Suddenly, Tony Victory Seems Like An A-OK Label Dude

From last Wednesday’s Guardian, here’s a SFW excerpt from Alex Hoban’s profile of Japanese boy band factory Johnny’s Jimusho, and the company’s scary founder, “the 77-year-old Don Of Dubiousness, Johnny Kitagawa.”

If graduating from a Junior Johnny to a mere Johnny sounds about as glamorous as pulling slippery condoms on to cucumbers in biology class, then it’s fitting, as being a Johnny’s protégé is hardly a ticket to artistic maturity or even financial security. Most of Johnny’s recording artists are paid a base salary for their efforts, receive no royalties and have no rights to any of their music, their image or even the group’s name. After a few years in the spotlight, many Johnny’s bands are dropped without fanfare, and their members swiftly descend into obscurity and, most probably, depression.

So far, so cut-throat, but there is an even darker element to this whole grim business. Kitagawa claimed he works only with boy bands because they are “easier to handle”, which would be fine if he didn’t mean it literally. Rumours had always been rife of him engaging with unsavoury activities with the boys under his care, and in 1988 Kita Koji, one of the original members of the Four Seasons, published an exposé that accued Kitagawa of sexual harassment and rape. Opening the flood gates, similar accusations from other ex-members came to light, with fresh exposés being published right up to this decade.

The Recession Hits Elevator Music Muzak

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

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

‘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

(pic swiped from, 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

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

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.

…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 :

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


(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?

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


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?
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.

Some Of Your Best Friends Might Already Be Fucked Jordan Catalano

(thespian/rocker while playing the part of John Lennon’s assassin a typical independent label executive, and on the right, after hunger strike to protest non-payment of royalties)

If you think the fact that we have sold in excess of 2 million records and have never been paid a penny is pretty unbelievable, well, so do we. And the fact that EMI informed us that not only aren’t they going to pay us AT ALL but that we are still 1.4 million dollars in debt to them is even crazier. That the next record we make will be used to pay off that old supposed debt just makes you start wondering what is going on. Shouldn’t a record company be able to turn a profit from selling that many records? Or, at the very least, break even? We think so.
Jared Leto, 30 Seconds To Mars.

Harsh stuff, indeed, however Leto fails to disclose in his response to Virgin/EMI’s $30 million suit against his band precisely how much 30 Seconds To Mars were advanced against royalties.  It does seem rather fucked that a record company couldn’t turn a profit on two million sales. However, it’s entirely possible that enough dough was dropped signing the band, recording their horrible records and promoting & marketing said recordings , that EMI did in fact, lose money on the deal.

Which doesn’t necessarily mean Leto and pals aren’t owed anything, either. But if he’s unwilling to specify which portion of EMI/Virgin’s spending on his behalf was recoupable and which wasn’t, this is just a dopey exercise in posturing. But I remain hopeful 30 Seconds To Mars can resume their career with an artist-friendly label, one that unlike the revolving chair scenario at publicly held EMI, has had the same visionary leadership in place since the label’s inception.

If Tony Victory would like to pay me a finder’s fee, I’ll gladly donate it to charity.

At Long Last, A Pseudo-Scientific Link Between Deviant Behavior…

(one big mass suicide waiting to go down)

….and every musical subgenre you can think of. From the Sydney Morning Herald’s Kate Benson :

A study, published in today’s Australasian Psychiatry Journal, found that teens who listen to pop music are more likely to be struggling with their sexuality, those tuning in to rap or heavy metal could be having unprotected sex and drink-driving, and those who favour jazz are usually misfits and loners, prompting a call for doctors to include musical tastes as a diagnostic indicator in mental health assessments.

“There is no evidence to suggest that the type of music you listen to will cause you to commit suicide, but those who are vulnerable and at risk of committing suicide may be listening to certain types of music,” the author of the study, Felicity Baker, said yesterday.

She said an Australian study of year 10 students had shown significant associations between heavy metal music and suicide ideation, depression, delinquency and drug-taking, while an American study had also shown that young adults who regularly listened to heavy metal had a higher preoccupation with suicide and higher levels of depression than their peers.

Deliberate self-harm and attempted suicide was also associated with teenagers who listened to trance, techno, heavy metal and medieval music as part of the goth subculture, while those who attended dance parties were much more likely than their peers to be taking drugs.

Some genres of rap music, such as French rap, were linked to more deviant behaviours including theft, violence and drug use, while teens listening to hip-hop were usually less troublesome, Dr Baker said.

The AJP’s study has no specific findings that relate to followers of the band Godsmack, though from our own considered research, they’re a bunch of nitwits.

Lethal Bizzle Vs. The Download Festival’s Sophisticated Audience


If I had found it at the beginning of the set, I’m not sure I would have carried on. It was a banana skin, thrown at my feet as I played last weekend’s Download festival. On the outside, someone had written “Bizzle you black cunt”. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Being who I am, I’d probably do it again. I’m pretty sure my DJ wouldn’t though. We’re used to getting looks and things like that when we tour middle England, six black guys getting out of a van, you can see they’re looking at you and getting defensive. That can get frustrating, but you deal with it. This was different. Why did they have to bring my race into it? Lethal Bizzle, Guardian Music Blog, 6/20/08

Gentlemen (& Gentlewomen), Let The Bitching Begin : Paste’s 17 Best Record Stores In America

With a flair for the aribtrary not seen since Ronald Thomas Clonte’s ‘Rock, Rot And Rule’ hit the bookstores, Paste‘s attempts to rank the nation’s top 17 record shoppes is bound to generate some cheap traffic to this blog and at least a half dozen comments between now and 5pm.

  • Amoeba Records, Los Angeles, CA
  • Criminal Records, Atlanta, GA
  • Other Music, New York City
  • Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, Clarksdale, MS
  • Waterloo Records, Austin, TX
  • Aquarius Records, San Francisco, CA
  • Dusty Groove America, Chicago, IL
  • Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Nashville, TN
  • Shangri-La Records, Memphis, TN
  • Music Millennium, Portland, OR
  • Ear X-Tacy, Louisville, KY
  • Louisiana Music Factory, New Orleans, LA
  • Newbury Comics, Boston, MA
  • Grimey’s New + Pre-Loved Music, Nashville, TN
  • Turntable Lab, New York City
  • The Electric Fetus, Minneapolis, MN
  • Jerry’s Records, Pittsburgh, PA

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I am personally saddened that my own favorite neighborhood dealer-of-things-at-high-volume failed to make the cut.   But enough about Empire Records, End Of An Ear oughta be pissed off, too.

SWells : Harp “Licked Musician Ass Until It’s Tongue Bled”

Middle age has taught me that regardless of my current views on the state of print media, nobody wants to hear about the good old days reading Suburban Relapse and Sick Teen ’til 4am whilst surrounded by vomiting kitty-cats. Look, I already know that Rusty Clarke and Mission Of Burma excepted, most everything I used to love has completely gone to shit. Fortunately for the rest of you, however, former NME/current Guardian scribe Steven Wells (above) isn’t quite prepared to take the death of modern rock criticism lying down. “Once music journalism was the playground of punks, pirates, arse bandits, chancers, hardcore lesbian punk bondage freaks, revolutionaries, drug addicts and the borderline insane,” writes Wells in the current Philadelphia Weekly. Man, have you ever heard someone so romantic for the glory days of Alternative Press?

Three leading indie music magazines have bitten the dust since the beginning of the year. The spectacularly dull No Depression, the stunningly uninteresting Resonance and the jaw–droppingly mediocre Harp have all recently gone to that great Belle and Sebastian disco in the sky. All of which is great news for anybody who hates mediocrity.

Harp founder Scott Crawford was actually proud of how timid and unambitious and bland his baby was. He described Harp as ”a nice middle ground between the indie–centric Magnet and the dad–rockin’ Paste,” which is not so much a manifesto as a prenatal death rattle.

Full disclosure: I worked for Harp for a while. Publisher Glenn Sabin recently described the magazine as ”irreverent.” It wasn’t. It licked musician ass until its tongue bled. The line ”Joe Strummer must be laughing his rotting cock off,” was cut from a review I wrote of an embarrassingly necrophiliac Clash re–reissue box set because it was ”disrespectful.” And the editor who hired me—admittedly a rampaging punk rock lunatic—was told to clear his desk and vacate the building immediately.

