Tuesday, December 22, 2020

ID

 


There is a new incarnation of Ride out there, and it consists of Steve Queralt and Laurence Colbert calling themselves ID. They have gloriously reimagined and remixed four classic tracks (out of boredom!) and released them on Bandcamp.



Monday, December 21, 2020

Get Back

 


I watched Peter Jackson's footage of the Beatles making their Let it Be record and I had a number of horrific thoughts.

Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has offered the first look at his upcoming Beatles documentary.

Entitled The Beatles: Get Back, the blockbuster documentary chronicles the making of the band’s penultimate album, 1970’s Let It Be. Jackson was given access to 55 hours of never-released footage and 140 hours of audio taken from the recording sessions, which he then restored using the same techniques developed for his acclaimed World War 1 documentary, They Shall Not Grow Old.

We are really never supposed to see such things. This is footage of the Beatles making a record they weren't even thrilled to be making. No amount of Beatlemania-style mugging for the hired film crew is going to change the fact that we know they were in the midst of fighting each other tooth and nail. They were fighting over choices and sounds and ideas. They were fighting over the presence of lovers and girlfriends and wives in the studio. They were fighting over whether to hire Allen Klein or let Yoko tell Paul where to put the bass parts. You can't erase what they were actually doing by making a documentary where they're all smiling for 90 minutes. That's absurd.

There's a lot of bullshit that goes into making music and no one needs to see every brain fart that never made it onto the album. The actual album is what you're supposed to listen to. No one is really supposed to hear every take, every false start, every mistake, and every blind alley that a band wanders into. This is the mentality of completists who think they have to hear all 112 versions of a song that the band ended up throwing out.

Having Peter Jackson take a pass at such a thing is fine. I don't really care who examines the footage because anyone can pick through the best parts and make a documentary. We'll use this, this, and John looks funny here, there you go. How is that going to tell the real story, which is, why did the Beatles let Phil Spector ruin their songs with his incompetence? How is it going to explain the diminished effort of the whole affair, the meandering takes that went nowhere? 

Interestingly, there are two narratives that are at work here. There's Jackson's belief that everything was actually sunny and happy and he has over 60 hours of film footage to prove it! Then there's Chad Gayle's version of events:

The idea behind the Get Back project was fairly simple: the Beatles would get back to their roots, eschewing the studio “gimmicks,” like overdubbing, that they’d used so successfully on their last three albums. By doing so, they would rediscover the common thread that had tied them together in their early days; a film crew would document the recording sessions and any associated live performances, and there was even some talk of touring again, something the Beatles hadn’t done for three years.

Recording started in January 1969. With Yoko Ono perpetually in the studio and the band mates often at each other’s throats, the Get Back project was an unqualified disaster, and the album that McCartney originally envisioned was never released. When the Beatles disbanded in the fall of 1969, Let It Be was the orphan stepchild of Beatles’ albums, a record that no one wanted to be involved with, and Phil Spector was brought in to rescue the session tapes from oblivion. The re-mixed album and the corresponding film were finally released on May 8, 1970, nearly a year and a half after recording began, and Let It Be became the last official Beatles album to be released by the band.

So, which is it then? It's pretty clear that the cameras forced the Beatles to act one way when they were around, being good hosts and telling jokes and laughing and smiling with girlfriends and wives there as well. The reality is, when those cameras were tucked away, everything went south. They ended up creating such a poisonous atmosphere that it led to enough acrimony to compel George Harrison to walk out part of the way through, tired of the bickering. Not much got done, other than a handful of classic songs that had to be salvaged from being ruined. The only thing that saved the album was bringing in Billy Preston, to be absolutely honest.

You'll never get to the truth is what I think and why do you need to? You have the records. Go listen to them. The rest is none of anyone's business.

Will There Be a Summer Festival Season?

 


I'm thinking we're not out of the woods yet.

Emily Eavis has reassured fans that Glastonbury 2021 is “not cancelled yet” amid concerns that the festival won’t take place due to coronavirus concerns. 
 
Last week, Eavis said the festival was “a long way” away from being able to confirm next year’s event.  
Glastonbury 2020 was cancelled back in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the event’s lawyer Ben Challis said recently that plans are moving ahead for the festival’s 50th anniversary event to be staged in June 2021.

In terms of things that matter, music festivals rank near the bottom. But, if your livelihood is music and if you've been sitting on your hands for the last year, another lost festival season in Europe and elsewhere is probably going to be devastating. It's absolutely critical for people to be safe, and if that's not going to be possible, then there can't be a major music festival season anywhere. 


Wednesday, December 16, 2020

How Hard is it to do Something Nice?

 


This is good, but more needs to be done:

Bandcamp have announced that their Bandcamp Fridays initiative has raised over $40 million (£29.68 million) in 2020 for artists and labels during the coronavirus pandemic.

The online music platform and distribution service launched the initiative back in March to aid those musicians whose livelihoods have been disrupted by the pandemic, with Bandcamp waiving their revenue share to ensure that as close to 100% of the profits as possible from fan purchases, downloads and merch goes directly to artists and labels.

You would think that streaming companies would realize that their business model is based on a healthy, productive, happy music industry but you'd be wrong on that front. They are perfectly fine with desperate artists trying to make as much music as they can for as little revenue as possible. That's the world they want to live in.

