Watching Anda Volley’s new video for “If I Turn Into A Black Rose” instantly reminded me of the first time I listened to PJ Harvey. A friend had burned me a copy of Uh, Huh, Her that I listened to repeatedly while driving around Boston booking gigs for my old band Good Little Monkey. PJ Harvey just had this deep melancholy that I resonated with. Bitter, angry, but also beautiful and melodic.
All of which is a good way to describe Anda Volley’s sound, and is well captured in the “Black Rose” video.
Side note: I wish she would shorten her song names.
Back to the video: it’s a simple enough production, shot in two or so takes with a single camera and layered on top of one another. Totally indie and low-budget, but the net result is an eery and poignant video that matches the song well.
Oh, and the song is really good. There’s a line or two that could be tightened lyrically, but this is exactly the kind of dark rock that I would enjoy listening to during one of my blacker moods.
Also it’s worth listening through to the next track, Laura Inside The Ghost Machine, as well. Brilliant music video.
Last week I had the privilege of attending an advance screening of Martin Shore’s documentary ‘Take Me to the River.’ The film celebrates the music of Memphis and the Mississippi Delta as well as the people who made it. Many of the legendary people in the film you may not know by name but you’ll definitely know the music they wrote, sang, and played. It’s the music everyone has always just sort of known- the music that’s so timeless it’s part of the ether- It’s the music that has influenced everything and everyone.
The film gathered legendary Memphis musicians and contemporary artists to have them record new versions of classic tracks. In doing so, stories are told, memories are revisited, and, inadvertently, the musicians, and filmmaker touch upon historical events, how the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. led to the fall of legendary Stax Records, how corporations started to infiltrate music, and how ultimately, the songs and those who make them are still what’s most important.
It’s wonderful to see the legendary musicians talk about things like Pro-Tools and Auto-Tune and how it used to be those who couldn’t play, didn’t play; now there are cheats available to give anyone a chance. It’s even more incredible to see performers well into their golden years sing and play in a manner that would shame most of the Billboard Hot 100. The musicians worked on 15 sessions in total, 9 are shown in the film- most were perfect in one take- no Auto-Tune needed.
Snoop-Dogg, Terrance Howard, L’il P-Nut, Frayser Boy, and Yo Gotti will capture the attention of younger film-goers who may not be well versed in blues musicians or popular music of bygone years, while untouchable greats like Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Bobby Rush, Otis Clay, Mavis Staples, and Charlie Musslewhite will definitely be a draw for, well, everyone!
Martin Shore does a fantastic job of weaving together the history of the music, the business, and the fun that the musicians had working on this project and it really is something everyone should see. Tracks like ‘Ain’t No Sunshine,’ (Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland ft. Yo Gotti) and ‘Push and Pull,’ (Bobby Rush ft. Frayser Boy) are songs that are often cited, sampled and covered by others and the versions that appear in this film are exemplary.
Films like this reinforce what music is truly about and also remind us why the vt team and those who support us believe in music so, so much. The film is starting to show at select theaters around the US; be sure to see it if it’s in your area!
I was cleaning my desk the other day and found an old printout of a NY Times article from 2011 titled “The Next Viacom’s Seek To Carve Out A Place Next To YouTube”, and focussed mainly on companies like Blip.tv that used to be all the rage.
I have tracked Blip’s rise and fall (or cultural “blip”, if you will), from their early VC backed-launch and attendant hype to their long-term profitability struggles, big push as “the home for web series” and eventual sale to Maker. I’m not sure if they ever reached profitability, but they’re still in business — though no one really writes about them anymore.
Whatever happened to them, anyway?
Back when I was getting my first web series off the ground and looking for distributors, everyone told me to look at Blip. They were supposed to be huge, the next big thing, the next Viacom (per that NY Times article).
But their terms were awful. 50/50 rev share with no promotional support and no traffic. How the hell was I supposed to make money as a producer?
And I think this continues to be a core problem for the industry. Everyone looks at digital as a distribution business — you know, put up a web site that aggregates creators and wrap ads around their shows and voila! magically everyone will watch and make lots of money. The business model of the future!
