Unsigned Artists Of The Month: April 2008

It is always helpful for an artist hopeful of achieving a position in this article to have an eye-catching web page.

Ultimate Guitar

Prior to this article, we had witnessed eleven unsigned artists, each representing an interesting foray into their respective genres. As initiated last month, I shall continue to collect some statistics regarding the play count of the artists' songs before and after the publication of the monthly article. Last month's artists -- Nestor Makhno, Penfold Gate, The Safety Fire, and Soulcatcher -- accumulated an aggregate increase of 18,760 (that's an average of 4,690) plays on their myspace profiles. Soulcatcher was the leader of the pack, with a phenomenal 6,710 augmentation. Such figures correctly represent UG as the thriving community it is, and can only serve as hard evidence of the site's popularity. In fact, after last month's article, bands contacted from areas as diverse as Brazil, Germany and even Japan. None of them shall be featured this month, but a lot of them have a lot of potential, so I would like to congratulate them all on giving a great account of themselves, and to look out for their names in future articles.

Unsigned artists are understandably difficult to discuss and prioritise in terms of talent and musicianship because of the variables, both visible and invisible in their constitutions. It is always helpful for an artist hopeful of achieving a position in this article to have an eye-catching web page. That is not to say the music is not the most fundamental aspect of the artists featured here -- there are some exceptions to the rule -- but a successful artist needs a unique or distinctive image (remember what happened to KISS when the band members washed off their make up?) Penultimately, and at the risk of boring the audience, I would like to ingeminate the significance of listening to more than one song by each artist featured here, for it would be a great injustice to them not to give them a second listen. Finally, with the recent talk of a UG store for artists, I would like to encourage any unsigned bands to sign up to Ultimate-Guitar.com and to treat this website with the same severity as myspace. Again, you can find me by clicking my username above the text of this article, or by visiting myspace page here.

Living on campus at Middlesbrough University, or any university for that matter, not the most insouciant experience for the budding musician. Exams, projects, and the general strain of university life can take their toll, yet Andy Mitchell manages to juggle the two dedications with a little bit of effort. Andy, 20, took notice of the rise of digital advances regarding music, and soon cottoned on. His album, "Less Talk, More Static," is accessible for download in its entirety via his myspace page gratis. Of course, if you also attend Middlesbrough University, you may already have been awoken in the small hours of the night by a scraping noise as Andy slides a copy of "Less Talk, More Static" between the crack of the door and the floor of your room. Failing that, you'll just have to download the album, and I must say, it's a tad more convenient for Mr. Mitchell.

By this point, you may be wondering exactly what is so special about Andy. He confirmed to me that "Less Talk, More Static" draws inspiration from Frank Sinatra's "In The Wee Small Hours" album cover, reflecting loneliness, desertion, and the early hours of the day. His song, DSPS epitomises Andy as a musician and lyricist; from the intricately intimate melodies of his acoustic guitar and tunnel echo vocals, to the wind chimes that aren't even there, Andy comes to life as he muses, It was the sound of nothing at all, the clouds today forever move and crawl. Andy Mitchell is an artist who sounds like he is recording his music while he is watching the sunrises and sunsets as they pass him by, and do you know, I think he might just be doing so. So do visit Andy's myspace, and give his wonderfully textured music a listen.

  • UG Underground Rating: 7.5
  • Total plays at time of writing: 2,481
  • Another trooper, Matt Parsons, manages to find the time to disconnect his academic studies at the University of Georgia with his classical progressive take on death metal. Delivering vigorous songs with titles such as Prometheus, Breath Of Deliverance and The Dragons, The Matt Parsons Band may not have the stereotypical death metal image or band name, but there is something distinctively palpable about Matt's music that warrants his mentioning here. It is often said that the sign of a great band is its versatility. Of course, this is true, but there is a presupposed premise to this argument that one seldom hears. It is all very well being versatile, but as showcased by his energetically intimidating transitions from technical guitar solos to mellow acoustic sections, Matt Parsons -- also the enigmatic screaming front man -- is fantastically adroit in knowing when and how to make those transitions.