The reality is that people want the old hits. Stuff made fifty years ago has more value than the music being made today. So, when an old Fleetwood Mac song is resurrected from the dead and played a billion times, the vaunted business model of a large streaming service is reinforced and justified. Fractions of a penny and abuse for speaking out for someone who put out a record this year, hush money payments for the classic artists who get all the attention.

So, good for Bandcamp, but where's the rest of the industry's effort to help people make some sort of living wage for their efforts? Looks like that's out the window. Again.


 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

All You're Dreaming Of

 


I'm really digging the new single from Liam Gallagher, and it hit me that this is probably the most prolific and accomplished phase of his entire career. He's made great records, played a slew of great shows, and done everything that could ever be asked of him, all as a solo artist. Will anyone acknowledge how good his stuff is? Will he ever get out of the shadow of Oasis and be assessed for what he's done?

It doesn't seem fair because anyone else would be enjoying a lot of accolades right now.

I mean, this is more McCartney than Lennon, but it's a killer ballad.



Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Eight Years Too Late

 


Eight years ago, Radiohead suffered a tragedy when their stage collapsed in Toronto, Canada. Their drum technician died as a result and now we learn that it really was negligence all along:

Radiohead have shared a new statement following a recent hearing investigating Domenic Cugliari, the engineer who had been responsible for the design of the stage at Toronto's Downsview Park that collapsed in June of 2012, killing drum technician Scott Johnson. During the hearing, conducted by the Discipline Committee of the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario, Radiohead write that Cugliari "has acknowledged...his catalogue of errors and the negligence on his part that led to the stage collapse and Scott’s death."  
"These admissions are 8 years too late," they continue. "If the evidence now accepted by Mr Cugliari had been agreed at the original court case brought against him, @livenation and the contractor Optex Staging, it would have been complete in one day, with a very different outcome and some justice would have been delivered. As it is, Mr Cugliari has now retired and, is seemingly beyond any legal recrimination."

This is awful.  And, what's more, without justice, who's to stop the next engineer from doing the same thing when live touring resumes? This is one of those preventable experiences that should have resulted in serious modifications and changes to how things are done. Instead, this man Cugliari escapes without being held accountable.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Peter Frampton


Peter Frampton has a new book out and it serves as a reminder that he has never been fully appreciated for his guitar playing abilities.

PF: My credibility as a guitar player came from Humble Pie, and that’s where I developed a guitar style that, well, I can recognize as me when I hear it [laughs], and I did a lot of sessions between that period and the period when I recorded Frampton Comes Alive! My audience was very much 50:50 male to female because the guys liked the guitar playing and I guess the girls liked the way I looked, so I sort of had it down. Unfortunately, with the amount of photographs of me, as well as the movie [the poorly-received 1978 musical comedy Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band] and also the record I’m in You, the teenybopper thing really took over, and I lost my credibility with the guys. It happens a lot with people who are blessed with good looks, which I was. It’s very difficult sometimes to take someone really good looking seriously for their art, and this happens over and over again. So, I was in the doldrums. Basically, my career was over by the time I was 30.

Then, in ‘85, I put out another album [Premonition], my first album in a while, and David [Bowie] heard that and called me up. We’d been friends since school—he’s a lifelong friend, almost like my older brother—and he called me up and said, “I love your playing on the new record, can you come and do some of that for me?” So I went to Switzerland and recorded the album with him, and while I was there he asked me if I would go on the road with him to play guitar on the Glass Spider Tour, and that was just a dream come true for me because that’s my default good place to be: on stage, being the guitar player behind the singer. Because I write my own songs and I have my own band, I end up doing it all, but I love being in that situation where all I have to do is play guitar. What David did there is give me an incredible gift. He knew I’d lost my credibility as a musician, as a guitar player—which is what he always saw me as—and he grabbed me, stuck me on stage in stadiums and arenas around the world, and reintroduced me as the guitar player. That was the beginning of getting on the ladder again. I wasn’t even on the first rung at that point, and then David gave me this wonderful gift.

Frampton was diagnosed last year with degenerative muscle disease, which is just a cruel fate for anyone, let alone a guitarist.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Let's All Pay Twenty-five Bucks for an Album We Already Own

 


Something has gone awry here.

Tower Records is back as an online store. But if you dig a little deeper into what's happening, you come away with the sense that someone thinks we're all fucking idiots:

Tower Records, the iconic music store chain that closed its doors nearly 14 years ago, is back. On Friday, the beloved franchise announced it’s returning as an online service — just in time for vinyl’s record-breaking growth.

The new Tower Records has plenty of music on sale already, including vinyl, cassettes, and CDs. They also have a merchandise section, online events, and a digitized version of their original Tower Pulse! magazine. Browse their virtual shelves at the official Tower Records website.

This new version of Tower Records was originally scheduled to be revealed at the 2020 edition of South by Southwest, but they decided to hold off when the coronavirus pandemic caused the event to be canceled. Reportedly, they hoped to have the announcement coincide with Tower Records pop-up shops, an idea that’s also been put on hold due to COVID-19 but hopefully will be rolled out when life goes back to normal.

Let's see what they have in stock. Here's Radiohead's OK Computer:

It's out of stock.

The list price is $29.98, but, don't worry because they have knocked it down to $24.58.

I already have this on CD (and don't forget, they re-released a deluxe version a few years ago) so I don't know why I would need this on vinyl, but there you go. And, just like the Tower Records of old, they want you to overpay for something they can't even be bothered to keep in stock.

Tower Records seems to think we're going to restock our music collections with overpriced vinyl records and they're probably right. But I think I'm gonna pass on that.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Sophie Ellis Bextor Sings Wuthering Heights

 


As God is my witness, this is the greatest thing ever.

"You've had enough sweets, Mr. Jones."


Monday, October 26, 2020

Guitar Center is Circling the Drain

 


Man, that's a lot of debt:

Venerable music gear retailer Guitar Center is preparing for a possible bankruptcy filing, according to a new report from The New York Times.

The pandemic has been tough on all areas of the music industry, and Guitar Center is no exception. The company missed an interest payment of $45 million earlier this month, setting off a 30-day grace period that ends in default.

According to the Times, Guitar Center is in talks with creditors about a plan that would see the company file for bankruptcy, with the hope of balancing its books by early 2021. Guitar Center generated $2.3 billion in sales in its most recent fiscal year but has about $1.3 billion in debt.

 Guitar Center has faced financial struggles for nearly a decade, as its struggled to build an online shopping experience to rival other retailers. The pandemic compounded those problems when Guitar Center was forced to shutter nearly 300 brick-and-mortar locations across the United States.

 In April, Guitar Center addressed debt payments with a series of transactions that were made possible through company lenders, allowing the company to continue operating during the summer months of the pandemic.

As far as business models go, maybe it wasn't a great idea to accumulate that much debt. There are some guys who used to work for Tower Records who can help you out with that.

I would have thought that Guitar Center's sales would have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 lockdown. You have millions of people sitting around with nothing to do--sell them a musical instrument! But the simple fact is that if people don't have the money to spend on recreation or hobbies, they're not going to make purchases from a retailer like this.

Touring musicians who already have high end gear are not going to be regular customers at a Guitar Center, by and large. They may buy replaceable items, but if you're already a recording artist with a large following and a history of recording music, then you're not going to be looking for what they sell here.

This goes back to my thinking that there is too much focus on high-end or vintage instruments and not enough emphasis on the fact that today's musical gear is actually pretty good in terms of quality and durability. We have really gotten good at replicating musical instruments. Manufacturing standards being what they are, I gotta believe that what you can get now for under $500 is probably a pretty decent thing to learn with and play. The software that powers electronics is exponentially better as well.

Is this going to be like vinyl records and high end stereo equipment? Which are things you can now only buy at specialized retail stores that are smaller and harder to find? I hope not. 

As always, I could be totally wrong and way off here, but I just don't get how a company with a billion dollars in debt that is based on selling things that people usually only buy with discretionary funds is rocking a solid business model.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

McCartney 3

 


Sometimes you just want to get away and go back to a time when things made sense, like when Paul McCartney was able to put out albums full of music any time he wanted to:

Paul McCartney released his debut solo album McCartney in 1970. McCartney II followed in 1980. It’s 2020, and, today, Macca has officially announced that a new album called McCartney III is on the way. It’s out December 11 via Capitol. Check out the album cover below.

Paul McCartney wrote, produced, and performed McCartney III, which got recorded earlier this year in Sussex, England. “I was living lockdown life on my farm with my family and I would go to my studio every day,” McCartney said in a press release. He continued:

I had to do a little bit of work on some film music and that turned into the opening track and then when it was done I thought what will I do next? I had some stuff I’d worked on over the years but sometimes time would run out and it would be left half-finished so I started thinking about what I had. Each day I’d start recording with the instrument I wrote the song on and then gradually layer it all up, it was a lot of fun. It was about making music for yourself rather than making music that has to do a job. So, I just did stuff I fancied doing. I had no idea this would end up as an album.

McCartney’s last studio album was 2018’s Egypt Station. Earlier this year, he reissued the 1997 album Flaming Pie.

If there was ever a year when we needed something solid and meaningful, this is that year.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Fake It Flowers


There is nothing retro, fake or contrived about Beabadobee:

Two years ago, Beabadobee released ‘Coffee’, a spindly tale recorded in her bedroom in London. Armed with an acoustic guitar and a love for lo-fi heroes Daniel Johnston and Elliot Smith, its lullaby melodies and sweet lyrics of devotion (“I like it when you hold me tight”) depicted an attempt to abate the roughest of hangovers. The results are fairly unremarkable, a tentative display of the diary entry songwriting the teenager was beginning to explore. 

 Earlier this year, a dreary TikTok-favoured remix by Canadian lo-fi artist Powfu – in which he samples the twee chorus – brought the song and 20-year-old Beatrice Kristi to a wider audience; it was played a reported 4.1 billion times in March 2020. But the mantra for Bea has changed. No longer satisfied with playing it understated or the idea that her voice should be subdued, she’s got the guitars plugged in, the drums heavy and the influences outrageously blatant. As she put it at this year’s NME Awards: “We need more chicks on stage.”

The timing has been fortuitous. Finding inspiration in the home environment is now commonplace for the foreseeable future, but last year’s gnarly ‘Space Cadet’ EP saw her embrace her inner rock star beyond air guitaring in the bedroom mirror. The unashamed ‘I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus’ saw her pay her dues to the Pavement frontman, while Sonic Youth got a stylistic look-in (though no name check) on ‘She Plays Bass’ and ‘Are You Sure’. A handful of headline shows – one had enough ticket requests to fill Brixton Academy, not the 150-capacity upstairs room of the London pub in which they were actually held – saw her capitalise on the hype, as did arena support slots with Dirty Hit label mates The 1975.

Getting five stars from the NME is still a big deal so that's why I wanted to highlight this brand new artist. Music is about looking forward and looking for new artists. It's great when your favorite band from thirty years ago gets a chance to put out new music. It's even better when you can mix all that in with someone who is a legitimate artistic talent.  

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Generosity of Paul Heaton

 


Not all heroes wear capes:

Paul Heaton, as unlikely as it might sound, is the new Orange Goblin. In 2016, when Classic Rock magazine was shut down by publisher Team Rock, Ben Ward of the aforementioned London hard rock stalwarts launched a JustGiving fundraiser to help the laid-off staff. A few months later Classic Rock was rescued by Future Publishing, but the substantial sum raised by those sleeveless Samaritans helped keep some of the country’s most dedicated and talented AC/DC fans in denim patches and bandanas that lean Christmas.

In the same pay-it-back spirit, while the remaining rock press was pouring out a Courvoisier for Q, indie-pop hero Paul Heaton – as the magazine’s final editor Ted Kessler revealed on Twitter last week – dug deep to make a sizeable donation to the venerable mag’s staff and writers and became an instant pandemic superhero. It wasn’t Heaton’s first behind-the-scenes donation to the greater good either; in 2017 he revealed that he’d once offered to nationalise The Beautiful South’s back catalogue, passing on any further profits to the nation’s coffers. Morrissey might claim the union flag is emblazoned across his heart, but would he have it similarly stitched across his wallet?

Heaton’s act was also a sign that the hippies were right – selflessness, as rare a quality in the world of music as a sober breakfast, really will make you more content in the long run. Rock history has countless examples of kind-hearted financial karma paying off. Elton John and George Michael, famed for their unspoken charity, will forever be ‘much-loved superstars’ while Bono and Gary Barlow, famed for their labyrinthine offshore tax arrangements, will always be shady shysters no matter how many Pudseys they help shift.

You have to bear in mind that the music press in England is largely made up of the most vicious gang of jackals who have ever been unleashed into polite society. A full one third probably has rabies. This act of generosity it typical Paul Heaton. He can describe what's wrong with the world with a few lines and then he'll give you a reason to appreciate it for what it is, practically without effort.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

You Lost Your Gig For Being Stupid


I don't know why I have to even write this, but if you do stupid shit in public, you can lose opportunities that would help you bring your music to people who don't know who you are:

Country artist Morgan Wallen has been pulled from his forthcoming performance spot on Saturday Night Live after videos of him at bars and parties without a mask went viral. 

 

Over the weekend, videos surfaced on TikTok of Wallen Tuscaloosa, Alabama at bars and a house party, without wearing a mask. One video also showed him kissing someone who had their mask around their neck.

Wallen should be given a second chance. I don't have a problem with Saturday Night Live doing what it felt it had to do to act on behalf of the greater good. Artists who set a poor example in the public sphere have to feel the sting of lost revenue now and then. There's a reason why you hire a manager when you're trying to negotiate this sort of thing--you have to listen to someone who isn't afraid to tell you that you're full of shit.

I think Wallen heard from someone who gave him spectacularly good advice:

“I’m not positive for COVID, but my actions this past weekend were pretty short-sighted and they have obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams,” he said.

“I respect the show’s decision because I know I put them in jeopardy, and I take ownership for this.”

No idea if Wallen has the ability to move past this and continue onwards and upwards. No idea what kind of artist he is, and I'm not going to make a value judgement on his music or his ability to entertain. In order to be considered for Saturday Night Live, you have to be ready, music business-wise, to handle an immense amount of public attention and be ready to sell music. 

The impact of a performance on a program like that is one that cannot be ignored. It can bring you an avalanche of sales and might mean the difference between a tour where you're playing theaters instead of small venues. It can also break you and humiliate you.

If there's a moral to the story, it's this. Wear a fucking mask. It could save your life and the lives of the people around you.




Friday, October 2, 2020

(What's the Story) Morning Glory?

 


We are at that point in human history when an album of songs turning twenty-five years old leads to discussions about how important it was and what it all meant. If you put out an album in 1970, we're talking a fifty year anniversary and so on. It's a curious way to do things.

(What's the Story) Morning Glory? is as complex as the punctuation found in the title. It's one of the greatest rock and roll albums ever. Full stop on that.

It was the thing that delivered the songs that were meant to be played live. As a band, Oasis may have been average in size and ability but they were a tremendous band when put in front of a football stadium crowd.

Oasis inspires love or contempt as soon as it comes up as a topic. I am in the camp that prefers to live in a world where being an Oasis fan is perfectly fine as long as you maintain your decorum. I don't hate bands so bashing someone else's legacy is of no concern. As soon as their 1994 debut came out, I had that album on cassette and I couldn't believe how good they were. This was the gold standard for recorded music in the 1990s. Each and every song was meticulously recorded and performed. You won't find a single clunker on the first two Oasis albums and if you look at every single released, the B-sides were often better or just as good as the songs that were not released as singles. 

Incredibly, they only released four of the songs on the album as singles. We're talking about a record that has now sold 22 million copies worldwide and has established itself as the high water mark of the phenomenon known as Britpop. 

I remember how uniquely structured it was. It kicks off with a false start and blows through a murderer's row of songs that are unbelievable in their quality and structure. There are two mini-tracks that break up the flow of the album. There are over a dozen B-sides that cannot be dismissed or ignored.

It was an essential album in an era where everything is disposable. People who ignore it don't know what they're missing.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Amanda Shires

 

This is a benefit single and is worth a moment of your time.

Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell have teamed up for a powerful new duet released in conjunction with International Safe Abortion Day, with all proceeds going to the Yellowhammer Fund, an "abortion fund and reproductive justice organization serving Alabama and the Deep South."

 [...]

Laurie Bertram Roberts, executive director of Yellowhammer Fund, added, "'The Problem’ tells a story that’s rarely heard or discussed—especially by southerners—and we are grateful that Amanda is shining a light to keep the conversation going. With the 2020 election looming, we want to continue destigmatizing abortion and we hope that normalizing conversations around it will help folks feel more comfortable seeking the essential health care they need… We at Yellowhammer Fund deeply appreciate that Amanda understands why accessible abortion for all is so essential and we’re beyond thrilled to join her in this venture."

 "The Problem" is a gorgeous, melancholic, alt-country song that leaves its impact on first listen. Its message comes through loud and clear, and Amanda has crafted the perfect musical backdrop to match.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Michael Kiwanuka Wins the Mercury Prize

 

This is very well deserved:

Singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka has won the 2020 Mercury Prize for his soul-searching third record, Kiwanuka.

A lush, immersive album of politicised soul, it sees the star exploring themes of self-doubt, faith and civil rights.

Released last November, Kiwanuka beat best-sellers like Dua Lipa's Future Nostalgia and Stormzy's Heavy Is The Head to win the £25,000 prize.

"It's blown my mind," said the singer. "Music is all I've ever wanted to do, so I'm over the moon."

Kiwanuka won on his third attempt, having been nominated for each of his previous albums: 2012's Home Again and 2016's Love & Hate.

"I was kind of resigned to the fact [that] if I don't win one this year, probably I'll never win one," he told BBC 6 Music.

Watching someone win something they've always wanted is rewarding in and of itself. In the world of music prizes, I would put the Mercury Prize above a Grammy because I don't think there's any appreciation for artistry in winning one. There is an aspect to winning the Mercury Prize that says that your artistic achievement is paramount; we don't care if your record didn't sell many copies. In the case of Kiwanuka, his album was not a runaway best seller but it landed with authority. It is a dense, multi-layered effort that rises to the moment and to the occasion where we find ourselves.

And it's well deserved because we need to hear someone sing from their soul. No plastic emotions, no cutting corners to let the business people move some widgets. Just old fashioned art in the recorded sounds.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Blue Hearts


Blue Hearts is the new album from the great Bob Mould and he makes one hell of a resistance fighter:

“All I have to do is wake up in the morning and take a look at what’s happened while I was sleeping — that’s enough to scare me every day into saying something,” Mould tells SPIN.

His outrage is especially potent on single “American Crisis.” He wrote the song two years ago during the sessions for his previous album, 2019’s Sunshine Rock, but decided it was too dark to fit that project’s more optimistic outlook. However, the track felt too relevant to pass over again.

“American Crisis” reminded him of being a young musician trying to figure out his identity in the early ‘80s. While not normally one for nostalgia, Mould has been in a particularly reflective state: He recently helped compile the 24-CD box set Distortion: 1989-2019 (out Oct. 2), which chronicles his 30-year post-Hรผsker Dรผ career, including his work as a solo artist and a member of influential alt-rock band Sugar.

How many artists are putting out 25 CDs worth of music this year?

Everything that I've heard so far is classic Mould. The power and the prestige that he brings to a straightforward protest song is enough to make you want to venture out into the world and wave a sign in some asshole's face. This is the energy we need right now and this is the moment for definitive statements. You can't sit on the fucking fence anymore. You have to get engaged and you have to start giving a shit about the world. Bland resignation and indie hipster detachment is what put us in this place to begin with.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Sometimes the People You Like Are Idiots

 


Ian Brown and Noel Gallagher have revealed themselves to be ignorant jackasses and that's the whole truth and nothing but the truth:

Noel Gallagher has said he refuses to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic, complaining that it is a violation of his liberty.

Speaking on the Matt Morgan podcast, the former Oasis guitarist said: “It’s not a law. There’s too many fucking liberties being taken away from us now … I choose not to wear one. If I get the virus it’s on me, it’s not on anyone else … it’s a piss-take. There’s no need for it … They’re pointless.”

Gallagher said he had resisted calls to wear a mask on a train and in shops. “I was going up to Manchester the other week and some guy’s going, ‘Can you put your mask on,’ on the train, ‘because the transport police will get on and fine you a thousand pounds. But you don’t have to put it on if you’re eating.’ So I was saying: Oh right, this killer virus that’s sweeping through the train is gonna come and attack me, but see me having a sandwich and go, leave him, he’s having his lunch?

Oh, and there's also this gem:

Gallagher is not the only Mancunian indie star to have voiced doubt over the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown tweeted: “No lockdown no tests no tracks no masks no vax,” later adding: “So im a Conspiracy Theorist HA! a term invented by the lame stream media to discredit those who can smell and see through the government/media lies and propaganda #researchanddestroy.”
You can safely ignore their advice as far as it relates to protecting your health and staying alive. Wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and get tested if you can. If you test positive, do what you can to avoid spreading the virus.

