Random music news for Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How can you turn childhood turmoil into inspiration for music? This is weird, but it works really, really well. Some Apple products will apparently be left off Trump’s tariff lists. (Via Tom)
This is one way to play video games. “Unbreakable” iPhones and laptops? (Via Tom)
Airline toilet set with Liam Gallagher? Here’s the full report. Meanwhile, iOS 12 is rolling out for iPhones and iPads. First, the 9/11 attacks. Interested in the latest data on the music listening habits of Americans? Here’s a story involving that. This was such a weird and awful month in 2001. He who controls the concert t-shirt sales…
Another music industry #MeToo situation, this time from Lily Allen. A real pig. Could be coming. You can listen here. Like this. (Via Tom again)
The Stonehenge rave. Metallica outdrew the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg. (Via Steve)
Ariana Grande gets a pig. Get ready for more Alexa-powered devices. They have material from Dolores already recorded. And here’s why Apple discontinued the iPhone X. (More Steve)
“Discounted concert tickets to people over 60 is unfair to the young.” Discuss. Warner Music Group has just bought a big merch company. The Cranberries will officially split after one more album. Maybe. (And Steve again.)
Is streaming killing the mixtape? As for music news for September 18, 2018…

Canadian music sales and streams vs. And on this day, the anthrax attacks. this time last year: Total albums, -19.4%; digital albums, -19.9%; physical albums, -19.0%; CDs, -22,8%; digital tracks, -22.%; vinyl, +36.6%; streams, +50.4%; (1.153 billion streams last week.)
I was a guest on a podcast called North of the Internet.
Random music news for Tuesday, September 18, 2018

New Music From The Inbox – Tuesday Edition! (Sep 18, 2018): Tommy and the Commies, Breichiau Hir, Mounties, and more!

New Music From The Inbox – Tuesday Edition! (Sep 18, 2018): Tommy and the Commies, Breichiau Hir, Mounties, and more!

Artist: Breichiau Hir
Song: “Portread O Ddyn Yn Bwyta Ei Hun”
Album/EP: Single

Remember when I said there wasn’t much vitriol in the last tune? Pulling from every member of its band (and what sounds like many of its influences, too), this tune is an exceptionally easy-listening group effort. Smooth and trill brass is front and centre of this sometimes smooth, sometimes bombastic track. Maybe this is what the Top 40s sound like in a parallel universe where amps and power chords reign supreme? Speak-shouted verses, layers of dissonant guitars trading pounding riffs back and forth, and no time for catching breath leads to quite the onslaught of a track. Listen carefully to the development of the riff as it builds reverb and to Moon’s lyricism as it shifts from narrative to reflective – there’s camaraderie to be found in this coping. This single from Welsh group Breichau Hir (yes, those lyrics are Welsh, no, I don’t know what they’re saying) just drips angst and strife from the beginning. What ear are those lyrics spitting into? Echoes of the Sex Pistols ring, albeit with marginally less snarl and vitriol but plenty of self-deprecation to spare. The slight nasal tinge to the vocals a la Blink 182, the peppy and bright tone, and the ever-important edge of crust on the guitar tone carves a curious niche throughout this song. Watch/Listen: 

Artist: Billy Moon
Song: “Living Room”
Album/EP: Punk Songs

Dripping with bittersweet nostalgia and an acute rejection of any small-town, new-artist stereotypes, “Living Room” tells two stories: a lyrical ode to making the most of growing up, and a sonic tale of progression and maturation through the medium of indie rock. Offerings like “Canoe Song” cement the band’s prowess: steeped in synthesizer psychedelia whilst holding true to the group’s penchant for catchy and inventive guitar rock, the new single from the highly anticipated upcoming album is another sweet, syncopated treat. Artist: Tommy and the Commies
Song: “Suckin’ In Your 20’s”
Album/EP: Here Come Tommy and the Commies

Spastic and chaotic punk with a healthy touch of 60s Brit mod flair, “Suckin’ In Your 20’s” is quite the burst onto the scene from Sudbury’s Tommy and the Commies. The piecemeal mixing also adds to the beautiful mess: is that bass’ treble turned off? It all went here. Watch/Listen: 

