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Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | March 25, 2015

“SXSW – White Label Collective Party with Headliner John Legend”
Event Coverage: Kyle Woodworth

The showcase took place at Cheer Up Charlies on Red River Street in Austin, Texas (Photo by Kyle Woodworth/Charger Bulletin photo)

The showcase took place at Cheer Up Charlies on Red River Street in Austin, Texas (Photo by Kyle Woodworth/Charger Bulletin photo)

It’s no secret that SXSW is arguably the largest annual musical and entertainment festival on the planet.

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this collaborative event, is the eclectic entertainment its showcases represent. From HOV himself to up and coming artists such as James Bay, SXSW has something for fans from all walks of life. That being said, on Sat. March 21, SPIN magazine and AXE for men coordinated the exclusive AXE White Label Collective Party; a showcase made up of performers such as YG, ASTR, James Davis and John Legend.

The showcase took place at Cheer Up Charlies on Red River Street in Austin, Texas. With an outdoor space sizeable enough to accommodate supporters of all the featured acts, yet adequately intimate, ensuring everyone had a prime view of the main stage, and about 500 to 700 music enthusiasts made their way into the unique venue.

ASTR took the stage first. ASTR are an NYC-based electro pop/punk duo with dimensional female vocals over a male driven beat. Their debut project, the Varsity EP, inspired their addition to the White Label Collective party, but the spacey couple performed at least two new songs exclusively for their Texas audience.

With catchy hooks over simplistic beat drops, ASTR does a great job at making unique music with commercial appeal.

The king of current R&B himself, John Legend, introduced to the stage the five AXE White Label Collective artists that he himself has mentored. In tandem with SPIN’s mission to promote new music, White Label Collective itself is a music, fashion and talent hub that fosters the growth of emerging artists. Legend handpicked the up-and-coming talent that would take the stage at this showcase.

Alejandro Palma, who can be found on YouTube under the username pamapurple, sang one song while showcasing his keyboard skills. The song “Satisfied,” that he performed live, was the same song that initially caught Legend’s attention and ultimately landed him a spot on the Austin stage. With a good voice, cool hair and jazzy confidence, Palma used his time in the spotlight to show the SXSW corner of the world why he deserved to be heard.

Allison Mula, who can be found on YouTube under the username allison mula, said in her White Label interview that she realized she was “ready to #taketheleap” (the White Label hashtag for their talent scouting contest) when she got tired of standing still. With a funky appearance resembling a lunch lady from your grade school days and an eerie voice that would make Judy Garland seem current, Mula is bringing an old vibe to contemporary music.

John Rankin, who can be found on YouTube under johnrankinmusic, took the stage with acoustic guitar in hand. A short guy with a cool voice who, despite the pitchy areas of his set, mellowed out the anxious crowd and used his songwriting abilities to translate raw emotion. Reminiscent of an early Adam Levine, Rankin has the indie ability to transfer emotion with his music.

The favorite of the five seemed to be John Russell—self-titled on YouTube, this Detroit native brought the house down and was surely one of the only SXSW acts of the day to play the guitar in a black suit. Seemingly too young to have the raw vocals he portrayed, Russell brought truthfulness to his performance with no visible nerves. His musical influences shine through as notes of John Mayer and Ella Fitzgerald peak in between the lines of every chord progression.

A nice change of pace to the showcase was Jelani Sinclair (YouTube: jelanisinclairpro), a hip-hop artist from Pomona, N.Y. Clearly influenced by the greats such as Nas and Kendrick Lamar, Sinclair brought on head nods with his story rap stylization. On top of just saying the words, he made sure to feel them and show that emotion to all 500 people waiting to grasp his story.

John Legend capped off the White Label artists portion with a four-song set that actually made female fans pass out from excitement (it was either that or dehydration). Constantly encompassing new elements in songs we’ve heard a thousand times, Legend managed to perform “All of Me” and “Ordinary People” as though they were being heard for the first time. These are two classic Legend tracks that have been heard hundreds of times by every fan in the audience, yet he is able to evoke a deeper emotion every time. The classics never seem stale with Legend, which is most likely why AXE thought he would be the perfect role model for their brand new artists.

Music isn’t about constantly being innovative; it’s about reworking what already exists and making it more real. If it’s not broken, you don’t fix it; you just protect it. Emotions have been the same for years; they revolve around happiness, sadness, anger and love, changing on by variances based on situations and generations.

