Thursday, 26 May 2011

WHETHER REPORT: Welcome to the Jungle (It's not fun and games...)

Mainstream Success In The Music Industry (TMI) Made Easy, by  Jamie Otsa.

When The Streets wrote ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’, I doubt they could ever have foreseen how accurate the song title would become as a description for the state of the modern music industry. Long gone for the majority are the days of a whirlwind major label romance with a signing party, huge advance and a fat sack of cocaine to slump your weathered rock star face in for the rest of the evening. These days if you’re making music for the money, you’re barking up the wrong tree. In fact, you couldn’t be further away from the tree if you were stood in the middle of a McDonald’s Amazonian deforestation sector. Being a professional touring and recording artist is probably as hard as it’s ever been, and isn’t a commitment to be undertaken lightly.

Tour manager/sound engineer/
beard award winner...
Even further back in the annals of rock legend than major label deals, are things that we never thought we could do without: roadies and tour buses. These days, for the most part, touring parties consist of the band with 2 crew (a tour manager and a sound engineer – sometimes you might be lucky enough to find one of those annoyingly talented twats who can do both), more often than not travelling in a splitter van. What proved a shock to most people was that bands were actually physically capable of carrying most of their own equipment. Far from breaking out in an unsightly covering of hives, their useless skinny limbs proved more than ample for the transport of guitars and amplifiers up and down previously unconquered flights of stairs at venues the length and breadth of the country. Who knew?

Something to remember for the uninitiated; nobody likes a diva. It will not endear venue staff, crew, fans or band members to you. It will make you look like a cunt. When you’re getting paid £50 to be the opening band for Queens Of The Stone Age, please try to remember that you are not in fact a member, friend or colleague of said band. Also please try to remember that those 2000 people are not, contrary to what you may think, there to see your band. They don’t give a fuck about you. Be polite, do your job, and fuck off home.

The most successful bands rising through the ranks at the moment are, as has always been the case, the most hard working ones; the bands who have holed themselves up in a practice room for a year making sure they are playing the best they can and have written the best material they possibly can; the bands who spend hours online chatting to their fans; the bands who film endless behind the scenes footage, create interesting cover versions, devise exciting competitions; the bands who tour relentlessly for little to nothing; the bands who sell their own merchandise and conduct their own soundchecks. These are the bands that, eventually, break through and earn the recognition they deserve for being outstanding musicians and songwriters.

Jamie Otsa.
All of this is, of course, expected from you before you even begin to make any money. Should your career begin to blossom like a cherry tree in spring, royalties and performance fees budding from every branch, rest assured that you will be left with an adequate percentage after the management’s 20%, the agent’s 15% and the record label’s advance repayments.

“What is this fresh hell?” You may well ask.
This, my friend, is the music industry...come on in.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Albums for After Midnight #001: Jon Hopkins - Insides [2009; Domino]

(Entire album here.)

The first in our series of Albums for After Midnight is Insides by Jon Hopkins.  It was his third LP, released in 2009 on Domino Records and you can listen to the whole thing in the embedded playlist above! Yessir!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

DEMO #001: Kate Farquharson - Chronological

The first in our series of reader submitted demos is a group of self described "works in progress", entitled Chronological, by 16 (yes, sixteen) year old Laandaaner, Kate Farquharson.

The stripped bare piano/vocals arrangements are immediately more interesting and less saccharine than many of Kate's already successful peers.  The bucketloads of talent required to produce music like this at such a young age is just spilling out of these no-more-than-2-mins songs.  Have a listen yourself...

Chronological by katefarquharson

Demos or any music you want to send us can be sent to, or alternatively find us on Facebook.  Don't be shy!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Flaming Lips and The Boredom of the Gummy Skull.

From straggly, semi-anarcho punks who popped to psychedelic smilers whose bopping alchemy has just about funded the darn kookiest of mood swings in music - and let's face it, there's been a few - Oklahoma's fi(e)n(d)est, the Flaming Lips are well and truly back! And by "well and truly" I mean "not at all" and by "back" I mean, "have self-consciously resurfaced with semi-regressive funk-noize shite that would be universally slated if it wasn't the work of the "Laming Fips" And you know what? It wasn't even!

You see, if, like the BNP's tentative Putney representative (Stern) John Lennon, you "read the Sun today, oh boy" or, to be more accurate, "three weeks ago on Pitchfork after a particularly half-hearted wank" you'll probably have read a story about Wayne Coyne and Co. spontaneously combusting deciding to unleash a minus-yer-thumb handful of  Gummi Skulls - jellified "sweetie" heads effectively (oh-er) - containing individual USB sticks featuring "new and original Flaming Lips material" ("not actual quote" - you can quote "me" on that).

"To see or not to see (Clare Balding naked). That is the equestrian" - Kaiser Wilhelm Shakespeare II

That is, dearest Breeder fans: non-edible memory sticks containing four new songs nestling deep with wholly-edible confectionary craniums, not to mention personally sold at a local record store by "Wee One" Coyne himself. How heartfelt and unManny-like of him! (Manny once done the exact opposite during a 1996 coke binge in Leeds city centre - but more on that later). 

Not only that, Coyne personally tracked - tracked! - his movements from "concept" to recording to production to car to store to dollar for die-hard fans (inc. Bruce "What you baking about?" Willis) to a) hype up, b) froth over and c) bug-eyedly revere in theory deep within the barkiest, fruit-loopiest recesses of Twitter and beyond (cubby-holes the world over). 

Gadzooks, like! Tell yer sister! Marvin Gaye's ghost! 

In short (cake): Wayne Coyne, you crazy neo-Rasta magician man, man! 

What is this? Christmas on the m00n? Not again, Shirley?

"I'm delirious and don't call me so early!" - Shirley Temple, Ritz London, 1972

And even THAT is beside the point! So what is the point you may ask? Well, I'll tell you! Courtesy of the interweb-super-why-way we've been flung four predominantly instrumental "vignettes" (best appreciated with fucked on wine) beginning with the "sonic niece to Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis" 'Drug Chart' - a real slow-burning Ceres-climber featuring sparse sub-dub, muffled vox and one of the most tolerable chorusless choruses in muzak (i.e. the piss-stained Parisian elevators of the unconscious, yegedme?).

There is even - no shit! - hints of loveless loveliness in the scantily-clad vein of recent degenerations throughout, despite the fact this opener stands as the most distracting part-Gorillaz, part-Tortoise flukes in the Flips wheedling back catalogue (not really a good thing, overall). You see, once a song has more emptiness than hard-to-come-by, altogether precious concete-mixed moments in Lippy thyme, you know it's time to get off the flamin' bus - for all in tents and porposes, you understand. 

So, as we stand, one non-song (hic!) down and the initial reaction of your reviewer? "Dis shit be something of a Ulrika moment gone wrong, k? A would-be genius brainstorm gone crappy. A self-satisified piece of shit that I don't know if I could be arsed "reviewing" because it's that shit and tedious and making me hate the Flaming Lips for being so incompetent and hasty with this incompetence). 

That is the initial allergic reaction of your reviewer. 

"The other three songs aren't great. In fact, they remind me of strung-out visits to uncle's house every Sunday when I was a youngster. The house smelled like impending death and crap music" - Brian Coney, Mediocrity Sufferer/Actual Flaming Lips (RIP) Fan, bereave it or not!

All yokes aside, it turns out the USB sticks were contained in Gummi mini-vaginas at the top of the skull. Smart move, guys. Next time: put GOOD MUSIC IN YOUR VAGINAS!

"The Flaming Lips - Turns Out It Was A Yeast Infection" - Rosemary Shrager