Put your dollars where your speakers are

Past the "recently on winamp" list, I rarely acknowledge when a particular piece of music is flooding through my mind as I write, despite the fact that it happens often. Tonight—an exception. You can pick up an MP3 copy of "Story of Your Bones" at jennifernettles.com (it's under 'media'). She's an independent artist based in Georgia. Might not be to your taste, but it's worth pointing out.

While you're at it, go get a copy of Vienna Teng's song "Gravity." (Insert standard disclaimers about personal taste, etc.) Her song "The Tower" is also very good, but it's not available for download.If you like what you hear in either song, consider buying the album those songs are on.

I don't go off on rants as often as I like to pretend I do, but I have serious issues with American record companies and radio stations. Call me a disgruntled customer—I download, listen, and use the mp3s to determine whether or not I want to financially support the artist in question. I freely admit that I haven't bought CDs to every mp3 I have in my possession, and my friends and I trade mp3s quite freely amongst ourselves.

However, the list is a long one: Spock's Beard, Underworld, Vienna Teng, Jeff Buckley, Cowboy Mouth, Kevin Gilbert, india.arie, Leftfield, Ashley MacIsaac, Jane Monheit, Peter Murphy, Tragically Hip, Spirit of the West, Patti Rothberg, Trout Fishing In America, John Mayer, Cassandra Wilson, and others like them can directly chalk my portion of their album sales up to my hearing mp3s of their music and deciding to put my dollars where my speakers were. Without having been introduced to their music through mp3s, I never would have ponied up the funds to buy the actual albums.

Many people like to grouse about how radio playlists suck and record companies suck and how corporate music sucks and top 40 sucks…ad infinitum. I wish half of those people would go out and research independent artists—I can guarantee you that they'd find all kinds of really interesting music, and independent artists would find it a lot easier to make a living.

There's something infinitely satisfying in knowing that your fundage isn't going to a record label, or some faceless middle-management guy in some company somewhere: your money is going to the artist, and serves as a financial reward for their time and effort. For independent artists, album, t-shirt, and ticket sales don't just pay for equipment repair and upkeep; they pay the rent, pay the phone bill, and feed the cats.

(The cats really like that part.)

I admit that my taste for independent music has me a bit spoiled. Jeff admits that he's envious of my knack for meeting the artists whose music I like. I have a Vienna Teng CD with one of the nicest inscriptions ever on it (her words would've been nice enough on a thank-you card, but to have something so nice written on a CD means she's pretty much guaranteed I'll pimp her stuff early & often here on cat.net), photos of me making silly faces with Jonatha Brooke, and memories of yapping about music with the members of Tragically Hip.

Along the way I've discovered that my musical horizons got broadened whether I liked them or not. Jeff's copy of an album by The Last Dance proved to both of us that there actually was goth music that we liked. Nickel Creek proved to me something that I never, ever expected—that I would actually consider buying a bluegrass album.


Jennifer Nettles will be playing Crossroads in Huntsville on December 6th. Five bucks to get in—that's it? That's cheap. I'll go, buy a drink or two to reward the venue for bringing in independent music, buy a CD, and hopefully get it signed that evening. Somewhere in Georgia, it'll be a few dollars easier for her to make ends meet that month, and I get the warm and fuzzy of knowing that I'm not only getting good music, but I'm encouraging someone to make music their life's work.

Know anyone else I need to be listening to?


Carbon Leaf: Virginia band that gets a crapload of radio play up here. I haven't seen them live yet, but I heard them do a fabulous acoustic cover of "Crazy Train" by Ozzy on the radio. I nearly peed my pants. If you like Nickel Creek, download some Allison Krauss and Union Station. I believe Allison Krauss produced at least the first Nickel Creek album. Not an unknown, but the latest David Bowie album, Heathen, is fabulous. Also not unknown, but you should buy the new Peter Gabriel album, Up. It's...amazing.

Also, if you're interested in up and coming good artists at Crossroads, Angie Aparo is playing this Friday (Nov. 22). I am definitely going, but if anyone else is interested, I think arrangements could be made to go as a group.

If you like Jonatha Brooke, you should give Chantal Kreviazuk a listen (if you haven't already). If Chantal isn't a Jonatha fan I'd be quite surprised, a lot of the music is eerily similar.

