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Archive for August, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

OXFORD COLLAPSE:: Bits (Album Review)

After graduating from Strokes-y newbies on “Some Wilderness” to Feelies-influenced art-rockers on “A Good Ground,” Brooklyn’s Oxford Collapse jumped to Sub Pop for 2006’s immensely likable “Remember the Night Parties.”

Album 4 finds them shelving that trademark tangle of guitar for noisier yet sharper anthem-making. Some songs rocket forward like vintage Buzzcocks or Superchunk, while others, such as the cello-kissed “A Wedding,” are quieter and prettier. But the trio still traffics in grabby, half-shouted refrains — mostly coming from guitarist Michael Pace — starting with the memorable opener, “Electric Arc”: “I can’t remember things / I just don’t know what to do.”

Oxford Collapse reportedly wrote 30 songs for this record, keeping most of them short and not finishing the lyrics on many until right before they were put to tape. That would explain the more straightforward feel of “BITS,” and why the band can’t quite match the heady, smart-acre highs of “Remember the Night Parties.” With that said, by this point Pace has an incredibly tight musical bond with bassist Adam Rizer and drummer Dan Fetherston — each of whom contribute to the songwriting — and it’s hard not to smile at lyrics about a guy who “got jacked up playing leapfrog.”

John Lennon movie coming together

LONDON (Hollywood Reporter) – The story of John Lennon is headed for the big screen with “Nowhere Boy,” which will focus on the former Beatle’s troubled adolescence.

Screenwriter Matt Greenhalgh’s script details the story of Lennon as a lonely teenager abandoned by his mother and raised by his authoritarian aunt. His only escape is music, art and his fateful friendship with Paul McCartney. The film will be directed by visual artist Sam Taylor-Wood, who will shoot on location in Lennon’s hometown of Liverpool.

“The women in John’s early life truly shaped who he became,” Taylor-Wood said, “and the strengths and weaknesses of their relationships are central to this film.”

Casting for the major roles “is under way,” said producer Ecosse Films, which is developing the project with the U.K. Film Council.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blogger Arrested Over Guns N’ Roses Leaks

Federal authorities say they have arrested a blogger suspected of streaming songs from Guns N’ Roses unreleased album, “Chinese Democracy,” on his Web site.

FBI agents arrested 27-year-old Kevin Cogill this morning (Aug. 27) on suspicion of violating federal copyright laws. Federal authorities say Cogill posted nine unreleased Guns N’ Roses songs on Antiquiet.com in June. The songs were later removed but spread quickly across the Internet.

According to an arrest affidavit, Cogill admitted to agents that he posted the songs on his Web site.

“Chinese Democracy” has been in the works for more than a decade, with frontman Axl Rose the only remaining original member of the once mighty group. Rumblings that the album may finally be out this fall, possibly as a Best Buy exclusive, have not been confirmed by Guns N’ Roses or its management.

The Walkmen- In The New Year (Video)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Led Zeppelin back in the studio

Led Zeppelin could be on the brink of a 10th studio album after musicians Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham said they had been working on new songs.

Drummer Bonham told a radio station in Detroit that the new material may be recorded but added there was “lots of politics” to sort out first.

The three band members have been meeting to work on new ideas since Led Zeppelin’s one-off reunion show last December.

But lead singer Robert Plant has not been involved in any of the sessions, Bonham told the radio station.

He said: “At the moment, all I know is I have the great pleasure to go and jam with the two guys and start work on some material.

“When I get there [in the studio] I never ask any questions. If I get a phone call to go and play, I enjoy every moment of it.

“Whatever it ends up as, to ever get a chance to jam with two people like that, it is a phenomenal thing for me. It’s my life. It’s what I’ve dreamed about doing.”

He added: “Lots of politics [would need to] get ironed out [before an album could be made].”

Led Zeppelin played their first concert in 19 years, in front of nearly 20,000 fans, at London’s 02 arena in December.

Their two-hour set opened with Good Times Bad Times – the first track of their debut album.

Original band members Page, Plant and Jones were joined on stage by Jason Bonham – the son of their late drummer John.

Page recently performed Whole Lotta Love at the London Olympic handover ceremony in Beijing. The song was sung by X Factor winner Leona Lewis.

David Byrne and Brian Eno- Everything That Happens Will Happen Today (Album Review)

Towards the end of David Byrne’s sleevenotes for the recent reissue of My Life in the Bush of Ghosts – the album the former Talking Heads singer made with the band’s producer and mentor, Brian Eno, in 1981 – he describes the duo encountering a novel problem. The vocals on the album had been taken from Arabic pop singles, ethnographic recordings and late-night talk-shows and evangelists’ sermons they had taped from the radio. Now they had to get permission to use them, which proved to be an arduous task.

“No one knew what the hell we were doing,” recalled Byrne. “The record sat on the shelf while the phone calls and faxes went back and forth.” Some people refused to give their consent, which meant that tracks had to be changed. The album’s release was postponed by a year. If the duo hadn’t actually invented sampling – you could argue long into the night about whether innumerable earlier experiments with tape loops count – they certainly seem to have invented the idea of sample clearance.

It’s perhaps pushing it to say that Byrne and Eno inadvertently changed the face of popular music with that album, but not much: whatever Steve Reich and Stockhausen got up to in the 60s, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts’ combination of jittery dub, Fela Kuti-influenced funk and borrowed voices sounds like the direct precursor to sampling as it has come to be known. So it’s hard to stop a certain weight of expectation hanging heavy over the duo’s first joint-effort in 27 years. Eno notes that their intentions in making Everything That Happens Will Happen Today were “quite different” – for one thing, it’s a collection of what Byrne described as “proper songs”, with Eno providing the music and Byrne the vocals and lyrics – but neither party has lost the capacity for the kind of unprecedented blue-sky thinking that fuelled their previous collaboration’s most groundbreaking aspects. This is, after all, a collaboration between the Liberal Democrats’ freshly-appointed adviser on youth affairs, aged 60, and a man who recently curated an event at which a choir of geriatrics performed a cover of Queen’s Bicycle Race, and who designed a chair that looks like it has a Mohican haircut.

Eno has described one track, I Feel My Stuff, as “unlike any other song I’ve ever heard before”, which suggests, a little improbably, that he has never heard any trip-hop. That’s not to say that I Feel My Stuff isn’t a good song, one that shifts constantly and intriguingly over six and a half minutes, from fluttering abstract piano and shuffling breakbeats made up of vocal samples, via a feedback-heavy guitar solo to a rather proggy final riff. It’s just to suggest that anyone hoping for ground to be broken once more might consider gently downscaling their expectations. If they do, they’ll find plenty to like about this album, which seems to be less about venturing boldly forth into the unknown than retreating gently into a less complicated and troubled past.

The primary influences on the songs are gospel and country (Byrne even starts yodelling towards the end of Life Is Long, perhaps the one moment on the album that you could describe as genuinely startling) albeit gospel and country given a characteristically strange shimmer by Eno’s arrangements. The gentle acoustic strum of My Big Nurse ends with a weird solo that seems to be part organ, part feedback; the rhythm track on Home becomes gradually drowned in reverb and other electronic effects. The lyrics may be haunted by the Iraq war, but the tone is weirdly upbeat, much given to looking on the bright side and making the best of it. “We can use these storms to guide the way – this is not my fault,” offers Byrne on the lovely One Fine Day.

Ironically, the record ETHWHT most resembles is not My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, nor any one of the three hugely ambitious albums Talking Heads made with Eno behind the production desk. It is most reminiscent of Little Creatures, the lunge for the pop mainstream they recorded long after their collaboration with Eno had ended. You could view that as a disappointment, or perhaps a rather modest achievement in light of Byrne and Eno being in the studio together, but you’d be hard-pushed to deny the affecting warmth of these songs. Everything That Happens Will Happen Today may be an album of subtle pleasures, but they are pleasures all the same.

Replacements Drummer Steve Foley Dies

Steve Foley, who played drums with the Replacements at the tail end of their career, died last weekend in Minneapolis. He was 49. According to local media reports, Foley died after accidentally overdosing on prescription medication.

The 1990 selection of Foley, who played in such Minneapolis bands as Curtiss A, Wheelo and Snaps, as the substitute for original Replacements drummer Steve Foley has become the stuff of legend.

According to Jim Walsh’s oral history “All Over But the Shouting,” frontman Paul Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson bumped into Foley at a local bar and procured a ride from him to an audition. In the car was a copy of the brand new Replacements album “All Shook Down,” prompting Westerberg and Stinson to look at each other and then exclaim to Foley, “You’re already in.”

