Sunset Alliance has been thinking about what we would do for our 50th label release. When asked, our answer was always the same, “Something special!” And now we are pleased to announce that special something…
Later this Spring, Sunset Alliance Records will release The 52nd Street Jazz Band “52nd Street Revisited.” Members of this fine collaboration of artist are Gary Church–who was part of Willie Nelson’s touring band, songwriter and tour member for Merle Haggard, and the 23rd inductee to the Western Swing Hall of Fame inductee), Danny Shannon (known to be the first musician in Arizona to play and perform with an electric bass guitar), and Joe Hopkins, former President of the Arizona Jazz Society (there is even “Joe Hopkins Day” in Chandler, AZ), highly respected clarinet player, and father-in-law to Sunset Alliance label owner, Dave Jensen. Read more about the band.
It feels like things have come full circle. We couldn’t be more excited to work with such find musicians. The 11-song album was recorded by David Jensen.
Ronald J. Lllewellyan III (Welshmans Pride Studio) masterfully mixed & mastered the record and Chuckie Duff and David Jensen provided the art.
It’s an honor to have reached 50 releases. It could not have been accomplished without so many incredible allies. It’s only fitting to keep it in the ally family.
Sunset Alliance prides itself in being ahead of the curve in our digital age. This is why we are proud to announce our brand new, official, new, crisp, freshly new Sunset Alliance YouTube channel! We’re only a decade behind the ball, but we do not blame ourselves. Who do we blame?? YOU, our allies!…for not providing us with the essential footage for creating the type of channel we intend to brag about over the next decade!
So, now it’s up to you to send us content to beautify and spice up our page. We want videos of The Retaliation, The Player Piano, Novi Split, Before Braille, Stereotyperider, Fivespeed, Beninem, etc. Let us be YourTube! If you’ve got something funny, insightful, or related to your Sunset Alliance experience, Subscribe & Send videos. We’ll share it. We’ll credit you. We’ll send you something in return.
Jason Corman (The charmingMr Fantastical!)- butcher, producer, guitar hero (predating the game), and Corn Husker.
David Ellefson (Megadeth)- Yes, THAT David Ellefson, and THAT Megadeth!
Again, we invite our allies to submit questions to any one of these artists. And challenge you to wow us. The best question submitted will have the CD of their choice mailed to the address of their choosing.
And in the meantime, Enjoy this newly updated version of the Roger Over & Out Q&A.
IN LIEU OF THE FLU votes are being calculated. This is your chance to change mix history. We are posting the top vote-getters below. If unhappy, do something about it. Confirm the songs that you like, or vote for new songs on our Facebook page. Just tell us what you would want on your personal Sunset Alliance mix. You can tweet us as well. (Yes, we’ve decided to start Tweeting again.)
The mixtape will only include top 10 requested songs.
Songs posted in no particular order:
Full Count Dracula
The Player Piano
Blood Over Wine
In the AM
Rest Your Feet…/Cinema
The Case Is Out
Venom By Memory
The Letter Press
The Falling Away
Walking tour of Trinidad, CO
Art For Starters
Not What You Want
Blue Mom Day
AC/DC Is My Father
I Had You
Roger Over & Out
Dead David Dancing
Ode If It Weren’t For Cowboy Dan
People Move From City To City
If you are not familiar with Kiva.org, please familiarize yourself now. It’s a vehicle to allow people to request money in a dignified way. By asking for a loan to support their family and entrepreneurial spirit.
For anyone who signs up with this linkand makes a $25 loan, Kiva will match it by giving $25 for our Kiva loan candidates. If you’ve thought about helping Kiva alleviate poverty worldwide, in a “teach a man to fish” way, please do so now. This is a great Win-Win-Win opportunity.
The best thing about Kiva (other than the fact that people are not looking to get something for nothing) is when a loan is paid back, you can pay it forward to your next preferred candidate, and your initial loan/investment just keeps on giving.
In consideration of what is shaking up to be the worst flu season on record, Sunset Alliance wants to provide a soundtrack for the sick. Ill jams for illness. Some shakedown for your breakdown. To do so, we need your help…
Provide a list of your favorite songs that our catalog has to offer, and we will post a label mix tape for everyone for free, on our Bandcamp page. A Sunset “Reliance,” if you will. Songs to heal the world, as MJ intended. The 10 most popular selections will make the cut. Choose your sickest tracks–and act fast–people are dying–w/o proper audio treatment!
