Gordon Peterson, the man (not really all that) better-known as Indio, broke a twenty year silence worthy of Thomas Pynchon last month. Was it to record another album? Perhaps a single? Were we once again going to be lucky enough to hear that desperately honest voice produce music we don’t even hear in our dreams? Holy SHIT! WAS IT?

No – the fucker came out of retirement to sue the one man responsible for awakening the world to the wonder that was the little-known 1989 album Big Harvest, which Peterson wrote and then recorded with a group of some ten other artists (including Joni Mitchell and her then-future husband.)

Recent Photo of Gordon Peterson, AKA Indio

That’s right – Peterson broke self-imposed cover to kick a lawsuit into the face and eyes of Eddie Vedder, whose singular crime was to cover Hard Sun from Peterson’s album and sing some different lyrics.

Wow, what did Vedder do, call him a “cunt” in the opening line? Openly mock his family and religion? Perhaps he gave Peterson’scredit card details out in the chorus, as well as his mother’s maiden name in the middle 8. Maybe the bassline was actually morse code for Peterson’s home address.  That’s if you CAN have an address for a camouflage netting-covered treehouse in the woods, of course.

Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly) it turns out to be none of those things (not EVEN a combination.) Vedder’s only crime was to change a few lines of one verse, and miss out another half-sized verse half-way through the song.

For avoidance of doubt, here are the changes Vedder actually made in real life. You can hear Vedder’s version HERE and Indio’s HERE (that is until he sues Youtube for hosting his song FOR FREE presumably.)

Hard Sun – Lyrics comparison – Bold indicates change, red is missed out. Blue shows original lyrics.

When I walk beside her
I am the better man
when i look to leave her
I always stagger back again

Once I built an ivory tower
so I could worship from above
when I climb down to be set free
she took me in again

CHORUS
There’s a big
a big hard sun
beating on the big people
in the big hard world

When she comes to greet me
she is mercy at my feet
When I see her inner charm (original is “when I stay to pillage her”)

she just throws it back at me

Once I dug an early grave
to find a better land
she just smiled and laughed at me
and took her rules back again (original is “and took her blues back again“)

CHORUS

when I go to cross that river
she is comfort by my side
when I try to understand
she just opens up her eyes

CHORUS

Once I stood to lose her
and I saw what i had done
bowed down and threw away the hours
of her garden and her sun

So I tried to want her
I turned to see her weep
40 days and 40 nights
and its still coming down on me

Right, now for the maths. There are, including counting each repeated chorus, 220 words in this song. I’m excluding the gospel-style vocal riffing that leads out the original because they’re not really lyrics – not in terms of what Peterson has named in his lawsuit as the “artistic integrity” – that means he’s talking about structure. No-one could sing the vocal riffage with a straight face in a cover without sounding contrived. That would be worse for the artistic integrity. Anyway…

Of the 220 words, Vedder removed one iteration of the chorus- we can put this down to Radio editing, however, we’ll count it, as it IS a change. We want to be fair after all, right Gordon?

Additionally, another five WHOLE words were altered, replaced by brand-new Satan-worshipping words. Except that the Shit-sandwich line about “pillaging” a woman was eased up to a line about “inner charm” by Vedder. As the tremendous Earvolution puts it, it kind of needed to be “softened up”, since Vedder was creating the score for Into the Wild, a film about a man who dies alone in the wild.It wasn’t that good a line anyway.

So, what’s the percentage change? 46 words out of 220 is a change of 20.9% of the words. That’s INCLUDING the missed out chorus of 17 words (without this, the change is 13%.)

Nevertheless, one thing is clear. Gordon Peterson is CLEARLY up for a fight with the world. I’m up for a challenge. So here’s my challenge to Gordon Peterson.

SUE ME, TWAT! Sue me for the following changes to your song (remember, I didn’t even ask for permission to reprint these lyrics, like it asks me to in your liner notes. That’s gotta be worth a few million right?)

Hard Sun covered on the internet by Hypernation (Bold indicates changes)

When I walk beside her
I am the bigger twat
when i look to leave her
I always stagger home to my treehouse drunk on ether fumes

Once I built an ivory tower
To make up for my laughable manhood
when I climb down to be set free
Did I mention I live in a tree?

CHORUS
There’s a big
a big hard hand
beating off the big penis
in the big hard-core

When she comes to greet me
I don’t know how to react and disappear for twenty years

When Eddie Vedder covers me

I just throw it back at him

Once I dug an early grave
to find a better land
It obviously didn’t work
So I sued a Betterman (come on Pearl Jam fans!)

CHORUS (see above)

There – I also skipped 3 verses and 2 more choruses. Go on Gordon – sue me like the malevolent weirdo you are. GO ON!

Vedder didn’t ruin your music. YOU DID.

Twat.

It was going to be the fifth year in a row.

Another forgettable non-musician, having survived the gauntlet of self-important judges and self-regarding “music” execs, was being set up to clinch the 5th UK Christmas no. 1 in five years. And all thanks to Simon Cowell and the X Factor music-creation system.

For a fifth year, instead of a real tune, a real band with a career either already developed behind them or promisingly ahead of them, what was essentially a contest-winner got to see what it felt like to have a Christmas no. 1 single, while the rest of the UK are deprived  of actually having a decent tune for Christmas.

Then a group started on Facebook proclaimed “ENOUGH!” And positing that, if as many members of the social network got together and downloaded Rage Against the Machine’s killer 1992 song Killing in the Name, music fans might just be able to shoehorn in a real band with actual values, their ranks smelted from musical ability, originality and, god forbid, THEIR OWN SELF-PENNED TUNE!!!

It not only seemed an underdog pipe-dream, but was presented even to be immoral by spokespeople and the media – the campaign was hailed as “mean” by pneumatic hair-factory Cheryl Cole, and “stupid” by none other than “ruiner of all things good” Simon Cowell. It was as though the predominant mass opinion, gauged by its voting of anything but the gifted but ultimately puppet-like Joe McElderry (whom I sincerely hope gets into theatre and music for real as soon as he can get clear of the X Factor’s contracts) was somehow rude in thinking it had a choice, and an obvious choice at that.

But…

Rage’s tune prevailed by some 50,000 downloads. This morning all the papers are tattooed with the face of Zach de la Rocha screaming into a mic on the stage at 2007’s Coachella gig that saw the band’s first performance after reforming. It’s a thrill for an alternative metal fan like me to see such a blatant hijack of mass media by the very thing it seeks normally to ignore with comfort.

However, a lot of noise is being made about the supposed Pyrrhic victory the #RATM4xmas movement has achieved, given that SyCo, the record company whose name so well reflects Cowell’s music machinations, is itself owned by the same fatcats at Sony who own Rage’s 1992 self-titled release, and Killing in the Name by proxy.

This however is not the issue – we are all fundamentally aware that around four corporations own every last outlet of traditional broadcast media. Hey, Telegraph and co. – good argument – those masters own the rest of you as well. Is that supposed to be some kind of argument in favour of simply sitting back and accepting the inevitable crap, or is it rather a cue to fight it, even if the battleground is still within the frame of reference of music sales? Well, that’s what it became.

It’s not about ownership and never really was, although the music industry’s conglomeration is certainly what led to this garbage being over-promoted in the first place – this was in fact a fight against the predictable mechanisation of the charts.

Why do you think the X Factor is even SCHEDULED to be on at this time of year? The show’s process sought to ingest a long-standing cultural phenomenon (the Christmas number 1) into its already overstuffed portfolio of money-making avenues. And, even if for just one year, the UK’s citizens retorted with “Fuck you I won’t Buy What you Sell Me!”

It’s not a character-assassination. It’s not a random rejection of one song for another. It’s not even a rejection of the X Factor per se. It’s a rejection of mediocrity being built into the system. It’s an extra votebox on the X Factor, one that votes for neither candidate, and votes AGAINST the show’s fallout on the charts itself.

So Fuck you Simon Cowell – and fuck you Barbie – for saying it’s a “mean” move. “Mean” is to further distort the musical landscape with cross-promotional garbage and trickle-down syndication. “Stupid” is how you’ve treated the British Public, playing on the same emotional associations that makes voting so popular in politics (and the act of voting in either sphere really does as little in the long-term for your own visions of the music industry as it does for the world of politics.)

In all reality you think it’s mean because we voted against your efforts to get a Christmas number 1 by proxy, since Simon can’t sing and Cheryl’s sales, while still deplorably overpowering, weren’t going to cut the mustard this Yuletide.

Maybe next year you can try again with a 14-year old singing On the Road Again by Willie Nelson.

And maybe next year we’ll try again by gunning for Good Friends and a Bottle of Pills by Pantera.

Merry Fucking Christmas. I really mean it.

