All posts by Jake Brown

Freedom for Wilco?

Breaking News from Glorious Noise…

The Chicago Tribune reports that Wilco has signed a deal to leave Reprise Records after the label rejected their recently finished new album, Yankee Foxtrot Hotel. Part of the deal is that Wilco gets to buy back the album and release it somewhere else. Hopefully this won’t take too long.

I have to admit that I downloaded most of the new album via Audiogalaxy, and from my initial listenings, it sounds pretty great. From what I heard, it’s not nearly as weird and “experimental” as I had been led to believe. It sounds good, like it’s continuing along the lines that Summerteeth hinted at. There are strange sounds and strange lyrics, but it doesn’t seem like a crazy enough departure to make Reprise reject it. I mean, it’s not like it’s Neil Young’s Trans. Oh well, one more major label shooting itself in the foot… Fuck ’em.

If you can listen to it, you can copy it

We all know how badly the record industry wants to clamp down on CD copying. But what they think of as piracy, we think of as doing what we want with something that we legally purchased. An article in the Register reaffirms just how futile the record industry’s fight really is. The article refers to a German program called CloneCD that, according to their website, “writes in RAW mode, allowing full control on the written data. Therefore, CloneCD 3 will produce real 1:1 copies of your CDs.” Sounds pretty great. I’ve always feared that my digital audio extractions were somewhat lossy, so after I try this out I’ll let you know how it works.

There’s also High Criteria’s Total Recorder, which is totally worth the $11.95 registration fee. It allows you to convert any sound file on your computer to a WAV file (which you can then burn to CDs or convert to MP3s or whatever you want to do). Yes, any sound file, even streaming media and those fucking annoying Liquid Audio files. It doesn’t make perfect, digital copies since it has to use your sound card driver, but the fidelity loss is negligible.

If you download these programs now and make backups of the installation files, as long as you have a working computer with a CD drive, the Man will never be able to keep you from listening to your music whenever, wherever and however you want to. Sock it ’em.

The Next Plane to Good Writing

If you haven’t checked out Last Plane to Jakarta yet, it’s time do so now. It features some of the best music writing I’ve read since I was first cc’d on a note by Johnny Loftus. There’s a particularly great explication of a song by Chuck Berry on there right now. I love it when people go off the deep end over something they love. To me, that’s what it’s all about.

At the end of the article, the author dismisses his revelation like this:

…this isn’t exactly news. It’s nothing you’d want to admit to not knowing if you didn’t already. But every so often some song from the distant pass puts the fire of God on you and you gotta preach. I thank you for indulging me.

Preach on brother, preach on. We’ll stay tuned and continue to indulge you.

A real good time

MTV sucks. We all know that. Shows like the Real World keep music videos from being played, and even though MTV rarely ever played good music videos, hey, at least they were showing music videos.

So for that, I hate the Real World. But I have to admit that there’s a side of me that loves it. The darker side. It’s probably actually the same side of me that likes Britney Spears and Hot ‘n Now. Nevertheless, I have spent more than one weekend watching Real World marathons for at least six hours straight. That’s the best way to watch them — all at once. No time to think about how ridiculous and manipulative and evil the show’s producers are. I don’t use words like “evil” lightly either. Evil.

And while the current season of the Real World (back to New York!) is airing on MTV, next year’s season is being taped in Chicago right now. This is the first time the Real World has been taped in Chicago. And it looks like it might just be the last.

The seven strangers are living in a building at 1931 W. North Avenue (aerial photo). That’s in the Wicker Park neighborhood which has a history of artists, noisy bars, serial rapists, and drug-related crime. As with any area that’s rapidly being gentrified, last year’s scenesters don’t want any new scenesters moving in a raising their rents and shutting down their loud clubs. That’s fair. Unfortunately, it’s also unavoidable.

People are protesting. Getting arrested. Going to jail. MTV is threatening journalists. It’s all pretty fucking great, really.

I was in the neighborhood Friday night to see the Blue Ribbon Brothers at Phyllis’ Musical Inn, and afterwards I convinced my friends to try to find the house. I couldn’t remember the address at that point in the evening, so we wandered around for a few blocks until we got bored with the idea and thirsty. Probably a good thing. I don’t need any trouble with the Law.

For more detail into the madness, read Greg Gillam’s article about his brush with the real world. And for all the latest silliness, check out ReadWorldBlows.com. Start getting real.

