Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tom Waits: "Bad As Me"

Well, look who's back?  Excluding the odds & ends collection Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards it's been nearly seven years since Waits' last studio album of newly written material.  I don't know quite what I think of "Bad As Me" after a couple of cursory listens:  it's got a good sound to it and the hammy singing style I've long since gotten used to, but that's kind of just it... this doesn't really distinguish itself much from the same style he's been milking for over ten years now.  Maybe it will be one of those slow gestating songs that end up being one of my favorites, but in the meantime my gut tells me that I hope he chose this as the first single off the new album because it was the most accessible, and not the most adventurous.

  Tom Waits - Bad As Me by antirecords

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Singles vs EPs, or The Death of the Album

Since I've flip flopped musical priorities and am now listening to all the new releases first, I'm noticing that the proliferation of EPs and albums <40 minutes has been skyrocketing lately... even in fields like rap and techno where maximizing the CD's 80 min running time has pretty much been gospel for decades.

Now, this is primarily true for less established bands - major label and macro-indie acts still largely hew to the full length album format, although 40 minute indie rock albums were never really a rarity - but particularly when you get down to bands self financing their shit through Bandcamp, etc. or on micro indie budgets, the short LP/EP format almost becomes holy writ.

I guess this shouldn't be surprising: pundits have been predicting the internet will bring about the end of the album format for 10 years now. The problem I think is that it's not so much that the classic era of the single is returning as that bands are just dumping out material on the public at whatever rate they're finishing it... there's very little quality control, and unlike in the past, a band putting out a single in 2011 is no guarantee that the artist believes that song to be amongst their best (or most accessible) material.  It just happens to be the most recent thing they've completed.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Toxic Holocaust: "Judgment Awaits You"

I was hoping "Bitch" would be the first video off Conjure and Command but this is not a bad second choice.  I had a few words to say about the album as a whole recently, so I won't bother to rehash that here.

Matthew Friedberger: "Meet Me in Miramas"

If the name Matthew Friedberger sounds vaguely familiar, it's likely you recognize him as one half of the brother-sister duo Fiery Furnaces.  Friedberger is in the midst of a six album Solos project, of which Meet Me in Miramas is the second installment.  It's been out since March - don't know why I'm just now getting around to checking it out - so in the interests of currency I should actually be tackling the fourth volume, Cut It Out, which was actually released this month.  It was hard enough finding a legit stream of this one, so cut me some slack.
  Matthew Friedberger - "Meet Me in Miramas" by LoudLoopPress

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Glory Is Fleeting, But Obscurity Is Forever"

I've recently been turned on to the Lefsetz Letter, an obsessively updated blog devoted to goings on in the music industry.  Bob Lefsetz is an industry veteran - the Lefsetz Letter started as a print column 25 years ago - and for an old timer he seems to have a refreshingly progressive view: subscription services are the future, artists need to quit whining about lost revenue and embrace creative alternatives, etc.

"Obscurity Is Your Friend" is his latest column - though, with the man's prolific way with a keyboard there are liable to be 5 or 6 more by the time I finish typing this - and one of his most visionary, I think.  I strongly encourage anyone interested in media consumption to read the whole thing, but in summary his position is that the traditional hitmaking machinery is malfunctioning in the internet era; with hundreds or even thousands of blogs potentially covering you, more publicity just means a sped up period of scrutiny under which you are evaluated and then either lionized or discarded.  There is no room for artist development at that level of exposure.  You'd better be ready for prime time because if you come with a half assed, unfinished product there is no time for second chances.  Your product will be chewed up and spit out before you have time to finish your cup of coffee, let alone book another studio.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Throwback 1988 || Iron Maiden: "Can I Play With Madness"

While it may be axiomatic that Iron Maiden are the shit today, back in 1988 they were primarily a cult band in the US: not even all US metal fans were on board.  Even at the time, though, they were a smash hit in the UK, where "Can I Play With Madness" went to #3 on the British charts.  Basically, the respect Maiden - and old school metal as a whole - have been getting Stateside over the past decade has been the birthright of groups like Maiden, Priest and Sabbath from time immemorial back in the UK.  Maybe we're not as progressive as we like think.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stylus Rex: "Blatant Elephant"

Damn, where are the easily accessible artist bios/discogs when you're in a lazyfuck mood?  All I've been able to dig up about Stylus Rex is that it's some guy named Greg Marshall and he's on Ground Level Breaks, but ELEPHANTS ON TRAMPOLINES!  All you need to know.

If anyone knows what to call this shit leave it in the comments.  For now it's just "breakbeat".

