Steve Albini, prolific musician and recording engineer (he prefers the latter term over record producer) gave us an insightful perspective on the music business in 1993 with his essay The Problem with Music.
His thoughts continue to be provocative and profound as you will read here from his keynote address at the Melbourne Face the Music Conference.
“The Internet Has Solved Music’s Problem”
By Steve Albini
As you have noticed, I haven’t posted individual songs in awhile. Currently I am abroad exploring my roots in Greece and Italy. Thankfully we have Jonathan L to entertain us weekly as well as my Saturday show on RadioBDC. Expect numerous new songs when I return.
From a T-shirt shop in Athens:
Many musicians have gone on to have successful careers in film, from Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley to Will Smith and Justin Timberlake.
But I can think of only two film stars who have crossed-over and prospered in music: Zooey Deschanel and Jared Leto. This is not to say that some actors are not accomplished musicians, but rather their musical pursuits are more of an avocation. Only Zooey and Jared have flourished as full-fledged musical stars.
They both have new albums due in May and we feature a track from each.
She & Him “Never Wanted Your Love” (Volume 3)
30 Seconds to Mars “Up in the Air” (Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams)
My annual Christmas Eve Broadcast takes place this year on RadioBDC, the Boston Globe internet station. From WBCN to WFNX and now to RadioBDC, the tradition continues from 6pm-Midnight.
Find it here: RadioBDC
This is the future.
I love this time of year and love the music that defines it. I was asked by a friend who is also addicted to Christmas music to write the liner notes for the CD that he sends out annually to a selective few. I share it with you now as it explains our addiction. We are hopeless and delirious and joyous:
We are a cult.
Although we are not specifically religious we are fanatics, with an avid devotion to our cause, peculiar rituals, odd practices, and our own idiosyncrasies. If you are reading this you are either a member of the cult or someone with whom we want to share our overwhelming passion. And we have no idea how many members from around the world are part of our cult as we operate only in small cadres, circulating our beliefs to a special few. In this specific case only 100.
We are the cult of the sound of Christmas, the purveyors of Christmas music.
Our goal is to impart the joy of great Christmas music and all of the love that it entails.
Throughout the year we scour used record stores, the internet and yard sales in search of this singular music and for songs worthy of being promulgated. With the blight of dreadful Christmas music (made more so in recent years by the web and home recording) we pride ourselves on presenting those songs that if heard one more time you would not kill the DJ but rather turn up the volume.
It is exceedingly difficult to write a good Christmas song, more so to write a classic. And only a few artists, like Saint Etienne and Sufjan Stevens, have written more than one. The song must convey the spirit of the season without being maudlin or overly sentimental. There are hundreds of new Christmas songs every year and we diligently listen to each and every one hoping to find the few diamonds amidst the detritus. And if an artist covers one of the classics, we are always looking for a unique interpretation.
Michael and I have never met in person, but as members of the cult we are brothers in arms. I have had the privilege of spreading the word for over 30 years via the radio and internet airwaves. He graciously credits me as an inspiration, but if this is so he has outdone his mentor. For 6 hours every Christmas Eve I have the benefit of playing the many precious Christmas songs from my collection, heard only once a year, coupled with the handful of new gems that I have discovered during the year. Michael, on the other hand, gives us 2, if not 3 CDs filled with unheard treasures. How he unearths so many hidden jewels is a yearly tour de force.
Why, you may ask, are we so obsessive? We have all been smitten in a moment in time by a sound, rhapsody or melody that is the joy of Christmas. Peace, love and understanding transmitted through song. Christmas is an ever evolving holiday with origins in the winter solstice. It is a time to bask in the warmth of loved ones, partaking in the bounty of our harvest as we settle in for long dark nights ahead. With this holiday we also bond with our neighbors through song for only together can we hope to survive as well as enrich our lives for another year. We of the cult know secretly in our hearts that there are many of us out there and our sincere desire is to unite this spirit not for a season but for four.
So whether you are dancing around the Christmas tree, wrapping presents beside the tree or making love under the tree, we are honoured to provide the soundtrack to your celebration. We feel your love and send you ours.
Old friend Jimmy Destri, best known as a member of Blondie, has been performing with his own band of late: Jimmy Destri and the Sound Grenade.
He has a show at the Spot in Providence this Sunday, April 22.
We have one pair of tickets. If you want them, just click the contact button (above!) and send us an email!