The same goes for music. A classic song remains classic because every time it is heard, it has the ability to speak to someone for the first time.

It seems that that happened a lot on Saturday with the emerging talent at the White Label Collective and I’m sure everyone is looking forward to hearing more from the artists who took that stage.

New app rewards your entertainment fix

by Ashley Winward | March 25, 2015

At the end of a long and productive day, many want to just kick back and relax with some music or their favorite television show. Now, thanks to the new app Viggle, users can use this time to be productive as well, earning points to receive prizes and discounts at a wide variety of stores. By tuning in to Viggle while you tune in to your favorite source of entertainment, you can treat yourself in more ways than one!

Viggle is an entertainment rewards program that encourages its users to explore new music and stay loyal to their favorite shows. By “checking in” with a song or TV show, you can earn points that can be redeemed in the rewards store. The interface of the app looks very similar to the app Shazam (for when you can’t figure out the name of that song playing) and requires only one tap of the button for the app to begin recognizing what is playing. There is a switch to shift to either “TV” or “Music” but from there the app really takes over.

You earn points from logging in a new song, watching a television program or participating in surveys or watching commercial ads. You could even earn trivia for bonus points when watching a TV show.

Depending on the week certain high profile shows, such as The Bachelor, have had point multipliers attached to their viewer points as well.

These points can be used in the rewards store for a wide variety of deals and products. You can make entertainment purchases, such as ebooks, movies and music that can be synced onto your device and later into your computer.

You can also use your points for products such as Viggle sponsored merchandise or other products from technology to health care or kitchen items. There are even options to enter sweepstakes, receive coupons, earn gift cards or give charitable donations all from the comfort of your couch. With so much to gain, what is there to lose? You can pick up the app for free through either the app store or play store and start earning points now! Happy listening!

Local gigs of the week

by Ashley Winward | March 25, 2015

local gigs of the week

Toad’s Place
March 27: Bright Night 16: Electro Glow Party

March 29: The Ghost Inside with The Acacia Strain, Gideon and In Hearts Wake

March 31: Curren$y with Tone Eyeful, Keyz Royal, Marquise Green and Dutch the Dreamer

The Space
March 25: Household with Molly’s Worst Enemy, Down with Rent, Paragon Theorem and Shane Slaughter

March 27: Maxx Explosion

March 29: The Stolen with The Press War, Kalimur, Midnight Madness, Keep it Quiet and Not As Planned

March 30: Catch the Break with The Potentials, Levelhead and Llama Tsunami

The Oakdale
March 25: Kalin & Myles with Jacquie Lee and Anjali

Album of the Week

by Ashley Winward | March 25, 2015

Young artist shines through his release of Just Kids

by Glenn Rohrbacker | March 11, 2015

Mat Kearney has already established himself as a successful singer/songwriter with hits like “Nothing Left to Lose,” “Ships and the Night,” and “Closer to Love.” Now, nine years after he released his debut album, he released his newest project called JUST KIDS.

This is his third album to date and it definitely shows his character as a young artist. Combining pop and hip-hop styles of music, he produces a truly unique sound that is really great to listen to. You can see some influences from artists like Matchbox Twenty, The Fray and Ed Sheeran.

The album opens with a hip-hop feeling track called “Heartbreak Dreamer.” Kearney applies this slow talk-rap to make the song seem more modern but really works. “Moving On” is a really uplifting song about, well, moving on. It gives a sense of hope that is only reinforced by the music behind the lyrics.

The title track “Just Kids” has a sound very similar to Ed Sheeran and takes us back to Kearney’s roots and how they have affected him. It’s a slow jam that gives a look into the singer’s world. “Billion” is the most popular track on the album as of now. It is again a pop influenced track that features a rap verse by Mat.

“One Black Sheep” is another uplifting song about feeling that you’re a loner or an outsider. This song really spoke to me and is just another great part of the album.

“Ghost” is a slow track that is about having the memory of someone you’ve lost just hang around, mentally or physically. This song could be seen as an influence of Gavin DeGraw or even a Maroon 5 type style. “Los Angeles” is an ode to the esteemed city where Kearney busts out a rap on the verse, showing his diversity in style as an artist. “The Conversation” is a beautiful duet in which Kearney is accompanied by female vocalist Young Summer. The album ends on the ballad “Shasta,” reminding the listener that Kearney can rap, but also plug at your heartstrings.

