Three New Live Albums You Need In Your Life Immediately

zzzdogThe role of a live album in an artist’s catalog can serve two purposes. The first, and obviously most desirable purpose, is to showcase the distinctive sound that an artist puts forward in a live setting. As live music is one of the greatest powers known to humanity, all true artists should be judged by their real life performances. Shitty acts never stray from their studio sound, and that’s why all of humanity instinctually hates Hootie & The Blowfish. And that’s also why I got bored to death the last time I saw Tom Petty – you could have just played his Greatest Hits album through the p.a. and it would have sounded exactly the same. This is also why nobody outside of hardcore Petty-heads knows that he put out several live albums in the past few years – they’re essentially re-packaged hits compilations with crowd noise thrown in for good measure. Which leads us to the second reason artists release live records – to make money. It’s a cheap process, and depending on how dedicated your fan-base is, they could be willing to purchase everything you ever release.

Fortunately, 2015 is blessing us with a handful of live albums from artists that are releasing them as a showcase of their sound rather than as money makers. And besides, nobody makes money off of albums anymore anyway, so you only put them out these days if your heart is truly behind it. I’ve already raved about Dr. Dog‘s Live At a Flamingo Hotel this year, (seriously, it’s amazing,) but here’s three more records you should dig into immediately if you’re feeling the live tip.

Parquet Courts – Live At Third Man Records
zzzzpqIf you read ISM regularly, then you know I’m constantly blowing my load to the sound of Parquet Courts, and I cried out of overwhelming joy when I saw them here in Portland last year. Live, the band is a throbbing force of electric magic – sometimes feeling like the greatest punk band in three decades, sometimes feeling like the greatest post-punk band in two decades, sometimes feeling like the greatest indie-rock in a decade and a half, and always feeling like pure legend. Chalk it up to Jack White for having a regular array of amazing acts come in to play his Blue Room, and for capturing Parquet Courts in prime form. While the record is comprised almost entirely of tracks off last year’s Sunbathing Animal, there’s a primal ferocity in the live takes that the studio can’t come close to harnessing. And I don’t want to say they ‘jam’, but shit is definitely stretched out in several instances. Before this record came out, I used to play the studio version of “Instant Disassembly” on constant repeat – now it’s the live version that has become a steady fixture of my daily existence.

Karen O – Live From Crush Palace 
zzzzkoIf you still haven’t gotten into last year’s Crush Songs, then you’re missing out on one of the greatest tender records of all time. In fact, I highly recommend giving it a couple go-rounds before digging into the live version. Like Parquet Courts, this record is comprised mainly of songs from that one album, but it also includes “Hideaway” from the Where The Wild Things Are soundtrack, and the ultimate crusher – “Moon Song” from Her. I was really hoping she’d include a version of that amazing song from the Adidas commercial ten years ago, but no such luck. And while the format of these songs in the live setting isn’t that different than her raw studio cuts, the stage reverb alone makes it essential. Plus, you get to hear her laughing at herself, and that fresh dose of humanity manages to weave these tracks even deeper into your soul.

Delicate Steve – Live In Las Vegas
zzzzdsSteve Marion is one of the greatest unknown guitarists living on the planet right now – technically profound, but more importantly he embraces a tinny tone and makes it sound both enormous and all his own. He’s essentially reinvented how to play slide. They guy is also everywhere these days – be it touring with Delicate Steve, or his other awesome band, Saint Rich, or just sitting in with Dr. Dog or any of the other amazing bands that freely welcome him to the stage. Live In Vegas is taken from a tour the band did last year opening for Tame Impala, and sounds like a set Jeff Beck would put together if he were currently in his early 30’s. While there are occasionally vocals on some songs, this is essentially instrumental rock fusion that beautifully embraces the odd side of things. I saw this band five years ago and they felt really gimmicky at the time. But they have evolved into a massive attack force over these past few years, and deserve mountains of more attention than they’re currently getting. This Vegas album is just the thing to turn the whole world on.

