Unsigned Artists Of The Month: June 2008

Picking and choosing artists not for the sake of end product alone, but their passion for what they do.

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It is, quite simply, not the best time to live in Cyprus. The island's water resources are running short; its (male) citizens are subjected to water rationing; and on a personal level, I have been conscripted during peacetime. Saturday the 5th of July is my first day in the National Guard, and it shall be a good many months before I'm free of the burden. For this reason, it is going to be difficult for me to keep in contact with the myriad of artists that contact me each month. However, keep contacting me. Keep asking me for an address to which you may send your demos. I shall respond as instantaneously as the time I am afforded permits me to. This monthly article shall endure, and I hope to aid you with every sinew of my capacity to do so.

Last month's artists featured on the front page of UG for a weekend, achieving an aggregate increase in total plays of 11,323 on their myspace pages. I hope that this month's artists improve on that figure. In any case, I would like to draw your attention to a factor that I analyse before including any band in this article. The issue at hand is that some readers have left me some feedback over the past few months claiming to have knowledge regarding bands that are allegedly 'better' than the ones I feature. This is all very well, and I am sure that there are bands that are 'better' than the ones I feature. However, this is not an article that features the best artists that I findrather, it is about the artists of the monthbut it is devoted to the artists that leave a substantial impression on me in our contact. Of necessity, these artists also have some refined music on show, but I'm trying to encourage artists with talent to become better. I will not pick and choose artists for the sake of end product alone, but their passion for what they do. This article is entitled Unsigned Artists of the Month for a purpose, and without artists that sound unsigned, I would be sacrificing some principles. The message I'm trying to convey is that unsigned recording artists wishing to have some time on UG's front page must not approach me with the sole intention of using this website for their own gain. Finally, I would like to apologise for the delay in writing it.

Explode When They Bloom represents the familiar story of a band situated in a small, boring town. The band's album As The Animals Make Their Way Through The Crowds initiates admirably; the song is Moonlighting Woman. Commencing in a low-key fashion, the track soon explodes with a flurry of energy, reminiscent of Ash's Meltdown in terms of drama.

In my experience, bands that contact me with the aim of being featured here do not expect negative reviews; this shall by no means be a negative review, but I shall point out the problems of EWTB's album. As an alternative rock band, Explode When They Bloom incurs a tendency to record certain songs that are prone to sounding expired -- in The Arms Of The Trees is the glaring example of this -- for the reason that they are too long. There is of course nothing inherently incorrect in recording a long song, but I personally feel that the approach is not varied enough to completely engross the listener. That said, there are elements of such songs that really do strike the listener as quite excellent.

By including a band like Explode When They Bloom in this article, I have included a band that brings a distinctive energy to unsigned music. In We Will Be Sleeping, Explode When They Bloom has a track that simply oozes the quality of being a live favourite. On the whole, and band that poignantly concocts a potion of shout-along verses and harmony-soaked choruses is always welcome here. Here it becomes paramount to recognise the vocal talents of Jay Oullette, whose capacity to both passionately scream and sing is a welcome addition to my play list. Many argue that he really comes to life on the up-tempo songs, but he is equally at his best on The Truth, a song that not only encompasses Jay's vocal talents, but also the capacity of the band as a whole to record a song that sounds truthful.

There is capacity for improvement, but that is the greatest compliment to any band: latent talent is a big factor in the inclusion of EWTB in this article. This is also the occasion to thank Mr Jay Oullette for taking the time to correspond with me: thank you.

  • UG Underground Rating: 7
  • Total Myspace Plays Count: 17,323
  • Victor Gann is an obvious artist to feature in this article. As an instrumental guitarist, he has studied with greats such as Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert and Nuno Bettencourt. Of course, his self-titled EP, released in 2006, is still making waves to date; and after selling 1,500 copies, it's easy to see that it has been an underground revelation. The second track on the EP -- Just Another Day -- proves Gann's love of rock giants AC/DC, which makes one ponder upon whether Gann could do with a partner in crime. However, it isn't all about sleazy rock 'n' roll for Victor -- his hard work ethic under instructor Thad Bonduris is what he puts his readiness for G.I.T. down to. As a graduate of G.I.T., Victor is professionally endowed with virtuoso guitar skills, and experiences that other featured artists would die for. He has played live on MTV, and it's not a wonder that the February 2008 edition of 20th century Guitar Magazine had him down as 'one of four guitarists making waves in the musical world'.

    When I said that Victor Gann is not about sleazy rock 'n' roll, I meant it. Without resorting to 'dumping his trick bag', Victor Gann is a restrained virtuoso guitarist whose work is very much fundamentally based on strong song-writing foundations. Playing his custom Ibanez, equipped with Screamin' Demons, Gann plays rough rock 'n' roll songs such as the emphatically named, Not Now!, without forgetting his human side. Victor's Shannon With Child, which features some of the most tastefully appropriate guitar playing I have heard in a long time is a great testament to Victor's greatest influences: Joe Satriani. With that, I leave you to discover Victor Gann's music for yourself: you will not be disappointed.

