All posts by Jake Brown

New Dawes video: Roll with the Punches

Video: Dawes – “Roll With The Punches”

Dawes – Roll With The Punches (Official Video)

Dawes is back with a new video from their 2016 album We’re All Gonna Die. This one co-stars Mandy Moore who looks sad and pretty as ever.

I’m still not 100% sold on the slick direction of their last couple of albums. It’s all a little too 80s Don Henley…or something. But still, this band has released one of my favorite songs of the millennium (2009’s “When My Times Comes”) and one of my favorite albums of the decade (2011’s Nothing Is Wrong), so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

And they must be reading my mail, because they just released a streaming-only live album called We’re All Gonna Live. “The album includes selections recorded over the first four shows of the An Evening With Dawes tour, and was mixed, mastered and released within 15 days.” No time for slickness there, pally. Right on.

Killer Mike and El-P find out if NPR has rhythm

Video: Run the Jewels – Tiny Desk Concert

Run The Jewels: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

This is so great. I love these guys. They exude the righteous joy performers feel when they know they’re doing something awesome. RTJ can be fun and playful and serious and cutting all within the same verse. I wonder if Mike and El realize how much we need them right now and how perfect they are for this moment in time.

Songs performed:
“Talk To Me”
“Legend Has It”
“A Report To The Shareholders”

Glorious Noise Turns Sweet 16

When we first launched Glorious Noise in February 2001 the country had just inaugurated a Republican president who had lost the popular vote after a bitter, draining campaign. My pals and I were not optimistic about the future.

We’ve written at length about the origins of this site, about the influence of Vanity Fair’s “Rock Snob Dictionary,” about Jim DeRogatis’ Lester Bangs biography, about the on-point emails from Johnny Loftus…but equally influential was the work of Hunter S. Thompson, who had recently launched his online column, Hey Rube, for espn.com (thankfully archived here). His posts were honest and fearless and beholden to no one; we idolized him. Thompson took his own life shortly after Bush was inaugurated for his second term, and I miss his voice every time I read the news.

The GLONO posse has always been a bunch of politics junkies. Which is why in 2006 we started POLJUNK, the national affairs desk of Glorious Noise. The site is no longer active, but the Twitter account is still on fire. You should follow it. We try to keep most political commentary out of the @gloriousnoise account so we can keep the focus on music, because in times like these it becomes more important than ever to remember that there is still good stuff going on in the world.

Please don’t think we are putting our collective heads in the sand when it comes to the current political situation, but there are lots of avenues available out there that provide your minute-by-minute fix of outrage porn. It’s important to stay informed, but it’s also easy to get overwhelmed by the constant barrage of bad news. And that doesn’t do anybody any good.

Independent voices are getting more and more consolidated as people increasingly get all their information from fewer and fewer sources. 16 years ago when we started GLONO the online world was a very different place. I was convinced that the internet was an incredible thing, leveling the playing field between the bigwigs and the little guy. The democratization of opinion was going to make the world a better place, where a bunch of nerds with a modem could potentially have as much influence as Jann Wenner or anybody else. And musicians wouldn’t have to go through evil record labels to get their music out to the whole world. Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

Back then, I didn’t want to call this site a blog, despite the fact that we started out using blogger.com as our content management system. I thought Glorious Noise was cooler than that. We had multiple contributors, our own domain, we weren’t diarists, we didn’t feel obligated to post multiple times a day, most posts weren’t just reblogs of existing content. We were an online zine, not a crummy little blog. We are, after all, professionals.

Today, that distinction–and snobbery–just seems silly. Glorious Noise is a blog. It’s always been a blog.

And now Twitter and Facebook have basically gobbled up all of the former ways to measure a site’s connection to its readers. Remember when comments were fun? Remember following a bunch of different sites with RSS? Remember discovering cool new sites by following links on other cool sites? Does anybody even read blogs anymore?

So why bother? Why spend your time writing, editing, and publishing articles when you have no indication that anybody’s reading them, and most evidence suggests that not very many people are?

I had a few beers with Johnny Loftus in Chicago a few weeks ago and he asked me pretty much those same questions. My response was, well, why did we start this shit in 2001? Why were we posting stuff back then? Nobody knew about us. Nobody read us. It took us almost a year to reach our 20,000th unique visitor. And half of those were probably bots. But we were thrilled. It was exciting!

We did it because it was fun. And because we had something to say. Even if it was stupid, and sometimes it certainly was. Who cares? Sure, it’s cool when readers give us feedback, and it’s cool to reach new people, but that’s never really been what it’s about.

Our earliest mission statement reads as follows:

Glorious Noise is a forum for my friends to post their thoughts on various subjects, mostly dealing with music. We have been described as rock snobs, but I don’t think that’s a totally fair label for us. We like what we like, and if you want to go out and spend your money on the new Limp Bizkit record, that’s up to you.

This is not a record review site. No one cares about the opinions of a bunch of strangers. If we were professionals, we wouldn’t be here. If you want professional reviews and real rock journalism, I recommend InsiderOne. Glorious Noise just contains some essays, stories, and rants about how rock and roll can change your life.

I hope you like it.
Jake

That still cracks me up. So snotty. And righteous. But that was our mindset when we founded the site.

And now I’m asking my posse to keep it going. Because I think it’s important to put good stuff out there. Now, more than ever.

I fully understand that everybody has limited free time. And I get that it’s uncool to ask people to work for free. We’re all grownups now. We have a lot of other pressing, real-life stuff to do. But it’s important to not allow yourself to get bogged down by negativity. As Johnny told me, “In a world of rancor and hot takes, we could all use a safe space to hang.” Purposeful self-interest and self-preservation. And that’s our goal for Glorious Noise for the immediate future. Or at least until the internet is shut down or the world ends…

We are going to continue to self-publish independent content on this self-funded site. Just like we’ve been doing for the past 16 years. And I still hope you like it.

Say it loud: I’m BLOG and I’m proud.

Continue reading Glorious Noise Turns Sweet 16

John Darnielle on Star Wars and very strong rum

It’s always fun when the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle has a new project out because he goes out of his way to do interesting things to promote it. In this case his new novel, Universal Harvester, is out February 7 from publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and instead of just going out on a regular book tour (which he’s also doing, of course), he’s also reviewing rum for the Wall Street Journal and composing a ditty for the director of the new Star Wars movie.

The WSJ article (“One Very Strong Rum, Multiple Alternate Realities”) is classic JD, incorporating references to Joan Didion, James Beard, and one’s careless, younger self. My favorite quote is: “Add a tablespoon [of rum] to pretty much any standard cake recipe and you’ve got yourself the kind of grown-up dessert that’ll allow you to imagine yourself in a Fitzgerald novel, preferably closer to the beginning than the end.”

I sometimes forget that I became a fan of John Darnielle from his writing (for Michael Goldberg’s InsiderOne/Neumu and JD’s own Last Plane to Jakarta zine/blog) before I ever heard a note of his music. But once I heard his music I immediately became obsessed, scaring off most of my friends and family with my zealotry. I’ve cooled off since then but every once in a while I still geek out.

When I saw his tweets about a new song inspired by a jokey twitter conversation with Rian Johnson, I didn’t know who that was. As much as I love Star Wars I’ve tried (and apparently succeeded) in remaining spoiler-free when it comes to news about the upcoming movies. For anybody who doesn’t know: Johnson is the director of Episode 8: The Last Jedi.

Darnielle’s summary:

I was saying how there’s an urgent need to speak out about the many deeds of the ultimate Jedi who wastes all the other Jedi and eats their bones. Rian agreed, and told me to get to work, that the story must be told! So I wrote the song and recorded it with a little help from my kids, who you’ll hear excitedly jumping in and out of the room while I work. Enjoy!

Hear it below…

Continue reading John Darnielle on Star Wars and very strong rum

Nana Grizol video: TV Song

Video: Nana Grizol – “TV Song”

Nana Grizol – TV Song

The press release calls them “Elephant 6-affiliated folk-punks” which, I’ll admit, is enough to get my attention. I don’t remember ever hearing either of Nana Grizol’s first two records, Love It, Love It (2008) or Ruth (2010), but I like the sound of this song enough that I might have to go back and check them out. The new album, Ursa Minor, is due March 31 on Orange Twin Records.

Continue reading Nana Grizol video: TV Song

New Boss Hogg album coming soon: Brood X

Cristina Martinez and Jon Spencer are bringing back their New York art/punk/scuzz band Boss Hogg just when we needed them. We hadn’t heard from them since 2000’s Whiteout until they released a four-song EP in July. Along with veterans Jens Jurgensen on bass and Hollis Queens on drums, and newcomer Mickey Finn on keys, they’re releasing the full-length Brood X on March 24 on In The Red. Follow them on Facebook for all the latest revolutionary insurrection.

I’ve always thought Boss Hogg was cool. I still have my turntable mat from their eponymous 1995 album even though I got rid of the record years ago. I’m happy to hear they’re still making a ruckus.

And you can stream a couple of songs below…

Continue reading New Boss Hogg album coming soon: Brood X

New Father John Misty video: Pure Comedy

Video: Father John Misty – “Pure Comedy”

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

Another feel good party anthem from everybody’s favorite optimist, FJM. No official info yet on whether this is from his third album or just another one-off single he’s been upping of late, but it appears that he and video director Matthew Daniel Siskin have been thinking about the miracle of birth and the inauguration of our new orange fuhrer.

Siskin, by the way, is Beyonce’s webmaster (or something).

Update: Clever nerds have discovered a cached merch page indicating that a new album, also titled Pure Comedy, is due March 31. Plus: album artwork.

Update #2: NPR reveals that Pure Comedy is due April 7 on Sub Pop Records.

Continue reading New Father John Misty video: Pure Comedy

2016 Soundscan Data: Total Music Sales and Consumption

2016 was a hell of a year, huh?

