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I know a lot of people around don’t believe me when I occasionally argue that leaks – and the culture whereby people think they’re entitled to all the free music they want – are bad for musicians so don’t take my word for it. Take the word of the head of a independent label that sinks all its money into promoting some of the most innovative hip hop and electronic music around.

It was with considerable disappointment that we learnt in the last week that two records we have been working on have been leaked, despite the use of watermarked CDs. Toddla T’s Watch Me Dance(Ninja Tune) and Thundercat’s The Golden Age of Apocalypse (Brainfeeder) were both leaked from copies sent to the journalist Benjamin Jager at the offices of Backspin magazine in Germany.

The availability of these records online for free has meant a rush release of the digital version of Toddla’s record, which, after the years of work put in, will seriously affect the ability to make any kind of financial return from commercial release. No one at the magazine has yet taken responsibility for uploading these records to the internet, but until the situation is resolved, we will no longer be servicing Backspin with promo copies. It’s very hard for young, up and coming artists to make a living from their music. People uploading their music months before it is commercially available are not doing them any favours.

Everybody has their own views on how music should…

“I cannot walk through the suburbs in the solitude of the night without thinking that the night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does.”
Jorge Luis Borges

Memory is nothing if not a collision of creation and fact: the perpetual struggle between actuality and imagination. There is always something tangible and factual at the heart of each memory, but the contextual world is one of modality. Ever changing: the colour of that car, what that person was wearing, minute details that ebb and flow. These things are all subject to change over time because they are overcome by imagination. When my Grandmother was in the hospital, for example, she remembered meeting my brother’s fiancé on a bus a few years prior—but to her that bus ride was from Clyde Bank to Glasgow and not the city bus in London (where the meeting actually took place). These details are an extension of imagination and how it corrupts memory. In many ways this is how nostalgia works. Avoiding a purely clinical, Freudian framework, nostalgia is the erosion of actuality in favour of compartmentalized emotions. Over time we elude precision of memories in favour of a broader spectrum of general feelings that umbrella over periods of our lives.

Music plays an important role as an agent of nostalgia; platitudes such as “the soundtrack of our lives” are not entirely without merit. As we compartmentalize our more nostalgic memories, so does it seem that we compartmentalize the music…

The greatest put-down… of all time.

via @owenpallett

Today was a proud, proud day in the world of journalism for so many reasons, but the one posterity will remember is the closure of Britain’s News of the World Sunday newspaper after 168 years of proud dedication to the art of photographing tits and drunk celebrities outside London nightclubs.

All 200+ staff at the London office have been laid off (those in the Dublin office technically they’ve been given 90 days “gardening leave”) and the NotW will be replaced by a Sunday edition of the equally upstanding Sun newspaper. Presumably some of the staff will be redeployed, but certainly not all, and many fine journalists will find themselves out of work while former editor Rebekah Brooks keeps her post at News International.

People say it’s difficult to have much sympathy for News of the World journalists, and to a point it’s true, but beneath the sickening phone-hacking scandal and the brain-deadening “social diaries” there was an excellent team of sports journalists, sub-editors and administrative staff who face an uncertain future while their sleazy overlords scramble to preserve their own reptilian skins. Still, nobody likes a tabloid hack and, for that alone, we give to you The Wildhearts and ‘News of the World’ from their epic 1994 album Earth vs. the Wildhearts.

40 years gone, the legend of Jim Morrison has long since superseded the man himself to the point where clueless music journalists feel free to refer to his death as his “breaking on through to the other side,” a lyrical nod to the Doors’ 1967 classic single.

Such dimwitted tributes are, sadly, common currency. The image of the rebellious rocker valiantly passing over to the “other side” is a far more romantic notion than what occurred in reality (or at least in probability, as no autopsy was ever performed): Morrison and his junkie girlfriend took a suicidal cocktail of drugs overnight, leading the singer to vomit up his internal organs before slowly, and painfully, meeting his end in a Parisian bathtub.

The romantic image of Morrison is made even cuter due to the fact that he, by all accounts, was a misogynistic dog who’d fuck anything that walked on two legs, or maybe even three. Yet that’s what made him such a compelling figure: as a man, he was stirringly, disarmingly handsome and as a songwriter he was deceptively accomplished. He was the rock n’ roll ideal: irresistible and prodigiously talented.

