"Is there anybody alive out there?"
Springsteen asked this question in concert long ago, immortalized on the first disc of the Live/1975-85 set. 30-some-odd years later, he's still wondering.
Go here. Scroll down. Not sure how much longer this promotion lasts, but while it does, it's a 128kbit .mp3 with no DRM. However, (because nobody can ever get anything 100% right) you're going to have to add the metadata yourself if you want to scrobble the shit.
**Update: Apparently it's also available for free on iTunes, although I don't know why you'd prefer that format to .mp3.
I saw the post on Stereogum, listened to the song (shitty quality rip, but it rocks), and went to lunch, with the intention to write a post of my own when I got back. Turns out in the 30 mins or so I was gone, the big bad wolf knocked on the 'gum's door. If you're resourceful, you can still find a way to listen to Magic's opening track "Radio Nowhere" (for now), but I'm not going to bother linking you to it directly. This house is only made of straw.
I really like it. The lyrics are nothing to write home about, but it rocks harder and sweeter than anything off The Rising, the highlights of which were all the slow, contemplative tracks. I had been afraid The E Street Band had grown too old to properly rock. "Radio Nowhere" proves my fears unwarranted.
Tracklist for Magic here.
But what really piqued my interest in the band was their story. So when I found this website for frontman Adam King's recent campaign municipal office, I got in touch. Over the last month or so, we've been conducting an interview via Google Docs. It's not a month-long interview, but he's a busy guy (you'll see), so it took that long.
In Adam's own words, the band's history:
Amie Street: Earlier this year you released False Heroics' first full length: The Salvation Navy. For the uninitiated, can you give us a brief history of the band from inception to first LP?There's more on the band and the music in the full interview at Amie Street. Not to mention a brief account of a childhood in Bangladesh (Adam's parents were missionaries) and some insight into Adam's political motivations.
Adam King (False Heroics): I was in Grade 13 at a high school in Brantford, and really hadn't been back in Canada very long when Jon (drummer) and I started jamming. I think Jared (bass) and Mike (guitar) heard us perform at a coffeehouse, and afterwards ended up quitting the band they were in to join Jon and I. It was quite the scandal. The lead singer from their old band had a bit of a grudge against me for it, I think. Maybe still does. I hope not though...
Anyway, we were called Pure Nard, of all things, when we started. (Now the name of the little record label I run.) We played a bunch of all ages shows in gyms, church basements and such before finally changing our name to the False Heroics and putting out the Stars Gone Black EP in 2003. We did a couple tours--one around Ontario, another out through Quebec and the Canadian East Coast and it felt like we were starting to pick up some momentum; getting CD orders coming in from all over and playing a lot of shows.
But then, just as we were getting ready to record the album that would become The Salvation Navy, Mike was diagnosed with germ cell cancer. It was pretty advanced--all through his body. So, False Heroics went into hiatus while he was going through chemotherapy, and we just kept slowly working at the album as we had the chance. Mind you, tons was going on. We were doing post-secondary degrees, Jared got married; I ran for Canadian parliament and got married, then ran for city council in Brantford as well; Jon became a professional photographer while we weren't looking. It's hard to keep track of everything. Eventually, Mike's cancer went into remission, and we started back at the band, finished off the record and started playing shows again. That basically brings us up to the present.
For all the press that they seem to be getting in the UK (according to their MySpace page, anyway), WinterKids don't get much attention in The States. I keep expecting it to change, but for the most part, I'm still not finding a lot of buzz about them. Just over 100 posts on elbo.ws? NOTHING on MOG? I'm flabbergasted.
Get with it people. This band is good. Blog about them.
The same exact charts that are already available on Last.fm for free. Really.
The first charts will appear in trade magazine Music Week, which relaunches this week.I don't doubt the usefulness of the charts, especially for the radio programmer / music supervisor types that might very well subscribe to Music Week. And I'd probably be sickened to learn just how many of them aren't already aware of Last.fm. But this just leaves me a little bit uneasy.
Charts will appear both in print and on the Music Week website, and Last.fm plans to publish similar charts in the US.
A spokesman for Last.fm said the "hype chart", which is currently picking up artists such as Kate Nash and Biffy Clyro, is "the most important chart for the industry because it provides a taste of what we'll be listening to a few weeks ahead".
The same Last.fm data picked up the popularity of Gnarls Barkley's Crazy before it hit the mainstream charts last year.
