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Well, I can’t post something about George Michal and not do the same for Leonard Cohen, who did a Bowie last month by releasing a great new album on his birthday and passing away shortly afterwards.

The title track is very apropos – not just of Cohen’s passing, but 2016 in general.



It’s a high note to go out on – even this late in the game, Cohen still had a way with words and imagery. Helping things out here are the musical arrangements via son Adam Cohen, which are in some ways the kind of minimalist background typical of a Cohen album, but with some striking variations from the formula here and there. It’s made a lot of Best of 2016 lists, and it will likely make mine as well.

Ironically, when Cohen passed, most of the media focus wasn’t on the new album but his back catalog, specifically that song, which everyone knows thanks to Jeff Buckley’s cover version (which I blogged about ages ago – note that the YouTube links are all busted). I can understand that – after all, Cohen was one of the best singer-songwriters of his time, so it’s only right to focus on the classics that earned him that rep.

My own introduction to Cohen was via – of all things – the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, which featured two songs from his album The Future. I liked the songs, but even then I didn’t realize his songwriting reputation until the Tower Of Song tribute album came out. That album is a mixed bag, but it encouraged me to check out the source, and I’ve been an intermittent fan ever since – I say “intermittent” because to be honest, not every Cohen album is a winner, and a little Cohen does go a long way for me.

Still, if you need a song, he had a tower full of ‘em.

Here’s one my favorites that that isn't that one.



I’m sentimental if you know what I mean,

This is dF
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Well, maybe it won’t. But it seems the more interesting new music releases I’ve come across in the last few months fit that description.

First there’s Tricot, a math-rock band from Japan who has released their second EP, Kabuku. The angular jazz chords and shifting time-signatures are kind of standard, but it’s the multi-layered vocals that help Tricot stand out, for my money.

Here’s the lead-off single, “Setsuyakuka”:



And then you have Korean band Jambinai, which combines traditional Korean folk instruments with post-rock, heavy metal and hip-hop. The result is surprisingly hypnotic and surreal.

Here’s the closing track from their second album, A Hermitage, out now:



To defy the laws of tradition,

This is dF
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The Thermals are back album #7, and the question for many fans remains: “Is it as good as The Body The Blood The Machine”?

Which is unfair, maybe, but it’s a common problem for any band that makes a defining, landmark album then has to spend the rest of their career in its shadow. That said, Thermals leader Hutch Harris doesn’t seem to be losing sleep over it. And it’s not like their post-TBTBTM output has been awful. For my money, Now We Can See and Desperate Ground are underappreciated gems, and while Personal Life didn’t quite work for me, there’s still some good stuff there.

The new album, We Disappear, is thematically concerned with how people resist the end of things, be they relationships or life itself to the point of posting everything about themselves online in a possible bid for immortality after we die, as the opening track declares.



Musically, it’s also a step forward in that The Thermals expand their sound slightly – it’s still simple three-chord power-pop with Harris’ earnest yelp, but with more layered guitars and judicious use of echo on a few tracks.

That said, it’s still basically the standard Thermals template, and that’s why – as with the last few albums – I’ll need to revisit it a few times. But history suggests this one will grow on me.

We will always exist,

This is dF
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Since the previous installment of this series covered David Bowie’s final album, it’s only fitting we should follow that up with Post Pop Depression, Iggy Pop’s final album

Well, maybe. He’s suggested he will likely retire after this. If so, he’ll go out swinging.

What fans will make of it may depend in part on how they feel about (1) the rest of Iggy’s solo catalog (i.e. is it as good as Lust For Life?) and (2) Josh Homme, who is Iggy’s musical partner here, along with Dean Fertita (of Homme’s main band Queens Of The Stone Age) and Matt Helders (drummer for Arctic Monkeys). As such, musically it bears a slight resemblance to Queens Of The Stone Age and/or Homme’s various side projects or desert-jam sessions.

But it would be a mistake to call this a QOTSA album with Iggy as frontman. It’s much more than that. Musically it’s more reflective than heavy, the sound of a guy who gave his all for the rockinrolls and lived to tell the tale. Which pretty much sums up Iggy’s career.

And of course Iggy dominates the set as only Iggy can, with lyrics that range from languid and sentimental to sputtering rage and the occasional venture into self-aware goofiness. They’re not all classics but I think several tracks here hold up against even the best of his back catalog.

All up, it’s a solid and often spellbinding album. More importantly, it’s the sound of Iggy Pop doing what he’s always done – whatever he wants, and on his own terms.

