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Posts Tagged ‘Vampire Weekend’

Ignored 120: 50 #RIPLeonard tributes

In Graphic on November 15, 2016 at 2:29 am

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Ignored 50: No alternative

In Uncategorized on January 13, 2015 at 2:36 am

In a September 11, 2012 press release, Indie 88.1 president Doug Bingley expressed great excitement for the new radio station he was about to introduce to the Greater Toronto Area…

It’s like Rock N Roll in 1957, I think the market is poised to explode with this type of music. It’s a great opportunity for Canadian musicians and Toronto listeners. We’ll have a unique sound unlike anything else in the market.  If you want to hear a sample of Indie Toronto visit http://www.indietoronto.ca

Fast forward two years and a bit, Indie 88.1 has done a decent job at taking a slice of the semi-lucrative alternative/modern rock/indie pie. Recent ratings show that incumbent “modern rock station” 102.1 The Edge enjoys a 2.7% share in Toronto whereas Indie 88.1 has a 1.2% share.

For what it’s worth, CHFI FM 98 leads with a 13% share and that’s with the dulcet tones of Lovers & Other Strangers now streaming elsewhere (sadly).

Perhaps part of Indie 88.1’s success is that it’s probably more commercially viable that their original CRTC ruling would lead you to believe. Yes, Indie 88.1 plays a lot of legit Canadian indie, as promised, but also a lot of non-indie, non-Canadian outfits such as Foo Fighters, Cage the Elephant and Modest Mouse.

As for 102.1 The Edge, they have mercifully ditched a lot of a growly nu-metal nonsense of the 2000s in favour of yes, more Canadian indie… and lots of Foo Fighters, Cage the Elephant and Modest Mouse.

My point? 102.1 The Edge and Indie 88.1 actually have fairly similar playlists.

Check the graphic below: eight of the nine most played Indie 88.1 artists were also in the Top 25 most played Edge 102.1 artists.

In addition, the stations shared 11 artists in their respective Top 25 most played artists lists.

Lastly, I had no idea Edge 102.1 even played K-OS.

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Ignored 9: Go away… stay away… profit!!!

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2013 at 7:22 pm

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Bold statement: The most effective means of promoting music in 2013 is to stay invisible and authentically allow the fans to come to you.

Whack Scottish electro duo Boards of Canada haven’t released a full-length studio album in close to eight years. Until right now.

Tomorrow’s Harvest arrives amid a seismic wave of hype, at least compared to where this outfit left off in 2005. Boards of Canada were always popular, no doubt. But their woozy take on electronic music always seemed to be a bit more of a “nice to have” rather than a “must have”. Even their lauded 1998 debut Music Has the Right to Children is probably best positioned as background music if we’re being completely honest with ourselves. As us “serious” music fans typically aren’t.

Boards of Canada and their minders used a decidedly modern approach to hyping Tomorrow’s Harvest, “hiding” song snippets out-of-doors and across the Internetz and seeding various bloops and bleeps with tastemakers over at NPR. Seems and sounds pretty effective as it’s positioned the album as one of 2013’s most anticipated (until the next one) and really helped Boards of Canada jump a layer or two in terms of (perceived) notoriety. It remains to be seen if this is parlayed into lucrative live appearances (uh, Boards of Canada isn’t good at touring) and/or things of this nature.

… and yet while the Boards of Canada hype machine has been churning for much of the last few months, it was pretty much dormant for years upon years prior. Partially or entirely by design.

A great way to build buzz is to shut your goddam face and let your disciples come to you, let them pine for you, let them yearn in their hearts and their souls and their wallets.

No doubt, it’s chancy but it does speak to the fact that there are two exceedingly popular approaches for musicians to stay viable in 2013 and that we’re seeing each employed more and more.

1. Speak early, speak often and never, ever go away
There are a variety of approaches to stickin’ around, whether that’s guesting on other artist’s tracks, high-profile production gigs, touring when you don’t have anything active to promote (Courtney?), being a jerk, having somebody else be a jerk (or a-hole) to you or generally being around places where there are lots of cameras. The example of this approach are probably Rihanna, who literally has not left us for more than a couple of weeks at a time since 2005. Check her discography and you’ll see we’re entering into Cal Ripken Jr. territory: an individual who is consistently good-to-very-good on a daily basis and maintains this level of performance for years on end without any legit threats to the throne (Manny Alexander notwithstanding, obviously).

Yeah, “girlfriend” is on a sick run that is now approaching the decade mark and she doesn’t really show any signs of slowing down. Time will tell but the sheer magnitude of what Rihanna has done since 2005 quite trumps Whitney, Mariah, Beyonce, Diana Ross, etc. in terms of density AND volume. Big picture: she probably doesn’t get enough recognition considering. Ironically, Rihanna’s 2005 debut Music of the Sun (terrible album art BTW) was released August 12 of that year, a precise two months (well, two months and five days) prior to Boards of Canada’s last full-length The Campfire Headphase, which birthed of October 17. Full circle, dude!