Obviously it's a no-brainer for Last.fm if someone is offering them money to reprint their property, which I sincerely hope is how this deal came about. If this was Last.fm's idea, then the old-school new owners might already be steering a wonderful ship in the wrong DUHrection.
Here's an excerpt from an interview I did with Drew & the Medicinal Pen that's posted in full over at Amie Street. You can buy his record there for cheap.
Read the rest at Amie Street.
Amie Street: You're a jack of many trades. How do you spend your time when you're not playing guitar?
Drew: I like keeping busy with other crafty stuff, working on tape machines, silkscreening, drawing, writing, keeping up with my dream-logues, painting on walls, eating cereal and making booby traps... etc. When I'm not playing I'm working for Rooftop Films, and talking my way into other odd jobs.
AS: What's with the dead TV's?
D: I guess the Dead TV has officially become my unofficial logo over the years. I started doing graffiti when I was a kid, and it's just something that I kept drawing. I suppose the reason it's stuck is that it's got that DIY, anti-consumerism, get-up-and-do-something mentality behind it that seems to tie in to my music.
AS: I've started noticing a bunch of them around town. How many do you think you've done in total?
D: I guess it would be high in the hundreds? I don't know. I just go nuts sometimes and feel like running around the city climbing on things and painting them.
AS: Tell me about the xylophone from Sam Ash.
D: Right the xylophone... I was on a pretty tight budget recording dream, dream, fail, repeat, and there was a song that absolutely had to have xylophone, and my Muppet Babies xylophone was pretty cool but not really doing the trick. So I went to Sam Ash and bought this beautiful one with a nice hard-shell rolling case and everything for something crazy like $400. I laid down the track in the studio that night and returned it the next day. I think I told the guy it sounded too "metal-y."
The tracklisting (according to Wikipedia):
- "Radio Nowhere"
- "You'll Be Comin' Down"
- "Livin' in the Future"
- "Your Own Worst Enemy"
- "Gypsy Biker"
- "Girls in Their Summer Clothes"
- "I'll Work for Your Love"
- "Last to Die"
- "Long Walk Home"
- "Devil's Arcade"
So this is what this guy was talking about. I still stand by my doubts that such a release will do anything to save Columbia records, but I'm absolutely pumped anyway.
Colin Greenwood and Nigel Godrich took a page from Pink Floyd's book (and so many others) when they went on a field trip in March to the Matrix Music School to record something with a 30 or so kids that will presumably end up on the next Radiohead album. A bunch more pictures at the school's website.
I first heard this song over 3 years ago in concert. This was back when I still lived in Providence and Monty Are I were still hustling for a record deal. Over three YEARS after penning the tune, the boys from Cranston have released a video. But this is what a record label's promotional budget is capable of: great looking performance footage, a stylist, and of course the requisite hot chick. Worth the wait? You bet.
You can view the video in a larger frame here.
There was once a band named Curbside Service. They put out a record called I Packed My Bags a Year in Advance with a few great songs on it (notably the title track) which I stumbled upon one day whilst poking about the Internet. One day they emailed their mailing list announcing a name change and a move from Alabama to California. I've had my eye on The Snake The Cross The Crown ever since.
The band's first EP, Like a Moth Before a Flame, got them signed to Equal Vision Records with a decidedly emo sound. It was the logical progression from the band's Curbside Service days, and if you're into that kind of thing (as I definitely was and still sometimes am) you'd probably like it. TSTCTC's first full-length was called Mander Salis, and it just felt uneven; it showcased a band with serious chops but an even more serious identity crisis. Did they want to be folk rock, emo, psychedelic? All of the above?
I wasn't surprised when the band announced a hiatus after a shortened tour supporting Mander Salis. The record telegraphed individual differences between the members. I expected it to turn into a permanent breakup, and I prematurely mourned the loss of a potentially great band.
I was wrong. The Snake The Cross The Crown are back (sorta) with the decidedly folky Cotton Teeth, and they've been slowly putting themselves back out there (minus bass player Carl Marshall, probably the emo guy) in recent months. Back in March I went to see a performance at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn that had been billed as a performance by the full band, but which ended up being a short set by singer Kevin Jones, who occasionally summoned keyboardist William Sammons and drummer Mark Fate to the stage to help him with songs (pictured above). William's brother Franklin was nowhere to be seen. It was at the same time extremely cool (it kinda felt like a booze-fueled singalong in a college dorm room) and disappointing.