Artist: Jowee Omicil
Song: “De L’Orient”
Album/EP: Love Matters

How’s this for a change of pace? Boasting a truly worldly set of influences – the paragraph from the PR firm must have listed at least two countries from every continent – French instrumentalist Jowee Omicil lays down quite the jazz fusion jam on “De L’Orient”. Does it even matter?? Watch/Listen: 

Artist: The Persian Leaps
Song: “Time Slips”
Album/EP: Pop That Goes Crunch

The title of this The Persian Leaps album is a very accurate representation of how “Time Slips” sounds. Watch/Listen: 

Artist: Mounties
Song: “Canoe Song”
Album/EP: Single

Mounties are one of the most exciting supergroups out there, and not just because they’re bonafide Canadian indie legends. Watch/Listen: 

Uh, Eminem? Shouldn’t you have talked to the Beastie Boys first?

Coincidence? Here’s the breakdown:

Obviously, we have some kind of air force jet flying from right-to-left.  

This isn’t a fighter jet, but old Boeing 727. The cover of Eminem’s new album, Kamikaze, is creating a lot of déjà vu. Let’s take a look. The silver plane has red, white, and blue accents and is placed against a beige background. Discuss.   The name of the band is framed in a diamond on the tail fin. It’s in silver with red, white, and blue markings and is placed against a beige background. Now let’s go back to the Beastie Boys 1986 album, Licensed to Ill. Did Eminem give the Beastie Boys any kinds of heads-up? The registration number is 3MTA3, which reads as “eat me” backwards. I think not. There are two number: FU-2 (which doesn’t require any explanation) and TIKCU5, which, if you spell it backwards, is “suck it.”
The title of the album is framed in a diamond-shaped design on the tail fin. No. And if you fold out the gatefold album, you’ll see that the plan has crashed. Now let’s fold out the whole album.
Uh, Eminem? Shouldn’t you have talked to the Beastie Boys first?

In Providence This Weekend? Check Out The Big Bang Science Fair!

Check Out The Big Bang Science Fair! In Providence This Weekend?
Sponsored by Brown University, CS4RI, USCMS Collaboration, IEEE Superconductivity and Harvard University, with collaborating support of Bryant University, Citizens Bank, and CERN’s USCMS and USATLAS experiment. My contact at CERN (SO much fun to say that!), Connie, sent this along. The event celebrates the intersections between science and the arts. Naturally, the music components look to be intriguing. Or, use it as a new medium for artistic expression? We built a tool that lets scientists swipe scientific data streams between auditory and visual modes and another that showcases artistic sonification of real-time particle collision data from the ATLAS Detector at CERN. Lots more going on there. For one exciting day, famous scientists team up with musicians, programmers, artists, and chefs to explore the wonders of science. This looks to be a very cool event! This talk will introduce you to data sonification, an emerging field of research. Some of the appeal and also some of the challenges and limitations to creating sound from data will be addressed. What if we could map data from many different systems to sound in order to better detect patterns in it? Check out the schedule of presentations and performances in the RISD auditorium, make sure to collect a free ticket 30 minutes beforefor the interactive workshops in The Lab @ Market Square and drop in at the surrounding hands-on activity tents… all for the very first time at WaterFire! Check this one out:
“Making Music from Real-Time Scientific Data”
Julianna Cherston/MIT Media Lab
Have you ever seen a doctor use sound from a stethoscope to diagnose a patient, or a car mechanic use the sound of a broken automobile to determine which part is malfunctioning? We start at 3 pm and go until late at night. Check out the whole schedule and pass this along to anyone who might be interested! Do not miss Musician Micky Dolenz from the legendary band The Monkees and meet the researchers working with the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Geneva. We invite kids and adults of all ages to participate in the free, hands-on activities and discover science in our daily lives.

Why isn’t binaural audio a bigger thing?

Why isn’t binaural audio a bigger thing?
Following the rabbit hole led to the world of binaural recording, which is a method of preserving sounds in 3-D. Done right, music recorded this way can be a pretty awesome audio experience. That, however, might be about to change thanks to the rise of VR. Positional audio is becoming a thing in VR games. Once you’re done, read more at The Next Web. If you’ve played in this environment, you probably have experienced it when a missile seems to come from behind your right shoulder and tracks overhead to explode to your left. Give it a listen on headphones and you’ll be hooked. Many music fans were introduced to the word binaural back in 2000 when Pearl Jam released an album under that title. Sennheiser, the microphone and headphone company, has released this short film using proper binaural audio. Unfortunately, this tech hasn’t really caught on with the masses despite being around since at least the 1970s.

