Tuesday, February 23, 2010


UPDATE: Here's the cover art:
The Unified Scene knew it was coming ... The Hold Steady were dropping some new songs on the last tour, and today announced the release date for "Heaven is Whenever," due May 4. This is the first album since the debut without former keyboardist Franz Nicolay.

His parts were apparently re-recorded with a new keyboardist, but according to Pitchfork this album will be more guitar-oriented than the last two releases.


Here's a short Hold Steady playlist, to warm little stomachs and wet giant appetites.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Scavenging (UPDATED)

Internet music finds of the day:

1. Japandroids are going release a series of 7-inch singles this year to tide over fans. Hear the first one, streaming here:

2. Afro/UK bangers The Very Best are offering a remix of Yeasayer's standout single "Ambling Alp" here, with Esau Mwamwaya going "nuts over top":

3. She and Him perform "Thieves," from their upcoming follow-up to Vol. 1, live on BBC radio.

4. Online music 'zine Tiny Mix Tapes did the right thing and actually waited for 2009 to end before unveiling its best-of-the-decade list. It's releasing 20 entries of the list per day. Today they have finally gotten to 40 through 21. TMT typically veers more obscure than Pitchfork, which means as they get to the top of the list, I'm actually recognizing more and more of the albums. In at number 40 is the Avalanches "Since I Left You," one of my personal favorites (even though I didn't discover it until almost 10 years after it was released.)

5. Bonnaroo announced it's lineup this week and will now officially be known as "Bro-nnaroo."

6.  This video has been all over the interwebs today, and it's pretty great. Brooklyn by-way-of SF retro-pop outfit the Morning Benders got all their old Cali friends into the studio and recorded a Phill Spector Wall-of-sound version of their track "Excuses."

This clip has also introduced me to the site http://yourstru.ly/

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Record sales/ The Grammys

Two of the top ten selling albums last week are on independent labels. I don't have any stats, but I would assume that is a pretty rare occurrence. Spoon's "Transference" debuted at No. 4 this week, and Vampire Weekend's "Contra" dropped a few spots from its No. 1 debut last week (only the 13th indie ever to go No. 1 since the advent of Soundscan) to No. 6.

Is this another sign of the "mainstreaming of indie," or more representative of how far major label record sales have fallen in the past decade, allowing the little guys to catch up? I'm leaning towards the latter — major label record sales can't hold a candle what they were just 10 years ago.

The top selling album of '09, Taylor Swift's “Fearless,” has sold 2.4 million copies, less than half of what a hit album sold in 2000. That reflects the larger trend in record sales, which have declined 45 percent since 2000, according to the NY Times.

But, music fans of the indie persuasion are still buying music, because, this is gonna sound arrogant, they appreciate and value the craftsmanship and artistry more than the mainstream zombies downloading the majority of their tunes, and buying the god-forsaken Susan Boyle album in droves.

As I'm writing this, E! is spraying inane chatter all over the red carpet pre-Grammy Awards. (What are the Grammys?)

Should an album-buying, music-obsessing record nerd like myself be the prime target of a music awards show (glorified recording-industry commercial, back-patting contest)? If the teens and mainstream listening public are buying enough fewer albums that indie labels are creeping into the top ten with rising frequency, why pander to the fading purchasing power of the pop demographic? The awards are, of course, not awarded for the quality of the actual music but for the size of the celebrity receiving each award (the abominable yet ubiquitous Black Eyed Peas received several nominations). Then again, fans of Spoon and the indie/alternative canon (supposedly) don't really care about gold-painted statues with a history void of any credibility, and the awards show would fade into even further obscurity if it deviates from its current path of comedic irrelevancy.

Basically, the Grammys are fucked. The music it trumpets no longer sells like it used to, and the underground music that has always had the most artistic integrity is slowly eating up more of the sales pie and would shun the awards if it halfheartedly and (now) belatedly tried to embrace it.

Note: The upcoming cover story for Paste Magazine is an essay entitled "Indie is Dead." I haven't read it yet, and don't know what the argument is going to be, but my interest is piqued.


My Netflix que has ballooned to over 468 titles over the past 2.5 years.

There are more than several embarrassing cultural blind-spots buried under piles of unessential picks and impulse clicks that need help rising to the top for immediate viewing.

I'm only copy/pasting the first 100, because when I tried to copy/paste the full que, Firefox froze under the weight of all the text formatting.

Tell me what movies need to go to the top immediately. This is a Def-con 4 situation.

(Note: I fully understand that Transformers 2 and G.I.Joe are not exactly Truffaut, but I feel I'd be remiss not to keep up with what people are filling theaters to see)

The Hurt Locker
Crank 2: High Voltage
The Invention of Lying
The Baader Meinhof Complex
A Serious Man
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
The Limits of Control
Sunset Boulevard
The Last House on the Left (2009)
The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
Next Day Air
Death Race
State of Play
(500) Days of Summer
The Brothers Grimm
The Onion Movie
Day for Night
Before Sunset
This Film Is Not Yet Rated
Match Point
Stranger than Fiction
Man on Wire
Take the Money and Run
Band of Outsiders
The Ice Storm
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Jesus Camp
Day of the Dead
Malcolm X
City of Men
Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs
The Assassination of Jesse James
The Big Sleep
24 Hour Party People
The Passenger
The Dead Zone
The New World
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Hotel Rwanda
Half Nelson
Shattered Glass
Rocky Balboa
Ocean's Thirteen
No End in Sight
Naked Lunch
Death of a President
The Third Man
Barry Lyndon
Through a Glass Darkly
The Virgin Spring
Finding Neverland
The Conversation
The Elephant Man
Le Samourai
Le Cercle Rouge
To Catch a Thief
The King of Comedy
The Last Temptation of Christ
Inland Empire
Who Killed the Electric Car?
Freaks & Geeks: Disc 1-6
Last Tango in Paris
The Amazing Screw-On Head