Ink cave
November 28, 2022

Nick Cave: Should you get a tattoo?

"I’m happy to carry this remnant of my youth with me, not just as a reminder of two of the most beautiful people who walked the earth... but also that there was a time when I was both heroic and dumb enough to get a tattoo of a badly drawn skull with my girlfriend’s name on it" - Nick Cave answers a fan's questions on his Red Hand Files blog, whether he should get a tattoo. "I guess I am wiser now, but that folly of youth will always go with me, and when I am finally in the ground, the grinning skull will continue to mock and jeer at all the lofty pretensions and vanities and cautions of these, my latter years. So, should you get a tattoo, Chris? As a sage man of a mature age I would advise against it, which is why I think you should probably get one".

... and the Bad Sounds
November 26, 2022

Nick Cave: I don’t love crickets

"Dear, sweet tinnitus — the musician’s curse. Mine is actually pretty manageable most of the time, it comes and goes, and only really kicks off when I am playing live music, which now I come to think of it is most of the time" - Nick Cave answers a fan's question about tinnitus in his Red Hand Files blog. "An ear specialist once told me there was not much I could do other than to ‘love my tinnitus’ — and then charged me three hundred quid" - Cave continue "but, you know, I don’t love my tinnitus, I don’t love my tinnitus at all, it’s a pain in the arse. So, I feel for you, Denise, sitting there in your solitude, with your tinnitus for company, and I don’t really have any advice for you, other than to say, if it is any consolation, that not only my cricket choir is singing, loud and very clear, but Warren’s is too, and Larry’s and Colin’s (Greenwood), and Wendy’s and Janet’s and T Jae’s — all our dreary crickets singing their moronic and endless serenade back to you".

English guitarist and singer/songwriter Wilko Johnson, a member of the 1970s pub band Dr. Feelgood, passed away this week. The New Cue paid a tribute to the musician revisiting Johnson's list of records that shaped him. There are a few famous ones, like The Doors' 'LA Woman', or Bob Dylan's 'Highway 61 Revisited', but also some lesser known, like Sir Douglas Quintet' 'Mendocino', and Mickey Jupp’s Legend's 'Legend (aka Red Boot)'.

Snow operator
November 24, 2022

A nice selection: Jazz in a snow globe

All About Jazz writer Chris Vella made a collection of songs that allows you to get lost and "have it transport you to a state of bliss. Like the diamonds of the music, no matter the era or style, they just shine... They're not splashy or overly complicated... You can just hang inside the groove like it's in some kind of snow globe heaven".

Shadow dancers
November 22, 2022

Essay: A new theory of the entourage

Music writer Harmony Holiday was a part of Madlib's camp, and thought about what it was: "The entourage is its own worst enemy. It’s an endless funeral procession for the personalities that existed before of it, and the retribution that pursues it and evades it. It makes those men almost untraceable, intractable, easy to distract and extract from and run. I wanted to save this man from becoming the entourage’s pawn or mime, with the kind of feminine power that is mine, that makes men men. It turned me, for a time, into his pawn or mime, a thankless, timeless easy-to-abuse muse position. The entourage is a ruins".

In his latest post, music writer Ted Gioia presents a scientific basis for his alternative musicology—a holistic way of thinking about songs and their impact on individuals and societies. He makes the argument that too much of our world today is controlled by left-hemisphere-of-the-brain worldview — analytic and detail-oriented - and calls for the right hemisphere - controls creativity, intuition, and imagination - to take over. "The simplest way to tap into the right hemisphere is music… The connection between songs and the right hemisphere of our brains is so strong that stroke victims who have lost the language-making capacity of their left brain are sometimes still able to sing words they can no longer speak". A great intro to the theory.

"So many posthumous jazz releases are just live concerts with the same songs we’ve already heard before, but this album (entitled 'HOME.S.') genuinely breaks new ground" - music writer Ted Gioia recommends the only solo piano album by Swedish pianist Esbjörn Svensson, released this week, 15 years after his death. "There is no time zone for jazz nowadays. Svensson played a key role in breaking down that barrier, one of the last in the genre’s long history of overcoming limitations. And that’s perhaps the most fitting legacy of all for this artist, whose music itself is timeless" - Gioia points out.

"Growing up in a working class neighborhood, I judged the possibilities in my own life on the basis of what others in our home town had achieved. I was fortunate that I had a few success stories to latch onto—and others deserve that same kind of boost. They now have it in more than a dozen cities in North Carolina" - music writer Ted Gioia points out introducing music murals of John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Thelonious Monk, and others, painted by graffiti artist Scott Nurkin in several cities in North Carolina, where the painted musicians hail from.

If you run a business that depends on creativity, you can’t punish the creators without consequences. Sometimes it takes a while for the cycle to play out, but it always plays out the same way - music writer Ted Gioia points out in his latest, optimistic post about the future of the creative economy. He believes things are about to change for the better for musicians, writers, and other creative professionals.

