Show 298: Damon & Naomi, Reviews of Jay-Z/Kanye & Jimmie Rae Vaughn Albums
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1 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.
2 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.
3a 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.
3b 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.
Watch them perform together with this video of "Second Life": (link)
4 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. Kelly are 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.
5 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.
Songs Featured in Show #298
The Clash, “White Riot,” The Clash, Epic, 1977
Crosby, Stills, & Nash, “Just A Song Before I Go,” CSN, Atlantic, 1977
Damon & Naomi, “Walking Backwards,” False Beats and True Hearts, 20/20/20, 2011
Galaxie 500, “Strange,” On Fire, Rough Trade, 1989
Galaxie 500, “Blue Thunder,” On Fire, Rough Trade, 1989
Damon & Naomi, “How Do I Say Goodbye (Live on Sound Opinions),” False Beats and True Hearts, 20/20/20, 2011
Damon & Naomi, “The Well,” Within These Walls, 20/20/20, 2007
Damon & Naomi, “The New Historicism,” Wondrous World of Damon & Naomi, Sub Pop, 1995
Damon & Naomi, “Tanka,” Damon & Naomi with Ghost, Sub Pop, 2000
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
Damon & Naomi, “A Second Life (Live on Sound Opinions),” The Earth is Blue, 20/20/20, 2005
Galaxie 500, “Snowstorm,” On Fire, Rough Trade, 1989
Jay-Z & Kanye West, “Otis,” Watch the Throne, Def Jam, 2011
Jay-Z & Kanye West, “Made in America,” Watch the Throne, Def Jam, 2011
Jimmie Vaughan, “I Ain’t Never,” Jimmie Vaughan Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites, Shout! Factory, 2011
Jimmie Vaughan, “No Use Knocking,” Jimmie Vaughan Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites, Shout! Factory, 2011
Vaughan Brothers, “Brothers,” Family Style, Epic, 1990
The Nerves, “Hanging on the Telephone,” One Way Ticket, Alive Records, 2008
Parts & Labor, “Fake Names,” Constant Future, Jagjaguwar, 2011
David Bowie, “It’s No Game Pt. 1” Scary Monsters, Virgin, 1980
The Mystic Tide, “Frustration,” Solid Ground, Distortions Records, 1994
Peter & Gordon, “Woman,” Woman, Capitol, 1966
Latyrx, “Latyrx,” The Album, Quannum Projects, 1997