Music sales continued to fall, streaming continued to climb. Apple Music still kinda sucks. Spotify is just alright. Not a lot of excitement around new album releases. For me at least. I didn’t get into too much new stuff this year. The new release I was most excited by was the Monkees’ Good Times and seeing Mickey and Peter on their 50th anniversary tour was a thrill; I even bought a replica of the poncho from the “Randy Scouse Git” video! Other albums I enjoyed were new ones by Andrew Bird, Robbie Fulks, Wilco, the Handsome Family, Regina Spektor, and Two Cow Garage. I didn’t hear about Car Seat Headrest until they started showing up on everybody’s year-end lists, but I’m liking what I’ve heard of that, too.

I’m bummed about Prince and Leonard Cohen dying, regretting having blown multiple opportunities to see them in concert. George Michael, Sharon Jones, George Martin, Scotty Moore, David Bowie, Bernie Worrell, Glenn Frey, Leon Russell, Paul Kantner, Merle Haggard, Maurice White, Vanity, Phife Dawg, Carrie Fisher, Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, Jerry Heller, Fidel Castro, Nancy Reagan, Abe Vigoda, Garry Marshall, Garry Shandling, Grizzly Adams, Mrs. Brady, Schneider, Father Mulcahy, Big Ang… A lot of people died in 2016. A lot more are going to die in 2017. The Baby Boomers are in their 70s now. We can expect classic rockers to start dropping like flies. Prepare yourself. Let people know you care about them when you have the chance.

Until then, let’s look at the data from Nielsen Music via Billboard

Total U.S. Album sales (physical + digital in millions)

Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2016: 200.54 million
2015: 241.39 million
2014: 257.02 million
2013: 289.41 million
2012: 315.96 million
2011: 330.57 million
2010: 326.15 million
2009: 373.9 million
2008: 428.4 million
2007: 500.5 million
2006: 542.4 million
2005: 618.9 million
2004: 667 million
2003: 687 million
2002: 681 million
2001: 763 million
2000: 785 million
1999: 754.8 million
1998: 711 million
1997: 651.8 million
1996: 616.6 million
1995: 616.4 million (I’ve heard the figure is 616,957,000)
1994: 614.7 million (I’ve heard the figure is 615,266,000)
1993: ~573 million (1994 was 7.4% increase over 1993)

Continue reading 2016 Soundscan Data: Total Music Sales and Consumption

Remastered, expanded edition of Elliott Smith’s Either/Or coming in March

Either/Or was the first Elliott Smith album I bought. Like a lot of people outside the Pacific Northwest my first exposure to Elliott Smith was the movie Good Will Hunting. Or maybe a pal put something on a mixtape. I can’t remember why but at the time I was opposed to buying soundtracks, so I picked up Either/Or essentially as a way to get my favorite song from the film: “Say Yes.”

I immediately became obsessed. Songs like “Ballad of Big Nothing” and “Rose Parade” had a melodic sensibility that appealed to the Beatles fanatic in me and the dark, clever lyrics were right up my Tom Waits-loving, low-life alley. The recording sounded like it was made by people who reeked of stale cigarette smoke and beer sweat. This was the 90s and bars couldn’t be divey enough for people like us. The dirtier and cheaper, the better. Elliott Smith sounded like a guy we might see in the corner booth at Teazer’s, sipping something in a rocks glass and nodding along and smirking when a not-too-terrible song got played on the jukebox. This is what I projected onto him anyway from listening to the album and looking at the cover photo.

We didn’t have wikipedia in those days so I had to gather clues by scouring the liner notes: “recorded at joanna’s house, my house, the shop, undercover inc., heatmiser house, and laundry rules.” The label was Kill Rock Stars, the home of Bikini Kill and Sleater-Kinney. This was all we had to go on, to make up narratives of our own.

Years later, I’d finally get a chance to see him in concert, but the show was a disaster and he was a mess. A year and a half later, he was dead.

Since then, there have been a number of posthumous releases. First there was From a Basement on the Hill, a collection of the stuff he was working on before he died. In 2007 there was New Moon, a compilation of 24 outtakes mostly recorded between 1994 and 1997. I interviewed archivist Larry Crane back then about putting together that release. A couple years later I interviewed Crane again about what he found in the archives since New Moon. He said there probably wasn’t enough unreleased stuff to release another album, but “There are a lot of interesting alternate and live versions of songs though. I could see doing ‘bonus disc’ versions of the proper albums as a possibility.”

Continue reading Remastered, expanded edition of Elliott Smith’s Either/Or coming in March

Yes, People Still Listen to the Radio

While I anxiously await Nielsen’s year-end music sales report, I thought I’d share a few highlights of their recent recap of the state of the radio industry at the end of 2016:

• “radio’s reach is larger than any other format [TV, PC, devices] and only continues to grow year-over-year”

• “radio reaches 93% of U.S. each week” (That’s 225,207,000 adults!)

• Old people (55+) love the “News Talk Information” format. Overall, it was #1 with a 9.6% share.

• Young people love Pop Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR). It was #1 among both 18-34 year olds (with 12.2%) and 35-54 year olds (with 8.8%).

The way the radio industry describes its formats is weird and creepy though. You’d think I’d be used to it after 20 years of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, but I’m not. I still get skeeved out when I read about “Hot Adult Contemporary” and “Urban Adult Contemporary” which are different from plain old “Adult Contemporary” and, of course, “Urban Contemporary.” But what can you do?