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Music Notes

Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought.


By now, the members of Vary Lumar have been around the block and then some. With the release of their third EP Plasticolor Coma, Vary Lumar once again re-mastered their sound, now giving fans a more stripped down and minimal version of their music. After returning from a yearlong hiatus, members of Vary Lumar wrote and recorded the four tracks to Plasticolor Coma in only two months.

The EP is a colorful, musical escape, which builds on ethnic influences and effortless melodies. The tracks are simple compared to their previous sounds, while dainty, poppy elements are strongly held throughout all four tracks. Despite their steps in yet another new direction, the EP is an uncomplicated collection of infectious material.

“Laying on Ice,” a somewhat upbeat tune with jazz elements easily encompasses the overall feel of the Plasticolor Coma. Smooth, raw vocals are delivered from Paul De Pasquale, while lyrics such as “And I say it again/ And I’m gonna water this place/ And it never cross your mind/ And it never cross your mind,” are an easy anthem that resound with listeners. Harmonies accompany De Pasquale, making the song that much more unique and somewhat haunting.

Plasticolor Coma is a uniquely fitting title for the tracks. Vivid instrumentation and colorful soundscapes allowed for Vary Lumar to yet again recreate themselves through their third EP. (Swoom Records)

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Before making any assumptions about the rural location and seemingly depleted notion of living in Maine, artists of any background can find solace in the Space Gallery. Based out of Portland, this nonprofit is a vital component for any type of contemporary artist in the area. “Portland is actually a strong, thriving music scene,” said Space Gallery Events Programmer Ian Paige. While Portland is seemingly its own little hot spot for artist networking, the Space Gallery is working to further promote artists of all types by spotlighting visual arts and live music as well as performance, film, and other artistic features.

As part of their mission to provide artistic excellence within the Portland area, the Space Gallery focuses heavily on their mission of “presenting contemporary, unconventional, and emerging arts, artists, and ideas.” The nonprofit seeks to feature artistic events that add to the community, and believe that artists of any background should be remunerated for their work whenever possible. Not only does the gallery offer space to house events, but opportunities to showcase theatre, film, and music related material as well.

Paige sees the Space Gallery as a fundamental aspect of artist networking within Maine. “I moved to New York after college, and I found that [as a musician] it was hard and competitive,” he said. “Here, everyone helps each other out with networking; nothing is exclusive… we respect each other’s work.”

As part of the continual sense of community and promotional work, members of the Space Gallery recently toiled to create a compilation CD and 15-page photo book of Portland music entitled “Treble Treble Volume 1.”  Paige cited the project as stemming from a 2008 lawsuit in which large music institutions such as Sony and Capitol records settled their dispute over CD price fixing, by supplying the 40 states involved with funds to promote the arts. Thanks to a grant awarded to the Maine Arts Commission, the Space Gallery was able to use the money in a creative and promotional fashion. “We figured that this money happened as a result of music, so it should be used for music,” said Paige.

Treble Treble is uniquely designed to feature musician sound and visuals from a certain perspective; this task in which was taken on by Paige and Portland musician Joshua Loring, of the band Brenda, and was designed by Sean Wilkinson. The result was a full color photo album that captures Loring’s personal point of view and relationship with bands such as Metal Feathers, Huak, Gully, and Honey Clouds: all of which are Portland-based bands. “We’re hoping to sell the CDs and use the money as seed money,” said Paige. Paige and others who worked on Treble Treble are hoping to feature secondary tracks from the same bands on issue 1, on a second issue, curated by a differing participant. A copy of Treble Treble Issue 1 can be bought online at bullmoose.com

For those interested in working with the Space Gallery, extensive booking information can be found on their website http://www.space538.org.  Among other requirements asked of potential artists, those at the Space Gallery openly state that proposed events will be rightfully evaluated based upon creativity and attention to detail. Propositioned subject matter will also preferably correspond with the gallery’s specific mission and vision for featured works.

Recaps of the Space Gallery’s previous events, artists’ works, and more information on Treble Treble can all be found on the Space Gallery’s blog, http://havefaithinworthlessknowledge.com.


Indie kids and stylish dressers alike are used to collecting T-shirts from their favorite musicians. As a staple to any band’s collection of merchandise, it’s easy for listeners to hoard their favorite T’s, stamped with the name of great musicians. Yet, what happens after the designs run out, and fans are left asking for more? Cue the Yellow Bird Project: a nonprofit Montreal- based organization, which seeks to work with indie music groups in creating original T-shirt designs.

“Our goal is to raise money for charitable organizations, whilst raising
awareness for the music we love,” said Yellow Bird contact Bobbie Gale.  “Artwork is the bridge that enables us to achieve this. By bringing together bands, illustrators, and charities alike, we have been able to engage fans, who now have the chance to help make a difference by endorsing the things that they love.”

Recently, the Yellow Bird Project has looked to the likes of Bloc Party, Grizzly Bear, and Metric, to create unique looks through their organization. Fans of Bloc Party will find one of the newest designs to be a simple landscape view, described as having “wispy clouds scatter the sky,” and a “breeze gently rustles the summer leaves.” Grizzly Bear listeners will see a thought-provoking print of all types of wheels, the idea of which circling back to the band’s attempt to move forward with creating awareness of global warming. Metric fans are given a poetic treat, encouraging them to support Musicounts: a nonprofit that promotes musical education across Canada.

Visitors are also able to search the site by cause specified by the musicians. All T-shirts are priced at $25. For more information, visit their website and blog, at yellowbirdproject.com and blog.yellowbirdproject.com.


When you’re an unsigned band looking for recognition, certain promotional techniques are a given. From little aspects such as T-shirts and posters, to booking shows, distributing music, and creating online outlets, bands are doing whatever they can to get their name and music out there. Yet, among the thousands of unsigned artists floating in the sea of MySpace accounts and open-mike nights, there happens to be an innovative new tool to attract fans and gamers alike to seemingly play your music right along with you and your band mates: through the new Rock Band Network.

Rock Band Network made simple is essentially a three step process: a set of authoring tools made available to the musician, a submission process built around Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and an upcoming store named the Rock Band Network Music Store, which will be designed to store hosted indie tracks. Interested artists will be surprised to find that membership to the Rock Band Network is free, yet users will need a $99/year XNA Creators’ Club Premium account to both submit or test their music. However, after obtaining membership to the XNA Creator’s Club, members will be able to peer review others’ music without limitation, in exchange for feedback. This peer-review process allows for the Rock Band Network to gauge a band’s potential through this particular type of process, making for a truly talented group of musicians to be featured on the Rock Band Network.

While the list of required technologies and software is extensive, the payout for aspiring artists is undoubtedly rewarding. Those looking to join the Rock Band Network will need to have access to an Xbox 360, a copy of the Reaper software, a set of free plug-ins for Reaper for RBN, the XNA account, and either a Windows PC or Mac. Yet, after obtaining all that is needed to feature your music on the game, artists will be able to set their own pricing of their music, while receiving 30 percent royalties on everything they sell.


In 2001, the highly renowned Berklee School of Music launched its online program of classes entitled Berkleemusic. Students looking to educate themselves on the digital advances within the music business, now had access to over 130 online programs, with courses ranging from ‘Online Music Marketing’ and ‘Music Business’ to ‘Slap Bass’ and “Pop and Rock Vocals.’  While the obvious digital connection allows participants to attend Berklee from the comfort of home, students are also being exposed to new methods of performing, marketing, and business ventures all within a current, digital setting.

Since its commencement nine years ago, Berkleemusic has educated the likes of Saosin members, as well as Sugarland tour affiliates. In addition, over 20,000 students from over 80 countries worldwide have attended Berklee music online. Differing members within the music community, such as Grammy winners, entrepreneurs, writers, managers, publishers, and artists have all taken advantage of this convenient form of music education.

Since 2001, the growth of Berkleemusic has been astounding. “It was years in development [before 2001],” said Chief Marketing Director of Berklee Media, Barry Kelly. “There were four people working to develop the school, which initially began with only four courses.”

Found on their website are a multitude of options for prospective students to learn about the Berkleemusic program. Online tours, sample courses, and online scholarship plans are all part of the program’s makeup, as well as individualized 12-week classes, which offer either basic courses or multi-course certificate programs. Within these classes, students have the option of focusing on a broad range of subject matter, from Music Production and Songwriting, to Voice and Theory, Harmony & Ear Training.

Kelly worked first hand in developing both Berkleemusic as well as the Berkleemusic Network: a social network in which all Berklee students can interact. “The network includes deeper features for online students,” Kelly said specifically of Berkleemusic students. “We just finished the beta version of the network, which offers fantastic benefits to its users.” In addition to the 20,000 students enrolled in Berklee’s online program, over 300,000 collective students are using the social network. “Students can also network to finds gigs, jobs, etc.,” said Kelly.

While being at Berklee in person can be a viable experience for any student, Berkleemusic holds other benefits exclusive to its online education. “Both [experiences at Berklee] have specific merits,” said Kelly. “It’s incredible. While you can obviously meet other people physically at Berklee, Berkleemusic allows you to be connected in a class of 20 other students around the world, as well as teachers.” These online classes also allow students to engage in weekly live chat sessions, where they are given the opportunity to interact with their peers from around the world.


Building on their unremitting energy and youthful ambition, Light The City’s sophomore album, It All Starts Here, once again showcases the band’s infectious and bop-along sound. While some may initially mistake the band for just another overtly emotional, teenage sing-along, It All Starts Here sets them apart through the use of clever lyrics and skillful production. Filled with contagious, guitar-based melodies colorfully mixed with lead singer Elijah Orbea’s commanding voice, listeners can expect an overall heartfelt sound. The band pays particular attention to mixing and production, allowing them to create differing yet complementary tracks. A play-through of one song will without a doubt require a second listen and after a third play-through of tracks such as “Your Show is Over” and “I Won’t Sleep Through This,” consider yourself sold. Available as a free download on the band’s PureVolume page, the first single released off of It All Starts Here, “Let Your Body Breathe,” seemingly captures the passion of Light the City through one song. With poignant lyrics such as, “Take down the walls you’ve placed around yourself / and let your body breathe,” the track perfectly blends their vivacious sound with compelling lyrics beyond their years. (self-released)


Singer songwriter Alicia Wiley is one of the few who effortlessly seemed to put pure poetry to music. Hailing from Minneapolis Minnesota, Wiley’s newest album “Halfway Home” is a catchy version of a stereotypical coffee house soundtrack, only better. Her masterful piano playing is the perfect backing to Wiley’s cultured voice and calming demeanor. While the majority of Wiley’s singles posted on her Myspace are soft and easy tunes, interesting twists to her soothing sound  include “Flame” and “Spell.”