Tag Archives: pop

Why Everyone Who Is Writing Articles About Rebecca Black Sucks

Stern lecture time... This is my serious pen

I present exhibit A and exhibit B – two articles containing the words “Rebecca” and “Black” in the title, both of which make a statement that suggests an answer to a question will be forthcoming in the article.

Exhibit A: What Rebecca Black’s Friday says about the state of pop

Published on UK’s Guardian website, one would be forgiven for presuming that the article will actually attempt to enlighten its readers as to just what exactly it is that Friday says about the state of pop. Does it? Allow me to answer that with a quote from the article itself:

The problem is that it all has very little to do with pop music, or Black herself.”

At no point in the entire “article” does the writer even attempt to address the statement made in the title. In fact, all it does is say “Rebecca Black (kinda) sang a song. No one liked it, but it got famous anyway. What do you think that means?”

Exhibit B: Why Rebecca Black is Bad News for Pop Music

Posted on that site well-known for its topical, relevant and hard-hitting articles – Yahoo. So, why is it that Black’s song is bad news for pop music? Yahoo’s answer, according to what follows, is that, actually, her song is pretty much the same as most other pop songs that are in the charts these days. Oh! Now everything’s clear. Thanks, Yahoo!

Do you think this kind of journalism is legitimate or worthwhile? Is it ok to make a statement, tell everyone what other people are saying but in the process neglect to provide content that qualifies the statement, then at the end repeat the statement as a question to your readers?

If it is then I just wrote an article worthy of publication on The Guardian. Woo hoo!

Ok, so I can easily pretend to be an idiot, but I’m (pretty sure I’m) not. I get why these articles are not only written in the first place, but why they’re given such misleading titles – they’re crowd-drawing, and therefore revenue raising, filler.

Kinda like a lot of chart-topping pop music, huh?

What’s been bothering me the most in all this, however, is the predominant statement/accusation that’s arisen in the aftermath of Black’s Friday – which those two articles hint at, but utterly failed to address. That being:

Rebecca Black represents everything that’s wrong with the music industry today.

 

Obligatory picture of the obviously evil 13 year old for dramatic effect and to prove my point

Really? Everything? Are you sure? How about this, instead:

The state of the music industry is a reflection of everything that’s wrong with people.

Personally, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.

The “music industry” is a vast, complicated and intricate thing, encompassing far more than the by-product that is produced and manages to land at the top of the pile. I call it garbage, but it’s with the understanding that one person’s trash is another’s treasure – if you like it…good for you, I guess. My point, however, is that one song, one genre, one label, or even one trend does not an industry make.

The music I look for, listen to, love and support – you know, with actual money, not a click to a file-hosting site – is miles away from the kind of music Rebecca Black and others of her ilk produce, and if it’s released on a label it’s those that, by and large, are doing it out of love and passion. That is the best part of this so called “industry”, and there’s nothing wrong with that aspect of it – what’s wrong is that not enough people are paying attention, but go on to complain that what is brought to their attention isn’t good enough.

If everyone has so much contempt for what’s on offer by “the industry”, as the reaction to this song would indicate, why does it continue to be offered? Maybe all those big shot music executives missed the day at Tycoon School where they taught a successful business relies on profit. Maybe they fund their releases and advertising by collecting cans for recycling, then take The Homer Approach, mixed in with a little Sally Field Philosophy™.

Step One: People will like what we tell them to like.
Step Two: They like us! They really like us…and that’s enough for us. Group hug!

If you’re not convinced the consumer is a big part of the problem yet, I offer Exhibit C for your perusal. The following are just a few questions I found during a quick search on Yahoo. I know that many questions on there are by trolls and not to be taken seriously, but I can assure you these were asked legitimately.

