Category Archives: INDIE MUSIC NEWS

Adele's '25' Sells Over Three Million Copies in First Week

Not only did Adele‘s 25 shatter the record for most albums sold in the U.S. in a single week, it also exceeded all estimations and expectations as the LP tallied a colossal total of 3.38 million copies in its debut week. Adele’s 25 became only the second album to sell over two million copies in its first week – joining previous record holder N’Sync’s No Strings Attached, which moved 2.42 million copies in its first week of sales in March 2000 – and the first album ever to exceed three million in sales in one week, Billboard reports.

After just seven days of availability, 25 is already the U.S.’s highest-selling album of 2015, nearly doubling the 1.8 million copies of Taylor Swift’s 1989 had accrued in the first 11 months of the year. Adele’s latest is also just the 20th album to put up platinum numbers – over one million copies sold – in its first week of sales since Nielsen started keeping track in 1991.

With 25‘s massive week, Adele’s catalog is now responsible for the top-selling album in three of the past five years: 21 was the bestselling album of 2011 and 2012 – the first time in charts history that an album repeated that feat – and 25 will undoubtedly hold the crown of 2015’s bestseller when the calendar turns. 21 has sold over 11 million copies since its release in 2011, and if 25 keeps its current sales trajectory, it will be the favorite to be the highest-selling LP of 2016 as well, especially if the singer continues to keep it off of streaming services.

25 didn’t just break sales records in the U.S.: In Adele’s native U.K., 25 put up the biggest selling opening week in the history of the Official Charts Company, ousting Oasis’ Be Here Now. Adele’s latest sold over 800,000 copies in the U.K. – toppling Be Here Now‘s opening week of 696,00 in 1997 – and, with over 250,000 digital purchases of the LP, quickly racked the most downloads ever in an opening week in the history of the British charts, Billboard writes.

On the British album charts, Adele’s 25, which easily placed Number One, sold more than the albums slotted at Number Two through Number 87 combined. Expect similar domination stateside when the complete Billboard 200 rankings are announced early next week.

Twisted Sister Allow Donald Trump to Use 'We're Not Gonna Take It'

While artists like Neil Young, R.E.M. and Aerosmith have lashed out at Donald Trump for using their music at political rallies without permission, Twisted Sister have allowed the Republican presidential candidate to use their 1984 hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It” on the campaign trail. As singer Dee Snider revealed in a new interview, while his own beliefs strongly differ from Trump’s, he says the song “is about rebellion, speaking your mind and fighting the system. If anybody’s doing that, [Trump] sure is.”

Snider and Trump do have a history, as the singer was fired on the 2012 season of Celebrity Apprentice. “He called and he asked, which I appreciated,” Snider told Canadian Business of Trump’s use of “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” “I said, ‘Look, we don’t see eye to eye on everything – there are definitely issues that we’re far apart on.’ … Trump and Bernie Sanders are the two extremes. They’re raising holy hell and shaking everything up. That’s what ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ is about.”

While they have different ideologies, Snider said he remained friends with Trump after taping Celebrity Apprentice. “I have spent time with Donald and his family,” Snider said. “I don’t think either of us expected that we would like each other, but you know, Donald Trump is a pretty chill guy. He’s a frontman.”

When Snider spoke to Rolling Stone in 2012, he was similarly complementary of Trump while disagreeing with the mogul’s politics, including Trump’s demands to see Barack Obama’s birth certificate at that time. “In [Trump’s] own way, he is the P.T. Barnum of his day,” Snider said in 2012. “It is no coincidence that he is talking about possibly running for president at the time that we’re announcing the launch of the Celebrity Apprentice. It’s not a coincidence. Saying sensational things like ‘President Obama sucks,’ knowing at the same time that he wants people to lock up their TiVos.”

However, Snider doesn’t just allow every politician to use “We’re Not Gonna Take It” at rallies: In 2012, Snider denounced Paul Ryan’s use of the Twisted Sister single at a rally.