Here is the shortlist for the 2018 Mercury Music Prize. That’s the next awards program on the schedule

Here is the shortlist for the 2018 Mercury Music Prize. That’s the next awards program on the schedule
The goal is to name the best album of the last year regardless of genre or commercial success. Now that Canada is done with the Polaris Music Prize for another year, it’s time to turn our attention to Britain’s Mercury Prize. The winner will be named Thursday night (September 20). Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
Everything Everything – A Fever Dream
Everything Is Recorded – Everything Is Recorded
Florence & The Machine – High As Hope
Jorja Smith – Lost & Found
King Krule – The Ooz
Lily Allen – No Shame
Nadine Shah – Holiday Destination
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon? Novelist – Novelist Guy
Sons Of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile
Wolf Alice – Visions Of A Life
Naturally, the bookies are taking bets on who will win. Here are the finalists in alphabetical order. The winner will be chosen by a grand jury consisting of music wonks from across the UK and Ireland. Just as we saw with Canada, some 200 albums have been voted down to a short list of 12.

How Ticketmaster manipulates the price of concert tickets: CBC/Toronto Star report

Here are the key findings:

Ticketmaster doesn’t list every seat when a sale begins. “It’s definitely unfair for the public. Here’s the latest instalment. Data journalists monitored Ticketmaster’s website for seven months leading up to this weekend’s show at Scotiabank Arena, closely tracking seats and prices to find out exactly how the box-office system works. A CBC News and Toronto Star investigation reveals how box-office behemoth Ticketmaster uses its own bag of tricks — which includes partnering with scalpers — to boost its profits at the expense of music fans. Hikes prices mid-sale. The CBC and the Toronto Star have been working together on an investigation regarding the sale and pricing of concert tickets on both the primary and secondary markets. Collects fees twice on tickets scalped on its site. The goal has been to dig deeper into what is a very opaque situation for consumers. They’re only caring about padding their own pocket.”
You will definitely want to read more of this. Buying a ticket for Saturday’s Bruno Mars concert in Toronto was probably never going to be cheap, but what many of the star’s 17,000 fans who scored a seat might not realize is it wasn’t just scalpers driving up prices. “I definitely feel like I’m getting ripped off,” said Ajay Saulnier, 31, a Bruno Mars superfan and impersonator from Hamilton who was dismayed by CBC’s findings — particularly since he says he can’t afford a ticket to his idol’s show.
How Ticketmaster manipulates the price of concert tickets: CBC/Toronto Star report

Jeremy Dutcher’s album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa wins the 2018 Polaris Music Prize

Jeremy Dutcher’s album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa wins the 2018 Polaris Music Prize
He originally enrolled to study music but then switched to anthropological research on his Wolastoq community. This requires some unpacking. Dutcher spent part of his life in the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick. Last year’s winner, Lido Pimienta, is an immigrant from Colombia who sings mainly in Spanish. The idea for this began as Dutcher was attending Dalhousie University in Halifax. The album is sung entirely in the Wolastoq language. Dutcher’s win marks the first time a classical recording has won the Polaris. The other nine artists on the Short List received $3,000. Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa by Jeremy Dutcher was named the top Canadian album of the year by the grand jury at the Carlu in Toronto last night. Of the 13 Polaris Prizes so far, this is the third win for an Indigenous artist. .@jdutchermusic
📷 by @dustinrabin pic.twitter.com/cH1CevIMir
— Polaris Music Prize (@PolarisPrize) September 18, 2018

While the win will have most of Canada (nay, the entire music world) scratching their heads, this is exactly why initiatives like Polaris are important: they highlight worthy works of art that would otherwise go unnoticed. For his efforts, Dutcher took home a cheque for $50,000. The resulting album was the culmination of five years’ work in the archives. A lot of people (including me!) will be stumbling over the title of the winning album in the 2018 Polaris Prize. It was a suggestion by one of the community’s elders that sent him searching for more information about his ancestors at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. Tanya Tagaq was named the winner for her Animism album in 2014 while Buffy Sainte-Marie won for Power in the Blood back in 2015. Dutcher is a classically trained operatic tenor and composer from New Brunswick who works to use his Wolastoq First Nation roots into the music that will help preserve this endangered language.

