Heavy Rotation Celebrates New CD

By
Margot Edwards
January 16, 2008
Kevin Ross
The Peasantry
Photo provided by the artist
Photo provided by the artist

Berklee's student-run Heavy Rotation Records (HRR) presents its eighth annual Epic Event and Dorm Sessions Volume 5 CD release concert on Wednesday, February 6, at the Berklee Performance Center. The concert, a popular event that packs the venue every year, showcases artists featured onDorm Sessions Volume 5, the new compilation CD from HRR. The CD features an eclectic mix of rock, pop, indie pop, r&b, hip-hop, funk, and experimental music by Berklee students and alumni, including The PeasantryTurkuazKevin RossAnnie Lynch and the Beekeepers,Christopher BarnesBlack TeaWith EnginesRebel & the Truth,Honest Thomas, and Altered Tensions.

The HRR Epic Event and Dorm Sessions Volume 5 CD release concert is $10, all ages, and begins at 8:15 p.m., at the Berklee Performance Center, located at 136 Massachusetts Avenue, in Boston. Please call 617 747-2261 or visit the Berklee Performance Center website for more information. Free copies of the CD will be given away at the concert.

Heavy Rotation Records was developed for Music Business/Management majors at Berklee to gain hands-on experience in running a record company. Under the guidance of faculty advisor Jeff Dorenfeld, former manager of the band Boston, the staff oversees all aspects of the label's functions, including A&R, marketing, sales, touring, web development, media, and accounting. Song selection for Dorm Sessions Volume 5 was done last spring and summer. The A&R committee listened to the multitude of tracks submitted to the label, directly and through the Sonicbids website, ultimately choosing 10 artists to feature on the CD with two tracks each.

"We covered quite a bit of ground on this CD [musically]," says Dorenfeld. "What we look for in the submissions is strong material and a high-quality recording, since we don't do much re-recording."

Dorm Sessions Volume 5 is the 10th HRR release since the label formed in 1995. Other releases include the all-female CD Shekinah: 13 Artists, distributed by Epic Records; and Apollo Sunshine's second album, co-released with spinART records. In addition to Apollo Sunshine, many up-and-coming artists have appeared on Dorm Sessions compilations, including Annie Clark (St. Vincent); The Click Five (then called Oscar Bravo); Big D & The Kids Table; Madi Diaz, who appeared at the Newport Folk Festival and recently on WXPN's World Café Live; and hip-hop artist Anjuli Stars, whose song "Raindrops" first appeared on Dorm Sessions Vol. 3 and was featured on Pitbull's album El Mariel.

The accomplishments of the label and its employees are ever growing. The students recently produced a promotional DVD about the label, and promote live events, including a showcase at the CMJ Music Marathon 2007, parties at SXSW 2006, 2007, and upcoming at SXSW 2008. Additionally, the label serves as a springboard for careers in the music industry. HRR alumni have gone on to work at major and independent record labels, including Interscope, Capitol, DreamWorks, BMG, and Universal, as well as in publishing, management, booking, and touring.

Watch footage from the concert.

About the artists:

The Peasantry was formed in 2006 by vocalists/guitarists/pianists Elliot Michaud, James Bookert, and Stephen Konrads, bassist Jeff Apruzzese, and drummer Nate Donmoyer. The band, whose members are all Berklee students, has quickly become known for its energetic live show. The Asbury Park Press described the group as "idiosyncratic and unpredictable," creating "clever and stimulating rock 'n' roll," has been featured twice on the podcast Break Thru Radio, receiving over 2 million plays within five days. It also appeared live on WERS, toured the East Coast, and recently released its debut EP. The Peasantry will soon release its second EP in an effort to continuously release new material and increase its momentum.

Turkuaz is a funk and neo-soul group comprised of Berklee students Taylor Shell and Dave Brandwein. With help from Elijah Aaron and Berklee students Mat Davidson, Mike Haziza, Greg Sanderson, and Jeremy Sinclaire, Turkuaz creates what it calls "intergalactic funk" to get your rump shaking. The group's tracks on Dorm Sessions Volume 5, "The Mountain" and "20 Dollar Bill," are also included on its debut album, Dollar Store, recently released by the Galaxy Smith collective. Turkuaz is already in the laboratory working on a follow-up, and is describing it as a "digital funk cluster."

