Friday, August 29, 2008

That's $18.46 that Sony got, thanks to

I walked into the Montclair, California Barnes & Noble, gift cards in hand, thinking about buying some of the music that I've heard on over the last few months here.

No Royksopp or Wolfsheim here, so I was considering Air until I ran across the Sarah McLachlan Remix Abum.

Normally I don't buy a CD based on one song - I learned my lesson with the band Boys Don't Cry - but sometimes...excuse me...

Doo doo doo
Doo doo doo
Doo doo doo - dooooooo

Sorry about that, but some of you know that when I hear the Junior Boys mix of "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy," I kinda get lost in the moment.

And B&N's previews of the other songs sounded good, too.

Are you listening, Sony? (The CD is on Arista.) Good, because I am.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

An appendage to the producer?

The Guardian links to two items written by female artists.

Actually, the first item was one in which a female artist was interviewed. Here's a portion of the Pitchfork interview with Maya Arulpragasam (a/k/a M.I.A.):

Pitchfork: So tell me a bit about Kala. I just heard it for the first time today, and--

M.I.A.: Diplo didn't make it.

Pitchfork: Uh, what?

M.I.A.: He never made Arular, but you guys keep writing it.

Pitchfork: 'He' being Diplo?

M.I.A.: You're not listening to me at all, are you?

Pitchfork: I'm trying. It's a little hard to hear you.

M.I.A.: Forget what I said. [Pauses] What do you think I said?

Pitchfork: I heard you say something to the effect of "he didn't make Arular and he also didn't make this record." I'm wondering who you're referring to, though I could take a wild guess.

M.I.A.: Yesterday I read like five magazines in the airplane-- it was a nine hour flight-- and three out of five magazines said "Diplo: the mastermind behind M.I.A.'s politics!" And I was wondering, does that stem from [Pitchfork]? Because I find it really bonkers.

Pitchfork: Well, it's hard to say where it originated. We certainly have made reference to Diplo playing a part on your records, but it seems like everyone plays that up.

M.I.A.: If you read the credits, he sent me a loop for "Bucky Done Gun", and I made a song in London, and it became "Bucky Done Gun". But that was the only song he was actually involved in on Arular....And I just find it a bit upsetting and kind of insulting that I can't have any ideas on my own because I'm a female or that people from undeveloped countries can't have ideas of their own unless it's backed up by someone who's blond-haired and blue-eyed. After the first time it's cool, the second time it's cool, but after like the third, fourth, fifth time, maybe it's an issue that we need to talk about, maybe that's something important, you know.

Pitchfork: I think it's very important. I talked to Diplo about a month ago and he seemed to think he had a bit to do with both of the these records, and he was also talking about maybe making another one with you. Is that an accurate statement?

M.I.A.: Well, I finished Arular and then I met Diplo, and when I went to make the mixtape [Piracy Funds Terrorism, Vol. 1] I gave him all the tracks, the a cappellas and instrumentals already done. On this album I self-produced most of the album with Switch, and nobody's talking about that. And it's because Switch doesn't really talk it up, or he's not into self-promotion like that. Switch spent a year with me making my record and I'm really surprised how he doesn't really come across as the person that I've relied on most. I don't know, I just wanted to set the record straight and make sure that credit goes to people, where it's due, I guess. Last time I set out in America, I probably saw Diplo once.

And later:

M.I.A.: That's what I'm saying. There is an issue especially with what male journalists write about me and say "this MUST have come from a guy." I can understand that, I can follow that, that's fine. But when female journalists as well put your work and things down to it being all coming from a man, that really fucks me up. It's bullshit. I mean, for me especially, I felt like this is the only thing I have, and if I can stick my neck out and go for the issues and go through my life as it is, the least I can have is my creativity. And I think that's probably the stupidest thing about it. I wish somebody did conjure the spirit out so I can change that, and now I'm going to spit some politics, I was going to be like this... fucking... whatever, the thing that I was, I wish that somebody did conjure it out. But I'm not going to give that credit, whatever my life is and whatever my lifestyle and whatever people in Sri Lanka feel is right, like somebody masterminded it. You know what I mean? I think that's bullshit.

Enter Bjork. Now Bjork has a reputation at times of being a there. But in this post she was fairly direct:

i saw in the last issue of iceland's newspaper in english : “grapevine” , that valgeir sigurðsson was credited for having written all the instrumentals for my album vespertine . could i please offer a correction :

i have noticed last 7 years that mr. sigurðsson has often been credited for either writing or producing that album . i´d like to say that he didn´t write it or produce . he was a computer programmer for a third of it and a recording engineer for a third . The other two thirds were done by other engineers and programmers .

here is the creditlist to show you the correct crediting of vespertine .
i don´t understand where that misunderstanding has come from

Or maybe she does. She lists four optional interpretations of the cause of the error:

1 :the pop critics of this world have not totally yet worked out the difference between engineering , programming , writing and producing electronic music . visually this appears very similar . a man/woman sitting in front of a computer . not as different as for example a drummer , a brass arranger and an engineer . but these are 3 completely different jobs which journalists must start to see the difference

2: it could be that this is some degree of sexism . m.i.a. had to deal with this with the respected website where they assumed that diplo had produced all of her kala album without reading any credit list or nothing , it just had to be , it couldn´t have been m.i.a. herself ! it feel like still today after all these years people cannot imagine that woman can write , arrange or produce electronic music . i have had this experience many many times that the work i do on the computer gets credited to whatever male was in 10 meter radius during the job . people seem to accept that women can sing and play whatever instrument they are seen playing .but they cannot program , arrange , produce , edit or write electronic music .

