What Streaming Music Left Behind

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set adrift ny timesFrom NY Times / Dan Brooks: "It's hard to imagine now, but there once was a time when you could not play any song ever recorded, instantly, from your phone. I call this period adolescence. It lasted approximately 30 years, and it was galvanized by conflict. At that time, music had to be melted onto plastic discs and shipped across the country in trucks ... " Full NY Times piece here, "Streaming Music Has Left Me Adrift". And this is why I peruse the NY Times music section from time to time folks - a lovely piece of prose that puts into words what we indie kids of the nineties have lost with the digital music revolution. A must read. Thank you Dan Brooks. And perfectly illustrated by the genius cartoonist Tom Gauld. Now go caress some vinyl.

PS After I wrote this I noticed that there is a lot of criticism about this piece on the internet. I think his critics are missing the point - it's just an amusing take on some things the author misses about the pre-digital music era. I'm not sure why everyone is taking it so personally and/or seriously. Lighten up, people!

U2's Latest Charity: You

u2 300from  CNET / Joan E. Solsman & Share Tibken: "Apple's iTunes scores U2's new album. You score it free. Every iTunes customer -- more than 500 million people, but who's counting? -- get the band's new album free in what CEO Cook calls the largest record release in music history." Full CNET article here. U2 "Songs Of Innocence" iTunes | Artist Site

This is too big of a story to ignore -- U2 and iTunes are literally giving the entire new U2 album away free to anyone with an iTunes account. Not just a single, no email list signup required, no messy zip file downloading from a band site, no recursive bandcamp authorization emails. I completely see the benefit from U2's side - they can launch a massive tour later this year for their fans that didn't have to think twice about obtaining the new album. Also, they're getting press in publications like Forbes, CNET & WSJ that normally wouldn't cover a new U2 release. For iTunes, I guess its just a huge loss leader to get people to the store. Or maybe U2 even paid out some version of the profit that Apple would otherwise collect on such a huge release. Maybe Apple thinks this will bring in those remaining few holdouts that don't yet have an iTunes account, or maybe they just did it so Amazon wouldn't do it. Hmm that last one seems the most likely!

Here's a Wall Street Journal article that reveals some more of the machinations behind this free release. U2, Apple and the Deal Behind Getting ‘Songs of Innocence’ Free of Charge They mention U2's major label, Universal, but not the publisher, I'm curious what deal was struck there to pay the publisher for the mechanical licenses. Is this a new model for album releases? Only a few bands have the market power to pull this off, and persuade their major label, their publisher and an online distributor to go along with it. Regardless of how much money/benefit all parties made off of the deal (per the WSJ article), I'm impressed that these entities so entrenched in the standard music business model were brave enough to try it. I do think this model can work for baby bands, especially those that are unsigned and retain the rights to their publishing, and many smaller bands do give their music away free on their sites or bandcamp, hoping that translates to fans that will buy tickets and merch when they come to town.

A few last thoughts/notes:

  • I downloaded the album with surprisingly little hassle--from the front page of the iTunes store, click on the link that says 'Purchased' under the QUICK LINKS menu on the far right side. Then you'll see the album with a little cloud symbol in its top right corner. When you click on that the album will download into your iTunes library. I'm listening to it right now and it's good --better than their last few by a long shot.
  • The album liner notes have a nice dedication to Paul McGuinness, their long, longtime manager who they parted ways with last year. That's sweet.
  • Anybody else find it ironic that the liner notes are formatted and typed as though they were done on an old-fashioned typewriter font? That's so dissonant with the most high-tech album release of all time that I've got to think its on purpose.
  • Since U2 engineered such an impressive feat, can the next thing on their to-do list be to make Tim Cook fix iTunes so that album digital booklets can be viewed within the app? It's so awkward to look at it in a separate Acrobat window. Should be child's play to Apple after pulling this release off.

Festival Couch Surfing - Reading & Leeds This Weekend

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arctic monkeys upsizedThere's a fine festival taking place in L.A. this very weekend, FYF Fest with Phoenix, Interpol, The Strokes, Slowdive (what?), Slint (whaaaat?) . But on the chance that you just had surgery and are laid up in bed, out of funds, hate crowds or can't find a babysitter for the tots, here's a great alternative: watch the British classic Reading & Leeds festival from home this weekend. Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys, Jake Bugg and QOTSA? I'm in. No plane ticket or tent required. Here's a handy guide from NME as to set times. Reading & Leeds Festival 2014 - NME's Guide To What To Watch From Home

New Album Coming From Ryan Adams

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ryan adams sized From NY Times/Dave Itskoff "ITSKOFF: You’re known for being a prolific songwriter, yet your new album, “Ryan Adams,” is your first in three years. What took so long? ADAMS: Some of that time was life, like yardwork, walking the dogs. I made a record with Glyn Johns, and we spent a bunch of money on it too. Then I had to go sit at a dinner table with my manager and the head of Capitol Records and say, “Hey, man, you can’t put this out.” It was about losing my grandmother. It was too sad."

Read the full interview here.

Nice interview with Ryan Adams in the NY Times (his new album comes out Sep 9), although it's clearly sensationalist of them to highlight the weed comment. Ryan mentions that he lost his grandmother which even makes me sad because I read about her in his introduction to "Our Noise", the book about Superchunk and Merge Records. His introduction to that book was so eloquent, heartfelt, and unexpected that it remains lodged in my memory like a shiny penny. Here is an excerpt, which I typed in by hand, (apologies copyright gods) but maybe a few of you will get interested in the book. It's a must for 90's indie rock fans. You know who you are.

Your Noise-My Noise

by Ryan Adams

All my favorite records and your records crackle like summertime crackles like fried eggs stove-side or accidental fireworks backyard heavy in North Carolina on the coast--mid-day it gets so hot even inside, in the cool, the blazing waves of electric orange light pant like a litter of starving dogs just outside the gate--yeah, sometimes you need comics or records to get you through until the dust settles and the damp evening can cool your brains down enough to see past your own stupid face. That was me. Me looking at my first 7-inch record. I was all "what" and "huh," you know ...

Merge 7-inch singles came packaged like candy. They also looked a little like comics, which was good because I liked both and I liked girls so much they scared me so it all seemed like the perfect distraction, at least to me, and surely to my grandmother, who would patiently listen with me on our portable record player in the wood-paneled kitchen while she baked this or that cake or whatever--she liked how much cymbal crashing was going on--somehow overlooking the melodic weirdness or angst, how forgiving and awesome those moments--in fact before I had money for records she would write the checks and mail them for each PO-boxed 7-inch I desired in exchange for however many times the lawn got mowed but I did that anyway so really she funded my habit, embarrassingly.

He goes on it great detail about what receiving these 7" records in the mail meant to a young South Carolina misfit. Eventually he met Mac (of Superchunk) at a show and everafter pestered him with questions about his record label, making 7"s, the record business, etc. It's really a sweet story. And that's all just an introduction to the book that goes on to relate the story of Superchunk and Merge Records and many more stories of music in the 90's. You really should Buy The Book!

The Value Of Vinyl

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2014 brazil collector sized,jpg excerpted from the NY Times/Monte Reel: 

"In an office near the back of his 25,000-square-foot warehouse in São Paulo, Zero Freitas, 62, slipped into a chair, grabbed one of the LPs stacked on a table and examined its track list. He wore wire-rimmed glasses, khaki shorts and a Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt; his gray hair was thin on top but curled along his collar in the back. Studying the song list, he appeared vaguely professorial. In truth, Freitas is a wealthy businessman who, since he was a child, has been unable to stop buying records. “I’ve gone to therapy for 40 years to try to explain this to myself,” he said.

