Archive for February, 2007

Kyle Newmaster and Gordy Haab – Composers – Star Wars Fanatics

February 27, 2007

Kyle and Gordy

So I had the opportunity to go to a scoring session, a couple Sundays ago, at the world famous Capitol Records Tower. But it was not just any scoring session. This was the scoring session for Star Wars Fan Film gurus, and up-and-coming digital artists / sound designers / directors / producers / editors / etc, Michael “Dorkman” Scott and Ryan Wieber. If you’re not familiar with their work, they are the creators of a fan film choreography competition entry titled “Ryan Vs. Dorkman“. It really got my attention when I first saw it at 20th Century Fox, and once the internet got a full hold of it, it got the attention of the entire world.

So when Ryan and Michael returned to film RVD2 – Ryan Vs Dorkman II, they had the support of so many devoted fans. Along with that support, they also found they had resources they did not have on the first short. 24p / 1080i HD glory, better digital fx resources… all this meant that the backscore needed to rise to the level of the rest of the film. It couldn’t be another out-of-the-box piece written by Horner, Williams, or Poledouris. So they looked to fellow Eastman graduate Kyle Newmaster and “Monkey’s Paw” uber composer Gordy Haab. Now, by “fellow Eastman graduate”, I do mean ‘I auditioned for their BFA Music Performance program in Percussion and got wait listed and went to the Mason Gross School of the Arts instead (John Beck is still the best orchestral timpanist out there)‘… and by “uber composer” I mean SPECTACULAR COMPOSERS. The following interview took place after the session with Kyle, Gordy, Ryan and Michael.

Ryan and Mike

David (to Ryan and Michael) – So when you started seriously considering RvD2, were you always looking to get scored music with a live orchestra?

Michael – Never even crossed our minds. We had always intended to get an original score written for the sequel; the track we used from Dark City worked perfectly in RvD, but I had wanted to use that track in a fight scene for years and going into RvD2, I had no other piece I was interested in using. But we figured it was going to be mainly a synthesized score. It wasn’t until Gordy brought Kyle on board that the suggestion of a live orchestra was made, because Kyle had just recorded the score to another fan film with a 40-piece orchestra and wanted to bring the same quality to RvD2.

Ryan – It still wouldn’t have been a possibility at all if it weren’t for our fans. Once we decided to seriously consider an orchestral score, we put up information about it on the website and requested donations via PayPal, which is something we did for the film in general. There were quite a few people who supported us, and that’s when we decided to really go for it. Up to that point, we really hadn’t made any compromises on the rest of the film, and we didn’t want the music to be the one thing that wasn’t the best we could make it. We spent several times as much money on the score as we did for the entire rest of the film, but I think it really helps step everything up to the next level.

Gordy Haab – “Doomed”

David – How did you link up with Kyle and Gordy?

Michael – Early in 2006, I made a short horror film, “The Monkey’s Paw”, and I put out a call for composers on Craigslist. I was about to make my decision when I got Gordy’s submission. I checked out his site and, even though none of the samples on the site were precisely what I was after, the variation of styles and his general composing skill was obvious and I could tell that he would be more than capable of getting the sound I wanted.

After the great experience we had working together on “Monkey’s Paw”, and of course the outstanding score he provided for that short, there was no question that Gordy would be our first choice to score RvD2. It was after he started working on the film that he decided to bring in Kyle to help him compose the score within the very small timeframe we gave him. It’s ironic that we met Kyle in such a roundabout way, as he had actually been posting occasionally on Fanfilms.com , in the same forum where Ryan and I post, for over a year.

Creative Team

Kyle Newmaster – “The Chase”

David (to Kyle and Gordy)- Well, are both of you Star Wars fanatics?

Gordy – Yes. And the great scores are one of the many reasons.

Kyle – I am definitely a big fan of star wars. I was a fanatic as a kid and if you visit my parent’s attic in MN you can find just about every original Star Wars toy from 1976-1984. I also remember waiting in huge lines of people to see “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” on their opening days. I still love revisiting the old films and am very excited about all of the upcoming productions that Lucas has in mind.

