Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Are You Sure it Wasn't the Cocaine?




Paul McCartney believes that comparing yourself to the Beatles is the kiss of death:

Paul McCartney says Oasis’ claim that they were bigger than The Beatles was the biggest mistake of Oasis’ career.

Oasis made the claim in a 1996 MTV interview, saying that their albums ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory’ meant that they were bigger than The Beatles. 

In 2015, Noel Gallagher admitted that he was “high” when he made the claim. And in a new interview, Paul McCartney has said that the claim was the biggest mistake of Oasis’ career.

I would agree with him, but out of fairness, let's get one thing straight: it was the cocaine that did in Oasis. It was the cocaine that left them with a bloated, overstuffed third album that wrecked the momentum of the band and sent over half of the members packing. If you replaced Be Here Now with the Masterplan album, they'd have had another big, big hit. If you subtract the cocaine from Be Here Now, you'd have had a great album with great songs.

Yeah, hubris is bad for you. The white line, a little more so.












Saturday, May 28, 2016

Does Anyone in America Know Anything About Kasabian?




Some time ago, I wrote about how the English band Kasabian went from playing to hundreds of thousands of people at Glastonbury to playing to hundreds of people at the 9:30 club in Washington D.C.  They are criminally overlooked in this country, and greatly appreciated in their home town. 

America's indifference to one of the biggest bands in the world continues unabated:

It’s Monday May 16, a couple of hours before Kasabian play a surprise set at Leicester City’s Premier League victory parade, and frontman Tom Meighan is on the phone trying to sort out his stage outfit. His first choice was an unofficial T-shirt emblazoned with star striker Jamie Vardy’s infamous motto, but the club have just stepped in and nixed it. Somebody’s obviously decided that ‘Chat S**t, Get Banged’ is a bit aggro for a family-friendly party.

The thing is, there aren’t any adults around. A whole city’s childhood dreams have come true and the air is full of pure, unadulterated chaos. Nobody expected to be here. Leicester City started the season as 5,000-1 outsiders to win the title. To put that in context, around the same time the odds of LMFAO headlining Glastonbury this year were only 100-1. Leicester were a club that had never won England’s top flight in the entirety of their 132-year history, so even the most passionate of fans – a category that includes both Meighan and guitarist Serge Pizzorno – would never have dared to dream this day would come.

I know they've toured the states and done well, but it's not like they're packing stadiums. And that's a shame--this is a stadium band with all the makings of a fantastic show every time they appear. When people say, "where are all the great rock and roll bands," remember--not everyone gets the attention that equals their ability to put on a show, sell records, or influence people. Kasabian certainly deserve a bigger following.













Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Richard Ashcroft is a Rock Star




Somewhere on British television, an actual rock and roll star was spotted. Many gaped. Few understood what was happening. The historical context is significant because, not since Paul Weller wandered into a BBC studio and glared at someone has one been spotted in recent memory. Was this a Gallagher brother? Heaven's, no.

For many, the sighting of a long-thought extinct rock star brought about shock, repulsion, and significant repercussions for the television program that put him on display:

Those watching at home were far more concerned with the Verve frontman's unusual ensemble than his announcement that he will be performing at London's 02 Arena in December.

Wearing a white blazer with thin dark stripes, a white scarf around his neck and a pair of green mirrored sunglasses, Richard opened himself up to an onslaught of abuse on social media. 

One user said: "Richard Ashcroft is wearing sunglasses indoors, in the BBC Breakfast studios. Outrageous."

Another chimed in: "Richard Ashcroft. Mirrored shades. On BBC BReakfast? It's indoors you mancunian gimp. T**T. #BBCBreakfast."

It is impossible to gauge how long it has been since the English speaking peoples actually saw a rock star in the wild or in the confines of a comfortable television studio. Many pointed to the death of David Bowie this past January, and while Bowie was a rock star, he had traded in his glam rock outfits for more sensible attire. Others opined that the sighting of such a thing as a rock star was enough to remind people that today's pop stars are controlled by marketing people and are used as sales clerks, cannon fodder, and benign foofs for public entertainment. Many can sing and dance but few can write their own songs.

The mere site of a stylish, thin, European male with a noted pedigree in writing and performing music that is consumed by the discerning public at large caused tremors to ripple through the television viewing audience. No doubt, there was fainting and the gnashing of teeth. Do you know what follows? John Lydon using the work fuck as an adverb! Impossible. We cannot have this.

Few can cope with seeing a modern rock star nowadays. Someone needs to put Ashcroft in a road case and wheel him off to the states for a summer tour. That will allow passions to cool and sense to prevail.