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Limewax: "WoOoOoOh"

Jesus Christ.  Just when you think you're starting to get your "electronica" (hate that fucking term) micro-genres down they hit you with another: apparently this Limewax cat invented a new offshoot of techstep - itself a sub-sub-genre of drum & bass - and I guess we've got this whole electronica macro-umbrella to fall back on if someone gets confused and just wants to hear anything with beats.  The wiki description is uselessly bloated and overcomplicated, but from what I can gather "skullstep" is just techstep with the heavier elements of breakcore implemented... because of course you need a whole 'nother genre when you experiment with any given element of the old one.  That's enough dashes for one article.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Superheavy: "Miracle Worker"

This is what it sounds like when Mick Jagger, Joss Stone, Damian Marley, and Dave Stewart get together in 2011.  Is this the inevitable result of aging stars attempting to remain relevant in the MP3 era?  Getting together with younger stars (of questionable relevance themselves) and attempting to one up Santana at his own collabo game?  "Miracle Worker" is exactly the sort of studio-concocted, cookie cutter fluff you expect it to be.  Shit makes Chickenfoot look as authentic as Pavement.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jay-Z & Kanye West: "Otis"

Decent tune, though I think Kanye lets the unadorned Otis Redding sample linger on a bit too long at the beginning.  Directed by Spike Jonze, he of the prior Kanye-slapping incident.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Craft: "Succumb to Sin"

Craft has been offline for a minute now.  Their previous slab of bar-raising misanthropy, Fuck the Universe, came out in 2005.  Since then the lads have apparently spent their time assembling a lineup that could stand to be in the same room as each other long enough to write and record an album.  Let's see how it turned out, shall we?  That's a helluva'n album cover, for starters.

Monday, August 8, 2011

White Denim: "Drug"

About time I repped one of my hometown bands.  White Denim have been bouncing around for three years now after debuting with the much hyped single, "Let's Talk About It".  The success predicted off the basis of that single hasn't entirely come to fruition, but that could well be because the band didn't milk that same psych garage sound in perpetuity.  "Drug" comes off their current album, D, and sees the lads kicking the tires on a Sloan / Flaming Lips hybrid model.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Turf War: "Cheers to the Years"

We have here a pretty green southern rock-tinged garage band from Atlanta, slugging it away and making a name for themselves opening for Black Lips/Vivian Girls.  "Cheers to the Years" was premiered recently on Aquarium Drunkard and is the first single off September's Years of Living Dangerously.  Holla.

Turf War-Cheers To The Years by Old Flame Records

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Best Coast: "Our Deal"

I haven't always been on the Drew Barrymore bandwagon - sure, she was adorable in The Wedding Singer - but after Whip It and now this I'm starting to show a little appreciation... although, honestly, I think that has a lot more to do with her choosing more adventurous projects these days than it is that I just vastly under-appreciated Never Been Kissed.  Now she's directing this new vid from ever-trendy Best Coast, featuring Chloe Moretz and Donald Glover, amongst other upstart whippersnappers I've never heard of.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Danger Mouse (feat. Jack White): "Two Against One"

I generally have a fundamental disagreement with people who think music was a lot better back in the day.  If you look at it from a strictly commercial, easily accessible POV then sure, rock probably peaked in the 70s.  It's hard to compare many artists after punk with the relatively straight forward styles of rock that came before it, but that's mostly because there haven't been many artists that have even attempted to be that straight forward since at least 1980... unless they were corporate media whores to begin with, a la Three Doors Down, Bush, etc.  Even the inexplicably beloved Foo Fighters are mostly revered because a) they've gone this long without out-and-out sucking, and b) Dave Grohl seems like he'd be a cool guy to get shitfaced with.  Still: no one is ever going to mistake "Stacked Actors" for "Dead Flowers".

Which is what makes Jack White such an anomaly.  You really do have to go all the way back to the 70s to find someone that can parlay as many well established, accessible styles into as diverse a portfolio of hit songs (or songs that should have been hits) as Jack White.  I'd rather drink with Grohl, but if I was putting a band together Jack White would be my guy.  Even U2 don't have as many great songs as White does, and they've been at for almost twenty years longer.

This song comes off the new Danger Mouse album (on which Italian composer Daniele Luppi receives co-billing credit), which is only guest star-laden to the extent that Jack White and Norah Jones sing three songs apiece.  "Two Against One" in particular sounds like one where White almost certainly had a major hand in the songwriting... strip away the faintly audible string section and this could easily be a White Stripes or Raconteurs song.

[EDIT 1/9/12: replacing the fan made video with an official video for posterity's sake]: