Between the Notes #2

.:In defense of music snobbery:.

For the record, and I’ve said it more than once before, I am a market pluralist when it comes to music. I believe that there is no music that is categorically better or worse than any other. I think if a song or artist finds a market and separates Joe from his dollar or bandwidth and time, that’s not a morally bad thing.

But I do think there is inspired music on a smaller scale, and that music doesn’t always find it’s audience. That likely happens far less often these days thanks to the Internet and niche publishing, but there are likely country singers that are worth discovery by indie fans and rap artists that would find an audience among the jam band set if they were just a little bigger. You just can’t argue that if Xtina put out a phenomenal album jazz fans would dig, that said jazz fans would live life separated from that which would give them joy.

There is something very inviting about poking the prototypical music nerd. Take them down a peg with their instrumentation fetishes and better than thou attitude. As Woody Allen said in Annie Hall, “I think of us that way some times and I live here.”

But there are untold bands that came through the ranks of genre music to find that next level on their third or fourth albums. There are the forgotten heroes that didn’t sell broadly but inspired your favorite band. There are the bands that contributed one golden hit to the world at large after making a career selling 25,000 units per release to the hardcore fans.

The snobs are the people who start the labels and put small bands up when they’re on the road. They start and write for the websites that drive more and better coverage of the under-rated and unexpected. (Hi, my name’s Greg.) They allow so much more good through their love of music than they kill with upturned noses and stone throwing.

So, really, thank a music snob the next time he tells you about a band that won’t break for a year but he’s already grown tired of. And if she tells you that your favorite band is completely derivative of a Swedish alt-IDM/country singer, seek out the German label selling those records via mail order that same day. It’s for the better of music and it’s not actually going to make them happy, so you’re not giving them any greater satisfaction in their smugness. You’re just advancing the fortunes of artists that might deserve better.

And if you like those bands, try your hand at a little music snobbery of your own. Here is a quick overview of the three laws of snobbery for those just starting out:

1) Opinion is power.
2) Music ignorance is a virginity, and spoiling that ignorance (in yourself or others) is the richest pleasure on earth.
3) Anything people have not heard is better than what people have heard. (Remarkably, this holds true when the favored unheard becomes the unbearably popular.)

I’m not saying everyone needs to start trash talking Rihanna fans (actually, I think she’s under-rated by the snobeoisie, but who am I to say?) but a little digging around for the nuggets and feeling within your rights to tell people what you think is good will do wonders for the world of music.


.:On a Separate Note:.

A friend of mine told me he just lost his work music buddy. He was kind of kidding, but I knew exactly what he was talking about. I have my music buddies at work and elsewhere. My wife and my brother are excellent music buddies. It’s more than just being that first degree of separation that links you to a vast pool of music discovery. It’s making music part of your bond, and sometimes the strongest part. Ask Gloomchen how important that can be to connecting with someone.

So I asked him what he was going to do about it and he said he’s already moved on. On the music buddy’s last day at the job he made a big show about talking to someone else about cool bands to prove he doesn’t need old music buddy anyway. Yeah, this guy is over thirty. But it’s probably good for him. Too long without access to new tastes and he’d probably turn into the equivalent of the guy who kept shouting for “Freebird” at .38 Special shows because he didn’t know how to move on post-Skynyrd. When people get that stuck in a musical rut I wonder where their friends are.

I see people on the subway sharing an iPod with an ear bud each and I can’t help but think of how intimate that is. Sometimes it’s a couple, but mostly it’s girls, friends. They’re sharing a ride separate from the rest of us in the metal can, and it makes me feel good about things, even from the outside with the closed loop of my own ear buds separating me from everyone around me.


.:Reading is Fundamental:.

Tom assaults 6 months worth of noteworthy releases

Must read of the week: KDP on taking off the countdown training wheels

Gloomchen’s mother in law has uncanny gifting savvy

Mathan takes an indie look at love, offering a little cheese with the whine

Oh, and you really should be reading reviews without me telling you to. Here’s a tip: start at the main music page and scroll down past the big man and the shocker art. Along with the above and reviews, you’ll find ways to score free, cool stuff.

