Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This One Time At Band Camp

In quite possibly the coolest high school band footage ever recorded, a percussion group out of Minnetonka High School in Minneapolis has done live versions "Building Steam with a Grain of Salt" and "Changeling" originally found on DJ Shadow's influential sample driven "Entroducing" album. It's fantastically professional and remarkably close to the originals. A good write-up that I found by way of the newsletter explains all the details at Music Thing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The End Of Sampling?

I ran across this op-ed piece on winamp (not my usual source for news) and given it's subject matter I now offer a sample:

On Tuesday, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati turned the playing field for digital sampling completely upside-down. The court ruled quite simply that any and all samples used must paid for, even if they sound completely different from their original. Previously, if a digital sample wasn't identifiable from it's original it was perfectly legal.
The court stated that the recent federal laws aimed at stopping piracy of recordings applied directly to digital sampling also, slapping any and all artists who use samples in their works in the face with the very laws some of them fought for.

With the new rules and current state of the industry (greed), many speculate that if this ruling existed before many classic hip-hop albums such as Paul's Boutique from the Beastie Boys would quite simply be too difficult to get proper licensing for to release.

: I think the article is a bit dramatic, not to mention less than hard news with the whole "current state of the industry (greed)" line but I've been frustrated by only finding one other article on this ruling. Not being a lawyer I tend to believe this isn't the final word on the subject, but I hope it isn't since much of the last decades innovations in music haved used sampling to at least some degree. Why take that tool away from artists?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Grab All They Can

The itunes Depeche Mode ticket pre-sale was this past weekend and from a few fans online I detect an air of dissatisfaction:

I droped $86 per ticket and I got crapy seats.

...Ticketmaster screwed me on my first try
At 10:00AM I logged on to the site and purchased 2 tickets for any price and best available. Well I got lower level and on the side of the stage so I purchased them cause I thought ok maybe that's the best I could do. So then for kicks I did it again just to see what would happen and 2 tix for the main floor appeared and I was like what the F is this and bought those as well so I basically have 4 tickets and only need 2. Thats $340 for 4 tickets

Still not everyone is unhappy:

Our local alternative radio station had pre-sale tix go out two days after iTunes. And they weren't nearly as good. And when regular tix went on sale today, they were about as good as the radio pre-sale. iTunes had the best seats!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Despite my occasional need to dust off "New Gold Dream" from time to time (Rhino's "Just Can't Get Enough" New Wave compilation series is a great investment) I've never been interested in hearing anything from Simple Minds that I didn't hear on the radio frequently. Things don't look to be changing anytime soon with their new album that seems to have stalled on liftoff with critics according to the couple of less than enthusiastic reviews I've read. I was horribly amused with take on the found at review compilation site Musicfolio:

"'You love The Killers! You love Bloc Party!' shriek the marketing men, 'Now hear the band that started it all - Simple Minds.' To be fair, that's not too far off the mark and doesn't require a massive leap of imagination. Trouble is, despite their protestations to the contrary, the 2005 incarnation of Simple Minds doesn't stand up particularly well to the band in its mid-1908s pomp.

: Damn, I love typos. Like much of what is posted on musicfolio the review isn't exclusive to the site and appears to be transcribed from a local paper in England so one assumes there was a slip up along the way. Maybe I'm just older than I remember...

Since I'm taking pot shots at bands here's a review I stumbled into:

If fans of the Killers are awaiting a B-sides compilation, they need only pick up the debut from a less-threatening gang of nu-wave rockers: NYC's the Bravery. Not just for the similar, goth-inflected atmospheres, but also because the best Bravery song would make a so-so Killers bonus track

: I'm beginning to suspect that ArjanWrites isn't the only person with a Killers obsession.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Words Left Unspoken

