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Top 10 Tracks of the Week 03/13/12

By Staff; March 13, 2012 at 12:53 AM 

In this weekly feature we’ll compile our top 10 most viewed pieces of new music from the week preceding. These can be anything from completely new songs to live versions of new songs to new remixes of slightly older songs to covers that have just surfaced. Stay up to date wit the week’s most talked about music and vote in our “Best of the Best” vote after our rundown.

Top 10 Tracks of the Week 03/03/12

By Evan Kaloudis; March 3, 2012 at 1:00 PM 

Welcome back to our the Top 10 Tracks of the Week. In this weekly feature we’ll compile our top 10 most viewed pieces of new music from the week preceding. These can be anything from completely new songs to live versions of new songs to new remixes of slightly older songs to covers that have just surfaced. As long as it’s new music that we’re hearing for the first time this week, it’s eligible.

Top 10 Tracks of the Week 02/25/12

By Rob Hakimian; February 25, 2012 at 5:02 PM 

Welcome to Beats Per Minute’s new weekend feature, the Top 10 Tracks of the Week. In this weekly feature we’ll compile our top 10 most viewed pieces of new music from the week preceding. These can be anything from completely new songs to live versions of new songs to new remixes of slightly older songs to covers that have just surfaced. As long as it’s new music that we’re hearing for the first time this week, it’s eligible.

Label Spotlight: Strange Famous Records

By Andrew Bailey; November 30, 2011 at 2:00 PM 

Strange Famous Records

For our second issue of Label Spotlight, we caught up with Strange Famous Records front man and lead artist Sage Francis, who founded the indie label in 1996 as a way of self-releasing his own material.

One Thirty BPM: First and foremost, could you briefly describe Strange Famous as a label? How many artists and releases are credited to the label, and how would you define its ‘sounds’?

Sage Francis: When I began pressing my own music I decided to use the name “Strange Famous Records.” Because, you know, having a label name makes a photocopied, hand-cut cassette tape cover look all that more official. I had to learn the business side of things through trial and error, but common sense and intuition go a long way. Eventually I had all sides of the business situated and I decided to start using my knowledge and resources to help out other artists I was working with. At that point, the SFR staff grew and the roster grew. I have no desire to expand into a monster company though. I want to keep things small enough where I can overlook each item and maintain as much quality control as possible while still having fun and doing interesting/unexpected stuff when I feel like it. I also don’t know if we’ll even be operating as a “label” down the line as no one knows how the industry will end up. To date, we’ve signed about 15 artists and we’ve taken on about 25 projects.

As for our sound, I suppose we’re mainly a collective of lyricists with an introspective lean. It’s underground emcee shit. We also have instrumental albums though, and some projects are just for fun. If you inspire and entertain me, and if I think you’re a trustworthy person who could benefit from having me obsess over every aspect of your art, you’re a good SFR candidate. Of course, you’ll eventually want to ring my throat or vice versa.

One of the Strange Famous cornerstones, B. Dolan, stars in this video for “Earthmovers” from 2010’s superb Fallen House, Sunken City.

What was the drive behind heading up your own label?

It was basically out of necessity as there weren’t any labels checking for artists like me. Not until I proved I could build a strong fan base and, eventually, outsell most of the conventional artists they were previously jocking. Of course, at that point, after I had already done all of the dirty work, I didn’t really need a label’s help. What I mainly needed was distribution. I made some concessions along the way, working with various labels on various projects, but if I had enough capital early on I would have saved myself a lot of trouble. A lot has changed since back then, and I often feel overwhelmed with label duties, but it’s nice being able to make decisions to play the game or hate the game whenever I want.

What has surprised you most about running your own label that maybe you weren’t aware of as a signed artist?

I think I’m most surprised at how unreliable, lazy, and shady people are on all sides of the business. People are so desperate to get what they don’t deserve while doing as little work as possible. From “publicists” to “promoters” to “distributors” to “managers” and on and on and on. I know this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it still blows my mind. Honestly, it doesn’t take much to move up in the system if you’re a competent and trustworthy person with a good work ethic.

“Slow Man Stance,” produced by label-mate Buck 65, is the heavier original take of a song that would later become “Slow Man,” as featured on Francis’ 2010 album Li(f)e.

Are there any unique release methods that Strange Famous either has pursued or is currently pursuing, be it digital or physical?

Everyone is obviously moving toward digital now, which means a lot of the old school methods of releasing albums are going the way of the dodo bird. Honestly, it bums me out. I like physical packaging. I enjoy the process of creating it, putting it together, handling it, and everything else. I don’t want to come up with digital package deals or thinking up innovative ways of pushing digital media. That’s not how I grew up experiencing and appreciating music. Alas, that’s what we have to do. In the meantime, I’m still going to come up with ways to make physical product enticing and available, even if it means going back to jailbreaking Kinkos machines. Currently I’m on a “personalize as much product as possible” kick.

The Metermaids’ video for “Victory Boulevard” from their most recent album, Rooftop Shake, released on September 6 by Strange Famous.

What can we expect from you in the next few months? Long-term?

With the holidays coming up we’re going to be putting together specialized package deals which is usually what we do at our online store. I haven’t talked about the SFRstore yet, but I’ve found that dealing directly with our fans has been essential in keeping afloat as an indie label. This has been increasingly important as all the indie stores close down. Other than that, I’m working on a mixtape as well as an official album for 2012. Same with B. Dolan. We expect a collaborative album from Prolyphic and Buddy Peace. Cecil Otter is still working on his follow up album to Rebel Yellow which he says should be ready by next year. There are a couple other tricks up our sleeves as well, some crazy videos in the works, but nothing I can divulge at the moment. I expect next year to be very busy for us as far as music and shows are concerned.

Francis takes a walk through Occupy Boston eight hours after the mass arrests of October 11, 2011.

More info:

Strange Famous Records website
Listen to Strange Famous on SoundCloud
Get Strange Famous updates on Twitter
Follow Sage Francis on Twitter

Label Spotlight: Life On An Island

By Evan Kaloudis; August 17, 2011 at 9:44 PM 

Label Spotlight is our new feature in which we take a look at an up-and-coming independent record label. For this premiere installment we sit down with Mike Naideau, cofounder of Long Island indie record label Life On An Island.

One Thirty BPM: Hey Mike, first off could you briefly describe your label? How many artists and releases are under its wing and what are its ‘sounds’?

Mike Naideau: Sure. “Life On an Island” has definitely always been more of a collective of close friends than a label. We began without any real intention of working on projects not involving people and bands and music that we all know and love! As a whole it has functioned accordingly, too. We all try to split costs and keep as many aspects of the whole process as local and personal as possible. Our friend Brian’s recording studio called “Blue Sunshine” has really been an indispensable resource for many of us.

So with that said we have somewhere around 20 artists under our wing, but it’s not so much a real wing, we’re all just friends. We’ve also released only single songs by a lot of artists on our summer compilations. At the end of this month we will have 30 physical releases (mostly cassettes and CDs but I see more vinyl in our future), which rules! Many are out of print and gone at this point, and a handful of others are just barely sticking around. Doing things in very limited editions has not only encouraged us to pay more attention to detail, but also to keep our attention present and focused on new projects and ideas.

As a whole, our stuff sits somewhere between some kinda guitar-heavy indie-rock and a post-punk influenced brand of pop-punk. Some of the Neato Fleets, Fuzzy Hell, Your Birthday, Brian Chaudhry and Screen House Music stuff dips a little deeper into the lo-fi realm, while the Giant Peach, For Serious This Time and Nude Beach stuff is a bit more rockin’ and the Haircut and Womyn Boiz stuff is just straight up crunch/crusty.

How did you start up the label? What prompted you to start it?

