Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I think what surprises me most about the life of Jay Bennnett isn't how much he was liked...but how much he was disliked. Here are some excerpts from the comments on itunes about his album, The Magnificent Defeat:
"it's like listening to nails on a chalkboard," "quite painful," "inadequate song writing"
These are comments I would expect of someone reviewing a teenager's 4-track garage demo. Not of someone who has an immensely beautiful voice. It is unfortunate that Jay will never be truly recognized for his musical offerings during his lifetime. Even his wikipedia page is barely filled to half-mast. It's a shame that a guy with 5 solo discs to his name that used to be a major songwriting force in one of the most respected bands of the 00s, cant even get a discography page in his wikipedia profile.
I know much of the animosity toward Jay stems from the Tweedy blow-out...but that shouldn't tarnish his music. What's most surprising about the split, is that though Bennett and Tweedy thought they were heading in two opposite musical directions, their post-break-up releases have surprising simularities. After Jay left Wilco, Tweedy released the experimental A Ghost Is Born...while Jay released the experimental Magnificent Defeat. Wilco followed it up with the mellow and basic Sky Blue Sky while Jay released the mellow and basic Whatever Happened I Apologize. I think they had more in common than they thought.
Jay's most recent album, Whatever Happened I Apologize, is available for free download from his record label, rockproper.com. There has been a push to get the album released on vinyl. A Kickstarter page has been started for donations. Best part about it, if you donate as little as a dollar...you get your name in the liner notes. How cool is that?
It seems that Jay struggled all his life to find his proper place. Musically, he tried everything from playing, to singing, to producing. At the time, it appeared he was searching to find his niche. Never happy with just doing one thing. But in retrospect, it was Jay's ambition to do it all that made him as superbly talented as he was. Hopefully, in death people may give Jay's music a second chance and find out what an amazing artist he was in his own right. He will be missed.
Here are the 11 Best Jay Bennett Songs:
- The Engines Are Idle (Whatever Happened I Apologize)
- Replace You (Magnificent Defeat)
- Talk To Me (The Palace at 4AM)
- Thank You (Magnificent Defeat)
- C.T.M. (The Palace at 4AM)
- Hank (Whatever Happened I Apologize)
- God's Coffee (Bigger Than Blue)
- 5th Grade (Magnificent Defeat)
- My Wicked Little One (Bigger Than Blue)
- Puzzle Heart (The Palace at 4AM)
- Pretty Good Year (The Beloved Enemy)
Monday, May 25, 2009
This past week saw Grandaddy frontman, Jason Lytle release his first solo album, Your Truly The Commuter. How will he fair on his own without his team?
Here are the 11 Best Songs By Grandaddy:
1. El Caminos in the West (Sumday)
2. The Crystal Lake (The Sophtware Slump)
3. The Group Who Couldn't Say (Sumday)
4. Summer Here Kids (Under The Wester Freeway)
5. Summer...It's Gone (Just Like the Famibly Cat)
6. Miner at the Dial-A-View (The Sophtware Slump)
7. Now It's On (Sumday)
8. Goodbye? (Excerpts From The Diary of Todd Zilla)
9. Revolution (I Am Sam Soundtrack)
10. Pull The Curtains (Excerpts From The Diary of Todd Zilla)
11. Hewlett's Daughter (The Sophtware Slump)
Buy Jason Lytle's new solo album, Yours Truly the Commuter, now!!
Friday, May 22, 2009
This week they released a 2-disc collection of B-sides, covers, and rare tracks, called Around the Well.
Here are the 11 Best Songs by Iron & Wine:
1. Jezebel (Woman King EP)
2. Cinder and Smoke (Our Endless Numbered Days)
3. The Trapeze Swinger (In Good Company)
4. Woman King (Woman King EP)
5. Resurrection Fern (The Shepard's Dog)
6. Upward Over the Mountain (The Creek Drank The Cradle)
7. Free Until They Cut Me Down (Our Endless Numbered Days)
8. Boy With A Coin (The Shepard's Dog)
9. Promising Light (The Creek Drank The Cradle)
10. Such Great Heights (Garden State)
11. Swans & the Swimming (Our Endless Numbered Days Bonus Track)
Buy Iron & Wine's new rarities collection (Around The Well) now!!!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Their big stat is that 40 billion tracks are illegally downloaded every year. Where did they come up with this? Well, it's an estimate based on how many files are downloaded during a periodic sampling of multiple sites. Here's the problem with that...there's no way of telling if every track that's being traded is a copyrighted track. In fact, they have no idea what each track is. They don't have anyone looking at each traded track to decipher whether it's legit or not. Do you know how long it would take to inspect 40 billion tracks? So, in fact, they have no idea. It's probably close to accurate that 40 billion tracks are being downloaded. But whether they're legal...that's a whole other issue. They could be live bootlegs...Demos...Unsigned bands....or even songs that bands have given permission to freely trade. There's NO WAY to tell.
According to their own research, 28% of those interviewed buy less music or no music because of downloading. They combine the "less" and "zero" stats so there's no telling what the real stat is. That means 72% still buy the same amount of music...if not more. At worst, sales should only be down 28%...but they're down 50%. That's a huge difference. Something else is a factor. I know this is hard to believe...but I have no doubt that American Idol is the real culprit.
Back to my original point, our lives are too busy. We no longer have radio...we no longer have MTV. So, our only capacity to seek out new music has either been in the form of the internet (which only really affects younger people) or in the form of American Idol. When the only 25% of the contestants on American Idol get albums, you're ignoring a huge demogrpahic. Your niche demogrpahic. When you wait 8-months to release an album, you're also losing a giant chunk of the "impulse" buy from your audience. If everyone is investing their new music capacity into hearing new music in American Idol, they are not seeking out new music in other places. Therefore...sales suffer on both ends.
Here are the 11 Best Eminem Duets:
1. Forget About Dre (ft. Dr. Dre)
2. Encore (ft. Dr. Dre, 50 Cent)
3. If I Get Locked Up Tonight (ft. Dr. Dre, Funkmaster Flex)
4. Renegade (ft. Jay-z)
5. What's The Difference? (ft. Dr. Dre)
6. Spend Some Time (ft. 50 Cent, Stat Quo, Obie Trice)
7. Bitch Please II (Ft. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg)
8. Outro (ft. Obie Trice, D-12)
9. Welcome 2 Detroit (ft. Trick Trick)
10. Patiently Waiting (ft. 50 Cent)
11. Guilty Conscience (ft. Dr. Dre)
Buy Eminem's new album, Relapse now!!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Well...the recession has finally hit the indie world. Paste Magazine is hurting. Apparently advertisers don't have the money they once had. So in an attempt to save the magazine, if you donote money, you'll be treated to 75+ rare songs from some of Paste's most love artists. Songs include advanced tracks from the likes of Patterson Hood, The Jayhawks, and the Cowboy Junkies; live tracks from the Decembrists, Gomez, and Matthew Caws of Nada Surf; B-sides from She & Him, The Cary Brothers, and Bob Mould; acoustic tracks by the Indigo Girls, Of Montreal, and Matt Nathanson;and totally unreleased tracks from Samantha Crain, John Doe, Liam Finn, Robin Hitchcock, and The Watson Twins.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Hey it's my 400th post!!! Wow, have I wasted that much time doing this? Hope you've all enjoyed it!! I'll return to my American Idol sum-up this weekend. But thought I should do something fun today. So I've made a list of my 111 favorite albums of the 1990s. Now remember...these are not the best...just my personal favorites. It's interesting to try and do a list now...through the spectacles of the 00s...you start to realize which albums you actually like and which you just thought you liked.
My 111 Favorite Albums of the 1990s:
- Radiohead - The Bends (High and Dry)
- Nirvana - Nevermind (Lithium)
- Pearl Jam - Ten (Even Flow)
- Depeche Mode - Violator (Halo)
- Elliot Smith - Either/Or (Pictures of Me)
- Tool - Aenima
- Jane's Addiction - Ritual de la Habitual
- Nirvana - In Utero
- Heatmiser - Mic City Sons
- Weezer - Pinkerton
- Jeff Buckley - Grace
- Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
- The Foo Fighters - The Foo Fighters
- Garbage - Version 2.0
- Triple Fast Action - Cattlemen Don't
- Radiohead - Ok Computer
- Soundgarden - Badmotorfinger
- Morcheeba - The Big Calm
- Pearl Jam - Vs.
- Beck - Midnight Vultures
- Green Day - Dookie
- Elliott Smith - XO
- Guns n Roses - Use Your Illusion II
- A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders
- The Cure - Wish
- Rage Against the Machine - Evil Empire
- Alice in Chains - Dirt
- Beck - Odelay
- Wilco - Summerteeth
- U2 - Achtung Baby
- Fugazi - Repeater
- Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
- Garbage - Garbage
- Wilco - A.M.
- Temple of the Dog - Temple of the Dog
- Bad Religion - Stranger Than Fiction
- Faith No More - Angel Dust
- Live - Secret Samadhi
- Ben Harper - Fight For Your Mind
- Electronic - Electronic
- Swell - Too Many Days Without Thinking
- Jellyfish - Bellybutton
- Singles Soundtrack
- lush - Lovelife
- The Offspring - Americana
- Sebadoh - Harmacy
- Portishead - Dummy
- Orbital - Snivilization
- Triple Fast Action - Broadcaster
- Tom Petty - Into the Great Wide Open
- Pavement - Crooked Crooked Rain
- Beatie Boys - Hello Nasty
- The Black Crowes - Shake your Money Maker
- Whiskeytown - Stranger's Almanac
- Live - Throwing Copper
- Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine
- Smashing Pumpkins - Gish
- Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun
- Pearl Jam - Vitalogy
- Morrissey - Your Arsenal
- Porno For Pyros - Porno For Pyros
- Uncle Tupelo - Anodyne
- Jawbreaker - Dear You
- Saint Etienne - Good Humor
- The Offspring - Ixnay on the Hombre
- Moby - Everything Is Wrong
- Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt
- Pixies - Bossanova
- Modest Mouse - The Lonesome Crowded West
- The Get-Up Kids - Something to Write Home About
- The Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - Are A Drag
- Belle and Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister
- The Foo Fighters - There Is Nothing Left To Lose
- Travis - The Man Who
- Dr. Dre - Chronic 2001
- Mary Lou Lord - Got No Shadow
- Built To Spill - Perfect From Now On
- Soundgarden - Down on the Upside
- Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out
- Jimmy Eat World - Clarity
- A Tribe Called Quest - Low End Theory
- The Clouds - Thunderhead
- Brad - Shame
- Beastie Boys - Ill Communications
- The Roots - Do you Want More???
- Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea...
- Tori Amos - Under The Pink
- 2pac - Me Against The World
- Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile
- Stone Temple Pilots - Purple
- Cibo Mato - Stereo Type A
- Billy Bragg and Wilco - Mermaid Avenue
- The Roots - Things Fall Apart
- R.E.M. - Automatic For the People
- The Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape
- Dr. Dre - The Chronic
- DJ Shadow - Entroducing...
- Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magic
- Bob Dylan - Time Out of Mind
- Metallica - The Black Album
- No. 2 - No Memory
- Outkast - Aquemini
- Black Star - Black Star
- Massive Attack - Blue Lines
- Fugazi - 13 Songs
- A Tribe Called Quest - People's Instinctive Travels
- Beastie Boys - Check your Head
- Elliott Smith - Elliott Smith
- Moby - Play
- Primus - Frizzle Fry
- Alice in Chains - Sap
Thursday, May 14, 2009
So I can make as many statements against Idol, claiming my opinions are accurate...but there's only one way to be convincing...and that's with facts. And there's one solid fact I can use to show that American Idol singers are nothing more than a fad...album sales.
Here's a look at the American Idol album sales over the past 7 seasons:
Kelly Clarkson (s1w) - had 4 albums - #1 sold 4 mill, #2 sold 6 mill, #3 sold 1 mill, #4 sold 500k
Justin Guarini (s1ru) - has 3 post-Idol albums - the best seller is 135K
Ruben Studdard (s2w) - 3 albums - #1 sold 1.8m, #2 sold 400K, #3 sold 250K
Clay Aiken (s2ru) - 4 albums - #1 sold 2.8m, #2 sold 1.4m, #3 sold 500K, #4 sold 160K
Josh Gracin (s2ru) - 2 albums - #1 sold 500K, #2 sold 80K
Fantasia Barrino (s3w) - 2 albums - #1 sold 1.8m, #2 sold 500K
Diana DeGarmo (s3ru) - 1 albums - sold 168K
Jennifer Hudson (s3ru) - 1 album (post Oscar) - 700K
Carrie Underwood (s4w) - 2 albums - #1 sold 7 m, #2 sold 2m
Bo Bice (s4ru) - 2 albums - #1 sold 600K, #2 sold 61K
Taylor Hicks (s5w) - 2 post-Idol albums - #1 sold 700K, #2 sold 18K
Katharine McPhee (s5ru) - 1 album - sold 300K
Elliott Yamin (s5ru) - 2 albums - #1 sold 500K, #2 sold 80K
Chris Daughtry (s5ru) - 1 album - #1 sold 4m
Kellie Pickler (s5ru) - 2 albums - #1 sold 700K, #2 sold 200K
Jordin Sparks (s6w) - 1 album - sold 1.5m
Blake Lewis (s6ru) - 1 album - sold 300K
Melinda Doolittle (s6ru) - 1 album - sold 20K
David Cook (s7w) - 1 album - sold 1.1m
David Archuleta (s7ru) - 1 album - 700K
In 7 seasons, these are the 20 best selling artists from American Idol. There are only 8 platinum selling artists. And only 3 of them have 2 platinum albums. And the biggest stars are the ones who have rejected Idol. Clarkson refuses to be associated with the show. Underwood rejected going pop and went country. And Daughtry went rock. That leaves only Clay Aiken...who just got dropped from his label.
