WYEP's Music Blog

Thursday, May 10, 2007

New Order breaks up

New Order bassist and founding member, Peter Hook, has announced that the band has broken up.

Hook confirmed the band's demise on his MySpace blog:
...so i went on and lo and behold mentioned the [New Order] split so i suppose because it was me sayin it it was out at last. im relieved really hated carryin on as normal with an awful secret so lets move on shall we?
To our knowledge, that means the last New Order project will be the score for the film "Control", a biopic on the late Joy Division singer, Ian Curtis. The film is set to premiere next week at the Cannes Film Festival. New Order was made up of the remaining members of Joy Divison after Curtis' suicide in 1980 at age 23.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Ben Folds seeks a Merry Prankster-style "Experience"

On his official web site, Ben Folds has posted a message declaring, "i need a vacation. but i hate vacations because i don't know what to do with my time. so i stayed up all last night dialing up friends who play music who also want a vacation and most of them told me to call back when i was sober and not crying."

He says he intends to "get a lot of talented musical artists together in one holiday moment of glory with possibly a few comedians and have some kind of magical experience MAN."

In the tradition of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, Folds wants to paint a large bus "psychedelic purple," skip a week of taking baths, and drive around "jamming out on one chord about the war."

Fans are encouraged to sign up on special mailing list which promises information on "the Ben Folds Experience" to occur "February 21-25, 2008."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Former Phish frontman pleads guilty in drug case

Anastasio pleads guilty in drug case:
Trey Anastasio pleaded guilty Friday to a felony drug charge, avoiding jail time in a plea agreement that drops more serious charges and orders him into a drug court program.

Anastasio, 42, pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance. He admitted that he was in possession of Vicodin, Percocet, heroin and Xanax when he was pulled over in a Dec. 15 traffic stop in Whitehall.

Under the drug court program, the former Phish frontman will spend 12 to 15 months making weekly court appearances. He will also be subject to drug testing and will have to perform community service.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Future of Album Art

Designers Work to Rescue a Dying Art Form -- the Album Cover:
The album cover -- once a crucial part of any band's identity -- has been dying a slow death for decades. For the most part, music fans put up with the shrinkage of album art from expansive vinyl records to hand-size plastic jewel cases. But with the music experience moving almost exclusively online, album art has suffered another compression -- this time all the way down to thumbnail images. (Worse still -- they're missing from most of the music files we've all ripped and downloaded.)

But music label designers are working to raise the album cover back up to an art form. They're experimenting with new tools and hatching plans to reinvent album art for the digital age, all while weathering the tectonic shifts that ultimately rule the music industry.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Springsteen's 'Seeger Sessions' band live music to be released

Springsteen's Seeger Sojourn Heads To CD/DVD:
To commemorate his 2006 detour with his New Orleans-themed Seeger Sessions Band, Bruce Springsteen will release a live CD/DVD this summer that captures a 2006 performance with the outfit.

Bruce Springsteen With The Seeger Sessions Band Live in Dublin will be available online and in stores on June 5 via Columbia. The 23-track release will include a concert DVD and a separate two-CD set. It will be culled from the band's three-night stand at the Point in Dublin in November 2006.

Texas musician Billy Joe Shaver wanted in bar shooting

Warrants issued for Billy Joe Shaver in bar shooting, attorney says:
Police have obtained arrest warrants for legendary Texas singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver in a shooting Saturday night outside a Lorena bar, his attorney says.

After the warrants were issued, Shaver unsuccessfully attempted to surrender to Austin police, said his Austin-based attorney, Joseph Turner, who accompanied Shaver to surrender Monday night. Turner said Austin police did not have a record of the warrants late Monday, so Shaver was not arrested.

Turner said Lorena Police Chief John Moran told him about the warrants, for aggravated assault and possessing a firearm in a prohibited place. Moran could not be reached to confirm the warrants late Monday.

Lorena police say the shooting occurred at 8:30 p.m. outside Papa Joe’s Texas Saloon, 1505 Interstate 35. Witnesses at the bar told the Tribune-Herald that the shooter took off in his car.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bono gets knighted

U2 frontman Bono was knighted this evening. According to NME, he was named a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Honored for his music work along with his humanitarianism, the ceremony took place at the Dublin residence of British Ambassador David Reddaway. But don't call Bono "Sir", that title is only reserved for British nationals and Bono was born in Dublin.

A Rosemary "Perfect" Top 50

Now that the curtain on WYEP's Top 50 Women in Music has dropped and all has been revealed it's time to pour over the list and debate the results. Over 600 people voted their choice for the most influential female artists and more than 380 women received votes. The list included a broad array of styles from folk to blues to jazz and rock but there is always the surprise of who made the list and who didn't.

Keeping in mind that the list was listener's choice there is always the example of more recent artists winning out over performers from past decades and lesser-known but influential artists being past over for a current singer who is receiving lots of media attention. Also, this type of list generates the passions of music lover's who want to promote personal favorites. Why not? Fight for the ones you love.

