"Athens was key in taking this punk idea that anybody can play and showing that anybody can do it anywhere. I think that Athens is the place that makes it clear—mostly through the career of R.E.M. but not entirely—that you can make music that reaches an underground or even a mainstream national audience anywhere. And that these kinds of cultural transformations and bohemian cultures we think of as really only occurring in certain urban spaces can actually flourish anywhere" - author Grace Elizabeth Hale tells in Please Kill Me interview about her latest book 'Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture'.

A great read in the Quietus about the legendary singer-songwriter Jake Thackray: "When an attempt is made by the artist to self-mythologise or distance themselves from biography, a la Tom Waits or Frida Kahlo, I see it as becoming part of the work. For someone who worked so hard to distance himself from attention, it seems fitting to give a summation of Jake Thackray’s music through his life. Indeed, his work often ended up echoing or anticipating what he later became".

"The style Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo minted on their 1997 debut album Homework – house music heavy on the filter effect, which involved the bass or treble on the track gradually fading in and out, mimicking a DJ playing with the equalisation on a mixer; drums treated with sidechain compression, so that the beats appeared to punch through the sound, causing everything else on the track to momentarily recede – is now part of pop’s lingua franca" - Guardian's Alexis Petridis argues in his article.

Black Sabbath

A thought-provoking article in Loudwire about the age rock musicians were at when they wrote their classic albums/songs. All Black Sabbath members were at the age of 20/21 when they wrote their debut, Kurt Cobain was 23 in 1990 when he wrote Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', as old as equally left-handed Jimi Hendrix was when he wrote 'Are You Experienced'. Metallica were 21, 22, and 23 when they wrote their masterpiece 'Master of Puppets', while Silverchair members, at the time of their multiplatinum debut 'Frogstomp', were just children - 14 years old!

"America is a slavocracy: it is a nation founded on bigotry, and those principles continue today. People might think racism no longer exists because there is no longer a slave system, but they don’t realise the laws that enabled the slave system still put us in a position where we have to jump over insurmountable handicaps to just become equal” - composer Adrian Younge said to the Guardian, talking about his new album 'The American Negro', and a new podcast – 'Invisible Blackness'. There's an irony in the latter title - “I use the phrase of the show’s title to illustrate that we all have invisible blackness, this sense of ‘otherness’ inside us, because we are all descended from the first human being in Africa".

The 10-year-old wunderkind Nandi Bushell shared her version of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1991 hit 'Under The Bridge'. This time, she played the guitar, drum, bass, and vocal parts. Bushell operates a looping machine for her instrumentals while simultaneously putting on her Anthony Kiedis impersonation.

Iggy Pop opened this year's virtual Tibet House Benefit with a dramatic reading of Dylan Thomas' classic poem 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night' against a soundscape created by Noveller and Leron Thomas. Directed by Simon Taylor, it features Iggy Pop staring straight into the camera lens and reciting for 1 minute 47 seconds.

Hu / Turner

Bob Dylan has sold his entire songwriting catalogue to Universal Music for $300 million; Beach Boys sold their masters and brand to Irving Azzoff to $100 million; Taylor Swift is re-recording her older records; Round Hill has bought some Beatles The Rolling Stones, and Backstreet Boys classics for $282 million; Neil Young has sold 50 percent of his catalogue for $150 million - these are only some of the deals in the music business last year. Music business podcast Money 4 Nothing talks to Cherie Hu of Water & Music and David Turner of Penny Fractions about whether this makes any business sense, and how will it shape the future of music.

Huck tells the story of the LA punk scene which survived the pandemic with dozens of backyard gigs. The magazine argues "this attitude – of taking personal responsibility for yourself and your actions, despite what the rules say – is a common one in the DIY punk scene". Beko, the singer and frontman of punk band Lazy Dream, explains the attitude: “Our whole method is do-it-yourself. We were tired of waiting for people to do the recording thing, so we just did the recording ourselves… With the shows, we did that as well. We were like, ‘Ok, we have this backyard right here, might as well throw a show. Because if no one’s going to hire us or invite us anywhere, might as well do it ourselves’”.

Pussy Riot shared 'Toxic', a new collaborative single with Dorian Electra, produced by 100 gecs’ Dylan Brady who adds plenty of hyper-pop sonics. Nadya Tolokonnikova said “‘Toxic' is political, because personal is political. The single reflects on the importance of self-care, cherishing your mental health and staying away from relationships that poison you", according to Pitchfork.

