Category - music

Psssst… wanna hear some music?

Now Playing on the Celestial Jukebox: Owl City

Owlcity I’ve heard some of this record before.  Electronica is not ordinarily my thing, but this is pretty infectious. If the first track doesn’t grab you, skip down to “Fireflies” and then come back for more.

This comes with a nod to digital music denizen Bob Lefsetz, who writes of the single “Fireflies:”

Where does the magic start?

Sure, there’s an ethereal intro, but it’s not riveting.

Then there’s that hooky groove, with the big bass beat, without sounding like what’s on Top Forty radio, which is only groove, sans melody. This guy with a thin voice is singing up and down the scale, this is not a Timbaland production.

Then there are the strings! Brian Wilson knew the power of strings, they’re not anathema to pop music, they’re not inherently schmaltzy, they add meaning, and texture.

Then the processed vocals when the song breaks down, kind of like Steve Marriott in “Itchycoo Park”, if Steve Marriott was a wimp.

Then, when the verse begins again, there’s more in the track. The calliope-like sound brings in joy, those strings add counterpoint. The line about the disco ball warms you up, then the whole track comes alive, like a denizen finally awaking from a slumber.

Then, back into that verse groove. You may tire of counting sheep, but now you’re fully enraptured, you’ve left the planet, you’re in music wonderland.

“I’d like to make myself believe”

That this track will be inspirational, that it will cause the business to do a 180, that melody will return, that music will eclipse marketing, that a whole row of infectious tracks will come driving down the pike.

Doubtful.

But this guy did cut this wholly alone, in his basement. He didn’t go on “American Idol”, didn’t need Kara DioGuardi to polish it into oblivion. All he needed was tools, to follow his muse.

I’d like to make myself believe that music this good doesn’t need a major label to break through. That just putting it up online is enough to get you started. That appears to be the Owl City story, then again, who knows where truth lies.

But the truth is “Fireflies” is a fucking great track. The best on the Owl City album, but not the only good one.

Admittedly, some of the music on this album is an acquired taste, especially for an acoustic-oriented fogie like yours truly. But, lLike the music or not, there is no denying that Owl City is a story that could not have happened in any era other than the one we’re now entering, Music 3.0.

Now Playing on the Celestial Jukebox: Landon Pigg

LandonPiggBoyCover

I've been taking a keen interest this week in the pioneering music marketing efforts of Nettwerks, the management firm spearheaded by Terry McBrideLandon Pigg is one of Nettwerk's clients.  Listen to his new album, The Boy Who Never free and in its entirely from the playlist on the right (cloud source: Lala.com)

More on McBride and his approach to the paradigm shift in a future post (as soon as I can find a work-around for a script-loaded web page that refuses to play nicely with my browsers).

And, please, Landon, if you're reading this, ask your webmaster to turn off the auto-play audio feature on your website.  I'm already listening to your music, I don't need to be listening to it from two simultaneous sources.  Remember, it's about choice.  MY choice.  Love the record, btw.  Happy to tell folks about it.

The Best of AmericanaFest Playlist

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OK, I've figured out how I can create and embed a playlist of the music I heard — and heard about — while attending the Americana Music Conference in Nashville last week. The list now appears to the right of this post, and visitors to this site should be able to listen to the tracks in their entirety "first time for free."  I'll be adding to the list in the days ahead, so just update your browser and the revised list should appear. Lemme know if you run into any problems… 

Today’s Discovery via Lala.com

Of course, I’ve known about Maura O’Connell almost as long as I’ve lived in Nashville, but when “Phoenix Falling” from this 2006 album rolled around on a playlist (which I started by selecting Cheryl Wheeler), I knew in a heartbeat what I want to be listening to this afternoon. No disrespect, Cheryl, but this stuff is knocking me out:

And after I listened to this album, I listened to her newest, Naked With Friends, which I’d first heard about listening to an interview with Maura on the podcast edition David Hooper’s Music Business Radio.

Music 3.0 – The Historical Premise

Note: December 27, 2010:  Much has changed since this essay was first posted in September, 2009.  For starters, the referenced service “Lala.com” has been acquired by Apple, Inc., and is now defunct as we await the delivery of whatever cloud music service the people who brought you the iPod and iTunes and the iPhone have up their sleeve.  And, as mentioned at the very end, the Beatles are finally available in digital format, but only through iTunes, and only for download, still no streaming.  Both topics have been addressed in prior posts).

– – – – – – – –

The glimmer of a new beginning came at the end.

The “end” in this case is the final scene of a documentary called “Any Day Now,” which follows the summer, 2008 tour of a Nashville-based musicians’ collective called “Ten Out Of Tenn.”

10Tenn The movie documents how ten mostly Nashville-based musicians pooled their resources and put together an extraordinary tour.  All the participants are accomplished musicians and recording artists at various stages in their careers – one or two ‘major label’ names, some coming off major label deals, mostly talented indies still forging their careers amid the ruins of the dying music “industry.”

But what is most compelling about both the movie and the tour it follows is the ‘Ten ouf of Tenn’ experience and its spirit of shared resources.  Traveling individually, each of these artists would have had to book their own gigs, make their own travel arrangements, drive their own cars or rentals, and played their own shows.

By pooling their resources, the ten together could afford to hire a bus and a driver.  And they all became each other’s band.  The film shows them all playing in different combinations, all the accompaniment you could possibly want right there in the pool.  Want to play solo acoustic?   No prob.  But if you need a keyboard or a bassist or even a cello, well guess what, there’s somebody already on the bus who plays what you need to embellish your sound on stage.

Hiresphoto In the film, each of the ten principals performs one of their songs.  The stage performances are interspersed with segments depicting the sort of antics you might expect of creative personalities filling their days on the road.  Each of the performances is captivating, and the all of the clips in between are entertaining and engaging and offer a good sense of just what being on such a tour would be like.

But it is the penultimate scene that seals the deal and, I think, firmly places Ten Out Of Tenn — both the tour and the documentary — squarely astride the shifting paradigms of today’s music experience.

In this nearly final scene the musicians have finished their last show, but no one wants to leave the venue.  Not the audience, not the musicians.  And so the players come down off the stage, and with unplugged acoustic guitars lead their audience in an enthusiastic sing-along of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.”

In that moment, the proscenium that separates the troubadours from their audience was erased.  The artists became the audience and the audience became the artists.  And I as I felt the chicken skin bubbling up on my arm I turned to the friend who’d invited me to the screening and said “THAT’s ‘Music three-point-oh.'”

Which statement I will now try to defend.

As I see it, “Music 3.0” is the perfect description of the tectonic shift that music — live and recorded – is now experiencing.  And following the transitions from 1.0 to 2.0 gives us some idea what to expect from 3.0

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Chuck Klosterman Sends Up The Beatles

via www.avclub.com

The Beatles: A band so obscure you cannot find their music on iTunes.

As I type that, the remaster release of "I'll Be Back" (from "A Hard Day's Night") is playing on the speakers at a Starbucks. So far, I don't hear any difference. But then, there's quite a din in the room, and I don't recall any Espresso Machine sound effects on the original…