Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Cellist (and friend of this blog) Gordon Withers takes to the stage tomorrow evening at Velvet Lounge as opener for All Tiny Creatures. As such, we thought it an opportune time for a chat. About vinyl. —Ed.
The recent vinyl renaissance has coincided nicely with my desire to finally record solo rock cello albums. Since my first album (Jawbox On Cello) was a benefit, it didn't really make financial sense to put it out on vinyl. However, it was something I really wanted to do for my second (s/t) album.
Ever since I was a kid, I loved vinyl. I had a Fisher Price turntable on which I would play (or ruin) my mom's old Beatles albums. I also loved my dad's collection of classical vinyl. Apparently he had belonged to whatever the 60's classical version of Columbia House was at that point, and had amassed an enormous collection from always having forgotten to send the little postcards back in time. At any rate, I grew up loving the sound of both old classical and rock albums - so rich, full, textured, crackly... so much character.
Fast forward (reset the needle?) to today. Much has been made recently about the resurgence of vinyl vis-a-vis the decline of other tangible musical products. At this point pretty much everyone agrees (finally!) that vinyl sounds better than CD's. But in the past couple of years, vinyl has come to fill emotional needs too. Playing a record is far more of a conscious act than listening to music on CD's or iTunes. LPs can be miniature works of art - or conversation starters. As the founder of BandCamp pointed out when launching their vinyl-only BCWax label, books and records are a physical manifestation of a person's taste - a visitor can easily peruse someone's physical collections of music and literature, but that is not so easily done on a computer or Kindle.
In producing a vinyl version of my new s/t album, I wanted a product somewhere in-between the expensive, collector packages that many artists are doing these days, and a low-end "vinyl version of the album". My research took me to Gotta Groove Records, the only new vinyl press to open in the US in years (and in Cleveland no less!). I fell in love with their backstory, but ultimately chose to hire them based on their commitment to quality. They don't skimp on the gram-weight for their basic records, and they'll also handle all of the printing, packaging, labels, etc. in-house. I had my good friend Dave Gonzalez design an amazing cover that looked best on the 12x12 vinyl package. I set up a BandCamp site to handle the distribution and download codes. Finally, I was lucky enough to get an early invite code to Kickstarter at this time last year, and set about financing the pressing of the vinyl via pledges and pre-orders.
An aside: BandCamp and Kickstarter have come to represent the gold-standard of independent music financing and distribution in the new decade. Their sites are so intuitive, well-designed, and infused with so much genuine love for art and music. If you are not familiar with them, it's worth spending the time to check them out. You'll discover so many amazing projects and artists within the first few minutes.
But back to the vinyl release. I tried to make the vinyl version "special", without being ridiculous. Many of the collectors' editions coming out these days I consider little more than price-gouging of hardcore fans. I priced my vinyl release at $10 (in retrospect, $12 would have been better), and included 2 download codes, handled through BandCamp: one for the album itself, and one for 2 bonus tracks (only available with the vinyl purchase). I went with standard black vinyl, standard labels, and regular sleeves to keep costs low. But I took a lot of care with the music itself. Anytime you record in J Robbins's Magpie Cage studio, you know you'll get an incredible-sounding end product. But we made sure to mix the album with an eye toward the vinyl version. Additionally, I had two masters made - one for the digital/CD release, and another for the vinyl. The latter had less compression, and was EQ'd to take advantage of the vinyl medium's strengths. To me, listening to the album on vinyl, it sounds like a whole different record. The first time I heard it, it was like a revelation.
I am definitely planning on doing all future releases on vinyl, whenever possible. I recommend it to others, too - if you have enough fans to support a Kickstarter project, you can pretty much do anything you want. And it may just be the Project Manager in me, but I really enjoyed the whole process. It's definitely a lot more intense and time-consuming than sending off a master to DiscMakers, but it's a lot more fun. I loved getting test pressings in the mail, approving label designs, and building the finished product when it finally arrived. Having a vinyl release, even one done totally independently, feels like a culmination of some kind - my music has finally arrived.
I'll have a few copies for sale at Wednesday's show, opening for All Tiny Creatures. I may not do a re-press, so get it while you can!
Gordon Withers - Cast Into The Sky (Mp3)
Gordon Withers - Revolving Doors (Mp3)
Approved for download!
Posted by Jon at 2:40 PM
Ahead of tonight's Mercury Music Prize announcement, we've got a new version of Paul Weller's current single 'Fast Car / Slow Traffic' featuring Devlin, a grime lyricist hailing from Dagenham, Essex.
I mean, Paul should take the prize, right?
Paul Weller - Fast Car/Slow Traffic (Devlin Remix) (Mp3)
All authorized for download!
Posted by Jon at 11:49 AM
Due to the over abundance of Twitter material with which we have to work this week, we’re splitting our Music Monday recap into two parts.
Kanye. The gift that keeps on giving. —Ed.
So, I hate to do this, because I was in the kind of good mood that only happens when you’ve spent an hour in a Sirius-equipped Zipcar listening to Little Steven’s Underground Garage, but I’m going to write about Kanye again this week. Consider it a “back by popular demand” thing, except that “popular demand” in this case means that two people asked me if I was going to write about Kanye again this week. So: I’m going to write about Kanye again this week. (Maybe if I repeat that exact phrase three times Kanye himself will appear in my living room and turn into a sandsnake…)
If you follow His Kanye-sty on Twitter, you know that he had something of a meltdown on Saturday morning. Between 8:55 am and 10:38 am, 72 tweets, all addressing the infamous “Imma let you finish, but…” incident, streamed onto Kanye’s Twitter feed. Here, I will respond to them, tweet by tweet, like Liz did with the Stones, except that I never entirely understood how “Guyville” was a song-by-song response to “Main St.” even after listening to them track by track so if someone can explain it to me that’d be great. AT ANY RATE, here goes. Kanye first, then me.
K: Man I love Twitter... I've always been at the mercy of the press but no more... The media tried to demonize me
A: I love Twitter too! We have so much in common!!!
K: They wanted yall to believe I was a monster in real life so you guys wouldn't listen or buy my music anymore
A: ME TOO…wait. No. I thought we were talking about how much we love Twitter?
K: I feel like they were waiting for the opportunity to go in all the way on me and when it came they beat me to a pulp
A: That phrase “beat me to a pulp”—we use it so often, but when you think about it, it’s incredibly gory. Hmmm.
K: Even now a lot of articles start there first 2 paragraphs about how much of an asshole I am
A: Oh hey! I wrote one of those!
K: Happy B day to sister B ... I gotta dope ass gift for you.
K: I accept the idea (ideal) that perception is reality
A: So…when you stick a spoon in a glass of clear water, and the spoon appears to be broken and disjointed, because you perceive it as such, the spoon is really broken and disjointed? I was a philosophy major, punk, do you really want to get me started on metaphysics? Because I will Descartes the everliving poop out of you.
K: When I say perception is reality I mean whatever you think is the truth... is your truth
A: Oh yeah, and I concentrated on contemporary moral and ethical theory. I’m not even going to touch this one.
K: Some people's truth is Kanye is racist... It's not my truth but I do believe it's my Karma.... walk with me...
A: How great would it be if “walk with me” were a Twin Peaks reference here?
K: Even though the NBC telethon was widely praised yall didn't think they was just gone let me get away with that did yall???!!!
A: Generally, I use “get away with that” in sentences where “that” refers to something negative. And no, I generally prefer when people exhibit a pattern of consistently good behavior, rather than vacillate unpredictably between good and bad. That unpredictable thing? That’s kind of a classic abuser tactic. Also popular with dictators. Not that you’re an abuser or a dictator, Kanye, just that the pattern is really what counts, rather than the actions taken singularly.
K: With the help of strong will, a lack of impathy, a lil alcohol and extremely distasteful & bad timing ... I became George Bush over night
A: Is that, like, a Teen Wolf kind of transformation thing? Or is it more like Animorphs?
K: How deep is the scar... I bled hard.. cancelled tour with the number one pop star in the world ... closed the doors of my clothing office
A: Wow. Your life must be awfully hard. Your clothing office? This is some serious place-of-privilege complaining, here.
K: Had to let employees go... for the first time I felt the impact of my brash actions ... I felt the recession from an ownership side
A: I thought you had to close things because everyone magically started thinking you were an asshole. It was the recession? Bummer, dude.
K: People booed when I would go to concerts and the performer mentioned my name.
A: That’s because of the recession, too, right?
