Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pete Astor Injury Time

Compilations are supposed to look messy; are they for the fans or are they for the casual buyer?

Well, if someone comes across this, and buys it not knowing what kind of artist Pete Astor is, they will get a welcome surprise. Some of these songs are classics; many of them are just damned good.

The cover is the problem here. It's too much like a snapshot; too junky for my taste. Note the disconnect--the title uses the shorter "Pete" and the poster for his show inside the venue uses "Peter." It's a fairly grainy image and it's composed of the cars, the motorcycle, the small building, and the various elements just don't present much in the way of explaining what's promised inside. I think it's supposed to suggest modesty--look at the small venue I once played. Which is fine. I get where it comes from. It should have chased something a little bigger.

I think that the use of memorabilia and all that works on the inside, but a cleaner, easier-on-the-eyes cover would have drawn a few more of those casual buyers. That in turn, would have maybe turned more people on to Astor's music, which is all I care about.

Definitely go find this and acquire it. Twenty great songs on one CD? That's an instant purchase.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The House of Love Various Covers

I wanted to get these out of the archives, and get them out there because I have always loved the artwork and design that went into the House of Love singles and albums. Did you know they were big in France and Holland? Hence, the French version of "You Don't Understand."

No one did Indie better in '89 and '90 than the House of Love, save a few bands that went on to flame out or break up or fail big time. The House of Love struggled with their own record label and their own demons but produced fantastic music. Somewhere around here I have their 2005 comeback, Days Run Away, which is a huge album in and of itself.

Friday, October 21, 2011

You Can't Play on Totensonntag if You Play Loud

This doesn't surprise me in the least. There are a few of these holidays and, when you live in Germany, you have to plan around them and compensate for them. On Sundays, pretty much all you can do is walk, eat somewhere, and buy gas. But only between ten in the morning and maybe six in the evening. And you definitely do not want to try to mow your lawn or operate any kind of electric or gas lawn trimming implement.

Whoever is booking Rammstein probably knew the date of the concert would cause a fuss; consider this a great way to get free publicity.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Vinyl Renaissance

Radiohead are leading the renaissance of vinyl, and with good reason.

When you combine a great set of songs with the vinyl format and put it out in a package like this, you are all but guaranteeing that people will want it, keep it, listen to it, and treasure it. Now, this is true for the other artists that are selling a lot of vinyl copies of their latest release, not just Radiohead. But, think of it this way--if Radiohead inspires just a few thousand hipsters to dig out their turntables, dust off their crates and records, and start consuming music in this fashion, who's to say that there can't be a doubling of vinyl sales next year, especially if the music and the fan can be brought together?

Want to get paid? Sell albums. Sell enough and that could sustain an artist. No digital downloads, and trust your fans to rip MP3s for personal enjoyment only. Artists HAVE to get paid. This isn't about crass commercialism. This is about supporting families and a lifestyle that isn't conducive to a regular working life.

So much for that plastic thing in the plastic case that sounds flawless but dead.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Stone Roses Are Back Together

Mazzy Star picked a great day to announce they had reformed, didn't they?

The Stone Roses are back together. I guess that means that The Smiths have to reform, right?

The advent of modern technology means that the live recordings of the Roses playing live should be available for purchase. I would hope that any new material recorded would also get a wide release.

And no, I don't care or mind if they are doing it for the money. If this means that they can go their separate ways in a year or so and live the rest of their lives in comfort, I'm all for it. They earned it. They never got paid what they deserved. They changed the music scene in England. They are geniuses.

I think that the photo you see above says it all. Squire looks happy. Mani looks like he has arrived in heaven. Ian Brown is ready to sing and carry on. Reni without a hat? I don't think I have ever seen Reni without a hat, but he is the glue that holds it all together. No Reni, no reunion.

You cannot deny the joy in this picture.

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The Weather Prophets Mayflower Cover and Back

Not a horrible cover, and quite a decent album. The Weather Prophets were short lived but put out some great stuff. I don't know whose idea it was to single out Peter Astor, but I don't think it mattered as much as it would have in some other bands.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Evanescence Makes a Record for the Fans

The gist of this review is, "the new album by Evanescence sucks because it doesn't suck the way it was supposed to."

So Amy Lee went into the studio, tried to make several versions of an album that she thought she wanted to release, and changed her mind and released this album instead? Sounds to me like she struggled to find a way to make her fans happy.

Had she done all of the things that this article faults her for not doing--change the sound of her band, radically alter the kind of music she has played in the past, bring in influences that didn't click for her as an artist--this album would still get a bad review. Perhaps a review that praised her for making dreadful choices, but a bad review, nonetheless.

There are times when you tear up the template and put the drums in another part of the room and bring in new blood. Then there are times when you realize that you need to maintain the tenuous link to your fans and give them something they want. No one should fault an artist for being loyal to the people who made them. That's bad reviewing. If the merits of the work fail, then review that. I don't understand why people get into the motivations and politics behind putting something out. It is good? Then tell us why. Is it bad? Document the atrocities.

Reviews like this fail to see the real intentions of an artist. Sometimes, you do want to shock your fan base and come up with something different. Other times, you do want give them what they want and expect as a way of maintaining that bond. I would be willing to bet that if Amy Lee gets a chance at a fourth album, it'll come out quickly and it'll incorporate a lot of style changes and influences, and it'll still get a bad review because, alas, the reviewer wanted a safe record and not an adventurous one.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Robyn Hitchcock I Often Dream of Trains Covers

I cut my teeth on the Midnight Records release of I Often Dream of Trains, and so this package is sort of bittersweet for me. Adding the bonus tracks to this all but compelled me to bite on it and get it, and so, here it is. The best of the solo albums, the shimmering star in a catalog that rises head and shoulders above that of most artists.

There are albums with the Egyptians and with collaborators, and then there are the proper solo albums frrom Robyn and this is sort of the crown jewel of those. Definitely a piece of history from the vinyl era and no, I doubt very much whether the kids would get it, but oh well. Seek this out--any version of it is better than nothing.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Adele Cancels Again

If Adele starts to get a reputation for canceling shows, then playing theaters and clubs is going to end up being the story of Adele's attempt to break through in America. As it is, playing theaters and auditoriums in the states isn't like playing the O2 arena in her native England:

So, as recently as a few weeks ago, Adele began to try to move from a theater act to an arena act, and her English fanbase reacted with disgust.

If this breakdown of trust happens between her and her American fanbase, Adele won't be playing any stadiums or arenas in this country. I think that her fans do forgive her because of her injured vocal chords. I don't think there will be any residual damage to her career prospects as she tries to move into the upper tier of female artists. But, at the end of the day, you have to show up and play or they'll stop planning their lives around seeing you.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fool's Gold

An authorized biography? I'm there.

All too often, these things either build up the band for some phantom marketing plan or take the piss out of greatness and allow someone to further their own agenda.

More books like this, please, if it turns out to be well-researched and organized.