I'll have a wrap-up tomorrow.
The 11 Best Songs By Green Day:
1. Basket Case (Dookie)
2. Jesus of Suburbia (American Idiot)
3. One of My Lies (Kerplunk!)
4. Holiday (American Idiot)
5. Scattered (Nimrod)
6. Longview (Dookie)
7. Hitchin' A Ride (Nimrod)
8. Minority (Warning)
9. When I Come Around (Dookie)
10. 86 (Insomniac)
11. Going To Pasalacqua (1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hour)
Buy Green Day's new album, 21st Century Breakdown (only $4.99 for one week!!!)
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Today is part 3 of my rant against American Idol. As I've been discussing before if people are paying attention to Idol music, they're not looking in other places...and therefore other musicians suffer.
My problem today, is that just because you have a technically great voice...it doesn't necessarily mean you're a good pop/rock star. Some of the best stars of the rock/pop era don't have technically great voices...Bob Dylan, Kurt Cobain, Johnny Rotten, Lou Reed, Tom Petty, David Byrne, Ian Mckaye, Ian Curtis, Dexter Holland, Billy Corgan, Stephen Malkmus, Jeremy Enigk...to name a brief dozen. But these are the voices that shaped music for years. These are the voice that people wanted to hear. These are the voices that inspired others to go out and learn guitar...form a band in their parents basement.
The best example might be Madonna. Probably the best female pop star of the past 25 years. She doesn't have a great voice. She has a good voice. But she managed to great music that suited her voice...and in turn made great songs. Part of the fact that she had a mediocre voice is what makes her great. She's more personal. She's easier to relate to. She sounds like a person...and not an over-produced robot.
Lead singer of Sunny Day Real Estate releases his 3rd solo album, OK Bear, this week. Jeremy would have never made it out of the first round on American Idol...but I guarantee his music-making career will last longer than every contestant that graces that show.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
So I want to continue my rant about American Idol.
In the past, when you wanted to discover new music, you turned on the radio...or MTV...and watched for an hour. In that time, you heard about 12 songs. Let's say you liked 5 of those songs. If you wanted to buy them, then you could just go down to the store and purchase them.
But now, with satelite radio and ipods...people are only listening to music they already know and like. Currently, their only exposure to new music/artists comes when they watch American Idol. But here's the difference. In a show, you get to see at the most 12 artists competing. If you like 5 of those artists...too bad. You can't go buy them. And some of them...you'll never get to buy. Only one of them is guaranteed a record deal...and that record won't be coming out for 8 months. By then...most of the 25 million people who voted for them...have already moved on to the next season.
Since most people are listening to American Idol to hear new music...they're not spending time in other places to hear new music. They are only intested in the American Idol music. But when the show is on...they can't buy it. And because they're obsessing about American Idol music, they're not looking for new music from other resources...so that suffers, too. It's basically a lose-lose situation.
This week sees the release of the 4th Crystal Method album, Divided By the Night . A band who started off being called a Chemical Brothers knock-off has now survived well beyond their expiration date, proving to everyone that they've been severely underestimated. You can't grow determination like this on a game show. The new album features guest spots by Peter Hook of New Order, Matisyahu, and Jason Lytle. Get it now for only $2.99!!!
Here are the 11 Best Songs By The Crystal Method:
1. Comin' Back (Vegas)
2. Born Too Slow (Legion of Boom)
3. Keep Hope Alive (Vegas)
4. Murder (Tweekend)
5. Trip Like I Do w/Filter (Spawn)
6. Wild Sweet Cool (Tweekend)
7. Busy Child (Vegas)
8. Bound Too Long (Legion of Boom)
9. Roll It Up (Tweekend)
10. Weapons of Mass Distortion (Legion of Boom)
11. Name of the Game (Tweekend)
Buy the Crystal Method's new album, Divided By the Night (now only $2.99). Hey...if you like three songs...it's the same price to buy the whole album!!
Monday, May 11, 2009
Everyone wants to blame the internet and all the illegal downloading. But believe it or not...a lot of people STILL don't know how to do it. My parents have a hard enough time checking their email...let alone figuring out what the hell a torrent is. My friends have too much going on in their lives to hunt down where to download the music, they would rather just buy the album off itunes because it's less hassle. So is downloading to blame? For a small percentage...sure. But for a 60% drop? There's something bigger going on.
American Idol has become the mainstream. This is where America learns about new music. But the difference between AI candidates and real rock stars...AI candidates have no musical talent. Sure they can sing...but they have no connection to the music they're singing. It's not personal. It's not created from inside them. In fact, they themselves are created to be the artist that America thinks they want. The problem is...you can only wear that mask for so long. That's why all the AI artists' 2nd albums tank. They're not real musicians. They are karoake artists. A gimmick. And once "that artists'" gimmick has warn off...no cares anymore.
I really think the American Idol topic has a lot more to it...so over the next couple of days...I'll explore it in more detail. and hopefully, I can convince you all to turn it off...and bring back a music industry resurgance.
With a new Mars Volta album only a couple weeks out... ever prolific Omar (lead guitar) is releasing his 11th (that's right) solo album in 5 years. Let's see anyone on American Idol do that. This newest venture brings on Mars Volta singer, Cedric, to add vocals to all but two songs...so basically...it's like a Mars Volta album...to warm-up for the coming Mars Volta album.
Here are the 11 Best Songs By Omar Rodriguez-Lopez:
1. La Tirania de la Tradicion (Se Dice Bisonte)
2. Calibration (Calibration)
3. The Palpatations Form A Limit (A Manual Dexterity)
4. ....Is Pushing Lucy (Calibration)
5. Se Dice Bisonte (Se Dice Bisonte)
6. Power of Myth (Old Money)
7. Jacob Van Leenpkade II (The Apocalypse Inside of an Orange)
8. Hands Tied To The Roots of a Hemorage (Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fungus)
9. Coma Pony (The Apocalypse Inside of an Orange)
10. Tied Prom Digs on the Docks (Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fungus)
11. Dispanec Triage (Megritual)
Buy Omar's new solo album, El Grupo Nuevo de Omar - Cryptomnesia.
Friday, May 08, 2009
Now, this week, the band releases a Live CD/DVD to very little fanfare. How little? Well, I'm sure most of you are learning about this as your reading my blog...and the album's already been out for a few days. The DVD chronicles a spectacular show at the Apollo in Manchester, which was getting rave reviews when it was released last month in England. But now in the US version, the band has added a bonus 10-song live CD from Austin, Texas. And anything musical that comes out of Texas has to be good.
Arctic Monkeys - Live on KCRW
1. A View From The Afternoon
2. Dancing Shoes
3. Fake Tales of San Francisco
4. You Probably Couldn't See For the Lights
5. Perhaps Vampire is a Bit Strong But
6. From The Ritz to the Rubble
7. A Certain Romance
Buy the Arctic Monkeys' new CD/DVD combo, Live at the Appollo.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
So no matter how the cards fall in the playoffs, whoever wins the NBA finals, without a doubt, deserves it.
Here are the 11 Best Songs By Ben Harper:
1. Another Lonely Day (Fight For Your Mind)
2. Jah Work (The Will To Live)
3. Glory and Consequence (The Will To Live)
4. Opression (Fight For Your Mind)
5. With My Own Two Hands (Diamonds On the Inside)
6. Burn One Down (Fight For Your Mind)
7. Don't Take That Attitude To Your Grave (Welcome to the Cruel World)
8. Excuse Me Mr. (Fight For Your Mind)
9. Diamonds on the Inside (Diamonds On the Inside)
10. Burn To Shine (Burn To Shine)
11. Mourning Yearning (Both Sides of the Gun)
Buy Ben Harper and the Relentless 7's new album, White Lies For Dark Times. Only $3.99...seriously, you can't beat that.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Since the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame induction...a full month ago...the thoughts of weighing current artists musical merit has been big topic on my mind. Doing a blog like this, it's hard not to look at each artist and consider their impact in the bigger scheme of things. Especially this week. Three very strong music artists...each with distinct musical voices...but are any of them RNRHOF material? Between Ben Harper, Cracker and Bright Eyes/Conor...only BEC has the best shot at making it. Conor has played on stage with legendary artistis like Bruce Springsteen and the Stones...so the respect is there. Conor has a legion of diehard fans...just take a look at Toby Maguire's hair in the third Spiderman movie. So the fanbase is there. But the one thing that's missing is true commercial crossover. Maybe that's why he ditched his Bright Eyes moniker for a new start...even though Bright Eyes is really just Conor with an interchanging cast of musicians. But perception is everything. Will mainstream success be the one thing that alludes Conor from RNR hall glory in 15 years? At the end of the day...I think he's a shoe-in...not just because of his musical talent...but the lack of competition from his contemporaries. It's not about being the best...it's just about being better than the guy next to you.