Here’s one of the better tracks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THm7TIOK8ks&nohtml5=False



Slick as a senator’s statement,

This is dF
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It’s been a slow year for new music, mainly because most of the new releases I’ve been looking forward to weren’t scheduled to drop until the end of March or early April. So basically until this week, the only new album of 2016 that I’d heard was David Bowie’s Blackstar. Which, amazingly, I haven’t blogged about yet.

I shall do that now.

Basically, it’s brilliant.

And of course since I heard it a week after Bowie’s passing, we may never know how big an influence that will be on my assessment. But I had heard the title track the month prior to his death and thought it was just stunning, so I feel pretty sure about this.

I also liked the two songs here that were released a year ago alongside the Nothing Has Changed comp, “Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)” and “’Tis a Pity She’s A Whore”, although Blackstar has new versions recorded with the jazz band Bowie recruited for the album. I have to say I like this version of “Sue …” more – it’s still jazzy but with a little more dramatic tension to it.

You can compare them, if you like. Here’s the Maria Schneider Orchestra version.



And here’s the Blackstar version.



And of course we all know by now that “Lazarus” was an intentional farewell song. In fact, Tony Visconti has said Bowie – who had already been diagnosed with cancer – knew this would be his last album. Leave it to Bowie to turn his death into an artistic statement.

There will always be arguments over how it compares to the rest of Bowie’s catalog, but I think it’s one of his strongest albums. And given the strength of his best work, I don’t see that it matters if it’s better than, say, Ziggy Stardust or the Berlin trilogy or whatever. It’s a great Bowie album, and it’s grand that Bowie was able to go out swinging.

So anyway, this is the first great album of 2016, and it’s hard to imagine anything else topping it.

Oh folly Sue,

This is dF
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Or, “Rocket From The Tombs is legend”.

In certain circles, anyway. RFTT is one of the few bands where people are more likely to be more familiar with the bands that it spawned after breaking up (Pere Ubu and Dead Boys) than the original band itself. RFTT Mk 1 had a rep for being a fiery force of nature onstage, and their original lifespan was so short and sharp that they never made it into a recording studio. Bootlegs of their live shows circulated for years until they finally got a proper release in 2002.

Since then, RFTT has reconvened in various forms for three studio albums, the third of which – Black Record – is out now.

I missed the first two, partly because I didn't hear about them, and also because I’m one of those people who knew Dead Boys and Pere Ubu more than RFTT. I’ve been hipped to the new one, and I have to say I like it.

I will say it’s a little disappointing in that David Thomas and Craig Bell are the only original members left, so the line-up is not quite as impressive as the previous album, which included Cheetah Chrome and Richard Lloyd. On the other hand, there’s a lot to like here, including a killer version of “Sonic Reducer” (which may be better known via Dead Boys, but it was originally an RFTT song).

I can’t say how all this holds up to the previously released stuff, but on its own merits it’s reasonably solid.

Listen to the single.



Going bad,

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I’ve always loved the idea of soundbites and dialogue samples in music, especially when they serve as the lyrics to a song. And if it’s NASA radio chatter, I just swoon.

So when I found out that the new album from Public Service Broadcasting – a UK duo that basically takes old documentary voiceovers and sets them to music – was centered on the 1960s space race between the US and Russia, I had to check it out.

I’d heard of Public Service Broadcasting before, but hadn’t paid much attention to them. They’re now my new favorite band, and The Race For Space is a contender for Album Of The Year.

Musically it’s a mix of electronica and rock, and while the music isn’t especially groundbreaking for the genre, it fits in perfectly with the documentary voiceovers. It’s sort of like a soundtrack for a documentary that doesn’t exist, only one that would take the kinds of chances that a real doc soundtrack wouldn’t take – like turning Russian propaganda about Yuri Gagarin into an Afro-Funk dance track, or turning a systems check into a call-and-response rock number.

Listen.



This probably isn't for everyone, but it pushes almost every nerd button in my head. I’m loving this.

Start the countdown,

This is dF 



 
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Band reunions seem to be an inevitable thing these days – possibly because there aren’t many “new” bands that are generating the same unique magic as bands that came together in the 60s, 70s and 80s, when the music business was a much different animal than what it is now.

Still, there are some bands you can’t imagine getting back together, if only because their split was so acrimonious. The Replacements come to mind. And also Violent Femmes.

Both bands have reunited in the last couple of years, although The ‘Mats have reportedly already broken up again (of course). The Femmes are still more or less together – Victor DeLorenzo did some reunion shows then quit, but Gordon Gano and Brian Ritchie have managed to keep it together enough to actually record an EP, which came out on Record Store Day.

It’s called Happy New Year. And it’s pretty good.

Try the title track.



“Pretty good” is of course a relative term – the Femmes are one of those bands who made one of the greatest and most influential debut albums of all time, then spent the rest of their career in its shadow – possibly deliberately, since Gano and Ritchie have said in interviews that they’d had no interest in doing the same record again.

Is the new EP as good as “Blister In The Sun” or “Add It Up”? Probably not. Is it better than most of Why Do The Birds Sing? An argument could be made (depending on whether you think that album is underrated or not).

But it does feature that trademark mix of angst and dark humor that the Femmes are remembered for.

If nothing else, it sports the best album cover I’ve seen so far this year. And finally we have another good alt.new year song to turn to during the holidays.

Good for / at nothing,

This is dF

 
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The surf/instrumental rock revival has been chugging along now for close to 25 years now – which is remarkable on a couple of levels:

1. That’s almost five times as long as the original surf/instrumental rock craze lasted in the 1960s.

2. The musical parameters of the genre are, let’s admit, pretty limited.

The first point should come with the caveat that the original surf-rock craze was far more mainstream and dependent on radio airplay. The revival era has been more underground, but the indie scene has evolved to the point that it’s possible to sustain a specific sub-genre for as long as there’s enough of an audience to justify it.

As for the second point, well, that’s why the surf/instrumental rock scene is populated with bands that sound great, and yet so similar that really, if you buy a certain number of albums (say six or seven) you’ve already got most of the musical bases covered, which I suspect is why many surf bands tend to differentiate themselves via their stage shows rather than their songs.

Still, some bands do manage to stand out musically for one reason or another. Opinions and mileage may vary, of course, but one band I’ve liked for awhile now is Los Tiki Phantoms. They’re from Barcelona, and visually they tend to go for a South Pacific voodoo look with skull masks and waistcoats, while musically they’re more Link Wray than Surfaris. It’s not a whole lot of variation from the overall genre theme, but they do have a knack for good tunes.

They have a new album out marking their 10th anniversary as a band. It’s called Los Tiki Phantoms y El Misterio del Talismán. And their kick-off single should give you an idea of where they're coming from.



Meanwhile, as it happens, another surf/instrumental band – this one from Norway – also has a new album out. They’re called Los Plantronics, and they’re going more for a 60s Mexican action-film look, with somberos and lucha masks (though not to the extreme as, say, Los Straitjackets). Musically they’re also more twang than surf, but with a bonus mariachi horn section a more diverse approach that’s influenced as much by Ennio Morricone as Dick Dale. Also, they don't stick strictly to instrumentals – they also sing when required (and when they do, it suggests The Cramps are also an influence).

Their new album is called Surfing Times, and one of the music video singles features footage of an obscure 60s Norwegian film.



The horns in this one are more Mancini than mariachi, but it’s still pretty cool.

I like both albums, but in terms of consistency, I think Los Tiki Phantoms have an edge. Then again, I do appreciate that Los Plantronics is trying to bring something extra, and when it works, it does work well.

Surf’s up,

This is dF
 
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MOTÖRHEAD ALERT: Motörhead is releasing a new Motörhead album by Motörhead.

Judging from the leadoff Motörhead single, it sounds a lot like Motörhead.



Motörhead: the most reliable name in rock.

PRODUCTION NOTE: It may sound like I’m making fun of Motörhead here. I’m not really. I’m a fan, and I respect the fact that Lemmy has never really messed with the formula after 40 years at the helm. Very few bands can get away with doing essentially the same thing for three albums, let alone 22.

A couple of interesting extra tidbits:

1. It’s got Brian May of Queen on one track.
2. It also has a cover of “Sympathy For The Devil” which was done at the request of WWE star Triple H.

The new album, Bad Magic, comes out August 28.

Get yr Motörhead running,

This is dF
 
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I meant to post something about Dave Cloud, the underground Nashville legend known either for his karaoke performances at the Springwater Lounge or his garage-rock project with the Gospel Of Power, who passed away in February at the age of 58 from melanoma.

I didn’t actually find out about his death until four months after the fact, since Cloud’s stature as a music artist wasn’t exactly up there with, say, Lynn Anderson. The Nashville Scene covered it extensively, and he actually got mentioned in the obit sections of two British music magazines (Uncut and Mojo), but that was about it.

