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

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”.


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
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.

Monday, March 30, 2020

John Prine 1946-2020

John Prine is a national treasure.
Country legend John Prine is in critical condition after “a sudden onset of COVID-19 symptoms.”
Prine’s family revealed the news with a statement on Twitter. “John was hospitalized on Thursday (3/26),” reads the note. “He was intubated Saturday evening, and continues to receive care, but his situation is critical.”
John Prine has died.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Go Out and Pay For Some Music if You Can

This is important to remember. Everyone around you, all of the things you depend on and enjoy, are under massive stress right now. If you can, please go out and buy some music to help your favorite musicians navigate the closures that are cutting off their income at this critical time:
Amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19 – and an increasing number of restrictions around large gatherings around the world – the music industry is suffering. Last week saw the cancellation of SXSW, in Austin, Texas – a devastating blow for new artists trying to make their mark in the US. Soon after came the postponement of Coachella – and today Record Store Day has also been postponed. Meanwhile, a huge number of artists are pulling imminent tour dates due to public health.
BTS, Madonna, Bombay Bicycle Club, Billie Eilish, and Tool are among the many acts who have been forced to cancel or postpone tour dates. Here’s a definitive list of the affected shows so far. Indie musicians and DIY acts are being particularly hit hard by the pandemic: many rely on touring – and merch stand takings along the way – as a major source of income. During a difficult time for music, we asked some artists how fans can help them out.
If fans want to help out artists affected by cancelled tour dates “they should buy merch and records directly, from artists’ websites, or sites like Bandcamp” says Brooke Bentham. The London-based musician has been forced to cancel a handful of European live dates in support of debut album ‘Everyday Nothing’. “Often, that money goes directly into the pockets of musicians.”
Now, I want to caution some people that there are scams out there. Music services have imploded in the last few years. The best thing to do is go to a musician's personal website and see if they are selling merchandise under their own control. Or if they are linked to a reputable service that handles their sales.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Road Takes a Toll on Musicians

The last show that I really enjoyed from start to finish was in Houston, Texas. I went to see the Church play a small venue there and it struck me then how much of a toll it must have taken on them to get from Australia to the U.S. and back again after playing live. Each and every time I've seen them, they play at a level that is unheard of in terms of live music. They are a vanishing breed, they really are. To see people play music at such a high level of expertise is becoming a rare thing.

That's why this article rings true for me:
In a chilling quote from much-loved music documentary The Last Waltz, about The Band’s final concert in 1976, leader Robbie Robertson looks straight into the camera and ominously says: ‘The road will kill you.”
At the time, he was just 34. Yet, over four decades later, musicians of his storied era are still on the road – and facing escalating health issues as a consequence. Since the start of this year, Ozzy Osbourne, 71, had to cancel his 2020 tour to seek treatment for issues related to his recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Elton John, 72, had to ditch dates on what was already advertised as his goodbye tour, after declaring himself “extremely unwell”. Madonna, 61, was forced to scratch a bunch of shows from her British tour due to “overwhelming pain” from injuries she sustained on the road which already caused her to nix some US dates. Meanwhile, Aerosmith felt compelled to disinvite drummer Joey Kramer from their Grammy performance, over alleged difficulties the 69-year-old was having keeping the beat, while the group itself has had to scratch dates due to various health issues experienced by Steven Tyler. Then, just this last week, the 56-year-old frontman of Metallica, James Hetfield, needed to cancel shows to, in his words, “look after my mental, physical and spiritual health”. 
All this comes hot on the heels of an escalating wave of older stars who’ve either quit the road entirely or begun their last hurrahs, including Paul Simon at 78, Bob Seger at 74, Kiss aged between 68 to 70, Neil Diamond at 79, and Eric Clapton at 74. 
“The fact is, it’s really hard to tour,” says Dave Brooks, who covers the concert industry for Billboard. “It’s terribly hard on your body, and mentally difficult too.” 
Jem Aswad, senior music editor of the trade publication Variety, says: “People think it’s easy to be a rock star. But try to hold the attention of 18,000 people, and perform really well, for two and a half hours every night. It’s an incredibly tough thing to sustain.”

Not long after seeing The Church, drummer Tim Powles stood up (as he usually does) on his bass drum, came down on it wrong, and fractured his foot. This meant that the band had to cancel a string of shows throughout Europe. And while that may seem like a small thing, it isn't. It's the norm when it comes to problems with live touring. They lost out on all of that revenue and the chance to keep expanding their audience.

Definitely go see bands, and experience live music if you can. But, remember. It's a temporary, finite thing.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

New Music From Throwing Muses

Some good news for a change:
At the beginning of February, Boston trio Throwing Muses announced their first album in seven years, Sun Racket. Now they’ve shared the lead single “Dark Blue”, as well as the album’s artwork and tracklist.
With song names like “Bywater” and “Maria Laguna”, Sun Racket is thematically linked to the sea. Lead single “Dark Blue” will open the album, and in the first few seconds we’re introduced to a melancholy surf guitar that’s abruptly obliterated in a tidal wave of distortion.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Live at Leeds

The Who recorded the Live at Leeds album fifty years ago today:
The rock group played at the packed University of Leeds refectory on 14 February 1970 and recorded the gig. 
The record it spawned, Live at Leeds, is often cited as one of the best live rock albums of all time. 
Ed Anderson, a Who fan who was at the Valentine's Day concert, said: "I remember it vividly. The band threw everything into it."
Mr Anderson, then an economics student at Leeds Polytechnic, was a big fan of the band and first saw them in 1968. 
"Leeds University was then the number one venue for rock music, week after week I saw the top bands and I would be there most Saturdays," he said. 
He remembered queuing up on that Saturday for tickets costing a few shillings in those pre-decimal times.
I remember having the original version, which documented less than half of the actual performance. The Who played Tommy and a host of other tracks, which surfaced when the album was reissued in a deluxe format decades later.

It is still an absolute barn burner of a performance. Whenever I hear Heaven and Hell from that record, I'm reminded of what this shit is supposed to sound like.

Twelve Years to Get the Truth

This is one of the most despicable things a music label has ever done.
A massive fire burned down a Universal Music Group warehouse in Florida back in 2008, but reports about what was inside — 500,000 high-quality master recordings, many of which were for iconic records — didn’t surface until last year. Now, Universal has acknowledged that master recordings to albums by NirvanaSoundgardenSlayerR.E.M.Elton John were either damaged or destroyed in the fire. 
The reason this is news 12 years later is because Universal never told the artists impacted by the fire in the first place, even those who were the legal owners of those masters. Instead, it was The New York Times who broke the story, which prompted artists like Hole, Soundgarden, and Tom Petty’s estate to file lawsuits against Universal. According to Rolling Stone, as part of the legal proceedings, these artists asked for “a complete list of damaged records.” Universal has now responded by confirming (via filed documents) that the master recordings of 19 artists were “either damaged or destroyed” in the fire.
Universal has been lying to these artists for over twelve years. They've failed to curate and protect the original master recordings for their artists. This hangdog effort to deny what really happened is more about avoiding responsibility than it is about being "confused" as to what was lost. It's inexcusable and they should be sued relentlessly.

Other labels should find a way to protect their own libraries. The real tragedy here would be to fail to learn from what happened.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Control Your Legacy

Every band should have this much control over their own legacy:
Every Radiohead fan knows that beyond their nine officially released studio albums there’s an almost unending treasure trove of goodies out there, from incredible b-sides to brilliant old studio films. If you really wanted to, you could spend your entire life buried in Radiohead rarities.
Whether it’s the band occasionally throwing their fiercely dedicated fanbase a bone by uploading an old live set onto YouTube, or – in a significantly more sinister occurrence, as happened last year – one of these fans threatening to leak an entire hard-drive of ‘OK Computer’-era rarities online and effectively holding the band to ransom, it seems the appetite for the more discarded bits and bobs from the band’s 25-year career will never die. 
But if the band had just been feeding us scraps until now, today they laid out a whole fucking chicken dinner. Behold the Radiohead Public Library.
The fact that most bands cannot put their hands on their own recorded output is a matter for the courts. Once an "album" has been released into the wild, the record company tends to own the whole thing. That extends to whatever they feel like, of course.

I don't think it should extend to an entire catalog of rarities and assorted tracks or experiments. The deals that get signed remove all of the rights from an artist with regards to the control of their legacy and their output. There are numerous bands that have a "library" of their own material, especially those bands that are into experimentation and being prolific. It's great that Radiohead has been able to do this, but it should be the standard for anyone interested in a band to be able to see behind the curtain. Not mandatory, of course, but it should be a normal thing.

Having this level of control is the direct result of careful planning and management. Radiohead never sold their souls for money; they held onto their catalog and are now genuinely in control of their future, whatever they want to make of it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Ride are on Tour in Europe

If you live in Europe, please go see Ride. This tour is a continuation of the one that I saw earlier this year in Washington D.C.

They are phenomenally good live, and sound amazing. If you really like guitar music, this is your band. If you like the solid gut punch of a rhythm section, this is also your band. If you just like great songs, make them your new favorite band. This is not a nostalgia trip. This is vital new music being made right now. Ride are one of the few bands that could abandon their early catalog and tour on the strength of the new music they've been making.

Take hearing protection, of course.

Friday, January 17, 2020

YouTube is Ripping Everyone Off

There are few artists willing to speak up about how they're getting ripped off by streaming services, and it's always noteworthy when someone does:
Slipknot‘s Corey Taylor has called out streaming services for paying “less than pennies” when it comes to royalties. 
Read more: The Big Read – Slipknot: “I’m just going to tell you the facts: this album is a masterpiece” 
Speaking in a new interview, the frontman took aim at exploitive royalty rates and revealed just how little the band receives. 
“You are being paid less than pennies,” he told the Irish Times. “In the United States, they have passed the legislation [the Music Modernization Act 2018] but it is being appealed. I am hoping that it will be struck down.” 
Continuing, he shared that YouTube pay the least out of the music streaming platforms. “A million streams on YouTube is 0.04 per cent of a penny,” he said. “On a million streams you get $400 and that’s just me doing shitty math in my head. 
“People can’t live on that and there’s not a lot of people who get these numbers. The majority of this goes to the record label anyway. The streaming services are not willing to pay the talents who write the songs and makes the music and yet they are sitting on billions of dollars. 
“They are buying whole blocks of buildings and then taking over floors in there and yet they don’t want to pay the people who made the money for them. It’s insane. It’s tough all over in a lot of ways. Something has to change. I don’t know what that will be.”
The government's inability to regulate the streaming services is just one failure. No one is going to give money to artists if they are not compelled to do, so, here we are. If there was a commonly agreed-upon standard payout rate for streaming music, no one would bother going into that business and the streaming industry would collapse. They exist right now precisely because it is legal to steal music, make it available to the public, and walk away from any serious discussion about paying the artists that make music.

YouTube has been allowed to stand up a massively profitable business because it does not adequately compensate the people who provide the content. We have to fix this, and we have to do so because artists deserve to make a living wage.

Monday, December 16, 2019

U2 Plays India For the First Time

How is it that U2 have never played a show in India?
U2 were joined by Jai Ho composer AR Rahman for their first ever show in India last night (December 15) – watch the performance below.
Wrapping up the final night of ‘The Joshua Tree’ tour at at Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium, the band were joined by Rahman to perform new track ‘Ahimsa’ along with his daughters Khatija Rahman and Raheema Rahman and singer-songwriter Rianjali Bhowmick.
Speaking about the performance, Ahimsa said: “We are touched by U2’s stand against injustice, for women empowerment and for goodness in this world. The collaboration with U2 on ‘Ahimsa’, comes at a very appropriate time, while the whole world celebrates 150 years of the Mahatma, the message of Ahimsa needs to reach every nook and corner.
I would have thought that there would have been multiple stops during any of the last five U2 tours in that part of the world. That being said, India looks like a vast, untapped market for live music. Why wouldn't you want to play to a massive English-speaking audience? I don't get it.

There are only a handful of bands that you could consider a "global phenomenon" and U2 would definitely be in that category. The Police played India in 1980, Coldplay went there in 2016, and U2 are just now getting around to it? Amazing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Back For More Cash

The Who are back for more cash:

The Who’s current shows feature two video screens full of vintage shots of mad, mad Moon and Entwistle in his bemused and haunting solitude. I asked Townshend if he ever got nostalgic looking up at the pictures of his fallen bandmates. He snorted like an old horse. 
“It’s not going to make Who fans very happy, but thank God they’re gone.”Because? 
“Because they were fucking difficult to play with. They never, ever managed to create bands for themselves. I think my musical discipline, my musical efficiency as a rhythm player, held the band together.” 
Townshend took on his bass player first. “John’s bass sound was like a Messiaen organ,” he says, waving his angular limbs. “Every note, every harmonic in the sky. When he passed away and I did the first few shows without him, with Pino [Palladino] on bass, he was playing without all that stuff…. I said, ‘Wow, I have a job.’ ” 
He was not finished. Moon is an easier target; he once passed out during a 1970s show in San Francisco, forcing the band to pull a drummer out of the crowd. “With Keith, my job was keeping time, because he didn’t do that,” says Townshend. “So when he passed away, it was like, ‘Oh, I don’t have to keep time anymore.’”
Well, he still sounds nice.