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« Music: April 2006 | Main | Music: June 2006 »

Music

Make friends with the badger - $5

Joshua sent me this article that continues the debate on the internet and the future of the music industry. It's pretty balanced so go check it out. It looks like a good music site in general, as well.

But the article says "And you shouldn't even get out of bed if you're not posting your music on MySpace and selling CDs on commission at CD Baby." I don't know nuthin' about birthin ' CDs at CD Baby, but i broke down and got myself a myspace account (feels like a step backwards after coming from Friendster to our own website). There's nothing there that isn't already here, but maybe it'll get me a little collaborative exposure and criticism from other musicians. And if you have an account, stop by and "make friends".


By fnord12 | May 24, 2006, 2:00 PM | Music & My stupid life | Comments (2)| Link



Mahogany

We trekked through Brooklyn on Saturday night to check out our friend Ana's band Mahogany. They're like a real band that tours and has a record label and everything. They've got a Stereolab-ish sound, with a lot of texture, due to the fact that they are an 8 member band! 2 drummers (neither on a full drum set), 2 bassists, 3 guitarists, and 1 singer. 2 of the guitarists also sing (Ana sings and plays guitar). All in addition to computer loops. So go check out their myspace site. Their newer stuff is more involved, and Ana isn't on any of their current tracks, so we'll link back to them again when they've got the new songs up.


By fnord12 | May 22, 2006, 3:16 PM | Music | Comments (2)| Link



Don't Tell Me My IPod Isn't Psychic

For the last 2 days since the Depeche Mode concert, my ipod's played at least 3 Recoil songs. Out of a random shuffle of 9,505 songs, it played 3 of the 30 recoil songs saved on it.

UPDATE: Since this post, 2 more Recoil songs have played. (1:17pm)


By min | May 16, 2006, 10:47 AM | Music & My stupid life | Comments (4)| Link



Now it can be revealed

When writing the soundtrack for the Twister movie, Eddie Van Halen told Sammy Hagar that he didn't want the lyrics to literally be about tornadoes. Hagar said "yeah, yeah, sure," but then a few days later Van Halen was talking to the director of the film and found out that Hagar had been asking him all sorts of technical questions about tornadoes. This was apparently the final straw that got Hagar kicked out of the band, and the song, Humans Being, wound up sort of having chanted/shouted lyrics instead of actual singing (and it was Van Halen's best song in a decade, as well).

Anyway, now the original Sammy Hagar lyrics have been discovered and anonymously passed to me for publication. I won't say who gave them to me, but lets just say he feels that these lyrics vindicate him and it would have been a much better song if it had went out this way and at the very least it was nothing to get kicked out of the band for.

hoooold on, hoooold on!
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air which is in contact with both a cumulonimbus (or, in rare cases, cumulus) cloud base and the surface of the earth. yeah!

Tornadoes can come in many shapes, but are typically in the form of a visible condensation funnel, with the narrow end touching the earth. Often, a cloud of debris encircles the lower portion of the funnel. oh yeah!

so you better hoooooold on, hooooooold on!

Most have winds of 112 mph (180 km/h) or less, are approximately 250 feet (75 meters) across, and travel a mile or more before dissipating. uh-huh!

However, some tornadoes can have winds of more than 300 mph (500 km/h), be more than 2 miles across, and stay on the ground for dozens of miles (more than 100 kilometers). yeah yeah yeah!

so you better hoooooold on, hooooooold on!


By fnord12 | May 15, 2006, 5:28 PM | Music | Comments (1)| Link



Tom Verlaine

Not sure if you'd call it an interview, exactly, but here's an article where the writer talks to Tom Verlaine and sometimes gets some responses. He's an interesting character, and in addition to Marquee Moon and his early solo stuff, i have an instrumental guitar album of his that is quite good in a relaxing-but-intense atmospheric sort of way. So i'll have to check out his new stuff - at least the new instrumental one.


By fnord12 | May 15, 2006, 5:18 PM | Music | Comments (0)| Link



Depeche Mode: Touring the Angel

They played last night at the Garden State Arts Center (i refuse to call it the PNC Bank Arts Center because that's a stupid name). Overall, I enjoyed the show. Nothing compares to the first Depeche Mode concert i went to in 1994. That was both my first Depeche Mode concert and my first concert ever. Now whenever there's a concert for some band i like, i sit there debating if it's worth the effort of getting to the venue and the money to buy the tickets when the sound quality is considerably better in my living room. Tsk.

Once we got to the Arts Center, there was some complicated series of driving in circles, getting off the Parkway, then heading back onto the Parkway, all the while being directed by high shool kids all in white shirts and beige pants/shorts. A stretch SUV was in front of us. They were clearly quite important because the white shirts waved at the occupants of said vehicle, and as the SUV passed, the white shirt closest to it would point at it while nodding knowingly at a compatriot farther away. They also got to park in the lot right by the entrance and were not diverted back towards the Parkway to the "Commoners" lot. At least shuttle buses were thoughtfully provided to us to get us from the lot to the venue.

The opening band was a group called She Wants Revenge. Two LA DJs who decided to get together and make music. Whatever you do, don't watch the video for their song "These Things" before you listen to their music. It will totally ruin it for you. The Garden State Arts Center is an open venue, so the sound wasn't great. And the opening band never gets the love and attention the main act gets, so basically, they pointed their amps at the audience and turned it up to 11. What's funny is that the 'group' is just these 2 guys. But in order to play live, they had to get a drummer and a guitarist to play with them. The singer played the occasional guitar and the other guy played the bass and the keys.

I think i can start buying music again. Tank goff for the revival of New Wave. I was floudering until Interpol and The Killers and Franz Ferdinand came on the scene. Don't get me wrong. I love the musics. But i'm a europop new wave baby, and i was mourning the loss of an era until these newbies showed up. I disagree with AllMusic in saying She Wants Revenge sounds like Joy Division. I think they say that about every new wavy band that comes out. It's required. The singing might be a bit same-y, but i'm willing to give their album a try and see what i get. Also, in the AllMusic review, they mention a band called The Bravery that i might look into. I might almost be excited if i wasn't so negative.

On Thursday night DM had to shorten their set because Dave Gahan (the singer) got laryngitis. We were a bit worried that our show might get cancelled or shortened, but it all went fine. Considering the amount of screaming he was doing, I'm not surprised Gahan ended up with laryngitis. Between you and me, i wonder if he had a little tipple before the show. Or mebbe it was just a little speed.

Conversely, I think they must have given Andrew Fletcher a sedative or some kind of happy pill. He spent the entire evening standing there, occasionally hopping around and mebbe pushing a button once or twice on his keyboard. He didn't even clap. So sad. They had monitors showing the band as they were playing. Peter Gordeno, the keyboardist not officially in the band, got more screen time than Fletch. I think that was because that guy was actually playing the keyboard. C'mon, guys. It's been 26 years. Teach the guy some chords or something.

It was a decent set that lasted from around 9:20 to 11. They ofc came back for a 4 song encore. On a side note, the whole business of the encore has lost some of its lustre. It's like when they started printing on the cover of the albums that there was a hidden track. Everybody knows they're going to come back for an encore. It used to be when the band said goodnight, they meant it. If the crowd was enthusiastic enough, mebbe they'd get a nod from the band in the form of the encore. When the encore becomes standard, the whole ruse of walking off the stage only to come back in a few minutes seems silly. We don't really need to keep cheering and shouting and clapping and whooping to entice the band back for a few more songs. They were going to come out anyway.

