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“Diary” showcases not only Coury’s urgent vocals and flair for sparkling hooks, but also the multi-instrumentalist’s substantial production chops.
WHEELS 2.0 CRUSHES SOME
PRIMO ROADKILL
Wherever Jesse Turns, He Runs Across Something Special, and This Week Is No Exception. The Same Is True for Rockband Talent Locator Ron Renn

This week’s Wheels is loaded with some killer new music and an awesome interview with Ron Renn, the co-founder of Alt Strums Productions, which is giving bands an opportunity to expose their music globally. Keep feeding my inbox: [email protected]

ONE TO WATCH
Tino Coury
(www.tinocoury.com): This Pittsburgh-bred, L.A.-based artist’s new single “Diary” impacted radio this week in a big way. It’s a canny combination of exhilarating pop, slamming beats and lyrical drama, which is the essence of the 21-year-old artist’s craft. Indie label Eleventh Records, distributed through Universal’s Fontana, will release a full-length album later in the year. “Diary” showcases not only Coury’s urgent vocals and flair for sparkling hooks, but also the multi-instrumentalist’s substantial production chops. “I started with a straight piano line as a loop,” he recalls about the song’s creation. “I had the lyrical concept and the melody, and the words started coming for the hook. I then started building the track, adding the drums and synths—I wanted it to have a little bit of a club feel.” Coury is about to become a force in pop music. Keep an eye on this one.

ON DECK
Val Emmich
(www.myspace.com/valemmich) was once signed to Epic, and he’s made a name for himself in the acting world—he played the musician/love interest on Ugly Betty, Tina Fey’s boy toy on 30 Rock and Lucy Liu’s hookup on Cashmere Mafia. He’s also starring in a film coming out later this year called Fighting Fish, and he stars as the guy who hits on the boss’ daughter in that ubiquitous Heineken commercial. Val recently completed his album and already has some labels biting. For those in the N.Y. area, he’ll be playing the Mercury Lounge May 20. Check out two songs from the album on his MySpace page.

ARTIST UPDATE
Lisa Bouchelle
(www.lisabouchelle.com) has sung with Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Rob Thomas, Darryl Hall and Cyndi Lauper, among others. Her last CD reached #1 on two indie charts, and #4 on the college charts. The young artist’s style has been compared to those of Jason Mraz, Sheryl Crow and Jewel, but what sets her music apart is an edge reminiscent of classic artists such as Neil Young and Tom Petty. She’s well respected by her musical peers, as evidenced by the fact that her new album contains contributions from John Popper and Brendan Hill of Blues Traveler, Rob Hyman of The Hooters, David Bromberg, Bobby Bandiera (Bon Jovi), John Eddie (Kid Rock) and Glen Burtnik (Styx), among others. With the release of Bleu Room With a Red Vase, Lisa is poised to become a breakthrough artist in 2010. The release has been gaining momentum, with adds at WCOO, KRSH, KTAO, WZEW, WBJB, KMTN, KSPN, KFMU and KBAC, with more coming every week. Lisa has appeared on NBC, ABC, Fox, ESPN and the hit TV show Gossip Girls. More to the point, she’s just landed the opening act slot on the Meat Loaf’s North American tour, beginning in July.

LAWYERS’ CORNER
North Carolina based hard rock band Deception of a Ghost (www.myspace.com/deceptionofaghost) have signed to Trustkill Records. Attorney Ben McLane ([email protected]) negotiated the deal.

EMAIL Q&A WITH RON RENN OF ALT STRUM PRODUCTIONS
Tell everyone exactly who you are and what you do
I’m one of the Co-Founders of Alt-Strum Productions. We code music to be sold as DLC for the game of Rockband with the launch of the Rockband Network. We also help promote our clients.

What exactly is Alt Strum, and how did it start?
It basically started with a couple of friends of mine. We would play Rockband together. Then when we saw the concept of the Rockband Network. We were like, WOW, we so can do this! Most DLC released by Harmonix contains Dave Grohl (I love Mr. Grohl, BTW) in some shape or form, and we saw this as a opportunity to get music we like into the game that maybe Dave didn't not play on lol. I started looking for music to do and ran into Raymond Herrera (Fear Factory, Arkaea), who has been in the gaming industry forever as well. Raymond had the same ideas and beliefs that we had here at ASP, so it just made sense to form a partnership with Raymond, and boom, we took off. I try and act cool around Raymond since he is very laid-back and an awesome person. Little does he know that I’m huge Fear Factory fan and a fan of his drumming, so working with him is a dream come true. To go from playing the game to coding music for the game with a person you looked up to has been a surreal experience. What we do is code the music and design the animations and get it up for sale as DLC. It’s been really fun, and I have met so many great people in the process. 

Do you believe what you do can actually help fans discover cool unsigned bands, or music that they may not have heard before?
I sure do. We have a band called Mile Marker Zero that all of us really enjoy. They are a new band on the scene starting up and haven't played out side the Tri-State area much. We put their song up for sale, and it’s selling really well in Sweden, Spain and Serbia—how cool is that. That’s how powerful the marketing is with the RBN. You can never leave your town and your music can be played globally. When playing Rockband the game and the songs over and over, you kinda grow attached to the music. Example: I am mot that big of a fan of the Grateful Dead, but since there are 12 songs to play and I had to play them over and over, I grew very fond of them and purchased some of their music. I see this happening with the smaller bands too. Look at the Pixies, who went on two Doolittle tours since the inclusion in the game. I’m also looking at it as a way to get some interesting genres in the game, like the blues. As they say, if the blues had a baby, its name would be Rock & Roll. So we’re bringing a true bluesman into the game: Robert the Hitman and the Hitman Blues Band. I love the idea of turning people on to some new music that is under the radar and not being forced upon you to listen to. Growing up, I went to many CBGB shows and always enjoyed the openers as much as the headliners. Now, with all the great venues being shut down, maybe ASP can make a difference like CBGBs did back in the day—turn people on to new and awesome music.

 What unsigned/signed bands are you liking right now?
One of my favorites I stumbled upon by chance when I was checking out Mile Marker ZerosFacebook page. I saw a quote about a band called MeTalkPretty and checked them out. They blew me away and it was such a tailor-made sound for Rockband that I had to get them in the game. Driving drums, killer bass, amazing guitar work and a huge female voice, which is something the game is lacking. There are not many female-fronted bands in the game and the ones that are in it are not too fun to play . On the hip-hop front, I’m working with what I believe to be the future of rap, Hyro Da Hero. He’s an amazing talent, and his music is really fun in the game. Charlie Drown, OWL, Moving Picture Show, Noah Engh and Mike Orlando are some other favorites of mine. I'm also really digging James William Roy, and I’m not even doing the work on his music, but I sure did buy his music after I heard it. Zack Wilson out of Tennessee, same thing, I did not do the work but I loved it enough to buy it.

Boxers or briefs?
I like the tight boxers, but back in the day I liked to let the boys go free-range!

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