Frank Ocean

Over the Weekend (Apr. 13 Edition)

New videos, new music, and news to help tide you over as you wait for the NBA playoffs to begin…

For weeks, TV on the Radio has been teasing the release of their latest single off their brilliant album Seeds by posting photos with the hashtag “#herecomestrouble”, and last week finally shared the video for “Trouble”.  Much like the song, it has a somber tone, but there is a redemptive undercurrent that ultimately makes it uplifting.

Janelle Monáe surprised her fans this morning by releasing a new song and accompanying video, a fun romp entitled “Yoga” off an upcoming compilation EP called Wonderland Presents THE EEPHUS.  The video does indeed feature some “yoga”, though the focus is not necessarily on fitness or inner peace, but as a precursor to a wild party.

The biggest shock of the weekend was the announcement that Frank Ocean will soon be releasing the follow-up to his breakthrough album channel ORANGE in July.  His fellow compatriot in the Odd Future collective, Tyler, the Creator, also surprised fans with the sudden release of his new album Cherry Bomb, which is now available for streaming and will have a physical release with five different album covers on April 28th.

Another highly-anticipated release that is now available for streaming is the newest effort from Speedy Ortiz, with Foil Deer up on the NPR website.  We loved their debut album, Major Arcana, and had a lot of fun when they performed at Project Pabst, so we cannot wait to get our hands on the record when it is released next week.

We are also glad to hear that Local H is close to releasing another record, and the AV Club has an exclusive track from the upcoming Hey, Killer.  The band (with a slight lineup change) will soon be hitting the road, and we highly recommend you go see them play.

And finally, we have a couple of fun, useless lists to help you pass the time.  OC Weekly has a list of the 10 Most Underrated Guitarists in the History of Rock, and we have to say that we agree with several of their selections; there clearly was some thought involved, and the intent was not to troll readers.  And AV Club followed up their A-Z list of Animated Series with a rundown of the Best Rock Bands of the 00’s for each letter of the alphabet, and while not a bad list per se, it definitely fulfills the qualification of being “useless.”


Over the Weekend (Mar. 10 Edition)

Some fun links for your Monday afternoon, as you realize that the name of this site could double for a True Detective fansite.

Let’s begin with a guitar workshop from Alan Sparhawk of Low.  The video begins with the mechanics of an electric guitar and how the sounds are created, which is pretty handy for novices.  Of greater interest to experienced players is the second half of the video, where Alan shows the different effects pedals that he uses, including one with his own added innovation.

We’ve got links to a few new tracks that are worth your time.  First, I recommend listening to this collaboration between Frank Ocean, Diplo, Mick Jones, and Paul Simonon.  The laid-back, island vibe is great for easing into the week, but don’t get too comfortable, because things get a bit more lively.  Frank Ocean will probably need all the good vibes he can get, as he deals with legal issues stemming from a dispute with Chipotle.  And continuing with the theme of seemingly bizarre collaborations, there’s Kendrick Lamar rapping over Tame Impala’s “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards”.  I think it would have worked better with a smoother flow, like the style of “Money Trees” (which is proof that Kendrick can rap with great results over an indie rock track), but if you approach it as a Kendrick Lamar song instead of a remix of Tame Impala, the snarl works better.  And there’s Taylor Hawkins, drummer of the Foo Fighters, who got bit with the side-group bug like Dave Grohl, and his new outfit “Birds of Satan”.  Not only does the name recall Eagles of Death Metal, but the music does as well.  That to me is a good thing.

While we mentioned the 20th anniversary of Superunknown on Friday, it was rather fitting that we didn’t link to an appreciation of The Downward Spiral from Stereogum, which celebrated its anniversary on the same date (I say “fitting” because Soundgarden beat out Nine Inch Nails at the top of the Billboard chart (and to add to the discussion of “fitting”–there is talk of a possible joint Soundgarden/Nine Inch Nails tour)).  There’s some great insight into how important the album was at the time and its place in rock history, especially considering it was the first exposure to “dangerous music” for many kids (I still remember getting nightmares from my first viewing of “Closer”, coupled with the thrill of watching something I knew I was not allowed to see).  However, this piece gets a few demerits for not mentioning the brilliance of “A Warm Place”, especially in between “Big Man With A Gun” and “Eraser” in examining the album’s exploration of the light/dark dichotomy.

Also worth checking out is an interview from The Quietus with Mike Watt where he discusses his favorite albums.  Consider this the best homework assignment ever if you haven’t listened to these albums or are at least familiar with these artists–I can think of few better teachers than the bassist for The Minutemen.  And if you’re unfamiliar with The Minutemen (though I know you know at least one of their songs), track down a copy of Double Nickels on the Dime as quickly as you can.  I’ll expect an essay in my inbox next Monday.

In new album news, The Dandy Warhols are releasing a live album from their recent tour for the 13th anniversary of Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia.  I happened to be at one of the hometown shows, though I’m unsure if it was the one that was recorded (or whether the album will be a mix from both shows). That’s an album that should be considered a classic (perhaps the subject of a future TL;DR?), and any time you know that you are guaranteed to hear “Big Indian”, you should take that opportunity.

And while I was typing up this roundup, I saw a message from Spoon on Facebook.  This is great news indeed.

Finally, if you didn’t catch The National on SNL this week, please do so now.

Catching Up On The Week With Special Guest Copyright Law (Feb. 28 Edition)

A few quick links you may have missed this week and worthy of your time this weekend

I’m always interested in the intersection of music and the law, and considering I spent three years and a fortune for the privilege of receiving a sheet of paper that says “Juris Doctor”, I would hope that there would be at least one thing from my chosen profession that I should enjoy.  So I was excited to read an article discussing yet another lawsuit over sampling, with this one concerning Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids”, and not only because I’m a fan of the song.

Most sampling lawsuits concern an area of copyright law known as “fair use”, which allows certain reproductions that otherwise might be considered infringements in certain limited circumstances, using a balancing test of four factors.  Discussions about fair use are one of the more entertaining parts of copyright law, but unfortunately for most participants there have been several areas that haven’t been settled.  One concept that is still being debated is what is considered “transformative”, which addresses the “purpose and character of the use” component.  Changing the pitch or adding distortion can often be a huge change to a piece of music, so I would be more liberal in my assessment of the transformative question.  In addition, the article mentions a new proposed system that would seek to prevent the hassle of most of these lawsuits by instituting a compulsory licence system.  I’ll definitely spend some time this weekend reading up on that suggestion.

There was recently another development in the area of “fair use”, where an Australian company reached a settlement with a Harvard Law professor who used a clip from Phoenix’s “Lisztomania” for a lesson on on “fair use” posted on YouTube.  It seems to have been a clear attempt at steamrolling potential violators by the label holding the copyright, because the purpose was clearly educational and would be determined to be “fair use” by a court.  The label admitted as much, and thankfully also paid the professor’s legal fees (though I am generally loath to cheer on anything from that particular institution, I am glad for this particular result).

Just your neighborhood studio

Just your neighborhood studio

In a little bit of news, Stereogum has a look at the recording process behind the new Mastodon album.  Glad to see that it’s been smooth sailing for one of the most original bands in the metal scene today.

I know readers of this site are probably a bit Beck’ed out at this point, but if for some reason that’s not the case, SPIN has put online their cover feature from 1994 after the release of Mellow Gold.

I normally wouldn’t link to anything featuring Bill O’Reilly, but if you want to see a clueless argument against rap music, he’s a good source to follow.

Consider this quote:

O’Reilly argued it’s a problem when young black boys idolize “these guys with the hats on backwards” and “terrible rap lyrics” and drug use, and told Jarrett Obama has the power to “reverse the peer pressure.”

If you omit the word “rap”, Bill just provided a description of popular music from the last 50 years.  Congratulations Bill, glad to see you’re putting that Harvard degree to good use.

Finally, I’ve got a little bit of reading of my own to do this weekend.  There’s a Stereogum feature that goes in-depth into the My Morning Jacket “One Big Holiday” festival, and “extensive” doesn’t begin to describe it.  It’s been an open tab for nearly a week now, and considering how much of a fan of the band I am, I still intend to read it.  I’ll probably do so while downloading the shows from the festival.