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I.B. BAD: TRUE
OR FALSE?
Who you gonna trust on these matters? (9/22a)
POST STREAMS AHEAD
OF TAYLOR, SAM
Nothin' but net—dude can't miss right now. (9/22a)
ALL SLOW HANDS 
ON DECK
No, not Clapton. We're talking Horan. (9/22a)
THIS HITS LIST IS SEASONABLY COOL
This is the autumn equinox, after all. (9/22a)
TRIPPING & WORSHIPING
A compelling argument for physical product. (9/22a)
HITS' 31ST ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
Big. Papery. Stupid.
PIZZA NOT DELIVERED
Someone's in trouble.
SAM SMITH'S STATEMENT
How he captures our moment.
THE BIGGEST RELEASE OF Q4
It's not what you think.
Critics' Choice
THE EX-TEENS’ ARRESTING
POST-ADOLESCENCE
9/14/17

By Bud Scoppa

While we’ve been ceaselessly grinding away at the HITS cesspool, my longtime colleague Simon Glickman has somehow found the time and energy to moonlight as a rock artiste, writing and recording the six-song EP Get on an Ice Floe with several talented pals, including multi-instrumentalist and onetime 20/20 member Chris Silagyi and bass player Bill Tutton, ex-Geraldine Fibbers.

As far as I know, The Ex Teens, as he’s dubbed his project, is Simon’s first undertaking of this sort since he hung up his rock & roll shoes; he spent a chunk of the ’90s and the early part of this century as the floppy-haired frontman of L.A. power-popsters Spanish Kitchen.

What’s intriguing about these songs and performances is that Simon and his mates are determined to have it both ways, embracing classic-rock tropes while cunningly sending them up. On the intricately structured mock-epic opener “Empire in Decline” as well as twin slammers “Kiss Me, I’m Dead” and “The New Victorians,” the Ex Teens’ take on serious playfulness is less Spinal Tap and more Tubes, right down to Simon’s Fee Waybill-like winking theatricality.

The overarching mode of Simon's lyric is self-recrimination, fermented to 120-proof self-loathing during his years of hiding under his desk at HITS, which is most melodramatically overt in “The Wretched of the Earth (Isabel).” The psychochemical killer “Shy People Need Alcohol” has a “been there, done that” veracity, while the downtrodden suburbanite narrator of “Sunday Band” would much prefer to crank up some power chords in his garage than spend the weekend cleaning it out.

Throughout Get on an Ice Floe, Simon and his fellow Ex Teens inflate First World problems to grandiose proportions, only to gleefully puncture their own pretensions. Not that far removed from his day job, in a sense.

 

Apple Music/iTunes: Get on an Ice Floe - EP

 

AS STREAMING GROWS,
IS ROCK WASHED UP?
8/28/17

By Bud Scoppa

Arcade Fire manager Scott Rodger makes some provocative points about the disadvantages rock bands face nowadays in the Pitchfork think piece “Why Indie Bands Go Major Label in the Streaming Era.” In the piece, Marc Hogan asks, can the Big Three help bands like Grizzly Bear (Warp to RCA), The War on Drugs (Secretly Canadian to Atlantic), LCD Soundsystem (DFA to Columbia) and Arcade Fire (Merge to to Capitol to Columbia) better navigate the shift to streaming?

Rodger reveals that although Everything Now was his clients’ third straight #1 album, it sold 60k fewer iTunes downloads than 2013’s Reflektor. Applying the 1,500-streams-to-one-sale measurement, it would have taken 90m streams to make up that difference on the charts. “We’re probably still getting the same amount of people in real terms listening to the music,” Rodger speculates, “but it’s not volume enough to make a dent on streaming.”

According to the manager, “Our whole ambition on this campaign was just, how do we engage our audience and try to be a talking point for people who have never heard of our band? How do we become that talking point over dinner, over coffee, over breakfast? That really was our ambition. We’re not gonna be on daytime TV… They want to play with the Beyoncés, the Taylor Swifts. They will never be as big as some of those acts, but they want to play in the same field.”

In the same piece, SONGS CEO Matt Pincus points out that “The only guys that are going to get you on Pop radio are the majors, or people with a bona fide promotion system. Alternative radio doesn’t move volume anymore.”

The KillersBrandon Flowers and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. expressed a more troubling view in an interview posted on Noisey and picked up by Pitchfork. When asked if they thought a band like theirs could gain similar traction in the present day, Flowers replied, It could happen—but there hasn't been anybody good enough. If there was a band like The Strokes or Interpol, people would talk… But there isn't.

Vannucci reinforced his bandmate’s point, stating, “People are very quick to blame a changing of the times for a lot of things, when it's really that they're just not good enough yet.”

“A lot of us in that scene were fully realized on our first record,” Flowers continued. “In the ’80s and ’90s, people had time to grow, and that is definitely not going to be allowed anymore. Look at us, The Strokes, White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand—even Razorlight, Kaiser Chiefs, all that stuff. Kings of Leon. The songs were strong on those first albums. Usually it takes people three or four records to get there.”

It bears mentioning that all the bands referenced in the Pitchfork piece have released four or more albums.

REPRISE REMASTERS 1970S CLASSICS FROM NEIL YOUNG
8/24/17

Weeks after announcing the release of 1976 solo recordings, Reprise has released two Neil Young boxed sets of previously released 70s material.

Picking up where Original Release Series 1-4 left off, Original Release Series 5-8 comprises four albums: 1973’s Time Fades Away, 1974’s On the Beach, and 1975’s Tonight's the Night and Zuma. Limited to 3,000 sets, the releases are available on CD and vinyl.

The second CD box, Original Release Series 8.5-12 gathers together The Stills-Young Band’s Long May You Run from 1976, 1977’s American Stars 'N' Bars, 1978’s Comes a Time, and 1979’s Rust Never Sleeps and Live Rust.

On 9/8, Reprise will release Young’s Hitchhiker, a 10-track acoustic solo album recorded in 1976 that features versions of many songs that wound up on Rust Never Sleeps.

Young’s concerns about audio quality kept many of the titles off download and streaming services for years. Certain titles spent decades out of print.

Each albums has been remastered from the original analog master studio recordings at Bernie Grundman Mastering, working with John Hanlon of Young's production team and approved by Neil.

Reprise says “the new remasters sound absolutely superior to any previous iteration and will allow the listener to hear these albums as a brand new listening experience.”

We’ll have to check that out.