That’s right, there are actually people out there asking to be dictated to; asking the esteemed members of the internet what songs are “good”; if their taste in music is better than their friend’s taste; if it’s normal to listen to music you didn’t listen to 3 years ago; what guitar chords to learn; whether or not they should buy the new Michael Jackson CD because they already have the first two compilations released after his death; which band out of two – that they’ve already listened to and liked – they should listen to some more; asking ‘record dealists’ (let that one sink in for a moment) if they’re interested in signing them; whether they should start a band or learn the guitar; where they can steal music from before it’s released…

 

--------------------"Ok guys, who should we make famous next?"----------------------- "I dunno Dave, let's look on Yahoo Answers"

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Before you absolve yourself of any responsibility for the state of the industry as you see it, ask yourself a) just where it is you’re looking; b) if you or anyone you know is responsible for contributing to it in the manner as exemplified by those questions; and c) if you’re doing anything about it other than complain, read articles by other people who are complaining, then going and clicking ‘Dislike’ on YouTube.

Oh, and why does everyone who is writing articles about Rebecca Black suck?

Because I have not seen one yet that isn’t as irrelevant, self-serving and gratuitous as the song they’re talking about, and they do nothing but contribute to the big pile of crap that is disposable media and entertainment.

 

>>>>>FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER!!<<<<<

 

S4E

PS Because I’m sure you’re dying to know, it was decided that Linkin Park got soft when they matured. We’re all still stumped as to how to go about getting into this singing business, though.


February’s Swag – Free (& Legal) Music Downloads

This month's swag was too much for one bag, and thus has spawned off-spring, otherwise known as the matching coin purse

Birds of Passage – 3-Track Sampler
Minimal/Ethereal/Drone | 29MB – 320 kbps MP3s
Pre-orders for the debut album by Birds of Passage (aka Alicia Merz) have just gone up on Denovali, with three of twelve tracks from Without The World available to download for free. I highly recommend these tracks, if not the album – sounds like poetry in motion.

 

Pillars And Tongues Live “Sprout Session”
Drone/Folk | 32MB – 145 kbps MP3
If you know me or this blog, you know I love these guys, so I wasted all of about 3 seconds after finding out about this live session before grabbing it via dublab. Then the hour-plus it took for my ridiculously slow connection to download the full 32MB, with several failed attempts along the way. It would have been worth it even if it took 10x as long.

 

Clan Destine Mixtape
Witch House/Darkwave/Other | 167MB – 320 kbps MP3s
A massive 22 tracks in one neat little package. Standouts for me were the GHxST and Sealings (naturally) tracks, otherwise sure to sate fans of the witch house genre, or those with a curiosity for what it is/was all about. Visit Clan Destine to read up on the full tracklisting, or head straight to Beko to download the mixtape.

 

Do You Feel What I Feel Deer – Save My Heart
Downtempo/Folk/Jazz | 8MB – 320 kbps MP3
A nice folk track I found over on Bandcamp. Just the solitary track up by the artist so far, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for more.

 

Moby – Be The One EP
Electronic/Downtempo | 32MB – 320 kbps MP3s¹
A 3-track EP available in exchange for your email address. If you’re not a Moby fan, these tracks probably won’t turn you into a die-hard supporter, but worth the download to find out if they’re your kinda tunes. Get it at Moby.com.

 

From Daytrotter’s Stable…

Judgement Day – 26th February
String Metal/Instrumental | 12MB – 128 kbps MP3s
Coming in right at the end of February and the only session I downloaded this month. If that’s not recommendation enough…well, I can’t actually think of anything to recommend it further, but they are pretty darn awesome tracks. Download the session here.

 

Over at Stereogum…

Implodes – Marker
Drone/Psych/Shoegaze | 7MB – 192 kbps MP3
The forthcoming album, Black Earth, is now on my wish list, thanks to this track. Download here.

Bat For Lashes – Strangelove
Pop/Electronica | 3MB – 115 kbps MP3
A cover of the Depeche Mode song, and the soundtrack to the ad for a new Gucci fragrance. A fairly straightforward version, but nice all the same. Download here.

Boris – Hope
Pop/Rock/Metal | 8MB – 320 kbps MP3
I’ve been curious about this group for a while, so a free track seems a perfect way to test the waters. Definitely not what I was expecting, but I have a feeling I’d say that upon further exploration, too. Download here.

