Let's take a trip in the DeLorean all the way back to the summer of 2004. Big things were happening in the world: Olympic games were held in Athens, the U.S. had a presidential election coming up, and Ken Jennings (a personal hero) was kicking ass on Jeopardy! for over 70 episodes. Yet, for the movie industry, things were looking rather glum. Much ado was made about falling ticket sales in movie theaters, and industry execs scrambled to pinpoint the cause. There was a substantial amount of pontification on the part of analysts to find the reason for the slide, and one scapegoat quickly emerged more worthy than all the rest: peer-to-peer networks. Here was a direct cause for the effect, an all-but-proven reason for lag in the system.
Sounds reasonable enough... but, just out of curiosity, let's take a quick look at a few of the movies released that summer: There were the comedies, such as Without a Paddle, The Big Bounce, Envy, Eurotrip, Garfield: the Movie, Chasing Liberty, Around the World in 80 Days, White Chicks, The Girl Next Door, Mr. 3000, Connie and Carla, Welcome to Mooseport, and Jersey Girl; action films such as Torque, Catwoman, The Day After Tomorrow, Walking Tall, Flight of the Phoenix, The Perfect Score, The Chronicles of Riddick, and The Alamo; a host of sequels like Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, Barbershop 2, Agent Cody Banks 2, Scooby Doo 2, The Whole Ten Yards, The Princess Diaries 2, Spiderman 2, Exorcist: the Beginning, Superbabies 2, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Seed of Chucky, Ocean's Twelve, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason; and of course, Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid. One alternative theory to the reason for the film industry's falling profits, though, never seriously considered by execs themselves, was the... errmm... poor quality of the movies in question. Rather, the prevailing theory seemed to be that the number of tickets sold should always be proportionate to the number of films released in a given time period, regardless of quality or content.
Now let's step back into the DeLorean to three Nickelback Grammy nominations, a Lil Eazy-E album, and a massive payola scandal later -- it appears that not much has changed, only this time the music industry is the industry in question. CD sales have declined by 20%, compared to the same time last year, a loss that couldn't even be nullified by a 54% increase in digital music sales over the same time period. An overall look at music sales taking into account all formats, including formats such as ringtones, still shows a sharp 9% decrease. CD prices have dropped in many markets, likely a response to price drops led by companies such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart. Russ Crupnick of NPD Group, a firm who recently released a report stating that P2P downloads still outweigh the number of paid downloads in the overall market, was quick to attribute the sales drop to the factors shown in the group's study: "Unfortunately for the music labels, the volume of music files purchased legally is swamped by the sheer volume of files being traded illegally... Five billion files downloaded illegally clearly affect prospects for both CD sales and sales of digital song tracks online."
The legitimacy of such criticism is, of course, based on the assumption that everyone who downloads a track would have likely otherwise bought it in stores or online (and that no consumers both download and buy the album or that P2P actually increases the overall popularity of music consumption), but regardless, it'd be difficult to argue that downloads haven't affected CD sales, at least in some small way. They have, just as public libraries affect overall sales of books, because artistic content has been made more easily available to the public in a way that no one directly or illicitly profits from. Yet when I think back to the unforgettable trip we just took back to the year 2004, I can't help but compare the movies being pushed by the big studios at that time to the albums being pushed today by major studios.
Of all the music downloaders I know, not a single one of them is unwilling to pay market value for an album they really enjoy. But have consumers been given enough reason to do this? A major criticism of the music industry for decades has been their tendency to promote albums through one good single, which when listened to later, after being bought on a CD, turns out to be the only decent song on the album. I don't want to stereotype anyone's musical taste or accuse all major label albums of having one good song a piece, but I do believe the industry is having troubles finding consumers who are jumping at the opportunity to spend the equivalent of three work hours at minimum wage on an album that may or may not have more than one good song; it's not without two generations of prior conditioning.