The Christmas season brings out kindness in all of us. (And delicious egg nog) Sunset Alliance is grateful to Cougar Microbes for a mention in their holiday post. CM is a mighty fine blog that we have respected for some time. Read their post “Christmas With a Twist” (that honors Before Braille) here.
“Yo Santa is in the house and this place is gonna get uh rocken so get ready for the shocken of your life.Cause were about to take this up a notch with the Christmas spirit that so many of you seam to forget about at a time when it is the cream that makes glow.Take a taste of candy cane punch it will give you a bunch of fuel which will enhance your belch.Come on don’t be a holiday pooper get up out of that seat and grab yourself a big fat snowball to throw at all the crooks that rob all the houses with kids alone hey do not give me that tone at this moment. I’ve got to get to that heater which is next that tweeter so I can get funky to the jamming jingle jangle bumping song.Can ya step aside mister scrooge I want to throw it down all over ever tree top until this makes everybody bop to the side and does the elf shuffle you say does this muffle then we say no it don’t.Get on out with your missile toe there will be no kissing on this night even if some people are tight when it comes to seeing that. And with this flow I would like to add that I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas. I am so thankful to all of you who have checked out all my rhymes during this year.its been so much fun to share my hidden talent with each and every one of you.I would ever do it if I did not feel like it meant so much for me to do it.My music is geting put together so be on the look out on here for it.Who now’s I might be doing this again next year.Word! -BENINEM
Sunset Alliance has many blessings for which to give thanks, particularly the music we enjoy together. We are true gratitude for those who find interest our label. We offer Loyal Wife Faux Light for free today & “Black Friday.” We hope it lightens your holiday and serves as a worthy bookend to your year.
I was disturbed by the outcome of Nov. 6th. How more people could choose the message they did, and support it for 4 more years, was demoralizing. But, this video flipped my switch. May Sunset Alliance continue to flip yours. Joy awaits us. [Busy people...just start by watching the first 10 mins.]
Now, I (and Sunset Alliance) can get back to music. New projects on the way.
H A P P Y T H A N K S G I V I N G
Sunset Alliance is happy to announce our first installment of Sunset Alliance Artist Q & A. We are kicking things off with the guys we greatly respect as musicians and especially as people. The Davis family has been a great benefactor to our community. Brothers, Drexden and McKane Davis are the gears and wheels behind Roger Over & Out, and long time friends of Sunset Alliance, even before this record label was nothing more than a glimmer in our fathers’ eyes.
Today not only marks the first installment of the series, but today can also be celebrated as Drex Davis’ birthday! So, we’ve broken up the Q & A into two parts. Part 1: Drexden Davis. Part 2: McKane Davis (next week)
We hope our readers & allies enjoy the series and we want to invite all of you to submit questions to our artists and make suggestions about who we interview next. Do so [here] We’ve already had a couple contributors and it makes it a lot more fun.
Music Industry Confidential shares in our reminiscence of The Rumor 10yr Anniversary. M.I. Confidential is an editorial blog to take a peek into the day-to-day lives of the different characters that make up music industry: artists to journalists, guitar builders to guitar techs, sales people to recording engineers.
[story excerpt] “…this the story of Before Braille from Mesa, AZ as written by lead singer Dave Jensen, about the how the logical decision to sign with a label almost cost the band everything.
I got to know Dave when I was in college and interned at Flying Blanket Recording…To this day I’ve never met anyone so dedicated to their art that they’re ready and willing ready to risk physical, mental, emotional, and financial health for it. All of this could either get channeled into unbelievably great shows and albums (which it usually did) or horrific battles like the one you’ll soon read about…”
Beninem is at it again. “Autistic Flow,” Halloween-style, (unedited as the artist intended). Happy First Friday!
If you wanna join Ben’s flownation and submit a freestyle, click here for rules.
