Posts tagged ‘The Strokes’

March 17, 2011

The Strokes stream, Justice dabble with a football team

In the year 2011 it is not necessarily what you release it is more a question of how you release it?  Tantamount to what Radiohead have achieved with their latest release, ‘King of Limbs’, substantiating the demand for fast web release, they are not the only one’s flirting with new channels of distribution.

The Strokes are now streaming their new album ‘Angles’ for free on their website, a week before global release. This could backfire if many listeners decide it’s not up to usual standards!  They clearly have faith in their product, it helps that their record company – Rough Trade – is an independent label. The majors certainly wouldn’t want to dabble with this practice. Elbow’s latest release, ‘Build a Rocket Boys’ – through Universal, didn’t want to risk first week sales by using altruistic methods.

Justice have announced the release of a new single, ‘Civilisation’, to be aired to the public through an Adidas advert, stylishly juxtaposed with Lionel Messi and the Argentinian football team.   Bands showcasing music through advertising is certainly not a new idea although in most cases the artist has already released the material and they’re looking for increased exposure.  Justice haven’t even announced the release date for their latest piece of work, this is a clear ploy to create maximum exposure through a cross-platform brand partnership.  Forget the CD single!                                                                                                                                  Mentor’s Daft Punk are similarly about to release new music through a brand partnership with Coca Cola, with limited edition bottle artwork and an advert deal.

The distribution lines are becoming increasingly blurred leading to multi-media deals and innovative practices.  Cloud based services such as Spotify and Last Fm often have pre-release specials from lesser known bands, although the record labels do recoup some money from these outlets.  It will change the landscape dramatically when iTunes and Google launch their respective streaming services, mooted for this year?       They have much more clout than any of the record labels and the most powerful distribution lines in the world, where will that leave the artists?

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December 10, 2009

The greatest albums of the 21st century

It’s fast approaching the end of the year and all the votes have been cast, the lists drawn up and the debates have started to rage.    With all the music publications releasing their definitive verdicts on the greatest and most influential albums of the last ten years it is interesting to reflect on what the critics think have shaped our cultural lives.

For quantitive purposes, the top twenty from five different publications – Uncut, NME, Rolling Stone, The Guardian and The Times – were analysed. During the last ten years  the music industry has become unrecognisable, imploding in the face of internet democracy and becoming a free territory, unshackled from the corporate system but unsure of what the future might hold.   This has been reflected in the explosion of artistic creativity and expression, particularly in the last 3 years.  We are definitely leaving this decade in a much healthier musical state than the last!!

The Strokes – Is this It, seems to be universally acknowledged as the most influential album in the last ten years.   Four of the publications featured it in their top five  – with only The Times placing it outside at number 6.  This is the only album to achieve this blanket acclaim.   No surprises that Radiohead feature strongly in all of the top twenty lists, constantly evolving they have  become even more adventurous and inspiring this decade than the last.   Kid A consistently features more than any other album, deservedly so, although Uncut doesn’t list it until number 25,  shame on you.   Other albums that deserve to be uttered in the same sentence as great and that keep cropping up in most of the lists are:  Arcade Fire – Funeral (although not in The Times), Amy Winehouse – Back to Black and The White Stripes – Elephant ( although NME only rate it as their 18th best album and Uncut regard White Blood Cells as better, so much better in fact that it is listed as their greatest album of the decade!)

Their were a few misplaced surprises in some of the lists.  Most notably,  The Times (again):  Coldplay – number 17 with Viva la Vida, Hot Chip – number 14 with Made in the dark and Britney Spears – number 5 with Blackout. What were they thinking?   The Guardian with Lily Allen at number 20!!   Uncut with 2 Bob Dylan albums in the top 10 – I know he’s made a bit of a return to form lately but trying to get past that sandpaper voice and old-time Americana is hard enough let alone distinguishing it as some of the best music of the last 10 years.

Another strange fact is the lack of albums from the last 2 -3 years.  Is this because they haven’t had time to filter into popular culture or that maybe the last couple of years, although challenging and exciting, has maybe been too experimental to be classified as great.  The only artists to feature from the last 2 years are:  Burial, Coldplay, Elbow and Fleet Foxes.

Noticeable absentees from the lists:

Sigur Ross – Takk – the film and television soundtrack of the last five years.

Damien Rice – O – emotionally charged and critically acclaimed at the time – although everyone seems to have forgotten this beautifully heart wrenching record.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers – By The Way – Maybe because they’re a corporate band but few artists have delivered such a warm and harmonious rock album.

Gorillaz – Demon Days ( The Guardian did place this album at a deserved number 11) – A pop classic, full of dark and cultural undertones.  Shadowed Damien’s work with Blur.

Daft Punk – Discovery – A futuristic dance album that set the electronic template for the rest of the decade, its influence has been underappreciated.

My own top twenty greats to follow…………………….