2. Leave and be vague about when/if you’re coming back
Again, this is the approach Boards of Canada used when they went AWOL circa 2007-2012 and it has been employed by a variety of other artists in recent years with varying levels of success: David Bowie, Daft Punk, My Bloody Valentine, Kate Bush, D’Angelo, Guns N’ Roses, Portishead, even the Arcade Fire in a far more micro sense. The irony is in most or maybe all of these cases, the chasms between albums isn’t a marketing ploy at all. It’s more a product of disinterest or legal matters or substance abuse. Furthermore, I guarantee you in each instance, it’s largely a result of the artist not having anything new or interesting to say. That’s seriously not a bad thing: showing the restraint to stay away until you’re ready to speak when not spoken to.

It’s been well documented that the record industry itself is essentially flatlining but the community still bears pock marks from its “salad days”. The standard two year “record-album-tour-rinse-repeat” cycle is still very much a thing even though albums don’t mean very much at the moment and everything that isn’t nailed down or firewalled is ultimately lifted.

Take a band like the Strokes, who seemed like they might be encroaching on “so overrated, they’re underrated” territory when they released their kinda-fantastic 2005 effort First Impressions of Earth. That was their third full-length. What have we seen since? A couple of tepid follow-ups and a band that conveys a wild degree of disinterest, now paired with their stylized disinterest.

We’re now seeing the next generation of hipster-approved outfits hitting THAT phase in their discography including future Coachella headliners the National and Vampire Weekend. These bands have been steadily “around” for a while now (the National… much longer than a while but in terms of general consciousness, a while).

It appears their respective ascents are still in progress but given their active touring schedules and the ubiquity of their output in certain circles, it’ll be telling to see if people will start to lose interest some time soon. Possibly by the end of 2013?

There hasn’t really been a extended stretch where people had an opportunity (the pleasure?) to yearn for Vampire Weekend or the National since they’re always playing live or talking with Pitchfork or chumming around with Steve Buscemi or Hayden or whoever. So it’s tough to gauge whether they’re yearn-worthy at all. Boards of Canada have passed the yearn test. Time will tell with these other bands.

So what did Boards of Canada do during their hiatus? Not sure. What we do know is that their Reddit fans spend a lot of time sharing and speculating while various music blogs played their part in elevating the band into uncharted waters. Again, this pattern carried on for years and the result is an inflated sense of actuality that can allow ordinary bands to jump to soft-seater status and GOOD bands to effectively become legends (or headline festivals named after sauces).

This isn’t a comment at all on the quality of Boards of Canada’s music…. even though it totally is. It’s more a comment on the fact that perhaps the best hype-fuelling device in modern music is a complete swing of the pendulum to everything else happening in the industry.

If you ignore everything and everybody, it’ll only make people want you more.

It takes a certain calibre of artists to turn the trick but when you look at the reception that Boards of Canada, Bowie, MBV and Daft Punk have received in 2013, you’ve gotta imagine that more artists will be opting to STFU for prolonged stretches going forward.

Thankfully. There is way too much music as is.

Ignored 7: The ascendants

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2013 at 2:06 am

Ignored7

Bold Statement: Headlining the Coachella Festival has become arguably the single greatest means of confirming your superstar status in the modern musical climate.

The official Coachella Festival “Rumors/Gossip/Wish List” forum is a great website to visit if you like to talk about posters on the Internet. With the 2013 version of the festival now in the books, the forum is already in crap-talking overload, speculating about 2014 and beyond.

Its patrons display seriously obsessiveness tendencies and much of this discussion revolves around the iconic Coachella poster. Specifically, there is much talk about where certain bands reside on the poster in terms of position and most importantly, in terms of font-sized. Basically if you get a thick, dense font goin’, you’ve made it!!

It’s a unique counterweight to an event that has veered widely from being about music in recent years and into becoming an exercise in  fashion, branding and other things.

…. and yet, Dead Can Dance still gets booked.

Here is a sampling of the poster fervour (P.F.) you can find on this website:
icedKeg: Low billing [for Purity Ring] on the poster doesn’t necessarily mean a daytime spot.
Bumblebee: Some versions of the poster have Blur first and some have Stone Roses. Wonder if they will swap final spot between weekends.
HeavensWeep: What the [heck] is Kurt [Vile] doing so low on the poster in such teeny-weeny font size?
jayrizzo: Stoked to see [Wild Belle] on poster!

