Witt’s “How Music Got Free” essential reading for music fans

Posted in books, mp3, reviews on July 7th, 2015 by Nick – Be the first to comment
how music got free header There are quite a few stories to be told in Stephen Witt's book, How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy, out not from Viking. You have the story of how the mp3 algorithm was created, you have how the music industry failed to meet the demands of a new digital age, and you have the story of how one man in North Carolina managed to leak many of the top albums of their day. It's fascinating, and though I came to it with many of the same touchstones as author Witt (we're the same age), there's a lot to this for everyone, not just those of us who hit college right as file-sharing, broadband, and big hard drives all converged. I mean, granted: if you're a mid-to-late '90s high school graduate who lived in a college dormitory during the tag end of the last century, there's a lot of obscure references in How Music Got Free that will open mental doors to which you'd long since lost the keys. But even for those who didn't look to RNS as a mark of quality or Oink as the the be-all, end-all of musical treasure-hunting, there's still so much here. If ever there were a textbook case of how a perfect storm came to wash away vast swatches of an industry, this is it. Witt's book answers every question you've ever had about piracy:
* Why the hell did they sue 11 year-ols and grandmas, but I still have 3000 albums on my hard drive to this day? * Why were CDs so goddamn expensive, even as the technology got cheaper? * What does it take to get your hands on an album that far in advance? * How did the labels repeatedly fail to get on the ball with digital music?
It's three stories, all interwoven, and it's brilliant. Like an epic episode of Frontline, but told with the wit and wink of This American Life, Witt's How Music Got Free documents the way piracy came to be a way of being. It's a cultural and technological history that will leave you enraptured. My only regret is that I've sat this long trying to figure out how best to sum it up. My recommendation: buy it, take two days off work, and get ready. You're not going to want to put this down once you start it. How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy is available to purchase from Amazon.

Podcast #136, “Social Event of the Season”

Posted in movies, podcast, soundtracks on July 6th, 2015 by Nick – Be the first to comment
tdk-blank-audio-cassette_sa90 We delve ever-further into the realm of film music. This time, we're looking at soundtracks, rather than scores, and talking about popular music from popular films. Most of what we're looking at is definitely of a certain stripe -- quite a bit from Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino films -- but the music is all good, even if your opinion of the director might be less than high. Podcast #136, "Social Event of the Season" Soup Dragons, "I'm Free" (The World's End soundtrack) Abba, "Mama Mia" (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert soundtrack) John Legend, "Who Did That to You" (Django Unchained soundtrack) Kenny Loggins, "I'm Alright" (Caddyshack soundtrack) Soul Asylum, "Can't Even Tell" (Clerks soundtrack) --- Night Birds, "Escape From New York" (Born to Die in Suburbia) Lustra, "Scotty Doesn't Know" (Eurotrip soundtrack) Squirtgun, "Social" (Mallrats soundtrack) Francis Haines, "The Trioxin Theme" (The Return of the Living Dead soundtrack) Crash & the Boys, "I'm So Sad, So Very, Very Sad" (Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World soundtrack) --- Kool & the Gang, "Jungle Boogie" (Pulp Fiction soundtrack) Redbone, "Come and Get Your Love" (Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1) Kermit the Frog, "Rainbow Connection" (The Muppet Movie) Stealers Wheel, "Stuck in the Middle With You" (Reservoir Dogs soundtrack)

Two new Greek exploitation classics on the way from Mondo Macabro

Posted in movies on July 6th, 2015 by Nick – Be the first to comment
Mondo Macabro Logo Mondo Macabro's back up and running, and relaunching their line of amazing exploitation DVDs with a couple of Greek exploitation classics. If you order the two of them together, you get one a solid month before it's due out to everyone else.
Greece has been in the headlines a lot recently. Here at Mondo Macabro we support the Greek people and Syriza in their current struggle and wish them all success in the future. We feel it is also time to remind the world that in the 1960s and '70s, Greece had a thriving film industry, turning out comedies, melodramas, musicals – and quite a lot of the sort of films that we at Mondo Macabro love. So, to launch our new line of Greek Cult Cinema releases, we are making a special offer via their online store, for two Grexploitation classics at a special price of $35.00 plus postage. How can you resist? Discover a side of Greek life you didn’t even know existed. The films are: dvd cover - tango of perversionTANGO OF PERVERSION The Tango club is the favorite hangout for a group of swingers who live for nothing but pleasure. Rosita, a beautiful lesbian, seduces Joanna by giving her dope. Stathis, Joanna's sleazy boyfriend catches the two women in bed together and takes his brutal revenge on them, ending in Rosita’s death. All this happens in the house of Joachim, a rich playboy who gets his kicks by secretly filming Stathis having sex with girls from the Tango club. Joachim believes he is impotent, until he makes love to Rosita's dead body. After that, things start to get weird... Sex, drugs, necrophilia, voyeurism and a dose of Greek psychedelia, this film has it all. One of the legendary exploitation films of the early 1970s now makes its US home video debut in a brand new print, complete and uncut. dvd cover - wife killerTHE WIFE KILLER Penniless playboy Captain Jim is in hock to his rich older wife, Helen. She has even bought him the fancy yacht that now bears his name. But Jim does not want to be Helen’s toy boy any more. He wants to marry his lover, Laura. He pays a psychopathic killer of women to murder Helen so that he will inherit his wife’s millions. But the psycho killer has his own plans. Suspecting Jim will double cross him, he engineers a complex scheme that will give him the upper hand. Very much in the style of the violent and baroque "Giallo" thrillers from 1970s Italy, The Wife Killer is a twisted, shocking and brutal exploration of the devious male psyche. Previously only released to cinemas in a cut version, this is the first official DVD release of the film in the U.S., complete and uncensored.
We're excited for these, as you can tell (seriously: when was the last time we ran an unedited press release?). Hop on that pre-order and take a look at what else Mondo Macabro has to offer. I recommend snagging Don't Open 'Til Christmas while you're at it.

Lawrence Field Day Fest 2015, Night Three

Posted in live music, local, metal, punk, reviews on June 28th, 2015 by Nick – 1 Comment
lfdf header The third and final night of 2015's Lawrence Field Day Fest kicked off hard. It was pushed back half an hour, but Eyes of Iolite wasted no time in getting things ripping. "The Thing" kicked it off, and for the rest of their set, it was fuzzed-out blast after blast. Sludge? Doom? Whatever you want to call it, this trio knows how to deliver metal. It's so fucking heavy, with a volume and low end that makes it hard to even breathe. There's no moshing to this: just let the band lead the assault. [gallery ids="18498,18499,18500"] My friend and former roommate has been playing drums for the People's Punk Band for months now, and he's been talking them up as a band I'd love. I tend to worry about hyperbole such as that, because it's usually unwarranted , but in this case, he was dead right. Big, chunky riffs, and that weird harmonic vocal thing that Turbonegro or Death By Stereo does? Sold. Fucking sold. It's punk 'n' roll, and my only complaint was carrying around a goddamn camera bag, because this is the sort music to which you throw yourself around with wild abandon. Doing that with a grand of electronic equipment is dumb -- although, in this case, tempting. [gallery ids="18512,18511,18510,18509,18508,18507"] It's basically what happened halfway into the Federation of Horsepower's set. The rock 'n' roll train that this five-piece rides is hard to avoid becoming a passenger on, and when they do something like cover Cocknoose's "All Jacked Up," what the hell am I supposed to do? Not scream along like a maniac? Obviously not. This is as near as I get to attending church, so I better testify while the service is going on. Exaggeration aside, they've been a favorite for over a decade now, and any chance to see them rock out in my town is a welcome one. That goes doubly true for a show like last night's, where in addition to 100% rock 'n' roll power, frontman Gregg Todt wandered outside and across the street with his wireless pickup, playing guitar in the middle of a goddamn crosswalk. That, my friends, is showmanship. [gallery ids="18501,18502,18503,18504,18505,18506"] I saw Gnarly Davidson, but only about a song or two. It was, as to be expected, very loud, the band set up on the floor and blazing through their setlist. Every show from these three makes me wonder whether or not they have to chug water beforeheand, because thet have to be getting some sort of workout from their performances. They put their fucking all into their music. Psychic Heat proceeded to rock out the Jackpot afterward. It's odd, because the band plays out so often, I don't feel the need to see them as much as I have the opportunity to do so. That means that every set I catch is light years ahead of the one previous. Saturday night's performance was frighteningly tight garage psychedelia, and their crowd was all head-shaking, hip-moving enthusiasm. Bonus: Kliph Scurlock was filling in on drums, absolutely murdering the kit, and comedian Barry Crimmins (star of the new Bobcat Goldthwait doc, Call Me Lucky) was right up front. It was amazing, and the perfect end to three days of rock insanity. [gallery ids="18513,18514,18515,18516,18517"]