3 : i´ll admit that one thing could confuse things : people have to use their ears and actually read the creditlist to get this information . all the music i have made : like for example string arrangements , synthbasslines or programming of electronic patterns , i never play myself live because i want to give 100% of myself into the singing i either ask the computers to play it or i get other musicians to play it . this could confuse things .

4: one thing that could have kept this misunderstanding alive is that neither me nor valgeir sigurðsson have bothered to correct it

but i am doing it now

And so am I, I guess.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Don't do that to me one more time

PopEater links to US Magazine:

"Britney Spears will not be performing at the VMAs this year. I'm telling you officially and unequivocally," Ryan Seacrest quoted her manager, Larry Rudolph, as saying on his KIIS-FM radio show....

Rudolph told Seacrest that Spears "is in the middle of recording her next album, which is going amazingly well, and was never supposed to perform at that show."

No, Paula Abdul was not invited to sing at the Democratic convention

One other musical guest will appear at the Democratic convention - Jennifer Hudson.

PopEater dwells on the fact that Hudson is getting more serious consideration as a musician than, say, Clay Aiken:

How many 'American Idol' contestants have won an Oscar? One -- Jennifer Hudson. How many 'Idol' hopefuls have sang the national anthem at an election year convention? Soon to be one -- Jennifer Hudson.

Hudson's reps tell PEOPLE that the Academy Award-winning 'Dreamgirls' standout who was booted off of 'Idol' will sing the 'Star Spangled Banner' on Thursday evening at the Democratic convention -- the same night Barack Obama speaks and officially accepts his party's nomination.

Clay Aiken is not touring at this time, although he has an excuse.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rock over London, rock over Denver - Barack Obama - Change

The musical-political alignment continues.

I don't know if Madonna is still officially a British resident, but she's commenting on USA politics:

Amid a four-act show at Cardiff's packed Millennium Stadium, a video interlude carried images of destruction, global warming, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, Zimbabwe's authoritarian President Robert Mugabe — and U.S. Senator John McCain. Another sequence, shown later, pictured slain Beatle John Lennon, followed by climate activist Al Gore, Mahatma Gandhi and finally McCain's Democratic rival Barack Obama.

Video here.

The McCain campaign has made the mistake of taking Madonna seriously. Tucker Bounds:

"The comparisons are outrageous, unacceptable and crudely divisive all at the same time," Bounds said. "It clearly shows that when it comes to supporting Barack Obama, his fellow worldwide celebrities refuse to consider any smear or attack off limits."

(Notice the resurrection of the Paris-Britney-Obama comparison.)

Meanwhile, musicians of the Democratic persuasion have a new Mecca this week.

The key Democrat-sponsored concert was a welcoming event Sunday night at Denver's Red Rocks Amphitheatre, featuring Dave Matthews Band, Sugarland and Sheryl Crow.
On Saturday night, the Rock The Bells Tour brought hip-hop acts to Fiddler's Green south of town. In the lineup was Murs, who says in a song that he's "hoping that the world fall in love with Obama," and veteran rapper Nas, who in a new song with Young Jeezy lectures the Illinois senator.

The new talent segment - Heidi Montag, "Overdosin'"

Now I feel old.

When PopEater talks about Heidi Montag, I have no idea who she is. However, I assume my daughter knows all about this "Hills" star. I don't think my daughter will be rushing out to buy this video for Montag's single "Overdosin'," however.

And PopEater isn't the only place that panned the video - or the song. The Evil Beet:

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a worse song in my life. And I’m counting, like, the little ditties my five-year-old cousin makes up about her shoes and her dolls and her boogers. Those songs are better than this one.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Freedom from violins - a concert in South Ossetia

The war in South Ossetia has extended to the musical realm, according to the Guardian:

And they say that symphonic music doesn't mean anything: Valery Gergiev's performance [August 21] of Shostakovich's Seventh Symphony with the orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre in the ruins of Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, completely disproves the point. The choice of work couldn't have been any more symbolic for Russians: Shostakovich completed his piece, known as the Leningrad, during the siege of the city in the second world war. After its premiere in March 1942, it was performed in Leningrad in the still-besieged city by a makeshift orchestra in August.

Gergiev, who comes from Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia, spoke last night (in Russian and English) of "the horrible destruction of the city". He said that what happened in Tskhinvali was "a huge act of aggression on the part of the Georgian army". He continued: "If it wasn't for the help of the Russian army here, there would be thousands and thousands more victims. I am very grateful as an Ossetian to my country, Great Russia, for this help." But the music would have made that point even more strongly and even more clearly than his words did. The Seventh Symphony is the sound and symbol of liberation for Russians, as it was for all of the Allies in 1942, when Henry Wood and Arturo Toscanini conducted it that year in transatlantic performances.

More here.

Today's useless Internet movement (but I like it)

H/T Merredith Branscombe, who heard about it from Chris Brogan.

Also posted at mrontemp.

