun. Upbeat, chorus-driven songs about love and shifting the blame fill their most recent album Are You Falling In Love? And with lyrics like “Well I swear it’s not you. It’s me. Yeah right!” it’s hard not to fall in love with these guys.
An industrial pop band from Philadelphia, OhBree is similar to what you’d get if you combined “Let’s Make Out” by Does It Offend You, Yeah? with The Muppets and upped the drug references.
The band originally began as a solo project for lead singer Andrew Scott, but pretty soon it morphed into an ensemble, complete with full brass section. So far, the band has only been playing local shows around the Philadelphia area, but if they stick it out, there’s a real future for these guys. They’re an incredibly talented group of musicians, and I hear they put on a stellar live show.
OhBree has an album called We Miss You Edward, Come Home coming out on October 30th.
Turnip King is a lo-fi shoegaze band from Seacliff, NY.
This band began as a collection of solo recordings by guitarist/lead singer Lucia and eventually grew into a four-piece band. Don’t expect any studio albums from this band anytime soon. So far, all of their recordings have been lo-fi, live, basement recordings, and the band is currently unsigned. They do, however, have these lo-fi recordings of all their songs available for free on their Bandcamp page. So, definitely check that out, and keep an eye on this band.
- Patrick McDonald, Staff Writer