Category Archives: Independent Film

Pinsky – “Losing Touch” [NEW MUSIC]

There’s a sound I always find myself craving when fall comes around.  I don’t know if it’s the echo of good times associated with Halloween and birthdays and homecoming or if it’s just the chill that sinks into my bones that reminds me that I need a little vacation from the sweet, jangly sounds of the past few months.

Whatever the case, Pinsky hits the spot.  Their bio claims their debut is a summer record, but I would beg to differ.  The gruff vocals (split three ways!) and spiky riffs hammer home best over a dull October moon, not sparkling mid-summer sun.  It’s a little post – everything: hardcore, punk and pop, mixing genres till they break and form something fresh.  Like hooks?  Check out the lead single “Losing Touch.”  Like dense instrumentation?  Borderline jazzy guitar riffs?  Closer “States” has you covered.

Their video for lead single “Losing Touch” makes the most of a clever idea on a small budget.  I particularly love the detail of the “can-delier” hanging in the center of the performance space.  Check it out:

Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles |@Chris_Cullari | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC |

Blitzen Trapper “American Goldwing” [NEW MUSIC]

I want a porch.  I want a friggin’ porch so bad.  If I had my way I would move out of my Hollywood apartment away from my homeless neighbors who live on the stoop and the drunk assholes ready to kill someone over a double double from In and Out real fast.  I want a porch.  I want to sit on it and I want to listen to music and relax and drink a lot of beer without a care in the world.  I would have massive speakers and a rocking chair.  That to me at the moment is “the life”.  With Blitzen Trapper as my band of choice and their newest record “American Goldwing” as the soundtrack to my laid back afternoon I think I’m on to something here.

Might Find It Cheap – Blitzen Trapper

Indie rock, folk rock, southern rock, call it what you will Blitzen Trapper is a rock band.  They call Portland, Oregon home and have been touring heavily for the last few years.  They just released “American Goldwing.”  It’s one part rock and roll guitar laden, drum heavy grooves and one part distinct cool vocals with a southern twist.  Blitzen Trapper have created a sound all their own and I’m sold 100% on what they are selling.  Next track is called “Fletcher” which is one of my favortie tracks on the record.

Fletcher – Blitzen Trapper

After releasing Furr in 2008 Blitzen Trapper fell onto my radar.  After seeing them at Coachella Music and Arts Fest later that year (or in 09, I can’t remember) I couldn’t get them out of my head.  I have been following them on and off since then.  They released an awesome record called “Destroyer of The Void” in 2010 and now American Goldwing is just solidifying what I saw years ago.  These guys are tight and have honed this music and are perfecting it.

Your Crying Eyes – Blitzen Trapper

Despite being from Portland Blitzen Trapper has a little bit of a southern twang to them and then they just kick you right in the junk with a tune like Your Crying Eyes.  I think thats what I like most about these guys.  They have that southern influence that eases you into the music with familiarity and then they turn up the volume.

The band currently has six members with Eric Early on guitar and vocals with Brian Adrian Koch and Marty Marquis on drums and vocals and guitar and keyboards respectively.  The vocal duties are supported Erik Menteer on Guitar and Keyboards, Michael VanPelt on bass.

Girl In A Coat – Blitzen Trapper

Blitzen Trapper is currently on tour.  Lucky for me they are wrapping up their tour on November 17th at the Music Box in Hollywood.  Tour dates page is HERE.  Their new album “American Goldwing” is available anywhere where people care about good music, so basically the internet and Amoeba Music on Sunset Blvd.  Here are a couple final tracks from “American Goldwing.”  One rockin’ and the last track which is not so rockin’ but a great way to end the record.  Check these guys out when they are in your town.  In fact go out of your way by hours and hundreds of miles to see these dudes.  It’s worth it.

Astronaut – Blitzen Trapper

Stranger In A Strange Land – Blitzen Trapper

By: Steve Rippin | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @stevewithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Act As If – “Pathetic” (Blink 182 cover) [VIDEO]

This post is part show and tell, part discussion question raised by the song and video above.  I directed the piece for an artist I’ve worked with before, and was excited to find the response from the generally picky, grumbly internet was 99% positive.

A small number of people who hear it though instantly dislike it.  “That’s not ‘Pathetic’!”,  “It’s too slow!,”  “I can barely tell what song that is!,” and my favorite, “Great.  Now we’re doing Coldplay covers of Blink 182?”  More than one fan pointed me to Great Glass Elevator’s cover as the better version:

I can see how it definitely sounds more like the original – mostly because they kept the same vocal phrasing – but how on Earth could you prefer it?  The production is Casio keyboard level and the vocals aren’t much better.  There’s no added depth or flavor, it’s literally just slowed down.  In fact, the only standard by which it seems “better” is that it’s “similar,” but in that case, why not listen to the original instead of the kinda, sorta slower one?

To wit: isn’t deconstruction, manipulation and mutation of the original the point of doing a cover?  In an era of media that is taken to task for being too derivative, we should be celebrating the re-examination of pop-art through a highly personal, specific lens.  It’s the difference between a bad remake of a film and a good one: does the director connect with the material in a unique way?  No one (well, almost no one) would argue that Gus Van Sant’s Psycho or John Moore’s The Omen are strong films because they are almost a shot for shot remakes.  John Carpenter’s The Thing is considered the definitive take on the concept because he brought his sense for creeping, claustrophobic horror to what was, in a past life, just a silly monster movie.  It’s why I’d love to see David Lynch tackle a Nightmare on Elm Street film – it might not even have Freddy Krueger, but no one is better at creating nightmares on film than Lynch and he would present a fascinating personal vision of the series’ themes and ideas.

Anyway, I digress.  I realize this might be coming across as a knee jerk defense to a minor criticism, but I really find the differing opinions interesting.  What say you all?  Is this how you like to hear songs covered, or do you prefer less abstract, more straightforward versions?

Oh, and if you do like the track, you can download it for FREE right here.

Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles |@Chris_Cullari | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC |

Beat-Play: SHARE for ART [VIDEO + PHOTO]

 

Flash Drive Painting FINAL

Alright, “I want to lay-down 96 flash-drives flat in the shape of a canvas, so you can paint a portrait over top of them.” Now this was obviously something new and different for any painter, but a creative way to bring the parallel minds of artists together through multitudes of expression. So we set out in search of an artist in the San Diego area that would fit the job, and I could have never imagined who was about to respond to our postings. One of San Diego’s premier painters, SHAY DAVIS!!! (http://shayvision.com). When we first got a look at some of his work, we were just absolutely blown away. There was no way in hell that someone this talented, the modern-day Dali, was going to work for this project or even fit into the budget for that matter. It couldn’t have been a better match. Luckily having most of the Beat-Play Team in town, Shay was able to meet the whole company and right away felt that he was a sure-fit into the lifestyle of Beat-Play, knowing the hardships and reality of being an independent artist today.

After that first meeting we got right to work. Shay’s mission was to give people his visual representation of the current struggles seen in independent music community. Being in a similar situation as his own, through the art world, Shay was quickly able to jump into this vision. Now you have a plan, but then you’re going to need some supplies. So here’s what we used:

  • 96 Beat-Play Flash-Drives
  • Oil Paint and Brushes
  • Cavas
  • Sticky-Tac
  • Video Camera
  • SLR Camera
  • Tri-Pod
  • A computer turned to Beatplay.com
Once all the supplies were gathered, Shane Suski (film/photography) and I rolled over to Shay’s studio and started setting up. Having one camera sit-still on the tri-pod and Shane pan the room with his SLR, we were really able to capture the full painting process that went into creating this piece from all possible angles, using video and photography.  I suggest going full-screen with this one:
The video came out great but nothing makes a video better than some bangin’ music. So we hit Tomatofish up for some more information regarding the use of his Simulacrum track on the video. He was all for it and that’s what you hear now. Tomatofish is one of a kind, compose all sorts of tracks ranging from hip-hop beats to classical pieces. This is just another pure talent that makes this project so great.
With the launch of Beatplay.com and our Facebook application we would like to spread the love to the public by giving back to the users of Beat-Play, by offering the flash-drives from the painting. The contest is simple. Mention Beatplay.com on your Facebook or Twitter feeds and become eligible to receive ONE of the 96 flash-drives. There aren’t too many drives to go around so make sure your post stands-out.
Written By: Mark G. Valente | @MarkwithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Lovedrug – “Dinosaur” [VIDEO]

Narrative: A group of trouble making girls are followed through the woods by a monster.

Performance: None.

Song: One of two singles released this year by the indie stalwarts (Together since ’01.  Stalwarts, right?), it blends singer Michael Shepard’s distinctive delivery and evocative lyrics with a danceable, clap-along rhythm.

