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

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.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Bring on the Lucie (Freda People)

 

Wow:

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.


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. 


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).

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.

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.  

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.