David – Tell us a little bit about the scoring process for RvD2 and working together on this piece. What roles did each of you play?

Gordy – Basically Kyle and I sat together and developed a couple of themes. After we agreed upon them, we divided the film in to 6 segments, did “rock, paper, scissors” for them and went to our respective studios to write.

Kyle – We each composed about 3:20 of music for it. We settled on two main melodies and a variety of rhythmic and harmonic ideas. We wanted to make sure that the score sounded like it was written by one composer and agreeing on our musical material was very important to this process.

Gordy – We would get together every couple of days and compare notes and give orchestration ideas to each other. It really sort of fell in to place naturally. I tend to write dark music, so if I had a role at all, I guess it was to bring this element to the table, but this said, Kyle can write some dark stuff as well…so. Honestly we both feel a great composer is someone who can write any style or genre, so once we had made the initial decisions about what to do stylistically, we sort of just went off and did our thing, and because we had made these stylistic decisions ahead of time, and because we both do have the ability to write in any genre, it all really just fell in to place.

Kyle – The only tricky part about this was the transitions. For example, in order to compose my first cue I needed to know how Gordy would end his first cue both harmonically and melodically. Once he had a landing point for his ideas I was able to start from there. After we finished our writing we put it all together in a notation program called Finale. From there we analyzed our music and orchestrations to make sure that it all flowed together. We tweaked a few things and… Voila!

Gordy Haab – “Horror Main Title”

Brass

David – What about the process and working relationship you have with Ryan and Michael?

Gordy – My relationship began with Michael. I worked with him on his most recent film, “The Monkeys Paw” and discovered that we worked very well together. His musical ideas were very similar to mine so scoring Monkey’s Paw was a breeze. It wasn’t until maybe halfway through the process of scoring Monkeys Paw that I discovered he was one of the men behind RvD. He mentioned he was doing a sequel and I immediately told him what I thought I could do with the score. Once working on RVD2 I discovered that Ryan was essentially the same as far as clarity of what he wanted.

Kyle – Ryan and Michael were very cool to work with. They had very specific ideas about what they were looking for and it helped in getting to the right music quickly and efficiently. We first met with them and watched the film back in November I think. At that time we discussed how to get the best possible product for their film. We also discussed the possibility of recording with a live orchestra to really kick it over the top.

Gordy – Essentially the process was Kyle and I would write a cue, mock it up (synthesize it) they’d listen and give notes, Kyle and I would explain what, if any, of their notes would be completely negated by performing the score with a live orchestra, and the notes that would not, we’d adjust. In all cases, after this first round of notes/revisions, our cues were approved.

Kyle – We began scoring the film in mid January after they had a locked edit of the picture. Over the next couple of weeks we met a few times discuss the music and how it was playing to the picture. Ryan and Michael were very good at communicating their vision for the music and it made the process go very smoothly.

Kyle Newmaster – “The Duel”

David – I know you are both involved in The Novo Philharmonic Orchestra along with Dave Chiappetta… How does your approach to writing music to picture differ from that of writing a piece that would be performed in a concert by a symphony or ensemble?

Gordy – Not too much. The only difference to me is that when I’m writing a concert piece, I come up with an elaborate form that I must “fill in” with my musical elements. With picture the form is given to me. I always try to make even the most subtle of cues musically interesting. If for nothing else, for my own sanity. Nothing is more depressing than writing boring music.

Kyle – Writing film music and concert music are very different tasks (for me). As a concert music composer you are always thinking about how to develop your ideas naturally. It is all about saying what you want to say and you are not bound by any specific timeframes or rules in general. As a film composer you must always consider what is best for the film first. You still want to say something cool musically, but it is especially important that the music you compose enhances or supports a scene. Also, as a film composer you are a part of a larger scheme of things. It is all about communication with the filmmakers to come up with a score best helps tell the overall story.

Control A

David – Technically, what do you guys use to start the scoring process? I know Kyle mentioned Giga-Studio as a sample controller along with a custom built computer. Any preference to sample packages (Garritan, Akai, E-Mu, etc.).