-Hypernation

Alice in Chains release their 4th studio album

PREAMBLE

Man, have I been waiting to write this review.

I remember when I first heard Alice in Chains – it was 1997, and someone at my school lent me a mixtape of several bands (that also included Pearl Jam), the opening two tracks on side A of which were Them Bones and Dam That River. I knew I had hit something that resonated, because I couldn’t stop singing the two tunes whenever I was away from my cassette deck.

And 12 years later I still can’t.

Maybe I was very green at the time, but I hadn’t heard a band do those kinds of rhythms before, not in metal or grunge. On top of that, over the thundering snarl of what should have been a “metal” song came this ethereal fallen angel voice of a man I was destined never to see live, the band’s leader Layne Staley. And the harmonies, twisted and made possible by guitarist and secondary singer and main song-writing force Jerry Cantrell. Together they were the haunted, warped version of that “frontman/lead guitarist” relationship worn by Lennon and McCartney, Jagger and Richards, you know the drill, the list goes on.

Staley’s death in 2002 was discovered three days after my birthday. I still have his obituary torn out of the Daily Telegraph somewhere.

And so, I thought, I would never be around for a new Chains release, that I’d have to just be (very) happy with their back catalogue, Staley’s only other complete (and awesome) album Mad Season and follow Jerry’s solo work, which I liked, but it had to be said, not as much as Jar of Flies, Dirt et al.

Then nothing.

But since the 2005 Tsunami concert momentum has built – first William DuVall joined the band full-time after touring previously in Cantrell’s support – and when in 2008 Alice announced after extensive touring that a new album was on the way, it seemed that the fans, at least the ones who write on the net, were supportive (read “insanely giddy at the prospect”) of a new Chains album, even with dear departed Layne out of the picture.

In August Listening party reports started hitting the net – overwhelmingly positive. Skeptical fans reserved their judgement – which was fair enough. Staley’s vocals have been often imitated (almost always poorly by the likes of Puddle of Mudd, “Worst Band In The World” Creed, Nickelback, mid-to-late-era Stone Temple Pilots, Days of the New and Godsmack whose name is even taken from a song on Dirt) – the last thing they wanted to see was a goddamned imitator IN Alice in Chains itself.

This video pretty much explains what the fans were worries about:

So to the album…

ALBUM REVIEW

As if to reference their member-by-member entry onto the stage at the MTV Unplugged show where they left off in 1996, the opener All Secrets Known is a jabby muted Cantrell riff, slowly joined by bass, then drums, then finally Staley.

Hope
A New Beginning
Time…
Time to start living
like just before we die.
There’s no going back to the place
We started from…

OK OK it’s NOT Staley. But it might as well be…DuVall’s voice must be the only one in existence that can fill Staley’s shoes. And it’s thanks to the good luck of Jerry and co that they found him out of 6 billion people. Because as the voice slowly fills the landscape, and a harmonized chorus of layered voices including Cantrell’s crescendo out and expand, you start wondering why the fuck we can’t have more music like this all the time.

The album balances slow “pretty music that makes you want to die” as drummer Sean Kinney once said quoted in Staley’s obituary with more acoustic fare, with some songs like Acid Bubble deliberately splicing very heavy with very light, and flicking the switch between them and making you fall out of your seat and fumble for the tracklist to see if you’re onto the next song yet.

INTENT OBSOLESCENCE
BUILT INTO THE SYSTEM!

Now it has to be said that some parts of the album are a little weak. Your Decision, destined for radio release soon, is surprisingly conventional compared with what wonderous acoustic beauty we had on Jar of Flies. And while most of Last of My Kind is incredible, one lyric about “fucking liars” is so surprisingly out of place (the band have always impressed me with their vocal quality, which happened not to include swear-words) that it feels like the album is about to take a turn for the worse .

By far the strongest tracks are the already released Check My Brain, a bendy semi-tone scaled snake of a track, and A Looking in View, an 804 minute epic featuring some of the best riffs in Chains’ career. Add to that the opener, and my personal favourite Private Hell – listen to this whilst looking at the album art-work of the mother and daughter on a moonscape and I swear you can feel the cold desolate atmosphere creep in – wonderful lilting echoed “Uh-Huh”s and subtle key-changes make this the star track on the album and put’s it in my five favourite Alice songs.

