Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Blog Rock

It is, however, the definitive article of "blog rock"—for a record that was initially praised for having no context, it’s nothing but context in 2015. I’m going to assume that some of you would’ve been in grade school or even kindergarten when Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was released. Thus, a debriefing on "blog rock." It’s a very silly genre name, like pretty much all genre names. Most give some indication as to its sound, its scene, maybe even a description of how one should listen to it. Though blog rock eventually took on a definable set of characteristics, it’s a unique case where the name references the delivery system of the people who write about it. It has extremely little to do with the actual music, which is the entire point.

I missed Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and I missed Neutral Milk Hotel. I am still not convinced those are bands, but the evidence in front of my face says otherwise. 

This is all proof that there are things that are important that many, many people never paid attention to and don't remember. At all.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Gibson Guitars and Wishful Thinking

I get why Gawker is going after Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz--he's an asshole who is completing the mission of ruining a venerated American company. That's their take on it, and they have been beating that drum for a few years.

The story of any American company that is being run into the ground in similar to this in some way--lack of innovation, poor leadership, declining values, outsourced employees, and mismanagement of enormous proportions. Companies are being bled dry. Companies are making shoddy products and trying to appease stockholders. Companies are just plain useless. Many others are just going in the wrong direction and can't get any traction.

Gibson, like Harley Davidson, and like anyone else you want to mention, are companies that are simply  going away because the culture is changing. So, you can rag on Juszkiewicz all you want, but fewer and fewer people are getting invested in what Gibson is selling, and that's music performed by a person after years of study and hard work. As a product, the guitar is losing value because we are caught up in nostalgia.

There is only one kind of person who is interested in paying more than $25,000 for a guitar, and that person is aging rapidly and has a lot of money and isn't interested in anything other than acquiring a status symbol. If you explained to them that a $1,000 Epiphone guitar is just as good, you're never going to hear the end of it. If you pointed out that Paul Reed Smith is making better instruments, all you're doing is confirming the fact that people are not interested in facts. They want something they can put in their house that will make others envious. 

I have four cheap guitars that I love to play. I switch between them, put new strings on when I can, and I play when I can. I'm not interested in playing live in front of people--I just want to have the experience of playing an instrument that will respond to what I put into it, which is not a lot, to be honest with you. I don't care about the Les Paul guitar because I'm never going to own one. I've been priced out of the market.

Now, it used to be that Gibson would make models that appealed to people like me--music used to be affordable. Greed drove up the prices and the notion that there was something in the wood, something in the laquer on the surface of the wood (bullshit), something magical that science couldn't verify took hold. The need for people to create exclusivity with owning a wooden box with strings on it has driven affordability into the ground. 

Gibson has priced people out of their market. They have a failing business model and the culture is abandoning this thing we call music because no one can make a living at it anymore. The number of people who will order a custom Gibson guitar and pay a huge amount of money for it is dwindling every day because we devalued the music business to such an extent that you're going to see the ripple effect. 

It's all disappearing and dying, and when the Baby Boomers are done, a slew of companies that appealed to them and milked them for all of their cash will go with them into oblivion. Everything that you can say about a Gibson guitar you can also say about Corvette cars and Harley motorcycles--they're now overpriced, they're not as good as they once were, and the one I own is better than yours.

American culture now values video games and music created by DJs more than it does the creation of music with hands and amplifiers and recording studios. There's no money it and it's never coming back. It's like the era of wooden ships--sure, there are people who know how to sail but nobody retains the knowledge and skill necessary to do it the way it was done two or three hundred years ago. If you want it all to be like it was, that's just nostalgia and wishful thinking.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Women Sort of Love Rush

This whole article justifies the connection between Rush and women who call themselves fans, and it's worth reading because the women quoted in the article make up the entirety of their female fan base.

