EvaCassidyWinter solstice. Six hours and two minutes of daylight today. We severly tested people who live in the Northern Hemisphere are by now tired and pallid and need something positive and uplifting to look forward to. But some of my fellow swedes actually increase the strain. This time last year I almost choked on my coffee when reading an advertise in the morning paper. A "Nashville country night" was presented as "The country event of the year". A swedish cover band including some unamed musicians from Nashville would play hits by Dolly Parton, Rascal Flatts, Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks, Taylor Swift, Elvis among others. You can read my reflective article here (opens in a new window). Now the same swedes are back again tormenting us with a tribute to Eva Cassidy (b.1963–d.1996). For those who don't know who she was here's a short introduction. Eva Cassidy was an American vocalist and guitarist known for her interpretations of jazz, blues, folk, gospel, country, rock and pop classics. After her death she was object of a posthumous recognition, or should I say, posthumous explotation. The combination of untimely death and her undeniable vocal abilities was tapped to the breaking point by commercial interests. The driving force was her parents. Maybe this was a expression of misdirected remembrance or just plain greed. I don't know. What I do know is that one album was released before her death and and eleven albums were released after her death. Actually, I got two albums in the latter category, "Songbird" and "Time after Time". She could sing, I give her that, but the arrangements are quite boring and watered-down. She was a songbird, that's all. Eva Cassidy's version of Wayfaring Stranger is, by the way, the worst I ever heard. The iconization and mythmaking have over the years taken quite parodic forms. Several filmmakers have proposed films based on Cassidy's life, and have worked with her family, but to date these projects have not progressed in any film project. However, in 2007 a film company acquired the rights to produce a film. In an interview a year earlier, Cassidy's parents suggested Kirsten Dunst or Emily Watson as possible actresses who could play their daughter. I think you can draw your own conclusions from these suggestions. Even swedes like to get their (un)fair share. The text on the swedish advertise on the right means "A tribute to Eva Cassidy" and below "due to popular demand". Yeah right. The rainbow on the advertise is unlikely a HBTQ-statement, instead more likely it's a nod to "Over the Rainbow", a song Eva Cassidy covered. The scene of the crime for these repeat offenders is identical from last year. The venue Hotel Rival is placed in the central of Stockholm and owned by former ABBA-musician Benny Andersson. He's rich as a mountain goblin and doesn't need the revenues from this flogging-a-dead-horse evening to pay his bills. Since Benny Andersson isn't driven by money anymore the driving force must be his monumentally bad taste. However, the most absurd thing about this cover evening is that Eva Cassidy was a cover artist. When Caroline Larsson sings "Time after Time" doesn't she in fact cover Cyndi Lauper? And "Fields of Gold" - Sting, "People Get Ready" - Curtis Mayfield, "Woodstock" - Joni Mitchell and "Kathy's Song" - Paul Simon? Of course not, Caroline Larsson and her musicians are covering Eva Cassidy. I simply cannot understand how anybody would want to cover a cover artist unless it is to pretend that they are original songs. The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived. I have only one small request before my time is through. Please, please do not - I repeat - do not cover Wayfaring Stranger. It was a disaster then and it will be a disaster now. I haven't fully recovered yet from Eva Cassidy's "jazz" version of the traditional hymn.

 

 