  • UG Underground Rating: 8
  • An inspiring fact about Insurgence is that they feature more on the basis of their youtube videos than that of the band's demo: The Awakening. The band's homage is to the trash metal kings of the 1980s; there is quite simply no doubting that, and with the members' -- Ryan, Travis, Colton and Charles -- dedication and youthful ferocity, the band's promise to do 'whatever it takes' to become a force in 21st century metal seems to be of sincere proportions. The Awakening serves as a reminder that Insurgence is a youthful, inexperienced, and moreover unsigned band. It has raw misshapen edges, and by no means is Insurgence the most refined metal band I have heard in my myspace friend list. However, The Awakening's opening song, Dawn of Conquest, remains firmly in my mind as a statement. It isn't quite powerful enough yet, but I suspect that with some more experience, instrumentals such as Judgement Day might go on to sound more like how Ryan, Travis, Colton and Charles hear them in their heads. With the squealing pinched harmonics of Dawn Of Conquest still ringing in the air between my ears, and the power of the rhythm section fuelling my adrenal gland, it is with great pleasure that I conclude this small summary of Insurgence, a band with the leading voice of Ryan Jackson at the helm.

  • UG Underground Rating: 6
  • Total Myspace Plays Count: 14,365
  • Jt Spangler, a Louisiana native, so to speak, first contacted me to pay a compliment to last month's article. He omitted that he is in fact quite the accomplished singer-songwriter, and it is just as well that I decided to 'throw and eye' and look at his myspace page. In short, what I found there was phenomenally intriguing because of how heartfelt it sounds. Insofar as an exemplary song, Nice To Meet You is hard to beat. Spangler emphasises the significance of vocal harmonies in his music.

    Despite his faith in humanity, love, and emotion, it is telling that Spangler's album is thus entitled: Love Songs For No One. Should Spangler's acoustic love songs one day be granted a subject, his songs will be worthy of any woman's heart. Yet perhaps that is the message of this album. It is called Love Songs For No One; but somehow, one feels that they are love songs for everyone. Intricate melodies and finger picked tunes aside, Spangler's song writing skills meander into the unknown; and, in spite of his assertion that 'fear of the unknown often overpowers the grass is greener allure', he boldly jumps the fence into the unknown.

  • UG Underground Rating: 8
  • Total Myspace Plays Count: 19,685
  • Upon questioning a certain Josh about the nature of his recording name, he assured me of the importance of punctuation to Dumb Blonde, Dead. His personal apex is probably the EP known as In The Lion's Den. On many an evening I find myself only willing to listen to established bands and solo artists. They have all been my best friends to an extent, and it is for that reason that I can roll the touch pad of my iPod, or flop through the pages of my CD collection with the greatest of joy. I have to admit that I do not listen to all of the artists that I feature in these articles on a regular basis. However, Dumb Blonde, Dead. transcends that level of artist. I wish I could write more about Josh's songs, but they truly speak for themselves. His ability to pen a fine tune with his Washburn in hand is paramount to why he is amongst my best friends. Josh is a prominent member of the UG mod team, and one of the best loved. This fact is obvious because people like Andrew McShan have offered their talents to Josh's disposal -- In The Lion's Den features plenty of work by Andrew, and it only adds to the atmosphere of warmth and kindness.

    To paraphrase Dale Carnegie writing in his books: How to Win Friends and Influence People, the best songwriters are those who like people. Josh emits a likeability that few have. Like a nugget of gold in a pan, or a winning raffle ticket, Dumb Blonde, Dead. takes the prize for both originality and substance. He is a thaumaturge: quite magical.

  • UG Underground Rating: 9
  • Total Myspace Plays Count: 6346
  • 30 comments sorted by best / new / date

      red157
      All lovely, always enjoy reading these, regardless of whether I like the bands. Hope you have a hopefully positive experience in the national guard.
      RX120D
      Thirteenth order is alright. not ready for anything big yet though. maybe soon.
      sachin2592
      man u guys haveta chek out a band called Thirteenth Order, theyre a metal band from south jersey and all of em r stil in their teens (16 or 17 cant remmeber). they make some great music and great covers, chek out their singles Sentenced and Wildfire.. the lead guitarist is dam talented as well, it wudnt send shivers down my spine if they became the next metallica
      Rushisgreat
      these bands are pretty cool, I think UG should start looking at The Grace Accord, they're pretty much progressive-alternative if the genre exists
      Noverion
      insurgence certainly have talent, i just think the vocals need a little more work to define the tone of the voice, sometimes it just doesnt work, and also, in some parts the guitars sound slightly disjointed, but definately one of the best douning unsigned metal bands ive ever heard, and great recordigns also!
      kerjacklebass&!
      gl wiht the guard and such
      thats kinda like one of the most little efforts into hoping sombody good luch with that really...you could have accualy said good luck ya know....
      Armagedn
      We're recording an unsigned album in a few weeks. I might send it in...
      Pavura
      0h The Horror wrote: Captain Planet : 'As The Animals Make Their Way Through The Crowds'...isn't that a lyric from a Deftones song? They say close to the same thing in Hexagram.
      my thoughts exactly.
      CerebrusX
      Interesting. I just need to say that Dumb Blond, Dead do a terrible Placebo imitation. Someone definitely needs some vocal work.
      sakura'sdarkest
      dumb blonde, dead has a copy of the hare hare yukai dance on their myspace, awesome I love them already.
      jamsea
      Awesome job Explode When they Bloom! Great live band and are some of the nicest guys you'll ever meet!
      0h The Horror
      Captain Planet : 'As The Animals Make Their Way Through The Crowds'...isn't that a lyric from a Deftones song?
      They say close to the same thing in Hexagram.