Category Archives: TAP Editorial

The Co-Op Communique: Who We Are and What We Do

The Co-Op Communique: Who We Are and What We Do

The statement is the most frustrating one there is for anyone who writes about music creates music or is a committed fan of music: there’s no good music anymore.

The truth is that there’s plenty of good music, new music from brand-new artists, out there, but it’s harder to find. In fact, at no other time has there been so much new music waiting to be found, but you have to do a lot of work to find them.

Why is that? I’m not going to demonize the “Music Industry.” It is the easiest target with the bully pulpit of market share. We know that should Beyonce decide to put out a surprise track today, its existence will suck all the oxygen out of every other music-related conversation taking place in the larger media landscape. Still, it goes deeper than that.

Music fans are more siloed and separated than ever before, sometimes by choice but mostly by chance. When is the last time a peer suggested a new artist to you and you listened? Odds are, not recently because we don’t necessarily have those sorts of conversations anymore. Life is so complicated, much more complicated than when we were in our teens and twenties and our identities were frequently and intrinsically tied to music. Occasionally something new gets through, but I’ll bet this doesn’t happen too often.

There are cost hurdles on both sides that further complicate the matter. Most artists do not have the financial ability to – let’s be frank about this – shove their new product down your throat. Most consumers can get everything, or almost everything, as a free stream, and streaming services are not particularly friendly to throwing new concepts at the listener. You’ll get your playlist, but everything on there will be determined by a mandate to keep you on that list. Free plays are paid with advertising, so no curve balls, please.

That’s why fun playlists are, sadly, never challenging (or peppered with surprises).

The artists cannot pay. The audience has grown used to not paying. These are complicated parameters to navigate. In 2015, I made a decision to do something about this. While the Internet has made music marketing harder in some ways, it’s made it easier in others. Working in conjunction with Bandcamp.com, I was able to gather a great team of people together to help with an idea I had.

“Gather” is such a definitive statement, and misleading. I mentioned what I intended to do and people I communicated with jumped in and ran. The Co-Op Communique came together thanks to the will and support of folks like Matt Crosslin, editor of the Down The Line webzine; Mike Indest, host of the Down The Line Basement Tapes podcast; Craig Ellis Bacon, editor of the Radio Eclectic webzine; Dan Pavelich, from the Vandelay Records label; Ray Gianchetti from Kool Kat Records; Keith Klingensmith from Futureman Records; Matthew Rowe from MusicTAP; Gary Wien from New Jersey Stage; Lazlo from BlowUpRadio.com; and the list goes on (my apologies if I missed you).

But what were they signing on to? Here’s how it works. I try to gather as many artists as possible on our annual compilation with the intent to expose one artist’s fans to other artists’ music and expose their fans to others. It is a “rising tide lifts all boats” kind of approach. There are other compilations out there of this sort, but most charge people to buy/download the collection, and also charge the artists to be placed in the collection.

We don’t do either. Charging the audience dissuades them from trying it, which in turn destroys the main goal of introducing new music to them. At the same time, the usage of an artist’s song on the compilation is rather a sacrifice for the artist already. It’s not right to then ask them for money to be a part of it, so we don’t do that. Their contribution is their “pay in,” as it were.

That’s The Co-Op Communique. It’s our way of fostering that peer-organized conversation we all used to have. The listener can either stream or download the collection for free and then easily find those other new artists that grab them. We place their website addresses, Bandcamp pages, Facebook page URLs, etc., right in their song profile.

What we ask artists for:

• A WAV of your most “crowd-pleasing” song, something you feel would draw listeners to a larger body of work
• Listing of writers/performers on the track
• Publishing company name associated with the song (if any)
• Royalties association connected with the song (if any)
• Most importantly, links where listeners can follow to find more – your website or Facebook page, Reverbnation page, Bandcamp page, etc.