Anyway, while I was trying to think up a decent tribute post, I found out that he managed to complete one more Gospel Of Power album. It is out now on Fire Records.

Title: Today Is The Day They Take Me Away.

Which is the best title for a posthumous album, although it would be a mistake to read much into it. It’s named after a track on the album which was reportedly written before Cloud became ill.

Anyway, the album sounds more or less like you’d expect from Cloud: lo-fi garage with varying production values, and Cloud’s idiosyncratic delivery that always gets compared to Waits and Beefheart but is really more unique than that.  

In some ways it’s not quite as good as his previous studio LP, Practice In The Milky Way – a few of the songs are too samey in terms of subject matter (in one case, two songs are exactly the same but with different titles).

Still, it’s got a lot of great moments on it. This is one of them.

Listen.



It’s a good note to go out on. He will be missed.

BONUS TRACK: Apparently, according to the Bandcamp page, if you buy the vinyl version instead of CD or digital, you get a bunch of extra tracks. Which just makes sense. 

Get off of my cloud,

This is dF

 
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The term “supergroup” may have commanded a kind of respect back in the days when it applied to any late 60s band that had Eric Clapton in it. These days, “supergroup” is the equivalent of a warning label – what sounds great on paper may not work well in practice. Sometimes you get something truly more than the sum of its parts (Traveling Wilburys, Audioslave, Them Crooked Vultures). Sometimes you get Bad English, Velvet Revolver and Chickenfoot. They may sell well, but how many people still listen to that first Asia album?

(There’s also a question of what counts as a supergroup – I’ve seen Journey, Bad Company, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, and Foo Fighters listed as supergroups, but I’m not sure they count. It’s probably a generational thing – for people my age, a supergroup should be comprised of members of other groups that are famous and successful enough on their own. Like Damn Yankees. Or Power Station. Or Temple Of The Dog or something.)

Anyway, all of this is to say that Sparks and Franz Ferdinand have teamed up for an album. Which may sound like an odd mix, but it’s actually not. Both have a knack for social observation that you can dance to. And … well, that’s good enough reason, isn’t it?

They’re calling themselves FFS (which is both an acronym and an in-joke), and the resulting album – which apparently has been in the works for years – is a lot more than FF simply serving as the Mael brothers’ backing band. Sometimes it sounds more Sparks than FF, and sometimes vice versa, and yet it all flows more or less seamlessly.

Take the lead-off track, which honestly would be at home on a new Sparks record or a new FF record.

Listen.



So on the whole, it works rather well, though with the usual caveat that some songs are a little stronger than others. Also, opinions will probably vary based on how you feel about both bands – I know people who dig Sparks but can't stand FF and vice versa, so who knows what they’ll make of this.

For myself, I’m a fan of both bands, and I’m digging it.

Paging Mr Delusional,

This is dF
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No, not Blur.

The Sonics are one of those legendary bands who were more influential than commercially successful. The Sonics basically invented hard loud garage rock in the mid-1960s, recorded two great albums, then fell apart.

They’ve reformed off and on over the years in various combinations, but they’ve been more active in the last seven years. The 2015 lineup features three original members – Gerry Roslie, Larry Parypa and Rob Lind – plus a rhythm section whose combined pedigree includes The Kingsmen, Agent Orange and Dick Dale.

So they have a new album out – their fifth, and the first once since 1980’s Sinderella (which for some people doesn’t really count because it only featured Roslie and was basically new versions of old songs).

As much as I love their first two albums, I admit I was skeptical that a bunch of guys in their 60s and 70s could pack the same feral punch that made their first two records so exhilarating.

Turns out I worried for nothing.

Listen to this. It’s the lead-off single (which was released as part of a split single with Mudhoney for Record Store Day).



Holy crap. It’s like the last 49 years never happened.

I also like that they opted for mono instead of stereo. Apart from keeping their sound consistent, it makes a good case that mono – at least sometimes – sounds better than stereo.

Anyway, this is easily one of the most surprising comeback stories of the year. The only way you could top this was if the 13th Floor Elevators were getting back together.

Oh, wait.

Don’t need no doctor,

This is dF

 
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You would think that the first great release of 2015 might be the new Sleater-Kinney album.

And it might well be. But I don’t have a copy of it yet.

I do however have the debut album from John Carpenter.

Yes, that John Carpenter.