Whatever the conclusions, questions will linger: Has the drop in sales affected the music? Is the weak first quarter releases a reason for the significant drop? Is the shift to digital music making the CD or full-length album a dying medium? Or a niche medium? Has the growing awareness of how little money the artists receive from CD sales played a role in the drop? Most importantly, why hasn't anyone commissioned my boy Ken Jennings to do a full report on this issue? I'm afraid only time will be able to answer these questions for us, especially that last one. In the meantime, you and I can eagerly await the next quarterly report, while the major labels sit around and merge or whatever it is that they do for entertainment these days.
When my cousin first told me about STNNNG, I laughed. My usually eloquent relative had seemingly devolved before my eyes to spit out the word "stunning" like a kid with sarienistic syndrome. I asked him if it was necessary to say the band name that quickly, and he just replied with “STNNNG!” like a cheap rip-off of Timmy from South Park. I had a dinner that night with his side of the family and made up my mind to tell my aunt about my discovery. At first, like any parent completely devoted to her only child, she denied any existence of sarienistic disease. So I called on Rich, my cousin, and held a quick interview in front of my aunt to get my point across.
Me: Rich, what is your favorite band these days?
Me: Are you going to see them May fourth?
Rich: TRF CLB!
Me: Are they touring to support an album, Rich?
Rich: FKE FKE!
After that last question, my aunt yelled for us to stop, and I could see her eyes were beginning to water. I took her in my arms and began to sing and gently rock her back and forth. She asked me how this could happen, in addition to millions of other questions that were best left for the doctor. I kissed her on the cheek and then found my way to her lips. We fooled around a bit in the living room while Rich played Guitar Hero. He occasionally yelled out one-syllable nothings, but I think my aunt had finally come to terms with his condition and didn’t let it bother her too much.
Me: Whom do we have to thank for this discovery, Rich?
NW TH STNNNG TR DTS:
03.31.07 - Eau Claire, WI - House of Rock w/ Drunk Drivers, Belles of Skin City
04.04.07 - St. Paul, MN - Turf Club w/ NOXAGT, Ghostdad, Neglected Receptors
04.14.07 - Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock Social Club w/ comedian Doug Stanhope
04.20.07 - Lawrence, KS - Replay Lounge w/ You'll Be a Torso
04.21.07 - Norman, OK - The Deli w/ The Purple Cow Story
04.22.07 - Houston, TX - The Mink w/ The Kimonos
04.23.07 - Denton, TX - Secret Headquarters
04.24.07 - San Antonio, TX - Rock Bottom Tattoo Bar
04.25.07 - Austin, TX - Emo's w/ Oh, Beast! and Red X Red M
04.26.07 - Memphis, TN - Gibson Lounge (not confirmed)
04.27.07 - Nashville, TN - Springwater w/ To Live and Shave in L.A., Apollo Up!
04.28.07 - Belleville, IL - Ground Floor w/ The Conformists
04.29.07 - Dubuque, IA - Busted Lift w/ The Blind Shake
Dead Meadow: Hey [Mango Starr]. Thanks for the support while Jason has gotten sick recently on this tour making the last few shows a bit of an experiment. He wanted to let you know that he is still here and regrets all of the disappointed fans and hopefully we can make it up to you the next time around. Those of us on the tour have sort of been rolling with this day to day as we try to figure out the situation and when he would be able to rejoin us on the circuit. Unfortunately his return to make the last leg of the West Coast dates is not going to happen and we found this out just before the gig last night in Berbati's Pan in Portland. Due to the audience that showed up we made an attempt to make "something" happen and hopefully it was a little interesting for our fans. Maybe a once in a lifetime show. Consquently we have pulled the plug on the Pacific Northwest gigs and we will be heading back to L.A. to recoup and plan out our next tour after Jason has rested and gotten back to health. Actually there will be an upcoming tour for the support of the new album "Old Growth" and a European tour at the end of summer. Also we will continue to play the last three gigs back to LA but not as Dead Meadow but for fun if you want to come out just for jams and good times. Thanks again.
Dead Meadow: Huh? What do you mean? Wait a minute -- you're not using our conversation for a TMT news story again are you!?
Mango Starr: Maybe.
Dead Meadow: Ha ha! You are so great -- so fucking awesome. You have my permission to use our conversation.
Mango Starr: I didn't ask.
Dead Meadow: Ha ha! True.
