I mentioned that 2011 was a great year for music in part 1, right? Well, the sheer number of Gold LPs (awarded for outstanding merit) should serve to illustrate the point a bit. So let’s get to it.
First, let me disqualify a CD.
Paul Lewis: Bag Of Rain If my objectivity is clouded by close personal relationships, it’s absolutely obliterated by great self-interest. And since I was fortunate enough to contribute lyrics for two of the tracks on Bag of Rain, I’m not even going to pretend that I’m being critical. I can say, however, that Paul is an outstanding tunesmith and an even better singer – I’ve been saying he has one of the best voices in the business since the first time I saw him perform in the late 1980s. These qualities have only improved with time. “Platform of Our Lives,” for instance, displays a rare emotional vulnerability, and Paul the singer understands when to coat a tune in velvet and when to stomp the accelerator. Continue reading →
This is frustrating for a lot of people. Many of the artists would probably like to be acknowledged, and their fans no doubt take the slight personally. And the critics, gods, imagine trying to think about this if you’re a serious professional covering music. Continue reading →
Once upon a time, marketing music must have been so simple: in the ’50s you just bribed a local DJ and off you went. By the ’80s it was a little more complicated – in addition to cash you needed to bring coke and hookers, but still, it was a straightforward process and everybody understood the rules.
Maybe that’s understating the difficulty of getting discovered back in the Good Old Days®, but there’s no arguing that things are a lot trickier here in the 21st Century, as nichification, genrefication, segmentation, fragmentation, the consolidation of major labels, the profusion of new media and the ascendancy of coolmongering has so dramatically complexified the challenge facing new bands that it’s a wonder anybody even tries anymore. (And if you’re naïve enough to think that hard work and talent will ultimately win out, well, welcome to math class.)
The first five REM records (Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction, Life’s Rich Pageant and Document) deserve at least 18 stars out of a possible 20 and 1992’s Automatic for the People earned five more. By any standard, they depart the stage as one of the greatest bands in rock history, and there’s probably a very good argument to be made that they’re the greatest American band ever. That would no doubt be a lively debate, of course (and one where the band wouldn’t be terribly well-served by the last 15 years or so of its history). Still, their music was groundbreaking and relentlessly original, and along with fellow mid-’80s college radio darlings U2 and INXS they forged the alt.rock landscape in ways that paved the way for thousands of artists who would follow. Continue reading →
“Hollywood is so crooked that Mafia gangsters are entirely outclassed and don’t stand a chance. People in Hollywood are smarter. They have more sophisticated knowledge of money and deals and how to steal legally rather than illegally.” Who said it? Continue reading →
About four years ago I tripped across a band called The Lost Patrol. Since then I’ve noted their work a number of times: they made my best CDs for 2007 and 2008 reviews; their music served as a key element in a piece on the nonlinearity of influence; and they were the subject of a TunesDay post on the band’s “epic retro-futurism.”
Their lead singer when I found them was one Danielle Kimak Stauss, a woman whose hypnotic vocals haunted Steven Masucci’s vast, empty musical landscapes with an ice-cold passion that bordered on the transcendent. After 2007’s superb Launch & Landing Stauss and the band parted ways, and while LP has produced two wonderful CDs in the interim (featuring new singer Mollie Israel), Danielle was nowhere to be heard. Continue reading →
“When all you are becomes defined as the amount of information traceable to you, what are we then? What have we become, in a world where there is no separation, no door, no filter beyond which we can say, ‘No. This is my personal space. Not yours. Here I am alone with my thoughts and free of any outside influence or control. This, you cannot have.’ I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out.” Who said it? Continue reading →
“To take people from the music world and give them the same kind of credibility that you give me, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker—that’s like an aberration. I know there’s some young actor sitting in New York or L.A. who’s spent half of his life learning how to act and sacrificing to learn his craft but isn’t going to get his opportunity because of some ‘actor’ who’s been created.” Who said it? Continue reading →
“What they really want to see is, they want you to chop your fucking arm off, hold up your arm, wave it around spewing blood, and believe me, if you did that, the crowd would go fucking ballistic. You only get four good shows like that, though. Four good shows, and then you’re just a torso and a head, trying to get one of your band mates to give you one last hurrah and chop your head off. Which they probably wouldn’t do, which would really be hell.” Who said it? Continue reading →