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Getting Past the Industry to Love Music Again
Five and Alive: Front-Loaded Albums
03/05/11 at 02:02 AM by Adam Pfleider
One of the better topics I've seen in the forum feed in the past few months. Started by evilandgood, this was one to think about for over a month. Shifting through some of my favorite albums, seeing why some stuck better than others. There's one in particular I think I've settled on. As for the other four, I've left it up to the forum to fill out.

Nice job guys.


1) Matchbook Romance's Voices - Not much of a fan of the band up to this ending point to their career, this one was one of the sweetest siren songs of the whole decade. Matchbook Romance went out on top with their dark opus, but tripped a bit with the solidarity of the release. The bleak opening "You Can Run, But We'll Find You" and the meanacing "Goody, Like Two Shoes" are some of the band's best works. After the quick hit of the single "Monsters" and the following "Say It Like You Mean It," you're listening to a mixed bag of the band's best work.

2) Taking Back Sunday's Tell All Your Friends - Not discounting the fact that this record is solid the whole way through, the first five songs are, relatively speaking, much stronger tracks than the second half. "You Know How I Do," "Bike Scene," "Cute Without the E," "There's No 'I' in Team," and "Great Romances of the 20th Century" are all classic songs by themselves. These five songs essentially defined Taking Back Sunday's sound from that point on out: dueling vocals over frantically paced guitars and half time choruses that build toward quiet breakdowns which lead into explosive endings . The late one-two punch of "You're So Last Summer" and "Head Club" are fantastic songs as well, but they aren't enough to carry the inadequacies of the three songs before them. (evilandgood)

3) The Get Up Kids' Something to Write Home About - I might get shit for this, but I have to say Something to Write Home About by The Get Up Kids is front-loaded. Tracks 1-6 are better than 7-12, IMO. 1-6 has great jams ("Holiday," "Action and Action," "Red Letter Day," "Ten Minutes") and is evened out by some slower songs ("Valentine" and "Out of Reach"). Don't get me wrong, it's a great album, I'm just sayin' the first half is much more balanced and powerful than the last half, which is filled with mostly slower songs, except "Close to Home." Maybe it's just my giant bias towards Four Minute Mile, which is an emo-rock powerhouse, but I was a little let-down by its follow-up. (xapplepiex)

4) Dashboard Confessional's The Swiss Army Romance - Not even close. The first half is as stacked as this year's NBA Eastern Conference All-Star lineup - "Screaming Infidelities," "The Sharp Hint of New Tears," "Living In Your Letters," "The Swiss Army Romance," and "Turpentine Chaser." (trojanick)

5) Our Lady Peace's Gravity - Two good tracks on the second half but majorly overwhelmed by the first half.* (Spencer Control)

*it should be noted, the user picked more than one, but I thought this was the most interesting of his choices...
Tags: Five and Alive, Front-Loaded Albums
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So Refused and Brand New Walk Into a Bar...
07/21/09 at 03:24 PM by Adam Pfleider
"...sub-question: is it better to die out, or to fade away?"

I write this, mind you, while an infomercial for Monster Ballads is on the television. Maybe we just don't know what we've got, until it's gone.

Remember the entry where I shed some details on my conversation with ex-Refused drummer David Sandström? We had a small tangent of a conversation concerning the "death of the album."

Well, it would seem appropriate that the band we all love to hate to love may be putting that idea into play. Brand New, rumored, are about to take this idea into play.

But let's face it. We brought this upon ourselves. Case and point: Drew's entry that the new Thrice album has leaked three months prior to its release. This shows that the majority no longer longs for the days where we waited in anticipation for new releases, rushed to the store to grab it and flipped through the pages of the album's booklet while the first song off said album blasted out of our car stereo.

No, no...those days are gone.

Back to Sandström and mine's conversation. He believes that single will possibly make it's way back into the system. Get rid of filler, and constantly spin the killer, right?

Well, that's good and bad for artists and listeners. Artists will be able to release music instantly. Record a song, or two, release them digitally, and boom, instant gratification! Listeners will no longer have to beat the system, never have to wait impatiently again, constantly updating their MP3 players daily with new music from their favorite artists.

Win-win, or not?

Some of the best music is a full album. Ranging from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon to Refused's The Shape of Punk to Come. These records work best as a whole, argueably containing great stand-alone tracks though. The shape of music would change, and I would bet the major's would lose more money because they are shelling out less of a product. If the market is flooded already, can you imagine an increase in songs, since the new way to create art is in singles, not in albums. Well, I guess someone like Ryan Adams or Sufjan Stevens would like this idea, but there are exceptions to every rule.

To see music being created one block at a time would be tragic. By producing a full product, artists create something on a full scale to be judged as a whole, instead of incriments. Singles and demos are fine when it comes to selling and creating interest, but the idea of creating songs at a time in an already flooded market seems too much of a bad thing.

Two incredible albums are released today: Portugal. The Man's The Satanic Satanist and Rx Bandits' Mandala. Both these records would not work as separate tracks, and I'm stoked that they came together as a whole.

To Brand New, you may mean something along the lines of what I'm speaking of above, or possibly moving to a completely digital medium, since it would seem the public doesn't care about money put into tangible products of your art.

Whatever the case be me, I hope that your band and Sandström are wrong in the end.

Albums are dead.
Long live the LP!!!!
Tags: Albums, Singles, Distribution, Leaks, Brand New, Refused
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Late Night Thoughts on the Idea of an Album
01/11/09 at 07:07 PM by Adam Pfleider
Today I interviewed David Sandström, formerly the drummer of Refused.

We ended our interview discussing the differences in recording an album like The Shape of Punk to Come in 1998, as opposed to now.

That led us into a conversation of how the recording and distribution models have so drastically changed; how bands have cut out the middle man; how bands weren't making money back then, so no one should be complaining now; and how the older punk and hardcore bands used to network by pay phones and numbers written and given to other bands on paper.

The one thing that was brought up, and interested me the most, was our talk on the death of the album. Now, this is nothing new. An argument brought on by the likes of many music writers and critics.

But Sandström brought up a new business model that he would think to see the majors possibly use in the future.

While the old standard was a single, and a series of singles became an album, and then bands began to create a testament as a proper full-length - that trend is dying.

While I'm not saying that there aren't bands out there creating great albums, I'm saying that they don't exist as much as I would like to see, but they do exist.

Sandström's idea was that there are artists who can create great songs, or singles, but when constructing an album, they fail, and only create meaningless forgettable filler. He suggest that some artists should go back in creating singles. That some band's should just release songs as they go.

With the ability to create music on your own, as opposed to "middle man" help - and the distribution and sales of digital singles out weighing full length albums - bands can still make money off of singles.

The idea makes sense, revolving back into the old standard of 45's and 78's that had an A and B side. The problem with this is set times. Who wants to go to a show to see only a few songs - right? But imagine a tour with more bands and shorter set times.

Sandström was part of one of the best records ever written for a genre that has all but dwindled itself into muck. Those bands who are still around, but started the race, are lapping those who joined later.

It was a privilege to interview such a talented musician, and a creator of a footprint of a record.

"New Noise" Video

"Deadly Rhythm" Live

(NOTE: Sandström told me he used three different drum sets to get different sounds on this song)

Also, Anton has written a great blog on his thoughts on Twitter. Please check it out here if you haven't already.
Tags: Late Night Thoughts, Albums, Marketing, Recording, Refused
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