I excuse myself I’m used to my little cell
I amuse myself in my very own private hell…

Something about the riffs and tight harmonized DuVall/Cantrell partnership draws contemplation out of the listener. It’s currently on repeat anywhere I go. And no you can’t play your own music in “your own house”, not now that we have this. Move over.

The final track, the eponymous track with Elton John subtly on piano, and the first overtly Staley-related song the band have made, is the hardest to listen to emotionally; especially if you’ve watched the Electronic Press Kit Video Alice released a few hours ago. Members of the band were breaking down in tears, Kinney describes a panic attack that gripped him and reduced him to sitting on a bathroom floor, and Cantrell suffered a three-week migraine brought on by “undigested grief” after he had penned the ballad.

Show me ANY song in mainstream music that has that much emotional weight behind it. Yeah, thought not.

Black Gives Way To Blue is a band wearing it’s heart on its sleeve, as the cover subtly implies. The brutal bitter-sweet Alice in Wonderland vibe is still there, preserved in the mock-Victorian art-work, filthy guitars, Kinney’s fantastic tasteful breakbeat drumming, Mike Inez’s distant thunder detuned “bass of death” and Cantrell’s enviable song-writing skill topped off with those harmonic vocals. A storming success with a few minor hiccups. To be honest the first thing I thought once I had heard this album once through was;

“Man, when are they going to release the next one?”

Until then, I have a new set of songs to have on repeat.

As part of the ongoing One & Other plinth project in Trafalgar Square, Justin Holwell, a random member of the public, stood up on the now famous fourth plinth today and undressed himself.

Standing nearby was self-styled saviour of the children, Mark Williams-Thomas, a so-called  “media police advisor and experts (sic) in crime” who, accompanied by his wife and children, decided that the naked human form, that form which his own children were born in, is offensive and disgusting.

Claiming that he and his family were “annoyed and upset” by the spectacle of a naked man just standing there, he ratted on Holwell to nearby policemen, claiming (perhaps for the first time in police history) that “common law” had been broken. Common law is, of course, the fist damn thing thrown out of the window when squatters are evicted by the likes of Mr Williams-Thomas.

What, exactly, is so offensive about a human being, Mark? It´s not like Holwell was furiously masturbating himself to a protesting public, while they covered their eyes like dazzled onlookers to a surprise solar eclipse.

You´re worries about the kids? Why? Not only did they begin life naked (I am suddenly reminded of Brass Eye´s sketch where children are made to be born clothed because of obscenity laws), they probably spend a great deal of their time like normal kids do, naked running around having a laugh.

Or do you tell them to cover up?  “SHAME BE THAT! Hide your dirty body. It´s something to fear!” Funny, I didn´t see you railing against the naked deformed pregnant sculpture on the 4th plinth a few years ago.

Oh don´t worry. It´s only a disabled woman, they´re not real people

"Oh don´t worry. It´s only a disabled woman, they´re not real people"

Mr Williams-Thomas is, unfortunately for himself and his utterly Victorian cause, eminently googleable, having appeared in numerous dubious and undermining shows, such as “Child Protection Gone Mad” – in which (no I´m not making this up) two child actors are put in a shopping centre and told to act distressed, to see if anyone reacts. The resulting inaction by random shoppers is wonderfully blamed square on the public, presumably by a Mr Thomas-Williams bawling the word “SHAME” yet again.

In fact, looking down his list of TV credentials is very much like reading the plot of CSI Miami if it were all about children.He´s even on Twitter, blabbing about the Garrido case (although he misspells his name as “Gurido”, well done that man. Trust him, he´s an ADVISOR.”)

Given that he hammers on about child rape and abduction all the time, and in every possible medium, it´s perhaps no surprise that he reacted in such a prudish, overwrought and tell-tale way, calling up The Met and wasting precious time that should be spent on solving real crimes with actual victims. Nice one Mark, way to waste the resources of which you claim to be a part.

And if your kids, aged between 8 and 13, are embarrassed by nudity, well, whose fault is that? Not all yours I suspect, given that you are suffering from the same delusion as they are. Your brain´s been warped. Probably by GURIDO!

There is nothing dirty about the human form. It´s how we are. Or do you shower fully clothed?

Whilst crying at the thought of nudity?

There is something horribly dirty, however, about your reaction and instinctive call on police powers to suppress a man simply shedding his clothes.

For a man who has built a questionable but profitable career on the prurient curiosity imbued by child-based tragedy, you appear to be woefully inadequate in judging the morals you claim to defend.

