Which Rock Star Will Historians of the Future Remember?


The most important musical form of the 20th century will
be nearly forgotten one day. People will probably learn
about the genre through one figure — but who might that be?

(via the New York Times Magazine)

MAY 23, 2016

lassifying anyone as the “most successful” at anything tends to reflect more on the source than the subject. So keep that in mind when I make the following statement: John Philip Sousa is the most successful American musician of all time.

Marching music is a maddeningly durable genre, recognizable to pretty much everyone who has lived in the United States for any period. It works as a sonic shorthand for any filmmaker hoping to evoke the late 19th century and serves as the auditory backdrop for national holidays, the circus and college football. It’s not “popular” music, but it’s entrenched within the popular experience. It will be no less fashionable tomorrow than it is today.

And this entire musical idiom is now encapsulated in one person: John Philip Sousa. Even the most cursory two-sentence description of marching music inevitably cites him by name. I have no data on this, but I would assert that if we were to ask the entire population of the United States to name every composer of marching music they could think of, 98 percent of the populace would name either one person (Sousa) or no one at all. There’s just no separation between the awareness of this person and the awareness of this music, and it’s hard to believe that will ever change…

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/29/magazine/which-rock-star-will-historians-of-the-future-remember.html?_r=0


While I found this a worthwhile article with a fun premise, it’s a premise I don’t necessarily accept. True, we’ve reduced marching music to Sousa, as he was head and shoulders above his contemporaries in the field. And Marley will undoubtedly be used similarly as shorthand for reggae someday for the same reason.

But the phenomenon of a single artist becoming synonymous with a genre breaks down when you consider classical music.

Centuries later, the music of a wide variety of classical composers still lives on and no single one sums up the genre for us. Perhaps J.S. Bach represents the baroque period best, and Beethoven the romantic era, but Mozart will never be forgotten and none of these three, as great as they were, can sum up the genre the way Sousa does marching music.

I think it more likely rock music will similarly live on without being reduced to a single figure as representative. It’s rock music’s diversity that separates it from reggae and marching band music, and that diversity will afford it a more complex legacy.

50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time

prog albums

(via Rolling Stone) June 17, 2015

By , , , , , , , ,

For close to a half century, prog has been the breeding ground for rock’s most out-there, outsized and outlandish ideas: Thick-as-a-brick concept albums, an early embrace of synthesizers, overly complicated time signatures, Tolkienesque fantasies, travails from future days and scenes from a memory. In celebration of Rush’s first Rolling Stone cover story, here’s the best of the deliciously decadent genre that the punks failed to kill.

50. Happy the Man, ‘Happy the Man’ (1977)


Formed in a James Madison University dorm room, Washington, D.C.-based Happy the Man recorded three venerated, mostly instrumental prog albums in the late 1970s, striking a seductive middle ground between sax-driven jazz-fusion lunacy (circa Zappa’s One Size Fits All) and synth-heavy meditative twittering. After a showcase, Clive Davis reportedly told the band, “Wow. I don’t really understand this music. It’s way above my head”; yet he still signed them to Arista. Their debut is the band at its most dynamic, highlighted by intricate instrumental interplay as far-out as the song titles (“Stumpy Meets the Firecracker in Stencil Forest,” “Knee Bitten Nymphs in Limbo”). R.R.

49. Ruins, ‘Hyderomastgroningem’ (1995)


Beaming down from the far reaches of the prog-rock galaxy, this Japanese drums and bass duo slam together mathematically improbable meters and dissonant blasts of rhythm with nonsense wails or demonic growls. The band’s fifth album is especially fascinating, as Ruins inject snippets of vocal melody, droning doom, punk tempos, and meticulous Crimson-esque prog into their rapidly morphing songs. The most obvious influence on Ruins’ ringleader Yoshida Tatsuya is Magma’s iconoclastic Christian Vander — like Vander, Yoshida even created his own language for the band — but there are also traces of experimental freaker Frank Zappa and avant-jazz terrorizer John Zorn (who released the album on his Tzadik label). Some have tagged Hyderomastgroningem unlistenable and undoubtedly it could drive most fans of King Crimson or Yes batty. But maybe that just makes Ruins more prog than prog. J.W.

48. FM, ‘Black Noise’ (1977)


Superficially, Toronto-based FM had a lot working against them: Aside from Rush, Canada was never a prog hotbed, and the band released its debut album in 1977, as many of the genre’s originators were fading. Still, Black Noise was one of late-era prog’s most original albums – a hypnotic blend of symphonic synthesizer effects and glossy New Wave melodies, plus an exotic whirl of electric mandolin and violin from Nash the Slash, a.k.a. Jeff Plewman, who performed onstage with his face entirely obscured by surgical bandages. Opener “Phasors on Stun” became a minor AM radio hit, driven by a yearning hook from frontman-bassist-keyboardist Cameron Hawkins, and the band has released several more albums over the years, but FM never managed to reach their debut’s deep-cosmos magic. “There is a timeless quality about that record,” Hawkins told The Music Express in 2014. R.R.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/50-greatest-prog-rock-albums-of-all-time-20150617#ixzz49iwKJO8L

New Music Festival Just Large Empty Field To Do Drugs In


(via The Onion)

MOUNT STERLING, KY—Declaring the event a rousing success so far, organizers confirmed more than 45,000 people turned out Wednesday for the first annual Cavalcade Folk and Roots Festival, a four-day gathering that consists solely of a big empty field to do drugs in.

Held on a farm in the foothills of eastern Kentucky, the festival, which continues through Friday and features no live performances of any kind, reportedly offers “something for every type of music lover,” specifically a fenced-off, 300-acre pasture in which to consume a broad array of mind-altering substances.

“We thought it’d be awesome to host a festival that would attract people from all over the country who just want to kick back and ingest narcotics for 96 hours straight,” festival organizer Randy Felder said of the event that takes place on a barren expanse of land with no stages, sound equipment, lighting, art, or vendors. “Cavalcade is all about creating a venue where live music fans can come together, hang out, and do what they love most. Whether you want to toke up, huff, or take a few hits of E, we’ve got you covered.”

Read more: http://www.theonion.com/article/new-music-festival-just-large-empty-field-do-drugs-50565

5 Hit Songs, Translated


(via mental_floss) by Erik van Rheenen

Foreign language hits don’t often break onto Top 40 airwaves, but when they do, they’re usually loaded with earworms and make terrific karaoke fodder. But when we start singing along, what exactly are we saying? Probably not what you think. Here are five hit songs in other languages and what the heck they actually mean once they’re translated.

1. Nena, “99 Luftballons”

Run Nena’s chirpy 1983 pop song through a translator, and the cheery German hit gets pretty sinister, pretty quickly. Nena guitar slinger Carlos Karges drew inspiration for the anti-war protest tune when he watched an army of balloons get released at a 1982 Rolling Stones concert in West Berlin.

His musings on the balloons’ ascension over the Berlin Wall (“99 balloons on their way to the horizon / People think they’re UFOs from space”) and into the Soviet Bloc gave way to lyrics about war and paranoia—99 luftballons become 99 fighter jets, war ministers, and years of war as the hysterical overreactions in the lyrics escalate.

Nena recorded an English version, retitled “99 Red Balloons,” but argued that the satirical rewrite felt unfaithful to the German meaning. The less cutesy German cut became an American smash, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100

Read more: http://mentalfloss.com/article/50792/5-hit-songs-translated

7 Wedding Traditions That Have Disappeared Over the Past Century


(via msn lifestyle) by Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi

Almost a century ago, an Illinois bride cracked open her wedding diary. The thin, white-cloth covered book had empty pages where a bride could record the details of her nuptials. There was a page to describe how the couple met, another to note the engagement, and several to paste in the engagement announcements.

The bride, 18-year-old Marjorie Gotthart, was seemingly unimpressed with the book. She completed only one page – a form designed to resemble a marriage certificate. In big, loopy cursive, she recorded who she married, when, and where. The rest of the pages were empty.

Marjorie’s slight wedding diary was typical for brides of her time. The book did not devote any pages to receptions or pre-nuptial parties. There was no space for a bride to describe her reception venue, the music played by the band, or the meal served. Couples of that era most often married in their parents’ home, usually on a weekday. The lavish affairs that are now de rigueur didn’t become popular until the 1970s.

This means the customs we now call “traditions” are fairly recent. The Saturday evening affair with dinner, dancing, centerpieces, and party favors is not a long-standing tradition. For most modern wedding guests, a “traditional” American wedding would be totally unrecognizable. Here are seven traditions that have changed the most over the years.

1. Traditional weddings were on weekdays.

More than a century ago, there was a rhyme that helped brides pick a date. Mondays were for wealth and Tuesdays for health. “Wednesday the best day of all, Thursdays for crosses, Fridays for losses, and Saturday for no luck at all.” The 1903 White House Etiquette guide reminded young, society women of the rhyme and also noted that in addition to bringing terrible luck, Saturday weddings were terribly unfashionable…

Read more: http://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/weddings/7-wedding-traditions-that-have-disappeared-over-the-past-century/ar-BBsnfxH?li=BBnb7Kz

May 21, 1971: Chicago’s Peter Cetera Attacked by Marines


(via Ultimate Classic Rock)

45 years ago, former Chicago bassist/vocalist Peter Cetera found out the hard way that the phrase, ‘root, root, root for the home team,’ isn’t just a catchy line from a beloved song. It’s a real-world warning.

On May 20, 1969, following the completion of a grueling tour opening for Jimi Hendrix, Cetera, along with saxophonist Walter Parazaider, guitarist Terry Kath and drummer Danny Seraphine decided to take a trip to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to take in a day of baseball. The bassist’s beloved Chicago Cubs were set to take on the L.A. team in the first of a three-game series. The Cubbies completely dominated the Dodgers that day and won 7-0. As bad as the beat down was, however, perhaps the biggest loser in the park was Cetera when he came upon a group of servicemen…

Read more: http://ultimateclassicrock.com/peter-cetera-attacked-marines/


“Where Do We Go From Here?”

George Martin and the Beatles: A Producer’s Impact, in Five Songs


(via The New York Times Music)

March 9, 2016

When we hear a great recording, we tend to think of the music as having sprung fully developed from the imagination of the musician or band that cut the tracks. But that ignores the role of the producer, who translates the musician’s vision into the sound we experience.

The contributions that George Martin, who died Tuesday at 90, made to the Beatles’ recorded catalog were crucial, and although he was the first to say that most of the credit belongs to the band, many of the group’s greatest songs owe their sound and character to his inspired behind-the-scenes work. Here are a few of his most telling musical fingerprints:

Read more: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/03/10/arts/music/george-martin-and-the-beatles-a-producers-impact-in-five-songs.html?_r=0

Music-Map: The Tourist Map of Music

Obsessive music fans, we think we’ve found your next rabbit hole.

Music-Map is a music discovery visualization tool which, when an artist or band name is entered, presents a network of other artists mapped out based (presumably) on proximity of relationship or similarity.

The flaw? It almost certainly lacks the authoritative credibility of, for example, the ambitious Music Genome Project® which powers Pandora’s music recommendation service. In fact (though the site provides little or no info on the sources of its recommendations) the suspicion here is that it is merely plugged into the “related searches” from a site such as Amazon.com.

This would explain why KC and the Sunshine Band cozy right up against The Mamas & The Papas and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are the closest band on the map when you search The Beatles. Also, the cosmos surrounding The Mills Brothers contains the Texas Tornados and Donovan, yet the Ames Brothers are nowhere to be found. And Queen really doesn’t come to mind as the closest thing to Pink Floyd. And so on.

Methinks this is just another way to use Amazon’s “customers who bought this also bought” feature. But it does lay searches/recommendations out in visual terms, and splashes lots of artists on the page. So in that sense it’s arguably more practical, and definitely more fun.


Amazon Cloud Player’s Major Fail

cloud player

Just a week ago we reprinted this article calling out Apple’s iCloud Music Library for its failings as a custodian of your music collection. Now Amazon Cloud Player is evaluated by Music Plasma and, similarly, deficiencies arise:

(via Music Plasma)

MusicPlasma.com has been diligently watching the heated competition between Apple, Amazon, and Google as each tries to provide their best “music in the cloud” offering. Each has its own pros and cons. After a thorough analysis of all of the available reviews and specifications, MusicPlasma.com decided to test out Amazon’s Cloud Player Premium since it appeared to offer the best solution for the majority of our visitors. For $25/Yr, Amazon claims to do the following:

  • Store 250,000 of your songs online
  • Stream all of your songs from a web browser or iPhone/Android app
  • Allow you to download and or stream any of your matched songs in MP3 format at 256K bit rate
  • Upgrade any low quality songs it can match to 256Kb bit rate quality
  • Import songs and playlists from Windows Media Player and iTunes

If Amazon could execute on these tasks, it would surely be the superior cloud music offering. Unfortunately, it comes up woefully short on the last 2 bullet items. We conducted a very realistic test which involved importing a typical user’s music library consisting of about 12000 songs and 50 playlists into Amazon’s Cloud Player Premium. Here are the results…

Read more: http://www.musicplasma.com/amazon-cloud-players-major-fail/

Stevie Nicks & Don Henley Singing “Hotel California” Is The Duet You Never Knew You Needed


(via Society of Rock)

“Her Mind Is Tiffany Twisted…”

Written in 1976 and featured on the Eagles’ 1977 album Hotel California, “Hotel California” goes down in rock history as one of the most loved rock songs ever. Between its winding rhythms that remind you of cruising down a highway at sunset, windows down and wind in your hair and the two guitar attack from Don Felder and Joe Walsh, whose tandem solo makes us wish we’d written it every time we hear it, “Hotel California” is about as perfect as a song gets – or so we thought! In 2005, this Eagles classic became something larger than life when performed by former Eagle Don Henley as he opened for friend and ex-lover Stevie Nicks on her Two Voices Tour and was actually joined by Stevie herself for the second verse and beyond!

Read/hear more: http://societyofrock.com/stevie-nicks-don-henley-singing-hotel-california-is-the-duet-you-never-knew-you-needed/?a=mm&var=ILCR-HotelCalifornia

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: