Monday, May 28, 2007
Friday, May 25, 2007
Laugh? She nearly cried.So, another NZ Music Month draws to a close (see Damian Christie's piece on Close-up last night? Elemeno P's Dave Gibson and Carly Binding talking about how tough it is for local musos to survive, but good news - Carly is moving to LA!), and here's a heartening bit of news on the state of the global music industry...
"We try to minimize our coverage of self-styled industry pundit Bob Lefsetz around here, in part because we don't know enough about Aspen's slopes to keep up with all of his ski-related metaphors, but this was too good not to share: Earlier this week, Lefsetz sent out a spittle-flecked rant titled "Reasons Not To Sign With The Major Labels". Last night, he emailed his list one of the responses inspired by his screed--a sorta-juicy, bitching-about-the-biz blind item that made us more than a bit curious:
My sister is signed with a major label and check out what they told her last week. They said, "We hope you're piling on the makeup and getting dressed up for these radio interviews we're sending you on. We're not hearing good reports. From now on, we're going to select your clothes for you." This is someone who has had two #1's and been nominated for three Grammy's. [sic]
She also said the same thing as you. They aren't paying her a dime and she's never recouped. Because radio is so dead, touring's slow for her as well. She's working her ass off for nothing and the label doesn't have a clue about the Internet or how to sell digital music. My friend works for her management company and he's supposed to be rebuilding her website. He said the label can't even tell him who owns it so he can get in to change the DNS.
Unsurprising--but really, makeup tips for radio interviews? Have these executives ever seen the people behind some of these microphones? (Via idolator, my new fave blog..)
Here's the blurb from Damian's Close-Up piece..
NZ Music Month
"May is New Zealand music month. All month there are special events, the radio stations do their bit, and the government gets to pat itself on the back for supporting the local industry. But is it working? It's seven years since the first music month, and while there's a lot of kiwi music about, the future's not looking great. The percentage of New Zealand music on the radio is down slightly on previous years and following overseas trends, sales of New Zealand albums have dropped a third since the late 1990s. Damian Christie caught up with four bands whose careers launched in those early days of New Zealand Musc Month, to see how well they've fared."
Thursday, May 24, 2007
... goes to Idolator for this gem...
It Was Forty Years Ago Today. Now Won't You Please Shut The F--k Up?
read the reasons why this album is ca-ca here...
.. and by way of contrast, here's 79 versions of Popcorn, via Spoilt Victorian Child... he he...
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Professor, blogger, DJ, curator, and music zealot Oliver Wang reveals even more Soul Sides... Village Voice.
snip... "Soul Sides Vol. 2: The Covers is out this week [on Zealous Records]: Dig the distorted, drum-centered take on Burt Bacharach's "Walk on By" by El Michels Affair, Héctor Lavoe's "Che Che Cole" as recast by Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, or how Al Green mishears the Beatles (much like Bob Dylan did) and belts out "I get hiiiigh" during his cover of "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
As if grading papers, blogging about disco mixes of ex-Temptation Eddie Kendricks at Soul Sides, and doing liners for the recent What It Is? box set wasn't enough, Wang also penned the investigative notes for two reissued albums by forgotten singer Betty Davis. Once the wife of Miles Davis (and suspected paramour of Jimi Hendrix), Mrs. Davis cut a handful of raw punk-funk albums and promptly fell off the grid for nearly 30 years, despite influencing two generations of dirty-minded musicians, from Prince to Prince Paul, Rick James to Lil' Kim. With the help of Wang and Seattle label Light in the Attic, Betty's music—her self-titled debut from 1973 and the following year's They Say I'm Different —is back in the spotlight for a new generation to dig."Soul Sides Vol 1 is a killer compilation, check it. (weird local connection - Zealous Records also release Evermore's Dreams album in the US)
Tuneage... check the Hood Intenernet, indie vs hiphop mashups, ie Go Team meets the Game, Ludacris meets Bonde Do Role...
Friday, May 18, 2007
Radar is one of the smartest chaps out there - go see his show. You'll be a better person for it. Here's some guff on it.
IN AUCKLAND, TOMORROW NIGHT ONLY
DATE: Saturday 19th May, 5:30.
VENUE: Classic comedy Bar. BOOKINGS: 09 373 4321
TICKETS only $15
ONE SHOW ONLY. BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL!
"Te Radar set out to find and tell stories about some of Te Wai Pounamou’s unsung, often unhinged, heroes. He found plenty, …Hitori gallops gallantly through tales of bravery and stupidity… there’s much to laugh at and, surprisingly, to learn…" – Listener Review, Aug 20, 2005
"Hitori was all it was promised to be, a witty and off-beat ramble through bizarre stories…". – Nelson Mail, Oct 26, 2005 "Do not die a rotting death like mine, but instead pass from this world via the fragrant ovens of a battlefield". – Te Wera.
Based on this Ngai Tahu pepeha (proverb) HITORI is comedian and documentary-maker Te Radar’s investigation of the history of Te Wai Poenamu, (The South Island).
From the geological to the mythological, and from the sociological to the illogical, this off-beat look at the Island’s history focuses on some of the myriad of heroes and villains, the brave and the insane, who changed the face of the great southern land forever, or failed spectacularly trying.
Initially funded by Te Runanga O Ngai Tahu and the Christchurch Arts Festival, HITORI is based on Maori pepeha, or proverbs, which it uses to introduce aspects of the show.
As Te Radar says, "Studying history is like trying to herd drunken monkeys. Every time you think you have a story narrowed down you to discover a different version, additional facts, or a piece of trivia that alters the basis of the story. It’s fascinating and infuriating."
"The history of this island is one of passion and bravery, bloodshed and tragedy, stupidity and futility. But ultimately history is about good yarns. Our yarns" he says. It’s a history show that will guarantee you will never look at the South Island, or history, the same way again.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Read the letter by Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor yet?
Apparently he's not too impressed at the pricing of his latest album in Oz, which he spied while touring there recently...
"As the climate grows more and more desperate for record labels, their answer to their mostly self-inflicted wounds seems to be to screw the consumer over even more. A couple of examples that quickly come to mind:
* The ABSURD retail pricing of Year Zero in Australia. Shame on you, UMG. Year Zero is selling for $34.99 Australian dollars ($29.10 US). No wonder people steal music. Avril La vigne's record in the same store was $21.99 ($18.21 US).
By the way, when I asked a label rep about this his response was: "It's because we know you have a real core audience that will pay whatever it costs when you put something out - you know, true fans. It's the pop stuff we have to discount to get people to buy."
So... I guess as a reward for being a "true fan" you get ripped off.
* The dreaded EURO Maxi-single. Nothing but a consumer rip-off that I've been talked into my whole career. No more.
The point is, I am trying my best to make sure the music and items NIN puts in the marketplace have value, substance and are worth you considering purchasing. I am not allowing Capital G to be repackaged into several configurations that result in you getting ripped off."
Also, the first episode of Flight of the Conchords HBO series is available online at Myspace, ahead of its June 17 US debut. Go here to watch. More clips from the HBO series - scroll down on this page. (hat tip to Pop Candy)
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Local band manager Campbell Smith (also CEO of the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand, or RIANZ) talks baout what the job invloves, in the NZ Herald's Careers section. Best quote is below...
"... despite the day-to-day details of the jobs, Smith is still an avid music fan. On a recent morning, he cranked up a copy of David Bowie's Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) before heading off to the office. However, the tunes weren't on an iPod or a CD. The man who is looking at leading New Zealand music into tomorrow admits he has a preference for that old standby, vinyl.
"I listen to nothing but vinyl right now. I just think it sounds better." Link.
And if you haven't read it already, check Graham Reid's excellent response to the whoo-ha over Neil Finn's comments on NZ music.
snip... "The tyranny of a small country is that it is easy to exhaust the local touring circuit -- although bugger all bands have tried in my opinion.
So you need to go overseas -- and not just to play a couple gigs then come back home for a cuppa tea and lie down. If you do that I figure you're not that serious. You want success -- but still have mum do your laundry.
Bands or artists may need to base themselves offshore -- as an increasing number are realising. Greg Johnson is still slogging away in LA and every time I've seen him either up there or here it is always the same story: the breakthrough is just beyond reach but you have to keep trying. And you have to be there if it happens....
... My belief is that too often artists here -- and I am listening to two local albums at the moment which, while well intentioned, I wouldn't give you tuppence for -- don't have their work critiqued at every step of the process: in the writing, the recording, production, even the running order on an album.
Those who base themselves offshore are surrounded by so many more musical and cultural influences, so much more information, so many more points of reference or comparison. Music is an international game and if artists only want success in this country then that is fine. I think they, if they deserve it on merit, should have it.
But for those who see something bigger and better out there -- a career even -- then the sights must be set beyond the horizon. But not through rose-tinted glasses...
... I think [Neil Finn] was, in an off-the-cuff way, saying something that we need to hear more. The press releases about our bands at SXSW or playing a big Waitangi Day gig in London, or having a track added a TripleJ or flying to some Sydney-side MTV bash with a bunch of hangers-on need to be put into perspective."
Go read it now.
Friday, May 11, 2007
Earplug sat down with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy and he makes a great recommendation for fans new to dance music:
Read Last Night a DJ Saved My Life by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Read the disco sections and check the playlists in the back, like those from Paradise Garage, the Loft, the Funhouse, and the Palladium. It was a real eye-opener for me. There are top-10 and top-20 lists from amazing DJs of that era who were really adventurous and took chances. Just track those songs down and see what you like. It's a really great history of disco and of dance music. (Via BV)
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
I've been studying my site statistics, cos the recent reports I've been getting are somewhat alarming. Daily visitors shot up from 50 a day to 400. It seems lots of people have been coming here looking for pictures of some girl named Paris Halfwit or something. Now I'm getting around 6,000 visitors a week. Better write something, then...
