These Art Forms Must Be Developed: A Netflix Worthy Selection – Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

Big Star - Nothing Can Hurt Me

Big Star – Nothing Can Hurt Me

More are aware of Big Star’s music than they realize – but that doesn’t help.

Ask the average American if they know Big Star and they’ll shrug uninterested shoulders. Ask if they know the theme song for “That 70′s Show” and they’ll nod in recognition approval. Cheap Trick did a killer job interpreting the original – but goddamn, it’s a fucking bummer this is how most acknowledge a Giant’s existence – adding to the mythos that Big Star are the best band you never heard.

Watch Nothing Can Hurt Me Know – and realize truth – even if you’ve been a forever fan.

7 / 10 Devil Horns

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Today Is Tomorrow’s Past: What Pono Means For The Future Of Music

Is PonoMusic the start of a new medium?

Will PonoMusic spark a sea change in digital music consumption? (Illustration – D.Hixon)

Like Hemingway used to, I find myself writing while standing up. There’s numerous health studies that support this, but my reasons are different. I’m standing solely because my Macbook’s flanked directly next to my turntable. I digitize recently purchased records as I write, work, and idle shiftlessly about the internet. I stand because despite the technology that rules my life I’m still a slave to the analog.

I’ve known about Neil Young’s Pono project for awhile, and seeing it launch last week made the possible seem real. Do I think Pono is the end all be all for the future of music? No way. When I was Music Director at 90.9 WONY in 2001 I was told that SONY’s Mini-Disc was the future. Still, any technology that can improve the listening experience is going to grab my attention, and Moore’s Law be damned, despite these advancements of technology, Vinyl is still the King of quality.

Some dude named Edison “kick-started” the phonograph in 1878 and since then Vinyl’s met and conquered each competitor that’s stepped into the auditory ring. Reel-to Reel, 8-Track, Cassette, CD, Mini-Disc, and even the almighty MP3 have not been able to replicate or improve upon the quality of Vinyl. Listening to records is not a mobile activity however, and that’s what technology has brought us over the past Century – ease of use and portability, but NOT improved quality. cell-phone-elephant

This ease of use has come at a cost, as the overall quality of what people are listening to has been compromised, compressed, and cheapened – and this holds especially true with the MP3. My “day job” for the past decade has been working with large media companies to maximize the quality of their digital media files, and anytime you sample down from the original source you’re losing quality. This degradation is necessary though, because the emphasis of technology has become portability, or more specifically, and now we’re getting to elephant in the digital room, mobile phones. In order for media to work properly on a smart phone in 2014 you’ll need to significantly degrade the quality of the source file – and this fact is universally true for both audio & video.

youtube_phoneWhat’s interesting to me is that the average consumer will watch a video on their phone without complaint – knowingly accepting that the quality isn’t a tenth as good as what they’d put up with in their living room. What saddens me is that this same consumer will listen to an MP3 on their phone as well as in their Living Room and think nothing of it. The truth is that a similar gap in quality lies between the MP3 on your phone and the record on your turntable. It’s like going from HD to bunny ears, and there’s now an entire generation that doesn’t even know that gap exists.

hd-cost-graphThis is what intrigues me so much about Pono. I have zero Faith that the format will become the medium of choice for this era of digital music. But I do have hope that it’ll make enough of a dent to shift the conversation some. The cost of Storage per Gigabyte has plummeted from over $10 per GB in 2000 to under $0.10 today. The MP3 did great things for helping music infiltrate all parts of our lives, however, we don’t need the MP3 anymore, it’s antiquated, cheap, and subpar for our HD lives.

In the end I think Pono will sing truest to the Audiophile Community, but it’s time for the general public, and especially this new Generation, to take its ear muffs off. I know I can’t be the only one to stand (literally) a slave to good sounding music, and if Neil and Pono can help shift the consumer back to quality over quantity, I’m all ears.

A Utopia In The Sun: Terror Of The Deep

Terror Of The Deep

If this world is just – Terror Of The Deep shall rise to the top.

New Zealand has a penchant for producing bands that are unique, well-formed, and aurally pleasing. The remoteness of the island nation yields fertile ground for a particularity creative brand of rock. While Terror Of The Deep has a touch of the “Flying Nun Sound” in their music, pinning them exclusively to that label would be unfair.

Death Of The Gideon is Terror Of The Deep’s first release on vinyl and it’s a record that’s going to be damn hard to kick off my platter. On just five tracks there’s a dramatic amount of cohesive range, with “Model Train Village” being the stand-out, as it accomplishes in one song what most can’t do on an entire album. Atmospheric, moody, psychedelic, and driving. Terror Of The Deep has all these attributes and more, making you want to dive in deeper and get lost in their beautiful brand of terror.

