We are loving Mike Skinner at the moment. His last album was brilliant (pity not many people listened), and now he’s just giving away his music, and a lot of it is pretty great.
But his new song is the best yet. It’s called ‘He’s Behind You, He’s Got Swine Flu’. It’s fun, it’s hilarious and it taps right into that strange end-of-the-world-in-a-sci-fi-way of this epidemic. There’s also a great clip to go with it that is taken from old Zombie movies.
Skinner has gone some way to say that these releases have nothing to do with his label.
We are loving this. And it sounds like Skinner is loving this as well, after two albums pretty much devoid of fun. Not sure if there is another album around the corner, but as long as he keeps giving us cool tracks like this, we’re not sure it matters.
At times, it feels like we have little good things to say about reality TV or guitar hero. But do two wrongs make a right? We might find out soon. Activision, owners of Rock Band, has mentioned an interest in creating a TV show, and maybe even a tour.
OK, so we grant you the quote may well be a flippant comment on behalf of one exec. Still, the mind boggles.
Reality TV we can’t really say much about. But Guitar Hero, and it’s cousin Rockband, are just so interesting at the moment. We like the game. We were complete cynics before we tried it, and we will admit happily that it’s a lot of fun – for a bit. But it’s not a way to listen to music. It’s barely a way to discover new music.
It’s just a dead end.
All this hoopla about Metallica, Aerosmith and others, having exclusive versions of such games, is just over blown. Sure it’s great exposure, but those are some of the biggest rock bands in the world. What works for those nutty bands have never worked for anyone else. KISS coffins, anyone? We’re talking about metal and hard rock here. Most of the hard rock record shops I grew up with had more t-shirts than records. Chains, stickers, and just lots and lots of stuff. It’s cool – we own a lot of that stuff – but that’s where Guitar Hero falls into.
There is also the purist argument. Why not just learn the guitar? We get the flaw in this argument – most people can’t. It’s friggin hard. But in the long run, it’s more rewarding.
Guitar hero is also just keeping it’s head above the credibility waters. We cannot imagine those bands appearing as judges on a show. Unless Guitar Hero are REALLY making a lot of money.
(As an aside, we love the new, free, simple feature in Apple’s Garageband. It comes with free guitar and piano lessons. That warms our slightly snobby, liberal hearts)
So, who knows what TV show Guitar Hero could spawn. It should just be like Don’t Forget the Lyrics. A fun little game show for Joe The Plumber Whose Hobbie Is To Rock Out. But maybe it will be awesome, and I can happily eat my words. The music, at least, is bound to be good. More likely, if this show is ever made, it will last a season. And we will laugh about this like the Super Mario Brothers movie.
We’ve all seen them flood youtube. Amateur and home recordings of people, every day folk like you or I, performing the music of others. Thousands upon thousands of guitarists, piano players and singers showing off their chops.
It is this phenomenon that kicked off the new album by Ben Folds. The album is called University A Cappella, and it does just what it says on the tin. It’s University A Cappella groups covering Ben Folds songs.
The idea came from Folds being sent a link of a university a cappella group performing one of his songs.
Once he decided to record these a cappella versions, he put the word out online and University groups submitted 250 versions of his songs for consideration. 14 groups make the final tracklisting, and Folds himself contributes two tracks.
It is a surprisingly varied recording. The ‘Loreleis’ stand out by being an all girl group. The female voice also counter points on You Don’t Know Me performed by ‘With Someone Else’s Money’. Folds himself flew around the US to halls, studios and whatever rooms he could find to help oversee the recordings.
We don’t see this as being a major work. It will sit along side ‘Fear Of Pop’ and the Shatner record as curiosities in Folds’ career. What is cool is how this record came together. There is a link to a video below, and seeing these kids very excited to be recording is a blast.
It all came full circle in February when the Nasoons, the a cappella group from Princeton who started it all, supported Ben Folds at a gig. So next time you put up that video of yourself playing a song, you might end up supporting the band one day!
