April 18, 2010
Yesterday marked the third momentous Record Store Day, and for those scratching your heads trying to remember what a record store even is, it’s one of those long-standing places of business being destroyed by this internet thing (no, not those places). Many people have gotten touchy about the demise of local record stores and for three years running have reserved April 17th to do the unthinkable: going out to buy music they could easily get for free from their computer. Because sometimes to keep something you love, you have to do irrational things like getting married or respecting copyright laws.
Since many musicians grew up in such boutiques and, not to mention, appreciate the idea of people paying for their music, tons of big names help out with the festivities by issuing special vinyl records; this year is no exception, and there is a ton of great wax to collect. A few of the highlights include: a double LP of Pavement’s recent Quarantine the Past compilation that even has a different track listing (now Pavement psychos can argue which is better), a sea foam green vinyl of the Flaming Lips cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, a vinyl reissue of Modest Mouse’s The Moon and Antarctica, the Hold Steady’s new LP Heaven is Whenever, a 12” of LCD Soundsystem’s new single “Pow Wow,” and get this, a 7” of Blur’s new single “Fool’s Day.”
All of this is pretty cool stuff, but Blur’s choice to premier “Fool’s Day” as a vinyl on Record Day is a hell of a gesture. This is the first song that the full band (including the brilliant Graham Coxon) has made in seven years, and it happens to not suck. A gritty little minor-chord chugger, it has that Blur charm of being simultaneously melancholy, a bit ragged, and damn catchy. Sure, the melody sounds a bit like the Cutting Crew’s “I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight,” but hearing Coxon kick out a sweet riff at the end will make any Blur fan happy. Sadly for us Yanks, the single is only being sold in record stores in the UK, so you will have to stick to the loads of other special records made available yesterday. But if really want to hear ‘Fool’s Day’ you could always find it on, well, the internet. Yeah… that’s a little awkward…. Happy Record Day everybody!
For a list of even more special releases here’s Pitchfork’s list.
by Geoff Anstey
Kele Okereke, Frontman of UK Post-Punk Outfit Bloc Party, Currently on a Hiatus (Read: Washed Up), Announces Solo Album…Working With Spank Rock – This Honestly Sounds Like My Own Personal Musical Hell [NME]
Stream New Spoon, “The Mystery Zone,” Which Sounds Literally Like Every Other Spoon Song Ever Written…But Still, Stream It Anyway, Because I’m Probably Going to Have to Take it Down in 5 Minutes. RIAA is Outside; Transference Released January 26 [Indiescreet]
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Are Playing a Secret Show in NYC this Weekend Celebrating the New Droid Phone; If You Buy a Droid, You Get a Free Ticket…So It’s Like Paying $200 to See the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Plus a Data Plan; Data Costs a Lot) [Brooklyn Vegan]
Jack White’s Third Man Records is Releasing a 7-Inch Celebrating the Late Astronomer/Host of Cosmos/Generally Awesome Dude Carl Sagan, With a Guest Verse from Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking; Stream It Here [Youtube]
Stream Julian Casablancas’s Recording of the SNL Classic “I Wish It Was Christmas Today;” Better Yet, Do Yourself a Favor and Wait Until December 25 to Listen to it, Only So That You Can Actively Disagree With Julian Casablancas About Something [Myspace]
Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus Suggests People Listen to Canadian Pitchfork Darlings Japandroids; Claims to Have Been Suggested Band By His Barber…Actually Just Admitting to Reading Pitchfork (Congratulations, Mark, Welcome to Modern Music) [Spin]
compiled by Max Sebela
October 27, 2009
2009 | Unsigned
Is Small Black the best release by a Brooklyn artist this year? Maybe, but a more apt question is: does anyone even care anymore, even if it is? As our once-little scene explodes more and more each month, any band able to book the Market Hotel is going to end up as part of Pitchfork’s “Rising” list; every blog is going to post their “single premier”/their exclusive video performance in an obscure household area (perhaps washtub?)/four or five Memory Tapes remixes/pictures of them in Halloween costumes/attempt analyses of their bar fights/take stabs at them for developing the hype that they did/try to destroy them.
Even I, by beginning a review of a band criticizing the literal hype machine (not HypeMachine; I have no beef with streaming social media), am part of the problem. After all, I probably wouldn’t have heard about them unless Pitchfork posted opening track “Despicable Dogs” as one of their Best New Tracks. Small Black is only available as an independently issued 10-inch, not a CD, and maybe us here at JM.com will backlash at them when they reissue the EP next year on Matador or some shit, once it makes Pitchfork Best New Music.