Hear Sia's Soaring 'One Million Bullets'

Sia will release her new album This Is Acting in January, and on Friday the Australian singer unveiled “One Million Bullets,” the latest single off her 1000 Forms of Fear follow-up. The atmospheric, expressive track starts off on a hushed tone before unfurling an infectious, soaring chorus that has become a staple of Sia’s work. “One million bullets could come my way / But I want you to know that / I’d take a million, babe / How many would you take,” Sia asks on the chorus.

Jesse Shatkin, the co-writer of Sia’s smash “Chandelier,” produced “One Million Bullets.” Sia previously said of her upcoming album, which features songs she wrote for other artists before recording them herself, “It’s much more pop. I’m calling it This Is Acting because they are songs I was writing for other people, so I didn’t go in thinking, ‘This is something I would say.’ It’s more like play-acting. It’s fun.”

While This Is Acting‘s first two singles – “Bird Set Free” and “Alive” – were penned with Adele in mind, it’s unclear who “One Million Bullets” was originally destined for. This Is Acting is due out January 29th.

Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole Trade Beats for 'Black Friday' Surprise

Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole dropped a pair of Black Friday gifts on fans as the rappers traded beats off their respective albums to create their own new songs, both titled “Black Friday.” The swap finds Lamar hopping onto Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive cut “A Tale of 2 Citiez,” while Cole adds his verses to To Pimp a Butterfly‘s “Alright.”

In Lamar’s ferocious, nearly four-minute-long verse, the rapper touches on Adele (“I’m rolling deep in that paper like two Adeles”), dubs himself Jimi Kendrix and even throws his support behind Kanye West’s 2020 presidential run. “Play with him, you’re better off voting for Donald Trump / I’m yelling Mr. Kanye West for president / He probably let me get some head inside the residence / I’m in the White House going all out / Bumping College Dropout, God bless Americans,” Lamar says. Later, the rapper gloats, “I gotta lay it / Gotta show you fuckers I’m not to play with / The ruckus had been my favorite / King Kunta the fuckin’ greatest.”

On the other “Black Friday,” Cole boasts over the “Alright” beat, “I sold out the Garden / I should play for the Knicks / Took a couple minutes and I sold out Staples / a nigga getting cream like an old-ass Laker.” At the conclusion of J. Cole’s “Black Friday,” he appears to hint that a more substantial collaboration between the two marquee rappers could arrive in 2016. “When you and K. Dot dropping shit,” Cole says. “Bitch never, they can’t handle two black niggas this clever / But this February, bet shit get scary when I fuck around and drop…” as the verse ends abruptly.

No official explanation for the “Black Friday” drop was provided other than it was “Black Friday $ specials free of charge” from their labels: Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertainment and Cole’s Dreamville Records. However, Dreamville president Ibrahim “Ib” Hamad tweeted, “I didn’t do nothing but spark the idea but thanks for the love. End of the day I’m a fan just like you, I did because it’s fun for us fans.”

Inside Criterion's Incredible Restoration of Dylan Doc 'Don't Look Back'

D.A. Pennbaker still remembers the man with the wiry gray hair and the sunglasses, sitting across from him in his office and posing an innocent enough question. “He asked, ‘Would you like to come along on a tour with my client? His name is Bob Dylan.’ It sort of rang a bell.” The 90-year-old filmmaker lets out a raspy chuckle before continuing to speak at his customary rapid clip. “He had one song, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’,’ that had been playing on the radio and that’s about all I knew. But I’d just done this 15-minute film on a jazz vocalist, Dave Lambert…and at that moment, I’d been sort of making these shorts and then putting them in a box, because there was no market for them. So when Albert [Grossman, Dylan’s manager] brought up this tour, I thought, ‘Oh, another musician. Here’s my chance.’ And maybe that would be the start of something.”

History will confirm that yes, it was most definitely the start of something. Pennebaker would accompany the then–23-year-old singer-songwriter to England for a brief 1965 spring tour, bringing along his customized sync-sound 16mm camera and capturing several Dylan performances — as well as lots of backstage banter, backroom deals, after-party shenanigans, press conferences, put-downs, temper tantrums, rabid fans and one of the most uncomfortable troubadour-vs.-troubadour encounters ever caught on celluloid. The result, released two years later under the title Don’t Look Back, would become the definitive visual portrait of the artist as he prepared to go from folksinging poet/prophet to pop-music gamechanger. It would also create the template for the modern rock documentary and become one of the single most influential movies of all time.

Some 50 years after its creation, Pennebaker’s fly-on-the-wall time capsule still seems remarkably fresh — and courtesy of Criterion’s recent bells-and-whistles release of the movie, Don’t Look Back now sounds, per Pennebaker himself, “better than when I initially recorded and shot it.” A labor of love for producer Kim Hendrickson (who’d been involved with the movie’s inaugural DVD release at another company back in 1999), the new edition includes the earlier edition’s commentary track with the filmmaker and tour manager/Dylan partner-in-crime Bob Neuwirth, and 65 Revisited, Pennebaker’s odds-ends-and-outtakes movie that was part of 2006 box set. But it also includes key early works from the direct-cinema pioneer, including the aforementioned jazz-musician short Lambert & Co. (1964); new testimonials with Patti Smith and writer Greil Marcus; and Snapshots From the Tour, a collection of Back sequences left on the cutting-room floor.

But it’s the audio restoration that genuinely makes the new DVD/Blu-ray stick out, thanks to a painstaking process that would help correct earlier mixes of the movie, which tended to employ a “fake stereo” set-up that panned the mono tracks. (Listen to the “Subterranean Homesick Blues” opening on previous DVD releases, and you can hear the bass line bouncing back and forth between your speakers.) That meant going back to quarter-inch magnetic master tapes in Pennebaker’s vaults — what Criterion audio supervisor Ryan Hullings calls the “holy grail” of Don’t Look Back materials. “D.A. had stored them properly since day one, so they were in excellent physical condition,” he relates via email. “The problem was that those tapes used a special version of Fairchild Sync, which was only used for a very, very brief time in the mid-Sixties…and modern tape heads can’t read it. I looked all over New York for someone who could transfer the audio, so I wouldn’t have to ship these priceless materials out of the state, and no one could play them.”

Salvation came in the form of Peter Oreckinto, a former Kiss roadie living in Los Angeles who had a reputation for being “an analog film-audio guru.” Hullings sent him the masters and crossed his fingers; the West Coast resident then built his own bespoke tape head from scratch that could read the outdated signal. “He sent back an audio sample as a test,” the Criterion employee recalled, “with a note that said ‘I have no idea whether this will sync up, but give it a shot.’ We were floored by how amazing the recordings sounded — and it synced up perfectly with the picture!”

“It actually changes the movie,” Hendrickson says, in regards to the restored sound. “Take the Donovan scene: It has always been read as this big takedown, with Dylan taking the guitar and trying to one-up the singer. But now, you can actually hear Donovan ask Dylan to play ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ for him — it changes the intention of the scene entirely. It’s not nearly as negative! All of us in the office were watching the movie right after we put the sound track in and we suddenly, Wait…did he just request the song?!? And none of us could remember hearing that before.”

“The Donovan scene has always been read as this big takedown. Now, you can actually hear Donovan ask Dylan to play ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ for him — it changes the intention of the scene entirely.”

There’s also a brief snippet in the supplement section that features Dylan in living if faded color, pounding out a raw, raucous “Ballad of a Thin Man” from the legendary 1966 tour he did with The Band — his first time taking the group out on the road after going electric at Newport in July of 1965, just months after he’d filmed Don’t Look Back‘s acoustic gigs overseas. Hendrickson said she specifically included that moment to emphasize Dylan’s subsequent evolution — “We wanted to chart that move from acoustic to electric, from black-and-white to color” is how she puts it. The performance does draw attention, however, to the fact that what would have been a natural addition to the set, Eat the Document, is M.I.A. Though Martin Scorsese used footage from the abandoned project for his 2012 documentary No Direction Home, Pennebaker and Dylan’s notorious, never-officially-released follow-up project remains stuck in bootleg-only limbo.

