Today’s pop artists are breaking records set by some of the industry’s all-time greats like The Beatles and Michael Jackson, with the help of growing digital distribution and consumption.
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It’s been a very busy month, being on the road filming a research video with enovate and launching a new music video project with my friend Charles Lanceplaine. Let’s talk about the music videos first. The most recent one, filmed in Taipei is embedded in this post (watch it here if you’re inside China)
BBC Labs are running some online tests that examine your relationship with music. Being someone who has played music for most of my life, listens to it heavily and even worked in the industry, I was curious to know how I scored. Link for the test and further explanation of the results after the jump.
Two cellos, literally shredding their bows in an acoustic arrangement of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”. The performance is to classical music what Center Stage was to classical ballet. Forget the bad acting. It’s the unfakable intensity of the musical performance that had me (really) clenching my jaw as Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulic saw through the strings, tearing the hair out of their instruments.
I suppose you could call Christopher Kirkley the audiophile’s linguist. He travels the world researching and documenting the music of largely unknown traditional cultures and their relationship with modern technology.
I’ve been reading his blog since October last year when he posted his first mixtape – one of my most exciting musical finds of 2010. He’s just posted Volume 2 of Music From Saharan Cellphones. A mixtape compiled from discarded* cellphones in Sahel region of West Africa.
Download link and more about Christopher’s latest mixtape after the jump.
If you’re like me and you don’t have time to look at every Thom, Mick and Iggy’s “2010 Best Album” list. Head straight for the buffet of the most respected “2010 Best Album” lists –an incredibly thorough, beautifully designed, interactive data visualisation.
End of Year Top Albums 2010 [zoho.co.uk] provides a visual summary of the most successful music albums in 2010, based on the aggregation of a large variety of music rankings and charts, ranging from Amazon.com‘s list, over the Daily Telegraph to Rolling Stone and The Times).
Robert Smith fans will love the way that guitar is struck. But those warm, handfuls of keys played through a heavy woolen blanket are what seduced me into the lap of a third consecutive listen. Please enjoy the Acrylics track below.
A tongue-in-cheek video outlining the latest ‘news’ in the on-going WikiLeaks slash Julian Assange case. There’s even a hat tip to one of 2010’s biggest viral video successes and current #1 most-viewed clip on YouTube, Antoine Dodson’s “Bed Intruder Song” at 4min 30sec. Although the amount of actual news content in this (WikiLeaks) video is questionable, it’s a great way to help communicate important current affairs to audiences who have no interest in tuning in to the traditional 6pm bulletin on the box.
[via Schitz Popinov]
Earlier this week Diederik van Middelkoop of Massive Music emailed me their latest music video, “Shanghai, Shanghai” featuring rapper ‘TK’ Tang King. It’s a really fun clip, featuring glimpses into all the iconic scenes you encounter everyday, living in Shanghai.
After the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, and the millions and millions of visitors who came and went, the message still lingers on in Shanghai: ‘Better City, Better Life’
Film Director Bas Roeterink, music house MassiveMusic Shanghai and Rapper Tang King (‘TK’) sat down, took that message, and spun it around.
‘Make a Better City, Have a Better Life’.
Beijing indie-pop rockers Queen Sea Big Shark played at Shanghai’s Mao Livehouse on Friday night. I’ve had people in the (China music) industry tell me their live show was over-rated. Friday night was anything but. The venue brought great sound and front gal Fu Han brought a visual feast of a show and bag loads of intensity. The set flirted between club music and their signature guitar-pop and B52s-baselines. One friend aptly described the mix as almost Bowie-esque.
20 images from the show below. And a playlist to stream while you browse…
Five live tracks from two of China’s most influential indie punk acts and one incredible, ‘free folk’ act. Filmed almost exactly 12 months ago in Brooklyn’s powerHouse Arena. I love the film grading and production. Feels like it could have been filmed 30 years ago. Very special performances.