The label stemmed pretty naturally from a small group of friends from Northport, New York. It started some time in 2006. We had all been living near each other and working individually on home recordings for a few years at that point. It was a nice way to kind of bring everybody’s work together into a more dynamic, cohesive representation of what it meant to us to live and grow up in this pretty small town. Our first release was a cassette compilation of sorts that we called Story Of Man. It was a real tiny collaborative release that you can read a little more about thanks to the “Here On This Island” blog. We gave out a bunch of copies of this tape when we played our one and only show under this name that same year in a basement in Northport. It was a show with Wildebeest, Infinity Mirror and Brian Chaudhry. That’s kind of where it all began.

Summer tour 2010 by Brian Chaudhry

I think the primary motivation for many of us was to simply have an excuse that we felt was worthwhile to turn these intimate experiments into more tangible things, with artwork and explanations, that we could then literally hand to each other. We’ve all always valued when that kind of personal interaction exists alongside music. The whole scene was already thriving around here at that point, and we were all extremely lucky to be able to experience that era of musicians and house shows, much less participate in it. We were also definitely inspired by the ideologies behind some local labels such as Burn It Down/Rebuild and Rok Lok.

Our series of summer compilations is kind of our way of thanking a lot of these influential artists whom we respect a great deal, and whom have contributed so much over the years to the local music community. I don’t think this whole thing was ever actually intended to become a label, but it seems to have kind of naturally moved in that direction!

How have you seen the Long Island music scene change since you’ve got involved in it? Who are the prominent figures?

This whole thing began in 2006, when a lot of us were still in high school. But at that point there were a lot of super inspiring and accessible performances going on around Long Island. Many were in Huntington Station, various basements and garages in Northport and the short-lived Long Island Freespace in Ronkonkoma. Those shows were what instilled a lot of significant values in us with regards to our approach to music.

Allatoona by For Serious This Time

A raw and sincere intensity kept everybody coming back to these places. Some distinct bands were Bent Outta Shape, Latterman, Wildebeest, The Insurgent, Guadalupe, The Solidarity Pact, and Fellow Project. More often than not the music was all given out for free as burned CDs packaged in some kinda weird folded paper thing. Everything about it was personal and unintimidating.

Since then there has been an overall sort of migration from Long Island to other places in New York like Brooklyn and Queens. A lot of amazing bands have broken up, but a lot of new ones have formed!

How do you feel about technology such as Bandcamp as distribution methods?

Bandcamp is a useful page to host a lot of MP3s for people to hear and download for free. It’s the only site of that kind that we really use, and we primarily started using it as a simple way to make a bunch of our out-of-print releases more widely available. Not so much into the idea of selling things directly through Bandcamp though because they take some, but also because we’d rather handle that aspect of the process ourselves anyway.

We prefer to stay away from digital releases, yet they do help in making it easier and cheaper to reach a large audience. It’s just important to us to use these methods properly, like still putting a lot into the physical artwork of whatever you’re working on even if you’re offering a digital version too.

How has this year been for you as a label?

This has been our biggest year yet! We focused on putting out a bunch of limited edition cassettes early in the year, each with lots of personal attention, care and real nice hand-printed artwork, and then moved forward.

You can read more about these cassettes on our website, but here’s a quick summary: The first is Toxicology Songs, a 60-minute, magical full-length from NY-native Fuzzy Hell. She lives in Ireland most of the year but is also deeply supportive of and involved in the scene over here. There’s nothing else out there like this and we’re unbelievably grateful to be involved in the output of this music. The second is a collection of mostly acoustic, older songs from 2006-2008 by Long Island-based artist and musician Brian Chaudhry. This one personally meant a lot to us, and we think it will mean a lot to anyone who hears it. The third was a reissue of sorts, though we like to think of it as its first proper release. It is a record from Northport-based, hardcore grunge rockers Haircut. Though a couple years old it still shreds so hard, and it sounds pretty amazing blasting on cassette. We then also did a limited edition cassette version of upstate NY-based Summer People’s most recent full-length called Teamwork.