We haven’t really listened to his music since the Downward Spiral. But we still follow Trent Reznor’s career as a pioneer in the digital playground. The man is in the press a lot. So, follow us as we take a stroll through some of Trent Reznor’s other greatest hits.
1. NIN Access – the Nine Inch Nails iPhone App. It’s pretty great actually. Solid, well made, with plenty of news, videos, forums, messages and more. Pioneering but not groundbreaking, this app is so fantastically functional it should be standard for bands.
2. Even after the success of the app, he’s not resting quiet. Just this week, he’s been a vocal critic of Apple’s app store rejection policies.
3. Attacking Chris Cornell on Twitter. The man even uses the latest tech to insult his contemporaries. The full tweet -“You know that feeling you get when somebody embarrasses themselves so badly YOU feel uncomfortable? Heard Chris Cornell’s record? Jesus,”.
4. Forget a t-shirt or a sticker. The tie-in for the album Year Zero was a video game.
5. He’s going to go down as a pioneer of direct-to-fan packages. His last album, the Slip, was announced on his website and sold 250K limited edition versions.
6. Beyond the deluxe versions, he offers his albums five different audio formats. The lowest quality is VBR V0 MP3, followed by two lossless formats, FLAC and Apple Lossless. Also released were 24-bit, 96 kHz FLAC and WAV files. And why the hell not.
7. He produced Saul William’s 2007 album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! He also distributed by his standard new age method. It was offered both for free in a low quality version and a paid version for high quality. And complained loudly when no one paid for the better one.
8. When he saw the prices of the CDs in Australia, he openly attacked his record company from the stage. He actively encouraged his fans to steal his music. The man is a rebel.
Has it really been a year since Viva La Vida? Coldplay are in the headlines again, this time thanks to the former Cat Stevens.
Silly plagiarism cases aside, we really enjoyed the Coldplay album (definitely a step up), but we really love how they made all the right moves – yet again – with their fans. As it’s almost been a year, we thought we would look back at all the cool things they did.
Firstly, we at GLF really loved how there wasn’t a super expensive, existing-fans-only package. Everyone is welcome and equal in Coldplay’s world. Even when there was a bonus edition, Coldplay took the almost forgotten step of making the EP (named Prospekt’s March) available separately. And it wasn’t a bunch of terrible remixes or the sound of Brian Eno scraping a barrel. Heck, two of the songs from the EP became singles. One of them Life In Technicolor II, we think is the best track on both sets.
Secondly, they did great small launch shows, before launching on a real man’s world tour. Starting with those small club shows in New York and London (also a lovely live set on the front steps of the BBC for passers by), it escalated to a tour of the world’s biggest stadiums. And when we mean world, we don’t just mean the Us and Europe. From Singapore to Perth to Mexico, Coldplay are going everywhere, and playing to record crowds by doing it (who else is there to see?). And they are not just stopping by once. They have gone back and forth, playing countries like Germany in 3 cities before moving on. Dates run until September this year, ending in London’s Wembley Stadium. Yes, support for those shows will be Girls Aloud. At least it’s different.
Third, they have been great to the fans. We handed over our email addresses to get that free download of Violet Hill over a year ago. We don’t read every word, but the not over whelming amount of mail we get from Coldplay is usually great. Lots of prizes like signed setlists, plectrums and more in every mail. There’s updates from “Roadie #42”, our friend on the inside of the Coldplay camp, giving us access from backstage. We also love “The Oracle“, and place for people to ask any question. Find silly facts like Coldplay uses Macs (good boys)! It’s quite funny. Oh and don’t forget their Twitter, MySpace and YouTube sites. The occasionally free Mp3 for no reason. They are really active and engaging fans. At a level never before tried by a band.
Lastly, they have just announced a free CD giveaway on all their (non-festival) shows this year. The CD, called ‘LeftRightLeftRightLeft’, contains nine live tracks, all of recent vintage. You can download the tracks for free from the site, or pick up a disc shaped souvenir at a show.
