Random music news for Saturday, June 30, 2018

Random music news for Saturday, June 30, 2018
The true story behind Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.”
You’re suing Iron Maiden now? There are now more than 10 million items in the Discogs database. Sixty-five years today, the first Chevrolet Corvette rolled off the assembly line. Justin Bieber’s former neighbour wants him arrested. This is disturbing: How much of the world’s consumer tech devices are made with forced labour? Fine by me. Coming soon! At the Disco has founded a new human rights organization called Highest Hopes Foundation. And…the concert has been canceled. There’s a Guns ‘N Roses pop-up store in operation this weekend at the Scarborough Town Centre. “Spotify for news?” Some companies are already working on it. Brendon Urie of Panic! It’s designed to promote the re-release of Appetite for Destruction. Rumour from inside the Royal Palace: Meghan Markle’s personal assistant is someone who used to work for…Madonna. There’s much to say about Mozzer’s turn to the far right. Here are my weekly music picks for GlobalNews.ca. This anti-racism row involving a Morrissey concert in Manchester is getting interesting. Meanwhile, Kanye has taken a loss on his Manhattan condo. The dude is the king of streaming. Damon Albarn does NOT like Kanye West. Taylor Swift has a restraining order against a crazy fan. There is also a lot of exclusive merch on sale. I’ve been told that Google had a private event for advertisers that spent over $100 million with them. (Via Tom)
Drake’s new album is certainly having a good weekend. What’s this glitch in Google Home’s ability to get requests and commands right? Speaking of whom, want a stake in Drizzy’s whiskey? About 40 people were entertained by a set from Duran Duran. If you haven’t heard the prank call made to Donald Trump on Air Force One yet, do it now. A bronze statue of Nick Cave on a horse? Now we can talk about music news for June 30, 2018.

This female rapper from Saudi Arabia is celebrating her new right to drive with a new video

This female rapper from Saudi Arabia is celebrating her new right to drive with a new video
  After decades of being relegated to the passenger seat–or most often, the back seat–women were legally able to get behind the wheel as of June 24. Some of the lyrics are:
I don’t need anyone to take me
Drivers’ license with me
I am not kidding, today I can drive myself
The steering wheel in my hands, the pedal under my foot. While the medieval male chaperone laws are still in place, women at least now have the right to drive in Saudi Arabia. Leesa A is a Saudi rapper who took the opportunity to take a Hyundai out for a spin as part of a music video.

Watch and marvel at this solo rendition of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”

This guy needs just one guitar with one string. (Via Joel)

BONUS: That guy played two six-string guitars. Take a look/listen of Luca Stricagnoli take on The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.” Whoa, dude. (Via Joel)
Watch and marvel at this solo rendition of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”

Autographed flag auction raises $6,700 for Sunnybrook Hospital

Autographed flag auction raises $6,700 for Sunnybrook Hospital
The autographs were collected by the Big Music Fest over the past decade or so. Whatever the original purpose for collecting the signatures, the focus might have shifted on May 24, 2016, when The Hip announced Downie’s diagnosis with glioblastoma, a terminal kind of brain cancer. Nearly 70 people bid on the 31″ by 72″ flag, signed by, among others, The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo (Jim Cuddy), Gord Downie and the Country of Miracles, Sarah Harmer, Sam Roberts Band, Arkells and even a few American outfits, including Counting Crows and Collective Soul. Since its creation in 2016, the fund has received more than $1.8 million in donations, which will be used toward the Gord Downie Fellowship in Brain Oncology and the establishment and construction of the G. And a little more about the man behind the flag: Mark Higgins is a musician, promoter and entrepreneur, organizer of the Hip’s 2011 Bobcaygeon concert and creator of Big Music Fest. You really came through. The money will be donated on July 3- a date selected for its proximity to Canada Day – and will be earmarked for the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research. It makes sense, then, that the money raised from the nine-day auction would benefit the same institution. Hurvitz Brain Sciences Centre, which will feature clinical and research space and facilities for neurologists that specialize in treating patients with brain cancer. Starting almost immediately and continuing well past the band’s last show in Kingston, fans have been raising and donating money to Sunnybrook Hospital, where Downie was treated. When the eBay auction ended Friday night, someone paid $6,700 for the large Canadian flag autographed by 50 bands and musicians sold as a fundraiser for Sunnybrook Hospital in Ontario. Wave that maple leaf flag high and proud this weekend, Canada.

Smart speakers and the way they’re changing how we listen to music: Google Home vs. Alexa

Alexa Smart speakers and the way they’re changing how we listen to music: Google Home vs.
Alexa can only access about 2 million songs with my current level of Amazon Prime Music membership. It’s like turning on a sink faucet. Let’s say your kid is listening to another Echo somewhere else in the house when you make a request. I liked what I heard so when I had to duck out, I asked Alexa to save that particular playlist for me under a specific name so I could come back later and listen again. If you have more than one Alexa device, you might run into a roadblock. I should also point out that Alexa doesn’t tie me to Amazon Music; I can also use it to connect to my Spotify account. A test from The Wife: “Play Rhapsody in Blue.” Alexa returned a with an acceptable version while Google Home insisted that we listen to a Henry Mancini recording. The only way they function (after you set them up with an app on your smartphone, of course) is through voice. If you don’t know the name of an artist or the title of a song, you can just throw up some words. On the other hand, Google Assistant seems confused by such a request. Smart Speakers are Having Their iPod Moment
 
 
  Interesting. If she (sorry, there I go again) can’t find what I’m looking for among those 2 million songs, she prompts me to upgrade to the next level ($3.99 per month for Amazon Music Unlimited a single device) which then opens everything up to the same 35 million+ songs that all the other services have. “I’m sorry, but I looked for Rock Songs from 1973 but it either isn’t available for can’t be played right now.” Hmm. The metadata from the labels doesn’t include attributes like “This song is sad” or “This song would be good for yoga.” All this information goes into serving up better music for the occasion. We seem to be learning of new ways to interact with music. If I ask either to play 102.1 the Edge, both correctly start streaming my Toronto radio station. There’s no manipulation, subtle or otherwise, when we use our voices to request music. I’m really enjoying having my house answer my questions and follow my orders. Market penetration is exploding and the technology is getting better all the time. The Wife, who admits to having no head for this sort of information, can ask Alexa or Google Assitant to play “that ‘hey now’ song from Crowded House” and the right track will come up. The Google devices have access to my Google Music subscription, meaning that it can sort through somewhere north of 35 million songs. That’s pretty cool. The music spills out and you think nothing of its origin or creation. I had Alexa play me some alt-rock from the 1990s. If that’s not enough, I just set up two Alexa devices: an Echo in the kitchen (the Google Max seems to like the company) and an Echo Dot in the bedroom. It’s also not necessarily great for music discovery. I have one Google Max (kitchen counter), one Google Home (in my home studio), and two Google Minis (one in the home office and the other in my workout room). But it does say something about the increasing distance between listener and creator. My house is littered with enough smart speakers for my home to become just shy of sentient. But when you just make a general request for music (“Alexa, play me the top songs”), there’s zero context for it. (The aforementioned “Hey Now” request returned a hit from Spotify.”)
Streaming radio stations seem to work equally well. For example, I can say “Alexa, play me rock songs from 1973” and it she (sorry, but you can’t help personifying these things) and will assemble a playlist on the fly and will start playing songs from that year. Sure, you might hear something new you really, really like, but with no screen or any other physical thing to refer to, that song might slip by without you ever knowing what it was or who did it. New behaviours are emerging, which I find fascinating. Next test: “Play me some dinner music.” Both devices played a nice selection of softer music. (Apple? Smart speakers are seeing the greatest adoption of any consumer tech device since the introduction of the smartphone. Because Google was first to market in Canada, I jumped into that pond first. Further reading:
How Smart Speakers Are Changing the Way We Listen to Music. And both sets of units are pretty good when it comes to understanding natural language commands. Same thing with Google Home. It’s not the fault of Amazon or Google or Apple or any other smart speaker manufacturer. I find that a bit disturbing. Alexa gently tells you that your single subscription is being used, but if you upgrade to the family plan for $14.99 a month, will be able to listen to separate streams on up to six different Alexa devices. If you want me to test a HomePod, I suggest you hurry because I’m running out of rooms.)
All these devices are known as “headless,” which is a somewhat odd way of referring to hardware without screens or any touch devices. With, say, a Spotify playlist displayed on a phone or a computer screen, you can see the name of the artist, the song title, and the album. From messing around with Alexa, it seems that Amazon has done a better job cleaning up the metadata associated with each individual song file. All you have to do is say “yes” to get a free 30-day trial. Another test: “Play me some jazz starting with Miles Davis.” Both passed. There are, however, some differentiating quirks. It’s a little Hal 9000-ish, but I’m not expecting to be blown out of an airlock anytime soon. The whole place is connected and bugged. You should have seen her face the first time she did that. The Wife declared that an epic fail. Meanwhile, I’ll keep my stereo and my music apps handy, just so I don’t lose touch with eveything my smart speakers think I want to hear. Then again, we’re not constrained by any visual interface when it comes to accessing music. This weekend’s project?to see if I can get Alexa to play with my Sonos system. All this is very cool, but I have this nagging feeling that this convenience is creating more disembodiment when it comes to a relationship with music. Along with pedestrian requests like weather forecasts, last night’s sports scores, setting a timer for the barbeque, and the most recent Lotto 6-49, both Google Assistant and Alexa are pretty good at responding to requests for music. That might encourage additional exploration of that artist’s work.

