Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Steven Tyler To Write About Aerosmith Feud In New Book

Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler is set to write in a new book about his heated feuds with bandmates, which prompted him to briefly leave the band in 2009.

The singer admits tension reached a high after he fell off a stage during a South Dakota concert last summer, which left him with multiple injuries and forced the band to cancel a North American tour.

Tyler has since mended his relationship with his band mates and the group is back touring the globe together, and now he's keen to reveal all about his tumultuous relationship with his band mates.

"I'm doing a book called Does the Noise in My Head Bother You, and I will be speaking about what it's like to be married to four other guys, and what I've had to put up with. There will never be another band like Aerosmith, and I just don't want to do anything to hurt that. I love the band so much," he said.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Music Video Games Offer Instrument Instruction

The disconnect between playing music-based games and playing an actual instrument is perhaps best crystallized when the artists contributing the music admit that they can't grasp the games themselves.

"I suck," DJ Deadmau5 says about trying the original "DJ Hero" before providing tracks to its forthcoming sequel, "DJ Hero 2." He notes that while the "DJ Hero" franchise is a great way to expose his music to new fans, it won't help those fans develop any real DJ skills.

"It's a great vehicle and source of inspiration," he says, "but not a source of knowledge."

It's a point of view shared by many artists: that pressing plastic buttons on a fake guitar can diminish a fan's appreciation of how difficult the real thing is, and that it could even stunt interest in learning an instrument.

That could soon change. Music games coming out this fall, such as "Rock Band 3" and "PowerGig: Rise of the SixString," are taking a decidedly instructional route by providing a more realistic playing experience in the ongoing effort to keep the genre fresh.

To be clear, these aren't music instructional titles. The developers of both stress that their respective games are entertainment and that the instructional modes are simply there to give fans an added option. But it's an option that hadn't been available until now, and it marks an interesting evolution of the category.

Both the music and gaming industries see nothing but upside in these developments. Rick Peckham, assistant chairman of the guitar department at the Berklee College of Music and a Harmonix consultant, says using games to teach an actual skill will help establish a baseline of understanding that teachers can then build on.

"This will not only get you the record score, but the ability to play the record as well, and that's a good thing," Peckham says. "It gives us teachers something to work with."

But will it help sales? The demand for an instructional mode in these games has been far louder on the side of the music industry than from fans themselves. The upside is that artists who were reluctant to include their music in "fake" guitar games now have less reason to resist. "PowerGig: Rise of the SixString," put out by startup developer Seven45 Studios, has already scored exclusive tracks from Dave Matthews Band, Eric Clapton and Kid Rock, as well as more than 70 other songs from the four major labels -- 90 percent of which have never appeared in a music game before.

Game industry experts meanwhile say it's essential for new iterations of music games to roll out a steady stream of innovations to stay relevant, and that simply adding new music is no longer enough. The option of an instructional mode adds to the repeat playability of these titles, which is a key factor for selective gamers when deciding whether to buy a game.

"They have to go beyond what they've done before, because honestly, it's just more songs at this point," IGN editor Hilary Goldstein says. "They have to give something that's a tool you can take away and impress chicks with. And ultimately that's what gamers want to do."

"Rock Band 3," from MTV Games and developer Harmonix, not only adds a keyboard controller, but also makes all of the game's 83 tracks available in "Pro" mode for both keyboards and guitar. The guitar Pro mode uses traditional tablature-style music instruction to guide players to the correct string, using either the Mustang guitar from Mad Catz -- which features skinny raised buttons between frets in lieu of strings -- or a fully functional Fender Stratocaster with real strings that uses pressure-sensitive receivers in the neck to tell the game if users are following instructions properly.

A potential rival for "Rock Band 3" on the instructional front is newcomer "PowerGig," from Seven45 Studios, a division of music instrument manufacturer First Act. "PowerGig" relies on a custom guitar designed by the company that's also a fully functioning instrument outside the game. Its "Chord" mode aims to teach campfire-style chord-and-strum technique as opposed to individual notes.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ray Davies Pays Tribute To Kinks Bassist Pete Quaife

Ray Davies' position as a national treasure has long been confirmed, thanks to the poignancy and the very English sensitivity that has shone through his songs. But his Glastonbury appearance, in the Sunday afternoon legend slot on the Pyramid Stage, added an even more emotional edge to his music.

Davies dedicated large swathes of his set to to the Kinks bassist Pete Quaife, who died last week, as Spinner reported.

A visibly moved Davies paid tribute to his old bandmate with tracks from 'The Old Village Green Preservation Society,' which he described as Quaife's favourite Kinks album to record due to the fact that the Davies brothers weren't fighting the whole time whilst making it.

Joined by the Crouch End Festival Chorus, the choir of voices lent a great sense of longing to the occasion, especially so on "Waterloo Sunset," while "Days" was almost unbearably tender.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Glastonbury Music Fans Say More To Life Than Football

Revelers at the Glastonbury music festival put a brave face on England's World Cup soccer defeat on Sunday, saying the show must go on.

Organizers erected two giant screens to cater for 80,000 supporters, or roughly half the number of people attending this year's event. Even that was not enough as fans were turned away and forced to listen to the action on the radio.

Motown legend Stevie Wonder was preparing to play the closing slot on the main Pyramid stage, and festival goers were confident that he would help them overcome the disappointment.

"Faithless followed by Stevie Wonder -- it doesn't get much better than that," said 24-year-old Jessica, who has been to Glastonbury 15 times.

"I'll probably have a sulk for a couple of hours, then drink plenty and probably get over it," she added.

Glastonbury, which is celebrating its 40th birthday, has been one of the sunniest in memory in 2010, meaning the music has stolen the headlines rather than the mud baths that usually accompany rain.

Wonder, who recently turned 60, brings the curtain down on the four-day event, where raincoats and rubber boots have been replaced by bare chests and bikinis, as well as hundreds of cases of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Crowds have danced to star acts including Gorillaz, Muse, Radiohead, Scissor Sisters, Shakira and Snoop Dogg, as well as hundreds of less famous names playing across a bewildering array of stages and venues.

Farmer Michael Eavis, who founded the event in 1970 when 1,500 punters paid a pound each to attend what was then known as the Pilton Pop Festival, said he had had the best birthday ever.

"I've never enjoyed myself so much," said the softly-spoken 74-year-old, describing his Saturday night when English rockers Muse were joined on stage by U2 guitarist The Edge for one of this year's highlights.

"I didn't feel tired, I had such a buzz off it, and I was very proud of what I'd created. For four or five hours it was total magic."

He added he had already identified three headline acts for the next festival, but declined to name them.

Glastonbury is one of the music world's most coveted slots for performers because of the size of the crowds and reputation it has built over the years.

The 2010 edition has not all been easy, however, despite the soaring temperatures.

Gorillaz were brought in at the last moment to replace U2 as the opening act, and, despite performing with the likes of Lou Reed and Bobby Womack during their Friday slot, they failed to win the crowd over.

But rappers Dizzee Rascal and Snoop Dogg, a surprise set by Radiohead, Kylie Minogue's brief guest appearance with Scissor Sisters and Colombian singer Shakira's sizzling set helped lift the mood through Saturday.

Muse ended the day on a high and performed U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" with The Edge.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Former members of Yes and Toto Return With New Band, Album

Yoso is a new band featuring Toto lead vocalist Bobby Kimball and former Yes members, Tony Kaye and Billy Sherwood. However, YOSO is much more than a combination of two classic rock groups.

The band’s debut album Elements is scheduled for release July 2nd in Europe and July 23rd in the States on Frontiers Records. A bonus live CD is included, featuring the band playing old and new classics. This blend has been described as a combination of the 80s era of Yes (Think 90125 and Big Generator) and Toto, with an original sound that truly encompasses the styles.

"Yoso was started when I suggested to Bobby Kimball we should write some new music and form a band,” recalls Sherwood. “We had been working together on various tribute projects that I was producing and one thing lead to another. Before too long, we had five songs in the can and were well on our way to making a record. That is when we started thinking seriously about taking it to the next level. Once there was a few songs underway the concept grew into the band we now have."

Yoso's lineup was later rounded out with guitarist Johnny Bruhns and drummer Scott Conner.

To support the new record, Yoso is hitting the road with following US tour dates (more TBA):

Aug. 11 - Keswick Theatre - Glenside, PA
Aug. 12 - The State Theatre - Falls Church, VA
Aug. 15 - Ramshead Tavern - Annapolis, MD
Aug. 17 - B.B. King's Blues Club - New York, NY
Aug. 19 - Kent Stage - Kent, OH
Aug. 20 - Syndicate Dinner Theatre - Newport, Ky
Aug. 21 - Lake Clementia Amphitheater - Rancho Murieta, CA

For more information visit www.myspace.com/yosohq.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Keith Richards Signs On To Fill In At Faces Reunion

The London Express has stated that Rolling Stones perpetual bad boy Keith Richards will join erstwhile fellow Stone Ron Wood and the rest of the Rod Stewart-less Faces for the band's reunion performance at the Vintage at Goodwood Festival in West Sussex, England, August 13.

The addition of Richards to the lineup of the original Faces (with Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall standing in for Stewart as vocalist) adds even more spice and star power to what will undoubtedly be one of the most significant band reunion gigs of the year.

According to unnamed sources quoted in the Express, Richards is dissatisfied with the pace of Mick Jagger's mission to reform the Rolling Stones, and "at the end of the day Keith just wants to play."

​Formed out of the remnants of Small Faces in 1969 when Steve Marriott left to form Humble Pie, Faces became one of the premier bands in rock for a five-year period. One of the top grossing acts in the world along with Led Zeppelin and the Stones, the band fell apart in 1975 with the ascendance of Stewart's solo career, which led Ronnie Lane to leave the band. Wood began to play with the Stones in 1975, effectively sealing the fate of Faces.

Wood and his mates - original Faces Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones, plus Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock - have dangled the possibility of subsequent gigs after the Goodwood festival. They assembled for a one-off charity gig last year at London's Royal Albert Hall.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gregg Allman Has Liver Transplant

Allman Brothers Band co-founder Gregg Allman underwent liver-transplant surgery on Wednesday (June 23), forcing the veteran group to pull out of Eric Clapton's Crossroads Festival on Saturday near Chicago.

Allman, who was diagnosed with hepatitis C in late 2007, underwent the transplant at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

"I feel pretty good, considering everything that's happened," the 62-year-old keyboardist said in a statement. "Everybody involved here, my doctors and nurses in the hospital and all the Allman Brothers fans, they've just all been great ... All I can say is 'thanks.'"

Shortly after his hepatitis was diagnosed, Allman said that the disease "was laying dormant for awhile and just kind of crept up on me. I was worn out. I had to sleep 10 or 11 hours a day to play two or three (hours). It's just one of those things that sneaks up on you and will just kind of ride you for as long as you don't know you have it."

Allman, who co-founded the group in 1969 with late brother Duane and remaining original members Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson, added that after being treated, he had "more appreciation for life ... There could be people that are reading this now and they have it and don't know they have it, and all it takes is a blood test. If you catch it early, before you get real fatigued and tired like I did, you can beat it."

There's no word yet on Allman's long-term prognosis or when the band would be able to play live again, although he did say in a statement that "I can't wait to get back on the road making music with my friends."

The group played its traditional New York City theater residency in March, and the Crossroads Festival was the only show on its summer itinerary. Allmans guitarist Derek Trucks will fill in at Crossroads with his own band, joined by his wife Susan Tedeschi.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Google To Launch Music Service

Google is planning to launch an online music downloading service tied to its search engine, the Wall Street Journal reported, a move that would pit it against Apple and its popular iTunes site.

Google's plans are still vague, but it has been "stepping up conversations" about offering music services online as well as over mobile phones that use its Android operating system, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the company's talks with the music industry.

It was unclear whether Google had signed deals with record labels, the report said, adding that the launch of a music downloading store was still months away.

Google and Apple have become competitors since the launch of Google's Android operating system, a rival to Apple's iPhone.

Google was not available for comment.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rush 'Moving' On Tour, Recording New 'Clockwork'

Rush has a good head start on its next album, Clockwork Angels, which is due out in 2011. But the group's three members are hoping that this summer's tour will prime them for a strong finish when they return to the studio.

"We've never afforded ourselves the luxury of coming off tour and then going straight into the studio when you're in top playing form," guitarist Alex Lifeson says. "We usually finish a tour and then we take some time off and we slowly get back into writing and then into the studio, recording. This time we'll go straight back into the studio and continue recording and writing while we're still in top form from the road."

Lifeson says Rush is "a little more than halfway done" recording Clockwork Angels with producer Nick Raskulinecz, who also helmed 2007`s Snakes & Arrows. Two of the songs, "Caravan" and "BU2B," have been released online, and four others were recorded during sessions at Blackbird Studios in Nashville.

"Certainly these two songs are pretty heavy indications of where the record's going," Lifeson says, "but there are a lot of different tonalities and soundscapes on the material that we've written so far, so I'm interested to see where we go on these next few songs."

Lifeson says Rush hopes to finish recording during the fall in time for a release in the spring of 2011, followed by a more extensive world tour. Meanwhile the group is now busy gearing up for the summer shows, which kick off June 29 in Albuquerque, N.M., and will feature performances of the 1980 album Moving Pictures in its entirety.

"That was the album that took us to the next level," notes Lifeson, who credits drummer Neil Peart with the full-album idea. "After the release of that album we were headlining everywhere and our audiences increased by a large percentage and it gave us that push forward. Plus, 'Camera Eye' has been probably the top song on our request list from fans for several years, so it really gives us an opportunity to include it in the set and to present it with the full album."

The tour will also undoubtedly give a push behind the award-winning documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, which premieres on VH1, VH1 Classic and Palladia at 9 p.m. EST on June 26 and is released on DVD three days later.

Lifeson says Rush is "very pleased" with both the film and its early success and predicts that as "it will be interesting to see how broad the appeal is for non-Rush fans. Will it pique the interest of people who just want to go see a documentary that might be interesting rather than being Rush fans and going for that reason? It's an interesting story that a lot of people can relate to, and at the same time it's kind of unique and different."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Paul McCartney Commissioned To Write Ballet

Paul McCartney has rocked everywherem from rooftops to David Letterman's marquee, but his next project is far more delicate: He's been asked to write music for a ballet.

Not much is known about the ballet, including which company commissioned the Beatles great to write it. However, McCartney says he jumped at the chance to take on a musical opportunity he hadn't yet explored.

"I'm interested in doing things I haven't done before. That offer came up and I love writing music, the two went together and I said, 'Yeah,' so I just accept things before I even know what I'm doing," McCartney said. "I don't really know that much about it yet. I'm just writing music for it, but it's a switch!"

Outside of his work as a Beatle and solo artist, McCartney has also written the soundtrack for a film (1967's The Family Way), composed four classical music releases, and made forays into electronica (his Fireman side project) and remixing (2000's Liverpool Sound Collage.)

It's been a year of firsts for McCartney, who recently was the first non-American recipient of the Library of Congress' Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honored with an all-star tribute at the White House. And on his latest Up and Coming Tour, McCartney's been visiting markets and cities he's never played before.

McCartney will cap off a busy year by reissuing Wings' Band On The Run with remastered sound and bonus tracks this August.