Volume 3-2014

MUSIC    BOOKS    FINE ARTS   FILM   THE WORLD

ARTIST NEWS    THIS EDITION   ABOUT   MUSIC   MUSIC REVIEWS  BOOKS  CINEMA   FASHION   FINE ARTS  FEATURES   SERIES  MEDIA  ESSAY  RESOURCES  WRITTEN ARTS POETRY  CONTACT  ARCHIVES  MUSIC LINKS

                                 

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Use this link to add your email address to the RARWRITER Publishing Group mailing list for updates on activities associated withthe Creative Culture and Revolution Culture journals, and other RARWRITER Publishing Group interests.

New RAR Songs

What began as a composition exercise in chord substitution – what I think of as being in “Donald Fagen’s house” – ended up being a story about social mobility, or lack thereof, unobtainable dreams, and grand larceny. Use this link or click on the photo above to stream "Donald's House".

 

Just playing with a Phrygian scale can take a person to a dark place, witness this cheerful ditty about the death of a relationship and a wishful release from suffering. Use this link or click on the photo above to stream "Phrygian Dominatrix".

ABOUT RAR: For those of you new to this site, "RAR" is Rick Alan Rice, the publisher of the RARWRITER Publishing Group websites. Use this link to visit the RAR music page, which features original music compositions and other.

Use this link to visit Rick Alan Rice's publications page, which features excerpts from novels and other.

RARADIO

(Click here)

Currently on RARadio:

"Lost the Plot" by Amoureux"

Bright Eyes, Black Soul" by The Lovers Key

"Cool Thing" by Sassparilla

"These Halls I Dwell" by Michael Butler

"St. Francis"by Tom Russell & Gretchen Peters, performance by Gretchen Peters and Barry Walsh; 

"Who Do You Love?"by Elizabeth Kay; 

"Rebirth"by Caterpillars; 

"Monica's Frock" by Signel-Z; 

"Natural Disasters" by Corey Landis; 

"1,000 Leather Tassels" by The Blank Tapes; 

"We Are All Stone" and "Those Machines" by Outer Minds; 

"Another Dream" by MMOSS; "Susannah" by Woolen Kits; 

Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and other dead celebrities / news by A SECRET PARTY;

"I Miss the Day" by My Secret Island,  

"Carriers of Light" by Brendan James;

"The Last Time" by Model Stranger;

"Last Call" by Jay;

"Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; 

"Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" fromActress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; 

"Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; 

Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; 

Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio;

Apteka "Striking Violet"; 

Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along";

Dana deChaby's progressive rock

 

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Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page

ATWOOD - "A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliverance" -AVAILABLE NOW FOR KINDLE (INCLUDING KINDLE COMPUTER APPS) FROM AMAZON.COM. Use this link.

CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.

 

EXPLORE THE KINDLE BOOK LIBRARY

If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves atNOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.


 

 

ARTIST NEWS

Robert Miranda

Ferguson Zeitgeist - "Happening Again"

Activist and singer-songwriter Robert Miranda apparently sees a pattern being repeated in the events surrounding the Police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The horrible events that have transpired in that city have awakened the ghosts of past atrocities committed in the United States by authority figures whose purpose for being is to keep things calm and cool, to avoid the disaster of people and their emotions becoming out of control. Miranda's observation in his newly penned tune "Happening Again" center around the perception that a Black man can be gunned down on the streets of America for merely being on the streets of America. It is a sentiment that gains traction through other atrocities such as the Trayvon Martin tragedy in Florida. In terms of a musical expression, it recalls the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young tune "Ohio", from the Viet Nam War era, when National Guard units fired upon protesting college students at Kent State University. Does it help to have the world's troubadours comment musically on these awful events? That is open to each individual's interpretation of the artistry of their work, and Miranda's seems pretty solid to this reviewer's ears. Such commentary has traditionally been an important part of the role of an artist in this world, the troubadour who finds ways to express the emotions that roil around events that cannot be fully expressed through mere news reports. Miranda seems to say that there is something bigger happening here than just another murder on an American street; something that goes to the heart of some very real problems in American society. His tune "Happening Again" makes a nice companion piece to the feature below on Michael Butler, whose experience as a Black man in Europe provides additional insight into our American dilemma. There are major issues left unresolved in the United States; issues that many people had hoped would be finally addressed with the election of the nation's first Black president, Barack Obama. The sad truth is that his election may have only served as a catalyst for the further expression of some truly dangerous emotions still lingering with us 150 years after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. - RAR

Dialoguing Michael Butler

Remember the 1982 film My Dinner with Andre? Theater director Andre Gregory meets writer/actor Wallace Shawn for an evening at New York City's iconic restaurant Café des Artistes (a location recreated for the film in a hotel in Baltimore), to discuss Gregory's exotic experiences as a "creative" while Shawn anguishes over the impossibility of actually living the life that Gregory describes. Gregory is filled with adventure, while Shawn is filled with fear. The low-voltage absurdity, directed by famed French filmmaker Louis Malle, offered extraordinary insights into why some people live fascinating lives while others remain stuck in dismal normality.

