Sunday, October 31, 2010

Katy B. Keeps Moving With The "Lights On"

Our friends over at the culture of me turned us on to this awesome track from Katy B., who is the most striking thing to come out of the U.K. since the xx (at least in my experience). "Lights On" is a delectable slice of pop, with a killer refrain and a thumping beat. But Katy B. has a lot more going than one hook, as some of her other tracks have elements of dubstep, electronica and R&B.

Hopefully she'll be touring around here soon.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Richie Hawtin Streaming Minus Beats Right Now

Head over to Richie Hawtin's Ustream page to hear the Minus boss and his colleagues spin. I believe it's Troy Pierce who's on right now, and the beats are sick!

Speaking of Minus, Magda's From The Fallen Page is out this week, and you can check out some tracks on YouTube. Resident Advisor also has a review.

Here's some vintage Hawtin, if you aren't familiar with him.

(Not) CMJ 2010: The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Ty Segall, Javelin, Active Child, and Cults Played #Offline

Madeline Follin of Cults

Rushing over from the BrooklynVegan day party last Saturday, I arrived at Brooklyn Bowl and saw a line for Pitchfork's #Offline Festival. Frowning, and hoping I didn't miss Cults, I took my spot and pondered the likelihood of the venue being packed already (it was around 4 pm). Thankfully, things moved relatively quickly, and no, it wasn't crowded inside at all.

Which is really a shame, because Cults is quite good. They won me over easily a few weeks back with the nostalgic, swooning "Go Outside," its harpsichord twinkle and Madeline Follin's sky-high vocals proving irresistible. But as their recent Daytrotter session suggested, there's more to the band than just the two figures on the cover art of their first single (I'm not even sure if those are members of the band). Indeed, Cults set up as a six-piece, and the plethora of guitars made for a full sound. Still, Follin was the centerpiece in space and sound, perpetually swaying. Judging from the amount of new material I heard, we should expect a full length shortly.

Until then, grab some songs from their' 7'' over at Bandcamp. You'll be glad you did.

Next, Active Child's Pat Grossi made an immediate impression, sitting with a harp and filling the room with his soaring voice. He's said that he's a former member of a boy's choir, and that choral influence really suffused his music, even when he switched over to synth for the second half of his set. Harps inevitably make me think of Joanna Newsom, but Grossi has a more technological vibe, although both of them have pretty distinct voices. If anything, I'd say Active Child aspires to some of M83's more cinematic moments, although with less bombast. Another pretty good indicator, as previously mentioned, is the band's remix of tourmates School of Seven Bells, which brings an operatic quality to the vocals.

MP3: School of Seven Bells - Heart Is Strange (Active Child Remix)

A very entertaining Javelin gave the crowd a strong workout, with Tom van Buskirk supplying the goofy, stream-of-conscious rapping and George Langford pounding the drum kit. In the background were projections of various sports, and van Buskirk said at one point that he was inspired by middle school dancers. They sampled a variety of sources, from video game bleeps to old school hip hop, and apparently broadcast through a bunch of boomboxes, which is all sorts of awesome. I really liked Javelin's mix of live instruments and crate-digging, and it made for a spontaneous-sounding good time. Javelin also regularly posts mixes on their colorful website, and here's one.

MP3: Javelin - Andrean Ocean Tape

Ty Segall was up next, and I think it was a case where the live mix had guitars burying the vocals, and I couldn't really distinguish them from your typical indie rock band, aside from a cover of what I believe was "Crazy Train." Listening to their recorded stuff now, I can get a better feel for the band's grungy, fuzzed out sound, which admittedly isn't my favorite sort of music, but there's also a decent dose of melody as well. Anyhow, the crowd absolutely ate them up, even moshing at times, and Segall returned the love, giving the mic to a knot of people up front for part of one song. Good times.

Grab Ty Segall's "Standing at the Station" over at RCRD LBL.

I had seen the Pains of Being Pure At Heart twice in outdoor spaces - first at the South Street Seaport, then at this year's Village Voice Siren Festival - and I've been impressed with the fullness of their sound. Two guitars, a bass, synth and drums can really do wonders, and they were a blast once again. Kip Berman's vox was a bit quiet, but those glorious, jangly hooks were tremendous. The Pains played some new tracks, which didn't seem to deviate too much, but if ain't broke, don't fix it.

MP3: The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Everything With You

Footage of "Young Adult Friction," courtesy of Plastic Impossible, and rest of the photos after the jump.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

CMJ 2010: Titus Andronicus, Wild Nothing, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Ted Leo and Morning Teleportation Played Public Assembly

It was surreal walking down North 6th Street in the daytime. Shows tend to start pretty late at Music Hall of Williamsburg, and The Bunker at Public Assembly doesn't really get going until midnight, so I'm always in the area when it's dark. But on Saturday at noon, I found myself hurrying over to the BrooklynVegan day party, announced just a few days prior, the start of what would be an epic day of music. (The final band count would be 17.)

We arrived at the venue, and thankfully there wasn't that dreaded line at the door. It was actually pretty smooth throughout the day, and I have to give the promoters huge credit for squeezing in so many people and bands in just a few hours. The sets were pretty short, clocking in at around 25 minutes each, but as the saying goes, quality over quantity.

Morning Teleportation started things off, veering from psychedelic licks to twangier territory. Singer Tiger Merritt's falsetto was paired nicely with some oohs from his bandmates, and he also a tube strapped to his mic for some vocoder action. A trumpet finished off the eclectic arsenal.

The great Ted Leo was next, with an unusually early set time, as he had to play the WFMU Record Fair later in the afternoon. He played without the Pharmacists, flexing his electric guitar muscles. Unfortunately he had to cut a couple tracks to stay on schedule, and sadly there was no "Me and Mia" or, for that matter, Kelly Clarkson to be had. He did, however, finish things off with a cover of Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat," transmuting the electro pop into guitar wizardry, without sacrificing the emotion. (Here's video footage of "The High Party," and here's some more "official" videos.)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. had the most distinct outfits of the week, wearing logo-emblazoned jumpsuits in the tradition of NASCAR drivers. They also placed two light-up "J" and "R" blocks to flank the stage, and at one point one guy flung on a light-up jacket. So, quite the visual spectacle, and the music was pretty fun as well, with sunny two-part harmonies that stayed hooky, despite some songs that were apparently about corporations.

