Beethoven's morning hygiene routine involved standing half-dressed before a mirror and pouring enormous pitchers of water over his hands while singing loudly to himself. After this, the German composer would count out exactly 60 beans and grind them, and make himself a coffee. Van Magazine's writer tried a week of this routine, as well as other somewhat strange daily routines of 4 other classical composers - Edvard Grieg, Erik Satie, Igor Stravinsky, and Antonin Dvořák.

The stylist
May 08, 2021

What is "Spago Rock"?

Simmons & Matteo

A quintessential blog post at The Melt about "Spago Rock", defined by Mike Pace of Oxford Collapse: "A style of music that could be loosely defined as organic soul with synthetic instrumentation. If the yacht rock sound encompassed the mid-’70s to early ‘80s and centered around good times n' vibes, Spago Rock takes place from roughly 1986-1992, when many legacy artists matured and mellowed into their 40s, yet still wanted to be seen as contemporary and relevant. Artists who cut their teeth woodshedding in the analog days were now embracing the latest in digital studio technology, crafting immaculate electronic-based sophisti-pop while never truly abandoning their rock roots". Pace's new project Simmons & Matteo is the new phase of that genre.

Stillwater

Spinal Tap were a fake band constructed for a movie ('This Is Spinal Tap'), yet not being real didn't prevent them from recording two albums and going on a tour. Others followed, like Stillwater from Cameron Crowe's 'Almost Famous', 'That Thing You Do!’s the Wonders, 'Under the Silver Lake’s Jesus and the Brides of Dracula, and MTV's 2gether. The Ringer discusses the nature of fake bands with the people behind some of them - including Crowe, Zooey Deschanel, Andy Samberg, and Emily Haines.

Out Of Nowhere

Iranian metalcore band Out of Nowhere made a selection of 10 best Middle Eastern metal bands (or, we can call it Near East, depending, probably, on where we are). So, the best in metal from the vast region are:

Calibre - melodic metal core, Iran

Chopstick Suicide - mathcore, Turkey

Coast of Arms - metalcore, UAE/Qatar

Creative Waste - grindcore, Saudi Arabia

Kimaera - doom/death, Lebanon

Mortem Atra - melodic doom / death metal, Cyprus

New Carnis - death metal, Iran

Phenomy - thrash metal, Lebanon

Scarab - death metal, Egypt

Smouldering in Forgotten - death/black, Bahrain

The Pudding asks an intriguing question, and offers, for a start, two graphs that compare the success and popularity of solo artists compared to their original bands. The two metrics The Pudding uses are the number of Spotify followers, and their ranking on Billboard Hot 100.

To celebrate his 88th birthday, Willie Nelson has shared his 10 rules for life:

  1. Stop looking for happiness - you won't find happiness until you stop looking for it
  2. Don't blame others
  3. Don't let your thought think you
  4. Stay out of trees - the wisdom isn't in the whiskey or the smoke
  5. You can't make a turd without grease - drink water
  6. There's no such thing as normal
  7. Know what you value
  8. Don't be an asshole
  9. You know what's right
  10. Set yourself free

Courtesy: Mute Records

"Everyone wanted to work with her but it was like trying to trap lightning in a bottle" - Nick Cave writes on his Red Hand Files blog about his Birthday Party and Bad Seeds colleague Anita Lane, after the news of her death was published. Cave describes Lane as “the smartest and most talented of all of us, by far”, and chooses 'Stranger Than Kindness' as his favourite Seeds song. Cave describes how "at my kitchen table drawing things, she had a quickness of touch and a clear, light line full of humour, throwing each drawing away and starting another, charged with a rampant, unstable, fatal energy that would follow her all her life. My line, amateur and ponderous... It was both easy and terrifying to love her. Leaves a big crying space".

Early bird changed feathers
April 27, 2021

The history of H.E.R.: From child star to R'n'B Oscar winner

Gabi Wilson / H.E.R.

Trapital appreciates how H.E.R. went from a 9-year-old star to a 23-year-old Oscar winner, completely changing her identity on the way: "At nine she was on Nickelodeon’s 'School Gyrls'. When she was 10, she performed on The Today Show and covered Alicia Keys. At 12, she was a finalist on Disney’s Next Big Thing and performed at the BET Awards. She was first signed by Sony when she was 14. She released music under her real name Gabi Wilson. In 2016, she emerged under the new persona, 'H.E.R.'. There was no public connection to Gabi Wilson. H.E.R. added to the allure by wearing sunglasses at all times. This wasn’t like Puff Daddy or Christina Aguilera developing alter ego-type names. This was a brand new artist".

