Now, Now

Posted in Recommendations with tags , , on February 16, 2011 by stevenreedkelly

Hello friends.  It’s been a long time – I realized that today when I woke up to this message in my inbox:

To my loyal reader (singular), I apologize – been a little busy with Sinking Ship Records in the past few months.  But for the moment, things have settled… and I just paid to keep the Daily Riffage domain for another year, so I might as well dig back in!

In the past few months, my iPod has died – which leaves me seriously debilitated at work (I usually just hook it up to my computer and browse my library all day).  Without my iPod, I’ve been relegated to listening to tunes that I’ve purchased on this particular machine.  It’s given me a chance to really savor some albums that I would’ve probably neglected otherwise.

A good example of this is the Now, Now (formerly Now, Now Every Children) EP, Neighbors, that was recently released on No Sleep Records.  I bought the EP and then it kinda sat in my library for a while.  Last weekend, I burned the album onto a CD for a car ride from NYC to Penn State.  As soon as the second track kicked in, I knew this was another choice cut from No Sleep (they rarely disappoint).

I think the easiest way to describe Now, Now (for those of you who aren’t familiar yet) is maybe mixing Eisley’s midwestern (and creepy) vocals with Metric’s inherent moody atmosphere.  I’m actually very surprised by how similar Casie Dalager and Sherri DuPree (from Eisley)’s voices sound.  Now, Now has an undeniably more urban feel to their music though.

Neighbors starts with a short little instrumental intro piece and then storms into “Giants”, easily the best track on the album.  I think it’s probably the song’s strong rhythm emphasis that drags me in.  The drums are brilliant and the bass is fuzzy and chunky – they just move right along.  It’s a sublime track.

The next two songs, “Roommates” and “Jesus Camp” are slower, less rockin’ tracks.  I enjoy the dynamic range of the band, but these can be a little sleepy.  The EP picks back up with the title track, “Neighbors”, which isn’t as much of a burner as “Giants”, but it’s solid.  Now, Now rounds out the EP with acoustic versions of the best tracks, “Giants” and “Neighbors”.  The alternate versions are hauntingly beautiful.

I’m excited to hear a full length from this band – as they cover a lot of ground in this EP.  It’s surprisingly substantial for containing just 4 original songs (plus two alt versions and a short intro).  I highly suggest you check it out.

I’m posting my favorite track “Giants” below.

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Andrew Batista and Ryan Stewart

Posted in Recommendations with tags , on October 27, 2010 by stevenreedkelly

My friends Andrew and Ryan produced this short little video greeting for the Halloween season. Thought you guys would dig it!

The duo recently screened their short film Piano Story at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis – a high honor for two young guys just breaking into the film industry. I advise you to take 10 minutes, visit the site and watch the full version – the cinematography and the score are both extremely contemplative. It’s a cute story too.

Andrew often posts some short works on his blog. You should bookmark it and visit from time to time. It’s clever stuff!

Happy (almost) Halloween!

Taking on Water Since 2010

Posted in Recommendations, Sinking Ship Records with tags , , on October 26, 2010 by stevenreedkelly

Most of you who read this already know that my friends Jon and Charlie and I have started a small indie label.  I thought I’d take a moment today to let you know a little bit about Sinking Ship Records since we’re launching our first pre-order today.  If you’d like to read a little more about A Great Big Pile of Leaves, you can check out my blog post about the band here!

Jon and I both work at Sony Music.  He’s a part of RCA/Jive and I work in digital distribution.  Charlie used to work here in Copyright but has since left to pursue an entertainment law degree.  We all grew up playing in punk rock bands and it’s been a little disillusioning to watch the few bands on a major label that we care about get mishandled and inevitably dropped.

See – the problem with major labels is that they are hit machines.  OK, so I guess that’s not a problem if you’re a budding starlet.  I’ve just seen so much turnover from bands that either should never have been signed to a major in the first place – or – are treated unfairly and cast aside for the next project.  The truth is that indie labels do a much better job of building a reliable brand – and gaining support for new artists based on their track record.  Drive Thru, Jade Tree, Vagrant, and newcomers like No Sleep Records all created a strong following because they had that “taste-maker” status.  Seriously, when is the last time you looked to Epic Records for a musical recommendation?

Like many great things, the concept for us to start a label was born from several beers.  Just a couple guys complaining about the business over drinks at rooftop party on the 4th of July.  When we realized that the idea to start a label might not be as far-fetched as we imagined, Charlie did a little research and we discussed at our favorite local bar, The Quays.  A late night drive to Penn State yielded our company name – and after a fair amount of paperwork, we’re finally official!