More fun with amazing vocals: Merry Clayton’s part in the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”

Even though the song is fifty years old (do the math if you must), I still get chills from Merry Clayton’s guest vocals on the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”
She nailed her performance in the middle of the night, while wearing pajamas, while also being very pregnant.
More fun with amazing vocals: Merry Clayton’s part in the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”

Toronto rapper Smoke Dawg killed in street shooting

  The man who died has been identified as Toronto rapper Smoke Dawg. Smoke Dawg was also hired on to open for Drake’s Boy Meets World European tour. (CP 24 has coverage of the shooting here.)
If you’re into the scene, Smoke Dawg was known for this street anthem called “Still.”

A new track just came this way ahead of the release of his debut album, Struggle Before Glory. Shots were fired outside the Cube Nightclub in the Queen and Peter area of Toronto shortly before 8 pm last night (June 30). Here’s a report on Drake’s reaction. No word on a motive yet. He was just 21. He also worked with Britain’s Skepta as well as French Montana. Three people were shot with a male and female victim sent to the hospital. The hip hop world has been shaken with plenty of violence in the last two weeks with the murder of XXXtenacion and the stabbing of four people at a festival in England.
Toronto rapper Smoke Dawg killed in street shooting

Sunday mashup fun: Guns ‘N Roses vs. Stevie Wonder

Sunday mashup fun: Guns ‘N Roses vs. Stevie Wonder
(Thanks to John for the link.! The best mashups are the one that mix two songs that no one would ever think might go together. This juxtaposition of the Gunners “Paradise City” and Stevie Wonder’s “Living for the City” fits the bill nicely.

While Tom DeLonge is off chasing aliens, blink-182’s Mark Hoppus says he helped capture Saddam Hussein

While Tom DeLonge is off chasing aliens, blink-182’s Mark Hoppus says he helped capture Saddam Hussein
One year and two weeks later, he was executed. pic.twitter.com/c43EYJHPfu
— snddoɥ ʞɹɐɯ (@markhoppus) June 26, 2018

Jeezus. After the US invaded Iraq in 2003, Hussein fled Baghdad and went into hiding. Between Mark and Tom, we’ve got a good foundation for a punk rock Avengers. Fans of blink-182 know that Tom DeLonge left the band in part to pursue The Truth About Aliens and the Government Coverup of Extraterrestrial Technology™, but few were probably aware that Mark Hoppus was (allegedly) involved in the plan to take down Saddam Hussein. Come again? He was eventually captured when he was found hiding in a hole near the city of Tikrit on December 13 of that year. Last week, Mark Hoppus was asked on Twitter “What is the least plausible story about yourself that’s true?” Here was his response. Maybe they should join forces and see if Tracy Island is available for rent.

So where are we with the allegations against Maynard James Keenan?

– AC]
As Alan posted a couple of times this week, Maynard James Keenan’s name has been in the news. The whole point of this is to stop him and others from assaulting anyone else.” Requests to Keenan’s public relations representatives simply directed me back to his tweet. Not just because A Perfect Circle are currently on tour in Europe (promoting Eat the Elephant, released in April), or that a new 12-years-in-the-making Tool album is about to be announced, maybe. As for my delayed but un-required response, I had my phone off. RAINN stands for Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, which interestingly is featured prominently as @IWas17HeWas36’s header photo (there’s even a link to donate). And shame on those of you who perpetuate this destructive clickbait. Keenan, for his part, took a few days in order to craft a response. [Gilles LeBlanc has been following the story about the anonymous rape allegations against Maynard James Keenan of Tool/A Perfect Circle. I reached out for further comment on behalf of A Journal of Musical Things, but the only statement they’ve made since was in a DM to the NY Daily News today, one week since the account was made. And that they’re male? On the night of Friday June 22nd, a newly-created Twitter account going by the handle @IWas17HeWas36 sent out 20+ messages describing in pretty graphic detail how Keenan invited a then-underage girl backstage at a Nine Inch Nails/A Perfect Circle show in 2000, then to his tour bus where he proceeded to have unwanted, unprotected sex with her. This situation is getting weird, but Alan and I promise to stay on it. In that Twitter trial, numerous stories of sexual impropriety by members of the band were shared, which led to actual police investigations being opened and Hoggard temporarily stepping away from his music career. He summarizes what we know so far. The thing is though, there hasn’t been any solid proof from Keenan or his people that something like this didn’t happen. The big difference with Maynard is that aside from a serious-sounding incident involving Behemoth that authorities should probably look into, the only other retweet is from someone calling themselves “Dingledoddies”, who Tool/APC/Pucifer fans have deduced was created by the same person? I will testify if need be. But when he did, it was strongly worded towards his accuser and also in solidarity with the #MeToo movement:

Many thanks to those of you who saw right through this despicable false claim that only does damage to the #metoo movement. Mr. You can read the thread at Ultimate-Guitar.com, one of the first sites to publish it:
Damning stuff, and we in Canada have seen firsthand how allegations such as these can quickly ruin an artist’s career; case in point being Jacob Hoggard from Hedley. — Maynard J Keenan (@mjkeenan) June 28, 2018

Those with long memories may remember Maynard singing with RAINN spokesperson Tori Amos back in 1997 at a benefit concert. I’m all for a healthy balance of justice being served tempered with innocent until proven guilty. You should try it. “I do not fear libel or any lawsuit, because he knows that he’s guilty.
So where are we with the allegations against Maynard James Keenan?

No more concerts at the Air Canada Centre because…

No more concerts at the Air Canada Centre because…
Scotiabank has been working hard to be associated with hockey across the country for the last number of years. A new 6,000 square-foot restaurant with theatre seating is being built in the northeast corner. “ACC” was so much more fun to say that “Scotiabank Arena.” Suggestions for shortening that up into something a little more pithy? Gates 2 and 6 will be reconfigured to shorten queues of people waiting to get in. And the investment goes beyond just a new name and some new signage, so a full transition from one branding to another is a big deal. Having their name on the best-known rink in the country is a big deal from a marketing point of view–and, obviously very expensive. What will stay the same? This adjustment is going to take some time. Thirteen years after it became the Rogers Centre, I still often call it the Skydome. Each corner of the building will have new full-motion video screens. The naming rights of The Hangar (as it was known to some) has reverted to one of the big banks for a fee of $800 million over 20 years. There are more than 150 categories branded Air Canada that need to flip over to Scotiabank. …as of today (July 1), the building where the Leafs and Raptors play is now officially The Scotiabank Arena. A new HD screen will replace the eight-year-old unit in Maple Leaf Square. How long will it take for us to get used to the new name? To me, the big arena in downtown Hamilton is the Copps Coliseum. They will stand out against a new colour for the roof, which will be turned black. The criss-cross spotlights will be part of the new logo. Apparently, Scotia is richer than we think.

Canada Day special: Songs from the Cancon graveyard

While there were a few domestic record labels, most of the business when to branch offices of foreign companies. On the surface, all this seemed like a quick fix to the problem of a lack of domestic product on the radio. Before the 1970s, there really wasn’t much of a music industry in this country at all
For the first 70 years of recorded music, Canada was, to put it kindly, a backwater. We lacked basic infrastructure and expertise: recording studios, producers, managers, agents, venues, promoters, pressing plants — all those things that underpin a nation’s music to be heard. 1967) went into effect. That’s a nice way of saying songs of dubious quality received radio airplay, all in the name of hitting that magic and non-negotiable 30 per cent quota. Not bad for a country with only 35 million people spread out over nearly 10 million square kilometres. [This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca – AC]
Despite being next to the largest exporter of popular culture in the known universe, Canada’s domestic music market is not just thriving but kicking butt on a global scale. But it wasn’t always this way. In honour of Canada Day, I thought we’d go back through the CanCon graveyard to remember 10 songs that were big hits in their day, but have mostly passed into obscurity since. We’re the sixth-largest music market on the planet, behind the U.S., Japan, the U.K., Germany, and France. Radio types bristled at being told what to play and the notion of having to achieve quotas at the expense of hit songs that audiences craved. Keep reading. 18, 1971, when the new Canadian content laws decreed by the newly-formed CRTC (est. From then on, 30 per cent of music heard on the radio — down from an original proposal of 45 per cent — had to be Canadian in origin using an oddly bureaucratic and idiosyncratic vetting procedure known as the MAPL system. and midnight in what was pejoratively called “beaver hours.” The CRTC soon put a stop to that, adding new regulations that required Canadian music be spun around the clock. We needed to create a music industry out of whole cloth. That all changed on Jan. But the government was playing the long game. And there were plenty of growing pains along the way. It would take years for us to catch up to the U.S. Some stations would edit Canadian songs down to 90 seconds or less and then spin them all between 11 p.m. This, the commission said, would ensure that Canadians heard Canadian music and therefore not be swamped by material coming from America and the U.K. Thanks to artists like Drake, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, Rush, Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Alanis Morissette and so many others, we’ve long punched far above our weight when it comes to exporting music to the rest of the world. As well as a cultural protectionist strategy, it was also an industrial one. Now that radio needed Canadian music, the new rules spurred the establishment of the necessary infrastructure. and Great Britain.
Canada Day special: Songs from the Cancon graveyard