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50 States of Talent continues…. this stop Virginia with The Velvet Ants

50 States of Talent continues…. this stop Virginia with The Velvet Ants

After a bit of an unplanned absence and the Thanksgiving Holiday I am fully recovered from my tryptophan  overdose.  I hope you are all recovered as well.  Now let’s get back on track with the sharing of undiscovered local bands.

This installment of the 50 States of Talent Series which I began last year as a way to search out local talent from all 50 states in the union finds us in Virginia this week with The Velvet Ants.  No, it isn’t some sort of a bakers concoction or the infamous “cow killer” ant.

The Velvet Ants are a local band from the Fairfax, Virginia area.   Formed in 2006 by Ian Margolycz and Trevor Hart.  In 2007 the band released 2 albums on their label T!LT Records, Lunatic Fame and Pixie Junk.  It was limited to local record shops in the DC area.  In 2009 a re-release of Lunatic Fame was made available to a much larger audience on Zeptune Records while the band took a hiatus.  By 2011 work was begun on new material and a new album “Advantage” was released.  This album was mixed and co-produced by Ken Stringfellow who you may recognize from The Posies. The Velvet Ants kept busy playing many shows in the metro DC area while working on new material.  They released an album of “extras”with the help of Jordan Zadorozny.

Things were good, a loyal following, a steady string of albums and new material yet with all of this local success the band almost fizzled into oblivion. Ian, the only member who wasn’t ready to call it quits was encouraged to “carry on” by Jordan Zadorozny. The result of this encouragement is the third release titled Solt Olio in Fall of 2013. http://velvet-ants.com/album/solt-olio

This is where I stumbled onto the band.  I was immediately drawn in by the opening song “Find You”.  It has a crisp alternative sound that is old school without really being a throwback. The songs are well written and the flow on the album feels very comfortable.  The second song on the album “Cardigan’s Fable” is truer to what you will find on the rest of the album.  The vocals are dreamy and there is a definite ambient vibe going on but not enough to put you into a trance.   There is a nice balance without one sound overpowering the other  The sound is reminiscent of The Posies, Matthew Sweet and The Pixies among others.

The album Solt  Olio provides a a pleasurable listening experience from the first note to the very last. Listening to the songs you can hear how well they are thought out.  There is nothing amateur about this release. It is so well done that you may forget that this is local talent!  The bands current lineup consists of Ian Margolycz on guitar and vocals, Eric Sakmar on bass and Jordan Zadorozny on drums.

The Velvet Ants have a web presence.  They have a few videos of live performances on YouTube, a Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/velvetants a twitter @VelvetAnts and a webpage http://velvet-ants.com/  You can also find them on Soundcloud and Reverbnation

Check them out at any of the above links but definitely check them out.  You will be easily hooked, I was.

Happy Listening

–NotHaydn

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50 States of Talent continues and I’m feeling Strangely Alright about it

FINAL CD COVER 1Did you catch that? If not then you weren’t paying attention.  Strangely Alright is just that only there isn’t anything strange about it.  Quite frankly they are better than alright too.

Hailing from Tacoma, Washington Strangely Alright delivers catchy and infectious shall we say…..adult alternative.   Lyrically, they give you beautifully written pop songs with all the perfectly planted hooks that leave a song stuck in your head : “I was Jesus, the Beatle, John, lost myself, I lost it all…..”    The songs  reflect where they are in life and what they have observed. Their songwriting and deliverance reminds me of plenty of well known acts from the heyday of alternative music.  I can easily pinpoint School of Fish and Josh Clayton-Felt’s “Inarticulate Nature Boy”.  There is also a Beatle Influence that can be picked up on easily.  Really, many bands and artists have been influenced by the Fab Four that it comes as no surprise.

Strangely Alright is a group of guys who have tightly woven themselves into one entity.  Fronted by Regan Lane, a gifted songwriter who has a few awards under his belt, some have battled demons and realized what is most important in life,  not just their life but life in general.  Fortunately for us they are able to share this with us through their music.

The band is made up of Regan Lane ,(vocals / guitar) , Ken Schaff (bass), Jeff Reiner (guitar), Lee Gregory (keyboards) and Preston Darvill (drums).  They officially formed in late summer 2012 when Regan formed a friendship with Ken, a fellow musician and now friend.  They got to talking as most musicians do and decided to put the songs Regan had written out there and make it happen as a full fledged band.  Shortly thereafter, the other pieces of the quintet fell into place and they started making magic.

Their latest  album, “The Time Machine is Broken”  is slated for release in June 2013.  I will keep you posted on its progress and release.

They have a website http://www.strangelyalright.com  complete with a widget tab!!  There you can read up on them, join a mailing list and look at some pictures and sample their songs.  Their home page has all the links to them in the wide world of the internet, Facebook, twitter, myspace, etc.

Definitely check them out, if you like introspectively written pop songs, that are upbeat no matter how dark the lyrics may be. If you like Michael Penn and School of Fish or other similar bands.  This is a band that  should not go unnoticed.

 

 

 

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50 States of Talent continues in Alaska and Big Fat Buddha

BFBuddahThat’s right Alaska. You know all about Alaska right? Deadliest Catch, Yukon Men, Denali National Park, Klondike Gold Rush,  and perhaps one of my favorites; Grizzly Adams.  Well, Alaska has more to offer than just the bits and pieces we see on tv or learned about in school.   Comparing Alaska to what we’ve seen would be like comparing Jersey to Snookie and the Sopranos, while there may be some truth there is a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Alaska has a rich musical history. No, it isn’t rock, it isn’t jazz, it isn’t blues.  It is earthy they way it should be, it is the song of the peoples native to its soil, long before we set foot there as miners bringing with us the Early American Folk, people such as the Inupiaq and the Aluet.  Music in Alaska  has evolved as it has everywhere else, they have jazz festivals, they have a local opera festivals.  They have what we have but the only difference is that they still have the beauty of the land and most musicians in the area draw on the folk music of yesteryear, and really that folk music is feel good music.

This is where I feel this weeks band fits in perfectly.  They are Alaskan music. They are Big Fat Buddha hailing from Anchorage.  I will say that they are like Jewel when she first made her rounds, in the early days, if she had been accompanied by a band.  She was barefoot, wearing jeans and a tshirt with feathers hanging from the neck of the guitar, she was folksy and she was real.

Big Fat Buddha, yep, these guys are real and they formed in a way that is one step beyond the posting in the paper or bar bulletin board..  It all started with a posting on Craigslist.  Founding member, Brad Fidel, posted one evening in 2010 an ad looking for fellow musicians who like the Beatles and Dylan.  His ad was answered by singer/songwriter Matt Brenna.  These two musicians met and hit it off, they were onto something.  A friend of Brad’s, Jeff Arms who just so happens to be a percussionist  heard what his friend was up to and liked the idea so much he joined in.  Recently they added drummer Kyle Drake.  Big Fat Buddha was born.

These guys play a nice combo of rock and funk, compare them to a jam band of your liking, Grateful Dead or Phish or compare them to Rusted Root. I would make that comparison more because that’s what they remind me of.  Either way, it’s music that gets your feet tapping and your body moving.  Just watch the videos on YouTube, the crowd is not sitting around bored, they are all moving and having a good time.

The songs are well written, the vocals are smooth and pleasing to the ear and there is just enough jam factor without it being overkill.   The first song that you come across on their website ( http://www.BigFatBuddhaBand.com ) “You Drive me Crazy (Baby Blue)” is quite catchy.  If you like what you hear with that song you will definitely like the rest of what you hear.  The sound is a familiar mixture of rock and funk, not too hard, not too soft, just right and it is fun. It would make a good soundtrack to a cross country drive, tops down, wind in your hair with not a care in the world.

The website is http://www.BigFatBuddhaBand.com and there you can listen to some music, read their blog, look at some pictures, see where they are playing etc. It’s all there.  You can even buy their self titled cd, which I would recommend.  If you liked one of their songs you are sure to like them all.

Additionally you can find them on Facebook, go like their page, see what they are up to in real time https://www.facebook.com/BigFatBuddhaBand

They are currently in the process of hitting the studio to work on a second release.

They also have additional videos to view on YouTube.  Check them out.  This is one of those bands that I will do some follow ups on.  The lower 48 needs to know what these guys are up to.

 

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Back Where I began and Mike Ryan

MRyanOk, maybe I didn’t really begin in Massachusetts which is where this weeks feature DID begin. Mike Ryan began in Massachusetts a la East Brookfield.  He hasn’t gotten very much media out there yet but what he has put out is very pleasant to listen to as well as promising. I am very much reminded of acoustic Kurt Cobain.  There is a rawness and simplicity to Mike’s playing and vocals that reminds me of the Godfather of Grunge.  But let’s not compare any further than that because Mike is not grunge.  He is a guy on a mission, currently solo but looking to possibly add a few more members to his tribe of one.

Mike aka Tank began his musical journey as a drummer but got restless and wanted to try something new.  He picked up his dad’s  old Epiphone in 1996 and began to teach himself by listening to some of the people he listened to growing up. As his guitar playing progressed Mike eventually picked up the pen as well and began writing some songs in 2000.  The songs are raw and well done lyrically.  It’s simple and simple is good when it works.

As I have said Mike is new to the media aspect but he has put together some songs and a video over at Reverbnation  http://www.reverbnation.com/tank44 and there are a few videos on YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cN42F59Fpc&list=PLIdncvS0arcV7BWppeS3HVv2ZUhUXRNmW    The videos on YouTube are really just the songs with a visual of a scenic picture, but that is ok because the recording is clear.

Check Mike out if an acoustic Nirvana-esque sound is something that you enjoy.

I am sure that Mike will add more as he further delves into self promotion and I will update as further releases become available.

 

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