There are some musicians in the Creative Commons community that have attracted a large following, like Amanda Palmer and Brad Sucks. There are others that deserve to have a large following, like Weldroid, Dr. Mindflip and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I’ve compiled a list of ten musicians, regardless of the size of their current following, that I believe should have more attention paid to them. So, welcome to the first of many in my 10 CC Musicians To Follow series.
10 CC Musicians To Follow
What can you say about Ergo? Basically, he is the artists artist. From the incredible Faust Cycle all the way to Ergo Phizmiz Spells Trouble he seems to have done just about everything, but done it in his own eccentric way. This is music that is on the edge of the avant-garde, and yet never quite crosses that line. To say his music is a head trip is to miss the point: he is someone who brings a different perspective to everything he does, and you can’t help but be caught up in his form of lunacy. To get an idea of all the projects he’s performed check out his profile / bio, and you can read my review of All Our clocks Are Dying.
Amanda Palmer is someone who we should all try to emulate on at least one level or another. She’s the kind of performer that gives her all to her audience. She is a person that has a rare understanding of what it means to be an artist. Honestly, it’s best to let her speak for herself:
Brad Turcotte has built a strong following through releasing his music on the internet through ccMixter, Jamendo, and Magnatune. But he doesn’t just release albums and finished tracks: he releases the sources, or the stems for his music, and encourages his fans to remix his music. His style of quirky 8-bit pop-rock is unique and a great listen. Here’s one of my favorite tracks by Brad Sucks:
Weldroid’s is an electronic musician with a penchant for analog bass lines, and loving to fiddle with all things electronic. He has a way of making very melodic electronic music that fuses many elements together. On his bandcamp site he describes himself this way:
Weldroid is the 8- bit emulation of an electrical engineer, a cgi artist and a coffee connoisseur merged into one person and left alone in the middle of a forest in the middle of a forgotten peninsula built of discarded and ancient electronic devices and lots of copper wire.
From his website: Cousin Silas was born in 1959 and raised in the Colne Valley in West Yorkshire. He draws inspiration from such diverse sources as JG Ballard, Fortean events, memories and Brian Eno.
What this fails to convey is the massive body of work he has released: over 50 releases, 39 appearances on other albums and compilations. But he’s more than a set of statistics: he’s a true and genuinely nice person. He’s wonderful to chat with on the net, and from some photos that have been posted he seems to be a really nice chap. Here’s a couple of reviews: The Place It Used to Be and Silas And Friends Vol. 3. Here’s an example of his art:
I only came across The Fucked Up Beat recently, but when I did I grabbed all of their work. Why? Well, it’s about as unique as it gets. This is a duo that knows how to truly compose using found sounds. All of the samples they use are in the public domain, and their output is phenomenal. From haunting, to gorgeous and lush they manage to cover a gamut of styles and emotions in ways you’ve just never heard before from any other artist. Here’s a review of The Fucked Up Beat Investigates Strange Weather Patterns and the UFO Cults of Cold War Nevada. (Yes, the title is really that long, as most of their titles are really that long….)
What is there to say about a band that generally doesn’t seem to show their faces and have a tendency to change names regularly? Well, it doesn’t seem to matter all that much as far as this group is concerned. All that matters is hearing their music, as I’ve written about for Blame! and …Commemorates Something. So, instead, just listen to some of their music:
Kris Roche Kris was born in Japan to an American father and Japanese mother. He moved to Boston, MA to study music, and performed in Boston and New York. After finishing school he moved back to Tokyo, and has worked on his music career. He has built a very strong following with fans both in the United States and Japan. His last release Be Love had a lot of Motown and R&B influence, and was a strong success for him, at least going by the popularity of my review of his work. [Ed. Note: Kris has chosen to remove the CC licensing from his works, so this endorsement has been retracted.]
Just because Dr. Mindflip is a singer / song writer from Irealand puts him on my personal list immediately. However, his work goes a lot further to make it to this list: he is a very talented pianist and musician that has worked very hard to make his music exceptional, and it shows as I wrote in my review of Dr. Mindflip Is Itching To Play:
Here is an artist that has a clear vision. He draws on the style of artists that are fitting to his style music: Wilco, Nick Cave, Ben Folds. His lyrical style is direct and slightly mind-bending at times – one of the best qualities of Tori Amos. He isn’t Justin Beiber or Drake, and that’s a good thing. We need more artists that have a future, that aren’t a flash in the pan.
Hollis Smith is a rare artist, who in an odd way reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut. Kurt was known for his natural writing ability. He could turn a word or phrase naturally, and his way of structuring his work was uniquely his own. Hollis is one of the most natural performers I’ve heard. Most of recordings are just her vocals and guitar, occasionally overdubbing a few extra parts only if a song really needs it. Like Cousin Silas she is a machine putting out new releases, in 2013 she released an album a month (approximately). blocSonic was so taken with her work that they put together an Intro compilation which I reviewed.
This showcase hopefully gives you an idea of the diversity of music that is available on the net these days. I find it almost shameful that the music industry seems to be overlooking some of the most talented artists that are out there, doing the work, putting in the real effort and time to make something that will be enduring.
Fortunately, we have artists that are the true core and heart of this kind of cultural creativity. Amanda Palmer’s TED talk shows this as much as any of her music does. It’s all about the trust and communication that the artist builds with the audience. It’s all about that connection between people.