Links: Rod Stewart took cocaine up his arse to protect his nose.

August 10th, 2015 by David Gerard

More on the blockchain-music hype: what PeerTracks thinks it’s doing.

August 7th, 2015 by David Gerard

After the amazingly terrible Berklee white paper on how to make all musicians rich using magic beans, today we have a breathless piece of content marketing in Billboard hyping the notion.

The Billboard article is devoid of useful detail and keeps to promising the moon on a stick fueled by very complicated computer wizard magick. A company called PeerTracks claims it will have some sort of actual launch based around these ideas within two months. tl;dr no.

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Classical links: In which classical is hampered by iTunes.

July 29th, 2015 by David Gerard

Film links. KUNG FURY!

July 28th, 2015 by David Gerard

The silver age of music: the Midas plague. How do you keep up?

July 26th, 2015 by David Gerard

Found on 4chan /mu/ (which is readable by humans, unlike its famous arsehole of the internet sibling board):

Will I buy something? Pretty much not. If I see what I really want, I’ll buy the CD, or if I feel guilty, but physical records or even the CD things are just a nuisance. More and more things and piles of things, and guilt versus things, not having the things wins.

I have fuckoff piles of vinyl and cassettes. I keep saying to myself that I’ll rip them to the computer. I know I never will.

I download like a motherfucker. SEVENTY THREE GIGS I’ve not listened to yet. Some is 4-5 years old. I play it like it’s my job. I finally play something and it’s played once and never again in my life.

So, how big is your queue?

Even MP3s are weighing the kids down these days. New first world problems!

People do this because music works like a drug. But one that doesn’t work consistently, and one dose might explode your head while the next is like smoking a dog turd. Random reinforcement produces a far stronger trained response — addiction — than consistent reinforcement.

Even if you go for depth rather than breadth, there is only so much stuff to learn about any band, in any given subculture, in any given genre, in any given medium — after a while, more albums really aren’t worth spending time on. Consider the difference between when there were three punk rock albums and when there were a hundred. Consider how many bands said everything they had to say on the first album.

Indeed, we resort to depth because breadth is impossible. There has always been far too much for anyone to keep up with. Even if you’re a viciously self-flagellating hipster, who considers it important to let yourself like only what you should.

We learn our aesthetic vocabulary in a couple of years as adolescents and then it’s stuck. You can pick up new languages, but it’s hard. And you’ll probably learn them relative to the first one.

(It was somewhat liberating when I realised how much quite a lot of what I liked as a teenager sucked. Whole areas I didn’t feel obliged to finish exploring!)

So, there’s ridiculously too much music. There has been since all living memory, but here in the future it’s impossible to deny.

I’ve tended to throwing up my hands and treating music as an exercise in tunnelling through plenty rather than seeking rare joys. Whatever YouTube and blogs throw my way. Mostly listening once only. Occasionally I play something less than twenty years old, or that at least sounds less than twenty years old.

It helps that I can remember the day I consciously gave up keeping up with indie rock: a middling review CD (that I’ll do the kindness of not naming) that I’d actually been looking forward to arriving in the post in 1992 and realising how much I’d run out of caring. Liberation. Many angsty young rock critic burnouts, but that was the last one.

So what do you do? What’s your path through the tunnels of the music mines?

(By the way, trusting music lockers remains a bit silly.)

Blacklisters: Adult (2015).

July 25th, 2015 by David Gerard

Blacklisters: Adult sleeveEarly 1990s grunge, reproduced with 100% authenticity. Really, I felt like I was a 26-year-old student/bum again, smoking Lucky Strikes on a front porch in Perth, wondering if I too would ever find some way to hit it big with Generation X.

The press release comparison is Jesus Lizard. Makes me think of the bands that were up to Touch & Go quality but released themselves anyway. The bass is particularly pleasing. The songs are not bad and don’t go longer than they have to (except maybe the closer, “Downbeat”); if I got out the old vinyl I could probably list which particular twenty-year-old song each is closest to. I suppose MP3 rather than FLAC is a reasonable substitute for thick American vinyl in the circumstances.

It’s 2015, not 1993. This is a historical re-enactment society that I hope realises it is one (probably, given they’re on a UK label called “Smalltown America”); given that, it’s not doing too badly. If you’ve spent a couple of decades wondering how things would have gone if the music pulled along in Nirvana’s wake had kept going (without returning as emo brats, which is what actually happened), you’ll like this.

The album’s released properly in September. Here’s the first single, “Shirts”.

