ARTICLE: There I was, working at an ad agency whose main office was located not too far from Amoeba Records and the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, not to mention a whole bunch of clubs, bars, nightspots, and everything else in that gaudy cesspool known as Tinsel Town. The ad shop was a medium-sized place with only a couple dozen employees but they had some very busy retail accounts like car dealerships and a national chain of pizza restaurants.
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ARTICLE: “That’s a hit song!” The speaker was Wendie Colter, complimenting fellow artist Fran Lucci on one of her warm numbers. This was just before Colter delivered one of several potential hit songs of her own. And it was near the middle of a set featuring nicely textured work by Denise (lead singer from the indie band Jacar), as well as several crowd-rousing numbers from the supremely strong-voiced Mara.
ARTICLE: Okay, who’s making this incredible racket? Oh wait, it’s Rakit, a three-piece group that never saw a volume-boosting device it didn’t like. The music they create is dark, mysterious, pounding, tortuous, arduous, twisted, hazardous, risky, treacherous, freaky, and full of danger. In other words, it’s great fun.
ARTICLE: Check the club schedules, call the shutterbug, throw on some jeans, grab the earplugs, gas up the car, hit the road, battle for a parking slot, and argue your way into the venue. Yup, ya gotta run that gauntlet to enable the music to wash over you and, hopefully, transport you to another part of the universe. Sometimes, it was all worth it.
Some of you will read the headline on this chapter and think the topic is the tooth-rotting tubes of goop called Otter Pops. But no. I write to you of something that was magical, splendid, and actually good for you. The Otterpops were a band that made a lot of marvelous music before their shelf […]
Hitting the clubs and hearing the sounds may be fun for you once in a while but I did it unselfishly three or four nights a week for years in order to bring you info on a few of the artists who were making noises that were cool, interesting, swinging, or fun. And even maybe […]
BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka: Chapter 11 – Tom Chaffee by SIHH — SIHH stands for Self-Important Hollywood Hipster, a disreputable character who, as you are about to see, is as opinionated as I am. This is less a review than a peek into the problems of attending live music in an age […]
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka: Chapter 10 – Hardsoft: Velvet Chain Beats You Up with a Kiss — Velvet Chain seduces you while battering you into submission. The hypnotic delivery of lead singer Erika Amato is the obvious starting point in analyzing how they accomplish this feat. But while she can deliver […]
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka: Chapter NINE – In the Mood Music — If you are fortunate enough to be exposed to the music of Cecilia Noel and the Wild Clams, one thing is certain: you will be moving your hips as they perform a wicked amalgamation of funk, salsa, soul, pop, […]
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka: Chapter EIGHT – Powder Keg — A truly exciting band is one with the ability to make your hair stand up all over your body and make you forget you missed dinner when you rushed to their show right after work. It is a group you will […]
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka: Chapter SEVEN – Unearthly Frequencies: Debby Holiday — Debby Holiday can use her voice with both precision and abandon in such a way that it reverberates inside your noggin. And even better, she touches your soul. Time sped up. The stars stood still. Inside Luna Park’s downstairs […]
BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka Chapter 6 – Hiding in Plain Sight: Rob Kendt, the Man Behind Millhouse
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Ambient Deviant Speedmetal Polka: Chapter SIX – Hiding in Plain Sight: Rob Kendt, the Man Behind Millhouse — Songwriters can succeed in more than one style of music but artists tend to do better by sticking to one easily-identifiable sound. So what happens when a multi-genre songwriter is the leader of […]
REVIEW: Written from the heart, Elton John’s “Love is the Cure” will confound those expecting to read about his musical career but in discussing AIDS and the work of foundations seeking to eradicate the disease, John has created a valuable document. Perplexing. That’s the word to describe Love is the Cure, the short book or […]
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Chapter FOUR – First, They Laughed: A Big Bad Blast of Buckethead — Hitting the stage incognito isn’t new but no one else has been outfitted like this: an oriental theater mask, a nylon hoodie, and a family-size chicken bucket from KFC. Reactions are derisive and derogatory until the guy starts […]
MuseWire BOOK SERIAL – Chapter THREE – Falling into the Abyss: Front Line Assembly — Industrial rock flirts with pure noise, goes out on dates with electronica, and then shacks up with body-bouncing beats. Having embraced all three of these approaches, Front Line Assembly makes music that is aggressive, loud, abrasive, anarchic, nihilistic, and existential. […]
MuseWire COLUMN: You say you want to make money in the music business and you don’t care how. Let’s see if you’re ready. Greedy? Check. Ruthless? Check. Predatory? Check. Okay, you just might be well-prepared to screw artists by putting on a music conference. Indie musicians dream of many things. Fame. Fortune. Somebody playing one […]