Learn more about Co-Op at our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CoOpArtsAndCommunity/

Once you’re a part of Co-Op, we’ll continue to support you, year after year. Check out previous editions of the Co-Op Communique and follow up with these artists today:

https://coopcommunique.bandcamp.com/album/the-co-op-communique-volume-two

https://coopcommunique.bandcamp.com/album/the-co-op-communique-volume-three

https://coopcommunique.bandcamp.com/album/loves-labours-loosed-a-co-op-communique-flash-compilation

We have established a Patreon campaign for Co-Op. We’re searching for other organizations to play an important role, keeping the compilation free the artists to participate and for the audience to experience. As the executive behind Co-Op, I want to keep things free for both the artists and downloaders and that is our operating mission.

If you’re not an artist but want to support our efforts, or you are involved with a business or organization that would like to take advantage of sponsor opportunities as a patron of Co-Op, you can make a real difference today at: https://www.patreon.com/CoOpCommunique

 

The Ambient Series: Steve Roach’s Spiral Revelation Up For Grammy Award

Sometimes, the music you love, even the most obscure, are classics that get recognized for their brilliance. Back in January of 2017, I posted a review of an album – something I rarely do these days. The artist is Steve Roach, an ambient magician of note that has created 125 albums thus far! The album, Spiral Revelation, has just been announced for a Grammy Award nomination. Stunning!

Spiral Revelation is nominated for Best New Age Album alongside of Reflection (Brian Eno), Songversation: Medicine (India Arie), Dancing On Water (Peter Kater), and Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai (Kitaro). Not only is this heady company and competition, it also speaks to the fact that Steve Roach is a world-class talent, something that is not lost on MusicTAP readers and fans of ambient music worldwide.

MusicTAP wishes Steve Roach (and by association, Projekt Records, and Spotted Peccary, both which released Spiral Revelation) all the best in this magnificent honor.

You can read my 2017 review of Spiral Revelation here.

Ignored Albums: Thoughts On Patti Smith Post-Horses Classics

It is as if Patti Smith never made an album beyond Horses. In 2005, Legacy produced a newly remastered Legacy Edition of Horses for the fans of the punk poetess. And there it ended.

Radio Ethiopia followed Horses in 1976. Critics were fairly united in their (unfair) criticism of the album. For me, I appreciated her trying to expand on Horses with excellent tunes like “Ask the Angels”, “Pissing In A River”, and the long but enjoyable title track. Nevertheless, the album didn’t do as well as it was hoped it would. She followed it up with the commercially appreciated Easter. It was filled with excellence like the shared authorship of “Because The Night” (Springsteen), and the album’s other classic songs.

In 1979, Patti Smith released another classic, Wave. It had a great version of “So You Wanna Be A Rock N Roll Star”, as well as “Frederick”, “Dancing Barefoot”, “Wave”, “Hymn” and the rest of the album.

Then Patti dropped from sight until nine years later when she released Dream Of Life in 1988. From there, it’s a fairly steady stream of excellence (in my book) until after Banga (2012), in which she stopped releasing albums.

I get that anything after Wave will have to remain a casual interest forever for fans. For nine important years, she had effectively let the prime music years of her life dissipate before returning with a different Patti on Dream of Life. So, ok.

But those next three albums after Horses are still there.

Ignored.

I’m somewhat shocked that there aren’t remastered Anniversary Editions for those three. With 2017 rapidly drawing to an close and the 40th Anniversary passed on Radio Ethiopia, there is still 2018 for Easter, and 2019 for Wave.

I certainly hope I’m not disappointed. But it’s likely I will be.

      

 

The Long Wait For New Music

Seemingly, three years (or more) is the new wait period between new albums by artists these days. Gone are the fruitful six-eight month turn around in albums by many bands and artists that we considered great (and still do). (Inspiration must not come in cloudbursts anymore!) Today, I was thinking about new music from artists that we haven’t heard from in quite some time. One of them is First Aid Kit.

Now, know that I’m not knocking a band for their extended wait periods. Rather, I just like new music from bands that I love. And I hate waiting three to four  LONG years for something new. Even so, I’m usually rewarded with a classically great album when they do come out. But that wait!

First Aid Kit released their last album, Stay Gold, on June 10, 2014. We’re at the three year mark. Amazingly, they have toured that album successfully for the duration. They’re currently on a tour in Sweden, England, Norway, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, and an October taping in Austin, TX for Austin City Limits. And then there’s Heartless Bastards, who hasn’t released an album since their June 16, 2015 set, Restless Ones. And it was three years from their 2012 Arrow release. To be fair, Erika Wennerstrom has a solo set coming soon. So, that helps.

Honestly, I’m just bitching because time frames have changed dramatically since I was younger. There’s no longer an industry need to push new music into our hearts on a fast track. But unfortunately, too many bands disappear without a trace because of the long waits.

 

I Need A New Album From Patti Smith

When Patti Smith released her ground-breaking Horses album back in 1975, I was in love. Not only with Horses and every incredible song on it, but also with her. Needless to say, I picked up every album she has released since then including her covers set, twelve (2007). The only album that didn’t thrill me as much as anytbing else she’s made was Dream of Life. (These days, I’ve come to appreciate it more as we’re in a PS drought.) For some reason it didn’t resonate with me as much as her previous albums had, or anything since.

And now it’s been five years since Banga. I know that’s slightly over the halfway mark between Dream of Life, and her powerful Gone Again album. That expanse represents eight years of hibernation of one of our great artists!

The other day I was listening to Outside Society, her 2011 retrospective (not perfectly compiled). It was then that I realized that we’re without some Patti Smith. Like a junkie, I began to seriously miss what I could/should be hearing.

During her ascension, I saw her several times in concert. One time was at Park West. She was delayed at the start time. I sat at a table up close. I certainly didn’t want to miss her introduction but nature was calling hard. So, I chanced a quick run. It would become a lucky chance.

While doing my business, she walked into the restroom, apologized to the occupants, and moved into a stall. Stunt, of course, but I loved it. I waited at the door until she came out and touched a hero (to me) as she walked past. So, one of my tales of closeness to an artist I loved.

It’s time for Patti to issue another album. I need it. I recognize the need of retirement. I do. But I also recognize my need to be intellectually stimulated. With her kind of artistic delivery, a new Patti Smith album would be welcomed, indeed!

 

Open Letter to Talking Heads

I know situations can be difficult. I know that people can be difficult. And we all certainly have our stubborn streaks where bygones are not always bygones. But as we age, those feelings should be starting to diminish. A least to the point that rational thought can once more be applied and prevail.

I’m talking directly to Talking Heads and all four of the main components of that historic band. Don’t you think it’s time to do a last go around like The Police did some years back? A definitive ‘Get it while it’s hot’ offering to experience-starved fans? I do!

With age being what it is, a relentlessly pursuing , always winning, part of life that is COMPLETELY unavoidable, there are choices. We already know that a reformation of Talking Heads would be as monetarily pleasing as The Police reunion was. So, with the onset of mortality staring most of us in the face, why not “wake him up”, and get out on the road for a limited amount of dates? Le me provide you with enticements:

  1. A HUGE sum of money at the end of all shows. Even if it does amount to more pocket change to some or all of the Heads, think of the padded bank accounts! In these times more cash in the retirement fund means less stress. Hell, you wouldn’t even need a fund manager. Just let the interest do the heavy lifting. Big fat zeros at the end of any transaction that is plus to a bank account is always easy to keep track of.
  2. Are you people REALLY going to let The Police own the title of BEST band reunion from your era? Really?! A least TRY to make it interesting!
  3. If you happen to fall into a creative mood, you could always channel that into a Talking Heads studio album! Leave another for the legacy! But if you didn’t, we’d understand that part, at least. We would. We’re not THAT demanding.
  4. At the very least, do it for the fans. They gave you the ability to be autonomous, beholden to no man! You got to live out your entire lives in not having to be concerned for your next dollar, your ability to pay family-sized bills, and your larger than normal homes filled with awe-inspiring furniture. And some of you even have fully equipped studios, too! A single 50-date tour is a nice thank-you to fans. And, of course, I’ll not go over the fact that it monetarily benefits you four.

