Review by Google“>Shawn Stjean
I’m about as far from a London music-scene insider as an introverted teacher from east-coast US with few social media connections can be; and yet, they found me. And if these up-and-coming bands can root me out and evoke a review, they’re a lot closer to the mainstream than maybe even they know. That’s the beauty of the great artistic endeavor in the 21st century: if you’re a writer, a painter or illustrator, a musician, a prophet or pundit–whether you’ve got battle scars or henna tattoos–you can scream your message to a global audience. If you’ve got the the talent, the brains, and the balls–not necessarily in that order–then dare to deafen the masses!
I admit I’m a little concerned over the ultra-competitive gene such an electronically facilitated/driven marketplace will breed into the DNA of the younger generation. Social Darwinism is never pretty, and social-media-darwinism (SMD) won’t likely class it up (“she with the most friends, wins”). But maybe there are enough followers to go around.
Sure, you’ll have to give your art away for awhile, which is how they found me. But ask yourself: is that any worse than an office internship, or signing five figures deep into student loans, or pulling an oar on the good ship EvilCorp until your passage is paid? As Lux Lisbon themselves put it, “Money doesn’t make a man a man.”
Maybe it’s worthwhile to describe the tactics by which this war can be fought by the guerrilla non-elite. My publishing imprint has a Twitter account which is completely automated, to the extent that all I do is choose people and entities to follow back–and if they have anything to do with books, or art in general, I do. That way, I don’t dilute the imprint “@GlasDaggrePubs” with a bunch of unrelated connections–hoping to attract more writers and artists. Now, the folks across the pond, being undoubtedly more savvy at the game than I, followed me, and I followed back. They then thanked me with a follow-up reachout, by name, and offered a link to some free tunes–which I ignored. Here’s the key: persistence. The next day, Stu from Lux Lisbon e-mailed me directly, with a cleverly worded message that the link had been broken, but would now work. A harmless fabrication, there, I suspect. But, I decided to spare the bandwidth for their new EP, which is routed through their website with plenty of YouTube video links. Never a single Ask for money. And now, the crucial requirement, without which no amount of promotion can save an artist: Much as one would do with a car radio, I decided to give three songs only a listen–for about thirty seconds each. If nothing grabbed me in that amount of time, case-closed and on to the next thing. Well, on the third random press of the old electronic jukebox button, “Show Me the Money” got its hooks into me. So yeah, the talent end of the equation is, and always will be, the necessary bullet in the gun.
Standouts from the Get Some Scars EP include “Demons You Show” (good enough to feature an alternate, acoustic duet version to anchor the album) and “The Devil Got Me Dancing” (instant classic–trust me.) Stuart Rook and Charlotte Austen trade lyrics clearly influenced by early Springsteen in their relentless resistance to one-and-two syllable words, but more importantly, simplistic meaning. Someone in this outfit happens to be an inventive videographer, as well, and they’re tech-literate enough to offer multiple download formats for all your devices. Check it: http://luxlisbon.com/
A year earlier, the initial process followed by Regan from Ryker Sear had not, details aside, been dissimilar. She kindly offered me some merch when I wrote to praise a the free video (and remember, I’m nobody special) which I declined on principle until I could at least write a review (both bands have cannily maintained online stores–I agree, screw the middle-man, he earned nothing!) And, that last vital requirement reveals itself: you’ve gotta be deadly patient–I mean Viet-Cong patient. Discovery happens, but like songwriting–any kind of writing–it’s slow process and one-soldier-at-a-time recruitment.
Ryker Sear have got HD videos up on Vevo: http://www.vevo.com/watch/ryker-sear/to-the-ending/QMGR31402673 Soundcloud:https://soundcloud.com/rykersear and of course the inevitable YouTube host through their own site: http://www.rykersear.com/ “To the Ending” alone is a great track, a great music video, and deserves airplay here in the States better than 90% of what’s getting it on the commercial stations glutted with tired 80s/90s recycled junk that never was very good in the first place. “Forever Criminal” makes a worthy follow-up. Unlike the lyric-agile tongue-twisting and acousti-fused material of Lisbon, Regan Vincenza’s voice weights her tunes in equal proportion with a punchy percussion and juiced-guitar riffs that will make Sear‘s body of work more appealing to the traditional rock crowd. Their EP is 2012’s Tell Me Why, with free single release “Forever Criminal” promised for this October 13. The material of either band may not sound fully cooked in the ears of music-industry professionals, but then again, it hasn’t been commodified, homogenized, and neutered yet by pros, either.
Remember, youngsters, you may not be raking in much on the front end, but you’re also not paying a mortgage payment to the Man in promotional fees, letting an agent take his blood-pound, or signing deals that will lock you up for another three albums, like the rock legends of old had to do.
As for you fans, you need to know that these guys have fanbases still modest enough in size to be appreciated, up close and personal. Write the band members–they write back! Years from now, as every twerp with an iPhone17 is bragging to his pals about his great musical taste, you’ll be able to say you’ve been following the greats since the 20-teens.
Do your best, and the money takes care of itself. Heat the oven, and the bread will bake. Or, as I like to opine when in a metaphor-mixing mood, sweat always rises to the top.