"I'm a girl from a cotton field that pulled myself above the destruction and the mistakes. And I'm here for you" - Tina Turner says in the official trailer for the documentary 'Tina', which is set to follow her early life and childhood, People reports. The brief interview clip refers to Turner's youth. At 11, Turner's mother Zelma left her family and the abusive relationship she had with Turner's father Floyd. The documentary also features interviews with Tina in her hometown of Zurich, Switzerland and shows new footage, audio tapes, and personal photos.

Adrianne Lenker

Singer-songwriter Jim Ghedi shares his new album 'In the Furrows Of Common Place' with 'Beneath the Willow' as the stand-out track; Adrianne Lenker shares the new Big Thief song 'Simulation Swarm', played by her alone; Debbie Friday shares a dark electro-pop song 'Runnin''; José González is back with his first new song in six years, Spanish-sung 'El Invento'; female trio Horsegirl share their dreampop/shoegaze single 'Ballroom Dance Scene'.

The use of Splice, a highly rated app for mobile video editing, has boomed during the pandemic, as people stuck at home experimented with making their own tracks, Bloomberg reports. The company specializes in royalty-free samples, which allow people to use drum sounds or flutes from a large library for a monthly fee. The company has just raised an additional $55 million from investors, raising the value of the company at close to $500 million.

Spotify is expanding into over 80 new markets in more than 36 new languages – including key territories across Africa such as Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe, Spotify reports. Together, these 80 markets house more than a billion people with nearly half of them already using the internet. The vast expansion over the coming days means that Spotify will be active in more than 173 markets.

Bruce Springsteen has teamed up with former American president Barack Obama for a new podcast series titled 'Renegades: Born in the USA', Reuters reports. The eight-episode series will cover a range of topics, including race, fatherhood, marriage, and the state of America. The first two episodes are available on Spotify.

Trapital believes there is great potential for Non-fungible tokens in hip-hop: "The late MF DOOM had just held an auction for augmented reality NFTs for his signature masks. Soulja Boy recently minted his own NFT. Hip-Hop Legends NFT is also selling several collectibles on its marketplace". An NFT is a unique and not interchangeable digital asset that relies on blockchain technology, which makes it easier to verify authenticity. Cherie Hu said in Water & Music on NFTs that hip-hop is ahead of most genres.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger - no more

Daft Punk split

Parisian duo Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, who gave us some of the most popular dance and pop songs ever made, have split, Pitchfork reports. Daft Punk broke the news with an 8-minute video titled 'Epilogue', excerpted from their 2006 film 'Electroma'.

Name3Songs podcast discusses the problem of sexual misconduct in alter music. Questions they pose: "Why sexual misconduct reoccurs at alarming rates in the music industry. What is the psychology behind this? How has this behavior been perpetrated across decades? How can this behavior be stopped and prevented? What is accountability and how do we apply it effectively?".

Writer Clover Hope released a new book 'The Motherlode: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop' which spans decades, and took her 2,5 years to write. In a Music Journalism Insider interview she explaines how she "wanted to write about what each of the women brought to hip-hop as a culture and rap as a genre... For Queen Latifah, I wanted to talk about her achieving longevity through film. For Eve, I decided to write about her bringing high fashion to hip-hop. For Cardi B, I wanted to write about her wielding the power of social media to star-making effect". Why 100? - "I wanted people to see the number and think about magnitude and impact".

"She enjoyed fashion and had a performer’s joy in being looked at, in satin, silks, heels and hairstyles" - the Guardian writes about the fashion choices Billie Holiday made, and what they meant. "For a Black woman in the US at that time, this glamour could be seen as a kind of resistance, too... People said, ‘How dare she wear diamonds, how dare she wear fur,’ but she dressed as a woman of her stature should have. She represented herself exactly as she wanted to and that in itself was revolutionary”. Lee Daniels’ film 'The United States Vs Billie Holiday' is released this week.

“Borders are a dreadful invention of mankind, and so we are just putting up another one, and I think it’s a dreadful retrograde step” - Queen's drummer Roger Taylor said about consequences Brexit will have on UK touring bands, NME reports. His band is OK, he said - "we can fall back on our songwriting and our publishing", it's the road crew that are suffering - "it’s a daily, weekly job for them and so it’s made it really hard for our industry, very hard indeed”. Guardian reports about road crews for some of the biggest bands in music that are being forced into homelessness and turning to food banks to survive during the pandemic.

