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SnC 255 – Record industry in trouble … music biz just fine

Music from an old friend of Suffolk’n’Cool and a bunch of new friends this week. Also news of the lowest selling number 1 albums since records began – when do you think it was?
There’s a quite a pop and power pop showing in the mix this week, along with what you’d expect – great music, informed opinion and free downloads.
I realised that I’d almost left it too late to grab this week’s shownotes photograph – and only just caught the last of the light. These huge power lines run from the nuclear power stations at Sizewell on the coast to feed into the national grid. 
 
The Grail – Jesta (Morecambe, Lancs, UK)
An old friend of the show, Jesta has been around podcasting and podcasters since pretty much the beginning. His topical songs are always beautifully built and performed.
Jesta is the musical alter-ego of Bryan Page from Morecambe, United Kingdom specializing in genre-hopping Power Pop. Giving birth to quirky, entertaining songs that make you want to dance, laugh or say huh? wtf? Jesta isn’t too concerned with getting too deep and meaningful – who has time for all that anyway? Let’s party! Though essentially a one-man project, occasionally some fantastic guest artists are brought into the mix including some of the best session musicians in the U.K.
Bryan’s new album Previously… is, in fact a retrospective collection of songs from the past 13 years and contains some old favourites including Independence Day, Me my music and my iPod and Scully Said as well as some new (to me anyway) treats.
You can get it as a high quality download or as a CD plus an immediate download in the format of your choice. 
In fact, you can have a track as a free download so what are you waiting for.
http://jestamusic.com/
http://twitter.com/jesta
 
Nothing Keeps Up – Dad Rocks! (Iceland/Denmark)
Dad Rocks! is Icelandic/Danish Snævar Njáll Albertsson, singer in Danish band Mimas. Dad Rocks!, however, is quite different.
The guitar here is acoustic and is accompanied by piano, trumpet, accordion, handclaps and more. As Dad Rocks!, Snævar is inspired by acts such as Bill Callahan, Owen, Why?, Akron/Family and Do Make Say Think. This has led to a sound that is a unique mix of psych folk and lo-fi country with elements of hip hop and use of dubs.
However, Snævar Njáll Albertsson’s primary sources of inspiration are the relations closest to him. Most of all his little daughter who also inspired by name Dad Rocks!, which is of course also a pun on the ’dad rock’ genre. This use of pathos and irony is something that is explored throughout his work. Lyrically, this is also a central aspect. The subjects are both big and small. Sometimes delivered almost cynically with words that are close to naïvism. Underneath this, the irony lurks at every corner, and even the debut EP title ‘Digital Age’ explores the space between pathos and irony.
Dad Rocks! released ’Digital Age’ in Denmark in April in Denmark through Danish label ’Kanel Records’.  English label ´Big Scary Monsters Records’ later fell in love with the music of Dad Rocks! and released the EP in the UK on August 16th. The EP was very well-received by the music-media, and even NME featured the video for the single ’Nothing Keeps Up’ on the their website.
Dad Rocks! is in the midst of recording his debut-album to be released this Spring.
http://dadrocks.co.uk/
www.twitter.com/dadrocks1
www.myspace.com/dadrocksmusic
 
Reunion Day – APL (North Carolina, USA)
From the mind of musical genius, Adam Lindquist, comes North Carolina’s APL. APL’s newest album, Ancient Tunes,  comes to us choc-full of uncovered musical gems similar in style to Of Montreal and Dirty Projectors.
Adam Lindquist’s songs are brilliant & complex, yet easily accessible.
APL’s “Reunion Day” is exactly that – a familiarity that evokes a stroll down memory lane through vocal harmonies, percussive drive, and lyrical play. His music is available from his site at whatever price you can pay.
http://aplmuzak.com/
 
