Two of my favorite artists released songs to the internet last weekend. Fiona Apple posted a song from her upcoming album to Soundcloud, while Liz Phair sent an MP3 to the administrator of her biggest fan site and announced via Twitter that it’s “a stand-alone track, not what new record will sound like at all.”
Apple’s official “leak” was clearly part of an established technique for rousing excitement for a new album, which now includes weekly updates to keep us thinking about her.
• January 22: Record label exec unexpectedly tweets “Welcome back Fiona!”
• January 24: Label spokesperson clarifies new album will “absolutely be this year”
• February 14: South By Southwest showcase announced
• February 21: “Mini tour” dates announced
• March 7: Album title announced
• March 14: South By Southwest showcase features new songs
• March 19-27: mini tour
• April 2: Album track list, artwork, release date revealed
• April 9: North American tour dates announced
• April 23: “Every Single Night” posted to Soundcloud
It worked, of course. June 19 can’t come soon enough. But it’s hard not to feel like you’re being played with each step in the process generating new tweets, blog posts, and news items.
Contrast that precisely executed digital marketing roadmap with the seemingly haphazard Liz Phair release. The prevailing narratives tell us Fiona is the uncontrollable artiste, while Liz is the calculating careerist. But Phair used her personal Twitter account to give away a free song for no particular reason. She’s got nothing new to promote. Funstyle came out close to two years ago, and while she’s apparently finished a new video for “And He Slayed Her,” this new song has nothing to do with that.
It would be unfair to fail to point out that Apple is constricted by a major label contract while Phair is free to do whatever she wants with hew new songs. But it’s cool to see an artist taking advantage of that freedom.
This is so good. MOJO magazine shared this fantastic poem and here’s the back story:
“The preposterously youthful 60-year-old is currently touring the UK, and while MOJO’s requests for an interview met with the usual polite refusal, Richman offered to interview himself in the form of a poem.”
It starts out like this:
So Jonathan, does it feel at all strange to be sixty years old,
Singing in clubs now for forty odd years,
Playing for students a third your age?
Yes, it feel strange.
Yes, it feel strange.
My face keeps on changing, but the public stays 20.
I once almost got into a fight with a guy over Jonathan Richman. I was young and earnest and couldn’t believe that any decent human being could have heard but not like Jonathan Richman. It didn’t come to blows, thank goodness, but that’s mostly because it was morning, I was hungover, and I was staying at this guy’s apartment for the weekend. I’ve gotten considerably less rigid regarding my prerequisites for decent humanity, but I still think that if you don’t like Jonathan Richman you’re probably an asshole.
I want love to roll me over slowly, stick a knife inside me, and twist it all around. I want love to grab my fingers gently, slam them in a doorway, put my face into the ground.
And that’s how Jack White introduces his debut solo album, Blunderbuss, due April 24 on Third Man Records/XL Recordings/Columbia. Background vocals from Nashville-based, Ghana-born Ruby Amanfu add a creepy, old-timey vibe.
The lack of drums on this song is an curious choice for a lead-off single. It sounds great, but it’ll be interesting to see how well this does commercially. Will the mainstream audience who eventually embraced the White Stripes get into this? Will the rivalry with the Black Keys spawn a resurgence of listenable, commercial rock and roll? (I hope so.) Maybe the Hives and the Strokes and Mooney Suzuki can put out new albums this year and it’ll be like 2001 all over again! (Unlikely.)
Seems crazy that they’re still digging up new Doors material, but apparently producer Bruce Botnick discovered this one while preparing the session tapes for L.A. Woman, which is once again being reissued on January 24. Curious that it didn’t turn up when they released the 40th Anniversary remixes in 2007.
Regardless, this is the kind of Doors song I really like. Lyrics aren’t too silly and the band sounds great. Krieger’s blues licks sound perfectly unfussy with Manzarek’s Wurlitzer electric piano giving more of a Ray Charles punch than his signature Vox Continental. Meanwhile, Densmore proves he was the coolest guy in the band.
This recording must just be a warm-up jam while the engineers were adjusting levels, or something, as Morrison’s microphone is overdriven through most of the song. It’s actually nice to hear them to hear them playing this loose and garage-y at this point in their career.