Blitzen Trapper and Opinions on Amadou & Mariam and PJ Harvey & John Parish

Portland band Blitzen Trapper joins Jim and Greg to talk about their roots rock influences and perform songs from their recent album Furr.

Blitzen Trapper
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Music News

After years of offering music for 99 cents, iTunes will be launching its variable pricing plan next week. That means that hit songs will soon be sold for $1.29, and some older tracks will go for $0.69. This is good news for the labels, who see the billion dollar digital music industry as a lifesaver. But, it’s not certain how consumers will react.

In other digital music news. Google will now be offering free downloads of licensed music files in China. Right now 99% of all music tracks distributed in China are pirated, so this is a huge market for Google to tap. Their revenue will come from ads on the music site-revenue they will share with the labels.

Blender Magazine has just published its last issue, leaving only three major music magazines. Jim isn’t happy to hear of any music magazine folding, but he for one will not be mourning the loss of Blender. Jim felt the magazine was often sexist and lowest common denominator. Greg was impressed with the writing talent they pooled, but doesn’t think anyone, even the best writers, can do much under 150 words. He wishes there were more music magazines that valued long-form journalism.

Blitzen Trapper

A few weeks ago Greg recommend our Rock Doctors patients check out Furr by Blitzen Trapper. Now we have the band live in our studio for a conversation and acoustic performance. The Portland indie rock band, led by Eric Earley, has been gaining momentum after touring with Sub Pop label mate Fleet Foxes. Blitzen Trapper’s music is often compared to classic American rock of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. But as Earley explains, every musician is influenced by the past. And despite a familiar sound, there’s still a sense of mystery and originality. You can hear it in the songs the band performs live in our studio.

A Woman A Man Walked By PJ Harvey & John Parish

A Woman a Man Walked By

PJ Harvey has a new album out with longtime collaborator John Parish called A Woman A Man Walked By. John Parish was like a mentor to Polly Jean when she was starting out, and as Jim and Greg explain, that relationship allows her to feel comfortable enough to really let loose. Greg wishes there was more consistency to the songwriting, though. For him some of the tracks are nothing but experimentation. He gives the album a Burn It. Jim is shocked and describes A Woman A Man Walked By as PJ having fun. He predicts a mid-life career surge and gives the record a Buy It rating.

Dimanche a Bamako Amadou and Mariam

Welcome to Mali

The second album up for review is by Malian duo Amadou and Mariam. The blind couple broke through to Western audiences with their 2005 album Dimanche a Bamako. Now they are back with Welcome to Mali, and are joined by Damon Albarn and K’Naan on a couple of tracks. Jim describes the album as a constant source of sunshine and gives it a Buy It. Greg agrees. He calls Amadou a master guitarist with a modern sensibility. Welcome to Mali is a double Buy It.

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