eMusic makes reasonable mobile deal

From a recent eMusic mail blast:
Announcing eMusic Mobile from eMusic and AT&T!

If you’re thinking about getting a new mobile phone, now’s the perfect time. As of today, eMusic and AT&T are offering "over the air" access to eMusic’s catalogue of over 2.5 million tracks. Owners of select AT&T mobile phones can now sign up for a monthly eMusic Mobile subscription plan. Subscribers will also have access to free MP3 versions of all mobile downloads on the eMusic web site.
A feature of eMusic I've always thought was neat but never had a need for is that once you've bought a track you can download it as many times as you like*. This announcement from eMusic marks the first time (that I'm aware of) that not only are mobile music prices matching those of their more convenient pc-based counterparts, but that the purchases are approaching no-hassle, as your eMusic purchases, whether they take place on your computer or your phone, are one in the same.

I'm teetering on the edge of turning this post into a commercial, but I think this is a fairly big deal. This is the closest I've seen to a mobile music offering that makes sense. For as long as I've heard people in the music business drone on and on about how mobile devices are the future, I have never known a single person that's shown any interest in paying to stream poor-quality music video snippets to their RAZR. I can imagine some people I know actually liking the idea of buying a song once and having it on both their desktop and their cell without sideloading.

[Boring info like compatible phones at eMusic]

* Note: Amie Street also does this.

Interview: Jaymay

About a month before the Internet radio station I was working at began to fall apart, I finally got around to inviting one of the most exciting singer songwriters I've ever come across to perform live on the air. Around that same time, a long-overdue record deal was coming to fruition behind the scenes. My station shut down, and Jaymay was whisked away from New York to London (where her new label is). As much as anything else in my post-radio life, I'm regretful that the timing never worked out to bring her into the studio. But she has graciously agreed to the next best thing, and so without further ado I present to you an interview with Jaymay.

Mike McClenathan: Can you give me some details about your deal? It seems like when it all went down, you had to pack up and leave pretty quickly. How long had it been in the works, and how did they manage to lure you so far away from home? How many other deals did you turn down?

Jaymay: the deal took a long time to happen. it took over a year to happen actually. basically heavenly got hold of my ep n came to see me sing at SXSW march 2006. we kept in touch and eventually, after much negotiatin n me flyin over to londone to meet with other labels, i decided to sign. there are so many details of the deal, so many ways in which heavenly outshone other labels. nothin im gonna talk about tho.

MM: You had some pretty measurable success on your own with Sea Green, See Blue. What impact has this deal had on your day-to-day? Are there things you miss about doing it yourself?

J: still doin exactly what i was doin in nyc. only difference is how much im missin new york n really good cofeee. still sleepin on couches n in hotels n takin trains n movin my stuff aroun all the time. still sittin in windows writin n recordin in my bedroom n performin on different stages. these things dont change.

MM: What city has better clubs to play in, London or New York? (room-wise? audience-wise?)

J: i recommend both cities n other ones as well. the luminaire is my favorite venue in london. audience always depends on so much more than which city yre in. ive been openin for bands recently n the crowds have been so varied, i cant make sense of it. nyc <--- how can i talk about it without usin superlatives-- it's my fav place on earth... rockwood music hall, the livin room . . . havent played bowery yet, but always been such a fan.

MM: When will our next chance be to see you on this side of the pond?

J: dunno.

MM: I'm not sure of how to say this, but on stage you have the musician's equivalent of a great comic's timing. The best example I can think of is in the live version of "You Are The Only One I Love" that's streaming on myspace. That night at The Living Room was the first time I saw you (pure luck, I showed up early to see Josh Pyke play next) so I know that the "ahh" towards the end came after a long sip from a Poland Spring bottle, during which a packed house seemed to hold its breath. You command a room's attention. I guess this isn't really a question. [Note: it's not actually streaming there right now...these things rotate. -ed.]

J: funny. thank u.

MM: How similar is Jaymay on stage to Jaymay in her living room?

J: my livin room was my very first stage. it has a piano in it is why.

MM: I bet I know the answer to this, but do you just sit down with the intention to write a song, or do lines and melodies pop into your head at random times and send you scrambling for a pen and an instrument?

J: when i first started to write, like many years ago, i would usually write lyrics n then put em to a melody later. but ever since i started performin, the melody n words happen simultaneously . usually i sit down with a guitar (or xylophone) or at the piano and sorta improv n a song starts to take shape n i figure out what the lyrics are about n take it from there. i mean i dont sit down with the intention of writin a song about anythin particular. and often i make up a song when im walkin down the street or somethin. 'color confused' n 'corduroy' from my ep and 'hard to say' from my new record were all written without music. n i write a lot in general (but dont keep a journal or blog or anythin) n am always wrtin on napkins or textin myself ideas, but rarely do these things find their way into my songs. it's just a habit. n i carry around a tape recorder or call myself n leave a message with a song.