FFFFUUUUUUUUUU

Michael Jackson is dead. This is the kind of news that affects you, even if you were not a fan.

The King of Pop died following a heart attack in his LA home amidst weeks of rehearsals for his comeback tour at the O2 in London. He was rushed to UCLA Medical Center in a coma by paramedics following a 911 call from his home. Daily Press were amongst the first to report that the police had confirmed the death to the media, in what had until then been a speculative rush of information on the star’s condition. Even Rolling Stone had not been sure of the news. The BBC at 11.54 Greenwich Meantime were still unsure of the status, deeming Jacko to be merely “gravely ill”, whilst reporting that some US media were claiming he had died.

In what must be a first for Wikipedia, the page on Michael Jackson was down at 11.45pm London time, swarmed by fans checking for updates.

Michael Jackson's Wikipedia Entry

Michael Jackson's Wikipedia Entry

Google’s automatic News search results for Jackson still showed other unrelated stories, bizarrely one involving the Hulk actor Lou Ferrigno who had been training Jacko ahead of the tour that was meant to put behind Jacko the years of child abuse allegations and public trials. Youtube’s Suggest feature reckons it all won’t happen for another 6 months:

Youtube is 6 months out of date

BREAKING NEWS: Jackson will die in 6 months!!! QUICK!!!!!!

American pop culture just shrank significantly in a few days. It’s been probably the biggest week for celebrity deaths in the last…well, ever. Ed McMahon, another staple of American cultural life like Jackson, passed away just 2 days ago. All-American icon and original Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett died within only a few hours of Jackson. And as I write this, word has it the only one I’ll really miss out of the bunch, Jeff Goldblum, has apparently died, falling to his death on the set of his latest movie. Manolith reports:

According to reports from a New Zealand newspaper – and lots of action on Twitter – actor Jeff Goldblum died early this morning after a fatal fall. The alleged death occurred while on set in New Zealand when Goldblum fell over sixty feet off a nearby cliff. As of yet no other news source has picked up the story, so it’s probably false. That said, he is currently filming a movie titled, “Morning Glory“, but no word on where it’s filming.

Last.fm statistics and Spotify listening behavious are probably already reflecting thousands upon thousands of fans tuning the knob to “Michael Jackson Radio.” In a few hours millions of messages from fans will be pouring in all over the news. The Obituaries will be awkward, as editors and sub-editors struggle not to be seen to be speaking ill of the dead whilst trying to remain fair to the facts that belie the closetted Neverland bad dream of his later life.

Cue the biography machine. The shitty paperback “Maximum Michael Jackson” hack jobs that were going to come out anyway with a chapter on his death stapled onto the end. Then in 6 months to a year the big ones will arrive, and stay firmly on most bestseller lists for a good while.

And documentaries. And Youtube videos of bawling fans. Of course.

So goodbye then Michael. You were one troubled guy, and there’s quite a few people who would want to moonwalk on your grave. You bought your way to freedom the way only someone with your money could. But the music kicked the world’s ass right out of its pants. Thousands of today’s acts either sound JUSTin like you, or wouldn’t even be in the music industry unless they’d wanted to be pop stars like you were. You were MTV’s first black artist, as well as one of its most successful white ones. You’re one of the big reasons why Motown-infused Soul made it into mainstream pop, and why its renaissance now in the form of Destiny’s Child and Beyonce, Duffy and Justin Timberlake is actually one of the few welcome nostalgia-cycles. And holy shit, you were one hell of a dancer.

Jackson is apparently survived by no-one, seeing as every fucker on the planet appears to be shuffling off their mortal coil today, severely hamstringing my ability to keep editorial reign over this article.

Stanhope Jail

A brief Myspace update at 3am today on Doug Stanhope’s Myspace profile seems to put his present location in a Brazilian jail on drug charges.

Details are sketchy but the site administrator is asking for any expertise to be thrown his way.

The law in Brazil is a funny one when it comes to possession. In 2008, possession for personal use was effectively depenalized according to this article:

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/538/brazil_appeals_court_drug_possession_no_crime

The most interesting line is this one:

In his opinion in the case, Judge José Henrique Rodrigues Torres said the law criminalizing drug possession for personal use was invalid because it violated the constitutional principles of harm (there is no harm to third parties), privacy (it is a personal choice), and equality (possessing alcohol is not a crime). “One cannot admit any state intervention, mainly repressive and of penal character, in the realm of personal choice, especially when it comes to legislating morality,” he said.

