The majority of the articles I've produced this Fall have included at one point or another, thoughts on the progressively dying music scene, especially that of the eastern coast. And while I've urged NJ to get out there and smile pretty for the underground, and there's been a significant increase in patrons at local bars lately, there's a few bands going "commercial," perhaps for the money, and perhaps for others reasons. It's the subject of today's column.
Leagues is one of them. I've had the almost imponderable pleasure of listening to their album, You Belong Here, and if you haven't heard it, go out and get it.
Not only is it a beautiful arrangement from start to finish, but it's not your typical indie-pop record. There's a little bit of variety, especially towards the end, that stays consistent with the band's direction while giving them the freedom to explore new avenues of style.
So while it's consistent, it doesn't sound boring, like you're listening to the same track over and over again about somebody's girlfriend or boyfriend. And as far as alt-rock music goes, I think it's deserving of its place on our top shelves.
Now, if you've ever heard of Leagues, chances are you've heard the Bose commercial featuring the first single off the album (and coincidentally the opening song) "Spotlight."
It brings up the question, do bands allow their music to go on commercials because they think it'll reach a broader audience, because they truly believe in the product to lend their voice to promoting it, or because they need a new outlet for profit with music sales kind of in the toilet right now, even for bigger groups?
A few years ago a super-group called Chickenfoot once said in a Guitar Center interview that they weren't concerned with album sales, and that their main concern was that fans were coming to their shows and enjoying their performances. But in the defense of bands who rely on record sales primarily, not a lot of people come out for little known groups anymore, and with the rise of ticket prices, it's becoming increasingly hard to do so.
Either way Leagues was leaning when they set out to lend their song to Bose, whether that was an internal decision, or a label decision they had no say over, is up for debate.
I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the commercial, or that it didn't open my eyes to the music that Leagues was producing, I just don't know how to feel about a really great band with a lot to offer performing in TV advertisements. It just feels wrong.
The feeling that the NJ scene should share, is that musicians really don't need to sell themselves to commercials. Bands big and small are still artists, and even if that means they're scraping the bottom, working second jobs between tours, selling soap through the phone while they're on the road with great expectations, or signed to a major label that's still not paying the sums we expected to make when we first got started, they will always be artists, and for that we appreciate you even more.