MuseWire COLUMN: In blending soul, R&B, gospel, and rock, Solomon Burke had the ability to reach from the stage and shake listeners to their very core. The might and majesty of Burke is honored in this updated version of a review of his 1997 stage show. It is just before midnight and I am standing […]
MuseWire COLUMN: David William Kearney is a guitar slinger who will happily do axe-battle with you using blues, R&B, or rock. He’ll take on all comers with sweet toned ballads or psychedelic frenzy. And as this long-lost nineteen-ninety-eight article shows, the man has incredible roots. Oh, and he’s still gigging. From the band’s first few […]
MuseWire COLUMN: Joke book or important guide to the music industry? Author and compiler Jeffrey Weber believes it is both. One thing is certain: you will laugh, wince, howl, grimace, and laugh some more. Two musicians walk into a bar. One doesn’t order a drink. Hey, it could happen. If you smiled, this book (“You’ve […]
MuseWire Column: Playing in rock bands, creating soundtracks for motion pictures and television, and writing modern classical music would be an impossible combination for most people but composer/performer Jocelyn Pook is succeeding in all of these arenas. Jocelyn Pook does not hear sound the way most people do. Whereas someone else might hear a droning […]
MuseWire REVIEW: Edward Kennedy ‘Duke’ Ellington’s music is not often discussed alongside the work of Igor Stravinsky, Bela Bartok, and Arnold Schoenberg, but Reed College professor David Schiff convincingly makes a case for comparing and contrasting the creativity of each of these composers. Gershwin, Ravel, Debussy, and Alban Berg show up, too. For music majors, […]
Music Industry Newswire COLUMN: After several visits to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the primary reactions were trepidation and consternation. The building itself is quite impressive but the well-packaged contents of the RARHOFAM are often silly and ultimately insignificant.
Music Industry Newswire COLUMN: His name was Paul Atkinson and he played electric guitar. He made music in the most inventive of the British Invasion bands, The Zombies, whose gorgeous harmonies, infectious hooks and intriguing jazz-pop blend made huge sellers of ‘She’s Not There,’ ‘Tell Her No’ and ‘Time of the Season.’
Music Industry Newswire COLUMN: When you hear the word ‘image’ you may think of a pretty picture or the manufactured persona of someone who is famous for being famous. But if you say ‘Baron Wolman image,’ suddenly you’re talking about beauty, truth, and iconographic permanence.
Music Industry Newswire COLUMN: Got a new product to announce? Then have a launch party! Got a cause, a business, a candidate? Launch party! But what’s the recipe? You line-up these ingredients: venue, food, alcohol, DJ, band, singers, photographers, videographers, and ink-slingers like me. Stir together and serve chilled.
Music Industry Newswire COLUMN: Smoothly written and dynamic, Sean Wilentz’ book is full of insight, commentary, and historical perspective about songwriting’s greatest poet. Like his subject, the work is reflection and refraction of fact, fancy, and fable.
Music Industry Newswire COLUMN: Storytellers are to be cherished and Clark Terry should be on a pedestal for his thoroughly entertaining autobiography. Brimming with life, love, music, and great characters, this book is as much a history of the twentieth century as it is a history of his ninety years (and counting!) .
MuseWire COLUMN: Not a musician, yet a giant of jazz. Undiplomatic, but an ambassador of American culture. Often impolite, but always truthful. Unequaled, yet a champion of equality. And that just touches the surface of Norman Granz, producer of more music than one might think humanly possible. Social justice made great strides in the United […]
MuseWire COLUMN: You may think of spoken word recordings as esoteric or antiquated, but in Jacob Smith’s new book they have a different purpose: to illuminate the roots of today’s society. When NASA launched the Voyager missions during 1977, the two spacecraft contained gold-coated phonograph records and music from around the globe. Among the recordings: […]
MuseWire COLUMN: Larry John McNally uses emotion like a paintbrush when creating songs. You may not know his name, but you’ve heard his work performed by Eagles, Bonnie Raitt, Don Henley, Aaron Neville, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart, Jennifer Warnes, Atlantic Starr, Average White Band and more. When a songwriter emphasizes emotional truth in his songs, […]
REVIEW: From his smooth writing style to his commitment to interviewing nearly every possible source involved with the material, there’s a lot to like about Joseph Vogel’s new book on the King of Pop. In fact, considering the poor quality of much that has previously been churned out on this topic, I think a lot […]
REVIEW: Singer and professional vocal coach Teri Danz decided to put her own private lesson plan into a book with accompanying CD. The results cover less than fifty pages but singers will find something valuable on every page. You can sing, right? You hit all the notes just perfectly, you’re never short of breath, and […]
REVIEW: Playing together since 1986, Dennis Davison and Jonathan Lea have now done the impossible: they have created an original Christmas album that still rocks (well, folk-rocks, anyway). Plus, it covers all the emotions that surround the season, not just the traditional upbeat ones. That the album does so at all is deserving of a […]
REVIEW: Music of the avant-garde is for those who are open to outrage, shock, conceptualized art, and boundary-pushing ideas. If you fit in that category, you will enjoy these tales of pioneers wrestling with the 1960s triumphs of their tragedies. Or perhaps it’s the other way around.
MuseWire COLUMN: Until a few days ago, Nektar was nothing more than a puzzling footnote to me. According to everything I had read, this band was a standout progressive rock outfit in Europe during the nineteen seventies. Not making it big in the United States, their fame remained underground to many stateside music lovers, including […]
Music Industry Newswire COLUMN: Buddy Holly. Songwriter. Rock and pop star. Not a one-hit or two-hit wonder, but a 27-hit wonder, all in about 18 months of worldwide fame. Born September 7, 1936, died February 3, 1959, but his songs will live until there is no more music.
REVIEW: Hearing one of the softer tracks from this album playing in my studio, a visitor dismissed it as “NIN lite.” I hear it as something much more complicated: “NIN expanded to include the invasion and conquest of modern classical music.” A chameleon alters its appearance to blend into its surroundings. A load-bearing wall supports […]
REVIEW: If his name sounds familiar, you are probably already a fan of rockabilly. But even if that genre’s blend of rock and country ain’t your thing, these songs are so much fun that you might become a Burnette-ette by the time you get halfway through the album’s dozen hip-shaking tracks. Perhaps you feel you […]
REVIEW: Before seeing the singer perform live, this album sat around the studio for a few months. After playing it a couple of times at various volume levels, the urge to write about it became too palpable to pass up. While several tracks leave me unmoved, the ones that work are propulsive, powerful and possessed […]
REVIEW: Noisemakers unite! Calling all anti-composers and radical music theorists! That was the idea of a group of wildly unpredictable academics and stars of the experimental music world back in “the sixties.” Cage, Oliveros, Neuhaus, Reich, Budd, Foss and dozens more appear in this collection of pieces originally published in the eleven unusual (and now […]
ARTICLE: You already know that pitching songs to music supervisors can be a good thing. In fact, everyone else also knows it, from players and songwriters to publishers and managers. That’s part of the problem. Too many people involved with music are aware of the excellent reasons for making a pitch, including money, exposure, money, […]
REVIEW: Back in the early 1990s, Randy Poe authored a book entitled “Music Publishing: A Songwriter’s Guide.” Several revisions, editions and rewrites later, Poe returned with “The New Songwriter’s Guide to Music Publishing” (Writer’s Digest Books, 157 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1582978048, $18.99) and I am here to tell you that it’s terrific, informative, helpful, and friendly. […]
MusicIndustryNewswire COLUMN: Quick, take this test: Which of the following names do you recognize? Eddie Kramer. Elliot Scheiner. Matt Forger. Ken Allardyce. Michael C. Ross. Rafa Sardina. Joe Chiccarelli. Brent Fischer. Time’s up. Pencils down. Anyone have some answers? (Anyone, anyone, Bueller. . . ?) Whether or not you can identify those names, it’s a […]
MuseWire COLUMN: Not in my house! How many kids have heard that phrase from an outraged parent who is nearly apoplectic over the latest sonic creation of artists in rock, pop, rap, modern country, goth, death metal, etc.? From the Andrew Sisters’ “Rum and Coca Cola” to recordings by The Fugs, Cee-Lo, Prince, NWA, Ornette […]
MusicIndustryNewswire COLUMN: Some songs sound special. There are recordings where there are licks that are tasty and satisfying every time you hear them. Recordings with such a powerful groove that you dance even if you’re sitting down. Recordings where the atmosphere or the feel is unique or even majestic, and the songs never lose their […]
MuseWire COLUMN: For the first twenty years of rock ‘n’ roll, brand names were not often associated with band names. The prevailing view was that corporate sponsorship represented crass commercialism. But by the time of The Rolling Stones 1981 tour, things had changed. Jovan, manufacturer of Musk, was prominently featured in most aspects of the […]
MuseWire COLUMN: Let’s say you want to make some money in the music business. Let’s also say you have no scruples about how you get the cash as long as it looks somewhat legit. There are many dark alleys down which you can run, but there’s also a brightly lit pathway that is a relatively […]
COLUMN: Since I started managing a music publishing company, many songwriters, singers, bands, managers and composers have sent me e-mails asking about decisions they need to make in their careers. One of the most common questions is “Should I sign a non-exclusive agreement with a library that wants to re-title my songs?” If I give […]