When it comes to the longevity of a band or artist obviously the music is a huge piece of that puzzle, but the choices that are made as they navigate through their careers is also incredibly important. You’d be surprised to find out how many artists have struggled with something like having a song used in an iTunes commercial or on a show like Glee wondering how it might affect their career in the short term vs the long term, those decisions are a big deal. Pearl Jam has consistently made good music, consistently been great live AND have kept their integrity. When they didn’t believe in music videos they didn’t make them; they took on Ticketmaster; they took on bootleggers; and that’s why they are still around to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album: Ten. There is a brand new Cameron Crowe directed film called “Twenty” about to be unleashed to help celebrate one of the great rock and roll bands in the history of music…..I like to think my Matt Tracks celebration is just as epic but a little more understated.
The East Coast of Canada (my hood) has produced some of the most accomplished songwriters in the country with names you’d recognize like Ron Hynes, Gordie Sampson and Joel Plaskett. David Myles is another name you should know on the topic of excellent east coast songwriters. He’s a folk singer but he takes that folk songwriting tradition and explores new sounds and genres. He recently found some notoriety being featured in the latest Classified track “The Day Doesn’t Die” which he has followed up with a new track called “Simple Pleasures” that was re-mixed by Classified and will be on David’s upcoming album “Into the Sun” (Oct. 4 2011).
In the late 90’s Sarah Slean signed to a major label very early in her career where she continued to release music until very recently. Now in an industry much different than the one she started in almost 15 years ago where singles are more important than albums and CD sales are declining, Sarah is on an independent label (Peheromone Recordings) where I can only assume that this time around her recording budget is a little smaller than perhaps she has experienced in the past. So …she decided to record a double album (picture me saying this with some sarcasm and posed more as a question rather than a statement). The “Land” portion of her upcoming double album “Land and Sea” was produced by Joel Plaskett and from the sound of the first single (and the fact she worked with Joel) means my next assumption is that this will be an excellent (double) album.
The only thing that could possibly rival how great the songs Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young have given us over the years is all the ego and drama that has come along with those songs. In 1970 they released the monster album “Déjà Vu” considered by many as one of the great albums of all time, but all that ego and drama kept Neil Young out of the mix (on record) for another 18 years. The reunion was a pretty big deal but after such a long time expectations were so high for the new album that it never really had a chance, the critics all but made it disappear and Neil refused to do a tour. A musician friend of mine recently called this song wimpy but I stand by it.
I’ve argue this before but I think one of the best years in music was 1991, think about it: Out of Time by REM; the only Temple of the Dog album; Metallica’s Black Album; Original Gangster by Ice T; Nirvana’s Nevermind; Ten by Peal Jam; and debuts from Blur, Cypress Hill, and Smashing Pumpkins. Let’s please also not forget Spellbound by Paula Abdul…don’t hate. But the best album that year was Blood Sugar Sex Magik by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Recorded in a haunted mansion with producer Rick Rubin it is one of my favorite albums of all time and this one of my favorite songs.
thanks for listening,