I've seen Rush three times and I don't remember if there were a lot of women there or not; I do remember that it was loud and it was great. That's all.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Christopher Lee, Heavy Metal God

His love for metal arrived late, but enveloped his final years, and now, as tributes to the star tumble in, seems to speak volumes about his badass spirit. It was 2005 when Italian troop Rhapsody enlisted him to narrate their batshit crazy single 'Magic of the Wizard's Dream' - his greatest music moment since appearing on the sleeve to Wings' 'Band On The Run' record in 1973 (he'd also sung on a bunch of film soundtracks and released a largely overlooked 1998 blues album called 'Devils, Rogues & Other Villains'). "My dream when I was young, was to be an opera singer," he explained in 2010. Finding the same outlandishness and grandeur among the blistering 100mph guitar histrionics of symphonic metal, he explained: "Now I have been able to do it and in a style which was unknown to me until very recently." Three albums followed. Where you and me, reader, will probably spend our 90th birthdays eating Werther's Originals in nursing homes in front of terrible TV if we're lucky, Christopher Lee celebrated his by announcing 'Charlemagne: The Omens of Death' - a punishingly high octane concept heavy metal album featuring members of Judas Priest that charted an ancient Roman blood line and, on the cover, found Lee dressed up like a medieval king standing in a sea of lava waving a fuck-off sword about.

I would be shocked if there aren't unreleased tracks out there of Lee turning it inside out with a Dimebag Darrell guitar.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Broken Up For Good

The Replacements have broken up for good:

It appears The Replacements’ three-year reunion has come to an end. Frontman Paul Westerberg announced during band’s set at Optimus Primavera Sound today that it would be their final time together on stage.

Westerberg told the audience that the band stayed at their hotel instead of attending soundcheck. “Lazy bastards to the end,” he reportedly declared before smashing his guitar on stage.

If Pauls' heart wasn't in it anymore, aren't you glad the plug was pulled? You got three years and a string of great shows. What's not to appreciate?

I suspect this is a troll move designed to make the release of new music even more exciting than it would have been if someone at corporate had designed a viral method of putting it out there.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Elvis Costello Tortures English Ears Again

The English hate Elvis Costello, and the feeling is mutual:

Elvis Costello and Britain have abandoned each other. His songs have barely mentioned the old country since 2004’s “Needle Time” recalled “the time I started to tire of those sour English”.

Living abroad since 1989, unaccountably contemptuous of the once-adoring British music press, and furious at home crowds only wanting ancient hits, the connection with his public here snapped. His audiences are now mostly around his own age of 60, the replenishing, youthful fans who flock to inspect Dylan and other icons apparently ignorant of the most prodigious writer of fine songs in British history. Tonight shows it’s their loss.

This Brighton gig early in a 21-date solo UK tour continues Costello’s more frequent and friendly returns to British stages. There is great, mutual affection with his loyal old fans, the stubborn remnant of a different England to the one which docilely let the Tories back in. Costello himself is as kind and gentle as he’s ever been, even during his most acidic songs. There is enormous fondness in the room.

You know who else hated the old country? James Joyce, and you don't see him in a hat like that, do you?

Elvis Costello is a bell end and he should be banned from English music venues, but at least he isn't Sting. The Leonard Cohen schtick isn't working nor should it. And I'm still wondering where that post about Mark E. Smith went.

(You're missing all of the wonderful comments from the first time around on this piece--wiped out when I upgraded the old blog to DISQUS. This piece was a bit of fun, by the way, sorry if that wasn't apparent--homage, if you will, to the sorts of things written about Costello when he was throwing the N-word around...)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Beautiful Loser

The singer and guitarist (Paul Westerberg) has been wearing T-shirts with letters that purportedly spell out the message "I have always loved you, now I must whore my past" 

Even though he's out there doing what he likes to do with people he likes to do things with, and playing songs people want to here, he's still miserable about it and that's why you have to love him.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Oasis Will Support Blur

How serious was the old rivalry between Blur and Oasis?

Liam's come out and said "Lonesome Street" [from Blur's new album] is his favourite song of the year, god bless him. And Damon and Noel are quite good friends now. So, I think, let's focus on the positives. It's lovely that it's got a happy ending. I hope they get back together. They can support us.

The really nasty thing that Alex James had to say was this, however:

Might you end up like the Stones?

I wouldn't want it to get grotesque. But it's such a precious thing we have, this ability to make music together, that's been there since our very first rehearsal. We wrote our first single, "She's So High", in that rehearsal. It's a highly honed relationship. You don't really get bands now. It's all solo artists with session musicians.

You can't argue with the truth.