Category Archives: INDIE MUSIC NEWS

King Louie Recovering After Gunshot to Head

Chicago rapper King Louie is recovering after being shot in the head at the city’s Ashburn neighborhood on Wednesday afternoon. The rapper was shot while in his vehicle at 3:30 p.m. local time and brought to Chicago’s Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition. King Louie’s management confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times that the rapper was “awake and talking” following the incident.

Chicago’s Fox 32 added some more details from the shooting, reporting that the 27-year-old King Louie, born Louie Johnson Jr., was grazed with a bullet when someone opened fire on Louie’s car at the intersection of 83rd and Pulaski. A police spokesperson told the Chicago Tribune that the rapper was sitting in his vehicle when someone stepped alongside the car and shot King Louie in the left side of his head.

“I believe in the power of prayer and I believe my brother Louie gone be ok. Send prayers to him in his battle,” Chance the Rapper tweeted after news of King Louie’s shooting spread.

A mixtape darling and one of the key figures in Chicago’s drill movement, King Louie slipped into the mainstream when he contributed a verse to Kanye West’s Yeezus track “Send It Up.” More recently, the rapper appeared on “Familiar,” a cut on Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment’s SurfRolling Stone‘s fourth best rap album of 2015.

King Louie is also credited with coining the word “Chiraq,” a colloquial portmanteau that likened Chicago’s gun violence to Iraq. Spike Lee borrowed the phrase for his recently released film about Chicago, drawing criticism from Chance the Rapper as well as King Louie, who dropped a song titled “Fuck Spike Lee.”

King Louie has not yet commented about the shooting incident on social media.

In October, King Louie joined Chicago rappers like Common, Lil Herb, Saba, Tree, Noname Gypsy and more on “Put the Guns Down,” an interactive music video that aimed to curb gun violence in the Windy City.

Thy Art Is Murder Splits with Vocalist

Thy Art Is Murder has split ways with vocalist CJ McMahon. The singer posted his reasons via his Facebook page saying “With a mix of both negative and positive emotions, I inform you all that …Read More


Hatsune Miku Releases HATSUNE MIKU EXPO 2016 EP DETAILS

Hatsune Miku will be releasing an exclusive EP consisting of 13-tracks, including two remixes of the official theme song for Miku Expo 2016! The Facebook page posted the following; “Hello everyone! We’re happy to announce …Read More


Tempest Rising Releases "Know My Name" Video

Tempest Rising has released a video for “Know My Name”. Check it out HERE.


Hear Fairground Saints' Lilting 'I'll Be Home for Christmas'

Bing Crosby’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was written in the middle of World War II and found something universal in the aching melancholy experienced by military families for whom being together was not an option. The ending line “If only in my dreams” sums up the feeling and is a frontrunner for one of the saddest couplets in all Christmas music.

Los Angeles-based folk-pop trio Fairground Saints (Mason Van Valin, Elijah Edwards and Megan McAllister) didn’t make things easy for themselves by trying to cover the song and bring out something new — but they succeeded. With a galloping beat, dense harmonies and bright acoustic guitar strums, the group’s rendition makes it sound more like a promise than a wish. 

The band agrees with that assessment, offering that “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” with its generally sad message, relates with all people who are away from family during the holidays or any milestone event. “I think when we re-arranged it, it brought out a new aspect of the lyrics we didn’t hear before,” says the trio’s Elijah Edwards, “the more hopeful view. And that resonates with us.”

Fairground Saints’ self-titled debut was released in August 2015 and features harmony-rich songs like “Ain’t Much for Lyin'” and “Turn This Car Around” that find a sweet spot between bluegrass and pop-country. On January 14th, the band will perform at New York’s Rockwood Music Hall.

Go Behind the Scenes of Motley Crue's Epic Final Tour

Mötley Crüe wrap up their 158-date Final Tour at Los Angeles’ Staples Center on New Year’s Eve, and the disbanding rockers looked back at the epic trek with a behind-the-scenes video that explores the insane lengths the band went to in order to go out on a high note for fans.

“The premise was, ‘We have to make this the most fucking insane thing that’s ever happened and no one will ever be able to pull this off,'” drummer Tommy Lee told Live Nation TV. “I’ve always, throughout the years, tried to come up with something new and different and entertaining. When people walk away, you want them to go ‘Dude, I can’t believe what I just saw. That was insane.'”

For the farewell tour, Lee goes to death-defying lengths to wow the audience as the crew constructs an actual roller coaster – dubbed the Mother Fucking Crüecifly – for his drum kit. Lee isn’t the only Crüe member to turn their instrument into a spectacle as Nikki Sixx’s bass transforms in a flamethrower with the push of a button.

“The band has always been obsessed with fire. In the early days, Tommy and Vince used to practice lighting me on fire in our apartment. They figured out how to light my boots on fire,” Sixx says. “We don’t know how to do it any other way, but it’s almost always trying to find an edge. We were always trying to push it. But at the core, if you strip it all away, we’re actually a really good band. And that, I’m really proud of. And the other stuff is, we’re broken and demented and we want to push the envelope.”

How Female Artists Are Breaking Down Country Radio's Good Ol' Boys Club

One of the most biting tracks from Kacey Musgraves’ 2015 release Pageant Material found the acerbic singer-songwriter railing against cronyism of the “Good Ol’ Boys Club.” While she likely meant it as commentary on any system that favors nepotism over hard work and talent, Musgraves still chose to fire her arrows in a year when one of country music’s most dominant narratives was the struggle faced by female artists for airplay.

This discussion turned into a full-on food fight in May when radio consultant Keith Hill told Country Aircheck that women were like the tomatoes of the country music salad — to be used sparingly — while the men were the foundational lettuce. Naturally, lovers of Caprese salad scoffed at this comparison, but artists and industry leaders passionately blasted Hill for comments that were at best tone deaf and, at worst, a confirmation of institutionalized sexism.

It’s a debate that’s been present in country at least as far back as Kitty Wells’ “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonky Angels,” which became the first solo female Number One on the Billboard chart in 1952 when the country chart was already eight years old. Though the matter seemingly came to a head in 2015, the lack of females on country radio is an ongoing and complex problem that’s not going to correct itself overnight or by having lots of feels about how wrong it is. Even so, there are some signs that it’s slowly trending in the right direction as we close out 2015.

Just one year ago, it didn’t look that way at all. In 2014, Cassadee Pope and Maddie & Tae were the only women not named Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert to reach the Top 10 of Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart. Through the first half of 2015, RaeLynn was the only new solo female artist to crack the Top 20 and her debut “God Made Girls” stalled in the teens.

One particularly disconcerting aspect of Hill’s statements involved the call-out research methodology used by programmers to make decisions about which songs they add. In short, stations call listeners and play a snippet of a song to see how that person reacts. Hill’s claim that songs by women don’t research well with the majority female audience listening to country radio was a notion that — if true —laid the blame squarely on listeners.

In response, a committee known as Change the Conversation comprising industry leaders like CMT’s Leslie Fram and artist manager Tracy Gershon commissioned a study from political economist and Stanford Ph.D. candidate (not to mention devoted country fan) Devarati Ghosh that called into question the effectiveness of that research methodology.

Examining eight-year increments starting with 1992, Ghosh noted that the spread of women and men enjoying Top 20 hits was briefly equal. In the heyday of Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Martina McBride, 44 percent of female artists and 42 percent of male artists introduced in that year enjoyed a Top 20 hit. The female side of that equation dropped off at the start of the millennium and plummeted ever downward from there. By the current period that began in 2008, only 32 percent of new female artists were having a Top 20 hit — compared to 57 percent of the guys. Even worse, almost none of them ever scored a second hit. Bottom line: the same research methods were used in the era — the Nineties — that produced some of the greatest, most successful women the format has ever known. What’s so different about the present?

Experienced programmers are just as likely to agree empathetically and shrug as they are to say there’s a quality issue with the music, though many have been careful to distance themselves from Hill’s statements.

Part of the problem stems from the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the monolithic radio chains that sprung up in its wake, a timeline that generally overlaps with the decline of women on radio after the Nineties boom. Certainly, that bit of legislation helped wrest some autonomy from the local markets and centralized a lot of programming decisions.

If that’s a depressing thought, it may help to banish the notion that radio has any responsibility whatsoever to promote great art or gender equity. Radio’s goal is to sell advertising, which is wholly dependent on ratings. Following a by-the-books approach is — at least from radio’s perspective — the most dependable way to maintain pace or at least keep a job in a competitive marketplace.

However, it’s hard not to look at the success of artists like Kacey Musgraves, Brandy Clark and Ashley Monroe — all of whom have enjoyed strong sales and touring without radio support — and feel like something is askew. People’s hunger for hearing female artists hasn’t diminished, but perhaps migrated to other platforms, as new Sony Music Nashville signee Maren Morris’ rapidly accumulated six million-plus Spotify streams suggests.

So where does that leave us?

There hasn’t been some sweeping, overnight corrective — that might have been too much to expect from a radio format slow to embrace change. In addition to the industry’s efforts, artists have taken their own stands. Miranda Lambert used her superstar clout to organize an all-female bill on her fall Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour, while CMT’s Next Women of Country initiative put Jana Kramer and Kelsea Ballerini on the road together. On the radio front, better days may well be ahead.

