- Freezepop is back with a new album, and this time they’re doing it on their terms. “Imaginary Friends” came out Dec. 7.
- I never thought I’d be listening Miracle Legion under “New Releases,” but I suppose stranger things have happened, and I am happy to have the opportunity. Mark Mulcahy is re-releasing the 1987 album digitally via Bandcamp, beginning Dec. 14. In the meantime, you can get a taste with the song “All for the Best.”
- Another band I never thought I would file under “New Releases” — Toad the Wet Sprocket! My favorite band growing up has released a free Christmas song, “It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas.”
Relatedly, Toad leadman Glen Phillips has released his lost album, Tornillo, which was recorded before his masterpiece, “Winter Pays for Summer.” You can listen to it right now!
- Buffalo Tom is dropping a new album, “Skins,” on Feb. 15. Happy Valentine’s Day to me! More coverage from the Boston Phoenix.
- Mike Viola and Kelly Jones’ awesome EP, “Melon,” is now available on iTunes. You know you want it.
- This week, Elizabeth Edwards passed away after her battle with cancer. She was a smart, classy lady, who confronted adversity with grace and determination. For this and many other reasons, cancer is an asshole, so why not buy some awesome music from Right Track Tunes to help fund the fight against it?
- So, OMG, the latest Girl Talk… oh wait, even the mailman is talking about this album. I’m SO late to the game in blogging about this.
Finds of the Week
- Jens Lekman performed some new songs at a recent live gig in Los Angeles, including his ode to Kirsten Dunst.
- The Cars are teasing some new songs on their Facebook page. Seems like the formula still works.
- Fountains of Wayne, uncrowned kings of power pop, are still at it,releasing songs about New Jersey rivers and sitting on a finished album waiting for a label to come around and realize how awesome they are. FoW’s Adam Schlesinger is also playing shows in California with Mike Viola on Dec. 15 and 16. (So… jealous…)
- Check out the absolutely perfect little love song that one blogger calls “the next ‘Anyone Else But You'” — Penny and the Quarters’ “You and Me.”
- Wednesday, Dec. 8, was the 30 year anniversary of John Lennon’s death. On the way back from Norwood in the Zipcar, I was listening to the replay of Lennon’s last interview (which will be published in its entirely in the next issue of Rolling Stone), conducted just hours before his death in New York City. It was stirring, haunting but also inspiring. Bill Janovitz, aptly, marked the occasion with a song — a cover of “Beautiful Boy” — and some choice words:”It brings me a lot of comfort to believe in John Lennon the artist, as a demi-god, the life he presented to us as maybe part of the art, but no less real. He was showing a version of how to age and become a father to a generation. It brings me great comfort to think of John as a softening man and a nurturing father to a baby and then young boy. And it therefore brings me great pain to think of his murder and the loss of a father who can write a song such as this for his son.”
Around the Web
- Some awesome thoughts by Todd Sanders on how struggles shapes not only great music, but great musicians, and how access to information impacts the degree of that struggle.
- It’s “Best of 2010” time, and I admit that I am behind, mainly owing to a laptop with a busted screen. In the meantime, I’m not going to link to millions of different lists; you’ve got Largehearted Boy for that. I’m just going to link to one, by Chromewaves. Frank Yang brings it every day, and while I not only think his list has some great selections, I want to reward his consistent awesomeness.
- Speaking of best-of lists, let’s stereotype people by their favorite album of 2010. This is pretty much comic gold. Hard to pick a favorite, but I like the stereotype for people who rank MIA’s “Maya” number one: “People who won’t stop telling you shit you already know about WikiLeaks.”
- Jay Kumar, in his new blog feature on underappreciated pop culture phenomenons, examines the incredible solo musical output of Pete Townshend.
- Darren Hayman of Hefner is planning to write and record a song for every day in January. This is like Bishop Allen’s EP-a-month project, only more badass.
- The 19 best anti-suicide anthems. Some epic songs on this list. Pleased to see The New Pornographers’ “Adventures in Solitude” at the top.
In the News
- One of my favorite bands, who have been featured here many times, is the folk quartet Girlyman. Recently, Girlyman member Doris Muramatsu was diagnosed with leukemia. The good news is that it is a highly treatable form of leukemia, and she is expected to recover. The bad news is, Doris is uninsured and the band is sidelined from touring (its main moneymaker) until she has recovered — so the expenses are mounting. Remember how we talked about kicking cancer’s ass a little bit ago? Now you can directly help out people who are being affected by it. Got a little extra cash during the holidays? Throw it toward Doris’ medical costs or the band’s expenses.
- Billboard is now tracking artists’ popularity via social media, on a new chart called the Social 50. The top five artists in the inaugural charting were Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Nicki Mina, which should answer any remaining questions about whether or not social media has gone mainstream.
- Brian Whitman, CTO of the digital music application platform creator The Echo Nest, recently spoke at Franklin W. Olin College on “Music in the Time of Data”:
Things are changing around here. Again.
For a while, as you might have been able to tell, I fancied turning “Take Five” into a real column, interviewing interesting people involved in some way with music in addition to regular link/commentary digests such as this one. At the same time, my blogging at GeorgyCohen.com has really ramped up. The problem is, I only have so much time.
In addition, I missed the blogging I did here back in the day, way back in 2009 — it was more reflective, more personal. To me, that is an enticing complement to my more professional banter elsewhere.
So, what does this mean? It means I am relieving myself of the burdens of a schedule and expectations around “Take Five” and my music blogging aspirations. Right now, I only want to deal with one blog with an editorial calendar, and I want a space where I can write about a neat walk I took, my latest realizations about family and, yes, music — but when I want to, and how I want to. I think the expectations and structure I was placing around “Take Five” choked the life out of the rest of what this blog had become (and, most importantly, meant to me).
I still remember the feeling of euphoria I felt after my first “Take Five” post. I hadn’t written about music in a long while, and starting this feature was a way of recommitting to music writing. And it rejuvenated me. So, maybe it’s dangerous to ease up on the structure that “Take Five” imposes during a time in my life when I have been somewhat removed from music, thanks to the balky laptop monitor. But I’m also at a point where I need to pick and choose the structures in my life, in order to keep things manageable. So don’t worry, music writing won’t disappear. But like all things, this is a work in progress, so expect to see some changes. Hopefully all for the better.