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The Evolution of The Old School Project

How many music journalism magazines left in this current age? While the exact amount remains unknown, it is undeniably declining since there has been news that some of the biggest entertainment is on the verge of collapsing. In the UK, the leading music magazine, NME, has been discontinuing the weekly paper-based journal after an intense 66 years of influences in the field, leaving only the website and sporadic special issues. Similarly, the legendary Rolling Stone has cut their bi-weekly release to the monthly ones, which is definitely shocking mainly because the enterprise is among the top 5 publications worldwide. Well, it has to be admitted that unlike the flourishing 20the century where magazines play a prominent role in the entertainment industry, the scene has changed significantly.

But no. Contrary to everyone’s expectation, music journalism isn’t dead; it evolves.

The migration of music journalism platforms from the physical magazine to the internet marks the adaptation in the media in order to survive the online era. Numerous media companies have discarded the traditional approaches and embrace the fully-online system, while contrastingly, others tend to engage in the 50:50 model. Yet, certain rare breeds decide to find their unique niches, exploring the opportunities and creating some unthinkable ideas. One of these unconventional companies is undoubtedly The Old School Project, a sporadic event organizer and café X radio internet projects based in Greece.

Albeit its success of organizing two prominent indie festivals and operating an on-air radio X café, The Old School Project also has embraced the alteration and tried to progress from its initial root. While staying strong in the music fields, it has spread the wings, becoming a well-established media offering various industry-concerned features. You will be able to find anything on its webpage, from reviews to personal band pages.  

It is considerably rare for music-focused publication to have a wide range of features, making the all-you-can-serve scheme that The Old School Project provides is undoubtedly an innovation. From the business perspective, having diverse sub-services or multiple products under one flag is pretty typical as it will cut the expense. Besides, the tactic can also be considered a smart move since it will be more captivating for the clients.

However, being exclusive alone is never enough. The media also needs to provide exceptional quality in the articles and effectiveness on each promotional campaign. So, the question will be: does this jack of all trade scheme affect the excellence of its programs?

To understand this, each features The Old School Project promotes needs to be broken down.

The first and probably the most well-known service showcased by The Old School Project is the band promotion. Starting with only €6,20 for 15 days, the company will become the group’s fidus Achates, providing a personal page on the website and promoting the latest works or events. Those who are eager to promote using the radio facility that the enterprise has to upgrade the bundle to at least “Titanium,” which cost €24,80 monthly.

Novices in the music industry may probably see the cost as a waste of money, as there are certainly more affordable options, such as Google or social media Ads. But unlike the other auto-generated advertisement, The Old School Project tends to hit right on the target market since its webpage and social media followers consist of pure music enthusiasts who know how to appreciate one’s work. Bottomline – the bundles are worth the price.

Besides the already-fascinating band promotion, the enterprise also offers another enthralling addition: the review. By only adding €80 for each, The Old School Project will provide an honest review created by professional journalists who understand music from aesthetic and theoretical perspectives. The appraisal will not only cover the songs but also encompasses the activities in general and social media presence. Truthfully, the profoundness and honesty hook me up; in the modern entertainment business full of deceptions and falsehoods, a bold, sharp review is definitely needed to provide an unbiased benchmark for the industry and guide fellow newcomers.

Aside from musicians, the studio or agency that needs the bigger platform for promoting their proteges can benefit by using the advertising features dedicated for labels, starting from only €10,00 for 15 days trial. It works similarly with the band promotion, but the client can add up to five groups on the personal page. For one who needs to draw bigger crowds by using their radio facility, they can upgrade to the “Titanium” (€99,20 / Month) or “Slinger” (€117,80 / Month).

Financially, these services are definitely worth more money than the single band promotion, as the enterprise will promote up to five different groups instead of one. Unfortunately, the company offers no other features aside from the quantity, making it a bit unsatisfactory. I genuinely expect more surprises since the price fluctuates significantly compared to the single-band promotion; even the difference is higher than €50 for the highest bundle: “Slinger.”