 

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble – Patra
Dark Ambient/Jazz | 19MB – 320 kbps MP3
This seriously good track is a cover the 1989 song by Saint Vitus; and you can grab it here. TKDE have several albums currently available via Bandcamp and/or Denovali, but this – along with a couple of others – are free to download (with the exception of handing over your email address for their instrumental cover of Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse’s Dark Night of the Soul). Check ’em out – it’s unlikely you’ll regret it. (Others available for free download: Black Wing Butterfly / Goya and Kava Kon Remixes).

 

 

S4E

1. Had the same problem with this zip file as I do with with the Boomkat downloads, thus I had to downgrade to 224 kbps so that the data tags could be edited.


A Week of Australian Music – Beyond 2000 Part I

 

This is where things could get really messy if I let it, as when it came down to it  – despite some of the reasons that prompted this series – my awareness of, and exposure to, music has hit a peak this decade, which hasn’t excluded Oz music as much as I may have indicated (more that I don’t tend to hear about much unless they’ve caused a buzz in some way – and of course many have). So I’ve decided to keep the focus strictly on two specific aspects post-2000.

By the time I got to this point , I noticed a distinct lack of female artists, which would appear to suggest it was rare for me to notice and/or appreciate their contribution to Australian music. Whether that’s true of the past or not, the first decade in the new millenium has seen a whole host of them coming onto the scene that really struck a chord with me, and audiences in general. While I wouldn’t usually make a special point of it, I do feel their absence thus far should be redressed, and I wouldn’t bother if I didn’t think I could back it up with some good music. I’ve already raved on plenty of times here about Inga Liljeström and her album Elk, so I’ll leave that out of this.

The first clip is a neat little tie in, I suppose, as it’s a cover of an old Cold Chisel song called Flame Trees, done beautifully by Sarah Blasko (whose own work is indeed part of my current collection). I love the fact that she hasn’t changed any of the lyrics in order to adapt it for a female artist, as it really changes the context of much of the song. I have to admit to an intrigue when artists do that – that being the interpretation of songs generally considered “for” one gender by the other. I can’t really say as to why, perhaps I’ll look into that further at a later stage. Once again, I was restricted to only showing a live version. (Oh, and here’s the original Cold Chisel version – top song).

I guess while I’m on the subject, I’ll divert slighty for a moment… As fascinated as I am when they get it right, I’m a little unsettled when I really don’t think it works. One of Australia’s most successful bands of the last couple of decades, Powderfinger, just didn’t pull off their take on Portishead‘s very female song, Glory Box – which you can listen to here if you so choose.

I mentioned the loss of my CD collection in the last post, and in all reality it’s only been a few years since I started avidly paying attention to music and  buying CD’s again, but one of the first I sought out was Clare Bowditch‘s What Was Left. The song I Thought You Were God was my immediate favourite on that album, and I feel sure that I’m not the only one out there that thinks Clare’s wonderfully fond and nostalgic reminiscence is just as much theirs as it is hers, as it sums up so perfectly and poignantly the way many young people feel about their first love(r). I don’t think it needs further explanation than that, so…

 

As a rather stark counterpoint to that song, classicly-trained pop vocalist Kate Miller-Heidke, sings about what happens when that God-like person doesn’t fill you with such fond memories, then comes back to haunt you years later. (This song – Are You F*cking Kidding Me –  has yet to make an appearance on a studio album, but is on 2009’s Live at the Hi-Fi. That’s not my censorship of the title, by the way).

I’ve mentioned other family members in terms of the influence they’ve had on my listening habits, so for the final part of this series, I’m taking a cue from the other members of my immediate family and I’ll be focusing on Australian hip hop.

 

S4E


Conquering Animal Sound – Kammerspiel

Conquering Animal Sound‘s debut album KAMMERSPIEL is essentially pop music, but in the way the likes of Fever Ray or Björk portray pop music. Where Conquering Animal Sound differ is in their love for tape hiss and childrens toys. There is no doubt, with this record they are in a world of their own.

Thus quoth the information I received concerning Scottish duo Conquering Animal Sound, which I  quote because it’s a neat summary and I recognise I’m about to use a somewhat unconventional method to describe it…

I decided to dip my toes into that world earlier this morning by way of taking a listen to a select few tracks from the album, and I think the above album cover is a pretty good representation, in so far as my first impressions were concerned –  a little wintry and dispersed – a slight fracture in known logic (or a reorganisation thereof), but related in a way that means the whole picture still makes perfect sense.

