Sales of vinyl records through Amazon have increased 745% since 2008; mathematicians assure us percentages can go that high

Sales of vinyl records through Amazon have increased 745% since 2008; mathematicians assure us percentages can go that high

VINYL HEADS (is it alright if I call you that?), ready for another encouraging but slightly misleading statistic attesting to the continually rising popularity of vinyl records? Don’t worry. It’s only misleading in the context of music sales as a whole, because they really aren’t a huge percentage of that number, but considered on its own, it’s fun to highlight this sub-source of reigning enthusiasm, whereas otherwise, all the talk surrounds an increasingly dull digital-this and digital-that. Setting aside the convenience of its availability (which shouldn’t be understated), a mildly depressing tale lies in the rampant impersonalization of music-listening via digitization.

Sorry to say, though, that digitization may account for at least some of those vinyl sales, if that makes any sense (which it obviously doesn’t, because I haven’t ventured to explain it yet). Over here, it’s been reported that vinyl sales on Amazon are up 745% since 2008. Allow me to offer a few (not mutually exclusive) explanations for this somewhat absurd percentage increase:

1. Vinyl sales everywhere have been increasing, though at least according to this graph, not to same extent as when you focus on sales made through Amazon specifically.

2. Amazon has further cemented itself as a creepy, yet prosperous, global seller of everything during this period.

3. AutoRip-enabled vinyl records, which offer free downloadable MP3 versions alongside the physical product, are reportedly selling at a “62% higher volume than non-AutoRip albums.”

4. Mix thoroughly. Set oven to 350 degrees. Bake for about half an hour.

Mmmm, cake.

Xiu Xiu to release entire album of Nina Simone covers, because nothing’s uglier than beautiful jazz

You know what? Sure. Sometimes you just gotta poke stuff and see what happens. And yeah, it seems like it doesn’t make any sense at first, but then when you just think about it for second, Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart’s announcement that he’ll be releasing an entire album of Nina Simone covers this fall makes plenty of sense. Weird, cool, messy, insane sense. You know, the best kind? Or at at least, certainly the kind in which Stewart feels right at home when making.

Either way, the album is called Nina and arrives December 3 via Graveface Records. And don’t worry, despite that NPR-ready title, the press releases assures us all (as if we needed it) that none of the covers are very straight-laced, calling it “a thank-you note, a love letter, and a kind of musical fan-fic” for the late jazz and soul icon. Come on, now; who doesn’t love the idea of Nina Simone fan-fiction?

Working again with long-time collaborator Ches Smith (whom Stewart calls “the only person I know who could understand this in his heart and also handle the technical side of fearlessly reorienting such wonderful music”), the pair apparently aimed for arrangements that are “replete with languid, discordant jazz saxophone; sedate accordion; and brisk, minimalist drums,” that are “disquieting, sometimes downright spooky.” You know, like the Seinfeld theme? They also recorded the whole album “in just one day, all in first or second takes” in order to “[capture] the immediacy of the feelings that inspired the record.” Also like the Seinfeld theme.

“But how did this whole project happen to come about?” you may be asking. And while I’d love to tell you to shut your pathetic gob and that it’s none of your business, I just happen to have the answer handy, so here:

“The idea came being back stage in Austin TX, opening for Swans and feeling like I did not play well,” Stewart explains. The night before, he and Swans’ Michael Gira had discussed Simone, their love both for her talent as a musician and her fearlessness as a civil rights activist, and how Simone inspired them to make better work. Feeling down on himself, yet inspired both by the memory of Simone and the “epic and beautiful persistence” of Gira and Swans, Stewart decided to honor Simone and challenge himself in making Nina.

Yes, as usual, Swans are the driving force for everything ever.

