It is par for the course in 2013 that musicians trying to make it must do a certain amount of online grunt work. Websites, free downloads and using social media to acquire fans outside their ZIP code. What club time was in the '80s and '90s is now done online.
But Portland folk pop singer/songwriter Josh Malm, who records as Redwood Son, apparently didn't get that memo. His Web presence is on life support. Ironically, though, the status of his career is another matter altogether.
The website hosting for Malm's Redwood Son page expired April 23 (translation: the domain is currently parked by GoDaddy with no content). His Twitter feed is 99 percent auto posts generated by updates to his ReverbNation page. And his Facebook page is nothing more than a lackluster reproduction of that Twitter account.
Yet the 2011 Portland Music Award's "Best New Artist" winner has been playing gigs all over the Northwest almost nonstop since the summer of 2010—in rural Northwest towns like Leavenworth, Wash. and Silverton, Ore., and finally has released a debut double album, The Lion's Inside.
"It was intended to speak to the soul of the Great Northwest and capture some of the laid-back grooves of the Northern California Coast," Malm explained in a rare interview with Sleeping Hedgehog. "It has a bit of depth, but stays fairly simple and straightforward, with a message of the struggles we all share."
If that was the goal, then Malm has definitely succeeded. Reviews of his album are filled with words like "Americana," "roots rock" and "pop." It also seems people can't stop comparing him to Jack Johnson. And they're right to.
The Redwood Son song "We Must Change" is a doppelganger for a collaboration between Jack Johnson and ALO singer/pianist Zach Gill. The bass guitar flirts with island dub beats, and Malm's voice sounds like it belongs around a beach campfire. And though some of Redwood Son's music can shift into grittier gears, that softness lingers, reminding listeners that this stuff is supposed to make them feel good.
Those positive vibes are probably why Malm can afford to neglect his social media. Clunky electronic devices only muck up the free-flowing whimsy that is a Redwood Son show. SW