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7.29.2005

Roger Waters not as cool as previously thought?



The dust has finally settled around Live 8, and even if you attended the classic Canadian line-up in Barrie, it’s clear that the reunited Pink Floyd performance was the true accomplishment.

The legendary hostility between Roger Waters and David Gilmour is believed to have kept Pink Floyd from ever reuniting again. Reports say that the two buried the hatchet for the Live 8 cause, and there’s no big reunion tour plan.

The band even donated all the money they made when their album sales jumped 1343 % after their performance.

Supposedly the band also turned down a multi-million dollar offer to tour the U.S.

But is Roger Waters holding back the potential Pink Floyd reunion tour in order to promote a new album? Could he have used the Live 8 performance to raise his own profile so someone will give a damn?

Looks like yes.

This September Waters is releasing a new CD this fall called “Ca Ira.” He began writing the musical, sorry “full blown opera,” in 1989 and is set against the backdrop of the French Revolution.

Begrudgingly I still admire Roger Waters for sticking to his guns, and for Pink Floyd in general for not sullying their band down that Eagles/Pixies/Dinosaur Jr. route.


Rollingstone.com talks to Roger Waters

Download a live version of “Dark Side of the Moon” from 1972

The Great Pink Floyd Mystery

Roger Waters official website

Official Press release for Ca Ira

Advanced Blog Theory also gives his two cents

7.26.2005

BMG pays off radio – anyone surprised?



Sony BMG, the corporate giant who owns Arista Records, Columbia Records, Sony Music International, So So Def Records, has been found guilty of paying off radio stations in order to get their “products” (some say artists) on the air.

Sony BMG is the second largest label in the U.S.

This isn’t news. This is reality. Who didn’t think that record labels paid off radio stations? Most people also assume Sony BMG and other labels give “incentives” to Rolling Stone, Spin and other “credible” music magazines in order to get the same 5 people on the cover of 30 magazines each month.

I’m sure that radio stations and magazines aren’t the only people being paid off by record labels. What about TV programs? Websites? Record Stores? Blogs? Where will it end?

The recent investigation of the record industry by New York Attorney Eliot Spitzer has resulted in a $10 million dollar settlement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment.

Not unlike political organizations paying for party support, Sony BMG had special employees who would be special label reps who would go down to radio stations to make special payments, or offer incentives to get the music on the air.

Sony spokesperson John McKay admits that they were wrong. "Despite federal and state laws prohibiting unacknowledged payment by records labels to radio stations for airing of music, such direct and indirect forms of what has been described generically as 'payola' for spins has continued to be an unfortunately prevalent aspect of radio promotion."

Spitzer is continuing his investigation on other major music companies EMI, Warner Music Group and Vivendi Universal SA's Universal Music Group

I’m all for artists being on a major label. Major labels are good because they can reach more people, and that industry needs to be in place whenever a Prince, or Bruce Springsteen or Michael Jackson comes along and takes the world by storm.

But the way labels make stations play the same songs all the time is a form of mind-control, in a way forcing people to get into music they play through repetition.

At one point in my life, I was always really excited about countdown shows. Like the Top 40 countdown on Saturday afternoons, or Friday evening video countdown. But this report found that BMG were influencing these countdowns by giving away TVs, trips and too many other things that are too extravagant to get into.

One Program Director has been quoted as saying "I'm a whore this week, what can I say?"

And just to make you feel a little queasy, here’s a rundown of some of your favorite artists involved in these major label scams. Maybe the only reason you like it is because you heard it so many times on the radio.