Foley then toured with the band until its final show on July 4, 1991, in Chicago’s Grant Park. Afterward, he and his brother Kevin joined Stinson’s band Bash & Pop. Of late, he was working as a car salesman in Minneapolis.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, visitation will be held 11 a.m. Friday (Aug. 29) at Washburn-McReavy Funeral Chapel in Edina, Minn., with burial to follow at Lakewood Cemetery.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stereolab- Neon Beanbag (Music Video)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pf1Aftc6vBs&hl=en&fs=1]

My Bloody Valentine Albums Go Digital

My Bloody Valentine’s two full-length albums, “Isn’t Anything” and “Loveless,” will be re-released digitally today (Aug. 26). The releases had previously only been partially available online.

In addition, the newly reunited MBV is dusting off the “Tremolo” EP, which is making its debut in the digital format, as well as four vintage short-form videos for the songs “Only Shallow,” “Soon,” “Swallow” and “To Here Knows When.”

In June, “Isn’t Anything” and “Loveless” were remastered and reissued on CD in the U.K. A Japan-only boxed set featuring several unreleased tracks was also announced but has apparently been put on hold.

Following its first live appearances in 14 years this summer internationally, MBV will touch down in the United States Sept. 19 for the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in Monticello, N.Y., which it curated.

Sonic Youth begin writing new ‘indie’ album

Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore has revealed that his band are in the process of writing a new studio album set to be released on an indie label.

The band’s record deal with Geffen expired after the band released 2006’s ‘Rather Ripped’. They are set to hit the studio in November and release their next album in Spring 2009.

Moore told Rolling Stone that after feeling “compromised” by being on a major label, his band would release their next effort on an indie, although he did not specify which one.

“There’s one label we are certainly going to go with at this point,” he said. “But I don’t think I’m allowed to disclose that right now. I don’t want to risk having a shit storm.

“I’ve written a half-dozen song ideas. I try not to complete them so much. Last time we got together, we were creating sort of new band-zone-vibe sort of things.

Speaking about releasing the album on and indie, Moore said: “It feels great. The last four or five records we did were just so compromised by that [major label] situation. But that’s the way it goes.”

Monday, August 25, 2008

Amazon.com’s $2-5 Sweet Spot

Amazon.com’s MP3 customers are showing $2 is a low enough price to pick up just about any album. Yesterday’s $1.99 special was Classics by Aphex Twin. The collection of mostly fast and abrasive techno music is currently at #2 on the site’s MP3 album chart (second only to a 30-track Beach Boys compilation selling for $5). OK, so a well known name (in electronic circles) can rise near the top of the chart with a near-giveaway price. But what about lesser known artists? Today’s $1.99 special is Trouble in Mind by Hayes Carll. The album by the Houston-based artist was released on April 8 by Universal Music Group’s alt-country imprint, Lost Highway. As the CD sits at #268, the low-priced MP3 album is at #13.

A look at the MP3 album chart shows Amazon.com customers’ love of bargain hunting. The top eight titles are all on special — five of them are priced at $5, two are going for $1.99 and one (by John Coltrane, currently a featured artist) is $5.99. Nine of the top 25 titles cost $5 or less.

Of course, the sweet spot varies according to demand. The Illusion of Progress by Staind, the highest non-sale title, has enough demand to merit a normal sale price. Same goes for the Mamma Mia! soundtrack that sits at #12 with a $9.49 price.

Such sale prices are probably (I’m guessing since I have no sales data to back me up) low enough to create incremental purchases that will not infringe upon the sales of popular new releases. A $2 album is practically a pack of gum at the check-out aisle. That’s found money. Those prices are good for consumers’ willingness to fill holes in their collections, good for labels to spur demand for a catalog title or raise awareness for a developing artist. And judging from the regularity by which I visit Amazon.com’s MP3 page to see what’s on sale, the store’s pricing strategy can go a long way in getting repeat business.

Compare iTunes’ and Amazon.com’s best sellers and it’s clear Amazon.com is the home of the deal. iTunes’ current top 100 does not have a single album priced under $6.99 (it does contain three low-priced EPs). While Amazon.com is gaining unit market share through catalog sales and one-off specials, iTunes is doing brisk business selling titles are regular prices. That greater profit margin represents the value of loyal, practically locked-in customers who would rather pay full list price than shop around. I think Amazon.com will be able to grab the business of some frequent iTunes buyers who enjoy browsing through sale titles and looking for bargains. The larger question is if they can change the game by getting business from the more casual-yet-full price-paying iTunes customer.