Album Review: Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp

zzzzwaxThere’s a lot of backstory behind what led to the sound Katie Crutchfield embraces on her third release as Waxahatchee, but for an album that draws its power from the seraphic nature of ambivalence, the less you know the better. Ivy Tripp embraces all the great modes of 90’s indie-rock that naysayers cast off as apathy, but really it’s an embrace of the uncertain. You know those moments when you just stare through the wall and completely check out from your surroundings? Those moments when the chaos of the universe turns to static and your mind enters this instinctually-imposed meditative state? Well this record is the soundtrack to that stillness – a celebration of the bliss in the void.

Ivy Tripp kicks off with a sense of foreboding. Huge organ tones fuzzed halfway to Hades set the possibility for explosive madness, but then it molds into a serene, harmonic cadence and you recognize “Breathless” as the doorway into the hero’s journey, rather than an ignition switch of chaos. From there on out, you realize that any deeper insight into Crutchfield’s intent is in direct opposition to the game-plan – the wonder is in the natural indefiniteness. This is the sound of a girl who has gone from Alabama to Philly, and is no closer to having everything figured out than any of us are. That notion is presented beautifully in “Stale By Noon.” Over a sparse keys melody, Katie escapes the rabbit hole of contemplating one’s relationship status with the definitive line: “Simple things light me up.” Then she drifts away into perfection with the repeated tagline of “I get lost looking up.”

zzzzswaxHer voice constantly takes you by surprise. And not because it’s triumphantly elegant, but because she’s able to create this atmosphere that can enrapture you to the point of forgetting somebody’s singing. It’s like that feeling of the cool girl in high-school taking you out to the parking lot to smoke a joint, and then suddenly she breaks into song and forever alters your idea of the potentiality of any given moment. It meshes perfectly with the more rocking tunes on the record – sounding like Natalie Merchant if she had stopped taking her self so seriously and joined Pavement for their Wowee Zowee sessions. On “Dirt” it’s easy to imagine that lineup playing in an open garage somewhere in Pete and Pete’s neighborhood.

The use of open space on the album is almost another instrument itself. Both “Air” and “Grey Hair” are fueled by staggered, yet charging beats; each instilling that swaying head-nod that forces you to test the limits of your Subaru’s speakers. That feel is irresistible on “Less Than,” especially when you get to the killer line: “You’re less than me – I am nothing.” Self-deprecation has never sounded so triumphant. There is an arsenal of great moments like that on Ivy Tripp, and trying to find a weak track on the record is like bitching about getting a yellow Starburst. Katie Crutchfield has the amazing ability to give a voice and a sound to those nameless points of existence that we all share but can’t define, and I can’t wait to see how she illuminates the rest of her 20’s.

Photo courtesy of Waxahatchee Facebook page

Will The Real Marcus Mumford Please Stand Up?

zzzzmumAhhh, Mumford. You know you’ve really made it in the biz when your name becomes the new disparaging slang for musicians. For example – “What is this Mumford crap you’re listening to?” When they first hit the scene, I was quick to call shenanigans. There was something exceptionally insincere about their music – specifically the fact that they were portraying this image of ramshackle street-bustlers, when in fact they were well-off kids trying their hands at the Americana game for the first time. I ranted about the fakeness of their neo-folk sound a couple years ago. But then the new Basement Tapes Sessions happened last year, and I was taken back at the songs that Marcus added to the project. Perhaps it had something to do with the accompanying documentary series that came with it, but seeing Mumford really dig into his compositional expression and come up with some of the best songs on the record swayed my entire perspective of the man. You know, just because you jump into something with a slightly unrighteous game-plan doesn’t mean that the power of the medium can’t draw out the hidden talent lying within.

But then came Wilder Mind – the new Mumford album set to drop in a month. And with its singles and pre-release hype, we’ve seen the calls of shenanigans come to fruition. Gone are any inklings of their old sound; replaced with Coldplay-clones capitalizing on their arena status. It’s not like this new sound is a surprise to any of us who called out their old sound as ingenuous, but it’s depressing none-the-less. We like to think of music as being fueled by the heart, and here it is clearly only supported by the dollar and the populist ear. Check out the video for “The Wolf” below to fully grasp the new sound, and check out “Believe” if you think that maybe it’s just a one-off on the album. Nope, this is their sound now – the sound of a band that has fully eliminated any lingering grasp of artistic integrity.