His compulsion to buy records, he says, is tied up in childhood memories: a hi-fi stereo his father bought when Freitas was 5 and the 200 albums the seller threw in as part of the deal. Freitas was an adolescent in December 1964 when he bought his first record, a new release: “Roberto Carlos Sings to the Children,” by a singer who would go on to become one of Brazil’s most popular recording stars. By the time he finished high school, Freitas owned roughly 3,000 records.

After studying music composition in college, he took over the family business, a private bus line that serves the São Paulo suburbs. By age 30, he had about 30,000 records. About 10 years later, his bus company expanded, making him rich. Not long after that, he split up with his wife, and the pace of his buying exploded. “Maybe it’s because I was alone,” Freitas said. “I don’t know.” He soon had a collection in the six figures; his best guess at a current total is several million albums."

Read the full article here, I beg you.

There are many things I could have written about today, but this man touches my heart. I love him more than a little, and if I were not already married, might in fact send him a proposal. He is singlehandedly saving vinyl, an art form that is unique, precious, and captures a moment in time like no other. He is preserving it and making a library (I might say a sanctuary) that people can visit, learn about and either re-live or begin to appreciate this art form. This exact same idea occurred to me several years ago when I saw a documentary about a man in New York with a million records that he couldn't sell. I daydreamed about getting a grant to buy them, and bringing them to a Culver City warehouse and making a library where students of music could have access to this amazing archive. I am so pleased to know that someone wealthy is carrying out my plan in an even grander style than I dreamed of. This is the sort of thing rich people =should= do with their money but rarely do. Hail Zero Freitas, the saviour of vinyl.

Cat Power and the School Of Doodle

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School-Of-Doodle-sized From NME.com: "Last week something really exciting happened in the world of music. Musicians Cat Power, Kim Gordon, Yoko Ono and Courtney Love joined with artists such as Marina Abramovic and Pussy Riot and other creative people to support a new revolutionary venture in the form of an educational platform for teenage girls."

Read the rest of this article where Cat Power rips on the current system of education in the U.S.

She also has a solution -- she's helping a lot of other creatives start an online imagination school for girls called The School Of Doodle. You can see their Kickstarter video here, the school is just in the beginning phases but currently being tested by the people it was designed for, teenage girls. I love that the internet can be used for something this awesome. I'm reminded of a wonderful book I just read called "The Diamond Age", a postcyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson which details a future in which a certain set of teenage girls get creatively educated and basically get set up to take over the world. I know you can leap to a stereotype of a shallow, annoying, frivolous teenage girl but that's not what these girls are like. They're thoughtful, resourceful, strong, caring and resilient. And I think Cat Power and her buddies are on the right track to harness the imagination and determination of teenage girls. I'd rather be with them than against them, that's for sure!

"Sold-out Burger a-Go-Go Fest celebrates girl punk in Santa Ana," I love it!

burger fest from the LA Times/Randall Roberts:

"It takes only a couple of dedicated people to build a music scene. If what they do is righteous and resonates, listeners searching for community will gather. If, like Burger Records, what they envision becomes reality, fans will pack clubs to pogo, slam, stage-dive and sing along.

As proved by the scrums of believers dancing at Saturday's sold-out Burger a-Go-Go, a wild, celebratory, festival of girl punk centered on Fullerton's electrifying Burger label and record store, they'll share, support and spread the word. They'll even help revive a dying recording format, the cassette, by buying tapes at five bucks a pop to play in the TEAC deck that Dad never threw away.

Starring a team of underground bands bent on injecting fresh fuel into catchy three- and four-chord power jams, Burger's fest offered a deft, joyous, seamlessly delivered lineup of acts including Shannon and the Clams, the Coathangers, La Sera, the Muffs, Bleached, Dum Dum Girls and Best Coast. Each ripped through quick songs within quick sets on three different stages at the Observatory in Santa Ana and set the dance floors aloft.

That every band on the roster was fronted by a woman seemed both beside the point and exactly the point. Most rock festivals, after all, are default guy-rock gatherings, because fellas with guitars have run the scene, the biz and the studios. So a focus on the female perspective stands to reason."

