It's true--I have 100 MySpace friends. Finally!
You are probably thinking what a lot of people I know think about MySpace--what a pathetic waste of the Internet. I had the same reaction a couple years ago when I received an email from the online meet (meat?) market inviting me to try blogging on their site instead. I signed up and saw my page and sadly unsexy photos sit dormant and friendless for a long time.
Then something happened.
I'm not sure what caused the MySpace explosion, but it's a big deal now. All the cool kids do it. Slowly, my catalogue of "friends" began to grow--people I knew from high school, fellow bloggers, females who were convinced I was worth getting to know because I held a guitar in my pictures. (Either that or the glimmering bald head...) Still, I rarely signed on to the site and simply lost interest.
Then something else happened.
Bands began to seize upon MySpace as a free way to have a website--post pictures, update news and gigs, stream music, maintain a mailing list. All the things a fledgling band might want without having to pay for a domain name or design costs. It's brilliant, actually. But it wasn't just trying-to-make-it bands. Well-known mainstream artists began to use the site as a way to stream upcoming albums and smuggle label propaganda to people. Genius!
Like any place one might look for music, you have to trudge through some crap on MySpace, but I've stumbled across a couple keepers.
Laura Jansen is a perfect example of what's potentially good about MySpace for musicians--she doesn't have a real website, a fully-realized recording or even a band. There's a naive quality about her page. She asks for band members and someone to create a website on her sidebars. But don't be fooled--the songs are great. I've been emailing consistently for a couple months asking about the upcoming record. "It's coming. Can you be patient and still excited?" she wrote last time. If the song "Bells" is a glimpse into this recording, I will gladly wait. The simple instrumentation lulls me into a trance that her vocals pull me out of just barely, but because they are beautiful, not distracting. Good music for spring.
Thanks to One Tree Hill (no, I am not providing a link!) people have had the chance to hear Strays Don't Sleep. Essentially a collaboration for two gifted songwriters, Matthew Ryan and Neilson Hubbard, this combo creates the kind of whispered organic music that demands a glass of merlot and some candles. (Yes, that's a glimpse into my typical Friday night--so what?!) On tour this spring with personal favorite Josh Rouse, this is a band I'm proud to call my "friends." (Check out the song "Love Don't Owe You Anything"--it's gorgeous.)
For Blue Skies -- Strays Don't Sleep
From Strays Don't Sleep, Strays Don't Sleep (Amazon: US, UK)
I can't post without including something British can I? Nemo are an electro-punk band, unfortunately compared to The Faint and The Killers. Yes, they look the part, complete with gaunt, seemingly never-seen-the-sun complexions. There is something infectious about these songs. I'm waiting for a CD to land in my mailbox as I've begged the band to send me their last recording. (Do I appear to be an email mooch or what?) I'm not sure how long this dance rock genre will last this time around, but I hope Nemo puts out a lot more material before the 80s vibe is no longer "cool." (Check out "Living Room" and begin to count the influences.)
Rescue The Revolution -- Nemo