    After receiving a copy of Matt's EP, "Alas. Tyranny" in the mail, listening to it did not appeal to me for a few days; but in a similar fashion to marinating meat before cooking it, Matt Parsons' music gets better every time I listen to it, and I'm sure that he can be an instant hit with UGers. The only downside here is that sometimes Matt could arguably have developed certain structures or passages to a greater extent throughout his EP, but alas, he is unsigned, and studio time is hard to come by. I can only reiterate his exceptional talents, and with live performances coming soon, Matt could really be looking at bigger and better things. This is for those of you who have an affinity for bands such as Kreator, Judas Priest and In Flames.

  • UG Underground Rating: 7.5
  • Total plays at time of writing: 16,257
  • Fans and the band alike have always revered Iron Maiden's iconic mascot, Eddie. In fact -- as exposed by a magazine interview a year or two ago -- Maiden's guitarists confirmed Eddie's homosexuality, so he is most certainly a developing character. On the other hand, Slash, formerly of Guns N' Roses, now spearheading Velvet Revolver, is known for his adorning of his famous top hat. Enter Voodoo Johnson, with their mascot, who I can only assume is Voodoo Johnson. By the way, he wears a top hat similar to Slash's and has a demonic glint in his eye as his frothing mouth drips a viscous crimson liquid.

    Again, Voodoo Johnson oozes professionalism, albeit a sleazy classic rock professionalism. Kev Bayliss, vocalist and principle lyricist of the band has a voice to rival any on the present-day rock scene, while the twin-engine guitar attack of the Gethins seeps class with every riff and lick. Naturally, Voodoo Johnson lives up to the sleazy image of classic rockers, with their tongues firmly in their cheeks; just look at song titles such as Blow Me (Away), for instance. Down the years, we have all witnessed the many weird and wonderful carnations of Eddie, and Iron Maiden has grown with said Mascot. A looming question is whether or not Voodoo Johnson can achieve similar parallels. Rest assured, the band wouldn't be featured here if it didn't at least have the potential. Make sure to listen to The Art Of Losing in your discovery of Voodoo Johnson, who, by the way, played at Kerrang's live MCN competition on the 19th of April. Despite being situated in the UK, Voodoo Johnson is targeting the USA, and shall be playing in Michigan at the Mount Rock Fest towards the end of July this year. It's going to be a busy year.

  • UG Underground Rating: 7.5
  • Total plays at time of writing: 69,212
  • New York is iconic to me, if not because of the explosive period of the 1970s that saw the rise of the New York Dolls, Richard Hell, the Ramones and Patti Smith, then for Rachel Trow. With her bleach blond hair, pouting red lips and immediately recognisable guitar tone, lyrics and voice, Rachel struck a chord with me. Armed with an affinity for classical music, and a long-honed skill of playing the piano, Rachel embarks on recording genuine songs of such poignancy as Soulless, Le Matin, and Je Nai Saurais Pa. Did I mention she notes herself as sounding as 'if Marilyn Monroe spoke French'? In and amongst her other influences, which include J.D.Salinger, 1940s French Jazz and Mass Media, are Rachel's inimitable mannerisms and quaint melodies.

    Upon asking Rachel about the intricacies of her song writing process, I was immediately struck by her sincerely candid reply: I'm inspired by the people around me and conversations I have. She just seems to be inspiringly inspired in both conversation and her music, which leads me to my next point. She tells a story. I'm not sure what it is, but even when she sings in her husky rasp of a voice, she retains her sense of melodious story telling abilities. Don't get too comfy though, she's not telling fairy tales, as she assured me that she once turned a song into what she calls 'a desperate attempt to get away from the one you love and the God-awful pop songs on the radio'.

    If anyone is in the lineage of Mary Wollstonecraft, it's Rachel; she is the revolutionary liberating force in this month's article (at least in my ears), and at the end of 2008, when I'm assessing the unsigned artists that have had the utmost impact on me, Ms. Trow shall undoubtedly be near the top of the list. I feel sorry to have to share her music, for I'd much rather it all to myself, but alas, I shall try to move on.