“Yo it all started this one night on a street full of fright.All these kids started walking threw way passed dark then all of the sudden dogs started to back for no apparent reason.It seamed so strange to have this happen on a October night like this where no ghosts were roaming or maybe slimmer was foaming from too much ghooley soda he had chugged down.Whatever it was that was reappearing then dissapearing had been around for years as if root beers made you belch.Someone tried to call some guys who were not scared of nothing not even Freddie the slasher they thought of him as some geek hacker with plastic knives on his hands.Too bad they did not get the clue cause this guy could hurt you or anyone sleeping in there bed.At times they had to use some kind of packs that would shoot out rays of light to get the nightmarish creatures pined tight in a spot at times it worked real good.But somebody always tried to stop there biz cause at times the grouch thought he was a wiz for trying to lock them up.A funky fresh guy had to go down town to teach this clown what would happen if he messed with the towns ateam of ghost collectors.Well that guy the scaring of his life by some Psycho named the boogie man he put on some beastly jam then scared the guy so bad he had an accident in his droors.As if that seamed bad enough for him a pair of nasty gremlins attacked him with a gasty smell which left him breathless.You now all of this only happens on Halloween so watch on that day if you don’t then you will pay. Yikes run while you can for this could be you the last time anyone will wake up to this fun flow. Boohahaha!” -BENINEM
September 10, 2012 marks the 10 year anniversary of Before Braille’s debut full-length album, The Rumor. To represent this occasion properly, we may need to tell the story of how the album came to be.
BEFORE BRAILLE “THE RUMOR”
Before Braille had been a band for about a year when they were featured in an article published by the East Valley Tribune entertainment magazine, “Get Out.” In the story written by Thomas Bond, he listed the top 10 unsigned bands in Arizona. Before Braille was featured on that list. The article was seen by the new, well-funded record label, Aezra Records, who emailed the band with interest. Dave returned the email by shipping out a copy of Before Braille’s only multi-song release at that time, a “Triplesplit” with Fivespeed and Andherson, featuring the songs Select Start, Red Tape, and Low End of Luxury.
TRIPLESPLIT SERIES I
Aezra promptly responded with a request for 10 more songs. In this “demo deal,” Before Braille was given $1000 to deliver 10 new tracks in 10 days. Before Braille fulfilled this agreement, even though they didn’t have 10 completed songs at the time that were not yet committed to other releases. [Note: Dave never wrote lyrics for a song before going into the studio. Often he'd write them the day of tracking and/or during vocal takes, even for songs like "The Annex," that were played live for years before recorded. And, to that point Before Braille would rarely complete a song before it was played live multiple times.]
After Aezra received the 10 new songs (given the name “DemOK”), they set up a showcase at the Hard Rock Cafe on Camelback in Phoenix. Before Braille was to open for Aezra darlings, Deep Blue Something, known for their hit, “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.”
More inconvenient than the headlining act, the show was scheduled on the same night the Diamondbacks were to play the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the 2001 World Series. (Dbacks won 15-2, and took the series in dramatic fashion in Game 7.) Thankfully the venue showed the game on multiple TVs and a mini-movie screen. After the Diamondbacks had the game well in hand, Before Braille took the stage.
The showcase went quite well. Before Braille was an inexperienced band, but with the help of a couple hundred friends and family and “fans,” Aezra was impressed to offer the band a contract, committing Before Braille to 5 albums. The current Aezra band roster at that time was concerning to Before Braille, but while in contractual talks, Aezra was very reassuring, particularly by submitting plans to purchase Barsuk Records and sign local friends Fivespeed and Seven Storey. (History has shown that Aezra’s plans changed.)
Braden McCall became a casualty in all this contract hub-bub. He expressed his concerns with the contract, the touring commitments and the demands on his other artistic pursuits, so he refused to sign the contract while the rest of the band inked along the dotted line. Braden later agreed to record his parts in the studio and worked out payment with Aezra. Rajiv Patel took over Braden’s role of 2nd and/or lead guitar.
As Before Braille prepared for the studio, they were receiving pressure to record at a “state of the art” facility in LA or Miami, but the band stuck to their guns and convinced Aezra to join the band in their investment with Bob Hoag and Flying Blanket Recording. Before Braille signed over every penny of their $45,000 studio budget to Bob/Flying Blanket. What Aezra did not know at the time was that Bob did not have a proper studio and this money would go to purchase a new console, 2″ analog tape machine, mics, preamps, compressors, and the whole lot. It would also go towards construction (Mostly by the hands of local band members in Quarter Inch Crown), for at that time Bob’s Flying Blanket wasn’t much more than a magic blanket, magic hands and a “Genius Radio.” The band was able to keep Aezra away from the “studio” until the construction was complete, avoiding what might have been a major wrench in the proverbial engine. (or wrench in the closet if you prefer that euphemism.)
While preparing for the studio, Before Braille wrote two new songs: Secret No.7 and The Spanish Dagger. Aezra initially refused to allow them on the album. After much debate, a compromise was reach; Secret No.7 would be allowed as the album opener (if the title included the prefix “Prelude”) and The Spanish Dagger would be track 2, if Low End of Luxury, After Arguments and Arrive Alive were included on the album. (The band had previously tried to remove those songs from the track list.)
(untitled) Rumor reels [Mar-Apr 2002]
When recording for The Rumor commenced in March, 2002, there were a number of hang-ups. Too many to list. Primarily, the biggest obstacle was getting the band members to the studio. Because they had given their recording advance to Bob, each member of Before Braille still worked their day jobs and were unable to track together. This led Kelly Reed to track the entire album on drums by nothing more than a metronome and his memory. (A feat that still blows minds today. All the basic drum tracks for every song were done w/o any accompanying music! This is insane and incredible!) Drums were completed in two days. Then, Brandon Smith came in after work and finished all his bass parts in a night. As Hans and Braden and Dave started their guitar tracks, there were a number of equipment failures and mishaps in the newly constructed studio (Including 3 or 4 repairs to theMCI/Sony JH-24, 2″ tape machine, one of which was made after it rolled 50 feet down a driveway and crashed into a car–causing worse damage to the car than the tape machine.) This, and the horrible scheduling, led to great delays and put the album way behind schedule. The pressure started to mount. Aezra, to their credit, had been hands off during this process, but now they were starting to panic after a month had gone by and there were no completed songs. In fact, vocal tracking for the 15 songs was still at least a week away. Under all the stress of keeping a day job, selling his home (to cover Fivespeed “Trade In Your Halo” debt) and trying to co-produce an album, Dave Jensen had a bit of a mental breakdown. He voiced that he couldn’t bring himself to sing songs he had already tracked 2 or 3 times before, and it showed in his weak performance. The next day and a half was filled by David laying on his back staring at the ceiling. Aezra offered to pay for a motel for Dave to stay until he found a new place, but instead of accepting the offer, Dave slept in the studio and asked if Aezra would pay for a visit to a hypnotist (Yes, a hypnotist, suggested to him the band’s attorney, Brad Rosen). Long story short, the floor of the studio was cold, but the hypnotherapy worked. After his appt at the end of vocal day 2, Dave came in to vocal day 3, renewed. Vocals for all 15 tracks were finished in the next 6 days.
During vocals tracking, a film crew, headed by award winning producer and director, Fabio Jafet came in to prepare an EPK (Electronic Press Kit). Filming ended early due to some label confrontations that will be mentioned later, but Fabio, a real pro, was able to produce a great EPK w/ the time & budget he was given and footage available. Check it out:
Now, on to “extra curricular” sounds. The band wanted a segue between each song to lead into the next track, and add some strings and additional percussion. Unfortunately, the album was behind schedule. The label demanded the masters in 2 days. So, the band scrapped their plans and went straight into mixing. The next 32 hours were spent agonizing over the tracks, and without any automation, efforts seemed futile. Nevertheless, Bob and the guys mixed the entire album, including segues in just enough time to deliver the album by the end of the next work day. (You see, Aezra held final payment until all the masters were received and Bob’s studio rent and other bills were passed due.) Truth be told, Bob Hoag certainly performed a mini-miracle to get 15 songs and 6 segues in a presentable condition. So, the exchange of reels, DATs and CDRs was made for a check and a promise that each track would be remixed as many times as required by Aezra. Unfortunately, after the 32-hour marathon mixes were dispersed throughout the company, it was decided in less than that amount of time that the mixes were so bad that Aezra would not give Bob Hoag another chance to remix them (for free, mind you). And so the battle of mixes began…
AEZRA RECORDS. Born: 1999. Deceased: 2004. “Sifting thru pieces that your puzzle proudly lacks.”
Now the story about the mixes is so long and obnoxious that we should skip it entirely. You must know that Aezra promised to select from a list of Producers/Engineers that Before Braille would submit to remix the album. Aezra ignored the short list (that pretty much said Bob Hoag, Ken Andrews, Bob Hoag, Mark Trombino, and Bob Hoag) and went ahead with mixing in a facility in Miami without the presence of the band. The Miami mixes were such a disaster (missing guitar, vocal and other parts, and EQ’d awfully, etc.) Aezra agreed to allow Bob and Dave to go to Miami, but not at the same time (huh?!). Bob went for 2 days and mixed 3 songs. Dave went for 2 days and oversaw 3 other mixes. The mixes improved, but still were not ideal. (Note: the guys in Miami were really nice and capable, but their claim to fame was mastering on BeeGees’ albums, it just wasn’t going to work!)
Before Braille. Legs to Stand On.