Why You Should Watch It:  What I love most is the video’s clever play on the low-budget trope of animal costumes.  The whole thing plays jusssst this side of fantasy and we can believe that the Yeti that appears is meant to be “real” in the world of the piece.  The twist at the end reveals that it is not, just a Jesse Eisenberg look alike who wanted to be part of the action.  Singer Shepard was originally a film student, and his eye for visual storytelling is on display from beginning to end.  Attention was clearly paid to composition and light – especially evidenced by the gorgeous shot of the girls running and shooting off fireworks at 2:58.  Now if only they’d dealt with THAT low-budget cliche, Lovedrug might’ve had a minor low classic here.

Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles |@Chris_Cullari | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC |

Transit – “Long Lost Friends” [VIDEO]

Narrative: None.

Performance: In front of friends at a recording studio.

Song: The reason I’m posting this.  “Long Lost Friends” is the single from their upcoming album Listen and Forgive, a release that just might be the next big thing.

Why You Should Watch It: There are days I wish I was back on the East Coast, basking my bones in the chill of fall and spending most of my time wandering around clubs and basements in search of my next music fix, and there are days where I have to stop myself from packing up and moving.  The day I first heard this track was one of the latter.  Hailing from Boston, Transit has been peddling their hardcore influenced grown-up pop-punk for a few years now and I’ve been a casual fan ever since I heard the bar-burner “Please Head North” on their split with Man Overboard in 2009.

Still, through two more LPs and a two track EP, they never telegraphed this kind of maturation in sound.  Where they once favored pure fire and grit, they ‘ve focused and tightened their emotion and energy into mathy guitars and round, thick production.  It’s so crisp, so clean, so…American Football.  With hooks.  And catchy melodies.  Like The Early November meets American Football.  You don’t know American Footabll?  Come, child:

I dare you to get that riff out of your head.  Just kidding, you can’t.  You can only listen to every other track they’ve ever released and wish they’d recorded more.  They released one EP and one LP, both self-titled and both worthy of their own individual posts.

Oh, back on topic, Transit covered that song!

Also, because they’ve got giant balls, they covered “Born In the USA”.

Did The Boss’ sense of melody and scale take hold of their young minds?  Did they get locked in a room with “Never Meant” and the Goo Goo Dolls’ discography on repeat?  We may never know the truth, but the album drops Oct. 4th and features a guest appearance from Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy.  If it packs the same punch as the single from end to end, I think I’ll have my soundtrack to fall 2011, and a whole lotta kids are gonna have a new favorite record.

Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles |@Chris_Cullari | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC |

Will Gray – Broke* Documentary – “Introducing Will Gray” [FILM & MUSIC]

Every single aspiring independent artist, band, producer, or musician should pay close attention.  We all know that the music industry has undergone extreme changes, and it continues to change in this current age of transition.  Labels are folding, music is free, and the digital age is upon us.  What do we do?  Can artists still do this, be happy, and support themselves?  All these questions and more are discussed in Will Gray’s Broke* Documentary.  However, Will didn’t just wake up one day and decide to do a documentary about the struggles of emerging artists.  He has been living it for over a decade.  Broke* is about the music industry, and what it takes to thrive as an independent artist or music executive in search of their big break.  The documentary features interviews from industry names like Don Was, John Legend, Isaac Slade from The Fray, Seth Godin, Kelly Clarkson, and many more.  After sifting through 300+ hours of footage and more than 60 interviews, Broke* has been created and directed with perfection.  In fact, the film won the Special Jury Prize at the Nashville Film Festival this spring.  “The film digs beneath the clichés and standard storylines to reveal an industry struggling to find a new identity and an artist who’s simply trying to establish one.”  The question: “Can a new act be “broken”?”

Will Gray is not only a great director for his documentary Broke*, but he is an amazing musician that combines folk and hip-hop to create some truly incredible, fresh, and intelligent music.  His influences range from jazz greats like Miles Davis to pop icons like Michael Jackson.  “Will Gray is an independent Hip-Hop/Americana artist who has shared the stage with acts ranging from Erykah Badu, Twista, and Jurassic 5, to Justin Townes Earle and Los Lonely Boys. His original songs have been licensed by MTV, Ford Motor Co., Warner Bros. Records, Playstation, and Motorola.”  This is music that I feel speaks to everyone musically, and conceptually.  Will Gray released his debut album “Introducing Will Gray” under the production of Grammy Award-winning producer T Bone Burnett.  Check out one of my favorite songs from the album called “Back to the Wall:”

Will Gray may be one of the most influential artists of this generation; not because his music is number one on the charts (although it certainly could be), but because he is grabbing the industry by the horns and showing the world what it takes.  As the industry continues through a transitional period, this film gives an inside look at how music executives, producers, and artists feel about its current and future status.  Will music survive the digital age?  Will true and significant art be able to endure pop culture?  What is the breaking point, if it still exists?  As music continues to thrive upon the feel-good listener, Will Gray’s music explores new musical concepts as well as lyrical concepts untouched by the mainstream.   Please explore what this artist has to offer at willgraymusic.com.  Check out the Broke* Documentary, and buy “Introducing Will Gray.”

By: Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC

Sherwood – “You Are” [VIDEO]

Narrative: The band participates in an experiment involving dozens of helium balloons.  It goes awry.

Performance: During an experiment in an open field.

Song: Ridiculously feel-good pop.  A Third Eye Blind melody stuffed with Beach Boy harmonies.

Why You Should Watch It: As all good bands with a sense of self-promotion would, these guys approached me at Warped Tour ’04 (God, I’m old…) with an album and a plea: “Please, check this out.  Even if you don’t like it, it’ll brighten your day.”  I paraphrase, but they were spreading some serious love around.  Unenthused (I was a surly teenager at Warped Tour, pretty much incapable of any thuse at all), I brushed it aside and moved on.  I think a bought a crappy book from some forward thinking religious group instead.  Anyway, it was a mistake and I’m proud to say I now own almost every track this band has released – including the album I originally turned down.  They’ve been struck with bad luck and bad timing, getting signed to the debacle that was MySpace Records – and have constantly been stuck trying to sell that sunny demeanor that struck such a boring chord with me to a generally dour scene.  With their third full-length “QU,” the record this cut is from, they seemed to realize that they’ll probably always be a little more mature than their target audience, and the result is wonderfully complex, mature pop that sees only this track really return to their more straightforward days.

For a perfect summer track, try “Song In My Head” from their MySpace Records debut, “A Different Light.”  There’s a low-budget cleverness that runs through both these videos, and while the one above is definitely prettier, this one had a concept that stuck with me for a while…

If these tracks perk your ears, hit up YouTube and check out tracks more tracks from “A Different Light,” and “QU.”

In the words of the band: “Try it.  Even if you don’t like it…”

By: Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles | @ChriswithMWL|Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

The Orphan, The Poet – “Invincible” [VIDEO]

Narrative: A man searches for a lost love.

Performance: The band plays in a brown room.

Song: Big, sweeping, blah.

Why You Should Watch It:  The earth tone/dirt/mud color scheme and song blend together into a muddy swirl of “meh” for me.  Blame the genre, I don’t love the Saosin post-hardcore stuff – though the production here’s pristine.  What I really want to feature with this video is the band’s performance.  Conceptually it’s nothing special, but visually it’s such a change of pace from the usual high energy, quick cutting, handheld feel that usually accompanies smaller bands’ performances.

Here, by staging the band in seats to start, the director builds a tension that releases when the lead singer springs to his feet at 2:07.  When the rest of the band follows at 3:41, we can see how tight they are as a unit.  The camera points it out; lingering in long, slow dolly shots.  These guys play with energy, with passion and with precision.

Good on them.  So many bands with flashy videos don’t even bother to get that right.

Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles |@Chris_Cullari | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC |

Other Lives – “For 12” [VIDEO]

other livesOther Lives take the spacey vibe of their latest hit “For 12”, off their 2nd album Tamer Animals, to Mars in this incredible video journey through outerspace. The Oklahoma-based band’s added strings really build a perfect ambient setting to the enhanced digital effects of a spaceranger exploring the terrain to the forward sounds of western alternative bliss. The group consists of 5 members who play the said instruments as follows:

Jesse Tabish (piano, guitar, lead vocals)
Josh Onstott (bass, organ, Backing vocals)
Jenny Hsu (cello, piano, Backing Vocals)
Colby Owens (drums)
Jonathon Mooney (piano,violin, guitar)

You can catch these guys on tour now pumpin’ the release of their new album through TBD Records. Currently on the east coast, the group has a show in Asheville, NC where they will then be making there way out west by the end of the summer. Tamer Animals is set to release in the UK in Late August of this year.

Free download: “for 12”