It’s an interesting and slightly nerdy subculture that seems more akin to fantasy baseball (which is awesome BTW) than musical fandom since it’s all about predicting and positioning and the like. However, in 2013, headlining the Coachella festival (or getting big-ass poster font, in the forum’s pig latin) is a great indicator that you have hit a new strata of stardom as an artist. In year’s past, being on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine or appearing on Saturday Night Live was perhaps this indicator. No longer. Or not so much.

This is a complete list of outfits that have headlined Coachella (multiple time headliners shown in brackets):
– Beastie Boys
– Beck
– Bjork (2)
– Black Keys
– Blur
– Coldplay
– Depeche Mode
– Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg
– Gorillaz
– Jack Johnson
– Jane’s Addiction
– Jay-Z
– Kanye West
– Kings of Leon
– Muse
– Nine Inch Nails
– Oasis
– Paul McCartney
– Phoenix
– Prince
– Radiohead (2)
– Rage Against the Machine
– Red Hot Chili Peppers (3)
– Roger Waters
– Stone Roses
– The Arcade Fire
– The Cure (2)
– The Killers
– Tool (2)

In most cases, these headliners made sense from a dollars and draw perspective. However, especially in the last five years and perhaps in an effort to avoid repeat headliners, organizers have shown a willingness to push former small font-sters into headliner status and thusly, cement them as something in the hearts and minds of…. well, some random people on the Internet.

Phoenix in 2013 fit the bill and no doubt inspired a lot of “I had no idea they were THAT popular” discussions. You could also point to the Black Keys in 2012, Kings of Leon and the Arcade Fire in 2011, Muse in 2010 and Jack Johnson in 2008 as artists who made the leap.

I refer to these outfits as the ascendants.

Now, getting back to our friends in “Rumors/Gossip/Wish List” land, speculation on future ascendants is always rampant. Organizers seem willing to roll the dice on at least one fresh headliner each year. So based on the sample size of 2008-2013, we should continue to see a fresh yield of ascendants for the remainder of this decade.

Here is some speculation on 10 former Coachella small font-sters who could make the leap by 2019.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Purely from a draw perspective, both the Stone Roses and Blur headlining over the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on Day One 2013 was a bit of a head scratcher (which says nothing of quality since all three are quite fantastic). While they’re not quite at stadium status, aesthetically then YYYs seem like a bit of a bullseye for the Coachella crowd: visually interesting, immediate, based in NYC, etc. Still, they were plopped in a “big not that big” font size for 2013. Assumedly, they’ll be shucking their 5th full-length by the next go-round of consideration (assuming they don’t implode) so there is still time for a full ascension, one would think.

Sigur Ros: The Icelandic weirdos provide the kind of sweeping grandiose platitudes that hipsters and (really) everybody else loves and again, a wonder that Phoenix headlined over them already during Day Two 2013.

Mumford and Sons: Liam Gallagher’s thoughts aside, very surprising that these guys didn’t headline at one of the nights at Coachella 2013. Probably was because they were already dabbed to headline a pantload of other festivals across the globe in the coming months. I’m not sure that stylistically, these guys will have staying power as stadium fillers but anything is possible, I guess.

Deadmau5: He already headlined Lollapalooza so a Coachella headlining slot doesn’t seem farfetched at all. Could be a matter of whether Daft Punk beats him to the punch. He did kinda sorta morph their gimmick so either way…

Tiësto: One of those guys I know nothing about besides the fact he’s massively popular and plays large rooms. And stuff like this happens when he plays, which gets bigger reactions than the Stone Roses apparently.

Frank Ocean: What would Frank do? A bit of a contradiction because commercially and critically, Frank would seem to be on a fast track to headliner status. But he doesn’t seem too interested in playing live at the best of times so big picture, it’s hard to see him at this point developing those large font chops.

Florence + the Machine: Florence Welch is beloved and splashy. This much we know. Considering Coachella’s heavy fashion slant in recent years, the promise of MULTIPLE costume changes (!!!) could be an admission of sorts from organizers. The music would be completely fine as well.

Justice: See the pattern emerge: if there is not a bon afide “traditional” headliner available (i.e. guitars), just etch out a big name electronic act and create a veritable… super rave! The last Justice album was kinda loopy (i.e. sounded like Rush at times) but also kinda underrated in my opinion. The next one is shaping up to be a fork-in-the-road moment but these guys seem engaged enough to pull off something massive if needed.

Bon Iver: You could probably swap Bon Iver for Vampire Weekend or the National if needed as the potential next generation Phoenix-esque ascendants. They all play guitars and again, Coachella seems to prefer that its headliners play guitars. Objectively, Bon Iver seems like they’d be a bit of a soft touch as a headliner but there’s the Kanye bromance so maybe some surprise collabo could work.

David Guetta: See Tiësto and acknowledge Guetta’s insane YouTube view counts.