All posts by Jake Brown

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?

Great ideas in record label marketing: Free Dirt

It must have been fun to work at Warner/Reprise in 1969. There were so many great groups on their roster: Joni Mitchell, Van Dyke Parks, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, the Kinks, the Grateful Dead… They were the cool label. Selling those records to all the hip kids must have been a piece of cake.

Or maybe not.

Because when it came time to come up with a campaign to promote Neil Young’s first album with his new band Crazy Horse, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, they ended up with a novel idea: free dirt. That’s not a euphemism for anything. You could send in a form and they’d mail you a baggie of dirt from Topanga Canyon. No self-addressed stamped envelope or anything!

“Miss Penny in shipping has demanded tranquilizers, overtime, and an Easter bonus for her boys if they have to bag dirt. But what the hell. Nobody understood Galileo either. Read on.”

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Shocker: Rock Hall inducts terrible bands

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its 2017 class and–as usual–it’s disappointing. In a year when musical revolutionaries such as Bad Brains, Kraftwerk, Jane’s Addiction, and the MC5 were nominated, we somehow ended up with guilty pleasures Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, and Yes.

“Besides demonstrating unquestionable musical excellence and talent, inductees will have had a significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.”

Sure, I suppose you could made drunken arguments that those three bands are worthy of respect. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have made those arguments myself after a few too many rum and cokes. But they suck. It’s cheese. It’s garbage. And even if those bands had an influence on other performers, the performers they influenced sucked even harder.

Of those three, ELO is obviously the least awful and Yes is the worst. And just like in real life, Journey is the mediocre one in the middle. I mean, come on. I enjoy Journey as much as the next guy who grew up in the arcade era. “Wheels in the Sky” is a badass jam and I can still close my eyes and picture Steve Perry’s pixelated head bouncing from drum to drum in the videogame. [It was actually the drummer’s head on that level, not Steve Perry. -ed.] But they’re fluff. Just because you have a song featured in a key scene in an “important” tv show doesn’t make you an important band.

Other performers inducted in this class were Joan Baez, Pearl Jam, and Tupac Shakur. Fine. Whatever. I don’t listen to any of that stuff, and in the case of Pearl Jam I don’t even like it, but I recognize the “musical excellence and talent” blah blah “impact” blah blah blah.

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New Flaming Lips video: Sunrise (Eyes Of The Young)

Video: The Flaming Lips – “Sunrise (Eyes Of The Young)”

The Flaming Lips – Sunrise (Eyes Of The Young) [Official Music Video]

Well it looks like Wayne Coyne made it through his midlife crisis and is back to making music again. I’ll admit I was turned off by Coyne’s recent behavior where he left his wife, allegedly started taking drugs after years of relative sobriety, and began running around with Miley Cyrus (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Around that same time the Flaming Lips had become the feel-good, never-turn-down-a-festival-appearance party band, making a cartoon mockery of the fundamental weirdness that had made them so appealing in the first place.

Remember when it just seemed INSANE that “She Don’t Use Jelly” became a hit? That was 22 years ago, bubba, and Yoshimi was 14 years ago. You can’t begrudge a band for sticking with it and gaining fans and success, but it would be hard to argue that they hadn’t gotten sidetracked over the past few years. There’s more to life than confetti cannons and balloons.

I was pleased with the slow-burn psychedelia of their Riot Fest performance this year. There were still confetti cannons and balloons, of course, but the music didn’t pander to the shirtless party bros. They weren’t taking their music — or their audience — for granted. Longtime Lips fans will give all the credit for any return to form to Steven Drozd, and maybe that’s fair. Drozd is said to be the only real musician in the band, but even if that’s accurate, Wayne Coyne is still the front man and is clearly responsible for steering the ship. From the three songs they’ve released so far from Oczy Mlody, due January 13 on Warner Bros, they’re heading into some interesting territory.

Continue reading New Flaming Lips video: Sunrise (Eyes Of The Young)

Once again yet even more Lester Bangs in Rolling Stone

One of the things that inspired us to start Glorious Noise in 2001 was Jim DeRogatis’ biography of Lester Bangs, Let It Blurt. Our first big, multi-post project was to dig through a bunch of old copies of Rolling Stone magazine and liberate original record reviews written by Bangs but never republished.

Then sometime around 2006 the Stone finally put a bunch of their old reviews online. We linked to as many as we could find. And then after a year or so we found even more.

Since then, RS.com has undergone a redesign or two and none of those old links work anymore. The people who make the decisions apparently didn’t think it was worth the effort to make the old links redirect to the updated content, so they’re all effectively dead now. Additionally, some of the reviews that were up in 2006 and 2007 don’t seem to have made the transition (Tony Williams’ Emergency, for one example). And worse yet, they weren’t even captured by the Internet Archive’s wayback machine. So boo.

The Web taketh away, but the Web also giveth. Now there are several new Lester Bangs reviews online that I hadn’t seen before. Blessed be the name of the Web.

The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground (RS33, May 17, 1969)

“Can this be that same bunch of junkie-faggot-sadomasochist-speed-freaks who roared their anger and their pain in storms of screaming feedback and words spat out like strings of epithets? Yes. Yes, it can, and this is perhaps the most important lesson the Velvet Underground: the power of the human soul to transcend its darker levels.”

Continue reading Once again yet even more Lester Bangs in Rolling Stone

The world’s worst Elvis impersonator: Kate Moss

Video: Elvis Presley – “The Wonder You” (with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)

Elvis Presley – The Wonder of You (Official Video Starring Kate Moss)

This is preposterous. It’s ludicrous on several levels. First of all, why are they adding “lush new arrangements” by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to Elvis recordings? The original single version, recorded live in Las Vegas, was good enough to spend 12 weeks on the charts in 1970 and peak at #9. Why add a new orchestral accompaniment? It sounds fine, but completely unnecessary.

And why cast Kate Moss to lip sync and roll around on a couch and a piano? What demographic are they marketing this toward? It just seems misguided and weird.

Sure, Kate Moss is cool and pretty. I’ve harbored a crush on her since I first saw her Calvin Klein ads in 1992 when I was in college. Years later I was amused by the outrage when video emerged of her huffing blow in the studio with Pete Doherty and Mick Jones while they were recording the Babyshambles debut. I guess it’s kind of cool that a 42 year old lady can still be seen a sex symbol…or something.

But really, what’s the point? I know there is a legion of geriatric diehards and collectors who buy everything with Elvis’ name on it, and this is actually the second collection of Royal Philharmonic overdubs. The first one, If I Can Dream, was apparently successful enough to warrant a sequel. I suppose we can all be thankful that at least this new volume doesn’t contain a “duet” with Michael Bublé.

I love Elvis. And I truly believe that anybody who claims to care about music should own the Sun sessions and the 1969 American Sound recordings (Elvis at Sun and Suspicious Minds are good collections). And if you like “The Wonder of You” by all means check out Elvis on Stage, where the original version appears; it’s a very fun recording of Elvis at his vocal peak backed up by a great band led by James Burton.

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New Tribe video: We The People…

Video: A Tribe Called Quest – “We The People…”

A Tribe Called Quest – We The People….

We all saw them do it on SNL last week and now here’s the official video for the first single from the new Tribe new album, We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service. Here’s the oral history of how this record came to happen; it’s a good read, so check it out.

All you Black folks, you must go
All you Mexicans, you must go
And all you poor folks, you must go
Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways
So all you bad folks, you must go

Seems rather timely.

Continue reading New Tribe video: We The People…