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Musings

<a href="http://sufjanstevens.bandcamp.com/album/all-delighted-people-ep">All Delighted People (Original Version) by Sufjan Stevens</a>

You’re probably going to need an hour-long EP to get through this, so start listening.

Anyone remotely connected to the indie music world knows that Sufjan Stevens surprised the world last Friday by releasing an hour-long EP completely unannounced. Even more surprising was the mode of release. Instead of putting it on iTunes (although it did reach other digital stores on Monday), Sufjan and Asthmatic Kitty Records decided to upload the EP on Bandcamp. And it was probably the smartest decision they could have made, considering Sufjan’s usually tech-savvy fanbase who, if the EP had premiered on iTunes, would probably have pirated the EP if only to avoid the awkward file format used by iTunes.

To compare the world of digital music stores to the world of Internet browsers, the iTunes Store looks more and more like Internet Explorer–widely used but antiquated in many ways, rendering them completely unusable to anyone who does not use iTunes. iTunes has also faced numerable phishing scams, including a very recent one that came about the same time as Sufjan’s EP.

Bandcamp, in keeping with the web browser analogy, is the Mozilla Firefox of digital music stores–not necessarily the fastest, but the one with the most customizable options. On Bandcamp, the musician or label simply uploads their master files, and the service converts them to any file format you could possibly want: 320 kbps mp3, VBR mp3, FLAC, Apple Loseless,…

We’ve got one copy of the incredible deluxe vinyl box set of Dark Night of the Soul to give away.

The album is a collaboration between producer Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz), alt. rock band Sparklehorse and film director/artist David Lynch, recorded just months before Sparklehorse frontman Mark Linkous’ tragic death. Read Alex Silveri’s review of Dark Night of the Soul here.

The deluxe box set (pictured above) includes the Dark Night of the Soul album on CD, on double-LP vinyl, a CD containing instrumentals from the album, a 40-page 12″ x 12″ photo book (curated by Lynch), lobby cards, a limited edition photo card and an 18″ x 24″ poster.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer the following simple question and send it, along with your full name and username, to sputnikreviews@gmail.com with the tagline “Dark Night of the Soul contest.”

Question: What is your favourite David Lynch film?

NB: The contest is only available to residents of the United States, so please confirm that you’re resident in the country in the email itself to avoid confusion. Multiple entries will be ignored. Closing date is 23.59 on Tuesday, August 31.

Charles Manson’s The Inner Sanctum is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.

I don’t mean to say it’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard because it’s awful, although it certainly is awful.  What I mean is, it is depressing to hear this old man plunk away on his guitar while muttering indecipherable lyrics, probably wearing the exact same outfit and the same exact expression as he is on the cover, which looks sort of like he is taking a shit, about to vomit, and trying to work out a complex algebra problem in his head all at once.

The Inner Sanctum is a 3-track EP.  The bookends, “Air” and “Just Love Someone,” are tuneless acoustic meanderings complete with Manson drawling away in a semi-bluesy tone.  The real gem is the second track, “Labor of the Mind,” which isn’t a song; it’s 3:15 of Manson talking.  About what?  I’m not sure, I wasn’t really paying attention.  He says something about how religions worship violence or something and that, within a religion, “improv becomes the devil,” which doesn’t seem to mean anything at all.  It all seems very blasé until you realize that this is the guy with a swastika carved into his forehead and then it just becomes very very ironic in a very very sad way.

I can’t help but feel a little bit depressed for Manson when I listen to Inner Sanctum.  I mean, this is a man who was described as the most compelling, charismatic, mesmerizing man…

Below, comedians Mario Cantone, Sherri Shepherd and Jackie Hoffman read excerpts from Destiny’s Child 2002 autobiography, Soul Survivors.

No further explanation needed, really.

Yesterday on the blog, we previewed “High School Art Class,” the first track off Pretty Lights’ newest EP entitled, Spilling Over Every Side.  Today Derek Vincent Smith, the mastermind of Pretty Lights, talks about his touring, latest and future works, and the experience of playing a show with DJ Shadow.

Ryan Flatley: I just downloaded your second EP, which is fantastic by the way, and I just wanted to know if Spilling Over Every Side and your other two EPs are linked in any way or are they separate entities?

Derek Vincent Smith: Well really what I’m trying to do is try to make three separate bodies of music that can come together as a whole. And I suppose what would unify them as a whole is the fact that (it’s) the music I wanted to create in 2010, and it’s kind of where I’m at in 2010. I’m really trying to use each EP as a way to push each style I’m trying to explore at that time. The second EP is different than the first, and trying a different approach on the third. I suppose I want the trilogy to be a glimpse into the ever-change, morphing vision of myself.

RF: Do you plan on doing that on a consistent basis, as in 2011 release music sporadically?

DVS: No, I want to make it different all the time, this year I want to do the three EPs. Next year I already have planned to do something…

Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir

By: Dave Mustaine & Joe Layden
Released: August 3, 2010
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: It Books

Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir has something for even the most apathetic of Megadeth fans and is written in a very entertaining manner thanks to the dry humor and no-holds-barred attitude of Dave Mustaine.
——————————————————————————————

I’ve never considered myself a huge fan of Megadeth. Their earlier albums always seemed to be very inconsistent in terms of quality, and their mid-era commercial attempts were mostly terrible. There are exceptions of course, Rust in Peace is easily one of the best thrash albums of all time and Endgame is just about equal (and sometimes better, depending on my mood) – but this isn’t about me and isn’t really about Megadeth either. This is about Dave Mustaine; the man that has had the great fortune of being part of two of the biggest metal bands of the last thirty years. He’s also the man that everyone has loved to hate due to his tendency to speak his mind and treat fellow band mates as if they were totally expendable (in hindsight one could argue that they really have been). If anyone in the metal community has lived a life that is worthy of having a book written about him, it is Dave Mustaine. The man has dealt with drug use, the stigma of being dropped from Metallica, the total…

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…

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