Tuesday, November 25, 2008

David Gilmour streams Live In Gdansk

As a special Thanksgiving gift, starting today (Tuesday) and for the next week, DavidGilmour.com will host clips from the DVD edition of David Gilmour's latest release, Live In Gdańsk, for fans to watch. Different songs will be featured every day; over the course of a week fans will be able to catch “Speak To Me/Breathe/Time/Breathe,” “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” “Fat Old Sun,” “Wish You Were Here,” and the non-album song “Wot’s… Uh The Deal?” as well as other songs from the DVD.

Live In Gdańsk is a double live album plus concert DVD, released on September 23rd on Columbia Records. The first solo live album from Pink Floyd’s singer / guitarist captures his concert in front of 50,000 in the Gdansk shipyards, the final performance of his critically acclaimed 2006 On An Island tour. It also features the first-ever recording of selected Pink Floyd classics performed with an orchestra. It was the only concert on the tour to feature a live orchestra, and features the final public performance of the late, great Richard Wright on keyboards.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Vault in brief: Nine Inch Nails, Jon Troast and a cast of thousands

Since we threw caution to the wind last Friday and sang the praises of one of our competitors, maybe it's time to toot our own horn for a day, eh? Because there's surely been a ton of interesting material published on the Vault in recent days...

For one, there's Darren Paltrowitz's biweekly effort at Keeping Up with the latest in music, books, and all other forms of entertainment media.

For another, there's Bruce Rusk's review of a recent Nine Inch Nails concert -- sounds like Trent & co. are putting on quite a show this winter.

And for another, there's a review of a Jon Troast show at a much smaller venue -- my living room -- for anyone interested in hearing more about how a house concert works...

Finally, there's the reviews we just published of Powderfinger, Talking Heads, Kraftwerk, Elvis Presley, Fight Like Apes, Bob Seger, Marvin Gaye, CSS, Megadeth, Duran Duran, Stevie Ray Vaughan and The Cure -- not to mention the reviews we're about to publish of Guns N' Roses, Ry Cooder, Rick Wakeman, Science Faxtion, George Michael, Billy Squier, Donovan, the Rolling Stones, Katie Miller-Heidke, Jeff Beck, Keane, the Mountain Goats, The Clash, Love & Rockets, Morrissey, Tina Turner and many more to come.

Capeesh?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

John Lennon: we forgive you

Sure glad we got THAT cleared up.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Beatles' White Album at 40

While we provide a page full of links to our competitors on the site in the spirit of providing a service to our readers, we don't normally tout their work. I mean, does Spin go out of its way to tout the great work Rolling Stone is doing? Not likely.

Sometimes you just have to tip your hat, though. And this week our competitors over at PopMatters have outdone themselves with a superb series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of one of the most important albums in music history, The Beatles, a.k.a. The White Album. Not content to simply publish a review -- or several reviews -- PopMatters enlisted a substantial chunk of its writing staff to deliver a track-by-track analysis of the album plus an overview, dividing the double LP up into four sides and releasing first the overview and then analysis of one side per day all week this week.

Like The Beatles itself, the track reviews feature many different voices commenting on the origins, recording and significance of each track, a fitting tribute to an album that symbolized the splintering of pop's greatest band, while thoroughly capturing the moment in the midst of one of their most musically fertile and personally conflict-ridden periods.

It's a fascinating read; hats off here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mudvayne takes The New Game to the next level

Sometimes a name is just a name. And then there's Mudvayne's recent album The New Game, which turns out to be the focal point of, well, a new game.

The key is a code included in the packaging of every copy of the new album. Entering the code on the band's Web site unlocks a dossier containing the outline of a murder mystery and profiles (with photos) of 11 suspects. As Pollstar explains it, "To solve the mystery by eliminating one suspect each week, fans must use the full album packaging (lyrics, the mugshots and info provided), their historical knowledge of Mudvayne and the video for the first single, 'Do What You Do,' as well as weekly clues revealed on the band's Web site."

Grand prize is a Mudvayne "VIP laminate for life," one runner-up will settle for a signed Washburn guitar, and 10 more runners-up will receive signed copies of The New Game's deluxe edition. All in all, a pretty sweet deal -- and perhaps a sign of things to come as artists, labels and retailers begin to think more creatively about how to create the value needed to keep fans buying hardcopy product from brick-and-mortar stores.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nickelback's new album: "no class, no taste"

Some targets are so easy it seems almost shameful to hit them (Chinese Democracy, anyone?). And so it is with a twinge of regret (just a twinge, mind you) that I join the music-critic dogpile on top of Nickelback's new release Dark Horse.

Dark Horse being, of course, a faintly ridiculous name for the latest album by a platinum-selling corporate rock hit machine. But then, many things about this band are faintly ridiculous, as pointed out in the uncharacteristically snarky review by AllMusic Guide's Stephen Thomas Erlewine of the group's latest record:

Nickelback are not known for their insight, but Chad Kroeger's caterwauling claim that "we got no class, no taste" on "Burn It to the Ground," the second song on their sixth album, Dark Horse, is a slice of perceptive, precise self-examination. Nickelback are a gnarled, vulgar band reveling in their ignorance of the very notion of taste, lacking either the smarts or savvy to wallow in bad taste so they just get ugly, knocking out knuckle-dragging riffs that seem rarefied in comparison to their thick, boneheaded words.

Oh Stephen, tell us how you really feel...

As a footnote, the LA Times jumps on the pile as well with a blog piece about how desperate the band appears to compete for sales numbers with David Cook, Axl, et al, offering a first-day discount price for the album of $3.99 that might tend to aggravate the fans who only recently paid 99 cents just to hear the advance single "Gotta Be Somebody"...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Record Store Day planned for April '09

The record store is dead; long live the record store.

Hit by declining sales of hardcopy CDS from brick-and-mortar retail outlets, the traditional record store has been forced to retrench, rethink and renew its approach to business. And now, they're getting some help with that from a likely source.

The National Association of Recording Merchandisers, a.k.a. NARM, recently confirmed it will sponsor Record Store Day on April 18, 2009. As the leading trade association for music retailers, wholesalers, distributors, record labels, multimedia suppliers, suppliers of related products and services, and individual professionals and educators in the music business, NARM aims to help the organizers prepare for the April '09 event as well as continuously promote Record Store Day and the unique culture of indie record stores in the media and online at www.recordstoreday.com.

"NARM is so pleased to be sponsoring Record Store Day 2009," said President Jim Donio. "The extraordinarily successful debut of Record Store Day in 2008 served to perfectly underscore how vibrant and vital record stores are to communities and economies around the world. NARM hopes that its support will enable organizers to make next year's event an even bigger and better celebration of independent music retailers' passion and commitment to the music that enriches and inspires us all."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Springsteen readies new album for January release

Bruce Springsteen's new album Working On A Dream is now set for a January 27 release on Columbia Records. Recorded with the E Street Band during breaks on the Magic tour, the album features twelve new songs plus two bonus tracks :

1. Outlaw Pete
2. My Lucky Day
3. Working on a Dream
4. Queen of the Supermarket
5. What Love Can Do
6. This Life
7. Good Eye
8. Tomorrow Never Knows
9. Life Itself
10. Kingdom of Days
11. Surprise, Surprise
12. The Last Carnival

Bonus tracks:
The Wrestler
A Night with the Jersey Devil

A release from the Springsteen camp quotes Bruce: "Towards the end of recording Magic, excited by the return to pop production sounds, I continued writing. When my friend producer Brendan O'Brien heard the new songs, he said, 'Let's keep going.' Over the course of the next year, that's just what we did, recording with the E Street Band during the breaks on last year's tour. I hope Working On A Dream has caught the energy of the band fresh off the road from some of the most exciting shows we've ever done. All the songs were written quickly, we usually used one of our first few takes, and we all had a blast making this one from beginning to end."

Working On A Dream is Springsteen's twenty-fourth album. It was once again produced and mixed by Brendan O'Brien -- the fourth Springsteen/O'Brien collaboration -- and was recorded and mixed at Southern Tracks in Atlanta, GA with additional recording in New York City, Los Angeles, and New Jersey.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Six degrees of Roy Orbison

For a rock family tree junkie like yours truly, this has to be one of the coolest apps ever to hit the virtual pages of the Web. The folks who manage Roy Orbison's page have installed a feature that lets you enter the name of any musical artist and then walks you through potential links back to Orbison. So many artists have either worked with or publicly acknowledged Orbison as an influence (perfect example of both: Traveling Wilburys) that the game is both easy to play and utterly fascinating for the rock trivia junkie. Play it for yourself...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Paul McCartney offers a clue to the identity of Eleanor Rigby

A fascinating story on MSNBC.com this morning tells the tale of a woman who wrote to former Beatle Paul McCartney seeking a charitable donation and instead received a tantalizing clue to the identity of one of pop music's most famous and speculated-upon figures: the title subject of The Beatles' classic hit "Eleanor Rigby."

When Annie Mawson of the Sunbeams Music Trust opened the envelope she received back from McCartney some nine months after mailing her original request for a half million pounds, she found not a check, but a 1911 salary register from Liverpool City Hospital that features the name E. Rigby, a scullery maid whose annual earnings were 14 pounds. It's unclear when McCartney acquired the document, but regardless, the Sunbeams Music Trust is anticipating a payday of 500,000 pounds ($775,000) or so when it puts the artifact up for auction this month.

R.I.P. Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix drummer)

Drummer and founding member of the Jimi Hendrix Experience Mitch Mitchell was found dead in a Portland Oregon hotel room yesterday morning. He apparently died of natural causes at age 61. Mitchell's manic, jazzy, Keith Moon-influenced approach was a key element in the Experience's sound. In addition to playing with Hendrix for several years, including the famous Woodstock Festival gig, Mitchell also played at various times with Eric Clapton, John Lennon, Jack Bruce, Jeff Beck and Muddy Waters, among others. Mitchell had just finished playing a run of dates with the Experience Hendrix Tour, a tribute act sponsored by the Hendrix family which teamed musicians who knew or played with Jimi during his lifetime with newer artists who were influenced by his music.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guns N' Roses: The apocalypse

All signs suggest the apocalypse is just around the corner... or at the very least, this one does: the 14-years-in-the-making Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy will apparently actually be released on November 23. As supporting evidence, we offer the pre-order link now live on iTunes, including immediate access to a download of the title track when you pre-order the full album.

What's next, earthquakes? Locusts? The return of MC Hammer?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Metallica fan(atic)s unite

Interesting piece on MSNBC.com this morning about the subculture of devoted Metallica fans. As the article chronicles, said fans have been through a lot in the last decade with the band's various musical and personal twists and turns, not to mention Lars Ulrich's little anti-downloading crusade. Fortunately for Metallica, their fans are still devoted enough to do slightly wacky things like using “Nothing Else Matters” as a wedding march... no, seriously.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday roundup

The items are arriving in bunches these days, so...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday Roundup: Sly Stone, The Kinks, The Hold Steady

Items three to you from me:
  • Sly Stone is a musical icon, one of the truly towering figures in the history of soul music. Sly Stone is also a man... a very troubled, erratic and possibly unbalanced man. For more on the Sly one's latest concert debacle, check this account.

  • Joining the recent flurry of reunion rumors are The Kinks, the original British brothers-and-bandmates-who-frequently-can't-stand-one-another-but-make-amazing-music-together. Brother Ray Davies reports that brother Dave has recovered sufficiently from a 2004 stroke for recording and touring to become a real possibility again. Stay tuned...

  • Finally, one of this writer's favorite bands of the moment, The Hold Steady, earned a nice writeup the other day on MSNBC.com.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rock the vote

We interrupt the normal flow of music-related newsy tidbits and rumors for a serious message. Today is the opportunity for all of us Americans who love to hang around and complain about the way things are going to actually do something about it. Today is our chance to make our voice heard in the most meaningful way possible. So, if you want the right to complain for the next four years, you're going to have to earn it by doing one small thing:

VOTE.

That is all.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Wilco: Kicking Blu-ray

The film production company that issued the highly-regarded 2002 Wilco documentary I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is now in a very public tussle with the band over release of a Blu-ray edition of the film. The issue is that the original film was shot in grainy super-16mm black and white, and the soundtrack of the Blu-ray edition is identical to the DVD version -- no remastering -- so what you get, according to the band, is the identical product with no improvement in picture or sound quality for ONLY twice the price of the DVD. Wilco has posted a message on its Web site referencing an e-mail blast to its fans in which it advised them not to buy the Blu-ray edition because it was not worth the extra money. Plexifilms responded with a blog post titled "I am trying to release a Blu-Ray" in which it defended its decision and the picture quality differential between the Blu-ray and DVD versions, and pledged to postpone the release until it can work things out with Wilco.

Meanwhile, we assume all Wilco fans caught the band's memorable visit last Thursday to The Colbert Report, including a very funny interview between Stephen Colbert and frontman Jeff Tweedy, and an exclusive performance of "Wilco The Song," a parody meant to, among other things, tweak Joe The Plumber.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

R.I.P. Michael Baker of Shadow Gallery

Michael A. Baker, founding member and lead vocalist of well-regarded prog-metallers Shadow Gallery, died of a heart attack this week at age 45. Baker had been the band's frontman for its entire 16-year run, including last year's best-of collection Prime Cuts from Magna Carta Records. The band's five studio albums stand as some of the most dynamic and powerful prog-metal of their day. Our condolences to family, friends and the entire Shadow Gallery community.