Saturday, March 6, 2021

Mumford & Sons Needs a New Banjo Player


This is the intersection of everything in our culture that is stupid. Here you have Winston Marshall, aka, some banjo playing twat in Mumford & Sons endorsing a book by serial fabulist and white nationalist supporter Andy Ngo.

You can't find anyone dumber than these two. You can't miss making your mark on the culture better than this. It's like the perfect combination of being blissfully ignorant and wantonly stupid in public.

There are lots of banjo players out there, when you think about it, and I never do.

Friday, March 5, 2021

You Have to Save Yourselves


Music venues around the world are struggling because of COVID-19. We are on the cusp of getting through this but we need to hang on and get everyone vaccinated. That means that we must be ready to support small business, continue to wear masks and keep ourselves socially distant.  This is true in America and Britain and everywhere else. 

Here, in the States, we have initiatives that are working through Congress that will push vaccinations and support the small businesses that are struggling. That's the proper role of government. In Britain, the government has said eh, fuck it to playing a proper role and they're going to let the music industry dry up and evaporate because the Tories don't give a shit.

Liam Gallagher is doing what he can, but he can't save everyone:

Liam Gallagher has teamed up with Glasgow venue The Priory to help it raise vital venue-saving funds.

The former Oasis frontman has donated a number of items to a special prize draw, which is aiming to raise money to help ensure the survival of the influential Scottish venue which has been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

Before anyone says, it's the least he could do because he's rich, remember that nobody is making any money right now except for the vinyl records they sell and the eight bucks you get a year from now after Spotify plays your song a billion times. 

It should not be left to artists to save the venues but that's where we are. It should be a change in government policy and a grant of assistance that takes care of all the venues and businesses as well as reforms that make it so that Brexit doesn't bankrupt working musicians. 

I guess, at some point, everyone will have to leave the British Isles and relocate to America if they want to play live. That certainly seems like a possibility. Each and every artist now has to figure out how to save themselves. How did we get into this mess?

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Evan Dando, Live at Walgreens


Singer and songwriter Evan Dando is not on a nationwide tour of Walgreens but he is in the vicinity of Falmouth, Massachusetts and they just found his wallet so it's all good.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Marilyn Manson Has Been Getting Away With it For a Long Time


Brian Warner has been getting away with this sort of thing for years and it's time to admit that there is a massive problem here:

Bianca Allaine has joined the growing list of women who have accused Marilyn Manson of abuse. The actress claims that the shock rocker forcibly kissed her when she was 16 in 1995, and then engaged in a “terrifying” sexual relationship with her when she was 19. She also divulged that she had plans to speak with the FBI about her experiences.

Allaine, who has mostly acted in B-movies like Zombinatrix and Nightmare Next Door, told her story to The Sun, explicitly detailing a disturbing experience with the singer. “Marilyn Manson might be scary, but Brian Warner is the most terrifying person I’ve ever met in my life,” said Allaine, referencing the rocker’s real name. “He’s evil.

She added, “We were often never alone on the tour bus, and his fetish back then was to watch people have sex with me or do things to me. A lot of times I didn’t want to have sex with these guys, but he was like, ‘Please, please, I really need it, I need to see it.’ He would masturbate and if he didn’t finish he’d want to have sex with me afterwards, he would bite me so hard.

The actress continued, “I was like a little puppet that he would play with, I feel he used me, 100 percent, he didn’t care about me. It was like, ‘How low can I get someone to go to please me?’ That’s his M.O, he wants to degrade you. And he gets pleasure out of that. He’s a sadist.

If someone had done something in the early 1990s to stop Warner from abusing women, we wouldn't be having this conversation right now. The music industry is designed to allow men to abuse women if that's what they are inclined to do and that was never more true when Warner was starting out. We are just now scratching the surface of all the shit that went on and it's sickening. 

You can be well assured that he had a manager and that person helped enable what was going on. Warner had a music label and they probably knew what was happening as well. He had publicists and tour managers and supporting musicians and all of them knew he was doing this shit and they did nothing about it, afraid to lose their cash cow. This guy was making money for people and they turned a blind eye to the fact that he was a criminal. The only difference between Warner and a guy in prison for sexual assault was the fake veneer of respectability that a music career gives to someone who gets off on hurting other human beings.

Everyone knew what he was and they were okay with it. That's the problem here. How many others are there? Who else was doing this? Because it wasn't just this asshole. It was an entire industry designed around permissive behavior.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Justice is Served

New Jersey needs to find some better cops:

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey said Wednesday that they were dropping drunken-driving charges against musician Bruce Springsteen.

Mr. Springsteen was arrested on Nov. 14 by federal law enforcement rangers in Gateway National Recreation Area. He had faced charges of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and for reckless driving, according to prosecutors. He was also charged with consuming alcohol in a closed area.

During a hearing Wednesday, prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey said they were dropping the two driving-related charges because tests showed Mr. Springsteen’s blood-alcohol level was under the legal limit. Federal Judge Anthony R. Mautone subsequently dismissed the two charges during the hearing.

During the hearing, Mr. Springsteen pleaded guilty to the third charge of consuming alcohol in a closed area. Judge Mautone imposed a $500 fine on Mr. Springsteen for the charge, citing the rock star’s mostly clean driving record and lack of previous criminal convictions.

If it were any other elderly male in that jurisdiction, he would have gotten off with a warning. I don't think he was treated fairly at the time of his arrest. This was largely a "fuck you" from law enforcement to a recording artist who has been holding cops accountable for decades with a consistent message of "apply the law fairly."

That's all this was. Springsteen could live anywhere in the world and he chooses to stay in New Jersey. That should say something about his character and his belief that you should not be a hypocrite in your life or your art.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Bring on the Lucie (Freda People)



Former The Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft has released a cover of John Lennon's "Bring on the Lucie (Freda Peeple)" which was originally on 1973's Mind Games. Ashcroft recorded it at Abbey Road Studios as well as California's Redtone Studios in East Palo Alto, and worked with frequent collaborator Chris Potter who has worked with Ashcroft since The Verve’s Urban Hymns. It sticks pretty close to the original but Richard brings his own flair to the overtly political song, not to mention his distinctive voice.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Steve Vai


Over forty years ago, Steve Vai had a mental breakdown. Because of the shame and stigma that surrounds these types of things, it seems like he hasn't really felt like he could talk about it:

Appearing on the Cassius Morris Show, Vai said: “Things came to a head for me when I was touring with Frank Zappa and I was in Montreal in 1980, and I just had a complete, sort of, breakdown, anxiety attack, that lasted a year and a half.”

“It was panic, it was all fear, there’s a fear that was in the background that just overcame me. And I didn’t know what it was. I wasn’t doing drugs, nothing. I harboured a fear of going insane when I was younger.”

Later in the interview Vai discussed his difficulties reconciling his fame as a guitarist with his mental health: “I love music, I love the idea of playing music and all, but I was under the impression that if you become famous you would go insane,” he said.

What I think we're missing here is a chance to ask Vai how he dealt with this challenge to his health and what he's doing today to take care of himself. We attach so much baggage to the idea that you're supposed to always be perfect. It would be better if we could make it so that people could talk openly about these issues and not have to wait decades to revisit what went on.

IN any event, please support Backline. They provide mental health services to people in the music business.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Brexit Threatens to Destroy the British Music Industry


There may be a day when you won't be able to see musicians from Great Britain continue as recording and touring artists. The British Tory government has decided that getting rid of an entire industry is fine as long as their bet on Brexit pays off.

Figures from the music industry have hit back at the government’s response in a recent debate about the potential for visa-free touring for artists and crew wishing to tour Europe post-Brexit.

After over 280,000 people signed a petition calling for the government to establish visa-free touring for artists and crew through EU member states after Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal failed to do so, the campaign was debated by MPs in Parliament yesterday (February 8).

Cross-party MPs repeated fears that the new added huge costs to future live music toursof the continent would prevent rising and developing artists from being able to afford it, as well as claims from European promoters that they’re likely to book fewer UK acts for events and that a great deal of jobs and income for crew, haulage and production will be lost to the EU with operations based in Britain now unviable.

Another repeated sentiment was that Brexit only stood to damage the UK’s “soft power” as a leading force in music, and that visa-free travel throughout the EU for artists and crew would be the easiest solution.

After the UK government said they put the responsibility for the lack of arrangements for artists at the foot of the EU and the European Commission then denied that they had rejected the UK’s “ambitious proposals”, yesterday’s debate saw the Conservative Minister for Digital and Culture in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media Caroline Dineage reject the idea that negotiating visa-free touring was an option and repeated that “the UK pushed for ambitious arrangements” but claim that “quite simply the EU rejected this and there was no counter offer”.

Modern artists can't survive on Spotify checks alone. They need to play live, they need to sell vinyl records (which is weird, but yeah, people do pay $29.99 for something that goes on the shelf and never gets played), and they need to survive in this very strange period of transition and change. The government should subsidize artists and help them get through the COVID-19 era. This is true in Great Britain, all throughout Europe, America and wherever else live music and recording artists are struggling. 

The government of Boris Johnson is hell bent on destroying the country's music industry. There's a cultural thing at work here. Artists lean left in terms of politics and, if you're a Tory, you're sick and tired of widely admired people telling everyone what a piece of shit you are. That's no reason to eliminate an entire industry.

Friday, February 5, 2021

God Bless the Go-Gos


The Go-Go's were the bane of uptight Catholics and humorless stiffs, a band who went to number one and said nah, we're sick of this shit. They fought with each other and did drugs because that's what everyone did. They were probably the loudest band of the 1980s. I'm a sucker for blue vinyl and God Bless the Go-Go's is coming out in that format.

What I really like is that the digital download version will give you bonus tracks and help you relive the rebirth of a great American band.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Endless Arcade


Here's a little something about the new Teenage Fanclub album:

Teenage Fanclub's anticipated 11th album, Endless Arcade was set to be released at the beginning of March but due to production delays, the album will now be out April 30 via Merge in North America and PeMa in the UK/EU. Similarly, the band's UK and European tour has also been rescheduled, with a few dates in England and Scotland happening in September, and then the bulk of the tour moving to Spring 2022.

On the brighter side, the Fannies have just shared a new single from Endless Arcade, a shimmering Norman Blake number titled "I'm More Inclined," full of the jangly guitars and lush harmonies we've come to expect from the band. “When we first started talking about getting songs together for a new album, Norman said, ‘I have one ready to go now!,’" says the band's other main songwriter Raymond McGinley. "That was ‘I’m More Inclined.’ He played it to us, we loved it, and that got us started on the whole thing that became Endless Arcade.” 

A slightly delayed album is still better than nothing. We're not talking about a Second Coming or a Chinese Democracy kind of delay, but you have to wonder if these production delays are going to affect other releases. 

I don't know if anyone should really count on touring and playing this year. Seems like another lost opportunity to get back to normal.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Brexit is Destroying the British Music Industry


There are some brilliant reactions to Brexit, but Fish says it best:

Despite widespread anger from artists and music industry bosses calling on the government to “take this seriously and fix it”, ministers rejected the idea this week – insisting that “taking back control” of the UK’s borders is their priority and that talks would only resume if Brussels “changes its mind”.

 Over 100 musicians, including the likes of Elton John, Liam Gallagher and Ed Sheeran, signed an open letter yesterday (January 20) criticising the government for their failure to support touring musicians in the Brexit deal.

 Now, Marillon’s Fish, real name Derek William Dick, has added his voice to the outrage, saying that Brexit will “destroy” UK artist’s ability to tour in the EU.


 Fish said: “I’m still reeling from the new regulations revealed by the UK Government just over 2 weeks ago regarding touring in the European Union post Brexit. I’ve been trying to make sense of it all from all the sometimes contradictory and often vague information available on various websites that are constantly being updated and working out how this affects my own business and career. It’s quite frankly confounding.

 “I’ve grown tired of hearing ‘So what did musicians do before we joined the EU then?’ In 1973 when the UK joined the EU I was 15 years old and the Global Music Industry revenues were around 5 billion US dollars.

 “By the turn of the century they were around $25 billion and today worth around $21 billion with the UK music industry generating $7.5 billion. That is a figure that doesn’t even take in the vast independent network or all the ancillary workers and bolt on industries that contribute hugely these days to the International music business.”

An entire industry is being destroyed. All of the bands, the people who support them, the independent labels, the venues where they play, all of that is being destroyed. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

No Glastonbury This Year


Well, this is very sad but not entirely unexpected. It is just not safe to have a festival of this size in our current state. You could make it a restricted event and have people vaccinated beforehand, but how do you plan for that in the summer when we are struggling in the middle part of January to understand the situation? Glastonbury is not an English only affair and Brexit probably complicates it behind the scenes. How does someone living in the Netherlands come to the festival this year with all of that headache ahead of them?

This will have the added effect of causing numerous music acts to miss another year of income. And that's devastating--it rolls downhill from the artists to everyone who supports the live music industry. There is no foreseeable effort to bail them out in England at all. The government there hates the music industry with a passion, and the feeling is mutual.

Again, very sad.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Neil Peart in Rolling Stone


It was interesting to read this article and see some updates about what has happened in the year that has gone by. The death of Neil Peart is a private matter for his friends and his family and I did not need to know any more about that. I don't consider myself someone who needs to stay on top of what's happening so I did not know about Alex Lifeson's health issues from earlier this year. On the whole, everyone seems so broken hearted. Very sad.

What bothers me about the idea of Rolling Stone doing a cover story on Peart is that, when he was alive and when he was making music, they didn't really give him the time of day or acclaim that he deserved until the later period of the band's existence. Certainly, in the period up to the mid-2000s, there was little if any respect paid to Peart, to Rush as a whole, and to the accomplishments of the band in the music business and as artists. 

They went decades without good reviews, television appearances, and the sort of appreciation that they had coming. How did that feel? Did they care? Did Peart care about any of that? I doubt he really did. But when you think of everyone connected to Rush and to the business of getting their music in front of people, yeah, I think it must have been difficult to see their year-in, year-out efforts dismissed and ignored.  I'm still shocked that they are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They outclass they place, they really do.

Rolling Stone in particular ignored the fact that Rush was tremendously successful both as recording artists and live performers. Their albums flew off the shelves; their tours were extensive and it is easy to see that, halfway through their career, they had already eclipsed so many "cooler" and "hipper" bands.

The deaths of Gord Downey and Neil Peart have driven a stake through the heart of the music community in Canada. Such tragic losses but so many great memories and great songs left behind.

Anyway, I don't need to see or read more. I have the records and that's enough. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Dear Madam Barnum


The third-to-last or second-to-last (however you want to count it) XTC album was called Nonsuch and it landed in the middle of my late college years. It was excellent and well liked but entirely a digital thing to me. It was probably the first XTC album that I acquired in a format other than vinyl record or cassette, but I probably can't even remember that correctly. It was a relative long time ago.

The third song on the album was Dear Madam Barnum. By this time in an XTC album, you have already been hit across the head with the opener and the follow-up and now it's time to stretch out and enjoy the back and forth of Andy's songs and Colin's songs.

At less than three minutes, this is meant to get you well into a cycle of exciting back and forth emotions.

I hope the music embeds, and I hope you realize that no one can explain an XTC song. You have to experience it for yourself. If I were to sit down and try to detail what's happening, I'd lose the plot and say something positively shitheaded and wrong because I have no idea what's going on. Someone's quitting their job as clown and I'm all for it, sad sack melodrama notwithstanding (my favorite kind).