Concert Riders of the Stars

There's been plenty of talk over the years about musical artists' backstage preferences, as expressed in their contracts with the promoter and/or venue. Brendan Fitzgerald of C-Ville (that stands for Charlottesville) had a bit of fun with a statement in a 2003 rider for Crosby, Still, and Nash:

Things don't get too exciting until page 5, "Catering Requirements." And really, it's not as if these guys are Iggy Pop. But, in order for the talent (or "ARTISTS," as the rider reminds us in capitals) to be content, many riders are hyper-specific, which makes some requests inadvertently hilarious. Take, for instance, the Zen-like balance of temperature requirements for food: "When food or beverages are required to be hot or cold at a certain time, they must be hot or cold by that time, not heating or cooling."

And I bet that they always appear on stage right on time and are never delayed, either.

Apparently Charlottesville is really into concert riders. Fitzgerald mentioned that CvilleMUSE looked at Willie Nelson's concert rider:

1 gallon of Horizon Brand Organic 2% milk, 1 bunch of organic red grapes, 2 organic peaches, 1 dozen fresh free range eggs, 1 6-pack of Dr. Pepper, 1 pint of peanut oil, enough eats for a “homestyle” sit-down dinner for 32 people (easy on the fried foods!), 1 gallon of freshly squeezed organic orange juice, 2 gallons of George’s Always Active Distilled Aloe Vera, 1 cold watermelon, at least 1 dressing room with a lock and key, and there’s absolutely No Smoking. smoking at a Willie Nelson concert? As the Smoking Gun noted when they shared the rider, "we're not buying it."

The New York Post reported that Miley Cyrus' backstage demands aren't all that demanding:

While some stars go over the top and demand scented candles, hothouse flowers and ribbed condoms backstage, an insider says the Hannah Montana star’s demands were downright simple during her recent trip to NYC to promote her album Breakout. In Miley’s green room, a platter of cheese and crackers, turkey and American cheese sandwiches on wheat, 12 Evian waters, 12 Vitamin Waters and 12 caffeine-free Diet Cokes were all that awaited the starlet’s prompt arrival.

Apparently Billy Ray hasn't let Miley tour with Iggy Pop yet.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm surprised...oh, wait, I'm not

There was a story about Ricky Martin that evoked an "oh, he did?" response. Let's just say that when your beautician outs you, this type of story is unexpected.

The story's headline was Ricky Martin Has Twins ... for Serious!

Well, that sounds traditional, I thought. Then I read the article:

The Latin superstar had the children via a surrogate mother, and the babies were born a few weeks ago, according to a statement from his representatives.

"The children, delivered via gestational surrogacy, are healthy and already under Ricky's full-time care," said the statement. "Ricky is elated to begin this new chapter in his life as a parent and will be spending the remainder of the year out of the public spotlight in order to spend time with his children."

So if you want to hear someone sing "She Bangs" and mean it, you'll have to go to this guy:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

One reason why I will never insult Neil Young on this blog

Everett True has a story to tell.

You see, back on August 6 he wrote a column in the Guardian about the Australian music press. In the article, he noted how the press treats Australian acts with kid gloves:

The idea of anyone actually daring to criticise musicians for the sound they make is almost heresy. Everyone is treated equally, which means no knocking anyone back, however great the temptation. (That'll be why Australian rock is best known to the outside world for such musical abominations as Silverchair, the Vines and Savage Garden.)

Guess what? His views weren't popular in Australia:

Queensland's music press has hit back, with one editor of a local music newspaper dismissing the British music guru as "irrelevent".

"It's a really poor piece of journalism from a music writer who once had relevance and influence, but now he's living in Australia, he doesn't really have the knowledge or experience of the local industry to back up his opinions," said the industry source.

"It's just a shame he gets to hide under the masthead of The Guardian, which gives him credence where none is due."

Music industry analyst Rob Collings has also dismissed the blog as "nonsense" and has taken a swipe back at the British press, which he claims is overly critical. "I think there are parts of the British press that seem to enjoy denigrating their subjects," he said.

So, was True contrite and apologetic afterwards? Not exactly:

All of these media outlets gave the story prominence on their websites...and boy, did those comments start flooding in. Many of these focused on the fact that 1) I'm English, and 2) that I should [expletive deleted] off back to England.

A sample comment from the Courier-Mail site reads, "The Australian music scene is pretty fantastic, as far as I can tell. I certainly don't rely on reviews or journalists to tell me what I should buy." (I wasn't commenting on the Australian music scene. I would no more judge Australian music on that turgid piece of sub-U2 tripe INXS, say, than I would think British music was crap because I once heard a Klaxons record.)

Now, all of this attention has come as somewhat of a surprise to me as I never considered the fact that 1) I'm English and 2) I don't like every record ever made in the history of rock music to be newsworthy facts....

True then speculated that the reaction may have been due to Australians' view of themselves as a minor music market; thus, any attack on particular Australian bands could be considered an attack on the entire country. I'm American, and we know everything, so I don't quite understand how inferiority complexes work, but True provided another example in his article:

When I was living in Melbourne in 2000, I went to a film premiere of South Park Uncut. The (hipster) audience was having a grand time, laughing uproariously at all the swearing and nastiness and fart jokes - and when the movie started poking fun at various nationalities individually, the crowd was beside itself. Americans, Canadians, the British, the French...people were in stitches. And then Australia got mentioned.

You could have heard a pin drop.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tony Romo will stampede away from THIS beer

Jessica Simpson, who is probably undergoing huge preparations for her forthcoming appearance in Pomona, California on September 20, took a little time out to sign a new promotional contract.

Here is the press release from Stampede Brewing Company, based in (of all places) Dallas, Texas:

One of the World’s top entertainers helps introduce new fortified light beer, Stampede Light
DALLAS, TX – August 20, 2008.

Multi-platinum singer. Movie star. Philanthropist. Entrepreneur. Beer drinker?

Everyone knows about Jessica’s Simpson’s daisy dukes body and healthy lifestyle. The all-American beauty and world-renowned entertainer has a passion for working out and making healthy food choices. But she also makes those smart choices with the beer she drinks. "Yes, I work out and take care of myself, but I also like a cold beer once in a while," Simpson said. A new light beer with functional additives is Simpson’s new favorite beer — Stampede Light®

"Some consumers are looking for a better-for-you beer alternative – far beyond lights," Beverage World Magazine reports. "Vitamin-enhanced, organic and functional beers speak to a specific consumer seeking to satisfy a particular need without compromising flavor. Stampede Light, a beer infused with B vitamins, folic acid, and folate, broadens the category for better-for-you beers," the magazine further states.

Started by a fitness expert and former Anheuser-Busch marketing employee, Lawrence Schwartz, and formulated by the late Dr. Joseph Owades (the creator of the first-ever light beer in 1967 – now Miller Lite), Stampede Light has drinkability and marketing appeal that speaks directly to health-conscious consumers. As a small but aggressive start-up, Stampede Brewing Co. was looking for a global icon that represented its core values: healthy living, individuality, and personal responsibility. Jessica Simpson, an entrepreneur in her own right, was the obvious choice. "Jessica is America’s sweetheart and an internationally known entertainer who takes care of herself. You can see it in her smile, her skin, her confidence, and her obvious physical fitness," said Stampede Light’s founder, Schwartz.

"We believe that people who choose to look after themselves, those who do the things to make their lives better, should have the opportunity to do this in all aspects of their lives. Why not the beer they drink? Stampede Light appeals to those consumers -- people like us, people like Jessica, and people who want to have a healthier lifestyle," said Schwartz

About Stampede Light

Stampede Light, a new breed of new ’Plus’ fortified beverages, is a full-bodied German-style light lager beer, made with premium malt and balanced with the finest domestic hops. Stampede Light is manufactured by Stampede Brewing Co. Inc., based in Dallas, Texas, and is distributed nationally through the Miller, Coors, and Anheuser-Busch network of wholesalers.

About Jessica Simpson

Jessica Simpson is an American singer, actress, fashion designer, and icon. She has achieved seven Billboard top 40 hits, and has two gold and three multi-platinum RIAA-certified albums. She has also has starred in eight films as an actress, and her highly successful Jessica Simpson collection, encompassing shoes, bags, sunglasses, swim suits and outerwear, has broken sales records throughout the country. Simpson is a young ambassador for Operation Smile, an organization dedicated to helping children with cleft lips and/or pallets in underprivileged communities. She has also helped to support Casa Hogar, an orphanage in Mexico for the past ten years. She has traveled all over the globe, making social responsibility one of her most important goals as an international celebrity.


Stampede Brewing Co., Inc
Lawrence D. Schwartz

Jessica Simpson (c/o JT Enterprises)
Richard Channer
14804 Greenleaf Street, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

(H/T Popeater.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So will the Thai authorities cheer Gary Glitter on as he leaves their country?

Poor Gary Glitter.

The most popular figure at sporting events has had some problems lately.

After spending nearly three years in a Vietnamese prison for sexually abusing two girls, he was scheduled to fly to London.

Via Thailand.

Popeater explains what happened next:

The 64-year-old Briton, whose real name is Paul Gadd, flew to Bangkok on Tuesday after being booted out of communist Vietnam at the end of nearly three years in jail for sexually abusing two girls.

Apparently fearful of the hostile reception he is likely to receive in Britain, where he has served time for child pornography offences, he avoided boarding the connecting flight to London by claiming he was too sick to fly.

After conducting medical checks and letting him wander, officially "persona non grata," for nearly 24 hours inside Bangkok airport, Thailand's immigration chiefs finally ran out of patience.

"We are barring entry to Paul Francis Gadd and will be deporting him to his home country, England, unconditionally and even if he does not wish to board the plane," they said in a statement.

"We are now waiting to return him to England as soon as possible."

But let's return to a simpler time:

Bell Records. Those were the days.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Glen Campbell Exceeds Pat Boone

Glen Campbell has had a varied career. Member of the Champs, road member of the Beach Boys, hero of west coast pop country (here's the story of Jimmy Webb and "Wichita Lineman"), some ragged years, and now re-interpreter of his younger brethren:

[Julian Raymond] approached Campbell after one of his shows in Colorado with a rare offer: How would he like to record not just his usual slick country material, but smart songs by contemporary rockers, from Green Day to Foo Fighters to Travis?

It's a formula that clicked big for Johnny Cash, with his punishingly deep versions of songs by the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden for producer Rick Rubin....

Campbell found himself unexpectedly intrigued, especially since Raymond had already secured interest in the project from a label well known to Campbell. Namely, Capitol Records, home to his most monumental hits, from "Wichita Lineman" to "Rhinestone Cowboy."