Lawrence Field Day Fest 2015, Night Two

Posted in live music, local, metal, punk on June 27th, 2015 by Nick – 1 Comment
lfdf header My first band of the second night was a muscular rock 'n' roll quartet. It looks like I'm going for a theme, huh? Actually, Kansas City's Admiral of the Red would pair nicely with the Vedettes. The KC act definitely leans more toward modern rock in their sound, but definitely knows how to lock in to more than just shredding and screaming. There's a punk verve and melodic hook to what they do, and while it's not earth-shattering in terms of novelty, it's certainly worth watching. [gallery ids="18475,18474,18473"] Having seen the Josh Berwanger Band probably more than any other active local band, I think I know what's what. The lineup Friday night is the one I really wish would be the "official" one. I know Heidi Gluck has her own solo career, but goddamn if Berwanger isn't better with her guitar and vocals providing counterpart and harmonies. Even something like "Enemies," where the vocal component is pretty simple, just results in much more going on. The harmonies are richer, the guitars are fuller, and it's nigh-impossible not to start singing along. A bonus of last night's set was the band being a little more rough and tumble in their playing. It was more garage, less stadium, and it made me happy to see the foursome get a little scrappy. Downside to their set: the crowd grew during it, but it was due to people wandering in from the free Split Lip Rayfield show down the street. As soon as it ended, the club FILLED, but with loud assholes ignoring the band onstage. Upside: "Mary" was renamed "Theresa" for the first verse, and the band won over 20 drunk kids instantly. [gallery ids="18476,18477,18478,18479,18480,18481"] Afterward, I attempted to see David Hasselhoff on Acid at the Taproom, but things were nearly an hour behind, so it was more just chatting with folks, using the bathroom, and getting down to the Replay for Sister Rat. The Lawrence trio has been playing a lot more shows in recent months, and it's really helped. The doom punks have always been a favorite of mine, but the stage presence they've gained leads to shows which are a lot less nerve-wracking in terms of tension. They look like they're enjoying themselves now, rather than white-knuckling it through their set. The songs are tighter, and I love watching these brash women fucking kick ass. Songs like "Revolutions" and "Valhalla" are still amazing, but other songs manage to grab people who aren't already fans, and that's fucking rad to watch. "It's Okay" has gone from a feedback-soaked mess to a screaming declaration of hope. Sister Rat may now be the only band which has successfully married doom and pop-punk, and watching them pull it off every time brings me a joy I can't put into words. [gallery ids="18493,18492,18491,18490,18489,18488"] KCMO's Sedlec Ossuary ended my night on a fully-destructive note. The death metal act drew a crowd of their own who head-banged the ever-loving fuck out of the Replay. The bar hasn't seen a band like this in some time, and it needed it. The energy level was through the roof. Double kicks, breakdowns, and pummeling bass combined with melodic riffing to just destroy. Those vocals, too: raspy screams that switched to guttural roars on a dime. The only downside is that stuffing a band with two guitarists and a full metal drum kit onto that little Replay stage meant there wasn't a lot of room for the band to move. Maybe next time I see them, I can catch them on a stage where they have room to strut. [gallery ids="18487,18486,18485,18484,18483,18482"]

Lawrence Field Day Fest 2015, Night One

Posted in live music, local, reviews, rock 'n' roll on June 26th, 2015 by Nick – 2 Comments
lfdf header Night one of the 2015 Lawrence Field Day Fest was a bit lighter than I would've liked, but plans to see more bands were sidetracked by attending a screening of the documentary, The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead, followed by a performance from Mike Watt and the Missing Men. I'd intended to skip Watt's performance, but then he played a dozen Clash songs and the Minutemen's "Bob Dylan Wrote Protest Songs," and next thing you know, I'm running terribly behind. That said, I did get to see three great bands, and I'm happy I was able to see them. I started the night with newly-minted Lawrence quartet, the Vedettes. Equal parts blues, mod, and soul, the Vedettes are absolutely devastating. They remind me of late '60s / early '70s rock 'n' roll, but specifically the post-Blue Cheer stuff that's being referred to these days as heavy psych or bonehead crushers. The bass on the Vedettes' songs emphasizes the groove, and it's just dirty. Something about all of this makes me want to get in a car and drive very, very fast -- preferably to get somewhere I might have enthusiastic sex. Like I said: DIRTY. [gallery ids="18466,18467,18468"] The Ovaries-eez are the absolute exact opposite. They're quiet, beautiful folk, with harmonies for days. Just the most dreamy sort of music, very well-suited for a hot, muggy summer weeknight. The group's vocal dynamics are the highlight, here, demonstrating a kind of singing that hearkens all the way back to ... forever ago, making the Ovaries-eez a band completely timeless. [gallery ids="18460,18461,18462"] The Sugar Britches (or at least 3/4 of them) complimented the Ovaries-eez nicely. They were more upbeat, certainly more profane, but continued the harmonies. Their bluegrass stylings have been getting them gigs all over town lately, and it's easy to see why: witty, catchy numbers loaded with prfanity will always go down nicely in these parts. They're a little bigger than the Ovaries-eez, in terms of sound, but the paring still worked out wonderfully. It's great to see two bands of women making music, playing back-to-back. Empowering and entertaining pairings like this make Field Day Fest more than another bunch of angry dude bands playing one after the other, and it's so appreciated. [gallery ids="18463,18465,18464"] More information about Lawrence Field Day Fest can be found here.

