Sometimes when you’re searching for new musicians you need look no further than the record label that publishes their work. Sub Pop is one such label. Set up in Seattle 25 years ago, it was a independent label that made a name when it signed up the vanguards of the Seattle grunge rock movement—Nirvana, of course, but also Mudhoney and Soundgarden. Those three bands may be legendary in rock music’s history but the list of great bands that have worked with the label is impressive—Sonic Youth, Death Cab for Cutie, White Stripes, Modest Mouse, The Shins, Built to Spill, Foals, The Smashing Pumpkins…. It’s a long list of stellar musicians and bands. So, although Sub Pop is not really a kosher indie label any longer (Warner Brothers has a biggish stake in it now), many people trust the label so much as to blindly pick up albums by new artists that it signs on. I tried Wolf Parade, Vetiver, CSS (Cansei der Ser Sexy, a very agreeable Brazilian band) and many other bands that I’ve become a fan of now simply because they have worked with Sub Pop. Read more
It is appropriate that Neil Young’s latest album (released on September 28) is called Le Noise. It might as well have been called Le Sound. When producer Daniel Lanois (who’s worked with names such as Bob Dylan and U2) and Young stepped into the studio to make the record, both men wanted to create a “new sound”. So Lanois handed over an electro-acoustic guitar to Young and hooked up the bass strings to one amplifier and the treble ones to another. As Lanois describes it, the electro-acoustic guitar had it all: bass, electronic and acoustic sounds. And, if you listen to it—I caught the album in its entirety as a pre-launch webstream—you can see how Young is obviously enjoying it.
The best supergroups—collaborations between already famous musicians—are often the ones that don’t last too long. Remember Blind Faith, which in the 1960s had heavyweights such as Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood and Ric Grech yet released just the one eponymous album? Or, what about The Traveling Wilburys, comprising Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, who recorded just two albums? Read more
Forty-one years ago, on this very day—April 26—Stephen Stills was at a recording session for his then girlfriend, singer Judy Collins. Stills and Collins, as is well known, had an on-and-off relationship during the 1960s, with Stills having played back-up guitar on at least one of Collins’ albums (1968’s Who Knows Where The Time Goes). Read more