Showing posts with label Thoughts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thoughts. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Replacements Tim Covers

The Tim album by the Replacements is pretty much the apex of the band--the high point that happened at exactly the moment when they were recorded about as poorly as possible while making the best music of their lives. If this album sounds bad, that's because it does. Tommy Erdelyi was a terrible choice for a producer and the fact that Tim sounds worse than Hootenanny is, well, one more thing to bitch about.

It was the end of the Bob Stinson era and the beginning of the corporate sell-out era, but the drinking and the shenanigans would continue well on through to the end. The songs would never be as good.

The real crowning glory of this era of the band is found on two of the cuts contained on this album. Bastards of Young and Here Comes a Regular are two sides of the same broken heart, and you could build the quintessential novel of the Eighties around those two songs, weaving them in and out of whatever plot full of fuckups and failed glory you could imagine. There are brilliant songs scattered throughout their career, but these two are the two best songs they ever did.

I have never been able to figure out the cover, though. It has an industrial feel to it, with the band portraits designed to make them indie darlings. There were ideas behind it, but how do they match up to the words "a picture on a fridge that's never stocked with food?" And why didn't someone just put that image on the front and call it a day? 

Monday, December 12, 2016

James Laid Cover

The single from James called Laid was easily one of the best things to come out in 1993; I would say that it was definitely a high point for the band that experienced so many highs and had so many great singles.

The design for this one somewhat mars the impact of the single; the cover is difficult to read and I would definitely have flipped what's on the back for the front. I love the close up stitching as a motif and I like the detail in the cloth and the colors. This is not the first time I have liked the back cover more than the front cover, but it won't be the last, either.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Sleeper Inbetweener Single Cover



Single features a fantastic piece of commercial art, and it works on so many levels.

The song, in and of itself, is a novel set to music, and it is so intelligently rendered as to demand the sort of packaging and artwork seen here.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Greatest Comeback Album Ever

It's easy to forget just how reviled they were.

Mother Jones Magazine: Let me read you a recent quote from Randy Newman: "I used to be against world peace until U2 came out for it. Then the scales just fell from my eyes.... And when they're singing with those black people? Do you know that black people just love their music? Bono's conducting those black people and they're doing just what he says!...
BONO: I had heard that. Randy Newman is a very funny man, though I think he's written far funnier lines than those.
MJ: Are you interested that criticisms like his have been leveled a lot lately, particularly at "Rattle and Hum?"
B: I suppose. What's uninteresting about that is that we are such an easy target, from the word go, because we perform from our own point of view. I sing about the way I see things. Some people write songs about the way characters see things. Some artists perform with a wink. That's just not the way with U2. When people perform from their gut -- when John Lennon sang a song called "Mother" -- that was not a hip thing to do. He was exposing himself. It's performers like that I admire.... If you're going to spend your whole life worrying about dropping your guard and exposing yourself, worrying that working with a gospel choir might look like imperialism, that would be dumb.
MJ: But the criticisms I read of the film are that it was too guarded. Let me read, if I could, another criticism ....
Well, I'm really not interested.
MJ: I just want to give you the opportunity to respond ....
B: What this suggests is that the music is not enough. That is my expression -- the music -- and within that music I can take my clothes off. Not for the press, not for the TV shows, not for the film. That film was about music, and in that music was everything that we have to say and offer. Now people want it made easy for them. They want it spelled out. Why can't people just accept the music? You know the real reason? It's that people don't listen to the music anymore, and a lot of critics don't.... I think our fans know all the songs on our albums, and I don't think many critics do. I really don't.
MJ: Were there any criticisms that did sting, that hit home, that taught you anything?
B: No. I must say I was generally very disappointed in the community of critics. It's funny. I would've thought that what people would have expected us to do would've been to put out a double live LP, and cash in on "The Joshua Tree," and make a lot of money for very little work. That is what big rock bands do.
When we didn't do that, I expected people to recognize that. When we put the records out at low price, stripped away the U2 sound, then just went with our instincts as fans, and just lost ourselves in this [American R&B] music, in a very un-self-conscious way...
MJ: But if the LP has been unfairly and stupidly criticized by people who aren't listening carefully ...
B: No. It's not even that. It's that the spirit of it has been completely and utterly missed. The spirit of it is unlike any record of a major group, for a long time. That spirit is the very essence of why people get into bands and make music. And it's not about being careful. And it's not about watching your ass....