Industrial estate.

July 24th, 2015 by David Gerard

I am doing the musical thing at last, despite literally being unable to sing or play (‘cos that observably never stopped anyone else). Two tracks up on SoundCloud, Top of the Pops here we come! Of course, I have the wisdom of others to guide me.

  • You think rock’n’roll is staid? Measuring the evolution of contemporary industrial music — there is none. Three years old, but the condition it describes hasn’t changed a dot. I’m into this stuff and I can assure you it hasn’t moved an inch in fifteen years — and this is with the usual two-to-three-year cycle of kids joining and leaving the scene in that time. Probably the last thing that happened in industrial was when the Human League released their best three albums to date in 2000: Empires, United States of Mind and Welcome to Earth. There is nothing you can’t do with an Access Virus … that hasn’t already been done.

  • For the lay of the land, try the huge free download compilations Face The Beat 2 and Matrix Downloaded 004. Enough tracks you should feel free to hit fast-forward as soon as you’re bored. There’s also the previous editions of each.
  • LMMS remains my noisemaker of choice. The Woolworths guitar of industrial: simple, easy, limited, free, very punk rock. Avoid industrial clichés by having none of the usual sounds at your disposal! Though I’ve been having fun with the ZynAddSubFx presets.

Putting the record industry on Bitcoin: Why this won’t work.

July 23rd, 2015 by David Gerard

Musicians get paid last, and have been forever. Also, musicians are good at music but actually worse than any normal human at business. With radio largely replaced by streaming, this hasn’t changed. So Bloomberg has put up a breathless piece of hype based on a report from the most speculative unit of the Berklee College of Music, suggesting that doing it all on THE BITCOIN BLOCKCHAIN will shower money on all.

Here’s the download link for the original report. Plus point: it is indeed from Berklee. Minus points: it’s made of squirrels and crack.

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The James L. “Rusty” Hevelin Collection of fanzines (the SF sort).

July 2nd, 2015 by David Gerard

Of course, the first zines were science fiction zines, and they sprung up in the 1930s just about as soon as mimeographs were physically possible. The Hevelin Collection and Hevelin Fanzine Digitization Project are getting this stuff scanned and available.

I have the old Party Fears up and Brad Lambert is scanning the old Vortex … I deposited my old indie rock fanzine collection with the WA State Library when I moved to the UK; if I hadn’t, I’d be doing the lot … anyone who has the old B-Side, etc. from the 1980s and access to the standard office photocopier/scanner, please contact me.

Matrix HiFi: Blind-testing high-end audio equipment.

May 11th, 2015 by David Gerard

As usual, a well-set up blind A/B test of supposedly stupendous audio equipment. And as usual, the actual answer is “fix the room first.”

The interesting thing is the excuses for why science, logic and joined-up thinking don’t work when someone is making a factual claim like “superior audio reproduction.” In this case, subjects claimed the A/B/X switch being present affected the sound, even though the test also showed this couldn’t possibly be true. The testers indulged the subjects by swapping entire cables by hand rather than using A/B/X, but frankly when they reach that stage of homeopathic balderdash, “bugger off” is the right answer.

Apple wants free streaming and videos on YouTube shut down.

May 4th, 2015 by David Gerard

Of course the new distribution channels are going to act like the old distribution channels. Apple wants to relaunch Beats as a new and exciting service that involves paying them money, so they’re pressuring labels to kill Spotify and Pandora’s free tiers, and pressuring Universal to pull all videos from YouTube. The US Department of Justice and the EU Competition Commission is looking severely askance at these moves. Of course, if Apple succeeds, I’m sure their name won’t become mud or something.

Help the suffering stars of Tidal.

April 28th, 2015 by David Gerard

With the app sinking without trace for no better reason than that it’s terrible and there’s no conceivable reason to bother with it, Unnamed Insider puts out a heartfelt plea to you, the concerned music lover.

(VLGroup analyses their deal, which is streaming FLAC at a premium … despite A/B testing on good AAC on earbuds coming out much as you’d expect. Wonder if Tidal will pivot to pure 24/96 snake oil, and if there’s a market for 24/96 Nicki Minaj.)

Based on the trailer, it is blindingly obvious that everyone must watch the hell out of Kung Fury.

April 25th, 2015 by David Gerard

A kung fu cop film from the television ’80s. Here is the trailer. And here is the Wikipedia article. And here is the theme song, by David Hasselhoff. The movie is released 28th May. YOU MUST WATCH THE SHIT OUT OF THIS.

