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Damon Krukowski & Naomi Yang and Opinions on Jay-Z & Kanye West

The duo of Damon and Naomi talk about leaving Galaxie 500 and maintaining a rock and roll marriage. They perform music from their new album False Beats and True Hearts, as well as some old favorites.

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Music News

The London riots have hit the music industry hard. A North London warehouse owned by Sony DADC burned to the ground on Monday, and while Sony may have deep pockets, many of the smaller independent labels that stored stock at the facility do not. The fire destroyed CDs, DVDs and LPs distributed by the Pias Group. Pias serves over 160 indie labels including Domino, 4AD, Warp, Sub Pop and Chicago's own Thrill Jockey, which estimated a loss of $300,000 worth of inventory. For small labels dependent on merch sales to survive, it could be a fatal blow. A relief effort is underway at Label Love. Whether music fans' goodwill will be enough to keep these labels afloat remains to be seen.

Big changes are underway at everyone's favorite industry lobbying group. RIAA CEO Mitch Bainwol has announced he will cede the throne after a decade of leadership to become head of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. He'll be replaced by Cary Sherman. Word of the change came in the form of a dumbfounding open letter, in which Bainwol proclaims a“turnaround”in the music industry's fortunes and cites some interesting statistics. He claims a 20% reduction in illegal filesharing last year and a 5-to-1 ratio of legal to illegal music consumption - numbers that Greg says fly in the face of all the stats he's seen on this. Bainwol also cites a 4% increase in revenue last month - no mention, of course, of the music industry's bottoming-out over the last decade.

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Damon and Naomi

After the breakup of their first band - the hugely influential indie group Galaxie 500 - husband and wife team Damon and Naomi considered an early retirement from music. But then they began writing songs together. Twenty years later, they're one of rocks longest-running duos. This week Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang drop by the studio to perform music from their new album, False Beats and True Hearts, and share some tips for keeping a band and a relationship going strong over the decades. The key, says Damon, is change.

The couple met when they were just teenagers - students at the same Manhattan prep school. It wasn't until college that they and Harvard classmate Dean Wareham began making music together. (They also went to school with another hot touring act from the past year) With Damon on drums, Naomi on bass, and Wareham on guitar and lead vocals, Galaxie 500 helped to define the dreamy lo-fi sound many call slowcore. The band broke up in 1991 after releasing only three studio albums, but unlike so many of their peers, Damon and Naomi aren't interested in a reunion tour. They say they prefer to keep moving forward. They have eight studio albums to their name and can boast collaborations with musicians like Bhob Rainey, Smokey Hormel and the Japanese band Ghost. As Jim observes, that love of collaboration is just part of their rhythm section mentality.

reviewWatch the ThroneWatch the Throne available on iTunes

Jay-Z & Kanye West Watch the Throne

And speaking of collaborations, Jim and Greg review this year's most anticipated one: Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne. Do these guys even need an introduction? If Jay-Z's highly lucrative past collaborations with R. Kellyare any indication, Jim bets the Throne album and tour will hurt neither artist's bottom line. But what about the music? While Greg admits nothing could have lived up to the hype, he's disappointed by how Jay-Z and Kanye have misread the tenor of the times. In a summer of high unemployment, economic turmoil, and foreign revolutions, they're still rapping about their wealth. Kanye's recent albums may be among the best of the past decade, and Jay-Z might be the greatest MC living, but Greg and Jim agree - this is a Trash It record.

JimGreg
reviewPlays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites (feat. Lou Ann Barton)Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites available on iTunes

Jimmie Vaughn Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites

Guitarist Jimmie Vaughn's new album is Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites, and as the title suggests, the concept is pretty simple. This record has the former Thunderbird playing the songs he grew up with - deep cuts of blues, R&B and country - with accompaniment by guest vocalists like Lou Ann Barton. In fact, Jim wishes Barton was more than just a guest. He finds the strongest tracks are the ones where she is singing, not Vaughn. So he gives the record a Burn It rating. Greg really appreciates his guitar style-it's more terse and incisive than that of brother Stevie Ray. Kind of a“say it and get out”approach. Also, he appreciates the deep cuts on Plays More. Greg says Buy It.

JimGreg

Featured Songs

  1. The Clash, White Riot, The Clash, Epic, 1977
  2. Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Just A Song Before I Go, CSN, Atlantic, 1977
  3. Damon & Naomi, Walking Backwards, False Beats and True Hearts, 20/20/20, 2011
  4. Galaxie 500, Strange, On Fire, Rough Trade, 1989
  5. Galaxie 500, Blue Thunder, On Fire, Rough Trade, 1989
  6. Damon & Naomi, How Do I Say Goodbye (Live on Sound Opinions), False Beats and True Hearts, 20/20/20, 2011
  7. Damon & Naomi, The Well, Within These Walls, 20/20/20, 2007
  8. Damon & Naomi, The New Historicism, Wondrous World of Damon & Naomi, Sub Pop, 1995
  9. Damon & Naomi, Tanka, Damon & Naomi with Ghost, Sub Pop, 2000
  10. Damon & Naomi, Turn of the Century (Live on Sound Opinions), Playback Singers, Sub Pop, 1998 Damon & Naomi,“Helsinki,”False Beats and True Hearts, 20/20/20, 2011
  11. Damon & Naomi, A Second Life (Live on Sound Opinions), The Earth is Blue, 20/20/20, 2005
  12. Galaxie 500, Snowstorm, On Fire, Rough Trade, 1989
  13. Jay-Z & Kanye West, Otis, Watch the Throne, Def Jam, 2011
  14. Jay-Z & Kanye West, Made in America, Watch the Throne, Def Jam, 2011
  15. Jimmie Vaughan, I Ain't Never, Jimmie Vaughan Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites, Shout! Factory, 2011
  16. Jimmie Vaughan, No Use Knocking, Jimmie Vaughan Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites, Shout! Factory, 2011
  17. Vaughan Brothers, Brothers, Family Style, Epic, 1990
  18. The Nerves, Hanging on the Telephone, One Way Ticket, Alive Records, 2008
  19. Parts & Labor, Fake Names, Constant Future, Jagjaguwar, 2011
  20. David Bowie, It's No Game Pt. 1, Scary Monsters, Virgin, 1980
  21. The Mystic Tide, Frustration, Solid Ground, Distortions Records, 1994
  22. Peter & Gordon, Woman, Woman, Capitol, 1966

Footnotes

theguardian.com Independent record labels hypebot.com Bainwol Open Letter damonandnaomi.com Damon and Naomi jimmievaughan.com Jimmie Vaughan