Oh, boy! Oh, boyohboyohboy. It's that time of year again! Fennesz, the Atomic Austrian, Noise's Nobility, the Fuhrer of Feedback (uh, scratch that one), is on tour again, with Christian Fennesz' Fennocalypse 2007: The Fennal Reckoning (On Ice)! And yes, boys, he's bringing the Fenneszettes!
Those who experienced (or should I say survived!!!) Son Of Fennocalypse 2005 will know exactly what to expect. Holding on to the roof of a flaming monster truck with one hand, busting out massive solos on a Flying V with the other, he'll launch off a ramp (which is also on fire) and land on a custom-built stage covered in pagan iconography and the tour's sponsors' logos (Microsoft, Kinko's>, and his official baked goods sponsor, Dunkin' Donuts). Firing rockets from his gee-tar, he'll immediately launch into one of his huge hits -- most likely "Endless Summer (Of Rock)" or "Rivers Of Sand (On Fire, With Snakes Coming Out Of Them, And Naked Chicks And Stuff)."
Once that's done with, he'll invite his audience to be seated and experience some of his freeform spoken word art, influenced by the work of Bishop Berkeley, interpretations of the Voynich Manuscript and Dunkin' Donuts' new limited-edition Maple Cheddar
Fennesz will close the set with a medley of covers of showtunes from Grease, Fame, and The Lion King. This has in the past proven to be so awesome that audience members' heads have exploded, so better bring some waterproof clothing! After frenzied screams for an encore, he'll walk back on wearing nothing but a jewel-encrusted loincloth and with a very special guest -- God! After trading licks for a few minutes, Fennesz will bust out a 20-minute guitar solo of such awesome perfection that God will have no choice but to hand over the keys to creation itself. Fennesz will turn him down, declaring himself to be "nothing but a humble noisesmith" and giving God a delicious Dunkin' Donuts Chocolate Coconut Cake Donut and a copy of cendre, his second collaborative album with Ryuichi Sakamoto released this month by Commmons, as a peace offering.
And that's just the first night!
Christian Fenessz' Fennocalypse 2007: The Fennal Reckoning (On Ice), being set in Belgium and Lithuania and everything, is a little, er, out of the way for most of you (apart from you, Gediminas 'akaitien'! Say hiya!), but count yourself lucky. If Lithuania didn't work out, Fennesz was planning on the inky blackness of outer space. He can breathe in space, because he's better than you.
I don't ask for much, honey. I do your laundry, feed the kitty cats, give you those back massages you like so much. Heck, I even made you
your favorite beef stew twice in one week, not one month ago. I tuck
the youngins in at night, and I perform for you in the bedroom as best
I can, so this shouldn't come as such a shock, with that big ol'
question mark on your face there. You hear me, Britt Daniel? Now I'm
not fooling around: I demand some Spoonin.'
It's a natural act, don't you see? The human body's all gangly and awkward enough where you can't sit in one chair for too long without
getting some serious cramps. But I tell you, I could Spoon for days on
end. You just give me the hand signal, Britt, and I will call in to
work and say something's come up and I won't even be lying, because I
tell you I'll be Spooning, and that's not something you take lightly.
Here we are in scenic Portland; you're back from a nice little tour
over yonder, and I've been waiting long enough for the kind of
Spoonin' I know my man can deliver, like he's been delivering up and
down the East Coast.
Oh don't think I didn't hear about that. I ain't as thick as you look,
and I suggest you stop lookin' a gift horse in the mouth like Poppa
Daniel told you when you were still impressionable and not the kind of
two-timing Spoon addict you've turned into as of late. I've seen those
pictures, Britt, with you and everyone else at that Starlight
Ballroom, lying there together on the floor, wrapping arms around
bellies and the like... you make a career out of that position on the
sly, and yet when you get home to your one true inamorata, you act
like a piece of no-good, flimsy plywood.
Now I'm going to lay down on this here bed and turn away from you, and
you can either walk out that door or else you can buck up and be a goddang man and Spoon me 'til Merge releases your new album in July.
1. Don't Make Me A Target
2. The Ghost Of You Lingers
3. You Got Yr Cherry Bomb
4. Don't You Evah
5. Rhthm And Soul
6. Eddie's Ragga
7. The Underdog
8. My Little Japanese Cigarette Case
9. Finer Feelings
10. Black Like Me
Attention, ladies! Wanna be Neil Young's new Cinnamon Girl and do your part for a righteous cause in one fell swoop? Here's the deal: As long as you can scratch out a tune AND you're part of your local Open Mic Night circuit, you can land a spot on Cinnamon Girl - Women Artists Cover Neil Young. All proceeds from the record, which includes covers from the Watson Twins and Jill Sobule, go directly to Casting For Recovery, a national non-profit support and educational program for women who have or have survived breast cancer. The comp is set to be released on American Laundromat Records, and the lucky amateur lady will go home with a shiny new axe from Daisy Rock, a guitar joint that prides itself on crafting girl-friendly musical gear.
Honestly, after reading a book about Farm Aid, I'm about two seconds from recording "Heidi Vanderslice Sings (TMT Exclusive!) - The Kid-Rock-Will-Probably-Outlive-Neil-Young-Blues."
More about the contest here.
Help Mono Fight the Likes of The Apples in Stereo, Stereo Total, The Stereophonics, Stereolab, er, the Duophonic label… The Quadrajets Too, I Guess
Yes! Mono is coming to North America AGAIN for a nice, long tour. That will be right before the "kissing disease" of the same name arrives to plague parts of the continent. That mono is the one that sidelines the high school girl for a couple of summer months, the one who works at Sunglass Hut and who swaps spit with the dude who has a 1995 sky-blue Buick Skylark who pitches a tent in his jodhpurs some night outside the 7-11 (Jodhpurs? Well, how the hell am I supposed to know what degenerates who drive Skylarks wear these days?) who in turn rubs up against the girl with invisible braces who is always wearing those awful mauve jeans who hooks up with the all-star quarterback and his offensive line at the "Time to Party Hard and Get Effed Up Large-Time, Losers!" kegger. Both monos seem to arrive every year without fail. One is way more enjoyable to experience. The other is a Japanese quartet with a penchant for beautifully tense sounds. Baaaa-zing!
The sound-pounding gods (and bass goddess Tamaki of course) will certainly be playing a lot of tracks on this upcoming tour off of their latest Albini-engineered album called You Are There (TMT Review) that was released in ought-six on Temporary Residence plus loads of fan faves from their heavy back catalog of inspirational, cacophonous sludge. Mono does tour a lot, but this time around the support comes from some true stars: World's End Girlfriend, The Drift, and Grails (and Kinski too, but only for the Seattle show). Now the only thing stopping you from seeing some spectacular live bands is a needless glandular infection. It might be best to err on the side of caution and stay inside and play solo, or mono, until the show
04.12.07 - Cambridge, MA - Middle East Downstairs #
04.13.07 - Montréal, Quebec - La Sala Rossa #
04.14.07 - Buffalo, NY - Soundlab #
04.15.07 - Pittsburgh, PA - Carnegie Mellon University #
04.16.07 - Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop #
04.17.07 - Columbus, OH - Little Brothers #
04.18.07 - Louisville, KY - Headliners Music Hall #
04.19.07 - Dekalb, IL - The House Café #
04.20.07 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle #
04.21.07 - Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock Club #
04.24.07 - Bellingham, WA - The Nightlight Lounge #
04.25.07 - Seattle, WA - Neumo's %
04.26.07 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge #
04.27.07 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall #
04.28.07 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour #
04.29.07 - San Diego, CA - Casbah #
04.30.07 - Tucson, AZ - Plush #
05.02.07 - Denton, TX - Hailey's #
05.03.07 - Austin, TX - Emo's Jr. $
05.04.07 - Houston, TX - Mink $
05.05.07 - Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon $
05.07.07 - Orlando, FL - The Social $
05.08.07 - Jacksonville, FL - TSI $
05.09.07 - Birmingham, AL - Bottletree $
05.10.07 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl $
05.11.07 - Mt. Pleasant, SC - The Village Tavern $
05.12.07 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506 $
05.13.07 - Charlottesville, VA - Satellite Ballroom $
05.14.07 - Baltimore, MD - Ottobar $
05.15.07 - Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel $
05.16.07 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church $
05.17.07 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom $
# World's End Girlfriend and The Drift
% Kinski, World's End Girlfriend, and The Drift
$ World's End Girlfriend and Grails
Carl: (Walks through front door) Honey, I'm home!