But things haven’t turned out that way. YouTube will break $1b in ad revenue this year … and they’re still not profitable. Only a small slice of the producers on their site make any money, and those that do suffer from insane working hours to keep ahead of the deluge of content they’re competing with (could you imagine having to compete with 1 billion+ other producers for consumer’s attention? This is the YouTube value proposition for creators. It’s no wonder their original content strategy largely failed). And Blip could never earn enough money to turn a profit, not to mention pay back their VC backers.
In my opinion, the problem with Blip and YouTube and nearly everyone else in the online space is that the problem we need to solve isn’t distribution or technology. The problem is: how do we create an ecosystem that supports a variety of creative-types who are going to make the kind of shows that we all want to watch?
Netflix has done a very good job at solving this. YouTube has not and their creatives are burning out. Blip simply didn’t have high enough quality programming, and didn’t focus on building/supporting a creative network.
At the end of the day Blip has proven that without good programming it doesn’t matter how much you raise from VCs.
Music has a way of expressing that which cannot be put into words. It is for this reason (and many more) that music is regarded as one of the triumphs of human creativity―but does music itself help one to create? This is an important question to examine, because music has increasingly become apart of the modern-day
The title notwithstanding, this is a great video and example of making cool shit on the cheap.
Submitted by our friends The Angeles Project, Dust Collector has taken one of their (rad) tracks and animated it with some simple cut-and-paste cardboard cutouts. The effect is a gorgeous, well-produced video with a unique styling rather like the old Sesame Street or Electric Company stuff I used to watch as a kid.
Also did I mention it’s a great track? Great music & lyrics with a smooth, smooth delivery.
A new Cleveland-based pop post-punk shoegaze rock band called Privacy//Policy sent in a new album for us to review. Billing themselves as having a sound like Joy Division, Bauhaus and Jesus and Mary Chain, their new album is appropriately called THIS IS OUR MANDATE.
(Note the all caps in the title.)
This is a brilliant debut, featuring all the noise and pop sensibilities you would expect from the title and their influences.
“Bad Ass”, doesn’t even come close to describing Hank & Cupcakes. They are “Super Bad Ass”!
I remember the night in October 2009 that I saw them for the first time at Crash Mansion on Bowery. They were rather unassuming when they took the stage, but then WHAM!!! …the first crash of the cymbals for “Ain’t No Love” exploded into the room and into the atmosphere beyond. It took me all of about 3 seconds to recognize that this was something different, something never before seen.
I watched their set with astonishment. This sexy chick drummer playing her drums STANDING UP with fury and proficiency, her vocals bellowing, the hooks emanating from her pipes, wrapped themselves around my eardrums like some kind of deadly snake in a tropical rain forest. This is Cupcakes! She slithers, she screams, she proclaims…..she is there to show the world what she can do.
These songs come from somewhere mysterious, mystical, and enchanted. She plowed through that set like a hurricane disguised as a tornado and made no excuses for it. Hank is the epitome of humble. He is some kind of magician – a scientist of sound, an Einstein of bass and pedal technology. Quiet, contemplative and seemingly out of place, but sharp…sharp as the fangs on that very same venomous rain forest snake. He and Cupcakes are aware of everything around them. They know their game. They are tight. They are practiced. They are here to stay and are on a trajectory for greatness.
The sounds that this 2-piece drum-and-bass ensemble produce defy logic and would give a listener the impression that they are, at the very least, a 5- piece band. How they do it is unknown, but what they are doing is clear to see. One night, Cupcakes let me know about a new song they were about to unveil called “Jimmy” based on a conversation we’d had at Norwood about a week earlier. (This is by far one of the greatest songs I’ve ever heard, but of course, I’m biased….) From the opening strains of “My name is Jimmy and I gotta a TV show… My name is Jimmy, Ji Ji Ji Ji, Jimmy”… the song takes off like Apollo 11 on a mission of destiny. The song progresses quickly through a hairpin labyrinth of pop hooks and bass chops and then descends down into a maelstrom of whirling dervish-like overdrive until its climactic apex. Whenever I hear it I always feel a lump in my throat.
I’ve seen them perform live many times since that first night at Crash Mansion and they just keep getting better and better and better. Dynamic, progressive, perceptive, capable and unmatched, Hank & Cupcakes are here to stay. They are good people too. Mark my words, they are set to conquer whatever landscape they lay claim to!