Local Current Blog

Today’s Music News: Beatles may appear on Pono—but will you hear the difference?

Though it’s not officially confirmed, a report appearing in Showbiz411 and subsequently picked up by Billboard says that with Paul McCartney‘s enthusiastic support, the Beatles catalog is headed for Neil Young‘s high-end Pono music service. Will you be able to hear the difference between the super hi-fi Pono audio and regular CDs, though? Even some Pono engineers are reportedly skeptical, though Young has been adamant that there’s an audible, significant difference in quality. (Billboard)

Meanwhile, Spotify now has 60 million users worldwide, 15 million of whom are paid subscribers—a 50% jump in just eight months’ time. With high-profile figures like Taylor Swift at odds with the streaming service, the future of Spotify may depend on whether the service is able to continue converting free users to paid subscribers (with subsequently higher payouts for artists) at the rapid rate they’ve predicted. (Billboard)

Lots of new music announcements this week.

  • On Mar. 31 Sufjan Stevens will release Carrie & Lowell. Named after Stevens’s mother and stepfather, it’s the singer-songwriter’s first proper solo album in five years. (Pitchfork)
  • That same day, Death Cab for Cutie will release Kintsugi, their first album without founding member Chris Walla. (Pitchfork)
  • Don’t Lose This, a posthumous album by Pops Staples (1914-2000), was completed by Jeff Tweedy and Staples’s daughter Mavis. It will be released on Feb. 17. (Pitchfork)
  • Lorde is making progress on her sophomore album, but “I have no timeline,” she told MTV at the Golden Globes. “I’ve written a lot of amazing stuff and I’m just tentatively starting to make it music.” (NME)

This week has seen two notable moves by prominent music writers: The New Yorker‘s Sasha Frere-Jones is leaving the magazine to become a music annotator at Genius, the rapidly-expanding website formerly known as Rap Genius. (New York Times) Meanwhile, acclaimed music writer David Hajdu—known for his books on Bob Dylan and Billy Strayhorn—has become music critic at The Nation.

Robert Schneider of The Apples in stereo collaborated with Neutral Milk Hotel (associates in the Elephant 6 Recording Company) on both of their studio albums; according to a press release, Schneider will come out of a three-year musical hiatus to “provide direct support” for Neutral Milk Hotel on several tour dates this summer. Meanwhile, Schneider “and bandmate Benjamin Phelan have published a long article in The Believer about Schneider’s trip to India to investigate a mathematical super-genius named Srinivasa Ramanujan. (In fact, it’s Ramanujan who’s responsible for Schneider’s musical hiatus—after hearing Ramanujan’s incredible story, he put the band on hold and moved to Georgia to pursue a Ph.D. in number theory.)”

Carly Rae Jepsen seems to be taking an unexpected turn towards the indie music world by collaborating with producers Dev Hynes and Ariel Rechtshaid, who are collectively and/or individually known for their work with Sky FerreiraVampire WeekendCharli XCXHAIM, and Solange Knowles. (Billboard) The Canadian Jepsen has a notable place in Minnesota music history: “Good Time,” her 2012 duet with Adam Young of Owl City, is the second-biggest-selling single ever to come out of Minnesota, surpassed only by Owl City’s “Fireflies.” (Local Current)

Bassist Tim Drummond has died at age 74. One of the busiest session players of the 1970s and 80s, Drummond is best know for his work with Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Drummond played on Young’s albums Harvest and Harvest Moon; he co-wrote “Saved,” the title track from Dylan’s 1980 album, and played on Dylan’s entire “gospel trilogy.” (Rolling Stone)

Looking for a very pricey, very sketchy graduation gift for your high school senior? Rapper (and former DuluthianRiff Raff will take her—or, presumably, him—to prom for $28,000. Given that Riff Raff’s most public date so far was with the woman who’s about to play the Super Bowl halftime show, that’s not such a bad price. (Billboard)