  • UG Underground Rating: 9
  • Total plays at time of writing: 2,333
  • So as to conclude this month's article, I would like to encourage everyone who remembers Exemption, as featured in February's article to look forward to the band's forthcoming release, which, I can exclusively reveal shall include 6 tracks, which the band promises to be more focussed and mature than the excellent, The Rabbit Hole. Yet again, I do implore the readers of this article to avoid avoiding certain artists because of their genre, just give them all the opportunity to inspire you. Feedback is much appreciated, as always.

    56 comments sorted by best / new / date

      Thank you so much for introducing me into Rachel Trow. Reminds me alot of Ray Lamontagne back in the old days of his music.
      Axeman25 wrote: "maiden's guitarsts confirmed eddy's homosexualty".....wtf i don't think so!
      They did, obviously havnig a joke, in an interview...think it was with Metal Hammer.
      Wow, Voodoo Johnson on UG! As a fan of the band, they're from my hometown, and their sound guys...seriously cool and they actually talk to people (I didn't know them at all before they were a band or anything). Now if only I could get my band a support slot with them...*thinks up crazy plan*
      Didn't mind Voodoo Johnson, but there was a point or two when It suddenly felt like I was listening to just another generic emo band >_> As for the others, just not my taste... ^_^ Go Exemption though! one of the best bands I've heard in a dogs age, and the first I've ever felt compelled to buy off iTunes...
      sounds good! i'm digging andy mitchell even though it sounds a hell of a lot like john ralston
      www.myspace.com/healterskelter Great metal band. Although the quality isn't the best, their songs are badass. Comment on their page and tell them what you think.
      Matt Parsons & Voodoo Johnson - Damn..so amazing!! I can't beileve they're unsigned!!
      If Colbie Caillat can make a hit whit a shitty song. Magic can Chance rock history with their whack music
      Wow thxs for all the awesome bands my personal fav is voodoo johnson luv the classicness to it
      "maiden's guitarsts confirmed eddy's homosexualty".....wtf i don't think so!
      People who like metal should check out Rejected Possibilities - myspace.com/rejectedpossibilities Their great
      yea this voodoo johnson reminds me a lof of boyhitscar....if anyone has ever listened to that as well, but pretty damn good none the less
      Only thing ruining this is people trying to promote their own band with 'If you like ... you should check out ... they're really good!'. It's obvious that it's your bands you tw*ts.
      you all should check out TenPlagues also theyre this wierd metal/hardcore/groove mix but its not whiney and shitty like other metalcore. idk ud just have to listen
      Tenacious Z
      THE GIRAFFES www.myspace.com/thegiraffes Their latest record was produced by Dave Catching (Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal) at the Rancho de la Luna.
      u guys are all wrong... myspace.com/serenomusic that band has everything you'd ever want in a CD, hardcore, alternative, indie, slow songs, and lots of melody.
      I wish mods would delete all the spam by people promoting their own sh*tty bands and ban the people posting them. There's a reason this site has a 'Promote Your Band' section, for f*cks sake.
      People who like metal should check out The Syncope Threshold, www.myspace.com/tstband
      Very solid list. Nice work. Voodoo Johnson and Andy Mitchell sound quite good.
      It's "Je ne saurai pas", not "Je Nai Saurais Pa", it's like a totally messed up version of French lol
      Nice article again Sam. Though none of them is my musicial taste and I miss this DIY recording quality, they all have studio quality
      Voodoo Johnson reminds me a hell of alot of Coheed & Cambria, surprised they aren't a listed influence.
      If it's awesome unsigned bands you're wanting, then check out Vaeda (http://www.myspace.com/vaeda. They don't have any songs up at the minute, as they plan on keeping us all in suspense about their new music, but type vaeda into youtube, or limewire and you'll get a taste of what they're like
      Shor-T Zero
      Andy Mitchell is really good for doing a solo project type of thing. And I'll have to give Rachel Trow and Voodoo Johnson a listen. Thanks for the article. I'd have to recommend Off The Zodiac to anyone who is looking for some good hard rock music (think Breaking Benjamin, Three Days Grace, Seether, but with a hint of metal in some songs). myspace.com/offthezodiac