MM: For every song that you're happy with and that makes it onto a record, how many hit the cutting room floor?

J: i was thinkin about this yesterday. how my songs are a timeline-- stories from experience. im gonna definitely end up singin whatever songs i finish. i dont scrap songs, but i have lots of unfinished songs. so many. i record when im in the mood to record n i keep the better recordins. no fancy formulas. my ep is songs about colors, but a couple of color songs didnt make the ep cause i couldnt quite figure out how to record em. theyre such specific things-- my songs. basically just a way of copin with whatevers goin on.

MM: I can think of at least one song that you've said in concert is about a real person from your life. Are real-life songs the exception, or the rule?

J: the rule. i dont think i can write somethin that isnt true. the whole point is gettin at the truth. it's like if u could take yr dreams apart n look at them and study n arrange them on paper they might make sense. n then u could make em into a song.

MM: "Sea Green, See Blue" was in the season finale of How I Met Your Mother a few weeks ago. How did that come about?

J: somehow josh radnor (an actor in the show) heard my music n liked it n played it for the supervisors of the show n they liked it too. he came to see me sing in LA and he was tellin me how he was on a tv show n tryin to get my music on the show n i didnt know what he was talkin about. then i got an email from him sometime later about how they wanted to use 'sea green, see blue' in the final episode. in other words, josh is so very awesome.

MM: Did you get to watch it?

J: no.

MM: I see on your myspace page that you've had some festival slots lined up, including Glastonbury(!). What kind of adjustments do you have to make to your performance to pull that off? It's gotta be a lot different than a small club.

J: i played my same ol' nylon string guitar on a stage solo. it was funny cause they were sound checkin the bigger stages durin my show n u know, i couldnt hear all that well obviously. n there were all sorts of technical difficulties n the sound cut out right in the middle of some band's set. but people were singin along n someone walked away with my nike headband. glastonbury is huuuuuge. it looks beautiful at night n like a city of rollin hills n lights. there were tents everywhere n mud of course! n i didnt bring a tent or anythin n i just walked around all night with my manager in the rain n at one point watched pulp fiction in some giant tent theatre n the audience was really into bruce willis n so am i, but then they kicked everybody out n eventually it was mornin n i left.

MM: If Pepsi called you tomorrow and wanted to pay you a ton of money to use your song in a new ad campaign, what would you say?

J: im more of a coke girl as u can tell from my pic.

MM: When can we expect new stuff from you?

J: u can expect another ep in the states this fall. n my record Autumn Fallin' (which doesnt come out in the states at first) comes out in the fall as well (october or november).

MM: What do the tracklists look like?

J: for the ep, i have no idea-- im still workin on it... the record
looks like this (n repeats some tunes off my first ep): gray or blue. sycamore down. blue skies. sea green, see blue. autumn fallin'. you'd rather run. hard to say. big ben. ill-willed person. you are the only one i love.

MM: Can we hear a song?

J: nope, but u can hear some music here:

Going through this now to format it for posting, I realize I got a little carried away with so many questions. Thanks Jaymay, for taking the time.

A few more links that might be useful:

[Buy Sea Green, See Blue on iTunes, Insound.]


Triangle Forest playing NYC, new song.

triangle forest
Triangle Forest, who I've said before would already be blog-huge if they lived and played in New York instead of Providence, will be playing a few dates in the city this summer:
Jul 27 2007 | 8:00P Galapagos | Brooklyn
Jul 30 2007 | 8:00P Cake Shop (w/ Mixel Pixel) | New York
Aug 9 2007 | 9:00P Club NME New York | New York
I'm out of town for both the July ones, which blows, but you can count on seeing me 8/9 @ NME.

Details on these dates and a bunch of Providence dates at Triangle Forest's MySpace page, where you will also find this new song:

Triangle Forest - Robot Sings for the Master (mp3, right click --> save as)

Nobody Writes About: Third Eye Blind

It should be noted before I even get started that after I decided to write this piece, someone at Blender did in fact write about 3eb (disappointing knee-jerk backlash here). So I figured I'd wait a few days, and then have a go at it anyway.

Maybe it's just because I was on the downhill side of high school and had a car for the first time in my life. But I consider the summer of 1997, when "Semi-Charmed Life" hit the radio, to be the high water mark of the 1990's oft-bemoaned brand of pop-friendly rock and roll.

The music business was good in 1997. People still listened to the radio. CDs were still selling (Third Eye Blind's self-titled debut has sold 6 million records worldwide). Although the mp3 was already beginning to rear its shadowy head, an iron grip on distribution would continue to make insane amounts of money for the majors for years to come.

