Unsigned Talent Of The Month: November 2010

author: ss311 date: 12/02/2010 category: features
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Unsigned Talent of the Month - This Month's Article considers three unsigned bands, and offers some fundamental advice to up-and-coming bands regarding press releases, emphasising their significance. Vote for your Ultimate-Guitar.com Unsigned Artist of the Month by typing the name of your nominee into the comments section! Last month, three bands were written about extensively in this column. Follow the Deceived, Satin Gum, and The Remnant Kings were the featured artists, and Follow the Deceived, who, as you might have read elsewhere, became the winners of the inaugural Ultimate-Guitar.com Unsigned Artist of the Month award. Speaking of awards, it's time to think of bigger and more auspicious Ultimate-Guitar.com titles! Come the end of December, Ultimate-Guitar.com shall present the Ultimate-Guitar.com Unsigned Artists of the Year, from whom Ultimate-Guitar.com readers can crownby votetheir overall winner. So send me your nominees from past articles, or even artists who have not yet featured in this column before to be sure of a place on the voting card!
First up this month, we have Strongwater, who are Norwegian heavy, and rather interesting. While easy to predict that Strongwater plays your typical brand of Scandinavian heavy metal, nothing could be further from the truth the band plays a unique brand American Southern Rock, with a Nordic twist! The amalgamated sounds that come from Strongwater here are intriguing to say the least; songs such as The Feather of a Firebird provide galloping, well-dramatised riffs, like an indomitable blaze. It's therefore not surprising that the band has been chosen to provide a soundtrack to The Secret World, a forthcoming Xbox 360 game. I have been told in good confidence that Strongwater is working with engineer, Rune Stavnesli, who has in the past worked with bands such as Necrophagist. There is nothing overwhelmingly negative to say about Strongwater, who function well as a band. Vocalist, Dahle, cackles and growls his way through the well-executed singing demands, and guitarists Nordnes and Winsrygg provide some of the best riffs and solos I have ever heard from an unsigned band; the rhythm section is also in check, and, like any band that plays technical metal, the expertise shown by Eidem (drums) and Utgard (bass) is fearsome in its metronomic dynamism.
UG Opinion: Strongwater is one of the most innovating bands to be featured in this column, and the band can only be lauded for fusing the grit of Southern Rock with the intensity and prodigious skill of Scandinavian metal.
From Cape Town, South Africa, A Walk With the Wicked, a band with as good an attitude to press relations as it has to its Cannibal Corpse-influenced music. On a musical note, Architects of Sadism is a pinch harmonic-laden feast of brutal guitars and guffawing grunts and growls. The live videos provided on the page are high in quality, and give the viewer an excellent perception of what to expect at A Walk With the Wicked gig. Musically, A Walk With the Wicked stand out as a band that enables the listener to directly link the band's music to the members' influences. It's not sweet and subtle, and the delivery, though as brutally executed as one desires in this genre, is not sophisticated. That's exactly what you want from this genre of music, and while Cannibal Corpse-inspired lyrics are never going to win Nobel Prizes for literature, the band's press relations are much more intelligence-based. The band is magnificently well-organized, providing reviewers not only with a finely presented biography, but also a recent press kit, describing the band's forthcoming EP, set to be mixed and mastered by David Castillo, in Sweden. The band has headlined a number of metal festivals in their home country of South Africa, travelling from city to city to play gig after gig. The band can also boast endorsements from TRX Cymbals and Brian Fanner Original Custom Guitars. Architects of Sadism', the band's debut EP, is scheduled for a January 2011 release.
UG Opinion: This is one of the most professional bands to be featured on UG, and A Walk With the Wicked deserves all the plaudits they receive.
Exemption, from New York, is a band with which Ultimate-Guitar.com has some familiarity. Featured nearly three years ago, Exemption has released a lot of new material since The Rabbit Hole (reviewed here) in April, 2007. Exemption plays their own stimulating range of progressive rock, influence perhaps by Tool, Pantera, and Johnny Cash. There is also quite an accentuated groove to the band's music, and this is even more pronounced on the band's latest release, Public Cemetery Party (October 2010). The latest release is like the Muse that the United States hasn't yet produced. Most notable on songs such as White Animal and Mutating Skulls, Exemption has added English suave to their eclectic musical mix that should serve the band well. The industrialised metal-dominated sound of The Rabbit Hole has been post-modernised since 2007, and this exciting three-piece should work harder than ever to capitalise on their precocious talents to secure some more serious airtime. Tom, Nick, and Lee deserve your support, and I certainly wouldn't be featuring the band for a second time, were Public Cemetery Party not so scrupulously presented and performed.
