Sunday, October 25, 2009

Willem Dafoe Gets Pesonal

Most of us don't understand the reasons that Advanced Artists choose the projects they do. For instance, if an actor like the possibly Advanced John Cusack does a movie like 2012 Overt people who prefer to think of him as Lloyd Dobler will assume that he is doing it solely for the money, likely to fund what Cusack is "really" interested in. That happens sometimes, but I think more often serious actors make action films (and other blockbuster- type movies) because they actually want to do it for reasons other than paychecks.

If you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe the I'm-starting-to-think-he's-Advanced Willem Dafoe:
“The fact that even close friends can wink at me and say, ‘Well, he does it for’ ” — he paused to fan a wad of imaginary cash in his hand — “it’s like: ‘You idiot. No, I like doing this.’ They can’t recognize the personal filmmaking in a movie like ‘Spider-Man.’ But the truth is it was a very personal film.”
Then he said, "I thought you was a bunny! Bunnies jump fast. You jump slow."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Brian Eno and Daneil Lanois Remembering "The Unforgettable Fire"

From Pitchfork (you may have heard of it):
Pitchfork: Daniel, the story goes that Brian Eno recommended you produce U2 after they first came to him.

Daniel Lanois: Brian and I had been working in Canada in a town called Hamilton. We'd been making ambient records [including On Land and Apollo] for a few years, some very cool records. But I'll be real straight with you. During that ambient music-making chapter, I was pretty isolated. Nothing had really come my way that was illustrious, in terms of invites. I had poured my soul into these ambient works with Eno, and a lot of phone calls were coming in-- David Bowie was calling, Iggy Pop the next day. None of them to me, all to Brian. Brian was pretty much in the fast lane of record making at that point. He was pretty much on the pulse of things in New York City, and then he said that he wasn't producing records anymore. He was finished with it, and was therefore not interested in working with U2.

Brian Eno: I had never worked with that kind of music before, and I was not completely convinced that I would be the right person for it. I thought, well, I can handle the ideas side of it all right, but can I handle the actual traditional production side alright? I knew Dan was very good at that side of things, and very good at working with bands, getting the best out of the players and so on, so I said, "Why not have both of us? We'll sort of overlap in some parts, but we actually sort of serve different functions as well." That was how that working relationship started.
I would read the whole thing if I were you. By the way, I wonder if the Pitchfork folks were intentionally making a joke about Eno/Lanois remembering the unforgettable fire. I hope so.

One other thing: it's giving me chills thinking about how good that record is.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ray Davies to Do Kinks Klassics With Full Khorus

This is going to be sweet:
Last week, Ray Davies told [Paste] of his forthcoming choral collection: a new album Kinks classics featuring a full choir. And this November, you can hear it for yourself, live and in 65-voice surround sound: Davies just announced a seven-city, eight-date tour through the U.S. Although some of the dates will find Davies playing solo, the New York dates will feature The Vox Society Choir and the New York shows will feature The Dessoff Chamber Choir.
“I didn’t want the Chorus to just do ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs,’” Davies said of the project. “There had to be something within the song that’d allow them to express themselves.” And so there are; the re-imagination of some of The Kinks finest songs will make for a concert equal parts rock ‘n’ roll and gospel soul.

But don’t fret if you live somewhere in the vastness of America; Davies will hit David Letterman’s show on Nov. 18.
I might have to get up to New York for this one. Ray Davies barely made it into the book, but he is one of the most Advanced Artists of all time. And this project is proof of that.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Slate: Why Bob Dylan's Christmas Album Isn't a Joke

As is often the case, Slate gets it: dismiss Christmas in the Heart as mere mischief is to misunderstand Dylan—and Christmas songs. In recent years, Dylan has been less folk singer than folklorist. On albums like Love and Theft (2001), Modern Times (2006), and Together Through Life (2009)—and on his fabulous satellite radio show—Dylan has been dipping further into America's musical back pages with an expansive vision of roots music that takes in not just blues and gospel and country but 19th-century parlor songs, vaudeville ragtime tunes, Tin Pan Alley's Hawaiian ballads, and other products of the ye olde pop industrial complex. Dylan's love for crooners like Bing Crosby is evident in Modern Times' "Beyond the Horizon," a note-for-note homage to the 1930s hit "Red Sails in the Sunset."
Dylan...knows that holiday schlock is a profound tradition in its own right. Most yuletide standards are of relatively recent provenance, cooked up by pop tune-smiths during and just after World War II. But it was the special genius of those (mostly Jewish) composers to create songs that feel as if they have always existed, that can sit comfortably beside the ancient "O Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles)" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" as icons of that bizarre civic-religious rite, the American Christmas—the one time each year when the country's consumerist and spiritual excesses merge in a mass celebration of the enchanted and uncanny. Even the silliest Christmas tunes are surreal—cheerily, unblinkingly narrating tales of flying reindeer and talking snowmen. Then there are songs like Berlin's titanic "White Christmas," which fuses Stephen Foster's antebellum nostalgia, Jewish schmaltz, and Broadway melodicism into a secular hymn that is as dark and blue as it is "merry and bright."

Dylan gets this, and that's why Christmas in the Heart is less a joke or a provocation than a polemic.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wyclef Jean's Concept Album: From the Hut to the Projects to the Mansion

This is pretty interesting (from a press release):
On November 10, 2009 Wyclef returns to hip-hop with the gritty release of From The Hut To The Projects To The Mansion on Carnival House via Megaforce/Sony Music....

Wyclef now returns with this brilliant hip-hop EP with all new material collaborating with DJ Drama. It’s the concept mixtape he has wanted to make and features a gritty, yet melodic effort with some amazing guests such as Eve, Timbaland, Maino, Cyndi Lauper, and others.

“I wanted to do this release with Megaforce/Red as I want to hi my hip hop can college fanbase and who better to do that than an indie label/distributor,” says Wyclef.

Toussaint St. Jean, the title character of Wyclef’s new EP, is a persona suggested to Wyclef by his friend and collaborator T.I. The character Toussaint is loosely based on the 18th-century Haitian revolutionary hero, Toussaint L’Ouverture, a figure who brought Haiti to significance on the international stage.
Inhabiting the role of Toussaint on these songs, Wyclef recreates himself in the spirit of a noble fighter, a man who says exactly what is on his mind. Toussaint’s rhymes hit hard, in a “militant style,” and make his words felt – and remembered...

And so what is the difference between Wyclef and Toussaint? “Toussaint is more direct,” Wyclef says. “He ain’t going to sugarcoat nothing. Whatever he’s thinking, he’s going to tell you. It’s like, I’ve still got this machete – my tongue is sharper than it’s ever been.” To help create suitable musical settings for the grisly tales Toussaint has to tell, Wyclef turned to DJ Drama, who has worked extensively with T.I. “I asked myself, ‘Who’s the toughest guy out there?’” Wyclef says. “Then I said, well, DJ Drama is pretty badass. So I called him and asked if he’d be interested in doing a mixtape. He heard what I was up to and he said, ‘We gotta do a book – this is a novel!’ He got excited, and it became more like an EP than a mixtape...

Tracks like “Warriorz,” “Letter From the Penn” and “Toussaint vs. Bishop” paint riveting pictures, “hood stories,” as Wyclef describes them, of street life and its consequences. The gripping storytelling in those songs recalls the raw environments in Haiti and Brooklyn from which Wyclef emerged – “from the hut to the projects to the mansion,” as he memorably puts it in “Slumdog Millionaire.” It’s a story arc that these songs make compelling.
That, and Cyndi Lauper.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dr. Dre Teams Up With HP

From Hothardware:
With HP's dedicated Voodoo PC line pretty much in the tank (or just phased out), it looks like Dr. Dre will be stepping in to fill the superstar void. Both Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine have jointly worked with HP in order to issue the HP Beats Limited Edition notebook, which is little more than a highly styled ENVY 15 with a thing for multimedia.

The HP ENVY 15 Beats limited edition notebook features a sleek, piano black, high-gloss finish and signature Beats design as found in the "Beats by Dr. Dre" line of headphones, and while specifics are scant, we're told that the audio capabilities on this notebook far exceeds those found on rivals. As expected, the machine comes with something a little extra that only music-heads will love: Native Instruments’ Traktor LE software and Audio 2 DJ.
Plus free membership to the World Class Computin' Cru.

George Lucas Likes Star Wars

From CNN:
Holding fast to his vision -- and his marketing rights -- for the "Star Wars" empire has made it the biggest franchise in history, and made Lucas one of the most powerful people in entertainment.

But while he's enthusiastic about the new touring show "Star Wars In Concert," it wasn't his idea, and when I talked with him before the first Los Angeles performance this week, he kept giving the credit to others.

"Star Wars In Concert" is built around John Williams' well-known scores from the films, performed by a symphony orchestra and choir, and accompanied by specially edited clips from all six movies, displayed on a mammoth LED screen.

Anthony Daniels, who has played and voiced the golden protocol droid "C3PO" in every film and most of the spinoffs, provides live narration -- and another reason for the "Star Wars" fans in the audience, especially those waving lightsabers and dressed as everything from sand people to Imperial stormtroopers, to cheer mightily, as they did the night I interviewed Lucas. iReporter praises the 'Force' of the show

George Lucas: I've seen some presentations of, you know, live orchestras with "Star Wars" clips, and that sort of thing. But this is so much more than that -- it's so much more emotional, because what they've done is taken the emotional content of the score ... one is obviously the Imperial March, one is obviously romantic ... and then they've cut all the pictures around that from all the movies, so that you get this really wide range of visuals going with the music, and it really is quite powerful when you see the depictions of all of the various Imperial shenanigans that were going on over the Imperial March.
Ah yes, the Imperial shenanigans. So powerful. Seriously, though, I'll bet this really would be awesome.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Invest in Public Enemy

A little Bowie-esque (or perhaps Green Bay Packers-esque) Advancement from Public Enemy:
Public Enemy are asking fans to help fund the recording of their next album. The rap collective have signed a deal with fan funding engine SellaBand, and are aiming to raise $250,000 in increments of $25 in order to record and release the as-yet-untitled album. In return, fans who invest in the album will receive a share in the revenue of the album, as well as a numbered copy of it.

Speaking about the deal in a statement, Public Enemy's Chuck D hailed SellaBand's business model. SellaBand's financial engine model goes about restructuring the music business in reverse, he explained. "It starts with fans first, then the artists create from there. The music business is built on searching for fans and this is a brand new way for acts to create a new album with fans first, already on board."
I like the idea, of course, but: If you invest $25 of $250K, and the artist is likely to get a fair portion of the royalties (which is why they would be doing this instead of working with a label), how many records would have to be sold to get even your initial investment back? You're probably better off just buying the record for $15. But then again you wouldn't have the same pride of ownership.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Blind Boys of Alabama Duet With Lou Reed

This sounds good:
Blind Boys Of Alabama will release a duets album next with appearances from Timothy B. Schmit, Lou Reed, Ben Harper and Bonnie Raitt. ‘Duets’ features the previous unreleased ‘Jesus’ with Lou Reed.
I'm re-reading "Sweet Soul Music" by Peter Guralnick, which talks a bit about the Blind Boys (Alabama and Mississippi). It occurs to me at this moment how great it would be for Lou Reed to cut a record with Steve Cropper and his gang, sort of like that Frank Black record from a few years back, only a straight-soul record. It actually makes perfect sense to me, filled with coffee as I am.