The set was a mix of stuff off the Playing the Angel album and older stuff. Here's a rundown of the set (which the DM site is nice enough to publish because i sure as hell couldn't remember everything that was and wasn't played):

Intro
A Pain That I'm Used To - Playing the Angel
A Question Of Time - Black Celebration
Suffer Well - Playing the Angel
Precious - Playing the Angel
Walking In My Shoes - Songs of Faith and Devotion
Stripped - Black Celebration
Home - Ultra
It Doesn't Matter Two - Black Celebration
In Your Room - Songs of Faith and Devotion
The Sinner In Me - Playing the Angel
I Feel You - Songs of Faith and Devotion
Behind The Wheel - Music for the Masses
World In My Eyes - Violator
Personal Jesus - - Violator
Enjoy The Silence - Violator
Encore
Leave In Silence - A Broken Fram
Photographic - Speak&Spell
Just Can't Get Enough - Speak&Spell
Never Let Me Down Again - Music for the Masses

So, there you go, rod. One song from Ultra. And Martin Gore did the singing. They wisely stayed away from any songs off the Exciter album which wasn't so good, imo. Weird crowd. Lots of people who looked like they were the kind of people who watched alot of sports. Not the DM crowd i'm used to seeing (although, admittedly, i've only been to 3 DM concerts counting this one). I also think that the crowd didn't know the older songs. You know how they like to do that bit where they get the audience to sing along? Gahan tried that a few times with some of the older songs, and it didn't go so well.

Martin Gore sang "Home", "It Doesn't Matter Two", and "Leave in Silence." The first 2 songs Gore usually sings. But "Leave in Silence" is Gahan on the studio recording. And it's a fairly upbeat song. Something you could definitely dance to, though a tad slow. Well, when Gore came out for the encore, he sang it as a ballad. Still nice. Gore's got a good voice. But the song definitely loses some of its oomph as a ballad. I don't know what it is. I love the phrasing, the way the music comes in at certain points in the studio version. Definitely catchier. Then they played "Photographic" at about 1.5 times the normal speed. Which was kewl, but doesn't make up for "Leave in Silence." And i was sad they didn't sing "Shake the Disease," but it looks like during the tour, Gore sings this solo, so again, i wouldn't have been happy because inevitably he would have turned it into a ballad. He wore one of those knit hats with the ear flaps and the strings that dangle down. Usually those things have a pom-pom on the top. His had a mohawk. He's a weird guy.

DM also needed extra musicians to help them out with their live performance. Back in the day, DM stage setup would consist of 3 keyboards, a mic, and a guitar for the occasional Martin Gore guitar feature. Now, it's 3 keyboards, Gore's menagerie of guitars brought on and taken off one by one by a crew of roadies, and a fairly large drumset. As mentioned earlier, Peter Gordeno was the third keyboardist. The drummer is an Austrian named Christian Eigner. This guy was good. Really good. Since Ultra, their sound has been heavier, including more real instruments as opposed to the synth equivalents. Including real drums, not just a drum track. Some of this must be due to Eigner, as he is credited in some songs. I think it's a good direction. But i still don't feel right about it. It's just inherently wrong for DM to be on stage with real drums.

As for my experience with being around people, the guy next to me kept inching ever closer, forcing me to keep moving to the right. As if this process would soon land him in some prime viewing spot that i was hoarding. We were about 10 rows from the lawn. I don't think the viewing was going to get much better than it was.

In addition to the pushy guy, there was an older couple a few rows in front of us who were very happy to be at a concert. They were dancing and whooping during the 40 min sound check in between the opening band and DM. Rod predicted they would fall into an alcoholic slumber before DM got on stage, but it wasn't to be.

I opted to not get a $40 T-shirt or any of the other over priced merchandise being offered. I know. I'm a tightwad. The one DM concert tee i bought was at that 1994 concert, and it got shrunk in the wash. I won't say who shrunk it, but i will say that i'm still bitter. Not only was that my first concert, it was the last concert before Alan Wilder left. *sigh*


By min | May 15, 2006, 1:14 PM | Music & My stupid life | Comments (5)| Link



Someone's angry

East Coast Music scene:

Lot of great bands have come out of the East Coast... that was then, this is now.

The East Coast absolutely sucks when it comes to the music scene now. Yes, there are some very hard working musicians trying their very best to make things happen. But the rest of them are all posers and wanna be's! They put up ad.s on Craigslist searching for "serious and dedicated" musicians and when they're contacted, they never reply, never follow up. It's bloody discouraging! It's lame bastards like them that muck it up for the rest of us.

I bid all of them a great big FUCK YOU!!!!!!! ( you know who you are)


this is in or around All of over the East Coast

no -- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

It's true you know. If you put an ad on Craig's List, you could at least write back with a 'no thanks' if someone responds to it.


By fnord12 | May 11, 2006, 12:11 PM | Music | Comments (0)| Link



Brian Eno & Paul Simon?

Apparently they are putting out an album together. Kinda weird, and based on the samples i've heard it doesn't sound particularly great. What is cool, however, is this little timeline that the hated and mocked Stephen Thomas Thomas Steven Erstwhile Erlewine set up comparing the careers of the two of them. What i don't like is that the timeline starts with Paul Simon's solo career. The timeline makes it look like Eno was always way ahead of Simon musically, and for this period it's true, but Simon & Garfunkel's groundbreaking electric folk music in the mid to late 60s were a huge influence on the development of rock music in general and i wouldn't doubt on Eno specifically (at the very least, the Velvets were influenced by S&G, and we know Eno was inspired by VU).


By fnord12 | May 11, 2006, 10:19 AM | Music | Comments (0)| Link



A thousand points of blah

Josh sent me this little parable about how the internet is changing the distribution system for music, and it dovetailed into something i'd been thinking about. We had a little debate about whether or not this is a good thing. He thinks it is because it allows musicians to bypass the corporations that own the record labels and radio stations and reach an audience directly. As a musician who posts his stuff on the internet i love the idea (although i clearly know my stuff is "not there yet"), but i don't think it'll work. The first problem i see is that it's only a matter of time before the corporations move in and dominate the internet space as much as they do everything else.

The second problem is i think we will be drowned in mediocrity. You go and myspace.com or the like, and you'll hear tons and tons of average stuff. The theory is that the good stuff will bubble to the top, but i don't see how it can happen. You're essentially relying on word of mouth. How many of you clicked on the links i've put up in the past to bands like Evan's Groove or Mixed Meteor? (I'm not saying you had to like these bands, but i'd suspect most people don't even check out bands that other people recommend.) Compare it to the number of times you did hear a song on MTV or the radio that turned out to be by a good band.

Julia can probably correct me on this, but i think that before Bach, you essentially had a situation which is a lot like proponents of a myspace-like distribution system. Music was local. It was probably very diverse, but the fantastic things that could have been going on in one place never had any effect on music as a whole. I don't have my timelines matched up perfectly, but i'd bet a part of what made Bach the first rock star was a combination ofthe promotion of the Church and the arrival of a printing press that allowed people all over Europe to get Bach's sheet music and play and hear the music. After Bach, you have Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc... and each time there was a major paradigm shift in how music was approached. As the distribution system got more efficient, the changes happened more quickly with Chuck Berry, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Sex Pistols, U2, Nirvana, Public Enemy... but each time, the changes were widespread. All of those bands, and many others had a huge postive effect on music, and they did it because of two things: first, just by being good bands, but second by being prominent throughout the western world so that the next generation of musicians could hear their ideas and expand on them or reject them. (There is also the fact that during these same time periods there were other bands that should have come to greater prominence. The Velvet Underground is probably the best example, but we all probably have our favorites. It's true that the biggest bands were usually also those that found a way to break musical boundries while still having mass appeal, while bands that pushed harder and were probably 'better' at least to us music lovers' ears got were relatively ignored. But even bands like Can or the Raincoats, or whoever you like - they were part of the same distribution system and they were well known enough to influence others.)

Corporations definitely played a part in bringing these bands to prominence. Their ultimate goal of course is to make money, but if in the process they are making all this good music available, that means the system is working. The problem is along the way the discovered that they can make more money by distributing music that is safe and unchallenging, (and as corporations grew and merged, it helped to not have to carry artists who challenged the way corporations operate) and over the years the balance has shifted to the point where the great majority of the music that is played is pap. So i acknowledge that there's a problem... i just don't think that going totally internet-indie is the solution. You need a national/global distribution system so that the good bands have somewhere to bubble up to. It doesn't have to be mega-corporations. In fact, i can't believe i'm arguing for an essentially capitalist system against a system where little indie musicians doing home recordings (hi!) would be on a level playing field. I just don't see a solution where we don't wind up with a thousand points of blah.


By fnord12 | May 9, 2006, 4:09 PM | Music | Comments (6)| Link



Smacked

I'm not even sure if i know who Godsmack is, but if you want to see them get smacked around by an interviewer because they let their music be used in army recruiting commercials, here's the link.


By fnord12 | May 8, 2006, 1:24 PM | Liberal Outrage & Music | Comments (1)| Link



The Politburo

The Politburo (That's me, min, Adam, and Wayne) have released their debut album. It's exclusively available over the web and actually we at SuperMegaMonkey have worked out a special deal with them wherein their songs will only be available on this website for the time being. So go check them out, leave some comments, and enjoy.


By fnord12 | May 7, 2006, 7:38 PM | Music | Comments (0)| Link



The solution to the iPod problem

OK, here's what i want: i want my own astromech droid to follow me around, and i want it loaded will all my music. If the pentagon can have a death star, why can't i have an R4-D2?


By fnord12 | May 4, 2006, 11:15 PM | Music | Comments (2)| Link



iPods suck

In theory, iPods are the greatest invention ever. They are the pinnacle of human acheivement. The ability to carry practically your entire music collection on something smaller than a walkman is one step away from the ultimate goal of literally storing all your music in your brain.

The problem is, they don't work. Oh sure, they work enough to string you along, but then they wait until that critical moment - when you're stuck in traffic and bored to death, or right before the car in front of you stops short - and then they freeze up, or skip. I don't know anyone with an iPod (or any other mp3 player) that hasn't run into problems. I'm trying not to rant too much (hah!), but it is very, very frustrating. And the problem with these intermittent problems is you can't even take them in to get fixed. They'll inevitably be working fine when you bring it in and they'll just tell you to give it a reboot or make sure you have the latest software installed.

And the warranties are a racket. They always are, but for iPods it's especially obnoxious. They know their product doesn't work right, especially with the batteries, but they still make you pay extra to ensure that you won't wind up with a lemon. It's a protection scheme. Any product should continue to work properly for 3 years after you bought it without me having to pay extra. Warranties should be for those unfortunate situations where you accidentally drop a sledgehammer on it.

Plus, even assuming you have a warranty - you have to send the thing away for god knows how long. Prior to the iPod, i had two big bags full of tape mixes. They're at the bottom of a closet now, scheduled for disposal the next time we move. After that, i'm in a musical wasteland if i have to send my iPod away.

They obviously don't care. Because it's not like there's another brand out there that works better, so why should they bother? If they cared they'd take the loss and make the warranties a part of the package (aren't they expensive enough anyway?). If i were president, after i took care of all these wars and the looming energy crisis and stuff, the first thing i'd do would be to issue an executive order forcing all companies to be responsible for repairing their products for 5 years after purchase. Then they'd be forced to make sure their newer generations worked better to cut down the costs they are eating on free repairs. I demand that Apple puts out an iPod that works properly before releasing the next 120 gig iPod 3D Video with Sensoramavision and Soothing Vibrations. Ok wait, i take back the 120 gig part.

So i'm looking for a new solution. At least a back-up solution. I spent half of my unemployment period converting my CD collection to mp3, so i'm committed to that format. Maybe i'll get an mp3 disc player for my car. Any other suggestions?


By fnord12 | May 3, 2006, 10:14 AM | Music | Comments (3)| Link



The further adventures of Skelly Gang

After a few months of slacking, i've updated the Skelly Gang music page.

I'm tempted to just send you there with no further explanation and ask for feedback as I think the music stands well enough on its own, but i also want to sort of try to explain what Skelly Gang music is.