 












Our Kid


You know, I love Liam Gallagher a little more today and I don't know why. And I still love Noel Gallagher, too. But, Lord, don't let these two get back together again.












The Tragically Hip Carry On




Sad news out of Canada:

The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie shared tragic news with fans Wednesday: He has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

The band broke the bad news in a post on its website, revealing its 52-year-old leader learned of his disease in December.

“Since then, obviously, he’s endured a lot of difficult times, and he has been fighting hard,” the band’s statement said.

“In privacy along with his family, and through all of this, we’ve been standing by him.”

This is where you reassess your priorities. The things people have to go through are pretty bad, on the whole, but to be given a diagnosis that is consistent with being terminal is an incredible blow for anyone at any stage of their life. It puts a lot of things into perspective and it should resonate with people who follow the Tragically Hip as being yet another sign that we're all getting older and we're all moving on.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Jessie Hughes




Don't get mad or upset at Jessie Hughes because he says bizarre things and wants to vote for Donald Trump:

A survivor from last year's Bataclan terror attack has criticised recent comments from Eagles Of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes.

Hughes' band headlined the gig where the attacks took place in Paris in November last year. During the gig at the Bataclan theatre, 89 people - including venue staff, band personnel and fans - were shot and killed by terrorist gunmen.

Hughes has since made several controversial comments in subsequent interviews. In one interview, he blamed France's strict gun laws for allowing the shooters to go unchallenged, and then later accused some of the security guards at the famous French music venue of being in cahoots with terrorist groups.

Earlier this month, Hughes spoke to Taki Magazine in which he repeated his criticism and claimed that people were too afraid too speak out about terrorism in fear of seeming racist.

In response, Tony Scott - who attended the Bataclan gig - has written a piece for Louder Than War.

"Like Trump, Hughes words are divisive and he’s using the media to garner publicity for his outspoken views," Scott writes. "It’s hard to see who his views are directed at given the channels he’s using for his outbursts. The latest is an American self proclaimed right wing magazine. Perhaps he believes he is supporting Trumps campaign by doing so? Whatever his intentions, political or otherwise his comments are upsetting the online community that came together to show support to him and each other."

Here's the thing you need to know about Hughes--he's an asshole. That's all.

You can enjoy his music, but you don't have to like him personally.

You can enjoy his music and still laugh at the stupid shit he says.

You can enjoy his music and safely ignore his public pronouncements because he has a history of saying inflammatory things and using drugs.

You can enjoy his music and consider his situation a little. Did I mention his history of using drugs? Not to wink at you, but wouldn't that explain a whole hell of a lot right now? I mean, I hope he's not using drugs, but if he is, how could you blame him after what he saw at the venue that night? Some people break. And when they break in public, often, it is not pretty.

You can enjoy his music. You can also safely assume he has no idea what he's talking about. Really, it's not that hard.

I fully support the French venues that turned him away. They chose not to enjoy his music and that's their right.












Thursday, May 19, 2016

Star




In order to show some appreciation for the reformation of Belly, 4AD have put together a re-release of their debut album Star. They're putting it out on white marbled vinyl and it includes updates and all of that. A classic! A really, really good album that should have been the foundation of a long and illustrious career that ended up being cut short just a few years later.












Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Add the Pono Player to the Endangered List




This has to hurt:

After raising more than $12 million and promising to revolutionize digital music with Pono, Neil Young is making his believers wait.  As of Monday morning (May 16th), Neil Young’s just-released ‘Love and Only Love’ is available only as a pre-order on PONO, while Tidal enjoys the full exclusive.

This goes hand in hand with what I was writing about today--streaming is the preferred business model for people who run music companies and have content to sell. Creating walled gardens and selling downloads isn't going to have much of a future when these technologies die out.

The guy who made this happen--and collected over six million dollars in cash from people who wanted the product--won't even support his own technology. What does that tell you about the future of the music business?

And what's really sad is that there are always going to be people who prefer a collection to a menu.












Your iTunes Library is Disappearing




This does not affect me. I have never bought into the whole iTunes thing as a delivery method for music. What few times I have used it seemed like hell enough as it is. I am glad I was not an early adopter of this technology and I am glad to see it all crumble into dust:

Whether or not Apple wakes up one day and decides to tear down its iTunes music download store is not the most important thing.  Because they are already starting to get rid of it.  This phase-out is already happening and Apple is definitely assisting this process.  They are definitely not growing their download store and they are doing what it takes to make this die a natural death.

You can say there are some things they are doing to fuel their download store with exclusives, etc., but overall I think the net initiative is to let this go away.  I would even point to Chance the Rapper as an example of this.

