The Black Keys

Taylor Swift Pulling Her Music from Spotify Isn’t About Unfair Terms — It’s Because She Can

Three years ago, just as The Black Keys were in the midst of ascending to their current arena-rock status, the duo did something kind of groundbreaking for a mid-level major label band: they said “thanks but no thanks” to Spotify. It was a strategy their manager, Q Prime’s John Peets, told me they’d be monitoring through the record cycle for 2011′s El Camino. Based on the fact that the band’s No. 1 album Turn Blue, released this past May, does not appear on the streaming behemoth, I’m left to believe the strategy worked for them. Financial outcome aside, the Black Keys bellyached all over the place about Spotify’s unjustly low royalty rates, to the extent that I chuckle when I see what it says on their Spotify page: “The artist or their representatives have decided not to release this album on Spotify. We are working on it and hope they will change their mind soon.” … Read More

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Who Won the 2000s Garage Rock Revival War? A Ranking Circa 2014

The rock’n’roll dreams of 2003 are alive in this month’s record release calendar. Yeah Yeah Yeahs leader Karen O released her debut solo album, Crush Songs, last week, while her NYC compatriots Interpol attempted to mount another comeback with their fifth album, El Pintor. Later this month, Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas will release his debut with The Voidz as his backing band, entitled Tyranny. … Read More

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Matt Sharp on The Rentals’ Future and the Weezer That Could Have Been

“My choices often have gone against probably what people have most wanted to hear out of me.” Matt Sharp tells me this towards the end of our hour-long conversation, which he conducted entirely from the parking lot of a Los Angeles Starbucks. Sometimes, as we spoke, it seemed as though Sharp’s mouth couldn’t keep up with his brain. Whatever the opposite of burnout is, Sharp’s there. He’s happy to be invited to the party, even if he’s the pessimist in the corner.

For the uninitiated, Sharp’s life in music is a long one that begins, at least publicly, in the alternative boom of the mid-’90. He was the original bassist in Weezer, playing on the band’s first two seminal albums, 1994′s The Blue Album and 1996′s Pinkerton. Between those two records, he formed The Rentals, a power-pop project for Moog enthusiasts and those with a strong sense of irony (their debut was called Return of The Rentals, after all). … Read More

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Musicians Drinking the Spotify Haterade: The Collected Complaints

Since Spotify’s stateside introduction three years ago, musicians  have expressed their disdain for the streaming service and its laughably low royalty rates (between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream). A number of artists, mostly those in the privileged positions of having already established a fanbase, have pulled their music from the service, or in the case of legacy artists, blocked it from ever being streamed there. Spotify, in addition to other streaming music services like Pandora, led David Byrne to suggest that, “The inevitable result would seem to be that the internet will suck the creative content out of the whole world until nothing is left.” The Talking Heads leader is far from the only open opponent of streaming. Let’s take a look at a few others with harsh words for Spotify, a service that claims to have paid out a billion dollars in royalties but still draws constant ire. … Read More

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Jack White Apologizes to Every Artist He’s Ever Mentioned, Blames “Tabloid Journalism”

Over the last couple weeks, Rolling Stone has teased out its cover story on Jack White shamelessly. Multiple news stories emerged on the RS site, touting “scandalous” quotes from White’s interview. Perhaps you saw the tidbit in which he bemoans Meg White’s hermit tendencies and lack of encouragement (“She’s one of those people who won’t high-five me when I get the touchdown”), or his claims that The Black Keys ripped him off, though his feelings on the latter are nothing new following ugly emails that leaked last year. Over the weekend White condemned what he feels is “tabloid journalism,” posting an apology letter on his website. In his explanation, White chides the non-apologies made by artists to cover their asses after they’ve swiftly stuck a foot in their mouth — while simultaneously apologizing to every artist whose name has passed through his own lips alongside his foot. … Read More

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Don’t Fear the Middlebrow: The Black Keys’ ‘Turn Blue’

Somewhere between the rise of Pitchfork and poptimism becoming de rigueur in our genre-agnostic listening culture, middlebrow music became the guiltiest pleasure. Even among the most rockist music fans, it has become socially acceptable to praise Kesha or to unironically place a Rihanna song on a party playlist. The idea, it seems, is that a bit of junk-food pop is part of a healthy diet, nestled next to “challenging” and “serious” artists — the musical equivalent of brain-fueling superfoods. So where exactly does that leave the musical equivalent of a Chipotle burrito? Like, say, The Black Keys, whose new album Turn Blue is out this week? … Read More

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The Black Keys Discuss Stephen Colbert’s Prostate and Perform “Fever” on ‘The Colbert Report’

Last night, The Black Keys brought “Fever” to the Colbert Report in a mild-mannered set. The song, a perhaps-too-fitting addition to… Read More

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The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Charlize Theron

Welcome back to SNL, Charlize Theron. It’s only been almost 14 years since we last saw you at Studio 8H. The Monster star is known for her dramatic parts, but her comedic role as a stunted writer in Jason Reitman’s Young Adult was convincing, impressive, and hilarious — despite her nauseating character’s antics. We hope to see similar comedic subtleties in her performance tonight. Next week, Andy Samberg returns to his stomping ground to close out the show’s 39th season. For now let’s indulge in a little Theron gone wild. … Read More

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