Nina tracklisting:

01. Don’t Smoke in Bed
02. Don’t Explain
03. Wild is the Wind
04. Where Can I Go Without You
05. See Line Woman
06. Just Say I Love Him
07. Four Women
08. Pirate Jenny
09. You’d Be So Nice
10. The Other Woman
11. Flo Me La

• Xiu Xiu:
• Graveface:

Awesome Tapes from Africa releases amazing Afro-pop-meets-early-90s-dance LP from janitor/politician/songwriter Penny Penn

Awesome Tapes from Africa are pretty good at delivering on their label promise; everything’s from Africa, and it’s usually pretty awesome. But Penny Penny is something special. Penny Penny is a record label janitor turned pop singer turned South African politician. Dude was squatting at said label, where he met Tsonga disco producer Joe Shirimani and convinced him to help out with a demo. Shirimani then convinced the label to release Penny Penny’s music, and six months after apartheid ended for good, the record became a huge mainstream surprise hit. Penny Penny has toured across Africa, rocking countless stages, and is now a regional politician in the African National Congress party a.k.a. Nelson Mandela’s party.

Speaking of parties (heeeeyyyyyo) Penny Penny’s music sounds like a party-rockin’ combination of African pop and the whole Crystal Waters/C&C Music Factors/Robin S. disco R&B dance trend of the early-to-mid 1990s. In Awesome Tapes from Africa press release speak, however, it’s “a genre-defining Shangaan disco record of Xitsonga language anthems” called Shaka Bundu. And now, ladies and gentlemen of non-South African lands, this insta-party can be yours for the first time ever on LP/CD/MP3/limited-edition CS on November 12. Check out album opener “Shichangani” below:

Shaka Bundu tracklist:

01. Shichangani
02. Shibandza
03. Ndzihere Bhi
04. Dance Khomela
05. Shaka Bundu
06. Zirmini
07. Milandu Bhe
08. Shichangani (Remix)

• Awesome Tapes from Africa:

Mac DeMarco, human embodiment of the bus from Speed, announces nonstop world tour

What’s the deal with Mac DeMarco? Is the weirdo rocker an olde tyme travelin’ man who made a deal with the devil, cursed to wander, always wander, the far corners of the Earth? Is he an alien disguised as a cool human dude, sent to get insider info on Earth Music? An L.A. city bus that can’t slow down or ever stop without risking the threat of horrible destruction to itself and all passengers? Or… is he just the hardest working man in show business?

Dude has been nonstop rockin’ the US/Europe venue circuit, hot off the buzz of his debut full-length 2 earlier this year on Captured Tracks. And now he’s setting course for a fall tour that sees stops everywhere from Pitchfork Paris to Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Festival to Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne. While the length and dazzling variety of stops on DeMarco’s fall tour might hint at the Bus option, this special 2013 world tour promo video makes a pretty good case for Alien. Either way, it’ll be a nonstop party:


10.28.13 - London, UK - Scala
10.29.13 - Antwerp, Belgium - Trix Bar
10.30.13 - Caen, France - Nordik Impakt Festival
10.31.13 - Paris, France - Pitchfork Paris Festival
11.01.13 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - London Calling Festival at Paradiso
11.02.13 - Reykjavik, Iceland - Iceland Airwaves Festival
11.08.13 - Austin, TX - Fun Fun Fun Festival
11.21.13 - Québec City, QC - Le Cercle
11.22.13 - Chicoutimi, QC - Le Sous Bois
11.23.13 - Montreal, QC - M for Montreal
11.24.13 - Toronto, ON - The Hoxton
11.29.13 - Beijing, China - MAO Livehouse
11.30.13 - Shanghai, China - Yuyintang
12.01.13 - Hong Kong, China - Clockenflap Festival
12.04.13 - Taipei, Taiwan - The Wall
12.06.13 - Bangkok, Thailand - Cosmic RCA
12.07.13 - Singapore - Home Club
12.09.13 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - The Bee
12.11.13 - Melbourne, Australia - The Corner Hotel *
12.12.13 - Sydney, Australia - The Standard *
12.14.13 - Meredith, Australia - Meredith Music Festival
12.18.13 - Brisbane, Australia - The Zoo
12.19.13 - Perth, Australia - The Bakery

* Twerps

• Mac DeMarco:
• Captured Tracks:

Jenny Hval looking to conquer North America this fall (step one: cover Paul Simon)

On the heels of her Rune Grammofon album Innocence Is Kinky (TMT Review), Jenny Hval is touring North America for the first time. So now would be as good a time as any to reserve some tickets so you can see, in person, Hval play with song structure and wax philosophical on femininity and sexuality (or for those of us in the lunch pail crowd, listen to her sing about her web browser history).

Also, from this week’s edition of Out of Left Field Covers Fortnightly, we find that, on the eve of the tour, Hval has recorded a cover of Paul Simon’s “The Cool, Cool River” from his 1990 album The Rhythm of the Saints. You can check it out below. It’s… sparser than the original to say the least.

Here are the dates for Hval’s aforementioned tour:

09.25.13 - Boston, MA - Café 939
09.26.13 - Montreal, QC - Church of St. John the Evangelist - Pop Montreal Festival
09.27.13 - Toronto, ON - Rivoli
09.28.13 - Champaign, IL - Pygmalion Music Festival
09.29.13 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
10.01.13 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
10.02.13 - Brooklyn, NY - Glasslands
10.31.13 - Hudson, NY - Basilica Hudson
11.01.13 - Pittsburgh, PA - Andy Warhol Museum
11.05.13 - Washington, DC - DC9
11.06.13 - Philadelphia, PA - Boot & Saddle
11.07.13 - Northampton, MA - Iron Horse Music Hall

• Jenny Hval:
• Rune Grammofon:

Kylesa announce October tour…… you knuckleheads

Listen up, knuckleheads.

Kylesa are one of Savannah, Georgia’s top tier metal bands. BE ADVISED: suggesting that they are in a lower tier within the Savannah, Georgia metal scene will result in vast disagreements from the city’s metal elders. If you’re going to express such an opinion, I wouldn’t set foot in Savannah. Not unless you really want to see some folks not taking kindly, that is.

Heck, if you’re gonna say things like that, I’d lay low all through October. That’s when Kylesa are going on tour. They’re touring in support of their newest release on Season of Mist, Ultraviolet. If you’ve been mouthing off about Kylesa, I’d check the dates below. Those are the cities where you should tread lightly, my friend. Behave with arrogance and watch yourself get pounded by a band with two drummers. Or, if you happen to be in Norman, Oklahoma on the fifth of October, watch yourself get pounded by Kylesa, Saint Vitus, and Pallbearer. Buddy, you won’t be talking bad about sludge metal after that.

Kylesa dates:

10.01.13 - Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club
10.02.13 - Birmingham, AL - Bottletree
10.03.13 - Nashville, TN - Exit/In
10.04.13 - Little Rock, AR - Downtown Music
10.05.13 - Norman, OK - The Opolis *
10.06.13 - Dallas, TX - Dada
10.08.13 - San Antonio, TX - Korova
10.09.13 - Austin, TX - Red 7
10.10.13 - Tucson, AZ - The Rock
10.12.13 - Tempe, AZ - Yucca Tap Room
10.13.13 - San Diego, CA -Brick By Brick
10.14.13 - Los Angeles, CA - Echoplex
10.15.13 - Oakland, CA - Oakland Opera House
10.16.13 - Sacramento, CA - Harlow’s
10.17.13 - Portland, OR - Dante’s
10.18.13 - Olympia, WA - Capitol Theater
10.19.13 - Missoula, MT - The Palace
10.20.13 - Rapid City, SD - Johnny Billiards
10.22.13 - Milwaukee, WI - Cactus Club
10.23.13 - Detroit, MI - Small’s
10.24.13 - Wilmington, DE - Mojo Main
10.25.13 - Brooklyn, NY - Saint Vitus
10.26.13 - Springfield, VA - Empire
10.27.13 - Richmond, VA - Strange Matter

* Saint Vitus, Pallbearer

• Kylesa:
• Season of Mist:

[Photo: Evy Mages]


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