Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ian Fraser Kilmister 1945-2015

Lemmy got his start in the music business specifically because he saw the Beatles at the Cavern Club. I just found that to be hilarious and historical, all in one fell swoop.

And Hawkwind was a criminally neglected band in this country. Can't forget that, either.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Definitely Go Play Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is the island in the lower right portion of the map...

Sometimes, you just can't please an underserved market:

Maithripala Sirisena, the Sri Lankan president, is not happy following a few bra throwing incidents at Enrique Iglesias's recent concert out there.

The Spanish-born, US-based pop singer played a date out there (December 20) to promote his tenth album, 'Sex and Love'.

After the gig Sirisena called the bra-throwing "uncivilised behaviour that goes against our culture", the BBC reported, and said that the promoters should be "beaten with poisonous stingray tails".

Maithripala Sirisena, sans poisonous Stingray tail

The Sri Lankan president then made it clear that "these indecent concerts should never receive authorisation again in Sri Lanka".

Sri Lankans probably love this kind of music. They probably love seeing a spectacle at a concert. I feel bad for them because they are led by a reactionary old fart. Musicians everywhere should ignore the president and go get their rocks off in Sri Lanka. More weird stuff! More sex stuff! Make Madonna's costume designer blush!

Doesn't this sound like a stranger version of Footloose than we would normally be used to?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Donald Trump's Mandingo Analogy

This is just plain evil:

In the latest series of Trumpisms, the Republican presidential frontrunner on Monday knocked Hillary Clinton for not returning to the stage on time in Saturday night's Democratic debate and getting "schlonged" by Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential race. "Even a race to Obama, she was gonna beat Obama. I don't know who would be worse, I don't know, how could it be worse? But she was going to beat -- she was favored to win -- and she got schlonged, she lost, I mean she lost," Trump said. The real estate mogul also criticized Clinton for her late return to the stage because of a bathroom break, calling it "disgusting." Unprompted, Trump said, "I know where she went. It's disgusting. I don't want to talk about it, it's disgusting."

I'm just going to say it--a mainstream Republican candidate for the presidency invoked the racist image of the Mandingo. He spoke of an African-American man having sex with a white woman. God help us all, but that dog whistle was blown today like it hasn't been blown in a long, long time.

Now, we know several things. One, Trump will not pay any price whatsoever for his latest crude missive. Two, he's unscripted and out of control for what amounts to the eighth or ninth week in a row, depending on when the first outburst occurred. Three, the sexism embedded in his comments about Hillary Clinton is still absolutely shocking and without any real precedent.

This is not the sort of thing that a John McCain would have said and it's not the sort of thing Mitt Romney would have said. I mean, there's just no precedence for the crudity and the vulgarity of this man. We've gone from the Romneyshambles to the Donaldshambles. It's a shit show no one can stop watching.

Do you know what would work right now for the Republican Party? A Mitt Romney-John McCain ticket. They should drag both nominees out of mothballs, give them a billion dollars in someone else's funds, and remove all of the other candidates from the race. Make it Trump against Romney-McCain. Granted, it would turn to shit and catch fire like a bus full of exploding propane tanks and potato masher hand grenades, but it would still be more fun than what we have right now.

If you're conservative, you're quietly pleased with this Donald fellow. If you're liberal, you can't imagine how many more


posts it's going to take before everyone agrees with you that Donald can't survive this. I'm sorry, but the crude sexism just brings more voters to the table. I would be surprised if he doesn't end up breaking forty percent soon.

Adele Doesn't Like Getting Ripped Off, Either

This is a wonderful development:

Adele has spoken for the first time about her decision not to stream her hit album '25'.

The Londoner chose not to stream the album online when it launched back in November, preferring to stick to paid downloads and traditional hard copy formats. It remains unavailable on free platforms.

Speaking with Time Magazine for their cover today (December 21), she went into detail on the decision, saying:

“I believe music should be an event. For me, all albums that come out, I’m excited about leading up to release day. I don’t use streaming. I buy my music. I download it, and I buy a physical [copy] just to make up for the fact that someone else somewhere isn’t. It’s a bit disposable, streaming.”

