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Archive for the 'recommended reading' Category

The Recession Hits Elevator Music Muzak

By Gerard on Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Muzak, the legendary suppliers of smooth sounds for the workplace and former place of employ for Sub Pop founder Bruce Pavitt, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. From the Charlotte Observer’s Adam Bell (link courtesy Mark Ohe)

The company had $105 million in secured bank debt that was due today, part of $440 million worth of debt due between February and March. Last month, Muzak said it had received a 22-day extension on the $105 million debt. The company said today that it and Muzak’s major creditor constituencies are committed to completing restructuring negotiations.

“Muzak is a solid business with an outstanding customer base, but we are burdened with substantial debt obligations established over a decade ago,” Chief Executive Officer Stephen Villa said in a statement. “We intend to move through this process as quickly as possible and we firmly believe that this course of action will better position Muzak for long-term success.”

Muzak has 1,250 employees, including 550 in Fort Mill. It designs and installs professional sound systems for businesses, and provides other services, such as promotional music for corporate branding.

SM Interview At Rotoworld

By Gerard on Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Whether he’s giving props to former UVA standout Jeff Lamp (above) or defending his fantasy sports addiction as more socially acceptable than internet porn (mental note : be sure to use this line someday), Stephen Malkmus takes everything Rotoworld’s Steve Alexander has to dish out. I’ve been (virtually) ass-kicked by SM on countless occasions, and thus, can vouch for his fantasy sports prowess, though learning his commitment to the craft extends to scanning the waiver wire whilst going thru airport security is a little sobering. For the sake of Malk’s competitors, TSA, can’t you do something about this?

Here’s my fave snippet from the interview :

Q : What is the best live act going right now? The popular answer seems to be My Morning Jacket, and I tend to agree.

SM: No – Endless Boogie.

For Those About To Diss Bon Scott, We Condemn You

By Gerard on Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

‘Back In Black’ aside, AC/DC’s batting average during the tenure of vocalist Brian Johnson is substantially lower than that of countless Fall lineups during the same period. That said, the band’s recordings with Johnson’s predecessor, original howler Bon Scott (above), have more than stood the test of time, with patrons as diverse as Chris Lombardi and Mark Kozelek (ok, perhaps that’s not the widest cross-section) singing their praises. However, with the news South Scotland MSP Christine Graham wants to officially recognize the band (in light of Scott hailing from the town of Kirriemuir, Angus), The Times’ Joan McAlpine protests, “honour the achievements of our sons and daughters by all means…but only when they have done something worth celebrating. Sonic assault by wild men in mullets just doesn’t count.”

Robert Burns has already been castigated as a poor role model for young Scots on account of his sexual promiscuity and love of a dram. He also left us poetry of incredible lyrical power, whether he was philosophising on the lot of the common man, satirising authority or expressing tenderness towards his many lovers.

Beside Bon Scott, Burns could occupy the editor’s chair at the Feminist Review. The closest AC/DC get to tenderness is Whole Lotta Rosie, in praise of the carnal expertise of a 19 stone woman known to the singer. If that’s too sentimental for your taste, what about Night Prowler, on which Scott plays the role of a sexual predator, taunting a woman lying alone in her bed, scared to turn the light off because of the noise outside her window. In the title song of the 1976 album, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, the singer offers to use neckties, TNT or concrete to dispense with the annoying people in your life — like school teachers and unfaithful partners.

It kind of makes you look again at the middle-aged, middle-class white men who regard this music as the ultimate in authenticity. Perhaps they love it because unlike them, the band never grew up.

I’m not sure if “authenticity” registers particularly high on the list of most AC/DC fans’ fave attributes, but presumably Ms. McApline knows an awful lot about why someone else’s tastes differ from hers. She’s perfectly entitled to take dead, defenseless Bon Scott to task for sexism, but even crude characters have stories worth hearing. I’m not sure what having a mullet has to do with whether or not Scott & colleagues are genuine artists, but such superficial hangups reveal a little bit about the author’s credibility.

Yo La Tengo’s Hanukkah Recap

By Gerard on Monday, December 29th, 2008

(pic swiped from NJ.com, taken by Hoboken Jack)

Yo La Tengo just completed their annual Hanukkah residency at Maxwell’s ; for the full scoop on the amazing cavalcade of stars & surprises unveiled during this year’s edition, Ira’s daily diary of said event will make you feel like, well, a very unlucky person if you didn’t attend one or more of the performances. 