While the abiding sonic image of the Doors as a group might be their longer, more psyched-up pieces, ‘Light my Fire’ was Robby Krieger’s baby and was driven by Ray Manzarek’s iconic keyboard melody. What Morrison brought to the party was a manic, almost primal energy, best exemplified by that distinctive guttural roar – he was in many…

A major similarity can be drawn between the works of Cormac McCarthy and the relationship between Dan Barrett’s Giles Corey book and album. Cormac McCarthy has always been a good enough writer that it was never really necessary for him to do anything different, but as the years wore on his books became a bit more streamlined and easier to read, as if the dross of pretension was smelted away leaving pithy wisdom and a fine sense of humor. His earlier novels plumbed deep into the human psyche and extracted dark things while his later works – starting with the Border Trilogy – are mostly about the good in people. Even No Country For Old Men, whose most memorable character is a representation of pure evil, is more about goodness and honesty than anything else. Someone like Anton Chigurh only serves to make the goodness more apparent. When you read his later works, you realize that that was his theme all along, no matter how he approached it. You could put his later works and his earlier works side by side and try to contrast them but eventually you’d have to just put them all together.

The release of Dan Barrett’s book and album is similar, the obvious and key difference being that they are inherently the same work presented in two ways. Attempts to separate them to decide which is more effective are ultimately pointless, as they are most effective when combined. The album is a…

 

Fair to Midland – Arrows & Anchors

Release Date: 12 July 2011

Label: eOne Metal

 

 

 

We recieved a link to the webstream of the new Fair to Midland last night, and I finally got around to listening to it for the first time. Since things are slow right now I figured that I would give my initial impressions based on a single listen. For those that are into pain, there is also a track-by-track that was written in real time as I was listening to the album. Below that is the official video for “Musical Chairs.”

My overall impression of this album is that it is not nearly as instant as Fables From a Mayfly. The choruses and vocal melodies are good, but they aren’t as simple and catchy as they previously were. This shouldn’t be taken as a bad thing, though, because the album is definitely going to be one that grows on people. One negative that I can point out is that the vocalist was definitely much more restrained on this album. He never hits those high notes or odd melodies the way he did before. This kind of makes the first listen blend together a little bit because the vocals are all very similar for the most part. It’s also not nearly as heavy or chaotic as the song floating around Youtube would have you believe. Now that it’s established what is missing, we should get into what the album actually is. The music…

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Watch this video for the new Queensryche song. If it helps with your decision, there are a lot of half-naked chicks in it. The song is called “Wot We Do” and it comes from the Seattle band’s upcoming twelfth album, Dedicated to Chaos. The video was created by the band’s vocalist, Geoff Tate, and features performance and backstage footage of the Cabaret shows that they did last year, and it’s a testament to just how far they have fallen. This is the same band that released the excellent concept album Operation: Mindcrime and once almost got themselves shot while trying to secretly record gang members talking so that they could include it on the song “Empire.” So, what went wrong? In interviews for this album the band have been trying to make it as clear as possible that this is supposed to be a very current and modern album. Geoff Tate told Paul Anthony of U.K.’s Rock Radio, “It’s kind of like an Empire record set 25 years in the future,” and drummer Scott Rockenfield said, “It’s huge rock but with a great dance vibe to it, real modern dance. It’s kind of like Rage [For Order] through a time tunnel, bringing it into the now.” If you’ve just watched the video for “Wot We Do” you have to be wondering what the hell they’re even talking about.

Do they look like a group that knows what

Despite the unequivocally loud – and at times violent – protests for ‘Idol Thoughts’ to make a return to the SputnikMusic blog, your humble and flattered reporter simply could not find the time to keep up with the goings on of J-Lo and Steven Tyler this year. Fear not however, as the over-saturation of music-based reality shows which span the globe nowadays, is always likely to serve up some form of quality entertainment.

While the ‘(insert country here)’s Got Talent’ franchise is usually more likely to serve up a contender for ‘Funniest Home Videos’ than reveal a musical genius, there is something about the ad-libbing kitchen sink nature of the show’s format which could attract an undiscovered gem.

Case in point is the aptly named James “Chooka” Parker, a contestant on the current series of Australia’s Got Talent. While rural Victoria is not exactly the Australian outback, it is not completely out of the question that young Chooka actually does not own a television, let alone the modern necessities that are a smartphone and the internet… The fashion sense definitely suggests so anyway.

Already the owner of more facial hair than the average red-head is likely to see in their lifetime, the self-taught 16 year old – yes, I said 16 – wandered on to stage for his debut appearance a few weeks back, ready to apparently make everyone laugh. What followed was a mixture of hooting, hollering and bewilderment, which later resulted in one judge calling him a “freak”……

Working-class hardman turned middle-class investigative journalist Ross Kemp has seen a lot of things in his time, not least the most vicious gangs ever to emerge from the barrios of Rio, Bogota and San Salvador, as well as Maori tough men, Timorese martial arts cults and Ricky Gervais.

But not even his experiences in the most deprived, most dangerous parts of the world could quite have prepared him for the slaughterous aural wrecking ball that is And So I Watch You From Afar’s Gangs. I gave it a rather ambivalent 3/5 on its release a couple of months back, but let’s hear what the far more discriminating and battle-hardened Kemp has to say…

Courtesy of Maybeshewill

Bon Iver’s second album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver, isn’t scheduled for release until June 21, but labels Jagjaguwar and 4AD have made this charming little widget so fans can get familiar with it before the big day.

Read staff member Cam’s review of Bon Iver, Bon Iver here.

Bon Iver is simply the lush-est, loveliest album of the year. “Towers” and “Wash.,” in particular, are two of the warmest, most inviting songs I’ve heard in a long, long time; they each seem to weirdly possess the aural consistency of a warm blanket, or a nice cup of cocoa. Vernon’s voice is the main draw: his singing has improved tenfold, elevating to stratospheric and angelic heights and then descending to a low rumble, a restless sigh, or a breathless declaration, all within minutes.

There is something ill-fitting, discomforting about the manner in which the legendary Gil Scott-Heron’s passing has been treated by print media, particularly in Britain.

Scott-Heron was largely ignored in his lifetime by traditional media and by the mainstream in general. He had hits, undoubtedly, and his classic screed ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ has entered the pop culture lexicon almost without acknowledgement. However, until a recent revival on Richard Russell’s XL Recordings and a remix album chaired by Jamie of the xx, his cultural cache was cult – a musician whose influence far overreached his renown. Five years ago, his death would have been notable, but not this notable.

Much of it has to do with the success of his return to music – he hadn’t released a thing between 1994’s  Spirits and 2010’s sardonically-titled I’m New Here – and some is due to print journalism sourcing more and more of its content from social media. But that doesn’t quite account for everything – some of the coverage given to Scott-Heron’s death has gone beyond hagiography, effectively crediting the man with creating the entire culture of hip hop (but only the nice, positive parts, of course).

It took me a while to figure it out, but then it all made sense: Barack Obama. While the President’s standing in the world has diminished somewhat since taking office, he remains an object of utter fascination for most Europeans, particularly in the English-speaking countries. Obama swept into the UK last week, leaving…

Following on from his cover of Willow Smith’s ‘Whip My Hair’ last year, late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon has once more grabbed his hat, guitar and harmonica to portray Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young.

Choosing to cover a song from a much more mature artist this time around, Fallon turns his attention to Miley “Hannah Montana” Cyrus. And what better way to ‘Party in the U.S.A’ than with a couple of Rock’N’Roll hall of famers in David Crosby and Graham Nash.

“Nodding my head like yeah, moving my hips like yeah”.

No press please.

One of the celeb-spotting highlights of my time at Coachella 2011 was seeing pop starlet Katy Perry, or should I say Katy Perry surrounded by a fat entourage of men allowing only the slightest glimpse of her pixie-sized body, walking across the field towards the VIP area. I found it mildly fascinating that, in a festival where numerous stars could be seen hobnobbing and generally enjoying themselves, Perry found it necessary to travel in a way that would paradoxically maximize not only her protection but also her visibility. There’s few things better suited to announcing to the world that HEY! PLATINUM POP STAR PASSING THROUGH! than traveling in a caravan.

Luckily, one of those few things is tour riders, one of the best ways to determine whether a pop star’s desire for control is beginning to spiral a bit out of reach. The Smoking Gun recently got a hold of Perry’s 2011 rider, and it delivers. We’ve all heard the “only brown M&Ms” horror stories common in the industry, but Perry, who prefers organic snacks, takes things to a diva-tastic level. Demands run the gamut from precisely delineated types of chairs (cream-colored armchairs, God help you if they’re in eggshell white) to a somewhat disturbing repulsion towards carnations (underlined AND capitalized, indicating potential harm to Katy if she is indeed exposed to such flowery trifles) to a comprehensive list of things her driver is NOT allowed to do, including…

Channing Freeman’s existential review of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way has received much attention on the Twitter Machine and elsewhere, however we’ve never before received criticism so thoughtful and so immaculately-presented as what follows. Mr./Mrs. Freeman will be licking his/her wounds after this one.

And, yes, those are pictures of the inimitable Gagster.

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