Blog Archive

Technology That Was Too Clever

December 2nd, 2011 | by Alan Cross

When David Byrne was with the Talking Heads, he was determined that the band always be ahead of the times.  But one time, the band was too far ahead.

When their 1988 album
Naked was released, it was touted as being "graphics-ready."  This meant that if you were to buy a special CD player with a special decoder, you could watch the lyrics of the songs pass by in real-time on your television.

The Wife Says: The Grammy Nominations Put Christ Back in Christmas

December 1st, 2011 | by Alan Cross

You’d figure with all the money to be made this time of year somebody would write a decent, hummable, not regurgitating-pumpkin-pie-over-your-new-Ugg-boots kind of Christmas song.

Nope. Everywhere you go are the old recycled favourites-Bing and Bowie. Tony Bennett.

The Beebs is making money over the holidays with a cringe-inducing duet with Look-at-me-I’m-got-my-waist-back-after-having-twins new mom Mariah Carey. She strokes herself in an abbreviated Santa suit while singing at the kid in “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” What’s more inappropriate than a cougar? A puma? A mastodon?

Great Sampler from Dine Alone Records (And It’s Free!)

December 1st, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Gotta love Dine Alone for serving up a free sampler. Nice artwork, huh?  

Download everything you see below for zero dollars--and without any guilt, either.

1. Chains of Love – “In Between”

2. Hacienda  – “Savage”

3. Hanni El Khatib  – “Dead Wrong”

4. The Sheepdogs – “Birthday”

5. Library Voices – “Traveller’s Digest” (Nevado)

6. Neon Indian – “Polish Girl”

Bono on Progress in the War on AIDS

December 1st, 2011 | by Alan Cross

From yesterday's New York Times:

I’ll tell you the worst part about it, for me.

It was the look in their eyes when the nurses gave them the diagnosis — H.I.V.-positive — then said there was no treatment. I saw no anger in their expression. No protest. If anything, just a sort of acquiescence.

The anger came from the nurses, who knew there really was a treatment — just not for poor people in poor countries. They saw the absurdity in the fact that an accident of geography would deny their patients the two little pills a day that could save their lives.

This was less than a decade ago. And all of us who witnessed these dedicated African workers issuing death sentence after death sentence still feel fury and shame. AIDS set off an almost existential crisis in the West. It forced us to ask ourselves the big, uncomfortable questions, like whether capitalism, which invented the global village and kept it well stocked with stuff, could also create global solutions. Whether we were interested in charity... or justice.

Missed the Grammy Nominations? Here’s a Summary (Free Snark Included)

December 1st, 2011 | by Alan Cross

If you're reading this blog, chances are you know the Grammys are essentially a big joke, a first-quarter commercial for the music industry to wring the last bit of profit out of the previous year's releases during the slowest time of the fiscal.

Still, people will be paying attention, so it's probably best that we know what's going on, right?  Here are some highlights and some uncalled-for comments.

How Will Things Like the iPad Figure into Music’s Future?

December 1st, 2011 | by Alan Cross

A film crew was at my house yesterday interviewing me for a documentary about early rock'n'roll pioneers. Towards the end, talk turned to speculation of where rock is headed.  

This is an excellent question.  Have we hit the wall when it comes to the evolution of rock?  Or are we doomed to recycling the past as new generations independently discover the "three-chords-and-an-attitude" formula that's at the heart of rock'n'roll?

Maybe.  Or maybe not.  

Gift Idea: Pod Power

December 1st, 2011 | by Alan Cross

In an age where everyone needs power strips (often with usuable slots because those f*cking converter bricks take up so

I Get Mail

December 1st, 2011 | by Alan Cross

I love it when people leave comments on this page, but sometimes I get email regarding stories I publish elsewhere--the Ottawa Citizen/Vancouver Sun, for example, or from my weekly columns in the Metro papers.  

(Should you ever want to send me an email, either use the "Talk to Me" link to the right or just use

Here's a sample of some recent correspondence:

Pelting the Vegetarian

December 1st, 2011 | by Alan Cross

One of the world’s most famous vegetarians is Morrissey, ex of the Smiths.  He was vehemently anti-meat to the point where he insisted on naming a Smiths album Meat is Murder.  He never, ever, every touched meat, let along ate it.

There were those who agreed with him–but then again, there were those who had opposite views.  On March 6, 1985, the Smiths played a venue called the Poole Arts Centre.  

Midway through the show, someone threw a chain of link sausages towards the stage with the words “meat is murder” printed very carefully on them.

Oh, Okay. Here Are Some Grammy Nomination Predictions.

November 30th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Did you hear about the televised Grammy Awards spectacle tonight?  No?

In an effort to goose sales through the Christmas shopping season, the Grammy people have conspired with CBS to turn the nomination announcement event into a prime time special.  Jeezus, talk about making something out of nothing.  Even the uber-bloated Oscars don't do something like this.  I guess there's a hole in the Wednesday night schedule.

I've got a Christmas party to attend to tonight, so I won't be watching. But lemme throw out a couple of no-brainer predictions.

Weekly Music Sales Report: 30 November 2011

November 30th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Yes, Nickelback debuts at #1.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

With less than a month before Christmas, artists, managers, labels and retailers are really hoping that they can hang on to make 2011 the first year in a long time when sales ticked up.  And at this point, it's looking good.

There are six debuts in the Canadian Top 10 and for the first time in...well, forever, all Top Ten records sold more than 10,000 copies each.  This means that 2011 sales are still pacing head of last year by 1%, even though 8% fewer CDs have been sold.  All the growth comes in digital, which is up 40% year-over-year.

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