One year and one month on and I’m still not tired of doing this thing. In January (in print, Feb) , Paste magazine published the “Is Indie Dead?” issue, which immediately begged the question “what is Paste?“. Well, at least the people I mentioned it to. I guess the real question is “has Paste run out of ideas?” or “Is Paste dead?”. I kid, I kid. I like Paste and honestly the article was great and posed a lot of interesting (if not intentional) questions. But when it comes right down to it, whatever THIS is, it’s certainly far from dead. And as I’ve said a thousand times, the minute music is unable to support itself to the point that no-one can afford to release CDs, tour, etc, guess what happens? Music will find a new way to release CDs (or simply releases), tour, etc etc. In other words, it will always find a way back. I quote a friend here for clarity… “If no-one published books anymore, someone would publish books”, to put it quite bluntly. And that’s about it, really. All the hand-wringing and brow sweat in the world will not END culture. It will always survive and prosper to varying degrees. And if it feels like it’s not speaking to you anymore, perhaps you got old and didn’t notice. May I suggest a mirror and some hair coloring? Does Dark Side of the Moon sound fresh and new to you? Do you think Phil Collins got a bad rap in the 80’s-90’s? Have the words “that ISN’T MUSIC!!” left your lips lately? Instead of ignoring or deleting that “We make rock hard for girlfriend happy happy super medicine” spam e-mail, did you click on it and read it? These could be signs that “Indie is Dead”. Embrace or ignore accordingly.
End rant. March is going to be another great month for new music and I hope this playlist reflects that. Some may wish they could put their finger on one trend or sound that seems to be taking off at the moment, an “IT” sound. But I like that this is becoming more and more difficult (at least for me) lately. And this month reflects that. One stand-out track is the track I posted a few days ago from Doyle and the FourFathers. I’m not even remotely tired of it and it’s been in constant rotation along with their other tracks released HERE. I think it’s going to be a very memorable album.
Another Day On Earth had a bunch of his equipment stolen and he’s trying to fund a new, small DIY project. Donate 10 bucks and get his second “song a day” compilation. Worth it! I know what it’s like to have creative tools/creations stolen and it sucks. His goal is really a reasonable amount and he’s on his way. It’s horrible that he put SO much effort into that last project, doing a song a day for a year and this is his reward. We can fix that. Every little bit helps. Best of luck to him!
Fund his project HERE
You can find the March playlist in all the regular haunts as well as HERE(TPB link).
Enjoy the music and if you really like it, go buy it. Or go see a live show. See you in April. (no joke)
Cover Image original image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/steppinlotus/106738574/
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Here I present to you a guide to Basement music for the beginner or for the experienced listener who would like to disagree or help to make this work more complete and inclusive (within reason). Either are, of course, welcome to dismiss this as just another attempt to coin an additional, pointless label. Whatever the outcome, my intention is to simply bring more ears to the music itself. All other interpretations restricted, use only as prescribed. May cause bleeding from expectations. Reclusive, anti-social effects have been indicated in double-blind studies but do not necessarily represent a definitive medical condition.
I’ve posted a couple of examples of home-recorded (and mostly home recorded) albums that have risen above expectations in Another Day On Earth and William Doyle’s recent releases. But there’s an entire universe of what I will call (in the service of attaching labels where none are needed) Basement Music, to be sampled, ingested and archived. You’ve probably heard of what many call outsider music (Jandek, Harry Partch, Daniel Johnston, etc), but what I will call “Basement Music” ( not to be confused with the various companies, studios and services calling themselves “basement music…” ) is probably closer to a home-made, DIY, “maker” attempt at approximating something a bit more mainstream, even if only a little. Or at least an attempt to reach actual ears, which isn’t really fair to label as mainstream. That’s just past “not hiding from the world” , really.
Now, Outsider music is almost the same thing. But not quite, as it usually includes artists that employ no attention to home studio techniques and sometimes merely record with a cassette deck in the room with them. This, to me, is not Basement. I would say that for music to fall into this category, it must be created by an artist that is striving for something, with or without success. While a recording of one voice in a room could very well be interesting, it’s not Basement.
I find it still slightly difficult to use the label since so much of the music industry now (that matters) more closely resembles a cottage industry than a major machine. Many bands you would assume live a certain lifestyle or record in famous studios have simply invested in high end equipment and record right where they live, sometimes just beyond squalor. This stuff I will call “Basement” from here on out is a bit of a different animal. It’s neither outsider OR mainstream/indie. It’s that middle ground. Some would say maybe it’s simply the fact that not many have heard of these artists/bands. Perhaps. Or perhaps it’s the fact that these artists will most likely continue what they’re doing, recording and releasing albums and EPs no matter if you listen or not. And there’s something pure about this, to me. Something that’s been missing in music for the last few years. Doing it not necessarily for art’s sake, or for a living. Doing it simply because they must, passionately. This passion means that these artists sometimes work within limitations imposed upon them. These limitations can facilitate new discoveries, techniques and creative arrangements that would not be imposed upon the music in a less limited environment. Everything from fixed incomes and noise laws to limited hours of free time and even physical or mental handicaps can have an unexpected impact on the finished recordings.
In the words of Brian Eno, “‘Regard your limitations as secret strengths. Or as constraints that you can make use of.”
It’s also pure in the true sense of what music has always been. Back before lawyers (whom I do NOT hate as many people do, but rather associate with cowboys and hackers. They can wear a white hat and save your life or they can wear a black hat and destroy all that is good in the universe. But to call them all evil while ignoring a white knight such as Lessig is just ignorance) started hanging around campfires demanding royalties and peddling mandatory representation/protection schemes, music was made to be heard and to be shared, period. No business model was designed around it, no expectations of payment regardless of enjoyment existed beyond a scowl aimed at an empty hat and singing another person’s song or even changing the lyrics was a compliment rather than a rip-off or” lost” revenue. (to be lost, a thing must exist and be found somewhere, IMO)
I found Another Day On Earth a little late in the game. It was kind of a twitter accident of sorts. Here was a guy recording a song a day, for the entire year of 2009. There’s no way the songs could be good, right? So like a lookie-lou at a car crash, I had to see for myself. And I was shocked to find that not only were the songs good, some were in fact GREAT. They were energetic, spontaneous and creative.
Here, Lawrence has collected the tracks he liked the most and presented it as an album. (representing only January through September) And it works. As an album AND as a testament to the power of creativity within a framework of specific constraints. Read more…