Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

How to get blogs to notice your band, by a guy who notices bands for a blog

August 21, 2011

I’m not the only blog in the world, and there’s a quick’n’dirty way to find blogs that will potentially like you and write about you.

1. Go to Hype Machine. It’s a blog aggregator, pulling MP3s from a ton of blogs and hosting them in an easy-to-use format.

2. Figure out a band that your band sounds like, or a band that would share similar fans with yours.

3. Enter that band into Hype Machine’s search box (top right).

4. Look at the first listing. It should be “Artist – Song Name.” Under that line of text is a small link that says “Posted by x blogs,” where x is a number. Click that link. (If this link is not below the text, that blog is the only blog that posted the song. Note the name of the blog, then move on to the next listing.)

5. A dropdown should appear, listing the names of blogs that posted the tune and an intro paragraph to the corresponding post. At the end of the intro paragraph will be a link that says “Posted on x y,” where x y is a date. Open that link in a new tab.

6. You are now at the blog that posted about an artist you sound like. Find the contact info for the writer of the post. For larger blogs like Aquarium Drunkard, this person will be different than the editor of the site. Smaller blogs may be a one-person outfit.

7. E-mail them nicely, mentioning the band you sound like in the subject line.

8. Have your music, bio, picture and contact info easily available from the e-mail but not cluttering the page. You want to keep your e-mails short and to the point. Your bio and picture could be good attachments. Blogs have different policies on music submission, but I hate getting huge, attached files. A nice, discrete link to a download site or Bandcamp is great.

This process will help immensely, as blogs get approximately a gazillion e-mails a day, and quick connections make you stand out.

In practice, it looks like this. The band King Rey e-mailed me their EP Street Friends. It’s heavy on the doo-wop pop sound that’s enjoying a resurgence. I’m not a big fan of the genre, even though King Rey sounds talented in their craft. I know that Tennis is a band that has some similar sounds going on. Plug in Tennis, and “Tennis – Pigeon” pops up. Eight blogs have posted it, including Tune the Proletariat, Indie Shuffle and We All Want Someone to Shout For (twice!). Those blogs would be a good idea to hit with an e-mail for King Rey.

Similarly, Killing Kuddles is a rockabilly band. Punching in the word “rockabilly” doesn’t produce very good results, as the word “rockabilly” doesn’t appear in band names or song names often. Searching “Legendary Shack Shakers” brings up several blogs that would be good for KK to e-mail (I am a Moonshiner, ninebullets).

Even though this gives you a good in, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll get heard. Blogging is a horribly inexact art, driven in great part by “what I feel like doing today.” There are very disciplined bloggers, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes I don’t feel like listening to x band because I’m in y type of mood, even if I would probably like the type of music x band plays if I were in a normal mood. Based on the number of e-mails bloggers get, that disconnect (which is entirely not your fault) could deposit you in the “get to this someday” or “deleted” pile. And that sucks, but that’s the way it happens sometimes.

If you get back an e-mail that says, “Hey, it’s good but it’s not my style,” don’t take it personally. There are tons of other blogs out there. Go get ’em.

Phratry Week: LKN/Knife the Symphony

July 20, 2011

Knife the Symphony is my favorite Phratry band (well, except maybe newcomers State Song, which you’ll hear about tomorrow). Their furious, frantic, atypical take on punk rock is pretty much what keeps me from feeling that punk is dead. Their choice of LKN as a split partner (on a split titled Split) makes perfect sense, as her angular take on music fits in with Knife the Symphony’s oeuvre.

LKN is Lauren Kathryn Newman, a Pacific Northwest DIY everything with an extensive discography. My first introduction to her comes via “Set Intro,” which establishes her as a jazzy, atmospherically-minded songwriter with a rock bent. It’s pretty cool.  “Roll the Bones” ups the ante, as it’s a rattle-trap indie-rock tune with a barely-submerged punk energy and attitude.

After a mathy, pattern-heavy turn in “July 5, 2008” (this woman can do everything), she finally synthesizes all her parts into the brutal, fascinating “Sign My Cast.” Everything that LKN had kept controlled in the previous three tunes comes exploding out: her calm voice becomes a raging, atonal wail; and the dissonant punk guitar that had been simmering beneath the surface becomes malicious. It is the sound of a woman unhinged. We need more of this in the punk rock world.

“Cha Cha” is another rhythmic, patterned indie-rocker with rumbling punk undertones. And then, just because LKN wants to mess with you, “You Are My Best Friend” is an emotional piano and voice piece. Expectations = subverted. Did I mention that she played all the instruments on every track?

After that whirlwind of a side, it’s time for Knife the Symphony’s three contributions. Their thirteen minutes start off with fifty seconds of squalling distortion before dropping into one of the tightest sections of rock/punk they’ve ever set to tape. It’s songs like “Squatting Warrior” that make it clear why people of lesser aspirations invented pop-punk; the song is so tightly written that it sounds like some sort of pop song. KTS isn’t bashing for the sake of bashing: These guys are talented instrumentally and have developed an incredible chemistry. The guitar, bass and drums lock together perfectly to lay a frantic, perfect foundation for the male yelling.

KTS is tighter in general on this split, eschewing dissonant slabs for a direct, punchy sound. The bass and guitar on  “On Your Knees” might as well be one instrument, as it’s impossible to tell them apart; the separated drumming seems engineered to point out the incredible guitar interactions. The band does let things space out on “Flat Time,” however, dedicating the bulk of the 7-minute run time to a section that drops to almost silence. It’s pretty much a ’80s emotional hardcore revival.

I’ll say it again: KTS is tight on this release. These are the most arresting pieces the band has yet produced, because the members have distilled their rage into meaningful, memorable bits while still pushing outward to new sounds. Ah, screw it: KTS is still my favorite Phratry band.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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