Kyle – I use a Mac as my control computer and mainly use the programs “Digital Performer” and “Pro Tools” to record and sequence my music. Gigi Studio is one of my sampling devices and is on a completely separate PC computer. As far as the actual sample libraries, I think that I use a bit of everything. Honestly, I prefer to hire live musicians over sampling, but when necessary I will use a variety of samples. Sonic Implant Strings, Vienna winds and percussion, Miroslav, Garritan and many more are part of my collection. I also use some VST plug-ins and it seems like that is the way that things are going now. “Ivory” piano is a good example of a VST plug-in.

Gordy – My studio has a bunch of expensive computers and devices that do some stuff. When they all work, my studio is a great place to work. I use Digital Performer and Gigastudio primarily. Samples vary, but for strings I still use the Sonic Implants, because they sound great to me and they are easy to work with. I have a bunch of mixers that mix things, good speakers, about 5 monitors, etc… but I still choose to write everything by hand. For that I use the P-209 mechanical pencil. I remove the metal end cap and replace it with a standard pink elementary school end cap eraser. (which I tend to use more than the lead end) The .09 mm lead is great for filling in dots for note heads. Anything less tend to break every 3rd note or so, causing violent outbursts. The P-209 also doubles as a a conductors baton. All in all, I have a great studio. There is certainly no limit as to what a composer could have in his studio, but this said, without a great pair of ears it’s all pointless. I have heard crap come out of multi-million dollar project studios and brilliance come out of modest ones.

David – So it really is about composing ability more so than gadgets and gizmos…

Gordy – To me its all about knowing what you want to hear, and making it happen with what you have.

Gordy Haab – “Survivors Fight Back”

Score

David (to Ryan and Michael) – So having gone through the scoring process, anything stand out in your minds?

Ryan – Well, you just can’t get around the fact that we had two huge rooms at Capitol Records studio full of 60 musicians rocking out this action music that sounds (to me, at least) on par with anything in “real” movie action sequences, and it was all for a 7 minute lightsaber fight between two geeks. There’s something very absurd and very awesome about that.

Michael – Two things eclipse everything else for me. The first, obviously, is that we got a 60-piece professional orchestra to record the score. But the second was the way Gordy and Kyle came to the plate for us, working long hours which they essentially donated to the project. I don’t like asking people to work for free, or even dirt cheap, but it’s the unfortunate reality of the budgets we have to work with right now. When you’re in that situation and you’ve got great artists who are still willing to bring their A-game, because they believe in you and in the project, that’s when you know you’ve got someone on your team that you will always be able to trust.

Capitol

David – If we were to ride along in a car with you on the 101 or 405 freeways, what music would you be listening to?

Ryan – I’ve been into Muse’s last album pretty heavily lately, as well as Ok Go. But since we managed to get MB Gordy, who does percussion for the new Battlestar Galactica, to work on RvD2, I’ve been listening to that soundtrack a lot as well.

Michael – The majority of the time, I have my radio tuned to Jack FM (93.1). I’m into classic rock stuff. The rest of the time, the radio’s off and I’m talking to myself, trying to brainstorm some idea or another.

Kyle – I listen to a variety of music and go through listening phases. I love listening to anything that sounds pure, real and has energy. You can always tell when an artist is really feeling their music. Right now in my 6 CD changer in my car I think that the cd’s are 1) RadioHead “amnesiac”, 2) John Coltrane “Blue Train” 3) Shostakovich’s Symphonies 1 and 7 by the Chigago Symphonyy 4) The Soundtrack to “Planet of the Apes” Jerry Goldsmith. 5) Stevie Wonder “Talking Book” and 6) Beck “The Information”.

Gordy – I have Stevie Wonder, Talking Book – My own score to Behind the Mask the Rise of Leslie Vernon (I know…narcissist – I’m listening because we just had the CD mastered and I’m getting a feel for the final product before its release in a few weeks) – John Williams – War of the Worlds, and Stravinsky – Firebird Suite. Stravinsky’s Firebird held the longest running place in my car’s CD player over any other CD. I once listened to it exclusively for over a year. This is all said granted that you can hear ANY music over the noise of my blown speaker rattling and the profanity spewing from my mouth at the car in front of me. Maybe not so much on the 101, but certainly the 405.

