04/18/07 10:12 PM: Virginia Tech
I wish I had something constructive to say regarding this week’s massacre at Virginia Tech. It’s difficult, and living in the DC area means this was sort of in our own backyard. Many of my friends know people at VT, including some of those who were injured. Thankfully, though, all of the people my friends know, and I know, made it out alive. Sadly, the same cannot be said for others. It’s tough.
In other news, last weekend I traveled around New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts with my friends in Telograph. I shot three of their shows with O.A.R. Some photos have been posted on my flickr and more will be forthcoming. Although I have never been a huge O.A.R. fan, I would like to say they are some of the nicest guys I’ve ever met while working shows. The band and their crew are very professional but also understanding and helpful to make sure we had everything we needed, even though we were only the opening band. So a big thanks to everyone on the O.A.R. crew. Also, it goes without saying, but Telograph did a fantastic job, and as always the band was very well organized and treated me as a professional, which is appreciated more anything. Kudos to everyone affiliated with the tour, kudos indeed.
Here’s one of the shots:
04/02/07 02:19 PM: EMI gets it, who will follow?
It make sense. I’d be much more willing to buy an album online if it’s not encumbered by DRM. I’m very excited about the possibilities, and I’m hoping we will finally see a change sweep across the recording industry.
We’ll have to see what the RIAA’s reaction will be.
04/01/07 09:59 PM: Download music, help save the planet?
I was reading TIME Magazine’s special report on Global Warming, and it got me thinking. Currently I spent $3.00 per month to Cool Driver to offset the carbon emissions of my car. The Time article got me thinking about how much carbon is emitted in the production of a compact disc, and how much these emissions are reduced as a consequence of music downloading.
These are very rudimentary calculations, but I would imagine the general idea is fairly accurate.
The first figure I found for how much carbon is emitted from the production of a compact disc was via a blog, which cites its source as a Canadian firm called Offsetters. Their figure is .212 tonnes of CO2 per $1,000 of record sales. Figuring an industry typical $18 per CD (which is admittedly a bit high), that comes out to .0038 tonnes per album.
The music industry throws around large numbers for how much they have suffered, and one popular figure is $4.2 billion in lost revenue. This is attributed to multiple source of piracy, but we’ll work with the figure anyway.
Taking the .212 tonnes of CO2 per $1,000 figure, we come to an estimated carbon offset of 890,400 tonnes.
Sure, that figure may not be very accurate, as some of that may include “hard” copies made by pirates, which would have the same carbon emissions. So, say you go with a figure of 700,000.
That’s a fairly substantial figure. Add in legal downloading of music, with over 1 billion songs downloaded on the iTunes Music Store. Running that through my non-scientific calculations, that’s another 200,000 some tonnes of carbon. We’re now at around a million tonnes of carbon emissions reduced. Not too shabby.
Something to think about.
I’d be interested in more accurate calculations. If anyone has a source for CO2 emissions for the production of compact discs, let me know. Also, if we figure in full-length movie downloads… that would be interesting as well.
04/01/07 04:42 AM: Belle & Sebastian break up.
Belle & Sebastian just posted the following MySpace bulletin, announcing their decision to break-up, as well as some tour dates for a farewell tour.
Date: Apr 1, 2007 3:51 AM
Subject: Calling it quits, farewell tour.
Body: Greetings friends,
This decision was made with quite a heavy heart, but the gang has decided that it’s time for Belle & Sebastian to split up. It’s been 11 years since we wrote our first record, and alas all good things must come to an end.
However, we’re not about to say good-bye without saying farewell to our beloved friends. This summer, we will be embarking on a farewell tour, which will include gigs on both sides of the pond.
We will be joined by our dear friend Isobel Campbell for this tour, and Stuart David may very well make a few appearances. So far, we have the following dates scheduled:
JUNE 15, 2007: ABC, Glasgow, Scotland
JUNE 16, 2007: Music Hall, Aberdeen, Scotland
JUNE 17, 2007: Ritz, Manchester, England
JUNE 22, 2007: Hammersmith Apollo, London, England
JUNE 23, 2007: Hammersmith Apollo, London, England
JUNE 30, 2007: Nokia Theatre, New York City, U.S.A.
JUNE 31, 2007: Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City, U.S.A.
JULY 1, 2007: Electric Factory, Philadelphia, U.S.A.
JULY 2, 2007: 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. U.S.A.
JULY 5, 2007: Avalon, Boston, U.S.A.