The Sound Chaser is an amplified toy train with a stylus (record needle) that runs along tracks made of old vinyl records. The artist, Yuri Suzuki is an amazing dude who, for the last few years, has been leading innovation on the relationship between music and product design. Watch the video above to see a demonstration of the new music-inspired products he produced for the London Design Festival. Below are some of my favourite musical products Suzuki has created over the last few years…including a musical kettle, which looks more like a guitar than a kitchen appliance.
Free download or stream Tame Impala’s very special Daytrotter session below. I’ve been a die-hard Daytrotter fan for years now. It’s a unique free music model with an amazing story behind it. And I recommend it to almost anyone who ever asks me where to go for some new music.
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Below are five amazing music videos that will change your view of the world. Heck, with your help they may even change the world. The artists involved include: Muse, Radiohead, The Killers, David Bowie, Queen, Bloc Party, Broken Social Scene, Grizzly Bear, The National and Conor Oberst… the list goes on. Just watch.
[October 12, 2010] George Michael has been released from prison after serving half of an eight-week sentence for crashing his car while under the influence of cannabis. [via Guardian]
To mark this day, here’s Lindsay Anderson’s “Foreign Skies” documentary of Wham!’s 1985 China tour. Wham! was the first western band to tour China, consummating the 10-day tour with a show, attended by 10,000 screaming fans at the Workers’ Gymnasium in Beijing.
Read Part 1 of this series: “Indie India: ‘Early Influencers’”
This is the second post in a three-part series, reporting on Mumbai’s independent music scene today and offering some commentary on the challenges facing India’s emerging music industry.
Mark Ronson’s latest album, Record Collection, is a cracker. I’ve been steaming it for most of the day. “An album of seductive retro pop and soulful dance-floor jams”, is a spot-on assessment from flavorpill. See below for a review of the album and everything you need/want to know about ‘The Bike Song’ –incl. video & lyrics.
This post is the first in a short series detailing my learnings in India.
For the last decade, indie music has been battling for a credible presence in India’s first-tier cities, like Mumbai. Despite some media outlets prematurely breaking the shell of an ‘Indian indie scene’ sometime ago, Mumbai’s music community has continued pipping its way into an internationally recognised industry. Now, though still teething, there are very few who would refute India’s emergence onto the world’s independent music stage. Earlier this month, I spent two weeks embedded in Mumbai researching what’s really going on. Starting with the Nokia Music Connects conference [review to follow], I couch-hopped across the island-city from gigs to gurus, receiving a unique musical and cultural education, and uncovering a surprising trail of Australian musos in the process.
Charles Haddon, frontman for UK electro-pop trio Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, reportedly committed suicide yesterday, following the band’s set at the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium. To be honest, I never really listened to much of the band’s work and it’s a strange feeling to ‘discover’ them in the wake of such unfortunate and sad circumstances.
It got me thinking though about how many other people, on learning of this tragedy, felt compelled to engage with Haddon’s music. Continue Reading →
Athiradee Kaalam has taken Bollywood music videos to a whole new level of ‘badass’. Picture an Indian Michael Jackson, Erik Estrada, James Bond, David Lee Roth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and John Travolta all stitched up into one impossibly cool gent who has invaded an episode of Power Rangers.
I finally got around to reading a series of articles—open in my browser for sometime now—on international artists [not] performing in Israel. And in an attempt to post a balanced piece I read a bunch more. It seems to me that there is simply no decision made in, around or about Israel and the West Bank that isn’t political, intentionally or otherwise. Here’s a rundown of the past couple of months and the long list of high-profile artists that have, consciously or not, become political pawns, for one side or the other.
[image credit: Rasmus Weng Karlsen]
A few months ago Danish duo Reptile and Retard completed a massive and very debaucherous tour of China. Here are some of the highlights published by Vice Magazine this week.
The US Copyright Office announced today 6 groundbreaking new rules that bring Copyright Law into line with fair use of new technology. The rules below now prevent you from being prosecuted for the following common practices. However one huge omission is the music industry.
C.Custer posted an interesting retrospective on the ChinaGeeks blog this week, discussing soft power, censorship and how the Wu-Tang Clan became unlikely ambassadors for China and its traditional culture. So what do 90s east-coast hip-hop, the Confucius Institute, a 1987 film by Steven Spielberg and an Australian electro-pop duo have in common?
