Intro: This week’s column may be a bit monotonic since the music part of my brain is completely stuffed full of a potent combination of Power+Light and Sasquatch! Festival excitement. That being said, I’ll probably also mention the new Morrissey album, though only in passing.
But enough of the preview…
Listening: So, I got the new Morrissey album, Years of Refusal in .mp3 download format. (Which, BTW, is on sale today at Amazon.com for just $4. Helluva deal, that.) It came out a day later than the CD, so I only just got it today and haven’t had much of a chance to listen to it yet. What I’ve heard, though, I like a great deal.
Other than that, I’ve still been totally digging on Power+Light. It’s embarrassing how addicted I am to it. I listen to music about eight to ten hours a day, and for the past two weeks not a day has gone by where half of that time or more is devoted to that EP. It’s crazy good. If you haven’t heard it yet, PLEASE go give it a listen.
Oh, and I also grabbed the new M. Ward album today, but I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet.
Upcoming: As mentioned above, Morrissey and M Ward have new albums out today. In the next few weeks, look forward to new material from JJ Cale, Hatebreed, U2, and Neko Case. (Random aside: the Neko Case, Middle Cyclone, sports some of my favorite album art in a long time.)
Thinking: 1.) In bands whose name is [Definite Article] [Noun], should the definite article be capitalized? Should it be (e.g.) the Rakes or The Rakes?
2.) Sasquatch Festival! As I’ll expound below, the lineup’s been announced and I am crazy stoked. I’ve already started plotting with my good friend and long-time Sasquatch ally Mike, and the concensus is that this year’s festival is going to be a month’s worth of awesome crammed into a 3-day weekend.
News: The Sasquatch! Festival lineup has been announced! Or at least according to the super-awesome unofficial Sasquatch Festival blog. The main Sasquatch site for 2009 isn’t up yet, but I imagine it will be within the next day or two. I’m extremely stoked about the fact that this year will see the return of Nine Inch Nails, The Decemberists, TV on the Radio, Calexico, and others. Among the fresh new faces that I’m happy to see are A. A. Bondy, Silversun Pickups, Gogol Bordello, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
It should be noted that every place carrying the lineup also carries the wording “…and more to come” or equivalent, so there’s strong potential for even more awesome. (Rumors abound that Sasquatch veterans Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins might added to the lineup.)
Tickets will be sold in the tiered pricing scheme of previous years, with cheap (~$155) 3-day passes going on sale the weekend of the 28th and prices going up from there. It should be noted that these cheapest tickets will be on sale for ONE WEEKEND ONLY. So if you want to save at least $40 on three days of Sasquatch awesomeness, then I strongly encourage you to get them then.
If anyone’s planning to attend and wants to meet up, drop me a line in comments.
Song of the Week: One of the many Josh Ritter songs I discovered a few weeks ago during my binge was this off of his album The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. It’s called “Mind’s Eye” and I think it’s crazy awesome.
Intro: I have a lot of fawning and squeeing to do this week, so let’s just get right to it.
Listening: So my entire playlist for the past week has pretty much been 50 Foot Wave’s Power+Light EP and the new Franz Ferdinand album. The Franz Ferdinand album, well, I want to love it, but so far it’s felt like listening to either of the Scottish rockers’ first two albums: really good at times, yes. And even what’s not excellent is at least fun, well-crafted, twee-ish rock. But, see, I’m having a hard time really falling in love with it, because I have a hard time listening to it all the way through at the moment.
That’s largely because I have a hard time going an hour without listening to Power+Light. I seriously think I need an intervention. It’s brilliant. I think it’s the best thing that 50 Foot Wave have done. It’s grunge-y, noisy rock music not just done right, but done sublimely. It’s 26 minutes of well-structured, energetic cacophony.
And the icy on this dark, fuzzy cake of rock awesome? The band is streaming the whole thing right now, for free. Go click on that link. Now. Go do it. Listen. This is what Noise Rock should sound like. Kristin Hersh’s caterwaul vocals, Victor Laurence’s haunting cello, Bernard Georges’ thundering bass, and Rob Ahlers’ drum work (at times clockwork-precise and at others blistering and messy) combine to make a truly epic and truly genius piece of work. It’s music like this that made me stop rating things on a zero-to-ten scale. Because this is an eleven with a bullet and a bag of broken glass and a guitar cabinet with pencils jammed in it, Link-Wray-style. Which I guess is my way of saying that it defies rating, but suffice it to say: it’s good.
I may have more thoughts about Franz Ferdinand next week, if Power+Light sees fit to release me for long enough to listen to it. We’ll see.
Upcoming: Well, there’s that new Moz album coming out next week, which is cool. For those of you who like your band names unecessarily long and emo, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead are coming out with a new album next week. M. Ward and Architecture in Helsinki will also be coming out with albums next Tuesday, which excites me.
Thinking: So, I’ve been thinking a lot about the CDs lately. I almost never buy CDs anymore. Only if an album really grabs me or I want to give one as a gift do I buy a CD. Instead, all my music gets purchased through various digital music retailers (mostly Amazon.) And until recently, I’ve been pretty sure that CDs would go the way of casettes (as opposed to the way of LPs, which are still around and still being pressed by contemporary artists.) But it occurs to me that there will probably always be SOME market for nicely-packaged, physical instantiations of a particular album.
One reason for this is one I mentioned above: gifts. While it’s all good and well to give a person an iTunes gift card, but it’s a more powerful gesture to lay in their hands an album that you want them to hear and to have. And let’s face it, my hand-writing sucks and my home-made copies of albums always look tacky (even when I try to do them up fancy, which is rare.) I’m sure I’m not alone in that.
