YouTube used to be an infrequent destination in the grand scheme of my internetting back-in-the-day. A must-see movie trailer? Sure. A few clips of kittens being kittens? Of course. Having a laugh at the numa numa guy, the Star Wars kid, or that one dude practicing his karate? Who doesn’t love a good chortle! But one thing I’d never considered YouTube to be for… was music. Flash forward to my surf-habits now, and I’m not the same person I once was. My subscription list is at least 3 long scrolls — including comedy channels, beauty gurus who somehow snag my attention, cooking shows, pro wrestling news and scuttlebutt, and of course: musicians.
While YouTube of course houses the professionally produced music videos of my all-time favorites (Barenaked Ladies, Guster, They Might Be Giants, and so on), a cursory glance over my internet history — YouTube only, ya pervs — would showcase a litany of indie crooners and rockers alike. Each one tripped over due to some kink in the algorithms and eventually saved into my subs box like a hoarder with stacks of vinyl. You know, except I don’t honestly pay often to enjoy these artists work; save of course for whatever fraction of a cent they earn when I let their pre-and-post video advertisements run.
This week, I thought I’d feature my top 5 musical artists I found because of YouTube. I’ll showcase the first video that hooked me, as well as a piece of whatever of theirs recently I’m grooving to. Slap some cans on your ear-holes, kiddos. Let’s rock this joint.
The video that snagged me: Electro-Harmonix – Voice Box
A recent cut I’m loving: Sucker | Jonas Brothers | Pomplamoose ft. Meghan Tonjes
You’re not reading that wrong. The video to hook this Fish? A demo for a guitar/keyboard pedal. At the time, I was working for an online music retailer, and a merchandiser sent me a link because I’d been complaining that not enough people sounded like Soundwave from the Decepticons. Falling down the rabbit hole of the video’s artist — credited to “video song” maker Jack Conte — I eventually found his duo with wife Nataly Dawn, dubbed Pomplamoose. I’ve watched the band’s humble DIY beginnings blossom into full-throated full-banded productions. Their song-craft remains their strong point, balancing Conte’s layered instrumentation over Dawn’s unmistakable voice.
The video that snagged me: Gone (Ben Folds) — No longer live.
A recent cut I’m loving: No Sudden Moves (Official Video)
Adjacent to Pomplamoose, Julia Nunes was never-not-on-the recommended sidebar for any ‘Moose tune. Given my own love of Ben Folds, seeing a cover was all the invitation I’d needed. Nunes has an alto voice that is smooth as silk. She wears her heart on her sleeve, and over the years as a fan it’s been an incredible journey watching the young lady become more comfortable and mature in both her skin and her melodies. Her latest video is a considerable departure in terms of it’s tone and presentation… But I’d be remiss to deny how intoxicating the kaleidoscopic treatment is over the forced anticipatory nature of the melody. It’s mastercraft from someone whose passions are never-not-prevalent.
Walk Off The Earth
The video that snagged me: Payphone – Walk off the Earth (Maroon 5 Cover) EXPLICIT LYRICS
A recent cut I’m loving: Mike’s Song – Walk Off The Earth
It’s not that hard a line to draw from Pomplamoose to Julia Nunes (as Nunes’ early album was produced by Jack Conte) and from Nunes to Walk Off The Earth (Nunes and WOTE did a video together, natch). But it was the one-take-wonder of “Payphone” that made me marvel. I admit I’m a sucker for a good gimmick. WOTE’s commitment early on to their viral fame (5 people playing 1 guitar) belied the fact that past the gimmicks were multi-instrumentalists able to juggle complex pop songs with the ease of road-hardened musicians. While the band’s crunchy Canadian vibe never particularly gave me much pause, their recent loss of band member Mike “Beard Guy” Taylor has launched the band’s current mission to spread the love and joy of music to kids less fortunate. Their dedication to their friend hit me as hard as End War ever could.
The video that snagged me: Charly Bliss finds its perfect match with Len’s “Steal My Sunshine”
A recent cut I’m loving: Hard To Believe [Official Music Video]
As a long-time reader of the Chicago-based nerd-news-site AV Club, I became enamored with their “AV Undercover” series which saw indie artists (and a few larger acts like They Might Be Giants and GWAR) come in to cover popular songs in their all-too-indie stylings. Charly Bliss — helmed by Eva Hendricks and her Joey-Lauren-Adams-If-She-Was-A-Rock-Star-Vocals — sounded like the distilled oeuvre of my adolescence if it married a fuzz pedal. Their first album, Guppy, was the most-played album of 2018 by far, and their recent sophomore release “Young Enough” is a nu-wave love letter that sees the Brooklen-based band maturing without loosing the hooks and power-pop-chops that made me shove them on literally anyone willing to listen to me. And now I’ve done it again. Listen to them!
Open Mike Eagle
The video that snagged me: Open Mike Eagle – Every Single Thing (official video)
Open Mike Eagle first invaded my headspace as podcaster alongside Hal Lublin, Danielle Radford, and Lindsay Kelk talking about pro-wrestling. And while they put him over for contributing the theme song to their podcast Tights and Fights, I largely thought Eagle was just a comedian. But all these new-fangled millennial types just have to be multi-dimensional, don’t they? An errant search on YouTube upon hearing his costars swoon over his recent release immediately put him into my subscription list. The video for “Every Single Thing” sits unsafely inside the Venn diagram between art school senior project, low-budget for laughs video, and something A Tribe Called Quest might have produced for the hell of it. The beat is ocean’s deep in the mood it creates, and Eagle’s lyrics over the top are perfectly-pitched riffs on the economy, black culture, Donald Trump, and pro-wrestling. How could I not love it?