Some #longreads for your weekend reading pleasure…
We have now reached the point that the music press is holding celebrations for 15th anniversaries, but when it comes to albums like Radiohead’s Kid A, we do not mind indulging in that kind of silliness. Rob Sheffield has an appreciative essay of the now-legendary record for Rolling Stone and Steven Hyden of Grantland explains how years before the innovative release of In Rainbows that Radiohead was already on the cutting edge of music and technology, with the band streaming the album weeks before its physical release.
The other major topic of the week is Max Martin, one of several Scandinavian musicians who are responsible for most of the pop hits that have infiltrated the airwaves for the past fifteen years. The New Yorker looks at the man himself, The Atlantic takes a look at the pop-songwriting-manufacturing process, and Consequence of Sound takes a look at Martin’s career in a more easily digestible listicle form complete with video highlights.
While Martin may be helping to create a monopoly in some respects in the field of pop music, GarageBand has been said to have a more democratizing effect on the creation of music in general. Pitchfork has a longform piece on the effects of the software.
In other anniversary news, this week marks the twentieth anniversary of Oasis’s mammoth album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, and Stereogum puts the album into historical context. It has always been my preferred Oasis record, namely for the fact that it includes the shameless Beatles rip-off “Don’t Look Back In Anger”, one of my favorite songs of the 90’s. I will never forget the moment when I saw an entire crowd of people join a street musician in a London tube station sing this song, with not a single person young or old forgetting a line.
We shared with you one remembrance of Wolf Parade’s Apologies to the Queen Mary last week, and we have another piece for you on one of our favorite albums. Observer offers a behind-the-scenes look at the album, with several stories explaining the meanings and creations of each track.
As for us, we will be catching Titus Andronicus performing at Mississippi Studios tonight, and in preparation for our review you may want to check out the extensive profile of the band courtesy of SPIN.
Some #longreads and other time-wasters as you prepare for the holiday…
I highly recommend reading this speech from Steve Albini on the state of the music industry. Albini does a great job of explaining the economics of the old way the record industry used to run and how it has changed with shifting technology, and also how alternatives to the normal practices of the record industry developed. I still think there are still some issues for artists as the way we consume music evolves, but Albini’s take is certainly worth taking into consideration.
It can be tough for neophytes to wade their way through the early history of punk rock, but the AV Club has provided a handy primer on one of the most important scenes in their Primer on Dischord Records. Some may have a passing familiarity with Minor Threat and Fugazi, but there was a lot more to the DC scene, and giving mentions to bands like Nation of Ulysses and Q and Not U is definitely worthwhile.
Were you curious about the story behind the song “Footloose”? No? Well, read on anyway, because bassist Nathan East provides the story, and he’s worked with everyone.
Stereogum has a list of “26 Essential Songs From The NYC Rock Resurgence”, probably to coincide with the release of the new TV on the Radio album, or maybe just because they felt like it this week. We’ll link to it because it’s extensive and it has some good songs on it, so why not.
Roll into your weekend with a few #longreads
We’ll be doing a big feature on Spoon next week in advance of their upcoming release, and to help you prepare you can read up on this Guardian interview where Britt Daniel discusses the songs from their albums over the years that helped define the band. He makes a few surprising choices, while also providing a nice overview of Spoon’s career.
Continuing our tradition of link to pieces that analyze about the business aspect of streaming and how it affects artists, Salon has a great article that specifically looks at how streaming has hurt genres that are already marginalized, like jazz and classical.
Kanye West provokes a lot of reactions in people, but he’s always an interesting interview no matter how you slice it. GQ has an extended interview with him for this month’s issue.
We normally would not post anything about Pitbull, but this profile in Businessweek is worth checking out if only for the scene where Pitbull learns about BitCoin.
Your intermission this week is a random performance of “MacArthur Park” on David Letterman. It was rather epic.
“Weird Al” sits in for Pitchforks 5-10-15-20 feature, recounting various songs that were significant at those years of his life (and beyond).
And finally, we have an interview with Peter Matthew Bauer. Normally we would be excited about posting (and reading) this interview, considering how much we love The Walkmen and Bauer’s solo debut, but the interviewer is Rick Moody. Our hostility towards Moody would make more sense if we published a planned takedown of another interview he did. But since that got pushed to the backburner, we’ll just warn you by saying to be prepared for pretentiousness and general blockheadedness.
We’ve got some great #longreads for you this weekend, so try to fit these in as you enjoy Record Store Day.
Many music fans were excited for the reunion of OutKast at Coachella last weekend (this one included), but unfortunately it wasn’t the joyous celebration that we were hoping would occur. There’s a lot to be said about the general shittiness of festivals, and Coachella specifically, but even that doesn’t account for some of the disappointment that many OutKast fans felt (personally, as a viewer watching things on my couch, I was able to enjoy it, album-plug for Future notwithstanding). Rembert Browne at Grantland does a great job of expounding on this sentiment. And if you’re wondering why the OutKast reunion was such a big deal in the first place, Andrea Battleground at the AVClub can help get you up to speed.
Last weekend I engaged in a scavenger hunt across Portland with some friends, and one of the items that we procured was an 8-Track of Bob Seger’s Night Moves. It is now one of my most valued possessions. Coincidentally enough, Steven Hyden wrote a piece this week why you shouldn’t scoff at this notion. Behold, in all its glory:
My new most valued possession
SPIN has an excerpt from the recently released oral history of Dinosaur Jr. You get a look at the early, early days of the band, as they toured around Massachusetts and their early ventures into New York, as well as their first tour as they opened for Sonic Youth.
Pitchfork has a couple of excellent features this week, both analyzing more the business side of music, and specifically the use and accumulation of data. First, there was an article outlining the evolution of the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart, and how its current format leads to problems in tracking songs. It raises some interesting points, but to dismiss the impact on how the specific genre has had an impact on Top 40 is a bit of a mistake, and maybe a solution that is more in line with how Billboard charts Alternative Rock may be one way to go. The other piece looks at the history of streaming and its future, finding analogues in prior devices like the jukebox and looking at how data is processed to give a better idea for programs in dispensing recommendations. Both are great and worth the time to read.
It’s time to settle into another week, and what better way to capture the futility of another Monday than a pointless list from Rolling Stone? This time, the “fearless” editors decided to rank every single song that Nirvana ever played, and decided that a slideshow of 102 clips is the best way to accomplish this. Sure, some of the anecdotes are a bit fun, but mainly I’m surprised that someone listened to everything in the With the Lights Out boxset.
These songs were ranked in some arbitrary order by Rolling Stone
As technology and the marketplace has evolved in music over the last decade, new business models have emerged, and not always to the benefit of the artists. For example, a lot of emphasis has been placed on streaming services in recent years, and while some artists have endorsed this development, others have argued strongly against it, including notably Radiohead and The Black Keys. We plan on doing future explorations of this argument in the future, but keep in mind this bit of evidence offered up by Zoe Keating, who provided a breakdown of where her income from her music came from in 2013. Also, something else to keep in mind when you hear mindless preaching about how new technology will save us all: Camper Van Beethoven had a higher net profit than Twitter last year. $645 million greater.
In a bit of great news for those who enjoyed our essay on The New Pornographers, Under the Radar has an interview with Carl Newman talking about their progress on a new album.
Speaking of our own work, it looks like we’re not the only ones who felt the time was right to take a look back at Danger Mouse’s career so far. Stereogum has an “Annotated Media Guide to Danger Mouse” that you may want to check out.
SPIN seems to have the British band beat down this morning, with news about Coldplay’s new album (due May 19) and the premiere of the Arctic Monkeys’ new video for “Arabella”.
And finally, what better way to feel better about the week ahead than a reminder about the genius of This Is Spinal Tap. ShortList has a list of the greatest “real life” Spinal Tap moments. Some of these are probably worthy of a Jeff Goldblum laugh.