Media Roundup: A Cup of Lists, A Pinch of Controversy, and A Handful of Tasty MP3s

What’s been going on in the world of music lately? Read on to get the scoop on your favorite artists, and start some discussion about current music-related events!

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MTV may not be as cutting edge as it once was, but its website is currently in the middle of an advertising controversy.

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Pete Doherty lets fans in on some of the details of his forthcoming solo album, featuring guitar work from Blur’s Graham Coxon.

Pete Doherty

Pete Doherty

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Be sure to catch Fleet Foxes on Saturday Night Live this week.

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Your bootleg this week comes courtesey of the Aquarium Drunkard blog.  Check out a great Guided By Voices’ 1995 show.

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Ben Taylor will play the High Noon Saloon on February 8th.  Blog readers looking for a handful of mp3s to sample before he hits town should head over here to have a listen.

Ben Taylor

Ben Taylor

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NPR celebrated 50 years of Motown Records with a discussion with Detroit critic and author, Gary Graff.  Click here to listen.

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Reflections on the great year in music that was 2008 keep pouring in.  Check out this local fan’s impressions here.

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Rolling Stone has rounded up the favorites of your favorites! See what musicians like Ezra Koenig, Noel Gallagher, Gregg Gillis, and Santogold liked in 2008.

Santogold

Santogold

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Hip-hop fans will want to check out NPR’s list of the best “mixtapes” of 2008.

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It’s hardly news anymore:  Kanye West overreacts.  This time it’s over grey hair.  Seriously.

Kanye West

Kanye West

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Billy Zantzinger, the villian inspiration for Bob Dylan’s “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” passed away on January 3rd.  Here is Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Robert Levon Been performing the moving song in a session for Minnesota Public Radio.

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A Note from The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady will be performing one week from today at the Majestic Theatre. Get your tickets now as they haven’t quite sold out yet but are very close..

The Hold Steady was born out of some loose talk in my Boreum Hill apartment in 2002. I had moved to Brooklyn about two years earlier. I was thirty-one years old, and the other dudes were about my same age. Our concept was to start a straight rock band, with low aspirations. Just local shows, no touring, and most likely no real records. We practiced for a while and then played our first show in January 2003 at North Six, in Williamsburg. I was surprised at how many people showed up.

The show went well. It reminded us, all veterans of hard luck bands, that music can be fun. We played our second show in Baltimore, and it sort of becomes a blur after that. We quickly broke our rules about no touring and records, and released three records in three years. We lost one member and added two others. The most recent record, 2006’s Boys & Girls in America, was successful enough to get us in a bunch of magazines and take us pretty much around the world. It was, to be honest, pretty ironic- the band that set out to do nothing became a critics favorite and a touring machine. The Hold Steady had become our lives.

Thus, when we began talking about a new record, it became obvious that in order to keep up our schedule of releases, we would have to start writing on the road. We hadn’t done a lot of this previously. Ideas started taking shape in hotel rooms during while we played European festivals in Summer 2007. Laptop demos were recorded and shared. I remember Tad coming up with the title track, “Stay Positive”, backstage at Manchester Academy. The music from “Lord, I’m Discouraged” had its genesis partly in Milan and partly in Hamburg. We couldn’t slow down, but we could get ready.

When the touring wrapped up, we went straight into rehearsals and fleshed out the ideas that were banging around. As with each record, there was a desire to make it more musical than the last one. In this case, more musical meant an attempt at more dynamics, different instrumentation, more complex arrangements, and not always hiding behind raw volume. The songs came together quickly, but were painstakingly rehearsed and reviewed, with many minor changes made along the way.

Finally, in early January 2008, we showed up at Water Music in Hoboken NJ to record our fourth record. We worked with John Agnello again, as we had developed a great sense of trust with him during the Boys & Girls sessions. When John says something sucks, it probably sucks.

We recorded basics for nineteen songs. Everyone was very excited with the progress. Everyone played to their utmost potential. Lyrically, I had an idea of what I was trying to say much earlier in the process than on our previous records. Spirits were high.

We moved on to Wild Arctic Studios in Queens for vocals and overdubs and then to the Magic Shop in Soho for mixing We got some of our most favorite rock musicians to sing and play on it. We had some minor struggles, and a bunch of really good times. Finally, in mid-February, it was done.

Its always interesting how a record reveals itself to you. You can go in with the best-laid plans, but there is always a fair amount of uncertainty. Late night brainstorms become defining moments. Accidents become choruses. You might write the record, but it ends up teaching you something about yourself.

We kick off this record with “Constructive Summer”, a driving song about trying harder. “Navy Sheets” features a guest harmony vocal by Patterson Hood from the Drive-By Truckers, who have been a modern day inspiration to us. “Both Crosses” was a live in the studio experiment that ended up working. The record ends with “Slapped Actress”, which combines a mammoth Tad Kubler riff with a lyric inspired by the John Cassavetes movie Opening Night.

I think this record, musically and lyrically, is about the attempt to age gracefully. This is no easy feat, especially in rock and roll. I am now 36, and will be 37 shortly after this record is released. At the age of 30 I was working in an office, thinking my rock band days were behind me. This last summer we opened for the Rolling Stones in Ireland. We have met many of our musical heroes.

Meanwhile, in the five years since forming, the guys in the band have gone through a bunch of typical thirty something stuff- babies born, family members dying, relationships started, relationships ended, health problems, joy, struggle, life, etc.

But possibly the most exciting aspect of our band is the community of fans that have followed us around the country. In talking to them, we have found that no matter their ages, they are so much like us as people, that they seem at times an extension of the music. A great American philosopher named D. Boon once said “Our band could be your life”. I think that is true. But “Your Life could be Our Band” is also a true statement. I know this because we have lived it.

These are our lives. These are your lives. This is our fourth record. Stay Positive.

Craig Finn

Brooklyn NY

4.21.08

Our hardworking interns and True Crew members snagged up the few coveted guest list spots we had available for this one. To make it up to all our super radical fans we are offering a guest list spot plus one to any other show we have this week. Just be the second person to email MJ@TrueEndeavors.com with “Win (the band you want to see) Tix” in the subject line. I will always respect your info, promise.

Media Round-up..The Queen of Rockabilly and More

Looking for the buzz on artists touring through Madison?

The Swell Season show this Monday sold out in 24 hrs. but for those of you have been wondering who the opener will be, Nina Nastasia has been chosen.

Mojo says: “These intimate hushes and lilts would be remarkable even as instrumentals…. Yet it’s Nastasia’s voice–and the words that it sings–that really sucks the air out of the room.”

Check out her free download: Nina Nastasia- Our Day Trip, 2006 On Leaving

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Were you one of the fans disappointed by the break up of Page France? Well the frontman for that now defunct band started “The Cotton Jones Basket Ride” playing at Café Montmartre on June 22.

Check out this free download: The Cotton Jones Basket Ride- To Death With You, 2007 Paranoid Cocoon

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If you are one of the few who don’t know about legendary Wanda Jackson listen up..Ms. Jackson is sometimes referred to as the first female rock-n-roll singer, and is celebrated as “The Queen of Rockabilly”. She toured with peers Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Buddy Holly. Although ultimately she spurned Elvis’ romantic attempts, he is the one who encouraged her to shift from country and gospel to rock. Check out what else she has to say about the two of them in this Rolling Stone article. She has been nominated for 2 Grammys and inducted in to countless halls of fame. You can’t miss out on seeing the legend in person at age 71 Wed June 25 at the High Noon Saloon.

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Local media coverage of True Endeavors shows:
Austin psychedelic rockers The Black Angels interview/preview in Madison Music Review
Photos of Ingrid Michaelson at Barrymore in Muzzle of Bees
Ingrid Michaelson Review in Isthmus

Media Roundup: Okkervil River return!

And the concert announcements keep coming! After all-but stealing the show when opening for the New Pornographers at the Orpheum two months ago, Okkervil River have already planned their return trip to Madison. The band will headline a show at the Barrymore Theatre on Sunday, September 14, in support of the impending release of their new album, The Stand Ins, on September 9. with tickets already available. This one is a sure sell-out, so don’t miss this one, kids. (Check out this piece from Paste Magazine for more info on the tour and Okkervil’s forthcoming release).

As discussed in previous entries, last evening’s Silos concert at High Noon was a benefit for Drew Glackin, the band’s bassist who tragically passed away earlier this year from a thyroid condition. Isthmus’ Marc Eisen candidly discussed his experiences with Glackin in a touching editorial earlier this week, and it is certainly worth a read. Rest in peace, Mr. Glackin.

Two upcoming shows in town, Ingrid Michaelson tomorrow (Saturday) evening and Stephen Marley next Wednesday, June 11, both at the Barrymore, have also been garnering local media attention this past week. Read Michaelson’s interview from the Capital Times and story in the Isthmus, as well as the Cap Times’ Marley profile.

As it has been underscored in many previous entries on this blog, I thought it would mentioning the Rolling Stone’s interesting feature on the “new music economy” — a world where it’s beginning to seem that some bands can earn more cash licensing tunes for commercials than selling albums. The music industry is a very different animal than it was even five years ago, and It’s an important read for musicians and music fans alike.

Bogged down at the office and haven’t made it to as many shows as you’ve liked? As usual, below are links, reviews and interviews from the past week of shows, including the Nels Cline Singers, the everybodyfields and Langhorne Slim.

And that’s the roundup! Have any thoughts on recent shows? Photos you’d like to share? Let us know, either through email or by leaving a comment, because we’d love to hear from you.

Best Music Hang-outs Online: Social Networks Part 1

With the overwhelming array of choices and services for the ordinary music fan or band I decided to take some time to look over online music spots. I quickly realized that no list could ever be complete (without you crying for me to stop at least).

I’ll start with some music-centered social networking site picks for this week, and then continue on with others in a future post. Here is my own compilation of the best, weirdest, or at least most unique sites..

what are your faves?

LAST FM

This site refers to itself as the “social music revolution”. LastFM is one of those smart sites that reads the contents of your personal music catalog (upon registration) and makes recommendations as to other music you might like. It offers up a personal profile, radio players, artist pages, concert updates, music videos, free song downloads (thought you might want to go straight to that one), and more. Bands can create their own pages as well and anybody can upload music.

Here’s how they put it: Last.fm taps the wisdom of the crowds, leveraging each user’s musical profile to make personalised recommendations, connect users who share similar tastes, provide custom radio streams, and much more..we are a London-based company with a music-obsessed team of developers and creative professionals from around the world.

So there you go.

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MYSPACE:

I know that everyone and their grandmother knows about the MySpace empire, but I can’t really write this without including them. Although it is not just a music site Myspace is used by just about every band in existence. It is an easy access tool to the latest updates, tour stops, blogs, music, downloads, photos, etc from bands and is totally free for any band to use.

Organized and easy use, you don’t have to be web savvy at all to have a really cool personal or band site, or to find out more about your friends new favorite band. I am often surprised at how many bands also offer free downloads from their sites. Probably more used as a social networking tool by bands than any other site in existence, it is definitely the most direct way to hear from and hear literally what bands are up to.

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ALL AT ONCE:

This site is different than the others in two main ways: 1.) It is based entirely on the music of Jack Johnson, and 2.) The primary focus is purportedly to be a new social action network where you can discuss issues and events, explore non-profit groups, and take action to make positive change in your local and world community.

I am unsure if there exist other “social action network” sites that center around music but it is an obvious collaboration. If you sign up you are the lucky recipient of a free download, access to the community discussion forums, upload videos of your own community projects, and can give money to select organizations. Mostly however this site appears to be an online Jack Johnson alter. Anybody have experiences here or know of other music & social action sites?

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MOG:

Another smart music site (and one of my faves) is MOG. This site also reads your music files and makes personalized recommendations. MOG is essentially a blogging site for serious music fans. The personal pages offer many options and it is likely you will find complete strangers offering up earnest and intelligent comments in response to your posts. There are also artist pages where anyone can add info about specific bands and musicians. The user generated writing is high content and high quality- many “Moggers” are clearly in the music industry.

From the horses mouth: Imagine if Rolling Stone or MTV had thousands of writers and producers contributing news, reviews, songs, and videos that were filtered based on what you were listening to, so you could always find the good stuff. That’s exactly what MOG is doing..One of the first online communities built exclusively for music lovers, MOG was founded in June 2005 by CEO David Hyman. MOG has been funded to date by Angel investors and is headquartered in Berkeley, CA.
The MOG Gazette

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ILIKE:

Ilike is probably most well known by it’s Facebook application. This smart player (through the website) also reads your music collection, and gives you personalized recommendations. It is very friend centered; you receive more recommendations with additional friends, it displays what your friends are listening to, and it will give you a detailed breakdown of how your tastes are similar or different than theirs. Additionally you can program it to give you recommendations through your ITunes account as well as other channels. Artists may also create their own profiles.

The same company runs the “artist community” Garage Band and a “broadcaster community” called G Cast. They say: We invite every music lover to participate in a more democratic music industry. By rating, recommending, or simply by listening to music, you’ll impact what gets recommended to others.

– social music discovery

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JAM NOW:

Unlike the others, this social network is aimed at primarily at musicians. Both musicians and music fans can create their own profiles which include basic descriptions. The very unique feature here however is that musicians can broadcast live over the internet, even jamming with other musicians anywhere in the world through the site. Keep in mind, that such internet use will require a more than decent modem/router set up, personally I have my sights on the ubee modem, their product line is sturdy and without extra bells and whistles. Meanwhile, fans as well as musicians and site members can listen in.

Self description: Unlike sites that allow users to “post and listen” to audio content, our innovative technology platform enables real-time music collaboration and creation, linking musically oriented communities of interest.

Now that’s cool.

JamNow Forum

MOG