Technically it’s not a debut album, since Carpenter has been releasing music for years via the soundtracks he composed for most of his films. But this is the first time he’s recorded music just for its own sake. According to Uncut, most of it was improvised along with his son Cody and Dan Davies (son of Dave, who worked with Carpenter on a couple of soundtracks) after staying up all night playing video games, until he realized they had about an hour’s worth of music done.

What you make of it will depend on three factors: (1) whether you like John Carpenter films, (2) whether you like the soundtrack music of John Carpenter films (besides Halloween), and (3) if yr enjoyment of soundtrack music depends on having seen the film it accompanies.

If you can't tick at least one of those boxes, then this probably isn’t for you.

For fans, the good news is that for the most part the music sounds exactly the way you’d expect a Carpenter album to sound – pulsing beats, 80s synths, and sinister overtones. It really does sound like a collection of themes for movies Carpenter hasn’t made yet – hence the title, John Carpenter’s Lost Themes (see what he did there?).

Listen to this. This could be straight off the Christine soundtrack.



I have to say, I dig it. But then I’m a fan of both Carpenter’s films and soundtracks. It’s not all great, and much of the greatness is fueled by nostalgia, but I’m 49, so I think I’m entitled.

If it helps, the album also comes with some remixes, although the only really interesting ones are the ones involving Zola Jesus (extra spooky) and JG Thirlwell (if John Carpenter scored The Venture Brothers …).

Turn out the lights,

This is dF
 
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I’ve been slacking on this series, I know. But seeing as how this band is going to feature in my Top 10 Albums of 2014, I thought I’d just slip this in before the year officially ends.

It’s the Budos Band, a Brooklyn outfit that trades in instrumental Afro-Soul, but with added twang. Some people have compared them to early Chicago, which I can see if Chicago had been more heavily influenced by jazz-funk, Link Wray, Tolkien and grindhouse films.

In any case, their fourth album, Burnt Offering, is available. It’s pretty groovy, and it’s really grown on me in the last few months.



No singing,

This is dF



 
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When I first came across The Bombay Royale, they reminded me a bit of the recent revival of Cambodia 60s rock, thanks to bands like Dengue Fever and Cambodian Space Project.

Which got me to wondering if either of those bands had any new music this year?

Dengue Fever doesn’t. But Cambodian Space Project does. It’s their third LP. And man, is it good.

It’s half covers and half original material, including the psychedelic title track.

Just listen to this.



Oh, and it was recorded in Detroit and produced by funk-guitar legend Dennis Coffey, who also plays on it.

If that doesn’t get you off, there’s nothing we can do for you.

Detroit Rock City,

This is dF
 
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As you may have noticed, this series has been a little sparse this year. For some reason, it’s been a relatively slow year for new music releases for me. Part of it is to do with budget constraints, but honestly I haven’t heard that many new releases that genuinely knocked me out.

And until recently it was looking as though this might be the first time in the history of this blog that I would have trouble filling out the traditional Top 20 Best Albums Of The Year list.

Luckily for you lot, things have changed a bit as I’ve lucked into some interesting new things, one of which is a ‘60s Bollywood tribute band from Melbourne, Australia.

No, really!

The Bombay Royale started off doing covers of old Bollywood songs from the 60s and 70s, but now basically write soundtracks for imaginary Bollywood films. Their sophomore album, The Island Of Dr Electrico, is out now, and as all the lyrics are in Hindi or Bengali, I don’t understand a word of it.

But boy is it fun – which is the whole point of Bollywood songs, really.

Listen.



Hooray for Bollywood,

This is dF
 
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Leave it to Primus to do an album covering the entire soundtrack to Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.

Some may be surprised to see Primus is still active. They were on hiatus for over a decade before their 2011 “comeback” album Green Naugahyde, which I confess I missed. I loved Primus in their heyday, but at the time I was skeptical of any band getting back together and trying to live up to their own legacy. Also, Antipop was admittedly not that good a note to go on hiatus. 

However, when I saw their new album in a music store in Stockholm, I was intrigued for two reasons: (1) the Willy Wonka film was as seminal to me as it has been for Les Claypool, and (2) Primus generally do very interesting cover versions of songs.

And by “interesting” I mean “twisted and bizarre”.

Suffice to say the album exceeds my expectations. Claypool bends the songs completely out of shape, but not to the point of making them unrecognizable. And the material suits both his musical style and his cartoonish drawl.

I think this track gives you a good idea of what to expect.



Primus has always been an acquired taste that was arguably most accessible with Tales From The Punchbowl, so I doubt this will win over the haters. But this is their best album since the underrated The Brown Album.