JULY 6, 2007: The Docks, Toronto, Canada
JULY 7, 2007: Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, U.S.A.
JULY 10, 2007: Commodore, Vancouver, Canada
JULY 11, 2007: Paramount, Seattle, U.S.A.
JULY 14, 2007: Wiltern, Los Angeles, U.S.A.
JULY 17, 2007: Trafalgar Square, London, England
JULY 19, 2007: Princes St. Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland
More dates to be confirmed soon.
We love you all, and thank you so much!
03/22/07 01:14 AM: Live Show: Oh No! Oh My!
Oh No! Oh My!
March 21, 2007 at the Black Cat, Washington, DC
Oh No! Oh My!’s self-titled album was ranked #22 on my top records of 2006 list. When I reviewed that album back in October, I talked about how I was hoping to see them live. Well, my wish came true the other night at the Black Cat.
Prior to the show, I joked that they would most likely play the songs I didn’t like on the album, mixed with “new material.” When the band opened with “Skips the Foreplay,” I knew my prediction was going to come true. I always wondered why they opened their album with that track, let alone the show. I find it to be a bit of an awkward song, but I held out hope for the rest of the set.
On the positive side, the sound quality at the Black Cat was excellent. This is often the case at the Cat, but last night was impressive. Unfortunately, though, high fidelity sound can’t make up for a poor set. The band played several new songs, including one that featured the drummer on vocals, singing “I’m not a monster.” That song was supposedly a “dance number” but was more just an awkward show of some awkward guys jumping around on stage.
They played every track off their record except for “On the Town,” “Farewell to All My Friends” and “The Backseat.” Unfortunately, those were some of the best songs. Their live versions of “Lisa Make Love” and “Jane is Fat” were awkward, and the instrumentation seemed to be off. “I Love You All the Time,” which relies on some synths and keys, seemed too focused on an acoustic guitar, which completely changed the sound.
I came away from the show thinking that they should just stick to the acoustic guitar and play songs such as “Farewell to All My Friends” rather than awkward renditions of the songs that sounded great in the studio.
Of course I give a band leeway in playing songs differently live. Most of the time the band can bring the song to life in a way that’s not possible listening to it at home. However, in the case of Oh No! Oh My!, it was much like watching a completely different band cover some Oh No! Oh My! songs.
It was the first night of their tour, coming on the heels of SXSW, so I’ll give them some benefit of the doubt. However, I wasn’t particularly impressed. Perhaps I was expecting something different, or something more. Instead I got a band that seemed like a bad imitation of The Boy Least Likely To.
03/14/07 01:27 AM: Music wants to be free
The discussion of copyrights on creative works has been going on since the invention of radio. Most likely it was present even before that. The question all along has been how best to protect the copyright holder. Rarely, if ever, do you see a debate that also takes in account the public good, or how copyright laws should help protect creativity. Instead, it becomes a black and white issue, with the copyright holder versus the thieves.
I’ve had a cursory interest in this going back to the day I downloaded my first mp3 back in 1998. I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but indeed I “stole” the song “Walkin’ on the Sun” by Smashmouth. Oh lord. Back in 2003, I wrote a fairly extensive piece on the RIAA’s lawsuits against college students. I consider myself fairly informed on this issue. I also have some first-hand knowledge of the music industry, having worked with, and become friends with, many musicians.
What would I like to see? Congress should limit copyrights to perhaps, say, 3-5 years. Three-to-five years of exclusive commercial distribution, with an greatly expanded fair-use exclusion. Take for example, Girl Talk’s sampling. He takes various source material, which is copyrighted, and uses it to create new songs. Girl Talk is but one example, you can choose your own (The Avalanches, The Go! Team, etc., etc.). One of the songs sampled is “Bittersweet Symphony” by the Verve. Is anyone going to buy the Girl Talk record as a substitute for the Verve record, because it uses a short loop sample? No, of course not. Is someone going to be confused and think that Girl Talk is the Verve? I should think not. Fair use should extend to new works created from something old, something that is materially different than the original. Fair use should also extend to the non-commercial sharing of copyrighted material.
Now let’s address the typical counter-argument of, “Doesn’t this hurt the artists? Why would they create music if they couldn’t get paid for it?” This assumes a few things, one being that all artists are solely concerned with eventually making obscene amounts of money, and second that a majority of an artist’s income is from record sales. For most musicians, both of these are false. For 99.5% of artists, the second is definitely false.