As a user you can see this in motion.  You can see that I’m not making this up.  If you’ve ever purchased any substantial amount of iTunes downloads from the last year or so, and I mean from July [2015] onward, you’ve noticed that these downloads are gradually getting sucked into the Apple Music product.  What I mean by that is that there are all sorts of confusing connections back to Apple Music even if you don’t want to have anything to do with Apple Music at all.   But even worse, your downloads that you either paid for, downloaded, or ripped, have been totally mangled and often replaced by Apple’s official version of that track, whether that exists on Apple Music, or whatever.

The net net of all of this is that your iTunes download collection has been totally corrupted by Apple and this process will continue as long as Apple realizes that the future is streaming.  Apple is building on the future of streaming and they are not investing or preserving your download account just because you like it.

It would seem to me that the record labels want you to buy all of your music all over again for what seems like the seventh time. What a revenue enhancer! What a way to make the stock price jump! Coming soon to a corner near you--a revamped version of the old Tower Records store, stocked with shit-sounding vinyl and coupons for Spotify.

Hardcore iTunes users have curated these huge libraries full of music that they have paid for. Endless numbers of iTunes gift cards have gone into countless graduation cards. All of that is evaporating into nothingness. The kid who stole all those Metallica albums in the fall of 1999 is now looking at his music catalog and wondering why he sold all of his CDs when there was still a record store on the other side of town.

Never underestimate the ability of a large corporation and their efforts to get you to pay for something that you already bought three times.












Monday, May 16, 2016

Richard Ashcroft Needs to Tour America




Yeah, it's a long time coming for Richard Ashcroft. I haven't had the warm and fuzzy feeling I've gotten from a few other "comebacks" or reunions as of late, but I can't help but wonder when Ashcroft is going to come across the pond:

Finland gets to see Richard before New York City does? How does that work?












Thursday, May 12, 2016

All For One




Here's my review--it's a great track. There's so much going on in this song that a few listens does not reveal much beyond a great hook and a powerful, driving rhythm. 

I'll let you in on a little secret--the Stone Roses never put the best song on the album out first as a single. 

1st album - made of stone came out before she bangs the drums
2nd album - love spreads came out before ten storey love song

That's my take on the whole thing--you're not getting the best song they have right now on purpose, so cool your boots.

The Guardian slags it off. Of course. It's got guitars on it! Do you know why people are conflicted by this song? Do you know why people are saying it's "not as good" as their old stuff? Do you know why everybody is messed up and the song doesn't cure them of all their ailments?

Well, it's because this thing has guitars on it. 

I'll let you in on ANOTHER little secret--modern pop music hasn't had any fucking guitars on it since the 1990s. The guitar went and floated away into the ether, replaced by Pro Tools and boop-de-whiz sounds.

We haven't had any tremendous or transformational guitar music in ages. If this is where the Roses are, then the album they release will have enough guitars on it to blow minds and make it all worth the wait.

















Tuesday, May 10, 2016

You Gotta Deliver




We are arriving at a fever pitch:

Fans of The Stone Roses are speculating that the band could release a new single this week after mysterious lemon adverts were displayed on billboards around Manchester.

Manchester Evening News reports that the band's iconic lemon logo appeared on digital advertising boards around Manchester city centre on Tuesday morning (May 10). Several fans have posted photos of the adverts to social media (see below).

The band have not yet commented on the matter and it is not known whether the adverts are for a potential new single that had been rumoured earlier in the week. The lemon poster tactic was employed last year when the band announced a run of live gigs. 

If there is no new single or no new album, and if this is an advert for a new perfume that makes you smell like lemon scented Pine Sol, there isn't going to be a whole lot of goodwill for the Stone Roses this summer.








Monday, May 9, 2016

Snakebit




Unlucky drama for the Stone Roses:

The Stone Roses have reportedly cancelled two gigs in Japan after the band's drummer Reni fell and fractured two ribs.

The Manchester band, who confirmed to NME in March that they are recording new material, were scheduled to play a pair of shows at the Nippon Budokan arena in Tokyo next month (June 2-3).

However, Creative Man - the promoters behind the gigs - has now posted news of the gig cancellations on their website. 

A statement reads: "The Stone Roses are very sorry to have to cancel their two proposed concerts at the Budokan. Reni has had an accidental fall and fractured two ribs, his doctor has told him to rest for at least a month. Unfortunately this means that the band are unable to fulfil their planned performances in Japan."

The gigs are also no longer listed on Stone Roses' official website.

