Ja Rule has plans for to Fyre up another music festival. Seriously.

Ja Rule, who claims he hasn't watched either of the Fyre festival documentaries, is ready to rise like a phoenix from the, er, flames:

"(Fyre is) the most iconiq festival that never was," he says. "So I have plans to create the iconic music festival." Read the rest

To do on Sunday in NYC: launch party for the Rats of New York's new album

NYC punk band The New York Rats is launching their new album on Sunday: it's a heavy vinyl LP with amazing sleeve art by Andrea Sicco; the album itself is Ramones-y, Husker-Du-ish uptempo punk that I've had on heavy rotation all week: it's 7:30PM on at Our Wicked Lady, 153 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn. Read the rest

Reminder: Ryan Adams and Bryan Adams are not same guy

One letter different, but a world apart. Read the rest

Weezer's video for "Take On Me" cover stars Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard and his band Calpurnia

The video for Weezer's cover of A-ha's "Take On Me" stars Calpurnia, the rather wonderful indie rock band fronted by Finn Wolfhard who plays Mike on Stranger Things. The song is included on Weezer's new "Teal Album," a collection of 1980s cover songs including their acclaimed version of Toto's "Africa."

And just for kicks, here's Calpurnia's "Greyhound":

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"Bohemian Rhapsody" cut together from single guitar notes plucked with chopsticks

Ralph Jay Triumfo's official title for this piece is "1% Guitar Skills 9% Chopsticks Skills 90% Editing Skills."

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On learning that one is not the next big thing

Mike Pace had a decent, signed journeyman band but, at 40, has realized that he'll never be the rock star he dreamed of becoming. Nonetheless, he's at a creative peak; a powerful change of perspective comes when reality, and age, are acknowledged.

Deep down I care more about my work than anyone else ever will, and that’ll inevitably lead to temporary disappointment when I don’t get the reaction I want, but that’s a good thing. You want to care deeply about what you create, even if it’s hard to square the response or lack thereof, regardless of what stage of your career you’re at. Ultimately that response is only part of the overall experience of making music and it’s one I can’t control. I again remind myself why I do this in the first place: I love the feeling that comes with making music, even if it’s in my basement now after the kids have gone down and not onstage at a Mexican restaurant in Saskatoon on some godforsaken tour across Western Canada.

The band split up just before the social media era; I can't help but suspect that by now it would have had a hit record and made stars of Pace and the rest. And they'd be completely miserable, because being a professional rock star in your 40s is hell.

Instead, solo projects. Read the rest

Watch Lucille Ball demo a 1939 ancestor of the "talk box" famously used by Peter Frampton

In this 1939 newsreel, the great Lucille Ball demonstrates the Sonovox, a device that brings amplified sound effects from vinyl records into the throat where the tongue and lips modulate it. Here's the patent for the Sonovox, invented by Gilbert Wright and used in TV advertisements, the movie Dumbo (1941) for Casey Junior the train's voice, and the "days of the week" radio jingle that was included on The Who Sell Out (1967).

Of course the Sonovox begat the "talk box" that routes an amplified instrument's sound from a small speaker into the musician's mouth via a rubber tube so they can shape the tone as if they're speaking. In the rock arena, Peter Frampton made the talk box famous on the track "Do You Feel Like We Do" (1973).

More on all this in my post last year featuring Pete Drake's beautiful pedal steel "talk box" tune "Forever" from 1963, long before Peter Frampton showed us the way.

(via r/ObscureMedia) Read the rest

THE BUREAU: Part Twelve, "Conclusion" — with My Experience Giving Up Alcohol (and Kickstarter for a Print Copy)

The Bureau concludes! — with a summoning of The President and a performance of "Ignore Him (The More You Say His Name)" by the Aloha Aryan Fellows.

Willie Nelson's new hemp coffee

Following on Willie Nelson's "Willie's Reserve" cannabis brand, the music icon and weed enthusiast has launched the new Willie’s Remedy line of CBD-infused health and wellness products, starting with coffee. From Rolling Stone:

According to a release, Nelson’s coffee is a medium-dark whole-bean blend with “flavor notes of cherry and cocoa.” Each 8 oz. cup contains 7 mg. of hemp-derived CDB.

Nelson’s wife Annie is overseeing the Willie’s Remedy brand and has plans to release other products in the coming year, including topicals and confections. “The Willie’s Remedy line is a purposeful departure from Willie’s Reserve,” said Annie Nelson. “It’s not about getting high, but it’s still all about Willie and the benefits we believe cannabis has to offer.”

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Bob Mould's catchy new music video about surveillance and paranoia

Punk legend and Boing Boing pal Bob Mould's new album Sunshine Rock is out this Friday, February 8. To tide you over, enjoy Bob's funny-'cause-it's-true music video for the track "Lost Faith."

"There's a hint of migration, a dash of border security and a whisper of government surveillance, climaxing across the multicolored canvas of an abandoned NSA listening station perched atop the highest hill in Berlin," Bob told NPR. "But at the end of the day, it's a high-end music video for a catchy, inspirational, uplifting pop song."

Directed and filmed by Philipp Virus; Filmed and edited by Mario Bergmann; Treatment by Bob Mould. Read the rest

A brief history of guitar distortion

Over at Riff Magazine, my old pal David Gill looks back at the birth of distortion and its position as "central to rock and roll as the sex and the drugs." From Riff:

In March 1951, a 19-year-old Ike Turner was recording his saxophonist Jackie Breston’s song “Rocket 88,” an ode to the Oldsmobile 88 (and later inspiration for Public Enemy’s “You’re Gonna Get Yours”). (Listen above.) Turner played his guitar loud, so loud, in fact, that his amplifier couldn’t handle it. The resulting distortion is the stuff of legend in the fable of rock and roll, giving voice to the intensity of the times.

