Allison Kadin

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					Allison Kadin
Final Project
History of Rock and R&B

Rapid Fire Reviews for the MySpace Age

       MySpace declares itself pretty readily and overtly – It is a place for yourself.

These days, our own self-absorption only gets exacerbated by the numerous ways we can

manipulate and project a virtual self. Thus, MySpace serves the music industry perfectly,

which also thrives on meticulously calculated images and grand self-interest. MySpace is

currently so ubiquitous that even long gone artists, such as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix,

are very much alive on MySpace. MySpace has been the music industry’s go-to indicator

of artist popularity thanks to the play-count numbers on the artist’s music player. Often,

agents will justify an artist’s asking price based on their MySpace figures.

       Yet, not only major artists benefit from MySpace’s services. Many artists who

were once buried deep in the cyber world emerged from one popular song on MySpace.

Current “It” girls, Lily Allen and Lady Gaga, had very humble beginnings promoting

themselves on the site. Therefore, it is an indispensable venue for the up-and-comer, from

the DJ working from his/her dorm room to the thrash metal bands playing in their

parents’ garages. It’s a no cost way to reach not only the 110 million monthly users on

MySpace, but also all those that are linked to the band through music blogs, news sites,

etc. In fact, many artists declare their MySpaces to be their official sites, constantly

updating touring information, band statuses, videos, pictures and so on.

       Another way that internet browsers find bands on MySpace is through an artist’s

“Top Friends” section. The musicians on MySpace usually link to tour-mates,

inspirations, new sensations, personal favorites and more. After only a few clicks through
multiple artists’ MySpaces, one could end up listening to some obscure noise from

France after starting with an alt-country band from Tennessee.

       With such endless possibilities, I wanted to create my own musical roadmap. I

devised a challenge well-suited to the ADD mindset of my generation – click through

five different artists’ pages and listen to the first song that plays. Then I would move

along based on their “Top Friends” choices. Let’s call what follows Rapid Fire Reviews

for the MySpace Age.

       For my first listen, I start with an old favorite who I found through a music blog,

and has yet to receive some well-deserved attention. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, a two

person, multi-instrumental band from Maine, describes their sound as

Jungle/Electroacoustic/Soul. I will have to disagree with their likely ironic treatment of

the music. The song I get to listen to is called “Almond Color Sheets,” which is their

most popular jam with 7, 680 plays. The sounds of soft ukulele and accordion

compliment the sweet raspy of Aly Sparow’s vocals. While the song plays, I explore their

adorably laid-out MySpace, which features baby bunnies wearing headphones and many,

many embedded videos of Aly and TJ playing away in various performance spaces.

While their current touring schedule secludes them in what seems like the North Pole to

some, Maine, hopefully MySpace can give them exposure necessary to connect the band

to some more southern venues.

       On the road again… Except it looks like I have hit my first musical roadblock.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper only has two top friends, Beyonce and Sarianna. Very cute,

guys. While I do have a soft spot for Beyonce, I know exactly what will appear on her
MySpace – millions of plays of her current radio megahits. As much as I want to take that

route, I must stay on smaller pathways. At least for now.

        Sarianna is from Connecticut and her song “Locked in My Mouth” has about

33,000 hits, which is pretty significant in comparison to Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s hit

count. Her melancholy, yet strong voice has very simple musical accompaniment, which

allows the lyrics be on full display. Writing such as “I have no use for these

ideals/They’re just fruit without the peels” comes through loud and clear due to

Sarianna’s clear, sharp delivery. While the sad tone of her voice reminds me of

Morrissey, and the quick beat and piano is reminiscent of Belle & Sebastian, Sarianna has

her own distinct appeal. There is something retro not only about her cat-eyeliner and

bright red lipstick, but also her MySpace itself which features cuts-outs of a 60s era go-

go girl. Yet, despite the retro shtick, she definitely has the ability to make it in the

contemporary world, particularly with the help of MySpace.

        Next stop Willpilot who hail from everyone’s favorite burgeoning music scene,

Brooklyn! They define themselves as Punk/Soul/Americana, which is pretty accurate

considering their song “Good Life.” They have the raw energy of driving guitar and a

quick drum beat that offers up comparisons to legends such as Joy Division and their

current incarnation, Interpol. Yet, there is something far more poppy to this song with the

addition of a horn section in the chorus. Like Sarianna, the vocals are relatively neutral –

not high-pitched or menacingly low. The delivery can be likened to Buddy Holly in its

straight-forward, even-toned nature. The retro comparison is also relevant here, for I

could see many young hipsters twisting and shaking their way to the dance floor for

Willpilot’s tracks.
       Moving forward, I hit Tyburn Saints, who have many similarities to Willpilot.

They both have the enigmatic vocal that borders on being slightly goth and dark. Yet, in

Tyburn Saints’ “Bells” the melodic guitar and sporadic bell chimes lighten the feel of the

music. Like Willpilot, the Tyburn Saints have minimal plays, perhaps because they also

reside in Brooklyn, the birthing site for so much unique, boundary breaking music. Yet,

the precision of their music could catapult them to fame if the right person tunes in. The

rhythm section holds the song, “Bells,” together, moving swiftly from a light beat to

harder, faster, surf rock percussion. Tyburn Saints believe they sound like “Murder

ballads, heart-wrenching pop, [and] soulful punk,” which is a tight, well-worded

description of their tunes. Sometimes, it’s just better to leave the classification up to the

artists themselves.

       My final stop on this brisk road trip is Lee Hazlewood, an artist who I never heard

of, but seems to have made a huge impression on many in the music industry. The first

track that comes on is named “Hill at the Top of the World.” It is delivered in the manner

of a poet, coming off more as Allen Ginsberg than a famous musician. Yet, acoustic

guitar and the faint melodies of female singers make the gruff speaking voice of

Hazlewood more musical and lyrical. According to Hazlewood’s MySpace bio, he

worked heavily with Nancy Sinatra, writing and producing her hit “These Boots Were

Made for Walking.” He definitely has a down-home Americana vibe, and thus it makes

sense that he had a large influence on rock legends such as Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, and

Beck. While this style of music is not typically my taste, his voice is so rich, so haunting

that I may have to go back for more listens.
       And so my musical journey into the world of MySpace concludes. I went from a

little duo who reside in the woods of Maine to a unknown legend (at least to me) of rock

and roll music. From click to click, I was led from various musical stylings to new

hometowns. It was an interesting journey, one that anyone can take with access to the

internet and computer. What makes MySpace so brilliant is that you can listen to the

music while you read about it, look at the bands pictures and judge their site design

choices. You can get a holistic impression of a band in seconds, and its an impression that

you create yourself, not one fed to you by a know-it-all music critic. So go explore. You

ears will thank you.


Check out:
http://www.myspace.com/ladylambthebeekeeper
http://www.myspace.com/sarianna
http://www.myspace.com/willpilotmusic
http://www.myspace.com/tyburnsaints
http://www.myspace.com/leehazlewood

				
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