All predictions aside, right now, Small Black’s five-song self-titled debut EP sounds pretty fucking good. It’s 25 minutes of unflinching bedroom pop. Other, more genre-happy blogs have dubbed this sound “glow-fi” or “chill-wave” – the band makes heavy use of electronics, fuzz, and pulsing high toned synths. The synths coming up out of the fuzz is apparently analogous to the way glitter shines on a black page – thus, “glow-fi” is born. But music doesn’t glow, and sound doesn’t actually shimmer, so let’s leave poor descriptors to the other guys.
What counts are the songs, and this collection, though short, is as close as it gets to perfect. When “Despicable Dogs” first made its way to the blogs, it was described as a languid, beach-combing summer jam. But now, deep into October, it sounds a lot more melancholy, impenetrable, alienated, stuck in itself, and if that doesn’t sound like the colorless end of autumn, what does? The chorus, “Do it without me/ Do it when I’m gone,” is stark and simple, as resigned as it immediately sounds. Does it sound optimistic? Sure. But unlike most similar projects, which are immediately depressing and hide small moments of joy (Again, Memory Tapes, we’re looking in your direction) Small Black sounds pleased and content, and their depth comes from that buried melancholia.
More on Small Black | Small Black
September 29, 2009
IN THE TUBE
In case you haven’t heard, indie monolith and the hip’s go-to consumer guide/whipping boy Pitchfork.com has been running a long series of articles related to this decade in music, temporarily branded “the aughts.” They are calling it P2K (OMG I GET IT, LIKE P4K, ONLY WITH A TWO), and it pisses me off in so many ways. First of all, the decade isn’t over. Secondly, revisionist history demands that we will not know what this decade “meant” musically for another five years or so; attempting to throw together a list of important releases in the midst of the decade forgoes perspective, foresight, and fails to admit fallibility. Or, in laymen’s terms, no one knows shit enough about this decade to adequately comment on it, even Pitchfork (even though they knew about Death Cab waaaaay before you did).
In the midst of their recklessly irresponsible feature, they released a “Top 50 Music Videos Of The 2000s,” and gave “Fell in Love With a Girl” by the White Stripes the coveted #1. You’ve all seen it: it’s the one with the Legos. Jack White shreds guitar, Meg White sucks at drums, and they both get into a variety of hijinks…as Legos. Yeah, it’s pretty simple: a music video…only instead of real stuff, there are Legos. You get the point. In any case, here’s the video:
Now, I’m not here to trash this thing – I love it. I think that it is incredibly entertaining, and I love the Stripes’ seminal White Blood Cells as much as any self-respecting fan of electric guitar. The way colors wash out on Legos when they are shot up close, and the soft pastel swatch Michel Gondry filters everything through work very well with the song’s barebones garage rock. Jack and Meg are both pasty enough to actually have their faces reconstructed in white blocks. And I love Legos – sure, I admit I went through a Duplo phase from the ages of three to six, but out of all standardized systems of multicolored blocks, I feel Lego reigns supreme (yeah, fuck you Mega Bloks).
More on Dismantling Pitchfork’s Top Video of the Decade
Michael Jackson’s Death Officially Ruled Homicide [Rolling Stone]
Official Nirvana Live At Reading CD/DVD Due Out November 3 [Pitchfork]
The Doors’ Final Four New York Concerts To Be Released In Six-Disc Set [Rolling Stone]
Get The Deets On New Beck/Charlotte Gainsbourg Album [Pitchfork]
Blackalicious’ Gift Of Gab To Drop Solo LP, Escape to Mars [Pitchfork]
Listen To Previously Undiscovered Elliott Smith Song, “Grand Mal” [Pitchfork]
And, For Something To Think About After An Unusually Pitchfork-Heavy News Day: Buddyhead Gives Pitchfork’s “Top 500 Tracks Of The 2000s” A 0.0 [Prefix]
compiled by Erin Sheehy
London’s Glam-Pop Star Patrick Wolf Runs a Tirade Against a Woman In His Band; Throws A Microphone, Chair, and Spits In Her Face – All While Dressed Up As What Looks Like Bowie From Labyrinth [Pitchfork]
Auto-Tuned Hip-Hop Artist T-Pain Runs For President Of University of Florida…“Gonna Buy U A Dr-…New Field House, and Improve Bathroom Conditions In The Freshmen Dormitories” [Idolator]
Watch Art Rocker Nick Cave Read From His Upcoming Novel The Death of Bunny Munro (With That Score Behind Him, Cave Looks Pretty Well Suited As A Daniel Plainview Double); Bunny Munro Released September 1 [Spin]
