Jack White

FREE MUSIC IS AWESOME, SHORTCHANGING ARTISTS IS STILL INCREDIBLY LAME
June 24, 2016 2:24 pm

For many of us that have grown up with the internet, it’s hard to imagine a world where music and film and games and literature aren’t readily available–for free–somewhere on the internet.

The internet has enabled us to access to whatever music we want, whenever we want, wherever we want–but, contrary to popular belief, this unlimited accessibility doesn’t come without a cost.

Instead, we’re shortchanging the artists, and that’s incredibly lame.

A rockstar-studded force of industry top-brass has assembled in an effort to urge Congress to reform the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to provide new standards of transparency in calculating royalties. Their primary culprit?  YouTube.

The petition, which has amassed 186 signatures and counting, is comprised of top-performing artists from across a wide span of contemporary genres, such as heavyweights like Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Jack White, and U2. The DMCA is a comprehensive set of policies designed to revamp our copyright protections for the digital age–or in theory at least. The petition asserts:

The law was written and passed in an era that is technologically out-of-date… compared to the era in which we live.  It has allowed major tech companies to grow and generate huge profits by creating ease of use for consumers to carry almost every recorded song in history their pocket via smartphone, while songwriters’ and artists’ earnings continue to diminish.

youtubeYouTube in particular shields itself through the ‘safe harbor’ provision–which prevents the company from being punished for copyright infringement so long as they respond to takedown notices. However, DMCA lacks the teeth to allow individual artists–or even large groups of artists in the case of Universal Music Group–to fight larger stakeholders such as Apple or YouTube’s parent company, Google.

In the end, the DMCA appears to be most effective at punishing individual content publishers for posting videos of the their cats dancing to Beyonce’s newest single without first obtaining a license. Big time criminals.

YouTube meanwhile brings in revenue streams from all of its videos–and because it’s impossible to submit takedown notices for every unlicensed video–the artists end up with nothing in their pockets, while YouTube continues to bring in large profits, without being held to a higher standard of transparency.

On The other hand, Do we really need to vilify every tech firm that offers a music sharing service simply because they figured out the rules of the game faster than the rest of the music industry could catch up?

YouTube needs to change it’s model–but it’s a complex issue. Even if there was a more transparent model, one that allocated youtube-petitionroyalties based on a clearly known quantity of videos being watched or music being streamed at any given time, the process of dispersing royalties would still have to go through several layers–including major record label companies–before trickling back down to the artists.

Some have argued that if these streaming services can get it right, the music industry might be able to to convince our generation that its time to pay up.

On top of there being a strict standard of transparency, artists also need to arm themselves with more information regarding the royalties–a process that many artists are oblivious to so they can better judge their own recording contracts.

We’re really spoiled. Back in the day in order to listen to a new album, you didn’t get to just click a button and instantly listen to the new song. You had to get up, put clothes on, and go to the nearest record store, hand over money, buy a giant plastic disk in a cardboard sleeve, take it all the way back home, and place that giant wobbly disc on a spinning rubber wheel, dangle a fragile metal pin over it just so, as to cause the pin to scratch the plastic disc at 78 rotations per minute, so the new song you desired to hear 4 hours earlier would play. Heavens forbid that fragile metal pin snapped, or your power went out, or someone walked across the room during a good part of a song.

So at the very least, we can do our part to appreciate the convenience technology has provided us–that doesn’t mean never stream free music again, or never burn your friends a playlist of your favorite songs–that’s a ridiculous standard to try and achieve. It just means being aware of the obstacles facing new artists. It also means supporting new artists by, when you can afford it, purchasing some music (YASSOU ; TOW3RS ; IDGY) and giving yourself a giant pat on the back.

At ATYPICALSOUNDS, we’re dedicated to emerging artists–but more than ever, it’s really tough to make a living playing music. Too many stakeholders are taking too big of a cut–and unless we can established new standards of transparency, the grave reality is that artists might no longer be able to call their passion, their profession.

Let’s not let it get to that point.

THE KILLS: WHEN DOING IT TO DEATH IS A GOOD THING
April 13, 2016 11:04 am

The Kills came out with their first new single in 4 years last month.

It’s about damn time.

And the good news is “Doing it to Death” is sick. The new album Ash & Ice is slotted for a June 3rd release, and if their single is anything to base it off, we should be in for a treat.

Furthermore, their live show is straight bitchin.

Alison Mosshart (who you may know through her work with Jack White & The Dead Weather) and Jamie Hince have been working together since 2001 and it shows. They share an onstage chemistry that is truly infectious. These two clearly enjoy not just performing, but performing together. While Mosshart puts on a clinic of “How to Behave as a Lead Singer When Not Singing,” Hince plays the part of “the Rest of the Band.” Yes, The Kills do perform with a backing bassist and drummer, but the songs are still built around Hince’s ability to blend tones and textures into exciting songs. Mosshart brought a fiendish energy to the room with her vocals, and the two stomped all over the stage of Exit/In in Nashville.

Possibly the most refreshing aspect of the show was that it dispelled a slight worry about the new album. It’s evident that The Kills have moved a little out of the punk world and more into the indie one throughout their career. This is not an inherently bad thing, and frequently a band’s best work can occur at some point along this sliding scale, rather than at one end of it (see: Blood Sugar Sex Magik). But “Doing It To Death” could give some Kills fans pause. Simply put, it’s catchier than some of their older stuff. Emphasis on some. The Kills are no stranger to electronics – they started their career accompanied only by a drum machine. While some of the synth work may be a bit more forward in the mix, the effect is no different from that of the guitars on “Future Starts Slow,” the most successful song off their last record, Blood Pressures. And if you don’t think The Kills make catchy danceable songs, then you haven’t listened to “Getting Down” off 2008’s Midnight Bloom. Put it on now and thank me later.

