Month In Review – May 2010

One of the most eclectic months since I started the blog, in May I covered many events like the passing of Lena Horne, the emergence of Greyson Chance and the latest instrument being developed by Roger Linn – all while providing coverage on artists I had already introduced you to. Albums reviewed included Tom Petty’s “Full Moon Fever” and “Into The Great Wide Open”, whereas I also reviewed “The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3” and Richard Thompson’s “Mirror Blue”.

What’s more, The Kinks were (finally!) added to the roll of artists featured on MusicKO

The startups I reviewed this month were SongVote, Radar Music Videos, G2, Lyreach and BuyWidget. And I managed to interview James Fontana from SongVote, and the two founders of a startup I had covered in April: Earwurm.

Finally, I am very pleased with the way the coverage of Uruguayan musicians has evolved. In addition to reviewing Sordromo’s “Salvando La Distancia” I posted a classic audio clip (Jorge Nasser beating some radio hosts that got too cheeky), and I covered a new unsigned artist: Retrocedonia. Best of all, one of the bands I collaborate with shot its first video. The band is RostbiF, and the song is “En Una Lágrima”.

Retrocedonia (Uruguayan Unsigned Artist)

Retrocedonia Are Pablo Sassi, Sergio Astengo, Ana Garland & Alejandro Tuala

Retrocedonia Are Pablo Sassi, Sergio Astengo, Ana Garland & Alejandro Tuala

A band that got me quite intrigued, Retrocedonia is more pop than rock, but it can rock far more than your conventional poppy outfit. More than anything, it is a band whose sound melds old and new Uruguayan traditions in a very idiosyncratic way – they clearly know what has come and gone before and they make sure indicators are dropped all over the place, but not in a way that would devaluate what they are actually doing.

That is something tricky to pull off – to many younger listeners, the musical history of the country is often anything but cool or hip. They won’t necessarily listen to someone who plays an accordion and sings about the Mama Vieja (one of the most representative protagonists of Uruguayan Candombe) as this band does. Continue reading

Leather Jackets (Elton John) – Album Review

"Leather Jackets" Was Issued In 1986, And It Is Regarded As One Of Elton John's Biggest Failures. It Was The First Album Since "Tumbleweed Connection" To Yield No Top 40 Singles.

"Leather Jackets" Was Issued In 1986, And It Is Regarded As One Of Elton John's Biggest Failures. It Was The First Album Since "Tumbleweed Connection" To Yield No Top 40 Singles.

It is generally accepted that the ’80s were spotty years for the vast majority of artists that had careers which had commenced in the previous decade (or decades). The other day I was talking with a fan of Bowie that made some of the most venomous comments I had ever heard in my life about anybody regarding Ziggy Stardust and his output during that decade. And from an entirely objective viewpoint, I can’t speak much better about my favorite bands – The Who released only two albums back then, and they are traditionally considered artistic dead ends in themselves. Although I am fond of “Face Dances” (and quite fond of it at that), if you were to look at it objectively the disc is just an intermittent reminder of what used to be, whereas “It’s Hard” is inexcusable. For its part, even XTC (a band that is characterized for not stepping out of line) missed the boat with the release of “The Big Express”. And there is Elton John.

The decade had started on the wrong foot with the release of the “Victim Of Love” album, and it was to be a bumpy ride from that point until he (sort of) reinvented himself in the ’90s as an adult entertainer. Some of his worst-selling albums ever came during the ’80s, and while some of these discs weren’t really that bad (The Fox), some deserved all the stick they got. And this is one of these.

“Leather Jackets” is the kind of album that can only be listened to with one finger on the fast-forward button. It produced no hit singles at a time in which Elton was known for churning them out quite easily, and Elton was later to disown the album completely. The album was also the last Gus Dudgeon would helm for Elton – he was given a second chance after “Ice On Fire”. Sadly, the soft rock approach he applied just buried the bits that could have been interesting (like Davey Johnstone’s guitar), driving another definitive nail in the coffin and ending a truly memorable partnership in an unnecessarily low note. Continue reading

Superpunk! – Jorge Nasser Vs. Jorge Bonomi & Fernán Cisnero (Tiempos Salvajes)

This is a classic of Uruguayan radio. The incident took place one Saturday in March, 1993. Jorge Bonomi & Fernán Cisnero hosted a radio show named “Tiempos Salvajes” [Wild Times] in which they routinely abused one of the most popular rock bands of the day, Niquel. The band was fronted by Jorge Nasser and Pablo Faragó, and the hosts of the show looked askance at them because they regarded themselves as tough rock & rollers. They deemed Niquel’s approach as something sissy. They were making fun of the band live on air, and taking special umbrage at their recently-released symphonic album. Jorge Nasser (the singer and leader of the band) had enough. He headed straight to the studio, and by a bizarre twist of fate he got in without anybody noticing. He stood at the other side of the booth’s door, listening to the final segment of the show.