Another reason is an analogous one to what’s kept LPs around so long: collectors. Many people like having a physical record of their music collection. True-fans will definitely pay more for limited-run tokens of their favorite band, and will shell out extra money for well-designed, well-made physical media. A perfect example of this is Trent Reznor’s success with Ghosts I-IV. Some of it was available for free (9 of 36 tracks) by digital download. The whole album was available for download cheap ($5). On CDs for a little more ($10). A deluxe edition with a DVD, CDs, downloads, and some other extras was available for about what a good box set costs ($75). And then there was the limited run of 2500 Ultra-Deluxe edition packages which sold for $300 each. Those Ultra-Deluxe editions sold out. $300 x 2500 = $750,000.
Collectors will pay more for nice physical goods.
So now that I’ve done some thinking, I think it will, at the very least, be a long while before we see the end of CDs. And when we do it won’t be because the Internet music revolution killed them, but because we’ve found a better form of physical music media.
News: Right, well no lineup yet, but at least we have a date for the lineup announcement. Courtesy of the Sasquatch Music Festival blog:
“Memorial Day Weekend | May 23, 24, 25, 2009
The Gorge | Quincy, WA
Line-up to be announced Tuesday, February 17″
So, you can probably guess what next week’s column will be all about: squeeing over the Sasquatch lineup.
In other news there, uh, really wasn’t much other news, other than the Rihanna allegedly getting abused by her thug of a boyfriend. Not a fan of her music, but still, here’s wishing her a speedy recovery.
Song of the Week: At the risk of sounding sycophantic or redundant, 50 Foot Wave, Power+Light. Go Listen.
Intro: Well, fall is in the air, the rock shows are moving inside, and the hipsters are trying to decide which kafia best compliments their boxframe glasses. It also means, unfortunately, that I was well due for my semiannual illness, hence my missing last week’s column. Again, my apologies for that.
Listening: Fall for me also means digging out old albums that I haven’t listened to in awhile. Whether this is because fall makes me nostalgic or because the record companies are hoarding all their promising releases until Fat Sacks of Money DayChristmas is probably even odds.
Most recently, I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the two Loudermilk full-length albums. Now, I will fully admit that I like the Loudermilk albums more than they deserve. Man with Gun Kills Three and The Red Record are great albums. But for me, they’re both the sort of albums that I could only in good conscience give a 10 to if we were talking about a 5-point scale. The Red Record in particular is one of the best rock albums I’ve ever heard. That the first rock show I ever went to was a Loudermilk show, or that I spent most of my formative years desperately wanting to be Mark Watrous probably has nothing to do with it.
Another such disk is an EP by a Portland-based band called PDeX, which has been soundtracking my drive to and from work the past couple days. I’m actually working on a post/review/essay thing about that EP, so I’ll say no more about it for now, other than that it’s another fine example of music from the halcyon days of my youth.
On a more modern note, I became one of the last people in the world to acquire a copy of Carnavas by Silversun Pickups. It’s awesome. The single off of it, “Lazy Eye”, is pretty representative of the album both stylistically and quality-wise. So basically my review is this – listen to the below and if you think you’d like that plus 10 more tracks kinda like it, well, then you should probably grab Carnavas:
Upcoming: New albums out today by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, The Cure, and Kaiser Chiefs. Next week sees the release of new material from Sarah Brightman and Travis, as well as the US release of the entire Stereophonics back catalog.
Thinking: Honestly, I’ve been a little too busy to do much music-related thinking of late. Most of my mental energy has been work- and/or thesis-oriented the past couple of weeks. That being said, I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago with my friend Becky about certain similarities between art (particularly music) and religion (particularly sacraments). Now, it bears mentioning that I go back on forth on why, exactly, we make music and what it is we’re doing when we listen to it. I do, however, think that at some level it’s about communicating important parts of the human experience which can’t be relayed any other way. I mean, I could tell someone what Leonard Cohen meant by the lyrics in “Hallelujah”, that would, in a way, totally be missing the point of the song. If I really wanted to communicate to someone what the song was all about, I think I’d have no other recourse than to just sit them down and play it for them.
And in this communicative aspect, I think, lies the core of the sacramental nature of music: in listening to music, we’re recipients of a message which transcends words. It’s a level of communication which is entirely beyond normal verbal transactions. At the moment, I’m pretty sure that that’s why we listen to music. Each song is a message that cuts deeper than language, right to some deep and important structure of what it means to be human.
News: Island Records is turning 50. Which in some circles is synonymous with saying that music itself is now a half-century old. Island’s been responsible for a large portion of the good things to happen to the music industry in the past 50 years (though on the downside they’re also responsible for U2). I mean, everyone from Led Zeppelin to Tom Waits released on Island at one point or another. So, from Fifty-Two Tuesdays, happy birthday, Island! I sincerely hope I’ll get to say the same in another 50 years.
In sadder news, Levi Stubbs, the lead singer of the Four Tops, died awhile ago. If anyone ever wonders what Motown was about, they need look no further than Stubbs and company. Here’s perhaps the defining tune of the whole Motown phenonemon, “Reach Out, I’ll Be There” by the Four Tops.
Rest in Peace.
Song of the Week: But on a happier note, what do you get when you combine Gosling (formerly Loudermilk) and David Bowie? Pure, uncut awesome, that’s what. Here they are doing “Cat People (Putting Out the Fire)”, originally by David Bowie: