I got a 8GB USB stick of music given to me recently by a musician friend who told me that I need to check out the bands on the stick. When I was growing up we used to these kinds of trades on cassettes. Back then we had an hours or hour and a half worth of music. Today 8 gigs worth of music is about 270 songs at 320kbps. Yep, that is how it is done today. People have no respect for copyright law and why should they. For all of us, copyright is present on songs that we like from when we are born and it looks like it will still be in place on the same songs when we die. Is that a law that should be respected?
So I am listening to a few of the bands. “Dirty Passion”, “Degreed”, “Riverside”, “Denial Method” and “Devilicious”. Yeah I know, I caught the same trend as you, most of them start with the letter D.
Anyway, I am trying to put my head space into the same head space as the guys in the band. They obviously want to be in music. They want to be in a band, so they form a band. They write some music, play some shows and spend a lot of time and money to record an album.
What is the plan after that?
Do they wait for all the reviews to talk it up and hope that someone from a label is going to pick it up and promote the hell of it?
Do they promote it via social media and hope that people will buy it, because that is what people needed to do back in the Nineties to get music. Yep, we needed to pay for it, and a high price at that.
However, the same fans don’t want to pay for it today. Okay, let me rephrase that. Fans of music will only pay for what they want to pay for. The bands they like, the songs they like will still get supported. It could be via an iTunes purchase, via an Amazon purchase, via YouTube views, via Spotify streams, via concert attendances and so forth.
So any new band starting out needs to face two hard realities;
1. People will pay for what they want to pay for
2. Getting your message/name out is still hard.
Bands/Acts don’t realise that going viral or hitting the top is all based on the music. The whole marketing shenanigans comes after. Bands need to start with a great tune.
Producer and manager, Marty Thau just passed away and in a 2009 interview, he spoke about what he looks for in artists.
“I’ve always believed there is a fine line between abstract and pure accessibility and that is what I’ve always looked for. An artist who can be abstract and conventional at the same time and, most importantly, reach people. That’s the magic we all seek. It’s called originality … and, of course, it’s still about songs. That’s the starting point.”
For example, I like Machine Head. I like the tarot idea of the four different covers they will be utilising for their Record Store Day contribution. The marketing and the hype behind the release is top-notch. Now if the song “Killers and Kings” is a dud, it’s not going to bode well. The songs are the starting point for everything.
In relation to the vinyl revolution, stats from Billboard.com show that vinyl sales are growing each quarter. In the end the percentages they are talking about is small change in the sea of billions. It’s a hobby thing. I will be purchasing the four editions of “Killers and Kings” purely as collector items. I won’t even play them.
The thing is vinyl never went away. During the Nineties when everyone went to CD’s, it was the Second Hand store that exploded. Any store that stocked vinyls, would be busy as hell. That is when I picked up, 700 plus vinyl records. Between the years of 1992 and 2002, i more or less purchased the whole seventies and the eighties. All for a price less than $5. I even picked up “Quiet Riot II” with “Randy Rhoads” for $10.
During that time, the press and the recording business ignored vinyl, however in 2014 they trump it up. Isn’t that typical.
I digress. Going back to the post, just because a band or an act does make it, it doesn’t mean that the whole world wants to listen to it or own it. It all comes down to time, which a lot of people don’t seem to have. So people will only revert to music that they want.
The reason why pop music thrives is that the audience shares it. From my own experiences, metal and rock fans are very divided. There is an elitism running through the ranks. Because of that elitism, you don’t get that same sharing experience. When I say sharing, I am talking about the sharing of links to the songs, like Spotify sharing or YouTube sharing.
So what about the bands I listened to.
Dirty Passion – Into Wonderland
Released in 2012
They are from Sweden. “In Wonderland” is their second album. The band formed in 2007. Facebook shows 13,000 likes.
So how is it?