Celebrity Art Party with Jim Mahfood

Posted in art, comics, interview, video on June 26th, 2015 by Nick – 3 Comments
Celebrity Art Party is a semi-occurring feature, wherein the artists we enjoy interpret their favorite song. This installment features one of our favorite artists, Jim Mahfood (aka Food One), who will descend upon Lawrence this weekend for a variety of activities surrounding The Free State Festival. Mahfood's work has paired him with everyone from Colt 45 to Ziggy Marley. Given his deep involvement with music, we're proud to have him for this series. Jim Mahfood - Beastie Boys 'B-Boy Bouillabaisse' web Artist: Beastie Boys Song: "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" Version of song (live, album, remix, etc.): Paul's Boutique LP [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKuYFexR_pg[/embed] Why this song? There's no way I have an all-time "favorite song." I've been collecting/obsessing over music since I was 10 yrs old, so to narrow it down to just one would be impossible. But this track comes pretty close. It was masterminded by MCA (rip), the Dust Brothers, and Matt Dike. With a line-up like that you can't go wrong. The song is a ridiculous, over the top hip hop/funk medley masterpiece, composed of 8 different shorter songs. It's over 12 minutes long. It represents the absolute pinnacle in music sampling. Nothing done since even comes close. When did you first hear it? 1990. How does music such as this inspire you in your work? It reminds me that anything is possible, the sky is the limit, and to do whatever you want as an artist. Take it out as far as you can, be completely bugged out and funky. Have a sense of humor. How has this song changed for you since you first heard it? I have a much better understanding and deeper appreciation for the samples and the pop culture references the older I get. When I was younger I sort of didn't know what they were talking about, I just thought it was an ill track. What upcoming projects do you have? Miami Vice: Remix comic book series from Lion Forge/IDW (four issues out so far, issue 5 drops on July 1!). Howard the Human comic book from Marvel Comics (written by Skottie Young!) drops on August 5! And we just finished the live action Grrl Scouts Pilot for New Form Digital which everyone can check out here: [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8Gt4Jxn3lk[/embed] Jim Mahfood will be in Lawrence all this weekend. He appears at Astrokitty Comics from 5-7:00pm on Saturday, June 27. On Sunday, June 28, at 2:00pm, he'll be part of a panel with Greg Smallwood and Jai Nitz, talking about "All Ages, All Inclusive Comics." Details on attending that can be found here. He'll perform a live art jam for the closing ceremonies and film awards portion of the Free State Festival at the Lawrence Arts Center on Sunday at 5:30pm, and you can find details about there here. For more information, follow Jim Mahfood on Twitter @JimMahfood, or hit up his website.

Podcast #135, “Cinematic”

Posted in movies, podcast on June 22nd, 2015 by Nick – 1 Comment
Cinema Paradiso We once again delve into the world of film scores, Italo disco, synth, and progressive rock with this installment of the podcast. Given that it's been so hot, movies have been our primary source of entertainment. When it's hot, air conditioning and minimizing physical activity go hand in hand. Thus, you get this mix of music, perfect for a day in the AC or a hot night out. Podcast #135, "Cinematic" Bernard Herrmann, "Prelude" (The Day the Earth Stood Still) Will Bates, "Going Clear" (Going Clear soundtrack) The Dust Brothers, "Chemical Burn" (Fight Club soundtrack) Afrika Bambaataa & Family, "Bambaataa's Theme (Assault of Precinct 13)" (Beware (The Funk Is Everywhere)) Irving Force, "Backalley Creepers 2" (Carpenter) --- Federale, "Sarcophagus" (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night soundtrack) The Daily Flash, "Theme" (Pit Stop soundtrack) Joe Strummer, "Storm In A D-Cup" (When Pigs Fly soundtrack) Gianni Giublena Rosacroce, "Incubo sulla città contaminata" (Nostra Signora Delle Tenebre) Brian May, "Hot & Ready" (Turkey Shoot soundtrack) --- Disasterpeace, "Title" (It Follows soundtrack) Goblin Rebirth, "Mysterium" (Goblin Rebirth) David Arnold & Michael Price, "How It Was Done" (Sherlock) Repeated Viewing, "Three Sisters (Umberto Remix)" (Three Sisters soundtrack) Tangerine Dream, "Stratosfear" (Stratosfear)

