We Search The Internet For Up-And-Coming Country Singers, Phat Jazz Musicians, And Other Musical Microstars
Each week, dozens of songs and albums from up-and-coming (or just plain unknown) bands debut on the world’s music charts. Some of these bands will never be heard from again; some may become the next little thing. That’s why we have Chuck Eddy exploring the world beyond the Billboard 200, where he’ll look for diamonds in the MySpace rough. This week, his roster of up-and-comers includes a solo thrash revivalist, German Goths, “electronic body music,” and a singer who’s composed a prayer for a girl named Britney.
BEBO NORMAN Interesting that this Georgia-via-Nashville singer-songwriter’s song “Britney” shows up at No. 28 on the Hot Christian Adult Contemporary Chart this week, since it doesn’t seem to be about God, or Jesus, or religion in any particular way. It is definitely a confession, though: “Britney I’m sorry for this cruel, cruel world / We sell the beauty but destroy the girl… I’m sorry for your broken heart / We stood aside and watched you fall apart… I’m sorry for the stones we throw / We tear you down so we can watch the show.” Bebo predicts that the love Britney has sent around the world will eventually come back to her. Sweet, not cynical at all–Straight folkie adult pop; strongly sung, with a melody that dares to be clear and pretty in ways emo bands, say, don’t usually dare. Some fans insist it’s about Bebo’s daughter, but several YouTube videos (one of which may even be official) suggest otherwise. “I hope she hears this song so that she knows it’s not too late,” one fan writes. Norman, according to his Wiki page, “is a graduate of Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina,” and “his fans call themselves the Simpletons.” His MySpace page also has a song called “Come and Worship,” so there’s no reason to doubt his nonsecular credentials. The page also links to a video he recorded in Tanzania about an African child he sponsors through Compassion International. The organization, according to its homepage, “exists as a Christian child advocacy ministry that releases children from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enables them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults.” Not to be a cynical jerk, but I have to say that I have no idea what “spiritual poverty” is. Do you think Britney has it?
THE CRUXSHADOWS Speaking of children, one fan of this veteran and sometimes somewhat gorgeous Massachusetts “darkwave” and/or “electronic body music” act–whose “Immortal” somehow enters the physical-retail-only Hot Singles Sales chart at No. 16 this week–has this to say: “I’ve always thought that the most extraordinary special effect you could do is to buy a child at the moment of its birth, sit it on a little chair and say, ‘You’ll have three score years and ten,’ and take a photograph every minute. ‘And we’ll watch you and photograph you for ten years after you die, then we’ll run the film.’ Wouldn’t that be extraordinary? We’d watch this thing get bigger and bigger, and flower to become extraordinary and beautiful, then watch it crumble, decay, and rot.” Mr. Grim N Evil, he calls himself, and you’d call yourself that too if you had such brilliant ideas!
OOMPH! These German Goths (from Wolfsburg, which is south of Hamburg and west of Berlin if you don’t have your GPS handy) checked into the European Albums chart at No. 59 last week with Monster!, which has since slipped to a still-respectable No. 77. They comprise a theatrical-looking Marilyn Mansonish guy, a bald Sprocketish guy, and a normal guy. Their “Augen Auf” video sure does have a lot of Hansel und Gretel in it; my favorite part of the song is when some little kid counts off his “eins, zwei, drei”s. “Gott Ist Ein Popstar” sounds spacier and more ominous (at times in a Pet Shop Boys “It’s a Sin” way), and features a homeless Jesus. “Labyrinth,” apparently Oomph!’s current single, has too much Panic At the Disco and not enough Rammstein in it if you ask me, but I approve of the spooky spoken chorus part that sounds like “left, left, left behind!”, and don’t blame me if you have nightmares about that big scary rabbit. “Hallo, wie gehts?,” a friend tells the trio on MySpace. “Have a great rockin’ weekend.”
TOXIC HOLOCAUST Oh wait, I know this guy–yep, just one guy, a/k/a Joel Grind of Portland, Ore. The 8 (out of 10)-star lead review in the new issue of Decibel (which is currently in my bathroom for toilet-reading reasons) analyzes his new album An Overdose of Death, which entered Heatseekers at No. 34 last week. (This week, sadly, the only Toxic band remaining on that chart is the Airborne Toxic Event, at No. 24.) Off the top of my head, I remember that Decibel’s reviewer labeled Toxic Holocaust’s album a thrash-metal revival record, and went on to comment about the cheesy technicolor ‘80s-style post-nuclear electrocuted wild green dogs on the cover. Turns out (now that I went into the bathroom and got my copy) that Adam Tepedelen wrote the review; he also points out that Donny Paycheck from Zeke plays drums on the album, which was produced by noted grunge hero Jack Endino. The photo of Joel Grind that ran in the magazine has him wearing a shag haircut like the one a young W. Axl Rose stole from Hanoi Rocks, which confuses me–did thrash bands actually have hair like that in the ‘80s? If so, they must’ve been really early thrash bands. Like Metallica debut album early, or close to it. Either way, metal album covers sure were way more fun to look at then, weren’t they? We just didn’t know it at the time. Anyhow, the songs on the Toxic Holocaust MySpace page sound reasonably rad–very singleminded and clear-eyed in their attempt to come off as old-school thrashy. Compared to lots of modern-day “extreme” death/black metal, they almost have melodies! The first song is actually about the aforementioned wild dogs, the title of “Nuke The Cross” cracks me up, and “War Is Hell” (a true if not exactly original sentiment if ever there was one!) is surprisingly comprehensible wordwise despite being extremely fast. Not sure I’d want to listen to a whole album of such stuff, but big deal, you know? Honestly, my only complaint is that the band isn’t called Nontoxic Holocaust instead, which would have been a lot funnier.
GORDON GOODWIN’S BIG PHAT BAND None of the 18 musicians photographed on this L.A. jazz ensemble’s MySpace page look especially overweight–and by calling themselves “phat,” they certainly can’t be referring to the roly-polyness of Lee Ritenour or Art Tatum or Chick Corea or Dave Grusin or Patti Austin, all of whom make very special guest appearances on their new album Act Your Age, which made a one-week-only appearance on the Jazz Albums Chart at No. 19 last week, can they? Nope–that would be highly disrespectful, and in most cases, not especially warranted! So I’m pretty sure “Phat” must refer to the band’s perceived funkiness or what-have-you instead; for instance, they cover Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” and Earth, Wind and Fire’s “September,” and “Act Your Age” itself features a prominent James Brown-style riff. Their new CD (which comes complete with a helpful bonus DVD) also has at least three songs with sort-of-Spanish-sounding titles. Anyway, I was planning to quote some fans from their MySpace page, but jazz fans evidently only say boring things. So I won’t.
WHITNEY DUNCAN “When I Said I Would,” the single by this 22-year-old 2007 Nashville Star finalist that debuts on Hot Country Songs at No. 59 this week, is very very very catchy teenpop-country that (I predict) could easily cross over pop a few months down the line on the high heels of Taylor Swift’s startling success in urban America. Not much else to say about it, really; it opens with a shimmer somewhat reminiscent of John Waite’s “Missing You” (a very popular shimmer in country lately, by the way), then starts cooking cooking cooking. Possibly one of the best country singles of the year; we’ll see. Anyway, Whitney looks something like a cross between Juice Newton and Geoffrey The Giraffe from Toys R Us, and now and then sings a little bit like Tiffany channeling Stevie Nicks; her MySpace page also features a song called “Skinny Dippin’” where clothes wind up in bushes and mud winds up on tushes–possibly the first time the word “tush” has been used in a country song, unless ZZ Top or Right Said Fred count. She also seems to be one of the first country stars to feature “webisodes” on her MySpace. Whitney has posted four installments of “Whit’s Wit” so far, all ditzily dissecting Southern slang, to wit: (1) “yonder,” which she says means “anywhere you are not”; (2) “crank the car,” which means starting one up even though cars haven’t had cranks for almost a century now; (3) “How much do you like being home?,” which translates as “How much further do you have to go before you are home?,” and the newest, (4) “chuck” vs. “chunk,” when it comes to throwing things. Whitney prefers “chunk.” I say “chuck,” but then I’m biased.
EDDY LOVER Finally: Thanks for loving me, Eddy Lover (not to be confused with Ed Lover of Yo! MTV Raps, fame, with the fat Dr. Dre)! Nobody on the music charts has loved me this much since Rickie Lee Jones recorded “Chuck E.’s in Love” almost three decades ago! And your “reggae/rap/Latin” album Perdoname entered the Heatseekers chart at No. 31 last week then climbed two places to No 29 this week, so congratulations! I really like the picture on your MySpace page where you are standing next to that cool yellow car holding two fingers in the air! You have quite a nice falsetto, too! And you’ve received several MySpace comments from some girl who isn’t wearing a shirt–that’s also neat, I have to admit! Well anyway, I hope life is treating you well in Panama. Bye!