Category Archives: indie

Google :: Copyright :: World Brain…what does it all mean?

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I consider Sundance a nice warm-up to SXSW.  In doing some research about what’s playing and who/what we’ll be hearing about in the next week I found something that has fascinated me.  It’s a documentary called “Google and The World Brain.” 

There are several layers to the filmmaker’s synopsis:  copyrights for authors (can’t help but compare this to musicians) as well as the right to access of information vs. the monopoly of information.  I’ve long been a Google fan, but with the latest change to their search algorithm their stock has plummeted (in my book).  If the trailer intrigues you, definitely make a point to read a Q&A with the filmmaker over on IndieWire.    Ben Lewis has had a pretty broad view of the world throughout his career.  He claims the message of his film is ‘Down with technoutopianism!'”  Huh.  I think I just added a new word to my vocabulary!

Now I’m off to search for a copy of H. G. Wells’ “World Brain.”

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Some Lo-fi Disgrace

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Time to feature some of my favorite music of 2012.  There is usually a band with connections to Scotland on my YE list and this year will be no exception.  Thanks to the most awesome music blog, 17 Seconds, blogger Ed gave me a fantastic tip to check out Laurence and the Slab Boys.  “Laurence” is from The Cinematics, with whom you may be familiar. 

I’ve hesitated a few times since getting hooked on their album, Lo-fi Disgrace, on how to (or how not to) describe their sound to friends.  There’s a shoegaze vibe, but for a couple weeks it really bugged me whose voice he reminded me…it really drove me crazy.  I hate to say that for fear if you’re reading this you might write them off as not having their own merit.  In reality I would say they’ve created a hybrid sound.  For several reasons I find the album a nice collection of familiarity.  Deep into the album I hear Joy Division and there are a couple other singers that come to mind – I’ll let you decide.   All are good traits and the songwriting is solid. 

The youtube track I’ve chosen is more on the dreamy, shoegaze spectrum.  The song doesn’t represent the whole album; it’s intended just to give you a taste.  Let me know in the comments if you hear any other famous-sounding voices that I haven’t mentioned. (The album is available via their Bandcamp store.)

You can watch the band perform “Mushroom” via YouTube.

Two New Singles

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I’d honestly forgotten about The Von Bondies.  Just read that Jason Stollsteimer’s new band, The Hounds Below, is set to release new music.  They are playing a couple gigs in Illinois leading up to an official release party in Detroit this weekend.

And Billy Corgan is back.  He rolled out a new track on Spinner this week.  It’s part of a 44-track Smashing Pumpkin-palooza.  They’ll be given away on the band’s website and then bundled in 11 four-song EPs.  You can check out “Song for a Son” here.  I also glanced at an article with the headline explaining Corgan may regret the changes he’s made to the Smashing Pumpkins…sounds like a politian regretting his own vote to me.  It is what it is.  Now you have to live with it, Billy.

Spotlight: Titus Andronicus

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_____________________________

Titus Andronicus, USA

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air_of_gFrom: Glen Rock, NJ

Website: www.myspace.com/titusandronicus

Current Album: The Airing of Grievances

The Jersey band took their name from a work by Shakespeare (in case you were wondering).  They’re currently on tour with Los Campesinos!  which is a great pairing of bands.  It should be a very complimentary combo.

The Airing of Grievances was released last year and made it on some ‘Best of 2008’ lists.  This week XL Recordings is re-releasing it.  If you haven’t had a chance to hear the band think Los Campesinos! on punk steroids. 

But what intrigues me is the fact they are multifaceted.  And I have to say that certain songs make me think of The Replacements.  I have dug each track I’ve listened to – it’s that good.

The energy that comes from their music is catching.  Titus Andronicus comes off as a band who enjoy what they are doing and wants their audience to have a blast.  So much so they are planning to air a web series in the coming weeks.  How fun is that?  They’ve posted a trailer for the series on their blogspot.

Debate in list-making

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There are always several considerations to be made when you’re compiling a list.   Everyone knows you need some qualifiers.

On my way to work this morning I grabbed a couple Gun cds along with El Presidente.  The latter became an immediate favorite of mine from the get-go.  It has energy and attitude.  But everything keeps pointing to that being their one and only album.  Can I safely list them on my ‘Favorite Scottish Bands’ list?

