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Prodigy Sales Disappoint, Going Indie?

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Liam Howlett lashes out

(EXCLUSIVE) Liam Howlett is not very happy. The band leader of the Prodigy is upset with Maverick Records for supposedly doing a lousy job of marketing the group's latest record "Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned." U.S. sales for the new CD, which was released on September 14, have been a huge disappointment.

The album sold only 16,000 copies in its first week (compared to 396,000 for Nelly's "Suit" that debuted in Billboard's top spot). Things are different in Europe where this fourth Prodigy album is ruling album charts.

Howlett lashes out in an interview this week with arjanwrites.com. "This is Maverick's fault. They don't know what to do with this record. They didn't get behind it and push it hard enough," he says from London. "I don't think people in America know it is actually out yet."

He wonders if a smaller indie label would be a better fit for the Prodigy's electro-punk instead of Maverick, which mass markets artists like Madonna, Alanis Morissette and Michelle Branch to a pop-oriented audience. "To be honest I don't think [Maverick] is the label for us to be on. We probably need to be on a label that understands how to build us from the underground up. That is what this record is about," Howlett says.

Howlett takes his anger with Maverick even further and argues that the Prodigy's previous success in America cannot be credited to the label's fat marketing muscle. "'Fat of The Land' was already a huge hit in England with 'Firestarter' and everything (. . .) and we got huge support from MTV in America. All the [success] relates to before Maverick put the record out."

"I know America is different," he says. "We need to build a cult presence. That's why we have more succes in Europe than in America. It is a shame really. But it doesn't really affect us as a band. We're still coming across to America to play some shows and stuff.

Besides the need to reevaluate his own artistic instincts, Howlett has a point. Maverick has continued to be in disarray after Warner Bros. has taken full control of the label. Talented Maverick artists like Tyler Hilton hardly get the attention they deserve and proven sellers don't fare any better. Alanis Morissette's new album did only so so and Michelle Branch keeps postponing new work.

The Prodigy might just as well go back to a smaller label to get the creative and fresh marketing ideas they need for their ahead-of-the-curve sound. Yet another reason for major label talent to stick to indie imprints as recently discussed in the Japan Times Online (via Largeheartedboy).

September 30, 2004 in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (5)

Swing Out Sister to Release New Album

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Remember that infectious '80s tune "Breakout" by Swing Out Sister? After their one-hit success, singer Corinne Drewery and instrumentalist Andy Connell have continued to make music. In fact, after "Breakout" the British group has put out eleven albums that mostly catered to their cult following in Europe and Japan.

This year marks the duo's 20th anniversary. This special occasion is celebrated with the forthcoming release of their new album "Where Our Love Grows." The record will be released by Shanachie Records on October 19th.

The duo first worked together as a studio band in Manchester, England before they recorded their first album "It's Better To Travel," which spawned the hits "Surrender," "Twilight World" and "Breakout."

Swing Out Sister last hit the US charts in 1992 with their cover of Barbara Acklin's "Am I The Same Girl?," the vocal version of Young-Holt Unlimited's "Soulful Strut."

"Where Our Love Grows" promises more of the contemporary jazz pop that the band has refined into a delicacy. Their laid-back tunes, exotic rhythms and warm vocal arrangements reveal the melodic shimmer of their unique sonic landscape.

Sample some MP3s of Swings Out Sister's "Where Our Love Grows" on their web site.

September 30, 2004 in New Music | Permalink | Comments (1)

Introducing Bonnie McKee

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Bonnie McKee is Warner's latest shot at getting a piece of the teen pop market. McKee's debut album "Trouble" hit shelves and download sites yesterday. As far as I'm concerned "Trouble" is in deep shit.

Produced by experienced Rob Cavallo (Alanis Morissette, Goo Goo Dolls) and Bob Power, the entire album is a bland effort that makes no lasting impression. Clever productions, hooky tunes and trivial lyrics might do well on top 40 radio, but don't create the personal and artistic credibility to turn the 19 year-old Seattle singer into a star.

But then again, if you stroll too far off the beaten track, people might forget about you even quicker. Look at Pink. Oh, and while we're at, try to find the differences between Bonnie McKee and Sarah Hudson... Just for laughs.

Try Bonnie McKee:
Bonnie McKee

Other pop tarts out this week:

Hillary Duff - Fly
Hilary Duff

Lindsay Lohan - Rumours
Lindsay Lohan

Ryan Starr - My Religion
Ryan Starr

September 29, 2004 in New Music | Permalink | Comments (12)

Air to Release New EP

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Next month Astralwerks will be releasing a new Air E.P, 'Surfing On A Rocket' that contains remixes of that song as well as new mixes of "Alpha Beta Gaga" by hunky DJ Mark Ronson. The 25 year-old Ronson previously mixed up Jay-Z, OutKast, Moby, Nikka Costa, Macy Gray, De La Soul and Nelly Furtado.

This new Air record will be an exclusive US release featuring 7 tracks in all most of which are from the duo's last album "Talkie Walkie." The E.P. will even include one brand new unreleased Air track called "Easy Going Woman." The release date for the 'Surfing On A Rocket' E.P. is October 19th.

September 28, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rufus Wainwright to Release "Want Two" on November 16

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From a DreamWorks Records press release:

Singer/songwriter Rufus Wainwright is set to release "Want Two," his new DreamWorks/Geffen CD and fourth of his career, on November 16. Rufus will also make his big screen debut in director Martin Scorsese's upcoming "The Aviator," with a second film role in the 2005 Merchant Ivory film "Heights." (Click here for a still from the movie with Rufus)

The new CD also includes an extensive 20-track DVD feature. The 12-track CD comes on the heels of Wainwright's acclaimed "Want One" from 2003. The new one continues the themes explored on the previous recording, though Wainwright has said "Want Two" contains "the more daunting tracks, the operatic, weird stuff, some heavy numbers that relate to my classical sensibilities."

The new CD was largely recorded during the same sessions as the first, and features the same creative team Wainwright used for "Want One." That includes producer Marius deVries (Björk, Madonna, David Bowie) and guest performers Charlie Sexton and Gerry Leonard; drummers Levon Helm, Matt Johnson and Sterling Campbell; bassists Jeff Hill and Bernard O'Neill; and Backing vocalists Martha Wainwright (Rufus' sister), Jenny Muldaur, Linda Thompson and Teddy Thompson. Folk legend Kate McGarrigle, Wainwright's mother, plays banjo, while his aunt Anna McGarrigle plays accordion.

Tracks include "Hometown Waltz," "Little Sister," "The One You Love," "An Old Whore's Diet," "Memphis Skyline," "Peach Trees," "Agnus Dei," "Crumb By Crumb," "Gay Messiah," "The Art Teacher," "Waiting For A Dream," and "This Love Affair."

The DVD includes performances filmed at a live concert at San Francisco's historic Fillmore Auditorium, and includes songs from both "Want One" and "Want Two," among them "I Don't Know What It Is," "Dinner at Eight," "Go or Go Ahead," and "Oh What a World."

September 28, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (2)