Tarek does the opposite of what Roxanne tells him to do… shocking! And did Charmaine really ride a poorly timed do to a job offer?

Read this (ignore tip #14 — there’s nothing of interest there) and then this. Now you are ready for that music critic, err… zombie onslaught that’s bound to happen.


.:Beyond the Notes:.

For starters…


Axl Rose is in the news and you’ll have to go elsewhere to find it because really, he’s just sad. Sorry.

Belle and Sebastian gave away tickets to a free concert next week at select Starbucks locations. Can you play a free concert and sell out at the same time?

Sleater Kinney broke up. Several outlets covered it and many called them superlative things like the best punk band ever (Rolling Stone), America’s greatest rock band (Pitchfork), and an Olympia-bred rock trio (the overstated SPIN). Those who have been following should have seen this coming and no one else cares, so it’s just a blurb, but a sad one.

Jeff Magnum of Neutral Milk Hotel was (temporarily) rumored to be planning a return to the spotlight, but it was a hoax. In the teeny tiny corner of the world that loves Neutral Milk Hotel, this was the week from hell.

Yes, Britney’s naked on the cover of a magazine, but it’s Harper’s Bazaar and she’s demure as Demi. It’s the belly show that demonstrates the beauty of pregnancy. It’s been done and doesn’t do much to glam up her trailer trash current image, but as exposure goes, it seems she’s more in control here than she is with the tabloids and Matt Lauer.


Pirates or ninjas? Keith Richards weighs in.

Keith Richards To Star in ‘Pirates III’

(Yahoo! Music) – Keith Richards will star in the third Pirates Of The Caribbean film, it has been confirmed.

The Rolling Stones legend was scheduled to appear in the imminent second instalment of the movie series, as the father of Johnny Depp’s character Captain Jack Sparrow.

However, filming for Dead Man’s Chest went ahead without him as the Stones took their Bigger Bang tour around the world.

At a press gathering for the new movie this weekend in Beverly Hills, it was confirmed by producer Jerry Bruckheimer and writer Ted Elliot that Richards will star in the third movie, At World’s End.

Bruckheimer, joking about the recent fall from a coconut tree in Fiji was saw Keith undergo brain surgery, said: “I think we worked out some dates, as long as he doesn’t fall out of any more trees.”

Meanwhile, Elliot commented: “Keith Richards was never intended to be in Pirates II. He is supposed to be in III. Johnny wanted him in but there was just no room in the story in II. But there is in III. According to the press, he’s in he’s out he’s in he’s out, I honestly think people made that up.”

Fiona Apple Brings the Funny

( – Who knew Fiona Apple had a sense of humor?

Don’t get us wrong, we love her music – deeply – but light and funny aren’t two words we’d use to describe the songstress.

However, Apple shows a new side of herself in Come On And Get It (Up In ‘Dem Guts), a duet with comedian Zach Galifianakis that features Fiona singing such lines as “Baby show me your fanny pack. I’ll show you my fanny!”

So happy to see little miss Apple grow out of her awkward poetry and cutting phase. Maybe her next album will surprise, well, anyone.

But of course, comedy isn’t the right shell cracker for everyone… oops, did someone say “cracker?”

John Mayer, Miner of Comedy Gold

(Gawker) – On Friday night, singer/songwriter John Mayer abandoned his lonely-chick rock persona for a moment and tried his hand at stand-up comedy. The singer went on as a special guest at the Comedy Cellar, where one blogger noted that he seemed “drunk or stoned, maybe both.” Excellent!
Some lessons learned from Mayer on the mic:

1) Women are sluts (If you’re expecting a punchline here…so were we. Didn’t come.)

2) Lots of sluts have “unlocked their Masterlock” for him. Ew.

3) New Yorkers aren’t really bothered much by terrorism. Cause there’s like “Missiles and shit” constantly being launched at us and we’re used to it. Um…right. Might want to quit while you’re behind, John.

4) He lives up on a hill “away from the black people.” (Danger, Will Robinson, danger)

5) If white people were allowed to use the ‘N’ word, he would use it about 1,000 times a day. And yes, Mayer did use the ‘N’ word during his act. Several times.

Rest assured, Mayer still thinks your body is a wonderland — unless you’re black. In which case, your body is the ‘hood.

Not in the audience that night…

Jay-Z vs. DMX

(Yahoo! Music) – Jay-Z and DMX are reported to have ended their business relationship, after the rapper left Def Jam.

DMX is understood to have been working on a new LP with the retired rap superstar, who is also president of Def Jam. However, according to reports, the LP will now come out through Sony, after the pair decided they could no longer work together.

DMX commented: “I knew it wouldn’t work. We’re peers and it always creates problems when your friend suddenly becomes your boss. He’s in a position, ’cause he has to do his job, and you’re in a position like, ‘Yo, this is my friend.'”

DMX claims to have earned $144 million for Def Jam in 2005, prompting him to speak bitterly about the split.

He told the Irish Examiner: “How much do you think they gave me? Nothing. Not even a card, and Def Jam was going down. I enabled them to sell the company.”

Speaking of DMX, how come everytime I see my home town in the news, someone’s going to jail?

DMX Does Jail…Again

(E! Online) Josh Grossberg – The DMX man finally cometh to court on Thursday–and was quickly senteth to jail.

A city court judge in White Plains, New York, ordered the Ruff Ryder back behind bars a day after he failed to show up for a hearing stemming from his arrest earlier this month for a slew of traffic violations.

“As of right now, he’s in lockup,” a court clerk tells E! Online. Bail has been set at $25,000.

On Wednesday, a ticked-off Judge Barbara Leak issued an arrest warrant for DMX, known on the court docket as Earl Simmons, after his tardiness forced her to put off the proceedings for a second time.

The Grand Champ lawyer, Stacey Murray, told the court that Simmons had flown from Arizona to New York and was a no-show because he had fallen ill.

But the judge wasn’t biting.

“We have granted him a number of courtesies. It ends now,” she said.

The Yonkers-born hip-hop hero was ticketed June 2 after police in the Bronx pulled over his 2001 Chevy Suburban for making unsafe lane changes and driving at “unreasonable speeds.”

Beck goes hip-hop

(Yahoo! Music) – Beck has revealed his new album focuses principally on his love of hip-hop. The iconic pop star has confirmed the LP will be released this autumn, with production from Nigel Godrich, who has previously worked with both Beck and Radiohead.

News of the album comes just over a year since the release of Guero and six months since the remix collection Guerolito.

Beck told MTV this week: “Before we started, Nigel said he wanted to do a hip-hop record. And in a way it is, and in a way it isn’t. It has hip-hop songs, and my previous work with him was Mutations and Sea Change, these sort of introspective records, and so this new one is sort of bringing those two worlds together.”

Beck will also reissue his landmark LP Odelay later this year, to mark the 10th anniversary of its release, featuring rarities, remixes, and B-sides.

In other upcoming release news…

Radiohead to Release New Album Independently?

(SPIN) – The label-less band may release its next album independently, according to frontman Thom Yorke.

After releasing six albums on a major label, the now label-less Radiohead may distribute their next album independently. “We have two or three options, and that’s one,” Yorke told the LA Times. “Once we finish whatever we think is good enough to put out, then we’ll start thinking about it. We haven’t discussed it a great deal. I would love for us to drop a chemical weapon within the music industry. But I don’t see it as our responsibility, either.” When the as-yet-untitled, as-yet-unfinished album does finally drop, it will be the band’s first since 2003’s Hail to the Thief.