Sony BMG labels:

Arista Record Artists:

Avril Lavinge

Dido

Sarah McLachlan

Outkast

Pink

Kelis

J-Kwon

Usher

The Neptunes

Carlos Santana

Columbia Records:

Aerosmith

Alice in Chains

Beyonce

David Bowie

Jeff Buckley

Mariah Carey

Coheed and Cambria

Leonard Cohen

Cypress Hill

Il Divo

Dixie Chicks

Bob Dylan

Five for Fighting

Bela Fleck

Iron Maiden

Billy Joel

Chantal Kreviazuk

John Mayer

Nas

Northern State

The Offspring

Our Lady Peace

Prince

The Raveonettes

Kyle Riabko

Santana

Jessica Simpson

Patti Smith

Bruce Springsteen

A Static Lullaby

Barbra Streisand

Switchfoot

System of a down

James Taylor

Train

Robin Williams

Xzibit

Pete Yorn

Epic Records:

Audioslave

AC/DC

Chevelle

Celine Dion

The Dead 60s

Duran Duran

Franz Ferdinand

Fuel

Ben Folds

Good Charlotte

Incubus

Indigo Girls

Michael Jackson

Judas Priest

Cyndi Lauper

Jennifer Lopez

Los Lonely Boys

Modest Mouse

George Michael

Oasis

Ozzy Osbourne

Omarion

Phantom Planet

Joe Satriani

Shakira

Tenacious D

Travis

Steve Vai

Stevie Ray Vaughn

The Zutons

J Records:

Alicia Keys

Annie Lennox

Carrie Underwood

Fantasia

Kenny G

Maroon 5

Rod Stewart

Ruben Studdard

Wyclef Jean

Jive Records:

Backstreet Boys

Britney Spears

JC Chasez

Justin Timberlake

Nick Carter

R. Kelly

Reel Big Fish

Three Days Grace

Nick Lachey

LaFace Records:

Ciara

RCA Records:

Clay Aiken

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Kelly Clarkson

Cooper Temple Clause

Dave Matthews Band

Elvis

Foo Fighters

David Gray

Kasabian

Kings of Leon

Ben Kweller

My Morning Jacket

The Kills

The Strokes

Velvet Revolver

ZZ Top


Read up on the issue:

Downhill Battle: Music Activism

Rolling Stone – Sony Ponies up for Payola

The Real Deal – The truth about the record industry

Major Label artists diss being on a major

Sony BMG Apologizes For Payola Involving J. Lo, Avril, Good Charlotte, Others (MTV)

7.25.2005

The Smiths – perfect cottage band?


Sitting on a dock, cold beer in your hand, sun in the sky, and Morrissey asking for your head on the conjugal bed. Things don’t get much better than this, right?

Okay, the Morrissey bit sounds out of place. But bear with me on this one.

Preparing for a weekend at a friend’s cottage, I brought along a few CDs and the iPod with the iTrip. I had no intention to take over the stereo, but if allowed, I would put on a few of my tunes, or figured if someone wanted to browse through the 4000 songs, they were more than welcome.

So we were relaxing, and someone wanted to toss the iPod onto shuffle mode, so we could all just listen to a random mix of tunes, radio-style. If it was me, by myself, I would have been into this, but my taste is a little too eclectic, and without fast access to the iPod in order to skip tracks, the mix would be too jarring. Black Sabbath running up against Damien Jurado and Postal Service. Sure it doesn’t sound too bad, but toss in a few Blood Brothers tunes, Godspeed! style epics and a few lectures on existential philosophy, and my shuffle potential is too frustrating.

Instead of shuffling, I just set the iPod to play an artist where I had a few albums worth of music, and the only artists who trump by Pedro the Lion collection would be the Smiths.

I figured if anyone really hated it, I could toss on something trendier, or even more ‘cottage’ style like Sam Roberts or The Hip, as clichĂ© as it sounds.

But wouldn’t you know it, my eclectic collection of friends were all into it. There were no requests for something familiar, or for anything different at all.

Between myself, budding musical elitism, my wonderful fiancé, a professional sound-guy, a couple of pharmaceutical students, a professor and ex-student academic types, and your average brit-rock fanatic, everyone seemed satisfied. So satisfied that we listened to all six albums I had.

It turns out I was the only one annoyed by it all at the end.

In a way, the Smiths make sense. Most of the songs are upbeat, and fast paced. The bright jangly guitars are high up in the mix, and in the summer heat, Morrissey’s wail can almost be mistaken for Bono.

The only song skipped over was “I know its over” from The Queen is Dead, who the Brit-pop proclaimed as just too depressing of a song. And I agree, if any was to be passed over on a summer afternoon, that song is just fine with me.