K: Remember in Anchor Man when Ron Burgandy cursed on air and the entire city turned on him? But this wasn't a joke. This was & is my real life
A: Never saw it, never will, sorry. But if something from a Will Ferrell movie was and is my real life, I’d be pretty bummed.
K: There are people who don't dislike me... they absolutely hate me!
A: I once read a book (I wish I could remember the name) where the mom character told the son character that he shouldn’t say “hate” because it was a very strong word, and he said “well, I dislike so-and-so so much that I wish they would get run over by a truck.” Just thought that phrasing might be useful for you here.
K: I was chilling with this white girl having a conversation and she cut me off and said... Hold up... I thought you didn't like us?!
A: The snark machine is out of order, now you have to pay a quarter.
K: That's when you realize perception is reality. I've been straying from this subject on twitter but I have to give it to you guys raw now.
A: Please do. Sarcasm is not a perpetual motion machine.
K: If you google Asshole my face may very well pop up 2 pages into the search.
A: I mostly get card games. Unless you’re talking about Google image search? In which case: Safe Search On, friends. And even then, no Kanye. I can’t believe I just actually did that, by the way.
K: Some people say... Why worry about "the haters?" This is bigger that just the concept of haters.
A: Like, the Platonic Ideal of haters?
K: I have a mission in life to bring truth and beauty through my music and the visuals that anchor around it
A: Yes. Like all those visuals on your two blogs of expensive things to buy.
K: The media has successfully diminished the "receptive" audience of (3rd person)... KANYE WEST
A: Now you’re just talking like a grad student.
K: …taking a 15 second blip the mdeia have successfully painted the image of the "ANGRY BLACK MAN' The King Kong theory.
A: Ok, all joking aside—it is important to consider the role the Angry Black Man trope has played in media reaction to Kanye’s outburst. I’d like to see more work on this.
K: I'm the guy who at one point could perform the Justin Timberlake on stage and everyone would be sooo happy that I was there
A: Well, maybe not everyone.
K: People tweeted that they wish I was dead... No listen. They wanted me to die people. I carry that. I smile and take pictures through that
A: And thank goodness you power through these hard times. Whatever would I do without your smiling face showing up in my photo vendors’ emails every morning?
K: I wear my scars... It's almost like I have to where a suit to juxtapose my image and I won't lie... IT WORKS!
A: I … don’t think I know what this means.
K: I wrote a song for Taylor Swift that's so beautiful and I want her to have it. If she won't take it then I'll perform it for her
A: Hey, last person I wronged: I knitted you this sweater that’s so beautiful and I want you to have it. If you won’t take it then I’ll wear it for you. But only out of the goodness of my heart. I’d never wear it, otherwise. It’s for you.
K: She had nothing to do with my issues with award shows. She had no idea what hit her. She's justa lil girl with dreams like the rest of us.
A: She also has some teardrops on her guitar and killer extensions.
K: She deserves the apology more than anyone. Thank you Biz Stone and Evan Williams for creating a platform where we can communicate directly
A: Twitter really, truly is the best way to communicate directly with anyone. And I’m sure you and Taylor Swift were exactly what its creators had in mind when they made it. I’m just glad you’ve finally wised up and realized that, so that you can help Twitter fulfill its true and good purpose. It’s like you’ve pulled Excalibur from the stone.
K: We're both artist and the media and managers are trying to get between us. Everyone wants to capitalize off this is some way
A: NO. People want to make money off of some drama between pop stars? Kanye…you couldn’t possibly want to be making money off of this…could you???
K: I'm ready to get out of my own way. The ego is overdone... it's like hoodies
A: Well this one just makes fun of itself, now doesn’t it?
K: I know there are family members friends and fans that have literally fought for me.
A: I really wish this were a case of misusing the word “literally,” but I’m sure that there really are people who have gotten into literal fights about Kanye and this makes me sad.
K: There are people who have named there kids after me... can you imagine that next day in school. Even though I don't have kids...
A: NameVoyager, which we’ve previously established is one of my favorite internet toys, actually backs up this claim. In 2004 and 2005, there were a few hundred instances of the name “Kanye,” and there really weren’t in any other year. But something tells me 4-year-olds aren’t paying rapt attention to the Grammys…
K: I am responsible for those who love and represent me and what they have to deal with on a day to day defending "The American Psycho"
A: I defend that movie all the time! It’s one of my favori…oh, we’re still talking about you, I guess.