I mean, what a bunch of fucking idiots. We're still having this debate?

Sunday, September 13, 2020

John Fogerty Explains Why Trump is a Fortunate Son

 

[On] September 10th, Donald “Bone Spurs” Trump held a campaign rally in Freeland, Michigan. He de-planed to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s anti-war classic “Fortunate Son”, and if you’ve ever paid the tiniest bit of attention to the lyrics, you’ll agree with singer John Fogerty that it’s a “confounding” choice.

The moment was recorded in a tweet by Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel, who called it “an entry for the ‘nobody listened to the lyrics’ hall of fame.” The tweet quickly went viral, and today Fogerty issued his response. In a Facebook video called “Meaning behind Fortunate Son,” the legendary rocker broke things down so even a very stable genius could understand.
In Fogerty's own words, the comparison is devastating:
“The very first lines of ‘Fortunate Son’ are, ‘Some folks are born made to wave the flag, ooh their red, white and blue. But when the band plays ‘Hail to the Chief,’ they point the cannon at you.’ Well that’s exactly what happened recently in Lafayette Park. When the President decided to take a walk across the park, he cleared out the area using Federal troops so that he could stand in front of St. John’s church with a Bible. It’s a song I could’ve written now. So I find it confusing, I would say, that that the president has chosen to use my song for his political rallies, when in fact it seems like he is probably the fortunate son.”

There's nothing ambiguous about a John Fogerty song. He lays it out for you. The idiot who played that song before the Trump rally, thinking it would stick it to the libs has to be some sort of unwitting resistance fighter. That's the only thing that makes sense, other than the fact that Trump and his ilk know nothing about American culture.

I find it striking that there aren't already a million kids packed into the open spaces of Washington D.C., demanding an end to the Trump regime. In Fogerty's day, someone like himself had to put on the uniform and be subject to the draft for a war that was opposed at home. That war had to end because the country lost the political will to continue it and this was largely due to the coffins that were coming home and the young people who protested it.

We are in the middle of a pandemic that has killed far more Americans than the entirety of the Vietnam War and yet, here we are in relative comfort and security, watching our democracy die before our eyes. There are protests being met with the most severe repercussions imaginable and this has not caused more people to step out into the fray. Trump is driving people away from the political process by making it as sickening as possible. 

I have to believe that the votes will be there in November. To consider any other possibility is too difficult.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The World is Always Going to Push Back



System Of A Down drummer John Dolmayan has hit back at fans who have criticised his controversial political opinions.

The musician sparked outrage back in June when he spoke out in praise of Donald Trump, describing him as “the greatest friend to minorities” in the US. He later targeted Black Lives Matter, saying that the movement “never had legitimacy” and calling it a “propaganda tool” for the Democrat Party.

Taking to Instagram yesterday (September 8), Dolmayan shared a negative online review of his Las Vegas comic book store, Torpedo Comics, in which a man named Jeff Jones called the drummer “a fascist sympathiser who pedals [sic] in racist conspiracy theories”.

Dolmayan can say and believe whatever he wants. He can put all of his beliefs out there and he can submit them to the marketplace of ideas. What happens after that is entirely up to the people who can either buy in to those ideas or reject them. 

Why is he surprised to find out that nobody wants to listen to his pro-Trump bullshit? Does he think that what he believes is beyond reproach?

Musicians who have liberal or centrist beliefs are subjected to criticism and online nastiness all the time. Standing up against racism has literally ended musical careers. Taking a stand has usually meant being savaged by the people in your fanbase who don't agree with what you're saying.
I mean, grow up, dude.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

David Byrne is Not Racist


I am not a huge fan of what David Byrne did to Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth when they were in Talking Heads. I am pretty sure that I fall on Chris and Tina's side of things when it comes to how they experienced David's unique form of human interaction.

However, I will defend David from any charge that he is racist. I'll take up that cause any day of the week. 
Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has apologized for wearing black and brownface in an unearthed promotional video, calling it a "major mistake in judgement."
In the clip for the rock band's concert film 1984 "Stop Making Sense," the star is shown interviewing himself, while donning black and brown face to impersonate several non-White people.
The 68-year-old musician took to social media on Tuesday to express his regret after the vintage clip resurfaced online.
"To watch myself in the various characters, including black and brownface, I acknowledge it was a major mistake in judgment that showed a lack of real understanding," he wrote in series of posts shared on his Twitter page.

"It's like looking in a mirror and seeing someone else -- you're not, or were not, the person you thought you were."
Virtually every attempt to wear black or brown face is reprehensible and ignorant, and so I commend him for apologizing. In the context of Stop Making Sense, this was an inclusive set of songs that traversed multiple genres of music, much of it steeped in other cultures. You could criticize them for appropriating those cultures, but you'd be wrong. Talking Heads brought people onto the stage with them that would normally have been excluded.

I think what David was going for was a more inclusive, shared experience that was meant to bring people together to enjoy things they would not otherwise have been exposed to. We know from Chris's book that the band added musicians so that they could bring in a wider audience and make what started out to be four white people playing an eclectic mix of musical genres into a truly integrated and inclusive experience. There is no punching down here.

And it is true that he was and still is a person with quirks and strange ways of behaving and interacting with people. I'm not a doctor, so I'm not going to speculate on that. I know what has been written about him, and I don't think that's the way to frame this. What I think is more true is that there was no harmful intent, no desire to render another group of people as irrelevant or to make it so that they are no a part of the songs or the presentation. This seems like an awkward effort to elevate and hear other voices and not much more than that.

Now, will people forgive him for it? I sure hope they will and I know there are other artists who need to have this reckoning.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Mark Mothersbaugh Survived COVID-19


Please go read this article about how DEVO's Mark Mothersbaugh survived a harrowing bout of COVID-19. I'm going to clip one little factoid out of it here:
From his wife Anita's perspective, the virus steamrolled through her husband’s system. “It went from, ‘I don’t feel good’ on Tuesday to an ambulance to Cedars on Saturday. It was terrifying.”
Very worth your while. This is excellent journalism from Randall Roberts.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Sue the Hell Out of Them


Leonard Cohen isn't around to sue the Republican National Committee, but his estate is here to sue them into fucking oblivion.
Leonard Cohen’s estate is exploring “legal options” following the unauthorized use of “Hallelujah” during Thursday night’s Republic National Convention.
In a statement, Brian J. Monaco, president and global chief marketing officer of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, said that “on the eve of the finale of the convention, representatives from the Republican National Committee contacted us regarding obtaining permission for a live performance of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. We declined their request.”
I don't know what's more infuriating about this. Is it because the GOP asked and were denied and played the song anyway? Or is it because the Republicans tried to appropriate the strength and the majesty of this significant piece of pop culture history and steal the beauty of the song and the words?

It's easy to forgive a mistake. When someone picks a song that they can barely sing or uses music that they have a sentimental attachment to for something that doesn't quite match up, you can forgive their desire to do something right but with the wrong pieces. That is not what happened here.

Does the fact that Kate McKinnon sang the song in 2016 just after the election have anything to do with it? Were the Republicans trolling everyone by using it? I don't know.

There is nothing about Trump's presidency that would lead someone to utter the words Halleluja unless they were passing judgement on the end of it. There is no comfort in using this song as the benediction for what amounted to a four day pageant of evil and white grievance. It was used inappropriately by people who do not understand this culture. You don't use this song unless it is meant to express something serious and meaningful. The end of the GOP convention was the culmination of days and days of ignorance and bullshit. That is not where this song needs to be played.

The words that are sung in this song do not match up to the fascist pageantry of self-pity that we witnessed this past week.

Anyway, I sincerely hope that there are a half-dozen extremely capable entertainment industry lawyers who have the time and energy to grind the living shit out of the RNC for using this song in a lawless way. If they need a witness impact statement, they'll have millions to choose from, millions of people who will say that using Leonard's song was an abomination against decency and humanity.

Monday, August 24, 2020

I Wanna Destroy You


This is the sort of thing I can get behind. 

Out 8/29 for @recordstoreday’s RSD Drop: 40th anniversary gatefold double 45 of #TheSoftBoys’ ๐—œ ๐—ช๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ป๐—ฎ ๐——๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜† ๐—ฌ๐—ผ๐˜‚ single and ๐—ก๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—ณ๐˜ ๐—•๐—ผ๐˜†๐˜€. Latter includes two @RobynHitchcock-penned originals & a #SydBarrett cover. recordstoreday.com/upc/6344572693

A wonderful double single by The Soft Boys, courtesy of one of the best record labels in America, Yep Roc.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Fishcotheque


The Jazz Butcher see their Creation Records era albums released on this thing called vinyl for Record Store Day and this is a good thing. Any release of Fishcotheque into the main stream is worthy of words and links and things.

IN an of itself, re-releasing records like this allows for a new generation to be exposed to great music that was consumed in the 1980s. This particular record was a late-1980s miracle and a stunning reinvention of the loose and shaggy band that crawled out of Northampton. No longer using Max Eider's guitar and not content to just conquer the world, this was essential listening.

Having ended up on Creation Records, which I took as a bit of a validation, I was keen to get as far away from all those "w" words that had followed my group around, and to make it as clear as I could that this was a rock & roll thing, not some "eccentricity". I had my shades and I had my fringed suede jacket and I had the Weather Prophets rhythm section.
In the last flickering days before Marriage and Acid House would change the world Kizzy and I hung out in his dealer's flat in Islington and WALKED to the studio in Waterloo everyday. The sessions were chaotic and funny. At one stage Kizzy arrived 56 hours late for a mix, having been held by the Police under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
David has this down right as a sort of self-justificatory thing. What disappoints me is that it came out sounding so SMOOTH and tidy. I'd hoped it would be more harsh and mad. I guess perhaps it's the saxes, which, I recall, enraged some reviewers. Sonic Boom does good things on Susie (that's 4 of them big ballads at least, now), that was more the idea. Still, not to slag O'Higgins, who began a lengthy association with the JBC on this recording.
This sold rather well, which was pleasing, and seems widely liked. I can't fuck with that, but I had hoped that it would be more a "change of direction" than it was. But I like Fishcotheque; I wish there more records as good as it.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Distortion


If there's anyone out there who deserves a career-spanning box set, it has to be Bob Mould. 

