NEWS ROUNDUP: Webster Hall Reopening, R. Kelly Arrested, and MORE

Webster Hall is Reopening!

It’s always sad when an iconic New York venue closes, but Webster Hall’s story has a happy update. The 130-year-old venue was shuttered in August 2017 for renovations when longtime owners the Ballingers sold it to AEG. That means Bowery Presents will be handling bookings, and the show schedule looks pretty sick, starting with a christening from punk poet laureate Patti Smith on May 1. Broken Social Scene, MGMT, Sharon Van Etten, Big Thief and Built to Spill are some of the acts slated to play over the next six months or so, and that’s just the initial announcement. The New York Times got a sneak peek into the renovations, and it seems like the $10 million plus project focused mostly on accessibility, with a revamped entryway and the addition of an elevator, as well as updates to the bathroom and soundsystem. Much of the characteristic fixtures in the ballroom were left unscathed, though we’re guessing the floor will no longer feel like it’s about to cave in when the mosh pit gets too rowdy. The Marlin Room will become a lounge, and there’s no word yet on what’s going on with the basement stage. The venue will still have a capacity of about 1,400 – making it an essential part of downtown nightlife once again.

R. Kelly Arrested, Bond Set at $1M

Following increased scrutiny after Lifetime doc Surviving R. Kelly aired earlier this year, the R&B star was arrested in Chicago on Friday and charged with ten counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four separate victims, three of whom were minors when the abuse occurred. One of the most disturbing pieces of information to emerge in Saturday’s bond hearing was that Kelly met one of these victims at his 2008 trial for child pornography, of which he was acquitted; like the trial a decade ago, some of these charges stem from the discovery of a sex tape in which Kelly appears to perform sex acts with an underage girl. His bond was set at $1 million, and that may be the tip of the iceberg – Kelly is also under investigation by multiple federal agencies for sex trafficking, and it looks likely that there are more victims who have yet to come forward. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end of their nightmare.

That New New

Audiofemme favorites Sharkmuffin shared rollicking new single “Serpentina,” the first single from their Gamma Gardening EP, out April 5 via Exploding In Sound. We couldn’t be more excited – love you, Tarra & Nat!!!!

While this video for Kate Bush’s cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” isn’t exactly new, it hadn’t been released since its recording in 1991. The video comes with the announcement of a four-disc rarities and b-sides compilation called The Other Sides, which will be available March 22. In other Elton John news, his biopic, starring Taron Egerton, comes out May 22.

Tierra Whack is back with single “Only Child,” her first release since blowing up with Whack World.

Helado Negro is currently on tour with Beirut as he prepares for the March 8 release of This is How You Smile; he shared a video for single “Running” this week.

Ella Vos shared an intimate self-directed video for “Empty Hands,” which follows her through the last day of two years of treatment for lymphoma. The single appears on her latest EP, Watch & Wait.

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe will release Gnomes & Badgers, their first album in five years, on March 8. The TG Herrington-directed clip opens a poignant dialogue about the family separation crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Marissa Nadler released two new songs – including a duet with John Cale – via new imprint KRO Records, who will release the single on heart-shaped vinyl this spring.

CHROMATICS are back with “Time Rider” and a slew of tour dates, but no official release date for an album, which they’ve been teasing for some time now.

Priests released a lyric video for “Good Time Charlie” from their upcoming album The Seduction of Kansas, out April 5 via Sister Polygon.

Empath have announced their debut LP Active Listening: Night on Earth (out April 2 via Get Better Records), and shared its first single, “Soft Shape.”

Alex Lahey will finally release a follow-up to 2017’s excellent I Love You Like a Brother. It’s called The Best of Luck Club and is slated for release via Dead Oceans on May 17; “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself” is the first single.

TEEN are streaming Good Fruit ahead of its March 1 release over at NPR, and have shared a video for “Pretend.”

With her band Wax Idols on an indefinite hiatus, Hether Fortune has shifted to solo work with the release of single “Sister.”

Shady Bug shared “Whining” from their sophomore album Lemon Lime, out March 8.

Los Angeles noiseniks HEALTH have released their fourth collaborative single since September, this time featuring JPEGMAFIA.

We’re obsessed with “TGM” from 18-year-old newcomer Ebhoni, who reps her Toronto home and West Indian roots all at once.

Palehound kicked off their tour with Cherry Glazerr by releasing a new single called “Killer.”

Indie poppers Pure Bathing Culture  shared a lyric video for “Devotion,” the first single from their forthcoming LP Night Pass, out April 26.

If you’ve ever wondered what Mountain Man’s Molly Sarlé sounds like on her own, take a listen to her debut single, produced by Sam Evian. She’ll play some shows with Mountain Man cohort Amelia Meath when she joins Sylvan Esso for a few shows in their recently-announced WITH tour.

Nilüfer Yanya’s debut album Miss Universe drops March 22. Her latest single “Tears” follows alt-pop bops “In Your Head” and “Heavyweight Champion of the Year.”

Former Shudder to Think frontman Craig Wedren has had an illustrious career scoring film and television, so it’s no wonder the clip for his vibey rework of “2Priests” (from last year’s Adult Desire Expanded) is so gorgeous.

We have a feeling Aldous Harding’s low-key pilgrim dance from “The Barrel” video might catch on well before Designer arrives via 4AD April 26.

Legendary Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr shared a video for latest single “Armatopia” to promote his upcoming North American tour in support of 2018’s Call The Comet.

End Notes

  • Breakdancing could become an Olympic event by 2024.
  • Moogfest has announced the “first wave” of its 2019 lineup, featuring Kimbra, Martin Gore, Matthew Dear, Lucrecia Dalt, GAS, Ela Minus and more.
  • Wilco have also announced the lineup for their bi-annual Solid Sound Festival, taking place June 28-30 in Massachusetts. There will be several sets from Jeff Tweedy solo and with the band, as well as appearances by Courtney Barnett, Cate Le Bon, Tortoise, Jonathan Richman and more.
  • Detroit musicians will be the first recipients of Tidal’s new $1 million endowment program.
  • The 1975 took home British Album of The Year at the BRIT Awards for A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, and called out music industry misogyny in their acceptance speech for Best British Band.
  • Stereolab have added a ton of reunion tour dates to their Primavera Sound and Desert Daze appearances, and announced reissues for seven of their records. The band has been on hiatus for a decade.
  • Tom Krell of How To Dress Well launched his label Helpful Music with an EP from Calgary’s Overland.
  • W Hotels have also recently launched a label, releasing two songs with Perfume Genius to benefit Immigration Equality. Watch a mini-doc about the collaboration here.
  • Lydia Loveless took to Instagram to detail sexual harassment she has suffered since signing to her label Bloodshot Records; her abuser doesn’t work at the label, but attended all social events having to do with it as the partner of one of the label’s founders, who has since left the imprint.
  • Someone decapitated Puff Daddy’s wax figure at Madame Tussauds in Times Square.
  • Michael Jackson’s estate is seeking to block the production of HBO’s Leaving Neverland with a $100 million lawsuit; the two-part doc follows the story of two men who say their were abused by the King of Pop as children and is set to air March 3rd & 4th. Watch the trailer here.
  • Stereogum published this handy rundown on the drama that’s dogged Royal Trux’s reunion tour, as well as the release of White Stuff, still scheduled to come out March 1.
  • My favorite Eric Andre gag is getting his own TV special. Thanks Adult Swim!

NEWS ROUNDUP: A Shake Up in Streaming & More

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”]

Tidal press conference, 2015. Courtesy of Time.

A Shake Up in Streaming & More

By Jasmine Williams

A Reckoning?

Last week #MuteRKelly gained speed as Time’s Up’s women of color added their support and yesterday the movement got a boost from a Spotify. While the streaming giant did not cut all ties with Kelly, Spotify did announce that they will remove the alleged sexual abuser from all playlists and other suggested conduct so he will no longer be actively promoted on the platform although his discography will still remain and be searchable. The move comes as the result of Spotify’s new rule pertaining to artists accused of misconduct or of having songs with objectionable lyrics. Spotify tapped consultants from the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Anti-Defamation League, GLAAD, and other advocacy groups to create their “hate content and hateful conduct” policy which addresses “hate speech” in music and states that “when an artist or creator does something that is especially harmful or hateful (for example, violence against children and sexual violence), it may affect the ways we work with or support that artist or creator.” In response to Spotify’s action, R. Kelly’s team accused the company of engaging in an “attempted public lynching.” His PR team’s use of the historically-loaded phrase in defense of the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer has sparked a separate controversy.

Spotify’s new policy is making waves in the industry and has many wondering what other musicians will be affected. Perhaps Chris Brown and Young Lo? Let the censorship debate begin!

In other pay-for-play streaming news, Tidal has been accused of faking millions of plays in an effort to make it look like Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kanye West’s Life of Pablo were streamed more than they actually were. Norwegian paper, Dagens Nærengsliv obtained a hard drive with Tidal data reports that showed many users streaming the albums a suspiciously large number of times in one day.

Based on the obtained information, each of Tidal’s claimed three million subscribers would have had to play West’s Life of Pablo eighty-three times. Knowles and West both have business stakes in Tidal. Nærengsliv contacted one Beyoncé fan who was in Tidal’s records as having streamed Lemonade fifteen times in one day. She verified their suspicions of fabricated plays, saying “I love Beyoncé — but 11 hours? No.”

In traditional radio, it is illegal to pay DJs and promotors to play certain songs but streaming platforms still exist in a legal grey area – labels and artists can purchase slots on playlists. Perhaps the accusations against Tidal will lead to a change in the way all streaming services conduct business. Watch out Discover Weekly – they’re coming for you!

In a separate report, Tidal has also been accused of inflating their number of subscribers.

That New New

Arctic Monkeys head up the big releases of the week with their new studio album. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is the British band’s first full-length in five years. Arctic Monkeys refrained from dropping any singles ahead of the album’s release so the sound is completely new to fans.

Christina Aguilera released the second single off of her upcoming album Liberation. “Twice” sees the singer return to form with soaring vocals and personal lyrics. Christina heads on tour this fall; she’ll play two dates at Radio City in October.

French duo Justice are also back with a new release. They just announced the date for their upcoming live album, Woman Worldwide, out August 24 via Ed Banger.

Sigur Rós dropped a mixtape of “endless” ambient music this week. Liminal is an hour-long collaboration between Jónsi, Alex Somers, and Paul Corley.

End Notes

  • NYC fans of Superchunk  and The Breeders are about to get reacquainted with the seasoned musicians. Both bands play free shows in Prospect Park. Start the season off with Superchunk on June 20th, close it out with The Breeders on August 11th.
  • Random couple alert – Grimes and Elon Musk showed up at the Met Ball together on Monday night. Grimes wore a Tesla choker to the exclusive event. The next day Musk tweeted that his favorite Grimes songs are “Flesh without Blood” and “Kill V Maim.”
  • Legendary hip-hop label Loud Records is coming back. Founder Steve Rifkind is starting it up again, this time with Sony and RED. The trio is debuting a brand new sound for Loud’s rebirth! Just kidding – one of Loud’ first projects will be a remake of an iconic release. They’re bringing back Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) but this time contemporary hip-hop artists will play the characters of the classic LP.