Recommended If You Like: The Clean, The Egyptians, Television, Tame Impala

Recommended Song: Michael O. – World Without Meaning

Michael O. - World Without Meaning

Michael O. – World Without Meaning

The Mantles Michael O. (Michael Olivares) will be releasing his debut 7″ and LP via the newly formed Fruits & Flowers Records this Spring, and the first track, “World Without Meaning”, is a mid-fi swaying beauty. While not as full sounding as previous Mantles records, it’s far from just an echo of those sweet songs, standing firmly on its own while providing much excitement for what’s to come on the rest of the album.

Recommended If You Like: The Mantles, Juan Wauters, The Troggs

Even When They Stand, They Sit – A Sort Of Review of Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks at Paradise Rock Club

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks are not to blame.

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks are not to blame for the shoegazers we’ve become.

It’s finally happened, much sooner than I expected – like a sniper in the shadows pulling a shot that ends in red mist, my youth has been blown away. Without want, desire, or effort I’ve become old – the inevitable fate of the survivor…I guess.

At the young age of 34 I’ve reached a disgruntled state that has me waving a white flag on the future status of what I call Rock. I’ve gone to too many shows where I expect to be swept up in the excitement of Rock and Roll – allowed to forgot my everyday worries, and be entranced by bright lights, good music, and a raucous crowd.

Shit. Maybe I’d even pogo around like an idiot, sweat too much while feeling alive, free, and without self consciousness. But for whatever the reason when I attend a show as of late it’s an affair riddled with crossed arms, furrowed brows, and a bunch of young assholes who haven’t lived enough to make a mistake that allows them to make a real decision.

Crap. I really have crossed a border.

I know. I’m old, disgruntled, and you should get off my lawn. These are likely middle aged growing pains that I feel while not going to the real shows of today – but I doubt that’s all they are – going to a show like Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks shouldn’t feel docile, safe, and sterile. You should sweat, move from the spot you stand, and get lost in a sway you don’t completely control.

But what the fuck do I know. I’m 34 years old.

Setlist

Uncle Tupelo – I Wanna Destroy You (Soft Boys Cover)

This is me on any given night.

This is me on any given night.

I couldn’t find Uncle Tupelo’s excellent cover of The Soft Boys classic “I Wanna Destroy You” anywhere on the web. So decided to record it off of my 7″ copy and share with the World. This is an Honor Roll worthy cover – and a convergence of a lot of great things. The video’s me on a typical night at home. Drinking a ‘Gansett. Watching the Celtics. And listening to Music.

Recommended If You Like: Television, Post-Jangle, Rock and Roll, Jay Farrar

Recommended Song: Ruby Rose Fox – Raggedy Ann

Ruby Rose Fox

Ruby Rose Fox very likely has the best voice in Boston.

Ruby Rose Fox‘s voice is absolutely arresting in its quality. Her stratified vocal approach can make the simplest arrangement dense with emotion – and “Raggedy Ann” is the perfect example of this. The previously unreleased track has an accompanying video which approaches the song much like the twittering bright guitar that sweeps in the background – it stays out of the way – and lets Rose Fox’s voice place handcuffs on your ears as you willingly let yourself be taken away.

Ruby Rose will be performing in a few weeks down at SXSW – and she’ll be back in Town at Atwoods Tavern on 03/22/14 with Sarah Borges.

(Video and audio by Roger Metcalf)

Recommended If You Like: Peggy Lee, Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen

Recommended Song: The Men – Different Days

The Men - Different Days

Bands like The Men give hope during a frozen winter. (Photo – Sacred Bones)

Finding a band that strictly carries the torch of Rock in these future days of 2014 is like stumbling upon the rarest of truffles in some snow capped forest. Over the years The Men have been labeled as punk, psychedelic, garage, and noise – but all those genres really add up to is Rock, and rock they do. They’re a band that barely has its own website, and have all but shunned any form of social media – which may be as punk as it gets in these modern times.

When I hear The Men have a new record on the horizon my teenage self becomes stupid with anticipation. “Different Days” is off their forthcoming LP Tomorrow’s Hits and it’s done the opposite of quell my excitement – I may have even sprouted a few pimples in its honor.

The track begins with some drunken yelps and a nakedly insistent bass which propels the song into motion as driving guitar and organ accompaniment take you to a place of good. For those of us consistently searching, in a forest or otherwise, it’s nice to know that between massive quantities of vastness hope lies about, waiting to be plucked up.

Recommended If You Like: The Woolen Men, Bad Times, Dinosaur Jr, Rock