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Musings

My renewed obsession with reading books combined with my lack of Internet access has led to a waning interest in listening to new music.  It is sad, I will admit, that even if I did have Internet access, I would probably not be using it to procure new music.  Furthermore, I am unable to listen to music while I read, as some can, and so the only time I listen to music lately is in my car, where I choose from a large but still limited selection of CDs. 

But I have found a sense of freedom in all of this.  I read all the time and I write all the time and as I grow in both of those areas, I am able to further appreciate music I’ve already heard in new ways.  Undertones of emotion that were heretofore unheard by my ears have been opening themselves up to me, turns of phrase stand out not like sore thumbs but like oases, and song structure has become revelatory.  Even production techniques – something that I had previously paid attention to only in a disengaged manner – are wells of inspiration.  So it is through this disillusionment with music that I have come to appreciate music more.

I have always been a lover of lyrics; for as long as I’ve been listening to music, the words have been equally important as the music and melody.  Lately though, I have been able to analyze lyrics more deeply, to pay attention to…

I love music. I would argue that I have the ability to love all music (except for country… sorry, ex-girlfriend!), although some would argue that they think that I have absolutely no sense of taste when it comes to music (see: my pie chart).

And somehow, I wound up a music journalist for a print publication (amongst other things, anyway) and an editor for an online publication (take a guess as to what that might be – and if you haven’t figured it out by now, drink the first thing you find underneath your kitchen sink).

Note: festive attire optional.

I have interviewed famous people (and not-so-famous people) about their bands and I have a blast doing so because I make it fun for them. I would ask them questions like, “Do you think homeless people hate knock-knock jokes?” or “What smell would you NOT want your shampoo to smell like?” and other such unprofessional absurdities to facilitate the more important (and significantly more appropriate) questions.

For the record, Andrew W.K. thinks homeless people LOVE knock-knock jokes and thinks that a shampoo that smells like Ranch dressing would be the worst shampoo ever.

And, while being a music journalist and a music editor are fun gigs, there came a point when I stopped liking being the former for a bit.

In particular, I stopped liking the unprofessionalism exhibited by bands.

Every time I got on either Gmail or Facebook –…

A recent New York Times profile of Brooklyn resident David, creator of the Pitchfork Reviews Reviews blog, gives an interesting insight into the online sub-culture that has sprung up in opposition to the influence of the internet’s most far-reaching music reviews site.

Early each weekday morning, the indie music Web site Pitchfork posts five new album reviews. Hours later a 22-year-old reader named David downloads them onto his BlackBerry, reads them on his way to work and muscles out a rambling but surprisingly fluid response using his phone’s MemoPad function: no links, no capital letters at the start of sentences, just adrenalized response.

In essence, what David does is turn the tables on Pitchfork: each weekday, he reads every new review on the site, comments upon it and assigns it a score on a scale of 0.0 to 10.0. Instead of “Best New Music,” he gives an award for “Worst New Review.” As far as satire goes, it’s only marginally more subtle than the Scary Movie series, but it is effective nonetheless. Furthermore, it’s the ideal subject matter for a shockingly impersonal medium like tumblr, where small communities choose to blog about each other’s posts rather than having actual upfront discussions.

It’s not so much ironic as it was inevitable that Pitchfork would reach this position. It was originally created as a counterweight to the hegemonic power of traditional media (your Rolling Stones and, yes, your New York Timeses), and any fule…

With each show, you are presented with a new experience, group of people, and likely venue.  The only thing that remains constant is that you are attending, but your actions at a show can have potentially drastic consequences, both good and bad.  This past weekend, a few of the marquee aspects of show etiquette were broken.  Below, I have outlined the absolute necessities in order to be a respectful fan in a slew of environments.  All of this is done to prepare yourself for every genre, because no one likes a push pit at a Modest Mouse show.

GENERAL COURTESY:

Regarding clothing, specifically shirts, perhaps the number one rule, is NEVER wear a shirt of the band you are about to see.  Everyone knows you like the band because you’re at the show.  If you do wear a band t-shirt, make it count, as in something that is out of that band’s genre.  Also, sandals are generally a bad choice, along with any heavy clothing.  The temperature inside a venue can be brutal, so consider that run from your car to the entrance in shorts during the middle of the winter.

Regarding height, if you are on the short side of the stick, know if the venue has some sort of in-house elevation, or get there early so you are in the front of the stage.  Also, don’t complain when someone is tall, like myself, is in front of you.  There are hundreds upon thousands of different spots that you…

James LaBrie has made a new track called “One More Time” available for streaming (courtesy of AOL’s Noisecreep). The song is taken from his upcoming solo album, Static Impulse, which will be released on September 28 through InsideOut Music.

