Category Archives: Articles

50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Jann Wenner, Beatles Fanboy

I’ve been reading Sticky Fingers, Joe Hagan’s new Jann Wenner biography and it’s really fascinating. One of the things that has surprised me was how DIY those first several issues of Rolling Stone were. It really was a bunch of volunteers hustling to pull those 24 pages together. Granted, some of those volunteers might not have realized they were volunteering until they never got paid, but still. DIY.

It’s also interesting to read how provincial toward San Francisco bands Wenner was, balanced only by his fanaticism toward the Beatles and the Stones. Looking back at those early issues it’s not surprising that many of the ads were local. Television station KQED took out full page ads. So did Bill Graham, promoting shows at the Fillmore.

Local record stores advertised too, including one called “Music 5 is Alive” at 887 Market Street, who in issue #4 boasted a “Special Price on the New Beatles LP.” Although their ad doesn’t specify the price it does include a psychedelic illustration that I’d never seen before.*

Continue reading 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Jann Wenner, Beatles Fanboy

2017 Soundscan Data: Total Music Sales and Consumption

So it looks like fewer and fewer people care about owning their music. This is the first year that I didn’t buy a single new release on compact disc (although I picked up a few deluxe reissues on CD). I bought a bunch of vinyl including Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy, the Mountain Goats’ Goths, Jason Isbell’s The Nashville Sound, Neil Young’s Hitchhiker, and the Replacements’ Live at Maxwell’s.

But most of the new stuff I listened to this year was streamed including tons of miscellaneous singles as well as new albums by Spoon, Conor Oberst, Aimee Mann, Strand of Oaks, Diet Cig, Lorde, Micah Schnabel, Tristen, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, St. Vincent, Last Leaves, Taylor Swift, and my absolute favorite album of the year: Feel Your Feelings, Fool by the Regrettes. I’ll pick that stuff up on vinyl if I see a deal, but I’m in no hurry. Patience is a virtue, after all.

I’m apparently not alone. Music sales are down down down. But streaming is way up and if you accept the industry’s argument that 1,500 streams is equivalent to one album sale then things are about the same as they were in the early- to mid-90s, before the brief, turn-of-the-century bubble. So maybe all’s well. Who knows?

Seems like only yesterday that we were all celebrating the certain death of the major label system, but just like everything else about the early internet age, we were overly optimistic and grossly naive about the resilience of corporate America. So it goes. Anyway, here’s the data…

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

Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2017: 169.15 million
2016: 205.5 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: 588.2 million
2005: 618.9 million
2004: 666.7 million
2003: 667.9 million
2002: 693.1 million
2001: 762.8 million
2000: 785 million
1999: 754.8 million
1998: 712.5 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 2017 Soundscan Data: Total Music Sales and Consumption

Wrapping up a lousy year: 2017

A lot of people died this year. This happens every year, and we’re all gonna die someday, of course, but it’s still a drag that we’re no longer inhabiting the same plane of existence as Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. We also lost Glen Campbell, Tom Petty, Walter Becker, Grant Hart, Clyde the Funky Drummer Stubblefield, Charles Bradley, J. Geils, Malcolm Young and his brother George, Tommy Keene, Maggie Roche, Gregg Allman, David Cassidy, Mel Tillis, Don Williams, Jim Nabors, Chris Cornell, Al Jarreau, Pat DiNizio, Prodigy, Chester Bennington, Charlie Murphy, Joanie Cunningham, Benson, Batman, Judge Wapner, Roger Moore, Jerry Lewis, Chuck Barris, Hugh Hefner, Don Rickles, Mary Tyler Moore, Harry Dean Stanton, Martin Landau, Dick Gregory, Jonathan Demme, Sam Shepard, Kevin Garcia (Grandaddy), Frank Deford, and Jake Lamotta.

Phew. That’s a lot. Rest in peace.

