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Let’s Try Something from Japan

January 9th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

Over the weekend, I got an email from a fellow music nerd named Kouji.  He wanted to know my opinion on X-Japan, a metal band that's celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2012.  (Well, sort of.  They broke up for about ten years in 1997 but they've been a going concern on-and-off since 1982.)

Kouji was specifically interested in my take on Yoshiki, a founding member of the group and their drummer, pianist and songwriter.  Both X-Japan and Yoshiki are huge at home.  

Yoshiki is esspecially revered.  He inspired a comic book called Blood Red Dragon with Stan Lee and Todd McFarlane.  He even, uh, a Hello Kitty chararacter called--what else?--YoshiKitty.

The Recommendation Project Part 22: Great Hopes for 2012

January 9th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

Now that we're finally through the holidays, we can stop looking backwards and start looking ahead. What I'm hoping for with this playlist is your pick for an artist you think is going to break big in 2012.

My pick is Grimes, the performance name of Claire Boucher, a Montreal based audio-video artist.  She recently signed a deal wtih the UK's ultra-cool 4AD label and will have a new album soon.  From what I've heard, it's excellent.

So who do you think will have a breakthrough year in 2012?

Here are the rules for The Recommendation Project.

Is Software That Rips Music Streams a Major New Threat?

January 8th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

I've become something of a convert to music streaming services.  I've roadtested Slacker, Rdio and Spotify and I like them all.  There's just something so convenient about being able to access millions of songs whenever I feel the need from wherever I happen to be.

I also listen to SiriusXM online, a variety of Mediazoic channels (including my own) and streams from a variety of sources from around the world.  I'm also involved in a channel called Squish which is being built by Astral Radio.

This is where I should point out what a "stream" actually is.  It's an on-demand sequence of songs that comes out of your computer or smartphone just like music from the radio.  While you may be able to skip ahead to the next song (sometimes, but not always), you can't rewind.  

This isn't the fault of the streamer or the player; that's the way streaming licenses work with the copyright holders.  

Once Perpetually Broke, Sub Pop Is Doing Just Fine, Thanks

January 8th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

When they were still 100% independent, Sub Pop had a t-shirt that read "What Part of 'We Don't Have Any Money' Don't You Understand?"

Those were back in the days before Nirvana jumped to DCG (but not without compensation to Sub Pop) and scored with Nevermind and before Warner bought the company for $20 million.

And while they are part of one of the majors, Sub Pop seems to be existing just fine in its own little semi-autonomous bubble.  They've long since moved beyond grunge.

More Music from the Inbox

January 8th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

As anyone might expect, the number of music recommendations slowed to a trickle over the holidays.  But as soon as January 3 hit, BAZINGA!  The flood began anew.  

Some of what caught my attention can be found through the Recommended Music Link to the left.  These next few artists survived the cull administered by Julliette Jagger.  (By the way, read her thing on Drake called Perception is Reality.)

David Bowie Enters His Golden Years This Weekend

January 7th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

I'm pretty sure I first became aware of David Bowie in 1975 when my friend Charlie showed up at school muttering a strange monotone chant.

"Golden years, go-o-old, whop, whop, whop."  

He went on like that for the entire day.  No other words, just that weirdly hypnotic mantra.  Finally I asked him what the hell he was saying.

"Some song from the radio.  British guy.  I think the DJ said his name was 'Booey' or something."

David Bowie would eventually become one of my musical heroes.

Why Rock Still Rules on the Road

January 7th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

Every couple of years, there are bleats of "rock is dead."  I've been hearing those pronouncements my entire life.

While it's true that rock doesn't enjoy the sort of supremacy it once did, it's far from dead.  When it comes to touring, though, rock rules.  Check out this article from Billboard:

These days it's rare to see any musical artist make the jump from playing large clubs and theaters to arenas. But after 10 years of development in the touring space, the Black Keys will support their latest album, El Camino, with a North American arena headlining tour, beginning in March. The Arctic Monkeys have been tapped as support.

This Week’s Top 11 Playlist: 06 January 2012

January 6th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

My dog is driving me crazy.  It doesn't matter what the wind chill is, she demands to be walked. That's because down the block someone has set up a squirrel feeding station.  The bull terrier loves to interrupt their meals like all those damn telemarketers interrupt mine.  And she won't take no for an answer.

The only thing I can do is give in.  Here are the tunes I've been listening to as my dog drags me down the street to frighten the crap out of a bunch of rats with fuzzy tails.

To listen, click on the Top 11 link in the right-hand column.  You can also review any previews Top 11 lists.  And as always, this is made possible by the folks at Mediazoic.  Good people.

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