And the slow march to artful irrelevance continues. Speaking of artful irrelevance (really asking for it now)…

Jeff Buckley to Get Biopic Treatment

(SPIN) – The musician’s life will be chronicled in a biopic that will follow his career from its early stages to Buckley’s untimely death at age 30.

The life of Jeff Buckley, one of the most celebrated musicians of the 1990s, will be documented in an upcoming biopic. The film, set to be written and directed by Brian Jun — whose debut, Steel City won critical acclaim at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival — will focus on Buckley’s career, including the recording and release of Grace in 1994, his work on Sketches (for My Sweetheart the Drunk), which was released posthumously in 1998, and his untimely death at age 30 when he drowned in the Wolf River in Memphis, Tennessee. Buckley’s mother, Mary Guibert, will produce the film.

“I can tell Jeff’s fans with complete confidence that Brian is not the sort of fellow to sugar-coat or manipulate the facts,” Guibert said in a statement. “I know that he’s a straight shooter… and I have seen from his filmmaking that he has the courage and the skill to do this the way it should be done.”

As for casting the film, Guibert insists they’re not even close to that point in the film’s production. “So, now, my friends, you can swing on the chandeliers speculating about which actors will play which parts,” she said. “But, don’t ask me! Read my lips, you actors, out there! We will not be making any decisions about casting a film we don’t yet have a script for.” Guibert expects they will have a script by the fall of this year.

Backstreet Boys Lose Kevin Richardson

(AP) – The Backstreet Boys are saying goodbye to the oldest member of their band, according to a statement posted on the group’s Web site Saturday.

Kevin Richardson, 33, said he was leaving to pursue other interests.

“It was a very tough decision for me but one that was necessary in order to move on with the next chapter of my life,” Richardson said in the statement.

The Orlando-based pop band ushered in a new teen-music craze in the late 90’s, buoyed by their soulful harmonies, synchronized dance steps, clean-cut good looks and charm. Their three albums sold a total of more than 35 million copies.

The group took a hiatus in 2001 after A.J. McLean’s highly publicized entry into rehab forced the band to postpone their “Black & Blue” tour. They reunited to release the album “Never Gone” in 2005.

The remaining members, McLean, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, and Brian Littrell, said they had no plans to replace Richardson.

“The door will always be open for him to return to the Backstreet Boys. We wish him the all the best in his future endeavors,” they said on the band’s Web site.

The group plans to return to the studio this weekend to begin work on their next album, which is due later this year.

Calls and an e-mail sent to the group’s publicist, Sonia Muckle, were not immediately returned to The Associated Press on Saturday.

Really? You still have to quit the Backstreet Boys? Do you still have to quit EBN-OZN?

The Notorious B.I.G. to Be Born Again

(Rolling Stone) – On the list of cool ways in which Biggie Smalls could be resurrected, “action figure” might not place that high, but hell, it’s what we’ve got so we’ll take it. In late October Mezco Toyz will ship out truckloads of little biggies. The doll will stand nine inches tall and four different versions will be available, each with its own set of, you know, clothing and accessories. The doll should go for between $24.99 and $29.99.

And on the other end of the just plain bizarre spectrum, here is pasty New Order on the set of Baywatch, giving just one reason why everyone is going ape nuts over the loss of Top Of The Pops.

And finally…

Billy Corgan & Courtney Love: Roommates?

(Yahoo! Music) – Billy Corgan has moved in with Courtney Love, according to reports.

The pair, who have been friends for some time and are understood to be working on material for Courtney’s new solo album, are apparently sharing her Hollywood mansion.

However, it is unclear if the couple’s relationship is purely plutonic. Love commented: “Not many people know this, but Billy’s been living with me for the last four months. Billy has one wing, Frances [Bean–her teenage daughter with former husband Kurt Cobain] has another, and I have one.”

Courtney’s new album has not yet been scheduled but is due out later this year, while Corgan is also thought to be working on new Smashing Pumpkins material.