The 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.
It’s sad to see any band fracture, feud, and get litigious but doubly so when it’s a band beloved for their anti-establishment, punk ethos. Pitchfork has the details today on the latest in the Black Flag saga. In recent years, Keith Morris, Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena, and Bill Stevenson have been performing as FLAG, along with Stevenson’s Descendants bandmate Stephen Egerton on guitar. This did not sit well with Black Flag and SST Records founder Greg Ginn, particularly FLAG’s use of the famous Black Flag logo.
In the recent decision, Ginn and SST retain ownership of the name and logo. Ginn will likely continue with his iteration of Black Flag, which released the uneven What The… last year, among his myriad other projects. FLAG will seemingly continue as FLAG, but without the logo.
Former 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.
I 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, 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.
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.”
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.
A 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:
Rumors have been circulating that rock legends ACÏŸDC may be retiring after an incredible 40-year career due to the deteriorating health of guitarist, singer, and songwriter Malcolm Young. At first it was reported that Young, whose brother Angus is the lead guitarist and more public face of the band, was stricken with terminal cancer, but word is now that he actually suffered a stroke, which has left a blod clot in his brain. Note that this is all unconfirmed. The effects of a stroke can vary wildly from patient to patient and Young could certainly have a near-full recovery, but even in that case, it seems unlikely that he would continue the rigorous schedule of a touring rock band. A press conference is expected tomorrow.
What can be said about ACÏŸDC? They have been the world’s premier hard rock band for my entire life. Just when I was ready to write them off, I happened to catch them a couple of years ago and was absolutely blown away by their performance. They survived the death of their iconic lead singer, Bon Scott, only to come back with the landmark Back In Black record, continuing their career with a string of hits and an incredibly loyal fan base that renewed itself each year. We wish them the best. (h/t The Orstrahyun)
One of the best Malcolm vocals: