NEWS ANCHOR/INDIE ROCK HIPSTER
Until now, we always thought that the most interesting and mysterious thing about network TV news anchors was the possibility that they don’t wear pants when they’re on the air. Turns out, newscasters are just regular people (admittedly with super-human hair) and some even have good taste in music. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams was on Conan O’Brien’s old show a year or so ago and, when asked about the music he listened to, he proceeded to run down a list of fairly obscure Indie Rock bands that would make Pitchfork consider giving him a job. But Williams beat them to the punch and now has his very own music blog (with video interviews and other musical musings), the unfortunately named “BriTunes” on the MSNBC Web site. So far, Williams has spread the good word about such artists as Deer Tick, Doves and Camera Obscura. Bet if he didn’t have his day job, ol’ Bri would sport a huge Indie Rock beard and go on tour with Iron and Wine selling merch. Williams is now officially our favorite network news anchor, but if Katie Couric starts posting about her salacious sex life on Twitter, we may reconsider.
MAGAZINE SURVIVALIST TACTICS
It’s no secret that newspapers and magazines have been suffering lately, starting with the availability of free content on the Web and only made worse by the economic problems in the world right now. Two popular music magazines recently announced two very different plans to help plug the holes in their sinking ships. The excellent Paste Magazine — which, unlike some other publications, actually concentrates on music and not celebrity drivel — has launched a campaign asking readers to donate cash so it can stay afloat. The independent mag appears hopeful that, long-term, it will survive. But given that music fans and magazine readers are also a part of this recession, the publishers’ optimism may be just wishful thinking. Meanwhile, owners of veteran corporate magazine Rolling Stone have another idea — get out of the magazine business. The actual magazine will still be published, but RS has announced it is teaming with a videogame maker to create Drum King, a Guitar Hero-styled game that allows users to pretend like they’re playing drums. The move makes some sense — Lord knows video games are one of the last reliable streams of income for musicians, as well — but one wonders how else RS will branch out to keep Jann Wenner’s wallet fat. We hear the kids are just crazy about this new “crack cocaine” stuff.
The new CD/art project by Gnarls Barkley’s Danger Mouse, Indie/Americana band Sparklehorse and filmmaker/all-around-weirddude David Lynch sounds like one of the more interesting musical releases of 2009. But, while Dark Night of the Soul has technically been “released,” fans wanting to hear the musical collaboration will be sorely disappointed if they buy it. The musical portion of the release features guests like James Mercer of The Shins, Black Francis, The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, The Flaming Lips, Jason Lytle and Iggy Pop, while Lynch’s photography (inspired by the music) is contained in an accompanying 100-plus page book. The “CD” in the package is actually just a blank CD-R, because the music is being blocked from release by EMI. It’s unclear why the label’s feathers are so ruffled by the project, though EMI may still be pissed about DM’s Grey Album, which mixed the vocals of Jay-Z with Beatles music. (EMI owns the rights to the Fab Four’s tunes). A spokesperson for the producer said he is hopeful people get to hear the music “by whatever means,” meaning it is available for free all over the Web. (National Public Radio has a “legal” stream on its site … for now.)