Third Eye Blind was able to sign to a major label (Elektra, now defunct) and maintain more than a modicum of artistic freedom: "Semi-Charmed Life," of course, is quite explicitly about meth and blowjobs. That dirty, dirty, disgusting, dirty little song (as Stephan Jenkins has introduced it in the past) blew the doors open for 5 top-notch singles from the band's debut to soundtrack the summer of '97.

4 more singles would be released from 3eb's follow-up Blue, to no shortage of toe-tapping (especially to "Never Let You Go") but to slumping album sales. Many hardcore fans (and the band had many) were alienated at the very ugly dismissal of lead guitarist (and prominent second songwriter) Kevin Cadogan almost immediately after the record release. In all fairness, 2 million (which Blue sold) is hardly a small number, and almost any band that sold 6 million units of its debut will resignedly tell you it's all downhill from there.

The song "Slow Motion" appeared on the record only as an instrumental; apparently "artistic freedom" has its bounds and songs about gunshot wounds and heroin cross a line songs about blowjobs and meth do not.

(Here's a completely random video of Panic! at the Disco performing a cover of "Slow Motion" (lyrics intact) to an audience that's was probably in diapers when Blue was released. Watch it if you aren't familiar with the lyrics that accompanied the instrumental version that ended up on the album.)

Elektra was imploding by the time Stephan Jenkins & Co. began work on Out of the Vein. 2 singles were released, and I'll not-so-guiltily admit I think "Blinded" is among the best 3eb's ever done. In fact, although I remember being unimpressed at the time, listening to that record now is a good reminder of how far pop-friendly rock has fallen: 3eb's least-liked effort blows contemporary counterpart pop-chart rockers out of the water (I'm looking at you, Linkin Park). Regardless, hardly any promotion was done, practically nobody bought the record, and although they continue to tour to this day, 3eb has all but disappeared from the public's eye.

That hasn't stopped them from working on new material, and an album tentatively titled The Hideous Strength may be released this year:
"I think this album is going to be more political, but there's nothing worse than a political song," Jenkins says. "Over the last few years, I realized I've been personally so oppressed by government and the way so many people in our country have been silenced and duped. It's had a personal effect on me and I had to write about it."
In 2003 to promote a Third Eye Blind concert WBRU was holding and the impending release of Out of the Vein, I interviewed Stephan Jenkins on air 3 times. Some things I remember:
  • The man is huge. In person he looks a lot more like a Heisman Trophy candidate than a musician.
  • He came into the studio for our first meeting with a few records he was into at the time that he wanted to play. I can't remember all of them, but they included the first record from The Streets, and a Cat Power record. Another DJ who happened to wander into the studio saw the Cat Power CD in his hand and asked him "Are you in Cat Power?" He was gracious about it.
  • Towards the end of the first interview, a girl called the station saying that she was the hugest fan and asking if he would wait for her to get there so he could get a picture with him. He seemed a bit put off, but obliged.
  • Being a big fan myself, I insisted on playing "Tattoo of the Sun," the b-side to "Semi-Charmed Life." He told the story of a meeting in which he was trying to get signed by his first manager. He played "Tattoo of the Sun" acoustically, and the guy started crying. That story may have been embellished.
  • There was nothing remarkable about the 2nd interview. It happened on the phone and I don't remember any of it, other than that he asked me to play a song from his record other than the single, and I didn't have anything but the single.
  • The third interview happened in the band's hospitality trailer behind the stage for the outdoor concert. That remains the only time I've ever been into one of those trailers and I remember the decor in the kitchen was a little outdated.
  • The best way I can explain the dynamic shift was that now I was on his turf, backstage before his show, but it wasn't anywhere close to as warm and personal an interview as the first one. Maybe we'd just run out of things to say to each other. I couldn't wait for it to be over because I couldn't shake the feeling that I was wasting his time.
  • He told me in that interview that 3eb was only playing the show because they liked us, and that there was no way our station could really afford to pay them their going rate. That happened on air and at the time it felt a bit dickish. Other people at the station were much angrier than I was about it.
  • The show was, unsurprisingly, pretty good.
[Third Eye Blind @ Wikipedia]


UNKLE - War Stories (now with mp3)

unkle - war stories
When UNKLE's Psyence Fiction was released in 1998, I was a senior in high school, and deeply concerned with collecting everything Radiohead-related I could get my hands on. At one out of the two keg parties I ever got invited to in my entire high school career, (if you can remember that far back, party soundtracks were CDs, or -- if the host was truly enterprising -- mix CDs), someone put on Psyence Fiction, which even at background music level perked my ears up when I heard Thom Yorke's unmistakable guest vocal on "Rabbit In Your Headlights."

In college, long after my Radiohead obsession had subsided to a much more reasonable appreciation, Psyence Fiction remained a frequent go-to soundtrack for it's-due-tomorrow late night paper writing. And still, with only a vague awareness of their existence, I let subsequent UNKLE releases pass me by for the better part of a decade.

I never spent much time thinking about why then, but reflecting on it now I realize that I probably never went looking for more UNKLE for the same reason Psyence Fiction ended up playing on the stereo that night in 1998: it played like a really good mix CD. With different guest lineups on the newer records, and nobody playing them at parties, there was just too little to grab me again.

It wasn't until I saw the video for "Burn My Shadow" off UNKLE's War Stories that my interest was renewed -- in a big way.

War Stories doesn't play like a good mix CD. It plays like a record. UNKLE mastermind James Lavelle, almost 10 years after his first commercial success and after numerous label and lineup changes, has really hit his stride. Despite the fact that the record still boasts an all-star cast (Josh Homme and Ian Astbury headlining, see production videos here and here), there is a steadfast captain steering the ship, and it shows.

The aforementioned "Burn My Shadow" featuring Ian Astbury is a highlight, as is the Josh Homme track "Restless," and "Mayday," which features The Duke Spirit. But the record holds up best when taken in all at once, and I encourage you to hear for yourself. It's streaming in full at MySpace.

Try it. I bet you'll like it.

Get "Burn My Shadow" ft. Ian Astbury at zSHARE.


The Hold Steady want your pretty face

the hold steady
From a MySpace bulletin just sent by The Hold Steady:
We're asking you to scan and send in BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOBOOTH photos of you and your friends to PHOTOBOOTH@VAGRANT.COM

We will use the photobooth pictures for the artwork on the forthcoming new single from The Hold Steady as well as in the marketing for the release.


We also need you to print this release form (it's a PDF) for EACH PERSON IN THE PHOTOS and SIGN THE RELEASE and scan in a lower-resolutiuon JPG.

- - -

The photobooth photos NEED to be Black and White.

Put the HIGH-RES PHOTO and SIGNED RELEASE FORM in a .zip file and email (you can use yousendit.com if you please) to: photobooth@vagrant.com

Here's a ridiculous list of photobooth locations.

I'll add that if you're in NYC, the last time I checked there's a B&W one at Niagara.


Matchbox Twenty are releasing a new record

matchbox twenty
The band that everybody loved for a little while but nobody will admit they ever even liked a little bit, Matchbox Twenty, plan to release a new record cleverly titled Exile On Mainstream. Really. They're calling it that.

The new single "How Far We've Come" is streaming at myspace.com/matchboxtwenty (and at matchboxtwenty.com too, but leave it to a major label to fuck even that up and stream a super low-quality version). Whether you love it or not, you and I both know this will probably be the best song playing in your dentist's waiting room the next time you visit.

**Boring update** It's not a new album, it's a greatest-hits thing with a few new tracks. It comes out Oct 2. Snooze.


Not About The Buildings benefit

The long-beleaguered Providence Public Library System is getting support from a bunch of local musicians who hope that their contributions to the appropriately named "The Library Album" might raise awareness and a bit of coin to keep the doors open at some endangered branches of the public library system in New England's 2nd largest city.

At the very least, it's a neat look at some of the more book-friendly musicians to be found in Providence, and who doesn't like a cross-sectional view of a city's music scene? If you dig, maybe you'll toss a buck or two their way. If not, no hard feelings.

[Providence Public Library]
[Not About The Buildings]


The Decemberists - Central Park's SummerStage, 7/16/07

If you go through your CD (ok, mp3) collection, how many of your favorite bands have you never had a chance to see live? I consider myself lucky in that the list of my top-tier artists that I've yet to catch is short and ever shrinking. Last night I finally crossed one off the list officially that had until now been asterisked. (5 song sets at the Apple Store, while certainly cool, don't quite count.)

The Decemberists got off to a surprisingly rocky start with two of their best in "July, July!" and "Billy Liar," but it wasn't long after that Colin Meloy & Co. launched into "The Perfect Crime 2" (far from my favorite song in recorded form) with an undeniable energy and awesomely loud electric guitar. The night was theirs from that point on.

In hindsight, it's probably a function of the acoustics (or lack thereof) of a large outdoor venue like SummerStage that caused some of the less electric songs to sound a little hollow. But on such a beautiful night in Central Park, with planes passing overhead and only the tallest city lights peeking over the trees, it was hard to care.

Of special note: the encore, which included "Red Right Ankle," "Oceanside," Colin forcibly putting the band and audience to sleep (or...making us all sit down) in an extended interlude during "The Chimbley Sweep," and a truly rad rendition of "The Mariner's Revenge Song" that was thankfully not cut off early as the band ran over what's supposedly a very strict curfew.