Kyle Newmaster – “Soaring”

David (to Kyle and Gordy)- Anything else you would like the readers to know about yourselves or the RvD2 score?

Kyle – I just want to say that it was a pleasure to work with Gordy, Ryan and Michael on this project. It is a really cool film and I am very happy with all aspects of the final product. Also, I would really like to applaud Ryan and Michael for going the distance and hiring an orchestra. In today’s world of technology and sampling music most filmmakers make music an afterthought. Ryan and Michael understood the value of music in post production and by hiring live musicians to perform their score it really made all the difference. They refused to settle on any aspect of the scoring process and always thought about quality first. They are the kind of guys that have a vision and go for it without looking back. I hope that the end result of the film and the score recording will help other film makers see the importance of using live musicians to record a score.

Gordy – I would say regarding RvD2’s score, be sure to listen to every section- I feel Kyle and I did a great job of developing our themes in numerous ways and keeping interest throughout. With this type of project already having the notoriety it does, and being a sequel, we felt it was necessary to throw in the kitchen sink so to speak, so there is plenty of cool stuff to listen for. Enjoy it!

Gordy Haab – “Bali Junk Store”

David – Well thanks for the insight and great interview. I know we are all looking forward to seeing and hearing the final product!

Strings

The score, and the project as a whole, is really solid. Unfortunately, I did not have a music clip from the final film to post here. SO, the clips above represent some of the work that Kyle and Gordy have completed (and are available on their home pages). But it is my understanding that the score, and a behind the scenes DVD, will be available for sale in the near future.

I can tell you that the strength of the visuals is rivaled by the quality and intensity of the score. There are some great little sonic moments that pop up here and there that made me smile. I noticed a cool little snare drum part during the premiere that I had not noticed during the recording session. MB Gordy (Bear McCreary’s Battlestar Galactica taiko slammer) lent his percussive talents to the RVD2 score… keep an ear out for the little percussion breaks. If there is one thing I love in an action score it’s French Horns and LOW BRASS (is that two things?) … I’m talking Contra Tuba / Bass Trombone low… actually, my Drum Corp days and love of T.O.P makes me automatically love good brass arrangements… and RVD2 does not disappoint. Nothing against the spectacular performance by the violins (led by concertmaster Mark Robertson), woodwinds or MB… but there’s something about the full, rich, stirring sound a brass section can deliver. But brass aside, I can not say enough about this score. It’s only about 6 1/2 minutes of music and I wish there were more picture for them to score! It really says a lot about the composing talents of both Gordy and Kyle to establish a theme, paint the picture and wrap it up in such a short span of time. I’d love to hear a full-length liet motif style score from these guys eventually.

Dave Kyle and Gordy

Make sure you give the score a listen when the film is released in March. With any small budget, or no budget, project, you have a group of people that just love what they are doing. In this case, everyone involved in the production also happened to be really talented. When that happens, the final result is something that looks good, sounds good and makes you want more and more. So on March 1st, when you hop online to check your latest round of spam, make sure you stop by the RVD2 website and check out the project. I’m sure we’ll be seeing and hearing more from Kyle and Gordy in the future.

The Los Angeles premiere of RVD2 – Ryan Vs Dorkman II took place on Saturday, February 24th, 2007 at the Wilshire Fine Arts Theatre. In case you missed it and can’t wait for the film’s March 1st Internet release, check out the EPK:

For more information on composers Gordy Haab and Kyle Newmaster, please visit:

www.KyleNewMaster.com
www.GordyHaab.com

For information regarding The Novo Philharmonic, Kyle and Gordy’s Orchestral project, visit www.Novophilharmonic.org

For information about Ryan Vs Dorkman, RVD2 – Ryan Vs Dorkman II, and to listen to the completed score, visit:

www.ryandvsdorkman.com

** RVD2 Main Theme clipJUST ADDED **

** RVD2 ON YouTube! JUST ADDED **

Thanks for reading and stop back soon for more music that doesn’t suck!