Here are a few of his predictions:

- Record labels are offering far more attractive terms to musicians than ever before

- Artist-friendly platforms are the future of music

- Single individuals will have more impact in launching new artists than major record labels or streaming platforms

Composer Ned Rorem celebrated his 99th birthday this week. Music writer Ted Gioia, however, highly recommends composer's diaries - "the most remarkable firsthand documentation we have of a musical life—surpassing those of Charles Burney, Sergei Prokofiev, Benjamin Britten, or whomever else you care to cite. Not even Mozart’s voluminous letters can match the scope and depth of Rorem’s six decades of journaling. He operates on a larger sphere, up their with Pepys and Boswell and others at the pinnacle of the diary as a literary genre".

Gioia also offers a choice of aphorisms:

  • “The best music must be nasty as well as beautiful.”
  • “Wagner, too, I love, if I don’t have to listen to him.”
  • “Americans say what they think, the French think what they say.”
  • “The end of love is like the Boléro played backwards.”

On the road again
October 12, 2022

Ted Gioia: What do conductors really do?

Music writer Ted Gioia opens a question on the role of conductors with an interesting take on the double meanings referring to both music and traveling. "When we refer to the movement of a classical work or a favorite track on a playlist, or even to structural forms such as the fugue (etymologically linked to the verb to flee). Take for example, the ancient Greek word oimê, signifying song, which is connected to the similar word oimos, designating a road or path".

Music writer Ted Gioia takes a critical look at today's music magazines which are (supposedly) leaning too much towards nostalgia: "Music writers serve as the conscience of the art form. They don’t simply reflect back to fans what they expect or want to hear. This is always important to remember but especially right now when the dominant platforms reward technocrats at the expense of musicians. Music media outlets have a responsibility to push back against these forces of marginalization and homogenization that not only hurt individual artists but weaken the en

Jack Probst shared with his fascinating story from his years as a janitor at a music venue ten years ago. He was collecting fans' letters that bands such as My Chemical Romance, Death Cab For Cutie, and many more had left behind. "Reading the intimate stories fans shared with their idols kept me going as I mopped sticky floors and scrubbed permanent marker graffiti off bathroom stalls. They are a unique part of music history, the human side of a cold industry most of us never get to see".

Sudan Archives is releasing her second album this year, and one of the tracks on it is “Selfish Soul”. She talked to Song Exploder about how the idea for this song "started when she asked her boyfriend, James (who is the rapper Nocando) to shave her head. Cutting off her hair made her reflect on her whole hair story, from experiences she had as a kid, to the cultural and racial issues that have historically surrounded Black women’s hair".

"Harry Styles’s new album 'Harry’s House' generated 62% of its first-week revenue from vinyl sales. Its vinyl sales generated more than three times its revenue from streaming, which accounted for just 18%. - Trapital's Dan Runcie starts his latest newsletter. "Vinyls shift puts more power in the hands of record labels, who have to determine inventory for each artist given the supply chain constraints. Will they treat vinyls like a hype-driven collectible item? Or will it be subject to the same industry patterns that hold certain genres back?".

Trapitals's Dan Runcie looks into the lockdown past and thinks about metaverse future in his latest post: "As exciting as the metaverse, NFTs, and web3 are, it heightens the desire for artists to be on every medium and platform possible. As entertainment becomes more and more fragmented, it takes more effort for artists to be everywhere, even the superstars... Two of the biggest opportunities for music in the metaverse are letting artists and fans create their own worlds, and getting more women artists and fans involved".

Straight pledge
May 16, 2022

Essay: Fugazi made me vegan

A great essay about life lessons from Fugazi: "The band that I believed knew more about how to live a better, more just, more punk life, were vegan, even on tour, eating veggie burgers out of their van in between shows across the country... Veganism involves questioning the dominant worldview, doing things for yourself, and sticking to principles. Being vegan means saying “fuck you” to a system even many meat eaters know is wrong — and that’s punk rock, even if there’s no crashing drums and searing guitar involved".

Music YouTuber Rick Beato made a list of the top 20 strangest guitar solos of all time, based on a few criteria - weird harmony, unusual sounds, and odd techniques. Included on the list are Nirvana, The Police, Rush, Judas Priest, Van Halen, Allan Holdsworth (very high on the list), and Jeff Beck at the top.

The List Pistols
April 27, 2022

The 20 best punk movies

"The best punk movies are stories that tap into the spirit of the time through imagined characters and invented situations. A biopic can’t help treating its protagonists as exceptional figures—stars commanding the stage of History—in a way that undercuts the iconoclastic, 'no more heroes' spirit of punk" - the Simon Reynolds writes introducing his best punk movies list, which goes from "the first punk movie" 'Jubilee' to 'We Are the Best!' by Lukas Moodysson.