Being the host of the program I've been asked a lot lately what I think of the top 50 list? Did I agree with everything? Overall I thought the music was great. But, of course, I have my personal favorites and I'll admit I thought there were some egregious oversights. I'll give you my very personal - and subjective opinion on who I think is missing from the list and who would have to be removed in order to make the list "Rosemary Perfect." Let me preface this by saying that I like all the women on the list. Yeah, that sounds like a cop out, but it's true. All would make my top 100 but this was a top 50 so here goes the cruel slaughter.

They just haven't earned it yet, baby...

Neko Case is some day going to reign as queen of the alt-country world but she isn't there, yet. Aimee Mann? Great songwriter but how influential is she in the grand scheme of pop music? Sorry but she wouldn't make my top 50. Dar Williams is a woman I love and her music has pulled many young people to the folk realm but she can't beat out a couple of the artists who didn't make the list. I can say the same for Fiona Apple and even my beloved Beth Orton but, to paraphrase Morrissey, they just haven't earned it yet, baby. And Norah Jones will make the top 50 someday but not on the strength of just 3 albums.

Who do you gotta shtup around here to get on the list?

So that knocks six of the list. Who would I replace them with? I would correct the biggest oversight and add Diana Ross and the Supremes. Not only should they have made the top 50 but they deserved a spot in the top 10 - in my humble opinion. Why? The Supremes were the most successful African American band of the 1960s and the most successful girl band of all time. They scored 23 singles in the top 10 on the U.S. and British charts including 6 in one year. For several decades they had more #1 singles than anyone other than The Beatles and Elvis Presley. They influenced 60's styles and were the inspiration for the Broadway musical and movie "Dream Girls."

(As an aside, not only would I put the Supremes in the top 10, I'd also include Patsy Cline and Madonna. Who would have to move down the list? Tori Amos, Lucinda Williams and - oh this is where it gets hard - Emmylou? Yeah, but with great pain.)

Now that I've got that out of my craw here's my next overlooked mistress of music. Country music, heck, popular music today would be a very different beast if it weren't for The Carter Family. At the heart of that band and family is Mother Maybelle Carter. Don Everly once told Life Magazine that the Carter Family took country music from the porch to the radio. Maybelle Carter transformed the guitar from a backing rhythm instrument to the dominant lead instrument not just in country but, also, popular music.

If there hadn't been a Bessie Smith there might not have been a Janis Joplin, at least not the way we know her. Joplin generously gave credit to Bessie as being one of her greatest influences. Bessie Smith was known as the Empress of the Blues, singing a mix of country-blues that spoke to life in the rural South. She ran her own touring company and was an accomplished dancer, actress and comedian as well as singer in the 1920's and '30's. She was the highest paid African American performer of her time.

Just as Janis Joplin found inspiration in Smith, Aretha Franklin learned from her great mentor. Mahalia Jackson began singing in church in her native New Orleans at the age of 4. In 1956 she was singing on the Ed Sullivan Show and is credited with catapulting Gospel music into America's mainstream. She was active in the civil rights movement and sang at the inaugurations of both Eisenhower and Kennedy.

Dusty Springfield was declared "Britain's best-ever pop singer" by Rolling Stone and Rock World listed her as "one of the twelve first women of Rock." She could sing rhythm & blues, sophisticated pop songs written by Bacharach and David, folk-pop ballads, soul produced by Jerry Wexler and even produced a techno hit with the Pet Shop Boys. Dusty Springfield exemplified a singer who could adapt to any style in the unpredictable world of pop music. Fiona Apple has surely learned a thing or two thanks to Dusty.

Last but never least is that bad girl of rock, Joan Jett. Jett helped found The Runaways at age 15 and maybe, for the first time, 13 year-old girls imagined themselves making kick-ass rock music as they played air guitar in front of their full-length bedroom mirrors.

With the exception of Jett (who, I'm sure will someday make it) the Rock and Roll Hall of fame has honored each of these women. But they are not alone by a long shot. There are so many other women I could argue for - and that's a good thing. The point of the countdown was to get you thinking about women who have made great music and that you have done. I think you did a great job even if I am up to arguing for my choices.

Oh, by the way, what about Tammy Wynette, Celia Cruz, Big Mama Thorton, Sarah Vaughn, Heart, Wanda Jackson, Patti Page, etc…

So who do you think was left off the list?

Who would you argue to keep on the list?

View the full list at wyep.org

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

New Album Update: White Stripes, Bjork, Spoon

A bunch of new information has come up on new albums that we've previosuly mentioned here, so here's an update:

The White Stripes - "Icky Thump":
Billboard reported yesterday that the new album will feature bagpipes and trumpets backing up Jack and Meg on songs that range from, "arena rock to blues to a spoken-word prayer to Saint Andrew". The album is due in "mid-June" on Warner Brothers.