Take a smaller band, on a small record label. Maybe, if they are lucky, they can produce a thousand or so records. Even at $15, that’s $15,000 for the band. Not exactly bling-worthy. Smaller labels have less distribution, so often the only way to purchase the record is directly from the record company, or at a show. Most bands sell very few records at a show, and it would take a long time to sell 1,000 records. So how do they eat? They play shows. Why do you think most independent bands tour 6-8 months each year? So they can sell a bunch of CDs at their shows? Bands make money by playing shows, period. They sell what merchandise they can, whether it be CDs, shirts, posters, etc—but their main source of income is from playing live music.
An interesting phenomenon has taken place in the past few years. Bands on small indie labels, and even unsigned bands with self-released records, have been able to sell out shows all across the country, and in some cases all around the world. Can you imagine, in the 1980’s, 90’s, or at any time prior to the “spread of piracy” that an unsigned band could sell out shows in towns across the country? A band that releases maybe a couple thousand CDs, selling 500+ tickets in one city? How do you think that happens? Certainly not from hearing the band on the radio, and I’ll bet not from listening to 2-3 songs on a band’s web site or Myspace.
Take Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, for example. After the release of their self-titled album, they played a sold out show here in Washington. They sold probably around 400-500 tickets at the Black Cat. I’d venture to guess a majority of those people did not legally purchase the record. I’ll bet most of them downloaded the album, or a few tracks, liked it, and went to the show. So again, how exactly did the band lose out on that one?
The purpose of copyrights is to spur creativity. The idea is to provide an incentive for creativity, in order to further the public good. If you’re iffy about this, just check out the U.S. Constitution, it’s in there. Copyrights were not designed simply to provide a perpetual revenue stream for the content owner.
That said, those who would be harmed the most by free sharing of music would be artists who rely on the sales of millions of records for their revenue, and more importantly, the large corporations who own their music. It could be argued that these are the artists who contribute the least to the public good, but perhaps that’s a bit shaky of an argument. A vast change in copyright law would “hurt” musicians who write a few songs and hope to live off record sales for the rest of their lives. On the flip-side, it would “help” musicians who make their livings playing their music for their fans.
Music wants to be free. The public clearly wants music to be free. Both free as in beer, and free as in speech. As I see it, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be free. I’ll admit, if I had paid for all of the music I have on my computer, I would have paid some $22,000 for it (or more). That’s about $21,500 “worth” of music I would never have heard. That’s about 75 artists I would have never known to go see play a live show. I would bet most artists would rather have someone listen to, enjoy and appreciate a shared copy of their music than have someone who had never heard of them. Any artist who tells you different shouldn’t enjoy the privilege (and it is a privilege) of a copyright.
03/07/07 10:27 PM: Norfolk, Dismemberment Plan, Telograph
Yes, there’s been a lack of updates here. I’ve been keeping myself busy, though.
Last weekend I went down to Norfolk to see my friends Dirty on Purpose and the Lymbyc Systym play at the Boot. The Boot is quite an interesting venue—a seafood restaurant by day, a rock venue by night.
Here are a couple photos:
I’ll soon have galleries posted from the Boot show, as well as the Lymbyc Systym at the Warehouse Next Door here in D.C.
In other news, the Dismemberment Plan has announced two benefit shows in D.C. The d-plan broke up in 2003, so these two shows are a Pretty Big Deal. I’ve got tickets to the Friday show, on April 27. I’ll be taking photos, of course.
The last item for this update is that Telograph will be supporting O.A.R. for five shows in April. And yes, I’ll be there to document the whole thing. Five stadium shows, it’s going to be quite an experience.
02/26/07 05:10 PM: Review: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Some Loud Thunder
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!
Some Loud Thunder
I didn’t get around to listening to this record until, well, a few days ago. In the past I’ve referred to CYHSY as “Clap Your Hands Say Meh.” I thought their 2005 self-titled debut was just OK, and I was not part of the blogger brigade that brought this band and their self-released record to the forefront of indie music.
I’m done tooting my own horn. Let’s talk about music. 2007 is the year of hype deflation. The Shins, the Arcade Fire, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, all records that will bring bands back to reality.
Since I never understood the hype behind CYHSY’s first record, I’ll be honest and say I enjoyed Some Loud Thunder. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but this record isn’t bad. “Love Song No. 7” is my favorite track, along with “Five Easy Pieces.” The band takes things in a bit of a new direction on this release, adding a bit more complexity to their songs.