*NOTE* Portions of the interview transcript were edited for content.

– by David Schatanoff, Jr.

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News To You

February 25, 2007

Ed. note: If you haven’t noticed, “The Alternakids” isn’t like al the other music blogs out there.  We aren’t here to get into pissing matches about exclusive content, or argue about who premiered something first (*coughKlaxonscough*).  If you want to stay on the bleeding edge of what’s leaked or who’s doing working on what then there are plenty of other places for you to get that.  Hopefully when you come here you might learn something about the details and history behind the music that’s being rushed to the presses everywhere else. 

That’s not to say we don’t stay in the loop though.  So I’ve decided to let rilla start a semi-regular news post to keep you guys current on any interesting news you may have missed out on.  Here is the first of said updates.

itsnotgood
2.23.07

  • HBO Docs: Ghosts of Abu Ghraib proves that if those photos hadn’t gotten out, no one would have cared about the abuse.
  • 100 years for this soldier, Bush needs to use some ‘strategery’ with Iran, if the British pull-out, can we?
  • Ozzfest is free? Only because System of a Down asked to be paid to play (cheap, very cheap of you Sharon) She said, the fees earned by bands, including about $325,000 a show for the group System of a Down, almost sank the festival.
  • QuarterlifeParty is very Coachella-centric these days doing profiles and providing video of most of the artists on this years line-up. Check out our snazzy Coachella rundown as well. Props to the good Docta for this one. Have fun getting your day tickets on Craigslist.
  • Jay-Z says something a year late with his ‘Minority Report’ video, but ‘Big Easy to Big Empty’ sums it up much better.

eitheror
Take your pick now Hollywood. He’s looking through her soul in this picture.

  • This is why Talib Kweli is the smartest artist in hip-hop today.
  • Steve Jobs has words for the entire free music world, so start reading. Thoughts on Steve Jobs’ thoughts on music? They don’t care.
  • The RIAA is scary being altogether. Beware of those college kids. I will say nothing further until I receive my inevitable RIAA summons. (I downloaded ‘White & Nerdy’ I admit it. You caught me, my IP address is 11.11.07734, now turn your monitor upside down)
  • 9th Wonder left Little Brother and hip-hop died a little bit. Maybe it’s time to teach with Play. (Yes, from Kid and Play)
  • DC is sick of kids having fun, Ted Leo is not a fan. Ian Mackaye has words.
  • The Proposed ban is something I would call a “shit sandwich”. sharksandwich
  • Don’t look now, it’s another Monopoly, this time for Extra.Terrestrial radio in the form of the XM/SIRIUS merger.In other news, a former stripper/Playboy model Vicky Lynn Marshall died February 9th, sadly leaving behind her baby daughter. A former child music star is entering rehab in an effort to keep her two children after she mysteriously cut her hair publicly, possibly to keep it from being drug tested.The Alternakids offer our condolences to the families of these people and hope they are both in a happier place now.Luckily I did get this DEVELOPING STORY from a trusted source in news.shitNN

Just another day of work to me…

February 23, 2007

This is me working 12 hour days at the moment and being pretty busy with various other responsibilities. This is me not wanting to leave you all hanging for too long. This is me about to lose a whole lot of street cred…

I used to like the band Bush. Screw it, they’re still alright if you ask me. You see they were a group of pretty decent musicians actually, but they got a bad rep because at the time they came out there was little they could do to dispute they were riding the grunge wave started by Nirvana. I’m gonna blame the marketing people for that. It doesn’t help that there second album featured artwork by the same guys who did the artwork for In Utero… or that Steve Albini produced both albums. I’m just saying, all evidence points to somebody trying to cash in and that responsibility usually falls on the record label.