At the risk of turning this into a single subject blog, I think it's worth noting that the video for Depeche Mode's "Precious" has been released through legitimate channels. The unfinished version of the video was part of the original leak of the song a couple of months ago, and was intriguing to see an unfinished project with storyboards and unfinished special effects shots edited together that left it looking like the "Take On Me" video. The finished version is better than the standard Mute done on the cheap computer animation promo that the rough cut had the potential to end up and it'a worth a look despite the shot of guitar when I can't hear any guitar in the song if only to see that Martin still rocks the black nail polish.
This is coming late given that "Precious" has been out for a while, but here is a post of mine to a forum that failed to generate any response. Since the initial leak, I've heard raves about the song and most of it revolves around the band returning to synthpop and all sorts of takes on it(the most memorable comment, "lyrically, the song is basically a re-write of the DHL terms and conditions of service"). With much of the press around the new album centering around the songwriting clash between Dave & Martin I've come around to the idea that the current direction owes more to Andy. I've never really thought he had a role in the band apart from clapping his hands at concerts, but if you compare the sound of "Precious" with the Client albums that he released on his label I don't think there is too much of a difference especially when you listen to where Dave & Martin were sonically on their solo albums.
Beyond that I find it interesting that they are moving away from the tradition of releasing the “non-DM sounding” single first on this album. “Precious” really does scream Depeche Mode but going back “Personal Jesus,” “I Feel You” and “Barrel Of A Gun” were all the most “rock” tracks on their albums and even “Dream On” marked a different sound than the band is typically associated with. Usually it is the second single like “It’s No Good” and “I Feel Loved” that fans take as the DM sound and I find it interesting that they broke with that tradition.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Grabbing Hands

These days it's strange to remember that one of Depeche Mode's earliest staples, which became the name of Martin Gore's publishing company, was a song condemning greed in the music business. Over the past few years there have been high priced cd singles box-sets, an album ("Exciter") written because of pressure from the record company and a confused remix album that required shelling out extra for the "limited edition" if one was interested in more than a couple of current remixes and even more for import singles and online exclusives to complete that collection of new remixes. Now the latest from
Los Angeles, CA - September 12, 2005 - Depeche Mode has teamed with Ticketmaster for the first-ever digital download, concert ticket pre-sale, scheduled to begin tomorrow on the iTunes Music Store.

Beginning Tues., Sept. 13 through Mon., Sept. 26, Depeche Mode fans who visit iTunes Music Store in the US and pre-order the band's new album will receive a password for the chance to purchase up to four tickets from for select dates on the band's 2005 North American tour. The pre-sale offers Depeche Mode fans the chance to access priority concert seating before tickets go on sale to the general public beginning Sept. 24. Fans who pre-order Playing the Angel from iTunes will receive the album via digital download when it is released on Oct. 18 on Sire / Reprise Records.

Additional information about Depeche Mode's digital download concert ticket pre-sale is available on the band's official Web site at, at, and at the iTunes Music Store at Ticketmaster's Internet pre-sales for Depeche Mode begin Sept. 20 at 10 AM (local) and pre-sale dates vary by market. Touring the Angel, Depeche Mode's first North American concert tour in four years kicks off Nov. 2 in Ft. Lauderdale at Office Depot Center. Depeche Mode's Playing the Angel album is scheduled for release on Oct. 18 in North America on Sire / Reprise Records.

"Depeche Mode always delivers for its fans," said Ticketmaster's David Goldberg. "Packaging event tickets with music makes sense and Depeche Mode's decision to do it digitally with iTunes is a great win for the band's fans."

: I don't know if you caught that, but the itunes pre-order goes live the day the album is out in stores. There is no incentive to buy the digital album (which I believe is marked up from the average $9.99 itunes album price) except for the promise of getting early tickets to live shows. DM do a great live show, but one would think if they were really interested in what really "delivers for its fans" they would do what many bands do in the internet age and offer pre-sales to people registered on their site or signed up for their mailing list. The sad thing is that I've seen some fans on forums who actually paid extra for a similar promotion a couple of tours ago who ended up only able to buy worse seats than what was available once tickets were on sale to the general public. Talk about "a great win for the band's fans."

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Let's Push Things Forward

Now that we're at the halfway point of the decade Live 105 just did a countdown over the weekend of their most popular tracks of the decade so far, and even did a mini-countdown on their electronic music show. Here is that list (which excludes 2005, too hard to tally?):

10] Felix Da Housecat Silver Screen (Shower Scene) #3 record in 2002
09] Storm Time To Burn #5 record in 2000
08] LCD Soundsystem Yeah #3 record in 2004
07] Fischerspooner Emerge #1 record in 2002
06] Freeland We Want Your Soul #1 record in 2003
05] Basement Jaxx Where's Your Head At? #3 record in 2001
04] Kernkraft 400 Zombie Nation #4 record in 2000
03] The Streets Let's Push Things Forward #2 record in 2002
02] Darude Sandstorm #1 record in 2000
01] The Avalanches Frontier Psychologist #1 record in 2001