 

James LaBrie is best known for his work with Dream Theater, but they’re not his only musical endeavor. Most people probably don’t know that he released his first solo album, Elements of Persuasion, back in 2005. It was a powerful album that would probably surprise a lot of Dream Theater fans due to its heaviness. Well, it seems that this album is going to surprise even more people. The song is heavy and aggressive but combined with a huge chorus that rivals anything that he has done with Dream Theater. What is going to surprise people even more is the aggressive side of James’ voice. If the rest of the album is anything like this, it has the potential to be great.

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of July 20, 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

12 Stones – The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday [EP] (Wind-Up)
The Acacia Strain – Wormwood (Prosthetic Records)
Birds of Tokyo – Birds of Tokyo (MGM Distribution) – Davey Boy
Black Veil Brides – We Stitch These Wounds (Stand By Records)
The Books – The Way Out (Temporary Residence)
Chimaira – Coming Alive [CD/DVD] (Ferret Records)
Sheryl Crow – 100 Miles From Memphis (A&M)
Brian Culbertson – XII (GRP Records)
Darkseed – Poison Awaits (Massacre Records) – Trey Spencer
Department Of Eagles – Archive 2003-2006 (101 DISTRIBUTION)
East of the Wall – Ressentiment (TRANSLATION LOSS)
Electric Wire Hustle – Electric Wire Hustle (BBE Music)
David Garrett – Rock Symphonies (Decca)
Jimmy Gnecco – The Heart (Bright Antenna)
The High Confessions (Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, Chris Connelly of Ministry, Revolting Cocks) – Turn Lead Into Gold With High Confessions (Relapse)
Honor Bright – Action! Drama! Suspense! (Triple Crown)
John Robinson+LewisParker – International Summers (Project Mooncircle)
Shawn Lee – Sing A Song (Ubiquity Records)
Lil Joe – Lil Joe High School Dropout (Thizz Nation/Romp’t Out)
Lower Dens – Twin-Hand Movement (Gnomonsong)
Lydia – Assailants (Self-Released) – Alex Silveri
Mad Caddies – Consentual Selections (Fat Wreck Chords)
Moka Only – Airport 4 (Legendary Entertainment)
Potluck – Greatest Hits w/ My Buds (Suburban Noize

Earlier this week, we offered Sputnik users the chance to win a copy of the new Converge single, ‘On My Shield,’ which is currently only available at the merch table on the band’s European tour.

The way the original post was worded, it appeared that the contest was in some way endorsed by the band. This was a failure on our part and we apologise for any confusion caused. I personally attended a date on the band’s tour earlier this week and bought the record myself to give away as a “thank you” to the community for all that you contribute to this place.

On Thursday, we were contacted by the band’s label, Deathwish Inc., and asked to take the contest down. We opened a dialogue with Converge singer Jacob Bannon in an attempt to reach a compromise but were told in no uncertain terms that Converge/Deathwish are to retain full control of all contests. In hindsight, we should have asked the band for their approval in advance, but we have been left in no doubt that no permission would have been granted had we done so.

I am prepared to take full responsibility for this as it was my haste that caused the situation, and Deathwish/Jacob Bannon were fully within their right to tell me to go fuck myself. Which they did.

Once again, sorry guys.

We would hate to leave you guys shorthanded, though, so the competition will go ahead as scheduled with one minor alteration –…

m/ Leather Jackets, Gravestones and a Pontiac Trans-Am m/

Years back I was dragged to a show in Toronto’s Kensington Market. It was sort of a guerrilla affair—not only was it BYOB, but it was held in a trashy little skate shop, its storefront packed full of smelly, scraggly dudes (and their equally scraggly, slightly less smelly girlfriends). In its backroom, a makeshift skate park consisting of little more than mini-pipe and a few dinky, chipped rails, there was sort of a stage (but not really). The whole thing didn’t vibe with me at the time. Firstly, I hadn’t picked up or stood on a skateboard for years by that point and secondly, my buddy thought it prudent to bring mass quantities of Shlitz, which for the uninitiated, is cheap and disgusting. So after a couple beers I left.

Turns out I was missing one of Rammer’s last shows. At the time this meant nothing to me. Now? It fucking sucks. See, Rammer are flat out incredible. They’re volatile and disgusting and their unrelenting, uncompromising blend of death and thrash metal is exactly the kind of sound the increasingly puerile metal scene needs more of. What makes it more bittersweet is that they’d been toying with new material before their split. More on that later.

