Salute, This week is a very hallowed as we remember the tragic hours of September 11, 2001, the look back at the extraordinary resilience the city and the nation had in the wake of everything that happened.
Then again, this week on a might lighter note was also the VMAs and included the Kanye West tirade, the Kid Rock versus Tommy Lee grudge match and one of the more memorable performances ever, given by Britney Spears, and these two fine reaction: http://www.yahoo.com/s/675024 followed by http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoKlMpCW0Vc
It may have come after Labor Day, but the calendar still says it is Summer so the Samsung and AT&T Summer Krush tour was an interesting way for an exclusive group of fans to enjoy All American Rejects at Webster Hall, September 5. The national showcase of rotating bands in fifteen cities nationally played for a crowed hall, albeit an eighteen plus show leaving the core of their screamers outside begging for a listen. Those who did make it in were treated to an hour of ear-candy riddled pop-punk spanning the band’s career. Although the reaction was subdued for most of the set, the high points found the auditorium echoing with crowd-sung choruses and some interesting dance moves along the stage line. Given the invitation only nature of the event the atmosphere lacked the electricity the band thrives on, but a few bras thrown on stage kept the antics upbeat and made for good commentary throughout.
MTV made an attempt at resurrecting the VMAs this year with a revamped format showcasing several performance rooms built around a back-stage party atmosphere rather than the typical on-stage acts scattered between long presentations. In part the format was successful in helping the television broadcast seem more interesting and move faster, but came across with an almost disjointed feel as the camera cut from room-to-room with a less than seamless transition cutting in-and-out of performances. The evening started out with a bang as the fallen princess of pop (or poop, depending on the point of view) Britney Spears attempted her come back. As so eloquently already reported by every news agency and blogger in the universe, train wrecks have redeeming qualities, this was so indescribably terrible it made Hiroshima look like a walk in a grassy field. She was sporting a highly unflattering outfit displaying her ponch so blatantly it might have been visible from the moon. The excess weight aside a blind kid with a crayon could have designed a better set and costumes. The out of sync dancing looked like she was trudging through quicksand while the choreography resembled something a paraplegic senile hag scripted. Her feeble singing, or rather lip syncing to the dat track was about as convincing as a politician and the new song was about as memorable as a week of constipation. Her facial expression throughout the entire performance was like watching deer on depressants starring at oncoming headlights, and the jaw-dropped reaction of the crowd was more amiss than if Eddie Murphy brought his stand-up routine to a Mormon village. If that does not leave a mark on MTV’s broadcast nothing short of another Superbowl wardrobe malfunction will.
Maturity for a metal band can sometimes be written off as the kiss of death as the overture of a less aggressive stance. There is an ocean between the assumption and the resulting execution of intensity As I Lay Dying bring on their latest offering on Metal Blade Records.
The album is essentially devoid of the at-times cheesy harmonized post-Swedish riffs of past offerings. Rather they are traded in for a more focused layered approach to the guitar work focusing on textures as much as riffage with production that emphasizes the depth of the guitars and not just the crunch.
Vocally, the record also enjoys greater diversity through these changes as well, providing a more inspired approach to melding the throaty screams with more layered melodies. The addition of bassist Josh Gilbert’s throat lends to the variation and brings a more convincing execution in the layers of clean passages.
An Ocean Between Us oscillates between thrash laden blasts and mid-tempo thumpers portraying the undertone of the lyrics in a visceral way and in a short forty-three minutes As I Lay Dying present themselves as an unrelenting force pushing the metalcore scene further from its stomp-it-out roots.
In the last several weeks some major changes began brewing in the digital music distribution scene. It started with the announcement by Universal Music to begin moving away from the venerable iTunes storefront as its core digital distribution platform and began discussing with other carriers the potential of DRM-free assets. That was followed by AT&T’s announcement it was joining forces with eMusic to provide over-the-air mobile downloads which was then met by the partnership between Real Network’s Rhapsody and MTV’s Urge storefronts and the subsequent over-the-air availability of the new entity being provided by Verizon via their VCast platform. Finally, Walmart began selling DRM-free material at a deeply discounted 99cent price point to match their already discounted 79cent DRM tracks. Other notes included Sony’s revamping of its storefront and announcement of its latest portable players and the XM scan-and-save technology allowing people to bookmark tracks for subsequent purchase.
The addition of these new resources is an important next step in the incarnation of the paid digital download. Although, initially Apple’s iTunes was a trendsetting asset in securing a consumer base and somewhat of a savior to a floundering recording industry, the monopoly the ecosystem since created actually may be holding back deeper penetration and greater adoption of digital purchasing patterns. The lack of competition hurts pricing, lowers the speed of advances in technology and diminishes the effectiveness of adoption by limiting the perception of choice. That is not to undermine the successes Apple has put together using the iTunes platform but as is demonstrated in over a century of nationalized retailing and many more generations of retail in general, a single, dominating market leader is not always the best way to run an industry successfully for all parties involved, including and most especially, the consumer.
The effectiveness of these new or improved storefronts remains to be seen but the increased activity in the space can only lead to positives in the future.