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

From Sierra Leone

My wife and I took our daughter up to "free day" at the aquarium in San Francisco so she could have her first look at exotic fish. Since we were just across the street from the Moscone Center I wasn't too surprised to see a small army of satellite trucks nearby. On my way back to the car the guy behind me was talking nonsense about how he created events with Kayne West in some attempt to impress whoever he was with. It wasn’t until later in the day that I saw on the new that Apple had announced their new cell phone ipod from that very spot and that they beamed Madonna in by satellite and that Kayne West did a live performance. Maybe I misjudged the guy behind me.
While Apple's phone seems somewhat in the primitive stages, it is the direction that I've thought mp3 players would go and it's here sooner than the five year time line I initially laid out a couple of years ago. Expect music playback to be a standard feature soon and that’s a great thing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Broken Ear Record

I wish had been at the initial listening session for the Astralwerks team charged with marketing the new Black Dice album. On paper, you think you’ve got something exciting here. You’re licensing this from a hip label, DFA, with underground credibility as tastemakers that is beginning to bubble over into mainstream recognition. While you don’t have the rights to the label’s hottest act, LCD Soundsystem, you’ve still folks like PlayLouder drooling over everything the label touches, and The Juan Maclean album that was your last project wasn’t an easy record but it’s a quality release with a couple of potential singles that are sure to drill their way into listeners heads. Then you sit in a room and someone starts Black Dice’s “Broken Ear Record.“ It starts out a little inaccessible. Nothing wrong with that, it’s art and sometimes you’ve got to work a bit to reap the rewards. Besides, you’re only one track in. Time passes and a glance at the clock reveals you’ve been sitting here for half an hour and you start to get a little queasy because you still haven’t found an angle or a even a song that sounds as if it’s worthy of a second listen. You’re down to the last two tracks and the best must still to come. Is that the sound of bicycles mixed with honking geese? Then the album comes to a close with a track that is full of treated barking samples. A dog of an album? To say the least. In the words of PlayLouder, "You have to be in a very certain state of ear and mind to really appreciate Black Dice." How do you handle the situation? Play up the “hottest label on the planet” DFA connection, talk up the band’s live shows and try like hell to pretend they are innovative. It’s not an easy task, but I applaud the label for giving it a try.
Speaking of Astralwerks, why is it that I can’t just type in to bring up their site? I’ve been visiting their site for years and it’s the only place on the internet that I still have to type a www before the address. The label also need to stop dragging their heels and release more of their material on itunes. They must have a absolute fear of downloads replacing cd sales, because almost nothing on the label gets an immediate digital release and when it does it’s often with qualifiers about which tracks you can download without buying the whole album. It’s frustrating to say the least and all the much more when I can’t find some physical releases locally when their out (admittedly that might have something to do with my local Tower records being flaky). Keep in mind I only hate because I love.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Making Me Sweat Now

This week's top 10 singles in the UK:

1. Gorillaz – ‘Dare’
2. Rihanna – ‘Pon De Replay’
3. Daniel Powter – ‘Bad Day’
4. Jessica Simpson – ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’
5. Oasis – ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’
6. Simon Webbe – ‘Lay Your Hands’
7. Black Eyed Peas – ‘Don’t Lie’
8. David Gray – ‘The One I Love’
9. Les Rythmes Digitales – ‘Jacques Your Body (Make ME Sweat)’
10. James Blunt – ‘You’re Beautiful’

: What is LRD’s “Jacques Your Body” doing as a top 10 single in 2005? The song was on Stuart Price’s pre-millennial “Darkdancer” album and a little research reveals that the song is being re-released because it has been featured in a “dancing robot tv ad” and has a new stunt-filled video. By my count this is the third time the song has been released as a single, most recently in 1999 when the song was “featured in the Sunny Delight new basketball ad.” Regardless I have a feeling this is the song’s highest charting which shows if you put quality product out there often enough you can sell some records. Not too bad for a song I started playing in my college radio days when it was first on the Wall Of Sound label's "Bustin Loose" compilation. Back in 1998.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Finally Down From That Hill

There is news of the welcome return of a voice that has been silent for far too long:

Singer Kate Bush will release her first album in 12 years in November - a double album entitled Aerial.

The 47-year-old performer's last album, The Red Shoes, reached number two in the UK album chart in 1993.

Her last public appearance was in 2001, when she received Q magazine's "classic songwriter" award in London.

: The new material is rumored to be in part inspired by Goldfrapp, but I don't know how much credence to give that since Bush is known for her self production and sounding exactly like herself. Of course it could be she is coming out of her musical seclusion to make the ten year wait between the last two Peter Gabriel albums seem short.