“Would the world have liked Eat the Document as part of this?” Hendrickson asks rhetorically. “Yes, of course, and we included that Ballad footage to emphasize that the bonds that formed on Don’t Look Back didn’t stop once the ’65 tour was done. These two men clearly saw something in each other; Dylan recognized that D.A. got it, and vice versa. But that other project is something that should be celebrated in its own right, and I imagine that it will get out there eventually.” Pennebaker agrees, claiming that even if he’d been able to include his cut of the ABC Network-commissioned documentary (Dylan would eventually edit his own version as well), the two films feel like separate entities to him.

“The second project was in a sense his film,” the director says. “I was involved, sure, but it really felt more like ‘I want you to shoot a film and I’m gonna direct it.’ In the end, it got made and ABC didn’t want it, and I’m incredibly glad that Marty was able to use as much of it as he did. But I didn’t want to have a mutiny on my hands, and I know it will show up eventually. I feel like Bob will figure out what to do with it. He’s has always said, ‘Well Don’t Look Back is your film, man,’ and I feel like that’s true, for better or worse.”

Indeed, given the attention to detail that Criterion has given to framing Don’t Look Back as the work of an artist behind the camera in addition to a portrait of the one onscreen, the DVD restoration feels like a tribute to the man who’d forever alter what we expect from music documentaries. “When you revisit this film, most of the time, you talk about Dylan,” Hendrickson says. “But it’s also the moment that Pennebaker comes into his own. He’s moved on from his old collaborators, he’s no longer doing those newsreel-style films for Life, and he’s started experimenting with avant-garde stuff, like the Duke Ellington piece [Daybreak Express] and the Dave Lambert doc we included here. So by the time he starts on Don’t Look Back…he starts the film off with something that has nothing to do with the tour. He jumps into the middle of scenes and cuts out of them. He’s making it up as he goes along. So was Dylan. That’s why this works so well. It’s because of the two of them. It’s revolutionary.”

“People are always going to need Dylan,” Pennebaker says, when asked about why he thinks the film still holds up. “His way of saying, ‘It’s all fucked up, but I’ll show you a way to get through it’ — that will never go away. But most documentaries exist in order to capture a specific moment and then they move on. I wanted to make a film for the future, that wasn’t just about 1965. And I think that’s why it still works.”

David Bowie, Radiohead, Robert Plant Sign Climate Change Petition

David Bowie, Robert Plant, David Gilmour, Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke and Phil Selway, Coldplay, My Morning Jacket, Yoko Ono and Björk are among the dozens of artists in the creative community to sign an open letter addressed to the leadership of the upcoming Paris Climate Conference outlining significant changes to the United Nations’ climate change framework. Julie’s Bicycle, a not-for-profit organization aimed at environmental sustainability, orchestrated the petition.

The open letter was written to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary Christiana Figueres and Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister of France and president of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. “We are deeply concerned that our global economic and industrial systems are accelerating rates of extinction, desertification and soil depletion, degrading ecosystems, acidifying and littering our rivers and oceans, and resulting in a relentless rise in greenhouse gas emissions driving irreversible climate change,” the letter stated. “In short, we are overwhelming the planet’s life support systems.”

Among the changes the petition calls on are “an ambitious commitment to climate action, starting now, that will limit future global warming to below 2.0°C (3.6 °F) relative to pre-industrial levels” and “financial mechanisms to stimulate extensive infrastructure for poorer nations to support them in achieving their reduction commitments while permitting equitable development. The petition also seeks “a legally robust and accountable global climate governance framework and implementation strategy that we will be able to support.”