Kevin Ross, originally from Washington D.C., possesses the next meaningful voice of his generation. Ross is a trained vocalist and performer with an engaging stage presence and charismatic personality. His rich tone, creative ideas, and piano skills are influenced by some of the greats of r&b and soul, including Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, and Luther Vandross. Ross recently sang live on BET's 106 and Park program, performing his single "Adore U," which also appears on Dorm Sessions Volume 5. He is a songwriting major at Berklee.

Annie Lynch and the Beekeepers are a Boston-based, acoustic alternative folk group. Comprised of artists from a variety of musical backgrounds, the group includes Berklee students Lynch, guitar and vocals; Alexandra Spalding, cello and vocals; Mat "Twain" Davidson, mandolin, banjo, accordion, vocals, saw, and clarinet; and Ken Woodward, upright bass. While the songs originated as Lynch's solo tunes, the music has evolved and expanded with rich arrangements. Annie Lynch and the Beekeepers perform strong, passionate, and honest music with poetic lyrical content and unique layered harmonies. The group is taking its show on the road, including a performance at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville on February 2.

Christopher Barnes, a native of New Hampshire's granite coast, began piano training at 6 and was composing by 13. He moved to Boston in 1998 to pursue biology at Boston University. After earning his degree, Barnes was accepted at Berklee, where he studies performance and songwriting. During his time at B.U., he dabbled in sound expression and experimentation, joining the Kingston Loft's Red Light Productions. The experience left him with an assortment of mixed adventures and full of song inspiration. Barnes is joined on his songs-sparse, yet atmospheric and melodic-by vocalist Ieva Berberian.

Black Tea is a duo comprised of Berklee students, drummer/percussionist Renato Milone, originally from Italy; and vocalist Luisa Sobral, a native of Lisbon, Portugal. Milone and Sobral met at Berklee a year ago. They started writing together for fun last summer and soon found a connection so strong that they couldn't stop composing. Black Tea's music is a fusion of many styles, including electronica. "The only thing we can say is that in our music you can hear the whole world," says Sobral.

With Engines is a four-piece pop band comprised of multi-instrumentalist John Ryan on guitar, harmonica, banjo, keyboard, and percussion; bassist Andrew Haas; drummer Josh Jones; and guitarist Ian Pollack, who are all Berklee students. Guided by the brilliance of melody and rhythm, the band intends to captivate and enrich every person who hears them. Although the band members hail from different corners of the U.S., being in Boston has exposed them to a range of influences-including the Beatles, Beach Boys, Radiohead, Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens, Incubus, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon-leading to the creation of refreshing pop/folk songs.

Rebel & the Truth performs hip-hop, fusion, and live electronics. The Truth Crew-featuring Berklee alumnus keyboardist Sam Burke and four students: guitarist Luke Cocuzzo, bassist Brady Watt, percussionist Doug Smith, and drummer Al Cleveland-have been playing music and making beats together for about three years. They met in Boston and were performing around town with various musicians and MC's until they connected with MC Rebel about a year ago and focused on their new identity: Rebel & The Truth. The group is currently hard at work on its debut album.

Honest Thomas is an up-and-coming experimental rock group composed of vocalist Robert Preston Collum, guitarist Kevin Dusablon, and three Berklee students: bassist Trent Campbell, keyboardist Mike Forst, and drummer Kyle Ayervais. Forming in late 2005 and releasing its first EP in the fall of 2006, Honest Thomas is building a name for itself in the area, not only with its music, but also with its visual live performance. Light bulb-headed babies, mannequin heads on sticks, and life size bunny rabbits are just the beginning of what one might experience at the band's show. With an emotional spectrum ranging from despair to hysteria, its music, for lack of a better term, is balls-to-the-wall.

Altered Tensions is the electronic music project of Matt Lange, a Berklee graduate with a degree in music synthesis. Lange works mainly with subtle evolving textures, glitchy beats, and grooves, and counts among his influences Steve Reich, Brian Eno, Tim Hecker, Richard Devine, Chris Clark, and Telefon Tel Aviv.

Members of Rebel & the Truth talk about going to Berklee.

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