Heather - Yeah, I'm familiar with Alison Krauss. Andrew's told me that she's from around Champaign, where he and Joy live right now, and that getting a ticket to one of her concerts there can be a bit...difficult. Kat - I've messaged you about this, but for some reason I misread the date and thought that Angie Aparo was playing Crossroads while Jeff and I would be visiting Mom. Since, indeed, we will be in town, I'd love to go. Might as well go see who this is you've been talking about. :) Kyle - surprisingly enough, I have not heard of Chantal Kreviazuk. Google, activate!

Chantal just released a new album, which I haven't heard - but her first two are good. She's Canadian (and married to the lead singer of Our Lady Peace, if that means anything to you). "Colour Moving and Still" is the most Jonatha-esque. You might have heard her cover of "Leaving on a Jet Plane" which was on the Armageddon soundtrack (try not to hold it against her though).

Your mention of Vienna Teng reminded me that I need to buy her CD myself - finally got around to doing that this morning. As for new music... am listening to Talk Talk right now - I know you know of them, are you familiar w/ their later work (circa the "Spirit of Eden" and "Laughing Stock" albums)? It comes from a quite different (mellower, more haunting) place than their circa-"It's My Life" sensibilities. I'd be glad to send you some MP3s if you like. And I definitely second the recommend on Peter's "Up" - his best work ever I think, and (minus the obvious cheap single) just about perfect in its way.

"(minus the obvious cheap single)" A friend and I were discussing this on cademonscall.net the other day: the sad thing is, if you want major airplay, you have to have the sop songs. That's probably the worst thing about the music business. The second-worst is Clear Chuckle. Third are the production houses themselves. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Radio sells discs, though. I consider the "cheap radio singles" the price of admission for bands that I really adore getting major airplay.

Jonatha Brooke rocks! I heard her voice about 5 years ago, she did the soundtrack for an entire movie which was only released on cable tv. I had to sit closely to the tv to get that off the credits. I've since purchased everything that she has recorded (at least everything I could FIND). Thanks for the wonderful rant/perspective on Top 40 radio sludge! -beej

Let's see now... I'm sure I've recommended some of these before, but it's late, I'm getting old, and my memory isn't what it used to be. =) Among the good Canadian rock-ish bands are 54-40, Matthew Good Band (who are split up now, unfortunately -- their first album _Last Of The Ghetto Astronauts_ kicks all kinds of ass), and Blue Rodeo (although they're closer to country). Brad Mehldau is a really good jazz pianist. He does stuff with a trio (him, bass, drums), and does a few cover tunes. I've got two Radiohead covers (Exit Music (For A Film) and Paranoid Android). The Beta Band was mentioned in _High Fidelity_ (John Cusack's character said something like "watch as I sell 5 copies of "The Three EP's" by The Beta Band"), which is praise enough for me. _The Three EP's_ is quite good, and _Hot Shots II_ isn't too shabby either. For get-up-and-dance-your-fool-bum-off swing music there is only one: Colin James and the Little Big Band. For electronica (house, trance, etc) there's Deep Dish (who you know of), Kruder & Dorfmeister, and Mark Farina. There's also any Renaissance release, and Darren Emerson has a new mix album out (mixed with Tim Express, it's called _Underwater Episode 1_, because that's the name of the label Emerson formed back in 1994). Haven't had a chance to listen to _Underwater_ yet though, so I don't know how it sounds. Got an 8/10 on spaced.co.uk though. For electronica (ambient, trippy, etc) there's the master Aphex Twin (known to his parents as Richard D. James), Boards of Canada (who are from Scotland), Plaid, Oval, and some mu-Ziq. If you want to get a little more adventuresome (drum&bass, drill&bass, etc) there's Autechre, Squarepusher, Bogdan Racyznski, and Hive. I think that should be enough for now. =) If you want "samples" you know where to reach me.

And man ... I finally got my stereo going last night, and now I really have to put money where my speakers are ... because these are shot. :) I'll recommend Caedmon's Call, and that still reminds me that I need to burn that CD-R for Andrew and Joy before I leave town ... guess I'll make multiple copies and toss Stephen and Misty one as well as one at you. If you don't like it, well, I didn't spend much on it. :)

Oh, found another. Aim. Sort of half-way between trip-hop and hip-hop. It's good head-bobbing music, laid back at times, more confrontational at others. A good mix.