Harriette: Carl! I'm so glad you're back. How was your day?
Carl: It went pretty well. I arrested a teenager who was trying to steal the new Spin Doctors cassette, caught Vice President Dan Quayle's latest speech on TV, and then moonwalked my way over to the donut shop for a bear claw! How was yours?
Harriette: Same old, same old. I mostly listened to my boom box and did laundry. Between those acid-washed jeans of Eddie's and those Hawaiian shirts of yours, I've been pretty busy. What should we do tonight?
Carl: I thought I'd watch the Chicago Bulls game. They're unstoppable!
Harriette: Aw, Carl, we do that every night. Tonight let's do something... something... something...
Urkel: (Bounding through front door holding small, glowing blue orb) Hiya, Winslows! (Knocks over porcelain cat figurine) Did Iiiiiiii do that??
Carl: Jesus, Urkel, watch where you're going!
Urkel: Sorry! But no time to talk! I've invented a device that has the power to take us 16 years into the future!
Harriette: All the way to the year 2007?
Carl: Wow! I wonder what it will be like in the year 2007!
Urkel: I like to envision the year 2007 as a time when everyone is treated as an equal, and when we have solved the problems of war, global poverty, and corporate fraud. Or at the very least, I'd like to believe that those issues haven't snowballed into greater problems than they are now.
Carl: Surely we stop at least one of those problems from getting worse.
Urkel: Anyway, guys, the reason I built this time machine is so that we could see this band from the future called Yellow Swans!
Harriette: Are they anything like Culture Club?
Urkel: Not quite. They will go on to release numerous albums, including a better-known one in 2006 called Psychic Secession, which will be reviewed by a website called Tiny Mix Tapes.
Harriette: Are they anything like Culture Club?
Urkel: You'd be surprised. Anyway, using this time machine, I plan on taking us to every single date of the Yellow Swans Spring 2007 European tour, and once one show is over I'll use the time machine to immediately switch to the next one -- in this way, we'll be able to see every single show on the tour, back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back!
Carl: Can I bring my Rubix cube?
Urkel: Sure! So will you guys come with me?
Carl and Harriette: (In unison) OK!
Urkel: (As orb begins to glow brightly) Just put your hands on this orb, and imagine yourselves 16 years in the future. One... two... three... here we gooooooooo!
Hey, city boy. Think yer too good for the farm? Above a bit of pig-wrasslin?? Want yerself an ed-yoo-kay-shun? Want to git yerself to yoo-nee-vursity? Yeah? Wanna hang out with all the pretty girls in they libraries and they single-sex dormitories? Well, I guess that's fair enough, isn't it? What with the state of that dad-gum job market, gettin' a degree ain't nothin' more than an investment in your future.
Well, greenhorn, this is yer lu -- fuck it. This is your lucky day. Sub Pop (I seem to be TMT's Sub Pop correspondent at the moment -- maybe I should get a badge) are offering a scholarship to one lucky scholar to the sum of $5,750, or 676,488 yen, if you're down with the whole Japanese currency thing. And, really, who isn't?
They're not giving away the money for nothing, though. Oh, no. They're giving it away for practically nothing. To apply, send off an essay to them, no more than one page, on some of the following topics:
- What are you doing in the arts/music field in your community?
- How and/or why did you become interested in artistic outlets?
- Why do you need this scholarship money?
- What are your influences and/or who inspires you?
- Who are some of your favorite bands or artists?
- Evolution: I ain't evolved from some danged monkey, AMIRITE?
Yeah, I dunno about that last one. Maybe best to steer clear of that.
The deadline for applications is May 1. For more information, click on href="http://www.subpop.com/channel/giveitaway_giveitaway_giveitawaynow/announcing_the_sub_pop_loser_scholarship">this handy intertextual weblink.