This edition of the CCJ offers a similar discourse featuring another denizen of NYC's creative community, singer-songwriter Michael Butler. Michael, who is now in his late 40s, was raised in relative poverty in the upscale, largely Jewish community, of Great Neck, Long Island. He is a Black guy raised up in a White world, which made his emersion into pop culture an experience quite different from that of most people with his societal and cultural profile. His life has been a saga of struggle to cross those bridges - literally and metaphorically - that have separated his ambitions from his destiny, for Michael has always had the stuff to make it big in the entertainment world, but not necessarily the contexts that would help him cross the divide. The clichés would all have him being a Rhythm & Blues guy, but his soul has always been more Folk-Rock than Jazz. While he came up playing CBGB and being courted by that club's now legendary owner, the late Hilly Kristal, he has gained his greatest traction abroad, where European audiences have accepted him in ways that American audiences have not. The reasons, as perceived by Michael, are as fascinating as has been his own life story. READ MORE...

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CREMATION OF CARE: The vaguely "Druidic" ceremony of the 40-foot mystic stone owl, which opens each Bohemian Club retreat.

So What Exactly is A Bohemian?

Relative to the story (right) on the Bohemian Club of Northern California, among the many sick-making aspects of this group of ultra-wealthy elites is their appropriation of the identity of the "Bohemian", which has traditionally been exactly the opposite of what the club members actually represent. "Here is the Wikipedia definition of the title: Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds."

This use of the word bohemian first appeared in the English language in the nineteenth century to describe the non-traditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, journalists, musicians, and actors in major European cities. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or anti-establishment political or social viewpoints, which often were expressed through free love, frugality, and—in some cases—voluntary poverty. A wealthy and privileged, even aristocratic, bohemian circle is sometimes referred to as the haute bohème ("high bohemians").

The term Bohemianism emerged in France when artists and creators began to concentrate in the lower-rent, lower class, gypsy neighborhoods. Bohémien was a common term for the Romani people of France, who had been wrongly considered to reach France during the 15th century via Bohemia, at that time the only protestant, and therefore heretical, country among Western Christians.

The painting shown here is Pierre-Auguste Renoir's "The Bohemian" (or "Lise the Bohemian"), 1868, oil on canvas, Berlin, Germany: Alte Nationalgalerie.- RAR

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Apple Streaming, Dumping Downloads

Apple might operate the largest online music store in the world, but the Apple Store's iTunes digital music sales have fallen about 13 percent this year. Apple will be relaunching and rebuilding Beats Music -- the existing $10-a-month subscription streaming service -- under its own brand. Meanwhile, Spotify is surging ahead. The music streaming service hit 10 million global paid subscribers in May, up from 6 million paid subscribers in March 2013. (They have yet to show a profit.) Throw in people who use the service but don't pay, and Spotify now lays claim to 40 million active users, up from 24 million in March 2013. Then there's Pandora, the Internet radio service with 80 million users, which dominates the streaming music industry. Those numbers have steadily increased, up from 70 million in May 2013, as listening hours have continued to increase, too.

Druidic Cheeseburgers

Rocking Bohemian Grove

The next time Stevie Miller tells you to "Fly Like An Eagle", cover yourself because you are about to be pooped upon by an American symbol that has jettisoned the ideals upon which the home of the brave, the land of the free was founded.

Perhaps nothing in this world piques the interest of conspiracy theorists more than the world's secret societies. Kids these days are fascinated by the concept of "The Illuminati", which literally refers to a secret society founded in 1776 in Bavaria, dashed soon thereafter (1785) by Bavarian ruler Charles Theodore. The Illuminati was all about opposing superstition and prejudice, and countering the influence of religion in public life, and so Theodore received a great deal of encouragement from the Roman Catholic Church, which is sort of a secret society in itself, but with vastly different purposes. The Illuminati, among its many agendas, had the emancipation of women in mind, supporting women's education and gender equality, which has historically been anathema to the Catholic Church. The members of this original Bavarian society were thought to play a critical role in the French Revolution, which ushered in a new age of democratic idealism (remember that 1776 was a key year in the recent development of human rights) and challenged the long-held grip on power of the aristocracy and European royalty. I don't think kids today have any sense at all for that, believing instead that "The Illuminati" is a powerful cabal led by powerful artists from the Hip-Hop community, like Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Rick Ross and Kanye West.

Amazingly, as off-base as that is, it isn't as stupid or as crazy as it sounds. A modern day counterpart to the Bavarian Illuminati of the 18th Century is the Bohemian Club, which meets every few years on 2,700-acres of private property along the Russian River, in Northern California, near the small town of Monte Rio. It is an exclusive club of fabulously wealthy people, all male, who work their way through a 15-year waiting list to pay a $25,000 initiation fee, plus $5,000 per year annual membership. What they enter into is an exclusive club, populated by members of the Skull & Bones club, associated with Yale University, that festers together around some vaguely Druidic ceremonies before breaking into little seminar groups to discuss how the world should be run over the next few years and beyond. Many of the nation's most suspect initiatives, such as Ronald Reagan's plan to expand U.S. military power in the 1980s, which many historians feel was key to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, came from this unholy meeting of the minds. In fact, so much of what has made the modern world such a horrific place, in which one percent of the world's population controls almost half of the world's resources, literally enslaving the majority of the world's citizens, has found the genesis of these evil ideas among those Redwoods of Bohemian Grove.

Where the kids are not crazy is in understanding that entertainers do get fast-tracked into this exclusive club, and those who have made the cut are sort of jaw droppers: Jimmy Buffet, Steve Miller, Grateful Dead alumni Mickey Hart and Bob Weir, among them. Bing Crosby was a member, as was Mark Twain and Jack London, in the earliest years of the club.

What the Bohemian Club does not generally accept is Blacks and Jews, though the singer Sam Cooke was known to have been a member and performed there, as the rare exception. The wealthy like music too, particularly the Blues, and they like to hang out with those people who most of us falsely associate with "actual bohemians". I will never confuse Buffet, Miller, and the Grateful Dead with that type of creative spirit ever again. In fact, I am taken by the fact that those knuckleheads are the very same people who year in and year out rake in the big bucks on the summer concert series. They are the well-funded shills of elites who associate themselves with these people who so successfully posture as avatars of freedom and liberation. In fact, they are mere puppets in a sham that is hell-bent on destroying the freedoms of any people other than those associated with big money. It is like a thought crime that they perpetuate, and the victims are anybody stupid enough to buy into their phony games, and to buy their bloody stinking concert tickets.

As Vanity Fair writer Alex Shoumitoff reported in his 2011 expose on Bohemian Grove, the "bohemians" are "Rumsfeld, Kissinger, two former C.I.A. directors (including George H.W. Bush), the masters of war and the oilgarchs, the Bechtels and the Basses, the board members of top military contractors—such as Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and the Carlyle Group—Rockefellers, Morgans, captains of industry and C.E.O.’s across the spectrum of American capitalism." They are Walter Cronkite, the late William F. Buckley and his son Christopher, Richard Nixon, and Dwight Eisenhower. In fact, every Republican President of the last 100 years has been a Bohemian Club member. Democrats, too. They are William Randolph Hearst and the entire rest of the media conglomerate. They are the people who have been the architects of the despoiling of virtue and justice in our modern world. They are the people who meet beneath a 40-foot stone owl to cremate the body of man. "“Come join us as we raise the battle banners in the name of beauty, truth, peace and fellowship. Oh, Beauty’s Vassals, let us together seek the counsel of the Great Owl of Bohemia so that we may rediscover the wisdom needed to banish Dull Care once again! ‘Hail, Fellowship’s Eternal Flame!’”

Those are the words of the Bohemian Club's "Cremation of Care" ceremony, which members describe as "Druidic". It is the symbolic kickoff to a two-week bacchanal of male bonding, which Bohemian Club member Richard Nixon described as “the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine.” That awkward sentiment pretty much describes the disconnect between the Bohemian Club members and those of us who must live beneath the weight of their anti-democratic machinations.- RAR

What Is So Bad About the Bohemian Club?

All the Bohemian Club really is, at least on face value, is a fraternity where members come together to listen to lectures on various issues of the day. The problem, if there is one, is that fraternities by their very nature create personal alliances and associations that tend to replace the values of their individuals with those of the fraternity itself. It is human nature for individuals to adopt the standards and mores of those groups within which they are immersed. Studies have shown, for instance, that in a civil war individuals will side with those in the communities in which they live, not out of idealism or preference for their doctrine but because it is dangerous to do otherwise. Individuals will choose their own survival over their ideals. This is why the Bohemian Club is so open to apparently divergent types like Chris Matthews, Conan Obrien, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Rupert Murdoch, Jeffrey Toobin, David Gergen, Jack Valenti, and Joel Klein. Wealth and power is an intoxicant and people associated with the Fourth Estate (journalism) surrender their moral and professional authority in the overwhelming company of power brokers who need their public profiles to wallpaper over those agendas of the super rich that have obviously run counter to the welfare of the commonwealth (the rest of us). Do you believe that megalithic corporate interests are working in our favor, when distribution of wealth in the world at present is thought to be more imbalanced than at any time in human history? The preeminent theoretical physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking, has predicted that humankind's only hope, in a world that could be unlivable within 100 years, is migration to a new planet. This bleak and presently unrealistic hope for the survival of the human race is the result of the actions taken by the world's power elites, now unchecked by that Fourth Estate whose reason for being is to protect us from these very same elites. Can they do that job as members in good standing of the Bohemian Club? Of course not. They are all on the payrolls of the very people they are charged with monitoring. Fly Like An Eagle indeed, Steve Miller, because if you fly like the dove of peace you are doomed. - RAR

Teen Music Habits

The Way the Music Died

By RAR

The website Indigo Boom has published the interesting results of a survey of teenaged music fans that sheds useful insight on the way the young generation of music lovers behave regarding the relationships between music purchases and social media. The findings, which will be disheartening to older music lovers, tend to confirm much that observers of society have already felt or suspected to be true. The "smartphone" has become an addictive drug that specializes in small chunks of information, easily digested, that in its ubiquity has diminished the attention spans of entire generations of users; an ironic output of a technology that sells itself as "smart". This stock photo above could really be captured on any street of America where teens gather. They have cut themselves off from what is happening around them, too busy keeping up with the stream of nonsense that populates their media consciousness to focus with any depth on any set of data. You can almost see their brains shrinking before your eyes. Music interests aside, the corporate mentalities that have brought this technology to bear have likely committed a crime against humankind, for as a world society we have gone from being a people who read rich tomes to being mere consumers of tripe. They likely do not know that they are being victimized.

The first question in the survey was "What is your preferred social media?" The answer is certainly confirmed by my observations of my own teenaged children. They have absolutely dumped Facebook and Twitter in favor Instagram and the short-form video-sharing service Vine. Teens find each other hilarious and can spend all day every day just keeping up with how funny some of them actually are. In fact, a recent Pew survey revealed that 84 percent of them sleep with their cell phones, waking repeatedly during the night to check on the latest message, and thereby contributing to one of the most devastating impacts of this technology, which is sleep deprivation. People who are not sleeping sufficiently well develop all kinds of physical and mental health problems, including significant decreases in their abilities to perform ordinary daily tasks at acceptable levels of quality and efficiency.

The Facebook finding is hardly a surprise to anyone who has looked at Facebook recently. It has become a dumping ground for cooking recipes, religious viewpoints, vacation photos, shots of kids and grandkids, inane shots of peoples' dining habits and their pets, and advertisements for consumer products. The product stuff is incredibly undermining to the platform. In my inbox currently are advertisements for State Farm Insurance and Cascade soap, both of which are recording more than 1,500 "Likes". Have you ever actually known of people to enthusiastically support household cleaning products or insurance companies? One suspects that those 1,500 messages of support all come from people being paid to offer these disingenuous endorsements. Facebook began as a low-aspiration pursuit, designed merely to catalog the assets of university coeds, i.e., "faces". It's aspirations have since developed more along the lines of data mining to the benefit of corporate merchandisers and governmental entities such as the National Security Agency, the NSA. NSA document leaker Edward Snowden has recently implored users of Internet technology to avoid Facebook and Google like the plague. Incredibly, the only people who aren't listening to his exhortations are those older users who one would think would know better. Old people too, it seems, have been encouraged to sheep-like behaviors at the behest of smartphone technology. (Horrible irony: As a San Francisco Bay Area resident who makes my living as a technical writer, I am constantly subject to recruitment by Facebook, Google, and the rest of the operators who are in control of huge portions of the employment opportunities in the Bay Area, and as they represent some of the highest paying propositions available even such as I, who sort of detests these behemoths, would likely cave in to them were some compromise agreements ever to be worked out. I would, out of necessity, sell out for the money. What saves me from myself is that I am typically considered too old for the city-sized populations that work at these data mills.)

Teenagers feel that Facebook is for "old people", i.e., people over the age of 25. Facebook has very little to do with musical entertainment, although older musician types have signed on to the free publicity potential of the site to publicize upcoming shows and to promote recordings that no one, young or old, are likely to buy. That segment of users is relatively small, compared to the legions of general users. Remember that they used to use MySpace for this same purpose, but that platform has become a ghost, victimized by the next new thing. Ironically, from my point of view, MySpace was always a far richer platform than Facebook has ever become, but richness carries very little weight in a world society that has dropped the very concept of "richness" from its intellectual vocabulary.

The survey further revealed that Twitter is a narrow-focus medium suitable only for the use of celebrities. No one cares to hear the 140 space insights of non-celebrities, particularly when the celebrity tweets are about as meaty as one might imagine 140 space messages would be. One suspects Twitter will eventually die out, an artifact of a time when celebrities communicated next to nothing, and then largely to one another.

