Thursday, December 25, 2008

Best Albums of 2008




Normally I don't post things on this site that are not news related, but I like to do a year-end wrap up with a list of my favorite records of the year. This list is of records that I really enjoyed and recommend. This list is in no particular order.

1. The Gaslight Anthem - "The '59 Sound" (SideoneDummy Records)



These Jersey' Boys mix the sound of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty with the attitude of the Clash and the Ramones. Lyrically this album sounds right out of pages of a Jack Kerouac novel yet the album manages to have that nostalgic feel without sounding dated. This is punk rock for those who love the E Street sound.

Favorite Tracks: "Miles Davis and the Cool" "Here's Looking at You, Kid"

2. LaGrecia - "On Parallels" (Suburban Home Recordings)



LaGrecia broke up before their debut record "On Parallels" had even been released. Fortunately for us, the album was released. This is Jason Shevchuck's (Kid Dynamite, None More Black) latest band. This seems like a natural progression from the last None More Black record, "This is Satire", moving further from punk and more into rock with a tinge of blues. Great sing along songs and great lyrics have been at the heart of all his work and it continues here. Though the band broke up before this records release, None More Black has reformed and hopefully will continue the good work done on the this record.

Favorite Tracks: "You Like Baseball, I Like Ghosts" "In the Grass"

3. The Hold Steady - "Stay Positive" (Vagrant Records)



The Hold Steady returned this summer with a great record filled with alcohol soaked sing-along songs. I've always liked the Hold Steady's music, but at times found their lyrics to be a bit lacking. This time around the lyrics seem to have matured along with the songwriting to make a great record. The Hold Steady keep alive the spirit of the E. Street Shuffle by making what could once be described as bar songs, accessible to the mainstream. Plus there is guest vocals by Ben Nichols of Lucero on many tracks (extra bonus).

Favorite Tracks: "Constructive Summer" "Sequestered in Memphis"

4. She & Him - "Volume I" (Merge Records)



The longstanding myth that Actors turned Singers/Musicians tend to be awful (as opposed to Singers/musicians turned Actors) has been debunked with this debut from Zoey Deschanel and Matt Ward. The songs are written by Zoey Deschanel (Elf, Yes Man)and the arrangements are by Matt Ward(singer / songwriter / Bright Eyes Collaborator). A great mix of folk and country with vocals that at time sound like out of the 50's. Strong songwriting and great performance by everyone involved in this project makes this a record that will remain on repeat in your car stereo.

Favorite Tracks: "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" "Sweet Darlin'"

5. Mates of State - "Re-Arrange Us" (Barsuk Records)



This is probably the catchiest record I have heard all year. This husband and wife duo know how to write great pop songs. This time around they change up their a sound a little by using more piano and less organ. This works out great giving the band a fuller and more mature sound. This is a fun record that I think anyone can enjoy.

Favorite Tracks: "This is My Only Offer" "Re-Arrange Us"

6. Ryan Adams & the Cardinals - "Cadinology" (Lost Highway Records)



Only a year since his last release, "Easy Tiger", Ryan Adams continues to earn his stripes as a prolific song writer. With that said, this is the best and most cohesive record he has put out in years (though most of his records are pretty great). It sounds like Adams finally knows what sound he wants out of the Cardinals and the best way to get that sound. There is a good grove based feel to this record that seems to blend the sound of his records "Love is Hell" and "Cold Roses" with his "Rock n' Roll" record. Not really alt-country, not really rock, but all around enjoyable.

Favorite Tracks: "Fix It" "Magick" "Cobwebs"

7. My Morning Jacket - "Evil Urges" (ATO Records)



Three parts southern rock, one part jam band is how I would describe My Morning Jacket. Great song writing and interesting arrangements make this band really great. This album explores new territory by adding some funk and soul, a la Prince, on a few tracks (Evil Urges, Highly Suspicious). The key to this band though is the strong songwriting and Jim James' great voice.

Favorite Tracks: "Evil Urges" "I'm Amazed"

8. Bloc Party - "Intimacy" (Atlantic Records)



Only a year and half after their last record, Bloc Party continues to keep things interesting with "Intimacy". The first two tracks on the record (Ares / Mercury) are the most progressive and envelope pushing songs the band has ever written, and that is a great thing. The band throws you into the record with intensity and intrigue. The rest of the album follows by reinventing a good mix of sounds from the first two records, keeping it sounding fresh and new. I really loved the last record by Bloc Party and this record is just as good, if not better.

Favorite Tracks: "Mercury" "Trojan Horse"

9. Vampire Weekend - "S/T" (X-L Records)



What happens when you mix a bunch of Ivy League indie kids with the sounds of Africa? You get Vampire Weekend. Though not totally original (check out Paul Simon's "Graceland") Vampire Weekend has managed to write a simplistic yet brilliant album mixing indie rock and african music. The key is the simple yet catchy songs that will have you humming along and tapping your toes before you know it.

Favorite Tracks: "Cape Code Kwassa Kwassa" "Oxford Comma" "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance"

10. Solo Projects -
Love You Moon - "Waxwane" (MDB / Sargant House Records)
Jenny Lewis - "Acid Tongue" (Warner Bros. Records)
Vic Ruggiero - "Something in My Blindspot" (Cobraside Records)









This year was a good year for singers of bands putting out solo records that were really good. Matt Embree of Rx Bandits released "Waxwane" under the name Love You Moon. A mix of folk, blues, and jazz, at times this record brings memories of Bob Dylan (the protest songs) and at other times Brad Nowell's solo stuff (Sublime). Favorite tracks: "H Bombs at the Shopping Mall" "Berkeley Shingles". Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley puts out her second solo album "Acid Tongue". A mix of country, folk and pop, this album has great songs and good guest appearances (Elvis Costello). This os a record I think almost anyone could enjoy. Favorite track: "The Next Messiah". Lastly, Vic Ruggerio of the Slackers puts out another solo record, this one is called "Something in my Blindspot". Though Vic likes to write traditional ska songs with the Slackers, his solo efforts are a mix of blues,folk, and pop. Matched with his unique and great voice, Vic manages to combine good songwriting with interesting arrangements and instrumentation. Favorite Track: "Taking Care of Business".

11. Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis - "Two Men With the Blues" (Blue Note Records)



What can one say about mixing Willie Nelson with jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis for a live record except what a great idea. More of a traditional sounding jazz record than a country or folk record, the way Nelson and Marsalis work off of each other is truly inspiring. Mixing some jazz standards and some of Nelson's tunes, this album makes me truly appreciate the art of great music.

Favorite Tracks: "Bright Lights Big City" "Georgia on my Mind"

12. Lemuria - "Get Better" Asian Man Records




Somewhere in between Jawbreaker and Tegan and Sara there is Lemuria. The debut from this female fronted indie band is great. Catchy songs and great lyrics mixed with a voice that nerd rockers will fall in love with.

Favorite Tracks: "Yesterday's Lunch" "Buzz"

Honorable Mentions:
Conor Oberst - "S/T"
The Matches - "A Band In Hope"
Chuck Ragan and Austin Lucas - "Bristle Ridge"
The Loved Ones - "Build and Burn"
Jaguar Love - "Take Me to the Sea"
Jolie Holland - "the Living and the Dead"

Best EP's of 2008:

Ben Nichols - "The Last Pale Light in the West" (Lament and Liberty Records)



Ben Nichols of Lucero's first official solo release is an EP (or mini album) based on the Cormac McCarthy novel "The Blood Meridian". A great batch of songs that really put you into the old west.

Favorite Tracks: "Davy Brown" "The Last Pale Light in the West"

Dead to Me - "Little Brother" (Fat Wreck Chords)




The follow up to Dead to Me's debut "Cuban Ballerina" proves that they are one of the best punk band's playing today. Influenced by the '77 punk of Sex Pistols and the Clash but updated for the new millenium, every song on this EP is great. The only thing disappointing is that this is only an EP and not a full length album.

Favorite Tracks: "Little Brother" "Arrythmic"

Best Album of 2007 that I didn't discover until 2008:
M.I.A. - Kala

Most Disappointing Album of 2008:
The Streets - "Everything is Borrowed"

Most Overrated Album of 2008:

No Age - "Nouns"

Most Anticipated of 2009:

Lucero, Rx Bandits, Fake Problems, Propagandhi

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Warner pulls all content from YouTube



Talks between Warner Bros. Music group and YouTube seemed to have broken down and Warner has begun removing all songs and videos that they own from YouTube. Warner is unhappy with the amount of money they have been receiving from ad revenue for licensing their content the video site which is owned by Google. Warner is the first of the major record labels to walk away but Universal and Sony/BMG are still renegotiating their deals with YouTube. For more info check out this article from the Wall Street Journal.




RIAA gets in the Christmas Spirit



According to the Wall Street Journal, the Recording Industry of America (RIAA) is going to abandon their strategy of mass law suits against individual file-sharers in search of a more effective way to combat illegal file-sharing. The campaign has been a PR disaster for the RIAA and critics say that it has done little to actually stop file-sharing. The RIAA are exploring new ideas that involve (through a relationship with Internet Service Providers) giving users several notices and then shutting off their internet service if they continue to file-share illegally. For a more in-depth article go here.

Commentary:
It is about about time that RIAA realized how ineffective their lawsuits have been. The absolute mismanagement of who was sued and the PR around the law suits has hurt the music industry more than it has helped it by lowering consumer confidence in the industry as a whole. Working with the ISPs is a step in the right direction but the music industry has to come to terms with the fact that the decline in sales has more to do with the decline in the economy and the diversification of entertainment available then with file sharing.




New York iTax



The Governor of New York, David Paterson, has proposed a new tax on digital downloads in next year's state budget. The 4% tax charge, nickedname the "iTax", would cover music, movies, books and all other digitally delivered entertainment services. Read more about it here.




Lil' Wayne Sued for Copyright Infringement



According to Billboard.com, Lil' Wayne has been sued by Urband & Lazar Music Publishing for sampling the Karma Ann Swanepoel's song "Once" in his song "I Feel Like Dying" without permission. Lil' Wayne's record label claims they tried to negotiate a license before the songs release but were not successful. Lil' Wayne's attorney's are seeking more time from the court to gather all the documentation.

Commentary:
It seems to be a pretty sloppy move on the part of Lil' Wayne's record label to release a song before they have the rights to use a sample. An artist of his stature has the best resources available to him and this is just a rookie mistake by the people at his label.




Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Harvard Law Professor Counter-sues RIAA



Harvard law professor, Charles R. Nesson, filed a counter suit last Friday against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) challenging the constitutionality of the RIAA’s efforts against those caught downloading music from file-sharing services. Charles Nessos will be defending Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University graduate student charged in 2005 with downloading seven songs from a file-sharing network. Nesson claims that the RIAA's tactics are “an unconstitutional delegation by Congress of executive prosecutorial powers to private hands”. Though the RIAA did not comment on this specific case, they did say the make “every effort possible to be fair and reasonable”. For more information check out this article from the Harvard Crimson.




Monday, November 10, 2008

Warner to Require 360-deals from all Artists

From Punknews.org:

"As record labels continue to struggle in the face of file sharing, free music and digital music sales, Warner chief exec Edgar Bronfman explained that all Warner-signed artists will now be required to join in so-called "360 deals." Under traditional labels, bands are primarily involved with record labels for recording and sales of their albums, but touring, licensing and merch revenues are completely separated from that relationship. Conversely, under the "360 deal," the label will receive a cut of all those different areas.

It is not completely without justification labels argue, as they are responsible for marketing and promotion of the bands and advertising can boost touring as well as CD sales revenue. Still, the move is particularly controversial since it ties the label and band together so tightly and bands with established touring careers (like Warner-signee Against Me!) may be giving up revenue that the label has not really earned, some argue."

No word whether this effects all Warner owned labels, like Sire and Reprise.

Commentary:
This is an unfortunate thing for bands on Warner who do not sell large amounts of records (i.e. over 300k copies) because those bands make their entire living off of touring and merchandise. At least this will give bands a reason to get out of their contracts, because the terms of their contract can't be changed without the band approval. It will be interesting to see if there will be a mass exodus of bands from Warner or if bands will go along with the 360-deal because they do not have better options. As the industry changes, record labels still remain in the business of finding every way possible to screw their bands and treat them like indentured servants. Hopefully the bands will learn that with the changing tides they have the power to take control of the industry and leave the record labels to die like the dinosaurs.




Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Hives Sued for Copyright Infringement



Jason Shapiro, formerly of the glam-rock band Celebrity Skin, has filed a copyright infringement suit against Swedish rockers the Hives claiming that their song "Tick Tick Boom Boom" has infringed his song "Why You" which he recorded with his band the Roofies in 1997. Shapiro said the two tunes were analyzed by a musicologist who said "the part in question -the main riff and vocal melody- was very similar and its uniqueness led him to believe it wasn't just a coincidence.” You can check out the LA Times article on it here.

In order to prove Copyright Infringement, Shapiro must prove three things. 1) He is the owner of a valid Copyright, 2) there was actual infringement, and 3) the infringement was substantial. 1) Most likely Shapiro owns the copyright in the whole song but the most important thing here is whether the riff and piece of the vocal melody are unique enough to afford their own copyright protection. If the court says they are not because they are too minimal and not unique then there is no case. 2) If it is established that there is a valid copyright then they must prove there was actual copying and the court will look how similar the songs are and if the band had access to the original song. I think this will be the hardest thing for Shapiro to prove because the Hives being from Sweden probably have never heard Shapiro's local Los Angeles band therefore did not have access to their song. More facts will be need obviously to make this determination. 3) Lastly, if they can prove there was copying then it is up to a jury to decide how substantially similar the two songs are. More facts are need to know how this case will come out but I think there is a good chance that the Hives will prevail.

You can check out the Roofies song "Why You" here.

You can check the Hives music video for "Tick Tick Boom Boom" below:




Mtv gets back into the Music Video Business



Mtv has launched a music video site similar to YouTube. Mtv has one of the largest collections of music videos in the world and eventually the site will host their entire collection. Check it out here.




Tuesday, October 14, 2008

President Bush Signs Controversial Anti-Piracy Law



President Bush has signed a controversial bill that aims to strengthen Anti-Piracy laws in the United States. The bill creates greater penalties, including asset forfeitures, for copyright infringement and creates an Intellectual Property Czar who will report directly to the President on issues of copyright and anti-piracy. The bill was strongly supported by the RIAA and MPAA. Click here for more info on the bill.