Awesome show.

(Picture from Jonny Leather's flickr.)

Prince - Planet Earth: Much ado about not so much.

prince - planet earthIf you don't live in the UK and you've been insulated from the hubbub about the release of Prince's Planet Earth as a throw-in "covermount" with the Daily Mail, well, then you might not know that The Artist... is releasing a new record. And you might not have needed to.

Whether or not you recieved it for free with your morning paper, you can now stream Planet Earth in full courtesy of MSN.

The verdict? Anyone who says they love it is kidding themselves or works for Prince. But the man can still shred like nobody else and can still croon with the best of them. It's worth at least one listen, just to catch the few spectacular moments sprinkled in over the less-than-subtle preachiness of the title track and the generally glaring mediocrity of the songwriting throughout. My favorite lines come from the seductive "Mr. Goodnight:"
If your heartbeat goes up a notch or two
There ain't no telling what I might do
But I got a mind full of good intentions
And a mouthful of Raisinets
Free was probably the right price.


Nobody Writes About: Saves the Day

I've been thinking a lot lately about the vast landscape of bands that remains largely uncharted by the music blahgosphere. I've been thinking that something should be done. And so I humbly introduce to you a new feature on wealsoran.com. "Nobody Writes About:" will cover bands that...nobody seems to write about. It will be updated only as regularly as I feel like updating it, and the entries will be sparsely researched and fueled almost entirely by arrogant conjecture. Hope you like.

saves the day
The evolution of a cultural phenomenon is a funny thing. Emo, like a snowball rolling down the side of a scowling, guyliner'd mountain, has ballooned into much more than a musical genre. It's an exclamation, it's the butt of jokes, it's an identity. The way things are going, by this time next year it may evolve into an election-year stump issue. But it started with the music.

If you've ever wondered how we got from the relative obscurity of Rites of Spring* to the ubiquity of Fall Out Boy and cautionary news segments, part of the answer is Princeton, NJ's Saves the Day. And the pinnacle of Saves the Day's output to date is unquestionably their 2001 release Stay What You Are, recorded not long after the band members had graduated high school.

As far as emo goes, Stay What You Are has it all. I'll-gloat-when-you-die songs, I-am-powerless-against-you songs, fast songs, slow songs, bloody metaphors, whiny vocals. Not to mention the fact that "At Your Funeral" might be the greatest opening track to ever appear on an pop-punk-emo record:

Taken out of historical context, Stay What You Are plays like a more enjoyable version of the same old same old. But the context here matters. In 2001, everyone wasn't doing this yet. Saves the Day paved the road down which countless emo copycats would carry the torch. And whether you think that's a blessing or a blight on the world of music, you gotta admit it's worth mentioning.

[myspace.com/savestheday] (Download "At Your Funeral" there.)

Note: The only constant member of Saves the Day throughout their career (which is now approaching a decade long) is singer Chris Conley. The picture at the top is the current lineup, not the lineup responsible for Stay What You Are.

* Probably not an official site


SoundExchange talks sense, world scratches head.

SoundExchange's John Simson appears to be softening up as Internet radio broadcasters nervously eye the gallows. Although the new rates are scheduled to go into effect this Sunday:
In an interview with RAIN last night, Simson explained, "For the people who want to comply with the law and are in bona fide negotiations with us, we don't want those people to be intimidated. And we don't want them to stop streaming." Simson qualified his statement by noting, "That's just so long as they're continuing to pay under the license they had."
So maybe your favorite station will still be on the air on Monday, but webcasters are nowhere near out of the woods yet.


Cobra Starship - Send My Love to the Dance Floor video

You may remember Cobra Starship as the band that did the song that got swept up in the hype about Snakes On A Plane. Well, I don't think it would be correct to say that Gabe Saporta (formerly of Midtown) wants you to take him and his band seriously, but he'll gladly have you know that they are in fact a real band with other real songs, and not just a one-and-done Hollywood soundtrack concoction*. The video above, for "Send My Love to the Dance Floor," is a video depiction of their myth of origin. Some of its events may be exaggerated.

Cameos are fun.

[Cobra Starship @ MySpace]

* Remember Class of '99?

DENIED: Another setback for the webcasters

Yesterday afternoon the Washington DC Circuit US Court of Appeals denied an emergency stay to delay the impending royalty hike for webcasters that will go into effect on July 15th. With only 3 days to go before the rate hike takes effect, barring some miracle it looks like Internet radio is going to have to keep fighting the rate hike while paying the new high rates.

And as you might guess, it's going to continue to be an uphill battle. From RAIN:
Apparently, the court's denial of the emergency stay is a very brief "form" order that just says that the parties didn't meet the high burden necessary to establish that a stay should be granted, which include a "likelihood of success on the merits." (In other words, you have to convince the court that you are going to win before you even file your brief or have an argument.)


Everything dies baby

springsteenRoger Friedman over at FOXNews.com (yeah, I know) writes that an impending new Springsteen release (very likely E Street Band, not side project Bruce) might bail some water out of the sinking ship that is Columbia Records.

I don't mention it often on this blog, but I was almost NAMED after Bruce Springsteen, and from an early age I've been indoctrinated into the Boss's church. I know every record by heart, and I cherish his contribution to rock and roll. That said, there's no way Columbia is ever going to see black ink again with Sprinsteen after the 100 million contract they gave him to continue to record for them. That kind of money simply doesn't happen in the record business anymore. The touring business? Sure, maybe. The record business? No way. Not anymore.

More on UMG vs. iTunes

It looks like Universal is seeking a month-to-month agreement with iTunes, notable stipulations of which being that iTunes would not be guaranteed access to all of Universal's catalog, and Universal would be free to offer iTunes' competitors exclusive content rights.

It's still possible that all of this is merely to annoy Apple into sharing iPod (and maybe iPhone?) revenues with UMG, as I hypothesized earlier. But this is looking more to me like Universal just doesn't see the writing on the wall: iTunes is going to rule until someone comes in and does it better. Do you think Steve Jobs cares too much if a few UMG artists are available exclusively on the Zune store? That would accomplish nothing other than to hamstring the digital sales of the artist in question.

You can bet (or, at any rate, I am betting) that when iTunes finally has someone to be afraid of, it'll be someone offering tracks without DRM. So, unless Universal does a 180° and makes their tracks available on eMusic or Amie Street, this is all just a bunch of huffing and puffing.

[AllAccess (membership required)]


Stereogum likes OK Computer...a lot.

Stereogum just announced the completion of the previously unannounced OK X: A Tribute to OK Computer. Basically, when Stereogum says "Jump," bands ask "how high?" And when Stereogum says "cover Radiohead to commemorate the 10th anniversary of OK Computer," bands say "OK! (heh.)"

The compilation is, of course, a free download and cool from start to finish. Go to Stereogum for the whole deal, but here are direct links to the covers of my two OK Computer favorites:

The Twilight Sad - Climbing Up The Walls
My Brightest Diamond - Lucky

Wonder if any record label folks are panicking that a blog managed to do such a good job putting something like this together, and is now giving it away for free, no strings attached. Wonder if this makes anyone rethink their business model.

New Smashing Pumpkins bassist Ginger Reyes

...as you've never seen her before. After departing from the Halo Friendlies, Ginger Reyes (a.k.a. Ginger Sling) embarked on a solo career before being snatched up by Billy Corgan as the latest in his line of bass players of the finer sex.

More information than you could ever possibly want available at the YouTube page for this video. Information like this:
Ginger Sling's own music is powerful, melodic and full of pop and rock sensibilities. Her main influences are the Beatles, Elvis Costello, Superdrag and Elliott Smith. Ginger Sling, named after a lyric in the Beatles' song "Savoy Truffle," is backed by a rocking band with herself on bass. Ginger loves to write songs but also loves to play live. She performs regularly around Southern California and has performed on the Vans Warped Tour. Keep an eye out for when she comes to your town. You won't want to miss it.

Ginger is sponsored by Fender USA, Dunlop Manufacturing, Hurley Clothing, Paul Frank and Vestal apparel.

Learn more about Ginger at gingersling.net.
So, I was originally planning on just posting video of the Pumpkins rather lackluster versions of "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" and "Today" from Live Earth (though to their credit they breathed some real life into "Tarantula") but then this seemed like more fun.


Uninspired marketing from XM at Yankee Stadium

xmFor as long as I've been subscribed to Bob Lefsetz's newsletter, he has lauded XM Satellite Radio's programming and decried pretty much everything else about their business -- especially their marketing. I've always just shrugged it off because I'm largely unaware of XM's marketing campaigns, which considering my age and interests, is probably exactly Bob's point. But I went to a Yankees game on July 3rd and saw something between innings that left me absolutely dumbfounded.

The promo goes as follows. XM wants to play a song by the popular rock and roll band U2. But what song? It's so hard to choose! Wait, let's get the Yankees to help us! Here's the deal, sluggers: You can choose from either "I Will Follow," "Where the Streets Have No Name," or "Beautiful Day." Got that?

A-Rod wants to hear "I Will Follow." Oh, but Jeter wants to hear "Where the Streets Have No Name!" Will those two ever agree on anything!?!? And now Johnny Damon wants to hear "Beautiful Day." Man, this one's going to be too close to call!

