Archives for category: indie

After about a year, I finally finished reading Love is a Mixtape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield.

[An aside: Have I told you how much I love our local library? Seriously, rediscovering the library last year has been such a source of joy for me. Being able to renew Love is a Mixtape many, many times online, discovering obscure music — Derek Bailey, anyone? — and choosing new books with my daughter… the list goes on and on. My friend Richard inspires me through his work as a librarian to dream of better ways of being a church: giving ourselves away for the sake of the community, becoming a trusted resource, finding ways to engage people of all ages…]

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I’ve admired the work of the folks at Invisible Creature for awhile now. From the Sasquatch Music Festival to the Hurricane Poster Project, Invisible Creature has developed a strong voice in the design world.

Now, you’re invited to join the fun! The Lil’ Happy Invisible Creature S.A.S.E Club is kind of a throwback nod to the days when people actually sent letters to each other (“S.A.S.E” means “self-addressed stamped envelope, by the way).

Here’s how it works:

It’s real simple. Send us a self-addressed stamped envelope and we’ll fill it with goodies. Put 2 stamps on your return envelope and we’ll fill it with more.

However, we thought we’d make it a bit more fun and interactive. Regardless of your artistic ability, we ask that your envelope addressed to us be creatively designed or illustrated. No rules, anything goes – and we’ll post the coolest ones on the Lil’ Happy Twitter page.

Last month, I was able to catch Far on their reunion tour.  Despite being down one guitarist, Jonah Matranga and the band put on a fantastic show. Amidst the massive riffs and singalong choruses were smiles all around.

In this era of generic big-box musicians and carefully cultivated images, Jonah maintains a fierce DIY (do it yourself) ethic.  At his online merch store, appropriately called the Yard Sale, Jonah was years ahead of Radiohead in pioneering a “pay what you want” approach.

With the same spirit of community and togetherness, Jonah recently invited singers, drummers, steel pedal guitarists, cellists, and others to join in the recording of his new album, due out in August.  Jonah gives a basic sketch of what he’s looking for, but true to the DIY attitude, there’s plenty of room for performers to give their personal perspective. For example:

130bpm, Key of D, romantic and yearning, sweet. Ebows and long high notes, but skitter-y stuff would be nice too.

If only I had not returned my brother’s e-bow to him after stealing it for several years!


Listen to the title track from Far’s latest album, At Night We Live below.  The bridge reminds me of the LOST series finale.

One of the threads I saw running throughout The Ideation Conference (you can find other reflections here) was the importance of good storytelling.

Many (most?) nonprofits struggle to raise awareness for their work, find donors and raise support.  From organizations such as Invisible ChildrenOne Day’s Wagescharity: water, and Nuru International, it is clear that communications is not a nice touch to throw on at the end if your organization has time, but a crucial part of the work itself.

Stories that grip people’s hearts will naturally lead to participation and contribution.  And telling those stories requires a willingness to invest.


Telling Effective Stories

charity: water consistently produces high-quality videos to communicate not only what they do, but why they do it.  Here is a recent example:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


This brilliant motiongraphic video from Nuru International was produced in-house and explains simply some of the complexities of their work:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Tell Your Story

Now, most of our organizations are not well-connected enough to have the director of Hotel Rwanda direct and Jennifer Connelly star in a promotional video pro bono for us, but similar principles can guide even the smallest teams. If you were to sit down with a friend, how would you answer the following questions in a compelling way:

Why do you believe in your work? Why should your friends & family?

One of the speakers at The Ideation mentioned that, if you can’t get your immediate family behind your idea, then maybe you need to re-think things a bit.

Via marketing maven and all-around social networking guru @decart, here are some useful tips on creating a hook for your story and engaging your members.


Invest In Your Creatives

Among both charity: water and Invisible Children’s first hires were their creative teams (or, at the beginning, creative person).  As charity: saw the need for telling their story through videos, their creative took on the task of learning how to edit video, and they grew from that point.

At The Ideation, I met and/or connected via Twitter with many talented videographers, graphic designers and organizational consultants (as well as in-house creatives) who passionately care about people and finding ways to create a better world.  If your organization does not have the capability to produce creative content on your own, there are many who can help you out (at a reasonable cost).

In any case, organizations must be willing not only to invest financially in communicating their stories, but also in time, imagination and hard work.

I find it increasingly difficult to keep up with all the music being released these days.  And, perhaps due to my increasingly crotchety old man disposition, I find myself favoring old-timey indie rock (although, I still enjoy plenty of current music, as you’ll see below).

So, without any further caveats, here is some of the music (and music-related) stuff I liked from this past year:

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Santa’s not the only bearded gift-giver this Christmas!  Get your fill of free hirsute holiday music (oh, there will be banjos)…

From the folks at Sounds Familyre records, get yourself a free Christmas album (or two, even).  Not your standard muzaky holiday shopping soundtracks…

At The Record Machine, get all woodsy with a free copy of The More The Merrier Christmas.

And, this one’s neither Christmas-y nor beard-y, but you can download alternate versions of songs from A Thousand Shark’s Teeth by My Brightest Diamond via Asthmatic Kitty.

I wanted to pick up on a thread I started yesterday on my posterous account (I know, a tumblr and a posterous? Microblogging overkill!)…

The music nerd in me (combined with my undergrad marketing background) always notices when indie-ish bands are featured in commercials.  While I suppose lots of the folks who are working on Madison Avenue are either in my age cohort or younger and, therefore, probably have similar tastes in music to me, I am often confused (and a little put off) by their choices in background music for ads.

This commercial for Absolut Vodka features a Joy Division/New Order song, Ceremony:

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