In May and June, ASCAP provided support and exposure to emerging songwriters and artists from around the country through a new web promotion with Heineken. This initiative is the latest in a series of new and innovative ways that ASCAP has adopted to spotlight and market the talents of its up-and-coming members through its relationship with Heineken.
As part of the Heineken Downloads promotion, ASCAP selected nine of the best emerging songwriters/artists from major music cities across the country that were featured on Heineken's website (http://www.heineken.com/usa/) along with streamed music, bio information, website links, and photography. Heineken also provided a grant to ASCAP to support these deserving songwriters and artists.
The nine songwriters/artists and cities selected by ASCAP for the program are:
The Go – “Summer’s Gonna Be My Girl” (Detroit)
The Go is an imposing Detroit garage collective with an archivist’s appreciation for the past and a trendsetter’s spirit for making timeless music. The Go’s core – Bobby Harlow (vocals, guitar) John Kroutner (bass, vocals), and Marc Fellis (drums) – were childhood friends in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak.
“Our real focus is making records, performing true and passionately and getting everybody upset; that’s really all we’re concerned with,” adds Harlow. “We’re the Blackboard Jungle of our generation.”
Nowhere is that more clear than on The Go, the group’s latest release and debut album for the adventurous Lizard King label in London (distributed in the U.S. by Koch). Its 14 tracks offer a gamut of textures and styles that still hold true to a sound and a spirit of a single voice and a unified vision.
The Go spent much of 2003 and 2004 crossing the Atlantic, opening for The White Stripes in England and, in the U.S., playing at last year’s Noise Pop in San Francisco, followed by South by Southwest in Austin, at last year’s Lollapalooza stop in Detroit, partying with the Mooney Suzuki and Witnesses for a few shows, and, most recently, supporting Guided by Voices on several West Coast and Midwest tours. www.thego.info
Spam Allstars – “Ochimini” (Miami)
DJ Le Spam & the Spam Allstars blend improvisational electronic elements and turntable with latin, funk, hip hop, and dub to create a sound that is unique to Miami. The band consists of DJ Le Spam (aka Andrew Yeomanson) on turntables and samplers, Tomas Diaz on timbales, AJ Hill and Steve Welsh on saxes, John speck on trombone, Mercedes Abal on flute, and Adam Zimmon on guitar.
In 2002, Spam Allstars released their third album Fuacata Live! to critical acclaim, and were pleasantly surprised when it was recognized with a Latin Grammy nomination in the Pop Instrumental category.
The group recently recorded their first studio effort, Spam Allstars Contra Los Roboticos Mutantes, which was independently released in April on Spamusica Records. www.spamallstars.com.
Runner and the Thermodynamics – “Powerlines” (Boston)
With the philosophy that rock music merely passed out around 1979 and is just now beginning to wipe the sleep from its eyes, Runner and the Thermo-dynamics inherit the glittering mantle of rock’s halcyon highs and write songs that transcend time.
Formed in 2000, the band quickly set to work on recording, playing and carousing. With each show, more songs were written. With each song, more fans were won. Rock operas were conceived and performed. Within the space of a few short years, the band found themselves sharing stages with The Greenhornes, Mike Watt, Rye Coalition, D4, The Rapture, Electric Six, Jet, Secret Machines, Broken Social Scene, Dillinger Escape Plan, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and Alice Cooper.
In 2003, Runner completed their eponymous full-length debut for Ace Fu Records. Self-produced and released in March, the music reaches backward in time while stretching forward in space. The result is a staggering coalition of heart, brain, and raw power rarely seen on this side of classic FM. As rock music is sucked further into its own navel, waiting on the other side is Runner and the Thermodynamics, determined to writer and rewrite history rather than simply wear it. www.runnerrock.com
Loveless – “Go” (New York)
Loveless has a distinctive sound, a dynamic blend of power and delicacy, sweet swooning melodies floating over big crunching guitars and a propulsive rhythm section, Stone Age rock leavened by a hint of Britpop. Loveless has pulled off the neat trick of making music that somehow manages to feel intimate and arena-sized at the same time.
Dave Wanamaker started Loveless in 2001, teaming up with bassist Pete Armata (the two played together in Expanding Man, a well-regarded hard rock band of the 90’s). Next they added Jen Trynin on rhythm guitar and vocals, and rounded out the lineup with Tom Polce (Letters to Cleo) on drums.
At first glance, you might think you see the two sides of Loveless incarnated by the band’s two guitarists. Frontman Wanamaker is a charismatic figure on stage, a striking, physically imposing guy with real rock star swagger. Next to him, Trynin seems waifish and reserved, even in her camouflage miniskirt and platform boots, the epitome of the sensitive indie rock chick. Her vocals have a whispery, sometimes fragile quality that softens the edges of Wanamaker’s more aggressive delivery. www.lvls.com
David Berkeley – “Red” (Atlanta)
If Ryan Adams and Grant Lee Phillips hit the open road in Nick Drake’s car, the music they’d listen to would be pretty close to the music of this young, charismatic singer from Brooklyn. He believes in the lyrics he writes, sings them from the marrow of his bones.
2003 has seen Berkeley showcase at South by Southwest, complete a national club tour, and support artists including Ben Folds, Rhett Miller, Ed Harcourt and Rachael Yamagato. His second independent release, After the Wrecking Ships, has just been released. www.davidberkeley.com
Cameron McGill – “What the Hell (I love this girl Danielle)” (Chicago)
Having fronted Chicago’s power pop trio Morris Minors for three years, McGill calmed the storm in favor or an aching chamber-pop record for his solo debut, Stories of the Knife and the Back. Once described as “the loudest and softest act you will ever see” McGill can scream like a whisper in his songs – literate and elegant tales about the jigsaw puzzle of ordinary life and everyday heartbreak. Live, McGill’s shows either take on a lone gunman approach or the cinematic grandeur of a string quartet. This past year found McGill opening for renowned artists Damien Rice, Ian McCullock, John Stirrat, and Ours, as well as showcases at both SXSW and CMJ music festivals.
Cameron can be seen singing for his supper somewhere in Chicago. File under: indie–pop–alt–country–rock–etc. www.cameronmcgill.com
Wideawake – “Stay” (Austin)
Wideawake creates a blend of modern rock and edgy acoustic pop that some have called “emotional pop-rock.” Their second independent album, Bigger Than Ourselves, was released January 2002 and saw several tracks make their way to shows like Dawson’s Creek, on NBC special movie, and the DreamWorks motion picture The Ring. That next year the band won the Austin Music Foundation’s incubator award for best Rock Band.
Wideawake also stole the show at the 2004 Austin Music Awards taking away five honors, including Best Pop Band, Best Male Vocalist, Best Electric Guitarist, Best Website and Best Songwriter. www. wideawake.com.
Boy Hits Car – “You Don’t Care” (Los Angeles)
Made up of childhood friends Cregg Rondell (Vocals & Acoustic 12 String Guitar), Louis Lenard (Guitar), Scott Menville (Bass), and newfound drummer Johnny Ransom, Boy Hits Car are known for playing the sickest, loveliest, ugliest, prettiest, most beautiful, melodic, and heartfelt music – the band calls it “lovecore.” Their self-titled debut album was released in 2001 on Wind-UP Records and included the hit single “I’m a Cloud.” These Los Angeles natives have toured with System of a Down, Incubus, and Papa Roach to name a few, and were featured on the 2001 SnoCore Tour. The band is presently looking for a new record label and hopes to release a new album within the year. www.boyhitscar.com.
The Jet City Fix – “Thy Hype” (Seattle)
“Have a good time, all the time.” Those words may have been immortalized by Spinal Tap keyboardist Viv Savage, but they embody the underlying philosophy of The Jet City Fix.
While TJCF has built a substantial Northwest following in a very short time (mostly based on their knock-out performances) the release of their debut album Play To Kill will finally give the rest of the country the chance to experience the band’s particular brand of ferociously catchy rock and roll. The song “The Life” might provide the ultimate insight into TJCF: “Give me rhythm, a catchy little hook/ A bass line so hot it makes the strings cook/ You know that me and the boys love to rock.” “new album within the year.” www.thejetcityfix.com