Next year, when we all make the trek out to the cottage, I think I’ll try this little experiment again, but this time, Morrissey will take his turn solo.

7.22.2005

Down with the happy collectives!



Over 14 people on stage? Pseudo-hippie love? All about the drugs and booze? The bigger, the better, right?

I don’t know about you, but this whole exploding bands epidemic has got me a little concerned. What happened to the days of cranky bands with dictatorship leaders, like The Cure, or The Smiths, or hell, even Oasis? It’s all a big feel good party out there these days, and maybe because I’m a hateful bastard, but I’ve been left behind on this one.

Where did this current trend of bulging bands come from? For me, I think most of the blame could be based on the Arts and Crafts collective, Broken Social Scene. I enjoy BSS, don’t get me wrong, but I wonder why sometimes. Probably because each song is so unique and textured, and the variety of it all keeps my so-called iPod attention span entertained.

Broken Social Scene are probably one of the most famous of these “collective bands” probably because they are made up of so many semi-successful members of other really great bands, like Stars, Metric, Feist, Apostle of Hustle, etc. And while I love all these other bands, none of them reach the same sort of creative climax that BSS accomplishes, maybe excluding Stars. It leads me to believe that BSS is greater than the sum of its parts, which each little guest star pushing the band further into greatness.

Would Broken Social Scene be as great if it were just stripped down to two or three members, like their Toronto peers Death From Above? Probably not.

See, that’s the thing, is Broken Social Scene can do this collective thing really well. They can take a pile of performers, put ‘em all together, and make something great. Same with Arcade Fire and Godspeed.

But I think this trend will go too far.

People hopping on this bandwagon are going to lose sense of their dynamics, because making a big sound is easy with 10 people on stage, as opposed to three. But with 10 people on stage, its harder to be quiet, which is the true key to dynamics.

I kind of liken it to those singers on those Idol shows… really great at hitting all the power notes, but in terms of actually singing a melody or sounding meaningful, these kids fail.

Once upon a time, there were these things called “big bands,” mini orchestras with over 30 instruments, the original collectives. I’m pretty sure they feel out of fashion because you make more money splitting the pot three ways instead of thirty.

But I don’t really have too much to complain about. While the whole BSS/Arts and Crafts collective is a big love-in, they are balanced out by the whole dark horse Montreal collective scene of goth-y bands like Godspeed, Arcade Fire, and The Dears, who are known as much for their depressing nature as much as anything else.

All in all, these trends are all cyclical right. This happy-lucky massive group thing will consume itself, and everyone will go back to wearing black and looking at their shoes.

Or maybe not.

This is the iPod culture after all, and maybe the cycle will just turn into a wild oscillation between one man bands and thirty people strong rock orchestras on a never-ending feedback loop.

7.21.2005

The Airfields – The City-State EP


Ever since I've moved to the city a couple months ago, I've started this habit of picking up really cool looking CDs in the “local” section at Soundscapes. Most of the time these CDs are really cheap, and have really cool packaging, and always offer a surprise or two.

I haven’t really chosen anything fully blind yet, because if I read a favorable review somewhere, I’ve been more likely to pick up something familiar.

So the first CD I've picked up and spent some time with is The City-State EP by The Airfields. I’m not sure where I heard about them first, but their packaging was just construction paper held together by ribbon, so I was intrigued.

It turns out this is a well put together band, with some really mature songwriting and a really interesting mix of organs and clean electric guitars.

The first song, "City State," is a really upbeat, strangely warm and cool feeling at the same time. It’s a good song to start off the EP, as it is sets the mood, and showcases all the different potential things this band is one day capable of. My favorite parts of this some are the keyboard sounds, which lay somewhere between a dead sounding carnival organ and a warm electronic synth.

"If you don't believe" falls in line with the tradition of beautiful 'mourning' song, which have that delicate mix of being somehow sad and triumphant at the same time. The vocals on this song remind me of early Low.

Finally, the eight minute plus "Leaps and Bounds" plays up the band’s similarities to Death Cab for Cutie, and would make a great soundtrack for post-breakup walks home in the dark.

