Protomartyr and Opinions on The Preatures

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Detroitpostpunk band Protomartyr visits the Sound Opinions studio, and Jim and Greg review a new album by the Australian quintet The Preatures.

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The Turtles are best known for hits like 1967’s Happy Together. But, vocalists Flo and Eddie, or Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, are still making news—but more for their legal battles than their music. Last year they sued SiriusXM for $100 million, saying that by playing its songs without permission, the broadcaster had infringed on the group’s rights under state laws. The first ruling came down in September in California, in favor of The Turtles. Then, earlier this month, a district court judge in New York ruled against SiriusXM and rejected its motion for summary judgment. This is being considered a major victory for artists and record companies in the copyright debate. But, more significantly, it may have wider impact if the cases lead to changes in copyright law—specifically an obscure provision on recordings made before 1972 when federal copyright protection went into effect. For songs by the Turtles and other oldies acts, neither SiriusXM nor services like Pandora pay labels or artists. They do, however, pay royalties for songwriting. So, it begs the question - who should get credit, financial that is, for a song—the songwriter, the performer, or both? And as Wondering Sound Lead News Writer Marc Hogan explains, $60 million/year is at stake according to royalties organization SoundExchange. So lawmakers better get cracking.

Protomartyr

In the 1990’s, the musical attitude of Detroit was reshaped by artists like Eminem and Jack White. But now the Motor City’s mood has changed even more, and the minimalist post-punk sounds of Protomartyr are at the fore. The four-piece made a big impact on Greg back at this year’s SXSW in Austin, TX with an almost contradictory mix of urgency and restraint, courtesy of guitarist Greg Ahee’s stripped down playing and vocalist Joe Casey’s sometimes callous, sometimes cool vocals. The band is rounded out by bassist Scott Davidson and drummer Alex Leonard and Greg welcomes them into the studio for a conversation and performance of songs off their sophomore album, Under Color of Official Right. In addition to their connection to literary icon Elmore Leonard, the band also tells Greg about how they went from a somewhat nonchalant beginnings, to constructing a tightly arranged and thoroughly purposeful album guided by the philosophy of doing more with less.

Blue Planet Eyes The Preatures

Blue Planet Eyes

While Greg discovered Protomartyr at the 2014 SXSW Music Conference, Jim came back from Austin raving about The Preatures. The Australian quintet’s new album is called Blue Planet Eyes, and both Jim and Greg think it’s the warm, upbeat salve we need during these blistering months. The album was produced by Spoon’s Jim Eno, and Greg can hear his taut, syncopated touches all over it. And while Preatures singer Isabella Manfredi is being compared to New Wave divas like Blondie and Chrissie Hynde, Jim adds another joyful influence: Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & the Waves. If you’re making your list for Santa, add Blue Planet Eyes—a double Buy It.

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