“I’m 60% excited,” says Adele, directing me to a couch beside a set of speakers, “40% shitting it.” She’s invited me here today to hear her third album, 25.
Something about this country – the divisions, the class system, the general sense of distrust and dissatisfaction – seems to breed youth subcultures like no other place on Earth. The strange, stylish clans that this island incubates have been exported across the world, influencing everything from high street fashion to high art. From teddy boys to 2 Tone rudeboys, soulboys to Slipknot fans, grunge bands to grime crews, mods to mod revivalists, the history of these groups shows us a version of modern Britain that goes way beyond Diana and Blair.[more inside]
Steve Albini on the current state of the music industry: "It was the beginning of what we would call the peer network. By mid-90s there were independent labels and distributors moving millions of dollars of records and CDs. And there was a healthy underground economy of bands making a reasonable income owing to the superior efficiencies of the independent methods... So, that was the system as it was. That’s what we lost when the internet made everything available everywhere for free. And make no mistake about it, we have lost it. But for a minute I want you to look at the experience of music from a fan’s perspective, post-internet. Music that is hard to find was now easy to find. In response I had more access to music than I had ever imagined... This audience-driven music distribution has other benefits. Long-forgotten music has been given a second life. And bands whose music that was ahead of its time has been allowed to reach a niche audience that the old mass distribution failed to find for them, as one enthusiast turns on the next and this forgotten music finally gets it due." [more inside]
Last night, Kate Bush performed her first concert in 35 years at London’s Hammersmith Apollo. She last toured in 1979, following the release of Lionheart. "Not since the surviving members of Led Zeppelin reunited for a one-off show in 2007 has there been such hype over a comeback." - The Guardian. Last week, BBC 4 released an hour-long documentary called The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill that reflects on Bush’s long and enigmatic career. It features appearances from Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, Tori Amos, Annie Clark, Big Boi, Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Kahn, and more. Vimeo link. Guardian review.
We join the action in the quarter finals, where the line up is as follows: Croatia v Spain, Bosnia v Italy, Brazil v Argentina, and Belgium v Chile, in The Guardian's World Cup of World Cup 2014 songs, as voted for by Guardian readers.
David Byrne on making a living from music. 'Many a fan (myself included) has said that "music saved my life", so there must be some incentive to keep that lifesaver available for future generations.'
The first District line train out of Upminster in the morning is the first train anywhere on the underground network. It leaves the depot at 4.53, the only train anywhere in the system to set out from its base before 5am ... if you catch that train, you might be tempted to say ta-dah!—except you probably wouldn't, because nobody is thinking ta-dah! at seven minutes to five in the morning; certainly nobody on this train. People look barely awake, barely even alive. They feel the same way they look; I know because, this morning, I'm one of them.John Lanchester on the experience, at once aversive and hypnotic, of catching the London Underground. Lanchester's article is an extract from his forthcoming entry in the new Penguin Lines series of tube-reading-friendly books released to commemorate the Underground's 150th anniversary. Meanwhile, the Guardian have compiled a collaborative Spotify playlist of songs that mention Tube stations, for those so inclined.
How I Wrote is a series of videos from The Guardian where musicians perform a song after talking about it a little bit. Among the artists who've taken part are Rufus Wainwright, Kristin Hersh, Corinne Bailey Rae, Laura Marling, Keren Ann, Patrick Wolf, Elbow, Gruff Rhys, Warpaint, Cee Lo Green, Antony and the Johnsons, P. J. Harvey and Emmy the Great, who sings a song about the Royal Wedding, appropriately enough for today (though I suppose the Cee Lo Green song is appropriate too).
Ralf Hütter of Kraftwerk gives a rare interview to the Guardian, who also have a rather nice interactive feature on the bands influence.
Those of Love(+), those of Sex(+), those of Hearbreak(+), those of People and Places (+), those of Politics and Protest (+). The Guardian's journalists purloin you with "1,000 Songs You Must Hear". The plus links lead to people's outraged suggestions of those that are missing from each category. Perfect for when 10, 100, 500 or 3,000 are just the wrong numbers.
1,000 Albums to hear before you die compiled from The Guardian's assorted music reviewers (assisted by readers who then told them which ones they missed). You won't want to be planning to expire any time too soon with these to get through.
Music history rendered on a London Tube Map They say: "Could we chart the branches and connections of 100 years of music using the London Underground map? Dorian Lynskey explains how a box of coloured crayons and lot of swearing helped." I say: Look also at the comments in the accompanying thread, which features trolling, snarkiness and repetition, beginning with "Why did you do this? What is the point? Wouldn't you have been better off doing something else? Sometimes you media people really worry me." The Guardian are introducing commenter registration on their new blog.
Busker Dü: You're short of money. You're not afraid to make a fool of yourself. You have no pride. You have a musical instrument to abuse. Well - that, apparently, is easy. At least if you're a Guardian journalist. But what else can a feller do these days to drum up that old "Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime?" spirit?
John Ashcroft inflicts his "gift" upon DoJ staff Determined not to stop at subjecting the public to his musical endeavors, our beloved Attorney General now sees fit to hand out the lyrics to his songs at staff meetings for sing-alongs. This, from the man whose job is to "represent the Government before the U.S. Supreme Court in cases of exceptional gravity or importance". Given the choice of attending one of his daily prayer meetings, having to sing along to his music, or having bamboo shoved under your fingernails, what would you choose?
Interesting article from The Guardian discussing the fact that people seem willing to pay for annoying ringtones, but seem unwilling to pay for near-CD-quality music. Unfortunately it doesn't really address the question of "why?"
'If I didn't save this music no one else would' Fascinating story of one man's fight to preserve to music of an entire continent. Imagine if the American or British music of the 1940s and 1950s, so beloved by movie producers and commercial makers hadn't been available since then. 'Blue Velvet' stuck in a basement somewhere covered in dust. The only copy of 'Sixteen Candles' in a junk shop somewhere slowly warping in the sun. It really doesn't bare thinking about...