In the wake of some recent news I’ve decided to recall this blog as my own and continue to use it in the same vein as before, except I don’t have to be censored now haha
In the wake of some recent news I’ve decided to recall this blog as my own and continue to use it in the same vein as before, except I don’t have to be censored now haha
Well, this moment has been coming for quite a while, but now it’s finally here it’s difficult to know what to say. When I took over Phoenixx nearly 3 years ago it was a…surprise really. When I applied I wanted to be a studio engineer, got ¾ of the way through the online application and thought ‘I don’t really feel qualified’, and backed all the way to the start. I had another look at the available positions and saw 'Managing Director’ at the top, and me being me thought I’d take a shot at that.
Well a few months down the line, there I was, in a job I had no experience with whatsoever. My first issue was the team I’d been assigned by the outgoing team, who were to put it mildly 'dim-witted morons’ (and that’s mild). They were the kind of people who had a load of ideas, but instead of telling you them, they would talk about them behind your back to try and make you look incompetent. Equally, they would ask for meetings, but then not turn up to them…you get the idea. People who know me will know I have no time for idiots, I had a plan and I was going to stick to it, even if it meant putting a few people out.
Until recently, I’ve kind of done everything myself, because I was the only person I could trust to get the job done efficiently and effectively Every time I relied on someone else, they let me down. The releases we’ve had since I took over have been better than anything Phoenixx has put out prior, we linked up with a professional mastering engineer David Rogers, and we used 'proper’ artists to do our artwork, and by 'proper’ I don’t mean people who draw a little in their spare time, I mean people who have toured their artwork around the world, or had it in exhibits. That was the standard we were aiming for, some saw it as an unnecessary cost, but they were the same unimaginative people who wanted to sign second rate first year bands, and saw Phoenixx as a club house.
We didn’t always get it right, I didn’t always get it right, but we worked damn hard to do the best we could.
I’ve put more money into Phoenixx than I think anyone ever would, and I think mainly because I saw it as an extension of myself…if Phoenixx failed, then I failed, and I don’t like to fail. I wanted something to be proud of, I wanted to walk away knowing it was better than when I arrived, and I think I can do that.
I don’t know what the future for Phoenixx will be, there is talk of having it 'used’ as part of a module next year, and no doubt if that’s the case it will revert back to its uninspired 'for students, by students’ ethos; because it’s easier. Some argued that it should have stayed a label for student bands only, but I wanted to make Phoenixx mean more, and I couldn’t do that with bands who had just started out. I wanted it to be more professional, and using external bands does that, because then the team are working with real people, there is a real responsibility there because you’re working with musicians who have expectations; rather than students who are just happy to be involved in something.
I’ve loved being a part of Phoenixx, and I’m very proud of the people we’ve worked with and the releases we’ve had. It’s a very privileged position, and one I’ve never taken for granted. But now I’ve finished my course and began job hunting, I don’t feel I can put in the amount of time and effort that I would be satisfied with. From 1st February General Manager Matt Rice will take over as Managing Director for the rest of the term. Although I will still remain in an advisory position, I will no longer have any direct control of the day to day running of the label.
I want to thank everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with, my current Phoenixx team, and the following: David Rogers, Luke Marsh, Justin Bryan Nelson, Richard Gale, Jess Collins, Kate Arthur, and Nichola Marshall.
I’m trying to think of a clever or witty way to end my final post, but I think the most appropriate way is to end with a song.
Artist Spotlight (January) - Lifehouse
Song: Between The Raindrops (Ft Natasha Bedingfield)
Released November 2012
Evening all. So Christmas is just around the corner, and before I drown in Christmas cheer I thought I’d write one last Phoenixx blog for 2012.
It’s been a busy year for Phoenixx, and one filled with ups and downs. I’ll be honest, from day one Phoenixx has been somewhat of a personal project, so knowing this was to be my last year in charge has certainly focussed my mind. We signed Dirty Mindz and transformed them into Sideline, spending 4 days recording at Far Heath studios in Northamptonshire. It was a fantastic experience, and we got 3 great tracks out of it.
We’ve had a lot of incompetent people work at Phoenixx, of course they would all disagree, but the world is full of idiots so that isn’t a surprise. Those very special people who volunteer to do a job, and then seem put out when they get asked to actually do that job. We do live in a crazy world.
But this year there have been exceptions, and I want to thank the current team for being a glimmer of hope that Phoenixx might still be alive this time next year. We have 2 great artists either mid-recording or due to record in the new year, and I’m very excited to see how they work out.
I’m both sad and relieved that this is my last Christmas with Phoenixx. It’s been a privilege and I definitely don’t take it for granted. I’m proud at what’s been achieved in the last 3 years, both good and bad, and I’ve taken a lot out of it.
“Life is a series of rooms, and who we get stuck in those rooms with adds up to what our lives are.”
I like that philosophy, and I think it’s a fitting way to sign off on 2012. I’m going to leave you with what has been undoubtedly a musical highlight for me this year, it’s such an effortlessly gorgeous song.
States - Brighter Lights
The Phoenixx Records compilation album ‘Last Stand’ will be released in January 2013, and features tracks from both former/current artists, some old friends, and some of the brightest up and coming talent. Hit play to listen to clips from all 10 tracks!
1. Sixdaysober - Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique
2. LunariaN - Xenophobia
3. Sienna - Invincible
4. Josh Savage - Figure You Out
5. The Words - The Void
6. Sideline - Signals
7. Great White Sharks - Stupid Boy
8. Phil Maddocks - She’s The Lady
9. When We Were Giants - From A Movie Reel
10. The Words - Truth & Faith
Artist Spotlight (December) - The Lulls In Traffic
In January 2013 Phoenixx Records will be releasing its very first compilation album. As well as tracks from currents artists, it will feature tracks from some of our old friends, including Phil Maddocks, Sixdaysober, Jewels, Great White Sharks, and Russ Sargeant.
Artwork for the album is currently being designed by the amazingly talented Luke Marsh, and you can see a sneak peak of the design on our current Facebook profile picture.
We’re also excited to announce that for the first time in Phoenixx history, the album will come with both a CD and DVD in a dual digipak case, and that Luke Marsh will also be designing the inside and back of the case, not just the front (I’ve seen a draft, it looks incredible!).
There is a good chance this will be the last physical album Phoenixx will ever create, as I don’t believe future management will have the same desire I do for creating music you can hold in your hand, nor the passion to spend their own money on making it a reality.
Official track listing and release date will be announced around Christmas along with the artwork.
The Last Thing We’ll Ever Do - The Daylights
Anberlin were formed in 2002 in Winter Haven, Florida. The band were playing under a previous name ‘SaGoh’, which was very heavily punk influenced, although this was coming to an end and the band were ready to call it a day on the music. Before they did however, they used the money they made from SaGoh shows to record one last bunch of songs, together with a new drummer Nathan Young (who was just 14 at the time of joining the band). These 5 demos were then uploaded to Purevolume, which was MP3.com at the time, and after receiving high praise and an even higher number of plays the band were signed to Tooth & Nail records. Anberlin were born.
Over the years they have steadily been growing, putting out 5 albums, all of which gaining almost universal praise by critics, and are now on the verge of releasing their 6th (the 3rd on major label Universal Republic), and quite possibly most important album of their musical career. Re-united with Aaron Sprinkle (producer of their first 3 albums), the band promise a return to their heavier side after flirting with the light side on their last 2 albums. The combination of clever song writing, experience, and one of the best male vocalists around today makes for a truly thrilling combination. From the dark and heavy to the light and poppy, and even the heart warming acoustic and fizzing synth based tracks, Anberlin thrive on giving fans what they want, and Vital will be an exemplary example of this.
States - Brighter Lights
So firstly, thank you to the new faces on the Phoenixx Facebook page, we promise to only spam your wall when is absolutely necessary ;)
Secondly, an official welcome to the new members of the Phoenixx team! An announcement of who’s who will be coming shortly on here with pictures and the likes, but I think we have a strong team that is still growing, and I’m hoping my final year at Phoenixx can be one of the most successful.
With regards to that, I’ve now been running Phoenixx for over 2 years, and although I am still very much here and very much in charge, due to me living in Manchester I will be handing some day to day responsibilities to a capable General Manager who should be introducing himself to you on Facebook a little later today.
