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Happy Earth Day From Portugal. The Man

portugal. the manOn the occasion of Earth Day 2014, the excellent and uniquely punctuated Portugal. The Man just produced an “endangered song” to raise awareness of the endangered status of Sumatran tiger. The band calls the song “a metaphor for endangered species,” in that it is being offered in an extremely limited edition of 400 vinyl records (there are 400 of these tigers left in the wild). Rolling Stone reports:

The track, “Sumatran Tiger,” does not officially exist digitally, and, like all vinyl records, will eventually degrade and also become extinct. According to the video above, the copies were sent “to 400 carefully chosen influencers, among them actors, activists, musicians, conservationists, bloggers and journalists” and is, as the band claims, “the first song meant to go extinct unless it’s reproduced.”

The band encouraged fans to “scour the Internet” using the hashtags #endangeredsong and #sumatrantiger to find recordings of the song.

Watch this short video for info:

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Jae Apollo's "The Third Intro" Video

Jae ApolloIt was just a couple of months ago that we brought you the video for “Rock Bottom” from one of our favorite hip-hop artists, Jae Apollo. Now he’s back with “The Third Intro” from his mixtape Late For My Arrival. It’s a straightforward autobiographical meditation on levels of success and what drives an artist, and yields the instantly classic line, “Fuck the mass appeal, I’m comfortable being real / Earn me a couple mil and slide off somewhere and chill.” Hey, he’s not asking for much. This is a great track that, to our ears, makes an already fascinating artist even more compelling. The simple, head-on, into the camera delivery of the video underscores the plaintive lyric. JaeApollo.com

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American Football Reunites

american footballThe influential indie rock trio American Football has reunited for the first time in 15 years. Mike Kinsella (later of Owls, among others), along with Steves Lamos and Holmes, are scheduled to perform on September 18 at The Pygmalion Festival in Champaign/Urbana, IL. Then, on October 11, the band will play Manhattan, at Webster Hall.

In conjunction with the reunion, the band’s original label, Polyvinyl Records, will reissue the band’s 1999 self-titled debut in a deluxe edition. This comes on May 20. Listen to “The 7’s [Live At The Blind Pig, Champaign, IL, 1997]” below, and visit americanfootballmusic.com for more information.

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Jack White Does Cool Stuff, Like Set World Records For Records

Jack-White-PR-2010Former White Stripes mastermind Jack White inspires a lot of mixed reactions. Love him or hate him – it’s usually one or the other, with few music fans abstaining. We think that means he’s doing something right. As he branched out of the White Stripes, White took on some challenges as an artist and businessman. Starting The Raconteurs with Brendan Benson was a bit of a surprise, sharing the spotlight with a co-frontman and making slightly more accessible pop music. As a producer, he brought focus on some interesting music, with The Black Belles and The Greenhornes, among others, and helped create a fresh new work from country legend Loretta Lynn with her Van Lear Rose album. His work as head of Third Man Records has also brought us some interesting projects, including a studio, record store on wheels, a legacy label that re-releases rare albums, a “novelties lounge,” which includes a recording booth, and, most recently, the world’s fastest-released record. NME tells it:

At 10am on Saturday (April 19), the singer took to the stage in the Blue Room of his studio to record a limited edition direct-to-acetate single. The room is the only live venue in the world where artists can record live shows straight to vinyl. The masters were then rushed over to United Record Pressing plant in Nashville, which began pressing the 45s before they were delivered back to hundreds of fans queuing outside Third Man, some of whom had queued all night to be there.

…Some 3 hours, 55 minutes and 21 seconds later, White returned in a black car flanked by the two men on motorbikes dressed as police officers to sell the first copy of the 7″ on the specially constructed stall outside the Third Man shop. 

Come on, that’s pretty cool.

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New Video And Free Download From The Well Reds

the well redsI don’t know how we missed this, but a couple of weeks ago, one of our longtime favorites, The Well Reds, released a new video for their song “Carousels.” The song is characteristically grand, driving, and melancholic, but ultimately hopeful. Singer Jeremy Ezell describes it: “We all have a story. We all have a cycle to break. Carousels is a song for those who believe in something bigger than their circumstances.” Watch the video below and download the song (+4) for free at Noisetrade.

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Prince And Warner Bros. Make Nice, Announce New Projects

prince-650Prince, the man for whom the word “enigmatic” was coined, has reunited with his old label Warner Bros., with which he had some of his greatest successes from 1978-1996. His split from Warners was publicly acrimonious, with Prince characterizing himself as a slave to the corporation.