K: I watched Justin Timberlake at the Grammies loose every televised award including album of the year which the Dixie Chicks won
A: I’m sure that’s entirely your fault. Also, do you really want to have to start apologizing to the Dixie Chicks now? Those ladies are effin’ hard, man…they took on George W. and they will definitely take on you. And now I have A-Ha stuck in my head. THANKS KANYE.
K: I would have ran on stage for Justin that night because Sexy Back (in my mind) was that important... that impactful to our culture
A: Wait, so what you’re saying is…that running on stage thing…you’d do it…again?
K: It's not about race America. No one in our position ever stands up and says anything anymore.
A: Some of my best friends are white, too, Kanye!
K: I have given my awards to other groups multiple times on national TV... They never showed that this past year during the massacre of Kanye
A: I don’t think you can massacre just one person, although if that person’s ego is as big as Kanye’s, I suppose it’s possible to make an exception.
K: Who's seen the play Wicked? I've seen it 4 times! Other than loving the music acting and costumes... it's my story!!!
A: Oooh, ooh, I have! I don’t remember there being any hip hop artists in it though. Or maybe I’m just thinking of the book?
K: The Wicked witch of the west basically is so convicted to tell her' truth when she does it she is outcasted by society and turned WICKED
A: Yes, I’m pretty sure you’ve hit upon the moral of that story. It has nothing to do with friendship and humility and sacrifice.
K: With new found humility ... who am I to run on stage? I would never ever again in a million years do that. Sorry to let you down.
A: I thought you just said you’d do it for Justin? And why not acting like a gigantic asshat let anyone down?
K: It is distasteful to cut people off as a general rule. What's the point of dressing tastefully if I'm going to act the complete opposite?
A: Just…wow. Also, is it not distasteful to clog up innocent people’s Twitter feeds with your deepest thoughts on Saturday morning? I have some very important fake PR tweets coming in right now…
K: Yes I was that guy. A 32 year old child.
A: Oh man, like Geoffrey the Giraffe? I LOVE that guy!
K: When I woke up from the crazy nightmare I looked in the mirror and said GROW UP KANYE ... I take the responsibility for my actions
A: How much time, on average, would you say you spend looking in mirrors, sir?
K: I am not a bad person. Even in that moment I was only trying to do good but people don't always need my help.
A: I’m sure you’re not a bad person, but I don’t think the problem here was that Beyonce didn’t need your help. I think the problem is that you were not even a little bit helping.
K: Beyonce didn't need that. MTV didn't need that and Taylor and her family friends and fans definitely didn't want or need that.
A: Nope, they didn’t. But all of them have dealt with it and moved on. You haven’t.
K: These aren't regular tweets... this is stream of consciousness ... I want you guys to know and feel where my head is at...
A: Funny…they’re coming into my Twitter feed just like regular tweets do. EXCEPT THAT THEY’RE NOT STOPPING AND I HAVE NO INTEREST IN READING THEM. (Actually, I stopped following Kanye on Twitter a long time ago for this very reason. There’s some dramatic license at work here.)
(We'll pick up with the rest of the Twitter tirade tomorrow.)
My #musicmonday pick: For my brother Mark, who’s starting his first day of work after a few months of luxurious funemployment today, “Welcome to the Working Week,” by Elvis Costello.
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Posted by Allyson at 10:13 AM
It's our weekly Music Monday recap of the tracks the folks in the press offices want you to be hearing. We post—you decide—on a Tuesday this week.
Alex Kemp - Heart Goes Boom (Mp3)
Anamanaguchi - Airbrushed (RAC Remix) (Mp3)
Holy Ghost - Static On The Wire (RAC Remix) (Mp3)
Kyle Andrews - Lov3r (Mp3)
Zach Hill - Memo to the Man (Mp3)
April Smith and the Great Picture Show - Movie Loves A Screen (Mp3)
Parlovr - Pen To The Paper (Mp3)
Grandchildren - Saturn Returns (Mp3)
Slow Animal - Saturday Mourning (Mp3)
The Drums - We Used To Wait (Live - Arcade Fire Cover) (Mp3)
Twin Shadow - I Can't Wait (Gordon Voidwell Remix) (Mp3)
All approved for download!
Posted by Jon at 9:06 AM