It’s melodic rock with a Guns N Roses “Appetite For Destruction” type swagger merged with some Skid Row attitude. The vocals are raw. The songs that stood out on first listen are “Into The Wild”, “When Darkness Falls”, “Shadowland”, “Make It Last” and “Light Of The Candle”.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, it was an enjoyable listen. They won’t achieve world domination, however they will have a career in the niche they are in. The lyrical themes in the songs sounded a bit cliché, however they can only get better.
Degreed – We Don’t Belong
Released in 2013
They are from Sweden. Like “Dirty Passion” this is album number 2 for them. The band formed in 2005 and Facebook shows 1500 likes. Based on the likes, “Dirty Passion” has worked harder to build their social media presence.
Their bio states the below;
It took 5 years of hard work to even get noticed and a bunch of shameful proposals to get where they are today but these 5 guys know how hard you have to work to get what you want and they won’t stop until they get just that, what they want.
Isn’t that the nature of the recording business. Exploit the artist. Some are so hungry for fame, they will allow it. Other artists are smarter and if it means a smaller fan base, then so be it. As long as they did it their way.
So what about the album?
They released an album of twelve tracks however six ended up being a good listen. The standout tracks are “Black Cat”, “What If”, “Inside Of Me”, “Blind Hearted”, “Coming Home” and “We Don’t Belong”. It’s modern alternative rock, mixed with melodic rock (especially around the keyboards).
It is way more polished than “Dirty Passion” with a clear emphasis on arena rock choruses and pop sensibilities. The guitarists wail on the album. Really dig the song “Inside of Me”. It’s got that Imagine Dragons/Coldplay feel.
If I had to pick between “Dirty Passion” and “Degreed”, “Degreed” wins. They walk the fine line between staying true to melodic/hard rock and pop music, filtered with progressive and guitar heroics.
Denial Method – The Surface and The Vision
Released in 2008.
They are from the US. It is their first release and their Facebook page has 90 likes. It’s hard to ascertain if the band has broken up. After hearing their debut, it’s easy to see why the band could be broken up. Only two tracks are worth a mention. You see when you play in a crowded modern alternative rock scene you need to be a touch different, a touch special, a touch unique to stand out.
“The Silence” is a decent track. It is in the vein of bands like Earshot, Breaking Benjamin and 10 Years. That is also the reason why it falls down. Much like in the Eighties. All the bands that came out and started to sound like Motley Crue, Guns N Roses and Metallica, where are they now. Maybe having the guitar hero solo in it, would have made it different and unique enough to stand out.
“So Many Days” is another decent track. I love the acoustic however this song just sounded too strummed.
What happened to them? Fingerpicking, single notes arpeggios, little flamenco guitar fills. Let the song breathe. Extend it.
So if I had to place “Dirty Passion”, “Degreed” and “Denial Method” it would be “Degreed” first, “Dirty Passion” second and “Denial Method” third.
Devilicious – The Esoteric Playground
Released in 2012.
They are from Sweden (seriously what a scene in Sweden). It is their 2nd release and their Facebook page has 1,195 likes.
They are basically a metalised version of The Cult. And I dig that
“Succumb”, “Hollywood” and “Post Mortum” all have this Black Sabbath vibe.
So if I had to place “Dirty Passion”, “Degreed”, “Denial Method” and “Devilicious” it would be “Degreed” first, “Dirty Passion” second, “Devilicious” third and “Denial Method” fourth.
Riverside – Shrine Of New Generation Slaves
Released in 2013.
They are from Poland and this is their sixth release. Their Facebook page shows 55,518 likes. I really enjoyed 2005’s “Second Life Syndrome” and 2007’s “Rapid Eye Movement” however after that they just fell off my radar. Blame the internet for allowing bands to release so much music.
Riverside are a damn good progressive rock band. There is a simplicity in complexity when it comes to their music. They know how to take the complex and make it simple, setting moods and letting feel lead the way. Don’t expect anthemic arena rock choruses with Riverside. There is none.
“Shine Of New Generation Slaves” is a brilliant exhibition in Pink Floydism prog. To like Riverside, you need to be in the mood. A “Dark Side Of The Moon” mood. Relaxed and mellowed.
My friend shared these bands with me and that is how we still get the word out today. Word of mouth.