When the two hosts began picking on Niquel again, he exploded. Nasser stormed into the studio and gave the two radio hosts a beating to write home about. And it was all broadcast because the operator (fearing for her safety) ran away so quickly that she forgot to turn the mikes off.

“Stop it, man, stop it! Let’s talk it over!”. That was the only thing the radio hosts could repeat during the beating. When the first bout was over and Nasser stood towering over both of them, one of the hosts (completely scared out of his brains) squelched “Call the cops!”. Nasser’s retort has gone down in the history of Uruguayan radio.

“¡Ja! ¿Pero no sos el superpunk? ¿No sos el súperagresivo? ¿No es que te gusta la música con personalidad? Bueno, poné personalidad, jugate por lo que decís”.

[“¡Ha! Ain’t you a superpunk? Ain’t you a super-aggressive one? Don’t you always say you like music with personality? Come on, put a little personality to use, walk it the way you talk it”.]

Below you can download the audio in its entirety – you can listen to the first part of the show, the beating and then the mention the two hosts made to the incident the following Saturday.

People being people, I know you will want to listen to the beating first. Jump to 02:58. The “superpunk” bit comes at 04:24.

Superpunk – Jorge Nasser Vs. Jorge Bonomi & Fernán Cisnero (Tiempos Salvajes)

BuyWidget – The Perfect Way To Monetize A Music Blog


Name: BuyWidget

There is no end to the number of ways in which you can sell and market music online. If anything, these services become more and more direct as time goes by. A case in point: the Buy Widget website.

In general words, Buy Widget is a generator of playlists that you can place in your blog or website in order to sell music. These playlists take the shape of widgets – hence, the name of the service. If you want to sell something else, you will have to browse. But if you want to sell your own tracks this will do the honors.

You can upload entire albums and then have people buy them right away. The widget is also somehow configurable, and you can tweak with more aspects than one – you get a chance to modify the logo that is displayed and so on.

Of course, a system for direct monetization is always preferable to other revenue models that adhere to a “one size fits all” ethos. Buy Widget simplifies the way in which your own music can be sold so notably that just any person can get down to it. All he needs is having a website or blog. If he does, he will be able to get this system working for sure – WordPress, Blogger and TypedPad blogs are fully supported. So is HTML, of course. Continue reading

Love Songs (Dan Fogelberg) – Compilation Album

This Compilation Of Love Songs Was First Released In 1995. The Four Hits From “The Innocent Age” Were Thankfully Included.

This Compilation Of Love Songs Was First Released In 1995. The Four Hits From “The Innocent Age” Were Thankfully Included.

I bought this compilation as a sort of consolation prize. Some time ago I made the horrific blunder of passing on the “36 All-time Favorites” album and when I realized what I had done it was too late. They had already sold it, and the chances of seeing it again in Uruguay are non-existent. So, when I came across this anthology I had to go for it.

As a compilation, this is not really bad. It gives you a clear indication of the man’s brilliance. It does not, however, give you an indication of his scope. You wouldn’t know he was capable of crafting albums like “Twin Sons of Different Mothers” or “High Country Snows” by merely listening to this.

Still, it is impossible to dislike a CD that has all the four singles from “The Innocent Age” (“Leader Of The Band”, “Run For The Roses”, “Same Old Lang Syne” and “Hard To Say”). Continue reading

The Fastest Violin Player On Earth (Video)

This video just speaks for itself. It is from a German TV show, and the guy plays “Flight Of The Bumblebee” as if his life depended on it (it does to a certain extent, I guess).

I wish I knew what it is they say at the end, by the looks of it the guy broke a Guinness Record.  If some speaker of German can confirm/refute that, please do so by posting a comment below.

The Traveling Wilburys: Who Sings What

The Traveling Wilburys: Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison & George Harrison

The Traveling Wilburys: Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison & George Harrison

I have been asked a couple of times already who sings exactly what on the two volumes that The Traveling Wilburys were to issue during their stint together. Some (younger) people just aren’t accustomed to the singers’ voices on their own, and that is aggravated by the fact Petty sounds just like Dylan more than sporadically (“End Of The Line”, “7 Deadly Sins”). That is the reason why I decided to put this list together.

To begin with, their pseudonyms for each album:

The Traveling Wilburys Vol 1

Nelson Wilbury – George Harrison
Otis Wilbury – Jeff Lynne
Lefty Wilbury – Roy Orbison
Charlie T. Wilbury Jr. – Tom Petty
Lucky Wilbury – Bob Dylan

The Traveling Wilburys Vol 3

Spike Wilbury – George Harrison
Clayton Wilbury – Jeff Lynne
Muddy Wilbury – Tom Petty
Boo Wilbury – Bob Dylan

Now, who sings what:

The Traveling Wilburys Vol 1

Handle With Care – Harrison
Dirty World – Dylan
Rattled – Lynne
Last Night – Petty
Not Alone Anymore – Orbison
Congratulations – Dylan
Heading for the Light – Harrison
Margarita – Dylan
Tweeter and the Monkey Man- Dylan
End of the Line- Petty (with Harrison, Lynne and Orbison singing a verse or two each) Continue reading

Another Couple Of Poems From “Once”

These are a couple of poems from the second chapter of “Once”, the one titled “Dos Idiotas y Un Idiota” [Two Idiots and One Idiot]. It is the chapter in which the train of thought begins following dual pathways.