Eighteen years has seemingly healed those wounds, and Prince is now working on a new album for the label, while also planning a re-release of his classic Purple Rain in time for the album’s 30th anniversary. Okay, maybe it’s not just the time that’s passed – as Billboard reports, Prince almost certainly negotiated a favorable new deal for himself in regards to his Warner’s catalog, which he reportedly has regained ownership under provisions of the Copyright Revision Act of 1976.

In any case, great news for fans.

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RIP Little Joe Cook

littlejoecook1Little Joe Cook, who had a big hit in 1957 with “Peanuts” with his doo-wop group Little Joe Cook & the Thrillers, died this week. He was 91.

A true music lifer with a distinctive falsetto, Cook played regularly at The Cantab, a little club in Cambridge, MA, until he physically couldn’t do it anymore. Some of these performances were legendary, with Cook working the crowd with the force of his personality and a stellar repertoire of classics and lost classics – including, of course, “Peanuts.”

He told the Boston Globe in 2012, “People don’t get it. Sure, I would have liked more hits. But sometimes the thing you give isn’t about the number of hits, but your influence. I have been influential, a lot more than a lot of other singers.”

Saturday Is Record Store Day

PrintJust a friendly public service announcement. This Saturday, April 19th, is Record Store Day.

Record Store Day is not only a good opportunity to reacquaint yourself with your local purveyor of fine records, cassettes, and compacted discs, but it is also a chance to catch some good deals and rare items. Artists and labels alike are hip to this holiday and have, for years now, been using it to roll out cool promotional and limited releases, especially in the realm of vinyl. Here are a few favorites to check out, starting, of course, with the kings of oddball releases, The Flaming Lips (their label, Warner Bros., is an official RSD sponsor, and have a number of great offerings):

The Flaming Lips: 7 SKIES H3 – Single-pocket jacket, regular-weight clear vinyl 12″ – Limited to 7.500 copies. On vinyl for the first time ever. A 50 minute distillation across 10 tracks of the remarkable 24-hour song recorded at Tarbox Road Studios in 2011. Includes digital download card.

The Flaming Lips: Gates Of Steel – Single-pocket jacket, regular-weight silver vinyl 7″ – Limited to 7,500 copies. Part of the WMG’s Side By Side series. Includes Devo’s “Gates of Steel” from the original DEV-O Live EP and a previously unreleased cover by The Flaming Lips all on gorgeous silver vinyl! R.I.P. Bob 2. This is for you, wherever you are.
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Streaming Services And The Future Of Music(ians)

david byrneA few weeks ago, artist David Byrne published on his website an essay entitled “How Will the Wolf Survive: Can Musicians Make a Living in the Streaming Era.” In it, he relays his view that, unless changes are adopted in the way musicians earn from streaming music, musicians will wither and their heretofore steady stream of art will dry up. Streaming services, he says, impart legitimacy to the act of consuming music without paying for it.

This reinforces the idea that music is something you can (and should) get for free, even if now it’s legal. For consumers this is a pretty amazing deal”it’s like Napster, but legal! The government tends to view things that way too”what’s good for the consumer is theoretically encouraged and supported. Sadly, consumers and businesses that cater to their demands don’t often take the long view; they’ve been known to overfish huge swaths of the oceans, spill oil over and over, chop down all the trees in a forest and then wonder why the topsoil that would support reforesting has washed away. So, I wonder similarly if streaming-on-demand might be similarly a business model that will deplete the resource”we who create music”that it depends upon. Many industries have depleted the resources they depend on, it’s not like it hasn’t happened before.

Byrne goes on with a point-by-point discussion of the common responses to this troubling vision, and suggests four things that could drastically improve – or at least illuminate – the challenges he sees. He calls for a better split of the monies paid out from the streaming services, a chance to opt-out, transparency in accounting, and an end to “free” streaming services. It is worth reading in full, and note the ways in which he defines the services he’s critiquing, specifically excluding non on-demand options like Pandora.

Billy Bragg responded to Byrne’s view in a speech given at an event sponsored by Music Tank (which he subsequently adapted for his own Facebook page). Bragg mostly agrees with Byrne’s perspective, making some distinctions that are experiential, and some that are simply uncertainties, but then disagrees with one key element of Byrne’s four suggestions:
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