Read the rest of the article here.

I love love love what Burger Records is doing out of Fullerton - my birthplace by the way! It is easy to find examples of music getting more and more mainstream and commercialized, labels and record stores going under. But this proves that there will ALWAYS be a place for independent thinking that will appeal to music fans. It makes me happy.

 

Pick Of The Week: The Big C Soundtrack

In stores now! I have been incubating this soundtrack with Sony and Epic for months now and its birthday is finally here. Since I curated the soundtrack personally, many of my favorite bands are on here like Delta Spirit, Oh Land, Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand, Leftover Cuties, Buddy, and some new artists you will be pleased to discover. When you buy the soundtrack, you support cancer research because Sony Music, Sony Pictures and Showtime will donate 100% of their net profits from The Big C soundtrack to Stand Up To Cancer.

Good soundtrack, good cause, what are you waiting for?

The Big C Soundtrack: Official Site and preview :: Amazon :: iTunes

PS I've also been music supervising Season 2 of The Big C already, coming to Showtime on June 27th!

Stornoway at The Troubadour, Jun 5

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Sometimes its hard to leave the sofa on a Sunday night. But I knew this show would be worth it, and I was not disappointed. It helps that it was at The Troub, the best venue in town. It should have been billed as "Stornoway and the mini-orchestra" since a cello, a triangle, a trumpet, and a saw all made appearances throughout the night. Brian Briggs' voice was the highlight of it all, so lovely and soothing, I could listen to it for hours. And he told stories about the songs, and talked to the audience and was charming and funny the way good lead singers should be. Bring your peppy rhythms and your adorable Oxfordshire accents back anytime, Stornoway. Stornoway "Beachcomber's Windowsill": Official Site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Pick Of The Week: Upcoming June concerts by Antlers, Tune-Yards and more!

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Even if you've been to as many live shows as I have, you can still get excited about the June concert calendar which will bring The Antlers, Stornoway, Tune-yards, Swervedriver AND The Mountain Goats all to Los Angeles within 22 days. I think most of these are national tours so even if you're not in LA, your local venues should be filled with good music soon. The Antlers at the El Rey: Fri, Jun 3

Stornoway at the Troubadour: Mon, Jun 5

Swervedriver at the Echoplex: Sun Jun 19

Mountain Goats at the El Rey: Thu Jun 23

Tune-yards at the Troubadour: Sun Jun 25

And then we'll rest!

Beckett to Castle: "Come And Find Me"

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A little background ... it was likely the summer of 2000, 10 years ago now, that I was experiencing the perfect summer night in Los Angeles. The Frames had probably just played somewhere to about 5 people (this was pre-Swell Season) and people were gathering at someone's house in the valley. They had a hot tub, and yes, I was in the hot tub with Glen Hansard. No hanky panky though, just drinking some beer and talking about music. I did start to think I was in heaven though, when I heard someone behind me with an acoustic guitar beautifully playing an impressive song that began "If I could trace, the line that ran, between your smile and your sleight of hand, I would guess that you put, something up my sleeve. Everytime I see your face, the bells ring in a far off place, we can find each other this way I believe... Come and find me, now ..."

Just sitting around at a house party, Josh Ritter wasn't even playing it to anyone in particular, just playing it. I thought "Am I a little too drunk or is that just about the best song ever?" Subsequently we were introduced, (he said he was from Idaho, I said "the band?"), addresses were exchanged, an EP came my way shortly and in the sober light of day I listened to "Come And Find Me" again and decided it pretty much was the best song ever. Fast forward through 11 years, five stellar albums, at least 8 or 9 incredible live shows, a lovely friendship and many more 'best songs ever', I have the great pleasure of placing the first song I ever heard Josh Ritter play into a TV show called Castle.

You can hear it the almost-romantic scene between Castle & Beckett in the episode titled "To Live And Die In L.A.", that first aired on May 2, 2011. Find the archive on ABC's Castle site.