If you remember, a broken collar bone stymied the band back in the day when John Squire took a header on a mountain bike. Is this the unluckiest band ever?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Minor Victories




Having now heard three of their tracks, Minor Victories are damned sure for real:

When it comes to the language of rock and pop there can be few expressions as tedious as supergroup. It suggests stadium shows, bloated egos, rock ‘n’ roll cliché writ large.

“It gives you images of us all coming in on our private jets, or something,” says Stuart Braithwaite, of Mogwai and Minor Victories. 

“I’m not entirely comfortable with the term supergroup, personally. It kind of made me cringe the first time that I read it,” adds Rachel Goswell, of Slowdive and Minor Victories.

“Although I’d rather they said we were a super group rather than a shit one,” Braithwaite wise-cracks, and everyone laughs. In fact the quartet around the table – Braithwaite, Goswell, Justin Lockey (of Editors, and Minor Victories), and brother James (of Hand Held Cine Club… and Minor Victories) – laugh frequently, naturally, the sense of kinship strong despite not necessarily knowing each other all that well.

Welcome to the strange world of Minor Victories. A supergroup that's definitely not a supergroup (and let’s banish that term for the duration). In fact they’re not even a band in the conventional sense – at least not initially. And whilst the protagonists may be familiar, that doesn’t mean the music has to be; with the debut, self-titled record about to drop, this is far from a rehash of day job musicality. In fact, the way the band tell it, the album’s formation was more an exercise in remote-distance bricolage; a lost and found record, focused upon grace, nuance, flight…

Their new album was made in a very hands off way--through sending files and collaborating over E-mail. I predict everyone will make albums like this from now on once they hear this thing.




Midnight Oil




Midnight Oil have returned:

Australian rock band Midnight Oil have announced they are reforming to play a new tour in Australia and overseas in 2017.

The five piece confirmed the tour on Wednesday and said they would announce further details later in the year. The message, posted on their website, was signed by lead singer Peter Garrett, guitarist, keyboardist and songwriter Jim Moginie, guitarist Martin Rotsey, bassist Bones Hillman and drummer Rob Hirst.

“We won’t know exactly when, where and what we’ll be doing before next January at the earliest so in the meantime please just ignore any rumours. Unless and until you hear about something from us you can safely assume that it’s not yet confirmed.

“Next year we want to make a racket just like this and we hope to see you there.”

The shows will mark the band’s first major tour since disbanding in 2002 when lead singer Peter Garrett announced he was leaving the band to focus on his political career. But the band have played several one-off shows since then including in 2009 in Canberra and at the Sound Relief concert in Melbourne in honour of the victims of the Black Saturday bushfires.

If left of center governance had not collapsed in Australia, would this have happened? Let us hope they find a way to play some dates in America.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Grant McLennan Tribute in London




Grant McLennan gets a tribute show in London on Friday. Damn, I wish I was there.

Robyn Hitchcock Live at the Black Cat




When I think back on all the times I could have--should have--gone to see Robyn Hitchcock play live, I think of the loss and the missed opportunities. When he appeared at The Black Cat in Washington D.C. on April 22nd, I was able to see what I have missed. Damn it all anyway.

The Black Cat did it the right way. They set up folding chairs in front of the stage and they let us in eventually. I don't know how many people were there to see Eugene Mirman. I wasn't and I didn't even bother to stay to see what it was about. I don't watch animated shows on Fox so, there you have it. I was there to see someone play music. This venue is in a part of Washington D.C. that caters to hipsters and couples on dates. I don't think I've ever been more out of place. And I enjoy that sort of thing, obviously, because I've never fit in anywhere. The music of Robyn Hitchcock has given me a lifetime of pleasure, derived almost entirely from the fact that being weird is our natural state. We're all deviants, even the fellow with the straight pants and the diet coffee.

Hitchcock ended up playing first. He played "I Got the Hots For You" and it was sublime. He played a stunning version of "Vibrating" and he played for what seemed like forty minutes, if that. I didn't focus on how long the gig was. I was focused on how perfectly executed the singing and playing was and I enjoyed the banter in between the songs. None dare heckle Hitchcock. His whimsy can slay dragons. His voice hits the room and everything stops. Who does it better than he does? That's an obvious rhetorical question. But it has the added advantage of being true. Nobody can sing and play guitar like Hitchcock. He is masterful.

My abbreviated review matches the abbreviated show. I will go see him again and I hope he will be in a situation where he plays longer. There are only fifty songs I want to hear right now, and probably a hundred more that would be wonderful to hear. If you have Hitchcock's catalog, you can dump box sets on the public and they'll never hear it all.