Adele’s Album Sales Are Historically Bonkers

Adele’s new album, 25, sold 3.38 million copies in its first week in the United States. This is bonkers. That’s more — way more — than any other album has sold in a week since Nielsen started tracking real sales in 1991.

Only one other album has sold more than two million albums in a week, and nobody;s sold three million. *NSYNC’s No Strings Attached sold 2.42 million in 2000. For the mathematically challenged, 25 sold 960,000 more copies than its closest rival which happened to be released at the absolute zenith of record sales. Billboard‘s Glenn Peoples has some crazy figures that claim that adjusted for inflation (or something) this would somehow be “equivalent to her selling 7.59 million units in 2000.” I don’t know about that, but I know that 3.38 million is a shitload of records in 2015 or any other year.

Pre-SoundScan data is unreliable at best, but it took Sgt. Pepper three months to sell 2.5 million copies according Bob Spitz’s Beatles biography. Beatles' Record-Busting LP (Rolling Stone Dec 21 1968)It took Meet the Beatles four years to sell 5.8 million copies, according to issue No. 24 of Rolling Stone. That same 1968 article points out that the top selling album of all time then was The Sound of Music soundtrack with 8 million. It was front page news that Capitol Records had shipped 3,301,275 copies of the White Album to stores.

So this is big news.

In addition to those 3.38 million “pure album sales” 25 also moved 96,000 “track equivalent album units” and another 8,000 “streaming equivalent album units” bringing its official Nielsen total to 3.48 million equivalent album units.

More sales details: 1.71 million compact discs, 1.64 million digital albums, 22,000 vinyl albums. Sorry hipsters, there was no official cassette release.

A year ago when Taylor Swift sold 1,287,000 copies of 1989, I pointed out how rare it’s always been to sell more than a million albums in a week. SoundScan began compiling its figures May 25, 1991, and for the first 8 years there were only two albums that achieved it. The year 2000 was insane when there were 5 albums that broke the million mark, but since then it’s been about one album per year despite the fact that album sales have been declining steadily. It’s obvious now that 2000 was a bubble.

But Adele is a force of nature. The question now is how long will 25 keep selling? I was mesmerized by the staying power of 21, which managed to sell 100,000 copies every week for what seemed like forever. Will 25 have those kinds of legs? We shall see.

Continue reading Adele’s Album Sales Are Historically Bonkers

Live: Tav Falco at the Tip Top Deluxe

What year was it? Must’ve been 93, right? My senior year of college, because Amy and Sarah were already living down there. I still can’t believe we found them. It was Mardi Gras and me and my ridiculous friends drove from Kalamazoo to New Orleans with one phone number and no real plan. Nobody answered the first several times we called and we were all shitfaced on Bourbon Street when we decided we’d try one more payphone before crashing in the car. Thankfully, Sarah answered and gave us their address so we could sleep on the floor. The next morning the girls introduced us to their pals from the Royal Pendletons and we all went to the Zulu Parade together. Later (much later) we ended up in Uptown at a funky little club called Muddy Waters. The headliner was Tav Falco and his glorious Panther Burns. The last thing I remember was “It’s Only Make Believe.” There are photos of me passed out in the back seat of the Pendletons’ Ford Fairlane.

That was a long time ago. But that trip changed my life. I’ve learned a lot more about the history of rock and roll since I was a dopey college kid, and now I appreciate how lucky we were to get to experience that. So when I found out that Tav Falco would be playing a show in my hometown I knew I had to go. And to make it even more irresistible, Mike fucking Watt is now a touring member of the Panther Burns! Watt is a hero. For his ethics and his spiel as well as his mighty musicianship. And last night at the Tip Top Deluxe I got to stand six feet away from him as he worked his bass. And man oh man, what a sight that is!

It might seem like a weird fit, Watt playing in a rockabilly band, but neither Watt nor Falco should be pigeonholed so simply. They’re both far more complex than that. And yet it was pretty crazy to see Watt in a suit playing a violin bass when the band came on to “Green Onions.” But he was awesome.

Tav Falco was not happy with the sound system at the Tip Top. Poor Cliff (or was it Clyde?) the soundman got an earful from the stage. There was horrible feedback and apparently never enough vocals in the monitors. Despite that, Falco was never less than a captivating performer. He is a Southern gentleman and an elegant dancer. He is a survivor of the fucked up 70s Memphis art/music scene that included Alex Chilton, William Eggleston, Jim Dickinson, et al. In fact, the original Panther Burns were a collaboration with Chilton.

The set was mostly pulled from the new album, Command Performance. Lots of great songs, including one that featured a psychedelic Mike Watt bass solo. I was a little disappointed not to hear my faves like “Girl After Girl” and of course “It’s Only Make Believe” but when a guy’s been making music since 1979 you can’t expect to hear everything.

Grand Rapids is a funny little city and the Tip Top is a funny little bar. It’s in the middle of a rundown residential area on the city’s west side, and it feels like you’re hanging out in somebody’s rec room. The stage is a six-inch riser in the corner of the room with barely enough square footage to contain Falco, Watt, drummer Toby Dammit, guitarist Mario Monterosso, and keyboard player Francesco D’Agnolo. I saw Wayne Hancock here a few years ago. Still it felt like a coup for this venue to be able to book a Panther Burns show, and when they first announced this tour back in August, Grand Rapids was the only stop above the Mason-Dixon line. (They ultimately added Detroit and Chicago dates.)

After the set, I was sure to thank Falco for coming to Grand Rapids and he sold me his new CD for $20. Seems like a lot but he signed it for me. I always feel a little awkward approaching musicians after a show. The band had stepped off the little stage and scattered into seats at tables around the club. I know that some touring folks don’t like shaking hands for fear of catching cold on the road, so I asked Mike Watt if I could have a handshake or a hug. He immediately shook my hand and I leaned in to thank him for playing a great set, but as I did he stood up to give me a hug and I accidentally knocked his glasses right off his face! I felt terrible but he was nice about it.

Tav Falco: Web, Facebook, wiki, Amazon.

Tav Falco 2015 Whistle Blower tour poster

And here are a couple of oldies from my first Tav Falco experience back in 1993…

Tav Falco at Muddy Waters Panther Burns 1993

Tav Falco at Muddy Waters Mardi Gras 1993

Tav Falco at Muddy Waters 1993

New Libertines is better than you’d expect

Video: The Libertines – “Heart Of The Matter”

I’m a big Libertines fan. Their 2002 debut Up the Bracket is one of my favorite albums of the millennium so far, and their 2004 self-titled follow up is pretty good, too. Back in the day, I saw the Peteless touring version of the band twice. And while their solo careers haven’t always lived up to their potential, I’ve always held out hope that if they got back together they could rekindle the magic. But realistically, I knew that after this long it was probably going to suck.

Anthems for Doomed Youth doesn’t suck. There are moments that are great, and plenty more that are all right. I need to spend more time with it before I can be sure whether to file it (in my mind) up with the first two albums or down there next to the Babyshambles and Dirty Pretty Things albums.

“Heart Of The Matter” is one of the immediate highlights. With Pete and Carl trading off verses and self-mythologizing/demonizing lyrics, it takes the classic Libs formula and updates it with 10+ years of life experience. The video is corny and the “twist” ending is obvious, but it’s still fun to see these guys go all Reservoir Dogs in a peep show booth. Get it? The audience demands to see celebrities acting badly! Deep as a puddle, but hey, at least it looks pretty cool.

Image via Albion Rooms.

Continue reading New Libertines is better than you’d expect

New Willie Nelson and Kacey Musgraves video: Are You Sure?

Video: Kacey Musgraves – “Are You Sure?” (ft. Willie Nelson)

Is there anything prettier in the whole wide world than Willie Nelson’s guitar tone? No, I don’t think there is.

“Are You Sure?” is a “hidden track” on Musgraves’ latest album, Pageant Material. I suppose the uncommerciality of making a video for a hidden track is pretty much “on-brand” for this outsider country singer, but she’s gotta follow her arrow wherever it goes, right? No matter what, she’s got a great voice and the song is awesome and ragged old Willie is just a bonus.

Here’s Willie’s original from his 1965 album, Country Willie: His Own Songs.

Country Willie - His Own Songs

Photos: Father John Misty at Lollapalooza 2015

Father John Misty is one of my favorite artists of the past several years. His two albums are both awesome, and he played my favorite set at Lollapalooza 2013. I already bought my tickets to (finally) see him in a non-festival environment in September. So I was definitely excited for his set this year. But he was in a foul mood and I left disappointed.

In 2013 he was mean but funny, making fun of meatheads in the back of the crowd as well as the douchebags in the VIP sections. This year his shtick was more of a whiny crybaby, bitching about his lousy time slot (Friday at 2:30, an hour earlier than in 2013 and on a crappier stage — the Petrillo shell has no jumbotrons) and griping about how he doesn’t sell a lot of albums. He just seemed grouchy. And we knew he had abandoned “the demonic clown thing” but it was a bummer to watch him half-ass his way around some ironic “robot” moves. He just didn’t appear to be having any fun.

You used to be able to watch three songs from the livestream, but those have been unceremoniously yanked. No idea why. Maybe because he was such a grumpalumpagus.

I’m hoping he’s in a better mood on his tour in September. In the meanwhile, check out some of GLONO photographer Jolie Brown’s pictures of the set.

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Father John Misty Lolla 2015 002

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Continue reading Photos: Father John Misty at Lollapalooza 2015

Photos: Charli XCX at Lollapalooza 2015

Charli XCX is a rock star. Or at least she should be. She’s got a badass all-girl band who stole their look from the Runaways and play crunchy power pop to match. Charli looks and acts like a snotty club kid. Her records have the glossy sheen to sneak into mainstream pop radio, but live in concert, her sound is way more tough. Either way, I love it. Her music is rebellious and dangerous in the classic way that makes parents shudder but is ultimately harmless. “Oh dad, it’s just a song.” Whatever kid, just stick to the Kidz Bop version.

She played Schubas in 2013 (capacity: ~165), which would have been great to see. But even in the bright daylight of a packed Lollapalooza field she controlled the crowd, demanding more people up on shoulders. The crowd complied. It was awesome.

You can watch a couple of songs from the official livestream:

Video: Charli XCX – “I Love It” (live at Lollapalooza)

Video: Charli XCX – “Break the Rules” (live at Lollapalooza)

GLONO photographer Jolie Brown got a bunch of great pictures of the set. Here are some of the best.

Charli XCX Lolla 2015 008

Charli XCX Lolla 2015 004

Charli XCX Lolla 2015 005

Continue reading Photos: Charli XCX at Lollapalooza 2015

Photos: Gogol Bordello at Lollapalooza 2015

Gogol Bordello is a fun, fun band. It’s impossible to not get wrapped up in their enthusiasm. They played Lollapalooza in 2010 and my college-age cousin who was staying with us and watching our kid that summer highly recommended them. But like most grouchy older dudes, I stupidly dismissed the opinions of a young girl. But I ended up catching the last 15 minutes of their set that year which was enough to convince me that 1) Gogol Bordello is a hell of a band, and 2) young girls are way cooler than grouchy old dudes. I’m learning. It’s a process.

So this year they were near the top of my “must see” list. And they delivered. What a show. Frontman Eugene Hütz crashed onto the stage chugging and spilling a bottle of red wine, his guitar flailing around his body on the world’s flimsiest strap, and he sang in a thick Russian accent with conviction and charisma.

If you’re unfamiliar with their music check out their NPR Tiny Desk Concert or just download “Wanderlust King” from a BBC session.

GLONO photographer Jolie Brown got a ton of great pictures of the set. Here are some of the best.




Continue reading Photos: Gogol Bordello at Lollapalooza 2015

Watch video of John Lennon at the Hit Factory in 1980

Video: John Lennon – “I’m Losing You” 1980 The Hit Factory

This footage has become something of a Holy Grail for Lennon fans. We know that director Jay Dubin shot video footage at the Hit Factory recording studio in August of 1980 for promotional videos for “(Just Like) Starting Over” and “I’m Losing You.” Afterward, John was apparently unhappy with his appearance and allegedly destroyed the footage. (By September he had cut his hair short.) A brief clip of Yoko’s “I’m Moving On” from the same session later appeared in a 1984 A&E documentary (“Yoko Ono: Then & Now”), which offered hope that the rest of the video still existed somewhere.

The above video is a montage of some of this newly unearthed B-roll footage mixed together with the 1998 video featuring Cheap Trick that was made to promote the Lennon Anthology box set. Surely if the powers that be had access to this footage in 1998 they would have used it, which proves this is a new discovery. Hopefully, some of the A-roll footage survives as well; it would be great to see some closeups of John lip-syncing the song. Then again, I would guess the bootleggers who made this video would have used it if they had it.

Still, it’s cool to finally be able to see the last professionally shot video footage of John Lennon before he was killed on December 8. Look at that funky guitar!

Continue reading Watch video of John Lennon at the Hit Factory in 1980

Lollapalooza 2015: I Don’t Care, I Love It

Remember when Lollapalooza was alternative?

You’re forgiven if you don’t. They gave up on that idea by 1996 when they first booked Metallica as a headliner.

Remember when fests had their own identities? Bonnaroo was a rootsy jam band festival, etc. These days bands just rotate through the major summer music festivals, year by year. Cocahella last year, Bonnaroo this year, Lollapalooza next year. Repeat ad infinitum.

Just in Chicago if you attended Lolla, Pitchfork, and Riot Fest, you’d have the opportunity to see pretty much every band who’s currently touring. Sad you missed missed Run the Jewels and Courtney Barnett at Lolla last year? They both played P4k this year. Chances are they’ll both have a nice big font on the Riot Fest 2016 poster.

It’s quite a time to be a music fan. Then again you might ask yourself whether an outdoor music fest is the best way to experience live music. There are certainly a lot of hassles at these kinds of fests (comfort, sound, food, toilets, and on and on). But if you’re the type of person who likes to make a notch in your belt for every band you see, festivals can help you out with that.

I’ve always enjoyed Lollapalooza. It’s fun to enter into the mayhem for one weekend per year. For me, the fun has always outweighed the hassles. Then again I also don’t mind going to IKEA once in a while. Your mileage may vary.

Highlights this year were Paul McCartney, First Aid Kit, Charli XCX, and Gogol Bordello.

Surprises were Alabama Shakes (way more fun than I expected), Metallica (ditto), and Twin Peaks (I had avoided them because of their dumb name but they’re exactly the kind of band I love).

Disappointments were Father John Misty (grumpy), Lame Impala (I think I stole that joke from Twitter), Albert Hammond, Jr (sang like the guy from Midnight Oil), and the disappearance of the falafel vendor who kept me alive for the past seven or eight Lollas.

Scheduling conflicts made me miss Tove Lo, War on Drugs, Bully, and Shakey Graves.

Continue reading Lollapalooza 2015: I Don’t Care, I Love It

Wildwood MusicFest 2015 – The Best Fest in the West

I’m going to tell you something most Oregonians don’t want you to know for fear that it will remove the final barrier that keeps even more people from moving out here: It doesn’t rain out here nearly as much as you probably think it does. In fact, the summers can sometimes be long, dry affairs that leave you praying for rain come September. The temperature will inch up to the triple-digits some days and the western sun feels more intense, but that may be my imagination.

It was over a three-day stretch like this that my family and I again made our way to the West Valley to the small town of Willamina, Oregon. We were in the middle of a welcomed break from a stifling summer when the weather report showed a slight return to the upper 90s. You guessed it: during the three days that covered the Wildwood MusicFest.

Continue reading Wildwood MusicFest 2015 – The Best Fest in the West