One to Watch:

My 3 year old is obsessed with The Duke Spirit and their lead singer Liela Moss. Every day he practices singing his favorite Duke Spirit songs into his microphone and playing his tambourine – ‘just like Liela’. Part of his self-prescribed training involves intently studying all of The Duke Spirit videos available on YouTube. They only have videos out for a few songs and most of the live footage available is unwatchable (‘that’s a bad one mamma’). So imagine my surprise when I stumbled across this amazing live performance from the soon to be launched

There’s not a lot of information on the site as to what it’s all about, other than it looks to be NYC-based, if not affiliated with 89.1 WNYU. Whatever the case, the quality of the small amount of content they have up there now makes look like amateurs.  It’s like the IFC for indie music, with well produced documentaries, interviews and live sessions.

I can’t wait to see more from these guys. In the meantime, we’ll be rocking out to this great live track from The Duke Spirit – This Ship Was Built to Last. They look so polished and professional here it’s hard to imagine they’ll be playing such a tiny venue as The Bottom of the Hill on July 23.

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Topspin Unveiled. Let the Revolution Begin.

Topspin officially emerged from stealth mode last week to unveil their technology platform that aims to help music artists build their business and brand directly with fans – without the help of a label.  There’s not a lot of public information on the product itself other than it sounds like a (CRM) for the music industry – a suite of tools designed to help artists build relationships and distribute music directly to fans. 

What’s great is that Topspin is not trying to brand this product to consumers.  It’s completely B2B, which means artists will be able to incorporate Topspin technology into their own websites and social networking platforms.  Reportedly artists like David Byrne and Dandy Warhols are already using the technology to offer a subscription model to fans that will give them access to a host of content either exclusively or before general release.

While the direct-to-fan model is not a new concept – think Radiohead, The Raconteurs and supposedly the forthcoming Beck album – not every band has had the longevity or popularity of groups like these to implement such a strategy successfully.  That’s where the beauty of technology like Topspin comes in.  As Topspin’s new CEO, Ian Rogers, stated in this month’s Billboard interview, it empowers the middle class of artists – those either past their commercial prime or too new to enjoy the marketing support of a major label.

It’s a paradigm shift either way you slice it, for both artists and fans in terms of how music is distributed and consumed.  I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. I just hope Topspin plans on launching a similar platform for the film industry too!

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Panther Video – You Don’t Want Your Nails Done

One of my guilty pleasures, Panther, is coming to town tomorrow to play at the Bottom of the Hill.  The two-man show headed by Charlie Salas-Humara on vocals and Joe Kelly on drums is like James Brown and Peaches mash up.  They make me smile.  Check out this video and see for yourself.

Port O’Brien – I Woke Up Today

Oakland-based Port O’Brien posted the official video for the track ‘I Woke Up Today’ from their debut album, All We Could Do Was Sing.  After seeing them at SXSW this year, I’d say their video fairly accurately portrays their on stage presence as well – a raucous, ragtag ensemble of massed choruses and dancing kooks.  Still, there’s something there.  Even Pitchfork gave the album a coveted 7.5.  Go East Bay!

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Handsome Furs – Plague Park

Artist:  Handsome Furs
Album:  Plague Park
File Under:  Indie Rock
Recommended if You Like:  Beck, Wolf Parade
Featured Track:  Sing! Captain

The influence and reach of Montreal-based Wolf Parade and its members is quite astonishing.  I’ve always been intrigued by Spencer Krug and his impressive list of side projects.  (Sunset Rubdown was one of my favorites last year.)   Now Wolf Parade guitarist and vocalist Dan Boeckner has his own, Handsome Furs. 

Formed as a concept project with his drum-machine playing wife, Alexei Perry, in 2006, the duo booked a tour before even they’d even written a song. The two holed up in an apartment belonging to members of the Arcade Fire and wrote their debut album, Plague Park.

Featuring a drum machine, guitar and Beck-like vocals, their sound is dark, bare and stirring.  I love it.

Get this album free via eMusic’s 50 Free MP3 Promo

buy it at insound!

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Sirius Left of Center Blog Radio

Nothing makes me happier than to start my day with a cup of Peets and a session of Blog Radio on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Left of Center, channel 26.  Monday through Saturday at 9AM PT, Blog Radio is hosted by a different indie music blogger who gives their take on the music scene.  Here’s the current line up:

They rebroadcast it everyday at midnight as well.  It’s a great way to discover new music. And yet another good reason to get a Sonos player!

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The Dodos – Visiter

Artist:  The Dodos
Album:  Visiter
File Under:  Primitivist Indie Rock
Recommended if You Like:   Elliott Smith, Fleet Foxes, M.Ward, Iron & Wine, High Places, Yeasayer 
Featured Track:  Fools

This is a fantastic up-and-coming San Francisco-based band that I ironically stumbled upon at SXSW this year.  It was one of those chance discoveries that left me mesmerized and wanting more.  I quickly made note in my iPhone and have had this album on heavy rotation ever since.

The stripped down, two-man band consists of Meric Long on guitar and vocals and Logan Kroeber on percussion.  Both are feature performers  – on the recording and live.  Their simplicity has drawn comparisons to a crop of new-primitivist bands like Yeasayer and High Places.  Whatever the case, you should listen to this album and make a point to see them live.  For all you SF locals, that would be June 19 at The Independent.

Get this album free via eMusic’s 50 Free MP3 Promo

buy it at insound!

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