It takes a lot of time and dedication to unearth, research, analyze and create excessive hype for all of the next-big-thing bands out there. So all hail the music geeks at pandora.com, who have spent the better part of the past five years documenting the songs of thousands of bands for the lazy listener's musical pleasure. The goal of Pandora's "Music Genome Project" is to create a web of songs related though their similar musical attributes, so that fans can trace their favorite tunes and discover artists that make use of similar harmonies, screams, riffs or beats. Users can create stations based off a particular song or artist, and Pandora will search out other comparable songs to add to the playlist. By plugging in a few St. Louis natives, B-Sides took Pandora for a test drive to see to whom the city's exports are being compared.
Bullets and Octane: Pandora kicks it off with the scream-laden, hard rock song "Save Me Sorrow" and sticks closely to the stressed vocals (but quickens the pace) with "Deathrider" by Anthrax. Then it continues down the cheesy metal road with Armored Saint's "Pay Dirt" and Rob Rock's "Holy Hell." Somewhere deep down inside, Bullets and Octane has some punk and hardcore influences but Pandora didn't indulge any of them.
Uncle Tupelo: Starts off fair enough with an uptempo alternative-country basic, "Gun." The soft guitar strumming stays the same but the vocals get whinier with the early Dinosaur Jr. track "Severed Lips." Alt-country then turns pop with Richmond Fontaine's "Dayton, OH." Once again the melodies morph, this time into the soft duet "Sweet Illusions" by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, which tugs at heartstrings more than guitar strings.
Chingy: The playlist starts with the club-friendly "One Call Away," then moves on appropriately, by tracing Southern rap influences with Ludacris' "Stand Up" and Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz' "Stop Trippin'." Pandora seems to miss a beat however, following with Big Moe's harmony-driven song "Confidential Playa."
Chuck Berry: The Rock & Roll 101 playlist begins solidly with "Johnny B. Goode" but slows down to accommodate blues influences with Howlin' Wolf's "Riding in the Moonlight." Then it skips a few decades and jumps into John Lennon's cover of "Be-Bop-A-Lula" before finally slinking back into the genre's heyday again with Elvis Presley's "A Big Hunk o' Love."
Calico System: Starts off with the metalcore band's latest single, "Running with Scissors," which highlights lead singer Mark Owens' bipolar vocal style. But Pandora latches onto the brutality of thunderous drumming and electric guitar solos following up with Killswitch Engage's "Declaration." Then Staple's "Do or Die" comes into rotation, returning back to distinct double-teaming vocals, and Allhelluja's Stone Temple Pilots-reminiscent song "God Is Laughing" rounds out the playlist with standard hard-rock riffs.
St. Louis: Just for the record, three artists (The Easybeats, John Paul Young and Joe Kile) pop up if "St. Louis" is plugged into the search database, but Pandora isn't licensed to play any of their versions of "St. Louis." Andrea Noble
To: New Employees
From: Emo-Rock Headquarters
Date: April 27, 2006
Subject: Corporate Guidelines
With all of the recent hires, we thought it would be prudent to review some essential company guidelines:
Your band name must include a day, a month or a season. Please note that "Thursday" is taken, but you're welcome to go with something like "The Thursday Capitulation." Our research department highly recommends the use of "Sunday" and/or "Indian Summer."
Please leave the resonant singing voices at home we require a thin, high-pitched whine. You're welcome to offset this with screams/shouts from a second vocalist, but nothing too blood-curdling.
Attire-wise, hoodies, ringer tees, and Dickies-style clothing are all preferred. The more you look like a gas station attendant, the better.
Guitarists we encourage angularity, but don't be afraid of standard melodies and hooks. Now is not the time to be too arty or adventurous.
The more angsty and confessional your songs, the better. Don't feel bad about lyrically lashing out at the girls who've hurt you females will still come to your shows and sing along to every word. Stick to these guidelines and you're certain to rise quickly up the corporate ladder! Michael Alan Goldberg
Lorene Drive, Down to Earth Approach, Blinded Black, Bi-Level and Sunday Driver. 7 p.m. Sunday, April 30. Creepy Crawl, 412 North Tucker Boulevard. $8 to $10. 314-621-9333.
Until a couple of years ago, Ser Lesson's biggest claim to fame was his victory in a national rap contest sponsored by the movie Malibu's Most Wanted. Lesson, whose real name is Scott Rivers, won $250 and a trip to Hollywood to hobnob with Jamie Kennedy, who played lovably inept rapper B-Rad in the woefully underappreciated 2003 flick.
But Lesson and DJ Urban One (Johnnie Lomax) who together form Forty 'til Five have been even more successful running the Loop Underground, a free concert held at the Pageant once a month. Well into its second year, the Underground gives local acts the chance to act like rock stars in the venue's 2,300-person capacity space. (The Pageant even donates a backstage case of beer to each group, ranging from bottles of Heineken to cans of Stag. )
Typical shows feature rotating resident DJs Who, Neezy and Mahf, and four acts. "When it's a combination of rock and rap groups, it tends to bring in more people," Lesson says. Notable past performers include hip-hoppers Ruka Puff and Rhyme Commission as well as rockers The Feed and metalheads Rusted Shine.
Back when Loop Underground concerts were strictly 21-and-over hip-hop shows, Lesson says, only a few hundred people attended. But attendance rose into the quadruple digits after bands were added, under-21-year-olds were allowed entrance (though they have to pay $5), and Ticketmaster agreed to provide the event's passes at no charge.
Each act gets 1,500 tickets to distribute. "Handing someone a Ticketmaster ticket makes the best flyers," Lesson says.
He also gives credit to the Pageant for supporting the local scene, especially after the demise of indie standbys like Frederick's Music Lounge and the Rocket Bar.
The Forty 'til Fivers developed the idea with former Pageant employee Scott Foner and Pageant managing partner Pat Hagin, who says the event is similar to others in big cities like Chicago. "It came out of us occasionally having these weekend nights open up on short notice four weeks out or so," Hagin says. "At some point you, realistically, don't have much of a chance of booking a national act. Everybody benefits a little bit. Some of the up-and-coming local acts get to showcase their stuff, and it turns what would be a dark night for us into a chance to at least pay the staff."
This month's Loop Underground begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at the Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard) and features Slow Riot, Plan B, Hipsterphonic and 4 Sale but not 4 Sale. Ben Westhoff
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