David Byrne. Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth. Chris Frantz. Talking Heads.

“…and we’re not little children
And we know what we want
And the future is certain
Give us time to work it out.

We’re on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin’ that ride to nowhere
We’ll take that ride…”

 

 

2017 Promises New Music From Tool, The Black Angels, and Gene Loves Jezebel

This is a post that doesn’t have specific release dates. But, like the Random Notes of old in Rolling Stone magazine, I thought that you might enjoy knowing a few releases that are currently being worked on and talked about.

First off, it’s been quite a while since we’ve had a proper Gene Loves Jezebel album. Unless you count the Michael Aston releases under the GLJ moniker (which I do not…and I’ve tried. Jay is infinitely so much better), then the last proper album was Heavenly Bodies, issued in 1993. As of this writing, Jay Aston, along with classic members, Peter Rizzo, James Stevenson, and Chris Bell from the early successful periods that include Discover, are funding their next album using PledgeMusic. As of this post, they are 30% funded with well over 60 days to complete.

The new album, simply referred to as The New Album, will be available in 2017. If you go to the band’s PledgeMusic site, you will find some very enticing allures for contributing that include guitars from the band. Mostly, there are offer levels that include DD, CD, vinyl LP, and a wealth of other goodies. More as we get closer to release.

Secondly, a new album from The Black Angels is imperative. Austin, TX high-powered psychedelic band plans on completing and marketing their fifth set (no title as of yet) a some point in 2017. Their last was the magnificent Indigo Meadow, released in 2013.

And finally, a new Tool album is in the works for 2017. It will be their first since 2006’s excellent 10,000 Days.

With this small set of news, 2017 appears to be shaping up as a musical one. And this list helps to alleviate the general quiet that fills December and, for the most part, January.

 

Leon Russell’s Carney Gets Remastered 200g Vinyl LP

Recently, it was noted that vinyl had outstripped digital download as a medium of distribution. Surprisingly, that announcement is one that evokes disbelief. But there it is. Now, having said that (and with the deepest respect to Leon Russell)…

On January 27, Acoustic Sounds will re-release Carney, the 1972 classic that enjoyed a #2 ranking on Billboard’s Hot 200 albums chart AND a top charting single, “Tight Rope”, as a remastered vinyl edition.

Carney will be remastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio from the original analog tapes. The new vinyl edition will be pressed on 200g-weight black vinyl. As a benefit for long lasting jacket, the jacket for Carney is created from heavyweight stock by Stoughton Printing, a notable manufacturer of sturdy LP jackets.

I realize that not all readers of TAP are proponents of this new vinyl resurgence. I do hope that since the new remaster is completed, that it might find an outlet as a Special Edition CD.

 

32CD Career Wishbone Ash Box Coming

If you are a dedicated fan of Wishbone Ash, then the following news will put you in a tizzy. It;s not new news, but new enough that some of you are unaware as of yet. Worse, the pertinent details are missing. It may even be until some later point in 2017 before we’re comprised of the fullness of the box. BUT…

Possibly in September of 2017, Snapper Records will release a new remastered 32CD Box called Wishbone Ash – The Vintage Years (I’m hoping for a better title than that!). It is being said that “ancient 24-track masters” have been located (Wishbone Four? There’s The Rub?), which gives me massive hope for a proper remaster of Wishbone Four (if that is what is meant).The box will deal exclusively with Wishbone Ash music from 1969 to 1990.

In addition to the massive serving of WA music, there will be a coffee-table book with “photos, artifacts, and historical material” included!

That’s all of the news available on this set for now. But rest assured, I WILL update as new information becomes available. I already have emails out the door to those that can help.

This is the BEST news I’ve heard all of 2016! (Thanks to Steve Talia, and to John Fell for the heads up!)

Wishbone Ash