With all the improvements of technology in recent years, it's no new news that more and more quality albums are being born in basements and bedrooms all over the world. This technology, both for recording and modern distribution (i.e. the internet), is helping new music hit the public at a dizzying rate, and even though much of it may never break the barriers of local coverage, the truth is that there are a lot of truly wonderful tracks being recorded by neighbors, friends, the kid who served your morning coffee, etc., that are often unbeknownst even to their own communities, let alone to the rest of the world. This music may not be created and performed with the financial backing necessary to let the public at large know it exists, but it is created because music is a fun diversion. In a sense, these recordings are modern day folk music in that they are, regardless of the aspirations of the artists, documents of the people's music.
Sifting through myriad releases with the financial backing for proper promotion is exhausting enough, but randomly stumbling across gifted artists without such benefits is somehow more fulfilling. Hopefully, this will be the start of an ongoing feature to spotlight bands and artists that might not otherwise easily find a way into view. For a start, here are three unsigned artists making interesting music in the sprawling, unorganized musical world.
There isn't much to be found about this Toronto, Ontario resident, but his previous project, the Scribbled Out Man, did release at least one album (All Different) that found its way to the All Music Guide's office a few years ago and was reviewed favorably. The reason it was considered for review in the first place was due to its elaborate, handmade artwork and handwritten promotional one-sheet letting us know from where it had come.
As for his solo work, Linklater is regularly rotating tracks on his MySpace page, often works in progress that show up later as different mixes. The songs are often haphazard, sloppy, slow-building romps of crunchy guitars and oddly phrased melodies, but the messiness is all part of the charm. Further, there's no question that he has an abundance of creative ideas for each track he lays down. Check out "Virginia C."
The Van Allen Belt
Hailing from Pittsburgh, the Van Allen Belt hail to the classic '60s wall of sound. Many samples are held together by drums, keyboards, and the excellent deadpan vocals of Tamar Kamin. "Baby Boomer Backstroke" is the standout song here with its all-around excellent arrangement -- especially in the backing vocals and snare drum work -- and its cutting lyrics, "Mommy and dad, what has happened to you?/Show me the pictures of you getting fire-hosed again," and later, "We all heard the news about John, Martin and Bobby/Then they got to you but they didn't need a bullet."
Here are some lovely melodies and lyrics from a U.K. songwriter. Black also moonlights in a straightforward rock band called Tone, but his solo material is more compelling and atmospheric. Check out "Something Should Happen."