There isn’t so much anything akin to “Over and Over Again (Lost and Found)” or “Is this Love?” on Some Loud Thunder. The songs aren’t as shiny, I’d venture to say there’s a grittier sound which does the band well. “Yankee Go Home” evokes a Dan Bejar sound, which was certainly unexpected, and I haven’t rendered a verdict on it yet.
The album has it’s low points, though, and I’m not afraid to say “Satan Said Dance” is a fairly awful song. It’s an “Electronic Renaissance”-style song, but with terribly annoying lyrics. Hearing “Satan Said” crooned over and over becomes grating after a while.
Overall, Some Loud Thunder is an average release, and the band continues to get some brownie points for doing things themselves.
02/24/07 04:59 PM: Review: Arcade Fire, Neon Bible
It’s been joked within the indie circuit that when Neon Bible drops, it will be a competition over who can pretend to hate it the most. After all, it’s our duty to bring the leader of the Overhyped Canadian Import Brigade™ back to Earth, no? The sophomore release is what makes the band, and certainly no band could ever live up to the hype that the Arcade Fire saw after 2004’s Funeral.
And guess what, they don’t. Neon Bible certainly isn’t the best thing to ever happen to music. Upon hearing it, you don’t drop whatever it is you’re doing and write on your blog about how the record has changed your life. However, it is a good record. A solid release.
If you’re looking for more “epic” songs along the lines of “Rebellion (Lies)” you’ll be pleased with “Intervention.” The already-released single, starts off with the powerful pipe organ and doesn’t quite let you go. “Black Wave/Bad Vibrations” and “My Body is a Cage” also have potential to be stand-outs. However, none of these are quite on the same level as “Wake Up,” which is one of the best songs of this decade.
My main beef with Neon Bible is that it relies on rather cliched subject material. Religion, sin, war, etc., can make for good material, sometimes. The Thermals’ The Body, the Blood, the Machine comes to mind. However, I always associated the Arcade Fire with more interpersonal subjects, or at least more personal than the general subject of “war,” for example. I think my dislike of the title track says it all. There’s only so much you can say about the commercialization and general bastardization of religion in today’s culture.
Neon Bible is a decent sophomore effort by the Arcade Fire. It shows some development and evolution in their sound, which is always a good thing. This record confirms that the Arcade Fire has staying power. It also confirms that they are human, and that the hype over this release was impossible to live up to.
02/05/07 09:14 PM: Band to Watch: The Lymbyc Systym
The band consists of brothers Mike and Jared Bell, who recently completed a nationwide tour with the Album Leaf and Dirty on Purpose. They will now be touring in support of their new album.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the Lymbyc Systym live show many times, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing them play at the Warehouse Next Door here in D.C. on February 28th. The Lymbyc Systym isn’t quite your traditional Mogwai-sounding post-rock band. The Bell brothers manage to put together a unique sound, coming together for a very powerful live presentation. Jimmy LaValle of the Album Leaf was a contributor on Love Your Abuser, so if you’re a fan of his this gives you all the more reason to check this band out.
2.14 | JOHNNY BRENDA’S, PHILADELPHIA PA
2.15 | MERCURY LOUNGE, NEW YORK NY
2.16 | GALAPAGOS, BROOKLYN NY
2.17 | RALPH’S DINER, WORCESTER MA
2.19 | TT THE BEAR’S, BOSTON MA
2.20 | VALENTINE’S, ALBANY NY
2.21 | HIGHER GROUND, BURLINGTON VT
2.22 | SOUNDLAB, BUFFALO NY
2.23 | MODERN EXCHANGE, SOUTHGATE MI
2.24 | MIKE N MOLLY’S, CHAMPAIGN IL
2.25 | EMPTY BOTTLE, CHICAGO IL
2.26 | LITTLE BROTHER’S, COLUMBUS OH
2.28 | WAREHOUSE NEXT DOOR, WASH. DC
3.02 | THE BOOT, NORFOLK VA
3.04 | DUBLINER, BOCA RATON FL
3.05 | NEW WORLD BREWERY, TAMPA FL
3.06 | BOTTLETREE, BIRMINGHAM AL
3.07 | SPANISH MOON, BATON ROUGE LA
3.08 | PARISH, AUSTIN TX
4.18 | MODIFIED, PHOENIX AZ
4.19 | PLUSH, TUCSON AZ