The point here is not “The Kills make great catchy danceable tunes so why are you worried about them just doing that?” The point is that The Kills have always made great catchy danceable tunes in addition to the bluesy punky guitar and vocal centric tunes that they do SO well. They have no plans to let go of this side of their music, which they showed by performing songs like “Kissy Kissy” off their first album, 2003’s Keep On Your Mean Side. As much of their set was dedicated to getting the crowd moving, probably more was dedicated to getting the crowd feeling.

The Kills have been writing and performing together for 15 years. They are not getting worse at either of those things. They may continue to embrace a more centric style and production, but better that than forcing an aesthetic that is played out. The Kills continue to grow and evolve as a rock band, and we should all be excited for their next step.

kills

GOOD GRIEF BY LUCIUS UNLEASHES THE TWO-HEADED MONSTER
April 6, 2016 3:47 pm

What is it that we Americans say? Two heads are better than one. Case in point, Brooklyn’s Lucius, and their new album Good Grief. Equal parts dream pop and indie rock, Good Grief finds itself in a nice place—it somehow sounds both new and familiar. Solid production supports some good songs and a few great ones. The album fits squarely within current the indie pop realm, but sounds different enough that it doesn’t feel tired or played out.

Lucius jumped into the consciousness after the release of their first EP and album, Wildewoman, which scored them a run of shows opening for Jack White. Good Grief is not a huge leap for them, but it does bring a different overall tone. It seems like Lucius turned down some of their Americana influence and turned up the eletro-pop. Good Grief is pretty thoroughly stuffed with hooks. There are pensive hooks like in Madness” “What We Have (To Change)” and super danc-ey hooks like “Something About You” and the infectious “Almost Makes Me Wish for Rain.” Their single “Born Again Teen” seemed a bit frantic on its own, but in the context of the album, it is a blast of energy. Ballads “Dusty Trails” and “My Heart Got Caught on Your Sleeve” bring a tender side to the album and let the two front-women Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig show of their Berklee pipes.

The combo of Laessig and Wolfe is really what defines Lucius. Their backing band are no slouches. Dan Molad on drums, Peter Lalish on guitar, and Andrew Burri, on more drums and more guitars, and they all sing. The crew consistently provides busy and interesting music that can test the boundaries of having “too much going on” without actually stepping over. But it’s the ladies that really set the band apart.

On my first listen, Good Grief reminded me of St. Vincent’s self-titled album. But, while these two acts are definitely in the same ballpark in terms of music and style, there is one pivotal difference. St. Vincent is all about Annie Clark. I know it took me probably a year to learn that her name is Annie Clark and the band’s name is St. Vincent. Blondie fans know what I’m talking about. This misunderstanding could exist with Lucius but, it gets eradicated as soon as you look at a picture of the band and see two women in matching costumes. “They can’t both be ‘Lucius’… or can they?” Wolfe and Laessig dedicate their image to being as alike as possible. Setting aside the sheer amount of work that must take (two of every piece of weird mod clothing, identical hair color and style ALWAYS…), it achieves several effects. Having two identically costumed front women is like doubling a vocal on a recording, but all the time and with everything. When they perform live the power of a doubled vocal is there, but it’s also there when they pose for a band photo.

More importantly though, having two identical frontwomen depersonalizes both of them. Annie Clark and Debbie Harry took all the attention from St. Vincent and Blondie because they are beautiful women pushed to the front of the stage in wild costumes. But when you have two beautiful women pushed to the front of the stage in wild costumes together, something different happens. They don’t come across as an individual with a backing band, because they aren’t. They come across as two people that are part of something bigger. It encourages the fans in the audience to not just “look at the girl singing the songs,” but rather actually listen to the music and experience the show. It stresses that this band is not about one individual, it’s about the band.

The Dead Weather Are Set To “Dodge & Burn”
July 6, 2015 11:44 am

The Dead Weather officially announce their new album Dodge & Burn out in September on Third Man Records worldwide.

The third Dead Weather LP will feature eight brand new songs, along with the four previously released 7” tracks from Vault Packages #18 and #21 remixed and remastered. Dodge & Burn is sure to satisfy you with their dark magic that is The Dead Weather. 

The Dead Weather

Third Man Records and The Dead Weather have also announced Vault Package #25 which will be the ONLY special, limited edition version of the new album and will arrive the same week as the standard album release in September. The Dodge & Burn Vault Package will include: a limited edition Dodge & Burn LP pressed on ‘Inclement Weather’ vinyl housed in a soft-touch embossed sleeve featuring metallic ink and a Vault-exclusive alternate cover designed by Rob Jones with a limited edition bonus poster inside, the only physical 7” of the upcoming new single from Dodge & Burn on yellow vinyl with black debris, and a deck of custom Dead Weather playing cards designed by Silent Giants featuring the band members as the King, Queen, Jack and Joker.

Subscriptions for Vault Package #25 are open until July 31st, visit here for more information and to sign up now! If you need a reminder of what you’re in for, here are some clips of the previously released tracks from the upcoming album

“Dodge & Burn” serves as the follow-up to the bands 2010’s Sea of Cowards.

The bands press release stated, White, singer Alison Mosshart, guitarist Dean Fertita, and bassist Jack Lawrence “spent their rare and sporadic free moments over the past year recording together in Nashville. With the members of the band heavily involved in other projects, The Dead Weather will not be touring in support of the new album.”

Well that is a bummer!  At least Mr. White left us with some tracks to sink our teeth into.