I see this as a very positive development. A major label artist with a huge album just slashed her way through the obscene profits that streaming services would have made from her album. She decided to forgo the miniscule royalty rate that her album would have made from streaming royalties and take the download/physical sale numbers for herself. If Adele had streamed her album, her sales would have been down significantly, making her album less successful. Why do all of those people want to go see her? Because she's real. She stands there and sings. The extension of that is, she is a premium artist who requires you to buy the thing she makes and play it in your home. How is that a bad thing?

A huge chunk of her sales came from the fact that everybody wanted her album and that it was actually in stores where people could buy it. And I can guarantee you that Adele's album was probably the only album many of those people this year. In and of itself, that's a huge thing to ponder. And we might have to come around to thinking that someone who pays ten bucks and then downloads an album is every bit as important to the process as someone who buys a CD in Wal-Mart.

Once you kill off streaming services, you send people back out there looking for music. If that's the case, they'll buy albums and they'll restore a bit of sanity to the process. More of this, please.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Violent Femmes Have a New Album on the Way

How many times does someone tell you that they're going to skip the bullshit?

It's been 32 years since Milwaukee alt-rock legends Violent Femmes burst into Australian consciousness with their lauded self-titled debut album — a sleeper hit that contained a slew of angst-ridden songs likeBlister In The Sun, Kiss Off and Add It Up that quickly became embedded in our national psyche. Now, following a lengthy hiatus due to perennial internal disputes, they're back to tour the country with Hoodoo Gurus, Sunnyboys, Died Pretty and Ratcat for the A Day On The Green franchise.

What's really exciting about these impending shows is that earlier this year they released the Happy New Year EP for Record Store Day — their first substantial collection of new music since 2000's Freak Magnet— meaning that we're going to hear new tunes from them live for the first time in aeons.

I wish I could skip the bullshit and stop being a blogger, but then what would I do? I know, I know. I would instantly have to fuck off and die, but what good would that do me?

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Jesus and Mary Chain Psychocandy

Has it been thirty years?

I have followed the Jesus and Mary Chain for a long, long time. When Psychocandy came out, a blurb about it appeared in People magazine (if I remember things correctly) and I was instantly intrigued. The Mary Chain were the original shoegazers and the penultimate creators of music designed for kids to listen to that their parents wouldn't like.

Thirty years? Wow.

Oh, and this. A thousand times this because I love you.

Getting Together and Playing Live

Looking at this, I would say that neither Blur nor Oasis have much of a future.

Former foes Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn teamed up to form a one-off supergroup with Chrissie Hynde and The Clash's Paul Simonon to celebrate the latter's 60th birthday.

Clash bassist Simonon turns 60 on Tuesday (December 15) but marked the milestone with a gig on Sunday. Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey, Albarn collaborator Jeff Wootton, rapper Kano and others were also among the guests.

Gallagher joined Albarn, Simonon and co for covers of Gorillaz track 'Dare', plus The Clash's 'I Fought The Law', 'Brand New Cadillac' and 'Janie Jones'.

It makes sense to do something new as opposed to risking the reunion backlash that seems to be creeping upwards every time someone puts the band back together and makes a halfhearted attempt to relive the glory days of 1996 or so (which was a terrible, terrible year for music). Nostalgia is a killer but these new combinations of styles coming together isn't all bad. If anything comes out of a Gallagher/Albarn collaboration, it'll probably be innovative and commercially successful in England. Everywhere else? Who knows?

And did you notice the sexism? Why wasn't the fact that Chrissy Hynde decided to play with a bunch of tossers the lede here? Go and be aghast at it all.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Scott Weiland Was an Asshole

Hey, don't take my word for it. Here's what Mary Forsberg Weiland had to say:

[...] she writes of Scott’s “paranoid fits” while she herself faced depression, saying, “There were times that Child Protective Services did not allow him to to be alone with them.” She says that when he remarried — to photographer Jamie Wachtel, in 2013 — “The children were replaced. They were not invited to his wedding; child support checks often never arrived…. They have never set foot into his house, and they can’t remember the last time they saw him on a Father’s Day.”