Sonic Youth Set To Appear On Episode Of The CW’s Teen-Sex Romp Gossip Girl; Next, I Want To See Jim O’Rourke On The Recently Restarted Melrose Place [Prefix]
Radiohead MAYBE to POSSIBLY Release a RUMORED EP, HYPOTHETICALLY Titled Wall of Ice ALLEGEDLY Monday [Stereogum]
compiled by Max Sebela
The Beatles Get Their Own QVC Store; Weirdest Shop Item: Four Yellow Submarine Themed Baseballs. QVC: Get Authentic. I Want A Set Of Hard Day’s Night Styled Cricket Wickets [Idolator]
Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl and Led Zepellin’s John Paul Jones Debuted Their Very Original Sludge-Rock Band, Them Crooked Vultures (And Apparently, It Was Good) [Spin]
The Upcoming $45 Million Dollar Spiderman Musical, With Music By U2’s Bono and The Edge, Facing Budget Problems “Mary Jane, My Spider Sense Is Tingling – Maybe This Is The Wrong Time To Put On A $45 Million Dollar Musical…Wait, No…That’s My Common Sense” [NME]
Watch New Video “I’m Good” From Virginia Rap Heroes Clipse (Pharrell Sings Really Poorly On It, and I’ve Never Seen Ex-Coke Dealers Having So Much Leisurely Fun); Till The Casket Drops Released October 20 [Pitchfork]
Microphones/Mount Eerie Guy Phil Elverum Does Really Great Interview In Village Voice; Calls Upcoming LP Wind’s Poem Loudest Album He’s Done (Also Has Called It His Best), Expresses Love Of Loud Things In General [Village Voice]
Arcade Fire Multi-Instrumentalist Owen Pallett, AKA Final Fantasy, Signs To Domino, Announces New LP, Heartland; Released “The First Week Of 2010” [Pitchfork]
Popular Music Magazine Pitchfork.com Announces Plans To Present “The Decade In Music” Starting Next Week…Four Months Before Decade Ends. Well, So Much For Journalistic Perspective [Pitchfork]
Sufjan Stevens Announces Fall Tour (!!!!); Four New York Dates In October (!!!!); Fans Giggle Like School Girls [Asthmatic Kitty]
Stream Black Lips/King Khan & BBQ Show Supergroup, The Almighty Defenders’ First Song, “Cone Of Light” – This Track Is Throwback, Handclap Soul And Will Be On Repeat For Several Hours; The Almighty Defenders Released September 22 [Pitchfork]
by Max Sebela
August 28, 2008
Reporting for NPR, Jacob Ganz referred to the “perfect storm of Internet hype, e-commerce, and rabid fan response” to describe the fast rise of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. But perfect storms are meteorological coincidences, whereas rock bands on the rise – even unsigned, “independent” ones – are the product of human actions. Thus, Internet hype, e-commerce and a rabid fan response require posting MP3s and getting them to the right bloggers, connections with online distributors, and booking the right shows. A band’s success today might not include a label but it will require managers, publicists, and, of course, distribution, all of which was available to CYHSY from the beginning.
|Photo by Davey Wilson|
The truly unique feat of CYHSY was that an unsigned band sold about 100,000 copies of its first release within a year without a label. Today it has sold about 300,000 copies including domestic and international sales; surely the envy of thousands of local bands. Many onlookers believed that the 9.0 rating on PitchforkMedia.com (Pitchfork) was the reason for their success. But it was the road to Pitchfork and its aftermath that reveals the band’s rise to be a product of talent and hard work, but not without help from people in the music business.
In late 2005, when I first heard about the CYHSY explosion, I cynically asked myself: “Is there a music industry person operating behind the scenes”? There were two, both friends of the band from Connecticut College. Dave Godowsky was in the publicity department at Rounder Records, and then Nick Stern was Director of Publicity for Atlantic Records. Some big label industry experience was behind the rise of a band touted as the poster child of the “independent” and DIY music business.
Nick Stern, manager of CYHSY, takes little credit for the band’s success. His role, he says, was essentially giving “advice to good friends from college;” asserting that the band exemplifies the DIY ethos. Moreover, Stern is adamant that “No one can do anything without a great fucking record.” Stern also notes that most bands have managers. But anyone who has a friend in a great band will tell you that most bands starting out don’t have managers or close friends in the business. Furthermore, many in today’s new music business understand that managers and publicists are more important than labels.
More on CYHSY: The Rise of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; Hard Work and College Friends in the Music Industry Can Really Help