The docu-music, the doc-music...

Questlove to direct Sly Stone documentary

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of the Roots will direct a documentary about Sly & The Family Stone, with Common executive producing it, Deadline reports. “It goes beyond saying that Sly’s creative legacy is in my DNA….it’s a black musician’s blueprint" Questlove said, with producers MRC Entertainment adding the film "follows the story of the influential artist, king of funk, and fashion icon". Questlove's directorial debut, the music documentary 'Summer of Soul', recently won two awards at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

Morgan Wallen stays on top of the Billboard 200 chart for the sixth week in a row, amidst his racial slur scandal which got him canceled from the radio, Billboard reports. 'Dangerous: The Double Album' sold 93,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in the week ending Feb. 18, down 38% from the previous week. Wallen captures the most weeks atop the list for a male artist’s album since Drake’s 'Views' in 2016, and the most for a male country artist since Garth Brooks' 'TheHits' in 1995.

De La Soul were the latest guests at the animated show 'Teen Titans Go!' where they had their music eaten by an enormous monster, Rolling Stone reports. It's a direct reference to the band's troubles with their publisher. De La Soul are one of the foundational voices of modern rap, but today most of their catalogue remains digitally unavailable, with everything before 2004 missing from streaming services. The reasons are said to involve issues with sample clearance, bureaucratic feet-dragging across Warner and Tommy Boy Records, and muddled contract disputes.

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"Athens was key in taking this punk idea that anybody can play and showing that anybody can do it anywhere. I think that Athens is the place that makes it clear—mostly through the career of R.E.M. but not entirely—that you can make music that reaches an underground or even a mainstream national audience anywhere. And that these kinds of cultural transformations and bohemian cultures we think of as really only occurring in certain urban spaces can actually flourish anywhere" - author Grace Elizabeth Hale tells in Please Kill Me interview about her latest book 'Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture'.

A great read in the Quietus about the legendary singer-songwriter Jake Thackray: "When an attempt is made by the artist to self-mythologise or distance themselves from biography, a la Tom Waits or Frida Kahlo, I see it as becoming part of the work. For someone who worked so hard to distance himself from attention, it seems fitting to give a summation of Jake Thackray’s music through his life. Indeed, his work often ended up echoing or anticipating what he later became".

"The style Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo minted on their 1997 debut album Homework – house music heavy on the filter effect, which involved the bass or treble on the track gradually fading in and out, mimicking a DJ playing with the equalisation on a mixer; drums treated with sidechain compression, so that the beats appeared to punch through the sound, causing everything else on the track to momentarily recede – is now part of pop’s lingua franca" - Guardian's Alexis Petridis argues in his article.

Black Sabbath

A thought-provoking article in Loudwire about the age rock musicians were at when they wrote their classic albums/songs. All Black Sabbath members were at the age of 20/21 when they wrote their debut, Kurt Cobain was 23 in 1990 when he wrote Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', as old as equally left-handed Jimi Hendrix was when he wrote 'Are You Experienced'. Metallica were 21, 22, and 23 when they wrote their masterpiece 'Master of Puppets', while Silverchair members, at the time of their multiplatinum debut 'Frogstomp', were just children - 14 years old!

"America is a slavocracy: it is a nation founded on bigotry, and those principles continue today. People might think racism no longer exists because there is no longer a slave system, but they don’t realise the laws that enabled the slave system still put us in a position where we have to jump over insurmountable handicaps to just become equal” - composer Adrian Younge said to the Guardian, talking about his new album 'The American Negro', and a new podcast – 'Invisible Blackness'. There's an irony in the latter title - “I use the phrase of the show’s title to illustrate that we all have invisible blackness, this sense of ‘otherness’ inside us, because we are all descended from the first human being in Africa".

The 10-year-old wunderkind Nandi Bushell shared her version of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1991 hit 'Under The Bridge'. This time, she played the guitar, drum, bass, and vocal parts. Bushell operates a looping machine for her instrumentals while simultaneously putting on her Anthony Kiedis impersonation.

Iggy Pop opened this year's virtual Tibet House Benefit with a dramatic reading of Dylan Thomas' classic poem 'Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night' against a soundscape created by Noveller and Leron Thomas. Directed by Simon Taylor, it features Iggy Pop staring straight into the camera lens and reciting for 1 minute 47 seconds.

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