An amazing, albeit not the newest, Twitter thread by YourWullie, about famous album covers, and the photographs that inspired them. One of them is the original photograph used for Sonic Youth's 1990 album 'Goo'. Pictured are Maureen Hindley and David Smith, key witnesses in the Moors Murders trial. Maureen was serial killer Myra Hindley's sister.

Pitchfork looks back at 40 years of albums by "pop stars to metal urchins to avant experimentalists" covering the issue of climate danger. The list goes back to The Clash and Dead Kennedys, and also covers today's pop stars such as Grimes and Billie Eilish, as well as metal heroes Cattle Decapitation, avant-guard artist Babe, Terror, and indie-rock heroine The Weather Station.

The lost & found experience
April 23, 2021

45 most-wanted never-released albums

Stereogum made a list of 45 never-released albums they would want to hear "a collection of projects that at least supposedly existed in something approaching completion, that are formed enough that artists or other personnel have discussed their existence or their plausible release somewhere down the line". The list starts with the 1970 Jimi Hendrix' acoustic concept album 'Black Gold' that got forgotten in a suitcase. The list also includes unreleased works by U2, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Deftones, Beck, Soundgarden, Purple Mountains, and many more.

"Music has always acted as a pillar on which teenagers hang visions of their ideal life, with each generation forging a sound representative of their era. This time, the urge to escape is magnified and, in the face of a global pandemic, increasingly unrealistic" - Clash Music looks into slowed + reverb, re-worked songs in a way that features the angst and longing for post-COVID freedom, mirroring the moodiness of its teen creators. Slowed + reverb edits have catapulted into popularity over lockdown, because, as one of its producers, Slowerbed believes - “people might be very bored or sad during lockdown because their freedom is limited. They find their escape in slowed songs which make you relax and get your mind off bad things”.

All we are saying, is give scream a chance
April 19, 2021

The story of primal scream therapy and John Lennon's greatest album

"I no longer have any need for drugs, the Maharishi or the Beatles. I am myself and I know why" - John Lennon has said at the time when his 'John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band' coming out, which was also when he was going through then-fashionable but now-discredited “primal scream” psychotherapy technique. The new technique was the work of psychotherapist Arthur Janov who believed that unlocking repressed childhood pain required a physical release - maybe even screaming. GQ brings the story of the cult-like therapy and its connection to the album (deluxe edition came out last week).

Love is in the air
April 15, 2021

Funny: A history of stage humping

A hilarious article by Tracy Clark-Flory for Jezebel about men displaying their power with air-sex: "When I think of stage humping, I think of a man thrusting against the floor in a modified pushup, an enactment of missionary screwing that presupposes a very long, and soon to be broken, dick... Recently, I came across similar moves on TikTok and was reminded, once again, of men making love to the floor. And I thought: From whence the floor grind? It was time to investigate this important topic".

Going for it
April 09, 2021

'Heat Waves' - the story of a song

Glass Animals wrote 'Heat Waves' in desperation at the end of a long and unproductive day in the recording studio in the summer of 2018, and it took almost 3 years for the song to break the waves, BBC reports. When they demoed it, frontman Dave Bayley saw there was somebody else in the studio, playing piano, totally in key, realizing it was - Johnny Depp. However, things didn't go smooth from there - the band had to delay their third album after drummer Joe Seaward suffered devastating injuries in a cycling accident. By the time he'd recuperated, the pandemic had derailed the band's comeback, and they were told to "write off" their album until they could tour again. The band decided to give it a chance. The video for the song, taped during the pandemic, was made with the help of Bayley's neighbors. Once released, last summer, the song didn't make it to the charts until it appeared on the multi-million-selling video game Fifa 21, only to reach the top of the charts this year.

While waiting for concerts to start all over again, Pitchfork had a number of artists, such as Bartees Cox Jr. of Bartees Strange, Jamila Woods, Natalie Mering of Weyes Blood, Buck Meek of Big Thief, Angel Bat Dawid, KeiyaA and others chose and describe their favorite independent music venues in the US. Cassandra Jenkins' favorite is Chicago's Hideout: "Part of the Hideout’s charm is that it just barely works. It’s pretty out of the way, and it’s small and disarmingly quirky, with a skinny shotgun space that feels familiar even if it’s your first time there. The stage is just deep enough to fit a band, and the bar is just wide enough for people to hang out. The size of the venue lends itself to acts that can play when they’re still figuring themselves out, and to nights that feel really special when the entire space is packed full of people".

