MOG Music Network


Radiohead throws yet another wrench into the way albums are marketed and sold.

Rarely does a rock band (and I assume its management) have such an effect on the way we view the way the business world around us. If there ever was an internationally popular and innovative group with the artistic credibility and notoriety to really shake things up and cause people beyond their fan base to question and maybe even challenge traditional business models it would have to be Radiohead. On Sunday night, those of us who keep a watchful eye to the goings-on in the world of music where shocked and pleasantly surprised to hear that Radiohead’s newest LP was about to finally hit the streets…in ten days…and you can name your own price! The short notice is exciting but fast-tracking albums has become almost necessary to appease music-hungry fans chomping at the bit to snatch up leaks or illegally download the product before it drops. Many of the strategies and innovations Radiohead is utilizing for the release of In Rainbows have been used before Canadian rock band Stars recently released their album on the Internet just five days after it was mastered for a legal download. Frontman Torquil Campbell pragmatically asserts the reasoning behind his decision saying, "I think it's unfair to ask people to wait an artificial length of time for a piece of art to come out in this day and age. It just doesn't make sense," Campbell said. "The technology has caught up to the media…” In Radiohead’s case, this album has been several years in the making and releasing it a half-year after it is mastered would be a disservice to their eager fans and further would cause the album to lose its time-sensitive relevance. Music fans are more information hungry than ever when it comes to their favorite artists and Radiohead’s fans are a great example of this. Many web sites (like Pitchfork) have been religiously tracking rumors in band forums and speculating on the album’s content for more than a year leading up to Sunday’s announcement and for the band to shoot the album out of the proverbial cannon will prove tonic and allow fans to simply hear the album as it should be. These days it is too often that a great band’s material is shrouded in blogosphere b.s. because of matters non-related to music. Petty fan squabbles over whose fans are cooler and pointless rumor-driven speculation about the band’s estrangement and other non-music related matters can cloud the most important part: the music itself. With In Rainbows many fans I assume will be experiencing a digitally downloaded album in full for the first time and the vast majority of us are going to be putting our own price tag on the music we love for the first time. It will be interesting and largely influential when the numbers come out and the world can at long last see a reasonable figure for how much an LP should cost. Finally, with road-proven tracks like “Bodysnatchers” and “Nude”, the album shouldn’t be half-bad either.



Britney Spears hits #1 on iTunes

I opened up my iTunes this morning to find out that Britney Spears' new single Gimme More was holding down the top spot and I instantly started thinking about how this could be a harrowing sign of Armageddon. How could a woman that just lost custody of her children because she can't stay off drugs and alcohol long enough to drive her kids to pre-school or adequately perform at the VMAs be embraced and supported by so many? But then I realized something: Britney Spears is the Axl Rose/Keith Richards rock star of our generation that people are ready to embrace regardless of any misstep she might take. Unlike in sports where legions of fans will turn on their favorite player at the drop of a dogfighting scandal, music fans are willing to hold faith in their beloved for the duration. Perhaps adoring a lost soul makes them feel better about their own lives or maybe this kind of idolatry can only lend itself to the world of rock stardom where these demigods are viewed as something sub or super human. For what its worth, Spears has my sympathy in many ways as she has been a puppet for conniving mega corporations like Disney, Pepsi, and Sony BMG throughout her teenage and young adult years. She has been stolen of her ability to think for herself and thus lived the greater part of her formative years in a cloud of disillusionment that oftentimes comes with child stardom. Although I haven't been a fan since the Toxic video, I can at least see why people are still hanging on. Perhaps in five years she will experience a renaissance and all will achieve an unforeseen level of success, but for now, she's got a loooong way to go.