Achtung Baby

is the result of being torn apart and reduced to having to plead for understanding. I don't think people understand that context. This is the album that only an angry band could make and that's why it still resonates.

U2 needs to make another one of these and come back, fully, into the world with some anger instead of some wry comments about the bar scene.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Stone Roses Are Headed Down Under

Three nights in Sydney, and then a make-up tour of Japan? The Stone Roses aren't going away. There should be a new album coming out soon, but I'm not going to jinx it.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Damn You, Violent Femmes

For reasons I can't get into, this is a show I cannot attend:

“Since we’ve been given the mantle of ‘elder statesmen,’” Ritchie says, “maybe we should start to behave that way. Hopefully we’ll be a little more stable than we’ve been in the past, though if you think about it, the Femmes have been going for 35 years. It’s not unusual for bands to take the occasional hiatus. What is unusual is going for 35 years and still sounding good.”

Hey, maybe next year in Austin, Texas.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lush Return

It's about fucking time for a Lush reunion.  4AD needs to deliver remastered deluxe editions of all of their albums. And whoever is paying Miki and Emma to do this better give them the whole bank because they deserve it.

I've been grumpy about this for years. Now I can slink off and think of something else that will make me miserable.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Robbing Zoe Keating

Only a very few classical artists have been outspoken on the issue so far: San-Francisco-based Zoe Keating — a tech-savvy, DIY, Amanda Palmer of the cello — has blown the whistle on the tiny amounts the streaming services pay musicians. Though she’s exactly the kind of artist who should be cashing in on streaming, since she releases her own music, tours relentlessly, and has developed a strong following since her days with rock band Rasputina, only 8 percent of  her last year’s earnings from recorded music came from streaming. The iTunes store, which pays out in small amounts since most purchases are for 99 cent songs, paid her about six times what she earned from streaming. (More than 400,000 Spotify streams earned her $1,764; almost 2 million YouTube views generated $1,248.)

So, 2,400,000 plays or clicks on Spotify and YouTube in a single year equals $3,012 dollars for an artist like Zoe Keating? 

Come on. That's obscene.

She clearly has listeners. She clearly has an audience. She is not a "fringe" artist in terms of her appeal on just two--two!--of these services. And yet, they're making money. They're making money hand over fist at Spotify and YouTube.

Zoe Keating isn't making anything. Three thousand dollars for that kind of exposure and that many plays is theft of artistic property. If someone came to your house and stole that, it would be a felony. There would be a perp walk out the back door, and a rep from Spotify would be frog-marched to a squad car with no t-shirt and a back full of sweat and weeds, just like on Cops.

Good God. Nobody is going to make music anymore if this keeps up. Why would they?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


There's plenty to be sad about when you talk about Amy Winehouse:

One of the odder byproducts of recent biographical documentaries, which, to a certain extent, have become a classier form of tabloid journalism, is the propensity of media mavens to mine them for so-called “secrets” or “revelations.”It almost makes one wonder if it would be better for documentarians to close up shop and merely generate listicles detailing what they’ve learned from researching their subjects.

Still, inquiring minds want to know about the celebrities we either love or love to loathe and Asif Kapadia’s Amy, a new film profile of the late, great British pop singer Amy Winehouse that premiered at a midnight screening at Cannes, doesn’t stint on tidbits that will appeal to those of us who consider the Daily Mail a guilty pleasure. Nevertheless, despite the litany of gossipy reveals regurgitated online, Kapadia’s biggest achievement lies in creating considerable empathy for a woman who had become, by the end of her life, the cruel butt of jokes told by smirking late-night comics (the film includes some cringe-worthy footage of Jay Leno making vile cracks about the troubled singer’s problems with substance abuse.)

Self-destructive people who make art are always going to be of interest to the public, but Winehouse took it as far as anyone could without ending up like Pete Doherty or Robert Downey Jr.

She left this Earth in full possession of her art and no amount of exploitation will erase what she accomplished in a few short years. She was steeped in music, knowledgeable about obscure jazz and whatever else was relevant to her, and now we're stuck with the imitators and the dribble of commercially appealing do-overs put out by Mitchell Winehouse.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Jack White Tour Rider Fiasco

The publication of "tour riders" is best understood as an outdated meme or piece of gotcha journalism. It's the sort of thing you read on the archives of The Smoking Gun. It has nothing to do with reality. If you're going to mount any kind of tour throughout the world with more equipment than would fit in a 70s conversion van, you need to have a rider in order to be able to put on shows. That rider can be simple or meticulous, and it has nothing to do with being an asshole. It has everything to do with the logistics of actually putting on a show. Once everyone has agreed upon things, the rider is a quality of life deal because being happy is better than being miserable.

Here's a valid point from Jack White:

but in reality, it’s just some food and drinks backstage for the hundred workers and guests who have to live in a concrete bunker for 15 hours. some people bring their own living rooms on tour, some people ask for a huge spread. who cares? what you’re looking for is someone throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get their brown m and m’s, sorry to disappoint.

 The rider, in and of itself, is a confidential document that exists between performer and venue; it's supposed to be an extension of an agreement to perform and it ensures that the venue and the artist reach a successful conclusion of their business arrangement. When we start talking about arenas and the large scale tours undertaken by artists of White's stature, you can be rest assured that there will be a specific rider with details in it that ass clowns will be entertained by and that's fine. You can read about a banana allergy and giggle and there's nothing wrong with that.

Anyone who actually does the work will tell you that the hours are terrible and the pressure is enormous. When you bring 100 or so people to an arena, you have to make your equipment work with theirs and you have to achieve maximum success as quickly as possible. You have time constraints to work with. Sending a crew member out to look for snacks is wasteful and unnecessary--just have a rider and be done with it. Cater in food for your crew and eliminate the distractions. Efficiency really does matter if you want to see a band play on time and for more than a few songs.

Most arenas are in the middle of a vast industrialized area where people do not live; hence, there are no grocery stores and few, if any, restaurants. Can you imagine being in the middle of downtown where the hell or at a socked-in music festival and then have to deal with finding water and food for 100 people? What a nightmare.

Asking people to grow up is a tall order these days. Meanwhile, the professionals will handle the logistics.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Best Metal Performance

If you want proof that the genre of heavy metal is dead, look no further than the fact that this year's Grammy (which is worthless) went to Tenacious D.

There are real metal fans out there and this should not concern them one bit. When the Grammy's are completely out of touch with what's happening in the real world in terms of the music that people enjoy, that means that the genre itself is healthy and appreciated. Having a satire/joke band win means that the genre itself is safe from the predatory aspects of the music industry.

Those of us who enjoy Shoegazing music salute you for having survived another tough year. Thank God there is no Shoegazing Grammy.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds If I Had a Gun Single

Lawrence Watson has done some outstanding work on the cover art for these new singles by Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. This work has depth and detail, and a throwback quality that helps you understand why the overarching theme of Gallagher's new record is chasing yesterday.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Noel Gallagher God Help Us All - The Dying of the Light

Here's the bleak but rather effective artwork that will promote new music from the Chasing Yesterday album. This design uses the logo and the arty photography rather well.

Is this an official release? It looks professionally done, so maybe it is. The problem you face when you deal with pre-released material is that, in many cases, it's fan-created or nicked for personal use.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Carrie Brownstein Can Write

Now, this could be an excellent book. Carrie Brownstein is a legitimate contender for most talented person in the history of whatever. She can act, she can do comedy, she can write, and she can play music. These kids today couldn't do half of what she does before breakfast.

Monday, December 29, 2014

There Are 17 Ringo Starr Albums

Is there anyone who actually owns all 17 of Ringo Starr's studio albums? Who is this superfan and how can they be avoided?

Assuming there are at least ten songs on each one of these albums, which probably exist in a mystical ether that lives between nowhere and what the hell, that means there are already 170 songs out there that Ringo recorded. And released. And that means there are record company executives who signed off on such things and paid money for them (allegedly). Did they make money? I would have to guess that, in order to get to album number three or four, some of them had to make money.

And now he's putting out an 18th album? Really? This is how you know you're living in hell. There are only two viable Stone Roses albums and there are now going to be 18 Ringo Starr albums. And I arrived at that using science, of course.

Did Ringo make his fifteenth record and say fuck it and retire? Hell no. He kept going. That's the mark of a dedicated artist.

If you polled the American people, and asked them how many Ringo Starr albums they owned, I think the responses would be underwhelming and embarrassing to report.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Don't Talk About Politics in Music

There is a bit of outrage in the rap world over the lack of an outcry over the subject of the hashtag #blacklivesmatter.

Hip-hop’s inner-circle celebrities, our Jay Zs and Drakes, have endorsed the same outcomes of Reaganomics that rendered their people such a disenfranchised one; a political move that grew tremendously, as did its audience.

While the current epidemic of police brutality and the lack of indictments may be quite reminiscent of a time when powerful black voices were, themselves, marginalized, the widespread merge of hip-hop and pop music that has occurred in the 26 years since Straight Outta Compton has greatly altered the culture framework. Rap music and capitalism, from an outsider’s perspective, are as intermixed as ever; there’s even a subgenre that Spotify recognizes as “pop-rap.”

I don't think it's fair to single out rappers because politics doesn't appear to be an important part of the rock world, either. In England this past month, they have tried desperately to get another Band Aid single off the ground. It's been successful, but there's been a backlash against it and a nasty one, at that.

The same artists who should be protesting what is going on are silent across the board. Country artists don't care and neither do pop acts or hard rock acts or people on the genre fringe of music. People are struggling to find corporate sponsorship deals. Being controversial means that the cross-promotional opportunities are going to dry up fast if a company feels like an artist might turn on their message. Rap acts are doing exactly what rock acts are doing--they're staying out of it and they're trying to be as uncontroversial as possible. Who can blame them?

If music is no longer a medium where protest and politics can appear as a mainstream issue, then don't blame Jay-Z for it. Blame the audience and their lack of tolerance for anyone who carries a message.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Nostalgia Trips

Billy Corgan was relevant for about three years. He hasn't gotten over it:

In an interview with the Guardian, Corgan noted that bands from the '90s aren't charting anymore and dismissed the idea that new bands are being influenced by artists of that era. "I don't hear that," Corgan said. "The mythology [of the '90s] right now is irrelevant to combat the menace in America right now."

The Smashing Pumpkins frontman added that the amount of money DJs are making is reflective of the state of modern music, which is predominately EDM-focused. "People can get rosy and sentimental about something, but if it can’t compete it doesn’t mean anything," he said. Meanwhile, EDM is kicking everybody's fucking ass. Look at the numbers the DJs are making! They're kicking rock bands' ass. And we're sitting here talking about an era from 20 years ago because it's misty in people's minds. Meanwhile, there's 60,000 people in a field watching a guy with lights behind him."

The only thing that has sold during the last twenty-odd years of delivering music to people has been pop and EDM and not much else. It's really hard to thrive or excel as a simple rock and roll act. A handful of people have done it, but if you subtract that small handful, what do you have? 

If you have guitar, bass and drums with a singer, you have a band but you have no chance of selling anything to anyone unless you can dance or convince everyone you're a nostalgia trip. The major labels aren't going to push that stuff and playing live is rapidly becoming a dead end for bands that can't pull in more than 300 people a night. It's sad and frustrating.

Even then, forget it. There are no more great bands. They've been replaced by video game franchises and people who are trained to dance. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nobody Misses R.E.M.

There has to be some bitterness as to how R.E.M. stopped being a band. They overstayed their welcome, put out four or five boring albums in a row, and they are not going to be missed.  Their final album, Collapse Into Now, was ignored by everyone except the reviewers who were shocked to discover that people had moved on.

People do miss the original four members, and in 1989, they were the best American rock and roll band, period. End of story.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Casual Racism of the Hollywood Elite

You shouldn't be at all shocked by anything anyone working in an elite capacity in Hollywood has to say. You are right to be appalled, but if you're shocked I have a bridge in Brooklyn I would like to sell you.

How is that Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin are still gainfully employed? If we can hound people out of their jobs over racism, Pascal and Rudin are certainly as guilty of the kind of racism found seemingly everywhere now. If Donald Sterling can have his NBA franchise stripped out from under him for trying to get laid, then Pascal and Rubin can be driven from the picture show business as well.

They may be part of the Hollywood elite but they're as out of touch and as unprofessional as any cabal of Republican Party county chairpersons found anywhere in the red state areas of America. Their casual language and their jokes should never have been exposed, you see. It's the hackers who are to blame. It's you and me for reading their private conversations. It's everyone but them, of course. The fact that they're racist egomaniacs who control the choices made about films and their distribution is irrelevant. It's not like they would screw Americans in order to get tax breaks to make movies, right? Whoops.

These are the people making the movies people go see. They're utterly appalling in the way the talk to one another and conduct themselves. They use the kind of language that should be reserved for satires about overbearing crazy people.

Oh well. This is how people talk. Casual racism is as much a part of Hollywood as anywhere else. The well heeled engage in it and then look down their noses at anyone who wonders why their shabby movies are so formulaic and politically correct. Pascal and Rudin will sell you the enlightenment of 12 Years a Slave but they're still sneering at the flesh and blood people who live in the world of today for being black.