Clef Notes: The “At Least The Feds Haven’t Shut Us Down” Edition
Every Friday, or at least until his spectacular rock star flameout, Giovanny will be dropping a week’s worth of music knowledge on you with Clef Notes, proof positive that he’s a one man music magazine.
Another One Bites The Dust: Last week I wrote a frightened and somewhat impassioned piece about two anti-piracy bills which were making their way through our political channels and threatening the sanctity of the Internet itself. Thankfully, due to nationwide protests, online petitions, and various forms of Internet activism, said legislation has been shelved for the foreseeable future and postponed indefinitely. Of course these small victories have not, and will not, deter the corporate and Federal sectors from continuing to battle online piracy, which has been made evident by the insanity that surrounded last week’s Megaupload shutdown, and the fallout it caused.
Federal prosecutors issued a 72 page indictment last Thursday which led to the shutdown of one of the web’s largest peer to peer file-sharing sites. Launched back in 2005, Megaupload quickly became one of the most popular destinations for people interested in swapping all forms of media. The site was initially intended to be used as a tool for web-based collaboration, but over time, as the world’s bandwith increased, it became a haven for digital piracy. Back in December of last year, the website encountered some trouble with Universal Music Group for releasing a music video featuring many of the label’s signed artists (Kanye, Diddy, Alicia Keys, Swiss Beatz) praising the website and its growth. Looking back on it that video was, without question, the first line of Megaupload’s death sentence.
Fast forward to last week. The indictment is issued, the site is taken down, and (as you would expect) hacktivists groups like Anonymous kick things up a notch (yes, that was totally an Emeril quote. BAM!!!) by attacking the websites of Universal Music Group, the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, and even the Department Of Justice. All of this well deserved Internet malfeasance was enough to inconvenience the agencies involved for a short time, but the sites were all back to normal by the weekend, and the alleged hacking did nothing to change the Megaupload situation.
Things then got crazy over the weekend as New Zealand authorities swarmed the mansion of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, in order to apprehend him and bring him to “justice.” According to a report from Reuters, dozens of police officers (some in helicopters) raided the German programmer's home, where they found him in his safe room with a loaded shotgun in his possession. One of the New Zealand officials involved in the raid told Reuters: "Despite our staff clearly identifying themselves, Mr. Dotcom retreated into the house and activated a number of electronic-looking mechanisms." Police apparently had to cut their way into parts of the home, where they seized two other firearms and more than twenty cars, some sporting vanity plates like HACKER, MAFIA, and STONED.
As I mentioned before, there has been considerable fallout from the demise of Megaupload. The New York Times has reported that other file-sharing sites are taking precautionary measures to avoid becoming the next victim of Federal prosecutors. Popular peer to peer sites such as Filesonic, Fileserve, FileJungle, UploadStation, 4shared, VideoBB, VideoZer, UploadBox, and Uploaded.to, among others, have overhauled their services to stop allowing public sharing, stop allowing U.S. users, or completely shutting down in some cases. These actions and contingencies do not bode well for Americans who wish to continue engaging in file-sharing, or otherwise enjoying the Interent’s spoils (yeah, I’m talking to you).
U.S. authorities are calling the Megaupload raid “one of the largest copyright cases in history” and some industry big-wigs have already taken the opportunity to crow about the shutdown. The RIAA’s Vice President of Strategic Data Analysis, Joshua P. Friedlander, even wrote a blog-post (how “with it”) titled “Why Closing Megaupload Matters”; you can read it here if you must, but if I were you I would be busy online doing “whatever” before it’s too late (wink, wink).
I Feel Better Already: For the last couple of weeks I have been experiencing a very sharp pain in my temples, which has been accompanied by involuntary shaking and a near constant fever. I went to my doctor, eager to find out what the source of my affliction was, but he was stumped. After numerous other trips to equally helpless medical professionals, I was laying in bed one night, unable to sleep due to my maladies, when it struck me! Other than some random reviews, I have not written about Odd Future for a while, and a malevolent combination of the blogosphere and zeitgeist was making me sick as a result (the life of a music journalist is brutal). So here it goes...
The controversial California rap-collective has announced a string of North American tour dates beginning this March, which will be sure to bring out all of your town’s miscreants and racially-confused white-kids. Each stop on the tour will be accompanied by an "Odd Future pop-up store" (I am not really sure what that means, and I don’t care, but this graphic is interesting) which I am sure will gladly help you part from your parent's money. These tour dates also happen to coincide with the scheduled release (March 20th) of OF Tape Vol.2, the follow-up to their self-titled 2008 mixtape, and the premiere of the groups live-action Adult Swim show Loiter Squad (March 25th). In fact, according to Adult Swim, every stop on the tour will feature a sneak-peak at the premiere for those of you who can’t wait for its television debut.
That’s not all kids! Some of your favorite members of Odd Future are even releasing solo albums this year (joy!). The leader of the Wolf Gang himself, Tyler The Creator, is set to drop his sophomore solo record this May, while the duo of Hodgy Beats and Left Brain (also known as Mellowhype) is planning a late summer release for the followup to 2011’s Blackenedwhite. All of these irons in the fire will insure that Odd Future remains a vital part of the music conversation in 2012 which, I am sure, must please some of you, though I have a difficult time understanding why. There. I have informed you about your heroes, and I hope that makes you feel better... I know I do, my fever’s even starting to break (huzzah).
Fallen Empires is the sound of a band frantically trying to be everything that has been somewhat successful over the past decade, while not doing any of it particularly well. In truth, this album exists in the gray desolate plane of artistic purgatory known as mediocrity which, while always an unenviable circumstance, is made so much worse when you can hear the band trying so hard... [Full Reivew]
Attack On Memory is a lean eight track, 34 minute salvo of arty pop-punk which channels an energy both propulsive and immediate, all while maintaining the era’s prerequisite amount of acerbity. You need to go out now, and get this record. Oh, and do yourself a favor, listen to it through some headphones, while doing something really fast, like riding a bike or running from something... [Full Review]
Radiohead has contributed an astounding fourteen tracks from their back catalog to the documentary film The Island President, which chronicles the struggles of Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed as he fought to have his voice heard in the climate change debate and keep his country from being swallowed by the surrounding ocean. If Radiohead feels so strongly about a film, then we all should... While hanging out (and being awesome) at the Sundance Film Festival this week, Drake told VH1 news that he would love to play President Obama in a bio-pic (though to be clear, there is nothing in the works as of this Clef Notes). I can see it now- in fact, I am already on line for this movie... According to numerous reports, Fiona Apple will be releasing her first new album in six years sometime in 2012. I’ve actually always been a Fiona Apple fan, and I’m looking forward to this record, so let’s skip the joke... ABBA is set to release their first new song in 18 years on the reissue of their 1981 album The Visitor. Somewhere your mom is totally losing her shit... The US Postal Service announced that they will be releasing a commemorative Miles Davis stamp in the near future. I was going to write some line about how those stamps would be the coolest thing you licked all year but, let’s face it, no one sends letters anymore... St. Vincent has announced tour dates for the coming months. You owe it to yourself to see her in person, hear her music, and fall in love... Benji and Joel Madden (formerly of Good Charlotte, lolz) introduced their new band The Madden Brothers to the world this week. If you support this project in any way, the music fairy will creep into your house in the middle of the night and steal your ears... Steven Tyler got a lot of criticism thrown his way this week because he sang the National Anthem exactly like you would expect Steven Tyler to. I don’t really get the issue here. Did anyone expect the man to come out and be Pavarotti?... The oft-maligned musical atrocity that we all know as Nickelback took to Twitter this week in an effort to reply (at times rather scathingly) to some of their haters on the popular social network. I think the Canadian crap-group just needs to realize that we would all leave them alone if they just went away... Um... Miley Cyrus was really excited by a giant penis cake which was presented to her during her 19th birthday party. At least she is a mature adult these days... Before you go any further, you have to check out the teaser-clip for the upcoming Die Antwoord record Ten$ion. Trust me, it’s more disturbing than you are imagining...
Top Ten List:
I really wanted to do a Top Ten List of Mike Patton songs, because today is his birthday. For over a decade I have been a fan of the absurdly talented singer and multi-instrumentalist throughout the litany of his bands and musical projects (Mr. Bungle is AMAZING), but Eddie Van Halen was born yesterday, and that Dutch six-string virtuoso is one of the greatest musicians to ever live.
Born in 1957, Eddie Van Halen often tells a story about how his teenage friends would try to get him to hang-out, drink, and engage in the recklessness of youth. Each time, he would decline the invitation and sit on his bed with headphones on while playing scales and wood-shedding endlessly. I don’t know what the fate of his friends were, but I am pretty sure they won’t be on the Mount Rushmore of guitar playing. Here now are the ten best Van Halen songs.
10) Mean Streets
9) Right Now
8) Spanish Fly
7) Hot For Teacher
5) Runnin’ With The Devil
2) Ain’t Talking About Love
Track Of The Week:
Hands On The Wheel - School Boy Q (Ft. A$AP Rocky): The frontal lobe is an extremely important part of the human brain which governs decision making, problem solving, and the control of purposeful behavior. Every now and again some of us use this division of the cerebral cortex to raise a bottle, or other intoxicating agent, in an effort to (as the song Piano Man says) forget about life for a while. Well, School Boy Q and A$AP Rocky are obviously the kind of gentlemen who engage in such practices to a degree that would leave your average person comatose. School Boy’s latest single, Hands On The Wheel, off his upcoming record Habits & Contradictions, is the type of ode to getting faced (or “abducted” as the kids say these days) that I’m sure some out there would consider heedless... but I consider a track of the week. I hope that you enjoy the cut but, please, listen responsibly.