Music writer Ted Gioia shares a news section from his new book 'Music to Raise the Dead' about musicians being the first heroes, and songs as their superpower. He based his theory on ancient texts from Mahābhārata, the Bible, and others. How did it come to this? "Songs tap into a power that transcends representation... For many individuals, music is their only pathway into ecstatic mindstates. And even for the adept who has mastered the journey, the song is often the most important thing brought back from the trip—or, in many cases, music served as the engine that propelled it forward in the first place."

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Greenday

The 50 best stoner albums

4/20 - the international counterculture holiday based on the celebration and consumption of cannabis - is coming, so Consequence marijuana lovers have put together "an essential list of the 50 Best Stoner Albums from the worlds of pop, hip-hop, electronic, rock, and heavy metal". The list starts with Black Sabbath's 'Master of Reality', and finishes with Tame Impala's 'Lonerism'.

The music writer and romance expert is trying to understand and/or explain why do young people see jazz as romantic: "Romance has been rationalized in our lives, much like a factory process. All the unnecessary steps get bypassed. And from a purely pragmatic point of view, swiping through profiles on a phone app seems far more efficient than a slow, ritualized process of courtship and romantic bonding... There’s a death of enchantment in our culture—that’s the best term I can come up with for this phenomenon... In this situation, jazz starts to play an unusual role. It gets associated with the last generation that did romantic body-contact dancing on a regular basis. It’s perceived as the soundtrack for the ritualized apparatus of courtship. Just hearing it magically summons a nostalgic longing for a more romantic age".

Reclusive West London-bred singer and producer Jai Paul performed his first-ever live set at Coachella’s Mojave stage last weekend, only one of the most anticipated gigs of the year. Jai Paul has released three singles in 12 years, yet he has climbed to cult-like status, although, or maybe thanks to, withdrawing from the public in general. It seems, however, he is relaunching his career - Jai Paul is set to play two consecutive nights in New York at Knockdown Centre on 25 April and 26 April at Brooklyn Steel, and in London on 9 and 10 May at underground venue space HERE at Outernet.

After a few A.I.-generated songs that sound like Drake, The Deeknd, and Ice Spice appeared online, the music industry reacted with demands for these songs to be blocked on streaming services. "This feels like Napster in 1999. New technology is here and the industry’s protocol is to resist" - Dan Runcie points out in his memo, suggesting the labels shouldn't fight back, but rather embrace it. "It’s in the superstar artist and record label’s best interest to enable experimentation—as long as there’s a fair way to compensate the artist and rights holder. Their work would be the most-accessed music for generative songs anyway, so why not lean in?".

The Face is wondering whether artificial intelligence is going to take our jobs: "Again, as long as we value human emotion, creativity and connection, there’s only so far AI can take us. Like music, for example. Sure, AI can churn out catchy TikTok songs which makes for genuine competition when it comes to already-manufactured pop tunes. But we value music for the meaning, person and creativity behind it, all of which would be massively diluted if made by robots, who, to put it simply, can’t feel anything. That goes for DJs, too. We happily pay to watch a human spin some tracks in a sweaty club – would you pay to listen to a machine to the same?".

"It started off as a little exercise during lockdown keeping me busy and bringing all these musicians on board and as it grew into an album... With every contribution someone would send me, it was always surprising because it always changed the song completely and did something that I wouldn’t have predicted. It still feels like this magical thing" - comedian and musician James Acaster says to The New Cue about his project Temps, which is about to release its debut 'Party Gator Purgatory'. There are about 40 musicians collaborating on the album - including Open Mike Eagle, Joana Gomila, NNAMDI, Shamir, Quelle Chris - with Acaster acting as a producer/director. It's a versatile album - "I think now, anyone who engages in current music appreciates that genre is a thing of the past and the best music is just completely boundless", with one connecting thread - "mostly what I was doing with this was to tailor it to my exact music tastes and having everything that I liked in music in just one thing".

Ted Gioia wrote a great obituary to jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, who died on Sunday aged 92: "Other musicians have changed the sound of jazz in various ways. But Ahmad Jamal actually transformed time and space. He opened up an alternative universe of sound, freer and less constrained than what we had heard before. The rules of improvised music were different after he appeared on the scene... Ahmad Jamal sat down at the piano, and just floated over the beat."

