Posts Tagged ‘The National’


January 5, 2012

Is rock dead? It is according to the Black Keys and Ke$ha.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney said “Rock & roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world”. At the same time pop singer Ke$ha told MTV News.” People say that rock and roll is dead, and it is my mission and my goal to resurrect it in the form of my pop music.”

The raw facts however suggest that rock isn’t dead, or least is breathing easier. According to Nielsen SoundScan, in America Rock was the biggest music genre of 2011. Rock music had a 1.9% sales increase during 2011 and sold almost double total R&B sales.
It comes down semantics of course. The Black Keys and Ke$ha aren’t talking about the same thing when they talk about “rock”. For Nielsen SoundScan it’s a genre rather than a musical spirit. And that’s where The Black Keys and Ke$ha are in unison. “Rock” used to be that music which had an edge, the music that pushed at the boundaries. Rap has been the new “rock”.

I’m not a fan of bands like Nickleback and Maroon 5, but it’s too easy to make them a target fore derision. There have always been bland bands– Electric Light Orchestra, Chicago – acts which radio gravitate towards because they are safe and non-confrontational. They serve a purpose. We remember them, and we’ll remember Nickelback, for their success rather than their contribution. The bands that define “rock” were more often than not NOT successful in sales terms. Their importance is measured by impact and influence. It’s hard to find that kind of artist amongst today’s “rock” fraternity. Rock doesn’t have an Eminem. I can’t think of a contemporary rocker who might inspire the future. Dave Groel and Jack White are contenders, but they’re keeping the flame alive not lighting new fires.

In those terms rock IS dead but look and listen hard enough there’s some exceptional rock music being written and recorded – The National, Cold War Kids, The Kills, Death Cab For Cutie – and while there’s a band around of the calibre of Radiohead you can’t say rock is dead.

What’s dead is rock music that’s “dangerous”.


Britney Vs Gaga: No contest

February 20, 2011

(I’m back – excuse the interruption)

So here we are, waiting (eagerly?) for major new releases from pop princesses Lady Gaga and Britney Spears. The contrast couldn’t be more different.

Britney – not matter what she has in store for us – promises more of the same. Gaga is the best thing to happen to music in a long long time. I’m sure even she doesn’t know what will happened tomorrow. That’s part of why she’s so interesting. As the music industry salivated over the then forthcoming ‘Hold It Against Me’ single I found myself wondering “why”? Who could possibly be interested in Britney any more?

You could understand it once. New girl on the block, a prospective rival for Madonna. That jailbait thing while she was telling us about reading the Bible every day and saving her virginity. None of it was true. She’s given us the odd good tune, made some entertaining (provocative) videos, but it’s all been a big fat lie. We’ve been deceived. The trainwreck of her personal life is sad, but no reason to deserve loyalty. What’s she got for us that we’re not also getting now from Katy Perry (saucy, but cheeky with it) or Rihanna (sexy and striking)? Britney’s music comes from the same production line (literally). What does Britney herself have to add and offer?

These days singer are often like fashion models. Someone else is responsible for the clothes they wear. Pop stars have become “clothes” horses. Here’s what you’ll wear today, get out on the catwalk and sell.

There is just one of Lady Gaga’s differences. She generates what we hear and see – with help of course , but she’s the engine. While others helped her become what she’s become amd she relies on a team to help her be what she wants to be, behind the craziness there’s a REAL Stefani Germanatto, with her feet on the ground. Her father is her business partner, but not her manager like others we could mention whose parents have pushed them into the spotlights mindless of the consequences. How many of the “problems” we perceive in others can be sheeted home to opportunist, bad parenting? Gaga is control. She’s running this show, at her own break-neck speed, not the industry’s.

There shouldn’t be a ‘Fame Monster’. She was simply supposed to add some new tracks to ‘The Fame’ to breathe extra sales life into that debut album, forcing her biggest fans to invest again. But the ever-excessive Gaga came up with TOO MANY tracks. She came up with another album! As her fame grew so did her shows, not just in number, but in extravagance. Lady Gaga hasn’t deceived her fans (her monsters). She’s shown her gratitude and devotion to them all the way.

The whole controversy about ‘Born This Way’ – is it or is it not Madonna-like? – is almost laughable. This singer constantly shows herself to be more than a song. It’s a package. It’s an event. It’s an adventure. While the music industry moans and groans about its fortunes, manufactures and manipulates, losing its “love” for music, Gaga providing everything that’s missing. Excitement. Passion. Commitment.

And she sings and dances.

If music is a carnival, Britney is the old Ghost Train (I’m not scared any more), Gaga is the Plunge of Death. ( Aaaaghh!)