Thursday, October 9, 2008

CBS Censor No Age's Political View



CBS would not allow noise-punk's No Age to perform on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson until guitarist Randy Randall took off his pro-Obama t-shirt. According to Randy Randall:

"I have recently come under what can only be called extreme censorship. I felt it was important to voice my choice for presidential candidate, Barack Obama, seeing as the episode would air eight days before election day. Dean and I decided that it would be better to take advantage of the stage we had at our disposal... Access to affordable health care is an issue very near to my heart for many personal reasons and I am sure that many of you can relate. I have lost and stood by as many of my close family members have battled with terrible illnesses. I have myself gone through traumatic hospitalizations only to come out the other side alive but horribly in debt."

For more info check out this article at Pitchfork.




License Music Through the Internet



Israeli start up company, YouLicense, has made music Licensing as easy as Ebay. Artist and companies will pay a certain fee for access to the site which through its search function will connect companies with songs for use in advertising and other licensing applications. Once companies find a song they like, they can then negotiate with the song owner for its license and pay for its use through paypal. For more details, check out this article from Wired.




Wednesday, October 8, 2008

John McCain is not Dave Grohl's Hero



The Foo Fighters issued the following statement after John McCain's campaign used their song "My Hero" without permission:

"This isn't the first time the McCain campaign has used a song without making any attempt to get approval or permission from the artist. It's frustrating and infuriating that someone who claims to speak for the American people would repeatedly show such little respect for creativity and intellectual property. The saddest thing about this is that 'My Hero' was written as a celebration of the common man and his extraordinary potential. To have it appropriated without our knowledge and used in a manner that perverts the original sentiment of the lyric just tarnishes the song. We hope that the McCain campaign will do the right thing and stop using our song--and start asking artists' permission in general!"

McCain has been critized in his campaign for using songs from artists like Heart and Van Halen as well without asking the artist's permission.




Bing Back Punk Rock Satellite Radio Petition



From Punknews.org:

"A number of punk fan have launched an online petition in order to convince XM/Sirius Satellite radio that there is an audience for the radio provider's former punk station, Fungus. The station has since been replaced with a 24-7 AC/DC station. While the all-AC/DC station is slated to expire in January, there is no word on what will replace it going forward. Sirius' former punk page is directing listeners to their Extreme Sports station which will include punk, hip hop and metal.

Both stations provided a mixture of vintage and recent punk rock, with Sirius promising acts like "Sex Pistols, Ramones, Misfits, Black Flag, The Clash, Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, Suicidal Tendencies, Pennywise, Fugazi and many more" while Fungus 53 hosted shows DJ-ed by Rancid, Joe Sib's Complete Control Radio and others. NOFX's Fat Mike even weighed in on the station, noting: "I hate the radio but I like Fungus/The only punk rock station, it's humongous." in their song, "Fungus" which appeared on the April 2005 7-inch in their monthly series.

You can sign the petition here."




Featured Artists Coalition Fights for Artist's Rights



Radiohead, Billy Bragg, Gang of Four, and other artists have banned together to form the Featured Artists Coalition. The Featured Artists Coalition is fighting for more copyright control and higher revenue sharing for artists, rather than music labels. Here is the group's manifesto:

No one knows what the structure of the music industry will look like in future. But all artists face the same challenges in today’s digital world, so we need to speak with one voice to help artists strike a new bargain with record companies, digital distributors and others. Together, the Featured Artists’ Coalition will stand up for all artists by engaging with government, music and technology companies, and collection societies, arguing for fair play and, where necessary, exposing unfair practices.

Interesting to note that the group is made up of mostly (if not all) British artists and performers.




Fall Out Boy Donates $50k to Fight Gay Marriage Ban



Fall Out Boy has reportedly donated $50,000 to fight California's Proposition 8; the proposed law on the ballot this fall would ban gay marriage in California. Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz commented:

"I think proposition 8 is pretty lame- as many others do too. its f*cking lame."





Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Album Sales Fall 20% in September



According to this article, albums sales fell 20% during the month of September (it usually has been falling at a rate of about 9% per month). CD sales overall for this year seem to be in a staggering decline. My theory about what happened in September: Economy crashes and no good albums released. Could it really be that simple?




Apple Threatens to shut down iTunes



Apple is awaiting a verdict this week from the US Copyright Royalty Board about whether it will be forced to raise it's iTunes royalty payout from 9 cents per song to 15 cents per song. Apple would like to decrease it's royalties to 4.8 cents per song and said "Apple has repeatedly made it clear that it is in this business to make money, and most likely would not continue to operate [the iTunes store] if it were no longer possible to do so profitably." For more information check out this article.


*UPDATE* US Copyright Royalty Board has ruled that it will not be changing royalty rates for the time being, therefore iTunes will not be shutting down anytime soon.




Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jay Bentley (Bad Religion) expresses his view of file sharing



Jay Bentley of Bad Religion recently expressed his views on file sharing in an interview with thepunksite.com.

"How many catalogue records are you going to have to buy before you get fucking fed up? I had vinyl, I had CD, I had mini-disc, I had DATs, I had all this shit. They make me buy all this stuff and I’m paying three hundred and fifty dollars every time a new player comes out because now I can’t my music on anything but this. So that’s to blame as well. Eventually people just got tired of getting the shaft from all of these people and in the end the only one that really suffers is the artist. That’s a shame.

It’s a standoff of do you want to support the label and the band that you like? Even I’m starting to wonder if there’s a way where people will feel like they’re strictly supporting the artist. Even if it was something like having a little button on a MySpace page that says “if you like us, push the button and give us a dollar so that we can get gas to go to the next city because we want to go on tour.” There has to be some sort of incentive for people to A) want the band to come to them but also for the band to want to go out. When gas hit four dollars a gallon down in the States, in the newspaper it was actually a front page article about how indie bands can no longer tour because gas is too expensive. That’s pretty fucked.

So it’s not the bands’ fault, and it’s not even the fans’ fault. The fans are doing what’s expected because they should be doing what they want. The bands should be doing what they want but there should be a way for them to get together and say “we, as fans, like your band. We want to support your work."





Friday, September 26, 2008

Did iTunes Kill the Album?



British newspaper, The Telegraph, has posted an article that looks at the backlash from artist over iTunes selling singles and killing album sales as whole piece of art. You can check out the article here. Food for thought: if artist did not want people just buying one song off of an album, they should focus on putting more than one good song on an album.




Universal Music Group takes on Youtube, sort of



According to Billboard.com, Universal Music Group (UMG) plan to launch an online video portal similar to Youtube and Universal's parent company owned Hulu.com. The UMG site will focus on music videos and other music related video content. As of now, they say the plan to continue licensing music videos to Youtube and that this site is intended to host higher-quality premium content. You can check out the entire article here.




Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Myspace takes on Itunes with Ad-supported Music Store



Myspace has announced the details of their new music store. The Myspace music store will allow fans to stream millions of full songs for free using ad-support. The store will also sell digital downloads via Amazon.com's mp3 store.

Chris DeWolfe, the site’s co-founder explains:

"You’ll be able to see the top songs your friends are listening to. Eventually you’ll be able to buy tickets and merchandise and ringtones. When you look at things like iLike and Facebook, they don’t have the full songs, in most cases, and they don’t have official artist pages. People aren’t interested in music on Facebook in the way they are on MySpace, That’s one of the big keys here."

The site has struck deals with most of the major players in the recording industry.