If so, this is the order I’m feeling today:

  1. (The Mighty, Mighty) Primal Scream
  2. Simple Minds
  3. Jesus and Mary Chain
  4. El Presidente
  5. Gun
  6. Cocteau Twins
  7. The Shamen
  8. The Close Lobsters
  9. Mogwai
  10. Aztec Camera

Now here’s where I meander – I won’t consider De Rosa (whose debut I luv) until I hear their next album.  Yet I don’t hesitate including El Prez.  Another band I have a ‘wait and see’ attitude on is Franz Ferdinand.  Saw them live & that really boosted what I thought of them, but just putting on their CDs doesn’t do as much for me.

R U a Believer?

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More than likely you are a music fan if you visit (or stumble upon) my blog.  But are you a believer in new musicians?  Websites such as Slice­thepie and Sellaband encourage fans to invest in musicians. 

Up to now I haven’t taken the time to really browse either site or the artists involved.  In a time where heavy-hitting bands are trying out new methods of exposure I think this process of discovery will evolve as well.  Over the weekend I read a bit more about both entities.

Sellaband is touting their most recent singer to secure the $50,000 mark to record, Ellie Williams.  Her music seems to be a blend of Jewel and Sarah McLachlan.   The question remains, can these artists garner wider exposure once they have music to distribute?  I think you still need a live fanbase and some ‘luck’ to get very far.

KEXP casts a wider net

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ke_logo.gifThey’re calling it “Radio Liberation.”  Late next month Seattle’s KEXP-FM will provide several hours of programming to New York City-operated radio station, WYNE-FM.   KEXP is widely known for bringing audiences quality in-studio performances.  In fact, they recorded over 400 live music performances in 2007 alone.

Both stations will collaborate on the programming.  This will be a real coup for Indie music fans in the New York area.  Indie music could use more exposure in the region.

Read more about Radio Liberation from today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer and take a tour of KEXP’s home on the web.

Video from The Boston Phoenix

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Ran across some great sessions from several artists via The Boston Phoenix today.  Most of the performances are from this past fall and include:

Several were shot as part of the series sponsored by First Act Guitar Studio.  You can also find other video goodies on The Phoenix website such as a conversation with Monty Python member, Michael Palin.  Good stuff!

Indie rock photog, Autumn de Wilde

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There is something special in taking a photograph and some are more gifted than others at capturing a moment.  You’ve probably seen several taken by Autumn de Wilde but may not have realized it.  The Decemberists’ photo above is one example.  She’s also responsible for the cover art on The White Stripes’ latest, Icky Thump.

Several years ago she met Elliot Smith and recently published a book about the musician simply called “Elliot Smith” from Chronicle Books.  That is one of the distinguishing marks of this artist – she puts her ‘subjects’ at ease to where they go from the classic “brick wall” background to something more personal and fitting.

There is a terrific article in the Boston Globe about the woman, her background and how she looks at life.  I can tell that she not only appreciates the music the artists produce, but Autumn seems determined to match their sound to a story of some kind.  She clearly sees things that aren’t evident to everyone.

If you go to her website you’ll find info about the book and many photos that you will recognize (Riloy Kiley, The White Stripes, Beck and Tegan & Sara).

BSP media blitz

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bsp_rock.jpgWith the release of their third album (“Do You Like Rock Music” due Jan 14 in the U.K./Feb. 12 in the U.S.), British Sea Power is only gaining strength.  It seems they’re everywhere at the moment.  But no complaints about that!

We’re likely to see several more reviews and interviews and as we hear more tracks I think it’s safe to say anticipation is growing.  That is, for those of us waiting for the proper release.  😉

The Brighton-based group has offered up several tracks and goodies to keep you entertained in the meantime.  I especially recommend checking out the podcast and This is London interview.  They tell of moving a broken piano down a flight of stairs…what they won’t do to keep their quirky sound.

Here’s a listing as of this writing:

You may have seen last week the band announced a gig at the Czech embassy which will take place this Thursday (Jan. 10) for special guests and contest winners. They also have several radio session appearances scheduled including BBC Radio 1 and 6Music.