Sunday, January 30, 2011

WTF: Fountains of Wayne

Today's WTF Moment comes courtesy of Fountains of Wayne, one of the most musically and lyrically brilliant bands of the past decade, with more pure musical talent packed into a single unit than the last 1,000 American Idol contestants combined, who have a new album completed and in the can but don't really know when it will come out because, ahem, THEY DON'T HAVE A RECORD DEAL at the moment.

WTF?

Yes, after producing arguably the finest power-pop album of the century in 2003's masterful, brilliant Welcome Interstate Managers, and following it up with the nearly-its-equal Traffic & Weather (2007), the New Jersey quartet are without label backing.  Because, what, labels have too much incredibly smart, incredibly catchy, proven-market-appeal music on their hands already?  Yeah.  Right.

Someone out there please correct this travesty immediately.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Artist Spotlight: Eric Clapton

This week we turn the Artist Spotlight on a fellow who's been called a lot of things over the years -- Yardbird, bluesman, E.C., genius, junkie, even, for a time, God. Eric Clapton has worn many musical guises, from the Yardbirds to Cream, Blind Faith, Derek & The Dominos and his long and intermittently successful solo career. This week, Staff Writer David Bowling takes on one of the more neglected corners of E.C.'s career, those pesky late '70s and 1980s albums where Clapton floundered a bit, searching for the right sound to satisfy both his muse and the times. The going won't always be smooth, but it will most assuredly be interesting, so tune in...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cake tastes yummy (and other observations)

The headline of the e-mail caught my eye right away: "Cake’s Showroom of Compassion debuts at #1 on the billboard top 200, achieves highest chart position of their career."

Heh.  You see, it was just a few days ago that I gave Showroom a distinctly lukewarm B-. But then, the point of both enjoying music and writing about it is not to be influenced by others' opinions of it. That may sound slightly self-contradictory coming from a music writer, but I don't think people should blindly agree with me any more than they should blindly agree with the lemmings in the crowd.

Cake is a very talented band that's made some great music in the past.  I don't happen to think Showroom lives up to the promises made by past outings, but music buyers clearly had other ideas. More power to them, and good for Cake.

There did seem to be consensus on one point. I said "Sick of You" was a terrific single, and the market seems to agree. To quote the e-mail again: "'Sick of You' reaches top 5 at both alternative & triple A radio." Nice.

Of course, there was a depressing footnote to all of this. Showroom of Compassion achieved the #1 position with sales of 44,000 units, making it the lowest-selling #1 album in SoundScan history