Crowded House at The Ryman--9/11/07-- A Blast From the Past from the Land Down Under

^^^^^ Thanks to Robin Mawdsley for the pictures

Largely unfamiliar with 80s rock phenoms Crowded House, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and check out the next-to-last leg of the band's U.S. Reunion Tour at The Ryman Auditorium. Like other recently reunited groups that will go unmentioned, Crowded House doesn't appear to be bandwagon jumpers intent on mailing in washed out oldies for the sake of large paychecks, a longing for long-lost relevance and chance to recapture notoriety. Instead it is great to see that Neil Finn and company still show an affinity and respect for their devout and international fan base that have stayed with them all these years and thus enabled them to fill up mid-sized theaters throughout the U.S. ten years after the band's breakup.
Light-hearted humor filled the gaps between Crowded House classics as front man Neil Finn referenced several current events such as Britney Spears' disastrous performance at this year's MTV Video Music Awards to the recent General Petraeus Senate hearings. Finn also didn't miss a single chance to take a playful shot at bassist Nick Seymour, jabbing at him for his previous night's performance at a Nashville honkytonk, making jokes about his childhood, and even making Seymour don a pink boa for a number of songs. If the band decides to recede once again into the shadows, at least Neil Finn could explore a career as a comedic folk performer like his fellow countrymen The Flight of the Conchords.
Now as for the music, the nearly two-hour set (which included two lengthy encores) was filled with nearly all Crowded House material both new and old. Right out of the gate the band ripped into a surprisingly heavy and inspired version of "Recurring Dream" (after all these guys are supposed to be old). For an opener, this was certainly one of the highlights of the night for a newbie like me. As they thrust into the lyrically poignant "Private Universe", I was introduced to the bands recurring lyrical themes of seasons, dreams, and nature, each of which are woven into the song. The momentum and energy built by the first two songs was lost as the band followed "Recurring Dream" with a quartet of songs from the new album Time On Earth . With the exception of "English Trees", I found "Say That Again", "Fall at Your Feet" and even the single "Don't Stop Now" to pale in comparison with the rest of the band's catalogue. A couple songs later a new track titled "Heaven That I'm Making" caught my attention and served as a precursor to the anticipated mega-hit "Don't Dream It's Over" that would serve as the night's first of many singalongs. Lights beamed off a pair of pair of lettered semi-spheres thrusting an alphabet soup of senseless letters out into the audience and against the band's literary backdrop. "Pineapple Head", "Silent House", "When You Come", and the upbeat and anthemic ballad "Something So Strong" would close out the set and light a fire under the Ryman pews that wouldn't subside for the rest of the night. Little did we know, that was hardly the end of the night for the band.
After a traditional, pew-banging standing ovation, the band returned to the vast Ryman stage for an unforgettable encore that left a indelible impression on the audience and a signature on a great and memorable night. Opening the encore with "Weather with You" the band reminded everyone that "everywhere you go, always take the weather with you". Before telling the audience that he had watched Neil Young's Prairie Wind concert documentary (filmed at the Ryman), the band played a short and relevant cover of "After the Gold Rush" that put a personalized stamp of approval from the band on this particular evening.
After another short break, the band moonwalked, jigged, and danced their way on-stage for the second encore and played a rare "Kare-Kare" (Finn claimed it was the 4th time ever) and shared more humorous stories of their past before closing out the show with the appropriate "Four Seasons in One Day" and Neil Finn turned off the power to his acoustic guitar and played an intimate acoustic singalong to pay respect to the phenomenal harmony of the Nashville crowd. An unforgettable moment for us and I assume for Finn, the audience sang with a beautiful voice that could only be found in Music City. The crowded house applauded and even clamored for a 3rd encore as the house lights and music came on the band exited stage right. The words of "Better Be Home Soon" sums up the band's decision to return to the stage for the reunion by saying "It would cause me pain, if we were to end it, but I could start again, you can depend on it". Surely Crowded House has faced its number of demons following the loss of drummer and founding member Paul Hester, but they face adversity so well with their wittiness and jovial disposition. In rock-n-roll, the rolling part is the tie that binds a group of artists together and makes them a band. One can really feel the connection between the members of Crowded House and that is why they continue to flourish musically as a cohesive unit, or band.
Consider me a new fan, having now seen the band I realize that one needs to pay attention to the band's hopeful and literary words to fully appreciate the breadth of their work. Judging by the group's attitude and still keen instrumental talent, I would not be the least bit surprised to see Crowded House touring the U.S. again in the coming years.