The second question: "What makes you interested in an artist?" The answer to this question explains the death of the commercial music industry. The survey finding was that teenagers are not into artists at all, only those individual songs that capture their attention. Since the beginning of the commercial music industry, artists have depended upon loyal legions of fans to purchase their records out of fealty to their appeal as artists, which meant developing fan bases that would stick with them through thick and thin from album to album. Iggy Pop has commented that if he had to rely on record sales, he would have to bartend between sets.

The death knell of that devotion has always been in the wind, because back in the album days there was always a recognition that out of every 12 songs on an album, only one or two would be of any real interest. (That was a perception more than a fact, as the Classic Vinyl and Deep Tracks channels on Sirius Radio demonstrate, though those "radio" stations are entirely historical artifacts, ghosts of song tracks that older users may or may not have listened to in earlier times.) The price consumers paid for the whole nine yards allowed the further financing of those occasional gems, and allowed careers to stay alive. 45 RPM singles were distributed primarily for the purpose of luring fans to buy 12-inch platters, with all those extraneous products, that helped to finance the artists' futures. Then, in the 1980s, consumers started expressing their desire to buy only the individual songs that they really desired; to build their own libraries that were "all killer, no filler". The first innovation, when digital technology arrived, were record store kiosks where consumers could literally purchase a single digital file. That soon gave way to Internet delivery of product, which meant that music fans no longer even had to visit a record store: we said goodbye to Tower Records and almost all of the boutique record shops that used to be Valhalla to dedicated music fans. We all stayed home and found our music singles in private, hardly needing any interaction at all with those public markets that we had once enjoyed. It was a precursor of things to come, i.e., the private focus on music delivery systems.

The third question: "What was the last album you bought or listened to?" In the words of the Beau Brummels, "Laugh, laugh - I thought I'd cry." Teens don't buy music of any kind, they only stream it, largely for free.

The forth question: "How do you listen to music?" The survey response was that they pull songs from YouTube and Spotify, or otherwise "stream" music rather than buying it.

The fifth question: "Do you listen to radio?" The simple answer is "No". Radio, as it has existed since its development as a technological advance, first in 1920 with the Westinghouse radio station KDKA, broadcast from Pittsburgh, is largely dead. It survived the advent of broadcast television, in 1951, but it went into sharp decline in the 1980s and now exists as another historical artifact doomed for eventual extinction. The big impact of that is that the death of radio, which once provided societies with a common bond and made the public airwaves a unifying societal force, has contributed to the fracturing of society. The same could be said of television, which has splintered into hundreds of niche channels. It seemed like the whole world tuned in to the Ed Sullivan shows in 1964 to fall in love with The Beatles, becoming "all together now". We have nothing like a universally shared social experience today.

In fact, this lack of a unifying social force is the reason that artists have given way to celebrities like Kanye West. It isn't the artist that people pay attention to, but the goofy things that those people who gain media access are able to do to bring attention to themselves, and to then hold onto it, typically through additional stunts. This has allowed the development of the Paris Hiltons and the Kim Kardashians of the world, i.e., people who are not contributing artistically to anything, but rather are vampires of public fascination. Their superficiality has become the model for these low-information media products discussed throughout this article.

THERE IS NO REAL SOLUTION: So what is the answer for the artist who hopes to survive these mega trends in consumer's music appreciation behaviors? Indigo Boom, which attempts to sell solutions, listed the following:

  • Concentrate on one song at a time. Record, release, promote. Rinse and repeat.
  • Keep your music online over time. Grow your catalog and streaming numbers with patience.
  • Try to get your song on other peoples playlists. This is like planting seeds. They grow over time.
  • Treat popular YouTube/Spotify playlists like radio stations. Get to know the owner and weasel your way on to his or her playlist.
  • Radio is dead to young audiences. Forget about it. You won’t get on the radio without an expensive PR person anyway.
  • Internet radio is mostly rubbish and will not help you at all. forget it.
  • Make sure your song is on YouTube. Even if it is only as a cover picture with the song. Not being on YouTube is fatal.
  • Avoid long intros. Think Beatles and Aerosmith. Start with the chorus (“Dude looks like a lady….”) Research shows you have ten seconds to catch your listener before they switch or skip. Do not waste them.
  • Put some effort in proper cover design. A bad cover is a huge turnoff and dead giveaway.

 

Ugly Kids Club

Nashville-based duo the Ugly Kids Club has released an EP, Head Games. They are vocalist, Aliegh Shields and Grammy-nominated rock producer Steve Wilson. Experimenting with all the little sounds they love, from whimsical soundscapes to lush 80s synths, the Nashville-based duo crafts electro-pop driven tunes for ultimate enjoyment. Think pop-grunge band formed by Madonna, Andy Warhol and M83.

The pair formed in 2011 over their love for minimalist rock duos like Sleigh Bells, Crystal Castles and The Kills. At the time, Steve was producing projects such as The Juliana Theory and Jonezetta, while writing, producing and playing in his own bands, The Class of ‘98 (The Militia Group) and Hether (Interscope Records). Aliegh, who was fresh out of high school and new to Nashville, was a guitar playing songstress with a solo development deal of her own. Already acquainted through Aliegh’s brother, Wilson came on to produce her solo tracks. In no time at all, the two uncovered a mutual desire to form a band and switched gears to create Ugly Kids Club. They were able to grab ahold of their own sound that encompassed a move toward the electronic pop genre while still paying tribute to their rock influences.

Ugly Kids Club’s self-titled debut EP earned them recognition in over 50 music blogs, a Hot 100 Band in Music Connection Magazine and spins on Sirius XM U radio. After a slew of shows with bands like Five Knives, Tesla Rossa, and Coin, Ugly Kids Club set their focus on a new set of songs for their latest upcoming EP.

Audio Fingerprinting

Did you ever wonder how it is that apps like Shazaam are able to identify the song you are listening to. It all has to do with each song's pattern of sound waves, which are analogous to each individual's finger prints.

Rock Carnival in Brooklyn

Kyle Jarrow and his band Sky-Pony will be hosting a rock'n roll carnival at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn on November 13. You might want to rush out and get tickets. The show will feature an eclectic blend of performers, including The Amazing Acrobatics of 2 Ring Circus, Weezer cover band Surf Wax America, with Amanda Lo & Hajnal Pivnick on violin, and Matt Owens on trumpet, and of course Sky-Pony, led by Tony-nominated lead singer Lauren Worsham (who'll be hot off of doing a run of Showboat with the NY Philharmonic and Vanessa Williams). There will also be face painting and Tarot card reading.

Juliana Hatfield Three

Juliana Hatfield Recording New Album

In 1993, songwriter Juliana Hatfield got together with musicians Dean Fisher and Todd Philips to record the album Become What You Are, which yielded perhaps her best known single, the catchy and moving "My Sister", a CCJ favorite. That was recorded under the name the Juliana Hatfield Three, and it was the only album the trio ever produced. Now they are back together and, financed through a PledgeMusic campaign, are recording a new studio album.  "Todd, Dean, and I have begun recording with the lovely and talented Tom Beaujour (who worked with me and Matthew [Caws] on the Minor Alps album) at the Nuthouse in Hoboken, New Jersey, and so far it is going great," reports Juliana in her recent newsletter. "Some of you may have previously heard some version of some of the songs we are working on. For example, one of the songs we are exploring is 'If I Could'. We have always loved this song but there have only ever been demos of it; it has never been properly finished or produced. There are multiple attempted versions of it but the nut has never been quite cracked, and this has always sort of haunted me. Now I feel like I finally have the chance to get it right with Todd and Dean. We are also exploring electricized band versions of a couple of the punchier acoustic home-recorded songs from my last album, Wild Animals. And there will be some other surprises." In the video below, Juliana and Matthew Caws do a casual record shop performance. Use this link to visit Juliana's PledgeMusic page to learn more and possibly contribute to her cause.

Promoting Funny

Tetherball Releases Debut LP Whimsey

Tetherball is the brainchild of Colorado-to-Nashville transplant Steve Voss, whose previous incarnation was through his Atlantic Records band The Rouge. San Francisco music fans will remember The Rouge as a band seen playing the Fillmore on a bill with former Stone Temple Pilots wild child Scott Weiland. Colorado music fans will remember him from his days in Boulder, which ended more than three years ago when he chucked it all and moved to Nashville, where he has teamed up with Nathan Wahlman and RyanTullock of the band Tesla Rossa. That trio worked in the Nashville recording studio Solar Cabin Studios to produce Tetherball's debut album, which is a wildly eclectic blend of expertly produced tunes that live somewhere between the sensibilities of Beck and Les Claypool, which is a weirdly beautiful place. Check out the promotional video below, which is not only funny but provides snippets of some truly "arresting" material, which is truly the right word because I have never seen a publicity photograph of Voss that didn't look a lot like a mug shot taken at a police station. Voss is a true maverick and a really talented one to boot. - RAR

   
   
   

 


 

Going Back, and Back...

Use this link to go to the previous edition, where you will find additional links to other archived editions.

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Tom Guerra - "All of the Above"

Tom Guerra, from Hartford Connecticut, has been around since the late 70's writing songs and playing his guitar with a variety of blues, rock n roll and R & B bands. Over the years, Guerra has recorded or played with Rick Derringer, The Dirty Bones Blues Band', Max Weinberg, Mark Nomad, Sticky Fingers (for which Tom wrote and arranged original music for the group's debut cd), The Easton Brothers with Muddy Waters bassist Charles Calmese, Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson from The Allman Brothers Band, Second Son, Guitar Shorty, Adolph Jacobs of The Coasters, Kenny Aaronson, and The Delrays, for which he received acclaim from Buddy Guy. READ MORE...

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68 - 75

A new breed of Rock and Roll out to change the world!

68-75 is singer Suzanne Sledge and guitarist Andrew Cylar. Their raw rock sound mixed with Suzanne's all out gutsy soulful southern edge creates a powerful style of rock. The band formed in 2011 and released their first EP in 2012. In 2014 they released a new full length CD "Stay On The Ride". Their sound has not gone unnoticed and numerous magazines and radio stations are raving about them. The band has shared the stage with the legendary Leon Russell, Joe Bonamassa, Blackberry Smoke, Jackie Greene, The Steepwater Band, Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds, SIMO, Ike Stubblefield, Chris Duarte, Marc Ford and Trampled Under Foot, to just name a few. Excitement is continuing to build about this band with talk of a UK tour in the near future. READ MORE...

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Oh Pono...

By RAR

Of all of the people who might promote high quality digital audio, could there possibly be a more suspect spokesman than "Crazy Horse" Neil Young?

In the interest of honest disclosure, let me confess that I totally detest the "music" of Neil Young, which from the first - back when Neil and his ears actually were young - has been practically unlistenable to this reviewer's ears. His band "Crazy Horse" was actually founded around his suspect devotion to amplified distortion and feedback and never had anything to do with audio nuance or sonic quality. It was always overloaded with noise, as if it was intended to be heard through cracked or ripped speaker cones. It was the raw alternative to the increasingly sanitized productions that came to be the norm coming out of music studios in the 1970s, as audio recording technology became more and more refined. In fact, this is the reason Neil Young came to be associated with the fierce urgency of Punk Rock. It wasn't that old hippie Neil was part of the Punk Rock scene, it was just that he was loud and noisy and politically polarizing in this themes and lyrics. (I do tend to be on the same page with Neil regarding his political points of view.) Neil's was never a pure sonic expression. Even his cramped guitar style is more of an assault on his instrument than a nuanced expression of sound. Going back to Buffalo Springfield one could always tell when Neil Young was riffing on the lead parts because they sounded like the work of a guy with spanners for fingers using a hacksaw blade as a plectrum: horrible, to my ears. He carried that mess on into the otherwise highly nuanced sounds of Crosby, Stills & Nash before getting fed up with all the sonic cleanliness and making his big noise statement with his distortion band Crazy Horse.

Neil, however, claims that listening to the compressed MP3 format, which took over the world with the advent of the Apple iPod, has taken the "soul" out of music. He apparently equates fully reproduced sound of any kind with soul.

What the vast majority of reviewers have pointed out is that the way music listeners consume music products has been changed by the digital revolution. The iPod's claim to fame was the portability it provided for one's music library, which could be huge given the compression of MP3 files. One could load a lot of MP3s, at 5 megabytes per song, onto their portable player. It wasn't so much for home listeners as it was for people moving through noisy public places who wanted the buds in their ears to filter out the noise of the life that was going on all around them. This was the beginning of the "bubble survival effect" that came to full maturation through the development of the iPhone, which incorporated the MP3 format as an aspect of the assets of mobile telecommunications technology. The music coming out of these devices was becoming more and more of a wall of sound tailored by each individual user to block out the noisy reality of that which was all around them. For whole generations, music became not some precious gift from the audio gods, but rather a buffer against the unwanted distractions of life. The nature of what popular music represents to people was redefined. The experience of life itself had changed. People were not sitting at home listening to music as much as they were lugging it around with them, like a security blanket.

It seems largely forgotten, a few generations into the digital revolution, that one of the selling points of the MP3 was that it sounded much "cleaner" than the needle noise associated with the extremely primitive technology of vinyl records. Old people, who grew up with vinyl, tend to associate that type of noise - which never had anything to do with music - with "warmth"; or, perhaps in Neil Young's case, with "soul". Listening to my old vinyl collection had some sonic characteristics similar to sitting next to a crackling fire. The caveman found this natural and sort of comforting. Listeners of digital recordings felt liberated, in a qualitative sense, when the noise of vinyl recordings was eliminated.

The Pono format offers 24-bit digital recordings at 192 kHz, versus the existing iPhone and "CD Quality" standard of 16-bit recordings packaged at 44.1 kHz. An MP3 file is encoded at 256kbps.

Not that the average music consumer cares, but these numbers reference "bit" and "sample" rates of digital files. The kilobytes per second (kbps) refers to the amount of information that the computer processor "reads" in that snippet of time. A CD quality file allows the processor to read around 1.4 million bits per second, which means that every track on a CD is really a huge volume of data: too huge to be distributed in any format other than CD. To make the file small enough for a portable player, the MP3 file is compressed to read at 256 kbps, which is only 20 percent of the bit rate of a CD track.

The sample rate, expressed in kilohertz (kHz), refers to the way that a continuous sound wave is packaged, in sections, to be processed on a per second-basis. A 44.1 kHz sample rate means that the sound wave is broken up into 44,100 packages per second. Higher sample rates require larger files, and together bit and sample rates determine the relative portability of a digital file.

So is there a loss in signal quality with an MP3 file compressed to only 256 kbps? Yes, of course! The question is, is this difference detectable to the listener? To put this into further perspective, the subscription service Spotify streams files at 320Kbps. The Pono format delivers "ultra-high resolution" files at 9216 kbps, but it requires a special Pono format player, which by necessity has a much larger storage device, is much larger in size than an iPhone, and costs significantly more, like around $800 (although of late the price has dropped to about half that, which is probably an indicator of how well the high definition audio is catching on.). Pricewise, it is a little like buying another laptop just for your music library.

Most of the testing on this reveals that the average listener cannot detect any difference in quality. The audiophiles who claim to be able to detect qualitative differences - and there is no way to actually compare their perceptions to those of others - tend to be well-to-do consumers who have the money to purchase this higher quality sound device using this high resolution format.

Otherwise put, Pono is really just something that rich people will have that differentiates them from the average consumer.

Is it better, or is it just "Crazy Horse" shit, like so much of our new high tech world?

That would be an individual judgment, which will likely be made based on the size of each individual's disposable income and the choices they make in their discretionary spending.

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Out of Lawrence

The Floozies Set for Winter Tour

As The Floozies are about embark on their Fantastic Love Fall Tour, the electronic-funk duo just announced yet another action-packed slew of dates for their Do Your Thing Winter Tour. The tour will start in Omaha, NE at the end of January and will continue West where the band will play 10 dates at numerous notable venues along the way including, The Ogden Theatre in Denver, The Roxy in Los Angeles, The Independent in San Francisco and The Crocodile in Seattle, to name a few. The brothers will then return to the Midwest where they continue the second leg of their winter tour in Columbia, MO, two-nights at The Majestic Theatre in Madison and many more before they close out the tour in their hometown, Lawrence, Kansas at The Granada Theater.

Joining The Floozies on their West Coast tour will be Minnesota native and EDM producer, Manic Focus and multi-instrumentalist and fabricator Russ Liquid on the Midwest tour.

The Floozies recently released a single, "Fantastic Love" from their forthcoming album, set to be released in 2015 by GRiZ’s label, Liberated Music. ThisSongIsSick.com premiered the song and described, “the song packs their signature brand of live funk energy with the perfect electro twist. The song will have you moving right from the beginning and will keep you entertained throughout.”

For ticketing information and all other information on The Floozies visit their website: www.flooziesduo.com.

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Marshmallow Ghosts Get Halloween with 7-inch Single

It’s late October. The air is crisp, and the scent of burning leaves lingers. In the distance, you hear a chainsaw followed by the shrieks of teenage girls. An actor dressed as a deranged and bloody farmer stalks the line, silently harassing those who pay him no mind. Girls cling to their boyfriends crying, “I don't want to go first!” The mood is electric. The annual ritual of the haunted house makes you feel like you're 6 years old, trick or treating while your parents wait for you on the sidewalk; 12 years old, going to your best friend’s costume party; 16 years old, sneaking into a cemetery after dark.

Forget the ubiquitous “Thriller” and the generic heavy metal usually chosen for Halloween soundtracks. Since their first release in 2009, the rotating cast of Graveface all-stars that make up The Marshmallow Ghosts have been providing your most fitting music for the holiday. Effectively acting as the Graveface Records house band, the shape-shifting cast of boo-gooders includes members of Black Moth Super Rainbow, The Appleseed Cast, Dreamend, and The Casket Girls. Full of peculiar ambience with organs, fuzzy guitars, and swirly piano chords, their eerie pop tunes sound, feel, and virtually smell like Halloween.

Following 2011’s debut full-length Corpse Reviver No. 2 (accompanied by an album-length music video), a 7” split with Dreamend in 2012, and last year’s 10” The Haunted and the Haunters, this October 28th will see the release of the sixth installment of this multi-media series, just in time for all your eerie festivities.

Corpse Reviver No.1 Vol.1 is a 7” single, which will be paired with a book teasing the storyboards for the upcoming release of the debut Marshmallow Ghosts full-length movie. No release date has been set for the film, but The Marshmallow Ghosts can guarantee that they have every intention of continuing the tradition with their brand of ageless Halloween nostalgia.


 

 

 

 

 

 


   

 

 

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