Catherine Wheel’s Ferment and Chrome to be re-released on 180-gram vinyl

Catherine Wheel bassist Dave Hawes reports today that their first 2 albums, ‘Ferment’ and ‘Chrome’, will be released on 180-gram vinyl.

This is great news for those who have been trying to acquire either of these out-of-print albums on vinyl in the past decade. They can easily fetch $150 for mint condition copies.

Dave also reports that Cherry Red will NOT be the company handling this re-issue. This is important if you followed the 2010 CD reissues and the quality control issues they had.

Instead, these are being released by Music On Vinyl, a Netherlands company who specializes in 180-gram re-issues, and distributed by Bertus Distributie. If you are thinking of contacting them for more info then don’t, I’ve already tried. I think it’s too early in the process for them to reveal anything as they couldn’t share anything more. If you want to read their faq then that may answer some basic questions.

Their mastering engineer’s experience is listed as:

“Our mastering engineer has 40 years of experience cutting records for many major artists like Michael Jackson, Alan Parsons Project, Santana, Mother Love Bone, Stone Temple Pilots, Faith No More and many more.”

“Which masters do you use?”

“We use the best audio available to cut our records. We receive and use different kinds of masters: analogue tapes, original metal parts, lacquers cut from analogue tapes and high res digital files 192/96khz/24 bit. Music On Vinyl does not use CD’s as masters.”

No release date information has been given yet but I expect it to be a while.


Apple’s newly redesigned Music app is a band aid on a much larger problem

My first article on Medium:

Apple announced yesterday at WWDC that they are redesigning the Apple Music app, “from the ground up.” While it is much needed it isn’t enough.

Apple’s Music app was a mess and was in need of a redesign. It looks like they had too many Cooks in the kitchen, pun intended. It feels to me like the creatives were handcuffed by what their executives wanted. They need to make a music app for the music lover and I think this will be a step closer but still many steps away.


New debut LP from exmagician

Scan The Blue, the new debut LP from exmagician who hails from Belfast is out now on Bella Union. Bella Union is the same label that includes Beach House, Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, The Walkmen, The Flaming Lips, and Wild Nothing.

The exmagician album reminds me of Built To Spill, Modest Mouse, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.


exmagician’s debut album Scan The Blue, released by Bella Union on March 25th, sees longtime collaborators Danny Todd and James Smith looking to the future with new vigour and confidence. The Belfast duo, who have been friends since their teens, have made a multifaceted, sonically adventurous statement that fully justifies their decision to take full control of their work.

Danny and James last broke cover as the songwriters behind Cashier No.9, whose lush, David Holmes-produced album To The Death Of Fun (Bella Union) brought them critical acclaim (Best Album at the NI Music Awards, shortlisted for Best Album of 2011 by the Irish Times), strong radio support from BBC 6 Music, Radio 1 and Radio 2 and a string of sold-out club dates and major festival appearances across the UK and Ireland.

Since then the pair have moved on and returned with something new. Self-written and produced with the help of Rocky O’Reilly (And So I Watch You From Afar, General Fiasco, Mojo Fury), Scan The Blue leaves behind the Laurel Canyon sheen of Cashier No.9 in favour of something louder, fuzzier and grittier, born of a playful attitude, greater confidence and a load of new pedals and synths. “It’s the dirt under the fingernails,” says Danny with a smile.

The musical reinvention is apparent from the very first seconds of opening track Kiss That Wealth Goodbye, which steams in with a filthy riff, the product of a guitar and a synth melding together so you can’t tell which is which – a feature of the album. “It’s like early Beefheart meets Add N To X,” says Danny – a measure of just how broad the duo’s influences are. “David [Holmes] lent me a Korg MS-20 and then I bought one myself. That synth shaped a lot of the record.”

Danny and James’s love for adventurous, psychedelic music from all eras is the current through Scan The Blue, as well as what James terms their “obsession” with detail. There’s Place Your Bets, a hopeful lyric over a shuffling rhythm that gives way to a widescreen coda, all layered synths and a trumpet solo from recurring guest Linley Hamilton. You might hear The Fall or Super Furry Animals on the swinging fuzz-stomp of Wild Eyes; late-period Pavement at their most graceful on the airy, spacious centrepiece Smile To The Gallery; or the heavy-lidded grooves of The Beta Band on Plan Retrieval, one of two songs sung by James, along with the poised ballad Feet Don’t Fail.