The Cramps’ long-lost video for “Human Fly” found.

April 24th, 2015 by David Gerard

An item alluded to in epic-nerd-level Cramps coverage, but so rare nobody was even known to have a full copy. Here in the astounding world of the future, we have YouTube. Story and video at Dangerous Minds.

Donald Fagen: Sunken Condos (2012).

April 23rd, 2015 by David Gerard

Donald Fagen: Sunken CondosThis is light jazz funk rock with brilliant musicianship, and Fagen’s voice is still lovely after all these years. I could not remember a single tune while the songs were actually playing, let alone when they finished. If any of these songs had been any good at all, this would have been the best record ever. The same applies to his 1993 and 2006 albums, in case you were wondering. Play The Nightfly again. Or just “New Frontier”.

Metroland: Triadic Ballet (2015).

April 20th, 2015 by David Gerard

Metroland Triadic Ballet sleeveMetroland is a Belgian electronic duo. Their publicity says “Kraftwerk” a whole lot, though my first thought was “the Kraftwerky end of Severed Heads”. This is their new album, Triadic Ballet. I can keep this short ‘cos you can go to that Bandcamp link and listen for yourself. Also check the single from the album, “Zeppelin” (regular edition, spacious edition), which is just amazingly nice and will stick in your head.

Musician links.

April 19th, 2015 by David Gerard

Industry links.

April 18th, 2015 by David Gerard

Petition to reform TISM to represent Australia at Eurovision.

February 11th, 2015 by David Gerard

So Australia won the wildcard for Eurovision 2015.

And there’s a petition for TISM to reform and play it. Go sign now. Because you might be a cunt, but you’re not a fucking cunt.

(No, Severed Heads are unlikely. Let alone New Waver.)

Update from Humphrey B. Flaubert: “If a multi-national with a horrendous human rights record gives me a large cheque, all bets are on.” Also, check his new album out. And here he explains the entire point of TISM.


January 23rd, 2015 by David Gerard
  • Google puts the hard word on artists using YouTube. Sign up for five years or you’re off YouTube.

  • What the “vinyl comeback” actually looks like.
  • The Museum of Techno reconstructs basslines. “bass was rare in man’s sonic environment before the 2nd half of the 20th century …” The whole site is worth a giggle.

Why every mainstream record sounds the same, step by step.

January 12th, 2015 by David Gerard

Tom Whitwell has just reposted his 2008 Word article on the recording process for mainstream radio-targeted music: how to record music literally targeted at people who don’t actually like music. It is every bit as processed as you can imagine, and possibly more so. I recently listened to all of the top 100 US chart hits for 2014, and by crikey you can hear this process.

You will also enjoy these videos setting out country hits of 2013 and 2014 and how they are literally the same song. Yep, there’s still no reason to pay attention to mainstream popular culture.

Steve Albini: How The Internet Solved The Problem with Music.

January 11th, 2015 by David Gerard

Steve Albini’s 1993 classic “The Problem with Music”, written at the height of the grunge era, when post-hardcore punk bands were getting gobbled up by majors, summarised precisely how bad a deal things were at the time. “Some of your friends are already this fucked.”

In November 2014, Albini gave the keynote speech at the 2014 Face the Music conference in Melbourne, updating how things have changed in the past twenty years.

tl;dr everything is incomparably better for bands and audiences in 2014 than in 1994, entirely because of the Internet. If you think you have it hard now, it’s because you don’t know how badly it sucked then.

That’s quite a claim, of course, and musicians reading this may be sceptical. But Albini sets it out in considerable detail. This piece is every bit as important as the first piece and should be heeded as closely.

So there is a tacit assumption that this money, lost money, needs to be replaced and a lot of energy has been spent arguing from where that money will come. Bitchiness about this abounds, with everybody insisting that somebody else should be paying him, but that he shouldn’t have to pay for anybody else. I would like to see an end to this dissatisfaction. It’s worthwhile to remember from where we’ve come.

You may have noticed that in my description of the mass market music scene and the industry as it was pre-internet I made little mention of the audience or the bands. Those two ends of the spectrum were hardly considered by the rest of the business.

If we’ve learned anything over the past 30 years it’s that left to its own devices bands and their audiences can get along fine: the bands can figure out how to get their music out in front of an audience and the audience will figure out how to reward them. The internet has facilitated the most direct and efficient, compact relationship ever between band and audience. And I do not mourn the loss of the offices of inefficiencies that died in the process.

