Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Sons and Daughters invent their own distribution strategy

October 12, 2010

There is no model for releasing music anymore. Case in point: Sons and Daughters, a band from Franklin, TN, in the vein of Sandra McCracken, Derek Webb, Waterdeep and everything else on Noisetrade (check them out right now, if you haven’t already).

I first heard of the band via blogsurfing; a friend of a friend posted the video of “All the Poor and Powerless” to her blog. The video doesn’t even state the artist; it simply shows the two members of the band playing the gorgeous song, interspersed with beautiful shots of people ostensibly poor and powerless. I scoured the Internet looking for the authors of this song, but no dice. I messaged the guy who posted the video, but he never got back to me.

Fast forward three months. I remembered “All the Poor and Powerless” because of a different song I was listening to while writing this poem, and I sought out the video again. This time, I found the bandcamp page of Sons and Daughters, offering a free download of the song. This version, however, is a bit more tricked out, with a choir and a rhythm track. After a bit more searching, I found the band’s website, which shows evidence that there has been touring. I deduced that the band passed through the Christian college of the enlightening blogger.

I kept digging (surely there must be more, I thought) and found a free two-song sampler from Noisetrade. Unsurprisingly, one of those songs was “All the Poor and Powerless.” The other was a decent track called “Your Glory.” That’s where the trail dies. There are only two recorded songs from a band that has apparently has enough material to be touring.

In short, they are gaining a following after releasing exactly two songs. Their debut release is coming out in May (seven months from now!). This is an incredibly peculiar business strategy.

But! If the goal is to reach people and play music, they’ve hit on exactly the right formula. It’s an odd way to go about it, but they’ve figured something out: one absolutely stunning song can get you far in today’s music world.

“All the Poor and Powerless” is exactly that: absolutely stunning. It is stately, passionate, powerful and calm in turns. But over all of that, it is just breathtaking. The male and female voices are wonderfully paired, the instrumentation is incredibly well recorded, and the songwriting has a gravitas not heard or felt in many songs. You need to hear it (and I’ve given you almost half a dozen links to do so. Here’s the Twitter, for good measure)

So, here’s to “All the Poor and Powerless” and to Sons and Daughters. I eagerly anticipate their upcoming release. And isn’t that what good singles are supposed to do? Yes.

Take a walk with Ring Of Truth

May 28, 2009

A little bit punk, a little bit alt rock, and a whole lot of 1960s-style pop rock, Ring of Truth’s album Everything’s The Same But In A Different Place is a musical adventure that takes you along as the band explores variations on a signature sound. That sounded weird, let me rephrase. They experiment a bit, but you’ll easily be able to identify a common, unifying thread through the album. It’s an enjoyable if somewhat short work, clocking in at just over half an hour. Their sound seems like a mix of Sons and Daughters, the Raconteurs, and the Beatles. It’s energetic and earnest, the kind of stuff where you can tell they’re really enjoying performing.

The song “Well, I Walked” caught my ear almost immediately; it’s one of the most distinctive on the album, and quite representative of their sound. Generally Ring of Truth have a 1960s sound not unlike the Beatles or Beach Boys, and it works quite well for them. A sweet little guitar lick in the middle completes the track, and tempted me to air guitar a bit. “Maybe this is heaven, maybe this is hell / it seems to me these days they’re one and the same.” You won’t find any deep lyrics here, just light, catchy pop-rock.

The 1960s-styling continues into “Why Should This Be?,” albeit with a different tone near the end. It took on an almost psychedelic feel to it, a sonic blending of guitars, multiple vocal parts, and what sounded suspiciously like a sitar (correct me if I’m wrong, guys). The vocalist’s full potential shows through on the track as he gives it a bit more energy and emotion, with a sound that’s a bit rough on occasion. The end melts into a guitar-heavy instrumental session, a fitting end to the song.

Ring of Truth’s punk influence shows through in “Never Compromise,” which takes on a slightly 1980s, doomsday-ish tone in the chorus. They sing, ” I never compromised / you never compromised / we never compromised / there’s no compromise.” Amusingly enough, they can’t seem to leave out that 1960s influence, as the style mutates back into pop-rock for five or ten seconds at a time. “A Spanish Hunger” further fleshes out the album with a sound that is distinctly Ring of Truth, but also a clear break from earlier songs. Frantic hand claps and easygoing rhythm guitar create a fun, almost tropical style.

That potential I mentioned the vocalist had on “Why Should This Be?” comes out full-force on “Smile,” the next-to-last song of the album. It’s raucous and a bit crazy, with the lead singer wailing his lyrics over distorted guitar that has a touch of soul to it. It’s a strong performance from Ring of Truth, and I absolutely loved it. The album progresses well, going from the pop-rock, lighter fare of the opening, to more of a mellow tone in the middle, ending with the likes of “Smile” that are pure, unadulterated rock in all its vibrant and energetic glory.

Everything’s The Same But In A Different Place is a strong offering from Ring of Truth . It’s clean and polished, with a sound that at once pays homage to music of an earlier time and makes its own way. It makes for a fun listen, and I’d recommend it for listeners of diverse tastes – as long as you like some form of rock, you’ll probably like this one.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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