Bob Mould’s 13th solo album might be the fiercest thing he’s put to tape since his days fronting Husker Du. Though the guy who practically invented alt-rock never really softened with age, songs like “The End of Things” are shockingly fast and furious. Mould displays the energy of a man less than half his age on songs like the breakneck-speed “Hands Are Tied.” Though less concerned than ever with anything constituting a shiny pop song, his sense of melody is as strong as ever on catchy songs like “Hold On” and “Pray for Rain,” which sound like lost Alternative Nation hits. His returning backing band of bassist Jason Narducy (Split Single, Verbow) and drummer Jon Wurster (Superchunk, Mountain Goats) keep things excitingly full-throttle over unfussy arrangements on songs like the shoegazey “Lucifer and God” and the brutal “Losing Time.” Who needs a Husker Du reunion when Mould’s solo career is still going this strong?
Today the RIAA revealed numbers showing that vinyl sales made more revenue than ad-supported free streaming services, such as YouTube and Spotify’s free models.
Vinyl sales climbed 32% last year to $416 million, which is the highest they’ve been since 1988, according to the RIAA, which was around the time CDs overtook vinyl and cassettes as the dominant medium for music sales. By contrast, free, ad-supported streaming rose only 31% to $385 million in 2015. The news spurred a number of "Vinyl is back!" headlines once again, although vinyl still only makes up 6% of the music retail sales.
But these numbers only tell part of the story. Even if you include paid subscriptions to Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal etc., artists don’t see much of that money. Spotify themselves admit to paying only between $0.006 and $0.0084 to labels and rights holders per stream (this number combines all paid and unpaid user streams and also takes into account the share labels take). Once labels take their share, an artist might make only $0.001128 per song, according to the Guardian. And these services aren’t even profitable yet.
While streaming might pay out decently for the likes of someone popular like, say, Kendrick Lamar or Katy Perry, who get tens of millions of streams, the payouts are paltry for mid-level and independent artists. Numbers vary as far as how much artists actually make per physical album sold — it can be around 11% when you factor in deductions, according to Rollingstone. But while a nice piece of vinyl can sometimes feel like a splurge, it’s always worth remembering that buying an album physically is a better way of supporting the artists making the music than streaming.
Seemingly, all manner of ’90s nostalgia already has come up. But HAELOS find a new place in the hallowed decade to mine, and they come up with gold on their debut record for Matador. Stringing together bits of trip hop and crossover new age (think Enigma), Full Circle forges a unique blend out of forgotten sounds that sounds utterly contemporary — imagine The xx if they were more concerned with upbeat grooves than breathy dramatics. The immediate thing that hits you about tracks like “Pray” are those delicious, turn-of-the-’90s house-inspired beats, but Lotti Benardout’s reverbed, soulful cry and Arthur Delaney and Dom Goldsmith’s hushed whispers keep you around. HAELOS are preternaturally adept at layering sounds together, like the dueling vocal harmonies of “Earth Not Above” and warbling synths in the title track. But they also temper that with space to let the songs breathe, like the heart-stopping breaks in “Dust.” Full Circle is completely enchanting and easily stands strong beyond its influences. Sexiest album of 2016? It’s not too early to call it.
The first of two "Changesbowie" comps includes his biggest singles from the first part of Bowie's career, including songs like "Space Oddity," "Changes" and "Rebel Rebel." Half of the limited, 180-gram Parophone vinyl reissues comes in clear, half in black (the color's not mentioned on the sleeve and it'll be completely random as far as which will be inside).
Many of Bowie's early albums were reissued on LP last month, shortly after his death Jan. 10. They include The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars, The Man Who Sold the World, Pinups, Hunky Dory, David Bowie, Aladdin Sane and Bowie at the Beeb.