Friday, April 29, 2011

Ahhhh Memories...

The other day I went to a friends place for dinner. Her music taste is very similar to mine but really not similar to the other friend who was with us, so she grabbed a compilation disc to play in the background.

The compilation she grabbed turned out to be Triple J's Hottest 100 Volume 4 from 1996. It wasn't long before the "background" music became the center of the conversation. Every time the song changed we would laugh and and exclaim "Fuck! THIS song! I haven't heard this for AGES!!" (seriously, when was the last time you heard Ballad Of The Skeletons?).

For those not aware, Triple J is an Australian radio station that is owned and run by the government. It's kinda the "cool" station. There's no ads (except the advertise events on the station and the government run television station) and no ratings. This means they don't necessarily have to play commercial crap, so they don't (mostly). It also means they play a good deal more Australian artists and "Unearth" unsigned local groups.

Every year Triple J runs a vote for the hottest music of the year. They collect the votes for a couple of weeks at the end of the year and then play the results on Australia Day. Shortly after that they release an album with songs from the 100. Last year was up to Volume 18.

So after the dinner, I went home and went searching for my old volumes. I also started asking others what volumes they had, so before I knew it I had volumes 1-17. Its the first time I really appreciated Triple J's tradition of compiling these lists. I now have a random sample of music, grouped by year, for the last 18 years.  I'm not just rediscovering old gems, I'm also hearing some songs with a fresh ear.

I'm having a blast! Cheers, Triple J.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Times, They Change, Yes?

I was at university studying Computer Science the year that Napster fell. It was such a giant event that the lecturer of my favourite unit (Internet Computing - anyone surprised?) allowed us to use it as an essay topic.

A decade later and the record companies are still fighting but now we have a few intelligent people writing papers outlining the futility of such a fight. One such paper outlines the ways the record companies are exaggerating the effect of file-sharing on the music industry.

What? You mean file-sharing didn't cost the recording industry $40 billion? No, no it didn't. Let me break it down for you.

First up, those estimates are based on the assumption that every album downloaded illegally would have been purchased if file-sharing had not been developed. Oh recording industry, when will you learn that when you assume, you make an ass of u and me? In fact, the majority of downloads are done by people who simply wouldn't have bothered hearing the album without file-sharing. Which means they probably wouldn't have decided to buy those tickets to see the band live.

Which brings me to the second point. With ticket prices rising yearly, we have hit the point where people are forced to choose between buying the album or seeing the band perform. Research apparently shows that people prefer to pay for the experience of a live concert. Increased cost of living and higher unemployment means that people just don't have the spare cash to buy as many CDs as they used to, but they still put money away for gigs.

I bring this up because all those estimates sounding the death knell for "the music industry" (specific, huh?) don't include income from gigs. Nor do they include income from legal downloads, nor license fees from sites like Last.FM.

When it comes down to it, the industry is currently spending more trying to fight the inevitable than they actually would be able to recoup if they were somehow successful. If they are going to survive, they really need to stop burning cash in the courts and start finding ways to embrace the technology.

Coz it's not going away, kids.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Where Did You Even HEAR That?? - Twitter

I'm not a very patient person when it comes to troweling through all the shit music out there in search for the gold. That's why I have a number of locations and methods I follow when I feel it's time to hear something new. I shall let you in on my not-so-secret ways, starting with Twitter.

Yes, Twitter. If you want to follow me, I'm GoF_Radio.
I've been on Twitter for a couple of years now. It started as a way to announce new posts on my blog, but quickly became a hell of a lot more than that. It was through Twitter that I located the wonderful women I podcast with.

So in the middle of last year, utterly sick of everything on my iPod, I tweeted a request for new music. Some of the bands I received from that first tweet are still in rotation. There is 2 rules though. Let me lay it out for you:

  1. Have a like-minded base of followers.
    If the only people you follow are celebrities who aren't following you back, this won't work.
    Likewise if the people following you are randoms who only follow you because you follow them. Finding the right people to follow is an art I could dedicate an entire post to, but I'm not gonna.
  2. Don't be a dick.
    Take every response on board without ridicule or judgement. If someone suggests a band you don't like don't be a cunt about it or the next time you ask, you'll get no response.
Some of the bands I've discovered using this method are:
  • Creepshow
  • Tiger Army
  • The Horrors
  • Repo: The Genetic Opera
  • The Black Keys
And others I can't think of off the top of my head. 

It works. Give it a shot.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Snap Out Of It Songs - March 2011

Ever been in the middle of a really bad day and then you hear a song that completely pulls you out of your black mood and sets things right again? It might make you laugh or maybe just listening to it neutralizes the anger bubbling just beneath the surface. Maybe it helps you remember that you can choose not to let things get to you. Whatever it is, these are some of the songs that help me snap out of it.

  • No More Hotdogs - Hasil Adkins
    His cackling is infectious.
  • Pussy - Rammstein
    Add to the hi-larious lyrics the image of Till pointing a penis shaped cannon at the audience at the Big Day Out, and this will get me smiling every time.
  • Worm tamer - Grinderman
    Actually most Nick Cave will do it. So long as it's loud. You go into this song one way, it beats you, spins you around, smacks you upside the head and spits you out with a different perspective.
  • No Fun - The Stooges
    Somehow singing about not having any fun... is fun! Also, memories of seeing him sing this live. Priceless.
  • Nowhere Fast - Fire Inc. (Streets of Fire Soundtrack)
    Fist-pumping awesomeness. I really want someone cool to cover this song. Not that Fire Inc. aren't cool, but they aren't a real band.
  • Good Guys Don't Wear White - Minor Threat
    Again, a lot of Minor Threat will work, but this song in particular makes me smile.
  • Anthem - Cock Sparrer
    My inner-angsty-teen is all over this song. I'd like to see a bunch of old-school punks get together and cover this for charity.
  • So He Won't Break - The Black Keys
    I think its the base in this one. Gets me boppin' (on the train, or course). Can't be unhappy and bop at the same time. Doesn't work.
  • Gratitude - Oingo Boingo
    More boppin', I think. And if you're in a place where you can sing along it works twice as well.
  • Call It Mine - The Saints
    I find the lead guitar line in this quite soothing. It's not a short song, so I feel like I can just fall into it.
So that's 10. In a few months time, I'll do this list again. I'm interested to see what songs still have that affect on me and which ones I've moved on from.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Music Movies - The Heart is a Drum Machine

I watched The Heart is a Drum Machine today. Fi-hi-HI-nally.

Dudes... You all need to watch this film. If you're reading a blog that someone has dedicated to music, then you're interested in music enough to get a lot out of this film. God know, I did.

Lemme backtrack. The Heart is a Drum Machine is a documentary that asks the question "What is music?" from a list of incredibly interesting people. Some are musicians, some are scientists, and the responses are varied (naturally) and fascinating.

There's a segment about deaf musicians where they describe how they can tell when they are out of tune and how they feel the music. There's a woman describing how certain frequencies of music can calm the brain, or that listening to fast-paced, loud music can act as an anti-depressant (that explains a lot for me). There's a musicologist talking about the idea that music could emotionally effect a person was a source of fear for people.

I can't picture not having music, it's always been an incredibly important part of my life, but I've never really questioned why it has so much power over me. One song has the ability to completely change my day. I also can't imagine that being scary.

Hmmm. I need to process this and rewatch. Expect other posts to come from this.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tool, Led Zeppelin, Hypocrisy, and The Pot

Ok kids, normally I don't worry about this, but to avoid some of the more rabid trolls I've decided to reference this post and include a disclaimer at the end. I know, why bother, I just want to demonstrate that not all of this came outta my arse.

Pretty much every Tool song has multiple readings. It's the sign of a master lyricist, really. I don't usually voice my opinions on them (I don't believe in any right or wrong answer) but I went looking and couldn't find any other post with this reading of Tool's The Pot so I thought put it out there.

First, the song:

The lyrics can be found here.

The first time I heard this song, the first line that hit me was:
Eye hole deep in muddy waters
You practically raised the dead.
Muddy Waters was a blues musician who performed during the 50s and all the way through to the 70s. I first heard the name in a conversation with a friend who was commenting that the artists formerly known as Led Zeppelin were publicly ostracizing artists like Pearl Jam and Tool for playing covers of their songs during their concerts. Allegedly the response had been "Uhh Muddy Waters? Pot? Kettle? Black?".

You see, Led Zeppelin could be considered the most successful cover band in history. Reference time? Thought so. I'll give you two:

But if you need more, please google "Led Zeppelin steal" or "Led Zeppelin lawsuit" before flaming me.

So why would Tool use the shady past of Led Zeppelin as a vehicle to hate on hypocrisy (ha! Band name!)? I wondered about that, then I found out that Page and Plant tried to sue a business for allowing bands to play covers of their songs during their concerts. Let me reiterate that, for playing the songs LIVE, not recording them.

Before you ask, I don't believe the song is solely about this. As I mentioned previously there are multiple readings, but all of them come back to hypocrisy. It could be about the hypocrisy of drug laws (the most common reading I found). It could be both. It could be neither.

This post is not passing judgement on Page's ability to make a guitar his bitch nor on Plant's ability wail like a banshee in labor.
Just their lack of honesty in giving credit where credit is due and their incredible assholiness for suing people for doing less than what they did.

Was that bating?

Monday, March 7, 2011

New* Toonz - Gurrumul

Hey, hey! Check me out with my weekly posting!
It won't last. *sigh*

Anyhoo, in a months time I will be volunteering at the West Coast Blues n Roots festival. In my excitement at seeing Bob Dylan, I decided to check out the other acts performing and I found this guy:

This is Gurrumul.

Gurrumul is an Indigenous Australian man, born on an island off the coast of Arnhem Land (one of the largest Aboriginal Reserves in Australia), barely speaks english, he plays drums, keyboard, guitar and didgeridoo.
Oh, and he was born blind.

Yeah, that was my face.

Apparently he won Best World Music Album and Best Independent Release at the 2008 ARIAs, and a portrait of him won the Archibald Prize in 2009. Dunno where the fuck I was...

Glad I've been enlightened now :)

* - Well, new to me...