A Tiny Bar + The Flaming Lips = Joy

Last night I had the great fortune to see The Flaming Lips play a teeny tiny bar, The Belly Up, in Aspen, Colorado. The excitement of seeing a band that sells out venues to the thousands in such an intimate setting was palpable. Everyone was smiling knowing they were in for a treat. Even though the venue size was constraining, they did not hold back on their usual theatrics. In typical fashion, Wayne opened the show with his hamster ball trick, busting stage lights and his man bubble along the way. Cannon confetti guns, laser lights, smoke machines, dancing bears and bouncing balls added to the euphoria of the evening. Considering the joint only held a few hundred, it had to be a money losing proposition for them. But joy of that performance was so transcendental it will not soon be forgotten. What a great show to wrap up 2010. While I’m no concert photographer, I hope you enjoy some of my amateur shots and video. Long live The Flaming Lips!

The OCMD Cribs: Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips covering Pink Floyd’s  “On the Run” (feat Henry Rollins) –

Welcome to the first edition of The OCMD Cribs – an inside look at the weird and eccentric lives of our favorite indie rock stars.  And who better to fit that bill than Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. He’s been in good form lately, caught on Google Street Maps in a bathtub in his front lawn recently.  And now the unveiling of his renovated Gaudi-esque, psychedelic compound in Oklahoma, as reported by Gizmodo (via @epicureanzealot). I can just picture Wayne lounging in his signature white three piece suit here, can’t you? For more pics of the project, visit Fitzsimmons Architects.

Most rock stars fall into the ‘eccentric’ category and all seem to get more so with age.  The great thing about Wayne is he get crazier in an endearing and playful way.  The rest of them just get weirder and creepier.  Prince? Weird.  Michael Jackson? Creepy.  You get my drift.  Anyway, I’m kinda liking this thread.  Look for more in the future.

Stuck In My Head: Flaming Lips – “Money (Pink Floyd Cover)”

The Flaming Lips - “Money (feat. Henry Rollins)

Leave it to The Flaming Lips to take one of my least favorite Pink Floyd songs and turn it into an obsession. The Flaming Lips reinterpretation of Pink Floyd’s legendary Dark Side of The Moon is out now.

the OCMD Mixtape: Best Electro/Pop 2009

  1. “Lock and Key” – Lilofee
  2. “On My Way” – The Sweet Serenades
  3. “Creeper” – Islands
  4. “New Theory” – Washed Out
  5. “Ecstacy” – JJ
  6. “You’ve Got the Love (The XX Remix) – Florence & The Machine
  7. “Want Me Too” – Tune-Yards
  8. “Kundalini Express” – The Flaming Lips
  9. “Beast In Peace” – Bear In Heaven
  10. “Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses” – Thom Yorke
  11. “When I Grow Up” – Fever Ray
  12. “Version” – Stripmall Architecture
  13. “A Happening” – Hyperstory
  14. “Testimony” – The Phenomenal Handclap Band

Stuck In My Head: The Flaming Lips, “Kundalini Express”

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The Flaming Lips, “Kundalini Express”

I just love the electro weirdness of this Love and Rockets cover from The Flaming Lips featured on the new Love and Rockets Tribute album that’s out now.  It’s one of my favorites on the album and I can’t get enough of it. Play, repeat, play, repeat…

Love and Rockets Tribute Album

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Love and Rockets, “Rain Bird

Reading the announcement that WOXY was exclusively previewing the Love and Rockets Tribute Album this week was like coming full circle for me. I grew up in Ohio and cut my teeth on WOXY (bam! The Future of Rock-n-Roll). And Love and Rockets was one of those bands they turned me on to, way back when in my formative years. So it’s with great satisfaction that this same station (to whom I hold somewhat accountable for my OCMD) brings these New Tales to Tell direct to my speakers -albeit in California not Ohio (thank god).

And judging by the line up of artists paying tribute, it appears as though Love and Rockets are getting their moment in the spotlight.  This is a good thing too.  I’m not sure how many more new bands I could take citing The Jesus and Mary Chain in their list of influences.  The list of artists paying tribute include: THE FLAMING LIPSBLACK FRANCISTHE DANDY WARHOLSMAYNARD JAMES KEENAN’S band PUSCIFERA PLACE TO BURY STRANGERSFILM SCHOOL, and more.

The Love and Rockets Tribute Album exclusive airs on WOXY,  Wed. July 1 @ 9pm, Thur. July 2 @ 6pm, Sat. July 4 @ 4pm, and Sun, July 5 @ Noon, and then on-demand through the WOXY website.  The album, New Tale to Tell, a Tribute to Love and Rockets, will be released digitally July 28 and in stores August 18.

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse Release New Album – A Blank CD!

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In probably one of the more ingenious marketing launches of an album, the mysterious and elusive details of Dark Night of the Soul - the collaboration between Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and David Lynch (yes, that’s right) – are now available.  You can actually stream the album now on NPR Music.

It all started with mysterious posters all around Austin during SXSW this March.  I saw them and was intrigued.  I love pretty much everything Danger Mouse touches. Then information started to emerge.  Dark Night of the Soul is an album of songs written by Danger Mouse and Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse and features a myriad of other artists including James Mercer of The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Frank Black of the Pixies, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, David Lynch, and Scott Spillane of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Gerbils.

The album was supposed to be released in July with a book of photographs by David Lynch.  But due to ongoing disputes with label EMI, the album will not see an official digial or physical release. (Oy…labels.) So the band will be releasing the album as a blank CD-R with a note to fans to download it from an illegal filesharing network.  For now you can enjoy a free stream of the album on NPR Music. Check it out now, while it lasts.  You can pre-order the CD (albeit blank) with book of 100 original photos from David Lynch on the bands website now.

Which Way to the Record Store, Brother?

In this essay, guest blogger Adam presents his opinion on the present state of the music industry, how it got here and where it’s going.

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Listen to: Beck covering Sonic Youth’s, “Green Light”

Which Way to the Record Store, Brother?

Saturday, April 18, 2009 marked the third annual Record Store Day (RSD) where independent record shops hold promotions all day to encourage patronage.  Among the events that took place that day were in store performances and special releases formatted exclusively on vinyl. I frequent record stores many times a year but I was extra excited about this particular day because I was hoping to score limited 7” pressings from Sonic Youth, Beck and The Flaming Lips. A good friend and I fought long lines, vinyl sniffing-uber-nerds and small confines at three different wax factories in New York, coming away with the last copies of everything we wanted. 

Why is there a record store day?

Many small indie labels will be left standing, and unless their current out of date (and out of touch) paradigms and business models are revamped,   major labels will disappear. RSD promotes INDEPENDENT record stores and labels.  Labels pressed vinyl records just for this day and sold them exclusively at indie shops.  Artists on independent labels performed for free in the actual stores.  It’s this kind of fresh thinking that will keep small, independent institutions afloat and will drive interest in purchasing music.

The Death of the CD 

It is still the status quo for bands to press their albums on compact disc, but unlike just 10, or even 5 years ago, many new albums are also pressed on vinyl or even pressed EXCLUSIVELY on vinyl.  The major draw for the CD was its ‘superior’ sound quality and track seeking capability (as compared to the tape).  With the onset of digital music, both purchased and pirated, the CD doesn’t continue to serve much of a purpose. I have read (and fully agree) that the end of the compact disc era could be marked as September 09, 2009 when Capitol/EMI re-issues the Beatles’ entire catalogue re-mastered on CD for the first time.  9/9/9.  Revolution #9, #9?!  This release will mark one of the last epic releases on CD as labels will find that the interest will be slim to purchase music on a CD that will scratch and skip, in a jewel case that will crack and stain.  The last CD that I purchased was Idlewild’s Best Of collection in 2008…this will probably be the last CD I ever purchase. 

