Monday, December 7, 2009

Jackson Alexander Templeton Smith: The Rockstar Deckhand

Jackson Alexander Templeton Smith, or Jack as he is more commonly known, has been playing music his entire life. He can play just about any instrument set in front of him. But he is not your average musician. Jack has been playing in the celtic-punk ensemble, The Righs, for a number of years now but along with pursuing his music dream, he is also on track to become a captain on the Oklahoma River. He's what one could call a rockstar deckhand.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Finding New Music

In the past, the only way to find out about new music was either by word of mouth or on the radio. But now, with the internet there are a million and one ways to find the music you love. One of the most widely used and well known music discovery outlet is the website, Pandora allows users to create an account and then lets them build, in essence, custom made internet radio stations complete with the artists they choose as well as a variety of artists that make music similar to the song or band that the user originally searched.
There are many different sites similar to Pandora but are more genre specific. For example, Mike Zambrzuski a Marketing Sophomore, uses the site to get the inside track on new hip hop music before it comes out.

"I like to use it because I'm such a big fan of hip hop, and It's good to find new artists that sound like the people I already like.
Aside from using the internet, its also fun to go to live shows. Usually there is an opening band that is similar to the headliner. Also, with the emergence of Twitter, musicians are able to put up links in their statuses that update their followers with information about new songs.

So, whether its genre specific or you just want to get exposed to new music in general, there are nearly endless ways for you to discover the music that moves you.

Photo: Jam Band, Tortoise
Taken by: Justin Goff

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Why we like what we like...

Why is it that some people like the fast paced, poppy rhythm of Britney Spears and others prefer the often nonsensical, fun-filled melodies of Regina Spektor? The reason why people like what they like stems from a variety of different variables that haven't all been thoroughly explored yet.

According to Daniel Levitin's book "This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession", the reason we prefer certain types of music can be traced all the way back to our time in the womb. Levitin discusses an experiment in which pregnant women played a song for their children while they were still in the womb. When the infants were a year old, they were placed in between two sets of speakers and the song they had heard throughout their mother's pregnancy was played in one set of speakers while another track was played in the opposite set. It was discovered that the babies recognized the song and crawled towards the song that they remembered hearing while inside their mothers.
What parents listen to around their children during their early years also contributes to developing tastes in music. OU junior, Tyler Quance, who prefers the style of classic rock bands like Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top, said that his father constantly had that music on.

"I was just always around it. My dad always played it when I was little"

The message that certain types of music convey can also attract or deter listeners. For example, a large portion of hip hop music focuses on getting money, girls and fancy cars. The overall message is to get all of those things by any means possible and if anyone stands in the way, it's alright to take matters into your own hands. Not all people are going to necessarily agree with that particular method of thinking so they may be inclined to lean more towards a genre that matches more with their views.
So, the next time you are listening to a song, ask your self 'why do i like this?'. You may be surprised at the answer.

Photo: Regina Spektor playing the "Which" Stage at Bonnaroo
Taken by: Justin Goff

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Festivals, Festivals, Festivals

Love music but don't want to pay to see all your favorite artists separately? Music Festivals are the perfect answer to this question.
Typically, most music festivals are held during the summer months and showcase a variety of bands that spans the entire music spectrum.
Zac Holly, who has frequented many music festivals, including South by Southwest (abbreviated SXSW) says that they are definitely a rewarding experience
"I really liked the environment because the shows were in really different show i went to was in the back of a barbershop and another was in a park."

The locations of festivals can vary greatly. For example, SXSW is held in downtown Austin, Texas whereas, the super festival known as Bonnaroo is held in rural Tennessee on a five hundred acre farm. The main venue has 3 large stages and several smaller stages scattered throughout. It also boasts a large marketplace area where festival goers can purchase an array of items including the music of the artists playing the show. Guests are assigned camping spaces that are their home for the 3-day span of the festival.
It's a great experience for anyone who loves music and doesn't mind getting a little dirty.
Some people however, aren't exactly into sharing space with huge amounts of people.

Adam Saylor attended Wakarusa in Kansas and wasn't too keen on the environment.

"I went to Wakarusa and i loved seeing all the bands but i didn't necessarily like the idea of so many people in such a small space"

Going to festivals is definitely an acquired taste. It definitely takes alot of planning an preparation. Most festivals offer helpful hints and tips on how to get ready. Bonnaroo does a great job providing their guests with every possible item they could possibly need. There is a section on their website that lists all the necessary supplies to "survive" the experience.

So no matter what type of music you prefer there is definitely a Festival out there for you to attend. Dont let the price deter you(on average, tickets can cost upwards of 200 dollars) going to a festival is the best way to get all your favorite music in one place.

If you want to find a festival near you but don't know where to start, take a look at

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Indie Music Defined

What is independent music? For many music lovers, the term independent or “indie” music refers to a specific sound or aesthetic that a band possesses. In actuality, the real meaning behind the term refers to the way the music is produced and distributed.
Many upcoming bands start out by essentially being their own agents, promoting shows, selling merchandise and distributing music.
Now, with the explosion of media outlets like myspace, twitter, and facebook, groups are able to get their name out to the public and do relatively well although they aren’t necessarily enjoying the monetary success that major label groups may gain.
For a large percentage of independent artists, the simple fact that they are making music that people enjoy is enough to satisfy them and inspire the drive to continue producing music.
However, the line that defines independents music is starting to blur at an increasing rate. Heavy hitters on the indie scene like Deathcab for Cutie and Modest mouse have crossed over into the mainstream and taken it by storm. And while they are enjoying massive success and making way more than they did as true independent artists, to many, they have drifted away from the original ideals and goals of independent musicians.
So, as the barrier between mainstream and indie continues to break, the definition of independent music will inevitably change and many people will lose sight of independent music’s true origins. Many hope the transition is much later than sooner.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Music and our Emotions

Music can have a powerful effect on our emotions. Whether we are listening to music to change our mood or just listening for pleasure, it can affect the way we think and the way we feel.
Music can change peoples' emotions in a variety of different ways. For example, if one were to listen to music from the heavy metal group, Slipknot, feelings of high energy and possibly contempt for something or someone may come about. But if one were to listen to the happy tones and lyrics of The Beatles, a much different set of feelings arises. According to studies conducted by the Psychology Press, music is a complex acoustic and temporal structure which posses the ability to induce emotional responses in the listeners. Music with emphasis on heavy bass, percussion and brass instruments is known to affect emotions more rapidly than others.

Singer/Songwriter Jon Haverfield says that music definitely has an effect on his mood.

"If I'm in a down mood, i just turn on a song from the nineties. It reminds me of the good times"

Haverfield has been singing and writing songs for over 10 years and he says it definitely has the power to provoke certain emotions and thoughts.

"Music makes you think and gives you a better outlook on life."

So whether you are listening to the soundtrack to a Disney Movie, or rocking out to techno before a party, Music is, whether you think about it or not, changing your emotional state. We all have that one song that puts us in that place where everything is good.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Righs

Celtic punk ensemble, The Righs, will be invading OU's campus to perform on the student-run program, "The Set".
The Edmond-Based band had a bit of a rough start as rhythm guitarist and back-up vocalist, Nate Williams recalls, "My first band, Ruthless Nate and the Crazy 8's was a complete failure." But that didn't stop him from trying.
In the Summer of 2005, soon-to-be bandmate, Jack Smith approached him with a song and the two just ran with their ideas. Within the year, the duo had become a full band complete with an accordion player and even a mandolin player whom they acquired with an ad that read "Hey guitarists, do you want to learn mandolin and play in a band?"
At the time, the group was known as The Rivers, but issues involving an English band with the same name prompted them to choose a different moniker. After many outrageous names, which included The Dirty Mercenaries, they finally settled on The Righs which is Gaelic for king.
For those confused about what exactly Celtic Punk is, here's a brief description: Celtic punk combines all the elements of traditional Celtic songs with the high energy guitar riffs and gruffness of punk rock. Think bands like the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly and you'll have a general idea.
So with a new name, and a few new members, The Righs (pronounced "rigs") began writing songs and playing shows. Now, almost three years later, the Righs are in the process of cutting their sophomore effort, entitled "Roses" which is dedicated to a friend who passed away.
If you find yourself wanting to find out more about The Righs, be sure to check out their site at:

In this photo: Nate Williams
Taken by: Justin Goff

Sunday, September 27, 2009

El Ten Eleven

This week i am showcasing a band I just recently discovered called El Ten Eleven, another instrumental group out of Los Angeles.
The group consists of Tim Fogarty on electric drums and synthesizer, and Kristian Dunn on the bass guitar. Founded in 2003 after the duo played in a four piece ensemble together Dunn and Fogarty began perfecting their ambient, hypnotic, and sometimes poppy sound. They released a self titled album in 2004 and have since followed up with Every Direction is North and their latest effort, These Promises are Being Videotaped.
While listening to the self titled album for the first time, I found myself pleasantly surprised by each track. Not knowing what to expect, there was no place for me to set the bar, which I feel is a good thing, especially when listening to new music since no two bands are going to sound the same( except for the occasional boy-band). The opening track entitled, My Only Swerving, which sounds like the opening to a movie. I then skipped to the more upbeat Central Nervous Piston, which has almost a techno-esque sound. I definitely enjoyed the diversity of this record.
Combining spacey guitar riffs with the sharpness of an electronic drum kit, El Ten Eleven creates great background for just about anything. The group is extremely dynamic and is able to establish a very distinct and unique sound, unlike anything else i have heard in awhile. I would most definitely recommend this group to anyone with a sweet spot for instrumental bands.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Explosions in the sky.

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This week i will be showcasing one of my favorite bands of the past five years. Explosions in the sky is a completely instrumental post-rock group based out of Austin Texas. Originally formed in 1999 the group was originally called "Breaker Morant" but later changed their name after one of their members made a reference to fireworks.
Since their inception, the band has recorded six albums, including the soundtrack for the 2004 football film Friday Night Lights.
Their music, to me, has the ability to bring out every human emotion at once. As impossible as it may seem, i can attest to laughing, crying, and wanting to punch a hole in the wall all at the same time.
Most recently, the band has gone back into the studio after taking time with their families and is expected to release an album in the near future.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


If I were to describe my home to someone with only a photo, I think this would be the best I could do aside from taking a snapshot of my house. Plus, Wizard of Oz fans can get a double meaning out of this. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.


Since this is a blog regarding music, it seemed fitting to have my PWOP(portrait without a person) relate to my subject. This particular photo is of my fraternity brother, Jimmy's guitar with the OU logo situated nicely in the background.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This image is of my ticket to the greatest show on earth: Bonnaroo! I experienced the first of many music revelations.