JUST KIDS is just another step in the incredible journey of Mat Kearney and another testament to his unique style and talent. Kearney is an artist that redefines pop music in always keeping the listener surprised and wanting more. JUST KIDS is fifteenth on the top albums chart on iTunes and I definitely think it will be around there for a while, as this album is a milestone for Mat Kearney. I really am excited to see where he goes next.

Interview with Nalani and Sarina

by Elyse Von Der Fecht | March 11, 2015

Born to folk-music-loving parents, twin sisters Nalani and Sarina Bolton attended concerts and sing-a-longs “in the womb,” eventually joining in vocally themselves at about five years old. Their formal classical piano training began a year later. Their mother made sure their informal music education included all the great —songwriters Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen as well as the Beatles and Alanis Morissette.

Nalani and Sarina will be performing on March 25 in New York (Photo provided by Nalani and Sarina)

Nalani and Sarina will be performing on March 25 in New York (Photo provided by Nalani and Sarina)

“I told my mom that I fell asleep thinking about music and woke up thinking about it too. I think that’s when she knew she was in trouble,” Sarina recalls.

Songwriting, which became their greatest passion, followed soon after. “It’s my therapy,” said Sarina. “It’s the best way I have of expressing my emotions.”

“If our songs can have a positive effect on someone, make them feel not so alone, then that’s what makes us want to keep writing songs,” added Nalani.

I got the privilege to interview these two talented girls and here were their answers to what I asked them.

Elyse: Introduce yourselves.

Nalani and Sarina: We are Nalani and Sarina and we are singer-songwriters from Flemington, N.J.

E: What made you girls want to be singers?

N&S: There was never that specific time for us saying, “Hey I wanna be a singer!” Singing and music has just always been so much a part of our lives we kind of just thought it was normal. We started off with musical theater and ended up taking opera lessons, but once we got to our sophomore year, we were watching a “battle of the bands” concert at our high school and we think around that time we both knew that we wanted to perform our own stuff.

E: What is the best part about doing music?

N&S: The best part about doing music is getting people’s responses…hearing from someone how they relate to a song that is so close and personal is an unbelievable feeling. Experiencing that connection with people is always inspiring.

E: What is the hardest part about doing music?

N&S: There are three really hard things about music. One is writers’ block. There are those days where you feel like you’re never going to write again so you have to do everything in your power to get your inspiration back. Secondly is mixing music with business. It’s so hard to look at your own piece of art as a business, but it is necessary to understand how it works in order to navigate in this industry, while keeping your vision. The third hardest part about music is having a normal social life!

E: If you girls could work with any producer who would it be?

N&S: If we could work with any producer, it would be Dan Wilson…he is a phenomenal writer and captures the music and emotion in a song without cluttering it. We would also like to at least be in the same room as Max Martin and just pick his brain!

E: Where is somewhere you always wanted to travel to?

N&S: We would really like to travel to Japan, Australia or Paris… for one: the culture, two: the food and three: the accents! We enjoy going to new places where we feel completely out of our element. We visited the Philippines a few years ago and took a lot home with us.

E: Who writes your songs or do you both?

N&S: Every song varies from either writing a song or idea separately and then coming together and feeding off each other to finish it, or sitting in a room together and coming up with something right off the spot. But no matter what, the two of us are a part of every song that we write.

Global album release days set for this summer

by Ashley Winward | March 11, 2015

This past week, Frances Moore of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry confirmed that by summer of this year, all new releases will be issued for midnight on Fridays worldwide. This is huge news for musicians and fans alike, setting a new standard for a growing technological age.

Now that there will be an official release day for albums, artists like Beyoncé won’t be able to surprise audiences by dropping an album in the middle of the week (AP photo)

Now that there will be an official release day for albums, artists like Beyoncé won’t be able to surprise audiences by dropping an album in the middle of the week (AP photo)

With release dates in different countries ranging from Sunday to Wednesday, having one standardized release day across the entire globe can not only standardize the industry but it can provide a wide variety of benefits not only to the record stores but to the artists as well.

For one, this can be a big step towards minimalizing music piracy. If an album is released earlier in another country, it’s quite common to see it leak in the US through the internet. Many can find, listen to, and download the album well before its “Official Release.” By regulating the release dates across the globe it ensures that everyone must wait until the same time to hear the latest release.
Another benefit of waiting until Fridays, of all days, is that for many, its pay day. Some people simply cannot hold onto their money until Tuesday because the weekend has other plans for their cash. Having the newest album drop the same time as your paycheck leaves less excuses and more opportunities to buy on a consumer front.

Worldwide releases can also help the management companies and musician street teams as it helps streamline those resources and materials. Posting campaigns, social media updates and other methods of letting the public know about the release of an album must have the release date attached, obviously. By not having to worry about which date is going to which country relieves a lot of stress for the marketing teams because they can send the same materials out globally and ensure that people don’t get confused by all the different dates.

It also can make Fridays a big day for entertainment in general. Movies and music are two things that have always gone together; putting them out at the same time, especially with movie soundtracks, just makes sense.

There has been some opposition from the music industry, with some saying that it’s going to further marginalize lesser known artists. While I can understand that global releases could make it a little harder for artists to stand out, I really don’t think that it’s going to make that severe of a negative impact on the industry. If anything, it means that artists will work even harder to stand out, pushing for even more great music out there. I’m excited for this new change and hope that it will make a positive impact on the music industry.

Livewell’s Latest

by Shannon Livewell | March 11, 2015

Empire takes over the music industry

Fox’s latest series, Empire, is not only taking the Wednesday night TV-watchers by storm, but also the music industry.

Taraji P. Henson, as Cookie, in a scene from Empire (AP photo)

Taraji P. Henson, as Cookie, in a scene from Empire (AP photo)

Contrary to expectations, program creators, Danny Strong and Lee Daniels, who served as a guest speaker at our campus on Tuesday, March 3, have made sure to keep this series all about the music, peppering in the occasional catastrophe to keep viewers on their toes. Perhaps the greatest feat that this directing duo accomplished would be the ability to capture a musical audience with less than thirty seconds of a hit song at least three times per episode.

The record sales that Empire has successfully recruited on iTunes make them a frontrunner in chart topping hits; rare occasions for a Fox show. The idea of genre-specific industry series started with the show Nashville, which premiered on ABC in 2012 and is in its third season.

While Nashville’s music is popular on streaming services such as Spotify, even they have not been fortunate enough to reap the benefit of sales that Empire has yielded in the past few months they’ve been on air.

A song capable of taking your breath away is V Bozeman’s “What is Love.” We first hear this song in the pilot episode of the series and (spoiler alert), again when Bozeman’s reoccurring character of Veronika is auditioning for the Empire label’s major competitor. Bozeman is in a production deal with Timbaland who also serves as the music producer for the show. The young vocalist’s runs and riffs will take you on a journey and I guarantee you’ll forget you’re watching a show on Fox. The emotion that she conveys in this simplistic, vocally based track is sure to bring goose bumps to your arms and tears to your eyes.

Moving in a completely different direction, Yazz and Serayah McNeill are a perfect combination on “Drip Drop,” the show’s most popular track to date. The synth-influenced beat drives a powerful underscore for the kind of lyrics that make you want to dance and McNeill’s vocal purity serves as an element of purity that’s unexpected when the beat first drops.

My personal favorite track has been introduced throughout the entire series thus far, but the version that forced me to rewind the scene over and over again (shout out to my DVR) came from the last episode entitled “Unto the Breach.” Perhaps the most chaotic episode to date, this catchy song serves as a beautiful resolution towards the end of an episode that seems to yield no optimistic outcomes.

“You’re So Beautiful” starts out with Lucious Lyon (Terrance Howard) on the piano accompanied in the first chorus by Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) and Delphine (Estelle). After Hakeem Lyons’ (Bryshere Y. Gray) verse, fellow Empire artist Tiana Brown (Serayah McNeill) and Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) join their fellow cast mates to create enviable harmonies. You will definitely wear out your repeat button after discovering this track. It is the epitome of the series itself, addictive and musically-driven.

Local gigs of the week

by Ashley Winward | March 11, 2015

local gigs of the week

Toad’s Place
March 13: Dipset Reunion Tour with 6 Figgaz, DJs Funkmaster Flex and Big Mike

March 14: Hollywood Undead with From Ashes to New

March 15: Sage Francis/ Ceschi with Metermaids, Pat the Bunny and Brook Pridemore

The Space
March 13: Anchors Away with Caliway, Our Walking Deception, Novelty, Salitter and Better Half

March 15: Legend of You, Nice Shot Kid, The Lively, Brookside, and Highway Signs

The Oakdale
March 12: Steve Aoki with Head Hunterz, Caked Up, Botnek and Reid Stefan

March 15: Pentatonix

BAR (21+)
March 11: Young Statues with The Lively and Losing Season

Album of the Week

by Ashley Winward | March 11, 2015
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