No physical medium required at the customer interface. A wide selection of songs available for instant listening. Music choices made by the user, not some corporation or station manager - a quite correct description of a streaming service. However, it's a business started in 1939 by Seattle inventor Ken Shyvers. Ted Gioia goes back in time.

Good titles
April 02, 2022

Top 11 songs that became movie titles

A nice little blog post by Medium about movie titles inspired by songs. The top spot is taken by Inner Circle's 'Bad Boys' - a song "about teenage life and becoming semi-aggressive as you start growing up... it’s about troubled kids who have problems at home”. The song was picked up in 1995 by the 'Bad Boys' action comedy franchise, which stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as two Miami narcotics detectives.

“Maybe this might sound a little bit corny to people, but it was a spiritual feeling to me... It felt great to me – that distance thing, reaching out to something beyond the people” - jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins tells the Guardian recalling his two years of playing on a New York bridge. Beginning in the summer of 1959, Rollins played the saxophone on the Williamsburg Bridge day and night, rain or shine, in solitary sessions of sometimes 15 hours or more, for two years. This month is the 60th anniversary of his return to the recording studio where he made - 'The Bridge'.

An interesting point by Michelle Lhooq in her latest Rave New World post: "Clearly, we are entering the most absurd era of the pandemic, where ravers are actively trying to catch the virus, the scarcity of COVID testing is a joke, and the President himself is tweeting 'LMFAO IDK just Google it'. As the void closes in, the question lingers: is there any use resisting the nihilism of this moment? Or do you just cross the goddamn Rubicon, and jump into the gabber rave mosh pit?".

Retrospect of William
January 02, 2022

Hasaan Ibn Ali - a distinctive and original musician

The New Yorker looks back to the career of pianist and composer Hasaan Ibn Ali and his new release 'Retrospect In Retirement Of Delay: The Solo Recordings' - which features him in privately recorded performances from 1962 to 1965. The recording "reveals his profundity, his overwhelming power, his mighty virtuosity. It does more than put him on the map of jazz history—it expands the map to include the vast expanse of his musical achievement".

New is a matter of perspective
December 30, 2021

Boston Globe and their favorite music discoveries of the year

"The curse of being a music hound is that you’ll never be able to hear everything; the blessing is that there’ll always be something new to discover" - Boston Globe writer points out in the article about musical discoveries from this year. It's actually all well-known names, but not for everybody, some had the luck of finding out excitement in something all else knew.

Xmas came different this year
December 21, 2021

Vice's... different list of the best Christmas songs of all time

"Christmas songs vary hugely in genre – you’ve got everything from Songs-of-Praise-core to “Mad World” – and as you will see throughout this list, we are not afraid to challenge boundaries and perceptions. (One of the songs included, for example, doesn’t actually exist.) Not all Christmas songs mention Christmas, and not all Christmas songs are even “songs” as you may know them. Your mother screaming at you to get the dog out of the living room while there’s ham out, say, is just as much a Christmas ditty as “Silent Night” herself. You may not be able to play all our choices on your little Spotify, but they are all undoubtedly Christmas songs in that they contribute to the sounds and the mildly deranged mood of the season" - Vice kind of argues in favor of its list of 50 best Christmas songs. A mad list.

African king
December 11, 2021

Dr. Nico - Africa’s guitar god

"If cascades of gorgeous-to-gritty tone, an effortless flow of sparkling, playful melody, harmonization and dazzling polyrhythmic syncopations make up your idea of six-string divinity, Dr. Nico surely belongs in your pantheon" - Guitar World writes introducing Nicolas Kasanda wa Mikalay, aka Dr Nico.

Glam list
December 02, 2021

Top 11 glam rock songs

Medium presents top 11 glam rock song, with the No. 1 being 'Ballroom Blitz', the Sweet song based on a 1973 concert that got out of hand. Guitarist Andy Scott described how he and singer Brian Connolly were dragged off the stage in Glasgow, Scotland: “There was an absolute riot. All the fans were screaming and going crazy. A bunch of girls grabbed Brian and me by the ankles and dragged us off stage. They started lobbing off our hair with scissors they had been hiding in their handbags.To say we were terrified was an understatement. No one had ever seen a reaction like this and security didn’t stand a chance. Mike went away and wrote the lyrics to ‘Ballroom Blitz’".

Inspired by Peter Jackson's Beatles documentary 'Get Back', Rolling Stone has compiled a list of the 70 greatest music documentaries of all time: "the concert films, fly-on-the-wall tour chronicles, punk and hip-hop and jazz time capsules, and career assessments of everyone from Amy Winehouse to the Who that have set the standard and stood the test of time". The list finishes with 'U2: Rattle and Hum' and starts with Bob Dylan 1967 docu 'Don't Look Back', with plenty of good stuff in between.

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