Anyway I hadn’t thought much about Bush in years. That is until the other day at work when I was working in one of our offsite locations and stumbled over a pile of boxes laying on the floor. Without disclosing too much about what I do as a day job, let’s just suffice it to say that said boxes were full of the original analog masters for most of Bush’s recordings. I wonder if anybody else would envy the fact that I was holding bona fide, genuine article Steve Albini master tapes. I mean you either appreciate that or you don’t. Chances are if you do you’d be in awe. Apparently Steve went uncreditted on some of their earlier material as well, further explaining the comparison.

Steve Albini Masters
I needed to throw a post together real quick here, so I figured that was a cool story to tell for now and I could attach some relevant tunes to it. I’m not to worried about my “indie credibility” here cause I have and will prove that many times over some other time. Besides… we can draw the kiddies in with this stuff and hit ’em over the head with the raw ‘ish once we’ve got ’em.

Later on I’ll let you ask me about the time my boss was getting death threats from Suge Knight.

Bush – Little Things

Bush – Greedy Fly

Bush – Prizefighter

Up until last week apparently there were some other boxes floating around with the original masters for that band that Gavin Rossdale’s wife used to be in.

No Doubt – Don’t Speak

Oh and speaking of Steve Albini and just because I like to show off… I own a copy of the Pennyroyal Tea single which I bought in college for $5. If you don’t know the significance of that look up how much it goes for on Ebay.

image196.jpg

 

Nirvana – I Hate Myself And Want To Die

Sixteen StoneRazorblade SuitcaseThe Science Of ThingsTragic Kingdom

Best of 2006: #1 Cut Chemist – The Audience’s Listening

February 20, 2007

Cut Chemist Logo

 

If any artists got my attention this year Cut Chemist was easily the standout amongst them all. I’ve always been aware of him mind you. It’s just that up until now he remained a background character to me. J5 are cool, but the novelty wore off for me a while ago. I knew about Ozomatli, but personally never got into them too much. Alphabet Aerobics and Chemical Calisthenics by Blackalicious are great tracks, but his presence there was overwhelmed by my enthusiasm for Gift of Gab and Chief Xcel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up until this year what I recognized Cut Chemist for the most was his roll in Product Placement with DJ Shadow. I’ve been a Shadow fan for a long time and of course anybody that shared equal billing with one of my favorite DJ’s of all time not once, but twice (see Brainfreeze) will make me notice.Me and Shadow

me and DJ Shadow

Enter The Outsider, stage left. My thoughts on the album aside, I had been waiting for it all year and did not get the album I was expecting. But all the while I had been waiting for Shadow’s album to step into the scene, I had been neglecting the brilliant performance that was already being shown by The Audience’s Listening which had dropped a few months earlier.

 

cut_chemist_-_the_audiences_listening.jpg

 

I read in an interview somewhere else that he wanted to create a “new genre” with this album. I was particularly intrigued by this quote:

I think that every hip-hop record should try to do that because hip-hop is trying to take music from other areas and make something new. I don’t know if I’ve achieved it, but I’m trying to.

It was reminiscent of comments I heard from El-P last year as well where he complained about how journalists always try to differentiate people doing anything innovative as something other than hip-hop. Back in the day I recall hearing stories about how Shadow would get angry with record store owners for classifying his albums in the wrong section. The truth of the matter is there’s very little under the sun that hasn’t been done anymore, but with this album I have to say that Cut Chemist has definitely stepped out of the background for me and presented a signature style that is all his own.

 

Cut Chemist – Metrorail Through Space

 

The album may not fall into the neat little box that most people recognize as “hip-hop” but all of the key elements are here. I think this is one of those album that will broaden peoples horizons.

 

 

I also heard that there were a few issues with sample clearance that caused the album to take a lot longer than expected to produce. This only makes me wonder what other greatness could have been because it’s very apparent that this man has a way with creatively flipping a sample. Listen to what he’s done with a vocal track from Astrud Gilberto’s “Berimbau”

Astrud Gilberto – Berimbau

Cut Chemist – The Garden

It’s easy to tell Cut Chemist is a true music lover. A collector and an aficionado, you can catch him in action on tour currently with Shakira (whaa???), and if you live in Hollywood, when he’s not out on tour you can usually find him every Saturday night at Star Shoes for Funky Sole (You’ll also run into Music Man Miles and Egon from Stones Throw Records). There’s a good chance you’ll catch me there as well. More than likely I’ll either be on the dance floor or hanging with Natasha the bartender by the bar in the back.

If you want to know the caliber of audiophile we’re talking about here, take a look at this clip:

To wrap things up I’ll leave you with the video for “What’s the Altitude” featuring Hymnal and as a bonus track I’ll give you the finale to Product Placement.

Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow – Product Placement Part L

(can anyone tell me the name of the cut that starts out this snippet?)

Astrud GilbertoProduct Placement

 

 

Best of 2006: #2 Justin Timberlake – FutureSex / LoveSounds

February 18, 2007

*Live show review by fearless23*

Oh we’re getting close. So close that Britney, Janet and Cameron can taste it! Yes… it’s the number two album on the Best of 2006 countdown: Justin Timberlake’sFutureSex/LoveSounds“! Justin came back strong on his sophomore offering and it just blew me away.

AlbumArt

After his 2002 release “Justified“, I could have cared less. I didn’t listen to the album and never gave Justin a chance to break the stigma of the boy-band mold and everything bad that surrounds it. I did like the single or two that I heard on the radio but was never really invested in the music or anything he was doing. Then I started to pick up on public appearances and little interviews. Those really got my attention. Not only could this artist amass thousands of screaming girl-fans (and guy-fans), but he could also speak about music, and the craft of music, intelligently. Hu? But he came from a boy band! He dances well! Hey plays the piano ?!? He puts on amazing live shows? He’s really talented? Now, I will admit that I’m usually not the first to know about emerging artists, but I’m certainly not the last to know. So when I caught wind of Justin’s next solo project, I was all ears.

#2 Justin Timberlake - FutureSex/LoveSounds

“Damn Girl! You so fine!” Justin has a way with lyrics that head-voice, falsetto, Bee Gees, faker-wanna bes can only hope to have. No seriously, the track Damn Girl is a seriously groovy tune. Timberlake sounds like he could walk into a funk session and lay down lyrics with the best of them. And funk is the sound that comes to mind when I listen to this tune. There are a couple of tracks that sway out into the smooth ballad realm but overall, the taste is funk, and I want more. So Damn Girl uses this great sample from J.C. Davis’ A New Day is Here at Last. Just a perfect starting point for this tune. Now, I was lucky enough to have been born in the early 70s, which means that while disco was thriving, I was listening to the theme from “The Great Space Coaster” and “Land of the Lost“. By the time my musical pallet started to develop, the early forms of rap music and disco/funk transition tunes were getting airplay; so I missed the whole bell-bottom, disco ball thing. But this song makes me wish I had at least been around to listen to J.C. Davis, Parliament and the late great James Brown. The rest of the album reminds me of my musical childhood. I hear lots of early 80’s influenced samples and sounds that really bring me back to that cardboard box and the parachute pants time of joy. Will.I.Am makes a groovy little appearance and lays in a nice little breakdown vocal. Give this track a listen. If you have a convertible, put the top down and let it rip.

Justin Timberlake – Damn Girl

Love Stoned is just a well-produced track. I use the word meaty in a lot of my posts and it can be a compliment or an insult. In this case, a compliment. Timbaland has really developed a great ear as a producer and the combination of Timberlake and Timbaland is one that really deserves a lot of recognition. The integration of beat box and a cappella vocalizations really warm up and personalize this tune. Their understanding of rhythm and arranging is very evident on this tune and everything fits nicely in the mix. The outro interlude section of the song I Think She Knows features a guitar-strumming Timberlake and a sweet string arrangement by Larry Gold. For those of you that don’t the name Larry Gold, he’s a Curtis Institute uber-prodigy that has been instrumental (no pun intended) in shaping the sound of popular music (maybe even more instrumental than Quincy Jones). He’s worked on projects for Teddy Pendergrass, Boys II Men, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Common, Jill Scott and Justin’s last album Justified. All in all, Love Stoned is the culmination of all the hard work and collaborating efforts of a lot of really talented artists and engineers. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did here at The Alternakids!

Justin Timberlake – Love Stoned

I am a supporter of live music, and not just small local bands mind you. Live music is a real intimate look at how artists have molded their craft. There are nuances that you will hear live that might never show up on a studio album. It also gives musicians a chance to say, “Look at what I can do!” Who thought that John Mayer could actually play guitar?!? Who thought Clay Aiken could be so bad live?!? Who thought Justin Timberlake could really put on a great live show? Justin is a fan of music and has a sense of musicianship. This combination has lead to some incredible “live” televised performances on SNL and the Today Show. But here to shed some light on his recent visit to the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA is fellow Alternakids contributor and Timberlake fan, fearless23:

So I bought the tickets as a gift for my wife, but I was certainly excited to see if Justin could live up to the hype of this tour. His album had already wowed me… can this concert be all it’s predicted to be? The answer is a clear YES, and than some. I’ve been to many concerts and stage shows — large and small, local and Vegas… and this took the cake. They built a stage and performed a show that was unlike any other… they transformed the Staples Center into an all out visual extravaganza. Basically, Club Staples if you can imagine that? There wasn’t a bad seat in the house. Stage design, choreography, and Justin’s constant energy keep this show alive from beginning to end. Even the intermission was a show in itself (Timbaland spinning some beats). The stage extends in every direction, and works on multiple levels — just like the concert itself.

J.T. opened with the album title (F.S.L.S.)… and brought the crowd to it’s feet as the best stage show they’ve ever witnessed began to unfold. “My Love” was a wonderful remix — in the sense, Justin did every verse (after the first) in a different style of genre of music — including a little bit of jazz, and ending it with an all out hard-rock feel. “What Goes Around” was marvelous live expression of that song and sound. With an incredible hydrolic light show above his piano, it was something difficult to forget and almost impossible to describe. It’s obvious it’s going to be his next hit single (which leads nicely with the expected Scarlett Johansson video release this weekend).

“Damn Girl” is a perfect example of why this show kept you constantly entertained. Even when you didn’t have Justin Timberlake dancing and singing with beautiful dancers on your stage section — you were given another show in itself. Sexy dancer/ladies giving each other lap-dances and exotic performances only seen in the best shows Vegas has to offer. They tried to think of everything for the viewing audience member. His closer was obviously “Sexy Back” — and he kicked it out strong. His encore was an unexpected piano ballad that gave him an opportunity to express his heart felt appreciation for the stardom he has been given (he even shed a tear, if your seats were close enough to notice). It was a rare moment for him to showcase his all around talent in vocal and melody — with a man and his piano. And a rare twist to such a highly energetic show — but it worked, and worked well.

Obviously, I recommend the show to anyone — it’s even worth the price (plus you get Pink! to open). And although the sound from the youtube clips are poor (due to intense bass and a bad camera mic), you should get a feel of the energy and performance that is given. Even if you aren’t a fan, there is no chance you won’t be amazed and caught off guard by the visual show and talent on the stage. Welcome to the club… — fearless23.

Thanks fearless23! It’s too bad the Dixie Chicks won all the Grammys this year… It would have been nice for Justin to pick up a couple more. Here’s the performance for you to check out with contest winner Robyn Troup singing along (and holding her own!).

Dixie Chicks aside, I really liked this album. Almost more for its nostalgic content than for the way Timberlake has really grown into his own sound as a solo artist. And in a way, they are one in the same. After listening to this album, seeing the press junkets and watching him grow as a performer, I really feel a connection to Justin that most artists try to achieve with their audience over the span of several albums. If you don’t have it already, pick up Justified. Then listen to FutureSex/LoveSounds and see just how far Justin has come from boy-band sweetheart to number two on The Alternakids Best of 2006. Thanks for listening and stay tuned for the number one on the Best of 2006 countdown!

Purchase the Album – “Justified
Purchase the Album – “FutureSex/LoveSounds

Purchase the song – Damn Girl
Purchase the song – Love Stoned

Visit the Official Justin Timberlake Website

– David Schatanoff, Jr.