So they may not be your favourite band, but darn it, Coldplay are doing very well at being a HUGE band. We are sitting in May and the U2 and Bruce Springsteen albums of this year are already history. Yet people can’t get enough of Coldplay. We like them, and we like what they try to do, and it has been a joy to casually follow this band for the last year. How many bands can you say that about?
After the jump, the very funny film clip for Life In Technicolour ii
Ashton Kutcher made headlines by beating CNN to a million followers on Twitter. But who are the music stars on Twitter?
Britney Spears has blitzed the 1 million mark right behind Kutcher and CNN. Today she is on 1.307,497 followers. Other stars?
As of May 4th, 2009 – John Mayer comes close with 948,413, P Diddy has 804,531 Coldplay sits on 722,533. We couldn’t find any other musicians over the half a million mark other than Dave Matthews who has 558,618. Trent Reznor bubbles just under at 438,868.
(Can you find anymore? Please let us know in comments).
It doesn’t bode well for Twitter being a place to discover music, especially new music. Even artists considered to cutting edge, like Lily Allen, hasn’t broken the 100K mark. The stars on Twitter seem to be existing megastars – not the next breaking wave, like in Myspace.
And of course, many of those megastar acts don’t have Myspace. U2, Kings Of Leon, Metallica and Radiohead are represented by fan twitters. The Killer’s ‘official’ page has but one post, four months old. There’s a big gap, and music fans on Twitter are bound to have a unsatisfactory experience.
This comes hot on the heels of the news that Twitter is not shaping up to be the future. News this week shows that 60% of Twitter’s audience do not return to the site in the following month. In short, not much is happening on there.
What will come of it now? It seems that almost everyone has heard of Twitter by now, but how does it explain it’s low numbers, and lack of activity?
Maybe Facebook and Google both made the right call to NOT buy Twitter…
Technology is moving forward so quickly, and so many bands and artists are trying new things. It’s why this site exists. Our new favourite oddity is the latest video from Empire Of the Sun.
For their We Are The People video, the band have created an Interactive Video. It lives here – once it finally loads. It seems to take a while.
Links is video have started to take hold. They are all over embedded videos on Youtube, with links to outside sites, to buy CDs or other items. Big ugly banners covering the poor resolution video. Sound quality doesn’t matter. Why should video?
But Empire Of the Sun have made something creative out of this idea. The Australian duo are starting to become hot property worldwide. For their new video for We Are The People, little orbs appear throughout the clip. Clicking on the orbs lead you to extended footage, behind the scene stuff, and goodies to enter a competition. One link even leads you to an MP3 of their last single, Walking On A Dream, remixed by Van She.
It sounds slightly better than it is. The orbs look to be tacked into the clip, and not a part of it. The video player lacks any controls, meaning once you click on something, you’re out of that page. It doesn’t make for a very good viewing experience. The film clip itself is pretty wow. The band have a great image, and set in the backdrop of Spain – it’s just weird and looks great.
So is this the future, a new trend, or a one off? It’s a pretty cool gimmick, but we can’t imagine this setting a new bar for music videos. Maybe we’re wrong. Right now though, we’re going to watch the clip again, make sure we didn’t miss anything.
Prince has come along way in the last decade. Having left WB records, he fell off the radar after tattooing the word ‘Slave’ to his face, and recording mediocre albums like ‘Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic‘.
Two years ago he made a triumphant return with 21 nights at London’s O2. He sold his albums with newspapers, gave them away with show tickets and even released a 3CD, with the wonderfully silly name LOtUSFLOW3R as a Target exclusive in the US. He also sued Youtube before anyone else.
Embracing technology and new ways of getting his music out there, he is becoming what David Bowie was ten years ago. We are fascinated by the man, if not his new music.
The Purple One’s latest endeavor is the publishing world. Last year he released a £30 hardcover book of his 21 night stand in London. This year, he has followed it up with, one of the most expensive fan baits I’ve ever seen. A $2100US deluxe book of the 21 nights (again) and it comes with a Prince Ipod.