We have lots of exciting things coming up, and we’ll keep you posted about all of that! For now, here is some music to start off your Friday! Have a great weekend :)
Artist Spotlight - September
This month our artist spotlight goes to Paper Route, a three-piece indie rock band from Nashville, Tennessee. Their second full length album, The Peace of Wild Things, came out yesterday and should be avaliable on iTunes over here very soon. To best describe their sound, it’s sort of like a combination of M83, Maroon 5, and One Republic. Soaring high notes, fizzing synth, and some really catchy hooks.
New single from Seattle band, Campfire OK.
Phoenixx has recently struck up a relationship with the Prostate Cancer Charity, and will be working with them over the coming months to help raise money and awareness for a great cause.
We are committed in ensuring Phoenixx Records leads by example, and despite not being seen as worthy enough to get financial backing from our own Students Union, we will continue to fight on with such ventures to prove we are just as valuable as for example the society for ‘Extreme Gardening’…I kid you not.
A new hauntingly beautiful song by Edward Turner.
Great new music is just around the corner from American band ‘Anchor & Braille’. Their second album 'The Quiet Life’ will be released on July 31st and really is a must listen. It’s been recorded with so many subtle yet beautiful layers, a real masterclass.
All is set and ready to head down to the fantastic Far Heath Studios in Northampton next week to spend 4 days recording the new EP by Dirty Mindz. The whole process will be filmed and we’ll let you know closer to the release date how you can view it.
Having heard the songs to be recorded, I can promise you this EP will deliver something great and I can’t wait for you to hear it in a couple of months.
So we picked up on this band in 2011 and featured them as our artist of the month in the old format we had on the website. Well, since then they’ve grown in popularity both here and in the good old USA where they’re from. In February this year they released their second album Some Nights, which has gotten almost universally positive reviews from critics.
The album itself is really….well, fun! From their slightly crazy string/operatic/spoken intro track, to the boombastic One Foot, the whole thing is quite simply whackily brilliant. It’s not indie, nor is it electro, nor is it really anything I’ve heard before, there are so many different elements expertly (and sympathetically) weaved and threaded throughout the whole thing you’re taken on a journey; never quite knowing what to expect. If you threw M83 and Gotye into a musical blender, Fun. are what you might expect the mix to sound like.
There is definitely an experimental element here in terms of the layers of different sounds and styles, but it’s not vulgar or simply for the sake, something Muse should take note of.
Our artist of the month for June is a band from Ontario, Canada, called Thousand Foot Krutch.
This song, ‘Fly On The Wall’, comes off their 6th and newest album, 'The End Is Where We Begin’ and was released in April this year. Produced by the highly acclaimed American producer Aaron Sprinkle, this album has a really nice balance of heavy and light so everyone should be able to find a track on there that they like.
This band has been around since 1995 so it’s great to see they are still able to make music that’s relevant 17 years after forming.
17 years together and still writing songs like this…the vocals are just dripping with emotion.
So I’ve now been at the helm of Phoenixx for 2 years. When I took over I had some idea of where I wanted to be at this point, and in the main I think I've achieved what I set out to do. It was a shaky start, getting certain foundations in place which included boosting the reputation of the label. Attention to detail has been my main focus right from the start, anything we did had to be done the right way and that meant a lot of the work I did myself; not because I had the burning desire to overwork myself, but because I had a core vision and I didn’t want that diluted by committee.
In the past 12 months we’ve released 3 EP’s, 2 singles, and of course 1 full length physical LP, all of which have been fantastic and really show what we strive for. The biggest moment was of course the LP launch, which was probably the first and last full length album Phoenixx will put out, and a proud moment. From working with the band from the very early stages, to getting an amazing American artist to design the artwork, every single aspect was looked at again…and again….and then some more.
I know this label has flaws, and I know some of those come from me, but there have been certain individuals who have let me down and if I’ve learnt anything so far it’s that you should always prepare for people to let you down, because its inevitable they will at some point. I had a meeting with the labels’ overall leader Dave Newman a couple of weeks ago, and whilst discussing certain team issues, he said I need to remember that this is Phoenixx Records, and not James Records…the trouble is, the line has blurred because like it or hate it, this label has a part of my heart and soul.
