Loreena McKennitt: Why I’m leaving Facebook

(Richard Haughton photo)

The invasion of privacy and erosion of human rights, the weaponizing of our personal data, the destruction of the music and news industries, a platform designed to be addictive — the time has come to act, writes Loreena McKennitt.

By (via the star)

I remember as a rambunctious red-headed tomboy running around the house with my playmates and my mother admonishing me, “Don’t run so fast, you’ll break something!” And sure enough, sometimes we did.

Now, decades later, those words come flooding back as I reflect on the defining motto of Silicon Valley, “move fast and break things.” In particular, I think of Facebook.

In response to the recent revelations of its misuse of personal data, I’ve decided to leave the platform and encourage my half-million-plus followers to instead keep in touch through my website. I’m told this is a path of professional suicide, especially as I’m about to release a new recording.

Times have certainly changed in the music business since I started out busking in the 1980s. Some would argue we were the first industry to be broken…

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The Low Notes: Examining The Worst Songs Of All Time

(via urbo) by Jamie Wiles

They say music is subjective, but don’t tell that to the critics.

Lester Bangs, the patron saint of U.S. rock criticism, once said that, “The first mistake of art is to assume that it’s serious.” Yet plenty of music critics get paid to make that mistake, and even more do it on a volunteer basis.

Paid or not, critics seem to assume that the creators of a song are, like, morally culpable for the quality of their product. People hate few things like they hate a bad song. Maybe that’s just because no nuanced weighing of relative merits is as fun as a thorough critical hatchet job.

That’s why we have Sean Beaudoin in Salon sneering at the “10 Bands [He] Will Be Forced to Listen To in Hell.” (Beaudoin goes on to trash The Beach Boys, a band that inspired luminaries from The Beatles to My Bloody Valentine.) It’s why we have Pitchfork, the website that once said of Sonic Youth: “These 40+year olds continue to operate under the perception that they matter.”

Here’s the weird thing about paying really, really close attention to pop music, though: The closer you look at a given track, the harder it is to discard it out-of-hand. When you pry a song open to check out its composite elements—harmonic structure, melodic lines, counterpoint, rhythmic shifts, dynamics, all the nuts and bolts of the pop tradition—pretty much everything is at least interesting. Even the terrible stuff…

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Here’s What the Members of ABBA Have Been Up To During Their 35-Year Hiatus

© RB/Redferns Abba

(via msn entertainment) by Morgan Enos

BBA suddenly announced their return to the studio and stage Friday (April 27). The legendary Swedish pop band took to Instagram to clarify their full intention behind their upcoming “avatar” tour project, in which the band will be featured as holograms resembling their 1970s selves. Said the band: “We all felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio. So we did.”

This most unique pop ensemble, consisting of two married couples — Agnetha Fältskog with Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson with Anni-Frid Lyngstad — may not have produced any music together during their three decades apart, but they’ve hardly been out of commission. There have been plenty of dispatches from both camps prior to their reunion this year. Here is a breakdown of what the members of ABBA have been up to during their long silence…

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Thanks to streaming, recording industry revenues are back up to pre-internet levels, but musicians are poorer than ever

(via boing boing) by Cory Doctorow

Since the days of Napster, record labels have recruited recording artists as allies in their fight against unauthorized music services, arguing that what was good for capital was also good for labor.

But as Teresa Nielsen Hayden says, “Just because you’re on their side, it doesn’t mean they’re on your side.”

Since the rise of streaming services, recording artists have complained bitterly about the pittances they receive in royalties, while the streaming services countered that they were sending billions to the labels, who were pocketing all the money without passing it on to the talent…

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Spinal Tap Bassist Derek Smalls Is Back

Photo by Rob Shanahan

(via npr)

If you believe the press release — and in these credulous times, why wouldn’t you? — semi-famous British rock dinosaur Derek Smalls, known for holding down the low end in Spinal Tap, has chosen his 75th birthday to release his first ever solo album, Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing). Claiming it as “halfway between ‘rage against the dying of the light’ and trying to find the light,” Smalls begins with the orchestral “Openture” by proclaiming with terse insight: “Age…is just a number. Number…is…just a word. And word…is just a thing.”

The truth, of course, is that comedian/actor Harry Shearer has happily donned the now incredibly grizzled hair and mustache of Smalls once again. Smalls Change is at once an extension of the now honestly storied tale of the ultimate fake band and an amusing indulgence in its own right, recognizing that time waits for no man, even double bass wielders…

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Ten Great Weezer Songs That Aren’t from the ‘Blue Album’


At a Weezer live show a couple years ago I waited in vain for personal favorites from more recent albums as the band played most of their self-titled debut, known in fan parlance as “The Blue Album” due to the band’s tendency to repeatedly release self-titled albums most easily distinguished by their color.

I have nothing against the Blue Album. Although “Beverly Hills” from eleven years later was their only true top ten pop single, it was their 1994 azure-covered debut which spawned the essential post-grunge modern rock hits that concert fans truly cut loose to: “Undone–The Sweater Song”, “Say it Ain’t So”, “My Name is Jonas” and “Buddy Holly”.

But like other bands we’ve recognized in this series of posts, the artistic successes have come along more often than the commercial ones, and there are some overlooked gems in the band’s catalogue which truly show off the band’s main strength–Rivers Cuomo’s killer melodic knack.

So here are ten great Weezer songs that aren’t from the Blue Album.


1. “Susanne”

As has been covered elsewhere in this blog, “Susanne” first appeared as a B-side and on the Mallrats soundtrack before shedding its rarity status with its inclusion on the bonus disc of the Blue Album’s deluxe reissue. The song has a great backstory, reprinted here from that album’s liner notes:

Susanne was a talented A&R assistant at Geffen. In the long months of limbo between completing the Blue album in October ’93 and its eventual release in May of ’94, she became a big Weezer supporter, doing her best to keep the guys optimistic about their future with Geffen. As the lyrics imply, Susanne did in fact help Rivers (Cuomo) out with her spare winter coat when he needed one, and made plates of brownies to cheer him up. Her devotion and aid were perfectly summed up in this song. Before she knew of the song’s existence, the guys performed it a cappella for her in her Geffen office. Needless to say, it surprised the hell out of her!

Originally the line “Even Izzy, Slash and Axl Rose, when I call you put ’em all on hold” read “Even Kurt Cobain and Axl Rose…” In April ’94 the shocking news came of Kurt’s untimely death. Though the two had never met, Rivers had found great inspiration in Kurt’s songwriting on Nirvana’s Bleach. So when it came time to record “Susanne”, Rivers decided to change the lyric, not wanting to disrespect the memory of one who had been such an inspiration.



Susanne, you’re all that I wanted of a girl
You’re all that I need in the world
I’m your child
Make me blush, drive me wild
Susanne, you’re all that I wanted

When I met you I was all alone
Cold and hungry cryin’ on the phone
You baked me brownies and said “don’t you cry”
And gave me the coat off your back

Susanne, you’re all that I wanted of a girl
You’re all that I need in the world
I’m your child
Make me blush, drive me wild
Susanne, you’re all that I wanted

Even Izzy, Slash and Axl Rose
When I call you put ’em all on hold
And say to me that you’d do anything
And all I can do is say that
I haven’t much I can give you in return
Only my heart and a promise not to turn
But I’ll sing to you every day and every night
Susanne, I’m your man

Susanne, you’re all that I wanted of a girl
You’re all that I need in the world
I’m your child
Make me blush,  drive me wild
Susanne, you’re all that I wanted
Of a girl


2. “Island in the Sun”

Not really an overlooked song; this was an MTV staple at the time. One of their best, from perhaps their strongest album (The “Green Album”)




3. “Perfect Situation”

This one starts out with a fairly assertive guitar solo (with some wah effect) before the heavy layers are stripped away for the vocals. It’s reminiscent of Steely Dan’s “Don’t Take Me Alive” and a dramatic way to begin a song.

Check out the great music video which accompanies this one.




4. “The Damage in Your Heart”

And speaking of drama…the lyric and melody work together here to heart-wrenching effect. And a piercing three-note fill cements the songs joints together nicely. One of Cuomo’s best efforts.




5. “Ruling Me”

Co-written with Semisonic’s Dan Wilson. Stop-start dynamics wind up a chorus that effectively explodes onto you with its sugary power pop rush. Possibly the band’s best pure pop song.





6. “Da Vinci”

Even Da Vinci couldn’t paint you
Stephen Hawking can’t explain you
Rosetta Stone could not translate you
I’m at a loss for words, I’m at a loss for words
I couldn’t put it in a novel
I wrote a page, but it was awful
Now I just want to sing your gospel
I’m at a loss for words, I’m at a loss for words




7. “(Girl We Got a) Good Thing”

Songs like “(Girl We Got a) Good Thing” make one believe that, far from being past his songwriting prime, Rivers Cuomo is only now perfecting the formula for the type of music he’s most interested in producing. Whatever post-punk or post-grunge or post-whatever paradigm gave impetus to their initial success, Cuomo has seemingly deduced that his singular talent lies in refining the sugar found in classic bubblegum rock and roll. I hear echoes of acts from Connie Francis to ABBA in the melodies and arrangements of Weezer’s recent albums.

And yeah that’s a good thing.




8. “King of the World”

Being an admirer of Brian Wilson, it’s not surprising Cuomo’s songwriting arsenal includes a shrewd comprehension of the power of the nonsense syllable. It never sounds forced, but rather completely organic. Here he tags the end of the chorus with a melodic woah-woah-WOAH, woah-woah-WOAH…and it sounds like nothing so much as an intrinsic part of the lyric.

Check out another perfect example in “Perfect Situation” above.




9. “Weekend Woman”

Bells and glockenspiel add melodramatic effect to a mournful lost love song. Pop magic.

I still believe your beautiful lies…




10. “Sweet Mary”

To describe “Sweet Mary” is to repeat myself about Cuomo’s aptitude for a sweet melancholy melody and his great pop instincts. But I won’t let that stop me.

Note how the extended bridge lends tension that leads to sweet melodic relief and resolution in the final chorus. Masterful.




See also:

Ten Great Asia Songs That Never Hit the U.S. Top 40

Ten Great Hollies Songs That Never Hit the U.S. Top 40

Ten Great Proclaimers Songs That Aren’t ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’

Ten Great Irish Rovers Songs That Aren’t ‘The Unicorn’

A D.J. Could Save Your Life Tonight

Photo by Chad Batka

(via The New York Times)  By

On New Year’s Eve, you’ll be dancing, one hopes. If you’re lucky you’ll be dancing to an honest-to-God disc jockey — not to someone’s Spotify playlist or the musings of the latest demi-celebrities to fancy themselves party conductors. A real D.J. is part shaman, part tech-wizard, part crowd psychologist, all artist. Many people claim the title but far fewer embody it.

That’s because, for the art of D.J.ing, technology has been as much of a disrupter as it has been a boon. New software and hardware tools allow the neophyte to deploy a base version of skills that take decades to perfect. We’ve also seen the nurturing of an entire generation for whom music is an à la carte experience. Add to that the skepticism, if not outright hostility, much of our society shows toward the notions of expertise and hard-won knowledge…

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