Archive for January, 2012

Have you heard the new M.I.A single?

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Opinion was pretty sharply divided over M.I.A’s last album ‘Maya’. Some people (this writer included) felt it was a disappointing step backwards following the killer output of her first two albums, and a possible sign that increased superstardom had mellowed her slightly. Others felt that it showed a natural progression and was perhaps unfairly overlooked.

Get ready for those arguments to begin all over again, as M.I.A has unleashed some all-new material. Well … kind of all-new, as an earlier version of this tune partially appeared on last year’s mixtape download ‘Vikki Leex’. ‘Bad Girls’ is the upcoming single from her as-yet-untitled summer album. The song itself was unveiled online today, hits iTunes tomorrow, and has a video premiere lined up for this Friday. In the meantime, you can check out the music itself in the clip above. It certainly seems like a more melodic return to form (the harsh discordance of her most recent output also drew a fair bit of criticism), but also could be seen as lacking a certain ‘fire’ that was present in her earlier work. What do you guys think?

Check Out Episode Eight Of Global Scene: Amsterdam

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Another Friday, you say? Already? And we’re almost at the end of January? 2012 is already zipping by so quickly, we’ll be putting the Christmas presents under the tree before too long (provided that the Mayans and John Cusack weren’t in the right, and the Earth isn’t due to be destroyed. Which, at any rate, would save us all a bit of money come the next festive season).

Aaaanyway, abstract rambling aside – we all know that Friday offers up the chance to check out a brand new episode of BAMM’s awesome Global Scene series. We’re up to episode eight of our in-depth look at the cultural hub of Amsterdam, and this week we focus on ‘Festival Life’ – the vibrant and exciting Dutch festival scene, and the opportunities these events can give acts for extending their fanbase. Enjoy!

Check Out Episode Seven Of Global Scene: Amsterdam

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Another Friday rolls around, and before you leap away from your desk to indulge in a chaotic weekend of pure hedonism (or just prepare to sit around in your underwear all Saturday and Sunday playing the Xbox) why not treat yourself to Episode Seven of BAMM’s awesome Global Scene: Amsterdam? This week the show examines the Dutch artists who have achieved massive international success – how they went about becoming superstars, and what new bands/musicians can learn from them.

SOPA: Defining The Future Of The Internet

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Yep, we know: you’re well aware that it’s Internet Blackout Day, a collective effort by some of the most influential online voices – Wikipedia, Reddit and Google among them – to raise awareness of the dangers of the Stop Online Piracy Bill. Here at BAMM, we’re not going to regurgitate the exact reasons why SOPA is a damaging prospect – there are plenty of resources that will do that for you.

BAMM has long been a proponent of finding a new and innovative model for the music industry in a digital age. No-one seriously ‘supports’ the idea of piracy and of musicians (among other artists) losing money and control of their work. But SOPA can only be described as both a) a huge step backwards for the industry, and b) the equivalent of trying to swat a housefly by nuking an entire city block. Overblown, ill-conceived and ludicrous.

Here’s what Senator John Cornyn had to say, when asked to explain why he withdrew his support for a bill which is – to all intents and purposes – being rushed through Congress.

“It’s better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong. Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about unintended damage to the internet and innovation in the tech sector require a more thoughtful balance, which will take more time.”

As for The White House? They state:

“While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.”

It’s clear, then – this is an issue that transcends the normal boundaries of party politics. This is something more universal than that. Or – as Google put it – we should End Piracy, Not Liberty. Sign up and support that idea.

What Is The Future Of Music Journalism?

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We’ve all heard Elvis Costello’s well-worn statement that ‘writing about music is like dancing about architecture’. Presumably Mr Costello’s venom towards music criticism started roundabout the mid-80s, i.e. the point at which his musical output stopped being any good, and certain factions of the music press took it upon themselves to alert their readership of this fact. Funny coincidence, that.

The statement, however, stems from a much different era: one in which journalistic bastions like Rolling Stone, the New Musical Express and Melody Maker were pretty much the only outlets for intelligent music writing. For better or for worse, music journalism (at least, the cover-story interviews and opinion pieces) was the province of a select few ‘personality’ writers – your Nick Kents or your Lester Bangs or your Cameron Crowes or your Stephen Wells. The punk ‘revolution’ (use of inverted commas on the term ‘revolution’ due to the fact punk consisted almost entirely of middle-class kids playing dress-up) saw the rise of fanzine culture, but until the rise of easy-access web publishing within the last six or seven years, influential music writing was a select and private little treehouse club.

Now? Now many would argue that such considered, in-depth journalism is in decline. Not exactly news to many within the field, who’ve been bemoaning the fact that intelligent writing is becoming increasingly scarce in an era of SEO-targeted soundbite-speak. Still: the news that Spin magazine is to eliminate its annual 1500 short album reviews in favor of 140-character Twitter summations has raised a few eyebrows.

It would be easy to assume that all music journalism (and journalism in general) will be heading this way – short, concise, lacking in personality and tone but heavy in quick-glance accessibility. We’re doomed to a culture of chronic attention deficit, in which opinion and insight are eschewed in favor of one-shot facts and stats. Right?

Well … not exactly. What everyone seems to forget is that – while click-grabbing headlines and easy-to-digest material is often the lifeblood of web writing – intelligent music journalism still exists, and isn’t going anywhere. The doomsayers would have us believe otherwise, but look at it this way: Spin has always had a roster of quick, one-glance album reviews (not to mention personals, advertorials, letter pages etc). These formats are fragmentary by nature: so what’s wrong with utilizing a more ‘disposable’ and direct format like Twitter to reinvent these formats? The stuff that people buy Spin for (the steak rather than the potatoes) will still exist, as long as it is profitable – and it seems to have retained enough of an audience to make it that way.

We’re about mid-way through the transition from print media handing over the ‘dominant genre’ baton to web media. There are going to be a few difficulties; a few hiccups. People are going to claim that music writing isn’t ‘genuine’ unless it’s printed on rapidly-yellowing dead trees, and that a new generation of iPhone twiddlers aren’t going to know the joys of such intelligent writing. This is nonsense, as anyone who peruses the verbose offerings from sites like Pitchfork (not to mention BAMM’S own long-form journalistic offerings) will attest.

So: what do you guys think? Is this Twitterfied move from Spin a good or bad thing? Progress or heresy?

Check Out Episode Six Of Global Scene: Amsterdam

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Friday comes around once again, so why not stoke your European sensibilities with a visit to Amsterdam, courtesy of BAMM.TV? (Well … a virtual visit. We like you and all that, but we’re not going to buy you all plane tickets just yet). Episode Six of Global Scene: Amsterdam continues our all-access look at the musical culture of the titular city, and in this installment we examine the organizations, institutes and projects who strive to support local music. Enjoy!

BAMM Rundown: 5 Weirdest Band Names

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As cliches go, ‘it’s all in a name’ is up there with ‘never judge a book by its cover’, ‘it’s too cold to snow’, and ‘I’m serious, Rebecca Black stopped being funny about an ice-age ago, let’s all just agree to stop talking about her.’ Name your pastoral folk band ‘Deathsnapper’, and the chances are you’ll have a tough old time finding the audience who’ll embrace your sound.

Some bands, however, just like to be willfully difficult. Take the following five acts, whose choice of name seems purpose-designed to have audiences scratching their heads, and gig promoters throwing their hands up in despair.

5. 10,000 Maniacs

Sounds Like: a 1980’s video-store classic starring Rutger Hauer as a warden battling a city full of evil, insane cyborg monsters.

Actually Are: Long-standing, Jamestown-based purveyors of jingly, melodic pop. No maniacs involved.

4. Butthole Surfers

Sounds Like: a website you really want to avoid.

Actually Are: Chaotic alt-rock noisemakers from San Antonio, whose cult fanbase has seen them survive until this day.

3. The Flyin’ Burrito Brothers

Sounds Like: A line of medium-quality fast-food restaurants that you visit once every now and then (i.e. when drunk), the logo of which is a pair of anthropomorphic burritos in pilot goggles and bomber jackets.

Actually Are: Country rock pioneers whose career spanned over thirty years, initially founded by Byrds legends Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman.

2. Limp Bizkit

Sounds Like: That feeling when you spill coffee on a cookie and it turns into a soggy mess, but you’re going to eat it anyway, because you paid for it anyway, right, and who cares if your hands are now full of doughy mush and everyone is looking at you and pointing and laughing and you’ll be called ‘Cookie Mess Freak’ for the rest of your life? Ahem.

Actually Are: Much in the same way we don’t have to outline certain war atrocities, we’re sure you’re already aware who these gentlemen actually are.

1. Archers Of Loaf

Sounds Like: A bow-wielding team of superheroes dedicated to removing the evil Bread Monsters from the face of the Earth.

Actually Are: 90s North Carolina rockers who (along with every other band in the world, it seems) are presently enjoying a reunion. Unfairly overlooked by the rock history books, maybe their present-day antics could win them some new fans.