But then this weekend, The Daily Beast released this new interview with Mumford in which he expresses his disgust for Jay Z’s big Tidal roll out. Echoing comments I made last week about the service, Marcus brings to light the fact that the new service still does nothing to support the lower tier artists. “We wouldn’t have joined it anyway, even if they had asked. We don’t want to be tribal,” says Marcus Mumford. “I think smaller bands should get paid more for it, too. Bigger bands have other ways of making money, so I don’t think you can complain. A band of our size shouldn’t be complaining. And when they say it’s artist-owned, it’s owned by those rich, wealthy artists.” Check out the whole article – it’s a good read. But suddenly, the same artist who I was just dissing for his lack of integrity, becomes the first big name to speak out against the lack of integrity in this new streaming service.

So if you’re following along, if I were to rate my level of respect for Marcus Mumford over the past few years, it started at 3.5, then went to 7.0, then went down to 1.5, and now has leveled out at a solid 5.0. This, in turn, brings back up my ongoing discussion of the hero-labels we place on artists. These are musicians, and they only thing we should be idolizing them for is the music they create. But as both Tidal and the switch of the Mumford sound have showed us, we have all created a music industry these days that demands for our musicians to be businessmen. And frankly, they all suck at it – that’s why they started playing music in the first place – so they wouldn’t have to get their finance degrees. But not only are we now forcing our artists to wear suits, we’ve entered this time when we no longer make a distinction between the hats they wear. There is no longer a Jay Z the rapper versus Jay Z the business mogul – it’s just Jay Z the brand. And what’s sad is that while artists have focused on their brands since the beginning of rock, that focus has now more than ever taken precedent over the actual music they produce. Do you hear anybody wondering when the next Jay Z album is going to drop? No, because we all presume he’s too busy with his enterprises to make new music, and we fully accept that as the person he is now. So I would ask the real Marcus Mumford, or the real Jay Z, or the real Jack White to stand up, but I don’t think most of these people know who the “real” version of themselves are anymore. If you dig the new Mumford sound, then embrace it while you can. Hell, embrace every drop of sound you can while you like it because all that matters is what makes you feel good in the moment – the future and the past have become seemingly irrelevant in terms of who an artist is and what they produce.

Top 8 Greatest Connecticut Bands Of All Time

zzzctSo I was born and raised in the Nutmeg State… yeah, that’s right – nutmeg – you got a problem with that? I haven’t lived there in 17 years, but I have fond memories of seeing some great music while growing up. Between Toad’s Place in New Haven and the Hartford Meadows, I was able to experience a wider swath of great bands than most folks I knew were able to during their high-school years, and that’s not even mentioning all the close proximity gigs in Boston, Providence, and NYC. And surprisingly, the local Connecticut music scene was pretty happening. Chalking it up to the relative closeness of everything, after attending a few concerts as a teenager, it became quite clear that there was a thriving circle of music fans that would constantly support the local acts. There were definitely some specific scenes, but cross-pollination was a regular occurrence that allowed for a lot of kids to experience music that they may have shied away from in other locales. The hippies would hang with the metal kids, the rockers with the jazzcats – shit would have been really boring if you stayed isolated to your own pocket. However, there weren’t that many bands that ever really made it big past the CT borders. It seemed like everybody had an uncle who played drums in a classic rock band, an older brother who played trumpet in a ska band, or a buddy who played guitar in a generic jam band, and all of those people were considered a really big deal within the state lines. But the bands who made it out? Few and far between. Connecticut is more like the place where aging rock stars and young hip-hop millionaires go to hide in the woods, and most successful artists from the state garnered their fame somewhere else. So that’s why you won’t find tUnE-yArDs or MGMT on this list – despite forming in Connecticut, they never really fostered a career there. Other notable exclusions from the list are some great garage bands from the 60’s, like The Shag and The Bridge - they’d probably make a Top 20 ranking though. And if you’re looking for your favorite jambands like Flipper Dave, Hubinger Street, or The McLovins - sorry, not happening this time around. Here’s my Top 8 bands, that as proud Connecticut native, I’m honored to share home soil with.

