Dearest SCQ Faithfuls and Dissidents,
Well, if the early nights and snow-covered lawns don’t give it away, the quickest of glances at Thank God It’s Tuesday should say it all: 2008 is pretty much finished! As certain as the seasons, some changes are on the way; I’ll be moving back into Toronto this coming weekend (which I’m pretty psyched for!) and may end up without internet for a week or more.
Normally such an absence wouldn’t upset business here at SCQ that much, but alas, we’re talking about December, the month of Year-End lists, retrospectives and all that awesome bravado to get you through the hungover portions of your holidays! I’ve put an unmentionable amount of time and effort into deliberating SCQ’s Best of 2008 (you know, considering…), so one way or another, expect all that love within the first two weeks of December.
In the meantime, here are a few glimpses back into The Cool and Weird of 2008:
Ryan Adams interviews Bob Mould!
Gotta start off with this because it’s too strange: SCQ-favourite Ryan Adams invites 2008 Best Album contender Bob Mould into his apartment to chat about a variety of fleeting topics and feel a strange, uncertain tension that permeates their conversation. Maybe it’s because Adams can’t hide his super-fan smile and Mould won’t make eye-contact…
Watch it here.
Bands Strike Back at the Pitchfork Empire!!
The following is my favourite piece of criticism released this year, and not strictly because it’s written by a band, or critiquing a music critic. The Airborne Toxic Event's open letter to Ian Cohen, who reviewed their debut with abysmal results, is genuine, well-written and generally spot-on (of course, having never lived in Los Angeles, I can’t say it’s foolproof). Moreover, it’s refreshing to read a criticism that doesn’t leave me depressed or with a false sense of intellectual superiority; two of many reasons why I don’t waste time reviewing bad records.
Read Airborne Toxic Event's open letter here.
Even more suggestive that Pitchfork’s better-than-thou bullying is thoroughly patterned and predictable is Mogwai’s method; posting an early, leaked Pitchfork review of their new album, The Hawk is Howling, that is thoroughly negative and pretentious. What reveals its parody is the poorly written, irrelevant and hopelessly staged product that it is. That said, Mogwai’s predicted rating is nearly identical with Pitchfork’s rating, if not the eventual, real review.
Read the “leaked Pitchfork review” here (halfway down the page).
No surprise that Pitchfork Media was the sole major webzine to ignore these headlines.
The first major record released this year was one of 2007’s best albums and biggest news stories: Radiohead’s In Rainbows. As many predicted, the British quintet certainly detonated the last stronghold of the music industry last October, as several bands successfully found new methods of music distribution in 2008.
In March, both The Raconteurs and Gnarls Barkley dropped new albums within a week of announcing their existences, leading to press storms and impressive sales figures. Bloc Party went radical with their third album Intimacy by announcing it three days before selling it as a digital download (as agreed to by Wichita Records). A few weeks later, after deciding a b-side was actually solid enough to be their next single, the band emailed everyone who purchased the MP3s and included the new single, ‘Talons’, free of charge. Late this year, The Mountain Goats joined the pack, unveiling their Satanic Messiah EP at no charge (but asking that everyone contribute to Paypal at their leisure).
However as far as flawless experiments go, hats off to Nine Inch Nails and their altruistic giveaway of The Slip, which was available to anyone, courtesy of a downloading site that was easily navigated, and remains a quality album. With tickets to their summer tour going on sale the following week, The Slip is the smartest marketing idea I encountered this year.
Band Blog of the Year!
A whole lotta shit has gone down on the Deerhunter/Atlas Sound blog since its 2007 inception; some of it gross, some of it funny and much of it downright exceptional. This year we’ve felt the love as Cox gave us dozens upon dozens of new songs – full EPs, album demos, jams and experiments – and felt the rage when he gave away more than he planned (two album’s worth of new material). It’s been another year rife with drama for the Deerhunter Blog, but it’s still one of the best band-operated blogs around.
Check it here.
Then there’s this… a far from tasteful but overall authentic look at the madness that invites modern rockstars. It’s kinda NSFW but at least they’re not wasting their time in rehab.
Check out what Atlas Sound does in their spare time (not from the blog and at your own peril) here.
...nearly forgot: Noel Gallagher got tossed by a fan on his own stage this summer in Toronto. I finally just saw it myself for the first time. Whatever. Word is the assaulter got pummeled backstage. Good work, all.
Watch it here.