Showing posts with label Music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Music. Show all posts

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.  

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.




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-Hüsker Dü 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.

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.

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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Remain in Love


You will learn a number of things from the new book by Chris Frantz. He has written Remain in Love about his time in Talking Heads and as a student and artist. This is really the Chris and Tina Weymouth version of things, and it is probably the definitive story of how David Byrne blew up a successful band because he's an asshole.
Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz has revealed what happened when the band finally split in 1991.
Speaking in his new biopic Remain In Love, the sticksman documented the band’s final meeting and said frontman David Byrne was so exasperated that the other members kept their cool when he announced their split, that he yelled: “You should be calling me an asshole.”
It’s believed that Byrne had been telling the other members for years that he wanted the band to break up, but they ignored him for their own purposes.
There was always a belief, at least on my part, that Talking Heads were always breaking up. It took nearly a decade for it to happen, but when it did, Byrne did it in a way that emphasized his need to be a solo artist. And that's fine--no one should be forced to continue in a situation where they are unhappy.

Frantz has taken the unusual step of trying to emphasize the positive outcomes and the love that he and Tina had for what they were doing. The thing that I did not realize was that their Tom Tom Club single, Genius of Love, was far more successful than anything that Talking Heads had done up to that point and that it generated some envy within the band. And yes, I did think of The Other Two.

The quality of the books that are coming out about music made in the New Wave and punk era is really staggering. Can't wait to get this and read about it.

Monday, July 13, 2020

The Best Intentions of Bob Geldof


Sometimes, good intentions are just not good enough:
Bob Geldof has opened up the personal cost of the Live Aid concerts, admitting that it “impinged” on his private life.

The Boomtown Rats singer and musician Midge Ure were the masterminds behind the 1985 fundraising concerts in London and Philadelphia, which took place 35 years ago today.
The concerts raised more than $127 million for the victims of African famine and were watched by nearly two billion people worldwide, over 40% of the world’s population.

They also took in some of the most iconic live sets in music history – including Queen‘s show-stealing turn at Wembley Stadium.
But in a new interview to mark the 35th anniversary, Geldof said the shows had a huge personal cost on his life.

“I hated it. It became impossible,” Geldof said of the praise that surrounded his charity work.
“For a while I was bewildered. I didn’t have much money at the time. It impinged entirely on my private life. It probably ended up costing me my marriage (he later divorced Paula Yates in 1996),” he told AP.
Geldof is of the belief that no one could do it again. There isn't a universal quality to music today that would bring everyone together--it would be too fractured I suppose. I think that you can trace the decline of music to the early 2000s, which is when music became something that was free for anyone who wanted to download it and when all the genres went in different directions.

You can't get a tenth of that many people to do anything anymore. They won't participate at all in a shared commonality for good, it seems. And you can accuse Geldof of being a misguided misanthrope but I would argue that he's right.

Friday, July 3, 2020

On Sunset


I never go into a Paul Weller interview expecting him to give up much. He's a very guarded artist, and I would imagine that his attitude, all these years later, is "listen to the records, it's all there."

Weller's new album is called On Sunset, and I never would have taken him for an L.A. type of guy. This is a loose album, and if you know Weller's output, these explorations are becoming a welcome addition to his catalog.

This series, from Consequence of Sound, is one of the better ones out there so I heartily recommend it.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Go Away Haim



I never understood and I never cared for Haim and I don't care about anything they do.

“The whole mantra of this record is about being fearless and not holding yourself back,” Alana Haim told NME last year. At the time, Haim – completed by her sisters Danielle and Este – had only released two songs from their third album (‘Summer Girl’ and ‘Now I’m In It’) but you could sense from that pair’s disparate stylings and sensitive, unguarded subject matters that the LA band had stuck to that idea.

Some seven months and one coronavirus-induced setback later, ‘Women In Music Pt. III’ is the result of that approach – one that’s brought about Haim’s best album yet. It’s bold and brave, but delivered with such confidence and chill that it doesn’t feel like a risk. It captures everything that the world knows and loves about the LA group – their nods back to classic rock, harmonious vocals, and breezy way of being – but throws in some new, surprising twists.

On the follow-up to 2017’s ‘Something To Tell You’, they regularly push themselves out of their comfort zones, experimenting with glitchy electronics (‘I Know Alone’), slatherings of sax (‘Summer Girl’), and dubby syncopation (‘Another Try’, which feels like a sparkier sibling to Lana Del Rey’s cover of Sublime’s ‘Doin’ Time’). Between all of the new, though, the sisters are still experts at deploying irresistible rock, like the rousing, shout-a-long brilliance of ‘The Steps’.

Plenty of people probably disagree with me but I don't care. The world is not all sunshine and roses and I don't have to like your band. In fact, me being unreasonable from time to time helps me make sense of a world where they're going to market a band with three sisters in it by showing them to everyone in their bras or what purports to be some sort of bra but could be a choice made by a consultant hire by the record label.

I like plenty of bands with women in them and all they do is play music. I don't need to see Sleater-Kinney or anyone else decked out like this and exploited by music bros. The songs are fucking derivative and annoying and I think that's what pisses me off the most. I don't actually care what Haim looks like and neither should you. But, Goddamn, what a bunch of hyped up bullshit. 

This is what it sounds like when the worst poseur gets an idea and turns it into a family band. And yes, I fucking hate Kings of Leon why do you ask?

Sometimes, you just have to have an irrational opinion and this is one of them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Tim's Twitter Listening Parties


Tim Burgess of the Charlatans (and a fair number of solo endeavors) has been entertaining the hell out of people by hosting his listening parties online. This has turned into a huge deal, and artists are receiving real-time feedback on things they recorded decades ago.
Tim's Twitter Listening Party, the interactive listening parties for classic albums featuring commentary from the artists who made them, was created by Tim Burgess of The Charlatans and have been going since COVID-19 lockdown took hold in March. The western world is starting to open back up, but the listening parties are still going, almost daily, with events going though June and a few scheduled for July.
New additions since our last post include: Arab Strap's Philophobia (6/14), Stars' Set Yourself on Fire(6/18) The Magic Numbers' self-titled debut (6/19), Gruff Rhys' Pang! (6/21), 808 State's Ex:El (6/24), Kate Nash's Made of Bricks (6/25), ABC's Beauty Stab (6/26), Maximo Park's A Certain Trigger (6/27), The Pogues' Red Roses for Me (6/27), The Waterboys' Fisherman's Blues (6/28), David Bowie's Aladdin Sane (6/28) and Joy Division's Closer (7/18).
What I love about the listening parties is the diversity and the emphasis on eliminating negativity. Burgess is a perfect host with great taste. You don't need anything else.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

A Classic Track From XTC


We're only making plans for Nigel:
Making Plans for Nigel was my attempt at an Alan Bennett-type vignette about someone who’s a bit put-upon. There had been Nigels at my school. The name felt very English. I couldn’t imagine myself in a song about a Graham or Colin. I had the title first, and the rest came very quickly. I finished the whole song in an afternoon.
The theme of parents trying to dictate their child’s path in life was something I had experience of. When I was 15 I wanted to be in a band, and had a big battle with my dad over my not staying on in sixth form. In those days you could get expelled for having long hair – and I was! It took five dispiriting years and a lot of dead-end jobs to break into music, so there’s bit of Nigel in myself.
The music industry was run by public-school boys in those days, not council estate lads like us. But once punk opened the doors, we could explore what we could do. I imagined Nigel working in an office, but not in a top job – probably lower middle management. During the 1970s, British Steel was in the news over industrial disputes, so I gave Nigel “a future in British Steel”.

Pinterest

I played the song to the band on my old acoustic guitar, and we demoed it in a council studio in the catacombs under Swindon Town Hall. The record company were convinced it was a single, so gave us Steve Lillywhite as producer. We loved his work with Ultravox and he spent a lot of time crafting and polishing our song.
Our previous single, Life Begins at the Hop, got us on Top of the Pops, but dropped down the charts after our appearance. We had played a tour to fairly meagre audiences, but once Nigel became a hit it was just mayhem. We were straight back out on tour and on Top of the Pops again. Leslie Crowther and Peter Glaze even sang it on the teatime kids’ TV programme Crackerjack. My greatest honour.
The steelworkers’ union were very excited by what they saw as a fraternal anthem, but once I told the official that Nigel was from the management side it curtailed the conversation. Meanwhile, I put the wind up British Steel with the song’s suggestion that a future in the industry wasn’t all that fantastic. They rounded up lots of Sheffield steelworkers called Nigel to tell the press how great their jobs were.
Forty years on, the recent steel closures suggest that the song’s as relevant as ever. I’ve had countless Nigels come up to me over the years and say: “That song is my life.”

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Don't Stop


The release of Don't Stop by Oasis happened this week and it struck me as a strange thing to put out. It's somewhat unfinished and is really an entirely solo affair from Noel Gallagher. There is very little of Oasis to recommend the song since he has the lead vocal on it.

It should have been on an album and if not Dig Out Your Soul then Chasing Yesterday. It's a solid piece of music, and it was played well and inadvertently forgotten if Gallagher's version of events are to be believed. I don't know how you write something like this and forget about it, but that's the staggering thing about this fellow. He has written so many great songs, a few are bound to have fallen by the wayside.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Fairly Maligned


Whenever someone tries to rehabilitate the reputation of the third Oasis album, Be Here Now, please note that they're doing so because they don't remember hearing it.
Thanks to self-isolation, people have significantly more free time on their hands. Time to finally get through that stack of books, maybe, or learn the piano like you’ve been telling your mates you will for a decade. There are endless evenings to ponder the really big questions. How will humanity rebuild after a pandemic such as this? What do I want to change about my life once lockdown is over? Was ‘Be Here Now’ actually… quite good?
I probably like this record better than most people. I remember getting it, I remember where I was when it came out, and it was fine. I didn't feel angry or cheated and I didn't trade it in for something else like so many others did. There are great songs on Be Here Now. It was played and sung as well as could be expected. But it was a bloated, overly indulgent affair because there was no one around to explain that mixing an album whilst high on cocaine is a bad idea.

It's easier for me to flip this album with The Masterplan, which was a compilation of B-sides that came out as a stopgap for the demise of the band. Oasis should have put out The Masterplan as a proper, standalone third album, and said, "here you go, this will tide you over." They should have built it around the title track and Acquiesce, and put out singles and acted like it wasn't just something thrown together. In and of itself, The Masterplan is a classic rock and roll album.

Everything written after that should have been shelved for a bit. Oasis needed a break and they didn't take one. Then they should have edited twenty minutes out of Be Here Now and had someone who wasn't high as a fucking kite mix it.

There you go, there's the truth.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Tim Burgess is Here to Save Your Sanity


Listen along with Tim:
When the listening parties took off @matbroughty & @gingerbeardman (who didn’t know each other) got in touch to offer help with a website so we could keep track of what was happening when. Together they made & maintain https://timstwitterlisteningparty.com/
we just clicked past 1,250,000 views
Tim's Listening Parties is now a thing, and it has translated into an effort to support musicians by encouraging people to buy the music they're hearing.

Lots of people have been asking where they can buy vinyl copies of the albums that we've featured at the listening parties. Record shops need as much help as we can give them just now so I had a thought. We've had over 1,000,000 views of our website in the last couple of weeks...

...we'll start a page on the website with links to independent record shops (that do mail order) so you can browse and buy new and second hand vinyl, CDs etc. So, get in touch if you are an independent record shop and we can make a start. Sound good?

Basically, these are hosted events that bring people as close together as possible, given our circumstances. People are talking about music and sharing as much as they can. This is a good thing.