The ruling applies only to Lopes, but can be used as a precedent in other court proceedings. There is no word yet on whether the Brazilian government will appeal.

The ruling comes nearly two years after Brazil changed its drug laws to depenalize — but not decriminalize — drug possession for personal use. Under that law, drug possession is still a criminal offense, but penalties are limited to fines, fees, education, and community service.

Anyone with connections, expertise or any sage advice should get in touch with his street team at doug@dougstanhope.com ASAP.

Well here’s to hoping he gets out. Partly because nobody decent should be in prison.

And mostly because I’ve got non-refundable tickets.

logowas a dream come true for the world at large. A site in gorgeous flash encoding, that served up Heroes, Prison Break, The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, American Heroes, Prison Dad, and Family Break, as well as thousands of old films (and even the entire Doogie Howser back-catalogue if you’re that way inclined) for one and all to watch in streaming HD. No clogged up harddrives or waiting times. Touch my face and call me Susan, it’s an internet miracle.

And the only restriction, it seemed, was the week or so delay between Terrestrial broadcast and netcast required to make the licensing between the Big Media companies who owned the shows and Hulu, their own joint venture, hold up in the stiff breeze of desperately needed TV Ad revenue streams (come on, a mixed weather metaphor is pretty sweet.)

Hulu is configured to recognise your IP address and boot you out of the site with not so much as a flicker of Jack Bauer’s tradesmile to send you on your way back to your own shitty, unilluminated life if you’re not in the US (read either “Not from round here, boy” or even “Unamerican”.)

WHAT? Watching 24 outside the US? That's Terrorism sir...

WHAT? Watching 24 outside the US? That's Terrorism sir...

But gladly a nice free unobtrusive IP Anonymizer application called Hotspotshield allowed you to dodge that Entertainment Bullet by making your connection seem like it was in the US via a huge free VPN circuit you can simply tag into. And the cost? Nothing, HSS automatically sends banner ads your way, so you can buy a mail-order bride whilst Wahey for free US TV again!

Well you can go fuck yourself if you think THAT wasn’t going to change. Hulu caught wise to this little trick (presumably after some complete Sweaty Park Cock ratted on the rest of teh interwebz and told a technician at Hulu, or maybe they worked it out for themselves – less exciting, that one,) and has blocked HSS IP addresses, so now all of the world that isn’t Manifest Destiny has to get its fun from this sexy little image:

Yeah baby, I could look at this for hours

Yeah baby, I could look at this for hours

Already the tech bloggers are squawking angrily about “Hulu’s decision to geoblock its content” – which is half-fair, because really it’s Fox, NBC etc who are making that rule up, and Hulu has to take the flak for being contractually obliged to enforce it and thereby NOT going to prison for eight billion years and pay infinity plus $8 in fines. And read Chaucer (a less well-known but equally gruesome pubnishment for piracy these days. Look it up. DO IT.)

Of course the internet is a big angry Hydra; cut off one path and eight new ones appear in its place. Not only is the staff of HSS running around, seven dusty servers in each arm, looking for an abandoned warehouse to plug their gadgets into (and probably ironically looking for an anonymiser program of their own), but there’s already talk of other anonymising programs that might still do the trick. You won’t find the list here because reading about it online is probably one of the reasons why the bastards found out and aren’t rotting in jail. TRAITORS.

So it’s back to torrents and other even more illegal behaviours for most of the world who simply can’t be bothered to wait the 84 inexplicable months between release dates in the US and everywhere else.

Still, we DO have the BBC iPlayer in the UK, so I’m alright Jack. Which is on tonight…

It’s a mystery to me why so many artists keep releasing their worst songs from their albums to the public. In fact it’s a completely weird thing that we still release singles at all. Considering no-one cares about what used to be called “The Hit parade” anyway, it seems downright old-fashioned that we bother marketing albums that way at all.

Some would argue that it’s a neat way of getting a taster of the album out to the public before the whole thing drops. A few factors scupper that point – for one, a release date is now nothing more than a wishful thinking fiction. Every album in the last 3 years (and most movies) leak anywhere from a few days early to a whole month (think of Origins: Wolverine, which made it to our screens more than a month ahead of time in the form of a perfect quality Workprint, albeit with unfinished special effects…not to mention the perfect quality final releases that make it weeks ahead of time courtely of some little pirate (or collection of pirates) called Axxo) – and while we’re talking marketing, wouldn’t it be cleverer to use interfaces like iTunes, that allow individual song purchases, to market individual tracks from upcoming releases instead? You could allow users to pick which song they want to have ahead of time. It’s not going to adversely affect piracy, which is GIVING away ALL the tracks ahead of time.