We decided that our goal would be to work with artists that we love (and that can record their own music!).  Preferably, we want to treat the artists fairly too – these are hard times for artists, after all.  I think that’s easier said than done – since in any case, there’s only so many pieces of the pie to go around.  I think we’ve found an arrangement that works in most cases though.

Our very first project was something we knew we wanted to be involved in from the start.  A Great Big Pile of Leaves is a band that Jon knew personally and that really agreed to work with us on this vinyl pressing almost as a favor.  They took a chance on letting us represent them and their brilliant debut album.  I think we did a solid job – I’m really proud of the product we’ve arranged.

I can’t wait to sign our first band and start building a project from the ground up!  There will be more exciting news soon, but for now – listen to A Great Big Pile of Leaves and check out our webstore if you’re into it.  We rely so much on word of mouth, so tell someone about it if you dig it (and friend us on Facebook or Twitter)!  Thanks for your support.

-Steve (and Jon & Charlie)

Bear Cub.

Posted in Recommendations with tags , , , on October 22, 2010 by stevenreedkelly

I had to post this today.  This band is crushing me – and I first heard them about… an hour and a half ago. Jesse Hall (who used to be in The Composure and whose father used to produce Category Five songs) has started this incredible pop/Americana band called Bear Cub.  It reminds me of the Format and Good Old War – with exceptional vocals and really intelligent songwriting.

You need to hear this song today.  I’m super excited about this.  It’s called “Hey Let’s Get Out of Here”.

Mindy White has a killer voice (and is pretty adorable).

Posted in Recommendations with tags , , , on October 21, 2010 by stevenreedkelly

I never really gave the band Lydia the time of day.  Their albums were always favorably reviewed on the sites I frequented, but when I attempted to listen, I always found the band a little too melodramatic (which is a hilarious thing for an emo kid to say).

Regardless, Mindy White – the female vocalist in Lydia – joined forces with two gents from Copeland to form States.  On a whim, I decided to give the band a shot today. The result is actually pretty captivating.  The music is dark and swelling and the vocals are top notch.  Their newest release, Line ‘Em Up, is only six songs, but it packs an awful lot of substance in just over 22 minutes.

Because they’re queens of a similar scene, I’m sure the band will garner comparisons to Paramore – but White lacks the bite of Hayley Williams.  Her style is more catered toward the delicate moments.

Check out this track, “Another Chapter”

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)

Posted in Recommendations with tags , on October 20, 2010 by stevenreedkelly

Haven’t been on top of my blogging duties lately. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean I’ve been slacking on listening to new music.

The recommendation for the week is a band that’s taking me back to highschool – when “emo” was this new term for slow, cathartic and really aesthetic music. My, how times have changed.  Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) – yes, that’s the whole band name – have taken notes from bands like Penfold and Mineral.  And now that the weather is getting chilly, it’s a good time to don a sweater, grab a good book and throw the band’s latest album, What It Takes to Move Forward on your iPod (or record player)!

The band is one of a few on a really great new emo record label called Count Your Lucky Stars.  You can check out the label and buy records from Empire! Empire! here.

Here’s my favorite track on the album, “How to Make Love Stay”.

Turning the world upside down (to find some perspective)

Posted in Recommendations with tags , on September 10, 2010 by stevenreedkelly

Runner Runner‘s self-titled debut album is about to come out.  It got slammed in Chris Fallon’s review on AP.net.  Having heard most of the songs already on several EPs that the band released, I’m not shocked.  At the end of the day, Runner Runner (formerly Over It – my favorite band) is not a punk band.  They’re not a rock band.  They’re a pop band for a demographic that no longer includes me.

And that’s ok.  I can accept that.  At the end of the day, the band is made of genuinely talented musicians and all-around nice guys who work really hard.  I wish them all the best.

I did have the opportunity to hear some very early demos from the band when they first started the endeavor though, and one of them has become a personal favorite.  It’s like the next logical step in Over It’s progress as a mature punk-influenced rock band. I often wonder how incredible the Runner Runner project would’ve been if they went in this direction.

Pete hinted that they might someday release another Over It album – but with Runner Runner blowing up, I won’t hold my breath.  Still – I’d be really excited to hear a fully realized (yet minimally tricked out/glossed over) version of this. I hope you guys enjoy!