Bad news begets good tunes
VIDEO: Foo Fighters, "The Pretender"
The end is nigh! And I’m not talking about the mortgage market. Like everything attached to Wall Street, it’ll rebound. But the major-label music industry that has evolved in the decades since Elvis Presley first set foot in Sun Studios appears to be in something of a free fall, with a sales downturn of 30 percent compared with this time last year staring record execs in the face, and Apple commanding something approaching a stranglehold on digital delivery services. We may indeed be witnessing the death throes of an industry we’ve all come to know and, well, tolerate. Which means the big labels should be pulling out all the stops this fall to get units moving in any way possible. On the bright side, forecasts of doom and gloom for the record industry tend to benefit us consumers: in a groundbreaking decision, for example, Capitol (finally!) allowed iTunes access to the once digitally sacrosanct John Lennon catalogue. The digitized Beatles can’t be far off. And said doom and gloom is also bound to make for some marketing ploys, like the proselytizing small-venue tour that dirty Detroit rock-rapper KID ROCK has planned as part of a “promotional blitz” to create a frenzy over his provocatively titled October 9 Atlantic release Rock N Roll Jesus. (Take that, John Lennon!)
|Fall preview 2007|
“Busy busy: Something for everyone this fall.” By Debra Cash.
“Stage worthies: Fall on the Boston boards.” By Carolyn Clay.
“Basstown nights: The new scene emerges; Halloween preparations.” By David Day.
“Bounty: The best of the season’s roots, world, folk, and blues.” By Ted Drozdowski.
“War, peace, and Robert Pinsky: The season’s fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.” By John Freeman.
“Trane, Joyce Dee Dee, Sco, and more: A jam-packed season of jazz.” By Jon Garelick.
“Turn on the bright lights: Art, women, politics, and food.” By Randi Hopkins.
“War zones: Fall films face terror at home and abroad.” By Peter Keough.
“Locked and loaded: The fall promises a double-barreled blast of gaming greatness.” By Mitch Krpata.
“BBC? America!: The networks put some English on the fall TV season.” By Joyce Millman.
“World music: The BSO goes traveling, and Berlin comes to Boston.” By Lloyd Schwartz.
“Singles scene: Local bands dig in with digital.” By Will Spitz.
Once all the September hoopla over who’s the biggest rapper of them all — Kanye or 50 Cent (answer: Jay-Z) — settles down, late September is looking good for the return of some familiar and reliable rockers. Dave Grohl’s FOO FIGHTERS just celebrated the 10th anniversary (yes, it’s been that long, and you are that much older now) of their second album, The Colour and the Shape, with a deluxe two-disc reissue this summer. But that was all designed to spark interest in yet another solid piece of rock, Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace (RCA; September 25), an album that has Grohl indulging in a little American guitar picking with Kaki King on the timely “The Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners.” Don’t worry, though: the first single, “The Pretender,” which is already available through iTunes (do you sense a recurring theme here?), is a classic Foo rocker, just a little bit angry and vengeful, but powered by a rousing, bloodletting chorus.
That same week, in the UK at least, PJ HARVEY’s first disc in three years drops. (The US date has yet to be settled on but will likely be September 25.) No surprises among her supporting cast: she worked with producers Flood and multi-instrumental engineer John Parrish on the disc, as well as with Dirty Three violinist Jim White and ubiquitous bassist/keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman. However, early reports (as well as a posting on Harvey’s MySpace site) suggest that she’s once again extricated her distinctive guitar playing from this mix, only this time she’s substituted her piano playing. So it’ll be a different musical side of PJ Harvey. Which is pretty much what we’ve come to expect.
Neo-folkie DEVENDRA BANHART appears to have embraced the California singer-songwriter legacy that runs thick through the Santa Monica Mountains and the canyons that dot an area folkies have used as an inspirational refuge from smog-infested LA. Recording in Topanga — the same canyon that Neil Young called home in the After the Gold Rush days, and the one where Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris have resided — Banhart has abandond the “freak” part of the “folk” tag he earned on his early albums. And his September 25 release, Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon (Beggars), promises to be him most accessible, buttoned-down disc to date.
: Music Features
, Neil Young
, John Lennon
, Dave Grohl