Mike Watt & Opinions on Lady Gaga and Death Cab for Cutie

Mike Watt of the California punk band The Minutemen talks about the band’s history, legacy and influential album Double Nickels on the Dime.

Mike Watt of The Minutemen
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Last week Jim and Greg said they were waiting for the big zeppelin to head to the clouds. That’d be Apple, and this week it did. Apple has entered the final stages of negotiations with the major record labels and music publishers for a service that will allow people to upload and store their music on the web and listen to it on any of their devices. Unlike its competitors Amazon and Google, who beat Apple to the punch, iCloud is in cooperation with the big labels. Because of this and because of iTunes’ already huge user base, Apple may again become king of the clouds.

LimeWire has agreed to pay $105 million to a group of major record labels in an out-of-court settlement over piracy. The file-sharing site was one of the biggest and received a court order to shut down last year. The RIAA has been going through sites like LimeWire one by one, and with success. But the rate of file-sharing hasn’t slowed. And the real question is if any of the musicians infringed upon will actually receive this bounty.

The Smoking Gun has revealed surprising demands in pop singer Katy Perry’s concert rider. We suppose it makes sense to ban conversations with chauffeurs. And of course you’d need specially designed furniture. But no carnations! Actually, the biggest revelation concerned the icky practice of ticket re-selling. Perry’s camp reserves the right to require promoters to hold back tickets to be re-sold on the secondary market. In other words, Katy Perry may scalp her own tickets. Jim and Greg spoke to Wall Street Journal reporter Ethan Smith about this topic a couple of years ago, but laying out these plans in plain words on a contract is on a whole new level. It makes you yearn for the days of M&M demands.

Mike Watt

doublenicklesonthedime

By the early 1980’s, punk had become less about sticking it to the man, and more about conforming to a set of rules. Then came The Minutemen with Double Nickels on the Dime, the 1984 album that threw out the punk rulebook. This week Jim and Greg are joined by Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, who founded the San Pedro hardcore group alongside drummer George Hurley and larger-than-life lead singer and guitarist D. Boon. The Minutemen weren’t afraid to experiment with their sound, incorporating jazz and funk, as well as Econo—a lo-fi, DIY attitude that would later inspire indie rock. Ever the motor-mouth philosopher, Watt waxes poetic about jamming econo, the true meaning of Double Nickels on the Dime, and his idea of a Hot Topic.

Born This Way Lady Gaga

Born This Way

There’s a new hit pop album with Euro-pop dance beats and controversial lyrics designed to tweak the Catholic Church. Sound familiar? No, it’s not Madonna, but Lady Gaga and her new album Born This Way. She might be the biggest star in the world right now, but she still has some surprises in her–including a fondness for ‘ 80s hair metal bombast. Jim was disappointed to hear Clarence Clemons on sax and Mutt Lange on production. He was further disappointed to hear the amount of over-singing. Jim wanted to love Born This Way, but it’s a Trash It. Greg agrees that the record is totally overblown. It’s like Gaga on steroids, and unfortunately, never lets up. A few standout tracks will work pounding in a stadium or club, but as an album, he’d just say Burn It.

Codes and Keys Death Cab for Cutie

Codes and Keys (Deluxe)

Death Cab for Cutie also has a new album out called Codes and Keys. It’s been only three years since Narrow Stairs in 2008, but lead singer Ben Gibbard has a whole new outlook on life. He’s become Mr. Zooey Deschanel, and he’s become sober. But Greg insists that the lyrics still express a lot of anxiety, mostly about the idea of home. Greg also notes the wonderful sonic experimentation courtesy of band member and producer Chris Walla. In fact, this was their Eno-inspired album, much to Jim’s delight. He hears a much happier Gibbard, nothing like the emo-sap that repelled Summer from The O.C. Both critics give Codes and Keys a Buy It.

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