"Unlike other trends and even other festivals, Coachella developed a brand that can sell itself. This festival could sell out tickets before announcing a lineup if it wanted to. Fans want the vibes. The influencers, fashion, and activations will be there regardless of who performs on stage. In the early 2010s, the festival became a who’s who for celebrity attendance. Attending was a flex, like sitting courtside at a Lakers game" - Trapital's Dan Runcie looks into Coachella in his latest podcast. He is joined by Tati Cirisano from MIDiA Research. They also talk about untapped opportunities for Coachella, how the rise of concert ticket prices impacts it, and how festival lineups are becoming homogenous.

Folk music legend Joan Baez met two members of the Tennesee Three on a flight from Nashville to Newark on Sunday, and reacted upon her activist impulse. Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were recently expelled from the Tennessee legislature over their participation in a gun control protest, This week both have officially been reinstated to their old seats. On Sunday, when the plane landed in Newark, Baez sang two songs with Jones, the traditional freedom songs 'We Shall Overcome' and 'Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round'.

Michelle Lhooq talks to writer and scholar McKenzie Wark in her latest memo about raving culture, ravers, and what it means to different people. "If I go to the rave at four or five in the morning, it's a lot of people who do service work, and are used to being nice to people all day. There’s also sex workers, who similarly are having to use their body, their subjectivity, and their emotions in service of the job. They go to a space to get out of that. Then there are people like me—'intellectual workers'... When I’m in rave spaces, language is going on in my head, but I'm not paying attention to it. It's just there but I'm not in it". She also talks about being connected - "I don't think it's a bad thing for people to learn to be intimate with each other on the dance floor, in close proximity, to be vulnerable to each other. Sometimes, it makes very weak networks. But even those are not bad things to have. There's people around that you're gonna see in other contexts and you just know a little about each other. Yeah, it's not the revolution. It's not utopia. But it's not nothing".

Rock icon Nick Cave talked with 'UnHerd' host Freddie Sayers to discuss his book, 'Faith, Hope and Carnage,' saying that he sees human beings in a completely different way than he did early in his career, and said he is now a "more complete person." Sayers noted that the punk rocker turned "church-going person" might seem unrecognizable, but Cave said he simply gets a delight by "f-----g with people" and "living outside the expectation" of others. Today, for Cave, an avid church-goer, it means "you go to church and be a conservative". Cave also talks a lot about cancel culture and censorship.

Paul Simon has announced his new album 'Seven Psalms', out May 19, which came to him in a dream, Variety reports. On January 15th, 2018, Simon says he had a dream that said "You're working on a thing called 'Seven Psalms'", he wrote it down, without knowing what it meant. Gradually, he would wake up a few times a week at 3.30, and words would come (his debut album in Simon & Garfunkel, was of course titled 'Wednesday Mornin, 3 A.M.'). The album is a 33-minute, seven-movement collection intended to be heard as one continuous piece. Simon shares a video about the album, a trailer for an upcoming documentary about the album’s creation.

Bandcamp's Brad Sanders wrote an essay about growing up in sports, replacing them with music, learning to love running, and, with a little help from the post-metal band Russian Circles, how the two tightly connect. "I log all my runs in the Strava app, and in the description field for each run, I always include what I listened to while I was out on the road. It’s a formal way to acknowledge what Russian Circles taught me years ago, that the music that feeds my soul and the movement that feeds my body can–and indeed must–peaceably coexist."

"For the fourth year in a row, they’ve outdone themselves. The epic songs are more epic, the pop songs poppier, the country-fried desolation more potent and immersive" - Stereogum argues in favor of their latest Album of the week, 'Rat Saw God' by Wednesday. Rolling Stone writes lovingly that "the North Carolina band thrives on a huge guitar sound and the great songwriting of Karly Hartzman," whereas Consequence sees a beginning of something really big - "call it country-gaze, bubble-grunge, or skip the genre classifications altogether, the project is 10 tracks of immaculate songwriting, big ideas, and sheer character". Pitchfork tagged it Best New Music, because "their outstanding new album is why they’re one of the best indie rock bands around".

"Each chapter is filled to the brim with insights, new information, and powerful writing. McCormick clearly had high literary aspirations at this juncture in his life. I suspect that he was trying to capture something similar to Truman Capote’s 'In Cold Blood', the most celebrated ‘true crime’ book of the era. McCormick presents himself in these pages as a musical detective on the trail of the most elusive guitarist in history, and successfully conveys all the uncertainty and suspense of his investigation" - music writer Ted Gioia presents 'Biography of a Phantom: A Robert Johnson Blues Odyssey', a book about the famous delta blues guitarist written by his friend Mack McCormick. The published book is the early version of the manuscript. The later version argued that Mississippi guitarist named Robert Johnson—admired all over the world today—didn’t actually make those famous blues recordings or anything really. Gioia explains.

"[Nowadays] It feels like if you have a musical group it must be centered around the vocalist. If we measure the average percent of instrumental content per Billboard number hit between 1940 and 2021, we see demonstrable evidence for not just the decline of the instrumental superstar but the instrumentalist generally, with the sharpest declines beginning in the 1950s and the 1990s" - Chris Dalla Riva points out. He offers an explanation: "I believe it comes down to four factors: improved technology, the 1942 musicians’ strike, WWII, television, and hip-hop."

Madison McFerrin

"This is all about music discovery—and I’m excited to tell you about a few favorite artists you might not encounter elsewhere" - music writer Ted Gioia announces his list of 30 most intriguing new musicians. "It’s a cranky and deeply personal list", Gioia warns. Some of chosen ones are Hania Rani, singer-songwriter from Gdansk; Madison McFerrin, a pianist from a family of musicians; Sam Gendel - a versatile multi-instrumentalist.

"There’s a real depth to Heartworms’ music that matches the image, and proves her to be a true and powerful outlier of her time" - NME is delighted with the debut EP by Heartworms, London goth/post-punk band. Fronted by musician and poet Jojo Orme, formed in 2020, their 4-song introductory release ‘A Comforting Notion’ feels "urgent and important, brimming with all the promise of the next great cult act." DIY Mag feels similar about her: "a Seriously Fucking Cool new artist with vision and formidable talent to her name."

AI Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

AI at work: Kanye West dissing Kanye West

AI developer Robert Nickson has recorded a track AI has produced replicating Kanye West's voice in order to diss the rapper. Nickson recorded a verse and had a trained AI model of Kanye replace his vocals. The results are quite impressive, or frightening, depending on how you take it.

Martin Hibbert

Martin and Eve Hibbert, a father and daughter who suffered disabilities from the May 2017 terror attack outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, are suing conspiracy theorist Richard D Hall for defamation and harassment, BBC reports. Hall has promoted the theory that the Manchester Arena bombing, which left 22 people dead, that the attack never happened and reportedly admitted to spying on the victims. Hibbert and his daughter Eve, who was 14 at the time, were standing about 5 meters from the bomb when it exploded, per the report, and both required wheelchairs after the blast. The lawsuit is the first of its kind to be filed in the U.K. against a conspiracy theorist.

Indie powerhouse Dead Oceans is about to release 'Rat Saw God', Wednesday’s new album, their fourth in as many years, and fifth in general. The LP was announced with a thunderous teaser-track 'Bull Believer', an eight-minute powerhouse. Friday is the day.

Music streaming giant Spotify is shutting down its live audio app, Spotify Live, two years after launching it and after coming to the conclusion that "it no longer makes sense as a standalone app.” The company plans to continue with some aspects of live audio, mainly “listening parties”. Some of the app’s shows will continue as non-live programs on the main Spotify app.

"I liked the idea of writing music that was not amplified, that didn't require any electricity. It was just me and the scoring paper" - Thomas Bangalter, formerly of Daft Punk, says in a BBC interview about his latest work, scoring music for a ballet. The project takes him back to his childhood - his mother and his aunt were both dancers, and his uncle a dance instructor, so when France's contemporary choreographer, Angelin Preljocaj, asked him to score a new ballet, he couldn't say no - "my mother passed about 20 years ago and going back to that world is linked to a certain time of my life. So it adds some nostalgia, but at the same time, it was a very new adventure." He also shares his thoughts on AI in the interview, as well as ending Daft Punk - "It was an exploration, I would say, starting with the machines and going away from them. I love technology as a tool [but] I'm somehow terrified of the nature of the relationship between the machines and ourselves. We tried to use these machines to express something extremely moving that a machine cannot feel, but a human can. We were always on the side of humanity and not on the side of technology. As much as I love this character, the last thing I would want to be, in the world we live in, in 2023, is a robot."

A great show by CBC News about the future of music and the effect technology has on it. CBC News Explore’s BIG MUSIC looks at how Spotify, Ticketmaster, LiveNation, and Tik Tok are changing the very nature of music. It goes way back to the very beginning of recorded music and ownership of music, to the current moment of non-ownership. Great stuff!

"Capital punishment may seem an unlikely subject for a hit song. But a few hundred years ago, execution ballads not only circulated in society, but were extremely popular. The music business, as it existed in those days, depended on these bloody songs for profits. Countless examples survive in the form of broadside ballads—popular songs that were printed and sold and performed in public spaces. They were often sold at the execution itself. But they continued to circulate in the following days—serving as a combination of macabre entertainment, moral education, and daily news for people who hadn’t actually been in attendance" - music writer Ted Gioia argues how important and widespread execution songs were until fairly recently.

In a recent post on his Red Hand Files blog, Nick Cave answers a fan's question about breaking down after having lost his father. Deeply compassionate and positive: "We each have our reserves of sorrow that rise to the surface, provoked by one little thing or another, to remind us we are human and that we love and that we are a part of the great human story that flows along the ancient waterways of our collected and historical griefs. This breaking down is not something from which we need to be saved or cured, but rather it is the toss and tumble of life, and the occasional losing of oneself to the sadness of things is an honouring of life itself."

Coachella’s all six stages will be streamed live online across both weekends in April for the first time. The live YouTube stream promises performances from Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, Calvin Harris, Rosalía, Gorillaz, Burna Boy, Becky G, Wet Leg, Benee, Willow, Bjork, The Comet is Coming, Murder Capital, Yves Tumor, Kaytranada, Boygenius, Weyes Blood, and many more. Coachella’s weekend one livestream will launch on Friday, April 14th at 4:00 p.m. PT, with weekend two following on Friday, April 21st at the same time.

The acclaimed Japanese musician and synth-pop pioneer Ryuichi Sakamoto has died at 71, per a statement from his management team. Sakamoto was, next to Haruomi Hosono and Yukihiro Takahashi, co-founder of foundational synth-pop band Yellow Magic Orchestra, and their 1978 debut album, with singles 'Computer Game' and 'Firecracker', was a sensation in Japan. They also were influential in the development of hip-hop, sampled by countless in the genre. The trio developed their sound and broke new synthesizer ground with their albums, from 'Solid State Survivor' in 1979 through 'Service' in 1983, after which they would break up but leave behind an undeniable impact on the world of electronic music and beyond. As a solo artist, Sakamoto composed scores for movies, including an Oscar-awarded score for 'The Last Emperor', an anthem for the Japan Football Association, and the opening ceremony of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Simon Reynolds makes a strong case for Sakamoto being one of the key figures in the creation of techno, whereas Alexis Petridis argues the composer has paved the way for electropop and hip-hop.

"We are not used to silence. Music has become background noise increasingly" - Jarrod Richey, a music teacher from Luicianna, shares some thoughts on active & passive music listening. "Playing good music in the background... is about as useful as putting a foreign language audiobook on in the background while doing the dishes... Music must move to the foreground of our minds and ears. We must learn to listen actively."

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A federal jury in Washington, D.C., convicted Fugees rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel on charges including conspiracy, witness tampering, and failing to register as an agent of China, CNN reports. Prosecutors alleged that Malaysian fugitive businessman Jho Low paid Pras roughly $100 million to influence American politics, first with illegal political payments intended to support Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012, and later to influence Donald J. Trump and his administration to end a Department of Justice investigation into Jho Low. Leonardo DiCaprio was called as a witness during the trial due to his connection with Jho Low, who helped finance DiCaprio’s film 'The Wolf of Wall Street'. Pras Michel faces up to 20 years in prison.

A tech startup called Beatly has launched what it says is a decentralized platform where it claims "people can put their music up without being taken down". In a post on Product Hunt, one of the platform's founders, Alexander Zwerner, insists that the startup "understand[s] how important it is for this AI music to have a safe and reliable platform to be shared with the world. That's why we've developed a decentralized hosting structure that backups and ensures your music will never be taken down".

American consumers bought 41.3 million vinyl records in 2022, compared to 33.4 million compact discs, which means that annual vinyl sales exceeded CD sales in the US last year for the first time since 1987, MBW reports. The difference in revenue is even bigger - income from vinyl jumped 17.2% year over year to $1.2 billion in 2022, while revenues from CDs fell 17.6%, to $483 million. Music sales data company Luminate also found that 50% of consumers who have bought vinyl in the past 12 months in the US own a record player, which of course means that 50% of vinyl buyers - don’t own a record player.

Harry Belafonte, the pioneering Calypso singer, actor, and civil rights leader, has died at the age of 96. In his music career, there are several firsts, and groundbreaking moves. His second album, 'Belafonte', was the first No 1 in the new US Billboard album chart in March 1956. His third album, 'Calypso', featuring songs from his Jamaican heritage, brought the feelgood calypso style to many Americans for the first time, and became the first album to sell more than a million copies in the US. Bob Dylan’s first recording – playing harmonica – was on Belafonte’s 1962 album, 'Midnight Special'. The previous year, Belafonte had been hired by Frank Sinatra to perform at John F Kennedy’s presidential inauguration.

The season of summer festivals is fast approaching with all the great music, and the pollution it produces, Consequence spoke with a number of experts in the festival and environmental fields looking into the possibilities of carbon neutral activities and solutions:

A host city with a large and interested population - reduces the need for distant travel

Public transit options - the most effective travel option

Access to a clean-energy municipal grid - avoiding big diesel generators

Camping can help reduce electricity usage and transportation emissions from commuters

Cutting out meat and other animal products

Plentiful water refill stations are also a must, to stave off dehydration and the use of disposable bottles

Rethinking festival hours - a festival that runs from 11:00 am to sundown could do away with lighting entirely

Sabine Salamé

"Rap has become one of the most important tools to resist, criticise, and protest against oppression, dictatorship and corruption" - Gal-Dem points out in the introduction of their recent selection of the key players from the progressive rap scenes in Syria and Lebanon. Standing out in this part of the Arab peninsula are Bu Nasser Touffar, Amir Almurrai, Bu Kolthoum, El-Rass, Sabine Salamé, and Ebaa.

Culture and music editor Eleanor Halls looks into Frank Ocean's Coachella unique performance which had left fans disappointed and enthralled. She draws comparison to Elvis Presley and Lauryn Hill in this regard. "What happens when an artist refuses to play ball?" - Halls asks, and wonders whether fans should really be disappointed.

Music writer Ted Gioia remembers one essential bit of advice saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre gave him on organizational theory. "He explained that musicians played better when they were happier. Now that was a word I’d never heard in organizational theory class. Giuffre continued to spell it out for me—surprised that I couldn’t figure this out for myself. Didn’t I know that people are always happier when they were with their friends? So group productivity is an easy problem to solve. In other words, if my three best buddies played bongos, kazoo, and bagpipe, that should be my group."

59.5% of artists are already using AI to create music, a new research which included 1200 users of music distribution company Ditto Music has revealed. The majority would use AI for mixing, mastering, or music production, MixMag reports. A minority of 28% of respondents said they would avoid using AI in their music-making process

Cassette sales in the UK grew by 5.2% in 2022, reaching their highest level since 2003, following 10 consecutive years of growth, Forbes reports. All in all, 195,000 audio cassettes were sold last year in the UK, compared to 3,823 sold in 2012. All 20 of the U.K's biggest-selling cassettes in 2022 were released that year, with the most popular cassettes sold being The Arctic Monkeys' ‘The Car’ and ‘Harry’s House' by Harry Styles. Similarly, in the U.S. 2022 sales of albums on cassette tape jumped by 28% to 440,000 - up from 343,000 in 2021,

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