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From CBGB to Warped Tour: “How Did I Get Here?”

ramones“And you may ask yourself, well… How did I get here?” is a line from the Talking Heads classic “Once In A Lifetime.” Of course Talking Heads, like the Ramones, are an original class of 1976 graduate of the CBGB Punk Rock explosion. Just recently, the RIAA announced that almost 40 years since its 1976 release, the Ramones’ genre defining, self-titled debut has finally gone Gold, selling 500,000+ copies.

Punk Rock has become a musical institution in America in the past four decades and nowhere is that more clearly visible than in the Vans Warped Tour, now celebrating its 20th anniversary with dates running from 6/11 to 8/3. One Orchard label, Pure Noise, has 8 bands alone performing on Warped Tour, including Cali’s breakout success The Story So Far, and veterans like Massachusetts-based Vanna and Four Year Strong.

“The Ramones have one Gold record to their name,” KISS’ Gene Simmons told Consequence of Sound once referring to their comp Ramones Mania. “But they meant nothing. They never succeeded, failed, in fact.” But history has proven otherwise. Although Ramones peaked at No. 111 on the Billboard 200 and “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” never became the hoped for radio hits, SPIN named Ramones #1 in 50 Essential Punk Records, and it was inducted into the Library of Congress, along with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Janis Joplin’s Cheap Thrills.

The Ramones and the other hard touring bands of their era like Talking Heads, Blondie, Patti Smith Group and Devo (whose Something Else For Everybody is also being distributed by The Orchard) singlehandedly created a Punk Rock touring circuit that previously had not existed in 1976. Today, getting the crucial support and live exposure is so much easier — young bands just plug in to Warped Tour‘s festival, playing short sets and meeting fans afterwards at merchandise booths to swap stories and autographs. Warped Tour is so successful in 2014 that many bands schedule their releases around it. The Story So Far‘s Songs Of, Vanna‘s Void, Handguns‘ Life Lessons, Heart To Heart‘s Dulce, My Iron Lung‘s Relief, Four Year Strong‘s Go Down In History, To The Wind‘s Block Out The Sun, BrigadesCrocodile Tears – all will benefit from the audience reach and impact of the Tour. Some of these developing acts will eventually grow like The Story So Far to be mainstage headliners someday.

TheStorySoFar

And that is the Ramones legacy all these years later: non-stop relentless touring, taking the live Punk experience to their fans and creating your own definition of success. Punk may have evolved into many sub-genres over the years — from Hardcore to Emo, Screamo, Metal Core and so on — but its impact today can be felt on the Warped Tour, in Vans footwear, at clothing based mall outlets like Hot Topic and in the latest generation to emerge from the streets of Noo Yawk City like Brooklyn’s Cerebral Ballzy who just this week released Jaded and Faded on Cult Records, a label run by The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, a man and a band clearly influenced by the CBGB era DIY Punk aesthetic. Punk Rock, like Rock & Roll, is here to stay!

You Can’t Judge a Book By Its Cover….The Electronic Joys of Fuck Buttons

June 20, 2013 Artist News No Comments

fbuttonsAt least, you could say The Doors, Nirvana, the Velvet Underground, Blue Oyster Cult or Joy Division were band names that had some subtlety, irony and or (black) humor to it. But when you name your act the Sex Pistols, Crass, Slayer, Venom, Hallucinogen, or Killing Joke and so on, you pretty much have an idea of what’s coming. So, you’d think was the case with seemingly controversially named, Fuck Buttons. You might also think that Fuck Buttons would remain a band with a cultish following but influential fans like Underworld and acclaimed film director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire), who took the internationally acclaimed UK techno act’s recommendation and included Fuck Buttons’ 2009 track “Olympians” in the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies, launched this band into widespread public approval.

Certainly, Fuck Button’s newest number, “The Red Wing,” is  no more confrontational than any of the previously mentioned acts. Its video images of a model dancing, shape-shifting into occasional rorschach tests makes for subtle, artistically fascinating watching. Its musical mashup of Aphex Twin, My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai, Kraftwerk, Chrome, The Prodigy, Suicide and many  other electronic influences make for some forward looking, freshly unique music.  Not your average song and dance routine electronica here. More is to come when Slow Focus, FB’s third album is released on July 23rd in the States on ATP Records.  With US dates coming in September, expect FB to help redefine the leftfield one more time and shake up the increasingly cliched electronica field.

