Thursday, March 26, 2015

SXSW 2015 RECAPS



Had lotsa fun as usual at the festival and a big thanks to the great people on my music magazine panel: Jim DeRogatis, Jaan Uhelski, Alex Gale, Ann Powers.  I've been posting a bunch of photos and videos of all the stuff I saw (about 70 bands in all) at TheBlot including:

- Highlights from Day 1 - March 17th, including Barbettes, Songhoy Blues, Spoon, Moving Panoramas, The Ooohh Baby Gimme Mores, Apanhador Só

- Highlights from Day 2 - March 18th, including Sego, Public Service Broadcasting, Speedy Ortiz, Wolf Alice, 

- Highlights from the rest of the week- March 19th-21st, including the Zombies, Odesza, Bomba Estereo, Chandos, Courtney Barnett, Lilly Hiatt, Elle King, Peelander-Z, Holychild, Kate Tempest, Prince Rama, Seinabo Sey

I'm already looking forward to next year though I could use a week to decompress now.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

How to Improve the Grammys


OK, I understand why for even music fans, the Grammys are a jaded topic- it's an empty, glitzy pageant and a way for the biz to try to boost itself and congratulate itself. I used to watch it and enjoy it, mostly for the unique mash-up of artists they'd do but even that's gotten kind of tired.  Otherwise, it's a way for artists to boost their resumes and I'll probably just watch highlights after the fact online. 

I wrote an article about 14 categories they should have at the Grammys to maybe improve them:
http://www.theblot.com/14-grammy-categories-we-want-to-see-7734408
Always glad to help!



Monday, February 02, 2015

BOB DYLAN'S WEIRDEST HITS


For TheBlot, I wrote about the upcoming Dylan album Strangers in the Night where he takes on some Sinatra classics but covered more about what other kind of weird/odd/strange things he's done in his career, such as... 

- The lingerie ad


- His Christian years where he'd lecture crowds about Jesus


- His Christmas album

And there's more.  And with Ol' Bob, reassured that there will be more to come...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Best Music Writing of 2014 & more articles


Red Bull Music Academy was nice enough to let me do another year-end round up of "Best Music Journalism 2014" and while I'm always honored to get the chance to do this (previously for the good people at rockcritics.com, Blurt and PopMatters), I'm also always kind of let down by doing it too.

Mostly, that's because there's other articles I'd love to list but don't have the space for, not to mention that I won't listen anything from Perfect Sound Forever 'cause that would be favoritism (though I really think that ALL our writers there deserve props).  Also, just like any year-end music round up, you always find out about great items after the fact and think 'how the hell did I miss that?' 

In that spirit, here's a number of other music articles I really liked from 2014. 
(As a side note, I forgot to mention in the RBMA intro that another great source for rounding up music stories is SXSW Daily Chord.)
I notice that when I do these lists, some writers will say that they're a little let down that I didn't include them there.  I understand that- all of us scribes need a pat on the back sometimes, especially since we usually don't get that kindness from readers, editors and peers.  I always say that when you do see a good article, you should contact the writer/editor/publication to say so- that way, you'll not only boost the confidence of the writer to do more quality work but you might also convince the editor/pub to keep working with them.  The next time you want to complain that there isn't any good music writing out there, why not be part of the solution instead?  And if you're still not satisfied, why not write yourself?
As for 2015, I'm already starting to round up good articles. I know that they're gonna still be out there, no matter what the shape of the scribe biz is in.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014's Greatest Hits

This was a great year for singles but for albums, there was a falling off.  Not the usual 'today's music sucks' kinda vibe (which is tired) but the feeling that maybe the Net age is choking off creativity in some ways, especially as there's been plenty of good albums in the last few years (I heard a lot more good albums in 2013, 2012, 2011) but much less so that I've found this year, all of which might be related to digital sales falling off and streaming offing tiny paychecks for artists.  I wonder if somehow the fact that Springsteen made a really good album via re-treads and Jack White and the Pixies did the same in some ways with their new material and still make good albums might be related to this.

The most frustrating thing is the artists who have some great singles but don't really cut it when it comes to a full album, as if they're just on the edge of making something great but not quite there- I'm thinking of Imelda May, Paloma Faith and Hoody Allen in particular (maybe Prince this time too).  I also wish the TV on the Radio record and one or both of the 2014 Parquet Courts albums were a little better too though the 2nd PC album's grown on me.

Non-EDM techo still has lots of tricks in its bag thankfully (thanks especially to online stores like Bleep, Boomkat and Juno for making this readily available) and it's not just singles but also albums that are staying strong there. And I'm admittedly a sucker for indie-girl pop but there's been a spate of great music this year from Sugar Stems, Honeyblood, Beach Day and others.

For what it's worth, I'm also glad to see that some AARP artists can still make engaging albums, including Springsteen, Marianne Faithfull, Amy Ray, the Alvin brothers and Chrissie Hynde (though definitely not U2)- also De La Soul, Old 97's, the Pixies and Brad Paisley will be there in a few years themselves.

Also curious is that many great songs are still basically label-less or exist only on Soundcloud, which essentially means the same thing.  A lot of these are remixes and it's probably just easier for these artists to redo the tunes and put them out as promos instead of going through the licensing/publishing/rights/money/etc. but I'm grateful that we can hear 'em through streaming.

For singles, I'm also in love with the wonderful Hype Machine site/app to find great material and you should check out it out too and find your own favorites.  For album releases, my favorite sources are still great indie stores Other Music and Aquarius (support both of 'em, I do) and the weekly listings from AllMusic and Pause and Play.

Just like any music fan, my rankings change minute by minute but I can live with the order below, as least as I'm typing this right now...  For various publications, I'll be turning in top 10 lists and that  keep changing but I always consider a full list like this to be the real way that I relate to my fave music. If you're a music fan too, I encourage you to post and share your own lists- I find out a lot about great music from other fans and hope that you might find some great stuff here too.




ALBUMS
Many of the albums above are on this Spotify playlist.



SINGLES
Every song above that I could find on Spotify is on this playlist.



REISSUES/ARCHIVES



BOOKS




MUSIC MOVIES 
 



VIDEOS



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