Cassette Sales on the Rise
Vinyl isn’t the only audio format on the rise as cassette sales last year rose from 74,000 to 129,000, growing by 74% according to Neilsen Music. Cassette sales in recent years have heavily been supported by prisoners who are often not allowed access to other tangible formats of music. Last year’s spike, however, is largely due to specialty releases by chart-topping musicians like Justin Bieber’s Purpose, the 1975’s I Like it When You Sleep, and the Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness, as well as specialty re-issues including Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP and Prince and the Revolution’s Purple Rain, which together sold 5,000 copies. There was Record Store Day’s sister event Cassette Store Day back in October which saw multiple exclusive releases. And even 2 years later, the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 tape still sold 4,000 copies, bringing its total to 11,000 tapes sold to date.
Jay-Z Sprints for Tidal Deal
Tidal and Sprint made a huge announcement morning stating Sprint’s new 33% stake in the streaming service. Head of Tidal music Jay-Z said that all of the company’s two dozen artist-owners will retain part ownership. The partnership promises a couple of major things: a dedicated annual fund of $75 million will be used solely for artist exclusives and creative initiatives to augment the direct connection between the artists and their fans. The other, and potentially more exciting aspect of the partnership is that Tidal will now be made available for all of Sprint’s 45 million retail customers.
Who’s Performing at Donal Trump’s Inauguration?
Well tomorrow is the Presidential Inauguration swearing in Donald Trump as our 45th President of the United States. If you’ve kept up with Trump’s struggle to secure big name acts to perform, you know that “struggle” is putting it lightly. Every major act Trump’s people have asked to perform have declined the invitation including Moby, Elton John (not an American), and R. Kelly. After scrimping to stitch together a line-up, here’s what the final list looks like. Easily the biggest star on the list is Sam Moore of the famous soul duo Sam and Dave. Also slated to perform are the Rockettes, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, 16-year-old classical singer Jackie Evancho, Country-Pop star Toby Keith, several cover bands, and 3 Doors Down. (Telegraph)
Strange Brew Closes Its Doors?
What was thought to be a temporary closure seems to permanent for South Austin music venue and coffee shop Strange Brew. Since employees initially found themselves locked out of Strange Brew last Thursday, the doors have remained locked and a for lease sign now stands in the parking lot. Employees were told that despite the closure, Strange Brew would be open for its weekend performances, a story which turned out to not be the case as singer-songwriter Steve Forbert discovered upon arriving to town and finding the venue locked-up. Court records show Strange Brew filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in August, owing nearly half a million dollars to a dozen federal, state, city, and individual creditors, including the IRS. Several thousands of dollars are also owed to music acts in unsecured claims. Strange Brew has officially all but called it quits, and musicians who have weekly residences have sought out new spaces. If you’re looking for a way to help and support the South Austin gem, there is show happening Sunday to raise money for Strange Brew’s employees who are now out of work. Shinyribs, Jeff Plankenhorn, Sam Baker, Guy Forsyth, Jaimee Harris, and others are playing Donn’s Depot on West Fifth from noon-7 p.m. The story of Strange Brew is ongoing, and you can count on SoundCheck and KUTX to keep you up-to-date. (Austin360)
Photo: Peter Blackstock
The Mammoths are fresh to the Austin scene, but rock to a familiar tune. Melting blues and psych-rock together into a guitar-lickin’, face-meltin’ pool, the Mammoths sound a bit like the Black Keys on an acid microdose. They’ve recently taken their early-Zeppelin stage energy on the road supporting their debut EP Golden Spell.
“Capture You” doesn’t hit you square in the face with blues rock, but rather kisses you on the cheek, making your ears perk and your eyes squint with piqued curiosity. Just when it sounds like the guitars might take-off with a psych-rock mind of their own, bass drum kicks and slow, syncopated drum fills keep everything grounded. Slow-moving and slow-boiling, “Capture You” is arguably the blues-iest tune on the EP, taking its time, and reveling in every second, sometimes sounding like it’s avoiding the song’s end in order to stew in the moment.
“Capture You” appears on Golden Spell EP, out now.
Nigerian Funk Musician Willian Onyeabor Dies at 70
Influential Nigerian funk musician William Onyeabor passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday after a brief battle with illness. Onyeabor is credited as a pioneer of a “futuristic brand of afro-funk music that was heavily rhythmic and synthesized in style,” that featured politically charged lyrics bemoaning war and oppression. Owning his own pressing plant in southeast Nigeria, he composed, self-recorded, and self-pressed and printed nine albums between 1977 and 1985, affirming his place as a political and musical influencer in the region and other parts of the world. Onyeabor all but abandoned his musical career after becoming a born-again Christian in 1985, but saw renewed interest in his work after the successful release of an compilation album of his music organized by Talking Heads’ David Byrne. Byrne went on to form the William Onyeabor-tribute supergroup Atomic Bomb! Band whose fluid lineup included David Albarn, Dev Hynes AKA Blood Orange, and LCD Soundsystem’s Pat Mahoney. William Oneyeabor was 70. (CoS)
New Animates Series from Mike Judge Based on the Stories of Country Singers
Mike Judge has a new animated series debuting later this year on Cinemax “chronicling the tales of some of country music’s most eccentric characters.” The show, called “Mike Judge Presents: Tales from the Tour Bus,” is created in collaboration with Hank Williams biopic co-author Dub Cornett. The exact format of the show has not been announced, but speculation leads audiences to believe the show will either have a Drunk History type of feel with country stars narrating true stories to Judge’s animation, or if it’ll be original cartoons based on the true stories of country singers. In either case, Cinemax has ordered eight episodes of the show, set to premiere later this year. (Austin360)
Five Killed, More Injured During Mexico’s BPM Festival
At least five people were killed and over a dozen others were wounded early Monday during the final day of the 10-day long BPM festival at the Blue Parrot Nightclub in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Festival organizers say the gunman acted alone, shooting three festival security guards who intervened in the exchange of fire between the gunman and an uninvolved shooter, in what local media outlets are calling an incident of a regional drug war. Another man was shot, and one woman died after falling into the stampede. The shooter has not been captured or identified.
Apple Music Head to Video
Apple Music head exec Jimmy Iovine announced Apple Music’s desire to be an entire pop cultural experience, meaning, Apple Music will be breaking into original video content. They’ve begun dabbling in the video sphere, hosting concert movies for Skepta and Taylor Swift, and hosting a streaming platform for The Late, Late Show with James Cordon’s Carpool Karaoke. They’ve also released for their upcoming Before Anything documentary chronicling the rise and fall of Cash Money Records, and plan to take this visual venture into a “dark, semi-autobiographical drama,” based on the life of Dr. Dre. A four-part docu series based on the working relationship of Dre and Iovine will debut later this year. With all of these varied ventures into the visual, Apple Music’s video fame might be on the rise.