Albert Hammond Jr to design own suit line

Albert Hammond, Jr. has revealed he is working on designing a line of men’s suits, to be sold initially in Los Angeles.

The Strokes guitarist-turned-solo-star is co-designing the clothes line with stylist Ilaria Urbinati, and the collection will be sold at the soon-to-be-opened Confederacy store, which she co-owns with actor/DJ Danny Masterson.

“I want to make suits that I’m going to have for myself,” Hammond told New York Magazine. “They’re for the person who needs his one suit for a wedding. He’d rather get something like this than go to Men’s Wearhouse, pay the same amount, and look like an out-of-date parent.”

Hammond said that he hopes initially to produce three styles of suit , branching out with new designs every season.

“The whole goal is to make this line and see what it does and if we can just break even to make the next set” he says “then every time we’ll do it we’ll add one new design and then we’ll add a few different things to the old designs so it’ll constantly be growing, it’ll constantly change.”

And he says he’s aiming to keep the suit line classic, with subtle changes added to existing styles every season.

“It’s kind of like the way cars slowly evolve ever year, you think they look the same but you look back and they’ve slowly changed over time. Sometimes there’s certain things that happen in fashion but what I’m trying make is something that’s a little more classic to do I feel like 20 years from you could wear. It’s not going to be like some flared suit that you’d wear now and look like it was Halloween.”

Queens Of The Stone Age Josh Homme To Produce New Arctic Monkeys Material

Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme has confirmed that he is to produce material for the Arcitic Monkeys.

Homme said the Sheffield band would travel to the Californian dessert next month to “submerge themselves in something else and do some tracks.”

“That’s the sort of pressure-free ‘Lets do something cool’ environment that really pays musical dividends at the end,” the singer told the BBC.

“They’re a talented bunch of guys, its gonna be a lot of fun.”

It’s not clear whether the tracks will feature on the Arctic Monkeys as-yet-untitled third album.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Jack White + Alicia Keys = James Bond Theme

Jackwhite Jack White and Alicia Keys have recorded the theme song for the 22nd James Bond film “Quantum of Solace.” “Another Way to Die,” written and produced by White, is the first duet in Bond soundtrack history. White follows Chris Cornell who was the first male solo rock artist to perform a Bond theme. Over the 22 films, four rock bands have done themes (Paul McCartney & Wings, Duran Duran, Garbage and a-Ha) but only one woman rock singer, Sheryl Crow, has a Bond credit. Shirley Bassey has recorded the most Bond themes, three. J Records will release the soundtrack on Oct. 28. David Arnold will again compose the score, making it his fifth Bond project.

Bloc Party Says Download ‘Definitely Working’

Bloc Party fans expecting a routine Web chat with their heroes got more than they bargained for Aug. 18, when the U.K. alt-rock band announced they would be able to download its new album, “Intimacy,” in just 60 hours’ time.

“They were very freaked out. It was really funny,” frontman Kele Okereke says.

Bloc Party’s London-based indie label, Wichita Recordings, could not be reached for comment, but Okereke jokes that executives had a similar initial reaction to the rush release, before adding that they were “really into this idea, just as much as we were.”

The band also has the backing of Universal Music Group — Wichita has a joint-venture marketing agreement with the major’s V2 label for the album and an international licensing agreement with the Cooperative Music collective, which is financially supported by UMG. The advance download concept has also been “embraced completely” by U.S. label Atlantic, according to Okereke.

“Intimacy,” the band’s third album, became available yesterday exclusively from blocparty.com. CDs will be delivered Oct. 27, with the pre-order currently available in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. “It’s going really well. It’s definitely working,” the singer says, while declining to reveal specific figures.

Okereke denied the move was about “foxing the critics” and downplayed suggestions in a press release that the move was in response to the leak of Bloc Party’s 2007 album “A Weekend in the City,” which he says did not markedly affect sales. That album has moved 148,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Instead, the band has taken inspiration from Radiohead. “We finished it a few months ago and we thought, ‘Why do we need to sit on it for six months after it’s done?’ ” Okereke says. “It seems that post-‘In Rainbows’ there are no rules about this sort of thing anymore.”

Right now, Okereke says the band is “looking forward to working out how we’re going to play these songs live” on its North American dates, which begin Sept. 5 in Detroit.

Although he anticipates the band’s youthful fan base will initially be buying the record, he hopes it will pick up an older audience when it goes to retailers in the fall. “I don’t want it to just be an Internet, cool thing,” he adds. “I want it to have a presence.”