The popularity of left-for-dead formats in some circles makes us wish we had saved that Sha Na Na flexi-disc that came with a box of Tide mom bought in 1977. Vinyl died and then was instantly reborn and had a cult following. A growing network of underground artists and tape buffs have resuscitated the cassette as a hip period-piece/music provider. And now the clunky 8-track tape is getting a second look. Dallas’ recently-opened Eight Track Museum features over 2,000 vintage 8-tracks, a format popular in the ’70s that died for good reason — it sucked. The museum’s first exhibition about cars and 8-tracks “underscores the mobility the format afforded music consumers long before the era of the iPod.” Is there an app to replicate those glorious mid-song “kerchunk!” interruptions, when the tape jarringly forced the song to the next channel and made the listening experience more fun than a hiccup fit that wakes you every 15 minutes throughout the entire night. An 8-track documentary is in the works and the museum has started “dead format” label Cloud 8 to sell new 8-tracks to people who likely can’t even listen to them.
Grammys Get Tired, Then Fired Up
The Grammys are often ridiculed for being out of touch, something the Recording Academy has tried to remedy with more nominations that reflect contemporary innovations, trends and tastes (surely to the chagrin of Grammy BFFs like James Taylor and Phil Collins). This year’s show was a study in the program’s spectrum of struggles to remain relevant. When Lady Antebellum won both Record and Song of the Year for its catchy but innocuous “Need You Now,” beating out a bevy of livelier, more colorful competitors, it reminded everyone of the Academy’s grumpy-old-man-who-can’t-figure-out-the-TV-remote reputation and looked to be this year’s big PR nightmare. Moments later, those who hadn’t switched over to Family Guy got to see Canadian Indie troupe Arcade Fire win the Best Album trophy. Though the New Artist win by jazzy bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding over megastars Drake and The Bieber deserved a well-timed spit take, Arcade Fire’s Best Album score was the biggest upset in a night full of them, showing that an artist on an independent label free of corporate influence can triumph over richer artists with recording budgets hovering in the “NASA space mission” range. And it’s the best thing to happen to Canada since The Simpsons did an episode about curling.
LCD at MSG — WTF?
As drastically as music has changed, one thing has remained consistent — people hate concert ticket scalpers. That hatred has grown with the resellers’ increased ability to instantly snatch up a majority of tickets and resell them at inflated prices, an ethically sketchy practice that came back into the spotlight when LCD Soundsystem’s farewell show at Madison Square Garden sold out in minutes. LCD mastermind James Murphy used his Twitter megaphone to angrily lash out at online scalping companies, the modern, hi-tech manifestation of Damone from Fast Times with Ridgemont High, minus the ability (so far) to get high school girls pregnant. Murphy didn’t anticipate the high demand and was enraged to discover most fans aching to see LCD’s swan song never stood a chance, unless they wanted to pay up to $15,000 to the resellers. Murphy booked five more shows at a smaller NYC venue to help ease the pain. Ticket details weren’t announced by our deadline, but Murphy might have to hand draw them, pre-screen potential buyers personally and drive each ticket to the customers’ doorsteps if he wants to avoid another scalper bum rush.