When mixing concluded, Before Braille was livid (test mixes would still exist today if they were not destroyed). As a peace offering to the band, Aezra agreed to allow Jason Livermore (The Blasting Room) to master the record @ his studio Ft. Collins, CO, and sent Bob Hoag to assist in the track order and segue composition. At this time, Bob swapped out all of Aezra’s Miami mixes with the original mixes from Flying Blanket (the 32-hr session). Jason did an incredible mastering job and sent the final tracks to Aezra for approval. The next day Dave Jensen received a call from the President of Aezra wholeheartedly accepting the same recordings he had refused 3 months prior.
Before Braille. A house is not a home.
While Before Braille waited for mixes to be done in secret??, they rehearsed daily and thought of album titles*.
*Album titles that were considered… Trade Honor For Canker Sores The Sunset Alliance Tired of Not Being Away From Here R Is For Regret
(This list will grow as this post is edited.)
It was now that Aezra gave the band per diems to allow them a great luxury to quit their day jobs and focus on their performance of the album. But, that luxury did not come without a price. Aezra insisted they employ Madonna’s ex-manager (Yes, THAT Madonna) to help the band with their sound and performance. After a fiery debate, the band reluctantly allowed the “expert” into their rehearsal space to appease the label under the guise that she was an independent party and a possible go-between for the band. (Later we learned that the expert was an Aezra representative and new head of A&R.) Though a month of tour preparation was scheduled, she fled in week 1.
This essentially ended the relationship between Aezra and Before Braille. (For the 2nd time. There was a first, but that is an even longer story.) A month or so later, without any interaction with Aezra, David Ellefson (bass player of Megadeth) appeared at a Before Braille show @ Modified in Phoenix. He introduced himself and his new management business. Long story short, David was/is a great guy and repaired the relationship w/ Aezra enough that they put Before Braille back on their release schedule.
DATES ARE SET, RELEASE IS IMMINENT
After a very successful run at college radio (listed as the album of the week by R&R, and receiving the most adds to college radio stations then any other band in the country, and being in the CMJ top 40, and playing a capacity show at CMJ Music Festival) Before Braille was primed for their release of The Rumor on September 10, 2002. Unfortunately, Aezra lost its distribution arrangement with BMG the week the album was released. And because the *EP sent to college radio, that garnered all the buzz, was not made available for sale (against the vehement advice/pleas throughout the summer by Dave)–the BMG distribution was not utilized while it was available–the album was dead on arrival.
AVAILABLE AT FINER RECORD STORES EVERYWHERE
*The EP (Twenty Four Minus Eighteen, Arrive Alive, After Arguments, and Goodnight Quiet Noise) that was offered as a D-Pro, “demo-promotional,” let people listen to a band on the radio, but not buy the band’s music. In other words, it’s a questionable promo model that does not relate to indie rock bands or fans, as it may be better suited for mega-pop stars, and certainly does not consider worst-case-scenarios, or any scenarios other than mega-stardom, which is totally unrealistic for a new, relatively unknown, moderately-experienced indie-rock band.
Before Braille reels [Rumor 2002-Spring Cleaning 2009]
Overall, Before Braille and Aezra Records could never see eye-to-eye, as it was impossible to do so when heads were looking in opposite directions. Aezra was full of ex-major-label folks looking to start their own label and trying to force major notes in a minor scale. The result was chaos and discord without resolution. For us, The Rumorprovided the resolution we pursued. 10 years later we invite you to (re)discover the album, now that you know ‘the rest of the story.’
“You can’t just have your name in braille on the album cover.”
A parting story…
On day 3 of the A&R/expert visit, an argument broke out between Before Braille & Aezra’s A&R representative, and caused the expert to depart. That led to a phone call between Before Braille and Aezra where the label president said, “I will end you. Your band and album will be shelved to never see the light of day. Before Braille will be a rumor.”
And now we finally had our album title.
CD Listening Party
Sunset Alliance acquired the rights to The Rumor in 2004.
THE RUMOR – Album Art Spread [Inside Panels] -Art by Sergio Aguirre -Layout by Jason Farrell
Just watch. Think. Then form an opinion. There are many hoping you don’t.
Aristotle says, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a
thought without accepting it.” We’d add that it’s courageous , if not wise
to open one’s mind to a message that one’s peers may ridicule and revile.
This election has motivated us to create a temporary Romney page. Enjoy.
Sunset Alliance and our allies are pleasured by a rare MachoMan480 sighting for this month’s freestyle. We’ll keep this intro short and let the audio freestyle do all the talkin. Are you getting so phased?