Now when Pat Boone did his remake album, he stuck to metal. Campbell has ranged farther afield:

Two songs from Tom Petty show up, though they're among his more recent: "Walls" and "Angel Dream." There's also a take on Jackson Browne's wan "These Days" from 1971, the Replacements' old ballad "Sadly Beautiful," John Lennon's 1980 soaper "Grow Old With Me" and even a 1969 obscurity by the Velvet Underground ("Jesus").

According to Campbell's MySpace blog, other songs include "All I Want is You" by U2 and "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" by Green Day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why was "Piece of Me" nominated for three MTV Video Music Awards?

Pop Eater notes that Britney Spears received a Video of the Year nomination for "Piece of Me":

This is Spears third nomination for this year's VMAs; earlier, fans nominated her for best pop video and best female video, both for "Piece of Me."

Spears' nominations are ironic considering the neither the song nor the album from which it came, "Blackout," were significant hits; both were released amid Spears' spectacular public decline over the past year, and her performance at last year's VMAs in Las Vegas represented one of the lowlights of her fall from grace. She was universally ridiculed for her unkempt look and sloppy performance, which kicked off the VMAs and instantly became one of pop's classic moments.

Now one could argue that sales performance should have nothing to do with whether or not you are nominated for an award. But then again, this is MTV.

Is "Piece of Me" an artistic triumph? Judge for yourself.

Personally, I think "Lucky" was better musically, and addressed the subject matter better lyrically.

So why did "Piece of Me" get nominated? Perhaps MTV feels responsible for last year's fiasco, and this is a make-up award. Or perhaps MTV likes the notoriety.

Or perhaps MTV just likes Britney's body.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Has hip-hop gone downhill?

Do you sit around and mutter, "Hip-hop ain't what it used to be"?

Apparently Dorian Lynskey of the Guardian does:

Homer Simpson famously declared: "Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974. That's a scientific fact." I may not share his admiration for the work of Grand Funk Railroad but I admire his certainty. I've long been convinced that hip-hop reached its zenith in 1994, and it seems that Jonathan Levine, the director of Sundance-acclaimed new movie The Wackness, agrees with me.

The villain in the movie is Rudolph Giuliani. Before bravely defending New York City against al-Qaeda, he bravely defended his city against hip-hop.

[The movie] takes place in New York during the summer of 1994, when incoming mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced his plans to clean up the city, and hip-hop, both in the city and across America, was in its prime.

But hip-hop itself is also the enemy:

Hip-hop's worst impulses had not yet got the better of it. Tupac and Biggie still drew breath, Puff Daddy was just a canny producer and A&R man rather than ubiquitous pest, and the word "bling" wasn't even a gleam in Damon Dash's eye.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Ravelers head to Chino Hills

I already talked about the Ravelers' appearance in La Verne today.

According to their website, the Ravelers will also appear in Chino Hills shortly:

Wednesday, August 27
Make the Richter Scale rock at Chino Hills Concert in the Park!
Crossroads Park
Chino Hills Prkwy & Eucalyptus
Chino Hills, CA
The Ravelers play 6:30 to 8:30pm.

So who are the Ravelers?

How long have The Ravelers been together?

The Ravelers have been together as a band since November 1987. However,
we have known each other, and have played in other situations together for over 20 years!

How did you get the name, The Ravelers?

We love The Beatles...and if you were in The Beatle Fan Club, you received a special Christmas, or birthday greeting from them on record. On one of these records, George was heard saying,
"...Plenty of Jam Jars, by The Ravelers."
Pat and his brother Steve, and friend Dale who both sit in occassionally, thought that would be a cool obscure way of being related to The Beatles, so the name stuck.
George was acting like a DJ on a radio station, and announced that fictitious song by "The Ravelers", a fictitious band.
The Beatles then go on to "sing" a really bad song called, "Plenty of Jam Jars"....

Who is in The Ravelers?

Hai Muradian - guitar, sax, flute, vocals
Pat Naish - guitar, harmonica, vocals
Martie Echito - keyboards, guitar, bass, vocals
Rob Haerr - drums, webmaster

More on the FAQ page.

Not about the Nurk Twins - Paul McCartney Beats Michael Jackson in Paranoia

If you haven't heard of the Nurk Twins, John Lennon explained it:

Paul and I started teaching ourselves the guitar. After school each night, we'd rush through our tea and then meet, and practice our act. When we felt we were good enough, we went for an audition, calling ouselves The Nurk Twins.

"Very good," the agent said after our performance. "I'll book you for a show in Reading." "Great," we yelled, going potty with joy. We sang several songs in that show and a small proportion of the population of Reading went mad on us.

But this post isn't about the Nurk Twins. Or rather, it's only about half of the Nurk Twins.

But let's start by referencing Those Damn Twins again. If you go to the page for their song "Polar Bear", you'll see that someone tagged the song "paul mccartney."

I think I know why.

Remember when I talked about the most paranoid song that I have ever heard? It's on the album McCartney II, and it's called "Waterfalls." And, like the rest of McCartney II, it is not cute in any way.

Just take a look at the lyrics. Here's how they start:

Don't go jumping waterfalls,
Please, keep to the lake.
People who jump waterfalls,
Sometimes can make mistakes.

Then the synthy strings are cranked to 11, and Paul wails, "And I need love...."

I swear, when you hear this song, you suspect that Paul would be happiest if Linda (who was still alive at the time, which was before her cancer diagnosis) were kept locked up in a closet, where she couldn't get so much as a paper cut.

Eventually Paul gets worried about Linda being eaten by wild animals:

Don't go chasing polar bears
In the great unknown.
Some big friendly polar bear,
Might want to take you home.

I know I've compared "Stranger in Moscow" and "Waterfalls" before, and I know I've alluded to the psychotic nature of "Waterfalls" before, but it bears repeating - this is one messed-up song.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Those Damn Twins, "Polar Bear"

This song came up on my feed on Friday. You can hear the song at the Those Damn Twins website, and read the lyrics. It's an interesting, mellow mix of acoustics and non-acoustics with alto vocals, not to be confused in any way with Kool & the Gang.

Sample verse:

I had a dream with you in it
We got into a rocket ship
and fell into some orbit

All of the lyrics are here.

Unlike the Thompson Twins, Those Damn Twins are twins, and there are even exactly two of them. They even have a bio:

Thomas and Lisa Logan are from Raleigh, North Carolina. Delivered via caesarian section, they came out ready to entertain.

Although they may not have been that talented and mellow at birth. Or perhaps they were, and they were like this:

(Yes, these are Julia Roy's kittens, Mack and Tosh. Since Those Damn Twins started with Apple technology, perhaps they'd appreciate the music.)

Enjoying paranoia

As you may know, I love Michael Jackson's song "Stranger in Moscow."

However, "Stanger in Moscow" is the second most paranoid song that I have ever heard.

The first? Ex-buddy Paul McCartney's "Waterfalls."

More later.

Pandora Dissolution - Reality or Negotiating Ploy?

FriendFeed user Marco shared a Washington Post article about Pandora. I'd like to focus in on one part of the article:

Pandora is one of the nation's most popular Web radio services, with about 1 million listeners daily. Its Music Genome Project allows customers to create stations tailored to their own tastes. It is one of the 10 most popular applications for Apple's iPhone and attracts 40,000 new customers a day.

Yet the burgeoning company may be on the verge of collapse, according to its founder, and so may be others like it.

"We're approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision," said Tim Westergren, who founded Pandora. "This is like a last stand for webcasting."

What is prompting this?

Last year, an obscure federal panel ordered a doubling of the per-song performance royalty that Web radio stations pay to performers and record companies.

Traditional radio, by contrast, pays no such fee. Satellite radio pays a fee but at a less onerous rate, at least by some measures.

What's being done about it?

This week, Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.) is trying to broker a last-minute deal between webcasters and SoundExchange, the organization that represents artists and record companies. The negotiations could reduce the per-song rate set by the federal panel last year.

The two sides appear to be far apart, however, with Berman frustrated.

"Most of the rate issues have not been resolved," Berman said. "If it doesn't get much more dramatic quickly, I will extricate myself from the process."

Steven Hodson (who was already cranky because Pandora was geotarded out of the Canadian market) had his own thoughts on the matter.

The fact is that these agencies much like SoundExchange couldn’t care less about the artists or that the money they are suppose to be collecting for said artists never actually reaches them in most cases.

In FriendFeed itself (back on Marco's share), discussion ensued, primarily regarding the question of whether Sound Exchange is greedy, stupid, or both.

In a pseudonymic way, I opined:

Not sure if Pandora is posturing.

Tanath answered:

[Pandora has] been saying this is a big problem for some time now. I really don't think it's posturing.

Steven Hodson, in his post, thinks the threat is legitimate:

[U]nless there are some late ditch efforts on behalf of webcasters like Pandora and even smaller providers they will find themselves being driven out of business.

Yet there's another option to shutting the doors - the option taken by one of Pandora's competitors, - sell out. Here's part of what wrote in May 2007:

The team here have spent a lot of time this year discussing what the future should hold for, and while contemplating raising some additional venture capital we were approached by CBS. As you can imagine, we have been approached numerous times in the past few years from all the usual suspects regarding acquisitions and so on; CBS are one of the few companies who needed no explanation of what we are doing, and we were impressed at how progressive their plans are. This deal with CBS gives us a chance to really make shine, and gives us more flexibility than other funding options would for doing all the crazy stuff we’ve had scribbled on whiteboards for years.

Now obviously CBS isn't going to buy Pandora, but who would? One possibility is the organization that pulled its music from - Warner Music Group. If you missed the news or were on vacation like I was at the time, this ran on June 6:

Warner Music Group has pulled its entire catalog from, a company spokeswoman confirmed Friday.

Warner Music would not comment on the reason for leaving, but the label's departure is certainly a setback for the social-networking site. Warner was the first of the major labels to do a deal with

So, one possibility is that Warner could acquire Pandora and use it to set up its own silo of Warner-only music, thereby drawing people from

It's an incredibly stupid move, which is why it seems likely that the music industry will do something like this.

Distractions...or, Ich bin ein Cowboy (Wolfsheim, "Read the Lines")

On Thursday afternoon, I was in a meeting and couldn't get a song out of my head. I knew that I had recently heard it on, but the song just wouldn't get it out of my head.

This has happened to me before, and it's irritating in and of itself, but it's especially irritating when you don't know any of the lyrics of the song...or the name of the song...or the artist who recorded it.

Let's face it, there are a ton of songs in my library right now, and I'm sometimes a bit hazy on some of them.

Well, after the meeting, I was able to figure out that the song in question was "Read the Lines" by Wolfsheim, from the album Spectators (the song "Once in a Lifetime" is also on this album).

And if I want the lyrics, I can find them here.

And here's a live version of the song. (Well, as live as any two-person electronic performance can be.)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

20th Century Music Company

At Disneyland. (It includes 21st century stuff too.)

Things My Granada Hills Dormmate Shared With Me - Brian Eno, "Another Green World"

I had never heard Brian Eno until I arrived at Reed College in the fall of 1979 and one of my dormmates had a copy of "Another Green World."

In retrospect, this is probably as good an introduction as any to Eno's work, since at this point he was straddling between rock, ambience, and whatever else he was thinking about.

Steve Huey has said the following about this album:

A universally acknowledged masterpiece, Another Green World represents a departure from song structure and toward a more ethereal, minimalistic approach to sound. Despite the stripped-down arrangements, the album's sumptuous tone quality reflects Eno's growing virtuosity at handling the recording studio as an instrument in itself (à la Brian Wilson).

More from Huey here.

Reruns - the video for Chromeo's "Fancy Footwork"

Just because. (link)

CHROMEO - Fancy Footwork

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What is music?

Since this blog is dedicated to music, I guess this is a fair question. And Philip Dorrell wants to find out:

What is Music?: Solving a Scientific Mystery is a book by Philip Dorrell which explains a new scientific theory about music: the super-stimulus theory.

The main idea of the theory is that music is a super-stimulus for the perception of musicality, where "musicality" is actually a perceived property of speech. "Musicality" refers to the property of music that determines how "good" it is, how strong an emotional effect it has, and how much we enjoy listening to it.

The theory implies that ordinary speech also has this property, in a manner which may vary as a person speaks. The musicality of speech is much more subtle than that of music, but it provides important information which the listener's brain processes (without conscious awareness of the processing), in order to derive some information about the internal mental state of the speaker. This information is applied to modulate the listener's emotional response to speech, and this accounts for the emotional effect of music.

If you go to this page, you can download the book for free.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Things My Finnish Daughter Gave My American Daughter - Akon, "Lonely"

Continuing the theme.

I'm not the only one who receives CDs from the land of the true Santa Claus. My daughter received a present one year - a CD with a variety of artists. At least one of those artists, however, was not Scandinavian.

In his radio hit ''Lonely,'' Senegal-born rapper Akon aligns his rhymes with a sample from ''Mr. Lonely'' — yes, the 1964 schmaltz smash by the ''Polish Prince,'' Bobby Vinton. It's the first top 10 chart appearance in 31 years for Vinton, still on the road at 69, and he's both delighted and dumbfounded.

In fact, Vinton was offered a role in Akon's video - but he regretfully declined.

Akon wanted me to do the video. But I couldn't — I was playing the Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee.

Universal Music has provided the video on YouTube. However, embedding is disabled, so you'll have to go here to see it.

Things My Finnish Daughter Gave Me - Basshunter, LOL <(^^,)>

Since I'm listening to this again, and since I recently wrote a song parody based on it, I might as well blog abouti t.

If I recall correctly, my Finnish daughter (i.e. former exchange student) had posted the Basshunter song "Boten Anna" on her MySpace page. When I told her that I liked it, guess what I got for my Christmas present that year?

(If you're unfamiliar with "Boten Anna," I previously posted a video of the song with English subtitles. Or you can hear it on

The songs on the "LOL <(^^,)>" CD alternate between songs that are sung and songs that are not. The ones that are sung, such as "Boten Anna" and "GPS," are usually sung in Swedish and tend to be more on the melodic side. The ones that are not, such as "We Are The Waccos," consist of short English phrases over a throbbing dance beat. One anomaly is an English-language version of "Jingle Bells."

One thing that struck me when I read the liner notes was Altberg's wonder and joy at his sudden rise to fame. (I previously linked to the story.) This is what he said:

Let me tell you...

It's amazing how my life has changed in just a couple of weeks.
And something more fantastic is how [I] got there.
From nothing to everything I've ever dreamed of. But what have I done to deserve this?

After marveling at how people recognized him, Altberg continued:

If you take all the [positive] words and experiences and put them together in to one "super-word"
That would be the word to describe how I feel right now.
If you read this you should know it's because of you!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Big in Japan (no, not the song, the company)

I just realized that the good thing about this blog is that it allows me to exercise my passion for titling blog posts with song titles. Of course Extreme Mortman has done this a lot, and I stole the idea for this particular song title from Frederic Lardinois at ReadWriteWeb.

The popular UK-based music streaming and discovery service announced that it has expanded its on-demand listening and streaming radio services on the Japanese version of the site with content from Universal Music, IODA, The Orchard, and CD Baby. According to, this means that its Japanese outpost now has close to 3.5 million tracks available on its streaming radio service, which makes it the largest free streaming music service in the country.

But when I shared this item on FriendFeed, that wasn't the part of the announcement that received the most attention. Michael W. May noticed this little tidbit:

One interesting piece of information in's announcement is that it has increased its click-through sales in the US and UK by 119% since launching its free on-demand service in January. Not only does this provide a significant revenue stream for, but it also shows that giving listeners access to the complete song instead of just the standard 30 second clips will actually make them more likely to buy the song. Currently, allows its users to completely stream every song three times - after that, it also switched to the standard 30 second clips.

The Japanese launch of is also discussed at and, the latter including a canned press release quote from Felix Miller ( CEO):

We're hugely excited to be able to offer free streaming music to our Japanese community for the first time. This is an incredible opportunity for us and all of our partners in one of the largest and most exciting music markets in the world. Our deals with Universal and the independent labels and aggregators who have teamed up with us allow to offer the Japanese community an unparalleled catalog of tracks through a music experience that is unmatched in the Japanese Web space.


Jason Kincaid at TechCrunch ran a post on Popcuts recently. Here's how it began:

The web is full of hipsters scouring the indie music scene for the next big thing. And while there is no shortage of communities where these trendsetters can share their picks, they’ve never stood to gain anything from being ahead of the crowd (aside from a slight sense of superiority). Popcuts, a Y Combinator-funded music store that launches today in public beta, is looking to reward these early adopters by paying store credit to the first people who buy a song that later goes on to become popular.

More here. And, of course, more at the Popcuts site:

Buy a song.

You know quality music when you hear it. Download DRM-free songs for 99¢.
Get rewarded for your good taste with store credit.

Get paid when it sells again.

Every time a song you bought sells, you get a cut of the proceeds.
Earlier buyers get more, so it pays to be a trendspotter.

If they've figured their percentages correctly, this sounds like a potential moneymaker. Since they're selling the songs themselves, Popcut makes money whether the song goes popular or it doesn't.

TechCrunch seems to be the big publicist for this one; the @popcuts Twitter account includes a thank you tweet.

Neil Young, "After the Gold Rush"

One of the things I love in life is a good Neil Young impersonation. I loved Dana Carvey's take on Neil Young singing the "Mickey Mouse Club" song at an unspectacular Super Bowl halftime show, and I've been known to do a few Neil Young impersonations of my own.

Well, I'm going to have to learn a new one, as a song snippet played by Dan Patrick this morning has inspired me to look up the lyrics to Young's "After the Gold Rush." Here's the first verse:

Well, I dreamed I saw the knights
In armor coming,
Saying something about a queen.
There were peasants singing and
Drummers drumming
And the archer split the tree.
There was a fanfare blowing
To the sun
That was floating on the breeze.
Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the nineteen seventies.
Look at Mother Nature on the run
In the nineteen seventies.

Wikipedia links to a lyrics analysis. Before you run from the musicologists, at least listen to a bit of what they said:

[Randy Schechter] The...lines bring to mind man upsetting the delicate balance of nature with pollution, runaway technology, threats of (nuclear) war etc.

[] I think the three verses of the song talk about past, present and future. The idyllic vision of a medieval court is in stark contrast to the "burned-out basement" of the present....And the final verse is futuristic, and in a sense a return to the romantic....

[Jerry Keselman] I think one thing to remember is that the album was based upon a screenplay by Dean Stockwell (of Quantum Leap fame along with credited roles in too many movies to list) for a movie named, appropriately enough, "After the Goldrush". The movie (to my knowledge) was never made.

Randall Craig has uploaded a live version to YouTube. doesn't have Neil's version of the song, but it does have a traditional version by the Flaming Lips (30 second sample available) and an instrumental version by Michael Hedges (30 second sample available).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Still testing

Just making sure that mobile posts work properly.

One possible advantage of mobile posts is that it makes it easier to cross-post to multiple Empoprises blogs when the situation warrants. So if I'm at Tequila Hoppers, playing Buzztime, and feeding the jukebox, expect an Empoprise-IE/NTN/MU triple play.

Stay tuned.

Introducing the Empoprise-MU blog

As some of you may know, I am setting up a series of blogs under the "Empoprises" banner that are devoted to particular topics.

The first two Empoprises blogs that I set up, Empoprise-IE and Empoprise-NTN, were devoted to topics of relatively limited interest. These blogs, respectively, cover the Inland Empire of California, and the games and related products that are available under the NTN Buzztime brand.

This blog, while devoted to a particular vertical topic, isn't quite as limited, since the focus of this blog is music.

All kinds of music.

The more variety, the better.

So why am I qualified to write this blog? I could state the obvious - namely, the fact that I listen to music - but perhaps I should mention a couple of music-related things that I've already done online.

I blog under names under the Empoprises name, and currently my main blog is a blog called mrontemp. This blog covers a variety of topics, ranging from technology to religion, and it has covered music also. A lot. Since February 2007, I have written 368 posts that were in some way involved with music.

So you can tell that I can be verbose on the topic, but do I contribute to the music community? I believe I do. I am the creator of the lastfmfeeds room in FriendFeed, in which a number of us share the names of every song that we listen to via As of today, 36 people are sharing their feeds in this room, commenting on the musical likes of others, and learning about new music.

So even if you don't read this blog, and even if you don't use, I encourage you to visit the room. If you love music, you'll have fun. You'll find me in the room under the name "Ontario Emperor." (Long story.)

So I hope this helps set the stage. We'll see how this blog evolves, and hopefully we'll have fun doing it.

(And I'll wait a bit before springing that Slim Whitman-Brian Eno theory that I've had for a while.)

The best post you'll ever read on this blog

It's also (probably) the shortest.