Or not. Anyway, it’s a late contender for Album Of The Year for me.

You can even eat the dishes,

This is dF
 
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Thanks to Apple, everyone knows by now that U2 has a new album out, and at least 500 million people found out they already own a copy.

And as mentioned previously, everyone’s got an opinion about that, most of it negative. Ironically, one of the least critical people is Mark Hosler of Negativland, who were once sued by U2’s record label Island. He has some interesting things to say about the whole thing here.

Controversial distribution methods aside, there remains the most important question: is Songs Of Innocence any good? Or is it at least good enough to justify Apple sticking it gratis in yr iTunes?

Reviews have been mixed. And after having listened to it, I can understand why.

The album’s opening shot, “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)”, is game enough, but for me it lacks the vigor and punch of songs like “Beautiful Day” and “Vertigo” that helped U2 revive their career in the ‘00s. Which I think is also why the album feels like it’s stuck in second gear for the next four tracks, staying well within the safety zone of atmospheric maturity that U2 is known for these days.

U2 finally gun the engine halfway through with “Volcano”, but it’s the following track, “Raised By Wolves” that really delivers the bristling tension and social commentary that defines many of U2’s best tracks. And from that point on, it’s a pretty engaging listen. But it’s a shame it takes that long for the album to strike sparks.

Overall, it’s a decent but average entry in the U2 library – at least on first pass. The weaker songs may still grow on me after a few listens.

PRODUCTION NOTE: The headline for this post is a Bono quote, in case you were wondering.

Meanwhile, this is probably ubiquitous enough that you don’t need me to provide a preview track, but just in case, here’s their performance at the Apple event.



Not that innocent,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)
You probably know by now that U2 has a new album out. And odds are you already knew that because it suddenly appeared in your iTunes. Or, if you don’t have an iCloud account, you knew about it because of all the iCloud users going insane on Twitter about finding some f***ing new U2 album on their f***ing iTunes and how the f*** do I f****ing delete it and BTW what the f***ing f***, Apple?

I think the outrage is a little overdone, but I can see why people are annoyed. I admit I didn’t, at first – my first thought was, “It’s in the cloud – it’s only on yr device if you download it. Don’t want it? Just delete it. What’s the big deal?”

This is because my own iTunes account isn’t set for automatic downloads of purchased items. Many people do set their iDevices for auto download, which means an album they didn’t ask for just ate up some of their data plan and is now taking up valuable storage space on their iDevice. So I can see why that would bug people.

Many users are also bugged that Apple is sticking things in their iCloud account without at least asking first, which is also understandable – especially given recent revelations about iCloud’s security issues. It’s sort of like U2 sneaking into yr house and slipping their new album into yr record collection – or, for the auto download people, sticking it in the CD changer of yr stereo.

Of course, it seems a lot of the complaints are based on the premise that U2 fucking sucks and I don't want their fucking albums even for free, fuck you U2. Which suggests that they might object to it less if Apple had given them a free album by a band they actually like.

Anyway, the whole episode is a bit strange, as new album promotions go. Reportedly Apple, U2 and Universal were negotiating this for about a year. U2’s motivations are pretty obvious – Apple’s are less clear. According to Forbes, it’s probably a tactic to beef up iTunes (which saw music sales drop last year, due to more popular streaming services like Spotify and Pandora) and a way to promote Beats Music (the streaming music service Apple bought a few months ago).

Whatever Apple in mind, they clearly didn't really think it through in terms of how users would react to it. I guess you can look at it as an interesting consumer experiment in music distribution. Lesson learned: if you want to give away music online, ask first. I mean, the deal with U2 included a $100 million marketing campaign. Surely some of that money could have covered the cost of sending every iTunes user an email with a link to the album if they wanted to download it. The reaction probably would have been more favorable.

Of course, if they did it that way, then Tim Cook wouldn’t be able to say that Songs Of Innocence is the “largest album release in history” (on the grounds that Apple’s 500 million iTunes users “purchased” it). But Billboard has said it isn't playing along with that tactic.

And so much for that.

As for the actual album … is it any good?

I’ll let you know when I listen to it. I will say two things in advance:

1. I do like U2, but not all of their albums are great. That’s particularly true of their previous album No Line On The Horizon, IMO.

2. The preview tracks I heard on iTunes before I downloaded it weren’t very inspiring. But you can’t always tell with previews. And hey, free album.

Well, we’ll see. Stay tuned.

All that you can't leave behind, 

This is dF


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