Sting, Damon Albarn, Chrissie Hynde, Jack Johnson, Leona Lewis, Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye, Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus, Courtney Barnett, Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, Dido and many more musicians, artists, writers and others involved in the creative field also signed the Julie’s Bicycle petition.

The Paris Climate Conference will begin November 30th and run through December 11th. Yorke, Patti Smith and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea announced in July that they would take part in the Pathway to Paris concert at the city’s Le Trianon theater on December 4th. While the recent terror attacks in Paris have threatened the cancellation of many events revolving around the climate change conferences, Yorke pledged on Twitter, “Will be in Paris as planned on 4th & 5th December to put pressure on our glorious leaders at #COP21 -now or never!”

Hear Waylon Jennings Sing 'Outlaw Bit' on Tour in 1979

In 1976, Wanted! The Outlaws assembled the best of the Outlaw Movement in the studio, with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser lending some of their best material to the compilation. But a new recording of Jennings on tour in 1979 captures the outlaw attitude live onstage. An exclusive release for Black Friday Record Store Day (November 27th), the special 12″ vinyl is a full Jennings concert from Omaha and includes a barnstorming version of “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand.” (Listen to the track below).

Assembled by Jennings and Colter’s son, Shooter Jennings, for his Black Country Rock boutique label, Waylon Jennings Live in Concert: Volume 2 was recorded the year the younger Jennings was born.

“It’s from Omaha in ’79 and I just feel like he had an energy and attitude that was so badass,” Jennings tells Rolling Stone Country. “It also is probably the best showcase of his guitar playing on a live record to date. . . This was the peak of the Outlaw Movement and the peak of his popularity and it really shows it.”

Along with the Waylon Jennings Live album, Jennings is releasing two other discs for Record Store Day: a recording by Internet personality the Angry Granpa, and “A Civilized Hell,” a collaboration between Jennings and another son of a seminal outlaw, Lukas Nelson. In March, Jennings will release his new album Countach (For Giorgio), a tribute to electronic-music visionary Giorgio Moroder.

Lil Wayne Drops 'No Ceilings 2' Mixtape

Lil Wayne is making it a habit of dropping mammoth mixtapes on national holidays: After the Free Weezy Album arrived on July 4th, the rapper’s No Ceilings 2 appeared just as fans were sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner. The latest mixtape is the sequel to Wayne’s 2009 mixtape that helped bridge the gap between 2008’s Tha Carter III and 2010’s Rebirth. Download No Ceilings 2 over at Live Mixtapes.

No Ceilings 2 doesn’t have much in common with its predecessor other than its overall scope: While the original mixtape had 21 songs, Wayne ups that on the sequel, as No Ceilings 2 runs through 24 songs over the span of almost 100 minutes. Of the mixtape’s 24 tracks, one-third of them find Wayne rapping on beats previously employed by Drake (“Hotline Bling,” “Back to Back”), Future (“Where Ya At”) or Drake and Future (five songs from What a Time to Be Alive). The Weeknd’s “The Hills,” Eminem’s “My Name Is,” Post Malone’s “White Iverson” and Bryson Tiller’s “Don’t” are also among the songs reimagined by Wayne.

Future himself appears alongside Wayne and Yo Gotti on one of No Ceilings 2‘s original productions, “Cross Me.” Other guests on the mixtape include Curren$y, Mannie Fresh, Jae Millz, Los, Gudda Gudda, Baby E, Young Money singer Shanell and Wayne’s fellow Hot Boys member Turk.

Wayne’s Tha Carter V remains tied up in the rapper’s legal battle with Cash Money.

No Ceilings 2 Track List
1. “Fresh (Feat. Mannie Fresh)”
2. “Back 2 Back”
3. “My Name Is”
4. “Where Ya At”
5. “Cross Me (Feat. Future & Yo Gotti)”
6. “I’m Nice”
7. “Duck (Feat. Jae Millz, Gudda Gudda & Shanell)”
8. “Poppin (Feat. Curren$y)”
9. “Jumpman”
10. “Destroyed (Feat. Euro)”
11. “Finessin (Feat. Baby E)”
12. “Millyrokk (Feat. Lucci Lou & Turk)”
13. “Live From The Gutter (Feat. Hoodybaby & T@)”
14. “Big Wings”
15. “Too Young”
16. “Lil Bitch”
17. “Get Ya Gat (Feat. Lucci Lou & Hoodybaby)”
18. “No Reason (Feat. King Los)”
19. “Plastic Bag (Feat. Jae Millz)”
20. “Hotline Bling”
21. “Crystal Ball (Feat. Steph)”
22. “Diamonds Dancing”
23. “No Days Off”
24. “The Hills”

Hear Coldplay's Heartfelt New Ballad 'Everglow'

Eight days before Coldplay release their new LP A Head Full of Dreams, Chris Martin stopped by Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 radio show to premiere “Everglow,” a heartfelt, piano-led ballad from the band’s upcoming album. As Martin previously told Rolling Stone, “Everglow” features his ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow contributing very subtle background vocals to the track.

As for the inspiration behind the track, Martin told Lowe, “I was in the ocean one day with this surfer guy, who spoke just like you’d imagine a surfer guy to speak … This guy spoke like Sean Penn’s character from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. He was like, ‘Yo dude, I was doing this thing the other day man, it gave me this total everglow!’

“I was like, ‘What an amazing word.’ Then the song came completely out, and to me, it’s about – whether it’s a loved one or a situation or a friend or a relationship that’s finished or someone’s passed away – I was really thinking about, after you’ve been through the sadness of something, you also get this everglow. That’s what it’s about.”

Martin previously revealed “Everglow” was “about a relationship’s enduring spark.” As for Paltrow’s involvement on the farewell song, Martin told Rolling Stone, “We just did it in the studio one day. It was just a friendly kind of thing.”

Martin’s ex-wife isn’t the only unlikely guest to feature on A Head Full of Dreams: Noel Gallagher, Beyoncé, Blue Ivy Carter, Tove Lo, Martin’s children and a sample of President Barack Obama singing “Amazing Grace” will also appear on the album.

Casey Kasem's Children File Wrongful Death Suit Against Widow

Nearly 18 months after the death of radio legend Casey Kasem, the America’s Top 40 host’s children have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Kasem’s widow Jean Kasem. In the civil suit, filed in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Kasem’s three children and his brother accuse Jean Kasem of elder abuse and inflicting emotional distress on them, The Associated Press reports. In the months prior to Kasem’s death, his three children – all from a previous marriage – were restricted access from their father as he lay bedridden with dementia.

“Casey’s early death occurred as a direct and proximate result of Jean’s neglect and physical abuse of Casey,” the wrongful death suit read. The civil suit came after prosecutors declined to press criminal charges against Jean Kasem earlier in the year. “We would rather see her in jail than receive one dime. We don’t care about the money. We care about justice,” daughter Kerri Kasem told the AP. “What [Jean] did to my father is reprehensible. It’s disgusting. It’s horrific.” The lawsuit itself seeks at least $250,000 in damages, although a jury would determine the final amount if Jean Kasem was found guilty.

The 28-page civil lawsuit pinpoints the alleged negligent manner in which Jean Kasem cared for Casey in his final months, including letting him remain confined to hospitals long after he was ready to be discharged as well as relocating the radio host from a California medical facility to a friend’s home in Washington state as his condition worsened; his children filed a missing person report after Jean Kasem relocated Casey without telling anyone. The Kasem children also cited Jean’s decision to bury Kasem in an unmarked grave in Norway as an example of the emotional distress they’ve endured.

The lawsuit says Kasem’s brother and children are seeking “fair recompense for the suffering they personally endured from witnessing the abuse and its painful and damaging physical effect on their beloved father and brother, and the gross treatment and disposition of Casey Kasem’s remains in an unmarked grave in a distant land unknown to him or his family.”