8) The Five Satins - Their catalog doesn’t go much deeper than “In The Still Of The Night,” but that song alone is proof enough that this 50’s doo-wop group from New Haven deserves a place here. Founding member, Fred Parris, still performs to this day with a modern incarnation of the group.

7) Deep Banana Blackout - I’m not ashamed to say that a bunch of white kids from Fairfield County were my first real introduction to funk. Let me just say this though – in 1997, this band’s local gigs were late night sweat-a-thons that made you feel like you were at the center of the universe. At the time, we all thought they would be huge, but they’ve never really broken past the New England walls.

6) Kung-Fu - The current pride of CT, these guys are starting to blow up nation wide with their ridiculously tight funk-fusion. Guitarist Tim Palmieri is one of the greatest guitarists the world has never heard of, and has been since he led his other great CT band – The Breakfast. An honest-to-goodness all-star lineup of local players, they’re definitely the most technically talented Connecticut act ever. Yes, really. Read my review of their last album.

5) Hatebreed - The golden boys of Connecticut metal, Hatebreed helped define the hardcore scene of the 90’s and haven’t let up since. They may not be your cup of tea, but there’s no denying they’re tight as all hell. And sure, they’re lyrics are corny, but I still had fun being the hippie standing in the corner at a few gigs back in the day. And believe me, CT folks will still listen to this band when they’re drooling in retirement homes.

4) Skinny Boys - They’re plenty of hip-hop groups that rapped about running drugs and such through Connecticut, but there’s really only one great CT hip-hop act. A direct response to The Fat Boys, Skinny Boys actually had some incredibly fly beats that still hold their own to this day. You may recognize “Jockbox” as the theme song to Workaholics. 

3) The Philistines Jr – Peter Katis has garnered far more fame as a record producer, (Interpol, Jonsi, The National, Trey Anastasio,) but in my opinion his finest work has always been on his own albums with The Philistines. As a young hippie, they were my introduction to real indie-rock, and they have been one of my favorite bands ever since. With his brother Tarquin, Katis also created the great CT bands The Zambonis and The Happiest Guys In The World. And while the Zambonis are the predominant hockey-centered band on the planet, there’s a soul-squeezing sincerity to the music of The Philistines which has a permanent place in my heart.

2) The Stepkids - It only takes a minute of seeing them live to completely fall in love with the psychedelic soul music of The Stepkids. Jeff Gitelman was Alicia Keys’ touring guitarist for a while, and his two cohorts ain’t no shabs themselves. Killer tunes, fly dance steps, flawless vocal harmonies, and devastating pockets of soul make these guys one of the most powerful live acts on the planet, regardless of how small of a venue you may see them in. A phenomenal band.

1) Max Creek - Go ahead, try and talk shit on Creek to a Connecticut native. The band has been around for 44 years, and have never strayed far from the gameplan – jammed out rock and roll. To outsiders, their songs may sound somewhat less than charming, but to the Creek Freaks they are the definitive soundtrack to weekend debauchery. I first saw Creek at Toad’s in 1995, and in terms of atmosphere, it was like going to an 800 person Grateful Dead concert. If you wonder why Widespread Panic never made it big in New England, it’s because Creek already had that shit on lock. I know folks who would murder me if I didn’t put these guys at number one. You haven’t lived til you’ve seen Scott Murawski play a non-ironic version of “Magic Carpet Ride.”

Album Review: WOLF! – WOLF!

zzzwolfDespite his ubiquitous nature in the Eastcoast Jamband world, Scott Metzger has yet to achieve the household-name status that he deserves among the stoner elite. In fact, this debut record from his instrumental trio, WOLF!, is the first time that I can recall his name ever getting top billing in a project. His finger-licking prowess on the Telecaster has never been in doubt though, so the swift attack of his lead lines here comes as no surprise. What does come as a pleasant revelation on WOLF! is that he’s been keeping an arsenal of compositional wizardry tucked up in his noggin this whole time.