We also lost a common definition of reality, and although it had been on its deathbed for a while, it was still a little shocking when it finally kicked the bucket. I remember getting wasted with pals in the early 90s and bullshitting about memetics and alternate realities and it’s very weird to see it all come true. Or, maybe not “true” since truth no longer exists, but whatever. Oh well. Never mind.

One good thing that happened in 2017 is that Glorious Noise started posting new content regularly again for the first time since 2011. Shortly after our 16th anniversary online in February we committed to posting something new every weekday. Did you notice?

It’s been fun. I’ve listened to a lot of new music that I might have skipped over had we not set that goal. There’s tons of new stuff released every week and some of it is actually good! It’s become our mission to find the good stuff and share it with you.

There are plenty of sites that post every new press release that hits their inbox. Glorious Noise does not do that. We listen to stuff and if it’s boring or if it sucks we ignore it. Just like you should. Unless it’s noteworthy or hilariously bad or we think we should warn you about its suckiness. We will filter out the crap.

We are not an algorithm. We are a few dudes with dayjobs and strong opinions who tend to gravitate toward guitar music with something to say. You can trust us.

In fact, we’ve been compiling the songs we’ve posted about this year into a massive playlist which you can stream for yourself to decide if our taste jibes with your own. Dig it. And have a happy new year.

Continue reading Wrapping up a lousy year: 2017

New Father John Misty video: Leaving LA

Video: Father John Misty – “Leaving LA”

Father John Misty – "Leaving LA" [Official Music Video]

From Pure Comedy, out now on Sub Pop.

I know I know I know, a thirteen-minute hymn to your own hyper-awareness (a “10 verse chorus-less diatribe”) is self-indulgent horseshit. It’s impossible to argue with that.

And yet…

Try to forget for a sec what a bloated self-righteous asshole Josh Tillman has become, and just listen to the song. Listen to the string arrangement by Gavin Bryars and think of “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me” or “The Sinking of the Titanic” and just listen.

“Leaving LA” is arranged, performed, and recorded perfectly. It sounds great. It’s a beautiful song even if the sentiment is bitter.

Tillman claims to assume this song will cost him some fans. The “teenage rosebuds” and “college dudes” will “all jump ship” and think, “I used to like this guy but this new shit makes me want to die.” I dunno. Maybe. I’m a couple decades past being a college dude, and I’ll admit I prefer the manic hedonism of Fear Fun over the grumpy cynicism and misanthropy of the more recent stuff, but I’m guessing his core fanbase knows exactly what they’re getting into.

What I find fascinating about Father John Misty in general and this song in particular is Tillman’s quest to find some kind of balance between his onstage persona and his true self. I don’t think that’s a put on. I believe him. I think he honestly struggles with this dichotomy. Maybe everybody in showbiz does, but Tillman is unusually open about it.

Continue reading New Father John Misty video: Leaving LA

New Sufjan Stevens video solidifies theory of 50 States Project

Video: Sufjan Stevens – “The Greatest Gift”

Sufjan Stevens – The Greatest Gift (Official Video)

From The Greatest Gift Mixtape – Outtakes, Remixes, & Demos from Carrie & Lowell, out now on Asthmatic Kitty.

The mention of Asa Lovejoy (founder of the city of Portland) in this song is further evidence to prove the theory that Carrie & Lowell was indeed the “Oregon” installment in Sufjan’s “50 States” project, despite the fact that in 2009 Stevens dismissed the project as “such a joke” and admitted it was a “promotional gimmick.”

Almost every song contains at least one specific reference to Oregon: the Death with Dignity Act of 1994, the Oregon breeze, Spencer’s Butte, Eugene, Emerald Park, the Tillamook burn, Sea Lion Caves, Cottage Grove, The Dalles, the Blue Bucket Mine.

The outtakes from this newly released collection keep it going: Wallowa Lake, Asa Lovejoy, the hidden river, Hathaway Jones, the City of Roses, Pig-n-Ford races, Nike, Beavers, Ducks, and Trailblazers.