The US names and shames the world’s worst piracy offenders. The release, circulating news wires around the world couldn’t come at a more opportune time for two of the main offenders. From 28 May–4 June 2010, a league of Canada’s key music industry innovators and decision makers travel to China for the mainland’s largest music industry business conference –transmitCHINA.
BBC Radio 4 correspondent, Rajan Datar, went to a recent gig at one of Beijing’s major live houses and asked a handful of Chinese youth to name their favourite bands. Their responses were varying combinations of the acts listed below.
Oasis, Joy Division, Lady Gaga, Rolling Stones, Ting Tings, Tom Waits, Blur, Johnny Thunders, Ramones, Smashing Pumpkins, Suede, Radiohead, The Doors, Iggy Pop, Sex Pistols.
With a decade separating the prime of these two pieces of ear candy, there was, until now, only one way you may have come to witness them grace the credits of the same track –a bedroom mash-up, beat-matched within a bunny whisker of obscurity by a nostalgic teen, with his Dad’s record collection and a cracked copy of Ableton.
Watch Beck’s Record Club in the studio covering INXS’ Kick (1987), by far their best album…except, of course, for INXS The Greatest Hits…
Above: The making of the Hifana+Nike Music Shoe.
In August last year Converse stamped a giant Chuck Taylor star on the Chinese indie music scene with its hugely successful Converse Love Noise campaign, engineered by Shanghai agencies W+K and Split Works –and awarded Ad Age China’s Top Marketing Campaign for 2009. The campaign was centered around local artists in five key cities across China and incorporated live music, live art and a filmed documentary, featuring two of China’s buzz acts, P.K.14 and Queen Sea Big Shark.
Yesterday Google removed one of Australia’s top 5 music blogs—the best, in my humble opinion—after repeated complaints from labels and web sheriffs. On the surface, it appears Google shouldn’t be blamed for removing unlicensed material (like mp3s) and their stance on copyright infringements are clearly stated in their Blogger Terms of Service…or should they? There’s a lot more to the situation.
Wale‘s debut album, Attention Deficit (2009), has been popping up on my playlist sporadically since my good mate Dave recommended it. I relocated to Shanghai just over a month and have been helping local music company, Split Works put this together. More on that in another post.
Music is just advertising (for itself): it’s a self-promoting product. Another way of looking at it is that a single song is an advertisement for the artist that wrote it. Each single that’s released – aside from hopefully generating revenue in its own right – is a vehicle for winning another fan for the artist, in the hope of connecting with them again (and again) in one way or another. This could be by having them discover other material the artist has written (or will write), other projects the artist is involved in, or by attending a live performance.
I’m really not a fan of the Hordern Pavillion as a venue. But for a huge act like Bloc Party you really can’t argue with that venue choice. The guys were extremely gracious during a meet & greet with triple j winners. Kele welcomed the 10 winners and their guests from on stage, as they made their way across the vast hanger-like space. The band finished the soundcheck with three tunes especially for the 20 punters voluntarily jammed up against the pit barrier. After soundcheck Kele, Russell, Gordon and Matt took the time to meet everyone personally and sign whatever was thrown in front of them.
Their set was a perfect mix of their huge radio hits and new material.
Check out the rest of the photos from their Sydney show @ The Hordern Pavillion on the triple j gallery.
Big ups to a band who are grounded enough to know the value of their fans and really know how to turn-on a live performance.
There has been an incredible run of really great gigs lately, and a few that only held my attention long enough to finish the plastic up of beer in my hand and muscle my way out of there. Obviously each act was interesting enough to get me through the door. So what happened between that promising first impression and the awkward second date? Continue Reading →
Emiliana Torrini’s live show was beautiful. It was one of the best I’ve seen since Regina Spektor toured in 2007. CW Stoneking, who played at the Metro the night before Emiliana was also one of the most brilliant shows I’ve seen this year. The key is in their storytelling (between songs). After attending one of their gigs, you’re left feeling like you know them better on a personal level — something you’ll never get from just listening to the record.
I hope these photos have captured some of that memorable performance. All photos posted in the triple j gallery.