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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.

Timothy Palmer’s Half-Boy EP is Wholehearted

It’s not usually my norm to meet an artist before reviewing their work. On rare occasions, I might want to talk with an artist after already knowing the quality of their music enough to write about it. But in the case of Timothy Palmer, I find myself making an exception. After being introduced to me by a mutual friend who had talked up his music, Timothy did not initially seem to be a man of many words. At my request, he pointed me to his new EP on iTunes, but we didn’t spend much time talking up front. Now, having sought it out and listened to it at least four or five times through, I can testify that The Half-Boy EP speaks for itself.

Timothy Palmer

It’s difficult to decide where to begin with this one. First, it would probably be good to mention that Timothy is a local musician for those of us living in Abilene, Texas. He describes himself as an “indie/folk/pop” artist, although it’s hard to pin his work down to any one of those. Mostly, his songs feature piano, drums, and a little guitar accompaniment, but (unlike rock music), the album doesn’t seem tethered to any instruments in particular. Instead, Palmer’s voice is his main tool. As is the case with many solo artists, he has crafted a particular persona through the emphasis on his voice. Without needing to be loud, Timothy compacts a great deal of emotion into his words. His vocal quality is reminiscent of a cool mountain stream, a combination of natural wavering and a refreshingly solid, clear timbre.

Perhaps his greatest weapon, however, is his lyrical writing. Without coming across as forced or contrived, Palmer gives his words a ballad-like quality. There is a subtle sense of importance unassumingly bound to each line, but tempered with a certain confident ease. He certainly presents appealing sentiments that do well on an emotional level, yet there is seemingly no sacrifice in the intellectual tenacity of his songwriting.

As I said before, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes Timothy’s particular formula work so well, but the authenticity of his work is apparent from every one of the six tracks on the EP. Not one seems thrown in for filler or less important than the others. Each is just as convincing a display of “Timothy-Palmer-ness” as any of the others, and each is likely worth just as much to its creator.

 

The Shoutout Series Intro: Your Move!

With the conclusion of the Pop Cycle series this past week, it’s time for us to move on to a new series. But after diving into all the deep philosophy of music, what else can we talk about? Well, there’s more than just notes and chords to consider. After all, different genres – and listeners – focus on a lot of different things when choosing what to listen to: beat and rhythm, lyrical intricacy, and the identities of the artists themselves. With this in mind, I decided to write a new series dedicated to you. Yes, You. All the things that make music a personal experience, all the reasons why you enjoy your favorite artists, and what gets you in the mood to listen to your favorite songs just one more time.

Let me give you a personal example of what I’m talking about – my own tastes and the reasons behind them. I normally prefer to talk about artists and music objectively, leaving my biases as far away as I can drop them. But hey, if you’re going to read what I think anyway, why shouldn’t I be transparent with you about my preferences in the first place?

On the one hand, I’ve always sought “truth in fiction” when it comes to music. Just like watching a movie or reading a book, listening to music offers me a way to learn something, whether it’s about the artist or about the subject they’re focusing on. Maybe that critical thinking comes from being an English major, but I’d like to think that the attitude of analysis is what made me pursue both English and music writing.

As I grew older, taste became more and more apparent in what I listened to. It wasn’t just finding the message that counted for me, but what the message was. Did the artist really care about the craft, about the subject matter? Are the instrumentals of good quality and the lyrics well-formed? But in a way, although I tried to find the “best” music, I found my tastes growing a little snobbish. If somebody didn’t like the music that I thought was genius, I was more likely to judge that person than to change my mind about the music.

It was around the time I got involved in this blog that I realized an important truth: all music is important. Even if I dislike it because of my tastes, a song or album can have just as much meaning for somebody else as my favorites do for me. And so I stopped judging based on my own tastes and started trying to find the good in everything I listened to … which just about brings us to today.

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But that’s it from me for now; this series is about You! No more need for me to ramble about myself – the boring part is officially out of the way. The plan from here is for me to analyze all the different reasons people like their music, but wouldn’t it be more interesting to make this a two-way conversation?

Please get involved and have your say! If you send me your thoughts (any thoughts at all) about music, I give you my word that I will read them. If you say something I want to respond to, I may just write an article around your comments (anonymously of course)! So what are you waiting for? Send in your words to rdl11b@acu.edu and I’ll be waiting to hear from you. It’s your move!

 

Be Drawn Back To Indie Music History

Theatre is Evil Cover

Theatre is Evil Cover

We as a culture and as humans spend a lot of time with technology, all focused on the newest, latest and most updated this, that and the other. Whether that’s a new tablet, phone, device, or entertainment like movies and music, we all are almost magnetized by “new.” What about the great things that inspired and influenced the new excellence we have? Especially in indie music?

I read a lot, and lately my eyes and conscience has been drawn to the past in a look at what influenced the present. Probably the most successful commercial artists of all time have their place in our social consciousness, even if we don’t claim them as our favorite musicians. Who can claim to love indie folk or indie folk rock and not have an interest for Simon & Garfunkel or James Taylor, even in a minor way?

There is not a single successful indie songwriter who has not been directly or indirectly influenced by Bob Dylan. He spoke for an entire generation of Americans in a time when social and political commentary was non-existent. Today everyone is a critic and everyone + their dog (or cat in many cases) has a platform to express themselves. Today anyone can be a spokesperson for an ideal or cause. The founders of indie music’s history took a greater risk in many cases to stand apart from the mainstream to let their voice and songs be heard.

If I asked you who you feel the most transformational or influential female singer-songwriter is, who would you say? My money goes with Joni Mitchell for several reasons, not including that most of the artists I’ve spoken with over the last 12 years cite her as an inspiration. Why for any number of reasons could Joni be left out of a conversation about some of today’s most followed indie artists like Amanda Palmer or Cat Power for the implied mark she left on songwriting as a whole?

And what about the obscure artists from indie music history, the ones that only esoteric fans are familiar with? Tragedy is an influential phenomena, as illustrated in the 2012 documentary Searching For Sugarman, where two music fans set out to determine if American musician Sixto Rodriguez had died in Africa as rumored. Rodriguez’ music was widely popular in South Africa but had not been as successful in the states. This documentary put his songwriting back in front of an American audience that was widely open to it, even in the modern music era.

When we hear the phrase Under The Influence, there are bad connotations that follow. But what about when influence is good, because it sets our course more clearly? We do that with artists, especially those of us who are artists, be that music, graphic arts, writers, chefs, etc. There are individuals and groups who have influenced our work, in subtle and obvious ways.

Hendrix is often cited as a musical influence, particularly in the rock and alternative realms. But what about jazz and blues? For music lovers who haven’t traveled much in the jazz or blues realms, it’s not as widely discussed that Jimi trained in jazz and blues, which he showcased in his songwriting, helping to make both genres more mainstream and grow their audience and appeal. Songs that illustrate that are found on his 1967 album Are You Experienced (Third Stone From The Sun among others).

Speaking of blues in indie music, Texas blues has a rich history, yet when I said Texas blues you probably initially thought Stevie Ray Vaughn, right? What about the incredible talent of Bugs Henderson, one of the Texas Blues legends of the underground. His album Still Flyin’ showcase his powerful influence beyond just the blues culture of Austin, but subsequent indie rockers who have toured and played in our state.

And these are but a few examples. The point is not to bring back the past or even promote the notion that only music made 30 plus years ago has real value and that modern “indie” music is a rehash of the past. It’s not. But modern indie music in every genre certainly has been influenced by what came before. For our own appreciation of all we are privy to in this modern age of media gluttony, let’s make even a small effort at noting the pathfinders of indie music’s past, and just be a little more thankful.

Oh and if you want to hear a special playlist from this Indie Influencer selection, Click Here.

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