Forward Thru The Past: Austin Psych Fest, The Black Angels and Some Texas Psychedelic Originals

Austin Psych Fest 2013Stick around long enough and you can watch musical trends come and go…… Punk fades in the early 80s, goes underground and re-emerges with a (commercial) vengeance. Heavy Metal morphs through various re-incarnations, even Dance music evolves from Disco to House to Techno to whatever Step/Trap/Shake thing is happening.

And so it is with Psychedelic music, which began in Austin, TX in 1965 with Roky Erickson’s 13th Floor Elevators and almost simultaneously in London with the formation of Pink Floyd. The leading lights of today’s American Psych Rock scene are of course Austin’s own The Black Angels, whose new Blue Horizon album, Indigo Meadow, hits digital media sites and record shops on April 2. By now, many of you have heard their very of the moment new single “Don’t Play With Guns.” Perhaps the more cutting edge aficionados out there have even purchased the just released Austin Psych Fest 2012 DVD featuring the Angels and contemporaries like Brian Jonestown Massacre, Black Lips, Thee Oh Sees, Dead Meadow and so many other bands bending minds live on stage. Like Austin’s famed SXSW and Austin City Limits Festivals, Austin Psych Fest has developed a momentum of its own, this year attracting artists from as far away as Brazil (the re-united Os Mutantes) and Mali (Tinariwen).

While the fest boasts an awesome lineup of talent too deep to detail here (check their website for details), it is the triumvirate topping the bill on Sunday April 28 that has tripendicularly-inclined fans salivating. Austin’s Psych godfather Roky Erickson? Check. Leaders of the new school The Black Angels? You betcha. But wait, who’s this? Houston’s legendary The Moving Sidewalks with all four original members, including some guitarist from ZZ Top named Billy Gibbons?

Seems like everything old is new again. The Psychedelic Blues Rock of The Moving Sidewalks imploded in the summer of 1969 after a few successful singles, one album – Flash – and tour dates opening for Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and the Jeff Beck Group w/Rod Stewart. Uncle Sam drafted original band members Tom Moore and Don Summers and the dream came crashing to an end. Their influence continued on and in late 2012, a Christmas present appeared in the form of a 2-CD reissue, The Complete Moving Sidewalks. Then came news of an exclusive NYC reunion show at BB King’s club in Manhattan on March 30. Still, the wild-eyed fans of the Texas Psych Rock scene were heartbroken until the announcement that yes indeed the original Moving Sidewalks would be appearing on the same day as their fellow Texans at Austin Psych Fest 2013!

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We Don’t Just Sell Music, You Know

November 28, 2012 Artist News, Orchard News No Comments

DJ Comrade "Favela Trap"Over here in the Physical department at The Orchard, the sales reps are privileged to rep CDs from some of the finest musicans and DJs in the world. When a legendary DJ like DJ Premier is in the house to discuss his latest project, you best believe we’re paying attention! And we’re always happy to see someone like RJD2 pop by too. In 2012 so far, we’ve sold and marketed old school legends ranging from Premo to Pop royalty Dionne Warwick, from Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Dion to Mr. Worldwide himself, Pitbull, with his first collection of Original Hits. Of course, Pitbull’s booty shakin’ dancefloor anthems have their roots in both the Miami bass scene and his earliest mentor Luke and the Southern crunk beats popularized by his early producer and collaborator Lil Jon.

