Local Intercasting Corporation is behind rabble.com, which allows cell phone users to create and publish content on their phones. the launch model could be described as akin to myspace on your cell phone, only limited to a membership community rather than open to the public. "We noticed a few independent bands using the rabble program to connect with fans," says company president Derrick Oien. "So we reached out to some of our favorite music labels: Sub pop, Nitro, and Trustkill." among the bands in the "rabble community" are the Offspring, the Aquabats, Sleater-Kinney, the Shins, Fight Paris, and Rogue Wave. "the really unique thing rabble offers," says Oien, "is the ability to message their favorite musician on their mobile phone [through Rabble's service]."
DRM-Free Music Downloads
Launched in May, local-based mTraks.com offers individual songs and music subscriptions, promising files that are free of DRM (digital rights management) limitations. Downloads will play on iPods, compatible MP3 players, computers, and cell phones. Bands can set up free webpages with bios, photos, song links and, said to be coming soon, video. "Our website is the culmination of two years of programming and design," says mTraks founder Dey Martin. "Our site is easier to use for social networking than MySpace, and we believe that we offer a better consumer solution to that of emusic.com."
The site claims to offer around 750,000 songs, featuring more than 80,000 artists. "We were able to make a deal with a major music distributor," says Martin, declining to name the distributor ("That's a trade secret"). Monthly fees begin at $9.99 for up to 30 downloads at 27 cents each, while by-the-song purchases run 99 cents to $1.29, depending on file quality. Locally connected performers so far represented on the site include Rob Crow, Pinback, Optiganally Yours, and Furious IV.
Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show
Tribute band Brother Love takes its name from the 1969 Neil Diamond hit "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show," but the group refuses to settle for the singer's aging fan demographic. Songs like "Sweet Caroline" are powered up with heavy-metal arrangements, to create a sound that's more Dimebag than Diamond, intended to draw and please college-age barhoppers. "One of the toughest things I've ever done was to convince hard rock musicians to do Neil Diamond music," says Brother Love singer Gary Day. "It's a continuous sales effort to actually keep them in the band.
"I've always admired Neil's writing, and I like the energy of driving rock and roll. I swear, when I was a teenager, I used to have daydreams imagining Neil Diamond doing an album with Van Halen." Brother Love doesn't strive to reproduce any of Diamond's studio or live concert recordings. "All we do is improvise. The material has to be completely rearranged, going from a 20-piece band plus orchestra to a 3-plus-1 group." Segments of the Brother Love show are posted on YouTube.
Lost in the Zoo
Goddamn Electric Bill's song "Lost in the Zoo" accompanies a TV commercial airing frequently in Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina. "I sold a CD to a girl on the East Coast," explains songwriter and sole bandmember Jason Torbert. "Her boyfriend just happened to work in advertising and liked the song so much that he pushed to get it placed in a commercial he was working on for the Tri-Cities Regional Airport." The ad is currently running on NBC and CBS affiliate stations and can be seen on the band's website.
The instrumental tune is set to a visual travelogue with narration exhorting viewers to "Want it, book it, be there." "The commercial is lighthearted, gliding along different locations with the intro keyboard line, enticing people to go on vacation," says Torbert. "Although it's not exactly how I'd choose that song to be placed, I'm extremely happy that it's out there. This is my first paid placement -- they paid me a one-time fee -- so that's great. Hopefully, it'll lead to some film scoring in the near future. Don't want to jinx it."
Ugly Things prides itself on its coverage of "Wild Sounds from Past Dimensions," from 1920s rural blues to 1950s R&B to obscure 1960s beat, garage, and psychedelic music. The magazine debuted in 1983, around two years after publisher Mike Stax moved to San Diego from London to perform with the Crawdaddys and then the Tell-Tale Hearts. "There was a small '60s scene in town, but the music on MTV and in Rolling Stone was Flock of Seagulls, Culture Club, or the Psychedelic Furs. Ugly Things was a reaction to that, to say, 'That's not what my friends listen to.' I called some people to write about different records and bands we were into. From that, I started making contacts around the country, and it grew to the point where I started trying to actually track down bands, to get firsthand information and access to their archives and memories, instead of just rewriting what I found in books and magazines."
Ugly Things has interviewed many onetime hitmakers who are today remembered only by cult devotees of the Bands That Time Forgot, including bassist Ray Benich of Damnation of Adam Blessing; the Outsiders' Wally Tax; Phil May and Twink of the Pretty Things; producer Shel Talmy; and Sky Saxon from the Seeds. Among the site highlights is a "Searchin' for Shakes" database, with garage band compilation albums and fanzines, all searchable by band name, song title, date released, etc.
If you saw the commercial featuring American Idol judge Randy Jackson being followed by crazies doing their version of the Oreo cookie theme ("Oh, R-E-O"), you may not have realized there was actually a real "Oreo and milk jingle" contest. The winners were A Cappella Gold, a local female quartet comprising a teacher, a voice coach, a property manager, and a nurse (all members of the award-winning San Diego Chorus of Sweet Adelines International).
The matching outfits and synchronized dance moves the women devised for their ode to Oreo won't be part of the commercial, as it's for radio rather than TV. They didn't get a lifetime supply of cookies, but they did win $10,000 for their rendition. An MP3 of the ladies' jingle is playable at www.oreo.com, and the video with Randy Jackson is on Google Video.