Monday, October 29

The Verve: "The Thaw Sessions"

In case you haven't heard, The Verve have reunited (!!!!!).

Announced in June on BBC Radio 1, the original lineup (non-original member Simon Tong is staying on with The Good, The Bad and The Queen) opted to head directly into the studio and start rehearsals for their forthcoming tour and album. As of now the tour is only happening across the pond, but given that the whole thing sold out in less than 20 minutes, there's hope for American performances.

Bass player Simon Jones has revealed a number of new song titles the band have recorded since reforming, including "Sit and Wonder", "Judas", "Appalachian Springs", "Mona Lisa" and "Rather Be". In addition, the band posted a 14-minute jam session that is the result of the reunion rehearsals. Entitled "The Thaw Sessions" (a reference to a bonus track from Urban Hymns), the track is classic Verve. Ashcroft is in full-on shamanistic meditation mode, McCabe noodles into the outer limits, and the rhythm section groove like they did in the good ol' days. Link to I Rock Cleveland to download "The Thaw Sessions." If you're a fan of The Verve, the next year is going to be awesome.

Sunday, October 28

Quote of the Week

"Rock bands should deal in believable fantasy." -- Matthew Friedberger

Tuesday, October 23

Flick's Top Five Reasons Why Vinyl Will Outlive CDs

Flick from Puddlegum recently listed his top five reasons for why vinyl will outlive CDs. To summarize:

1. Vinyl has outlived every other physical music medium.
2. CDs will soon be abandoned.
3. Digital downloads are being packaged with purchases of vinyl.
4. Album collectors tend to prefer vinyl over every other physical format.
5. Consumers view music as something they access, not own.

With the recent resurgence of all things analog (see boutique Polaroid film production, limited-run 7" singles, etc.), plus the dedication of audiophiles to the vinyl format, I think Flick's on to something here. My favorite point he makes is #3. I first encountered this when I picked up The Clientele's Strange Geometry on wax only to discover that Merge generously included a download of the whole album. I've only seen this on indie labels, and it certainly behooves them to do it. (I know this would be standard practice if I ran a label).

There's also much to be said about #2. Although I have known some fanatical CD collectors, many people are moving to memory-based systems (internal/external hard drives, flash, iPods, etc.) and away from keeping tons of CDs on a shelf. As attached as I am to my CDs, I will never get rid of them. But, I have a plan to transfer them in a loseless format to an iMac and box most of them away.

Vinyl, on the other hand, is something that should be displayed and accessible. After all, the ritual of selecting an album, finding it, removing it, dropping it on the platter, and waiting for the needle to hit cannot be replicated if your albums are crated away. Not only is this process fun, but it make the selection more careful, and I'm much more likely to finish a whole song, side, or album if it's on my record player (and not susceptible to random access, as cool as it may be sometimes).

And there are some albums that are simply a better experience on vinyl. While Papa M's Live From A Shark Cage is one of the few modern albums to be analog from recording to mastering to manufacturing, there are many albums that just feel so much better coming from a turntable. (See works by: Madlib, The Avalanches, The Beatles, Beck (One Foot In The Grave), The Clientele and most dub, reggae, Chopin's Nocturnes, etc.)

There are other considerations. Although many DJs have switched to digital decks, there are some who will never make that change. A related point involves hip-hop: I can't imagine that hip-hop as we know it can survive without the vinyl format. And in the audiophile world, many serious listeners swear only by vinyl. The number of turntable manufacturers out there -- plus the range of prices of those products, from $49 to $49,000 -- indicate that plenty of people are still interested in actually playing records.

Flick's final point -- that consumers view music as something they access, not own -- is complicated and fascinating. There are certainly generational aspects to this. I was right in the middle of college when Napster first got going. Nonetheless, there are plenty of people, and there will only be more of them, that have rarely or never actually bought a CD but have only downloaded or shared music online. That generation views music as something one accesses to possess, but not something one owns. The stake in the content is minimal since it can be replaced at no cost at any time. But, even though vinyl really does weigh a ton, there will always be a dedicated splinter of the music community that is serious about owning their music and having it forever.

One other thing: I'm certain Funky Sole wouldn't be the same if the musical source wasn't vinyl...

Sasha Frere-Jones v. Carl Wilson, or: Musical Miscegenation, Class and Division

Ok, it's time for a cerebral indie theory/state of the union showdown! In one corner is the provocative Sasha Frere-Jones, putting up his dukes for The New Yorker. In the other corner, weighing in on behalf of Slate, is Carl Wilson. Frere-Jones struck first, and Wilson came back almost immediately with a rebuttal. The winner? You decide.

Thursday, October 18

Live: The National @ The Wiltern Theater - 9/28/07

The night before my ten-year high school reunion, with an exhausted Lady Doc in tow, I caught a live performance by The National. I was really excited after seeing their recent TV performances in support of Boxer, which just so happens to be one of my fave records of this year. Man, these guys played a great set to a full house at The Wiltern. They began with "Start A War" and, in around three minutes, proceeded to flex the full range of their dynamics in a way not heard in the recorded version of that track. The band continued with a great selection of songs from Boxer and Alligator. Frontman Matt Berninger said very little between songs, but I do remember a sincere and slightly overwhelmed "This is awesome!" in reference to the crowd's energy. I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, October 11


Ok, none of this is confirmed, but a source out there reports that another source claims In Rainbows has sold 1.2M "copies" since its release on Wednesday, at an average price of around $8. If that's true, then Radiohead have sold more than Kanye West's Graduation sold in its first week. That's just crazy, especially since In Rainbows has been out less than two days! Who knows what their costs are, but I expect cheap-ass Radiohead ticket prices when they tour (not that their tickets have ever seemed unreasonable!!!) or some serious do-gooder donations from Yorke & Co.

God bless Radiohead.

Wednesday, October 10

In Rainbows

Ok, gang! Radiohead's (as of now) download-only In Rainbows drops today. So far I have it on my laptop, a CD in my car, my computer at work, and in my Gmail. Nice. I haven't gotten even halfway through it yet but it's, well, RADIOHEAD!

Some people are bitching about the sound quality (160kbps) and I agree there is something left to be desired. However, that's a minor quip given the fact that THIS IS A NEW RADIOHEAD RECORD and it came straight to us from them. I don't think Parlophone or Capitol ever gave them much trouble regarding their releases, but there's just something special about getting the music free of any filters, waiting, hype, delays, etc. It's simply so refreshing to hear Thom and Co. with ten new, solid recordings.

So go get it and enjoy another release from the greatest group there ever was or will be. And for a nearly absurd play-by-play of In Rainbows, check out the fanboys' guide at PF.

Tuesday, October 9

Real Talk

Damn, I love R. Kelly.

Night Falls Over Kortedala

Today is a great day.

Jens Lekman's latest LP, Night Falls Over Kortedala, is released today by Secretly Canadian. Although it's been out in Sweden for a few weeks already -- and although I've ordered things from Jens before -- today is the first I've heard the full-length. (Thanks, Rhapsody!)

The record is classic Lekman: tender, self-deprecating lyrics, lush strings, horns, layered vocals, and an overall sense of charm and wit. "Oh You're So Silent Jens" is a very special work indeed, but Lekman's latest will not disappoint.

Can't wait to see him in November!

Monday, October 8

Black Tuesday

Ok, LA-area concertgoers! Get ready to pick your Battles, because Tuesday, October 30th brings a slew of conflicting acts all around town. Here are the big ones:

Battles w/ No Age @ The Henry Fonda
Kevin Drew @ The Orpheum Theater
Ted Leo + Pharmacists @ The El Rey
Thurston Moore @ The Echoplex
Regina Spektor @ The Wiltern
Neil Young @ The Nokia Theater


Wednesday, October 3

In Rainbows

I'm pretty sure everyone who reads SSM knows about this already.

Just covering all the will be truly interesting to see how the numbers/sales work out.

God bless Radiohead.

*BONUS* - Nice collection of live tracks here.

Tuesday, October 2

The Hood Internet

This website is the shit. Check it out and you will soon see why. Clever, hilarious, awesome.