The Old School Project also provides other advertising services, focusing on graphic designers. It supposes to promote the artists’ artwork, specifically for one who works as a cover illustrator, poster maker, and logo designer. Frankly speaking, the feature seems to be forced to exist and indirectly related to music. Understandably, the company desires to hook the fellow artists who produce the paintings or logo in the music industry. Yet, The Old School Project website doesn’t seem to be the right place. Another two cents; it is preferable to create a sub-platform for facilitating these artists.

Next, here comes the journalism service, a place where fellow journalists are facilitated to build their resumes by publishing the works on The Old School Project’s personal page. While the innovation won’t be too appealing for veterans due to the €24,80 down payment, the young journalists who want to step into the music industry or strengthen the resume will attain considerable benefits, mainly on the exposure side.

However, despite the advantages that both parties can get, this journalism feature is truly a double-edged sword. Writing a band review or reporting an interview is tricky – besides the specific music theories and other relevant knowledge that the journalists need to have, they are obliged to write with honesty yet inoffensive. For newbies with little pertinent experiences, following these two aspects are challenging. If one of the writers makes a blunder, The Old School Project’s name will also be tarnished. Hence, it is suggested that the company have editors or at least one experienced journalist to filter the contents to prevent such a scenario.

Another noteworthy aspect of The Old School Project can be seen in its website design. Notwithstanding using only basic colors such as blue, grey, and white as a background, the excellent combination creates such an aesthetic ambiance without alleviating the clarity. Also, the radio player’s location is on-point, as it is placed in the left area and doesn’t cover up the content.

Nevertheless, there is a flaw: certain parts of the website pages are still disorganized. For instance, on the band review page, the distribution of text and the gap between pictures and sentences is somehow disordered, making it difficult to read. This problem may look frivolous, but it affects the engagement of a website by a mile in the long run. Even if audiences find the content mesmerizing, they probably will think twice to revisit the website, especially after undergoing the difficulties to read the article. Thus, it has to be fixed by redesigning the messy sections using a more reader-friendly template.

It is indeed a charming experience to surf on The Old School Project platform and witness the high-quality, authentic content. The company is undoubtedly an exceptional breed; the creators are bold enough to abandon the comfort zone by bringing something new to the game: the fascinating jack of all trade online services. Specific features such as the graphic designer service and article pages need reworking to engage more visitors. Still, it is just inconsequential hitches.

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WD-HAN: A Conservative Rock Band with Twists

Starting in the 60s, the explosion of the rock movement has successfully changed the landscape of popular culture. The waves of bands with similar concepts keep appearing regardless of the prevailing trends, making the genre ubiquitous in industrial and non-industrial scenes. Nevertheless, most don’t pursue everlastingness; the majority will go to separate ways after a few fruitless attempts.

Compared to the truckloads of those generic rock starlets’ situation, the case of WD-HAN (stands for We Don’t Have A Name) is indeed an anomaly. This three-personnel band has maintained its consistency since 2008 and regularly spreads its rock-based songs throughout the States. Their internal relationships are also no-less abiding. Even after more than a few failed endeavors, Spencer Barnes still leads the group as the main vocalist, while Cal Henry and Lea Barnes are down with their respective roles: guitar player and percussionist.

It is undebatable that WD-HAN has gone through the thick and thin in the music industry, but honestly, the group is still relatively clueless about the publication strategy. Neither their YouTube, Facebook, nor Instagram account has any meaningful upload, except during the new album promotions. Fortunately, this band still keeps the website in a fully-updated mode, making it convenient for the fans to find any latest information and exclusive merchandise.

Notwithstanding their sheer social media presence, WD-HAN has a ground-breaking portfolio. They have been nailing numerous national scales performances with their perfectly-refined songs, appearing in prominent Daytime America, and creating a video project at the land of endless Boba tea: Taiwan.

Naturally, such grandiose achievements are tough to accomplish, particularly that the band doesn’t have any deal with massive-scaled labels. Thus, for WD-HAN to obtain such acknowledgments, they must have something worthy of recognition.

Inopportunely, my hypothesis towards this band turns out to be only half-accurate.

Their first two EPs totally smash my highly-regarded assumption to the ground, shattering it to smithereens. Spencer’s claim of intertwining diverse musical styles such as blues, classic rock, and dance-pop isn’t adequately manifested. Even if there are traces, it is insignificant, and somehow only become exasperating noises. “Colour of Friend,” for instance, is a tasteless work without any specific vibe and sloppy riffs, making it an ominous acoustic rendition of typical high-school rock bands. Truthfully, a second-rate work.

The initial failures, though unsatisfactory, are just a baby step to their career, and WD-HAN’s clearly tries to discover their idiosyncratic tunes at the first album, “King of Castles.” Released in 2014, it implicitly shows the maturity and supposedly becomes a redemption for the past amateurish compositions. Half-part indeed sticks to conservative rock only, yet some works display another viewpoint, presenting the innovative coalescence of dancing-pop beats and typical Rockstar timbre. These contradictive mixtures serve a perfect contrast, creating an enthralling experience that one won’t find in second-rate bands.

The exploration for finding the originality subsequently became fruitful. In the next EP, “Monkey,” WD-HAN triumphantly presents their ideology quite well, fully embracing the combination of dance-pop, rock, blues, and even EDM. Albeit fairly short in length, almost all compositions are rich in flavor, giving whole excitement to the witnesses. The first track, entitled “The Down Low,” shows a captivating blend between hard rock and synthesized electronic beats. Simultaneously, the fourth, “Shaking,” carries a lighter ambiance and jolly-molly guitar riffs – a seamless option for jollified dancing.

What genuinely piques my interest in this EP is their last track, “The Greatest.” The introduction section may sound tedious and superficial, yet the magic happens in the middle. The supposed-to-be rocky accompaniment suddenly alters to a light drum stick striking, twisting the initial gloomy atmosphere into a total festivity before disappearing softly. The transition feels raw and eccentric in any way but still an absolute highlight.

Contrary to their explorative EP, the next album entitled “2020” shows the amalgamation of the firm rock root and the mind-blowing embellishment found before. Primarily consisting of a collection of three years’ worth of works, this album outshines all the previous tracks, exhibiting such high-class conservative rock with the eruptions of ingenuity in almost every song.

“Icarus,” for example, gives a new theme-switching experience to the listeners. The first few bars show a calm demeanor, only before radically shifting to a quicker pace and bursting rock’s energy to the maximum level. Listening to this song gives the similar taste of a sea salt ice cream – the saltiness in the surface may startle you, but only a few seconds before the cold sweet flavor bursts in – indeed a lovely work.

On the other hand, several songs don’t lean toward one genre, as it mixes everything into one. “Bad” starts with a short melody with bending techniques, providing the impression of classic blues. Meanwhile, one can also find a chunk of rock influence with the vocalist’s rasping voice and acoustic vibes from the rhythm. Yes, it is a melting pot full of spices; truly tasty.

Besides their attractive albums, their side-projects are no less appealing to witness, in particular, “Made in Taiwan.” Their initial idea is kind of shallow: a three-personnel group goes to an exotic country, seeking natural landscapes, and does the exhibition performances in certain places. Shockingly, the outcome is terrific – the sophisticated sceneries combined with on-point songs excavate the thirst for adventure within the audiences’ imagination, bringing them to a faraway land of tales and dragons. An additional note; the ideas, creativity, and valor create such sincere, nature-embracing music – something often neglected in the music industry nowadays.

Another striking aspect of their cover-song project lies in the unexpected aesthetic ideas. In the rhythmic section, the drummer Lea Barnes chooses to exploit the surrounding properties as percussion instruments, from ceramic pillar to ancient rhythmic apparatus: hand-clapping and foot-stomping. Such creativity brings a fresh, experimental touch to their supposed-to-be rock concept. Despite not taking it to the extreme manner, the innovation is indeed ear-pleasing for the audiences. Kudos Lea, you are a genius.

Despite the near-perfect concept and execution, there is still a significant flaw in this project: the technical problems. A bunch of falsetto failures, unsynchronized beats, and out-of-tune harmonies are somehow infuriating, knowing that the band consists of professional musicians with performance experiences. Sadly, the errors aren’t only found in the cover songs project alone, but also on other live performance videos.