After seeing Wild Nothing open for Stars a month ago, I was struck by the contrast between their live sets and their record, Gemini. The album has a mesmerizing sheen, while the band sounds more direct on stage. But having listened to the record to death over the last couple weeks, I was really looking forward to seeing them play again, and the intimacy of Public Assembly was fantastic compared to cavernous Terminal 5. Those tightly coiled hooks were awesome, and the band hummed along, tossing in some songs from EPs, along with their full-length material.

Wild Nothing will be playing tonight (Thursday) at NYU's Kimmel Center, with Baths (more on him later) and Julianna Barwick. Highly recommended.

Here's "Summer Holiday" from the show, capturing the set nicely. "Chinatown" is also up.

I'm not really a Titus Andronicus fan - they seem like perfectly nice people, but it's just a bit too raw and not melodic enough with me. But it was definitely a bummer to see the band get cut off - apparently by mistaken - by the sound guy after just a few songs. They started off the short set with "A More Perfect Union," which rocked pretty hard, and the band was constantly in motion, jumping about the small stage.

Then, it was time to hurry up to North 11th for #Offline Festival. That review will be posted soon.

Rest of the photos after the jump.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Terra Firma's EMI Lawsuit Against Citi Group Continues

L&L Holdings' 150 Fifth Avenue, home of EMI Music (via WikiCommons)

Guy Hands and his firm, Terra Firma Capital Partners, are suing Citigroup for $8.4 billion, accusing the bank of deceptive over the value of the troubled major label EMI. Terra Firm purchased EMI back in 2007 for around $6.3 billion, and Hands said that he was deceived by Citi's David Wormsley, who allegedly made it seem as if there was another interested buyer, Cerberus Capital Management, when there wasn't. Meanwhile, Wormsley said that Hands was known to lowball offers and professes his good intentions. The decision will be up to the nine-person jury, although the loser could very well appeal with so much money on the line.

This smells like a boom-time acquisition gone wrong, exacerbated by the tumult in the music industry. Terra Firma even apparently labeled the deal "project dice," and it came, of course, a year before the collapse of Lehman. A couple months later, EMI cut 15 percent of its staff, and the label is now in danger of defaulting on its loans to Citi. And while Terra Firma could alleviate some of the debt by winning this lawsuit, the health of the label doesn't seem like a concern.

One has to feel some pity for the staffers at EMI. I know at least some of them actually care about music.

(Full disclosure: I was an unpaid intern at Astralwerks, whose parent company is EMI, in 2008.)

CMJ 2010: Family Portrait, Street Chant, Ecstatic Sunshine, Fluffy Lumbers and Pigeons Played Shea Stadium

I finally made it over to Shea Stadium, one of the many D.I.Y. concerts venues in Bushwick, for last Friday's Microphone Memory Emotion and Rose Quartz showcase. Though it wasn't an official CMJ event, I wasn't familiar with any of the bands, and that's good enough for me to count it as part of the marathon. The venue is really cool, with Mets paraphernalia, homemade lights, and some couches. It's a nice, intimate size, although everyone's ears were aching a bit afterwards.

Pigeons started things off with a pleasant, ethereal haze, with the singer sounding like a doppelganger for Asobi Seksu's Yuki Chikudate on the first song I heard. The band meandered in the best way, saturating the room with pretty vocals and shoegazey instruments. There was even some French lyrics at the end, à mon excitation.

Fluffy Lumbers weathered some technical problems - singer Samuel Franklin's voice was a bit buried under the guitars - but they played a satisfying, hard-hitting set. Guitarist (and former WNYU DJ) Alex Craig would play a few chords from various classic rock songs during lulls, and while Fluffy Lumbers comes from a scrappier sort of indie inspiration, they had some guitar chops for sure. The band will be playing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (!) on Nov. 3 as part of the John Baldessari event, and while Franklin said they needed practice, they should be fine, judging from what I heard.

Ecstatic Sunshine was next. The band is just Matthew Papich now, with old member Dustin Wong leaving to focus on Ponytail and his solo stuff, and I'll admit it was a little jarring going from a Fluffy Lumbers' full-out sound to Papich's electronic textures. Wong is a guitarist, and there was still some six-string residue coming out of Papich's machines, which danced between ambient washes and more song-based structure. The visuals were particularly cool here, with two women swirling liquid over a projector. Talk about D.I.Y.!

Here are two tracks, courtesy of

MP3: Ecstatic Sunshine - Hello Money
MP3: Ecstatic Sunshine - No Future I'm Dead

Street Chant, from New Zealand, are a lean three-piece that evoke Sleater-Kinney. They played a straightforward, no-frills set, although there was some nice harmonizing between the two singers. But for the most part, it was brisk song after song, and judging from the few girls dancing vigorously in front of the stage, that was just fine.

Family Portrait were loud. The singing was pretty tuneful, but the guitars and synth were what was etched - literally - into my eardrums. It was hard to pick out distinct elements under the blasts, but there was some interesting stuff going on under the fuzz.

Unfortunately I had to head out before Andrew Cedermark, but it was still a great show, and I'll try to get back to Shea soon.

Rest of the photos after the jump.

Apparat's DJ Kicks Out Now, Download "Sayulita"

Apparat at the Knitting Factory, 2008

Sascha Ring, the Berliner who makes electronic music under the name Apparat, mixes the latest DJ Kicks, the long-running mix series from !K7. The tracklist looks great, features the likes of Autechre, Pantha Du Prince, newly-40-year-old Thom Yorke, Patrice Bämel, Martyn, as well as Four Tet and Burial's gorgeous "Moth." There's also an exclusive track from Telefon Tel Aviv, whom Ring toured with a couple years ago (see above).

Here's "Sayulita," a shimmering cut that's one of two new Apparat songs on the mix. You can download the mp3 over at the official website, with or without an email. Enjoy!

Friday, October 22, 2010

CMJ 2010: Electric Child, Friends, Thomas Simon, And the Wiremen Played The Delancey

I stopped by the Delancey for the first time ever last night, actually intending to catch Sky Larkin and Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson. But being unfamiliar with the venue, I didn't realize they were playing the downstairs stage, so I gravitated to the first thing I saw, which was a rather enthusiastic lady in a dress (whom I mistook for Sky Larkin's Katie Harkin) leaping about the crowd. It was instead Electric Child, the new band of Alison Clancey, a multi-talented singer, dancer and artist. I didn't get a full listen, arriving as the set was wrapping up, but it sounded energetic and fun.

The next band was Friends, another new project that is sadly un-Googleable, but it was definitely the highlight of the night for me. The lead singer had a dreamy, appealing delivery, and had some help from her band mates on some songs. In a loose ensemble style, the quintet traded instrumental duties, which included some synths, a sparse drum kit and guitars, meshing together both atmospheric pop and raucous gems that would make Los Campesinos! proud. I'm really hoping to hear more from these guys.

Update: Found their MySpace!

Thomas Simon shifted the show to a moodier level. Accompanied by a saxophone player, projector and some drum effects, he created dense arrangements that engulfed the small room. Many of the songs flowed into the next, electronic textures unyielding in the darkness, but the sax added a free, jazzy element that kept it from being too overwhelming. Simon even improvised the last piece of the set, after being granted time for one more song.

And The Wiremen, who were the last band I saw before heading out, kept a similar mid-tempo pace, keeping a steady but methodical gait throughout their set. The harmonies were good, but I would've appreciated a bit more energy. Again, there was a brass instrument, which added a nice flourish to the earthy sound of the band.

It was an enjoyable batch of sets, and while I was initially bummed that I had completely missed the intended bands, the surprise was pretty pleasant in the end.

Live video of And The Wiremen below, rest of the photos after the jump.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

CMJ 2010: Yo La Tengo, DOM and Screaming Females Played Brooklyn Bowl

CMJ is upon us. The festival has been a sort of benchmark for my relationship with live music - I unwittingly went to two shows in my freshman year of college, then went all-out in 2007 and 2008. But last year, I only managed to catch a random day set on the Lower East Side halfway through the festival, and I wasn't really seeing many concerts at all. But having recently returned to music blogging, I resolved to make the most of this year's CMJ, and hopefully rekindle that beautiful feeling of discovery.

Tuesday night, I made my way over to Mog's show over at the Brooklyn Bowl. It was my first time inside the venue (I waited outside unsuccessfully on two rainy occasions), and I was impressed with the size of the place, and the swankiness of the many flat television screens and furnishings. (Disclosure: ÜberDrivel is a part of the Mog Music Network, and they sell us ads.)

The show began promptly, with opener Screaming Females wasting no time in blasting the crowd. Singer Marisa Paternoster was a force of nature, with guitar heroics and a powerful voice. Strangely, her presence in between songs was tiny - apparently due to nerves - but the intensity of the music made up for it.

DOM were a shaggy-haired quartet, with grungy fuzz but the occasional hook emerging from the guitar fog. The singer - who apparently goes by Dom, but won't reveal his last name - had vocals were as thick as his hair, obscuring his lyrics, but the band was going for mood over meaning. This actually transitioned pretty well into the first few songs of Yo La Tengo's set, which were bottom-heavy burnouts with guitar freakouts.

I was a little concerned about surviving the remainder of the show, but then the band launched into "Mr. Tough," and James McNew's falsetto assured me that all was well. I was really impressed with the band's versatility, which makes sense, considering they've been around longer than, well, I have. The three-part acoustic harmonies on a couple tracks were great - Ira Kaplan accounted for the tempo shift as a way of not interrupting the nearby bowlers, and even rolled a set himself.

All in all, a great way to kick things off.

Here's some footage of the set (more here), and rest of the photos after the jump.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Keith Worthy Played Mister Saturday Night, Oct. 9

Mister Saturday Night found a beautiful new home in Bushwick. The weekly party series, lovingly crafted by DJs Eamon Harkin and Justin Carter, had been moving around after losing Market Hotel in the spring, but this space is, I would say, even better. There's plenty of space, including an outdoor area, and the visuals did a nice job of creating a mood. As always, the fellows selected some impeccable beats to warm things up, and then Keith Worthy took the crowd on a minimal ride before opening it up. Great times!

The next show will be a Halloween special on Oct. 30.

Video for Worthy's "Deep For Dayz" below, and photos after the jump.

Women Played The Knitting Factory, Oct. 9

Calgary's Women played at the Knitting Factory in Williamsburg a couple Saturdays ago. It was my first trip to the venue since it moved from Tribeca, and I like the new setup better. There's a bar in front with plenty of seating room - there's so much space that a band could probably set up in there, and the stage is in the back. There might be more performance areas, as the Manhattan version of the venue had three, but I'd have to go back to be sure.

So Cow started things off, the Irish band playing pretty straightforward rock, with a dash of humor ("just the hits tonight, no deep cuts). Then, DD/MM/YYYY played wild set with an arsenal of different instruments, trading vocals and even enlisting Marnie Stern for the big finish.

Women played an ominous set, with somber vocals and sparse guitars, but kept a steady, shifting beat throughout. Apparently singer Patrick Flegel worked at "a center for troubled kids," and his delivery evoked a dreary, almost claustrophobic mood. Not music that was immediately easy to like, but in the frosty Saturday night, it definitely left a strong impression.

Someone managed to get footage video footage of two songs. Here's "Eyesore," and "China Steps" is also up.

Here are a couple tracks, courtesy of

Rest of the photos after the jump.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chaim Comes Alive

Tel Aviv's Chaim will release his new album, Alive, on BPitch Control, out Feb. 14. Judging from some samples, it's a pretty vocal-heavy affair, while still keeping his melodic, rhythmic style. He also just played in New York, but I unfortunately wasn't able to make it out. Hopefully he'll come back soon.

Video for "Moon" below.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Gabriel Ananda Is Charming & Alarming

Resident Advisor reviewed the new Gabriel Ananda release today, praising it for its variety and creativity. I agree, Ananda has done some really cool stuff in the past, and this new release is a lot of fun - something that's often lacking in this sort of music.

