MTV News Laying Off Writers

MTV News is laying off a bunch of their writing staff to shift toward video and short form content for a younger audience. Variety reports:

Among the most significant changes — MTV has reached an agreement with the Writers Guild of America East to represent MTV News staff members. As part of that agreement, MTV News is parting ways with fewer than a dozen staffers and several freelancers. The news division is in the process of hiring additional personnel to focus on video and short-form content.

I actually thought MTV had been putting out some pretty good written content over the last year. A shame to see how difficult making money online has become for most publishers.

Bringing First Impressions to the Main Site

For as long as I can remember I’ve been doing some version of “first impression” blogs about music on the internet. It started back on AbsolutePunk.net in my blog as I’ve always loved being able to offer some thoughts on an album without the full pressure of an official “review.” My original idea was a more free flowing and less structured way to comment on music usually after having only heard an album one or two times. Today we’ve got things like our forums and social media to serve as a similar medium for putting together opinions on something without it needing to feel too official. I like that. It’s freeing.

One of the things I’ve been doing for supporters in our supporter forum is these first listen/first impression live blogs for certain albums. The basic idea is the same as always: I listen to an album and I do a little live blogging of my thoughts, impressions, and feelings as I listen to it. It started out as a fun little way to talk about music and once again helped me feel free from some of the pressures of “official” reviews on music. It’s been a lot of fun and it seems like everyone really enjoys reading them. Now, one of the downfalls of using the forum for this is that it’s not as easy to archive and save these pieces for posterity. And they’re behind the community package paywall and therefore unaccessible to patrons of the main website. Today, I’m fixing both of those problems.

Review: Captain, We’re Sinking – The King of No Man

Captain, We're Sinking

Captain, We’re Sinking’s The Future Is Cancelled was one of the most impressive punk albums in recent memory. It’s a tense listening experience, as songs burst and crash with little warning; vocalists Bobby Barnett and Leo Vergnetti jumped between near-inaudible whispers and throat-damaging howls at the drop of a dime, singing harrowing stories of depression, alcoholism, and suicide. It all felt spontaneous, necessary.

The King of No Man feels a bit more rehearsed. Where before the band had more jagged edges, they’ve smoothed them over. Instead of finding catharsis through ragged shouting as on The Future, No Man finds it in quieter moments, to varying effects. Opener “Trying Year” ushers this new era of Captain, We’re Sinking in appropriately, pumping the brakes every time one would think Barnett’s getting ready to let loose (although he or Vergnetti does sneak a pretty impressive guitar solo in there). “Hunting Trip” is a slowburn comparable to “A Bitter Divorce” with a less intense payoff, finding Barnett singing the song’s climactic final lines over a clean guitar line. It feels a bit toothless in the end, like there should’ve been a little more push to end out the song, and it sort of sputters out rather than exploding. Then there’s “Dance of Joy,” a bizarre, drum-led song that would never fit on The Future Is Cancelled. It’s weird to even think the same band wrote this song and “Shoddy Workmanship,” but it ends up being one of the album’s highlights, due in good part to Vergnetti’s powerful vocal performance.

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Manchester Orchestra Talk with Uproxx

Uproxx has a great interview with Manchester Orchestra:

Never one to wait for experiences that most people put off until well into adulthood, Hull now felt that life was moving too fast even for him.

“All of a sudden the Foo Fighters were offering us shows that we had to turn down,” Hull says. “It seemed very strange. Very strange.”

Damn.

This unity was crucial during the sometimes fraught process of recording of A Black Mile To The Surface. Hull and McDowell were obsessive about capturing the precise sounds they needed, no matter the expense or time involved. After sessions with Marks in Asheville and the band’s home studio, Manchester Orchestra went to LA and consulted with Congleton, who suggested some seemingly minor tweaks that the band nonetheless feels completed the record. For instance, Congleton added a sequencer to the end of “A Maze” that prompted Hull to overdub a chain-gang-style vocal to the show’s climax, giving the track a new sense of uplift. They also solicited some changes from Wilson via email, which Hull believes helped to further flesh out the record’s sonic tapestry.

For what it’s worth, I think they nailed this sound. A few people got to hear the album yesterday at a listening event and have posted some of their thoughts in the forum as well. They seem to agree.

It’s easy to pop over for impromptu projects, like recording a cover of the Avett Brothers’ “No Hard Feelings” just for the fun of it. Recording unlikely covers has become a kind of hobby for the band — they’ve done everything from Neil Young’s “Walk On” to No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” to a full-length version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller that the band doesn’t play for me but promises is epic.

Holy shit I want all of these.

Apple Music Debuting New Personalized Playlist

TechCrunch:

This week Apple is beginning to roll out the first new personalized playlist under Apple Music’s ‘For You’ section. The playlist, entitled ‘Chill’ is muxed based on editorial curation and algorithmic interpretation of your musical tastes.

A small number of test users got the new playlist yesterday evening. An updated Chill playlist will be delivered every Sunday to users who join the test group, which will roll out through the summer.