[Watch] Breton - "Parthian Shot" (Official Video)

Has SKOA's beloved London based band Breton seduced us with a recurring theme of all things great (world domination perhaps)?  Indeed they have. With extra singles off the deluxe edition of War Room Stories like "Titan", and today's release of the video for "Parthian Shot", it seems quite evident. Whether it's their always evolving use of atmospheric sounds which may include:  recording samples of everyday objects, a recurrent echo, or simply sounds and lyrics played in reverse; this alchemy is throughly woven into Breton's style and will taunt your mind like a sharply fired arrow of a Parthian archer. 

You can imagine my delight in seeing a link with the words 'NEW' and 'BRETON' in the same sentence. Sitting at my desk, headphones snugly in place, I took a look at the "Parthian Shot" video. I was drawn in immediately by the reverse tones of choir like chants at the beginning of the song which effortlessly transported my mind to a cavernous, stained glass window chapel of sorts (yes, I have a very vivid imagination).  My eyes then devotedly fixated on the screen. Here I watched as  a surreal, creamy, technicolor melting liquid mesmerizingly cascaded over a human structure naturally morphing and mixing in synch with the sound. It was easy to lose myself in this video. I felt a familiar yearning to connect the enchanting audio in my headphones to what I was seeing,  and then unite it with its unique song title.  Was it a metaphor for the sharpness our words can have when we speak them to one another? The way someone's words can 'dissolve' and 'melt' us or 'put us back together'? I don't know. The simple fact that this song and video stirred something in me was satisfaction enough. Sometimes the simplest Breton visions and sounds bring forth the most complex journeys. And I'm ok with this.
Watch "Parthian Shot" below:
Breton On Tour! 
21 Nov - Liberte´ - Rennes, FR
22 Nov - La Cartonnerie - Reims, FR
23 Nov - L’Autre Canal - Nancy, FR
24 Nov - La Rodia - Besancon, FR
25 Nov - Casino de Paris - Paris FR
27 Nov - Marche´ Gare - Lyon, FR
28 Nov - Paloma - Nimes, FR
29 Nov - La Sire`ne - La Rochelle, FR
30 Nov - CCM John Lennon - Limoges, FR 
02 Dec - Heaven - London, UK

[Watch] Breton - "Titan" (Official Music Video)

Ugh, Breton is on FIRE this year. I've barely been able to keep up with all the happenings and goings on with these guys, which is a fantastic problem to have if I'm honest. Since releasing their sophomore LP, War Room Stories the four-piece has basically been full throttle nonstop in the form of extensive touring just about everywhere as well as putting together some bonus goodies to go on their upcoming re-release of the now highly acclaimed release, which drops on November 10th. I've already expressed all my feels about the addictive little dance pop track, "Titan", but now the tune has a video to go with it and boy it is a stunner.
Way back before their debut album, Other People's Problems, dropped, I chatted with singer Roman Rappak about how the band likes to speak in multiple languages when it comes to their art, which obviously has always included video. I have to admit that prior to peeping the video below that the danciness of the tune sort of distracted me a bit from the subject matter. The video does an excellent job of reshifting the focus.
Fun fact about this video: it was shot a mere 15 minute walk outside of the bands old stomping grounds, Breton Labs aka the abandoned bank that the group had been living and creating in. (h/t to Noisey for that bit of info they got from Roman) 
Watch every last second of "Titan" below. 

[Watch] Jose Gonzalez - "Every Age" (Official Music Video)

It has been 7 years since Jose Gonzalez released his sophomore LP, In Our Nature. I remember the day it came out all too well because I was actually working at Mute at the time and everyone was so excited to see how far the record would take him. Gotta say, it took him pretty far. While I've thoroughly enjoyed his contribution to society in the form of Junip over the past few years, I am so so so so so so so so so happy that he has returned to us all on his own. 

Earlier today the video for his first single, "Every Age" was unveiled. It's more of an experience, actually. If you head over to Eyes in Space you can enjoy the view of a drone slowly lifting of to SPACE(!!!), which is almost as beautiful as the song itself. Almost. That's saying a lot considering the breathtaking 360° view that the video provides. Bonus: if you're one of those lucky gadget heads out there with a VR headset, you can have an even more awesome experience with the video than I did. 

His upcoming album, Vestiges & Claws drops on February 17th, 2015 on Mute. 

P.S. you can check out the non-360° version of "Every Age" below. 

Why Does It Have To Be Either Spotify Or Taylor Swift? Why Are We Not Saying It's Her Label's Fault?

 

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Oct 10, 2014 at 9:43am PDT

 

The internet has been up in arms all day. Why? Because Taylor Swift somewhat abruptly decided to pull her entire catalog from Suckify Spotify. It's a dramatic move considering streaming is supposed to save the music industry from piracy (and subsequent loss of album sales). It's an even bolder statement coming from the only person who has managed to scrape together a whopping 1.25 million album sales for 2014 so far, making her the only artist to do so for the year at this point.

Personally, I think it's a terrible move. I get it. We've heard time and time again that artists make little to no money from streaming. It's fractions of a penny per stream. When you actually look at the math, it's embarrassing that we have been praising streaming as our savior. You have to wonder though, who really is at fault here? Is it actually the streaming service, or is this another case of record labels being too greedy and them cutting artists out way too much? I get the feeling that we're all to quick to jump on the former and not the latter.

I can't believe I'm actually about to say this, but maybe we all should spend a second being nice to Taylor Swift and Spotify. It's not their fault. Well, it might be Swift's to an extent, but I'll get to that. Either way, especially in this case we should be throwing mad shade in Big Machine Label Group's direction, not her or Spotify's. We should also probably be upset that not much has changed from an overall industry standpoint to benefit musicians since streaming sevices came to town.

It's no secret that Taylor Swift thinks that music shouldn't be free. Last year she wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal where she said, "It's my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album's price point is. I hope they don't underestimate themselves or undervalue their art." This is all well and good, TayTay. You most certainly are not wrong here, but maybe instead of insisting that the technology trying to work with you is to blame, maybe it's the folks you got in bed with when you knew full well that they are notorious for trying to pay your kind (artists) as little as possible for their work.

There are plenty of artists who are well aware that Spotify isn't all to blame here. Last November, Billy Bragg wrote a lengthy Facebook post where he had this very thought regarding labels and royalty payouts. "The problem with the business model for streaming is that most artists still have contracts from the analog age, when record companies did all the heavy lifting of physical production and distribution, so only paid artists 8%-15% royalties on average," he wrote."Those rates, carried over to the digital age, explain why artists are getting such paltry sums from Spotify. If the rates were really so bad, the rights holders - the major record companies - would be complaining. The fact that they're continuing to sign up means they must be making good money." He then goes on to explain that in Sweden that artists have already identified that it's not the streaming service that's at fault and that it's actually the labels wrongdoing. These artists have begun to take action to get better royalty rates that actually reflect the costs in digital production in distribution. 

So why isn't the same happening here? Why is it that instead the largest act of the year is instead doing the opposite and running into the arms of Big Machine Label Group, instead of taking a step back and trying to see what's actually happening here.

The fact of the matter is, streaming gives everyone access to ulimited possibilities of music to listen to. What Taylor Swift is doing is limiting how much of the world she can dominate, not to mention how much money she could be potentially be making. It has been said that whopping 25% of Spotify users have streamed Swift's songs and that her songs were on 20 million playlists. Call me crazy, but that's a pretty impressive amount of penetration within a userbase. It just doesn't make sense to run in the opposite direction of that. 

Although I have many opinions about the way in which Spotify's offerings are available for the masses, I couldn't agree more with Billy Bragg in that same Facebook post when he wrote, "I've long felt that artists railing against Spotify is about as helpful to their cause as campaigning against the Sony Walkman would have been in the early 80s. Music fans are increasingly streaming their music and, as artists, we have to adapt ourselves to their behaviour, rather than try to hold the line on a particular mode of listening to music."

The internet has turned consumers into a la carte fans. Everyone chooses what level of fandom is. Some fans only buy CDs. Some only buy vinyl. Some stream exclusively but opt to see their favorite artists live instead of purchasing music. There are also some who avoid spending money on an artist as much as possible via pirating or only listening to music via YouTube. That's only a small handful of the use cases that are out there and believe me, as long as technology is going to keep changing as quickly as it has it's only going to get even more complicated.

Business Insider has reason to believe that because label owner Scott Borchetta is looking to sell the label that by pulling Swift's catalog that it will cause scarcity in the market and it will thus drive people to purchase 1989 instead of Googling it and almost immediately finding it floating somewhere online. Someone should really remind Ms. Swift and Big Machine Label Group that you can't force people who only kind of like you to buy your album. That's not how the world operates now. We do not live in a black and white world full of absolutes. You either adapt to how things are changing, or your kind dies. 