The Vinyl Re-Emergence 

A few years back, owning a turntable and browsing the vinyl section of your local record store might have been reserved mostly for record store geeks and your dad.  If this indeed was true in recent years past it is becoming less so now.  My girlfriend has informed me that the mainstream ‘hip’ clothing and knickknack repository Urban Outfitters now sells vinyl records.  Your dad does not shop at Urban Outfitters.  As the mp3 completes its campaign to overtake the CD, vinyl record sales are increasing.  Believe it or not, people enjoy spending money and receiving something tangible in return.  People want to own something physical.  The vinyl record has a much larger presentation area than the CD and people find the large format artwork more enjoyable.  More importantly the record produces a warmer, more dynamic sound than both CD and mp3 are capable of.  Indie bands, labels and stores recognize this (see Record Store Day) and are heavily promoting music on vinyl and usually include a coupon for a complete digital album download with the record at no extra cost.   

How Does the Current Music Industry Landscape Affect the Band and Label? 

As I have mentioned before, the internet has all but killed record sales, which has taken a critical toll on large music retailers and the major record labels that rely so much on those record sales.  Major labels have for long been known to put record sales in front of artistic freedom and integrity.  If this wasn’t enough reason for a band to sign with an indie, the dire shape the majors are currently in should be.

Large, established bands are moving to independent labels.  Sonic Youth recently left Geffen after nearly 19 years to join Matador. This will continue to happen.  What smaller labels lack in money for promotion they make up for with being in touch with what people want.  It will be wise for labels to use the internet, the same force that killed record sales, to promote bands by giving away music.  GIVING AWAY MUSIC!  Many less established bands rely on an album leak (some are even leaked intentionally by the band) to create buzz and blog coverage.  Where major labels are paying high court fees to prosecute bit torrent site masters (see Pirate Bay’s recent conviction in a Swedish court), smarter, band friendly labels would see a leak as a cheap promotional tool.

Although album sales in general are way down, bands themselves never made their living from pressing albums…the label takes most of that.  Bands make a living from touring.  The bands and labels that are able to adapt to the age we live in will use album leaks and blog buzz to generate show attendance.

Licensing.  Bands might not be selling records like they did 10 years ago, but there will always be a need for music licensing- especially with the omnipresence of the internet.  Major corporations like Apple are buying songs from indie bands and so it is such that the term “sell out” will change meaning.  I was upset when Wilco licensed tracks from their last record (Sky Blue Sky) to Volkswagen because “Impossible Germany” made me think about 20-somethings with smart haircuts stuffed into small cars in transit to their desk jobs…but this is not selling out- this is making a living.  One might argue that Wilco doesn’t need help from Volkswagen to sell concert tickets (and I fully agree), but lesser known bands might.  The term “sell out” will be applied to bands that don’t choose who they license to well (I’m looking at you Billy Corgan) and sell their music to the first uninspired bidder.  

No one ever said being in a band was easy.

Bringing Up Baby, As Music Lovers Might

Sing baby.

My NPR Music Notes newsletter today contained an interesting article on music and kids that completely resonated with me. Entitled Bringing Up Baby, As Music Lovers Might, it speaks to the careful diligence new parents, who are passionate about music, take when selecting the music their child will listen to.  

Being a music snob, I always found children’s music to be trite and belittling. Why do we have to dumb down music for children?  Just because they’re tiny and unable to speak, doesn’t mean they can’t comprehend what’s going on around them. Turns out I was right about that. Babies can recognize surprisingly complex rhythms and are sensitive to the differences between consonant and dissonant music. 

Hell bent on eliminating Barney and anything remotely like it in our household, I created my own child-friendly music program for my little guy, Judah – which has turned into a bit of a rock history overview in the process.  James Brown, The Flaming Lips and Cut Copy were early favorites. Now he asks for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs,  The Duke Spirit and The Raconteurs by name.  And I swell with pride every time he does so.

I know I’m going to catch flack from all you kid haters for this, but here’s the video that solidified my theory on kids and music – that they don’t need to be fed music through a purple dinosaur in order to connect with it. Here’s Judah, not even 2 years old, channeling the Grandfather of Soul himself. (He still uses our T.P. holder as a microphone to this day.)