What I’m listening to:

The National (High Violet) – Just can’t get enough of this album. The drama, the poetry, the intelligence!

Julia Stone (Memory Machine) – Raw, honest, almost agonizing emotion on display.

(Please come back for more)


June 17, 2010

Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton may be investigated under child pornography laws after posting an upskirt picture  of teen starlet Miley Cyrus on his Twitter page getting out of a car apparently without underwear. After an understandable outcry Perez has removed the offending image and has tried to deflect the issue by saying Miley wouldn’t be that stupid.

That’s not the issue. Perez Hilton is the issue. It was only a matter of time before he went too far, and whether the photo was doctored or not, he finally has gone too far. It’s time that record companies, artists and their managers put a stop to this vile “man”. The stars don’t need him, he needs the stars and it’s time to cut him loose.

Perez Hilton belongs to the likes of his namesake Paris Hilton, celebrities who are famous for being famous and nothing more. Let THEM pally up to Perez. Worthless no-talents with worthless no-talents. If you’re in the least talented at some artistic endeavour stay away. Don’t  dirty yourself by associating with this creature.

Haven’t we had enough of the celebrity-for-celebrity’s sake? If we have, we need to start somewhere and Perez Hilton is the first step. Let’s cut him down. Take away his power base. Then there’s the paparazzi, climbing fences with their long-distance lenses, to capture some image we were never meant to see.

In the end it’s our fault, for feeding these voyeurs. If Perez Hilton is charged, and God I hope he is, then so should the rest of, everyone who lusted for that image of a 17-year old crotch. That won’t happen of course. We won’t be charged but we should give a hard time to everyone who lives off this stuff so we can admire real people for accomplishing real things.

John Lennon had that song ‘Imagine’. Imagine a world where Britney Spears drives up and down Hollywood looking for attention and no-one gave a stuff! Wouldn’t that be something?

What I’m listening to: Crowded House (The Intriguer), The National (High Violet), Captain Beefheart (Safe As Milk)


May 20, 2010

So  Axl Rose is suing his former high-profile manager Irving Azoff for a minimum of $5 million. Two months ago Azoff  filed a law suit against Rose for nearly $1.9 million in unpaid fees.

And it all centres around ‘Chinese Democracy’, that Guns N’Roses album we waited 15 years to hear, which sank without making a splash. Axl says Azoff deliberately didn’t promote ‘Chinese Democracy’ to force Axl into a corner which would give the singer no choice but to reunite the classic Guns N’Roses line-up.  Azoff blames Axl Rose for refusing to promote the album.  There were no interviews. Eventually Axl did take his current line-up on the road. Axl says Azoff resigned as manager on the eve of a major world tour, but still tried to claim commissions that he’d never earned.

On our side of the fence we’ll never know who did what and who didn’t do what. What we know is that Axl Rose’s troubles date back to October 1996 when he legally claimed ownership of the band name. Guitarist Slash departed immediately, and one by one other members left or were sacked until Axl was left last man standing. He might say this band he fronts today  is Guns N’Roses, but IS it Guns N’Roses really?  If he’d done more it might have been. At this stage we’re not sure.

The leftover Doors Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger have just announced that Steelheart vocalist Miljenko Matijevic will be joining Ray and Krieger for a US tour as a special guest singer, presumably their latest attempt to keep the Doors brand name alive, even though former drummer John Densmore stopped them using the name The Doors when they first decided to tour without him. They can’t use the Doors name, but it’s the Doors music they perform. I’ll bet there isn’t one song from the two Jim Morrison-less albums released after Jim died. Is it still the Doors?

The founding members of Australia’s Little River Band – Glenn Shorrock, Graeham Goble and Beeb Birtles  – also the guys who wrote all of the band’s big hits – left the band one by one until Johnny-come-lately guitarist Steve Housden  took over ownership of the name. He’s legally barred Shorrock, Goble and Birtles from using the name in any fashion to promote anything they might do together –even in its shortened form of LRB.  The current line-up of LRB – with no original member and without contributing one new song to the repertoire in 20 years makes a very nice living thank you performing 100 gigs a year playing those original songs.

Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger  have very cleverly kept The Doors name alive, through performances, reissues and so forth. Why wouldn’t you? It’s a goldmine. Use it or you lose it.

Axl Rose was arrogant claiming Guns N’Roses name, but ultimately wise, because he kept his bandmates from using it while Axl hid away in his mansion, promising but not delivering all these years. In this case, Axl has taken the name but hasn’t use the music that came with it. He might have used the name but lost the music.

What I’m listening to: The National (High Violet); LCD Soundsystem (This Is Happening) , Arcade Fire (Neon Bible)