Music retailers hope exclusive releases give them a holiday shot in the arm
From the Beastie Boys and Beatles to Wilco and the Yardbirds, the list of exclusive indie-record-store only releases are far more worthwhile to line up for Friday than getting a few bucks off a flat screen.
The success of the annual Record Store Day event every spring has led retailers to repeat it for the holiday season, often with a special emphasis on vinyl. And one could argue it’s much-needed. Despite a music industry that seems stable compared to the past disastrous decade, industry stalwarts such as Newbury Comics and others have let customers know without their patronage, many independent brick-and-mortar stores could be on life-support soon.
So Record Store Black Friday is happening this week too, a fantastic alternative to the regular (and thoroughly depressing) Black Friday shopping. One of this year's hottest items: A box set of Bob Dylan classics from the '60s, including a mono vinyl pressing of "Positively 4th Street." Click here for a complete list of all the rarities being made available to music fanatics on Friday, and you'll also find links to find the indie nearest you selling these gems.
And tempting as online shopping is, support your local record store.
Taylor Swift mops up another music awards show
— Adult Contemporary Artist: AdeleIdolator's show wrap-up is below:
— Alternative Rock Artist: Foo Fighters
— Contemporary Inspirational Artist: Casting Crowns
— Country Female Artist: Taylor Swift
— Country Male Artist: Blake Shelton
— Country Band, Duo or Group: Lady Antebellum
— Country Album: Taylor Swift, "Speak Now"
— Latin Music Artist: Jennifer Lopez
— Pop/Rock Female Artist: Adele
— Pop/Rock Male Artist: Bruno Mars
— Pop/Rock Band, Duo or Group: Maroon 5
— Pop/Rock Album: Adele, "21"
— Rap/Hip-Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj
— Rap/Hip-Hop Album: Nicki Minaj, "Pink Friday"
— Soul/R&B Female Artist: Beyonce
— Soul/R&B Male Artist: Usher
— Soul/R&B Album: Rihanna, "Loud."
— Artist of the Year: Taylor Swift
— New Artist of the Year: Hot Chelle Rae
They're coming back after all
Expect more info soon, and try to put it out of your mind that Springsteen recently turned up backstage at a Taylor Swift concert.
10 years after Clash leader's death, a peek inside his world
It's downright painful to realize that it has been nearly 10 years since The Clash's co-founder Joe Strummer died unexpectedly of a heart attack. My God, he was just 50 and had been making great music for more than a quarter-century. That's Joe up above, giving money to a homeless person in a snowstorm.
His website Strummerville is selling a series of calendars and Christmas cards with never-before-seen photos like the one above. The calendar, the site says, is "12 months of Strummer’s most inspirational quotes, previously unseen images and hand-written artifacts from his personal archive." Proceeds go to the Joe Strummer New Music Foundation.
Sounds like the perfect gift for your favorite. Strummer/Clash fan. You're welcome!
Meanwhile, see the preview in the video below.
And check out one of the Clash's best songs and performances, live at the US Festival.
There's really nothing a joke can add to this story
Legendary rockers STYX--Tommy Shaw, James "JY" Young, Chuck Panozzo, Lawrence Gowan, Ricky Phillips and Todd Sucherman—have teamed up with jewelry designer Diana Warner to create the "Diana Warner for Styx" jewelry collection, which was made available exclusively on the band's official website on November 11, just in time for holidayshopping.
Each piece is hand-made in Diana Warner's New York City studio, with prices ranging from $55-$200. The first items available are eight dog tag necklaces made of 30 inch chains of gunmetal, antique gold or antique silver plate over brass. The charms are made of pewter and rose gold, gunmetal, antique gold or antique silver. They'll also be selling guitar pick earrings available in 4 finishes: gunmetal, rose gold, antique gold and antique silver, as well as antique gold and silver charms with one of the band's well-recognized lyrics, "Come Sail Away With Me."
This is only the first part of the "Diana Warner for Styx" collection. Multiple styles of limited edition charms will be created in 2012, which will be sold in a small number and will be considered collector's items. A full line of "Diana Warner for Styx" jewelry will be made available in 2012. This is the first collection Diana has designed for a band and collaborated on this project with singer/guitarist Tommy Shaw's wife, Jeanne Shaw.
"The second we saw Diana's pieces, we knew we wanted to work with her," says Jeanne. "We're so thrilled to be able to offer something very special to STYX's fans that's worlds different than anything we've done before. We hope they love the collection as much as we do."
In touring news, STYX is continuing to criss-cross the U.S. in support of "Regeneration, Volume I & II," a double-disc collection of re-recorded classics that was released on October 4 via Eagle Rock Entertainment. In addition to thirteen STYX classics and a brand new song "Difference In The World REGENERATION, VOLUME I & II also includes interpretations of "High Enough," and "Coming Of Age," originally recorded by Damn Yankees, which featured Tommy Shaw, along with Night Ranger's Jack Blades, Ted Nugent and drummer Michael Cartellone. The band had originally re-recorded these acclaimed anthems to sell only at their live shows, as they continued to tour the globe and introduce a new generation of fans to their chart-topping hits. Now, for the first time, this music has been made commercially available.
Business, man tries to monetize Occupy Wall Street
"For any image or symbol or creative act to mean something, it has to touch something deeper, connect to something true." – Jay-Z, writing about wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt, in Decoded (Virgin Books/Random House, 2010).
As a Jay-Z fan, I find myself depressed and a little angry. Shawn Carter and his Roc-a-Wear company have decided to create and sell a T-shirtostensibly supporting the Occupy Wall Street protests, and, while perhaps not actively planning keep all the proceeds for themselves, don't intend to disclose if any money will be donated to the cause they're trading off. And yet, also as a Jay-Z fan, I have no right to be surprised. If his 15-year career has revealed anything about the man, it's that he's determined, self-reliant and focused on making money. So why do I expect something better?
The CEO of several successful companies who has rapped on various occasions about his desire to be taken seriously by America's business elite, Jay-Z is an unlikely OWS supporter. Almost certainly a member of the 1% rather than the 99, expecting him to donate commercial earnings to a protest movement aligned against the capitalist system that's served him so well seems faintly ridiculous. Hip-hop's version of socialism relies entirely on entrepreneurialism to function: the average rap star's (laudable) commitment to spreading their wealth around their immediate circle, employing childhood friends as managers, or even just giving their rapping mates a leg-up by introducing them as guests on album and mixtape tracks, is an exercise in making capitalism work in their favour.
Ideological consistency is an overrated virtue in an artist anyway, and major rap stars are the last people to look to for revolutionary credentials – so this doesn't seem to matter most of the time. But when artists stress their connection to the "streets" and the "hood" to the point it becomes afundamental part of their commercial offering, perhaps fans have a right to question where they choose to draw those lines.
Another exhibit for the defence is the garment itself. The T-shirt takes the movement's name and plays word games with it – literally crossing out the "W" and adding a final "S" to graffiti-spray its new message: "Occupy All Streets." It can be considered an act of creativity, in the same way that a parody of a work of art constitutes a new work, not a derivative of the original – so why shouldn't Roc-a-Wear profit from it? (Even if they were not the first to come up with the slogan). It's not as if the shirt is making a definitively aligned political point: in this context, it's really just an extension of Brand Jay. The new phrase could be interpreted even more broadly than the OWS protests and their inchoate aims. Is it more likely to be a call to arms against the financial elite, or a blank-canvas slogan that could mean different things to Jay-Z's audience? This is just Jay being Jay, wanting to have his cake and eat it – and if he's eating someone else's cake while doing so, so be it.
New album now streaming online
Kate Bush fans were right to be confused when she released The Director’s Cut earlier this year, an album reworking her earlier songs. Bush has never had a traditional career, so it wasn’t a surprise so much as a puzzle.
No matter. It led directly to 50 Words For Snow, a new album due Nov. 21 that is being hailed in some quarters as her best work ever – a mighty high benchmark. It is a lush, dreamy song cycle having to do with snow, mythology, Yetis and more. Now you can listen to it in its entirety on NPR and make up your own mind. And for some explanation of the themes behind the songs, there are a couple of in-depth interviews out there. This one is a little too twee, with the writer intent on talk about himself as much as Bush’s music; this one has better focus, though the writer’s awe in talking to Bush is still palpable.
And PETA, don’t worry – that’s fake fur she’s wearing in the photo.
Rock legend turns 66, still going strong.
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