Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

NYT op-ed slams RIAA

Friday, April 6th, 2007

Yesterday, the New York Times published an excellent op-ed by a couple guys who owned an independent record store in NYC that went under in 2005. What’s great about this piece is that it puts forth the argument that, while downloading and file-sharing is hurting not just the major labels but also the little guys, a good portion of the blame can still be placed on big industry (RIAA being the figurehead of course) rather than the inherent selfishness or evil of consumers (the stock RIAA argument — “they don’t play by the rules and we’re the victims!” — that makes me severely uncomfortable, to say the least).

Basically, the argument is one that I’ve put forth before and read in a few other places, but rarely in so concise and cogent a form: that the record industry is guilty of mishandling the onset of new technology and basically just been flat-out stupid, not only trying to defend a technology that is over two decades old (CDs) and grossly inefficient and out of date, but actually jacking up prices on them in some cases. It’s akin to paying $5,000 for an IBM PC-AT or an Apple IIgs.

The recording industry association saw the threat that illegal downloads would pose to CD sales. But rather than working with Napster, it tried to sue the company out of existence — which was like thinking you’ve killed all the roaches in your apartment because you squashed the one you saw in the kitchen. More illegal download sites cropped up faster than the association’s lawyers could say “cease and desist.”

Also, they bemoan the record industry getting in bed with the likes of Best Buy and Wal-Mart to undercut prices, “[b]ecause, ideally, the person who came in to get the new Eagles release with exclusive bonus material would also decide to pick up a high-speed blender that frappéed.” It’s a great article, arguing that not only has the RIAA put profits before music, which is something that should surprise no one at all, but also that they’ve put short-term profits before long-term business savvy.

The Mars Volta, soaked in piss

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

Surprise, surprise: Pitchfork’s favorite punching bag, The Mars Volta, get an over-the-top bad review for their new album, Amputechture! The first sentence alone contains the phrases “piss-soaked indulgence” (piss-soaked? really) and “bombastic, mouth-foaming performances.” Pitchfork’s attitude towards this band borders on the comical, and I’m happy to see that the tradition continues in fine form.

I’m pretty excited to hear Amputechture myself, having heard that it’s a long way from the, uh, piss-soaked indulgence of last year’s crappy live album.

On a more positive note, this Sunday’s New York Times had a long article about Mastodon, another exciting modern band with a new album coming out. There’s lots of name-dropping of 70s prog bands and early metal groups.

And finally (links galore today), Dusted just published a feature-length article about the This Heat box, Out of Cold Storage, that I still need to get my hands on.

NYT Mag writes up Sunn O))) - seriously

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

Another couple links: first is this fantastic article in the New York Times Magazine (!) about Sunn O))) and avant-metal. Centered around some illuminating interviews with both members of the band, this is a respectful, even admiring article about some of the most out-there metal going on today.

Second is Bagatellen’s I Hate Music forum, which is generally populated by the sorts of people who like seriously avant-garde music but also dig indie rock (and, more rarely, prog-rock). This is a great forum on which I’ve been lurking for the past few months and learning a lot about a shit-ton of artists I’ve never heard of before. If you’ve more or less tapped out the knowledge base of, say, ProgressiveEars (or if, like me, your tastes have shifted away from the sorts of stuff regularly discussed there), I Hate Music might be the next stop.

(This is not to be confused with this “I Hate Music,” which is amusing but hardly edifying.)

Jazz as “the opposite of business”

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Nice ending paragraph from an article in today’s New York Times about the 2005 releases of a 1957 Thelonius Monk Quartet archival on Blue Note, and Coltrane’s One Down, One Up (which is at the top of my wish list).

This is how jazz works. It is not a volume business. (Its essence is the opposite of business.) Its greatest experiences are given away cheaply, to rooms of 50 to 200 people. Literature and visual art are both so different: the creator stands back, judges a fixed object, then refines or discards before letting the words go to print, or putting images to walls. A posthumously found Hemingway novel is never as good as what he judged to be his best work. But in jazz there is always the promise that the art’s greatest examples - even by those long dead - may still be found.

If this is the case, then, and I say this because I have Tzadik on the brain thanks to eMusic, John Zorn and company are following the right model — releasing scads of great live recordings alongside (or, in the case of bands like Electric Masada, in lieu of) relatively contemporaneous studio recordings. Tim Berne is another great example, as his Screwgun releases are often basically just high-quality audience DAT recordings packaged onto CDs.

On that topic, I’m currently most enthralled with the latest 50th Birthday release, Painkiller’s. This series has been a real goldmine for me, although I’ve been avoiding the non-band stuff (Zorn solo and with guests) except for Volume 5, the duo with Fred Frith, because I know that stuff will just grate on me more than anything else. But the stuff I do have is fantastic, including this one (Volume 12).

The New York Times on prog

Sunday, February 27th, 2005

There’s a great article in the Sunday New York Times this week about The Mars Volta’s upcoming Frances the Mute, and about prog in general. The author name-drops the usual groups like Dream Theater and Rush, but also mentions Cuneiform Records as well as post-rockers Mogwai and Sigur Rós. The review of Frances the Mute itself is very positive — I’m going to have to check this thing out; I was reasonably impressed by the band’s debut full-length, De-Loused in the Comatorium, though I didn’t think as highly of it as a lot of folks — but the comments on prog in a broader sense are also great. For instance:

Until recently, neither fans nor mockers admitted that progressive rock could also provide some of the same thrills - speed, whipsaw changes, sheer pummeling impact - as punk. That’s why many of prog’s musical twists migrated elsewhere in the 1980’s and 1990’s: the odd meters to hardcore and thrash metal, the dissonance to primitivist art rock, the convoluted song structures to indie rock and its proud subset of math rock.Prog may have been hopelessly uncool, but it was nothing if not alternative. Despite its brainy reputation, at its core it was a rebellion against ordinary pop. By any objective reckoning, it was also deeply demented. Who, after all, would labor over a suite in 13/4 time pondering the meaning of free will when the way to gigs and hits was with catchy love songs?

Nice to see prog not only not get a bad rap, but even actually garner praise, even if indirect, in a (very) mainstream publication.

Thurston Moore in the New York Times

Thursday, April 8th, 2004

Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth has an op-ed in the New York Times today. Interesting tidbit: Nirvana toured with The Boredoms? Really?