The other problem is that, as stated at the beginning, the best songs don’t seem to be the ones that are slated for singledom – now, that’s obviously subjective, but many people will agree, and most likely it’s not the band’s fault – Labelheads tell them to make one Radio Friendly garbage bag so they can get “the name out there” at the expense of the band’s real musical identity.

Days of The New released what was squarely the worst track on the Orange album, Touch, Peel and Stand (What does that even mean?) and THAT track made them a household name. Nickelback went one further and not only release garbage singles all the time but an entire back-catalogue of twattery usually worse than the singles themselves. Here, have a rock in the face, Chad. But hey, at least their singles match their albums in consistence, you have to hand them that (preferably handed to them wrapped in a dog-shit covered pipe-bomb whilst actually saying the word “LOL.”)

So on to Eminem‘s Relapse, an album I’ve been waiting for for over 2 years (ever since everyone thought it was going to be called King Mathers.) First off, the album is easily his best release since The Marshall Mathers LP. It’s also one of only a few interesting rap/hip-hop releases in the last 5 years (the others for me being Saul Williams’ Niggy Tardust, Talib Kweli’s Eardrum, El-P’s I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead and Just Plain Ant’s Dig Deep (the most unknown of the pack, and the most low-key too.)

Problem is, the four singles (Yes there’s FOUR of them – 3am, We Made You, Crack a Bottle, Old Times Sake) are so fucking weak. The production value behind the beats and loops sound like they’re around $8.46 including VAT – and although the flows on 3am and Old Times Sake are up to scratch, all four feature Eminem’s new heavily annoying “half-Arabic-half-Reggae” rap style – and given that it’s so pervasive in every single, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the whole album is sung in comical spaz style. But it’s not.

There are more than a handful of songs on the album that singlehandedly justify buying the whole thing. They are My Mom (more stories about his “neglectful” parent), Insane (more stories of abuse and incest”, Hello (a dark track about rehab and psychosis), Same Song and Dance (an ode to a girl Em’s Psychopath is about to kill), Medicine Ball (A song to the world at large, labelling it his therapeutic playground), Beautiful (the same register as Toy Soldiers but instead focussing on his troubled artist life) and the most explosive track of all, Underground – a twisted 6 minute11 second anger explosion filled with orchestral strikes and counter-rhythmic guitar pluck loops – basically it’s fucking incredible. And it’s all topped off with the first funny Ken Kaniff skit since The Marshall Mathers LP – it even features tap dancing whilst singing a pastiche of We Made You with the chorus line “I Don’t have to Rape You.

So that’s at 7 untouchable songs plus the decently passable 3am (backed by a very good video) and Bagpipes from Baghdad (despite the “Arapic”, although it’s in context here). Given that 5 more Relapse tracks are skits (and very good ones at that), that’s more than half an 80+ minute album that’s completely fantastic. So to pick the 3 hands-down worst tracks plus 3am is pretty shitty odds considering the wealth of quality on offer for promotion.

In short, don’t let the outmoded marketing of singles, or poor song choices thereof, put you off – this album is very very strong indeed. I can’t wait to see what Relapse 2 has to offer.

Fact: Alice in Chains is more important than your family.

This week Jerry and the gang released the very first snippet from 2009’s Alice in Chains Album, as yet untitled – a stray riff embedded in the Week 6 studio footage which can be found here.

It’s a a facestomping cracker of a track that instantly reminds you what great fun the band was in its heyday.  Heck even towards the last breath of the original line-up the band put out great unparalleled tracks, all two of them in 6 years. Give me that over 6 years of radio-friendly horseshit any day.

Just that 10 second snippet hands-down beats GnR’s overbloated but passable “Chinese Democracy.”

Apparently William DuVall coughed slightly during a rehearsal too, and that ended up being better than “The Spaghetti Incident?” But Guns ‘n Roses fans all agree on that anyway.

Then things got spectacular, as Sean Kinney clipped a corner with his car on the way back from the studio.  Everyone at the scene agreed it was the best piece of percussion since Cyro Baptista’s “Beat the Donkey”.

The album’s gonna fucking rock.

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