Eventually the dullards reached a dull critical mass. They formed hundreds of dull, white, sexless and punchably smug suburban bands. And they started magazines with names like No Depression and Harp and Resonance and Corduroy. Yes there really is a magazine called Corduroy. One imagines they passed on Beige as too incendiary and Cardigan as just a shade too fucking exciting.

Vanishing NY on Starbucks’ Reappearing Old Logo

Why is Starbucks bringing its vagina dentata out of hiding and into plain sight right now? Maybe they were inspired by the hilarious and brilliant film Teeth. Maybe they hope consumers are more comfortable with exhibitionism than they used to be. Maybe they’re thinking sex sells.

But more likely, they’re frightened and in need of protection.

Images of women exposing their genitals were used by primitive peoples to drive away evil spirits, calm rough seas, and scare away enemies with the threat of castration. In the face of a recession, Starbucks is banking on the power of the vagina dentata to work its ancient magic and keep the wolf from their door. – Jeremiah Moss, Vanishing New York

There’s a Chock Full O’ Nuts joke in here somewhere, but it’s way too early on a Wednesday morning.

Nighty Night

Our old pal Alan McGee once famously derided Coldplay as “music for bedwetters”. Thanks to a survey by my personal favorite econo-hut, we now have conclusive proof the band are in fact, “music for people who want to sleep really well”.  From Reuters :

Britons like a dose of music from the rock band Coldplay to help them fall asleep, a survey from hotel chain Travelodge found on Monday.

The band, whose frontman Chris Martin says he avoids caffeine and alcohol and is known for a lifestyle that is anything but rock ‘n’ roll, topped a poll of music choices to help listeners nod off.

Other artists chosen for their slumber-inducing qualities were James Blunt, Snow Patrol, Take That and Norah Jones.

But those who prefer to be tucked in with a book at night judged celebrity autobiographies as the most effective sleep aid, with the life stories of glamour model Jordan, soccer star David Beckham and Sharon Osbourne ranking at the top.

The survey was carried out among 2,248 people.

I’m sure the results of this study will provoke wild debate, so it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone got to hear the last Stills album.

Céline Dion : Worse Than Hitler & Cancer Combined, Or Merely Misunderstood?

While Q Magazine once described Céline Dion as a vocalist who”grinds out every note as if bearing some kind of grudge against the very notion of economy.,” The Calgary Herald’s Nick Lewis hopefully points out she’s won twice as many Oscars as Martin Scorsese. Hey, Marty never’s been a Eurovision contestant, either.

“Even though it’s in this post-modern, over-the-top way that can seem kind of synthetic, Céline Dion represents old fashioned values,” says Carl Wilson, author of Let’s Talk About Love, a book that examines why we love to hate Canada’s most popular musician.

“She represents loyalty and family and romance, and a lot of people around the world relate to that, and see her as articulating those emotions in a way that they feel they are not able.”

Wilson was no Dion fan when he took on the task of writing about one of Canada’s favourite singers, but says he now has a newfound respect for her and her craft.

“Part of what my book works through is the instant reaction of, ‘I would never listen to her,'” he says. “It’s one thing to say, ‘It’s not my thing,’ but it’s another to say, ‘I could never bring myself to.’ Then it sounds almost defensive or threatened. It takes on a ‘What does it mean if I do listen to her?’ aspect that could say something about you that you don’t want said.

“At that point it’s less about the music and what the music says about you.

“The implication is that people who listen to her are stupid or declassé, everything about it is that this person is a loser on some level.”

But where and why does this snobbery arise? Unlikely musicians such as Snoop Dogg and Timbaland have taken in her four-year Vegas gig, A New Day, and Prince reportedly went to see it a number of times. So why do self-professed “informed” people dislike her?

“A lot of it has to do with social position,” Wilson says. “She’s less likely to find sympathetic ears among university-educated, urban people, people who are most represented in Canadian media. And she’s more likely to find sympathetic ears among people who don’t necessarily have a stake in staying on the cutting edge, on seeming hip.”