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The Appetizer Radio Show

Serving up your connection to new and emerging artists along with established legends each week.

Connect with us using these platforms to discover fresh flavors of music from the known as well as the unknown.

Hear the show online by clicking on the Listen-Now link on the Play Button.

Kerchief Proves Solo Success

When we think of solo musicians, women tend to be big-name pop singers like Beyoncé or Taylor Swift. The realm of rock is often left to male artists. How many female artists can we name in a genre made famous by the likes of Elvis, John Lennon, David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, and countless other male celebrities? Yet in more recent years, groups like Metric and The New Pornographers have proven that women are just as well suited for that atmosphere. Now, Brittany Hill (who performs under the name Kerchief) is demonstrating that individual women can carve a vibrant and flavorful place into the modern rock scene.

Kerchief Pic 1

 

To call Kerchief’s music simply “rock” doesn’t quite do it justice. She has a nuanced voice that brings together a certain jazz-inspired funk, the lyrical finesse of Neko Case, the potent voice of Emily Haines, and an indie-rock sensibility that ties her instrumentals together. Formerly of the all-female alt rock outfit Vanity Theft, Hill’s music reflects a long and storied personal journey that hits with force and leaves the mind in a haze of personality.

Her new album, Machines and Animals, does not sound like the work of an average singer-songwriter forging her path in the intimidating world of rock. Instead, it’s seasoned with the perfect mixture of talent and charisma that neither demands to be noticed nor allows the listener to walk away unmoved. Kerchief is at once under-spoken and towering, smooth and electric, crisp and jagged. She leaves off no rough edges, but she does not keep us out of her world.

In short, Kerchief is an artist that simply must be heard to be understood, and now is the perfect time to become one of her earliest followers. Her single “Milk & Honey” is available on Spotify and elsewhere, but the full album will not be released until July 21st. Hopefully, I will not be the only one who listens to it on repeat when the date rolls around.

 

The Pop Cycle Part 1: Does Music Ever Change?

With over 10 million views, one of the most popular VSauce videos on YouTube answers the question: Will we ever run out of new music? In it, show host Michael wonders whether music really can be made in new and different combinations of sounds forever, or whether we will inevitably make the same music, reinvented and rediscovered generation after generation. While his ultimate conclusion is that we are not likely to ever be without new music to enjoy, he does note that many songs fall into predictable patterns based on familiar chords and progressions that already sound good to us. In a previous article, I wrote about how certain music triggers instinctual emotional reactions in our brains on a subconscious level. We are probably never going to outrun the human need to connect to music on an emotional level, nor will we totally break away from such patterns. But the real question for me now is this: will our pop music always fit in to current pop conventions? Are the standards for what is mainstream just as ingrained within us?

In another article, I talked about the transition that certain genres have taken over the years. They start with the outliers and outcasts of society, loved by the downtrodden and weary because they express what the lower classes are going through. Then the genre gathers an “early adopter” following – these fans are not those from the original community, but they find the music appealing and enjoy hearing about life from a perspective other than their own. We might call this the “hipster” stage, where music is cool before it’s popular (or perhaps because it isn’t popular yet). Over time, outlier genres attract more and more fans who feel alienated from mainstream culture and are seeking an alternative that better suits them. At this point, the genre becomes, aptly, an “alternative” genre. It isn’t yet mainstream, but it has a following large enough to be significant on a regional, national, or even international level. Eventually, some members of the alternative community are willing to adapt their standards in order to appeal to a mass, mainstream crowd. Elements of the genre become more and more similar to pop music. Finally, the original outcast genre falls out of favor with the majority and is largely replaced with a pop-adapted version. Such was the fate of country, alternative rock, rap, and many others.

So we’ve hit our roadblock. How can music keep its identity without becoming like everything else that’s popular? What can keep a genre vibrant and sustained by its own identity, a unique community and fans? As a writer for a radio show that thrives on high-quality music that remains somewhat obscure to the larger public, I feel compelled to answer these questions. Join me again next week, when I will begin to tackle these dilemmas. How have the Internet and free distribution methods played their part? Where do record companies and money enter the picture? It will not be easy, but I believe we can figure out a little bit more than what’s already been said. Stay tuned for more!

Jake Aldridge is Keeping it Free

In a globalized economy with myriad choices in just about every area of consumer life, goods and services can go from being about sharing a quality craft to being a question of dollars and cents. Business owners and artists alike must be conscious of their finances if they are to stay afloat. Nevertheless, some musicians refuse to allow money to dictate their approach to music distribution. Josh Garrels, the subject of an earlier review of mine, is one artist who has been using free distribution to spread his work, even going so far as to release his most recent album for no cost. Counterintuitively, the results of this decision seem to indicate that not only are his profits (largely from tips) on par with a purely commercial release, but also that Garrels is gaining tens of thousands of fans for his mailing list.

Free Music Jake Aldridge, a hip-hop/R&B artist from Suffolk, UK, is taking a similar approach to his distribution. A press release from May records his decision to turn down a major US record deal in order to keep his operation free and independent. “The deal just wasn’t right for me,” he reflects. “I know a lot of artists will probably call me a fool for turning down a deal and then releasing tracks for free. The truth is, I’d rather earn nothing for music which I enjoy making and am proud of than make a killing from music which I couldn’t stand or was embarrassed by. I have to love it myself before I can put it out. Going it alone means that I get to make all the decisions.”

His music certainly stands up on its own, aside from his philosophical convictions. He relies mainly on the spine of his lyrics, with female backup singing and strong instrumentals that make his work very friendly for pop audiences. Yet he does not come across as just another mass-market artist. As his avoidance of major record labels demonstrates, Aldridge has a clear mind when it comes to his unique brand. He combines mass appeal with a very personal vision, skillfully riding the line between success and individuality. It is only to be hoped that his commitment to his craft remains as vibrant as his words suggest.

 

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