So that was the beginning of the year, but that was just the beginning of the year. Giant Peach and For Serious This Time both put out new EPs just a couple of months ago. Giant Peach’s People Don’t Believe Me EP was the next step forward for these dudes in their own brand of crunchy, melodic grunge-rock. Four songs, 20 minutes, pretty solid! For Serious This Time’s Weird Life EP is six songs of crisp, fluid pop-punk. This one was released on 12” as a split with Dead Broke Rekerds, which we were really psyched about! These two bands also went on a brief two-week US tour in June in support of their respective releases. For the tour we released a limited edition cassette, a split with each record on a side!

The Moon is the Eye of a T-Rex cloud by Giant Peach

Giant Peach

And now just recently we were able to be a part of two great digital releases: Small Plants, a sweet electro-lo-fi venture from Screen House Music, Nicky of For Serious This Time’s solo project, as well as Stay In The Sunlight, a real intricate, new EP from Northport’s Nightwalks.

What can we expect from you in the next couple months? The future?

We have a bunch of exciting things lined up for the fall. Very soon we’ll have CD versions of the new People Don’t Believe Me EP from Giant Peach. This digital edition will be pro-printed with all new artwork, and limited to 100! We are also really psyched to be putting out a limited edition cassette by Nude Beach called Live at Gunther’s. These both should be finished and available early-September at the latest!

Also in the works are a cassette of brand new material by Punks On Mars (this will be a split with Ratgum Records) and an amazing full-length CD by Fuzzy Hell. Come fall-time we will be working on the third in our series of cassette comps, with a lot of sweet unreleased stuff by a bunch of our favorite artists, as well as a new Giant Peach record joint-released with Rok Lok Records! That’s what we’re working on now, but there will no doubt be more to come.

What new artists (whether it be on your label or just in general) are you most looking forward to hearing new music from?

We are super excited for the Nude Beach, Punks On Mars and Fuzzy Hell releases! Aside from those, always looking forward to new stuff from The Fish, Iron Chic, Metacomet, and all the other Dead Broke bands, as well as our good friends in Fellow Project, Delay, Ink Mouth, and our buddy CH-ROM!

Blyngwie malmsteen by Palmkite

More info:

To hear a lot of the bands mentioned in this interview download Life On An Island’s Summer Compilation #2 for free.

See Giant Peach at the Rok Lok Records Showcase @ Mr. Beery’s in Bethpage, NY on 8/20/2011 w/ Deep Pockets, Brick Mower, Make It Plain, Vehicle Blues and Famous Laughs — Facebook Event

See For Serious This Time @ 2579 Montauk Hwy, Brookhaven NY on 8/21/2011 w/ Wax Phantom, Fat Shadow, Make It Plain and Warm Needles — Facebook Event

Life On An Island website

One Thirty BPM’s Guide to Second Half of 2011 Albums

By Staff; July 1, 2011 at 2:22 PM 


2011 Summer Music Festival Preview

By Staff; May 19, 2011 at 12:30 PM 

Photo by Christopher Alvarez

Radiohead – The King of Limbs: Album Preview Mix

By Evan Kaloudis; February 14, 2011 at 10:00 PM  View discussion


One Thirty BPM Presents: The 2011 Grammy Awards Liveblog

By Sean Highkin; February 13, 2011 at 7:47 PM 

Let’s do this.
5:02: And we’re off. LL Cool J introduces the Aretha Franklin tribute, featuring Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Yolanda Adams, Florence Welch, and Martina McBride.
5:05: Yikes. This is not Xtina’s week. She isn’t faring much better here than she did on the Super Bowl. Yolanda Adams, on the other hand, is killing it.
5:08: Florence can get it.
5:12: Missed a few minutes of the medley due to technical difficulties. Caught back on just as it was wrapping up. Except for Xtina, everyone came off well.
5:13: Aretha does not look well. It’s kind of frightening.
5:15: The commercial lead-out assures us that “everyone” will be talking about Lady Gaga’s performance of “Born This Way.” I’d put the odds at about 70 percent that she hatches out of the egg she came onto the red carpet in.
5:20: The entire crew from the Aretha tribute presents “Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group” to Train for “Hey Soul Sister.” What happened to this band? “Drops of Jupiter” was the jam about 10 years ago. Now they actively make me want to never buy a Samsung TV. “Thanks, Justin Bieber, for not being a duo or group” was a pretty good line, though.
5:23: Yup, Gaga comes out of the egg.
5:25: I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “Born This Way,” but it’s going to be huge. This performance is actually pretty tame by Gaga’s standards. No flames or meat dresses.
5:31: My friend Larry just implored me to give the stamp of approval to Gaga’s “Yolandi bangs.” Consider it done.
5:37: I’ve already forgotten what Miranda Lambert’s song sounded like.
5:40: Lenny Kravitz introduces Muse, who in the last year have gone from being the new Rush to being the new Journey. I thoroughly enjoyed their performance of “Uprising,” though.
5:45: You know what? Fuck Taylor Swift. I’m sorry.
5:46: All that commercial for the special Target edition of Speak Now did was remind me that we’re going to have to endure a Kanye/Taylor showdown next year for Album of the Year, which does nothing to dispel my belief that Kanye’s interruption was a put-on.
5:49: Collaborating with B.o.B. and Bruno Mars is so, so far beneath Janelle Monáe it isn’t even funny. She toured with Prince this year! Prince!
5:53: Broadcasting Bruno Mars in black and white doesn’t make him not suck.
5:55: Bruno Mars is a better drummer than he is a singer.
5:58: Huge mistake putting Janelle in the first hour. Nothing’s topping that tonight.
6:00: Miranda Lambert wins for Best Female Country Vocal. Yawn.
6:06: This is a commercial for Justin’s new 3D biopic, right?
6:09: Justin needs to take some deep breaths and remember that he’s white. When Jaden Smith has more cred than you, something’s up.
6:12: When cynical people like me make jokes about how Justin Bieber’s relevance will disappear the minute his voice breaks, we’re banking on it happening in two years, not 18 months into his stardom. This does not bode well for his future.
6:14: Muse takes Best Rock Album, beating out Neil Young, Tom Petty, and Jeff Beck. Must be one of those “we’re going to pretend we aren’t completely out of touch” years for the voters.
6:21: Selena Gomez and Donnie Whalberg give Best Pop Vocal Album to Lady Gaga for The Fame Monster. The snippet of “Bad Romance” they’re playing as she walks up is making me long for the days when her music was interesting. Which was, like, six months ago.
6:25: Letterman’s Grammy top ten? Surprisingly funny.
6:26: The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons get to fill the Beyonce/Lady Gaga role of performing with their idols. This is a nice change of pace from Justin Bieber, I’ll say that much.
6:31: Bob Dylan’s voice sounds about like you’d expect it to. The collective Avett & Sons are strumming behind him. Total hero worship, but it works. I just wish this was the public’s standard for “good country.” There is nothing interesting about Lady Antebellum.
6:35: I can’t figure out what exactly warranted Mick Jagger getting the invite this year. I also can’t figure how this is actually his first performance on the Grammys.
6:41: Lady Antebellum get this year’s Zac Brown Band Award for group that’s been fucking everywhere but that I’ve never heard of. Every time I hear “Need You Now,” I always just assume it’s Taylor Swift. Cool for Clay Matthews that he got to introduce them, I guess.
6:45: Kings of Leon present Best Country Album to Lady Antebellum.
6:47: All Jamie Foxx’s introduction for Cee-Lo did was make me depressed that he’d be forced to perform “Forget You.” Despite being by far the best song of the year, this song has virtually no chance of winning.
6:48: Muppets are officially more edgy than anything Lady Gaga did tonight.
6:51: Fuck you, Glee. Fuck you. I don’t even hate that show, either. But on a scale of 1 to Jay-Z-in-“Umbrella,” this Gwenyth Paltrow cameo is the definition of “unnecessary.”
6:57: Okay, Neil Patrick Harris’ introduction of Katy Perry was just plain weird. On another note, Katy Perry is the antichrist.
7:01: Far and away the worst performance of the night so far. Katy Perry, you were outclassed by Justin Bieber tonight. How does that make you feel?
7:03: John Mayer, Keith Urban, and Norah Jones doing “Jolene,” in commemoration of Dolly Parton’s Lifetime Achievement Grammy. If only they could get the White Stripes. Oh, wait…
7:05: Now, they’re presenting Song of the Year. “The song otherwise known as ‘Forget You'” is how they’re tackling the “Fuck You” conundrum. The award goes to Lady Antebellum. Of course it does. God forbid the Grammy voters stop playing it safe for once in their lives.
7:07: I’d be more okay with Justin Bieber winning Best New Artist than I would Drake. Does that make me a bad person?
7:13: Seth Rogen definitely just made a Miley Cyrus-smoking-weed joke. He also called Eminem “the most dangerously talented man in hip-hop history.” 1 for 2 isn’t bad, I guess.
7:15: Rihanna is rough. Still better than Katy Perry, though.
7:16: If CBS’ censors thought their night was over after “Forget You,” they had another thing coming when Em took the stage.
7:17: Is anybody still excited for Detox? Dr. Dre’s headphones are better than his music lately. “I Need a Doctor” is the exact same song as “Love the Way You Lie,” except terrible.
7:22: …Or, they could give Best New Artist to Esperanza Spalding, the one nobody’s heard of. Sadly, this is probably their curveball quota for the night.
7:29: Matthew Morrison has an album coming out? I’m already dreading next year’s ceremony.
7:32: Good on the Academy for keeping the anti-downloading stuff to a minimum. And they didn’t leave anyone major off of the In Memoriam section.
7:35: Okay, so Mick is doing a Solomon Burke tribute. I can get behind that.
7:37: As soon as I say they didn’t leave anyone off the deaths, my entire Twitter timeline explodes at the lack of Guru. It’s cool, though. It’s not like he’s one of the most talented and perennially underrated MC’s of all time or anything.
7:40: Might as well just call it a night. Mick shut it down.
7:47: Barbara Striesand wins the MusiCares Person of the Year award. Her performance is a snoozefest. I’m trying to confirm rumors that Justin Bieber left the ceremony in a huff after losing Best New Artist.
7:52: Nicki Minaj and give Best Rap Album to Eminem, and his acceptance speech is overshadowed by Minaj’s screeching announcement.
7:59: Diddy was introduced as Puff Daddy? What is this, 1998?
8:00: Memo to Drake: you’re still only the second-most talented musical entity ever produced by the Degrassi franchise.
8:03: Marc Anthony is cramping J.Lo’s style hard.
8:04: Record of the Year goes to Lady Antebellum. Ugh.
8:12: Arcade Fire does “Month of May”?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! You’re joking.
8:14: On the real though, I’m not even asking for something un-radio-friendly like “Suburban War.” Just give me “We Used to Wait” or “Ready to Start.”
8:16: All that’s left is Album of the Year. Gun to my head, Lady Antebellum wins. Eminem is the second-most likely, with Arcade Fire as a dark horse.
8:22: And…the Grammy goes to Arcade Fire. Wow.
8:25: Since when does the winner get an encore performance? Has that ever been done? They’re doing “Ready to Start” now. I don’t even know how to react.

A look back at music’s place in the Super Bowl

By Andrew Bailey; February 4, 2011 at 12:00 PM 

The Super Bowl halftime show was originally no different from the halftime of a regular season game. Up until 1988 when Chubby Checker and The Rockettes performed, the show consisted primarily of marching bands and other performance groups. New Kids on the Block performed in Tampa three years later, but it wasn’t until 1993 that the halftime show became a spectacle.

Of course, the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers will meet in Super Bowl XLV and another chapter will be filed in the legacy of the game’s halftime show. The Black Eyed Peas are slated to perform and be backed up by the Prairie View A&M University marching band and it remains to be seen just exactly how it’ll stack up. Here’s hoping they shy away from material off of The Beginning—and here’s to the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers.

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