Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

State of the Scene: Bands

February 1, 2008

State of the Scene: Bands

Once a year, the President goes on public television and states how the country is doing- it’s called the State of the Union address. Here at IndependentClauses, we don’t run the scene, but we do a pretty fair job of covering it. Thus, this is my state of the scene address for 2006. I’m splitting it up into two parts: one part for bands and other part for listeners.

Here’s 2006 for you indie bands: good luck, cause no one’s on your side. There’s an excess of bands and a minority of talent, labels are going down, zines are closing, and fans are less loyal than ever- which all means there’s a heck of a lot more work involved in being a band than there used to be.

The main problem this year is that with technology getting cheaper and cheaper, it’s easier than ever to record, duplicate, design and distribute CDs. This unfortunately means that anyone who plays guitar can emulate their favorite band and make a CD of it, which they subsequently send to labels and e-zines. This makes it harder for bands with actual talent to get noticed because after listening to ten packages of crappy pop-punk, juvenile nu-wave emo, and shaky-vocals acoustic artists, it’s hard to believe that the next package is going to be any better. Thus, the reviewer/record label gets backlogged out of sheer apathy for it all, and the good bands go unheard.

This happened to Splendid E-zine (www.splendidezine.com)- they got so many open submissions that they couldn’t handle them all and they recently closed their doors. They had the policy of reviewing everything they got. Lots of it was sucky or mediocre, and Splendid got so backlogged in the junk that they had to stop the zine (to the detriment of the good music). That’s a very sad thing.

Indie labels aren’t as good as they used to be, either- my two favorite labels Deep Elm and Tooth and Nail are both in a bit of a rut. Both have developed a scary affection for nu-wave emo- Deep Elm with Fightstar and Eleven Minutes Away and Tooth and Nail with Spoken, The Classic Crime, and Far-less. Both do have some fight in them- Latterman and Small Arms Dealer are brand-new and stinking amazing on Deep Elm, while the backbone of Tooth and Nail is still brilliant (Starflyer 59, Joy Electric, Further Seems Forever, Mae, MeWithoutYou, and –if they stick around- Showbread). It’s just been a down year. Militia Group is doing pretty well- they aren’t very focused, but they sign good music. Basically, there’s not really a label for any cutting edge indie sounds any more. My guess is that Common Cloud records will soon fill this gap, as the small label’s signings are all brilliant [The Felix Culpa, Towers (formerly known as Braille), Ammi…”>.

But a lot of disillusioned bands are skipping the record labels completely and going the DIY route. They go for soundtracks and advertisements- see this article for more info. I’m thrilled to hear that independent bands are able to make it on their own, but I’m sad that the modern music system has been broken so long that artists get no help in their quest.

Basically, this all boils down to one statement: God bless indie rock- cause nobody else is doing it any favors.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

State of the Scene: People

State of the Scene: People<br><br>Once a year, the President goes on public television and states how the country is doing- it’s called the State of the Union address. Here at IndependentClauses, we don’t run the scene, but we do a pretty fair job of covering it. Thus, this is my state of the scene address for 2006. I’m splitting it up into two parts: one part for bands and other part for listeners. <br><br>Alright, if you’re breathing air and you’re related to independent music, this is for you. This is for bands, for fans, for promoters, for managers, whatever- people in general. I’m sick and tired of people complaining that their scene sucks. Sick of it. I live in a dead scene- so if you’ve still got a sucky scene, you’re still one up on me. But there’s no reason that scenes have to suck. There’s no reason why a group of people can’t join together and make something worthwhile- it just takes a little bit of effort and a lot of attitude changes. <br><br>Americans are generally a me-first type of society- we want what we want when we want it. “Stat. Pronto,” as Dane Cook would say (if you haven’t listened to his album <u>Retaliation</u>, you haven’t really laughed yet). We want it all, and that mindset permeates everything we do. If we just all took a step back and looked at how much we demand (and how many of those demands are met) we’d all be a little shocked; I know I was. And a lot of scenes fail because no one wants to be the nice guys. No one wants to help out other people- and as simple as that sounds, that’s the overwhelming factor that crushes independent music. <br><br>If you’re in a band and you play a show, talk to the other bands. Even if they’re not your genre, talk to them and be friendly. You never know who they may know that could help you out. Your bands may become really close friends. If you like each other, you’ll start playing more shows together, and you can share fans- which is positive for both bands. Heck, if the other band makes it big, they could put in a good word for you at the record label. It just makes sense to be friendly with other bands- but so many bands just blow it off. They’re concerned with their fans, and their merch, their equipment, and their set. Those are all good things to take care of, but you need to start connecting with other bands. <br><br>If you’re a fan, you need to go to shows. Supporting a band from the internet is fantastic, but if you don’t go to shows, they’re not getting helped. Now I know I like bands in Britain and I can’t go to their shows- obviously there are some bands like that. But if there’s a local show, go to it. Make it a priority of sorts. I mean don’t blow off your girlfriend for it (actually, take her with! and if she doesn’t like indie-rock, there’d better be some huge good reason why you’re still with her), but act like it’s a commitment. Don’t cancel on a show because a friend calls up- invite them with or reschedule or work something out. To make a vibrant scene, people have to be friends, and if you treat a band as a friend, then you’re starting the wheel spinning.<br><br>That wheel continues when you talk to the band after the show- they get to know you a little, and if you keep coming to their shows, you get to know them, they get to know you, and another connection is made. Connections are what a scene is about- a bunch of interconnected people who like to be together for one reason or another. <br><br>There’s one word that holds a scene together, though- even more than friendliness or connection or shows. It’s this: responsibility. If you’re a band, you have a social responsibility to contribute to the scene. If you’re a fan, you have a responsibility to treat other bands and fans well. If you’re a manager, you have a lot of responsibilities, and sometimes things go awry. Take responsibility for the screw-ups as well as the successes- someone who owns up to and learns from his mistakes is much more valuable and trustable than a person who almost never makes mistakes but doesn’t know how to handle it when he does.<br><br>It’s not a hard thing- but it keeps a scene together. <a href=“ link to the latterman review”>Latterman</a> is a pillar of all these virtues- friendship, connections, responsibility. In a small way, they’re bringing integrity back to punk rock with a few simple social courtesies. What if every band helped out every other band it knew? What if everyone talked to each other after shows? What could good bands accomplish if they had the full backing of a scene that loves them?<br><br>You may say, “Steve, you’re stupid- that happens all the time where I live.” I am thrilled for you- but there are many, many other places where it doesn’t happen. It needs to happen a lot more often. And all it takes is a little bit of getting out of your shell and lot more helping out. <br><br>-Stephen Carradini<br><br>independentclauses@hotmail.com <br><br>

State of the Scene: Bands

February 1, 2006

State of the Scene: Bands

Once a year, the President goes on public television and states how the country is doing- it’s called the State of the Union address. Here at IndependentClauses, we don’t run the scene, but we do a pretty fair job of covering it. Thus, this is my state of the scene address for 2006. I’m splitting it up into two parts: one part for bands and other part for listeners.

Here’s 2006 for you indie bands: good luck, cause no one’s on your side. There’s an excess of bands and a minority of talent, labels are going down, zines are closing, and fans are less loyal than ever- which all means there’s a heck of a lot more work involved in being a band than there used to be.

The main problem this year is that with technology getting cheaper and cheaper, it’s easier than ever to record, duplicate, design and distribute CDs. This unfortunately means that anyone who plays guitar can emulate their favorite band and make a CD of it, which they subsequently send to labels and e-zines. This makes it harder for bands with actual talent to get noticed because after listening to ten packages of crappy pop-punk, juvenile nu-wave emo, and shaky-vocals acoustic artists, it’s hard to believe that the next package is going to be any better. Thus, the reviewer/record label gets backlogged out of sheer apathy for it all, and the good bands go unheard.

This happened to Splendid E-zine (www.splendidezine.com)- they got so many open submissions that they couldn’t handle them all and they recently closed their doors. They had the policy of reviewing everything they got. Lots of it was sucky or mediocre, and Splendid got so backlogged in the junk that they had to stop the zine (to the detriment of the good music). That’s a very sad thing.

Indie labels aren’t as good as they used to be, either- my two favorite labels Deep Elm and Tooth and Nail are both in a bit of a rut. Both have developed a scary affection for nu-wave emo- Deep Elm with Fightstar and Eleven Minutes Away and Tooth and Nail with Spoken, The Classic Crime, and Far-less. Both do have some fight in them- Latterman and Small Arms Dealer are brand-new and stinking amazing on Deep Elm, while the backbone of Tooth and Nail is still brilliant (Starflyer 59, Joy Electric, Further Seems Forever, Mae, MeWithoutYou, and –if they stick around- Showbread). It’s just been a down year. Militia Group is doing pretty well- they aren’t very focused, but they sign good music. Basically, there’s not really a label for any cutting edge indie sounds any more. My guess is that Common Cloud records will soon fill this gap, as the small label’s signings are all brilliant [The Felix Culpa, Towers (formerly known as Braille), Ammi…”>.

But a lot of disillusioned bands are skipping the record labels completely and going the DIY route. They go for soundtracks and advertisements- see this article for more info. I’m thrilled to hear that independent bands are able to make it on their own, but I’m sad that the modern music system has been broken so long that artists get no help in their quest.

Basically, this all boils down to one statement: God bless indie rock- cause nobody else is doing it any favors.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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

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