Throughout their ten year career, Rammer were as active as anyone in the Toronto metal scene but the fact remains that their early work just isn’t very good. It’s not…

Here’s a list of major new releases for the week of July 13, 2010. Please feel free to request reviews for any of the following albums from staff or contributors.

Anti Citizens – The Awakening [EP] (2012 Dynasty)
Audrey Assad – The House You’re Building (Sparrow)
Autechre – Move Of Ten (Warp Records)
Blink-182 – Blink-182 [Vinyl Re-Issue] (Geffen Records)
Capone-N-Noreaga – The War Report 2 (Ice H20)
Crowded House – Intriguer (Fantasy)
Curren$y – Pilot Talk (ISLAND/DEF-JAM)
Danger Mouse And Sparklehorse – Dark Night Of The Soul (Capitol Records) – Alex Silveri
Dom Pachino (Killarmy) – Tera Iz Him 2 (Napalm Recordings)
Duck Down Music – 15 Years of Duck Down (Duck Down Records)
Joe Elliott – My Regeneration (Mailboat Records)
Escape Artists – Coming Of Age (Self Released)
GM Grimm – Digital Tears [Re-issue] (Day By Day Entertainment)
Great Big Sea – Safe Upon the Shore (GREAT BIG SEA)
Hellyeah – Stampede (Epic)
In This Moment – A Star Crossed Wasteland (Century Media) - Davey Boy
Jungle Brothers – Straight Out The Jungle [2CDs] (Traffic Ent. Group)
Korn – III Remember Who You Are (Roadrunner Records)
Jane Krakowski – The Laziest Gal In town (Drg)
La Coka Nostra – The Audacity of Coke (DJ Eclipse)
Tony Lucca – Rendezvous With The Angels (Rock Ridge Music)
The Maine – Black & White (Sire/Wea)
MF Grimm – The Downfall Of Ibliys (
M.I.A. – ^^^y^ (Interscope Records) – Alex Silveri
Mystery…

Pele once said that an African nation would win the World Cup by 2000. He was laughed out of the room. Zinedine Zidane, on the other hand, once said that soon, Spain would start winning, and when they did, they wouldn’t stop. How unerringly right he was.

There was almost a sense of inevitability about Spain’s victory. They were clearly the most talented side in the competition, were on an absolute roll going into the finals, and have such an embarrassment of riches at their disposal that players as good as Fernando Torres, David Silva, Cesc Fabregas, Juan Manuel Mata, Jesus Navas, and Victor Valdes – all of them star players for their clubs – couldn’t get into the first eleven. And yet, any idea that this was somehow a disappointing finish to the tournament were ended instantly when the realisation that Spain had won sunk in. This is Spain, the biggest under-achiever in football. A country on the verge of political meltdown. A bunch of (mostly) immensely likeable footballers. And when Iniesta scored the winning goal and tore off his shirt to reveal a tribute to Dani Jarque, the Espanyol captain who died suddenly and unexpectedly earlier this year, it became clear that this wasn’t just fate, it was right. Enjoy it, Spain, and keep on enjoying it – it’s completely deserved.

Plenty of people assume that they are au fait with traditional Spanish music, but they may be surprised to learn exactly what…

Congratulations are in order, then – after a cracking game with Uruguay, Germany have finished third! And they completely deserve it, too.

As a direct follow-on from my little rant about the 2006 World Cup in yesterday’s blog, one of the things Italy’s success at that tournament proved is that you can win the competition without being the best team. Now, I’m not saying that’s the case in 2010 (Spain, of course, beat Germany when it really matters) but after their simply sublime 4-1 and 4-0 maulings of two of the pre-tournament favourites, Germany could certainly make a very, very strong case for having been the best team here. Certainly they’ve been the best to watch, with their extreme youth (experienced old head Bastian Schweinsteiger is only 26) adding a great dollop of fizz and adventure to their finely-tuned, well organized, hard-working tactics. Indeed, a full set of World Cup Oscars would almost certainly favour Germany more than anybody – Joachin Loew for best manager and best dressed, Phillip Lahm for best eyebrows, Hans-Jorge Butt for most childishly amusing surname (shared with Waldo Ponce), Thomas Mueller for best young player, and Mezut Ozil for both biggest revelation and greatest lookalike. Honestly, just look at the range of things this man looks like.

I spent far too long working on that.