It’s a rich record full of sonic surprises, Danny and James’s decision to take the production reins themselves paying off in spades. Yet as James puts it, “The song is king. It has to be bulletproof before we start fucking about with it at all.” These songs have been carefully crafted over some time and only recorded and tweaked once the duo knew they were ready to be heard. Danny compares the process to sculpture, “chipping away at it” until the song is finished.

As for subject matter, don’t expect love songs… “Hope, trust and revenge, they always fall into those three categories,” says Danny. The title track, Scan The Blue, is evidence of that – a gorgeous slice of chamber-pop that brings the record to a satisfyingly hazy close. “It’s now time to drown it out, to move and shift the clouds of doubt away,” Danny sings on the chorus. After so many years of friendship and collaboration, these two songwriter-producers are looking to the future with their eyes firmly set on the horizon.


Autolux releases their 3rd album, Pussy’s Dead

Autolux is back after their typical 6 year hiatus with their third album, Pussy’s Dead.

I like the way it kicks off with ‘Selectallcopy’ which starts off mellow with Greg Edwards and his Lennon-esque voice before some distorted guitar rakes in half way through it.

The likely lead single, the second track Soft Scene, is probably one of the least accessible tracks on the album and is more electronic/experimental. The last minute of it sounds like an extended remix.

Hamster Suite and Junk for Code continue the Radiohead Kid-A sounding vibe which frankly kinda bores me here. Maybe with repeated listens I’ll grow to appreciate them but after a few tries I don’t see me coming back to them much. They both feel like they definitely have something there as Junk for Code has a great chorus with a lot of hope but feels too hushed, and the rest of the song and its verses just seem rambling and unfinished.

Anonymous brings back the Lennon-as-Radiohead sound with Greg slowly singing over a piano with some electronica beats over top.

If I was new to Autolux and this was my first taste, I probably wouldn’t venture far after the first few tracks and it’s the second half of the album that I like most.

After Anonymous it gets kicking with Brainwasher, Reappearing, and Change My Head. They are more my speed and those are the ones with one foot in the Future Perfect world. They show their Beatles and psychedelic rock influences versus the earlier electronica influenced tracks.

Pussy’s Dead is good but this listener has yet to fall in love with this much electronica/experimentalism. I also don’t get the overall album arrangement though maybe that’ll become more obvious, and some songs just don’t feel finished which is an odd thought to have seeing how it’s been 6 years since the previous album, Transit Transit.

In the end I don’t think any of the songs are as strong as the best tracks on Future Perfect. Future Perfect was a favorite from 2004 and easily one of my top 20 from the 2000s.


Pandora Media may be exploring a sale as shares fall

“The Internet radio service surged as much as 14.8 percent Thursday on news of a potential sale before giving up much of the gains after hours in response to disappointing earnings. Even with some expectations of a potential deal now reflected in the stock price, the shares closed roughly 77 percent below their record high, meaning shareholders don’t expect the $1.9 billion company to fetch anything close to a knockout premium.”


Favorite Albums of 2015

These were my most listened to albums that were released in 2015.

Listed in alphabetical order:

Autobahn – Dissemble (post-punk)
Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars (dream pop)
Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us (indie rock)
Crocodiles – Boys (shoegaze)
Deerhunter – Fading Frontier (indie rock, shoegaze)
Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear (indie rock)
Flyying Colours – ROYGBIV (shoegaze)
Foals – What Went Down (indie rock)
Jack Ladder – Playmates (indie rock)
Ought – Sun Coming Down (post-punk)
Swervedriver – I Wasn’t Born To Lose You (shoegaze, alternative rock)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love (indie rock)
Viet Cong – Viet Cong (indie rock, noise pop)

Spotify playlist: favorite indie rock albums of 2015

Autobahn – Dissemble
| Amazon

Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars
| Amazon

Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
| Amazon

Crocodiles – Boys
| Amazon

Deerhunter – Fading Frontier
| Amazon

Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
| Amazon

Flyying Colours – ROYGBIV
| Amazon

Foals – What Went Down
| Amazon

Jack Ladder – Playmates
| Amazon

Ought – Sun Coming Down
| Amazon

Swervedriver – I Wasn’t Born To Lose You
| Amazon

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
| Amazon

Viet Cong – Viet Cong
| Amazon

[best, favorite, top, albums, 2015, indie, indie rock, new wave, post-punk, shoegaze]


San Francisco Bay Area live music venues – seating capacity

This was originally posted here about a decade ago and is due for an update as there have been many changes.

The Hemlock
San Francisco
55 [info]
Hotel Utah
San Francisco
88 [info]
Thee Parkside
San Francisco
Red Devil Lounge
San Francisco
200 [info]
Brick and Mortar
San Francisco
250 [info]
Cafe du Nord
San Francisco
250 [info]
Swedish American Hall
San Francisco
300 [info]
Monarch Club
San Francisco
300 [info]
Elbo Room
San Francisco
300 [info]
Bottom of the Hill
San Francisco
350 [info]
Rickshaw Stop
San Francisco
400 [info]
New Parish
450 [info]
The Independent
San Francisco
500 [info]
The Chapel
San Francisco
500 [info]
San Francisco
500 [info]
Great American Music Hall
San Francisco
600 [info]
Bimbo’s 365
San Francisco
685 [info]
DNA Lounge
San Francisco
800 [info] small room capacity is 300
Herbst Theatre
San Francisco
892 [info]
Palace of Fine Arts
San Francisco
962 [info]
The Mezzanine
San Francisco
1,000 [info]
Regency Grand Ballroom
San Francisco
1,050 [info]
The Fillmore
San Francisco
1,150 [info]
UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall
1,400 [info]
SF Design Concourse
San Francisco
1,600 [info]
Zellerbach Auditorium
2,089 [info]
The Warfield
San Francisco
2,250 [info]
The Fox Theater
2,800 [info]
The Paramount
3,040 [info]
Masonic Center
San Francisco
3,165 [info]
Berkeley Community Theater
3,500 [info]
Bill Graham Civic
San Francisco
7,000 [info]
Greek Theater
8,500 [info]
Concord Pavilion
12,500 [info]
HP Pavilion
San Jose
19,190 [info]
Oracle Arena
19,596 [info]
Shoreline Amphitheater
Mountain View
22,500 [info]
Oakland Coliseum
63,140 [info]





Spotify – Discover Weekly playlist and music discovery

There is a recent article written by Ben Popper on The Verge about Spotify’s new Discover Weekly feature. These are my thoughts.

I realize my listening tastes and habits are not only unique to me but fall into a very small percentage of listeners who almost obsessively seeks out up-and-coming artists and dives into the second level of albums. Especially considering I’m older than most listeners who are willing to give new artists a shot. I’m usually one of a few people older than 35 at shows with 100 people in attendance, for artists on their first tour, who often times eventually come back a couple years later and sells out 2000 seat venues.

I really like Discover Weekly and think someone should’ve done it a decade earlier. Perhaps most listeners wouldn’t use it, and that could be part of the reason for not implementing it, but at least give me the option to enable it. If it’s worth a damn then I’ll continue to use it. These music companies have plenty of data to make it successful and it’s a shame that most fail to capitalize on that data. (Apple Music anyone?)

After reading in this article how Spotify creates Discover Weekly it seems like common sense. Maybe they didn’t have the data or resources until recently to implement it successfully. Who knows? (EchoNest acquisition) That may sound pompous but it’s out of frustration with Apple, and other services, producing products that have been mostly treading water for years.

Another related thought. It irks me that many artists are in multiple bands yet there is no easy and automated way to keep track of it all. Take Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade for example. His projects are all quite good (Handsome Furs, Divine Fits, Operators) however I need to follow him elsewhere or continually spend time and energy researching his status to see what else he’s doing. There is no reason that these services can’t automatically tell me when a singer/songwriter/guitarist/artist I like has released something under another name. I’m sure the musicians themselves would welcome this and this info exists online. (Allmusic and Wiki)

Spotify can add a little ‘info’ window or overlay telling me this type of stuff.

“We suggested this song to you because the singer in this band is also in this other band which you’ve indicated you like”, etc.

Just one of many ideas I’d like to see them implement. See the end of my post about Apple Music when it was released:

There are still many things I’d like to see Apple Music do that absolutely no one is doing. There is a lot of room to grow music recommendations as a feature, make the experience educational and engaging. Also incorporate it more with social and geo location.

This is exactly the kind of stuff I’ve been looking for since probably 2005.