Check out the title track below.

Pitchfork Announces #Offline, The Anti-CMJ?

Pitchfork just announced #Offline, a three-day music festival that, as the Voice puts it, happens during CMJ's prime three nights. Some pretty sick bands here: Wild Nothing, whom I've been enjoying a ton recently (and playing NYU the week after), Beach Fossils, Times New Viking, Baths, Marnie Stern, Avey Tare, Matthew Dear and some Fool's Gold folks, with even more to be announced. Next week just got even more complicated.

School of Seven Bells' Claudia Deheza Leaves Band

Some sad news today: School of Seven Bell's Claudia Deheza has left the band for "personal reasons," according to the band's Facebook (via Pitchfork). The good news is Benjamin Curtis and Alejandra Deheza, Claudia's twin sister, will continue to play out their tour, which includes an Oct. 23 gig at Santos Party House.

I'm really going to miss those two-part harmonies, though.

Here are some old pictures from their Mercury Lounge show back on June 10, after the jump.

Los Campesinos! Sell Budweiser, Will Play Music Hall of Williamsburg Twice

Prefix posted a new Budweiser ad that features the instrumental intro to Los Campesinos' "You! Me! Dancing!" The young band is probably of age now, but I doubt the members would have been old enough to drink when it first formed.

Los Campesinos! will play two shows at the end of this week at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Johnny Foreigner, who opened one of their previous shows in New York, will return, and Byrds of Paradise and Darlings will each play a show. Incidentally, they shows are 16+.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Inside The Insound Design Store

After the Hold Steady, I made my way east to the Insound Design Store on 201 Mulberry Street. The temporary shop, which was announced back in September, had a selection of vinyl records, turntables, head phones, posters and t-shirts. (I picked up Pantha du Prince and Broken Social Scene shirts.) The online music store also collaborated with Warner Bros. archives to display a gallery of vintage photographs on the left wall.

"We realized that a lot of what we sell – t-shirts, silk-screened posters, turntables and audio accessories, are hard to show off online. So, we first did some warehouse sales and people loved interacting with the physical product. We weren’t ready (or able) to think about a permanent physical location but the idea of a temporary retail location seemed manageable and like an exciting test," Insound's president Matt Wishnow told us via email.

In addition to the displays, Insound reached out to Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kip Berman and Peggy Wang from the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and Fred Armisen from Saturday Night Live, who DJed throughout the weekend. The store already carried Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Pains merchandise, so it was a naturally fit. Kip told us that he even used to work for Insound.

Insound ran a similar store last December, and had actually planned to return to Brooklyn, but the space fell through, said Wishnow. They chose Soho for its foot traffic, and because the space could be rented out by the day.

Wishnow didn't totally reject the idea of a permanent store, but he added that it wouldn't be your average brick-and-mortar. "We’ve done these pop ups to learn and see if a permanent store made sense. That said, we are not looking to open a traditional record store. The product mix and experience would have to be very different," he said.

The Pains will be playing the BrooklynVegan showcase during CMJ on Oct. 21. Video of "Young Adult Friction" below.

Pictures of the interior and Nick Zinner after the cut.

The Hold Steady Played the Apple Store, Oct. 8

As previously mentioned, the Hold Steady stopped by the Apple Store on Friday, following a show the night before at the Beacon Theater. The set was recorded and will be posted on Apple's iTunes store, and Craig Finn and Tad Kubler had some friendly inter-song banter. Most of the songs were from the Hold Steady's newest album, Heaven Is Wherever, along with the great "Chips Ahoy!" thrown in.

Finn gave the back story of some of the songs: "The Sweet Part of the City" is about kids in Greenpoint smiling, said Finn, despite their troubles. "Maybe just living in New York makes them happy," he said. Meanwhile, "The Weekenders" is a sequel of sorts to material from Boys and Girls in America - the kids have reunited, but now they can only hang out on the weekends. I feel their pain!

The instruments were all acoustic, and although Franz Nicolay sadly left the band this year, there was still a nice depth to the band's sound. The flourishes on "Chips Ahoy!" were particularly interesting without electric. It sounded something like this.

Rest of the photos after the jump.

Converse, Branding, Ethics and "Selling Out"

Last week, I received an email about a collaboration between various bands for the shoe company Converse. I hesitated to post it, but others didn't. The same day, the Times had a story about Converse opening a new studio in Williamsburg (of course), dubbed Rubber Tracks, which give musicians a free space to record. Sound of the City's Zach Baron posted some thoughts about the arrangement, concluding that there was no such thing as "selling out" anymore, or at least, no one really cares. But as Baron writes, there's still some uneasiness around the whole relationship between corporations and indie rock bands, and some of the Times quotes reinforce that. One marketer calls indie rock a "Trojan horse" for advertising, and Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino's breezy comment about people "danc[ing] around in their Converse" comes off poorly.

But even if this whole arrangement is about selling more sneakers - and I'd like to believe that some of the folks at Converse and its ad agency, Cornerstone, honestly care about music - you can't really fault bands for relying more on corporations as the rest of the industry withers away. (Converse and Cornerstone have not responded to requests for comment.) If nothing else, at least musicians have a sort of cultural influence, even if the business side is imploding.

And yes, I have to say, the song is pretty good.

Bernard Sumner (of Joy Division/New Order) x Hot Chip x Hot City - "I Didn't Know What Love Was" by Some Kind of Awesome

New Yorker's Nick Denton Profile Published

The New Yorker's long, long profile on Gawker boss Nick Denton has been released. There's nothing terrible new here, but the piece is definitely worth a read. What isn't mentioned is the rather sad tale of Idolator, Gawker's former music blog that was sold in 2008 and is now a sad shell of the smart, thoughtful blog helmed by Maura Johnston. Thankfully she's still writing around the 'net.

Major Labels' Irish File Sharing Suit Defeated

The Guardian reports that Warner, Universal, Sony BMG and EMI were defeated in an effort to get Irish's third-largest internet provider UPC to cut off users who were illegally file sharing. The court noted that although a "substantial portion" of the company's 150,000 customers were trading music, and that it was hurting the industry, no Irish laws existed to enforce an internet ban. Interestingly, Ireland's largest provider, Eircom, had adopted a "three strikes" policy against file sharing in 2009, but UPC and another company, Vodafone, had declined to do the same.

In the States, lawsuits have plummeted against individuals who file share, although the new strategy seems to be targeting ISPs, rather than users. Either way, it doesn't really seem to be working, and it would really benefit labels to rethink their strategies.

Mergers and Acquisitions: Ex-Ticketmaster Fredric Rosen To Outbox

The Journal reports that Fredric Rosen, who served as Ticketmaster's CEO from 1982 to 1998, will head Outbox Technology Inc. Outbox, a Canadian company, will expand to the U.S. with Cirque du Soleil and work with clients to sell tickets directly to consumers. Outbox's setup is essentially the opposite of Ticketmaster's, which uses a large, centralized database to sell tickets to a variety of events, often with heavy convenience charges. "The middle-man model is dead," Rosen told the Journal. "You have to evolve."

No word on what sort of fees Outbox will have, but Rosen sees the declining ticket business - the biggest 100 concerts saw a 17 percent revenue drop in the first half of the year - as an opportunity to shatter the hegemony that he helped create.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Are Ad Firms Ripping Off Indie Rock Bands?

Pitchfork reports that two new ads, one for a Spanish sports equipment company Kipsta, and another for Troy University, sound suspiciously like Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear, respectively. This comes shortly after a Sigur Rós website posted two sets of videos that seem to borrow directly from the Icelandic band. The Troy ad has since been taken down - no word if it was in reaction to the piece.

This is clearly a big no-no. While imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, imitation purely in the pursuit of profit is uncreative and immoral. I've reached out to Troy University, Kipsta, Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes for comment and will update this post if I hear back.

Update: Fleet Foxes and its label, Sup Pop, have declined to comment on the story.

Update: Troy University has indeed pulled the Grizzly Bearesque ad.

CMJ: Baeble Hosts Free Show at Bowery Electric

CMJ is coming. We'll be badgeless (unless something unexpected happens), but will bring you as much festival coverage as possible. What's nice about CMJ is that, outside of the official frenzy, there's a bunch of free, public shows with some good bands.

One of these shows is Baeble Music's Oct. 23 day show at Bowery Electric. Baeble is a video company that shoots indie rock bands and distributes them through a variety of internet partners, and the company even has an hour slot on MSG. There's no sponsorship involved for this show and Baeble pays for all of the venue expenses and production costs, Alex Szoka of Baeble told us.

Although he sees bands becoming more dependent on secondary platforms like Baeble in order to promote their music, Szoka added that most bands still need label support to start off.

"The only thing to keep in mind is that we rarely see bands that have truly been DIY until they get to us. By that I mean that bands that reach even moderate levels of success still have the label, PR and marketing support from the old paradigm. These new satellite industries just give them more exposure," he said.

I can't say I'm familiar with the bands, aside from Holly Miranda, but it's free and will be recorded for Baeble's website. Here's Holly Miranda playing at local spot Zebulon.

Buy Indie Rock Stuff, Support WFMU

Sound of the City reminds us that local station WFMU is starting its fundraising season, which includes an online auction with some pretty sweet indie rock memorabilia. The money will go to support the station, which needs a new antennae. Definitely consider helping out - like the rest of the non-conglomerate industry, financing music is tough!

On another note, my alma mater, WNYU, finally has its archiver back. Sweet!

Apple, Majors Contemplating Subscription Service

The Post reports (via Reuters) that Apple is in talks with the major labels about setting up a subscription service, which would charge users around $10 to $15 per month for unlimited access to songs. Music executives said that they support the idea, particularly in the wake of the European service Spotify's presence on the new Windows 7 Phone. The story also mentions that online album sales are actually up, but singles have been flat, and labels are, of course, desperate for more revenue.

I'm curious how this would work in conjunction with iTunes, and while streaming is a great marketing tool, it's very questionable whether it represents a reliable income source. Would you pay?

Observer Meets NYU's Hitmaker Jeffrey Rabhan

I saw this in last week's print issue and forgot to mention it. The Observer's Max Abelson has a lengthy profile of Jeffrey Rabhan, the new chair of NYU's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music. It's a revealing look at the school's music program, which is unbashedly fond of pop (even quoting Kelefa Sanneh's seminal article, "The Rap Against Rockism"), and sketches out Rabhan's early success. He graduated from NYU journalism school and worked briefly at Spin and Rolling Stone, before going into A&R and discovering Hanson and Michelle Branch.

What the story doesn't mention is whether or not players like Rabhan really have as much influence as consumer-driven platforms like blogs or American Idol in shaping the next generation of pop stars. The Voice had a story a few years back about how the Clive Davis school doesn't actually prepare its students for the harsh realities of the new music industry.

But for the record, I still absolutely love this song.

(Discloser: I was formerly a freelancer at the Observer and worked briefly with Max, which is to say I fact-checked some of his copy. I also attended NYU's College of Arts and Science.)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Happy Birthday, Thom Yorke!

Thom Yorke turns 42 today, and Flavorwire has a list of 42 things you may not know about the Radiohead frontman. Incidentally, Kid A also just turned 10, so the 'wire has some facts about that album, as well. Happy Birthday, Thom!

A live video of "Idioteque" below.

The Hold Steady Playing Apple Store Tomorrow

Spotted over at Oh My Rockness: The Hold Steady will be performing a free in-store set on Friday at the Soho Apple Store at 103 Prince Street, which just hosted Deerhunter. They'll be on at 6 pm, so get ready to make a dash from work! They'll also be playing Beacon Theater tonight, but tickets are sold out.

Craig Finn also just stopped by the Voice to talk about the Yankees-Twins series. Yanks are up 1-0 after winning 6-4 last night.

Here's one of my favorite Hold Steady songs from a few albums back, performed on Letterman.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Prefix Interviews Chapterhouse On Reunion, Rarities

Busy day today! Prefix sat down with (or phoned) Chapterhouse's Stephen Patman, talking about name changes (the band's original name was Incest), their breakup and subsequent reunion. According to Patman, the band has a lot of unreleased recordings, made after their second album, Blood Music, which might see the light of day on a future release. Unfortunately it seems their current tour is just a one-off, which means if you weren't there Monday or Sunday, you (we) missed out.

Now, we just need Slowdive and Ride to reunite. Video from Mojave 3, which includes Chapterhouse's Simon Rowe, below.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Punching Out: Dave Grohl Sues Scissor Sisters


  • Dave Grohl seeks $75 million from Sisters for "bouts of anxiety, panic, chills, and explosive diarrhea." [Spin]

  • Washington Post's Howard Kurtz to Daily Beast [Everyone]

  • Four Tet, Matthew Dear remix the xx. [Pitchfork]

  • Matador 21 coverage. [chromewaves]

  • Parker Spitzer had a lackluster debut. [NY Times, Reuters]

  • Music from the Juan Maclean - "Simple Life (Marcus Worgull Remix)."

  • Empire State of Mind: How The Real Estate Industry Rocked Out This Summer

    Note: This story appeared in the Aug. 25 issue of Real Estate Weekly.

    On a breezy July evening in midtown, the band Young Veins belted out songs in front of an appreciative crowd that swilled complimentary wine and liquor. But instead of being crammed into a dive bar, the concert took place on the roof of the Atlas, a luxury rental building at 66 West 38th Street, with an impressive view of the Empire State Building.

    The Gotham Organization, the developer of the building, began hosting the freeconcerts, which included an appearance by Lady Gaga last year, as a way of building a community and attracting tenants.

    "It’s definitely a sales pitch," said Michael Morris of Concierge Service International, which books events for the Atlas. “I know the leasing agents love that we have these.”

    As the music industry undergoes seismic changes, bands and labels look for alternative ways of marketing themselves and additional revenue streams. Meanwhile, developers, landlords and civic groups try to promote their buildings and neighborhoods by hosting live music.

    The result has been a plethora of free summer shows, a boon for fans and a powerful marketing tool for both musicians and brokers. Butthe relationship between music and real estate is complicated, and interests don’t always align.

    In West Chelsea, the Ohm, a new luxury rental, throws monthly concerts in its lobby, aimed at the younger tenants who frequent the nearby night clubs, which include the Highline Ballroom. The Knitting Factory books the Ohm’s shows, and past events have included performances by DJ Spooky and singer Nicole Atkins.

    Ironically, these events are taking place as much of the music industry is being priced out of exclusive Manhattan neighborhoods. The Knitting Factory moved from Tribeca to Williamsburg last year, in part because the venue owners felt that the Manhattan neighborhood was no longer an appropriate setting.

    But the collaboration between the Knitting Factory and the Ohm came, in part, from a desire to give the Knitting Factory brand a continued Manhattan presence. “There was a nice synergy in maintaining some sort of New York connection,“ said Seth Rosner of Nancy Packes Inc., which handles leasing for the Ohm.

    The concerts seem to have paid off — the Ohm closed 50 leases in July.

    But real estate and music haven’t always been seen as mutually beneficial. Gentrification has been blamed for driving artists outof traditional bohemian enclaves like Soho and the Lower East Side, and into more far flung areas such as Bushwick.

    In the East Village, the birthplace of American punk, the iconic Tower Records space has been vacant for four years, but was recently leased by an Equinox gym affiliate. The Related Companies (which incidentally also owns Equinox) purchased the Virgin Megastore chain and proceeded to shutter both its Times Square and Union Square locations. At Union Square, the space now has a Nordstrom Rack and Duane Reade as tenants — not exactly rock‘n roll. (Citibank recently installed signs indicating it would take the remaining corner of the space.)

    And, of course, CBGB is now a John Varvatos boutique clothing store, following a lengthy squabble between CBGB’s owner and 315 Bowery’s landlord over rent. But further downtown, relationships are more magnanimous.

    In the Financial District, two major real estate players have spearheaded the neighborhood’s resurgence since 9/11. CB Richard Ellis was a founding sponsor of the River to River Festival, a summer series that brings free music, films, theater and dance to an array of venues in Lower Manhattan. It will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2011.

    At the World Financial Center, Brookfield Properties hostsevents throughout the year, some as part of River to River, including the annual Bang on a Can Marathon, an extravaganza of experimentaland world music that ran as long as 27 straight hours in 2007. Downtown has seena huge increase in its residential population since 9/11, and the emergence of live music, film screenings and public art has transformed the area below Chambers Street from a sterile office district to one that is closer to a mixed-use community.

    “What we’ve sort of done is made downtown a cultural destination,” said Robin Schatell, executive director of River to River. “We want to be right there.”

    One of most prominent events is the Seaport Music Festival at the South Street Seaport, which has hosted dozens of up-and coming bands, including the National, the xx, and Animal Collective, in the shadow of the masts of historic ships and beneath the F.D.R. Drive. The series has enjoyed press coverage from independent music blogs, the publications that would rarely have a reason to cover downtown before the festival.

    A similar waterfront series, dubbed the Pool Parties, recently did turn sour though, highlighting the complexities of promoting and producing a free, satisfying concert series.

    Jelly NYC, the small, local promoter of the shows, originally held the Pool Parties in the waterless McCarren Park Pool, but the city decided to turn the space back into a pool. This year, Jelly and the Open SpaceAlliance (OSA) collaborated to produce a concert series at East River State Park in Williamsburg, an effort that was heavily endorsed by Senator Chuck Schumer. (This was the second year in the location.)

    The location of the concerts didn’t hurt the nearby 184 Kent, a 340-unit rental conversion, which is now over 65 percent leased.

    Tenants in the building are attracted by Williamsburg’s culture, including the presence of live music, said Robert Scaglio, senior managing director at Rose Associates, which leases the building. “Even in the soft economy, the demand has been rising,” he added.

    But on August 18, OSA announced that the final concert of the season was canceled, because Jelly had failed to pay fees for the last show, setting off a public squabble over the handling of the series, and throwing shows in future years in doubt. Putting on live music is, after all, a fickle business.

    “It’s absolutely critical to us that theseprograms continue in the neighborhood,” said Stephanie Thayer, director of the OSA. "We’re firmly committed to seeing free programming continue. How we accomplish that next year remains to be determined.”

    She hopes that such programming could include acts beyond indie rock, for example a performance of the Philharmonic with a rock support act.

    “I’d love to see grandparents bouncing the grandkids on their knees and see a hipster three feet away at the same show.” said Thayer.

    Smaller closures have also happened this summer. An open space at 400 Carroll Street in Gowanus, called the BKLYN Yard, was closed abruptly after the landlord terminated the lease of the promoter, MeanRed Productions, displacing a variety of events includingthe Sunday Best parties.

    New York is a city that is largely definedby a lack of space, and live music thirsts for a venue to present itself. In a new luxury building that lacks an identity, live music can provide a template that attracts tenants. In an area like the Financial District, an infusion in culture can transform the nature of a neighborhood.

    Ultimately, though, music’s presence is influenced by the same financial forces and business interests that shape the entire city.


    Coda: The last pool party did happen, thanks in part to the real estate developers that developed the Edge, adjacent to East River State Park. It remains to be seen what will happen next year with the Pool Parties and River to River, but they definitely made their mark this year.

    Resident Advisor's Top 50 September Tracks: Shed, Justin Martin, Radio Slave, Lee Curtiss

    Resident Advisor has released its Top 50 tracks for September. Not sure how these lists are ordered, but there's some great stuff this month. Can't say I recognize too many names, aside from the ones above, but there are some great labels represented: Crosstown Rebels, Cécille Numbers, Dirtybird, Minus, DFA, and Ostgut Ton. The best part is, most of the list is immediately streamable, something we like here.

    One release that's curiously not available is Shed's "The Traveller," the title track from his new album., but honestly I'm a bit more compelled by his "Another Wedged Chicken," a track from a few years back. So good (especially after the 2:00 mark).

    In other news, RA has a cool video for a new documentary about the French rave scene. C'est bon!

    Update: Taras van de Voorde's 1998, track No. 4, is rather, rather good.

    Musical Chairs, Literally, For Concert Execs

    NPR's The Record has a great post today about the top executives of Live Nation, Ticketmaster and Clear Channel Communications, and how entangled each company is with the other. As previously reported, Live Nation's Barry Diller resigned last week, and his boss (assuming "executive chairman" is above "chairman") Irving Azoff has now joined the board of Clear Channel, the radio giant. The post also has a comprehensive timelines for the companies, and is well worth the read.

    As an interesting comparison, it should be noted that NPR, which is a non-profit (but pays its employees, of course), has its executives as well, and former head Ken Stern received a $1.3 million payout. However, the current CEO, Karen Schiller, who came over from the Times, has taken a pay cut as NPR was forced to lay off around 102 employees. (Sound familiar?) Kudos to her.

    Free Shows Tonight: Tim Kasher of Cursive at Other Music; Teengirl Fantasy at Brooklyn Bowl

    Other Music: Movie Celebrity

    Summer's gratis concert season is sadly over, but there are still some free events in the city. FreeNYC does a good job of covering culture, both music and non-music stuff, and Oh My Rockness is the concert authority.

    There's some cool stuff tonight. At 8 pm, Tim Kasher of Cursive plays at Other Music, the great little record store on East 4th Street and Lafayette. Over at Brooklyn Bowl, electronic bleepers and bloopers Teengirl Fantasy will perform with Frankie Rose (ex-Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts) & The Outs. You can stream some of their stuff on MySpace. That show is 21+, unfortunately. Oh, and there's some girl named Maya playing there tomorrow.

    There's a third free show tonight at Zebulon as well: Peter Evans, Expo 70, Telecult Powers are on at 9 pm.

    Hopefully it won't rain! Here are some free Teengirl Fantasy tracks, courtesy of Enjoy.

    MP3: Teengirl Fantasy - Cheaters
    MP3: Teengirl Fantasy - Azz Klapz (MASTERED)

    With Guster Stream, Wall Street Journal Explores New Currents

    Last Thursday, Sept. 30, the Wall Street Journal streamed its first full album, Guster’s Easy Wonderful.

    It was, by all appearances, a resounding success, as various blogs linked to the page, although some were surprised that it was the Journal that was hosting the stream, as it’s still better known for its coverage of the music business, rather than pop. Nonetheless, over 1,000 people “liked” the article through Facebook, undoubtedly including some who never read the newspaper in print.

    “We’re very excited about this opportunity with the Journal,” said Matt Hanks of Shore Fire Media, Guster’s publicist.

    The early preview didn’t appear to hurt sales, and may very well have boosted the profile of the release. Today, Guster’s album debuted at No. 3 on the iTunes album chart.

    The Journal joins a variety of radio stations, blogs and other newspapers that have used streaming as a powerful marketing tool in the modern musical landscape. Technology has made streams, both audio and video, a convenient and self-propagating medium.

    “People prefer streams, because it's not a download that takes up space, and it's accessible anywhere,” said Jorge Hernandez, a music journalist and publicist who has worked with New York firms Magnum PR and the MuseBox. “So they can share them easily and not worry about downloads and watermarks.”

    Furthermore, getting an exclusive full stream is akin to breaking a news story, setting off a cycle of linking, discussing, and ultimately, page views. It’s a mutualistic arrangement - the band enjoys the exposure to the publication’s audience, while the publication enjoys the scoop.

    “With a stream like this, we’re probably boosting awareness of the Journal just as much as we are of the Guster album,” said John Jurgensen, the Journal reporter who posted the stream.

    However, the proliferation of a particular stream is highly dependent on the existing popularity of both the streamer and the streamed. The Journal is, after all, one of the most widely read papers in the world. Guster has been active for almost two decades, and Easy Wonderful is its first album in four years. A collaboration between the two isn’t so much a revolution as a reinforcement of both parties’ popularity, and seizes the release’s momentum from rowdy bloggers and mp3 pirates.

    “It reinvigorates the notion that there are major players,” said Jeff Meltz, a blogger and photographer.

    The stream also represents the Journal’s evolution from a “second read” business titan to a more comprehensive paper. With the recent launch of its weekend section, the arts have become an integral part of the paper, and the paper’s Speakeasy blog is inclined to cover bands that are simply enjoyable, although the business angle is always a consideration.

    “When it comes to the turf the Journal is staking out in music and culture, it’s gratifying when people take notice, because that area of coverage has really evolved in the last several years,” said Jurgensen, the Journal reporter. “The paper’s foundation in business journalism informs everything we do. I don’t mean that we only publish hardcore industry stories. We do plenty of features and profiles, simply because the subjects are interesting. But the business core gives us a mandate to tell stories that shed some light on how the music industry, as an example, operates now.”

    He said that Guster’s accessibility made the band a good choice for the paper’s first stream, because of the diversity of the paper’s online audience.

    “I’d say the Guster stream is an extension of our broader music coverage online,” he added. “Moreover, in the last year or so, it’s become routine for artists, labels and publicists to find ways to preview new releases. Obviously we weren’t the first to do this, so it became more a matter of finding the right fit.”

    One of the most successful streamers has been National Public Radio. Yesterday, NPR debuted Belle and Sebastian’s Write About Love and Antony and the Johnson’s Swanlights, and it regularly has high profile album streams, and subsequently receives plenty of links from other websites. Again, it’s reasonable to think that part of the streams’ audience doesn’t actually listen to NPR on terrestrial radio, but the station’s nimble online adaptation makes it a musical force, both on the airwaves and the blogosphere.

    (An NPR spokesman said the station was unable to comment on the streams by press time.)

    Meanwhile, the New York Times, despite its robust music coverage, has avoided streaming albums, citing conflict of interest.

    “As a general rule we do not run album streams, as a matter of journalistic ethics. As many of us here see it, that kind of thing crosses a line into pure promotion. We are not a radio station. When we run audio or video clips they are meant to illustrate news articles or reviews, and they are excerpted to qualify as fair use,” said a Times staffer. “Aside from the idea of us being a mere promotional vehicle, another objection is that it implies endorsement.”

    Still, the Times hasn’t entirely avoided such content. The paper's weekly online Popcast has occasional live sessions, as well as on-air interviews, and its blog ArtsBeat will occasionally embed videos from YouTube.

    Also, back in April, the New York Times Magazine posted a full stream of the National’s High Violet. (The magazine operates independently of the daily newspaper and the Arts desk.) But the full stream was quickly pulled, with "security concerns" cited. Presumably, the Times was concerned that unscrupulous listeners would rip the stream and disseminate it as a leak.

    The Journal's Jurgensen is also wary of streaming spilling over into promotion, but he says that the distinction between coverage and no coverage is more important than streaming a clip and an album.

    “I’m speaking personally here, not on the Journal’s behalf, but I see the option to stream as an extension of the decision to cover the album itself. Though I’m not a critic, I make judgment calls all the time on whether a project is compelling enough to warrant writing about it,” said Jurgensen. “As part of this, we (and almost every other news outlet) often stream a song or two to give readers a sense of the sound. Once you do that, I personally don’t see how streaming a whole album is dramatically different.”

    The stream is a significant step for the Journal, and an effective way of boosting both band and paper.

    “Still, we’re wary of the hype machine. I tried to make it clear (in the last two paragraphs of the Guster post) about how the Journal stream was part of the band’s broader promotional efforts,” said Jurgensen. “But it cuts both ways.”

    Monday, October 04, 2010

    Shoegaze Extravaganza With Chapterhouse At LPR Tonight

    It's 1991 all over again.

    Chapterhouse headlines a incredible lineup over at LPR tonight. The band was part of the short-lived but incredibly awesome shoegaze movement, along with My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive and the like, and their influence on more recent indie rock and electronic music is pretty massive. Swirly guitars, woozy vocals, effects pedals are alive and well - you need only look at the openers, which mine various shoegaze styles. A Place to Bury Strangers cranks up its amps to a screech, while Ulrich Schnauss creates churning digital dreamscapes, and Soundpool entwines its 'gazing with ethereal female vocals.

    Tickets are, alas, sold out, but to those who made it, stay dry!

    For everyone else, here's Chapterhouse's "Mesmerise."

    Videos from the openers after the jump.

    Stuyvesant Town Auction Postponed

    Delorean at the Oval (via Flickr)

    This is only tangentially related to music, but it's a big deal. Literally.

    Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village is a huge apartment complex on the East Side of Manhattan, and is currently winding its way through a foreclosure process, after real estate companies Tishman Speyer and BlackRock Realty defaulted on its loans. But even the foreclosure has been convoluted, and part of the confusion arises from the truly labyrinthine ownership structure, and it's unclear who actually has the right to foreclose on the property - the senior or mezzanine (secondary) lenders. Today, the foreclosure was supposed to move forward, but has been pushed back again.

    This whole mess was a result, partially, of Tishman's aggressive strategy of attempting to convert rent-controlled apartments to market rate, which ultimately failed. Along with the onset of the recession, the value on paper of Stuy Town plummeted. But strangely, the beneficiaries of Tishman's management were indie rock musicians - the summer concert series, Music on the Oval, hosted the likes of Delorean, Juana Molina, High Places and Jay Reatard (RIP). No word if they'll be music next year.

    World Financial Center's Redesign Controversial

    World Financial Center, June 2008

    Eliot Brown, my former colleague at the Observer, reports in today's Journal that Brookfield Properties' World Financial Center, home of Bang on a Can and parts of River to River, is about to unveil a redesign, stirring up controversy. The main point of contention is the removal of the beautiful staircase that leads to the Winter Garden arts space. (DNAinfo originally reported the controversy in August.)

    City Planning's Amanda Burden and the local community board oppose the removal, which would allow access to the nearby PATH and subway stations. Brookfield CEO Ric Clark told the Journal that having the staircase would be unfeasible for commuters, and technically no approval for the interior work is required, although some outside work will be subject to City Planning review.

    So, it seems likely that Brookfield will go ahead with this renovation, but no has to wonder whether it's the most efficient, cost-effective plan. The nearby subway station already has entrances a few blocks from the Financial Center, and while the construction of four new towers may lead to some congestion, the removal of an entire staircase seems drastic.
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