If, however, you’d prefer to pretend you did attend the shows, the limited edition mix CD’s compiled by Steve Shelley, Aesop Rock, Gaylord Fields, and Russel Mael are available directly from Yo La Tengo’s house of computerized fulfillment.

Congrats To Third Eye Blind On Discovering Their Own Paradigm

By Gerard on Monday, November 17th, 2008

In announcing their upcoming indie / digital-only EP, the auteurs behind such hits as “Semi-Charmed Life” and uh….whatever their other hit was, have penned the most confusing, self-congratulatory press release this side of my early draft for the Condo Fucks’ ‘Fuckbook’.

Becoming superstars took its toll on the band members’ psyches, and as 3EB ground through the star-making machinery, they eventually found themselves losing creative control of their music and their image, until one day in 2004 they woke up and realized they didn’t recognize themselves anymore. It was then that they decided it was time to take a break — time to take a look inside, re-evaluate who they were as artists, and get back in touch with themselves and their music.

3EB have been inspired by the possibilities and potential that new media provide, and are discovering their own paradigm on how they create and reach people with music. They have toured consistently over the past two years, and sold out every show, playing in front of crowds of up to 11,000 fans, in response to an entirely new fan-base who have discovered this music on the web.

These new fans have proved that, despite a 5-year hiatus between albums, 3EB has in fact deepened its connection with its community.

It’s a pretty amazing piece of work, and aside from their publicist deserving a raise (if not combat pay), we’re now left to ponder the following : just what sort of groundbreaking stuff would these schmoes have come up with had they not “lost creative control of their music”?

Dude From The Non-Lansing Fix(x) Doesn’t Like The Toyota Commercial, Either

By Gerard on Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Toyota’s recent “Saved By Zero” spots have inspired everything from Facebook hate groups to actual killing sprees (ok, not yet, BUT JUST YOU WAIT) and is it any wonder that an individual most likely to profit from this aesthetic atrocity agrees that it sucks? From the Las Vegas Journal’s Jerry Fink :

“I would prefer to have been the one singing it,” Cy Curnin says during a recent phone interview from his farm in France. You can hear the real version when the Fixx performs free concerts Friday and Saturday at Green Valley Ranch.

He’s amused at the irony of using the song to tout 0 percent car financing.

“It’s a bit cheesy,” he says. “It was about looking at your own life, not so much about amassing material things but about experiences that lend you to be blissful. It’s peeling away illusions we pick up along the way. Our identity isn’t the suit we wear or the latest gadget. Our identity is the freedom to pick and choose from all aspects of humanity and to make a stand.

“The song was written from the point of view of the release you get when you have nothing left to lose. It’s sort of a meditation. It clears your head of all fears and panics and illusions and you get back to the basics, which is a Buddhist mantra, which I practiced back then, and which I still do. The idea of the song is how great it is to get back to zero.”

The theme drives Curnin’s life.

Several years ago he moved to France with his new wife and started living off the land and off royalties.

“We are 100 percent self-sufficient,” says Curnin, a native of Wimbledon, England. “We’re getting back to the roots of it. My wife runs a guesthouse. We run all of the stuff we grow and produce through the guesthouse, feeding people. Tonight there are six people who will be eating some of our pigs.”

Paging Davide Tiso.

By Gerard on Friday, October 17th, 2008

…would you be interested in writing bios, one-sheets or sticker blurbs for a NY-based independent label?  If so, please get in touch.  From The Gauntlet.com :

EPHEL DUATH has never been one to take the traditional approach to creating music and their latest effort takes this outlook even further. THROUGH MY DOG’S EYES is based on a bizarre concept conjured up by guitarist and founding member DAVIDE TISO, in which the entire album is written from the perspective of a dog. TISO explains: “I wrote a few short stories and it was really fun for me to imagine myself as a dog and to imagine the world from a dog’s perspective. The challenge was to translate the words into lyrics.”



From opening track ‘Gift’, which TISO describes as being about “A cat that the dog kills for the owner as a gift, and he asks the owner if he is happy with the present”, to the thought-provoking ‘Promenade’, a song about a walk in the park which takes a twist when the owner questions himself as to why he’s not as carefree and happy with life as his dog is, the barking mad brilliance runs throughout the course of the whole album. “Every song is a window into the dog’s mind or an event,” TISO continues, “The album touches on a lot of things, both deep and sometimes silly.”

It’s not only the lyrics in THROUGH MY DOG’S EYES which are written from the dog’s perspective – rather the entire album, including the music, is based around this unique and previously unexplored concept. “The music in this case is the soundtrack of the thoughts of the dog – at times you can hear the dog running,” TISO elaborates.