Ballerini was an early hopeful sign when she became the first solo female artist since Underwood nearly 10 years earlier to have her debut single reach Number One with “Love Me Like You Mean It.” Her current single “Dibs” is aimed squarely at the Top 10, as is Jana Kramer’s sincerely great “I Got the Boy.”

Perhaps most encouraging is Cam, whose gorgeously stark ballad “Burning House” set playlists ablaze when syndicated host Bobby Bones played it on his show and immediately garnered passionate feedback. Already confirmed platinum for sales, the song appears destined to be a Billboard Number One and the robust first-week sales of Cam’s album Untamed are equally promising.

Still, knowing all this, we can’t hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner, pat ourselves on the collective back and move on. When Cam, Maren Morris, Clare Dunn and Mickey Guyton are all scoring back-to-back chart-toppers with the regularity of Cole Swindell and Thomas Rhett, we’ll know for sure something has changed. 

In the interim, country fans on either side of the gender divide can speak up. If radio is dependent on ratings for survival, fans invested in hearing women on the radio should be letting stations know how important that is for them to continue tuning in. If those requests are ignored, the rapid movement of people away from country radio will force a radical makeover of programming methodology. Perhaps we’ll see more online research, and the grace to allow songs time to develop, instead of a knee-jerk dismissal. Hopefully, radio will be willing to revise its membership policy to be more about, in Musgraves’ “Good Ol’ Boys Club” lyrics, how good you are.

There’s still a long road ahead. Changing course is a slow process that requires long-held attitudes to be broken down and a willingness to celebrate minor victories. In 2015, every one of those victories — no matter how seemingly insignificant — was crucial.

What Beatles' Streaming Decision Means for Music Industry

Now that the Beatles have announced they’ll activate their famous catalog on every on-demand streaming service, from Spotify to Apple Music, as of midnight on December 24th, the record business has one overwhelming reaction: What took them so long? “It’s surprising they didn’t do it this time last year,” says Terry McBride, manager of Father John Misty, fun. and many others. “They probably have lost 10s of millions of dollars by not doing it. I’m quite sure there are many people, maybe in the millions, who are Beatles fans that have not been listening to the Beatles. That’s a huge lost opportunity on so many levels.”

Over the past few years, the record business has shifted its model from selling CDs and downloads to streaming — revenue from Spotify, YouTube and the others jumped from less than $600 million in 2012 to nearly $1.1 billion in 2014, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Numerous artists, including Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Joanna Newsom, have complained about the low royalty payments they receive from streaming, and Taylor Swift and Adele have withheld their blockbuster albums from the services during the past two years. But the Beatles’ presence gives the business what Jack Isquith, a Slacker Radio senior vice president and former Warner Bros. Records digital-music executive, calls a “giant validation of streaming.

“How do you look at this from a business perspective and say the other ups and downs over streaming — the Taylor Swift stuff, the Adele stuff — don’t wind up as footnotes in history once you have these 13 [Beatles] albums right down the middle?” he continues. “This is an acknowledgment that streaming isn’t just the future; it’s the present.”

The Beatles, who wouldn’t comment for this story, have a history of waiting out new technology until they’re absolutely certain it works for them. The compact disc came out in the early Eighties, but Beatles albums didn’t arrive via CD until 1987; the iTunes Music Store opened in 2003, but the Beatles didn’t sell downloads until making a 2010 deal with Apple. But their timing always seems right. “It is absolutely the perfect moment,” says Alex Luke, a venture capitalist and former music executive for Apple as well as the Beatles’ longtime label, EMI. “Digital-music services boom on Christmas Day and the week after, due to the new hardware under the Christmas tree — the iPads and phones and laptops. You have everyone hitting the digital services en masse. They picked the perfect window to maximize the return.”

See Willie Nelson's Spiritual Take on John Lennon's 'Imagine'

If it weren’t for the lyric about dreaming up a world without religion, John Lennon’s “Imagine” could almost be a gospel song, thanks to a simple, hymn-like melody that seems to invite entire congregations to sing along. 

That’s exactly what happened at this month’s John Lennon 75th Birthday Concert in New York City, where Willie Nelson performed Lennon’s universally known solo single with help from a beefed-up house band — including Leland Sklar on bass and longtime partner Mickey Raphael on harmonica — and an arena full of Lennon fans. When Nelson’s vocal wobble prevented him from singing the “yoo-hooo” line in the song’s chorus, the audience chipped in, turning the Madison Square Garden concert into a celebration not of the musicians onstage, but of the night’s late honoree. 