Josh Ritter "Come And Find Me" (Don't stop with this song ... it only gets better): Official Site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Other awesome (if I do say so myself) music in this episode:

Ferrari scene: The Californias "La La La" Official Site

Pool scene: Sloan "The Other Side" (This band is great! I recommend all their CDs!) Official Site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Closing: Pearl Jam "Breathe" Official Site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Until next week!

Loopy for Lou Barlow

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I recently had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours chatting with Lou Barlow for a yet-to-be-announced project. Dream assignment! I would definitely call that a highlight of my last twelve months. In addition to being a talented indie rock ICON, he's intelligent, well-spoken, well-informed, AND well-versed in indie rock from the 80's right up to current day. I wanted the afternoon to just go on and on. We did the interview in a gem of guitar shop hidden away in Silverlake called Old Style, where photographer turned guitar-maker Reuben Cox handcrafts new guitars from old parts. I'm glad to see Lou's band Sebadoh from the 90's is getting some deserved (if belated) attention and in fact they are performing tonight in Echo Park and will be playing one of their classic indie rock albums, Bakesale, in it's entirety. Not to be missed! Lou Barlow: Official Site

Sebadoh "Bakesale": Amazon :: iTunes

Old Style Guitar Shop: Official Site

Even The Rain

Wow. I just saw an absolutely phenomenal film. Forget the Oscar nominees, this one blows them all away. Great concept, first-class screenplay, world-class acting, stunning cinematography, and a timeliness vis-a-vis the current Middle East rebellions that the filmmakers couldn't possibly have forseen, but that drives their point home all the more. Not an indie rock song in sight, but I'm still saying, Go See It. Even The Rain: Official Site :: YouTube Trailer

A Dream Vacation With Neutral Milk Hotel

If I say "December", on the English coast, in a town called "Butlins", it might not sound immediately like a dream vacation. But a festival has just been announced that will be curated by Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel, who made one of the best albums of the 1990s, (In An Aeroplane Over The Sea), and then disbanded before too many people had a chance to see him play. Add in the bands he's booked just so far: Superchunk, The Olivia Tremor Control, The Magic Band, The Raincoats performing their debut LP in it's entirety, and Apples In Stereo and maybe you'll start to see the appeal. If it's just a bit too early to know what you'll be doing in December, maybe just look up this classic record by Neutral Milk Hotel and dream away to that.

Neutral Milk Hotel: Website :: Amazon :: iTunes

All Tomorrow's Parties Festival: website

Iron & Wine, Laura Marling, The Vaccines

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I didn't go to Sundance this year and I think I might skip SXSW as well but thats okay because every week is a music festival when you live in LA! Last night I saw a double bill of Laura Marling and Iron & Wine at the Wiltern. Laura Marling is truly stunning, not just another gal singer-songwriter but a powerful presence and voice reminiscent of Joni Mitchell or an acoustic Patti Smith. Sam Beam of Iron & Wine upped the ante on this new album with a horn section that accompanied him on tour so it was a lot more lively than your average Sam Beam presentation. I ADORE the new Iron & Wine album, by the way. The show finished in plenty of time for me to skip on over to Spaceland and see The Vaccines, who had a ton of energy and a lot of very short songs, all the indie rockers were there and so was Jake Gyllenhaal! Pictures below of the Spaceland festivities. Iron & Wine: official site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Laura Marling: official site :: Amazon :: iTunes

The Vaccines: official site :: Amazon :: iTunes

Big C Is Golden!

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Laura Linney in The Big C on ShowtimeAs the Big C Music Supervisor, I'm THRILLED with our show's Golden Globe nomination and Laura Linney's Best Actress WIN in the comedy/musical TV series category.  I've watched hours and hours of footage of Laura Linney acting in our series and she is, honestly, flawless.  To The Big C creator, Darlene Hunt, and the talented producers Jenny Bicks, Michael Engler and Vivian Cannon who brought the show to life, congratulations on your nomination and thank you for making such a rewarding show that I am privileged to work on. The Big C: official site