"Here's a video archive of about 40-odd vintage punk music performances. Most of them appear to have been taped between 1979 and 1983, in fine old dive bars in and around Boston. Link, link 2. Bands both famous and obscure: Buzzcocks, Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Specials, Mission of Burma, Gang of Four, Dead Kennedys, Stranglers, Stiff Little Fingers, XTC... (via Boingboing)
The commentary on Public Address following Neil Finn's outburst has been fascinating reading, with one poster observing that no-one from NZ Music Month is trumpeting about the levels of NZ music on commercial radio this year (unlike previous years), as it appears to have dropped below 20% (the Govts suggested quota level).
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Neil Finn is pissed. No, not just cos he got bottled at Coachella. From NZ Herald. [saw this online first - just saw the print version -didn't realise it was front page news.]
"It sort of makes me sick to see Helen Clark getting up at the music awards and taking the bows," Neil Finn says in an interview with Real Groove [May edition].
"Being lauded by the music industry because everyone's getting a handout. It's like New Zealand music is taking over the world and it's all because of Helen.
"I think there is a tendency in New Zealand at the moment, because of NZ on Air dishing out large sums of money, for people to have unreal expectations for what New Zealand music can achieve overseas or is actually achieving.
"I think it would be unrealistic for New Zealanders to expect that more than one or two things at a time would even get attention. But there's a perception that is somewhat hype-generated at the moment that all this music's going out and making a big splash, and it's really not."
... and welcome to NZ Music Month. Comments? Thoughts?
ADDED: NZ Herald readers respond to Neil Finn here.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
[Just found this - I wrote it in sept last year and forgot to publish it. Doh.
It never fails to amaze me how much good stuff we throw away - did I ever tell you about the time I found an Apple iMac in the trash? - so here's the ultimate recycling gig.]
"Can a beautiful house be built and furnished using only scrap, salvage and trash? A San Francisco team took on the challenge to find out. In six weeks they designed, built and furnished an entire house using nothing new. ScrapHouse was built as part of UN World Environment Day in June 2005 and was conceived by Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker Anna Fitch of Building 39 Films."
Anna says she got the idea after spending some time at the dump, noticing all the things we throw away, and wondered if you could build and furnish an entire house from scrap. And the answer is yes.
Peter Hyoguchi is the co-founder of a Berkeley-based video production company, minidocs, and has directed over 50 short films for TurnHere.
ScrapHouse video here. More photos here.
SFGate article here.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
- Robots' innards: A lot more interesting than Scarlett Johansson. [Boing Boing]
- Bjork gets political. [eBlips]
- Getting sick in the desert: A first-hand account. [skeet on mischa]
- The fifteen-minute clock on this festival may very well be at 14:59. [Teddy & Moo's Celebrity Pictures And Gossip]
- How do Coachella attendees afford their rock and roll lifestyle, anyway? [Useless Things]
and go read "Crowded House's set sounds like it played host to every "Hey, Asshole!" submission we've received, ever". [Because Lisa Said So] snip...
"In what SHOULD have been a great exciting performance, was marred right from the start. From the Idiot in the control room who misspelled their name. Hello? CROWED HOUSE? To the brain dead Asshole who dared to have the nerve to throw & actually hit Neil Finn in the chest w/ a water bottle... At one point, the jerks in the first 10+ rows were chanting "Rage" over & over, for Rage Against the Machine...."
Maybe not such a great gig for the big comeback, aye Neil?
ADDED - Brooklyn Vegan has a video clip of their warm-up gig, with Neil joking about their playing slot for Coachella, and a nice RATM impersonation from Nick Seymour - BV reports that Neil's bottling went like this... "Hey now, Hey now...BAM...Don't Dream it's over....". Ouch. He handled it well though - looked a little flustered, changed the words of the song to say he was unaffected, told the thrower it was a good shot, and said "they're coming, they're coming" to the many people chanting "RAGE."
"Rock critic Lester Bangs died 25 years ago [yesterday]. He remains an essential figure in journalism and rock 'n' roll, and his work feels as passionate and electrifying now as it did when it was published.
The Chicago Sun-Times offers this appreciation of Bangs, calling him "a great thinker and a philosopher." PopMatters delivers an open letter to the critic, saying, "You know full well that the world went right down the toilet as soon as you disembarked the tour bus."
For a trip down memory lane, read what Richard Hell had to say about Bangs in 2003 or Jim DeRogatis' interview with Bangs shortly before he died. (DeRogatis is the author of Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic.)
As for original writing, tons of stuff can be found on Rock's Back Pages if you join the site. Here's a link to Bangs' thoughts on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks and his interview with Brian Eno. Of course, you can also catch Philip Seymour Hoffman's interpretation of Bangs in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous.