Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Big News: 3 ONA Favorites

Just when I thought there was no news left to publish, huge news came my way from three One Note Ahead mainstays. Ready?

=> On an uplifting note, The Idles are gearing up to release their new EP, Arrogance Through Ignorance, and you can get a taste in advance. The official statement from the band's MySpace bulletin:

Its been a while, but we've been well and truly busy finishing the EP and getting it just right. We've put a sneak peek for you, so head to our MySpace page for a listen. Let us know what you think.

The full EP is out for release on iTunes and all other digital providers online on the 14th December, with the official launch party in Liverpool at the Masque on the 12th, everyone's invited so come along and bring your friends, you don't wanna miss it.

So all my Liverpool readers, mark your calendars! For all of you in the rest of the world, the MySpace preview consists of snippets of the new tracks. I know The Idles are up for a review, so I expect the EP to be one of the first releases I review in 2010.

=> You know how big a supporter I've been of Drexel University's MAD Dragon Records. I even had the pleasure of working in conjunction with MDR as a publicist last fall (
click here for details). And with MDR being one of the most buzzed-about labels on the Philly scene, you'd think this next news item would be getting more attention. As it was, it went right over my head and I needed some actual MDR folks to point it out to me. From Philadelphia City Paper, issue dated November 12, 2009:

Major stuff: [Ropeadope Records founder Andy Hurwitz] — Baby Loves Disco-tech, Temple U teacher, Piazza at NoLibs booker/broker — left those latter two jobs up north (but never the 'Dopey) for points west: He'll start a gig teaching at Drexel and running Mad Dragon records, home of The Swimmers, Andrew Lipke, etc. This all means that mad Terry Tompkins was let go from the Dragon but stays on as professor at DU.

This almost coincides with a vague statement on
MDR's MySpace page, dated September 5, 2009: As the summer draws to an end, we at MDR are keeping busy supporting our artists and staying on top of label business. We are also saying goodbye to a few dear staff members...

What is the ultimate meaning of all this? Good question. The rumor mill is already grinding away, and I'm not about to contribute to it. But having an inside track to MDR, I can say that the label's going through a major transitional period. The end of Terry Tompkins' reign as President of MAD Dragon's record division signifies the end of an era from an ONA-centric perspective. From
the first Matt Duke feature over three years ago, Terry was a big part of the label and even set up a couple of ONA reviews himself. But then again, certain other people who were also part of the label in 2006 are still part of the label today, and they're still committed to supporting real talent that deserves more exposure. Given Ropeadope's reputation as a cutting-edge label, and Andy Hurwitz's involvement in innovative endeavors, it's difficult to predict what direction MAD Dragon Records will take next. But I can't imagine it'll be boring. Meanwhile, don't forget the Dragon! The Swimmers' excellent People Are Soft is the label's latest release.

=> Reaching back to 2006 for another longtime ONA favorite, I'm afraid I have some sad news: SuperJimenez have called it quits. The news came rather abruptly through
MySpace via frontman Ronan Cunningham:

Superjimenez are no more

Thanks to everyone who said something nice.
Thanks to DJ's and fans that played and sang our songs.
Thanks to promoters and festivals for giving us stage time.
Thanks for the good reviews.

To the begrudgers...fuck you all.

Music is a tough business. To everyone who ever picks up a guitar or writes a song in search of fame, glory or whatever reason, I wish you all the luck in the world.

No regrets, I may be back myself at some stage.

I think I sometimes oversold the band, but when they were at their best, I thought they made brilliant pop/rock and I thought they deserved to find an audience beyond Ireland. But Ronan is right: music is a tough business. Remember, these guys went through hell just to get one album made, dealing with record label issues and having to fight the Irish government for nine months to get their Australian lead guitarist back. So not every last track in their small catalogue is the stuff of legend; they still leave behind a lot of wonderful tunes that should not pass into obscurity. Get thee to iTunes while the goods are still there.

Well, this news bulletin has been dramatic! Unless some more big updates come a-knockin', here's what I have planned for the rest of 2009:

There will be no One Note Ahead Live this year. I'd love to do it, but I'm not pleased with most of the relevant live videos.

There will be a big year-end wrap-up, possibly in two parts.

There will be no more new reviews in 2009, but there may be new entries in the "Now Hear This!" and "One Video Ahead" series.

I'm really looking forward to wrapping up 2009 in high style and kicking off 2010 in even higher style. Thank you for reading and stay tuned!

Copyright © 2009 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

One Note Ahead Update #3

It's time once again for updates on some of our favorites.

=> I announced last month that The Swimmers' second album, People Are Soft, would drop on November 3rd. Now I have it and I cannot stop listening to it! As enjoyable and well-received as their first album was, they could have just made a carbon copy for their second. Instead, The Swimmers opted to break loose, crafting intense songs about human vulnerability and performing them with remarkable gusto amidst fascinating sonic landscapes. People Are Soft is truly an album-length statement, and best appreciated as such. I've run out of profound things to say about the album, so......just give it a chance, eh?

=> Our good friend Matt Duke is not doing so well; he's fractured his right hand and has had to stop performing for the time being. He's updated us on his blog, but in the meantime, I hope all of us in the One Note Ahead family wish him the best. I know I do.

=> On a brighter note, remember how April Smith asked for your help in funding her next record? Well, she exceeded her goal and is currently working on the album! Congrats, April.

=> In our last update, I said that Downtown Harvest had a new album in the works. It's out now, and it's called Discovering Dinosaurs. It's been a long gestation period, with the forthcoming release announced at times as an album called Taco Hospital (greatest album title ever rejected), an EP called Shimmy, and an album called More Than Friends -- maybe not in that exact order, but I know everything else I said is correct! At any rate, Discovering Dinosaurs is available at all DTH shows and will hit iTunes next month. I don't even have my copy yet, but I hope to change that soon. If you're in the same boat, check MySpace for some new tunes.

=> Finally, I'm trying to keep up with Nicole Atkins.....I really am......but it's difficult these days. After two EPs and one album, she and Columbia Records have parted ways; she's now looking to move to a smaller label. She's out on the road trying out new songs on her live audiences, and plans to record her next album this coming winter. If you've been missing her in person (I have), live performances of her new songs keep showing up on YouTube; so many, in fact, that I'm waaaaayyyy behind in checking them all out! You can also listen to a live audio recording of her new song "The Tower" on MySpace.

And that is all for now!

Copyright © 2009 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.

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