**Update: One of the other 15 or so people at that show took a bit of grainy video. The sound quality is pretty ok. Check it out:
Truthfully, I'm ambivalent about the band's most recent work. Some of their stuff is Great with a capital G, and some of it is...ok. It's the name thing, really. How many folky sounding names can you squeeze into a song? You'd still sound folky without all the names, guys. Not every song needs to mention a Jack or a Jim or a Sue or a Margaret.
Regardless, the band recently did a session for the legendary Daytrotter that's worth checking out. One note: although the Daytrotter site says all the songs are from Cotton Teeth, "A Brief Intermission" is in fact found on Mander Salis.
Anyone out there know if Ticketmaster has reduced their fees at all? Or am I just crazy?
We don't need no thought control.
AT&T leave my tubes alone.
Eddie Vedder released a statement about this:
Most telecommunications companies oppose "net neutrality" and argue that the public can trust them not to censor..
Even the ex-head of AT&T, CEO Edward Whitacre, whose company sponsored our troubled webcast, stated just last March that fears his company and other big network providers would block traffic on their networks are overblown..
"Any provider that blocks access to content is inviting customers to find another provider." (Marguerite Reardon, Staff Writer, CNET News.com Published: March 21, 2006, 2:23 PM PST).
But what if there is only one provider from which to choose?
If a company that is controlling a webcast is cutting out bits of our performance -not based on laws, but on their own preferences and interpretations - fans have little choice but to watch the censored version.
What happened to us this weekend was a wake up call, and it's about something much bigger than the censorship of a rock band.
[Save The Internet]
But when free tickets for a show on a beautiful summer night at Jones Beach become available, I can't say no. And when this happened near the end of the show, I was really glad that I was there to witness it.
Sure wish the video caught the whole song. I guess if I ever find one that does, I'll update the post.
Nonetheless, in October Coheed and Cambria plan to release the awesomely named Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World For Tomorrow, bringing their epic to a close. "The Running Free," which looks to be the first single, is streaming now at MySpace.
What's next? A movie? A completely different storyline? Prequels? A haircut? We'll just have to wait and see.
[Coheed & Cambria @ MySpace]
I'm not going to lie to you. I'm posting this because it features Bruce Springsteen, and not because I'm a huge Jesse Malin fan. I've spent more time in the photo booth at the bar he owns than I have listening to his music. This song is pretty ok though.
[As seen on Stereogum]
As it's been explained to me, this has nothing to do with Amazon's own eventual entry into the digital music retail space. The belief is that there will be more than one winner in the digital music future, Amie Street and Amazon hit different demographics, and Amie Street's unique model positions them well for success.
There are some social networking aspects to the service (befriend other users, etc.) but at its heart Amie Street really hinges on two concepts:
- The users of the site determine the price of a song by purchasing it. Each song begins at $.00 and inches up towards $.98 as more people purchase and "REC" it. Artists get 70% of the revenue after Amie Street recoups $5/song.
- After a user has RECed a song, they can cash out their REC at any time for a credit equal to the difference between the current price and the price they RECed it at. So if I like a song and REC it at $.08 and it goes up to $.50, I can earn myself $.42 of credit to buy more music. Users get a limited number of RECs when they purchase credit.
AND THERE IS NO DRM.
I've thought it's a cool idea since I started using the site last year, but nobody really cares what I think. Amazon's endorsement, however, that's a pretty big deal. Things are looking up for the fledgling service.
Disclosure: I've recently been doing a bit of work for Amie Street...mostly writing reviews.
Canadian group Stars sparked a conflagration of blog entries when they put their new record In Our Bedroom After the War up for sale online 4 days after its completion, despite a September 25 release date for the physical disc. It was an if-you-can't-beat-'em... sort of move, but for my money it was the right one. I bought it on eMusic and I think it's quite good. "Personal" gives me chills.
Anyway, they just posted this EPK, giving me an excuse to weigh in on a story that I was too busy to write about the first time around. The video doesn't look too hot, but is an interesting watch for superfans that crave a little access to the people behind the music. Especially dig the explanation of the album title choice at the end.
[In Our Bedroom After the War on eMusic, iTunes]
Many moons ago, when I was first figuring out what PulverRadio was going to sound like, I spent hours and hours in contact with great indie bands, finding places for them in playlists, trying to help them out any way I could. One of my favorites from that time was a Swedish band called The Confusions.
Lately I've been back in touch with Mikael Andersson-Knut, singer, songwriter, and guitarist for The Confusions. I asked him if he'd do an interview with me over email, and after a few letters back and forth, I think we've put together a decent introduction to the band, who have enjoyed a number of European successes over the years.
The interview follows after this video for "The Pilot."
Mike McClenathan: Easy stuff out of the way first: who's in the band, what do they play, and how long have The Confusions been making music together?
Mikael Andersson-Knut: Mikael Andersson-Knut, songwriter, singer and guitarist
Zarah Edström, keyboards and vocals
Mattias Löfström, drums and percussion
Henrik Svensson, guitars
Magnus Thorsell, bass
The Confusions started up in the early 90's and we released our first record (a split single) back in 1993. Our first ep "Forever" 1994 and our first album "Being Young" 1995. But the line-up of the band was a bit different back then, the new guys :-) in the band are Henrik who joined the band in 1998 (after being our guitar tech.) and Magnus who joined us during the summer 1999.
MM: And where are you from?
MAK: We're all from Sundsvall, Sweden. A town at the east coast, exactly in the middle of the country, about 400 km north of Stockholm.
MM: I spent a week in Stockholm a few years ago and couldn't find anything I liked on the radio. Every station seemed to be an amalgamation of American pop songs I was already sick of and Swedish pop songs that I didn't think were very good. The Confusions are one of many examples of great music being produced in Sweden. Can you comment on the state of music radio and television in Sweden, and on the ways Swedish artists that don't fit that mold are getting their music out there?
MAK: Most of the commercial radio stations have only made the situation worse when it regards playing "good" music on the air. What happened during the last couple of years is that you get this feeling that the public service stations are trying to beat the commercial stations playing the same crap music... which is horrible! The public service stations should be all about special programs and people trying to find out about new and interesting stuff. There are some shows that are good on P3 (public service) and on their Internet channels...but we need more.
There's so much great stuff around here in Sweden, we should be allowed to hear it!
MM: Can you name some other great Swedish artists being ignored by radio?
MAK: There's a lot of them, hard for me to pick out a special one. But I can tell you that there is some weird thing about discovering the "new" band and dropping the old ones. I get a feeling that is different in the US. Maybe because of your live situation is better, you can go on playing live gigs and creating more fans that way in the US.
I think a great older band like The Wannadies [link] are considered in Sweden as "has been" which is awful because they´re just a great band.
A young band like Eskju Divine [link] released their second album in the fall 2006 and got totally ignored in Sweden (it seemed to me anyway)... but they've got things going in Japan etc.
MM: Despite the difficulty of getting traditional airplay, you've had some success with MTV Europe. Is it easier to get on TV than radio?
MAK: We've been lucky with this in a way, being close friends with great young video directors that like to work with us.
We've done great videos with small budgets, it's often all about ideas and locations. So yes, in a way it's been easier for us to get on TV with videos than on the larger radio stations.
MM: Clearly you're promoting yourselves heavily on the Internet, or we wouldn't be having this conversation. What sites/communities have you found to be receptive to what The Confusions are all about?
MAK: Myspace, YouTube, PulverRadio [RIP -ed.], IndieMusic.com some smaller sites...there are a lot of great sites for sure, that's the thing now, the net.
MM: What does the future hold for The Confusions? Are there new releases in the near future? Can we have a sneak preview?
MAK: We released a new acoustic album in May (you'll find it on iTunes [link]) called "It Sure Looks Like The Confusions But It Sounds More Acoustic" in a limited edition of a 1000 copies. This record is only sold at shows and at Internet shops.
But at the same time we're working on a new studio album which will be released in the fall, maybe in October. We have been recording in our own studio Yellow and have been mixing 9 tracks so far in different studios. We're really excited about this new record because we're producing it ourselves... which means freedom and you´ll find different sides of the band on these songs.
A sneak preview could be the video clip Henrik put up on You Tube a few days ago, where we´re mixing a new song called "There Ain´t No Easy Way Out Of Here", check it out. [Video is below -ed.]
You can also download some acoustic (and other songs as well) songs for free at
Bonus mp3: The Confusions - Artificial