I feel that the most successful thing about this EP is that it could be played anytime, and it would still fit the mood, like early morning jaunts on the subway, rainy days, cold days, muggy hot days, happy and sad days.

I'm looking forward to seeing this band live.

Future gigs: Sat July 23rd @ Cameron house w/ Lobster Rock Tokyo and
Bellevue

The Airfield’s New Music Canada site

Wavelength talks to the Airfields

All their songs are available on the website

7.19.2005

Wolf Parade: A beast to be reckoned with.



Alot of people have heard about Wolf Parade already. Alot of people haven't. I guess it all comes down to what you define as 'popular' and overhyped. For example, everyone has heard of the Arcade Fire. But in the real world the realistic size of the Arcade Fire aware public is maybe equal to a handful of sand at the beach.

Anways, music lovers, I'm talking to you, so who cares? If you haven't heard of Wolf Parade already (do these people exist?), you no doubt will in the next couple months, and in the few months following that, the backlash will begin.

Some say the backlash has already started. Understandably so, because they have a few things working against them already.

1. They are from Montreal.
2. They have the name 'Wolf' in their name.
3. Pitchfork loves them.
4. They are actually amazing live.

Friends of mine think they just sound like early Beck. Personally, I dig their dirty Iggy Pop style. But to draw comparisons to this band is pointless, because like an abstract painting, everyone sees something different.

I first heard of Wolf Parade a year ago from the other writers at tinymixtapes.com, and they all raved about their self-titled EP, which is six songs of pure madness. These recordings are raw and powerful. Highlights are hard to pick out because each
song is so special, like the instantly classic "Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts" and "Grounds for Divorce."

My first chance of seeing the band live was at a massive show at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto, on a bill with Final Fantasy and The Arcade Fire. I was up in the balcony, and I really missed out on being able to enjoy this concert. But I knew that if I saw this band in a club, they would be phenomenal. And a couple months later at the basement club "comfort zone," my suspicion was confirmed: Wolf Parade are amazing live.

Intense, dark, funny, powerful, the band exuded the confidence that every great live band possesses, but still carried a genuine air of frustration and seriousness that demands a serious following.

This fall, the band's first full length "Apologies to the Queen Mary" will be coming out on the Sub-pop label, and was co-produced by Modest Mouse frontman, Isaac Brock. It's already been leaked on the internet, but current speculation says that it's not the 'final' version due out in stores. Hopefully this speculation is right, because compared to the EPs, the full length lacks that raw urgency that the EPs deliver so well. Like they've been "Modest Mouseified" or something.

When this band goes on tour in the fall/winter, go see them, as many times as possible. Pick up the EPs, and the new album, as they will definately be worth your while.


Listen to "You are a Runner and I am my Father's son"

Listen to "Killing Armies"

The "official" Wolf Parade Website

Wolf Parade's New Music Canada site with rare tracks

Chart goes deeper with the history of Wolf Parade, and how they hooked up with Modest Mouse

Wolf Parade's Bio Page at Sub-pop

The Montreal Mirror and the four headed dog

Pitchfork reviews "You are a Runner" EP

Tinymixtapes reviews Wolf Parade

Check out Wolf Parade's stage plot

NOW Toronto reviews a Wolf Parade show from December 2004




R. Kelly is a freakin' genius. You remember how awesome "Remix to ignition" was? Yah, bounce indeed. Now here comes "Trapped in the Closet" the five-part (soon to be six-part) radio-style song cycle. If you haven't seen the videos, immediately go to his site, and watch all five parts. You may think the first one is lame, but by the end, you'll be dying to see the next episode.

Is it genius? Does he know how great this truly is? Can he take a joke? Does he deal in camp now?

If anything, the bloggers sure dig it.

Zoilus just did a column all about it.

SOHH has another mannequin pic too.

Pitchfork reviewed #2 of 5.

and finally

The Psychich Hipster's Pop 10
Yindies and Crunksters and Christians, O My!

And get it white it's hot!

Bonnie Prince Billy does Ignition, Live!