We’ve been offline for a couple of weeks, save Jonathan L, as I have been off the grid in Myanmar: a country transitioning to democracy with primitive infrastructure and lovely people amidst stunning landscapes and temples.
We resume this week.
The Shaggs are considered either the worst band of all-time or the greatest.
Three sisters from New Hampshire were forced by their father to form a band. The Wiggin girls recorded one studio album, Philosophy of The World, in 1969.
They couldn’t play and they couldn’t sing.
Adored by the likes of Kurt Cobain and Frank Zappa, the great rock writer Lester Bangs pronounced that the Shaggs were better than the Beatles. (Read his Village Voice review here.)
And now Shaggs: Philosophy of The World is an off-Broadway musical. (Read the New York Times review here.)
Listen to the title track from this landmark album. You be the judge.
A Message from Shirin Koohyar at Future Noise Music
Hi Everyone, after days of still trying to gather my thoughts on what to write here on such an exceptional person and a very close dear friend, I’m still struggling as there is so much…but there are two things that keep repeatedly coming into my mind, ‘Angel’ and Poly’s wonderful mom, ‘Joan’.
So I just want to say that Poly remains the wonderful voiced Angel that I first met some years ago, here to help us think daily towards being conscious, caring, forgiving and responsible human beings, without being ‘anti’ anything, through her unique beautiful spirit and genius lyrics.
There are no doubts in my mind that Poly is being rewarded royally for all that she has done and left us with, and I know she’s spreading her beautiful wings freely, playfully and so much much wider.
It takes an incredibly special woman to have given birth to this Angel, so my never ending thanks to Joan for bringing Poly into this world for us all to connect with.
I regularly read all the facebook and twitter comments to Poly and to each and everyone, in her beautiful innocent voice and genuinely surprised tone she would reply “Ahhh isn’t that nice, that’s so positive!” I can still hear her saying this every time I see your comments and I really hope that you can too.
Once again, thanks to ALL of Poly’s extended friends and fans, and in particular to a few, you know who you are, for your support on Poly’s facebook and twitter especially through this difficult period. Poly’s team will soon get back to hard work here to carry on making sure that her genius messages and last body of work reaches the deserved places that it needs to get to.
Whilst I know there are so many of you who would love to attend Poly’s funeral to pay your respects, it is her family’s wish to keep it a private intimate one, and we have to honour this. So wherever that you may be, I’m sure you’ll be able to connect with Poly in your own way, please do so this coming Thursday 12th of May when her funeral will be taking place at 3pm UK time.
We’ll soon start working on a tribute concert to take place some time late September, early October this year in London and will keep you all posted on any developments with that once we get some headway into it.
Poly’s sweet innocent voice and infectious boisterous laugh will remain in my ears forever, as well as one of her greatest quotes in a recent interview she did with Dave Simpson, so I’m going to end this note with that and extend my love and warmest wishes to you all, Shirin – Future Noise Music
“You remember that old song ‘Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see’? I’ve always felt that. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but I wouldn’t change a thing.” Poly Styrene, March 2011
The Oedipus Project is undergoing reconstruction.
We’ve been having problems with SoundCloud, the platform for our music playback.
Soon we will have a new player with all of the music on the site converted into the new format.
New post on Monday the 16th.
In the meantime, view baby bald eagles live!
Sad news as we have learned of Poly Styrene’s death from cancer.
Best known for her seminal work with X-Ray Spex and her female power anthem “Oh Bondage Up Yours!”, we featured her new Christmas song in December.
She had just released her solo album Generation Indigo in late March.
X-Ray Spex released one album in 1978 and then broke up. Germ Free Adolescents is a punk classic and Poly will forever continue to inspire.
“Thrash City” is from her latest solo album. And we’ve included “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” from 1977.
“Thrash City” by Poly Styrene
As we have discussed here in the past, corporations are increasing associating themselves with musicians in the alternative world to enhance their products. In kind, this corporate underwriting has helped these artists to survive and to create, particularly in light of the deteriorating revenue streams of the music business over the past couple of decades.
Gucci has commissioned Bat For Lashes (the wonderful artist Natasha Kahn) to cover Depeche Mode’s 1987 hit “Strangelove” as the soundtrack for the new fragrance Gucci Guilty Pour Homme.
Gucci has also made it a free download here.
“Strangelove” by Bat For Lashes