Thursday, March 26, 2009

John Mellencamp on the state of the music 'industry'

From Huffington Post (also on his website)

Over the last few years, we have all witnessed the decline of the music business, highlighted by finger-pointing and blame directed against record companies, artists, internet file sharing and any other theories for which a case could be made. We've read and heard about the "good old days" and how things used to be. People remember when music existed as an art that motivated social movements. Artists and their music flourished in back alleys, taverns and barns until, in some cases, a popular groundswell propelled it far and wide. These days, that possibility no longer seems to exist. After 35 years as an artist in the recording business, I feel somehow compelled, not inspired, to stand up for our fellow artists and tell that side of the story as I perceive it. Had the industry not been decimated by a lack of vision caused by corporate bean counters obsessed with the bottom line, musicians would have been able to stick with creating music rather than trying to market it as well.....

Read the whole piece

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Amazing Saving Grace of Neko Case

I tend to be a year behind all the cool trends, and I like it that way. I tend to peruse end of year best-of lists and use them to get the music I missed. It's a good strategy; the fluff may get sorted out a bit better, some records may be available in the used bin or finally on vinyl. As I was going over this Hype Machine Music Blog Zeitgeist list of the best of 2008, I was amazed with not only the shittiness of a lot of it, but that this is what the kids think was the best of the year. This blog polls other music blogs for their best-of's, so it's weighted towards techie/hipster stuff that the smart white kids listen to. Now there is some great music on their; Drive-By Truckers' Brighter Than Creation's Dark, Sun Kil Moon's April, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' Dig!!! Lazarus Dig, and Deerhunter's Microcastle come to mind. But a lot of this stuff is crap, blippy disco-dance fluff recorded and mastered with that terrible compressed and tipped fizzy-treble sound. Come on... MGMT? Cut Copy? M83? Hot Chip? This shit is the best of the year?

Along comes this week a little salvation in this world of shit, Neko Case's latest Middle Cyclone. Miss Case is this amazing singer, great songwriter, and just plain wonderful artist. Call her thing alt-country if you want but her sound is way more varied than the usual twangers, and her involvement as singer with the New Pornographers, not to mention her old punk n' twang days with cub, Maow, and others gives her hipster cachet. This latest album is easily her best, taking the lush, orchestral sounds of her recent releases and finally putting them to slightly less abstract songs that dodge around and demand interpretation while offering a touchstone to start from. Listen to her rather oblique yet excellent last album Fox Confessor... and you'll get my drift.

There are enough full/'professional' reviews out there ( here, here, here, and here to start) that I won't waste anyone's time with my own. Suffice to say though that this record starts off (in March no less) 2009 on a great foot. The music is great, the songs are great, and that voice...that voice.

Here's an excellent interview from the NY Times on the making of the album and all, and one from NPR. Since she's apparently moved to Vermont, I think I'll hit her up to sing at my summer barbecue for all the free cider she wants.