Oh, but he was the "voice" of his generation. Fuck that. What a complete and utter asshole. Being high all the time didn't do that. He had a serious character defect that went beyond simple addiction.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The End of Rush

The greatest band is no more.

[...] it appears Rush is no more. In a new interview with Drumhead Magazine (via Jambase), Peart spoke frankly about his coming to terms with retirement. “… Lately Olivia has been introducing me to new friends at school as ‘My dad– He’s a retired drummer.’ True to say–funny to hear. And it does not pain me to realize that, like all athletes, there comes a time to… take yourself out of the game. I would rather set it aside then face the predicament described in our song ‘Losing It’ (‘Sadder still to watch it die, than never to have known it’).”


The Pointlessness of Writing About Musicians on Drugs

I didn't pause to write anything about the death of Scott Weiland over the weekend because, other than being a tragedy for his family and friends, there is no point in trying to maximize hits over someone else's pain. The world is full of ghouls, and most of them are in politics because music doesn't pay.

He was handed the world and he threw it away as fast as he could because that used to be the way to sell more records and make more money. He was an addict enabled by an industry desperate for content without any regard for the cost in human dignity. His band was over when it was apparent that he preferred drugs to entertaining people. Did you even know the name of the band he was playing with when he died?

This is from April of this year:

Scott Weiland has not been making it easy to be a Scott Weiland fan. Last month, an inebriated Weiland allegedly told devotees “Let’s suck a dick!” during a meet-and-greet event, rude comments which he later apologized for. Now, during a recent show in Corpus Christi, Texas with his Wildabouts backing band, the rocker offered a less-than-stellar ghastly performance of Stone Temple Pilots’ “Vasoline”.

“Alright, this is a new song, we just worked it out today,” Weiland told the crowd, before launching into the ’90s classic. He must have meant “horrendous rendition” when he said “new.” While the band played its part faithfully, Weiland muttered his vocals with little to no enthusiasm, frankly looking as though he wanted to be anywhere else but on that stage.

The guy has been out of control for months and no one has done anything to help him. You can't help but read that piece and not wonder "who was looking out for him and why did they fail to get this guy some help? Why was he even on tour? Did you know that he was in a parking lot in Bloomington, Minnesota when his heart gave out, which is just about the saddest way to die, period?

Brother, I've been to Bloomington. There's nothing rock and roll about Bloomington. You might as well die in the middle of nowhere.

The fact that he died on tour with a band hardly anyone knew about in a bus is proof that it was a senseless thing. The individual interests of other people meant more than trying to save this man's life. Why was he even on a promotional tour when it was clear months ago that this was not something he should have been engaged in? How was that the healthiest thing for that guy? If there was a functioning mechanism for a working musician to live off past album sales, Weiland should have been able to enjoy himself. I hear those grunge bands sold a lot of record to dirty kids in the 1990s. The nostalgia tour from that should have been more than enough to buy a house somewhere near Malibu.

All of the plaudits I read were hysterically sober and praised his "art." There was no art there. He appeared when he appeared because Pearl Jam were between albums. His band was marketed for a specific gap. The fact that he was pushed out there sounding like Eddie Vedder and looking like Eddie Vedder should tell you that people don't remember anything the way they're supposed to. Don't bother with the whole notion that Stone Temple Pilots were their own thing and that they were a great band. Come on. Vilified? Hell, yes. That's why I laughed when poor Billy Corgan shambled off of his rollercoaster seat and pretended he was the wise old man of early 90's alternative rock. Fucking wanker, man. Fucking wanker to the end of days.

Scott Weiland was sucked dry and propped up and tolerated because he made money for people who should have put his health before their own desperate need to ram cash into their pants. As soon as he spiraled out of control on drugs, everyone in his life had a choice. Help him, or enable him. This was a guy who was enabled. How many albums did they make after they knew he was hopelessly addicted to drugs and still able to perform? What a disgrace.

That doesn't mean we're ever going to run out of broke, crying Deadheads who are sad the money train ran out of steam when Jerry Garcia died. Reading this article is like being inundated with selfish recrimination and tales of being strung out for no reason. You had a bad time when you went to see the Dead in 1994? Were you paying attention to anything going on in the world at that point?

I don't care about drugs or drug bands and neither should you. This is a distraction from the fact that Weiland and Garcia died when they were in the music business. In our society as a whole, people die from drug abuse all the time and waste their potential. It is not something worth celebrating and anyone who speaks out about it is just trying to nurture what's left of their conscience. In reality, they're just mad they can't make money off the dead guy anymore.

Fuck them. And fuck the enablers who suck money out of people who are sick and dying and need help.

Further Notes on the Decline of Music Criticism

I'm not sure what's wrong with Salon.com or Scott Timberg, but this is a pretty clear indication that writing about music is a sucker's game, man:

Nominee lists are always, by their nature, a mix of disparate things. But just when it looked like the Grammys had come to its senses with most of its nominees this year, it creates a very weird juxtaposition: Putting one of the freshest figures in indie rock, Courtney Barnett, alongside one of the most annoying and unoriginal singers in history, Meghan Trainor. Both show up in the Best New Artist category, a place where the Grammys don’t exactly have a great batting average in the first place.

To make it even more bewildering, Trainor was nominated last year for her song, “All About That Bass.” Even overlooking that, and the fact that her first album came out in 2009, irritating songs like “Dear Future Husband” and “Lips Are Movin’,” along with one of the most mannered vocal styles imaginable, should have disqualified her first.

Barnett is the drowsy-voiced Australian who combines some of the best qualities of Bob Dylan, early Liz Phair, and Cat Power. Her LP, “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit,” builds on her earlier EPs that showed her capable of low-key melancholy (“Avant Gardener,” “Don’t Apply Compression Gently”): The new album is more forceful (“Aqua Profunda!,” “Dead Fox”) without losing her essential skepticism and reserve.

If Courtney Barnett really matters, then you'll be glad to see her lose out to someone like Meghan Trainor. These two young women are not in the same "business." Barnett is making music that rock critics like. Trainor is making music that sells. The people who write her songs aren't getting paid. And while there should be more than enough revenue to keep both in a career, the music business isn't really working for too many people anymore. Yeah, we get it--your precious Liz Phair of the moment shoulda woulda coulda were it not for the pre-packaged soul-sucking machinery of the music industry. She's a guitar-strumming muffin head who's just inarticulate enough to make a hipster swoon. That's not why she does what she does, so make sure you thank her for being amazing even though she probably makes music in order to get away from other Australians (is there any other reason why one would make music in Oz because I haven't heard of one).

But this really says more about not having anything to write about and having nothing to add to the discussion. Transcendent artists win Grammy's but that's absolutely the last aspect of why they are winning things. An industry award celebrating units moved is not relevant to any discussion about who's good and who isn't.

They've lost their minds at Salon, by the way. The political commentary is excruciating and everyone is upset because there's not enough outrage being generated when someone says something expressly for the purpose of outraging libtards. It's damned near time to edit bookmarks.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

New Order

This is a fascinating read:

The scrap rumbles on. Electro-pop legends New Order have, intermittently, been at loggerheads for years, with bassist Peter Hook having quit the band in 2007. This week he sued vocalist Bernard Sumner and the rest of New Order for continuing without him, though the seeds for the whole debacle were sown as far back as 1991.

Every slight has been calculated and remembered to the point where no one can agree upon what really did in the band. I think it was really just money--they had more than they knew what to do with and got bored. New Order was one of the few bands from their era who made a shitload of cash (and then lost it when the Hacienda went belly up. This is largely because their records actually sold. Now that no one buys records, what's a band to do except fight over the scraps.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Music Has No Power to Change Anything

One of the enduring myths of popular music continues to be the notion that it matters.

It does not matter who plays what at which gig. It does not matter what's on that new album. Music doesn't matter anymore and it does not connect more than a handful of people to one another. An entire generation of kids does not buy the same albums anymore. In America, Adele sold over 3 million copies of an album containing similar songs about being sad. Where's the uplift and change in that?

When you read Bono these days, you're reading the last words of a dying movement that actually thinks a song sung a certain way matters:

Bono says despite the deadly attacks in Paris last month, he believes Paris will remain strong and he is hoping U2's concert there this week moves the audience.

U2 was set to perform in Paris on Nov. 14 and was in a middle of rehearsing when 130 people were killed in suicide bombings and shootings the day before in what has become the worst attack on French soil in more than a half-century.

"Well, knowing our French audience and having a sense of them by now, I would say joy as an act of defiance," he said of what concert-goers can expect when U2 performs at the AccorHotels Arena on Dec. 6-7. "That's what U2 does, that's what French people want from us and that's it."

"They took a lot of lives we're not going to get back, but they're not going to change the character of the city of Paris," he continued in an interview with The Associated Press.

If there's even a remote chance that public safety could be threatened, no, you don't play the show. It's all well and good to play a concert for the people of Paris--in fact, why not let everyone in for free and see what that gets you? Ultimately, that's up to the people who decide such things. Whether it's a U2 concert or a classical music show or Muse does not matter. Whatever goes on there will be seen and heard by a fraction of the people who live there. Many will be high on drugs and will wonder when Bruce Springsteen comes on, and fewer still will remember to put down they phone and actually watch the show.

And that's what's really sad about watching Springsteen, et al, do their thing nowadays. They still get up on stage and play as if what's happening is some sort of religious experience. They make it out to look like something really special is happening, as if there isn't a set list or lighting cues or a plan to get the whole thing over with in order for the roadies to break it all down in time to get on the road. They make it out to be something that It's not. Those people in front of the stage paid somewhere around 280 euros, each, to pretend they were watching a show from forty years ago when tickets were only $20, if that. They want a nostalgic experience worth the face value of the ticket they paid way too much for. They want spectacle and they want the whole thing to matter more than it does. 

Music is nothing more than a nostalgia trip these days, but only if you can afford it. You're not playing to "fans" anymore because your fans can't afford to come see you anymore. You're playing to bankers and lottery winners now. You're playing to people too rich to care whether or not you used to matter. And none of them bought your last album, brother.

And so, here's Bono. He's defiantly promising to play a show in France that may or may not happen, depending on the logistical concerns of safety and security. He's going to play to a fraction of the population--the wealthier fraction that's willing to pay a lot of money, of course. The only fans he rubs shoulders with will be well-heeled enough to get back stage. He'll play songs that are thirty or forty years old, and if he doesn't play enough of them, people will shuffle back and forth during the newer songs or go back to whatever is on their phones (funny how no one demands they play No Line on the Horizon and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb back to back instead of the hits). 

The real aim of terrorism is to get people to change their lives. The real aim of people like Bono is to make damned certain that when people do make changes to their lives, they don't inadvertently stop going to overpriced concerts. We can have freedom, but we can't have an interruption of touring profits. And that's okay--no one should be mad that Bono and the lads are already well into another decade of making ridiculous amounts of money playing old songs in front of people who are willing to pay to hear them.

But let's not make this out to be a fight against terrorism. U2 doesn't fight terrorism. There are actual men and women fighting terrorists and they often lose their limbs or their lives doing so. They get paid peanuts and they risk everything. Theirs is the real fight that matters, and we belittle their efforts when a mere rock and roll show is elevated into the pantheon of things that actually matter. Do you know who else is playing that same venue this year? Madonna, David Guetta, and the Cure. I suppose they fight terrorism, too, just with less bravado than Bono.

Ah, but they played Pride, so that showed everyone.