I mean, come on. This is as clear and obvious as anything on Illinois or Michigan, right?

There was also a mention of Rogue River in “Mystery of Love,” one of the songs Sufjan contributed to the soundtrack of the film, Call Me By Your Name.

And just yesterday, he released the “Tonya Harding” single, about the unlikely skating star who many considered to be “Just some Portland white trash.”

You could easily compile the most Oregony of these songs into an “Oregon” playlist to get the full effect.

And I’m not the only one who thinks this, either. Tuneage wrote a post about it and found a 2005 interview where Stevens discussed Oregon as a likely contender as a follow up to Illinois. Local publications mapped out every Oregon reference on Carrie & Lowell.

Carrie & Lowell is unquestionably the third installment of Sufjan’s Fifty States Project. Three down, only 47 to go! Snap to it, Soofy!

Sufjan Stevens: web, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Sufjan Stevens video solidifies theory of 50 States Project

What’s In a Name?

Walter Becker died on September 3, 2017, from esophageal cancer. Now Donald Fagen is suing his estate. [Update: Becker’s estate responds.]

The issue, it seems, is the name “Steely Dan.” Or whatever that is.

The two had signed what is known as a “Buy/Sell Agreement” after the band formed in 1972, which essentially lets one member to buy the shares of the other, on behalf of “Steely Dan,” should there be a departure or death. The Becker estate wants Becker’s widow to have the shares.

It is worth taking a look back at the band, such as it was, as one could say that it has always been a duo with an array of supporting musicians.

The first album, Can’t Buy a Thrill, was released in 1972. It was followed with a series of annual releases: Countdown to Ecstasy, ’73; Pretzel Logic, ’74; Katy Lied, ’75; The Royal Scam, ’76; and Aja, ’77. There was a short break, as Gaucho didn’t appear until 1980.

In 1995 Alive in America was released. The next studio album was Two Against Nature, 2000, the same year another live album was released, Plush TV Jazz-Rock Party.

The final Steely Dan album was released in 2003, Everything Must Go.

Fagen had four solo albums: The Nightfly, ’82; Kamakiriad, ’93; Morph the Cat, ’06; Sunken Condos, ’12.

Becker had two: 11 Tracks of Whack, ’94; Circus Money, ’08.

According to steelydan.com, in 1973, “The band in various configurations tours the U.S. and Britain.”

Then there was something of a touring hiatus, it seems.

The site notes that in 1980 “Becker and Fagen go their separate ways.”

So the first tour had an assortment of musicians and seven years later, after that flurry of annual albums and then Gaucho, that was it.

Continue reading What’s In a Name?

Taylor breaks a million for the fourth time

Three years ago this month, we reminded everybody that Selling a Million Albums in a Week is a Big Deal after Taylor Swift released 1989 and sold 1.287 million. At that time only 18 other albums had hit that mark since Soundscan began tracking sales in 1991.

Before Swift’s new album, Reputation, sold 1.216 million last week, only one more album had sold more than a million: Adele’s 25. And 25 crushed all sales records, selling 3.378 million copies in its debut week, 1.112 million in its second week, and 1.157 million in its fifth (Christmas). Which was historically bonkers. Since then, nobody’s come close and nobody probably ever will.

But 1.216 million is still a lot of albums. And those are sales. In just the United States. 709,000 digital albums and 507,000 CDs (no vinyl yet). As Billboard points out, that’s the “10th-largest sales week for any album since Nielsen Music began electronically tracking sales.” In fact, it sold 1.05 million copies in the first four days. That is a dedicated fanbase.

If you factor in streaming and track downloads, it moved 1.238 million equivalent album units (not much more because she’s holding it off streaming services for now).

Continue reading Taylor breaks a million for the fourth time

Forever Summer

Forever Summer by The Silence

I’ve been in bands my entire adult life. For most of that time, it was the most important element of my identity. Being in a band was not only a crucial creative outlet, but also a social space; it was how I met people beyond what is now the GLONO crew.

