AYGAMG Kickstarter; Neil Young chimes in on vinyl ‘fashion statement’; New Sam Martin video; Lincoln Exposed tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:22 pm February 4, 2015
A screen capture from Sam Martin's latest video...

A screen capture from Sam Martin’s latest video…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It’s amazing how little is happening musicwise this week (these days). The biggest bit of news is that The Waiting Room is undergoing some sort of transformation, according to their weekly email blast. I’ve reached out to one of the club owner’s asking for details, but got no response, and since they virtually have no shows this week… well, we’ll just have to wait and see. What more could they do to the place?

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A few days ago, Reb Lowry of All Young Girls Are Machine Guns (AYGAMG) emailed saying she launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the pressing of a two-song 7-inch single. She’s trying to raise two grand. You can help her out here.

That is if you’re into “fashion statements,” as Neil Young described vinyl in an interview that is catching fire on social media. I’ve seen the quote a dozen times in a dozen different online publications, always taken out of context. Here’s the full quote, which isn’t nearly as negative as everyone thinks, from the source, The Frame, 89.3 KPCC:

[There’s been] a little vinyl resurgence — you might point to that. But let’s face it: this is a convenience-oriented society and vinyl is not a convenient thing. It’s a niche and it’s a great niche and it’s a wonderful thing and I hope people continue to enjoy vinyl and it continues to grow because it’s a good thing. However, a lot of people that buy vinyl today don’t realize that they’re listening to CD masters on vinyl, and that’s because the record companies have figured out that people want vinyl. And they’re only making CD masters in digital, so all the new products that come out on vinyl are actually CDs on vinyl, which is really nothing but a fashion statement.

If vinyl is a “niche” market, what would you call the market for the PonoPlayer, Young’s latest business venture that everyone is saying is a piece of shit? Among the critics, technology hardware reviewers Ars Technica, who called Pono “A tall, refreshing drink of snake oil.”

Among Ars‘ findings in their review: “As most audio-obsessed geeks will tell you, research and tests about high-res audio tend to make Neil Young and his Kool-Aid salesmen sound like fools. In many cases, higher-rate sampling can make audio sound worse. (Go down a real frequency rabbit hole here if you want.) Hell, Mr. Young must know by now that his older, degraded ears are less likely to pick up higher-range frequency audio than any of his potential customers.”

Harsh. Ars concluded: “No amount of testing (with PonoPlayer) made 192kHz/24-bit FLAC audio sound noticeably better than high-quality MP3s.” Plus, Pono doesn’t have a “hold” button? What?

Let the battle rage on. Apple owns this market and will until Spotify begins to produce its own (unnecessary) player, which I have to believe is just around the corner.

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Sam Martin has a new video out called “I Like to Hide” from his new album, A Notion In an Ocean. He shot, edited and directed the whole damn thing. Sam’s music reminds me of Harry Nilsson. I have no idea how Sam will take that comment, but it’s meant as a compliment. And if you don’t know who Nilsson is, Google him. You’re missing out.

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What else.

There might not be shit happening in Omaha this week (month) but there is in Lincoln. Tonight is the kick-off of Lincoln Exposed — three venues tons of Lincoln bands. Tonight’s sched:

Duffy’s Tavern

8:40-9:20 – Domestica
9:40-10:20 – Kerry Eddy and the Current Situation
10:40-11:20 – This Machine Kills Vibes
11:40-12:20 – Life is Cool
12:40-1:20 – Blue Sky Angel Parade

Zoo Bar

8-8:40 – Root Marm Chicken Farm Jug Band
9-9:40 – Omni Arms
10-10:40 – Powers
11-11:40 – Red Cites
12-12:40 – Universe Contest

The Bourbon

8:20-9 – Melon Company
9:20-10 – Floating Opera
10:20-11 – Emily Bass
11:20-12 – I Forgot To Love My Father
12:20-1 – The Dancing Dead

Check out the full festival calendar here: https://www.facebook.com/events/904564312896270/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Winter screwed my weekend; is vinyl a ‘fad’ or here to stay?; Pono sound challenge…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 2:36 pm February 2, 2015

recordsby Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I spent all day yesterday cooped up in my house watching bad pre-Super Bowl television and playing Trivia Crack on my phone. That’s the extent of my weekend. It wasn’t a total loss. I did score some very fine original artwork created by Brian Tait, which I spent the daylight hours hanging. Tait’s the guy that runs Midtown Art Supply. He also makes great art, including the large, giant possum painting I’m looking at over my shoulder right now.

But what does any of this have to do with music? Maybe this:

Last Friday AV Club published this bit of click-bait called “Vinyl is just a fad, record executives say.” The piece compiled quotes from RCA Records president Tom Corson and Universal Music Distribution general manager Candace Berry pooh-poohing the recent jump in vinyl sales (up 52 percent last year, while digital sales dropped 12.5 percent).

Among the executives interviewed for the story was Saddle Creek Records exec Robb Nansel. Says Nansel about vinyl in the story, “It’s always going to be a niche…Not to be negative about it, but I feel like it’s going to peak, if it hasn’t already.

Turns out the AV Club story is merely a rehash of this more detailed Rolling Stone article, and the AV Club writer left out the rest of the Nansel’s quote, which was:  “From a label perspective, it’s expensive. You’ve got to ship it. There are environmental concerns. But we love vinyl. It’s our preferred format.

Robb’s “niche” comment sounded eerily like one of my 2015 predictions, which went something like: “The vinyl craze will slow, this after a year that saw 49 percent increase in U.S. vinyl sales vs. 2013 numbers. The growth will level off as younger music fans refuse to embrace a medium they see as an interesting but inconvenient gimmick that costs twice as much (or more) than what they pay to download the same album (if they pay at all).

Both my comments and Nansel’s raised the eyebrow of Homer’s general manager Mike Fratt. Fratt said (on his Facebook timeline) that the AV Club article caused him to spit out his drink in laughter. In response to my 2015 prediction, Fratt emailed me saying. “Vinyl is still on the way up and we don’t anticipate a peak until 2017 or 2018. 16 to 24 year olds make up 22 percent of the vinyl buying public. This means they will remain invested in the format for another 10 years until they start getting married and have babies which can curtail music/purchases/discretionary items.

Fratt went on: “Right now vinyl pressing plants cannot meet demand so as more come on line this year sales will continue to increase. Also, less than 100 indie stores report sales to Soundscan, so actual sales are WAY under-represented. Soundscan reports 6 million; (the) real number is over 10 million. This holiday season we sold more turntables than the last three years combined and reports are there is no stock to replenish stores as they sold so well everywhere this holiday season. I believe three or more vinyl titles sold over 100,000 units in 2014. Pretty amazing.

Amazing indeed. Only time will tell who’s right in predicting the future of vinyl. The only thing I have on my side of the argument is personal experience. The few 20-somethings I’ve spoken to who aren’t already vinyl collectors find the idea of acquiring a turntable amusing. They love listening to music, not collecting it. And believe me, there is a distinction.

As a 40-something guy, I grew up with vinyl, switched to CDs, bought a click-wheel iPod and now subscribe to Spotify. That said, when I buy music (and not rent it), I almost exclusively buy vinyl, and then download the album via a digital key that comes in the package. I doubt I’m alone. But then again, I’ve always been a collector, as evidenced by the bookshelves filled with comic books and albums, drawers filled with CDs and the local art hanging on my walls (like those amazing Taits). For many, collecting vinyl is like a fetishist activity — just ask the dudes standing in line outside of Homer’s on Record Store Day.

Where do I listen to the vast majority of my music? On my iPhone, while I’m running, shopping, working. I rarely listen to the vinyl copies of new albums more than a few times because I’m never sitting where my turntable is located very long (unless I’m writing, in which case, I don’t have music on at all). I think that could be the case for most people, especially those who work in an office or go to school. If you want to listen to music during the day, you probably have to take it with you. It’s that necessity that will limit vinyl to a collectors’ market.

I hope I’m wrong; I hope Fratt is right. I’d like nothing more than to see vinyl sales continue to grow, and believe me Nansel would like to see that, too.

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Speaking of music portability, Yahoo! Tech shoots holes in Neil Young’s PonoPlayer High Definition music device, saying it lost in a blind taste test vs. a regular ol’ iPhone. A summary is here at 9-to-5 Mac, that says: “For the blind trial, Pogue assembled 15 people aged 17 to 55, asking them to flip between three songs on the iPhone and PonoPlayer, each song in the device’s best resolution. In separate tests using ‘standard Apple earbuds’ and Sony MDR-7506 headphones, more people preferred the iPhone to ‘Pono’ or ‘neither.’

Interesting. Reminds me of all the articles comparing vinyl to digital. In the end, can anyone but those with the most expensive audio equipment tell a difference in sound quality?

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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