Sandwiched between mini-sets by Spoon and Brandon Flowers, Nelson’s performance was loose and limber, with the Red Headed Stranger taking liberties with the song’s phrasing before launching into a guitar solo full of blue notes. Other performers at the tribute show included Chris Stapleton and Kris Kristofferson, who teamed up with Nelson for “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.”

Beatles' 5 Boldest Rip-Offs

Accused of exploiting other artists’ songs in the Beatles, John Lennon defended himself by saying, “It wasn’t a rip-off; it was a love-in.” Paul McCartney’s take: “We pinch as much from other people as they pinch from us.”

“In the early years, I’d often carry around someone else’s song in my head,” Lennon said. “And only when I’d put it down on tape — because I can’t write music — would I consciously change it to my own melody, because I knew that otherwise somebody would sue me.” Perhaps the best example of the Beatles transforming a piece of music is in “Because”: It was drawn from Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, but Lennon reversed the chord progression and then mutated it into something else.

While the Beatles drew inspiration from artists both famous and obscure, they almost always made whatever they were borrowing into something new, because they were a creative group of lads and because they were careful to cover their tracks. That’s almost always. Here’s five examples where their pinches got more blatant.

1. “Revolution”: Pee Wee Crayton, “Do Unto Others”

This 1954 single by California bluesman Pee Wee Crayton featured some high-quality electric blues — but it’s the introduction that will sound screamingly familiar to you, if you’ve ever heard “Revolution.” It’s an homage if you’re feeling generous, a blatant swipe if you’re not.

2. “Come Together”: Chuck Berry, “You Can’t Catch Me”

When Lennon played an early version of “Come Together” for the other Beatles, McCartney pointed out that it was very similar to Chuck Berry’s 1956 single “You Can’t Catch Me.” McCartney said, “John acknowledged it was rather close to it, so I said, ‘Well, anything you can do to get away from that.'” So they slowed it down and McCartney added a “swampy” bass line.

The lyrics, however, included “Here come old flat-top/He come groovin’ up slowly,” a fairly direct lift of Berry’s “Here come a flat-top/He was movin’ up with me.” In an interview, Lennon acknowledged the song’s source, which proved inconvenient when Morris Levy, music-world heavy and publisher of “You Can’t Catch Me,” sued Lennon in 1973. That resulted in a sequence of suits and countersuits, but the bottom line was that Lennon agreed to cover three songs owned by Levy, which he did: a straight-up cover of “You Can’t Catch Me” and two different versions of Lee Dorsey’s “Ya Ya.”

3. “I Feel Fine”: Bobby Parker, “Watch Your Step”

Bobby Parker, a bluesman based in Washington, DC, hit Number 51 on the pop charts in 1961 with the propulsive “Watch Your Step.” The Beatles performed the song live in 1961 and 1962 — and later borrowed the central guitar lick for “I Feel Fine.” John Lennon named “Watch Your Step” as one of his favorites, so much so that he later tweaked the guitar part into a second Beatles single, “Day Tripper.” He wasn’t alone in his love for the song; Led Zeppelin, whose magpie habits were much more blatant than the Beatles’, used it as the basis of “Moby Dick.”

4. “I Saw Her Standing There”: Chuck Berry, “I’m Talking About You”

Sometimes a single element from another song would be the only thing the Beatles lifted: For example, the lyric “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man” on “Run for Your Life” was taken from Elvis Presley’s “Baby, Let’s Play House.” On “I Saw Her Standing There,” which kicked off the Fab Four’s debut album, the swipe was the bass line from Chuck Berry’s “I’m Talking About You,” released only a couple of years earlier. McCartney said soon after, “I played exactly the same notes as he did and it fit our number perfectly. Even now, when I tell people about it, I find few of them believe me. Therefore, I maintain that a bass riff doesn’t have to be original.”

5. “Lady Madonna”: Humphrey Lyttelton, “Bad Penny Blues”

McCartney has always said that “Lady Madonna” was intended as a tribute to Fats Domino. The direct antecedent of the song’s piano part, however, was “Bad Penny Blues,” a 1956 Parlophone single by British trad-jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton. The head A&R man at Parlophone in 1956: George Martin.

The part was just different enough for McCartney not to get in trouble — unlike, say, George Harrison, whose solo chart-topper “My Sweet Lord” was ruled by a court of law to be too close to the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine.” Harrison was found guilty of “unconscious plagiarism” and ended up paying $587,000 in damages. Lennon commented, “George could have changed a few bars in that song and nobody could have ever touched him, but he just let it go and paid the price.”