Anderson / Atwood

A great read in the Guardian - Canadian novelist remembers what Laurie Anderson's debut album was and what it had meant when it first came out. It's being reissued on vinyl this week. "As the 20th century has morphed into the 21st, as the consequences of the destruction of the natural world have become devastatingly clear, as analogue has been superseded by digital, as the possibilities for surveillance have increased a hundredfold, and as the ruthless hive mind of the Borg has been approximated through online media, Anderson’s anxious and unsettling probings have taken on an aura of the prophetic. Do you want to be a human being any more? Are you one now? What even is that? Or should you just allow yourself to be held in the long electronic petrochemical arms of your false mother?".

Rolling Stone renewed their list of great one-of albums by artists who published their debut LP and were promptly derailed by death, internal band politics or the simple desire to put something down and never pick it back up. Here's the top 10:

10. Madvillain - 'Madvillainy'

9. The Postal Service - 'Give Up'

8. Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers - 'L.A.M.F.'

7. Buena Vista Social Club - 'Buena Vista Social Club'

6. Minor Threat - 'Out of Step'

5. The Modern Lovers - 'The Modern Lovers'

4. Jeff Buckley - 'Grace'

3. Lauryn Hill - 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'

2. Derek & the Dominos - 'Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs'

  1. Sex Pistols - 'Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols'

Happy being sad
April 05, 2021

A playlist of sad music

"Sometimes when I am a bit bummed, I don’t look for music to lift me up; I look for music that captures my mood. For some reason, I find solace in listening to songs from my sad bastard brethren" - Medium writes introducing its playlist of sad music. The songs are predominantly about heartaches and hearts breaking, mostly singer-songwriter stuff - Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Whiskeytown, Lucinda Williams, etc.

Not the month, but the year of birth
April 03, 2021

Andre 3000: I don’t think people want records about my new glasses

Author and critic Nelson George met Andre 3000 of Outkast and had asked him about new music, but Andre expressed no interest in putting out a collection of new songs. His reason is very simple: “You write about what happens to you. Last week I got glasses. That was the big that happened to me. I don’t think people want records about my new glasses”. George believes middle-aged rapper is an oxymoron: "The youthful concerns of hip hop in the ‘90s, like the youthful concerns of trap music now, are very much tied into hot cars, fly girls and guys, the drugs of the moment, and the most current slang. Hip Hop freezes the MC, and the audience, in time because it’s composed of very specific references tied to its moment of creation. Its contemporary nature is a great strength, but a weakness too".

"Even if you’ve heard them a million times or come across them in a dozen movie soundtracks, classics like 'My Girl', 'Come See About Me', or 'The Tracks of My Tears' still sound almost impossibly fresh, just as the radical spirit of 'What’s Going On' or 'Living for the City' resonates perfectly in our present political moment. And amid all the hits, there are still lesser-known gems to be discovered" - Rolling Stone writes introducing the 100 greatest Motown songs list, 60 years after label's first Number One hit, 'Please Mr. Postman', by the Marvelettes.

From a different time and place
March 26, 2021

Joy Ride Mixcloud - gems from around the globe

The New Cue very highly recommends a mix by Heavenly Records supremo Jeff Barrett on his Mixcloud. The one you can listen to here "is an absolute cracker, filled with gems from around the globe, particularly Africa".

Movie director Andrew Dominik is making a new documentary about Nick Cave and Warren Ellis "attempting to play 'Carnage' and 'Ghosteen' live", Cave has announced in his Red Hand Files blog. Cave also describes how he and Ellis recorded 'Carnage' while not really trying to make a record - "I had been sitting at my desk — suddenly and shockingly not travelling — writing lyrics and poems into a void, with no real objective other than to make sense of this stationary moment. The world felt weird. My body felt weird. I had been jet-lagged for forty-five years. Now my inner clock had begun to tick regularly. Some nights I even slept. I think Warren’s experience was not dissimilar. I think we both felt the enforced stasis, not just unnerving, but also strangely and fitfully energizing, and so, when we began working in the studio, Carnage came out fast and necessary, as proof of life".

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