Where to start with German music, then? How do you even begin to approach such a vast, famous, dominant entity? How do you narrow down a possible…

If you’ve been paying attention to this blog (and if you haven’t, I forgive you), you’ll have noticed that the three teams yet to appear include one team in Sunday’s final, and one team who’ve made tomorrow’s third-placed playoff. So far, so good, but the third team haven’t been a part of the World Cup since the 24th of June, when they unceremoniously dumped out of the competition by Slovakia, having failed to win a single game or keep a single clean sheet (how shameful for the country that invented pragmatic, ultra-defensive football!). And yet, they are (for the next two days, at least) the reigning champions of the world.

Truthfully, the campaigns of 2006 and 2010 weren’t that far apart for Italy, at least from the eyes of the neutral. They didn’t thrill here, and didn’t have any star stand-outs, but then, they didn’t in 2006 either – in fact, their victory in that dull, dull final was a crushing blow to anybody that appreciates attractive attacking football (especially coming after Greece’s similarly bloody-minded win in Euro 2004). And yet they won. Of course they won – it is the Italian way. They are a country that historically comes out on top – the Roman Empire, Catholicism, the Renaissance, numerous examples in football – to the point where failure isn’t really considered as an eventuality until it’s already happened. Music is no different; it’s just another field where Italy have consistently been world leaders.

Italy’s pre-eminent musical genre…

Ladies and gentlemen.

It is with a great deal of sadness that Sputnikmusic.com will cease to exist as of this month. Online media is well and truly dead, folks, and Sputnikmusic has to move with the times. However, we are excited to announce a brand new venture in the exciting world of print journalism: from July 31, Sputnikmusic will be available exclusively as a supplement with the Saturday edition of the Daily Mirror.

Well, not really.

But were confirmation ever needed that silly season had well and truly begun, it crashed through the ceiling on Monday with vuvuzelas blazing when Prince declared the internet (yes, the whole thing) to be “over” in an interview with the aforementioned British redtop. He said: “The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it.”

He went on: “They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.” From the man who brought us such classics as ‘1999,’ ‘I Would Die 4 U,’ 3121 and ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’ this is indeed a withering assessment of numbers. Perhaps more crucially, it represents the end of an era, not for online music, but for Prince’s association with a platform that he very much helped to mold in its infant state. Back in 1998, Prince became the first high-profile artist to sell an album…

It’s something that will probably be lost to time and forgotten about entirely, but one of the most disappointing things about this World Cup is that so many African stars, given the first chance to represent their nations in their own continent on the world’s biggest stage, never got the opportunity. Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o can count himself very lucky that he made it to the tournament fully fit, because it seems like he was the only one – Michael Essein and John Obi Mikel both missed out entirely through injury, Benni McCarthy wasn’t even picked to play, Sully Muntari seemed to be out of favour with his manager, and Dider Drogba – the man Ivory Coast’s hopes rested on, broke his arm. He eventually played a part in every game of their campaign while wearing a cast, but he was off the pace and understandably shirked a few challenges; it – along with Luis Suarez’s Hand of God II: Electric Boogaloo – was the most immediate symbol of the rotten luck Africa had throughout. Many felt that Ivory Coast would qualify from their group with relative ease, so uninspiring were rivals Portugal in qualifying for the tournament, but Drogba’s arm, and the subsequent loss of momentum it brought (and North Korea’s incompetence against Portugal, in fairness), stopped them from getting the results they needed. Drogba – a hero right across Africa – should have been one of the tournament’s stars. Instead, he barely got out of first gear. Côte d’Ivoire’s…

And so Uruguay are vanquished, and Europe come to dominate; it’s a Holland vs. Spain final, and Jules Rimet is promised a European home for another four years. That’s not how it looked three weeks ago though, or even two weeks ago, when England bumbled, Portugal stumbled, Italy crumbled, and France…..well. What to say about France?

I’m not one for hyperbole, but – with respectful nods to Andrés Escobar – I don’t think any team in the history of the tournament has ever had a worse world cup campaign than France have this year. Coached by a mental invalid, who dumped their greatest player to the bench and didn’t even pick two of their most gifted for the squad, they staggered through an excruciatingly dull opening match with Uruguay before being thoroughly tanked by both Mexico and South Africa – and in the midst of all this, the whole team went on strike after the centre-forward leading their line was sent home for being smart enough to realise his manager was a cock. The whole scenario was among the most embarrassing and shameful things ever witnessed in international football, and it was enough to ensure that not a single member of the French team emerged from the tournament with credit (except, maybe, the ones that didn’t play). As such, I wonder whether any of them deserve a picture here. So here’s a memory of happier times.

Of course, nowadays, this man is just a disgrace to everybody in football.

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