EDM, or Electronic Dance Music, is constantly evolving and morphing into the latest flavas. Somewhere in the mid-2000s DJ Diplo picked up on a Brazilian Dance craze, Baile Funk, the latest crossover music rockin’ all the favela (communal Brazilian shanty town) parties in the working class neighborhoods of Rio De Janeiro. Of course Diplo has gone on to become a superstar DJ and producer and spread the Brazilian funkiness everywhere he went in the States. Meanwhile back at The Orchard Sales department, Comrade Xão was working alongside some of the very same original sales reps who first blew up Pitbull, Lil Jon and Ying Yang Twins to gold, platinum and multi-platinum status. The Orchard got busy releasing greatest (or Crunkest) hits compilations from all three artists while Comrade Xao played parties in Brooklyn and visited the favelas of Rio to check out the party scene first-hand and show the locals his latest fusion of all of these influences. After a few close encounters with the machine gun toting favela security forces and the equally feared local polícia, Chris brought back his newly added Rio street knowledge to his mixes in New York.

And so it is with great pride that The Orchard Physical Sales department can now say, “we not only sell great music, but make it as well!” Ok, we know what you’re thinking…. sure, some of the reps have played in bands with label deals before and can rock a fierce, power chorded version of the Kinks “Father Christmas” at The Orchard Christmas party. Not what we’re talking about…. 5 minutes of fame on a small stage. Nah, Comrade Xao is rocking a complete full album release here, featuring some of Rio’s hottest MC’s over cutting edge Baile Funk/Trap beats and he’ll be hitting the sunny streets of Rio just in time to unleash Favela Trap for its December 12 street date. Check for it at your favorite online retailers and don’t take our word for it. Listen to Rio’s own DJ Wooles (Apavoramento Sound System): “DOPE!!! This style will bring a fresh air to baile funk overseas.”  And…. “There is only one release this year that I have been looking forward to for so f*&%#in’ long: DJ Comrade’s Favela Trap,” straight from the mouth of Dutch wonder kid and producer Munchi (Selegna, T&A, Mad Decent).

We see new releases come and go all the time over here. But fresh Dance music is like awesome fresh coffee, the real stuff hard is to find. Now you know!

Pitbull and The Raveonettes: How To Keep Killin’ It Year After Year After Year

August 20, 2012 Artist News No Comments

Pitbull "Original Hits" and The Raveonettes "Observator"I’ve had the rare opportunity to watch unknowns develop and blossom into superstars many times in my music career. Among those is Mr. Worldwide himself, Pitbull, who we remember as a hungry young rapper out of Miami. Back then, the Cuban-American rapper originally known as Armando Cristian Pérez was ID’d as Mr. 305, having built up his fan base in that sunny beach environment.

We first realized that Pitbull’s international potential was huge when we were on vacation in the Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and heard his early dance floor smash “Culo” blasting at mega-volume from a convertible on the ocean front drive. Since then the hit tracks just keep coming with a Who’s Who of collaborators from Lil Jon and the Ying Yang Twins to J-Lo, T-Pain and most recently Shakira.

Top 10 Pitbull singles can be heard all over the world now and this fact was driven home most recently on a visit to Yankee Stadium during a group outing with 26 members of The Orchard crew for a game against The Angels. In the pre-game warm-up at one of the South Bronx’s local Dominican watering holes, a number of Pitbull tracks could be heard blasting out of the jukebox. I’ve visited this fine establishment several times in August (being a season ticket holder and all), and various tracks from Pitbull’s Original Hits have aired along side the more expected merengue and salsa classics. Armando has certainly made his presence felt from his recent visit to Kodiak, Alaska’s Walmart and concert for the locals to the environs of Noo Yawk’s Yankee Stadium!

On another note, here is some Raveonettes trivia for you:

We live in an uncertain world… The stock market goes up and down and no one seems to know where our economy is heading. It is very reassuring then to know The Raveonettes are one band you can certainly rely on to deliver their unique, personalized blend of 50s rock vocal stylings, surf guitar, post punk, droney noise rock and more year after year after year. As the Danish duo prepare to deliver their newest opus Observator on 9/11 and celebrate their 10th Anniversary by heading out to rock your world in cities across America, here’s a little known fact: Every single Raveonettes full album has debuted in the Billboard Top 200 or higher since Chain Gang of Love first hit #123 in 2003. You may be undecided on who to vote for in the upcoming Presidential election (or not), but clearly The Raveonettes have been pulling the popular vote for as long as they’ve been around!

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