The Majors Must Die

According to an article on ZD Net News, some major labels have begun to add “digital distortion” onto newly released CDs in order to prevent piracy. They claim that it’s “all but inaudible when a CD is played through an ordinary CD player, but when a song is copied into digital format on a PC’s hard drive, the distortion shows up as annoying ‘clicks and pops’ in the music.”

ALL BUT inaudible? That means it’s somewhat audible, right? Well, fuck that. That just won’t do. I’m not that much of an audiophile — I found my receiver in someone’s trash — but you can’t just go making CDs sound worse. I don’t want to get started on the old digital vs. analog debate in which analog ALWAYS wins in the category of sound quality (digital usually wins the convenience category), but CDs are already a “lossy” medium. They do not reproduce a true, full sound wave. Maybe the record companies think that the majority of consumers who are satisfied with the sub-par fidelity of 128kbs MP3 files just won’t notice and won’t care.

They’re probably right.

But I wonder if the artists know that their work is being distorted for the sake of piracy protection. It sounds like the labels are being pretty secretive about this whole thing. Are they required by law to inform the artists that they’re messing with the sound of their music? Have any of you had any trouble with “pops and clicks” when you’re ripping your CDs? Let us know.

Maybe just a little?

In an interview on XFM Online, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo claims that the difference between now and back when he was at Harvard cultivating the Pinkerton-era material is that “I’m not a miserable little bitch any more. I was in school about two weeks before I realised that it was really boring and wanted to come back and rock.” I think that’s funny. Maybe he’s no longer miserable, but I get the distinct impression that he’s still a little bitch.

By the way, check out Buddyhead’s gossip section for all the latest news about all your favorite stars. It’s rough out there.

Six Degrees of the Bay City Rollers

The folks over on the Bomp! List have been playing a fun new game. The idea is to get from one band to another completely different band in as few steps as possible.

The rules:

1) Pick two somewhat popular but fairly unrelated bands.

2) Go to allmusic.com and type in the name of one of them.

3) Using only the ‘Similar Artists’ link, find your way to the second artist.

I attempted to go from the Sonics to NWA but after about 1,000 clicks only made it to Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and MC Ren. Let us know how you did!

I guess she is the devil after all

Wow. I found a site that puts Focus on the Family’s Plugged-In to shame. Fight the Good Fight reveals how “the most popular musicians from the 1950’s to 2000 have been and are being used as puppets by Satan and his fallen angels to increase man’s rebellion against God.” I can dig that, but even my girl, Britney? Well, I guess so. Who knew?

Keep music evil (image from unamerican.com)

Thanks to Plastic for uncovering this site.

The Gorillaz: King Bong

When I first heard about the Gorillaz, I got really excited. The Gorillaz are a cartoon band that is actually made up of the guy from Blur, Dan the Automator, Del the Funky Homosapien, and some turntable wizard. And drawn by the original creator of Tank Girl. That sounded really cool to me.

And then I saw the video for “Clint Eastwood” on 120 Minutes (yes, believe it or not, 120 Minutes is still on the air — Sunday nights on MTV2). The video clinched it for me. A great sing-songy pop chorus, classic Del rhymes for the verses, and fresh production (as always) from the Automator. The cartoon didn’t impress me that much but the song was great. The Gorillaz seemed to totally reinvent and revitalize two genres that I’ve pretty much stopped caring about: britpop and hip hop.

Unfortunately, the album does not continue along the same lines. “Clint Eastwood,” in fact, is the only track that features both Del and the guy from Blur. Del shows up by himself on one other track, but the rest of the album is basically just a solo album by the guy from Blur that’s produced by Dan The Automator. And as that, it’s pretty cool. Some nice beats, some cool vocals, some Blurry guitars. But I was hoping for so much more. I was hoping for a new direction, a new sound, a new combination of different musical styles. In essence, I wanted Del on every track.

It would have been so cool. It still is pretty cool, but not in the way that I wanted. Nevertheless, my friends can expect to see “Clint Eastwood” showing up on lots of my mixes this summer.

Shameless

Shameless

Here’s a five dollar coupon for cdnow when you spend $19.95. It lasts until June 26, so there you go. Full disclosure: cdnow is owned by a major label, and I get a tiny percentage of whatever you spend when using this link.

Don’t like it? Let us hear about it, and then head off to your local, independent record store and buy some records.

Jake