Statistically, very few musicians make a living at it — or ever have. Successful musicians of the pre-Internet era were 1% of 1%. I was most surprised that Albini not only thinks it’s possible, he’s optimistic.

Work for Oprah’s $999-ticket tour for free. “No budget” for perfomers – but “exposure”!

January 4th, 2015 by David Gerard

Pity the poor cash-strapped billionaires! Oprah Winfrey’s Live The Life You Want tour, with tickets priced from $99 to $999, has “no budget” to pay performers. The theme of the tour is “realizing self-worth”. Obviously the performer needed to project her wishes into the universe more strongly, and not be so spiritually lazy as to require tawdry currency.

How comprehensively fucked Hollywood is, in detail.

January 3rd, 2015 by David Gerard

The Sony hack revealed that even the execs are sick of the latest Adam Sandler vehicle. Mark Harris at Grantland sets out the next five cookie-cutter years in detailed historical perspective. Terry Gilliam gives the view from the gutted midlist. It’s no wonder takings continue to drop.

Oh, and Sony tried to use the DMCA to suppress leaked emails concerning financial malfeasance. I’m sure that’ll work out just fine.

A new year of links!

January 1st, 2015 by David Gerard
  • There’s a new Rowland S. Howard career collection, Six Strings That Drew Blood. Here’s an excellent review and history from the Quietus.

  • I didn’t realise until a few months ago that Karl Bartos, ex-Kraftwerk, had remixed “Planet Rock.” Full circle indeed.
  • And speaking of early ’80s New York black music, why don’t you search YouTube for New York KISS FM mix tapes. People’s old off-air cassettes of Shep Pettibone’s mixes as a radio DJ.

Danny Says: a documentary about Danny Fields.

December 29th, 2014 by David Gerard

Danny Fields was there before the birth of punk rock in the US: he’s the guy who signed the Stooges and the MC5 to Elektra and managed the Ramones. Now there’s a movie in production about him, Danny Says, with a nice New York Times writeup.

Nick Cave: 20,000 Days On Earth and Q&A session

December 19th, 2014 by Lev Lafayette

20000At a special screening at The Astor, the Nick Cave documentary 20 000 Days on Earth was screened, with Nick present for a Q&A session afterwards. The film, directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, loosely depicts the lead up to the production and performance of Push the Sky Away, the fifteenth studio album of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, who had just completed an Australia and New Zealand sixteen venue tour, with several shows added to cater for excessive demand.

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LOUDEST LINKS OF THE DAY. Spanish newspapers in thermonuclear foot-bullet hilarity.

December 14th, 2014 by David Gerard

Sony Pictures hack: how to save a bundle of cash through wilful negligence.

December 13th, 2014 by David Gerard

Sony Pictures’ computer network got comprehensively pwn3d recently, with huge amounts of confidential data being dumped to the world. Because everybody hates Sony, for excellent and ongoing reasons.

That’s what makes this 2007 interview with their Chief Information Officer such a delicious and tasty slice of schadenfreude pie.

“I sincerely believe that if we left it all up to the auditors to tell us what works, we wouldn’t have a business at the end of the day,” Spaltro says.

The hack has left film shoots stopped because Sony can’t process payments.

There’s also the most injured victims, the random low-level employees who just got fucked over by their upper management’s wilful negligence and incompetence. Your first reaction should be to wonder how competent your own bosses are in this respect.

Notes On The Accounting of Musical Taste

December 13th, 2014 by Lev Lafayette

Recently I gave a presentation on The Philosophy of Music. Putting aside the definitional and ontological questions for a moment, perhaps the most troubling from a reviewer’s point of view was an epistemological one; what sort of knowledge does musical and lyrical content give us?. Without being able to answer that, qualitative musical criticism becomes extremely difficult beyond mere evaluation of relative competence of the performers, industry sycophancy, or expressive bitterness on the part of the reviewer. This is not to suggest that that such elements in a review aren’t important, let alone the non-musical elements (venue, visual presentation, crowd behaviour), but rather to identify aesthetically good music from that which is not. Why is it that a reviewer can say, with grounded justification, that the lyric snippet from New Order‘s ‘Crystal’ (“Here comes love, it’s like honey, you can’t buy it with money”) has the same sort of credibility as Stephenie Meyer in Twilight when the protagonist is asked whether they are hungry and responds; “No.” I didn’t feel like mentioning that my stomach was already full – of butterflies.

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