Oct 022009

Okay, so I know a lot about musical taste is subjective–although a lot of what makes music good is actually pretty measurable. As I look for The Oomph in the bands and artists I look at, there are a number of factors that affect how I review them. Like everyone else, there are certain musical styles I personally prefer, and I can’t promise that some genres won’t get reviewed more than others. However, I am going to try to make it so that most styles will get at least some representation here, and to be as fair as possible when reviewing them.

That said…no matter the style, there are some things I think make music good, and things that I think make music suck. Even if you don’t agree with these criteria, at least you’ll have a grid for where I’m coming from.

Here are some things that make me lean toward giving a good review:

  • Original songs–not necessarily songs the band or artist has written (there are great musicians who aren’t songwriters), but songs unique to the act.
  • Innovative sounds–not just random stuff I haven’t heard before, but what I call “controlled creativity”–something new that is still musically appealing.
  • Passion–when the band apparently believes what they are playing and/or singing.
  • Great stage presence–the ability to command and keep the audience’s attention, to engage them.
  • Chemistry–when the bandmates work well together and function as a unit.
  • Raw talent (duh)–when the band/artist is really good at what they do! Few things scratch my musical itch more than hearing a musician who has mastered his/her instrument. I love it.

On the other hand…here are some real musical turn-offs for me:

  • Musical sloppiness. I prefer tight, clean sounds and accurate rhythms, although I respect a level of looseness depending on the genre. But when it’s obvious that the music is unrehearsed, or that the band is a bunch of individuals who aren’t connected with each other, it sends a message that the act doesn’t really care about what it’s doing. And if they don’t care…why should I?
  • Excessive, needless profanity or vile content. I’m a Christian, but I’m not a prude. I respect freedom of speech, and I can even accept some strong content when it makes sense in the context or is important to the message. But when it is apparent that someone is celebrating vileness and calling it “art”–it’s just unnecessary. Express yourself all you want, but I have the right not to listen to it if you want to be crude for crudeness’ sake.
  • Unprofessional conduct. I know this frame’s certain artists’ image and gets some attention, but that kind of crap is not about music–it’s about attention. (Think Kanye.) If you have to make that much of a stink, then maybe you’re not all that talented, and you have to act like a moron to conceal that fact. If you’re a good musician, the music will stand on its own. I can smell B.S. a mile away.
Sep 232009

Three things you should know about me:

  1. Music is my passion.
  2. I am a lifelong student of music (particularly what makes a good song, a good performance, and a good act).
  3. I am a bit of a teacher.

What this all means is that even if you aren’t as into music as I am–and even if you’re not from Denver–you’ll probably learn a little something here and there by reading this blog. Maybe, at the very least, you’ll get an idea of why I’m such a nut when it comes to music.

I am the Denver Local Music Examiner for Examiner.com, and this blog sort of supplements my articles there. So yeah, there will be some coverage of local music here, because here I can share more specific opinions than I can on Examiner. A lot of what I’ll be doing is analyzing bands and performances–the things that make them shine, the things that hold them back.

But this blog won’t limit itself to the Denver music scene; there’s just too much good stuff out there. Lots of potential. I’ll share where I’m finding the good stuff, and what I like about it. You might agree, you might not. I’ll probably spend a lot of time on indie bands and artists, and up-and-coming acts (since you can read about Britney, Kanye and Taylor just about anywhere). But anytime the words “good” and “music” can appear in the same sentence–it’s fair game. :)

I guess what I hope for is not just to entertain the people who are already jazzed about music. (Oh, one other thing you should know–I’m heavy into puns. Get it? Jazzed? Anyhow.) I don’t want to just tell you about what’s good in music; I want to tell you why it’s good–what makes it good. To make you a fan of it, if you aren’t already.

And to any other musicians who come across this blog…I hope it encourages you, shows you what to work on. If you’re a musician and you get critiqued on this blog (yes, I will probably do some negative reviews)…I’ll tell you up front that I’m on your side, that the things I say are to help rather than hurt. (If I really thought you had no potential, I wouldn’t bother mentioning you at all.)

So…that’s what you can expect. Looking forward to the ride…

Sep 202009

For all who might come across this blog, either directly or by accident…welcome.

The Oomph is a blog dedicated to local and indie musicians, particularly from the Denver area–but since I love music in general, I’ll gladly include others who get my attention. :)

What is the Oomph, you ask? It’s that hard-to-describe extra element that separates the pretty-good from the outstanding. When it comes to local talent, the Oomph is the “it” factor. A local band or artist who has the Oomph is one with the potential to expand beyond the local scene.

An example? Many of you have heard of The Fray. Many non-Denver readers might not know they are from Denver. They began here as a local band. Now they are internationally known.

The Oomph. Get it?

The thing is, Denver talent has lots of Oomph, and that’s what this blog is about. I’m looking for the standouts in the local music scene.

In addition to spotlighting artists, I’ll be reviewing some of the better venues in town–hotspots for finding some of the best talent. Once I find my bearings, I’ll be listing upcoming events containing my picks for possible Oomph sightings. And once in awhile, I’ll even venture out and showcase non-local talent you might not have heard of–but who are especially dripping with Oomph.

I’m glad to have you with me on the hunt. Looking forward to the ride!