It would be nice for once that instead of a huge artist running in the opposite direction of technology like streaming services that we witnessed an Arrested Development or House of Cards + Netflix scenario where an album is exclusively made available via streaming. Even if it was just for a limited time before some cool deluxe physical version was made available that fans could purchase. Futhermore, it would be an even bigger deal to see an artist do this after they completely shed themselves of their chains of a record deal so we could see them earn money directly from a streaming service on their own. Any tiny bit of the above would be amazing just so we could see how it works. Everyone is still so worried that the music business is dead and that artists will never may make money the same way again. While this is true, if artists who are able to potentially take the hit for the good of the community were less afraid to take more chances, there is potential for the industry to see a rebirth that the fans in the 21st century and beyond would happily pump their hard earned dollars into in the name of the art. I understand that everything is insanely complicated and it's more than just being like, "BYE FELICIA" to a major, but I really think that's the kind of direction we need to go into before significant change is made.

[Night Out] OMG CMJ 2014 Day Five: Soko @ United Palace Theater Theater

Soko @ United Palace Theater 10/25/14 (with our boy Matt on guitar!)
Saturday night Kibbe and I trekked up to the United Palace Theatre to cover Soko (who opened for Foster the People.)  Honestly, I'm glad we didn't try to stick around after Soko because I'm not really a fan of Foster the People. I was still interested in covering Soko nonetheless, especially since one of our friends Matt was going to be playing his gothic heart out on guitar and keyboards to make it worth the commute. For those not in the know, Matt is half of the Los Angeles band VOWS (formerly WAZU). The other half, his gorgeous partner with the hauntingly velvet voice, Rizz, was there supporting him in the wings. So win win, we get to cover an artist that was new to us, and catch up with super talented and genuine humans we know (and love) as Matt and Rizz. 
May I dare say United Palace Theater doesn't have the friendliest security staff and some of them obviously haven't been to photo pit hospitality class 101 but, that's a story for another day. I held my own under their fascist "photo pit" rules and managed to get some fun shots.
Soko entertained us with upbeat rhythms intertwined with hyper banter about her suicide attempts and reminders that "she would be old tomorrow" because it's her birthday. She playfully slipped out of articles of clothing on stage because "it was hot" and then made mention that the crowd from the night before was a "better audience".  I'll agree that the crowd was not as present as they could have been but, I don't know, maybe they just weren't in the mood or their adult sippy cups of overpriced beer ran dry.
Soko's spirited set ended and I swiftly maneuvered up the aisle (in my awesome hot pink Dr Marten boots) to meet up with Kibbe in the lobby. She was talking to some random people and I approached them with my not so happy Sprout pout (which is a rare occurrence, mind you).
Deciding it was time to make like a tree and leave, we headed round back to meet up with Rizz to briefly exchange hugs, catch up on life, and then say our goodbyes.  We were saddened to hear that the big move to Los Angeles hadn't been as fruitful for our friends as they had hoped, which is unfortunate given how talented these two are. It really got to me while Kibbe was on the verge of tears after we parted ways with Rizz. 
We left the venue with a mixed bag of emotions and a laundry list of nuances such as: the not so friendly security people, lack of photo pit hospitality, and a fan base with a pretense so thick that it penetrated the theater's every molecule.
The cab ride back to Kibbtopia provided a forum for the "WTF" convo and I believe an epiphany which inspired the manifestation of a brand new SKoA mission statement (coming soon).I'm going to call this revelation "the big picture". It's not easily noticed sometimes but, it's definitely there if you're willing to really see. This particular 'SKoA Night Out' presented an opportunity for Kibbe and I to truly get a glimpse of the big picture. A scenario that involves our love of music, truly talented artists, and their connection to the music industry.  This combination has become the catalyst to our commitment in changing the way music is revered, celebrated and showcased. We love music and we need it to love us back again. 
We'll be making a big announcement in the next few days sharing our new mission and vision for SKoA. For now, click here to head over to our Gallery to check out more photos from the show.

[Night Out] OMG CMJ 2014 Day Four: WALTZ, Shilpa Ray, Lost Boy ?, Ron Gallo, The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, Kate Boy

WALTZ @ Piano's for The Deli Mag Showcase 10/24/2014Fridayyyy. I continued to lose my momentum as the photographs and writeups began to pile up. Sleep deprivation was really getting to me. I kept it low key during the day and then decided to take myself on an adventure for Friday night. I was still amped from the night before and wanted to find more fun new bands to give my heart to, but I didn't want to be influenced by anyone else. I've mentioned previously that in my heyday that I used to randomly pick up albums based on whether or not I thought their album artwork looked interesting, so I took the same approach for CMJ Day Four but with press photos that were readily available on CMJ's much improved mobile app.