A history of Auto-Tune, the technology that changed music

A history of Auto-Tune, the technology that changed music
Jay-Z certainly doesn’t sound overjoyed about being surrounded on all sides by the effect, having proclaimed the “death of Auto-Tune” a decade ago. But Auto-Tune proved to be the fad that just wouldn’t fade. That sparkly special effect reappeared in the next verse, but this time a robotic warble wobbled, “So sa-a-a-ad that you’re leaving.”
The song, of course, was Cher’s “Believe,” a worldwide smash on its October 1998 release. And what we were really “leaving” was the 20th century. What follows is the story of the life of Auto-Tune—its unexpected staying power, its global penetration, its freakily persistent power to thrill listeners. Pitchfork has this history. Its use is now more entrenched than ever. The pitch-correction technology Auto-Tune had been on the market for about a year before “Believe” hit the charts, but its previous appearances had been discreet, as its makers, Antares Audio Technologies, intended. “Believe” was the first record where the effect drew attention to itself: The glow-and-flutter of Cher’s voice at key points in the song announced its own technological artifice—a blend of posthuman perfection and angelic transcendence ideal for the vague religiosity of the chorus, “Do you believe in life after love?”
The song’s producers, Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling, tried to keep secret the source of their magic trick, even coming up with a cover story that identified the machine as a brand of vocoder pedal, that robotic-sounding analog-era effect widely used in disco and funk. Some might take “Apeshit” as yet another example of Beyoncé’s Midas-touch mastery, but really it was a transparent attempt to compete on urban radio by adopting the prevailing template of commercial-yet-street rap. Despite all the premature expectations of its imminent demise, Auto-Tune’s potential as a creative tool turned out to be wider and wilder than anybody could ever have dreamt back when “Believe” topped the charts in 23 countries. It happened exactly 36 seconds into the song—a glimpse of the shape of pop to come, a feel of the fabric of the future we now inhabit. Right from the start, it always felt like a gimmick, something forever on the brink of falling from public favor. But the truth seeped out. Who knew that a technology first conceived to search for oil and gas deposits would end up revitalizing Cher’s career? Keep reading. One recent measure of its triumph is Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s “Apeshit.” Here Queen Bey jumps on the trap bandwagon, tracing over verses written by Migos’ Quavo and Offset through the crinkled sheen of over-cranked Auto-Tune. Or changing the very nature of pop music? inhumanly perfect). Soon overtly Auto-Tuned vocals were cropping up all over the sonic landscape, in R&B and dancehall, pop, house, and even country. That’s the legacy of Auto-Tune, the studio bumfluffery that can make any singer sounds machine-perfect (i.e. The phrase “I can’t break through” turned crystalline, like the singer suddenly disappeared behind frosted glass.

One Last Japandroids Tour

Or…should that be a bong? And as far as I know, Drug Fraud has no plans to change Ontario’s laws with regard to smoking indoors, so the only high during Japandroids’ set will be from their heart racing, classic rock-meets-punk tunes. To commemorate this landmark occasion, they’ll do their best Cheech & Chong impersonation with the Up in Smoke Legalization Show. (I guess $4.20 would have been too low, profit margin-wise!)
Do not sleep on seeing one of the best live 2-piece bands out there for who knows how long. Vancouver rock duo Japandroids have pretty much been touring nonstop since the release of their Near to the Wild Heart of Life twenty months ago. After Waterloo, London and Hamilton, Japandroids’ final concert for the foreseeable future will be on Wednesday, October 17th at Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre, the same day recreational marijuana will become legal in Canada. with a bang! Before guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse take a well-deserved break to relax, recharge, and begin the process of thinking about another album, they’ve decided to treat the province of Ontario to a handful of shows in intimate venues that are sure to send ’em back to B.C. Tickets go on sale Thursday, September 20th for the rock bottom price of only $10.17, all in apparently. They have a way of doing that!
One Last Japandroids Tour

Guess who went record shopping? Elton John unexpectedly drops into a Toronto store