This has been a hell of a journey. I remember when we received Bob's first solo album at the shitty FM radio station where I worked, briefly, in 1989. Of course, we didn't play anything off of it. That's a shame because it was chock full of great songs that should have broken Bob to a massive audience.

This box set will take you on that journey through the post-Husker Du world. Bob went down every possible path to greatness that there is, and then he doubled back and did everything his way, the more difficult way, the right way. There's no one with more integrity than him, no one. There's no one who has worked harder and done more to bring their art to the people. When it was time to expand the reach of the songs and the strength of what he had to say, he adopted the band format and called it Sugar. When it was time to write personal songs of struggle and pain, Bob went back to the solo albums that have marked his tremendous output.

There are no clunkers to muck up this box set. If you've followed Bob through the years, you'll see what I mean. There are no blind alleys. Bob has consistently written and recorded essential music for as long as he's been putting himself out in front of people.

Anyway, wow. What a great idea. No holding back. Here it all is, and here are some bonus features you may not have heard. Can't wait for this.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Mark Kozelek


Sometimes you cannot separate people from their art:
A forthcoming UK tour by Sun Kil Moon, fronted by US indie-rock musician Mark Kozelek who is also known for the group Red House Painters and a solo career, has been cancelled following accusations of sexual assault made against him last week.
Promoter TEG MJR cancelled the tour dates in November 2020 and February 2021, but did not comment further.
In allegations published by Pitchfork, three women have made claims of various sexual incidents, including an accusation of non-consensual sex. Kozelek has not commented on the allegations, and, according to Pitchfork, did not respond to more than a dozen requests for comment made over a period of months. Following the allegations, Kozelek’s US press representative told the Guardian that he had not had contact with Kozelek, and did not respond to further inquiries.
According to Pitchfork, one woman, using the pseudonym Andrea, claims she was 19 years old when Kozelek, now 53, invited her to his hotel room during a 2014 tour and “pretty much just pounced on me … I didn’t have the courage to be like, no, that wasn’t OK, and that’s not what I wanted to do.” She says they continued to have a brief sexual relationship, sometimes consensually, sometimes when “the lines [were] really blurred … our sexual relationship, every encounter was him trying to find another thing he could do, and not in a way where he asks for consent or permission.”
Another woman, Sarah Catherine Golden, alleged that when she also went to a hotel room with Kozelek, in 2017, he lay down on her after she refused his advances. Golden accuses Kozelek of masturbating in front of her, grabbing her, trying to kiss her and forcing her hand on to his penis.
Pitchfork also reported having spoke to an unnamed female musician who has accused Kozelek of having “acted inappropriately” in a hotel room with her in 2014.
Kozelek is known for an acclaimed series of albums dating back to 1992. He has sometimes used combative language against journalists and other musicians. In 2015, he referred to Guardian journalist Laura Snapes as a “bitch” who “totally wants to fuck me” in an improvised song during a London concert. In 2014, he wrote a song attacking the group the War on Drugs, having previously castigated them on stage.
It is possible that Kozelek will seek help for what is wrong with him. He may admit his mistakes and accept punishment for what he is done. He may do what it takes to redeem himself.
Let's hope he is held accountable for the things that he has done. But given how he has behaved, this is not likely.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

UB40


If you read this article, you'll learn a lot about UB40. Currently, there are two competing versions of the band that will never be reconciled. And anyone who says that they got into a fight with Ali Campbell is a lying jackass.
Which controversial Supreme Court judge allegedly got into a fight after a UB40 gig in 1985 with an Ali Campbell lookalike?
“I can’t remember his name. Are you on about the American who thought he was having a fight with me after a concert? It’s complete nonsense.”
WRONG. It’s Brett Kavanaugh who, as a college student, was reported to be involved in an altercation with a man some thought was you.

“That’s him! It’s just bollocks. I don’t go for drinks across the road after a show (Laughs). I’m back at my hotel. And you know, I would have battered him anyway!”
Any other memorable false stories involving you?

“After UB40 played the Montreux Jazz Festival once, the newspapers reported that us and Depeche Mode had gone on a boat that sunk. Robin [Campbell, guitarist] was quoted as saying: ‘And then the rest of the band jumped in to save the beer’, which wasn’t true. I couldn’t see us hanging out with Depeche Mode back in the day.”
It's that same old story. Start a band with your brother, have a falling out, never get back together.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Here's Your New Superhero Film


Creation Records was one of the most important music labels in Great Britain, and it was helmed by a red-haired punk who had superhero leanings and special powers we're only just now beginning to understand:
Alan McGee has given an update on his forthcoming Creation Stories biopic, revealing that it is currently “getting finished”.

The Creation founder’s 2013 autobiography, Creation Stories – Riots, Raves and Running a Record Label, has been adapted for the Irvine Welsh-penned film, which was executive produced by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) and directed by Nick Moran (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels).
In a new interview with NME, McGee said: “It’s literally getting finished this week. They’re just trying to work out how to release it. I want them to just bang it online. Get it on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Sky, because who’s going to the fucking cinema now?

This superhero understood how to find great bands and get their records into the hands of people who would love them and never abandon them. Everything I have from Creation I have hung on to, and I will never let any of it go.

It takes a superhero to discover great music. These are uncanny powers, not to be underestimated. McGee has those powers and he cannot teach them or share them. He is the man for our times and I am hoping people get to see him in a new light.