I have one year left here, one year to do everything I still want to acheive…but this year I’ll hopefully have a team that will help me do it.
This months artist spotlight goes to a band from Iceland called ‘Of Monsters And Men’. Their début album, 'My Head Is An Animal’, was released in Iceland in September 2011, but after glowing reviews the band was picked up by Universal and the album was released in America on April 3rd, entering the Billboard 200 at #6.
Whilst the album has not fully been digested by us, at face value it’s sort of like a cross between Lana Del Rey, The Civil Wars, and Gotye. It’s a nicely balanced album, ranging from happy upbeat tracks to more serious mellow numbers. Something tells me you may well be hearing a lot more about this band in the months to come…
For those who don’t know, Kick Starter is an American website whereby any individual can ask the public for funding for a project. There is no real restriction on what the project might be as long as it’s within the law. People have used Kick Starter as a way to help fund life changing inventions, short films, and even a new type of espresso machine! Apart from the usual fees, the only downside is that if you don’t meet the target you set out to begin with, you don’t get a single dime.
I tell you this because American band ’The Daylights’ have just started a Kick Starter campaign to help fund their new album. There are several set amounts you can ‘pledge’, so for example a pledge of $10 gets you a digital copy of the album before it’s released to the public. On the other end of the scale pledge $5000 and you get a live gig from the band anywhere, anytime…cool, no? $500 gets you a 3 hour writing session with the band, whilst $150 gets your name printed in the album cover.
But by far the coolest option comes at a price of $75…for this you get 2 sets of 3D glasses sent to your home, and a special link where you can watch clips of the band working in the studio, you guessed it, in 3D! Now although I’m not a massive fan of 3D, this is quite a cool and I believe a pioneering experience.
Click the link to check out the project!
Despite my previous intention to leave Phoenixx Records in May, certain matters have recently come to light which means it will be far more beneficial to continue for one more year. Entering into what will be an unprecedented third year at the helm, it’s easy at this point to establish what has worked and what hasn’t during my time here. Equally, on a more personal note it’s given me the chance to see what I’m good at, and what I’m not so good at.
Although details are still up in the air what I can tell you is that I will remain Musical Director, but will be bringing in Matt Rice to help coordinate day to day running as General Manager. We’ve just appointed a new studio manager for next year, and the process of building a team will begin in the coming months.
As announced on our Facebook last week, Dirty Mindz have been booked in to the fantastic Far Heath Studios with award winning engineer Angus Wallace in July to record a new EP.
‘There are all kinds of music all over the world, but nothing will ever replace drums, bass, guitar, bad ass vocals, and a great song’ Brent Smith, Shinedown, 2012.
What with blazing sunshine one week followed by ice and snow the next you’d be forgiven for thinking the world has gone to hell. Thankfully, the music world is a little bit more reliable (just about) and none more so than the latest release by American artist Shinedown.
Following on from their previous album 'The Sound Of Madness’, the new album titled 'Amaryllis’ leans in the same mainstream area with songs like 'Bully’, but still has enough bite and originality to balance things out.
That being said, if you’re not an old school fan of the band I doubt you’d find many reasons to complain at all. They manage to balance euphoric rock with emotive grace better than the majority of bands in their genre, which might go some way to explain their rapidly increasing fan base. 'Amaryllis’ entered the Billboard 200 at #4 selling 106,000 units in its first week; the bands most successful release week thus far. It also managed to break into the UK top 20 (#18), which is no mean feat given Radio 1 doesn’t continually rape them on the air (figuratively, of course).
Apart from the quality of the album, one of the reasons Shinedown is featured this month is their importance for the UK rock scene. I say this because in the main there are few rock bands which manage to gain mainstream success in this country, what with the poisonous popularity of dubstep, reams of old x-factor contestants, and that ginger dude in his lego house all flooding the radio. So the ones that do manage to break through help as a reminder to everyday people that rock is still a relevant genre of music, and it’s bands like Shinedown, Foo Fighters, Muse, and more recently Young Guns that keep that fight alive.
Below is a track which I think best demonstrates the balance of the album; some songs being much heavier (Adrenaline), some being more mellow (Through The Ghost).
We can't recommend you check this out enough, our featured artist in March ‘Tallhart’ has just put up their new EP a few days before its official release, have a listen!