Sonic Boom obviously respects the buyer-vinyl purveyor privilege so we don’t know what or how much the Rocket Man bought, just that he was gracious enough to pose for a picture with two lucky employees. Probably safe to say he didn’t go crate diving. What an absolute and total delight! We've had a summer of fabulous guests but Elton John might be just be the only knight we'll ever have in Sonic Boom history. pic.twitter.com/2kAlIWfxDi
— Sonic Boom (@SonicBoomMusic) September 18, 2018

In between stops on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour (which will be at Scotiabank Arena September 25th and 26th), the Crocodile Rocker must’ve been checking on his palatial estate in nearby Caledon and figured since he was in town he might as well add to his undoubtedly extravagant collection. Sonic Boom is easily one of the coolest record stores in all of Toronto, featuring two floors of all the vinyl you could ever ask for…even if you’re someone like oh I don’t know, Sir Elton John. Being the music connoisseur Elton John is, I would venture to guess the ivory tickler extraordinaire was looking to get a listen of newly-crowned Polaris Music Prize winner Jeremy Dutcher’s Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa.
Elton John unexpectedly drops into a Toronto store Guess who went record shopping?

Random music news for Wednesday, September 19, 2018

This guy did. Here’s Brian Wilson (the Beach Boy) with the band (the Barenaked Ladies) who wrote the song “Brian Wilson.” (Via John)
Google has some new technology that should help recognize songs better and faster. Another plea to musicians and record labels: PLEASE get your metadata in order. Here are nine lessons we can learn from Paul McCartney this week. Vlad? It’s looking more and more like Pytor Verzilov, the Russian-Canadian member of Pussy Riot, was poisoned. Here are two examples. I’ve never seen more squirrels collecting nuts in my neighbourhood. Wanna know what’s being blamed more and more for divorces in the UK? If you’re a fan of Judas Priest, you’ll want to look at KK Downing’s memoir. Can you imagine driving an ice cream truck all summer and listening to that same jingle over and over again? Ponder that as we look at music news for September 19, 2018. Sure, you want to promote your music career, but don’t do this. And this is what Macca would tell his younger self. Fortnite. Donald Trump has his “fake news.” Spotify is having to deal with “fake plays.” This is a real problem. Does that mean we’re in for a bad winter? How are bands dealing with lyrics from old songs that are no longer acceptable today? Was that you? Let’s find out. A new study says that Americans listen to an average of 151 minutes of music a day. Are musicians really more likely to use drugs? Well, this explains the state of my iPhone’s battery life. He’s still in hospital in Berlin.
Random music news for Wednesday, September 19, 2018

More Music From The Inbox 19 Sept 2018 Pillow Queens, White Cowbell Oklahoma, Art Brut and More!

More Music From The Inbox 19 Sept 2018 Pillow Queens, White Cowbell Oklahoma, Art Brut and More!
Artist: Pillow Queens, “Puppets”  
Album: State of the State

This female foursome from Dublin is fierce
Sounds like:  feel the strings pulling

Artist: White Cowbell Oklahoma, “Harder Come, Harder Fall”
Album: Seven Seas of Sleaze

A great band getting some love worldwide! Bang! Let’s Rock Out”
Album: N/A

Fun stuff out of London
Sounds like:  a little bit of punktastic!  
Sounds like:  some much needed edgy rock

Artist: Art Brut, “Wham! Pow! Link/Listen/Watch:

Artist: Dire Peril, “Heart of the Furyan”
Album: The Extraterrestrial Compendium

Pure power out of Sacramento, California
Sounds like:  System of a Down meets Rush

Artist: Posh Hammer, “After We Dance”  
Album: Dancing In Place

Interesting stuff from this Iranian/American brother-sister duo
Sounds like:  Synth-pop sweetness

Artist: Kings of Spade, “Bottoms Up”
Album: N/A

Grungy goodness out of Hawaii
Sounds like:  you should have another

You know what this site has been missing? A regular comic strip about music.

A regular comic strip about music. You know what this site has been missing?
Behold then Brother Rock, a creation of Randy Gabbard out of Nashville. Let’s start at the beginning. There aren’t a lot of music-related comic strips for some reason so when I find one, I’m all keen to promote it.