We’ve already spoken at length about the future of formats and the decline of the album, today we’d like to discuss the more recent record industry invention of the special edition or deluxe version of the album. This is when an album has two releases; one being the standard album, the other being the same album with 2 to 6 tracks added on to the end. The extra tracks are often the tracks from the album recording session that weren’t good enough or didn’t fit in with the rest of the album. Sometime the bands fills the deluxe editions with cover songs, live tracks, acoustic versions, or demo recordings. In cinema the same trend is happening with special editions and bonus features in DVDs, in literature the same thing is happening with new editions including frivolous extras, such as letters, poems by the author, essays, forwards, prefaces, etc.
Earlier we talked about how the press was treating Thrice singer Dustin Kensrue unfairly. Today we will be looking at the case of Joey Briggs, and his band The Briggs, who had a show cancelled by German promoters because he is a Scientologist. The promoters admit that Joey’s live tour is not about spreading the message of Scientology. I have been to a few Briggs shows in my life, they have never mentioned religion at any of them. None of their lyrics (that I know of) seem to be about religious topics. But still, the promoters feel that because Joey is a member of a religion that “directly exploit(s) the hopes and dispair of people”, they are justified in cancelling the show.
It’s been some time since I’ve been to a stadium rock and roll show (pre-American Idiot Greenday I think). I guess it’s just not my thing; with the high ticket prices, overhyped bands, fireworks, and smoke machines. Not that there’s anything wrong with all these theatrics, I think bringing some of this stuff back into the small club show would be cool (as Allie Hughes and the Revolts have done). Stadium shows just seem boring and predictable. They usually end with the band pretending the show is over, only to come back out and play a few more songs. Sometimes they to two or three encores. The Cure have been known to play up to five encores, which to me sounds like a recurring nightmare.
We often get asked why we keep our songs so short. Truth be told, none of our songs are extremely short (all of them are above 1:30 minutes), but we do make a conscious effort to make the song end before it gets boring. Why push in extra bridges or solos when the song makes sense in it’s “bare minimum” form.
Ever been to a show that was going well, the band was playing some decent songs (that maybe you’ll check out later at home), and between songs you get some awkward request to buy their shit on a table in the back? Some part of you maybe feels guilty about not supporting enough independent music, so you go to pick up the band’s EP (with no idea if you’re going to enjoy it, a blind buy). My collection of CDs from shows is sitting somewhere in my parent’s basement. We personally think that it’s an unfair consumer experience, to have to buy music you haven’t really had the time to become invested in, which is why we give our music away for free.
I have heard many complaints recently about Spin’s Top 100 greatest guitarists of all time. I know that I was personally disappointed with Spin’s best of 2011 list. Music journalism is like a roulette wheel, where professional music listeners gamble on trends, often hedging their bets with a few surface level picks on an assortment of flavor of the moment bands.
If you were scour the pages of Spin, NME, or Rolling Stone would you find anything new of value? Perhaps, but more often than not these publication’s choices for best new music are quite puzzling. The problem is there are too many people these magazines need to please, too many different kind of rock and roll fans to service. So you end up with a kind of musical journalism for everyone, where no one in particular wins. Much like an election, these magazines produce the same mediocre results, year after year, for structural reasons that they cannot be expected to overcome.
There was a time when music cost money. Kids would have to save up their pennies to hear what’s new. Looking back, it is really quite incredible what has happened. It is as if the flood gates of abundance have opened and we will never again be expected to pay for sound.
The old world paid economy of music is what lead to the creation of the music formats we have inherited today. Music creation is very much hit and miss, you write one good song for every ten shitty ones. Traditionally, the good one would go on to be a hit that would sell records. The good songs were sold seperately as singles, while the others were reserved to fill out the live show. This format remained dominate for decades. The clever business minds of the music world needed to optimize the hit/miss rate and thus the album was born. You would package a few good songs along with a few of your throwaways into a single unit, an album. This was possible because music was a paid commodity, people would tolerate filler tracks because buying 12 singles was expensive.
I was watching Brian Fallon’s interview where he said something I found quite strikingly true and well put:
“A lot of people that come from a punk rock scene or anything like that, you’re always told that you can’t succeed; you’re not allowed to. It’s wrong to win, you can’t win. You’re suppose to be the beautiful losers; like the Replacements or one of those bands.”
Something about Pitchfork has always rubbed me the wrong way, but I’ve never understood exactly what. The most obvious answer would be that most of the bands it covers suck; as if engineered for obscurity. They often dismissively review ground breaking albums, otherwise totally omitting them. Many of modern music’s most annoying tendencies can be directly correlated to pitchfork’s influence (excessive reverb, nostalgia, awkward fusions on genres).