Frank Zappa had a phrase for "instant composition" which is really just a fancy way of saying improvisation. He actually said it in reference to his live guitar solos in concert (which he would then take home, extract from the rest of the song, and then build totally new songs around. that's what his Shut Up and Play Your Guitar series is), but i think "instant composition" is a good name for what we do.

Even in jazz improv, there are certain basic chord progressions that everyone is expected to know, plus by nature of the fact that jazz is a specific genre there are certain rules you know you are going to follow. When the rules start going out the window, you wind up with Ornette Coleman type stuff which is interesting to some people and "noise" to others, but even people who like it don't keep it on heavy rotation on their iPods.

What (i hope) differentiates us from that is the free form music we create starts off with almost no pre-arrangement, even on a basic chord progression level, and winds up being listenable, at least to people with certain tastes (i would say our closest analogues are early instrumental Pink Floyd, the live jams of the Velvet Underground, and the longer psychedelic epics of "Krautrock" bands like Can and Amon Duul. Not that we strive to sound like anything in particular.) It's not that we have some sort of pretentious aversion to "rules" and delve off into some no-wave dissonance that no one would ever want to listen to. We all have a wide range of musical listening behind us and so we each bring to the mix the "rules" of the hundreds of genres we are familiar with. Someone will start something, generally out of thin air, and we mix all our ideas together and play what works. Sometimes someone will bring their own chord progression or an idea they've been working with as a starter, and sometimes we'll work with loops that Mike has created. And sometimes after a song has been recorded, we'll go back and quickly overdub another set of parts, but even then it's spur of the moment - none of the laborious orchestrating associated with "writing songs". But for the most part, the scenario is: set up the recording and then play for a couple hours and see what comes out of it.

Sometimes it's a disaster. You take the recording home and you realize everyone was playing in a different key or time signature. Sometimes you find that you've essentially played a genre piece - a song that's just a standard song in some genre that contributes nothing. Or you start hearing nothing except the mistakes you made (or it's a great song except that one really essential part where you totally flubbed it). But most of the time i'm amazed how well it works out.

If music (or any art) is an expression of feelings or ideas that can't be expressed properly through standard language, then improvised music is surely the best expression of those ideas because it's what you are feeling at that exact moment you are playing it. With anything else, at best it's a mishmosh of what you were feeling the when you first started, plus what you were feeling the next 10+ times you've sat down to work with it. At worst, it's a dilution of that feeling as you continue to attempt to express some fleeting idea a day, a week, a month later. That's when things start getting pretentious, as you start deliberately trying to infuse "meaning" into something. Then you have to rehearse something 10 times in order to play it well enough to record it. Some types of music (I think of baroque music, or progressive rock) can survive that kind of repetition, but others can't. There's a line in the popular song Bullet With Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins (i'm no fan of theirs at all, but it's a good song and a great line), where he's talking about his "rage" and he asks "but can you fake it for just one more show?" I don't know how bands can play the same songs over and over again at concert after concert and keep up any level of intensity. There are definitely advantages to pre-arranged music - no mistakes, the ability to revise your ideas, and the ability to reach beyond your current playing abilities. But there are also advantages to improvisational music in that the music is more honest and immediate. It's also the most collaborative - you can't really write a song with someone else without someone subjugating themselves, but you can jam with other musicians on a equal basis. (Though it definitely helps when they are talented and have no egos.)

There's a line in the movie 24 Hour Party People where they are knocking jazz and they say something like "The people playing jazz enjoy it much more than the people listening to it", and i know exactly what they are talking about. There's also a flip side, which is that if i make a mistake, i may think it is the most horrendous thing ever, whereas a listener might not even realize it was a mistake. Either way, it's very rewarding to get some friendly criticism and feedback. So i hope that you will have a listen to some of our stuff over at the Skelly Gang page and leave a few comments letting us know what you think.


By fnord12 | May 1, 2006, 2:57 PM | Music | Comments (0)| Link



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