You can read more poems from “Once” right here and here. And for information on the launch event of the book, look here and here.

I hope you like these poems. If there is anything you want to tell me, use the “Comments” box which is situated at the bottom.

Rocío Y Ella

Comenzaremos por el punto
neutro del trasunto
de una misma comparecencia,
porque estos bifrontismos
son los mismos
hundidos en mi conciencia.

Y el empeño
que no domeño
y que se rehúsa a evanecerse
ha dejado de ser cíclico,
y esto que no puede hacerse
ni más grande ni más pequeño
ahora es algo recíproco.

Parece que el parecido
será restringido
entre este y nuestro estado,
mas las voces que prometen
de profeso
sobre eso
que se ha supeditado.

Y el empeño
que no domeño
y que se rehúsa a evanecerse
ha dejado de ser cíclico
y esto que no puede hacerse
ni más grande ni más pequeño
ahora es algo recíproco…

Ella En Colores

Ella en colores más tenues
pacta otro significado.
Otra clase de inflexión.
Otra suerte de complexión
y otro valor ultimado.

Ella en colores más tenues
me acompaña por defecto
y por mi propia elección.
Y perfila mi convicción
como un camino directo,

como un patrón que sin verlo
crea y daña sin deberlo.
Y es demasiado difícil
saberlo o no sin saberlo.

Ella en colores más tenues
que trata de obviar mi pincel.
Eternamente probable
cual sueño inacabable
que yo deposito en tu piel.

Ella en colores más tenues
no espera ni un momento:
llega al punto exacto
y en un único acto
torna lo estático lento

torna su mente en su mente
casi automáticamente,
y es demasiado difícil
quererla o no simplemente. Continue reading

Mirror Blue (Richard Thompson) – Album Review

Richard Thompson Issued "Mirror Blue" In 1994, More Than Two Years After The Critically-acclaimed "Rumour And Sigh" Album. It Was Produced By Mitchell Froom Again.

Richard Thompson Issued "Mirror Blue" In 1994, More Than Two Years After The Critically-acclaimed "Rumour And Sigh" Album Was Released. It Was Produced By Mitchell Froom Again.

It remains something of a mystery why Richard Thompson did not capitalize on the success of “Rumour And Sigh” and took more than two years to deliver his next album. Well, it is a mystery only if you are not familiar with the man himself, that is. Thompson did never care about making “commercial” albums, and he has never player by the rules of the industry either. His music is something that is created in a context where expressions like “hit single” or “chart success” are either redefined or absolutely discarded. And there is no clearer example of that than the album he was to finally release long after “Rumour And Sigh” had run its course.

The album was to be titled “Mirror Blue” (after a poem by Lord Tennyson which is quoted on the booklet), and it would be the penultimate album that Mitchell Froom was to produce for Thompson. Many would point his fingers at the finished album, and cite Froom’s production as the reason it could not dent the charts. But today we know that Richard was the main instigator for the somehow disconcerting drum sound that was employed in the end. If anything, it seems as if Thompson was doing all he could to decommercialize the album, as if the successes attained by “Rumour And Sigh” were a cause of concern. More than anything, one is left feeling that Thompson came up with a disc to please his long time fans after having created one that pleased casual listeners, as if all he wanted to do was prove he could have mainstream success if he wanted to.

The themes he broaches are true to his best compositions – people who feel too much in too limited ways like the character from “For The Sake Of Mary” (and whose narrowness ultimately seals his fate) and delinquents like Shane and Dixie (two non-hopers who might as well have been called Sid and Nancy) are some of the protagonists you get to know during the disc’s duration. You feel you have met them before in different guises if you have been a listener of Thompson’s albums for a while, but there are topics which are infinite in themselves. Leaving aside the inherent nefarious thrill of such stories, I believe that tales about wrongdoing are always alluring if only because we believe deep down inside that by being exposed to other people’s faults me might be eventually able to address our own shortcomings. That might explain the popularity of songs like “1952 Vincent Black Lighting” from the previous album, and the heart-rending “Beeswing” from this one. “Beeswing” is a delicate Celtic ballad in which the fierceness of young love is demolished against the ineluctability of maturing. The final verse is bestial in its desolation. The listeners who have been there themselves will sink low for sure, and younger listeners will have one of the harder-hitting reality checks of their lives. Continue reading