memo to readers: travels

September 30th, 2007

Hello, Reader. Thanks for reading.

Tomorrow I’m heading to China and Hong Kong for two weeks. I’ll probably be working some long hours there, so if this is a little sparse, that’s the reason. On the other hand, I may be able to keep this up without much slip.

I just wanted to explain in case you noticed something out of the ordinary.

indie t shirts that might not sell

September 30th, 2007

Bygone Bureau has a funny piece about their apparent plan to start an indie t-shirt company that failed. There’s some funny stuff in there.

interviewers, please stop asking Sam Beam…

September 29th, 2007

Interviewers, when you’re interviewing Sam Beam of Iron & Wine you can stop asking him about licensing songs for commercials already. I found it interesting the first time, but I know what he’s going to say now.

For an interview with Sam Beam that doesn’t ask this quesiton, check out this one at Austin 360:

It’s blazing hot out and the hum of bugs is constant and jarringly loud at times. All you can see is Hill Country scrub. It’s gorgeous or desolate, probably depending on your mood. (No wonder Lyndon Johnson loved it out here.) There’s something here that belongs in Iron & Wine songs.

And yet we’re talking about how fast we can drive on U.S. 290. Couldn’t be more pedestrian. Couldn’t be more “dad.”

“Isn’t it weird?” Beam says, his voice barely above a good-natured mumble. “They drive so (expletive) fast on that road. I’ve done it. I’m coming home from the airport, and I find myself doing about 80 and I’m like, ‘What am I doing? I’m zooming past mailboxes.’ ”

Also, I know John Vanderslice’s thoughts on David Bowie. He may bring it up like he did down at KZSU back in July (click here if you really want to hear that part of the interivew), but if he doesn’t you don’t need to.

I mean, I love Iron & Wine and Vanderslice but there are other things to ask them about.

Or maybe I’m the only one that reads all their interviews and no one else notices this overlap.

Song obsession friday! (for the week ending September 28)

September 28th, 2007

Song obsessions are those songs that we listen to on repeat. I noticed that my obsessions are often a week long. I also thought that other people might have similar obsessions. I’ve collected a panel of a few like-minded individuals and gotten their “song obsessions of the week.” Quite often it’s easy to explain why the song is good; it’s much hard to explain why we’re obsessed. Maybe you’ll become obsessed with one of these.

Adrian (me):
Mobius Band – Friends Like These (mp3) (buy)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I heard this one from stereogum initially. Since then I’ve been taken by the mix of upbeat/ dancey beats and melancholy synths, vocals, lyrics, etc. The chorus is also fantastic.

Keith:
The Pearlfishers – Womack and Womack (mp3) (buy)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The name Prefab Sprout may not be held in reverential tones anymore … ok it’s lucky to even be remembered by anyone under 30. And the Pearlfishers are lucky to be recalled by anyone of any age. But the latter has pulled off the coup of channeling the jubilant spirit of the former on their new Marina album released 9/25. And what an incredibly accurate knockoff it is, from the northern soul namedropping of this song’s title to the infectiously sumptuous tone of the horn-riddled chorus to the soaring vocals that barely contain their joy for its subject. This is overproduced late 80’s English pop at it’s finest, circa 2007.

David (not Dave):
They Might Be Giants – Don’t Let’s Start (mp3) (buy)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful” popped into my head earlier this week and I couldn’t get it out. It’s shocking to me how strong TMBG lyrics can be. But no one takes them seriously. I heard Chuck Klosterman say something brilliant a few months ago, which I will now parapharse “Nirvana … lots of people say Nirvana was just doing what the Pixies had done five years earlier. But the difference is that Nirvana sounded like the meant it, but the Pixies were always joking around. People have a much harder time taking humor seriously.” I think that applies to TMBG as well. Except for the line about “Deputy daw dog a ding dang depadepa”


Edwin:
Animal Collective – For Reverend Green (mp3) (buy)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I think the new AC album, Strawberry Jam, has been the most immediate of theirs yet for me. This song in particular stands out because I think it showcases some of the groups most unique qualities that they have been working on throughout their past few albums. It’s Avey Tare and Geologists’s show. Geologist’s electronic manipulation of the guitar forms a perfect undercurrent, and Avey’s vocals are at their best ever. Every album has featured at least one passage of his joyful, climactic shouts/howls, but they’ve never sounded more fulfilling than they do on this song. :)

Scott:
No Age – Every Artist Needs a Tragedy (mp3) (buy)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Natalie:
Gillian Welch – Revelator (mp3) (buy)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Gillian’s voice is amaaaaazing. The guitars in this song is amaaaazing. That’s all I can say, I’m speechless. Also, I’m getting really excited about her and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival at Golden Gate Park Oct 6-7.

on sale soon, 9/27/07 edition

September 27th, 2007

Posted every Thursday On Sale Soon is a weekly series of the tickets going on sale that weekend.

Where to get tickets: The Independent, Great American Music Hall, Slim’s, Fillmore, Warfield, and other Livenation venues. Another Planet booked venues like Greek Theatre @ Berkeley, Palace of Fine Arts, etc. Bimbo’s.

On sale now:
10/1 Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party, Mink @ Great American

11/15 Sean Hayes (just announced!) / Jenny Owen Youngs (co-headlining), Jim Bianco @ Great American

Pre-sale Thursday Sept 27:
11/14 Evanescence with Sick Puppies @ Event Center at San Jose State University
11/19 Jewel @ San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
11/21 Trans-Siberian Orchestra @ HP Pavilion
11/30 Iron and Wine @ Paramount Theatre

On sale Friday Sept 28:
10/28 Serj Tankian, Fair To Midland @ Slim’s

On sale Sunday Sept 30:
10/23 Joe Henry @ Great American
10/28 Kid Rock @ The Fillmore

11/1 The Freewheeling Yo La Tengo @ Palace of Fine Arts (that’s actually how it’s listed)
11/2 Danzig @ The Warfield
11/4 Mason Jennings @ Great American
11/8 Little Brother @ the Independent
11/9 The Swell Season with Martha Wainwright @ The Grand Ballroom at The Regency Center
11/10 West Indian Girl @ the Independent
11/11 Celebration, Kill Me Tomorrow @ the Independent
11/11 Lloyd Cole @ Great American
11/23, 11/24 The Devil Makes Three @ the Independent
11/30 The Comedians of Comedy feat. Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Maria Bamford @ the Independent

12/5 The Thermals, The Big Sleep @ Slim’s
12/6 Jonathan Richman, The Rubinoos @ Great American
12/27 Conflict @ Slim’s
12/28, 12/29 X @ Slim’s

On sale Monday Oct 1:
12/2 Andrea Bocelli @ HP Pavilion

Double check all information as venues and promoters often change on-sale times and days up until the last minute.

east bay (and one SF) shows you might not know about: free Girl Talk, Dan Deacon; probably cheap Mt. Eerie

September 26th, 2007

Laptop rock-out wizards Girl Talk and Dan Deacon are touring together. Their 9/29 Fillmore show is sold out but you can see them for free in Berkeley a couple days later. From a myspace bulletin:

VENUE INFO
NAME: Lower Sproul Plaza
ADDRESS: Telegraph and Bancroft Way
CITY/ST/ZIP: Berkeley CA 94720
CAPACITY: 2000
PRICE: Free
Time: Dan [Deacon] at 5 pm, [Girl Talk] at 6 PM

Also, there are a couple Mount Eerie shows coming up presented by Club Sandwich. I saw a CS presented Mount Eerie show at the ATA earlier this year and it was pretty great. It’s a small venue and tickets will probably be cheap, so get there promptly.

Sun. Oct. 7th- San Francisco, Cal.- ATA – 992 Valencia (with Moools and Lloyd and Michael and “Always”)

Mon. Oct. 8th- Oakland, Cal.- Bug House (with Moools and Lloyd and Michael)

Also remember Club Sandwich is presenting Dan Deacon sans Girl Talk on Sunday in Oakland.

a couple from ‘gum

September 26th, 2007

Stereogum posts about approximately 42 thousand bands a day. It can be a little much (as I’ve mentioned before). I listened through a lot of their recent mp3s and found a couple that warranted another mention here.

Mobius Band’s[1] (myspace) “Friends like These” can be found here [2]. “Friends like These” is almost too smooth with its electro drums and synth swoops but the hint of melancholy in each of the melody, orchestration, vocals and lyrics help keep it from veering into an area of unacceptable Adult Contemporary-like smoothness. In the end, it just ends up being very catchy and good to make the head-nodding to.[3]

Club 8′s (myspace) “Heaven” is the second mp3 found here. Somehow the Swedish have a near monopoly on making good over-the-top-but-not-too-far-over pop. Past examples include my fav Jens, I’m From Barcelona, Tobias Froberg, etc. Anyway, here’s another such track, with bongos and various sampled instruments providing a framework for a female voice. The chorus is about the frickin sun—which disobeys the well-known industry rule: if you want Adrian to like your song/ band, don’t write choruses about the sun unless you’re the Polyphonic Spree—and yet all it makes me want to do is smile. The track is also available for download from their myspace page.

[1] Is this the geekiest [A] band name? I always like this band’s name when I hear it.

[2] Remember: friends don’t let friends deep link to mp3s on other blogs.

[3] Sometimes I really enjoy very awkward wording and syntax. Though I’m sure this guarantees that this won’t be used as a quote on any Mobius Band press releases.

[A] But, seriously, how cool are mobius strips? Two edges but one side! Amazing.[i]

[i] Yeah, I’m a geek. Yeah, this is a footnote on a footnote on a footnote. Is that even allowed?[a]

[a] It is now because I said so. I’m a little punchy—someone should take this keyboard away from me.

largeheartedboy continues to rule

September 26th, 2007

If you don’t read largehearted boy every day, here’s another reason to convince you. David’s unveiled a new feature called Try It Before You Buy It. It lists the interesting new releases for the week with free mp3 downloads and/ or free full-albums streams for each. This week’s have stuff from Jose Gonzalez, Matt Pond PA, Devendra, and Iron & Wine. A new better way to find new music.

5 bands I thought everyone listened to (and liked) in college

September 25th, 2007

5 bands I thought everyone, no matter what description they fit, listened to (and liked) in college, at least a song or two:

  1. Bob Marley
  2. Aphex Twin
  3. Underworld
  4. U2
  5. Weezer (first album or two)

(A classic everyone-loves-in-high-school band would be Led Zeppelin, as pointed out by the Onion. Get the Led out!)

I was talking to a guy the other day and he didn’t know Aphex Twin and it threw my whole idea about the college experience off!

Maybe the bands were different in your days. What were they?

live, the new paradigm?

September 24th, 2007

Live music is the new paradigm in the business in the music of business, it seems everyone is saying.

Ryan Walsh of Hallelujah the Hills interviews Will Sheff of Okkervil River:

I read an interview where you mentioned that your yearly salary as a musician was similar to that of a 7-Eleven employee. Does that money mostly come from shows?
Yeah, mainly from shows and songwriting. Now my salary is more like a 7-Eleven manager. So that’s a step up. But most people make money from shows, not from record sales. When I was over in Italy, they were saying no one buys records anymore. So the new paradigm is, it’s all about the live show.

The Financial Times has a much more extensive article about it, particularly in terms of the UK live music scene:

In an age of media fragmentation, digital disruption and rampant piracy, live music is one of the few parts of the entertainment industry to be enjoying impressive growth. In the US alone, ticket sales grew by 16 per cent last year to $3.6bn, up from $1bn a decade ago according to Pollstar, one of the few research firms attempting to measure the fragmented business. The audience has grown by 50 per cent in that period and average ticket prices have more than doubled.

Unlike Prince or the Rolling Stones, who also packed the O2 arena this summer, U2’s new albums still routinely top the charts. But even Bono and his fellow band members have seen a stark shift in their business model.

“Twenty years ago, we were losing money on the road,” says McGuinness, who keeps the same share of U2’s takings as its four better-known frontmen. The 1987 Joshua Tree tour sold out but the profits were only about $5m – just enough to fund the making of a spin-off film, Rattle and Hum. Last year, when U2’s Vertigo tour wrapped up after 131 shows and 4.6m tickets, it had grossed $389m, McGuinness notes, making it the second most lucrative on record after the Rolling Stones’ tour in 2005. In 20 years, the average ticket price for a U2 concert has risen from about $12 – about the same as a CD – to $85, five to 10 times what many physical albums sell for.

The article also focuses on the arena band market. It would seem that bands from the top to the bottom would be covered if they have a good live show and build up a live fanbase.

At least in Britian 70% go to one concert a year, while only 18% go to concerts regularly (3+ times a year?). For the US, there’s a fairly comprehensive report from 2006, which shows only 29% of the population go to any concerts, and that only 9% are concert goers or aficionados. Additionally only 1% of entertainment/ media spending and a small portion of music consumer spending is on live shows.

This leaves me to wonder: where’s this shift coming from and where’s the money going to come from? Concert ticket prices have increased, and especially for the indie rock shows, with the mainstreaming of the music, the audience has grown, too. But it still leaves me wondering if it’s enough to support this apparent paradigm shift or whether a few bigger bands along with, of course, promoters and ticketing companies (Ticketmaster sucks) are making more money and others are making the same along with decreased CD sales and higher gas costs.

I’m sure this would be a great set up if I thought I knew all the answer. I could write them right here. But I don’t have all the answers and I’m not sure if they’re all out there right now; it might take time to tell us.