The over sized, 280 silk paged, leather bound, 17KG collection is limited to just 950 copies worldwide. And let’s face it, he will probably sell them all. That’s a nice $2m in Prince’s pockets.
So what’s on the Ipod? Not much. 40 minutes of footage (taken from 21×3 hour sets…) and 15 songs. It looks like an Ipod Touch.
Let’s go crazy? It’s definitely extreme. I can’t see who this will appeal to, but you only need 950 people worldwide for it to be a hit.Prince is one of the very, very few artists that can attempt anything like this. I can’t see many artists being foolish enough to follow suit.
Is this how the world is going? Was digital music not driving the cost of music down? The deluxe edition/fan package game is getting out of control. Along with sets like this, VIP concert packages for large shows are in vogue. Will it end?
That said, if someone made one for one of my all time favourite artists, and for some strange reason I could afford this – would I change my tune? That’s a tough question to answer.
The Pixies used to be one of the great contenders. They never quite broke through like REM or even Sonic Youth. But they were loved and respected. Few people frowned when they reunited in 2004, and seemed to be bigger than they ever were. Which makes reissues of their badly packaged, badly sounding CDs seem like a natural. We waited years for news. And as the Pixies played to the biggest crowds in their career, the only in-print versions of their music were shitty sounding CDs (and digital of course).
This does not change on June 15th, when A+R records releases (or as they say, reissue) the Pixies studio catalogue in a new box set called Minotaur.
It’s actually two box sets. The ‘Deluxe’ edition has all five of the Pixies studio albums, with a deluxe book and a DVD. That all sounds interesting til you see the rice tag of US$175. That’s with no remastering or bonus tracks. A quick look on Amazon in the US, you can get all 5 studio albums sounding exactly the same for around US$50.
Also, there is a vinyl version with a hardcover book, called a ‘limited’ edition. This retails for US$450.
What happened? When did the Pixies audience become the Rolling Stones audience? Are there that many yuppy Pixies fans? Pixies fans who love the band so much that they are willing to fork out so much money – surely they have all these tracks in badly mastered versions?
Expensive versions have become a trend. And for a band that have avoided trends up til now, it’s sad to see that it was this one that the Pixies chose. It’s also frighteningly un-indie.
There are two types of Pixies fans out there. The new converts who want to know what the band is about, who will not pay that much for this ridiculous package. And then hardcore fans who have all this stuff already.
Who will buy these box sets, I do not know. With any luck, this is the first step in a proper series of reissues.
You can pre-order the box set from the label, A+R, right here. Will you be buying this?
Two videos after the jump. A little trailer for the new Pixies box, and the brilliant clip to Alec Eiffel (more…)
In 2002, The Streets sang ‘Let’s Push Things Forward’ – a brilliantly eloquent middle finger to UK music culture, and how it stands still. 7 years and 4 albums later, the Streets (or, it’s main guy, Mike Skinner) is still pushing things forward.
Skinner has been posting links to new songs on his Twitter. It’s a really simple idea – but it’s not a huge publicity event. It’s just something he wants to do as an artist, and he’s getting stuff out there and people are listening. On one tweet, the man himself claims he has such a backlog of songs he can afford to give some away. It’s a very 2009 organic way of getting your music out there.
Trust Me is a highlight – a 70s disco number mixed with the unmistakable Streets vocal and grit. See If They Salute sounds like it could have been a single. Pop culture references to phone models, Facebook, Coke Zero colour the tracks. It’s not terribly groundbreaking, but a lot of fun. There’s a sense of silliness that was missing from the (otherwise brilliant) last Streets album, Everything Is Borrowed.
Many of the tracks are already appearing on the charts for WeAre Hunted. It definitely hasn’t escaped the blog world. It’s getting more excitement than that last record as well.
I guess this whole way of getting music out on Twitter is not that groundbreaking either. But it’s also kind of fun. There’s no signing up, no fixed schedule. It’s really when Mr Skinner feels like putting up a tune for us, and pushing things forward.