Spoon - "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga":
Pitchfork yesterday announced the title of the new album. Previously in the week, they announced the rest of the info about the new album, which includes songs with typo-ridden titles like, "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb" and "Rhthm and Soul". The album is due July 10 on Merge.

Bjork - "Volta":
Earlier this month, Bjork released a little information about her new release, and more information has been trickling out as of late. "Volta" will include contributions from African musicians Konono #1 and Toumani Diabate, as well as a 10 piece Icelandic female brass section, the Chinese pipa and collaborations with Antony Hegarty from Antony and the Johnsons, and Jay-Z producer, Timbaland. Due May 8 on One Little Indian/Atlantic.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan part ways

Singer-Songwriter Damien Rice has announced that he has parted ways with long-time vocalist Lisa Hannigan. Rice and Hannigan have recorded together for close to six years, and she has appeared on Rice's most recent album, "9" and 2001's "O".

The spilt was announced on Rice's website:

After much thought and discussion Damien has decided that his professional relationship with Lisa Hannigan has run its creative course. As a result Lisa will not be appearing at any of the upcoming live shows. Lisa is embarking on her own artistic endeavours and there are no plans for them to work together in the foreseeable future. The current band on tour at the moment are - Damien Rice, Joel Shearer, Shane Fitzsimons, Tom Osander & Vyvienne Long.

New Suzanne Vega album

Via Vega's email list:
The wait is almost over – Suzanne Vega's first release on Blue Note Records will be out this July! Take a tour of New York with Suzanne Vega on her new album, Beauty & Crime. Inspired by the city she lives in, Suzanne's gift for songwriting shines through on album opener "Zephyr & I", about a conversation she had with the infamous graffiti artist, to "New York is a Woman", which captures the city as a hard-luck, yet beautiful lady.
I heard Vega perform "New York is a Woman" last summer, and it's strikingly good.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Traveling Wilburys reissues coming

Traveling Wilburys Music Available for the First Time in a Decade:
Nearly twenty years after the creation of the band, and over a decade since the music was last available to fans, the music of The Traveling Wilburys will be reissued on June 12, 2007, in the U.S....

The previously released albums Traveling Wilburys Volume 1 and Traveling Wilburys Volume 3 feature inarguably some of music's greatest singer-songwriters -- George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan -- as the iconic band The Traveling Wilburys. Both CDs will be combined into one release, The Traveling Wilburys Collection, and will feature bonus tracks of rare and newly mixed previously unreleased music along with a bonus DVD featuring a 24-minute documentary showing unseen footage of the Wilburys and their five video clips.
There are two unreleased songs included with the Vol. 1 disc ("Maxine" and "Like A Ship") and two rarities inlcuded with Vol. 3 ("Runaway," the B-side to the "She's My Baby" CD and 12" in the U.K., and "Nobody's Child," a track included on the charity album Nobody's Child: Romanian Angel).

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New Paula Cole album announced

"Worth the Wait":
Seven years ago, Paula Cole walked away from the music industry and never looked back. Until now....

"I needed to heal," the 1990 graduate told more than 100 students at a clinic she gave at the Berklee Performance Center on February 16, just hours before she took to the stage for her first concert in seven years. "I felt like I was a plant in shock and I couldn't bloom anymore. So I stepped off that hamster wheel of the music business and I was a human being for seven years and ate humble pie."


She belted out the end of "Mississippi" from her celebrated album This Fire, while accompanying herself on piano, and treated the audience to a glimpse of her new album Courage—to be released in June by Universal/Decca—with the soulful "Comin' Down."

Rodrigo y Gabriela U.S. visa woes

Guitarist 'is denied entry to US':
A Mexican guitarist who has become a star on the world music scene has said he has been denied entry to the US.

Rodrigo Sanchez of the group Rodrigo y Gabriela said his application to renew a visa had been refused and they had been forced to cancel part of a tour.

The US State Department refused because Sanchez has a similar name to a man who is banned from the US, he said.

Eight US gigs have been called off so far and Sanchez said it may take up to three months to resolve the situation.
In a statement Rodrigo said,
I have met some others musicians from different parts of the world that have, unfortunately, been through the same situation when they were about to start their tour in the States. This is nothing to do with being Latin or Arab or from wherever. This is a policy that some have chosen to support, these are internal security measure issues that have to be resolved by Americans themselves. We hope to be back into the States as soon as I'm cleared to do so and keep contributing to society by sharing music and our time with people and reinforcing the importance that art and culture have, have had and will have to all of us while we are alive.

Yoshimi battles the Dancing Cats?

It must be Broadway week in music news. Wayne Coyne confirmed in a recent interview that he plans to convert the album "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" into a Broadway Musical. The Flaming Lips frontman said that the production is in the works, but opening night is far, far off.

Pitchfork reports that Aaron Sorkin creator of "The West Wing" has signed on to do the script. Tony Award winner Des McAnuff, who brought the Who's "Tommy" to Broadway will be directing and producing.