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random thoughts

Amy Winehouse – Thanks for the music

I got into blogging about music as a form of music therapy. I was tired of boring all my friends with my musical ramblings. But then it turns into more than that. You gain some readers and then use your online presence to introduce the world to awesome new music.

Well, I’m here writing this as a therapy session.

Today we lost one of the most beautifully talented women of rock to the stupid fate of a life that got out of her control. When addiction takes over, it’s a huge challenge to overcome that. I know as a man who has dealt with varying levels of it in my life.

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Lenny Kravitz – My one hit wonder

Lenny Kravitz has been a bit quiet lately. Or maybe I’m just not following his career close enough…

I’ve never been a big fan except for one standout tune, ‘It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over’. This might be one of the best songs I’ve heard an artist come out with over my musically critical listening years.

This track has everything I love about music rolled up into one tight and neat package. The funk ass guitar meshed with the 70’s drum and bass. And why not sprinkle a bit of Rhodes on top of it all to make it that much more appealing.

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Going inside: Jon Brion’s “Her Ghost”

Jon Brion’s influence on music is one that can’t be overlooked. A very early post of mine stated “Jon Brion is God. This is not up for argument.” Strong words I still stand by.

I’ve ranted on and on—in many posts—about my admiration for Mr. Brion. This post is a little different. I want to take a song from his only solo record “Meaningless” and break it apart—provide a little background into the admiration I’ve grown for the song writing and production genius of Jon Brion.

From a guy who has lived in Boston for almost a decade. this song has a close place to my heart. “Her Ghost” is a track from “Meaningless” written while he was a Boston resident. I can create an amazing mental picture of him in a Boston apartment pouring his heart out over his thoughts of this woman he sings of.

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Motown will never die. Gaga soon to be M.I.A.

While I respect Lady Gaga and all of her talents as an entertainer, the crotchety old man in me can’t stand her. That goes for you too M.I.A.

This is our new pop music. I’m not even going to consider throwing Miley or Bieber in this mix because the attention and enjoyment Gaga and M.I.A. receive stretches across too many generations and cultures. This is what pop music is, right? It has the ability to be “popular music” and reach many people, for better or for worse.

You can still be popular when you’re notorious. Hell, it’s probably even easier that way. Dress a little crazy, throw some politics in the mix, next thing you know you’re the talk of the town. It’s been proven to work in the past, why not do it now?

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Piracy does NOT kill music

Photo from the cover of DJ Shadow – Endtroducing

I’m about to step into controversial waters here and I’m OK with that. I’m going on record to say it: Piracy does NOT kill music.

If there were AA meetings for music lovers, I would probably have to attend one at least 3-5 times a week. “Hi, my name is Matt. And I’m a music addict.”

I obtain music in any way I can: streaming, iTunes, record stores, live shows, Amazon, online orders from labels, and yes, even the controversial music torrent sites.

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Why I Love vinyl

It’s not new news that vinyl records are becoming popular again. Why? Honestly, I don’t care.

There are a million reasons why I think vinyl has made a comeback into popular “cool” culture. I bought my first record player over a decade ago and have worked it into my every day life. Ok, correction. It has worked it’s way into my every day life.

Here are some random reasons why I could never live without vinyl. (slight exaggeration)

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The influence of Pet Sounds

bb_pet-sounds(Ready for the most cliche line ever? Ready, set, go…)
44 years later, the work of musical genius Brian Wilson on Pet Sounds remains as influential as it was the day the record it was released.
(was I right or what?)

That line can be found splattered around thousands of places in print and on the web. But it’s only 3/4 true. The impact Pet Sounds has had on music is actually more prevalent now than it was when it was released. And to confuse you further, that last statement is probably only 1/2 true. Stick with me…

On it’s release, Pet Sounds got some pretty negative reviews. But today if an album comes out and it has great production (or at least a focus on production), it get’s marked up as being influenced by Pet Sounds. If an album comes out that has harmonies on it, well, you can probably guess what’s next. It was supposedly influenced by Pet Sounds.

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Beatles or Stones? Radiohead or…?

radiohead_vsThe question of Beatles or Stones is one I love to bring up. It says a lot about a person with how they respond. But we’re in a new era of music. This question holds a lot of weight because the Beatles and Stones are still relevant after all the years passed. I thought it would be relatively simple to translate this question into modern artists. After LOTS of thought and questioning, I find myself singing a completely different tune…

Gradon Tripp was first to bring up (and inspire this post) with the topic of which “new” artists could be used to ask the famous ‘Beatles or Stones’ question. I honestly thought this would be a relatively easy task. But now I’m realizing it is SO far from easy.

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Vinyl spins to mp3?

Vinyl_by_traanceimage by traance

I’m hoping to get some help on this subject. I have a question I’ve been wondering about for some time now. What the hell is the benefit of converting an album on vinyl to an album of digital files??

I understand the basic reasoning that an mp3 is MUCH more portable than a vinyl record. I understand that sometimes there are older releases that you can find only on vinyl. But besides that I am at a loss for words. This just goes against the whole point of vinyl releases. Right?? (more…)


Breaking news: Record labels can hurt music

jon-fionaThe control that record labels have is no new news. It’s been a fight that’s been going on for years and we continue to reach that breaking point of making some sort of shift with it.

Many artists have and will try to rid themselves of this mess that major labels put them into. But to be successful and actually make a buck in the music industry as a musician means you need to be signed to a great record label. (if you’re looking my preference is Nonesuch and here’s to hoping this model changes)

The best case I can think of (and the one I spent all morning harping on) is the release of Fiona Apple’s ‘Extraordinary Machine’. There’s a whole story behind the release of this record. I can’t get all the facts straight because clearly I was not a part of it… But from what I gather it was a record Fiona wanted to give more credit to Jon than Epic Records wanted to. I’ve heard it was meant to be a Fiona Apple/Jon Brion release but Epic would not allow it. (more…)


Music makes you hip. Trust me.

paste_hipsterAm I claiming that I am hip? Hell yes! Many people might disagree with that statement… But I stand by it proudly. Call me a hipster, call me indie, call me a geek. I will stand by any name you want to throw at me. I’d like to be called chief or holmes though at least a few more times in my life…

I just read about this topic today that has been going on for decades (especially when it comes to music blogging) but Paste Magazine did a great article on the Evolution of the Hipster. It’s really a laughable matter. We all would love to be ‘cool’. It’s in our blood people! You can deny it all you want, but some part of us wants to feel cool. That topic is not up for debate. Ask your therapist. (more…)


Hum for the Holidays, Vol. 00002

nick-jessicaThis past week, I had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta, to do a pre-Christmas Christmas with my girlfriend’s family. They are a wonderful group of people, rich with Southern hospitality and warmth, as well as stroke-inducingly brilliant cooking skills. However, visiting them at this time of year brings with it one minor caveat: they love the holiday season, and when it comes to holiday radio, they like their airwaves like they like their stockings: stuffed and brimming with Christmas joy. (more…)


The ‘Why I love music: Lifetime list’

IlovemusicI tried to wrap my head around doing a decade list, an 09 list, a ‘Why I love Brian Wilson’ list. But then I decided to challenge myself. I could come up with my favorite albums of the year or decade pretty easily (aside from ordering them which brings the challenge of making that into a list…)

But then it occurred to me. I don’t just love albums, I love music and everything that surrounds it. So here I am. Opening up to everything about music that I love. And damn, ordering it down to the top 3 reasons was a challenge that took several bottles of wine and late nights. (more…)


The pain and love of a music blogger

macbookproWe are a large and ever-growing breed. We help each other out. We fight like brother and sister. We argue when there is nothing to realistically argue about. We write about music. And we, are music bloggers.

Some of us play music, some of us are just fans, some of us produce, and some of us just love music and everything about it. I would say the common bond is that all of us have that same passionate love. This is what we do in our spare (or the lucky few) full time. And we do it because we love ever minute of it. (for the most part…) (more…)


Do we own music anymore?

cd collectionLook at how happy this man (let’s call him Joe) looks from Expected Behavior. Proudly standing next to his walls and walls of Compact Discs. The music hoarder in me can’t help but feel incredibly jealous of him. I bet they’re all alphabetized, sorted by genre, or color…(I wish my vinyl collection looked like this). (more…)


Debating the future of music

“It’s hard to get someone to understand something if their paycheck depends on them not understanding it.”

I’ve been thinking about that quote all week. I forget exactly where I heard it, but it’s been stuck in my head ever since last weekend’s Music Hack Day in Boston. The event brought hackers together from every corner of the globe to develop new music applications to advance the future of music. And amidst all the hacking, music’s future and past briefly clashed, making for some compelling moments during the Sunday afternoon panel discussions. (more…)


Regional hits sound so fine

They sure do Mr. Gent. In fact, most of my favorite music is in some way “local.” From post-punk to punk-punk, new folk to new country, I by and large listen to music made by people that I in some way know— or that at least I might have the to chance to get to know. Sure I’m a bit spoiled living in Boston, and if you live in NYC or LA a whole lot of music is in some way “local.” But the point is this: for those out of touch with their local scenes, get in touch! Plugging in to your local scene is beneficial to you and your community–and the music is way better than you might think. (more…)


You HAVE to move to Brooklyn

brooklynThis is all I heard through my years at Berklee College of Music. Get out of Boston. Go to New York, LA, Nashville. Anywhere but Boston.

Did it get old? Yes. But did I do it? Yes…

I moved to Manhattan and tried my hand as an engineer/photographer (don’t ask) for a few months. Was it what is was hyped up to be? Not even close. I have some great stories to tell but that’s about it. (more…)


End on a high note?

aging-stonesI always bring up the question: Stones or Beatles? We all know that The Beatles decided to bow out after a landmark album (Abbey Road) but the Rolling Stones decided to carry on. Was it worth it?

The Stones have probably made a lot of money off of continually touring, but is it hurting the legacy they will leave behind? Are enough people saying: Give it up already!?

The Beatles made more money on 9/9/09 than they did during their whole time as a band. Why? Because the legacy they left behind is one that rivals Beethoven and even Einstein. They will go down in history while still overcoming an impossible accomplishment of remaining current. (more…)


Animal Collective defines hype

animal_collectiveThey have done it. A band has managed to create as much buzz as The Beatles. But they have done it while holding the same amount of musical ability as Paul held in his left testicle. (on an off day mind you)

Merriweather Post Pavilion was the first actually listenable Animal Collective album I have been able to sit through. I started with Sung Tongs and have given every one of their albums since a chance. Why did I give every one a listen? Because everyone else said they were brilliant. (Pitchfork, I blame you first) (more…)


John Tesh is a brilliant loser

john the studFirstly, despite my title, I DID use your most recent head shot John. That better at least show you that I care…

And really the title and the next few links leave me little to actually write about you. You have done one truly amazing thing in your life that I could never ever take away from you. You gave us basketball fans ‘Roundball Rock’. (more…)


Who to trust?? God? Perez Hilton? Not Pitchfork…

as-tall-as-lionsOk Ok. The Perez Hilton thing has nothing to do with this post. But seriously, with all the music out there right now how can you read a review and decide that you might like it based on that review? Well? You can’t.

Back in the day if Rolling Stone told you something was good, you would buy it. Not the case anymore. Pitchfork has become the snooty place to read reviews on. If Animal Collective comes out with an album they are instantly ranked in the 9’s. (which is a big big deal to get in the 9’s on Pitchfork) But you know what? They are AWFUL live. (so are MGMT but Pitchfork loves them as well) And honestly the last album Animal Collective put out was the only listenable one they’ve ever put out in their (hopefully) short lived career. (more…)


The Dodos are a bird FAR from extinct

dodosThe music industry was in a tough spot not too long ago. Is it in the clear now? Not even close. But it seems that labels are FINALLY starting to listen, and not trying to tell people to listen to what they have to say.

Let’s take The Dodos for example. They are on their third album now (latest two put out by Frenchkiss Records ) And somehow they have managed to build a website that incorporates ALL forms of social media on one page. Very impressive. Social media should have been designed by music labels. Why? Because it directly shoves information into your ears, eyes, and minds exerting such a small amount of effort. Exactly how they wanted album sales to be. (more…)


Jon Brion is God. This is not up for argument.

jonbrion2

I have an insane amount of respect for artists who cross into the realm of producer/engineer/everything else that goes into making a record. Jon Brion is my idol. Point made.

Ever watch a Paul Thomas Anderson film? (Boogie Nights, Magnolia..) Jon Brion was the man behind the musical score for those. Does that make him a great film scorer? YES! (more…)