So they go through about 10 players each voting for the U2 song they want to hear the most. And the winner is "Beautiful Day" (REALLY!?! -Ed.). The audience, all surely as enraptured as I, is treated to about 60 seconds of muffled, loudspeaker-distorted mediocrity.

I probably don't need to waste the pixels telling you all the reasons this sucks as a promo, but I will anyway.
  1. It's utterly forgettable. They put members of the team up on the JumboTron between every inning to tell you to watch out for foul balls, or to teach you how to say "stadium" in Japanese.

    I once worked for a radio station that hired XM guru Lee Abrams as a consultant, and he stood up in front of all of us and told us this story about a marketing stunt he once did with a "Hit This Plane and WIN" flyover of the MLB All-Star game in San Francisco. Clearly Lee wasn't in the room when they cooked this turkey up.

  2. Everyone plays U2. Everyone from the tiniest basement webcaster (may he rest in peace) to the lamest terrestrial conglomerate. And they all play those same overplayed tracks! If you want to convince me to pay good money every month for the privilege of listening to your radio service, it's not going to be because you play the most overexposed tracks by perhaps the planet's most ubiquitous band. I can hear that anywhere for free.

    I can't stress enough how impossible it is as a radio station to brand yourself "The U2 Station," and how misguided attempts to do so are. Hell, why don't you promise to play me "Stairway to Heaven" every 3 hours, too?

  3. Everyone in that stadium shares a common interest, but it's not U2. You don't need to spend much time in The Bronx to know that it's a mixed crowd. Shit, you get the impression half the players in the promo aren't even familiar with the songs they're voting for. How else do you explain them choosing "Beautiful Day" over "Where the Streets Have No Name?"

    Sure, a lot of people like U2. But do you know what EVERYONE in that stadium likes? BASEBALL!!! And XM HAS BASEBALL! You can listen to every major league game on XM! That's something that XM has that nobody else has! Don't you think anyone in Yankee Stadium would be interested in knowing that? I can guarantee to you that not all of them do.
So shame on you, XM Marketing team. You have accomplished nothing other than to insult real music fans with banal crap, leave baseball fans ignorant of a service XM offers that they might be interested in, and waste a lot of money on an uninspired, positively FM promotion. Shame on you.

New Silverchair video: Straight Lines

Well, the video looks like something I'd expect from The Spice Girls or Cher, but I liked the song "Straight Lines" a while back when Tankboy posted it, and I think I like it more now. At the time he referred to Silverchair as "the poor man's Nirvana (even poorer than Bush, if you can believe that)" but I think a Coldplay/Keane comparison is more proper now. Our boys're all growns up. Do yourself a favor and don't give up on the track before the 3 minute mark.

The new Silverchair record Young Modern comes out July 24 in the US.

**Update** There's a much higher quality video available for streaming here, but it was crashing some browsers.


Denoument: Mike Doughty is forgiving

mike doughty
Because what good is a story without an ending?
Subject: Please be nice to Maïdi Roth.
Body: We've been communicating in Frenglish, and she's being very cool. We're gonna sort this out.

I am so happy that so many people have been jumping to my defense. Most awesome. I am lucky to be with you.

All's well that ends well, I say. Mike Doughty is a class act, and Ms. Roth, it would appear, is saving some face. Chances are that someone else ganked the music on her behalf and she never knew about it.

[Mike Doughty @ MySpace]


Is Avril Lavigne a thief?

This one's a little less obvious and blatant than the Mike Doughty case, and also a little further along in that lawyers are involved.

Play the video above and decide for yourself if Avril (or the people who write her songs for her) ripped off obscure 70's pop-rockers The Rubinoos*. Nicholas Carlin, the lawyer representing Rubinoos songwriter/founder Tommy Dunbar, certainly thinks she did.
"She's made a lot of money off of my client's song," Carlin said by phone from northern California, where the claim was filed.

"The entire song is not the same, they have different bridges, but the heart and soul of her song is directly taken from our client's song."
Terry McBride, Avril's manager and head honcho at Nettwerk (who seem, above all other management companies, to get it) is pissed:
Lavigne's manager, Terry McBride, scoffed at the charges, calling the suit "baseless" and little more than a "case of legal blackmail."

"Avril's a great songwriter and she's proving it over and over and over again," McBride said from Vancouver, where he runs Nettwerk Music Group.
But here's the thing: a song doesn't need to be an exact copy for a judge to decide there has been an infringement, and it's anything but an exact science. And even though McBride has gone so far as to hire musicologists (Where do I get that job? -Ed.) that have sided with him and called the Rubinoos claim baseless, he is considering settling out of court to save some cash.
He noted that a similar claim against his client Sarah McLachlan about 10 years ago cost roughly $500,000 to defeat in court. When Nettwerk tried to recoup the costs from the plaintiffs, they declared bankruptcy, he said.