Pick and mix tracks or full album
A growing number of music-lovers, unhappy about the way album tracks are enjoyed in a pick-and-mix fashion, have decided to take action.
The rules are strict. No talking. No texting. You must listen to every song on the album.
Classic Album Sundays treat our best-loved records like great symphonies and are being set up in London, Scotland and Wales.
Groups of music fans sit in front of a vinyl turntable, with the best speakers they can afford, dim the lights and listen to a classic album all the way through.
This monthly club in north London is run by Colleen Murphy and for her it is a strike against “‘download culture”, the sense that music has just become an endless compilation of random songs used as background noise.
“Everyone, stop multi-tasking, sit down, open your ears and do some heavy listening.”
[BBC News]
With Pink Floyd having just gone to court to protect the integrity of albums such as Dark Side of the Moon, I wonder, should we be taking the concept of the album more seriously?
I know of a few instances where podcasters have scrambled a playlist and presented tracks in no particular order. I’m convinced that it sounds like it too so I always compile tracks into an order that makes sense. Do you just put your iPod onto shuffle and get surprises with whatever comes up next? What about mixtapes? Do you make them. If so how do you decide on the track order.
Come to that, do you even listen to a whole album. What about the argument that most albums have weak filler tracks and that the listening experience is better without them? Is there something about collective listening? 
Classic Album Sundays seems like a bit of a nostalgia fest. Perhaps the concept album an idea past its prime? Is much attention paid to sequencing tracks on albums in the era of iTunes track downloads
I suspect that it varies from album to album.
By the way, if you like to hear complete albums, AMP member George plays complete EPs and albums on the Sounds of Ambience podcast at http://soundsofambience.com/
Full story:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12209143
 
Not evident – Narcoleptic Dancers (Holland-France)
Brace yourselves, because nothing can get cuter or sweeter than this Dutch-French brother/sister duo The Narcoleptic Dancers and their infectious sugary sweet pop songs. This is the kind of cavity inducing sweetness that your dentist would drill you for … and yet it is hugely enjoyable and certainly not manufactured.
It wasn’t until the very beginning of the 00s that Melody and Anton met. Melody writes and sings. Anton composes and produces.
With their track ‘Not Evident’ from the EP of the same name being released in Europe earlier last year, it IS evident that the band’s time to break into North America is rapidly approaching.
The Narcoleptic Dancers take you on a care-free stroll into a world full of animated chirping birds and quirkilicious personalities… or is that just us?  Their simplistic instrumentation packaged with melodic vocals and endearing lyrics join harmoniously together to create a sound born to bring a smile to your dial.
The Narcoleptic Dancers were first brought to our attention by French-based labels Bleep Machine & Capitaine Plouf and has been wearing off the digital ink in our iTunes player ever since.
Their music video which you can check out seems like a combo between an unreleased Flight Of The Conchords scene and the newest iPod commercial…but with more hair.
www.myspace.com/narcolepticdancersband
http://twitter.com/thenarcos
 
Just Sit (feat jack Hirschman) – Mojo Mancini (NYC, USA)
Put five musicians together in a room and let them improvise. When those five are Grammy-winning producer and guitarist John Leventhal, “Saturday Night Live” drummer Shawn Pelton, saxophonist and engineer Rick DePofi, keyboardist Brian Mitchell, and bassist Conrad Korsch, you’d better hit the record button – hard. 
The quintet in question is Mojo Mancini, five of the most diverse and in-demand players in the business, total pros who eat and breathe music even when they’re away from the studio or stage? Artists who between the five of them have worked with—and this is just a partial list—Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney, Al Green, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, David Byrne, Ray Charles, Dolly Parton, Sheryl Crow, Buddy Guy, Charlie Haden, Levon Helm, Shawn Colvin, Bruce Hornsby, Joan Osborne, Madeline Peyroux, and Regina Spektor? No surprise in that case the air in that room would be filled with staggeringly great sounds, music that transcends even the sum experience of its makers as it moves from one moment to another. Such moments are found throughout Mojo Mancini’s stunning self-titled debut.
http://mojomancini.com/
http://twitter.com/MojoMancini
www.facebook.com/pages/Mojo-Mancini/130072816160?ref=ts
 
The Worst-Selling Number One Record – on Record
Digital Music News reports that record sales have slumped but someone still has to be number 1.
“The long way down for the recording industry has hit another nadir.  Taylor Swift’s Speak Now landed atop the album charts in the US, hardly a surprise for this artist.  But what’s surprising is that she is still at number 1 on sales of just 52,000, according to Nielsen Soundscan.  That is the worst sales amount for a top-ranked album since Soundscan started tracking album sales in 1991.   
Of course, this a threshold that will probably be broken in the future, though it stands in such stark contrast to the good old days.  On the polar extreme, ‘N Sync scored the highest-ever one-week sales total of 2.42 million in 2001 with No Strings Attached.  That, probably more than any other event, symbolizes the glorious peak of a recording industry now gone.”
It appears that it had just been broken again this week Cake’s “Showroom of Compassion” bows in at number 1 on the Billboard 200 with just 44,000 sales
And that, surely is the point. The old record industry has indeed gone, withered to a shadow of its former self and the big labels are struggling. But that doesn’t mean the the music business isn’t thriving with far more live music, a greater variety of artists getting a foothold on making a living and far more recorded music available from more sources than ever before.
Yes, there have been lots of changes and there will be more but we live in exciting times.
It would certainly be interesting to join some of my contact who will be discussing just these issues at MIDEM in the South of France next week.
http://digitalmusicnews.com/stories/011411worstselling
 
No Government Rules – A Fate Untold (Ipswich, Suffolk)
Dave Houden from the band dropped this track via the SnC site, A long time ago… and again this morning. Thanks Dave.
“This track is very special to us, the last record we put out felt like a transitional period between our original stuff and somewhere we were yet to go. And we really feel like we’ve crafted a sound we’ve all settled on now. This song marks the start of where we go from here.
It’s also special because lyrically it’s auto-biographical about both my own and Matt (our other guitarists) experiences in life. Obviously it’s down to everyones interpretation, but it’s packed with meaning for us.
We recorded it at a studio in london called Animal Farm and it was produced by Matt Lepannen who co-owns the studio and label.”
There are lots of UK shows on their Myspace:
www.myspace.com/afateuntold  
www.facebook.com/afateuntold
www.youtube.com/afateuntold
 
The Brewery Tap in Ipswich (@TheIpswichTap) just tweeted that they have duck confit marinaded in Helles lager on tonight – Duckin’ Helles. … Boom boom
 
Sleeping Bears – Laetoli Steps (Thailand via Framlingham)
An indie-folk project consisting of members from John Peel favourites Garlic, Thunderclap Newman, Cornershop and The Debutant Hour, Laetoli Steps were born in London in 2008. Their self-titled debut album was released by CD Baby on November 1st, 2010. 
“I, Rich, am the main songwriter – originally from Framlingham in Suffolk, actually! Recorded the album in 2009 before I moved to Thailand to teach and travel with my wife. Inspired by Wilco, Bonnie Prince Billy, Bill Callahan and The National. Our claim to fame is that we recorded with the drummer from Cornershop!”
www.myspace.com/laetolisteps
www.laetolisteps.bandcamp.com
 
Open Arms and Broken Hearts – The District (NYC, USA)
Once upon a time in the not so distant past, six friends escaped New York City and descended upon Wellfleet, Massachusetts in the dead of a sleepy New England winter to chase ghosts and make a record. 
It’s colder in Massachusetts in the winter than the band expected. They walked into a quiet bar near the ocean and commandeered the jukebox for two straight hours of nothing but shit kicking country music and cheap beer. 
Ron Pope, Zach Berkman, Paul Hammer, Will Frish, Chris Kienel, and Mike Clifford wrote songs, drank whiskey, played blues in the middle of the night, and came away with a collection of songs that they decided to christen Wellfleet. The record is bold and evocative of varied moments from American musical history while finding a way to rest squarely in the here and now.
The District is a band without a lead singer, but somehow Wellfleet is an album that feels remarkably cohesive because, at it’s core, whether the band is building a song around one voice or all six, there’s a commonality of spirit and purpose that shines through. 
The band will debut Wellfleet in NYC at Rockwood Music Hall on February 4th at 8pm I for one would love to be there. You, on the other hand can download the track free at:
www.thedistrictmusic.net/
 

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