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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mystery Music

I call upon my readers and music aficionados to help me out, this week.

A lot of the time we have to rely on free play music sites like www.mp3.com or www.muchmusic.com/music/ or http://music.aol.com in order to review an album for our site. Such was the case this week, when I went to mp3.com to listen to Sum 41’s latest offering, ‘Underclass Hero’.

Right now (unless MP3.com has repaired the mistake), when you click on the free-play for Sum 41’s new album, what you end up listening to most definitely is NOT ‘Underclass Hero’.

When I listened to it, I knew it wasn’t what I was looking for, but the haunting, acoustic guitar and folk-music sensibilities of the mystery album were so poetic, so moving that I had to discover what it was.

I scoured mp3.com trying to line up the music; I Googled the first stanza of the first song, “I met a girl on Halloween / When she was lost and I was drunk / And it was dark and cold out when we left…” and I still wasn’t able to find out what it was!

I’m asking everyone to go to http://www.mp3.com/free-music/ to listen to it (where, hopefully, it remains misclassified) and if anyone recognizes the artist, please reply to this post or email me, thanks!

Whatever this mystery album is and whoever the artist is, I want to be able to encourage them by buying the CD and be able to post the rave review I think the album deserves.


To do that though, I need YOUR help!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Curmudgeon’s look at Live Earth.


I realize, like a lot of people, that the planet is in a bad way. In fact, given that I studied (in a cursory manner) geology and the cause of mass extinctions while writing “The Unearthing”, I know damn well that Humankind is standing on a precipice that could very well lead to our demise.

So when I heard about the Live Earth concerts being held this weekend around the world, it initially seemed to be an important moment, especially given the caliber of performers who are attending these extravaganzas around the globe.

However, the fact is that even with the global predominance of television and the Internet, most of the world’s citizens, including people in North America, Europe and the other “First World” members, will not see the event, nor will they care.

Why? For the most part, I dare say a genuine lack of interest. Live Earth fails because of its format: Nine lavish benefit concerts around the world, televised, broadcast online and on all the music video channels. But other than the people who are there, everyone else is just a vicarious observer, not even a witness to the event.

Few of the people watching will be impacted, and only the people at the actual shows will feel as though they are part of that Wave of Change that people at such events inevitably get swept up in.

And I’m not immune to getting swept up in such waves, either. Largely the reason I wrote the piece about Darfur a few months back was because of being swept up in a wave at a concert-for-Darfur.

However, the student groups who put on the Darfur concerts succeeded precisely because they weren’t putting on a show that was more of a Big Deal than the cause it purported to support.

Now, I’m not saying that the celebrities and musicians involved with Live Earth are cynically using the event for the sake of being in the Spotlight. In fact, I believe many if not most of them actually believe in the Cause they are playing today to support.

The reason that Live Earth will fail to effect any real change is that Live Earth is about Live Earth; it’s a spectacle, a side-show, a carnival attraction.

Likewise, there is a lot more going on in the world today than Live Earth: Over a hundred people are dead from a single car bomb in Iraq…Alan Johnston, who was held hostage for more than four months, has finally arrived home in England…Montreal’s annual jazz festival has brought tens of thousands of tourists to town for the weekend…Venus Williams just won Wimbledon; I’m sure Live Earth isn’t paramount on any of their minds, today.

Which is why the think-global-act-local approach, with viral marketing and getting your friends to come out and see you play and the one or two big celebrity surprise guest method used to spread awareness of the Darfur crisis works so well: globally, local people are raising awareness and affecting change.

And if the people behind Live Earth were doing this, recruiting promoters and music acts locally on a global scale, advertising each concert in the local media, in the schools and posting bills on every lamppost and vacant wall, they’d reach more people, spread the message more powerfully and get the word out a hell of a lot more effectively than this nine-show extravaganza going on today.

Live Earth is modern media lip-service, despite however many people who are involved. Give me two or three student groups and a small-act booking agent in every city where concerned students and promotion-hungry small-to-medium acts meet, and I will give you the world.

Live Earth fails because it has put the spectacle ahead of the cause.