Veteran entertainment lawyer Paul Sanderson said copyright suits are common in the music business and are often settled out of court.

"There used to be a saying in the industry: 'Where there's a hit, there's a writ,' " said Sanderson, a Toronto lawyer who used to represent Lavigne and whose current clients include Chantal Kreviazuk and Ron Sexsmith.

"It really is about the money. If someone thinks that they have a possibility of making some money out of the claim and there's money in the pipeline that's been earned by a song ... there's money there to argue about."

McBride said his current legal battle is "an unfortunate part of this business."

"We will try and settle for costs that will be less than defending," he said. "Emotionally, it sucks. But at the end of the day you have to take that out of it."
The bottom line for me is this: what are the chances Avril Lavigne, who you would have trouble convincing me has even a modicum of cultural awareness beyond her own years, has ever heard this obscure track? I can't really see her combing through the used vinyl racks at her local record store and being taken by the snappy name of the Rubinoos. If she had written "Girlfriend" all by herself, this would probably just be coincidence. But the suit also names her songwriting partner "Dr. Luke" (Are you serious? -Ed.), whose CV suggests a bit more awareness.

Here's how this thing's going to go down:
  • McBride settles out of court but maintains his client's integrity.
  • Avril claims complete ignorance of the Rubinoos existence (probably true).
  • Dr. Luke makes mental note that no matter how obscure a song from his childhood seems to be, if he makes a hit out of it for some pop-tart, someone is going to come a-knocking for an easy payday.
  • The Rubinoos, encouraged by more press over this case than the band ever got for their music, go on tour. Nobody cares.

* I'm always a little bit surprised when bands like The Rubinoos have MySpace pages. I know everyone has one at this point, but still. The Rubinoos have one. What a world.


UNKLE - Burn My Shadow video

I haven't been paying much attention to U.N.K.L.E. for a while. Pretty much since Psyence Fiction, actually. So long, in fact, that it appears they've dropped the periods right out of the name without me knowing -- It's just UNKLE now. But this video is completely awesome. Consider me interested again.
Burn My Shadow

Add to My Profile | More Videos

That's Goran Visnjic in the video, of ER fame. Ian Astbury of The Cult fame on vox. UNKLE's War Stories is out in the US July 24.


Mike Doughty gets his rock ganked

mike doughtyA MySpace bulletin from the unspeakably good Mike Doughty:
Subject: French lady ganks my rock!
Body: Listener Sigz, in France, hipped me to this. A French singer/songwriter named Maidi Roth has done, uh, I spose you could say a very faithful homage to "I Hear the Bells."

Check out this extremely ballsy song called "Aprés Toi".

Most of all, I have to say, I'm happy that somebody in France is listening.

Thanks Sigz!

In this day and age, you have to be out of your goddamn mind to lift a song that was on Grey's Anatomy of all shows (even my Mom knows this song) and not think anyone will notice. But Maidi Roth truly seems to have done exactly that.

Listen to "I Hear The Bells" at Mike Doughty's MySpace.

Then listen to "Aprés Toi" here.

Come on.

**UPDATE** So the song has now been disabled on Maidi Roth's MySpace page, but if you still haven't heard the ripoff, here's a YouTube video for it that will also probably be disabled soon:

Just saying

You really should go to Good Weather for Airstrikes and download the latest M3 mix. It is with a completely straight face that I tell you I pooped my pants a little bit about halfway through. Ok a lot.

Does iTunes need Universal?

I'd say the answer is no. And especially not if Universal CEO Doug Morris is after what I think he's after: a cut of iPod revenues.

Sure, it worked on Microsoft. M$ was willing to bend over backwards to procure major label participation in its Zune store, an essential accompaniment to the launch of what many in the blogging community affectionately refer to as the "shiny brown turd." Universal actually held a few cards in those negotiations.

But now they've gotten cocky, and it's going to blow up in their unthinkable faces. Steve Jobs is the first to admit that most iPods contain very low ratios of iTMS-bought music to music secured in other ways. And I don't think you'd have to buy him too many drinks before he happily confided in you that Apple makes almost nothing on the iTunes store, compared to their iPod revenue.

Please believe me when I tell you that Steve Jobs is not losing any sleep over the fact that The Bloodhound Gang's catalog may disappear from iTunes.

The bottom line: Apple has a place in the future of music distribution/acquisition. Universal owns a lot of IP and that'll sustain them indefinitely, but their place as real players in the future remains in question. This latest (mis)step does little other than highlight how much they still don't get it.

[New York Times]