This will be the first blog of my new idea "Music Under the Radar" It's just me talking about a few groups or artists that I think aren't getting as much acclaim and recognition as they deserve, or at least artists I feel compelled to spread the word about. You may have heard of them and if you have, spread the word, if you haven't, at least give them a try. There are plenty of options for hearing a few tracks before investing in a whole record in the age of computers.
1.) Danielle Ate The Sandwich: DATS is a solo project of Danielle Anderson, a twenty-something from Fort Collins, Colorado who plays an old school folk way beyond her years. Her voice is a gorgeous soprano with serious jazz tendencies that fills you up like the warmth of that first sip of a perfect cup of coffee. The songs are soft folk tunes with jazz, pop, and old school rock thrown in making for a truly perfect and unique throwback indie sound. She favors the ukulele as the main rhythm instrument although there are plenty of songs with guitar and on her newest record (Two Bedroom Apartment) there is a lot of warm bass holding the rhythm on it's perfect course. She has three albums for sale on her website and they are all filled with her beautiful brand of indie folk. Having already told you about the ukulele it probably won't surprise anyone that a large chunk of her fan base comes from here YouTube videos (as YouTube and the ukulele seem to go together quite nicely) and for those of you looking to get a taste of what she is about, I highly recommend going there and watching her wide array of videos ranging from covers to originals.
2.) Ray Lamontagne: Probably the least "under the radar" of all the artists on this list but still nowhere near as big as I feel he should be. Lamontagne is never going to be a pop superstar, his music isn't like that, but he definitely has a certain appeal that should and could be enjoyed by almost anyone. I fell in love with his music after hearing the song Trouble from his album of the same name a hand full of years back. There is something incredibly soulful and perfect about his voice. His songs and voice sound like early Van Morrison with more control with hints of old soul like Otis Redding, all with vocal cords that sounds like they've been aged in whiskey and perfection. His most recent album God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise was actually number one on iTunes the week it came out and that made me happy but I still think not enough people know about this man's incredible voice and songwriting ability.
3.) Syndicate: Alright, I'm a little biased on this one because they ARE friends of mine but, completely objectively, I honestly feel like their talent warrants them having more fans. I'm not going to say a whole lot because if you want the full details on this group you can read MY REVIEW of their first album The Line Starts Here. I'll simply say that if any part of you misses that sweet spot in the 1990's when radio alt rock was hooky, soulful, and powerful... you will find Syndicate to be a fantastic listen, no question.
4.) Todd Kuffner: Aside from Syndicate, Todd Kuffner is probably the MOST "under the radar" artist on this list. He has a decent sized following on YouTube, but besides that he doesn't really view music as his main drive, more as something he does on the side that people happen to enjoy. He's been on YouTube since February of 2009 and just released his first album Squirrel Hunter In Training this past July. The record contains 35 full songs and is only $9.99 on iTunes... since music is something he does for fun, he seems to not pay much mind to the unspoken rules of the music business like album lengths which is all the better for the consumer because you receive three albums worth of stellar songs for the price of one. The music it's self is a rootsy sounding pop rock that strongly resembles The Dave Matthews Band meets a bit of John Mayer and a lot of Cat Stevens. Kuffner's voice is folky but still very accessible and even a bit soulful at times. The songs are hooky and the lyrics are phenomenal. If any of that sounds at all appealing to you check out his website to hear album tracks or go to his YouTube channel to see him play a few of his songs.
5.) The Swellers: Another band featuring friends of mine. Also The Swellers are, by leaps and miles, my favorite band of all time. They represent a lot to me musically and sentimentally and I don't think any band will ever take their place in that spot. I've written and talked a lot about them in the past so it's difficult to know where exactly to begin but I guess the best place is probably with the basics. They are a rock/punk band from the Flint area that got their start playing shows in the, now virtually extinct, Flint local scene. They began as a three piece but evolved to four as their sound matured and eventually signed with Atlantic Records imprint Fueled By Ramen (launching pad of bands like Paramore and Fall Out Boy). They tour relentlessly bringing their brand of 90's era skate punk to their fans all over the world. There really isn't a lot that I can say without sounding like I'm gushing but they will never be as big as I feel they deserve to be so I figured they definitely needed a slot on this list.
6.) Tim Barry: Tim Barry is probably the most sonically abrasive artist on this list. His music is certainly not for everyone, but if you're into gruff acoustic folk rock with tinges of punk, then Tim Barry is king, in my opinion. He is one of my personal favorite artists so, again, it is difficult for me to write objectively about his talent without sounding like a gushing fan but I will do my best. Barry is from Richmond, VA and is one of the most sincere and intense performers I've ever seen live or heard on record. Everything he says is real and performed and sang with an amazing earnestness that you simply don't find in music. He is the lead singer of Virginia punk band Avail, and his past and a punk rocker comes through in his songs just like every other aspect of his life and his friend's life. When I listen to my Tim Barry records, two words tend to pop into my mind over and over. They are, as I said previously, "intense" and "sincere". If you go in with the right mind set, there's no way you can be disappointed.
Now for the portion of the blog I call the "Just Listen..." section. I'm not going to say anything about the artist, just post a video you should watch and love.