First band of the night was WALTZ at Piano's for the Deli Mag Showcase. I arrived a little late and caught a glimpse of what appeared to be some dudes in speedos up on stage while I was getting stamped outside. I didn't think much of it because they were gone by the time I got to the back. It was Australian turned New Yorker Matt Hutchinson's "whatever" scowl sporting an 80s windbreaker in his press photo that had me willing to take a chance. Not sure why, he just seemed like a friend I hadn't met yet or something. At any rate, my gut did not lead me astray. His erratic movements whilst furiously strumming on his guitar with his mic coupled with his tortured monotone wailing stirred something inside of me that lives in my dark and twisty place. Oh yeah, those speedo dudes? They came back. I hadn't noticed before, but they each had a letter painted on their chest to spell out "WALTZ". That part is still a bit of a head scratcher for me. Looking forward to getting more familiar with this band. I briefly spoke to Hutchinson after the set and he said they were wrapping up an album and working to get it out the door to the public, so more on that front as the details become available.

After WALTZ I was chatting up a photographer from Pancakes and Whiskey about the wonders of Bo Ningen from the night before when the keyboardist/guitarist from the band setting up next chimed in to share his love for them as well. I hadn't settled on a next step at that point, but that interaction made me want to stick aroud to see what kind of music this friendly fellow contributed to.

Shilpa Ray @ Piano's for The Deli Mag Showcase 10/24/2014The band ended up being singer/harmonium player Shilpa Ray and her band of chill dudes. I don't know how else to describe Ray other than the ultimate badass bitch that I aspire to be. I hung on to every snarl and howl that rang out with each song they played. Around the middle of their set, Ray came to a full stop and said something to the effect of, "If all these other fucking people are gonna play shirtless tonight then fuck it I'm gonna do it too." She then proceeded to finish her set shirtless as if nothing had ever happened. It didn't seem to distract her or the audience from the performance. If anything it made her all the more fierce and fearless than before. I am anxious to spend some time with her music now, but I know the experience won't be complete until I purchase a nice bottle of whiskey first.

Lost Boy ? @ Trash Bar 10/24/2014Next I ventured into Brooklyn to have a peek at Lost Boy ? over at Trash Bar. The allure with this band was their press photo consisted of the lead singer feeding himself what appeared to be a partially eaten piece of pizza in a passed out dude's hand. I would say that it appropriately captured the essence of the band. They were witty, carefree, and super fun. I'm glad that I kept "accidentally" seeing New York bands that night. I look forward to incorporating them and the other I stumbled across into my ongoing show schedule.

The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die @ Cameo Gallery 10/24/2014As the night progressed on, I attempted to see what a band with an epic name (The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die) and another fun press photo of a dude with a slice of pizza on his face wearing sunglasses (Ron Gallo) that were both playing at the same time. If you had seen the way I darted from Spike Hill to Cameo Gallery and managed to slide my way into semi-prime positioning at both shows you would have been impressed. That said, both had me all "meh" but for different reasons. TWIABPAIANLATD was good, but in a pretentious way that I wasn't really in the mood for. Ron Gallo, on the other hand, was more goofy than playful and I found it to be off putting. Also worth mentioning that the audiences of both bands were really annoying and I didn't want to be associated with them so I bounced.

Ron Gallo @ Spike Hill 10/24/2014Nothing else looked terribly interesting until 1AM when Stockholm group Kate Boy were set to hit the stage at Knitting Factory so I grabbed a Criff Dog and took advantage of my old watering hole for a few drinks and a place to charge my phone. I was sort of anxious about staying out so late on the offchance that Kate Boy MIGHT be worthwhile, but #YOLOOMGCMJ2014 and all that.

Kate Boy @ The Knitting Factory 10/25/2014I'm happy to report that I was able to end the evening on an ultra high note. Kate Boy is pure pop fire that consumes you in their pulsating beats, succinct synths, and bright vocals. I'm just mad that this didn't make it to my radar sooner. Tracks like "In Your Eyes", "Self Control", and "Open Fire" have already made it into my rotation since then. I look forward to their forthcoming debut album, whenever that is slated to drop. Don't worry, I'm already working on getting more details shortly.

You can check out photos from my night out in the slide show below!

