Archive for February, 2009

February 25, 2009

The Prodigy have a new album?

The Prodigy have a new album out this week. It’s called Invaders Must Die, which is a really unfortunate title, because I can’t help but ask if they’re the invaders who must die already. In the 90’s The Prodigy were one of my favorite bands. I saw them during their Fat Of The Land tour at Hammerstein Ballroom, which was a disappointing concert. They sounded great, but did about an hour set, and only one song not on Fat Of The Land. Then, as you may know, they disappeared until 2004’s Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned. That album was a total disappointment, sounding like some shitty group tried to sound like The Prodigy but forgetting what made them great. Like having actual tunes, personality, and some semblance of subtleness. Nothing matched the mood of a “Breathe” or “Out Of Space”. Well, here we have a new Prodigy album and based on the first single “Omen” little has changed from Always Outnumbered. I can’t decide if I want to waste $7.99 or not. This song sounds like a b-side from Prodigy: Experience. It’s loud, repetitive, and whatever interesting melody Liam Howlett had at 0:45 he chooses to bury for some reason.

But, then I wonder if the problem is that since Fat Of The Land so many groups have incorporated techno and guitar elements to their music in more artistic ways. Maybe with groups like !!! there is little need for obnoxious shouty techno like The Prodigy. Look at this semi-crappy live recording of them in some little club in Canada, and they blow The Prodigy away:

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February 24, 2009

Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone

NPR All Songs Considered website has the entire new Neko Case album Middle Cyclone up to listen to. It’s mindblowingly good. Mindblowingly because I can’t get over how with each album she progresses as an inventive, unique songwriter. Every song seems a surprise to me. It’s gorgeous and moving. The instrumentation and her voice and her lyrics and everything. I honestly think she’s becoming one of our greatest living artists. And, it would be notable enough if she just sang.

Ok, that’s enough hyperbole for one day.

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February 24, 2009

Cat literally “Nom Nom Nom”s!

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February 20, 2009

Chris Brown should be castrated.

Much to the LAPD’s unhappiness, someone leaked a photo of what Rihanna looked like after she was beaten by Chris Brown two weeks ago. There is no reason to hit a woman, unless she’s threatening your life with a gun or a knife. There is no argument. I’m thinking of buying all her albums to show her some sort of support.

February 19, 2009

“You like Joy Division, try this sleeping bag.”

I don’t illegally download. While most musicians make most of their money from touring and merch, they still make some percentage of money from album sales. Many of the musicians I listen to sell albums in the ten or hundred thousands, not millions. I have copied CDs from friends and when I borrowed them from the library. But, at some point those CDs were paid for. I have friends who are professional musicians or are in bands. It matters to me.

I also have that attachment to physical CDs. The act of going to a store, browsing through the racks, finding what you’re looking for or something you didn’t know you were looking for but are so happy you found. I worked at Borders in the music section, and I loved it for that reason and more. You feel like you’re part of a community. I love the act of opening a CD for the first time and looking thorough the booklet. I’ve learned so much from reading the linear notes. I enjoy seeing much the artist is involved in the recording process, the other artists they’ve worked with, and reading the lyrics.

But, as you know, times have changed. The CD as a medium is slowly dying. I own well over a thousand CDs. I’d say I currently own 1,300 – 1,400. They take up a lot of room in my small apartment. In order to continuously buy CDs, I’ve had to sell CDs, both on eBay and at used CD stores. I’ve likely sold at least 500 CDs. The benefit of downloading music instead of buying the physical CD is obvious here. Personally, I use iTunes. I own a Macbook, and an iPod, so it obviously integrates. Carrying all your music in a Mac or your iPod, one small device, is also simpler and more convenient. I’ve found I interact more with the actual music now that it is in MP3 format. iTunes does recommend other music I might like, but obviously that isn’t quite the same as browsing at a store.

So, this is part of my dilemma. The intangible feelings I get from CD buying, versus the simplicity of downloading MP3s. With Lily Allen’s new album, I downloaded it. The CD version offered no incentive, while iTunes offered two extra tracks. With Morrissey’s new album, I bought the CD because the cover is amazing, and the special edition came with a DVD interview, two live performances, and music video. I also bought the CD version of the Dark Was The Night collection, because the record store had it $2 cheaper than iTunes. But, usually, iTunes is cheaper or at least equal to the CD copies.

Recently I wondered how much more or less the artist makes from download versus CD sales. It really matters to me that artists are making money. And, who better than David Byrne to answer that question. I tripped over this article he wrote on this issue. In it he also discusses why people download versus buying the CD, and the different models of record company/artist relations. It’s a well-written, engaging, and informative article by someone who has seen every side of the music industry first hand. Furthermore, it features 90 minutes of audio conversations he had with other knowledgeable people from the industry: Brian Eno, the cofounder of Merge Records, Aimee Mann’s manager, and Radiohead’s managers. All recommended listening, especially due to Byrne stepping back and letting these people talk.

To answer the question, Byrne states that from a $15.99 CD an artist gets $1.60, while from a $9.99 download an artist gets $1.40. iTunes takes a 30% cut, but the real problem is that record companies have not adjusted for the lack of overhead cost in MP3 downloading. It’s suggested that as contracts are renegotiated in the future, this will change. I did a little more research, and apparently according to this article the emusic.com service is even worse for artists. I’ll likely continue with my case-by-case decision making when it comes to the CD/download debate, and eventually it’ll likely tip towards downloading.

*The entry title is a quote from David Byrne during one of the conversations.

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February 11, 2009

Radiohead @ The Grammys

Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and the USC Marching Band performing “15 Steps”. At 1:10 Thom Yorke seems to be conjuring up his inner Mick Jagger. It’s pretty awesome.

BTW, In Rainbows and “Paper Planes” by M.I.A. lost to that snoozefest Robert Plant / Alison Krauss album for Album Of The Year and Record Of The Year, respectively. Nice to see the Grammy voters still like to pass up excellence and innovation in order to reward blandness.

February 10, 2009

ABBA is more punk than the Sex Pistols

Here are examples where ABBA are just as “punk” minded as The Sex Pistols, or more so.

1. ABBA are DYI. The men, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, wrote and produced all their music. This was from their first single before they were officially ABBA, to their final album The Visitors. The Sex Pistols wrote their music, but did not produce it themselves. Never Mind The Bollocks was co-produced by Chris Thomas, who previously had worked with The Beatles, Badfinger, Roxy Music, even mixing Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon. Punk, supposedly, was a reaction to music like Pink Floyd.

2. While universally regarded as masters of songwriting, Andersson and Ulvaeus couldn’t read music sheets. Benny Andersson self-taught himself piano at age 10. Things like this easily put them on par with The Sex Pistols. Sex Pistols guitarist, Steve Jones, was also self-taught.

3. ABBA refuse to reform and tour. How much so? They turned down $1 billion to reunite and tour. Read that again. True punk is the antithesis of selling out. The Sex Pistols reformed and toured back in 1996… and 2002, ’03, ’07, ’08. Here is a recent article with Benny and Bjorn’s thoughts about why they won’t reform ABBA.

4. ABBA are very strict about the sampling of their music. The have only let The Fugees and Madonna use a sample. In one of the above articles I link to, they tell how they wouldn’t agree to Madonna sampling their music until they heard her song. The Sex Pistols are more strict, I can’t find a single Sex Pistols sample. But, their song “Pretty Vacant” was based on ABBA’s song “S.O.S”.

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February 9, 2009

M.I.A. Is The Winner

Her due date was yesterday. How awesome is she? Apparently her, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Lil’ Wayne, and T.I. billed themselves as the “Rap Pack”, thus the black and white, etc. If they run with this, it’d be cool they include a woman. I think the song, “Swagga Like Us”, is O.K., but watching M.I.A. dance around while 9 months pregnant is amazing to me. That kid is going to have the coolest Mom.

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February 8, 2009

Welcome To The Pleasuredome

In conjunction with the post below, I present this live video of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood song “Welcome To The Pleasuredome”. I failed to mention in my previous post that my favorite 80’s song is “Relax”. I’m really not sure how well known the song “WTTP” is, but it’s so beautiful and epic. I don’t want to get too hyperbolic. Whoever posted this video recorded it with a weird frame around the actual video. Even on the tiny screen, this performance has me transfixed. It’s amazing what it takes to perform this song live. And, maybe it’s just me, but I watch this and wonder why they only had two albums. Those two songs and “Two Tribes” are great. Note: The lead singer in this performance is not the original singer.

February 8, 2009

Ultimate 80’s Mix

I’ve been slowly working on creating an Ultimate 80’s playlist. No store-bought compilation, whether it be an 80’s compilation, or a Christmas compilation, ever seems to make me totally happy. You’ll get 3 songs you love, 5 songs you like, and 7 you can really do without. On Christmas CDs you’ll get Bing Crosby, John Lennon, and then the latest shitty boy band (Jonas Brothers). So, I started to work on making my own collection of 80’s songs. It currently stands at 132 songs, and you can be sure when I feel the list is complete I’ll be posting it here. I have it broken down by year, and so far 1983 seems to be the golden year with 29 songs. Anyhow, a friend of mine said her and her sister challenged each other to make an Ultimate 80’s mix, so I quickly formed my own 80’s mix of my absolute favorite songs that takes up one CD. The mix is in chronological order. There is no Joy Division, The Cure, The Smiths, R.E.M.. We all know what is meant by “80’s Music”, and those type of bands aren’t it. Since the 80’s were every bit as much about the videos, I’ve decided to post my list with the videos for each song. Hope you enjoy!

I’m still getting the hang of WordPress. Please click the title of this blog entry, and then you’ll see I’ve split this entry into pages. 18 videos would make for a very long blog entry.

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