spam locustsSpam referrals (or log referrals) must be the eight plague of Egypt. Like locust swarms it will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. Spam referrals will distort your web traffic statistics in Google Analytics. My friend Mikael, who happens to be a professional web analysts, patiently and pedagogically explained what it was all about. Spam referrals is spamming aimed at search engines, like Google. The technique involves making repeated web site requests using a fake referer uniform resource locator (URL) to web sites. Sites that publish their access logs, including referer statistics, will then inadvertently link back to the spammer's site. These links will be indexed by search engines as they crawl the access logs. This improves the spammer site's search engine ranking owing to link-counting algorithms that search engines use. Referrer spam can occur in many different guises (or disguises). Ghost spam traffic directly interact with Google Analytics with measurement protocol system where as referral spam directly influence website traffic. Ghost spam don't visit your site, only Google Analytics. The spammers don't even know what site they are spamming. Spammers send traffic to a random series of tracking ID numbers in Google Analytics. The session length is always 00:00:00 and the bounch rate is naturally, 100%. Google Analytics tries to fight back, but there are always hard-fought pockets of resistance and new spammers or spams. When I find spam referrals, I block them out through a spam crawler filter. However, this is both boring and time-consuming. The biblical locusts consumed all the remaining Egyptian crops, leaving no tree or plant standing. Spam referrals will only distort your web traffic statistics. You may now ask - if this is only consequence - why even bother? Well, it's a matter of principle and principles have killed more men than all wars. Spammers try to capitalize on web traffic to other sites, like mine (which to be honest attracts a very limited, but dedicated group of music lovers). How did this happen? Spam referral is the ugly little twin of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Most SEO-methods are serious for sure, but there are dubious SEO-methods in order to inflate and magnify a particular website. Impression is everything, content is nothing. Spam referral sites have absolutely nothing. I have something. I will therefore keep on doing my daily blocking. It's a dirty job, but somebody got to do it.

 

 

DBUK albumTime brings everything to those who wait. At least, this is what the proverb says. Let's test the validity in this review. I’m probably not the only one who have waited a long time for an album from DBUK (formerly known as the Denver Broncos UK). DBUK was formed about ten years ago as a side-project to Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and Munly and the Lupercalians. This band triangle could mean two things. On one hand: many committments, on the other hand: a common schedule planner. Munly Munly, Slim Cessna, Lord Dwight Pentacost and Rebecca Vera (all four of them) play in Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and in Munly and the Lupercalians. As mentioned in other articles most musicians in Denver play in at least one band, but often in three bands or more (everything else seems to be lack of endurance). However, it’s questionable if this versatility favors songwriting and recording. A lot of water has namely flowed under the bridge since DBUK made their first recordings on a four-track in 2006. Actually, some of these songs are now released, that is, almost after ten years. To be fair, a 7" ”The Red Cross Is Giving Out Misinformation” / ”Immaculately Warded Children” was released in 2013. ”Songs One Through Eight” is their full-length debut album. The implausible resurrection of vinyl has led to significant shorter albums (to fit in on the A and B side). The album is approximately 41 minutes long and contains eight songs (hence the title). The album was released on SCACUNINCORPORATED (their new and own label) on October 30th 2015. The label also hosts Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and Munly and the Lupercalians. The album artwork is tasteful and designed by Heather Reynolds. You can buy the album in the format of your choice, just click on the second icon from the left (bottom). 

 

DBUK 2I will now quickly walk you through the album. The album begins magnificent. The first song is "Broncos Fight Song", written already in 2007. In fact, the song has circulated on internet together with a lavish video for eight years. The video was filmed and edited by Jon Killough the same year. This is a slow, dreamy and moody song. The song is sparingly orchestrated. It relies heavy on Munly’s unmistakable voice, placed somewhere between half-singing and half-mumbling. The highlight of the song is the echo-type vocal sequence between Munly and Vera at the end of the song. "Broncos Fight Song" is pure quality. The proverb seeems to be valid. The strong introduction makes me ask myself: is there more of this or have they burned everything they got in this song? The second song is "Jim Nabors, From Bass To Mezzo-Soprano". The song does not only have a funny title, it's also a good song. It's built up by a guitar loop and semi-frantic vocals. The third song "The Columbia Girl" have a good song structure and elaborated lyrics. Unfortunately, the vocals are highly theatrical and strained, which makes it the weakest track on the album. You begin to despair about the proverb. However, the fourth song "Uncle John’s Boat", a catchy bagatelle written by Slim Cessna makes you regain hope. The song, in all its simplicity, is very beautiful.

   

DBUK 6

The fifth song "Three Bloodhounds, Two Shepherds, One Fila Brasila" puzzles me. DBUK is a side-project to Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. Therefore, I can’t see the point of including a song from SCAC’s latest album ”Unentitled” on this debut album, unless as an album filler. But, I don’t think the song is meant to be an album filler. There’s really no shortage of creativity among these people. On the contrary, it’s literally overflowing. But, the choice is strange. The SCAC and DBUK versions are very similar, which makes the choice even more strange. Why didn’t they make a version of Munly’s ”The Gashlycrumb Tinies” from 2000 instead? That choice would have been much more interesting. The sixth song ”Immaculately Warded Children” is, by far, the best song on the album. The song grabs you in a firm grip from the beginning to the end. It’s much darker (not to say gruesome) lyrically than other songs on the album. You find yourself humming: "I’ve got a good good heart / I’ve got a good good heart". This song has everything. The proverb is valid again. The seventh song ”I Hid & Seeked the Funnel” is a very good song. The vocals are dark and elevated. The tempo cranks up with more layers of instruments and Choir. The eight and last song on the album is ”The Red Cross Is Giving Out Misinformation”. Very good and ironic title, I give DBUK that. The last song is very important. It concludes what the band want to say with the album. However, the last song doesn't meet the standards of a good closing song. The song is too unfocused, playful and relaxed for that purpose. The last song goes over in a ”bap bah” vocal part before it ends with a long organ fadeout.

And finally, the overall assessment and the validity of the proverb: ”Songs One Through Eight” is a debut album which took over ten years to release. My expectations are sky high and to a large extent affected by the high standards of the previously released songs: ”Broncos Fight Song” and ”Immaculately Warded Children”. However, ”Songs One Through Eight” contains both highs and lows. The highs on the album are extraordinary high, while the lows are not disturbing low. This determines the rating of the album. If there only were two or three songs of the same caliber as ”Broncos Fight Song” and ”Immaculately Warded Children” this would be an exceptional album and maybe even the album of the year. Now, it’s just a very good album. The pace new songs are written are by any standards slow, despite the acknowledged creativity within DBUK. Splitting yourself into three parallell bands is probably very artistic rewarding, but maybe there’s a price that have to be paid. My impression is that DBUK simply don't have enough material for an exceptional album. But, making a very good album is certainly no disgrace in the times we are living in. And what about the proverb? The answer is yes, it's valid.   

    

If you click on the icons below they will open in a new window, from left to right: DBUK's Facebook page, Scacunincorpoarated page (where you can buy a physical copy), DBUK's Myspace page and DBUK's Soundcloud page.

 

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sabbathbloody ger vertigo gatefold inside bigIn my teens I was a devout fan of Black Sabbath (I'm still a fan, although I don't listen to any albums released after Sabotage). I used to lie on my bed and listen to their song ”Who Are You” from ”Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” in my crappy headphones and blankly stare at the ceiling. It contains this verse: ”I only have one more question/Before my time is through/Please I beg you tell me/ In the name of hell/Who are you?/Who are you?”. Little did I know that I decades later would ask the same question, but in a completely different context, namely who visits my site. Thanks to my friend Mikael (self-taught website builder and professional web analysts) I now know a lot more. He has been torturing Google Analytics until it confessed. Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Here’s a sample of interesting facts (expressed in terms of groups and average means). The visits come via desktop (63,1%), mobile (33,3%) and tablet (3,6%). The visitors can be divided in male (79,7%) and female (20,3%) visitors. I’m pleasantly surprised of the relative large share of women. I would have guessed 5% since women seems to lack the monomanic disposition which facilitates the development of obsession in music. Women have a higher bounce rate (leaving the site after visiting just one page). The bounce rate for female visitors is 75,7% and they visit 1,81 pages (on average). The same figures for male visitors is 69,9% and 2,05 pages (on average). Men tend to stay longer on the site than women (3,04 minutes compared to 1,54 minutes for women). I feel young at heart, but I’m obviously a very old man. 88,8% of the visitors are younger than I am. It’s interesting to study the statistics. Younger people (25-34 years) have the highest bounce rate, 76,6% (probably too used with impatient social media). The older group (45-54 years) visits more pages before they bow out (63,1%) and stays the longest on the site (4,15 minutes), maybe because incipient perception difficulties. Most visits come from USA (31,1%), followed by Sweden (26,4% - mostly me and my entourage), then it's a jump to Russia (5,9%) followed by Germany, Great Britain, Canada, Spain, Brazil, France and Netherlands. There are differences between continents. I'm pleased with the fact that visits come from all countries in Europe. In South America, people in Paraguay, Guyana and French Guyana don’t care much for gothic country. The same is true for North Korea, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in Asia. Africa seems to be very uninterested in my site (only visits from 11 of 55 countries). All joking aside, I think the differences between continents quite accurately captures where people with a weakness for gothic country and access to a functioning internet connection are residing. The main purpose with Google Analytics is to convert web traffic into sales. However, this have never been my goal. I also doubt targeting. In my opinion, the categorization is meaningless (music lovers, shutterbugs, travel buffs etc.). Man is too complex to be classified in that way. All statistics about geography, gender, age, groups and subgroups are fascinating, but it says nothing about you. Well, who are you? I think that you either stumbled across the site by accident and it took some time to realize that it wasn't what you expected or that you actually care for this kind of music. I choose to believe in the latter, put on a record album and blankly stare at the ceiling. Obviously, no change there.

 

 

stop-flogging-a-dead-horseThe Swedish artist Jerry Williams recently released an album called "Ghost Rider" in an unashamed attempt to mimic American Recordings. He is not to blame and only a pawn in their game. The album was produced by Ian Person from the (disbanded) Swedish band Soundtrack of Our Lives. He has a personal responsibility. The album was released on Sonet (Universal). They have a heavy responsibility. I would like to be a fly on the wall when record company survivalists Buzzie, Flaps, Ziggy and Dizzy tried to think of something to do ("so what are we gonna do?/I don't know") and then shamelessly decided to capitalize on what has already been done (and so much better). For my non-swedish readers here's a short introduction. Jerry Williams was born in 1942 as Sven Erik Fernström. He made his musical debut in 1962. In 1963 his band The Violents was the opening act for The Beatles (at the time not so famous). Then a long solo career began with touring and albums. His music style is rock 'n' roll from the 1950s. You can buy his albums at gas stations. In 1996 his economic advisor embezzled him of $425 000 (which unintentionally prolonged his career). Jerry Williams is known to flaunt with his working-class background (almost everyone were working-class back then) and speaks with a nearly extinct Stockholm accent. He is also known for his pose holding his hand cupped behind his ear while shouting: "I can jive, I can jive". In later years his target group changed to profitable companies and their employees (a tax deductible activity). In 2013 he finally called it quits and went on a sold-out farewell tour. But in 2015 he was, to his big and unconcealed surprise, suddenly brought out of retirement. He was the perfect victim: man, old and well known. He would play the part of a Swedish Johnny Cash. New music isn't something one associates with Jerry Williams. He was a relic already in the late 1970s when he proudly declared that he liked to ride his motorbike and thought little about new wave music (it rhymes in swedish). However, we shouldn't be to hard on Jerry Williams. He's a professional artist and makes an adroit job. The guilty ones must be sought elsewhere. All you have to do is follow the money. From the artist to the producer and from the producer to the record company and Buzzie, Flaps, Ziggy and Dizzy. The love of money is the root of all evil. But, what's the point of replicating, when you have nothing to say? The awkward choice of songs stand out. A random generator seems to have been used. Johnny Cash didn't know all the songs that Rick Rubin suggested, but he made fantastic interpretations of them. Likewise, Jerry Williams didn't know about Suicide, Danzig, Iggy Pop or The Handsome Family. But the intepretations of the songs are not very exiting. The song Bad Moon Rising by CCR (almost over-covered and not the most exiting song to cover) is covered. However, 16 Horsepower made a remarkable version of the song a couple of years ago. Is it pure coincidence that the song ended up on this album? I don't think so. The Handsome Family was formed in 1993 and have released nine studio albums. Accidently, "Far From Any Road" (True Detective theme) has been picked from their very extensive catalogue of songs, which leads me to suspect that the producer didn't know about The Handsome Family before the TV series. Furthermore, to include your own songs on the album isn't very Rick Rubin-ish. But Ian Person presses in three of his own songs on the album. Not good. Anna Ternheim, a very gifted swedish singer/songwriter has lent herself to two duets. Her voice gives some consolidation to what happens here. A dead horse is getting flogged. The flogging isn't exercised in the name of music, but in the name of unrighteous music mimicking. The last drop of other peoples creativity is to be extracted. But, Ian Person isn't Rick Rubin, Jerry Williams isn't Johnny Cash and Sonet (Universal) isn't American Recordings.   

 

       

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