Lars : The Customer Is Always Wrong

By Gerard on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008
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(above  :  not Lars Ulrich)

“Like DethKlok,” writes Wired’s Elliot Van Bushrick, “Metallica has its every action scrutinized to an extent other bands can only dream of, as if one misstep by the group were capable of causing a worldwide economic meltdown.” Or perhaps, they’re even worse at coping with public criticism than a certain independent record label?

The band’s loquacious drummer Lars Ulrich says fans need to quit bellyaching, accept the released version of the ‘Death Magnetic’ and stop signing an over 12,000 names-strong petition to have the album re-mixed and re-released.

Ulrich told Blender, “Listen, there’s nothing up with the audio quality. It’s 2008, and that’s how we make records. [Producer] Rick Rubin’s whole thing is to try and get it to sound lively, to get it sound loud, to get it to sound exciting, to get it to jump out of the speakers. Of course, I’ve heard that there are a few people complaining. But I’ve been listening to it the last couple of days in my car, and it sounds fuckin’ smokin’.”

He said that in the online world, negative comments reverberate stronger than positive ones. “The Internet gives everybody a voice, and the Internet has a tendency to give the complainers a louder voice. Listen, I can’t keep up with this shit. Part of being in Metallica is that there’s always somebody who’s got a problem with something that you’re doing: ‘James Hetfield had something for breakfast that I don’t like.’ That’s part of the ride.”

Q : What Do Peter Saville, Malcom Garrett, Mark Ohe and The Design Team Behind The Frantix’ “My Dad’s A Fucking Alcoholic” 7″ Have In Common?

By Gerard on Friday, September 26th, 2008

A : Aside from being creative geniuses? They’ve all been unfairly ignored by whoever compiled this list.

You’ve Got Another Thing Coming : Halford’s Close Encounters

By Gerard on Sunday, August 31st, 2008
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A few weeks ago I was killing time between flights at big box-y retailer who shall remain nameless, and though I’d originally ventured inside to purchase a car charger for my phone, I ended up dropping $16.98 on the new Judas Priest double CD ‘Nostradamus’. The cover sticker claimed there was a coupon good for a free general admission ticket to see Priest, Dio-fronting-Sabbath, Motorhead and Testament, and I figured even if the concept album was just as rotten as I suspected, this was still a good deal.

WRONG WRONG WRONG.  As it turned out, Mr.-Has-No-Loyalty-To-Indie-Retail got karmic payback up the rear when he failed to read the fine print — “WHILE SUPPLIES LAST”, etc.     No free Priest ticket.  One $16.98 pair of ugly coasters.  Let this be a lesson to you all — if you’re gonna buy terrible records, the least you can do is buy them from a record store and not some fucking refrigerator warehouse.

With that intense experience behind me, I was pleased to read the following interview with Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, as conducted by the LA Weekly’s Skylaire Alfvegren.

L.A. WEEKLY:Rob, how are you?
ROB HALFORD:
I’m fine. Did you survive the earthquake?

I was in Northern California at a UFO convention.
Oh, for the band?

No, not the band.
The things in the sky?

The things in the sky.
Well, I’ve got some stories to tell you. I’ve had one or two encounters in England, not close encounters, but things that have totally freaked me out. It absolutely fascinates me. I think maybe just because it’s an artistic thing. People that are in tune with their emotions and creativity, I think that a lot of us are prone to that almost sixth-sense phenomenon. Having said that, people from all walks of life see those things in the sky, you know. But I think it’s something very bizarre and it’s been with humanity forever.

Ezekiel’s Wheel, Zoroaster, heck, Muhammad, the Dogon tribe … I’m curious. Do you feel certain camaraderie with Nostradamus because he was basically exiled, somewhat like heavy metal, and ultimately triumphed when he gained the patronage of Catherine de Medici and wrote the quatrains?
Yeah! Thank you for picking up on that! You’re one of the few journalists that has. But that was one of the appealing parts of the man’s character. You know, in metal, we talk about rejection, and running up against people that attack us. That’s exactly what that guy went through. He was looked upon as a bit of a freak, and he had this gift, this uncanny ability to have these visions and prophecies, and he was looked upon as being someone — at least by the Catholic Church — dabbling in the black arts.

I definitely see a parallel between your music and the man’s life.
Oh, but it was a terrible time to live, the 16th century, to a certain extent. There were still remnants of the Inquisition going on, which was hideous. He dealt with all that, and we thought, man, this guy led a bit of a metal life with some of those emotional elements, but he stood up for himself and he was triumphant in the end, and that’s just a great story.