Things start off with “Cake Walk,” which sounds like something Django Reinhardt would have written if he had been raised on 80’s Phish. The odd, yet perfect mashup of influences continue throughout. “Neckbone” conjures images of Super Mario conquering a castle on the stage of the Grand Ole’ Opry. “Café Hidalgo” is like a spaghetti western fueled by psilocybin. “Frightenin’ (part 2)” is the greatest machine-gun surf-rock since Dick Dale was playing The Ed Sullivan Show. There’s an underlying sense of rockabilly throughout the record, but it’s got that mutant, late-night ooze that makes it feel like an episode of Ren & Stimpy is about to start up.

zzzzwolf2The true star of the album though, is the unadulterated Fender tone that Metzger embraces. Pedals and sound-manipulation have become such a common aspect of rock music that the raw sound here is not only refreshing, but almost sounds like you’ve never heard it before. The rampaging solo it supports on “Steve Miller” creates one of those moments where you feel like smashing a bottle over your best friend’s head just so your massive joy has a physical outlet. We’ve all had those moments right? The most powerful aspect of WOLF! however, is the fact that in less apt hands, all these genre bouncing tricks would come off as strictly novelty. But Metzger is able to draw the divine out of the trickery, and craft an album that is worthy of standing toe-to-toe with those from the masters he draws from. Pick up WOLF! over at Royal Potato Family and find out where you can see the trio live via their facebook.

Top 10 Jerry Garcia Guest Appearances on Studio Albums

1024px-Grateful_Dead_-_Jerry_GarciaAs we edge closer to the Summer of GD50, we’ve seen every band that has any marginal relation to the Grateful Dead plan their tributes to the band. The debates over who is the rightful heir to the the lead guitar throne are constant, including some lively discussions on this site. But the great thing about all the hype, is the diversity of the artists involved. A plethora different bands are showing their love, and that expansive list has caused me to ponder the wide net that Jerry Garcia himself cast while he was alive. Jerry loved to play. All the time. And one of the results of that love, beyond all the live sit-ins he took part in, is all the studio albums he made guest appearances on. It’s hard to get an accurate account of everything he took part in, but there are well over 50 non-Grateful Dead related records that Jerry got his hands on. At one point in my life, I was infatuated with hearing them all. So this Top 10 list is a compilation of his finest moments on other people’s records. That means that none of these bands can be ones that ever counted him as an official member – no Old and In The Way, no Wales, no Grisman, no Saunders, no New Riders, no JGB - you get the point. Dig in, and let me know what you think I’m missing.

10) Jefferson Starship – “X-M” off 1970’s Blows Against The Empire
If the Starship tag throws you off, then you need to listen to this album immediately. The first use of the name came on this Paul Kanter masterpiece, which featured Jerry, Mickey, Billy, Crosby, Nash and others helping out their buddy while the rest of his band was off in Hot Tuna land. The album is one long tale of sci-fi fantasy and features Garcia throwing in tasty licks throughout. But on “X-M” Garcia goes into full rocket-launch mode, turning his late 60’s feedback attacks into a more focused blast-off. Cut to 3:40 on this video, to hear the ignition.

9) Ornette Coleman & Prime Time – “Desert Players” off 1988’s Virgin Beauty
Legendary sax-freak Ornette Coleman joined the Dead on stage twice in 1993, but it was five years earlier that Garcia first got weird with him. Jerry plays on three tracks from Virgin Beauty, but “Desert Players” is the cut where he meshes in the most seamlessly with Coleman’s neo-afrobeat vibe. The track is slightly deranged, which makes Garcia’s delicate licks all the more mesmerizing when they start trickling in.

8) David Crosby – “Kids and Dogs” off 1970’s Perro Sessions
The Perro tapes are a thing of almost mythic legend in the GD world – unreleased stoner sessions from the back in the day crew. “Kids and Dogs” is Sunday morning perfection. Gentle Croz harmonies are lazily sung above Jerry  getting comfortable on both the acoustic and electric. I feel like this tune made a lot of hippies leave the Bay and head into the mountains.

7) Warren Zevon – “They Moved The Moon” off 1989’s Transverse City
This late 80’s Zevon track is both dark and dripping with bad sonic decisions definitive of the era. But once you get over the array of synth pads, you realize that Garcia’s major-key transition in the middle is straight-up levitational. It’s not to hard to realize that Warren was trying to make his own “Standing On The Moon” here, and while this track doesn’t quite reach the depths of that wonder, he at least got the right personnel for the job. One of my favorite hidden gems.

6) Perro – “The Mountain Song” off 1971’s Perro
The second of four Crosby collaborations to make this list, it seemed like Croz really knew how to set the table for Garcia. But despite some signature touches from Jerry on the acoustic, this song is really all about his voice, and everybody who hears this cut for the first time usually admits to listening to it on repeat for a solid week after. I’m not a fan of the new arrangement Furthur started playing a few years ago – to me the magic of this tune is that it never really goes anywhere; it’s always sounded to me like what was playing while Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years.

5) Country Joe McDonald – “Blues For Michael” off 1991’s Superstitious Blues
This ode to Michael Bloomfield is seven minutes of Garcia playing acoustic blues licks while Country Joe longs to hear their old friend play one more time. Much akin to the feel that was eminating from him on the Grisman collaborations at the time, this is late years Jerry in prime form. This is the kind of track that makes you think about what the fat man would sound like if he were still playing today.

4) Bruce Hornsby & The Range – “Barren Ground” off 1990’s A Night on the Town
The last record Hornsby would release with the Range is full of those 80’s idiosyncrasies that a lot of people could never get past. But again, if you can embrace the synths and corny background vocals as a snapshot of the era, then the Garcia Q-Tron licks are downright triumphant. This has always been one of my favorites despite some of the rolled eyes it elicits from my friends.

3) David Crosby – “Cowboy Movie” off 1971’s If I Could Only Remember My Name
One of the truly great albums of the era, Jerry appears on nearly half the record, but it’s his electric attack on this tune that makes you wish it went on a few hours longer. Very sonically similar to Neil Young’s “Cowgirl In The Sand,” this is Garcia in full-on spine-tingle shred mode. In my opinion, these are some of the best electric licks he ever laid to wax from the era, and makes you wish this lineup had gone on to do more.

2) Jefferson Airplane – “Today” off 1967’s Surrealistic Pillow
Despite being listed as “spiritual advisor” on the album cover, Jerry never worried about getting the playing and producing rights that he reportedly had a great hand in with this record. But the repetitive lick throughout this track is quintessential Garcia, and one of the defining sounds of the 60’s. One of my all time favorite songs.

1) CSNY – “Teach Your Children” off 1970’s Deja Vu
I always thought it was funny that Garcia was quick to deny his prowess on the pedal steel. But despite his potential lack of technical know-how on the instrument, he still touches it like nobody else. One of the greatest, most beautiful songs of all time, and it wouldn’t be a fraction of what it is without Jerry on it. That high “D” he hits at 2:37 is one of my favorite single notes I’ve ever heard played.

Photo credit: Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead, May 10 1980, Hart Civic Center, New Haven, CT. Wolf by Doug Irwin (Sonoma, CA)

Why The Upcoming Streaming Wars Are A Step In The Wrong Direction For The Music Industry

zzztidalThe big announcement last week was that Jay Z was fully relaunching Tidal, the Swedish music streaming service that he bought a month ago. The big announcement shindig featured everyone from Daft Punk to Arcade Fire signing on to have part ownership in the service. Everybody looked really serious in the promo video, and since the artists participating not only are some of the most respected in the industry, but also span the full gamut of modern genres, it seemed reasonable enough to assume this was actually some revolutionary event happening. However, if you felt a little out of touch by thinking to yourself that it doesn’t sound all that different, if not even slightly different than Spotify, then I assure you we’re all in the same boat. The pricing tiers are pretty much the same – Tidal will charge $9.99/month for standard service, and $19.99/month for hi-def streaming – the main difference is that Tidal won’t offer a free ad-laden service like Spotify does. And oh yeah, if you were thinking that this also sounds really close to what Beats Music is trying to do, then again – you’re catching on.

Now if we wanted, we could even go ahead and lump in the other 31, (yes 31) streaming services available out there and throw them into the mix. But it’s easiest to realize that there is a large battleground of competition for different businesses all trying to be the one predominant service available. In most industries, a wide array of options is usually incredibly beneficial to the consumer – competition causes prices to drop, allows for more options, and we usually feel better when we at least have the illusion of choice. But it’s a whole different game in this streaming battle, and here’s the reason why – exclusive content. Each of these services wants to be the top dog, and they all think that the best way to become that prime pooch is to be able to offer content that other services can’t provide. So that means that each service is trying to get more artists to be loyal to their respective line, and thus having said artists’ material only available through their service. But the whole reason all of us freaked about streaming music in the first place was the notion that any and all music that we could ever possibly want to listen to would be available in one place. Yet due to the competitive nature of the game, each service is basically assuring that that will never be possible.

Case in point: today Jay Z removed his debut album, Reasonable Doubt, from Spotify. In other words, the only way that Jay is envisioning success on his platform is by harming the content on other platforms. Obviously, this isn’t going to be an isolated circumstance. Even Taylor Swift, who has signed on with Tidal, still hasn’t made last year’s 1989 available on any streaming platform unless you count YouTube. So what happens when Tidal or even some other service offers Swift a chunk of change for having exclusive rights to stream her last album? Will she then be forced to remove her album from YouTube? Will YouTube start charging subscription fees since they know they are the only place to find some music?  The fact of the matter is that the competition is only going to cause the eternal library of music to be further spread out across more and more platforms. Meaning that if you want to hear everything you want to hear, you may potentially needs to subscribe to multiple services. Too bad there’s not some way to just buy the music you want to hear without paying for any subscription fees for music you don’t want to hear. Oh wait, that’s right. You can always just buy an album directly from the artist. Time to make sure your CD players still work kiddos – the backwards revolution has begun.

If you haven’t yet watched the Tidal promo video yet, then check it below. And while you’re’ watching a bunch of millionaires talk about how they’re putting control back into the artists’ hands, think about the thousands upon thousands of other artists out there that will still get ripped off by Tidal just as much as they are by Spotify. Sure it’s great if you own the company, but everyone else is still going to get $.0006 per play.

Taylor Eigsti – The Jazz Piano Wizard You’ve Been Dreaming Of

10420194_795150230545407_1360619079441054013_nThe world of jazz ain’t what it used to be. And in many ways that’s a good thing – the genre has expanded in so many directions that calling something “jazz” these days is just as pointless as calling something “alternative.” Or “rock.” Or “rap.” Or anything really. Basically if you don’t have at least one hyphen in your self-imposed genre label, nobody is going to have any inkling of what your music sounds like. But that also means that’s it become a lot more difficult for newer players in the “traditional” jazz scene to become more renowned – it’s much easier to get lost in the mix these days. And thus, my introduction to Taylor Eigsti came at least a decade later than it should have.

A few weeks ago I was listening to a three-year old repeat of Piano Jazz With Jon Weber on NPR. Eigsti was the guest, and everything he touched during that hour segment was absolutely flooring me. After a quick Wikipedia search, I realized that this “brand new cat on the scene” had actually released seven albums, been nominated for three Grammys, and twenty years ago, at age 12, had been called the “greatest talent I’ve ever come across” by none other than Dave Brubeck. So yeah, I’m a little late to the party.

As I’ve been perusing through Eigsti’s catalog, I’ve become increasingly more infatuated with his fluid touch. He has a punch to his legato that, quite frankly, rings out in my inner core in a fashion that my other beloved pianists don’t quite do. And that’s a bold thing for me to say because Brubeck fucking owns me. And Brad Mehldau melts me. And Austin Peralta launches me. But Eigsti wiggles his way in between my shoulder blades and squeezes some pressure point on my brain stem that very rarely gets milked. Fast, smooth, creative, and seemingly operating as a fully open conduit to the great source, Taylor touches the piano in a fashion that only a handful of folks have ever been able to do.  In fact, I dig his sound so much that I found myself fast forwarding past some of the absolutely elegant passages of his tunes which feature other players. Case in point is this beautiful interpretation of J.J. Cale‘s “Magnolia” of which I bypass Julian Lange’s guitar solo, and nearly all the verses sung by the amazing Becca Stevens, just in order to hear the 45 seconds of dominating riffage Eigsti drops near the end of the tune.

Long story short: if you’re looking for new, fresh, piano magic, then this “kid’s” fingers are awaiting your arrival. I’ve heard a lot of different takes on “Like Someone In Love,” but I’ve never heard it like this…

Check out a ton more of what Taylor has to offer at his site.

I Shit Music To Become I Poop Music


Dearest friends,

It is with a heavy heart and a lofty mind that I announce today of I Shit Music’s re-branding into the more socially acceptable I Poop Music. As our popularity has continued to grow, we’ve become increasingly aware of a younger demographic becoming regular visitors to this site. In an effort to provide the least offensive music insights to readers of all ages, we have thus decided to refrain from any further uses of profanity. Listen, I know this fucking sucks, and most of you guys right now are thinking, “What a load of cock-crap – is this cunt really falling victim to the bullshit nature of a fucked modern society?” Well shit folks, I’d love to shove roses up my ass and fart soliloquies of sonic horse-drivel all over your tits, but I’m trying to think of the children here, you know? Please keep us in your prayers as we enter this time of transition.

Adam B. King
I Poop Music.

Should Music Fans In Indiana Be Punished For Their State’s Erroneous Law?

483459_10151360407230421_216665816_nYesterday, amongst an array of states and counties announcing they will halt any government interactions with Indiana, Wilco became the first band to cancel a concert there due to the new Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The act, which allows businesses to discriminate against gays, lesbians, and anyone else they want based on their religious standings, is causing many organizations to reconsider their business practices within the state. On their Twitter account, the Chicago band stated they were canceling the May 7 gig because the act “feels like thinly disguised legal discrimination” and that they “hope to get back to the Hoosier State someday soon, when this odious measure is repealed.” It’s an honorable move by the band, and one that hopefully other bands follow.

But then you think for a second – “Oh shit, what about all those Wilco fans who live in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere in Indiana?” Wilco is a rather liberal band, with presumably a rather liberal fanbase. So the question that arises is whether this act will have any effect on the hate-mongering assholes in the crossroads of America, or whether the only people it will really affect are the ones who are against the Restoration Act in the first place. Well the fact of the matter is that the answer to that question doesn’t really matter. Whether they like it or not, Wilco is causing their fans in the state to take a stance with them. The band is causing their fans to be active participants in this spotchy moment of history by showing that this act will have negative repercussions on everyone who lives in the state. And the band should be applauded for that. Yes, it sucks if you live in Indiana and don’t get to see a band you love. But frankly, it probably sucks a fair deal just to live in Indiana in the first place.

I’ve already seen comments from Hoosiers on discussion boards complaining about why they shouldn’t be punished for something they don’t support, but those folks need to understand that this is something bigger than themselves. You don’t jump into the lion’s den just to cheer up the cubs. This is the reason folks didn’t play Sun City during apartheid in South Africa. Sometimes you have to take a stance, and sometimes you have to realize that music doesn’t make everything better. In fact, this is an example of when the absence of music can be more powerful than its presence.

I often times have conversations over the roles of artists in society. Does playing in a prominent band mean that you’re obligated to be a voice of reason? No, it doesn’t. And there’s plenty of artists out there who embrace their role as something outside of any political stances. But to be angry at a band for taking a stance that stops you from seeing them perform, insinuates that you pride your own joy over the suffering of others. Make sure you realize what it really is you’re bitching about when you complain about a cancelled concert. And lastly, if this moves comes as a surprise to any Wilco fans out there, then they obviously have never been to the band’s website where they list over 50 causes that they promote and support. If you’re a Hoosier who’s into bands that pride money over morals, then go pay $500 to see The Rolling Stones play in your state on July 4th.

Photo courtesy of Wilco Facebook and Zero Studio Photography