I am trying not to be a pitch-Nazi here. Yet, it has to bear in mind that to execute a flawless performance, a musician really needs to perfect their technical ability. A semitone mistake has already enough for turning people’s mood down when one doesn’t have the capability to cover the failure, let alone several passages. Hence, WD-HAN absolutely needs to strive to increase the essential features of playing music: individual skills.

Put the downsides aside – each person within this band actually has the talent of becoming a high-quality musician. For instance, Spencer Barnes is gifted with a harsh voice with a high vocal range, or the be specific, a Rockstar quality. In addition, both Lea and Cal have such out-of-the-box ideas, to the extent that they can pull off such captivating riffs and rhythms.

“Icarus,” for example, gives a new theme-switching experience to the listeners. The first few bars show a calm demeanor, only before radically shifting to a quicker pace and bursting rock’s energy to the maximum level. Listening to this song gives the similar taste of a sea salt ice cream – the saltiness in the surface may startle you, but only a few seconds before the cold sweet flavor bursts in – indeed a lovely work.

On the other hand, several songs don’t lean toward one genre, as it mixes everything into one. “Bad” starts with a short melody with bending techniques, providing the impression of classic blues. Meanwhile, one can also find a chunk of rock influence with the vocalist’s rasping voice and acoustic vibes from the rhythm. Yes, it is a melting pot full of spices; truly tasty.

Besides their attractive albums, their side-projects are no less appealing to witness, in particular, “Made in Taiwan.” Their initial idea is kind of shallow: a three-personnel group goes to an exotic country, seeking natural landscapes, and does the exhibition performances in certain places. Shockingly, the outcome is terrific – the sophisticated sceneries combined with on-point songs excavate the thirst for adventure within the audiences’ imagination, bringing them to a faraway land of tales and dragons. An additional note; the ideas, creativity, and valor create such sincere, nature-embracing music – something often neglected in the music industry nowadays.

Another striking aspect of their cover-song project lies in the unexpected aesthetic ideas. In the rhythmic section, the drummer Lea Barnes chooses to exploit the surrounding properties as percussion instruments, from ceramic pillar to ancient rhythmic apparatus: hand-clapping and foot-stomping. Such creativity brings a fresh, experimental touch to their supposed-to-be rock concept. Despite not taking it to the extreme manner, the innovation is indeed ear-pleasing for the audiences. Kudos Lea, you are a genius.

Despite the near-perfect concept and execution, there is still a significant flaw in this project: the technical problems. A bunch of falsetto failures, unsynchronized beats, and out-of-tune harmonies are somehow infuriating, knowing that the band consists of professional musicians with performance experiences. Sadly, the errors aren’t only found in the cover songs project alone, but also on other live performance videos.

I am trying not to be a pitch-Nazi here. Yet, it has to bear in mind that to execute a flawless performance, a musician really needs to perfect their technical ability. A semitone mistake has already enough for turning people’s mood down when one doesn’t have the capability to cover the failure, let alone several passages. Hence, WD-HAN absolutely needs to strive to increase the essential features of playing music: individual skills.

Put the downsides aside – each person within this band actually has the talent of becoming a high-quality musician. For instance, Spencer Barnes is gifted with a harsh voice with a high vocal range, or the be specific, a Rockstar quality. In addition, both Lea and Cal have such out-of-the-box ideas, to the extent that they can pull off such captivating riffs and rhythms.

WD-HAN portfolio is not just for show. The 12 years journey results in strong tune with the utmost originality and still gives little surprises in some of their tracks. Yet, earlier works are substandard and lack seasonings. Only their last EP and album are worth highlighting; for one who wants to experience WD-HAN’s experimental side, “Monkey” EP probably is a great choice. On the other side, “2020” will be the wisest pick for normies who are eager to casually listen to conservative indie rock with lovable, idiosyncratic twists in certain places.

 

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Crane Technique: Paul Wheatley’s Never-Ending Pilgrimage

The release of “Still in Love with You” marked one-decade of Crane Technique’s existence, a solo band by Paul Wheatley. This one-man project was initially created during his packed schedule with We Shot the Moon, yet throughout the years, it  has successfully released eight singles; that means at least one to two songs every two years. Even though the pace may look slow for an active musician, it still makes sense, especially after knowing that he does everything related to the production by himself.

An independent project somehow becomes the escape route for the band-based artist who wants to traverse a new world, and I see that Paul Wheatley has a similar motive. Contrary to his band that sticks to the acoustic-pop genre, he tries to  push  his capability by mingling several well-known musical varieties. As expected, it produces mixed results; some attain desirable outputs, while the others seem neither unique nor appealing.

Let’s break them down.

Dated in 2010, Crane Technique’s first song debut entitled “Darling, Say Goodbye” embraced the idea of elaborating rock and electronic music. Presenting the 2000s rock-pop as the main show, he injected the catchy electronic melody in the  middle,  giving the element of surprise to the listeners. Truthfully, that EDM hook piques my interest. It suddenly kicks in out of nowhere, fully boosts the ambiance before suddenly fading out in an elegant way. Raw and a bit radical, but  absolutely worth  highlighting.

But contrary to the expectation, some of his next compositions didn’t carry the same spirit, as it leaned more to electronic without grabbing the rock roots as tight. For instance, “The Ghost White” only reimplemented the rocky beats,  enveloping  it  with the generic-electronic music patterns and countermelodies. Enticing still, but less powerful and more industrial – Paul probably wanted to attract a bigger market, but it only dulled the sharp characters he had shown before.

Nevertheless, things just started to get more interesting from there. Crane Technique switched sides again in the 2017 project, this time, adopting the 80s influences. Featuring The Modern Longing, Paul introduced the balanced fusion between  modernity and baby-boomer vibes through his “Love U 4 It” and “Naked.” This was a brave and unexpectedly lovely turnover. He carried out the ideology of change once again and blew everyone’s mind with inventive ideas. While “Love U 4 It”  carries a lighter beat and pure jollification, “Naked” gives a more romantic, appealing impression, making it a perfect contrast. Listening to both songs feels like having the two different ice cream flavors in a cone – one side with a light salty  vanilla, while the other has an intense chocolate taste – truly an endearing experience.

Crane Technique apparently found its niche in the 80s scene after the Collabs. It was exemplified with the next works, “Just 4 2Nite.” This time, Paul literally fully-adopted the disco, embracing a typical merrymaking mood and shelving   modern electronic influences with the eighties’ specific guitar strumming technique. Yet, Paul kept it authentic and tasty; he still garnished it with the big chunk of DIY electronic synths. 

 Another perfect rendition of coalescent genres can be found in his latest work, “Still in Love with You.” Rather  than continuing the success from embedding the 80s pop, Paul once again strived to clash the contradictive  musical styles, and   his choices fell to rock-pop, electronics, and disco. This track is way richer; those three  minutes, albeit keeping the generic pop forms, give some surprising small elements while maintaining everything  in consonance harmonies.

Despite the continuous exploration of styles, there is one thing that always stagnant during the one-decade  voyage: the romantic, love-oriented lyrics. Whether it is about first-sight-   attraction or saddening breakup, Crane   Technique has  successfully carved the lyrics deep down in everyone’s mind. It also presents itself as an oasis in    the middle of an uncertain,   explorative desert.

 Progressivity is something worth-doted in Paul’s journey. The keep-changing beats, layers, and (on several  occasions) subgenres make me wonder what he will present on the table     next. While Paul’s initial solo  compositions are quite  predictable due to his background, he dives more into the combination of electronic  music  and the 80s disco in later works     before turning back to his OG root. I find his identity-seeking globe-  trot enticing to follow.

 But the progressive alteration, while giving the freedom to conduct the imaginative exploration in each track, has a significant drawback to the listener. The constant style-switching     makes his songs lack trademarks, to the extent that we  may misidentify him with someone else. Luckily, his consistent approach to the lyrics saves the day; the love theme enables    everyone to, at least, recognize him.

Crane Technique becomes Paul Wheatley’s medium for liberating his adventurous mind and showcasing the long-untouched creativity. He has adequately brought new, fresh cuts to the game – catchy vibes of typical oldies, adorned with  synth-based tunes. Put the superficial tracks aside; those works are a perfect alternative for indie enthusiasts out there or ones who want to reminisce about the 80s scenes.

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