"When I was growing up the standard cool kid at my high school was somebody who’d listen to the Dave Matthews Band and wear a North Face fleece and a hemp necklace and khaki pants…"
EZRA KOENIG perfectly describes the bad influences on him and his band, Vampire Weekend.

BEYONCE GETS TASTE OF ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME?

It is a frightening thought, but there is already talk of Beyoncé and her entrance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  How can that be? Simple: if we follow the current prerequisites for gaining entrance, you just have to make music-rock or not, and you have your ticket. 

According to the museum’s curator Meredith Rutledge-Borger, it is time that Mrs. Z took her place amongst the greats; 

"We felt that Beyoncé really needed to take her rightful place alongside Aretha Franklin and the Supremes and Janis Joplin.  Rock & roll has an intergenerational appeal, and we want to make sure we’re hitting all the right notes and keeping up with what’s happening today and what’s legendary today."

The only problem with her logic is that if we’re “hitting all the right notes" and worse, keeping up with "what’s legendary today"  then that means the likes of Robin Thicke or Miley Cyrus should be in the RRHOF because they were pretty hot stuff last week or so.  It is precisely this warped way of thinking which is allowing Beyoncé to get a preview into the RRHOF by having her stage wear featured in the worrisome ‘Right Here, Right Now' themed exhibition which opens next week.

The new exhibit features the legendary (and non-rock)  acts of these next few months by showcasing items from Bruno Mars, Rihanna and Lady Gaga…as well as Beyoncé.  Yes, you can now stare at her recent Super Bowl costume up close and personal.

Where are the rock and roll people?

The lines have been blurred, the mix diluted and the music homogenized.  There are no real rock and roll stars anymore, and we have to keep looking backwards for inspiration and enjoyment. Scary, but the deadline is already being eyed for Beyoncé, with her qualifying in 2022 as a member of Destiny’s Child, or in her own right 5 years later in 2027.  But wait-then she won’t be “legendary today"  will she?

JOHNNY WINTER DEAD AT 70

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Johnny Winter was a long way from home when he passed away last night in Switzerland.  He had played a gig in France two days before, and was found dead in hotel room just outside of Zurich.  There is yet an official ruling, but earlier indicators point to his long standing health issues as the cause. Johnny was 70 years old.

Johnny Winter was born in Beaumont, a town in south east Texas in 1944.  His parents encouraged him and his brother to pursue their musical talents, and they were only kids when they began playing covers of Everly Brothers songs to crowds in their hometown.  Growing up, Johnny had seen several of the great bluesman play live, and it really struck him deeply.  At 15, he went to Houston and recorded his first record.

1968 was when everything changed for Johnny.  He was 24 years old and had just completed recording his debut album.  In New York he was asked to get up and jam with Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield, in which he did a storming rendition of B. B. King’s “It’s My Own Fault”. It blew the crowd away as well as heads of Columbia Records who were there that night.  As legend has it, they rushed to sign the young blues playing albino for a record setting advance of $600,000.  Some writers from Rolling Stone were also there that night, and immediately wrote that he was the hottest thing alive, aside from Janis Joplin.  Later that year, Johnny would be performing at Woodstock, and took on his brother Edgar as a full time band member.

As the 70’s came around, Johnny started a new band with Rick Derringer.  Just as things started to heat up he fell into heroin addiction and all went off course.  After a few years lost, Winter kicked the habit and returned with his aptly titled album, ‘Still Alive and Well’.  This kick-started a new life for Winter who continued to record and gain fame throughout the 70’s, eventually leading up to his chance to produce his hero, B.B. King in 1977.  As a duo, it would prove to be a highpoint for them both.  It brought Waters the biggest fame of his career and would earn them both Grammy Awards for their combined efforts.  Johnny was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1988.

 A recent interview had Johnny stating;

I think about legacy a lot.  Hopefully at the end of the day they say I was a good bluesman.  That’s all I want.

Johnny had just released a career spanning, four disc box set, ‘True to the Blues’ and was prepping to tour behind his newest album, ‘Step Back’.  The album was set to be a return to the rough blues style which made him famous, and he was playing with friends and peers such as Brian Setzer, Eric Clapton,  Joe Perry and Billy Gibbons.  The album is due out at the beginning of September.

It is a sad day for Texas music, and very sad day for the blues indeed.

IMAGINE: JOHN LENNON A TOP DOUCHEBAG

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LA Weekly published their list of the Top 10 Classic Rock Douchebags this week and although we agree with most of the candidates, we question the credibility of any music journalist who carelessly uses the misnomer of classic rock, especially when used preceding the adolescent term, “douchebag”.

According to the article, the one attribute that all candidates share was their ability to have “screwed up rock n’ roll, big time”. What is really interesting to The ‘Snobs is that 9 of the Top 10 were all firmly rooted in the 60’s.  5 of the Top 10 are still lauded as icons, and counter-culture heroes.

The Snobs took the liberty to immediately deduct on these simple facts that the whole 60’s, hippy thing was a worthless sham. Yes, that means if you worship these crusty anti-war, anti-establishment heroes, chances are your idol has qualified for one of rock’s top douchebags.  Enough of our take, let’s see who LA Weekly chose!

Freebasing meisterdeadhead Jerry Garcia pulled up the rear, in last lace.  Don’t know much about his qualifications as “douchebag”, but we would wholeheartedly say that he was useless.  Never got the ‘Dead, and if being a counterculture rebel gets you an ice cream named after you…well, kinda sums it up don’t it?  Bob Dylan makes #9 almost based purely on him being a plagiarist.  They used Joni Mitchell’s quote of Dylan being a fake to put it all in concrete.  John Fogerty gets #8.  We have no problem with John, although he could improve his taste in casual shirts.  Lou Reed is labeled as a “chronic dullard” and takes the number seven position.  The ‘Snobs agree that Lou may be an acquired taste, but for all his depressive moaning, he did find some happiness with his late wife Laurie Anderson.  As for the Velvets, completely overrated.  David Crosby…what the…he gets #6.  Who cares about him anyway?

The Top five has some really big contenders, surely to incite countless debates.  The Boss, Brooooce, or Mr. Sprinsteen, sits in at fifth place.  He gets tagged as a “lifeless groaner” that is “overheated and overinflated”.  We think Prefab Sprout summed up Bruce best with their fantastic “Cars & Girls”.  (His Jersey obsession is no worse than The Kink’s overt Englishness though-both should be dispersed in small quantities).

No arguing the fact that John Lennon made the list.  We could not agree more with the sentiment of him being “a second-rate pop hack”. He received his carte-blanch iconic status the day he was gunned down in NYC.  Had he lived out his days, no doubt he would have proved to be quite an embarrassment.  The author should have looked a bit closer at his lyrics too, which are appalling with his petty rhyme schemes.  The ‘Snobs are surprised he only placed fourth, and not be higher up.  Phil Spector pulls in at #3 and Carlos Santana one spot closer.  Both are a complete waste of time.

The crown goes to Frank Zappa for being the ultimate classic rock douchebag.  Aside from his experimental non-rock and roll he peddled, the author was quite clear stating, “Zappa was really just an overstimulated, unfocused megalomaniac who wanted to come off as smarter than you.”  His elitism makes him king of the A-holes.

Once again, it is safe to say that your anti-war, anti-government hero is nothing more than a smug, self-serving douche.

STREAM LA ROUX’S NEW LP

Trouble In Paradise' is due to be released next week, but for now you can stream the whole thing over at La Roux’s new website.

It is a bit hard to believe, but it has been 5 years since La Roux’s debut album.  A quick listen to the stream places this new one as hot contender for album of the summer.  Nine tunes of pure pop brilliance make this a definite must have when it is finally released.  Don’t expect the same 80’s style electro tunes either, Elly has really taken things a step further and broaden her scope as a song writer.  This is paradise on a black platter!

Stream to the lp here.

TUPAC’S DISASTROUS BROADWAY SHOW CANCELLED

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Nothing says true gansta like turning your life and music into a Broadway musical, so why not apply it to gangsta icon Tupac Shakur and see how that bolsters his legacy?  No.  It is a stupid idea, and so it is that Broadway’s first hip hop musical is a disastrous failure.  No one cares about his name up in lights, and surely no one gives a damn about a Broadway stage production about his work. ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me' is a certified failure and not even two months into its run is being shut down due to poor attendance.

The Tupac musical has become the laughing stock of Broadway, if anyone will even pay attention to it.  It’s lackluster draw has caused the production to be the cheapest ticket on Broadway (under $40) and still they cannot even get a full house.  The idea that any artist or any album can become a Broadway production is a fantasy to begin with.  Some things, and yes, some artists, should just not be taken to that level.  It won’t translate and it shouldn’t.  Truth be told, it is a miracle that Green Day even had a go. Broadway’s first hip hop musical was a well deserved disaster.

Rap, on the other hand, is just off the table for these things.  Why try to glamorize street level thugs and their daily lives?  Singing Tupac songs is a bad idea, then putting on a full fledged stage production to really make it shine…what did anyone expect!? This does not sound like a fun night out and definitely not something to take the kids to, even one of the show’s producers had expressed concern that there was “no real demographic” for the show.  The last emblazoned images most people have of the guy is him flipping the bird with some smug look on his face. Not exactly an lasting impression for fun and singing.

For a guy whose reported last words to his rescuers were “F*ck you”, this is a great send off to his legacy.

Suckas!

THE DARKNESS GO MEDIEVAL FOR UPCOMING LP

The Darkness have been keeping to themselves on a tiny island somewhere off the coast of Ireland.  Supposedly, the self -imposed exile has worked wonders with them, as the band seem chuffed with an album’s worth of material they have come up with.  There is something about the location which has inspired them to get back to the rock…not like their first attempt in Ibiza where Dan Hawkins said , "…unfortunately we just sat around in shorts and drank non-alcoholic beer by the pool and ended up writing calypso tunes"

Ireland is different, and it is somewhat primal.  Dan summed it up like this, I can’t tell you what sort of effect the place has had on us. It’s just triggered some of these medieval, Led Zep-style riffs that we’ve been missing for a while.”   He says that all the new material is more akin to the first album, saying it is really an “experimentation in rock”.

The two brothers say that they have an album’s worth of material ready to go.  It is still in demo form, but practically album ready.  The band hope to begin recording the new LP in August, staying in Ireland to keep the medieval vibes flowing.

Change is good and we are changing massively on this next record, sonically and in appearance. Everything is pretty much going out of the window”, Dan promises.

SOUNDCLOUD AIMING FOR MERGER WITH MAJOR LABELS

It could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on which side of the screen you are on.  Soundcloud is currently having backroom talks with the three major record companies, offering them equity in the company before they implement their monetisation plans. They are looking for a buyer, but first must clench an agreement from the big boys to protect their value.

Soundcloud has more than 250 million monthly users and it is said that 12 hours of music is uploaded to the site every minute. Two thirds of all their streaming is done via portable devices. The labels understand the power of Soundcloud and so far have been pretty lenient about filing suit for copyrighted material.  Soundcloud has been taking steps to keep their nose clean too, ruffling the feathers of users in the process, as they have been strong-arming certain tracks they thought may get them in trouble. 

This is a big deal for all parties concerned.  If the labels agree to their proposed 3-5% equity in Soundcloud, then all should be sitting pretty when their attempts to start running ads on the site takes off.  As it stands now, if they all agree, that puts about a $700 million price tag on the company.  If the roll-out goes as planned, once the company hits a proposed revenue point, the labels will start getting their cuts as profits grow.

One thing that the labels are interested in is Soundcloud’s massive data library.  The company does not take this stuff lightly, and have really honed down their classification system and it runs as one would expect a German engineered product to do.  It is all done real time, as soon as content is uploaded to its servers it is immediately classified, broken down and sorted-as well as their unique algorithms make Soundcloud a truly valuable asset. Soundcloud’s mainman Eric Wahlforss boasts that these things make his company unique, offering an experience (and data) that neither Pandora or Spotify can do.

Sounds good…but is it just another “bottom line”  corporate decision? Seems like record companies are solely concerned with profits and data without a care in the world for a more solid product:  the music.

BRIAN MAY AT NASA
So what does guitar whiz and brainiac Brian May do when he’s not saving badgers and doing Queen gigs?  Well, when in Houston, he does what one would expect him to do-hang out with space guys at NASA.
Imagine, for Brian to hang out in mission control and marvel at all the space gadgetry and talk science with nerds is probably the greatest thing he could hope for, and far better than what he will do later in the evening when he plays to an audience chuck full of people who think seeing Brian and Queen is the greatest thing they have ever seen.
One thing we can say for sure is that those three NASA dudes make Brian look far more respectable than being seen on stage with Adam Lambert.  Perhaps he should have them join, Lord knows it would raise the intellectual level of the band astronomically (pardon the pun).

BRIAN MAY AT NASA

So what does guitar whiz and brainiac Brian May do when he’s not saving badgers and doing Queen gigs?  Well, when in Houston, he does what one would expect him to do-hang out with space guys at NASA.

Imagine, for Brian to hang out in mission control and marvel at all the space gadgetry and talk science with nerds is probably the greatest thing he could hope for, and far better than what he will do later in the evening when he plays to an audience chuck full of people who think seeing Brian and Queen is the greatest thing they have ever seen.

One thing we can say for sure is that those three NASA dudes make Brian look far more respectable than being seen on stage with Adam Lambert.  Perhaps he should have them join, Lord knows it would raise the intellectual level of the band astronomically (pardon the pun).

RYUICHI SAKAMOTO TAKES HIATUS AFTER CANCER DIAGNOSIS

Ryuichi Sakamoto had just spent two years prepping for his upcoming performance at the Sapporo International Arts Festival, but after his recent diagnosis of throat cancer, he pulled out of the much anticipated gig as well as his show in Tokyo at the end of the month.

Sakamoto issued a sincere statement on his website, apologizing to the Mayor and citizens of Sapporo and everyone else who were involved in the upcoming projects.

“After much thought and consideration, I have decided to take time off of work in order to concentrate on treating it. I deeply regret causing so many people considerable inconvenience. However, the first wealth is health, and so this bitter decision.”

Sakamoto urged that fans of the upcoming Sapporo Festival still attend, and that it will be a great event in spite of his cancellation.  He also reassured his fans that once healed, he will get back to performing.

Ryuichi was a founding member of the Japanese electronic group, Yellow Magic Orchestra, as well as an Academy Award winning solo artist, composer and actor.  He has worked with Iggy Pop, David Bowie, David Sylvian, Thomas Dolby and more recently with the likes of Alvo Noto and Fennesz. Believe it or not, Nokia had also asked him to compose a ringtone for one of their high-end phones.

Stay up to date with his progress here.

BRAZIL LABELS MICK AS “ANGEL OF DOOM”

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You gotta put the blame somewhere for Brazil’s tragic loss in the World Cup-so Brazil points to  Mick Jagger.  He is the reason Brazil was defeated so badly and sent to the showers.  Mick took his son to the game and look what happened- an historic defeat and a complete embarrassment.  It is the biggest defeat in the semi-finals in the World Cup’s history and the biggest defeat ever dealt to Brazil.  Mick was “the biggest jinx in history” as one TV station cited.

Before the game Brazil fans were seen with Mick cut-outs dressed in Germany’s jerseys.   In Brazil, Mick has earned the reputation for being the Angel of Doom.  He has an unprecedented losing streak when calling for winning teams.  Sine the last World Cup, he has called winners for over 6 games and every single one of the teams he publicly championed lost. That is why when Brazil was pitted against Argentina and Chile, the crowd were parading pictures of Mick dressed in their opponents jerseys…it worked on the previous games but we all know how the cards fell with Germany.  Fans in Brazil are taking it so hard that even Mick’s girlfriend (who is Brazilian) has taken to social media asking fans to stop “bullying” Mick.

Perhaps if fans would have listened to a subtle tone above all of the chaos of the game, they would have heard, “Please allow me to introduce myself…"  The Angel of Doom strikes again.

JESSIE WARE “TOUGH LOVE”

Jessie Ware wrote this new single while spending some time in New York.  She said she wanted to experiment a bit more, and try some different things with her voice and see what she came up with…”Tough Love" is the result.  

The album is due out later this year and will feature contributions by Ed Sheeran among others. This song will officially be released as her lead off single later in August.