The first band I had–or at least the first group of guys who tried to get a functioning, performing band together–was The Silence. We were really only together for a summer, but we played a couple of shows, if you count basements as venues, and wrote and recorded eight songs. The best of these songs was a perfect little piece of electro pop called “Forever Summer,” written by Rick Grossenbacher.

The Silence, from top going right: Dan Terpstra, Mike DeRuiter, Derek Phillips (Author), Rick Grossenbacher

Rick was our keyboardist and sequencer. He loved electronic dance music way before there was anything called EDM. His flavor was more in the vein of Camoflage, Front 242, New Order and Depeche Mode. Man, he loved Depeche Mode. He and Dan, our lead guitarist, would go on and on quoting videos, interviews and studio banter I can only assume came from outtakes and bootlegs.

“Start the tape, Mart.”

At least I think that quote is from Depeche Mode. I don’t really know because that wasn’t my scene. I came from the Brit Pop school and was specifically focused on the Madchester sound of The Stone Roses. Happy Mondays and The Charlatans. The most important Manchester influence for me though was Johnny Marr and he was then in his dance band project, Electronic, with New Order’s Bernard Sumner. So if keyboards, drum machines and sequencers were good enough for Johnny, they were good enough for me.

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Live: Regina Spektor in Grand Rapids

The show was billed as “A Very Special Solo Performance” by Regina Spektor. And it certainly felt special. She was chatty and giggly between songs and seemed to sincerely appreciate the enthusiastic adoration of her fans at the sold out 20 Monroe Live. I’ve never been to a concert where the fans whiplashed between shouts of obnoxious requests and exclamations of love to complete silence and reverence as soon as the next song began.

Spektor took it all in. She spent most of the time seated at her Steinway grand, but played a couple songs on her blue Epiphone Royale, and a few on an electric piano. She even sang a capella, including the charming rarity, “Reginasaurus.”

Her songs are written from a unique perspective. She’s sometimes lumped in with the antifolkies of New York from the turn of the millennium, but I dunno. Her music sounds more like Stravinsky than the Moldy Peaches. Her classical piano training is obvious, although she clearly relishes subverting that by playing with one hand and beating on stuff with a drumstick in the other. Or making trumpet sounds with her mouth. Or beatboxing. Or singing about bobbing for apples in Somalia while “someone next door’s fucking to one of my songs.” At one point she explained why she doesn’t like people to clap along with her songs: “It’s nice, but I actually stretch time.”

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Questions. One Answer.

As I seem to be on the macabre musical beat, I received an email from a friend of mine who recently saw John Sebastian. (She lives in a small college town in Iowa, so they have some non-arena-filling musicians coming to their burg.)

Some of you may be unfamiliar—so you think—with John Sebastian. He’s the guy who performed “Welcome Back,” the theme song for “Welcome Back, Kotter” (which I guarantee is now an ear worm for many of you.)

Now you know who he is.

Some of you will be familiar with “Summer in the City,” the song that’s pulled out for its driving beat, especially when it is hot outside (“back of my neck gettin’ dirty and gritty”). That was Sebastian in The Lovin’ Spoonful, which also had regrettable compositions including “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice.” Seriously, it as saccharine as its title. But back in the ‘60s, not all was Janis stomping.

Sebastian played harmonica on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Déjà Vu. (Apparently pre-Young, he was asked to be part of the band. What line would musical history have taken had he gone that route?)

And some of you will know that Sebastian played harmonica on The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues.” In addition to Morrison Hotel, Sebastian’s harmonica work appears on several songs on the In Concert recording.

Morrison, of course, is dead. Sebastian isn’t. He’s 73.

My friend wrote that he “is a very good guitar player and a GREAT harmonica player. However his voice is gone.”

Continue reading Questions. One Answer.