When it came to this point – where I make an attempt at  further describing what I heard in a way that’s hopefully readily understood – I was inexplicably reminded of a conversation I once had; to the point where I couldn’t escape the notion that even though the conversation was utterly unrelated, it seemed (to me) the perfect way to describe the music of Conquering Animal Sound. (I should point out I take liberties with the definition of the word describe. Perhaps ascribe might be a better term in these circumstances). Anyway, like it or not, here is an edited portion of said conversation, which was kinda about birds, owls in particular:

Me: If I was an owl, I’d be secretly thinking, the thoughts partitioned, and I’d remember them later, when I’m upside down and the walls slide up – different thoughts are viewable by turning the head a little, like a kaleidoscope.

Them: Lacrimose and swivelly. Owls have a swivelly sort of grace. Sometimes their eyes grow bigger, one than the other, and its all a-blink at the world, and the world is snapped up in the vision/beak/other.

Me: I turned the dial and was trying to find the frequency for “Sing, Little Birdie”, but it’s not to be found – this particular raven quoth “Nothingmore”.  Well, that’s a lie – I read about multi-coloured balloons (some are in the shape of a cat, and some look like walnuts – after the air has escaped), and beautiful moments caught by the eye…but I looked up from the book and heard night-music and spotted a couple of flirting owls.

I assure you that conversation not only made perfect sense in context, but the thoughts in there seem (to me) utterly interspersed with the music I was listening toso much so that I couldn’t think of any other words to describe it.

Of course, you’re welcome to have your own conversation with CAS…

Released in conjunction with mini50 Records, pre-orders are currently being taken through Gizeh @Bandcamp (official release date Feb 7th, with pre-orders to ship on the on or around the 1st). The limited edition version (which includes a bonus CD and  an artwork print) has only a handful of copies left, so if you want to reserve one of those best do it now.

 

S4E

As an afterthought, once I had written this post I decided to use Google Translate to see the English translation of kammerspiel… As it turns out, it’s intimate play. If I was an owl, both my eyes would be large and turning their dials.  O_O





Ernest Ellis – Hunting

“I was born without you, but I’ll take your hand” – I Am The Beast

Since late last year, after hearing When I feel Like Jesus’ Son The World Will Feel Much Different, I’ve been waiting for Dew Process to deliver on their promise and release Hunting by Ernest Ellis, so it was a (pleasant) surprise when I made an impromptu visit yesterday to my local music store and finally saw it sitting on the shelf – particularly as I’ve since confirmed that it (18th June) was the release date. Fate, eh?

The past few years, and particularly following the success of Bon Iver, there seems to have been no shortage of folk albums written during extended periods of self-imposed isolation – with much of Hunting written while secluded in a cabin in Australia’s Blue Mountains, I have a feeling the comparisons are going to be immediate and rife. Fair? Maybe; in some aspects they have a few things in common, but to simply label Hunting Australia’s answer to For Emma… would be lazily selling it short.

Much like the landscapes in the Blue Mountains, there’s wide open space populated with vast, diverse and sometimes distant scenery. The songs seem to have inherited that instinctive urge to stop for a moment to take in the magnitude of what surrounds us and compare it to the spaces a little closer to home. The result is an album centred with calm, pop-folk sensibility, and gently belies some of the darker themes that seem to arise in moments of introspective exploration.

The album draws on a variety of genres – with occasional trance-y or trip-hop beats, like in I Am The Beast (supplied by fellow Aussie composer Russell W), alt-country balladry such as in Valley Song, and some blues-rock in tracks like Bad Blood. The influences and sounds are diverse, but subtle enough to be pulled together into a distictively consistent and pleasing sound. Ernest Ellis may well be the beast, but as the above picture and this album would suggest, one with a fairly refined veneer.

For the uninitated or simply curious, it’s sure to appeal to fans of bands like My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses, Phosphorescent, fellow Aussie folks Angus & Julia Stone and the aforementioned Bon Iver.

You can buy Hunting via the Dew Process store

S4E