*UPDATE* Myspace Music store has launched.




Best Buy Purchases Napster



Best Buy has reportedly purchased the online music store Napster for $121 million. This article explains why it was a waste of money.




Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Cappella Against the Machine in St. Paul



After police stopped Rage Against the Machine from playing an impromptu set after Anti-Flag at a left wing rally in St. Paul, Rage addressed the crowd and played an a cappella tune. Check it out below:




Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Snow Patrol to Release iPhone Optimized Album



From Punknews.org:

Ireland's Snow Patrol has planned to release their new album as an iPod Touch/iPhone application. The application would allow users to access lyrics, photos, etc. while listening to the album, making use of both devices similar touch screen interfaces. Says Polydor Project manager Liz Goodwin:

“It will be an interactive element; a digital booklet that will take you into the videos and content. For fans it will be a real must-have, and the fact that they are the first band to do this gives us an additional angle for exposure.”

The new album is titled A Hundred Million Suns and is due out via Fiction/Polydor. More details are available here.




The University of Copyright Infringement



As the new school year rolls around, many students may be wondering what Universities are doing to appease the RIAA in the matter of file-sharing. This article explains just that.




Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cuban punk rocker to stand trial this Friday



According to AP, "Cuba has ordered jailed punk rocker Gorki Aguila, an outspoken critic of Fidel Castro and the communist government, to stand trial on Friday for "social dangerousness," a charge that could carry up to four years in prison.

Authorities arrested the 39-year-old lead singer of Porno para Ricardo at his Havana home on Monday, shortly after the band had completed work on a new album. Cuban law defines "social dangerousness" as behavior contrary to "communist morality," and police use it to detain offenders before they have a chance to commit a crime."

You can read the entire article here.


*Update*
Gorki Aguila has been set free and fined 600 pesos (the average monthly income in Cuba is 408 pesos).





"Chinese Democracy" leads to Arrest



Kevin Skwerl, the blogger who leaked 9 supposed songs from the long awaited Guns N' Roses album "Chinese Democracy", was arrested yesterday on suspicion of violating Federal Copyright Law.




and the God said "Let there be Rock"



Looks like the Christian community is ready to cash in on the Guitar Hero / Rock Band craze. Coming this September is the knock-off "Guitar Praise" featuring "hit songs from popular Christian rock bands". Check it out here.




Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Denny's Rock Star Menu Premiers



In a new (and strange) cross-promotional marketing plan, Denny has unveiled its new Rock Star Menu. Here is the press release:


Denny’s introduces a new line-up of chefs in their kitchen with the launch of the Rockstar menu. Top musicians, such as the All-American Rejects, Taking Back Sunday, Plain White T’s, and the Eagles of Death Metal join Denny’s to create the new Denny’s Rockstar Menu presented by Dr Pepper.

“We teamed up with popular bands in an out-of-the-box way to develop a menu by rock stars for our rock star guests,” said Mark Chmiel, chief marketing and innovation officer for Denny’s. “Music and late night are a part of the Denny’s DNA. Denny’s has been a late-night destination for musicians, fans, crews, and crowds for over 50 years, so it is natural for us to have them create the meal they would most like to eat.”

America’s original late-night diner asked four of the hottest bands to cook up something special for the Denny’s 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. menu. The bands, along with Denny’s Culinary Innovation Chef Andrew Dismore, invented dishes that are ideal for late-night dining with friends and groups. The new menu items created by rock stars include:

− Taking Back Bacon Burger Fries, created by New York-based band Taking Back Sunday, combines two of the artists’ favorite foods – bacon cheeseburgers and loaded cheese fries – in a new, sharable way with familiar flavors of fries, cheese, hamburger, crispy bacon, onion, tomato, and pickles. They even top it off with ketchup and mustard.

− Plain White Shake, by the Chicago band Plain White T’s, blends whole milk, vanilla ice cream, creamy cheesecake, whipped cream, and white chocolate chips creating a heavenly, drinkable dessert.

− Heart on a Plate, by California rockers Eagles of Death Metal, starts with heart-shaped pancakes topped with raspberry sauce, hot fudge, strawberries, white chocolate chips, and whipped cream. The Heart-themed entrĂ©e – a tribute to their soon-to-be-released album “Heart On” – is served with crispy bacon and eggs any style.

− The All American S.O.S. brings the timeless classic and hometown favorite dish of Stillwater, Oklahoma band, The All-American Rejects, to life with hamburger, cheese, grilled onions, and gravy on top of grilled Texas toast and hash browns.


“The S.O.S. is a dish that we eat on the road all the time. There’s something for everyone in this dish and it fills you up good,” says Tyson Ritter, lead vocalist, The All-American Rejects. “From the trailer house to the lunch tray, ours is a dish that is often imitated, but never duplicated.”

The new Rockstar menu complements the Allnighter menu introduced earlier this year. Denny’s strives to appeal to its late-night crowd, with a whole new vibe from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., featuring alternative rock music playing through the restaurant and servers sporting T-shirts and jeans instead of their usual uniforms.
The Denny’s full Allnighter menu includes favorites such as Potachos – kettle chips topped with crumbled sausage, bacon, bell pepper and onion, and shredded Cheddar cheese; and the Smokin’ Q Four Pack - mini burgers with American cheese, ketchup, mustard, grilled onions and pickles, served with a double portion of onion rings.

In keeping with its rock ‘n roll history, Denny’s is also lending a helping hand to emerging bands through the Adopt-A-Band program. Bands can enter to become a Denny’s Adopted Band through the site www.dennysallnighter.com. They can then mobilize their fan base to vote them into a selection of bands that will receive free meals and promotional support from Denny’s.



Plain White Shake:





Taking Back Bacon Burger Fries:




Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) asked on stage at Nader rally



From Punknews.org:
"NOFX and Rage Against the Machine might be playing beside various political conventions this year, but songwriter Ike Reilly and troublemaker Jello Biafra are actually getting asked on stage. Well, kind of. This election cycle Ralph Nader is back with Matt Gonzalez (who unsuccessfully ran for mayor against Gavin Newsome in San Francisco) as his running mate and they'll be holding "Super Rallies" outside the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. The purpose of these "Super Rallies" is to serve as "a call for opening the presidential debates."

Still performing beside the convention, I guess, but at least on stage with candidates will be Biafra, Reilly and other notables such as Nellie McKay, Val Kilmer, Tom Morello, and Cindy Sheehan. Details can be found at VoteNader.org."




Is Guitar Hero "Saving" Rock 'n' Roll


Recently, CNN wrote an article asking Is Guitar Hero Saving Rock 'n' Roll. The articles talks about how both "Rock Band" and "Guitar Hero" are introducing a new generation of kids to classic Rock. The article also points to increasing catalog sales of artist featured in the games. Check out the article here.




Monday, August 18, 2008

30 Seconds to Mars sued for $30 million



According to this article 30 Seconds to Mars has been sued by their label, Virgin Records, for failing to fulfill their 3 record contract. The band has been sued for $30 million. Jared Leto responds by explaining how their contract has terminated in a letter that can be found here.




Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Saul Williams Discusses Nike Commercial, Politics, and Music



Saul Williams (poet/hip hop artist) has posted the following letter on the web discussing the Nike commercial, politics and music (the commercial can be seen below the letter):

Dear Friends,

Although I cannot boast a lifetime of keeping my views to myself, I have seldom taken on the responsibility of trying to change someone (alright, maybe a few girlfriends, but you'll never hold me to that). However, this year for me has been one of aggressively shifting from a reluctant pursuit of change and growth to taking a proactive stance on what I believe in times that I see as clearly representative of a societal paradigm shift both necessary and urgent for our country and world.

I received a lot of questions from some about why I would allow my song 'List of Demands' to be used in a Nike campaign. Ironically, half of the people now reading this post never heard of me until that commercial aired. That, indeed, was one of my reasons for allowing it. A small circle of poets and conscious do-gooders are not enough to effect the change necessary to shift our planet in peril. We must enlist people from all walks of life, people not accustomed to questioning the norm, people who may simply want to dance uninterrupted without message or slogan. I see no glory in 'preaching to the converted'. Furthermore, I believe fully in the power of music and have branded my work with it's own conscientious stamp and stomp of attitude fueled to steal the show in the face of the nonsensical. Quite simply, it was clear to me that people would not be rushing to the store to buy Nikes after seeing that commercial, but rather rushing to youtube or itunes to hear or download the song. I even imagined those who would be rushing to blogs to question how I could allow this to happen and the subsequent discussion of the ethical treatment of factory workers and how new minds would be informed and enlisted in the struggle for ethical change.

As an artist that characterizes himself and his work as a hybrid synthesis of creativity and responsibility I am forced to make politicized choices, weigh evils, and work strategically to make a living and contribute to the change I wish to see in my lifetime. For instance, the groundbreaking digital release of The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! wasn't done simply because I wanted to give my album away for free and maintain my independence as an artist, but also because record companies left me little choice. As a musician I have been signed to both Columbia/Sony and Island/Def Jam rosters and have faced consistent naysayers who have basically insisted that I choose the type of music I am going to make and if the choice wasn't according to their definition of hip hop showed little faith in it or in the possibility of a wide public supporting it, without realizing their role in determining what the public supports. Radio stations followed suit in determining my music not urban, alternative, or rock enough. Of course my music showed more rock influence than Eminem but the KROQ's of the world seemed to be basing their definition of rock on something a little more surface than sound, at the time. Thus, I have always found myself with fans that have through their own hard work and diligence fought through the norm to find me, yet still voice surprise that more people haven't.

The compliment "you're ahead of your time", often feels more like a curse than a gift from a well-wisher. I have never considered myself ahead of my time simply because a few executives may not have been visionary enough to determine where music or antiquated ideas of race are heading or to realize their role in continually underestimating the intelligence of the listener and our generation. Rather I have seen those 'powers that be' as behind the times and perpetuators of an old cycle. Likewise, I have seen their over-turn as inevitable. Thus, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! simply came at a point when I realized that we were, indeed, living at a crossroads and Victor Hugo's saying, "There's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come", came to life.

Without question, we are living in powerful times, a time where the powers of being will truly prevail over the powers that be. This is evident in the political sector where it has become clear, at least to me, that my support of Barack Obama is not because he's black, but because he seems to represent both symbolically and ideologically many of those ideas and ideals whose time has come. Ideas of the divine need for change ("God's just a baby and her diaper is wet." Get it?) in how we look at the world, ourselves, and at our individual and communal powers. The idea that might is right, that we demonstrate our power with aggressive force is great for football teams, but hardly the best idea for a country whose running source of pride has historically been the evidence of our collective imagination: our music; our films; our amusement parks; and the technology we create to share it. These products of peace are the things that made the world initially fall in love with us. We have rooted ourselves in a growing sense of independence as evidenced through our historic social movements, always upgrading our beliefs and laws to reflect our broadening understanding and vision. Of course, many, if not most, would label this a very optimistic perspective of the ongoing struggle for justice and equal opportunity for all people in this land. There is still a fight to have our voices heard and many of us when given the opportunity to speak seem to have very little to say. Then are those who have consistently fought against growth and change, who would rather fight for their right to maintain their antiquated, sometimes ignorant points of view, as if the age of the perspectives themselves is what validates them. Yet, the first technology is of the mind. It is the shift in perspective that allows us to streamline possibilities of understanding as reflected through invention. And quite simply, we are coming of age.

In this age it is our responsibility to challenge ourselves beyond cultural traditions and delineate between what we have perpetuated through ignorance rather than wisdom. We face an opportunity to broaden our worldview through the exchange of technology and information. We need not rely on what teachings of the past could not anticipate. It is an opportunity to forge ahead and beyond the wavering shortsightedness of our religious leaders, elected officials, teachers, principals, and sometimes parents and live in simple accordance with what we can feel deep within ourselves. We should no longer be surprised to sometimes find ourselves seemingly more intelligent, informed, or insightful than our leaders and bosses, rather we should feel encouraged to inspire and share our most informed selves in our every encounter. And that, my friends, is what has led me to write you today.

While sitting on a plane, on my way back from Lollapalooza, reading Thanking The Monkey by Karen Dawn, it struck me that this was the second awesomely inspiring and informative book I was reading this summer without sharing my thanks by spreading the word. I am sometimes hesitant about making a big deal about my vegan diet, as I have considered it a personal choice worth little discussion. Yet more and more, I have found myself attempting to encourage people who ask me where I find my inspiration, or what issues do I find important, or how can we curb warfare and violence to consider what we ingest. A story was recently recounted to me of a popular TV chef who chose to raise little piglets on his show to insure that they were fed organic food and not injected with chemicals (as is the practice on most factory farms), all for the sake of fattening them up for their slaughter and another primetime recipe. Yet, the time that this chef spent with these pigs taught him a valuable lesson (more valuable for the pigs, no doubt). What he learned was how intelligent pigs are. In fact, in recent times, it is common knowledge for most that pigs are arguably more intelligent than "mans best friend" and companion, the dog. For our chef, this meant switching gears and realizing that he could not consciously kill this intelligent animal, that it would constitute a murder as brutal as slicing your fluffy pets neck and watching it writhe and bleed to death, or sticking an electric prod up its ass and electrocuting it, if the fur or skin is of value…

It may seem like I have just taken a turn to the graphically extreme, I wouldn't want to make you "lose your lunch", but these are the common practices perpetuated by the factory farm industry on millions of animals a day, in the name of your breakfast lunch and dinner. And, no, I'm not simply talking about pigs, but also cows, chickens, turkey, horses (that's right horses. Everyday), and fish. Everyday, our species participates in the mass genocide of other species without care or concern or even questioning whether the violence that we ingest and condone plays any role in our apathetic support of the war machine we have become. How is it that we as human beings can represent both the highest and most developed and lowest and least concerned forms of intelligence of any living species? Are we simply glued to age-old barbaric traditions that cloud our senses and render us inhumane in our dependence on comfort foods and practices? Is our dependence on foreign oil the only thing we need to curb? What about not so foreign species?

Some might argue that artists are a race or species apart from the common person. Yet we all identify with the teachings of Gandhi, the genius of Einstein, the art of Leonardo Da Vinci, Picasso, Rembrandt and the talent and compassion of living artists like Alice Walker, Will Smith, The Mars Volta, Dead Prez, Prince and countless others. Some of us choose to emulate their styles, their fashion, their career choices, but why not their diets? If our brightest most celebrated stars all have this one thing in common why are we so slow in connecting the dots for ourselves? Perhaps the biggest issue at hand is not what our cars run on, but essentially what do we run on? The fact is that factory farms are the number one users of crude oil, not cars. That's basically what it takes to kill approximately one million chickens per hour (just in the US). More than half of our water supply goes to feed animals being fattened for slaughter. The methane gases that contribute to global warming are produced majorly by cow farts in factory farms, not to mention the amount of fossil fuels needed to create just one pound of beef.

Yep. You doing the math? Basically if we shifted our compassion towards animals, the domino effect would heal the planet. We'd no longer be cutting down rain forests to create more space for cows to graze, we'd stop depleting the ocean of the necessary (keyword: necessary) food chains that our eco system depends on, diseases including many cancers, heart disease, obesity, and others which find their root in the food/toxins we ingest would slowly disappear as would our taste for violence.

Which brings me to the other book I read this summer that inspired me to reevaluate every aspect of what I've been taught through the news and media, especially concerning the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. That book is The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.

So what are you reading?

I know what you should be listening to,

Niggy.





Rage Against the Machine to play Republican National Convention (sort of)



Rage Against the Machine has announced a concert on September 3rd at the Target Center in Minneapolis that will coincide with the Republican National Convention taking place that same week in St. Paul. Tom Morello will also join in on a union rally on September 1st, the first day of the RNC, at St. Paul's Harriet Island. This is similar to when Rage played outside the Democratic National Convention in 2000, except that was across the street from the convention and I believe it was free. At $60 a ticket, maybe the band is no longer raging so hard against the machine.




Saturday, August 9, 2008

M.I.A. accused of using Terrorist imagery in her videos



Interscope has sued hip hop artist Deleon after he posted a Youtube video accusing M.I.A. of using terrorist imagery. You can read the article here.




Warner Music Wants a Bigger Piece of that Rock Band Pie



According to Reuters, Warner Music has come out saying that video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero should pay larger licensing fees to the music industry. Warner Music Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman said, "The amount being paid to the music industry, even though their games are entirely dependent on the content we own and control, is far too small". Video games have recently become a major stream of revenue for the struggling music industry and I would expect more music industry executives to come out and say the same thing.




Saturday, August 2, 2008

Congress to Require Universities to Pay for Downloading Services



Both the House and the Senate have voted to reauthorize the Higher Education Act which includes new provisions that will require Universities to provide students with access to commercial music downloading services and implement traffic filtering technologies in order to deter peer-to-peer filesharing. The provisions are controversial, with RIAA and MPAA pushing for its approval and Academia pushing against its approval. It not certain whether this will make any difference in illegal downloads, though it is likely it will stop a small percentage. One thing that is for sure is that it will raise tuition and the cost of living for college students. The bill is awaiting President Bush's signature, he is expected to sign it into law. For a more in depth discussion of this issue, check out this article.




Thursday, July 24, 2008

Myspace to Launch a New Music Service



According to Fortune, Myspace will launch a new music service this September. The music service will enable MySpace members to listen to free streaming music as well as purchase song downloads, ringtones, T-shirts and concert tickets. Read the article here.




50 Cent sues Taco Bell



Rapper 50 Cent is suing Taco Bell after Taco Bell launched a new hip hop themed ad campaign encouraging 50 Cent to change his name to "79 Cent","89 Cent", or "99 Cent" to coincide with Taco Bell's value meal. No surprise here that the company did not ask permission from 50 Cent to use his name in the ad campaign. 50 feels that this commercial hurts his legitimacy as an artist. You can read Rolling Stone's thoughts on this here and watch the ad below:




FCC to approve XM-Sirus Merger



According to the Wall Street Journal, the FCC will approve the merger between satellite radio companies XM and Sirius. Read the article here or check out this video discussion about it:






Friday, July 18, 2008

Best Buy to push unsigned artists



Best Buy has launched a new program to stock their shelves and online store with regional and local artists. The promotion is a partnership with Regional CD, a indie distributor which will allow bands to sell music directly without their own distribution or even a label.

Approved artists are considered based on Myspace/Facebook page, fan base, and local performances, and will be paid for every CD sold.

You can submit your own music via this page.




Thursday, July 10, 2008

Last.fm to compensate artists; Myspace labled sellouts



UK-based Social Music site Last.fm announced today that they would start sharing ad revenue with artist on their site. Last.fm will give artist a cut of the ad revenue from ads displayed on their site next to the artist's streaming music. Both big and small artist will receive a revenue share from Last.fm (unlike Myspace who only cuts deals with the major record labels). More information on this announcement can be found on Wired.

Rock the Vote battle of the bands



From Punknews.org:

Rock the Vote has announced their 2008 band competition. Dubbed "DemROCKracy," the competition allows bands to sign up to win a change to play at Rock the Vote's Ballot Bash 2008 in Denver, CO; other bands will win some huge prizes as well, in the order of new Gibson guitars, and placement on TouchTunes digital jukeboxes around the country..

This competition is a great way for smaller up-and-coming bands to gain national exposure while doing something positive as the group works to register two million young voters in one of the most important elections in years.

Any musician or band can sign up by visiting here. More than 2000 bands have already signed up.




High Gas Prices Continue to Hurt Touring Bands



Indyweek.com has done a detailed article on how high gas prices have been affecting touring bands. With bands spend upwards of $200 a day to get from show to show, small bands can only make their money back on merchandise sales. So if you are going to a show, pick up a t-shirt or two if you really want to support the bands. You can check out the article here.




Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Canadians get "unchicken" from KFC



From Punknews.org:

Controversial fast food company KFC has responded to PETA's wide ranging Kentucky Fried Cruelty campaign, but only in Canada. The campaign, which included Rise Against, Thursday, Silverstein, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, The Sleeping, Story of the Year, Alkaline Trio, Anti-Flag, Hawthorne Heights as well as actors Pamela Anderson and Ryan Gosling, has been pushing the chain to clean up their treatment of animals.

While many of the participants are vegan or vegetarian, they have repeatedly stated that the campaign is not anti-meat, but only seeks to see more humane treatment of animals in slaughterhouses.

According to a report from (who else?) the The Kentucky Post, the chain will improve its chicken slaughter conditions and introduce vegan menu options, but only in Canadian restaurants. Of some note is that the vegan option will use a chicken substitute often called "unchicken."

Though PETA is controversial for what some percieve as a hardline stance, the group has a huge number of supporters, particularly in the punk and hardcore scenes. KFC has been widely criticized for what many see as inhumane treatment of animals in their factory farms.



Peer to Peer programs cause leaky computers



It appears that file-sharing programs such as Limewire are not that safe. Many of these programs allow people to access information on your computer other than what you allow them to access. Many files, including records on social security numbers, have been leaked onto the internet through the use of these programs. Check out the Washington Post's article about this.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Music sales down for first half of 2008


According to recent data from Nielsen Soundscan music sales dropped 11 percent in the first half of the year compared to 2007 figures. CD sales have dropped 16 percent while digital sales have increased 34 percent (but only make up 15.5 percent of the market). For more details check out this article.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Stealing Books Lowers Student Loans


College students have been illegally downloading textbooks which have been scanned and put on torrent sites and the publishers are starting to fight back. An interesting article on this can be viewed here.

RIAA says evidence is not need for infringment cases


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) urged a federal judge on Monday to leave intact the $222,000 verdict against Jammie Thomas in the first file-sharing suit to go to trial. The RIAA argues that evidence of actual distribution (people downloading the files from a shared folder) is not needed, only evidence that the files were available (the files were available in the shared folder to be downloaded) is needed. This brings out an interesting point, the court has said that it is legal to download copies of copyrighted material, and the question remains whether it is illegal to merely upload copyrighted material or to upload it and have evidence of some one downloading it from you. So if you are going to file-share, not making your files available in your shared folder may keep the RIAA off your back. A public hearing is set for August 4. Read more about it at Wired.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Candadian Politicians Critical of New Canadian Copyright Bill


The new Canadian Copyright bill, C-61, which is similar to the unanimously passed US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, has been getting a lot of criticism from Canadian politicians. Among the criticism is its limit to personal use (making copies for yourself) at the whim of the copyright holder (usually big business). You can see some of their comments below:







Friday, June 27, 2008

The Coup charged with "abusive language"

From Punknews.org:

Controversial Epitaph hip hop artist Boots Riley of The Coup has been charged for using "abusive language" during his performance at the Bayou Boogaloo & Cajun Food Festival. Boots claims that the charges are politically motivated, noting that the law has never been applied in this context:

"City Officials claim that they are making the statement that profanity will not be tolerated. Obviously, since no one has been charged with this in 26 years, profanity IS tolerated. The statement they are making is that the culture and the people they feel I represent won't be tolerated. I was already off stage; the man they asked to leave the stage was Trombone Shorty, another Black man who looks nothing like me. This happened at 10:00PM

I stayed and debated the validity of the charge with police and festival promoters. It is clear that this is part of a larger debate that has nothing to do with profanity, one that is being dealt with nationwide. That debate is about racism, gentrification and the ownership of public space."

Riley claims the charges were racially motivated as they are part of a backlash from the recent Afr'Am Festival in Norfolk in which Gospel and R&B performances generated "noise complaints," despite the performers adhering to the same decibel parameters as all of Norfolk's other festivals. The Afr'am fest has been the subject of controversy since.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

McDonalds whips DEVO good



Punk / New-wave pioneers Devo have filed suit against McDonalds for using their image and trademark in a new toy. The band had this to say:

"McDonald's [is offering] American Idol TV show themed toys in their children's Happy Meals. One of the toys is named "New Wave Nigel", who sports an orange jumpsuit, punk shades, and an unmistakable DEVO Energy Dome. Flipping a switch plays a DEVO-esque song (which sounds a bit like a mutated version of DEVO's Doctor Detroit.)"



A video of the toy can be seen here.

New Copyright Act could be a pain in the ass

The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act looks to change existing copyright law for the worse. With backers like Google and Microsoft you know it will be in the "best interest" of the people. The new act makes it so one must search online registries (created by private companies) before you can register a copyright. The loophole is that if the copyright does not appear in the registry you chose to use, then you are free to use the material (even though it may appear in a different registry). A more clear and comprehensive article on this can be found at Crafting a Green World.


Knitting Factory (LA) in danger of being shutdown

Looks like the city of Los Angeles is trying to shut down another great venue. Here is the info from their website:

Dear Friends of The Knitting Factory,

I’m writing this letter to garner support for an upcoming public hearing by the LADBS (Los Angeles Bldg. and Safety) against our venue on Thursday July 17th 2008.

The Los Angeles Building Department is aggressively trying torevoke our CUP (Conditional Use Permit), for those of you who don’t know, a CUP is the conditions that all Restaurants, bars, clubs etc must run under in order to keep their doors open, if you lose your CUP, you are essential closed for business. After eight years in a crime riddled Hollywood corridor, the LADBS and vice, states that our venue is a “nuisance” and we do not comply under “upscale restaurant guidelines” (nonsense, food is always served and continues service and will someone please define “upscale” for me). They are also trying to say we do a steady stream of Erotica here, which is absurd, as we’ve only had 3 Adult Entertainment parties over 8 years and 10,000 shows.

Bar owners beware; the city is on a major crack down for what they deem CUP violations.

Knitting Factory was lured to this location and has served as the anchor tenant to re vamp this neighborhood. Suddenly, as the neighborhood has pushed the drug dealers out, the rents up, built condos and turned our complex from anEntertainmentCenterto a retail center, we are no longer wanted. When we moved into this location the crime statistics where 3 times higher than the city average, the corner of Hollywood and Sycamore sat only 1 block North of the 18th street Gang. In 2004, this corner was used as the first corner to install cameras as a test to stop crime.

We’ve endured tremendous hardship from 2004 to 2007 in this complex, whilst LA Fitness, DSW, Longs and Fresh and Easy were built around us (joy and thrill to be in a mall) and Galaxy Movie Theatre, Hollywood Ent. Museum, Tower Records all went out of business. We still have “no” visible signage fromHollywood Boulevardexcept for a banner hanging at the back of the plaza. CIM, the landlord, claims that our cueing is a problem to some of the retail outlets; of course there wasn’t a complaint while the jack hammers blasted for 3 years and our parking structure shut down for 26 weeks. Still, we are jammed to the back of the plaza, with no access to the Sycamore door (by law) and no where to line up our patrons.

Our Public Hearing is scheduled for Thursday July 17th at10am@ 200 N. Spring St, room 1020. Zoning Administration. I would greatly appreciate anyone willing to get up on our behalf, just show up and be a part of this fiasco, or at least send in a letter to me, supporting the need for Knitting Factory as a live Music venue in the Hollywood corridor.

Warmest
Morgan

PS
Please forward to anyone you think might be amendable to our cause.

Mr.Morgan Margolis | Knitting Factory Concert House
VP, National Operations |morgan@knittingfactory.com
Boise, Los Angeles, New York, Spokane
323.463.0204 x 135 | 323.463.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ticketmaster gets dumped

Ticketmaster has been dropped by its parent company IAC/InterActiveCorp after getting $750 million in debt. Don't fret though, it seems like they will continue to rip you off for years to come with their service charges. You can read more about it here.

Chris Martin may not be as clever as he thinks

From policy with pop:

Earlier this week Coldplay was accused of plagiarizing from the small unknown band Creaky Boards. Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” surprisingly sounds similar to Creaky Board’s ironically titled song “The Songs I Didn’t Write,” which was written a year before the release of the Coldplay’s hit. Here is the evidence:



Now Coldplay’s official stance is that it produced “Viva la Vida” before Creaky Board’s song and that Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin was not at Creaky Board’s 2007 New York performance as Creaky Board alleges.

According to E! Online, Coldplay’s manager called Creaky Board and explained to the timeline of events. Creaky Board then retracted their accusation and apologized.

Violence at Chain Reaction could cause Shutdown

Tim Hill, owner of Chain Reaction, a concert venue in Anaheim, CA, does not want a hardcore/punk documentary to be released on DVD because of what the footage shows. According to an email from Tim, if the venue's insurance company knew how crazy the shows got, he would lose the venue's insurance. Here is a quote from one of his email's to the dvd producers:

"I was not the only person who watched this DVD and said no way could it be used, they also left out the part about why I said it could not be used and that is because if my Insurance Co. or The City of Anaheim were to get a hold of a copy of this DVD they would CLOSE DOWN CHAIN REACTION and that is why they can't use it."

To follow the entire story check out this message board discussion: notPopular.com

Disclaimer: This information came from a message board discussion, so take it for what it is.

Gas Price Hitting Bands Hard

Here is an interesting article from CNN.com about how high gas prices are hurting touring bands: Gas Prices Thwart Indie Band Tours

Cute Is What We Aim For accused of plagiarizing art

Design company Alphabet Arm has accused the band Cute Is What We Aim For (Fueled By Ramen) of plagiarizing art they had designed for the Counting Crows.

According to the designers:

"at the beginning of last year, Cute Is What We Aim For’s management contacted us about doing some merch designs for the band. They informed us the band liked our work, namely a design we did for Counting Crows back in 2004 or 2005 (That design has since been published in a few books, namely Logo Lounge 3 + Letterhead and Logo Design 9 from Rockport Press).

After some back and forth over pricing we were informed they were going to concentrate on the merch design in-house and contact us later. We never heard anything back."

A comparison of the art can be seen here: http://youthoughtwewouldntnotice.com/blog3/?p=1089

In my opinion this looks awfully similar to The Submarines album art as well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Old Music Reviews

Music Reviews

So its only been 3 weeks into the new year and I am already well on my way to fail at my resolution to not buy as many cds this year. I think I've already bought 7 albums this year. I am getting so much music these days, its hard to keep track of. With that in mind, I thought I would start writing out my impressions of every album I pick up. This is going to be a fairly random assortment of new and old releases, rants and first impression (take from it what you want). Feel free to pass this around and add your own impressions of these cds and others. I don't know if anyone will be interested in what I have to say because music is so subjective, but I thought it may help those who are looking for some new things to check out. So here it goes:

Battles - Mirrored (Warp Records 2007)




This record is interesting and strangely addicting. After seeing this on a few peoples top ten of 2007 lists, I was intrigued and decided to check them out. I would place the bands sound somewhere in the prog rock meets math rock, with hints of industrial genre. Battles is an instrumental group and the vocals are used more like another melodic instrument, rather than a means to convey lyrics. The album is jammy, but not like jam bands, its all about rhythms and melodies rather than guitar solos. If your a fan of noodling, then I think you would enjoy it. The album is interesting and has a strangely addictive quality to it. At times it is creepy (I could imagine the song "Atlas" playing in Jack Nicholson's head in "The Shinning" at the moment his sanity breaks [this moment of course is debatable]) and at other times it is repetitive but in a good way. I guess fans of progressive rock will probably like this one, good musicians playing interesting and intriguing music. I really like this record, it really gets into your head.

Rivers Cuomo - Alone: the Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo (Geffen Records 2007)



So Rivers Cuomo (leader of Weezer) decided to collect his favorite demos and home recordings and release them on cd. I don't know people expected, (especially Rolling Stones Magazine) but that is exactly what you get. Half written songs yet to reach their full potential. With that in mind, there are some gems on the record and these mostly come from the set of demos that pre-dated the "Pinkerton" sessions (arguably the bands best work). Interesting set of songs for hardcore Weezer fans, but beyond maybe 6 of the 16 tracks, nothing too substantial. Check it out if you want to reminisce about the days when Weezer was not just another pop rock band (lets face it, they will in all likelihood never make another album on par with the Blue album or Pinkerton, they just aren't those people anymore). Casual Weezer fans should steer clear, as they will be disappointed in both the lack of quality songs and the poor recording quality of many of these demos. Note: this lets us get a little more into the head of Rivers and hear his song writing process.

The Mars Volta - the Bedlam in Goliath (Universal Records 2008)



So in my opinion, I think Mars Volta have collectively lost their minds and now make completely self indulgent prog rock that is not supposed to be understood by anyone but them. Now this is not saying, its bad, it just saying that I have no idea what these guys are thinking, and I don't think anyone else does either. I have only listened to this album once so far, so this is merely my first impression. It seems this record is more intense then the last record (gone are most of the mellow lows of Amputechture) and the vocals seem to be higher and more weaselly than ever. The record is already growing on me, but I don't think I really love this one (at least at this point). The cohesiveness of the first two records (Deloused in the Crematorium and France the Mute) i think is long gone (though more cohesive than Amputechture), and at times so much is going on its hard to make sense of the music. Nonetheless, it is still enjoyable. Unfortunately, I think band has already reached their peak of making memorable and interesting songs. Simply put, Mars Volta write a lot of good parts to songs, but the songs themselves seem to lack the cohesiveness to make them memorable. Note: the more I am listening to this, the more I am liking it.

V/A - Juno (Soundtrack to the Motion Picture 2007)




I thought that Juno was a great quirky movie. As with the movie, the soundtrack is a great quirky soundtrack. Focusing mostly on indie/folk, the soundtrack mostly highlights songs from singer songwriter Kimya Dawson and her band the Moldy Peaches. I first came across the Moldy Peaches while working at KUCI, but never paid too much attention to them. These songs are folky and fun. People who like Tegan and Sara and Bright Eyes would likely enjoy them but could also appeal to kids who are fans of the folk punk scene (Fake Problems, Defiance Ohio, old Against Me!). Beyond those tracks, are songs from classics like the Kinks and Velvet Underground, to newer (at least in comparison) bands like Belle and Sebastian, and Cat Power. Overall a very good collection of songs that really capture the feel of the film. Note: the soundtrack does include Sonic Youth's cover of "Superstar" which is discussed in the film. Personally i think the song is interesting but does not amount to the greatness discussed in the film.

Glassjaw - Worship and Tribute (Warner Bros. Records 2002)



I picked up a used copy of this cd out of curiosity. People seem to love this band and I do not see why. Great reviews of this album and some of the members recent projects (Men, Women, and Childern) made me want to check this out. Now, I am not a huge fan of the screamo sound, but there are a few bands I can appreciate. To me this record sounds just like Thursday, just not as memorable or catchy. Maybe in time I will grow to appreciate this one, until then, I think I will just put it on the back burner of my listening rotation.

The (International) Noise Conspiracy - the First Conspiracy (Hopeless Records 2000?)



Another older record I recently picked up used. Nothing spectacular here, just interesting to see the bands early demos/7". Good insight into how the band has developed their sound over the years. Recording quality is poor and the band does not sound very full. If your a fan, it is something interesting to check out, nothing more. Note: the song "Abolish Work" actually is pretty up there (kind of similar to "Smash it Up" though).

Horrorpops - Kiss Kiss Kill Kill (Hell-cat Records)



I have only briefly listened to this record, but it sounds pretty solid. Not too much growth on the bands Psychobilly sound but still enjoyable. I think Horrorpops have found a way to add that extra pop-punk kick to psychobilly to allow it to transcend genres. With the recent mainstream break of Tiger Army, this may be making its way to the mainstream too. If you like pop-punk and rockabilly, I don't see why you wouldn't enjoy this record, plus they put on an entertaining live show.

State Radio - Year of the Crow (2008)



Again, I have only briefly listened to this record. State Radio features ex-member of the much beloved band Dispatch (namely Chad, the dude who wrote "the general"). I liked their first album and I think this one follows suit. This has a little more of a punk element, or at least faster rock songs, and a little less dub and reggae. Still the record seems catchy and their is something about Chad's voice that is very enjoyable. This record does seem a little more political and pissed off than the last record (though the last one did contain those elements, only to a lesser degree) which is probably the cause of the faster punk element. All around, I enjoyed listening to this record the first time around and believe I will only grow to like it more.

Well I hope you found this useful in someway or another, feel free to let me know,or message me comments, complaints and any other thoughts.

Mikey