UG Opinion: Exemption is one of the bands that I still consider to be a gem of this column. I still listen to The Rabbit Hole, and I'm only too glad to hear more accessible tunes from this three-piece, whose guitaristNick Leeremains one of my favourite musicians of recent times.
An Ultimate-Guitar.com Quick (but by no means exhaustive) Checklist for your Band's Press Releases
  • 1. Is the document in PDF format? PDF is the standard of presentation technique. You can alternatively use a word processor, but nothing beats the authenticity of a PDF file. You can download a free PDF creator. It's basic, but don't underestimate its worth to your band. You wouldn't apply for a job at an important financial institution without a well-presented CV, and the truth is that record companies are owned by important people, with serious media skills.
  • 2. Does your press release include your standard band logo? If not, it's important to feature it prominently, perhaps as a header on the front page. If you're scratching your head, pondering upon why your band doesn't even have a logo, then get designing, or ask your graphic designing friends to help you out. This is every bit as vital as your music.
  • 3. Is the press release written in an accessible, lucid manner? If the grammar is subpar and the tone contrived, you have to consider whether anyone will want to get in touch with your band.
  • 4. Does the basic press release include enough information about your band so as to facilitate an interview? You want to elicit questions from your reviewers and prospective record labels. If a band's biography is uninteresting or lacking in content, the chances are that an interviewer is not going to be too enthusiastic about giving you a second mention in a publication.
  • 5. Are your band's live performances and ambitions well-documented? Has your band got festival experience? Which bands have you opened for? Reviewers and A&R guys want to know where and when they can see your band's next performance, and without the necessary information, you could miss out on opportunities to shine.
  • 6. Do not forget to include details of who is in your band. It's never helpful to receive a press release about an unfamiliar band fronted by a faceless frontman. If your band members aren't listed, the chances are that you won't have contact information either. Do note down which member plays which instrument, and try to write a line or two about each band member; it helps in forging relationships with people you have never met.
  • 7. Do include a career timeline, even if it is rather empty. It will help you to set goals for your band, to ensure the timeline doesn't become a thing of the past a timeline will also help journalists and record company executives (be ambitious!) to judge where your band is in its lifespan.
  • 8. Make sure to note previous press features or interviews. This will help the interviewer to ask questions that aren't quite as mundane as the last interview your band got.
  • 9. It is vital to include your band's webpage, and a place where your music can be heard. That is, after all, the most important aspect of being in a band. On that note, do include a contact number and email address. A skype username is also handy.
  • 10. Finally, include some photos that can be freely used by the publications to which you have sent your photos! Photos add remove the bad sense of mystery from your band, and give your names some much needed faces! I want to contact talent in new ways, hear music in refreshing mediums, and communicate more extensively. I want the music featured to have a human face. In addition to this, I have established a Skype Account especially for talking to bands out there, so add me on skype: ultimate-guitar-unsigned-talent and email me at sam.agini@ultimate-guitar.comor add me as a friend athttp://www.myspace.com/samrgini. By the way, I desperately want to feature more Jazz, Blues and Rockabilly in future months, so keep your suggestions coming. And to check if you're listening carefully enough to this month's bands, F**k the World! Whosaidit?! Samuel Agini
  • More ss311 columns:
    + Unsigned Artists Of The Month: May 2011. Part I Features 05/19/2011
    + Unsigned Talent Of The Year 2010 Features 12/24/2010
    + Unsigned Talent Of The Month: October 2010 Features 10/21/2010
    + Unsigned Talent Of The Month: August 2010 Features 09/23/2010
    + Unsigned Talent Of The Month: July 2010 Features 07/29/2010
    + Unsigned Talent Of The Month: June 2010 Features 06/30/2010
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