7.5 out of 10


Top 10 Nashville Music Venues

For a lack of recent content, I decided to come up with a list of my 10 favorite venues in Nashville...and the winners are:

1. The Ryman Auditorium
2. War Memorial Auditorium
3. Mercy Lounge
4. Exit/In
5. Cannery Ballroom
6. City Hall
7. Bluebird Cafe
8. The Rutledge
9. 12th and Porter
10.The Stage


Band of Horses at The Ryman

In support of Modest Mouse, Sub Pop rockers Band of Horses played their first (and hopefully not last) show at the historic Ryman Auditorium. Successfully mixing foot-stomping favorites from their debut LP Everything All The Time with new tracks to appear on their sophomore follow-up Cease to Begin due out later this year, the band undoubtedly left their impression on the largely unfamiliar crowd. Frontman Ben Bridwell started the show by offering the familiar "its such a great honor to play in this building" banter that can be expected by any band appearing on the hallowed stage for their maiden musical voyage. The audience was made up mostly of older Modest Mouse diehards and teen hipsters there anxiously anticipating pop staples "Float On" and "Dashboard" in the headlining set. That being said, the audience grew more and more endeared with the Band of Horses sound as the South Carolina rockers set wore on.
After opening with a so-so new tune off of their forthcoming sophomore album, BoH cranked it up for their inspired "Great Salt Lake" that fired up the excited few of us that were there to see the new lineup. "Our Swords" was the unquestionable highlight of the night, as the set up of the band resembled an audio/visual kaleidoscope of drums and bass with two drummers sitting on risers and another below flanked by Reynolds and Bridwell on bass guitar. The setup resembled a 2-1-2 basketball defense with rhythm and bass being the key defenders. It truly was one of those "dude, you had to be there" moments. With three drummers ripping the same beat together and Bridwell playing a percussive bass rhythm along with full-time bassist Bill Reynolds, the song represented a microcosmic rock manifestation of an orchestral arrangement. The layered rhythms of "Our Swords" had a mesmerizing effect on a previously indifferent crowd and led to a more engaged, intrigued, and raucous crowd for the remainder of the show. Sonically, Band of Horses goes from zero to eleven and back at the drop of a hat and songs like "Funeral" and "St. Augustine" illustrate this fact. The band closed with a powerful cover of the Ron Wood tune "Act Together" that had Bridwell harnessing the vocal power of Axl Rose and the new keyboard player showing an appreciation for some good old-fashioned Delta keyboard wizardry. This tune got the best reaction from the Ryman pews evidenced by the well-deserved standing ovation the band got before exiting stage right.
The three-guitar attack was surprisingly subdued at times but punctual when it came to picking up on complex intricacies of the oftentimes atmospheric instrumental breaks that is such a recognizable part of their sound. Combining thought-provoking lyricism, an authentic, genuine "aw shucks" disposition with an alt-country backbone makes Band of Horses resonate with the My Morning Jacket and Wilco fans. Nevertheless, if you are looking for these guys to shoot from the hip and stray far from the album's sound, you won't find it. In many ways this can be frustrating and some might ask, "why mess with a perfectly good product?" As the band becomes more and more comfortable in their own shoes perhaps they will begin take more musical liberties on-stage and add new layers and elements to their songs in the live setting. The band played a solid, robust opening set for a largely indifferent crowd and something about Band of Horses being on the eternally innovative Sub Pop label tells me that these guys will be back to the Ryman stage again in the coming years. Maybe next time their name will appear largest on the Hatch Print.

--7 out of 10