Podcast #134, “Melting”

Posted in podcast on June 8th, 2015 by Nick – 2 Comments
Incredible Melting Man 39 It's entirely possible this is the first podcast I've ever opened with the phrase "hot as balls," but it's not likely to be the last. My AC was out as I recorded this, and even in the usually pleasant confines of the Nuthouse basement, things were muggy as fuck. So, please enjoy this slowed-down summery jams, as I attempt to never move ever again. Podcast #134, "Melting" Greenhouse Culture & CS Luxem, "Song to the Cicadas" (digital) RAC featuring Nate Hendricks, "Back of the Car" (digital) Jamie XX, "Gosh" (In Colour) --- Mitch Murder, "Enter the Fury" (Kung Fury soundtrack) Bernard Fevre, "Earth Message" (Cosmos 2043) The Wonderland Philharmonic, "Dune" (Shogun Assassin soundtrack) --- Ahmad, "Back in The Day" (Ahmad) Fishbone, "Slow Bus Movin' (Howard Beach Party)" (Truth & Soul) Primal Scream, "Loaded" (The World's End soundtrack) --- T.Rex, "Mambo Sun" (Electric Warrior) Beastie Boys, "Dub the Mic" (The Sounds of Science) Ocote Soul Sounds, "Tu Fin, Mi Comienzo" (Coconut Rock) --- Dr. John, "Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya" (Gris Gris) DIIV, "Air Conditioning" (Oshin) Beach House, "Zebra" (Teen Dream)

Celebrity Art Party with Doug Cole

Posted in art, interview, rock 'n' roll on June 1st, 2015 by Nick – 1 Comment
Celebrity Art Party is a semi-occurring feature, wherein the artists we enjoy interpret their favorite song. This installment features Doug Cole. Cole is singer and guitarist for Kansas City's own Death Valley Wolfriders, as well as the writer and artist for the comic Mortimer & The Dethwulfs, which appears monthly in American Roots Magazine, as well as in comic book form at Wolfrider gigs. A musician who writes a comic about a band -- of course we are happy to have him for this (very) occasional series. Doug Cole - KISS 'Detroit Rock City' web Song title: "Detroit Rock City" Artist: KISS Version of song (live, album, remix, etc.): Regular album version from Destroyer [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R5J6dvpujs[/embed] Why this song? My 'favorite song' changes daily, so I chose a song that is extremely influential to me. This song and band have had a major impact on me ever since the first time I discovered them. When did you first hear it? My exact age at the time is difficult to pinpoint, but I feel that I was about 7 years old, which was 3 years after the album containing this song was released. I have an cousin who is a few years older than me, and he had some records and a player in his basement. I was at his house one day, going through his records, and I came across KISS' Destroyer. The album cover itself instantly blew me away. I dropped the needle on it, and as soon as the guitar kicked in on "Detroit Rock City," I was hooked. The lead guitar lines haunted me for weeks. To this day, it remains one of my favorite pieces of music. How does music such as this inspire you in your work? The way that KISS mixed that kind of comic book imagery with badass rock & roll is a perfect combination of my two favorite worlds. It's like having your favorite superheroes playing in your favorite band. That kind of music and imagery really shaped my world, and have a tremendous effect on both the kind of music that I play, and the way that I draw. Ace Frehley, and his guitar work in that song, is the reason that I picked up a guitar in the first place. I love rock & roll music, and I love looking at cartoon/comic book images. KISS gives me both in one package. How has this song changed for you since you first heard it? Musically, it still has the same effect on me. Whenever I hear it, (and any other KISS record, for that matter), the volume goes to 11, and I'm right back to where I was the first time I heard it. The biggest difference is now knowing the personalities and history behind the makeup and the music, and so some of the magic is lost. But, despite all of my comrades who just don't understand the attraction to this band, they will forever remain my favorite, and the most influential, band in my life. What upcoming projects do you have? Death Valley Wolfriders are always hitting it hard, playing locally and regionally as often as we are able. We just released the album Play For Blood in February, and are currently writing material for the follow up. The Mortimer & The Dethwulfs comic is an ongoing project that will hopefully continue to develop into bigger & badder things. You can find more information about Mortimer and the Dethwulfs at the comic's Facebook page and hear music from the Death Valley Wolfriders on Bandcamp.