The 1950s in America were the best of times and the worst of times. A victory in World War II and the spoils that came with it led to a baby boom, sprawling suburbia, rising standards of living, and a new thriving middle class, while at the same time racism, sexism and economic exploitation lingered in this landscape of opportunity. America also clung to its puritanical origins, cultivating a Victoria-era disdain for exuberance and physicality into a repressed and buttoned-down society that mocked, scorned and punished deviation from the norm.

As the 1950s progressed, the rising wave of progressive hedonism embodied by the new musical phenomenon of rock and roll crashed on the limitations of American culture. That tension is evident in Turner’s guitar tones, in its refusal to obey or to conform.

"Professor Music: Like ‘This is Spinal Tap,’ this column goes to 11" (Riff)

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Archival music collection from June Chikuma, composer of the "Bomberman" videogame soundtracks

June Chikuma is the Japanese composer behind the beloved soundtracks to Nintendo’s Bomberman series and countless other videogame, TV, and film scores. Now, Chikuma's 1986 album "Divertimento" has been expanded into a new edition titled Les Archives, available from the Freedom To Spend label. The vinyl edition of Les Archives also includes a limited 7" with tunes from the era that didn't make the original Divertimento release. The above video, "June Rebuilds," was directed by Amanda Kramer and features the track "Broadcast Profanity Delay" from Les Archives. From the release announcement:

While Freedom To Spend’s reinvented edition bares little visual evidence of its origins in the composer’s name, title, or sleeve design, the album, a whooping gonzo of synthesizers, samplers, drum machines, and a mysterious string quartet, remains as vibrant now as it did when released on Toru Hatano’s Picture Label as Divertimento in 1986. In fact, the music of Les Archives now glows with a different purpose; one that revises the past while maintaining, and finally elevating, its hidden influence.

A woman of multiple disciplines and identities, June Chikuma (竹間 淳, Chikuma Jun) has composed for TV, film, and video games over the past thirty plus years. Her proto-techno and drum and bass soundtracks for Nintendo’s Bomberman franchise in the 80s and 90s is an oeuvre unto itself. In more recent years her musical focus has turned toward classic Arabic and Egyptian music. Chikuma studies Arabic nay, playing and performing with Le Club Bachraf ensemble. In a melding of June’s contrasting, colorful worlds, Le Club Bachraf composed part of the original score for the 2007 video game Sonic and The Secret Rings.

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Production company posts funny remix after rapper refuses to pay for music video

Sheck Wes, the "Mo Bamba" guy, didn't like a new music video and stiffed the production company, so they posted a funny remix. "Got a gun, but it's just a paint ball gun" approaches Weird Al-level good. Read the rest

Mallwave: nostalgic synth music for imaginary and abandoned shopping centers

Mallwave is a microgenre of bedroom electronic music and smooth jazz meant to evoke nostalgia for the vibrant mall scenes of the 1980s and 1990s that many of the music's composers are too young to have experienced or at least remember.

Think of Mallwave as a hauntological soundtrack for an Orange Julius-fueled consumer culture where Suncoast, Merry-Go-Round, and Spencer Gifts anchored suburban reality. (Or, in the case of some of the moodier tracks, the kind of muzak that might play in your mind as you wander an abandoned mall in a Ballardian trance.)

From Hussein Kesvanio's feature in MEL:

“The nostalgia is so real you can cry and wish you went back in time,” reads one comment underneath the video “Neon Wave Mall (Vapor Mix).” “I feel a certain sense of… familiarity watching this footage. Almost like I myself have set foot in these places,” adds a viewer of “Corp Palm Mall.” Under the same video, another person opines: “Why wasn’t I born in this time? This video makes me realize how much things were not as advanced as we have now but it was better. I could be wrong, but sometimes I feel like living around the ‘90s sounds fun. Lifestyle is different, mindset is different and not as much laziness.”

According to writer Joe Koenig, this kind of feeling — a “nostalgia for a past you’ve never known” — is called anemoia. In his ongoing project, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, Koenig describes it as “the desire to wade into the blurred-edge sepia haze that hangs in the air between people who leer stoically into this dusty and dangerous future.”

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Bassoon Tracker: an Amiga-style music tracker on the web

For all the web's power, getting Javascript to time multitracked sample playback with the bare-metal precision of an Amiga-era tracking app is no mean feat. But Steffest's Bassoon Tracker pulls it off with style, and can even load your old MOD files. It looks the part, too, with chunky sci-fi fonts and linear gradients galore.

Plays and edits Amiga Mod files and FastTracker XM files. If you have ever heard of Protracker or Fasttracker, then you know the drill, if not, then you are probably too young :-)

It needs a modern browser that supports WebAudio. It's tested to work on Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Chrome on Android, mobile Safari and the Samsung Android Browser. It works best in Chrome.

Sadly it doesn't load Impulse Tracker modules, so you are today spared having to listen to my teenage masterpieces. The code's on Github. Read the rest

Siri accompanied by pen drumming sounds like minimalist experimental music

Of the videos like this one showing people drumming along as Siri recites 1 trillion to the tenth power, the particular variation below really reminds me of a minimalist composition by Laurie Anderson or Steve Reich. The toothbrush in the background also adds a bit of dada weirdness to the performance.

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Skull microphone

Von Erickson Laboratories created this skull microphone, which the press release compares to the Shure 55. It's $375 and made in bright chrome, dark chrome, gunmetal, white and orange, but the chrome models are sold out. Read the rest

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