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?
Hear Country auteur Sturgill Simpson’s A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (out April 15th on CD, vinyl, and blue vinyl) at Amoeba SF on Friday, April 8th at 5pm -- a week before release date! Enter to win special limited edition t-shirts, canvas tote bags, and more! Plus, partake in some Sturgill cake! What's Sturgill cake? You'll just have to come on down to Amoeba SF and find out.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth spans the globe, musically and lyrically. Sail through diverse musical waters with Simpson, across styles and genres, with stops in Motor City and Music Row, Harlem and Stax, Berlin and London. He combines '70s Motown soul, R&B, classic rock, and some of that good ol' Nashville countrypolitan sound. Did we mention his haunting cover of Nirvana's "In Bloom," because we'd be remiss if we didn't. It's certainly something only a soulful and complex country performer like Simpson could pull off with flying colors, complete with down-home fiddle and Stax-style brass.
Indie folk singer-songwriter Aoife O'Donovan recently visited Amoeba Hollywood to play a selection of songs from her latest album, In the Magic Hour (Yep Roc). In this intimate Green Room Session the Massachusetts native, backed by her band, sings her unique brand of American-tinged folk rock in a brief but stirring performance. With a crystal clear, dulcet voice and simple melodies, O'Donovan's live show calls to mind Alison Krauss, who is a fan and has previously covered a song by the young singer.
O'Donovan starts her set off with the track "Detour Sign" before segueing into the bucolic beauty of "Magic Hour." Things take a turn for the upbeat on "Stanley Park" before she closes with "Hornets." O'Donovan's sparse, intriguing arrangements belie her special strain of songwriting informed by her Irish roots, American upbringing, and her time studying contemporary improvisation at the New England Conservatory. Take a listen; it's the perfect soundtrack to welcome in the coming of spring.
You can see Aoife O'Donovan on tour through July, including several summer folk and bluegrass festival appearances.
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.
The first time I heard "Cities in Dust," the lead single off Siouxsie & the Banshees' seventh studio album, Tinderbox (1986), I was hiding (once again) in my room from the horrors of being a weird adolescent in Midwestern suburbia and half-listening to a grainy distant college radio station. It was a Sunday afternoon, springtime, and I remember being in a good mood for once, because the weather outside was slowly turning into spring which meant that in another year or two I'd be on the verge of my long-planned escape to college in the big city.
The song starts off quietly, with what sounds like running water before segueing into some glittering yet ominous chiming. The drums pick up and that angular guitar attacks and Siouxsie starts singing some pretty obscure yet threatening lyrics which turn out to be about the destruction of Pompeii, if you look them up on the internet and then think about it for like, literally a second after watching the official music video. Some critics consider the song a harbinger of the band's still-to-come, more pop-center releases, but come on--this is still a deeply weird song, especially taking into account that it was a hit on the US Hot Dance Club Play chart.
Siouxsie & The Banshees - "Cities In Dust"