Friday, January 12, 2007

2006 Year End Survey | Brian Clark

I think I've seen Brian Clark perform more this year than any other musician. Between his work with Kris Gruen's band and a recent modified I See Hawks lineup including Clark, I saw him play three or four times in 2006. And while I wasn't in Austin last spring, Clark played down at SXSW with Gruen. It's always good to have some SXSW representation in the year end survey.

Clark said he has been saving money to get some recording equipment which has cut back on his CD consumption but still came up with a few favorites of the year.

1) What was your favorite song of 2006?

“Living Proof” by Cat Power.

2) What was your favorite album of 2006?

The Greatest by Cat Power. Great backing band.

3) What was your favorite concert of 2006?

Serena Maneesh at SXSW. The outer layers of the band came across as too many musicians playing too many parts as individuals, at times lacking a unified whole. But the drummer and the bassist were astoundingly tight and completely in the pocket. They created a kind of massive bedrock, upon which the rest of the band dripped and swirled and kicked all their parts and pieces. Those two band members alone made the most impressive music I’d seen in a long time.

4) What was your favorite thing about 2006?

Making music, if we’re still talking only about music. 2006 was and is a very stressful, difficult and, at times, sad year. This was true all over the world. But I fell in love with guitars and amps and microphones all over again this year. I fell in love with the tiny bits of time I could steal away and think (for chrissake) only about the next little melody, the next chord descending, what word should follow the last.

5) What are your best wishes for 2007?

Well, there’s a hell of a lot to wish for these days- what with all the signs of a hastening, fiery apocalypse on the way- but if I’m limiting the answer to musical realms, the continuing democratization of the music business comes to mind. I like that independent labels have evolved from ‘bands that can’t get signed’ to loud voices growing louder. Bands choose to remain independent now. The big guys are watching obsolete business models lose ground or fail. I don’t want to wish anyone harm, but I’m anxious to move beyond large entities effectively controlling what music is available to the average listener. And I like the direction that recording technology is taking, in terms of being able to record an album for not so much money. Though I’ve not delved too far into it, I’m very curious how the internet will continue to affect labels’ ability to distribute music, and listeners’ ability to acquire it. It’s a long subject to get into, with a lot of tangents branching off it... maybe I should nix all that and just say I want to hear what Paul Westerberg would do with some time left alone in a studio by the end of ’07.

Cat Power | Living Proof | Buy
Kris Gruen | Tender Theory | Buy


casey said...

Brian sounds very thoughtful. I agree with most of what he said about the future of the music business, but there are downsides to all of this digital democratization: needle-in-a-haystack distro, the lack of economic reward for musicians who don't play live, and an endless parade of hacks who think that the world needs to hear their aural drivel.

On the plus side, it's easier to connect with potential fans around the world, and there's no need to involve corporate suits looking for the next club banger.

As Cursive once said, "art is hard."

Flatlander said...

You're right. It isn't a perfect model. It's great for fans but you have a good point about artist not getting compensated if they don't tour.

I'd love to see the jump in David Berman's taxable income from 2005 to 2006. And that jump isn't due to a new fleet of Silver Jews fans. It's the value of touring.

But then again, did non-touring artists make much money under their major label deals in the 70's and 80's? There may be some exceptions but I'm guessing touring was key back then too.

And without that endless parade of hacks, what the hell would I have to write about on this blog? Ha!

casey said...

Reminds me of that terribly cliched quote from Hunter S, Thompson:

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side."