Band of Blogs: Oliver Tank, Trust, Fun & Chromatics

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The best music culled from the music blogosphere this week.

Oliver Tank
Daydreaming folk songs played with modern instruments is 21 year-old Sydney musician Oliver Tank’s modus operandi. His emotive rasp is reason enough to stay under a warm duvet with his Dreams EP playing in the background.

The drummer from dark synth pop band Austra Maya Postepski and her friend Robert Alfons have a not too dissimilar musical project entitled Trust which would sound perfect in a creepy midnight disco.

Calling your band Fun is pretty is a pretty brazen move but judging by their song Some Nights, a modern jukebox pop hit which sets the harmonious bravado level to “QUEEN”, it may well signal the iconic intent of this new US chart-topping band.

Fans of the Drive soundtracks should delve into the back catalogue of these Italo disco revivalists. They also have a new album forthcoming entitled Kill For Love which has already spawned three video singles, most notably the muted atmospheric funk of Lady.

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Band of Blogs: Sophia Knapp, SpaceGhostPurrp, Hundred Waters & Burial

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Sophia Knapp
Soft acoustics and the gentle timbre introduce the music of Sophia Knapp on Close To Me, a singer with New York band Cliffie Swan who has gone solo. Bright key notes and funky bass usher in her ’70s-influenced musical style. An album entitled Into The Waves is forthcoming on Drag City at the end of the month, of which two songs feature Bill Callahan.

Hundred Waters
A promising Gainesville, Florida band who specialise in scattered and skittered pop music somewhere between the dream pop and eclecticism of Twin Sister, Stereolab and Múm. Their debut self-titled record also arrives at the end of the month.

One of the new breed of rising rappers, Miami’s Spaceghostpurrp dropped his new God Of Black Volume 1 mixtape showcasing his mind-warping blend of cosmic blunted Southern rap.
Listen at Soul Culture

Electronic music’s most revered anonymous producer returned with a new EP of spooky atmospherics entitled Kindred this week. No-one does dark and haunted inner city soundtracks quite so well.
Listen at Hyperdub

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Outsourcing music videos to India and the most successful Kickstarter campaign yet?

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We’re all familiar with the concept of multi-national corporations outsourcing to India but artists? That’s what Ontario singer-songwriter Drew Smith decided to do for his latest music video. After a English language student of his, Sohee Jeon from South Korea made a video for the first song from his album The Secret Languages, Smith decided to stick with the non-traditional route and to outsource his next music video to Bangalore.

He found Asha Sarella, a virtual assistant and sent her the song Smoke And Mirrors. Sarella came up with the concept and the pair talked on emails and the phone a few times. Sarella produced and choreographed the dancing in the video. Three weeks later, it hit Youtube and racked up 160,000 views in three days.

Loads of views is great on the surface but there was one problem. The resulting video (above) while nicely shot has no connection with the song. Smith’s clip attracted those views for the slightly gimmicky reasons behind the video not the actual content. Smith can’t live off Youtube views and while he should be commended for doing something different, I hope the Bollywood-style video won him some actual listeners that can help him make a living from his music.

Speaking of fans fueling art, the proliferation of crowdfunding sites has led to people pre-paying for artistic content but there’s always the danger of putting yourself out there and there won’t be enough interest in what you have to offer. A real ego bruiser. No such problem for Double Fine Productions, a video game development studio who wanted to finance their next game and develop it in the public eye. The plan was to run a campaign to raise $400,000 over a month but they hit 100% funding it in 8 hours. Three days in and the campaign raised $1.68 million dollars from over 47,000 people (currently at $1.92 million from 56,864 people) The whole reason they started the campaign in the first place was to find if there was a demand for classic adventure games after publishers told them there wasn’t. I think we know the answer now.

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Band of Blogs: THEESatisfaction, Julia Holter, John Talabot & NCAD Girl

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Swagged out Seattle duo Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-Whit bring some old school soul and funk vibes to their futuristic hip-hop grooves on QueenS. The duo will be on a European tour in May including a stop off in Dublin and possibly Cork too.

Julia Holter
Over the course of one afternoon last week, LA electronic musician Julia Holter’s song In The Same Room spread all over the music blogs. Its ethereal billlowy synths and sweet vocals proved irresistible to many.

John Talabot
Balearic dance music from Barcelona is the perfect tonic for these cold February mornings and Talabot’s new album entitled ƒin is just the right dose of heady house and electronica that works on headphones or the dancefloor.

Benny Smiles and Ballz Deep team up for an Irish R&B jam about the fine art of getting it on with an elusive Thomas Street art college student.

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How to fix the SOPA problem – one solution

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If there’s one good thing about the potential threats of SOPA and ACTA, it’s that their appearances have prompted searches for solutions to the problems that they may bring.

A potential solution that caught my eye came from Topspin’s Ian Rogers who proposed “a content registry where copyright holders can express the rules governing the use of their content”. So if a band released a track, it would be uploaded to this one central place that would govern how the song could be used. The band or their label would set the price per download, whether streaming was allowed, creative commons was enabled, subscription services were allowed to use it and myriad of other factors.

The benefit of such a registry is that new music services would no longer have to negotiate with individual labels or be asked for upfront payments for usage. This means that if you had a great idea for a music platform and signed up to the content registry then you wouldn’t need mountains of investor cash over four or five years to keep yourself sustainable before you got the chance to be profitable as Spotify’s current situation appears to be. Removing that financial gauntlet would encourage innovation and realistic solutions to the piracy problem.

Such a system also has benefits for the ordinary internet user, the kind who frequently uploads copyrighted material to sites thinking that a “I don’t own the copyright to this” disclaimer makes it OK. If they upload a song that has a free download rule in the registry to Soundcloud for example, it will be allowed to exist as a download. If not, it’s rejected as per the copyright owner’s rules in the registry.

Youtube already has an audio fingerprinting system that does most of this work so it’s definitely possible. Sure there are questions about who would run it exactly and how unregistered content would be dealt with but a proactive solution is better than a blocking one.

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Irish SOPA, ACTA & Sherlock: innovation is real the loser

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While last week’s protest over Minister Sean Sherlock’s proposed copyright amendments to law which may lead to court injunctions that force ISPs to block websites suspected of copyright infringement gathered over 75,000 signatures in a week, a battle may be brewing in a larger European context.

In a similar vein, the ACTA anti-piracy treaty signed in the European parliament by member countries including Ireland last week could have wide-reaching ramifications for internet use. Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA are also on board and the concerns centre around the lack of transparency in the negotiations and potential criminal prosecutions for internet piracy infringements.

The concerns all boil down to one thing. Mistrust that private companies like the major music labels will be allowed to dictate the digital rights of others through vague laws. It’s quite incredulous that the music industry has been dealing with piracy online for the last 12 years and the answer to it still appears to be blocking and criminal prosecution.

Entertainment products like Spotify, Turntable.FM and Netflix don’t get to ubiquity fast enough because we live in a world where global innovation is stifled by outmoded local copyright and licensing laws. Spotify or TurnTable.FM still have not launched in Ireland and Netflix, which launched a few weeks ago suffers from a poor choice in its film catalogue when compared to the US version.

When you offer people these services but hamper them with restrictions, is it any wonder that people go back to using Torrent files to get their fix? There is no such thing as a worldwide licence but there needs to be if the innovation that Sean Sherlock claims to represent as Minister is to flourish. Like it or not, people are used to getting their media fix instantly. If that’s not addressed, we’ll still be talking about blocking and piracy in another 12 years.

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Band of Blogs: Chairlift, Tennis, Miike Snow & No Ceremony

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The big blog buzz of the week (besides Lana Del Rey think pieces of course) is for Chairlift’s second album Something, a gratifying collection of ’80s synth and new wave sounds paired with Caroline Polachek’s singularly strong pop vocals. Just don’t mention the name.
Listen to the album on Soundcloud

Miike Snow feat. Lykke Li
Superproducers Miike Snow return with fellow Swede Lykke Li for the atmospheric and building arpeggiated synth tune Black Tin Box. It’ll appear on their second album Happy To You in March.

First capturing the attention of bloggers in 2010 with their “couple live on a boat and make music while sailing the Atlantic” shtick, Tennis are back with a second album of more full bodied breezy indie pop songs. Set sail.

No Ceremony
Reverberating piano chords and twisted vocals combine to devastating and uplifting effect in HurtLove, the disintegrating new single from Manchester’s No Ceremony.

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Band of Blogs: Iggy Azalea, Santigold, SlowPlaceLikeHome & Alt-J

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The best music on the web this week…

Iggy Azalea
She’s been called the Australian Nicki Minaj. She’s also been called the Australian Kreayshawn. She’s also been called a “femcee”. Let’s not utter that word ever again. Time will tell on that who she really ends up like but for now, enjoy her bad-attitude rap style on My World.

Santi White is back with a block-rocking frenetic new single called Big Mouth in which she calls out Lady Gaga and appears alongside her awesome SG1 dancers in a crudely animated video. Santigold > M.I.A.

Keith Mannion from Ballyshannon in Donegal is the lone creator behind SlowPlaceLikeHome, a project of rich instrumental electronic music which could be described as expansive, pensive and seductive. Music to watch fields by.

Described by one music blogger as “the dubstep of indie-rock” and counter-acted by The Blue Walrus with “pigeon-hole these Leeds boys at your peril”, Alt-J are actually ambitious in doing their own unique thing. One of this year’s ones to watch…

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