[Night Out] OMG CMJ 2014 Day Three: Flavor Raid, Bo Ningen, HSY, Weaves

Weaves @ Shea Stadium 10/23/2014Thursday. Weird vibe all day during the day. Had planned on rushing to see The Kickback and then hit up the Texas Takeover Party at The Delancey but Sprout's camera that she graciously let me borrow just did not want to be BFFs with my computer so getting photos sorted for Wednesday's wrapup took longer than I had ever dreamed of. I was bummed about missing The Kickback, Catch Fever, Ravin' Symone, and overall just not making the most of my time off during the day. I guess the lack of sleep attributed to my inability to move more quickly, but I was reminded throughout the evening that you don't need a perfectly planned itinerary for CMJ in order to have a good time. Sometimes you need to just roll with it and some really cool bands end up right in front of you.

Flavor Raid @ The Delancey for the Texas Takeover Party 10/23/2014I tried to stick to my schedule. I really did. As soon as I was set free from the chains of SD card insanity I scurried down to The Delancey to see if Flavor Raid and the rest of the Texas Takeover party was all that it was what I had been stressing over. I think the best word to describe the half hour I spent there was...lackluster? Nothing on Flavor Raid. I had been genuinely excited to check them out. It was just the wrong night, wrong set up, wrong everything basically for me.. I did get a kick out of their song about shitty high fives and the need for elbow fives though. Overall, there weren't gonna be enough strobe-y light sticks in the world for the crowd to play with for me to really connect. If you're relying on your stage gimmicks to get people to like you, it's likely that you won't get very far. Not giving up on those guys, but this just wasn't their night in my opinion.

That set made me decide not to mess with Texas the rest of the night. I needed to shake the vibe of the day so I hit up my friend Dan who was already making a go of it in Brooklyn to see if we could meet up and maybe catch something worthwhile. You know when you're in a weird mood and you put on a bunch of different records trying to shake it and nothing seems to work? That was totes my feel bro between the time I left the LES and by the end of Bo Ningen's 1st song at Baby's All Right.

We just showed up. We were open for anything. While Dan was having a cigarette we chatted about how the music industry has reached this crazy saturation point where things come and go so fast and there's so much of the same thing that things like CMJ seem like marathon moments of futility. I was hardcore feeling that and wasn't sure how to make that feeling in the current moment.

Bo Ningen @ Baby's All Right 10/23/2014But then Bo Ningen, y'all. Dang. Did not see that one coming. The Japanese four-piece brought the fury down on all of us in the form of blazing guitars, screeching vocals, and enough long jet black hair that I don't even want to imagine what the shower drain in their hotel room must look like. They played with such intensity that by the end I felt like I had eleventy billion shots of espresso. I was PUMPED to hear more music, specifically with all the guitars I could find. I texted my friend who was over at Shea Stadium to see if my needs would be met there. As luck would have it, they had some Canadian bands that unbeknownst to me were about to make my evening.

When I arrived Toronto four piece noice punk outfit HSY (pronounnced "hussy") were just finishing setting up. Admittedly, I'm not sure that they're for everyone, but man they just hit the spot like nobodys business for me. I especially enjoyed how few fucks they gave, specifically guitarslinger Anna Mayberry, who made several laps into the crowd screeching and howling the whole way. It was terrible in terms of being able to get any snaps of them since it was dimly lit inside Shea, but they left a lasting impression on me that no photo could.

HSY @ Shea Stadium 10/23/2014And then came Weaves. *SWOON*. I was already riding on this high of fuzzing guitars from HSY and the intensity of Bo Ningen when singer Jasmyn Burke opened her mouth and starting sassily wagging her finger at the crowd. All of my insides tightened up like someone just informed me that Beck was coming over to my house for a tea party. I was smitten almost immediately. It's been awhile since I fell that hard that fast for a band. I couldn't keep it together as a "professional". I kept leaning over to the other photogs there and yelling, "OH MY GOD I LOVE HER SO HARD I JUST WANT TO TAKE PICTURES OF HER FACE ALL DAY". I was so in awe of the way she managed to just yank everyone in the room to focus and give her their undivided attention. I tweeted it that night and I will say it here again: This is a band is about to blow the heck up. I give it less than 6 months. Their self-titled EP that dropped back in April does not do them justice, in my opinion. It does a pretty good job bottling up Burke's energy, but then again she does not seem to be the kind of woman that you simply contain.

Weaves @ Shea Stadium 10/23/2014When the show ended it took everything in my being not to run up and hug her. I settled on stammering to Anna from HSY that I thoroughly enjoyed them as a compromise, but I was in East Williamsburg and not acting terribly Williamsburgy, so I split shortly thereafter to avoid any further embarrassment.

You can check out all the photos from my night out for CMJ Day Three in the slideshow below: