The Roof Is on Fire

Major labels talk a better game than they play.

The revolution will not be televised. It will be streamed, podcasted, and portable.

The Recording Industry Association of America is bitching again this spring over the news of last year's sales numbers. For the fifth year of the last six, CD sales were down. The RIAA probably wanted to bust up some more dorms and flush out more illegal downloaders.

But you don't need a sheepskin from the Arthur Andersen School of Accounting to see that the fix is in. The slow slide of retail is balanced by explosive growth in digital sales. Labels are finding money in places they didn't even look two years ago. Hell, they raked in more from ring-tone sales last year than they did in sales of digital singles.

There was a time when the major record companies could manufacture stars. Call Diddy, then pack obscene amounts of cash into ad campaigns and music videos. Or, when that failed, buy hookers, cocaine, and ski vacations for corrupt radio programmers.

But as iPods and online media replace radio and retail, the big labels are losing their juice. A hot single won't move an album full of weak shit anymore. The labels are bugging, because they've got to start thinking in terms of albums and careers that will last longer than an American Idol bathroom break. That takes a lot more work than they're used to.

Music execs are scared, but blaming piracy is a convenient fake-out. It's time they come up with a new excuse — or stop the bitching and start cranking out more ring-tones. — CRS-OneTheory of Relative-ity

It's tough being a celebrity in our fanatical, fame-obsessed culture. If you've got a recognizable mug, you're a moving target for the stalkerazzi. But if you think that's bad, try being a celebrity related to another celebrity. At best, you'll have to deal with the constant comparisons; at worst, allegations of nepotism will haunt your career. Ask Frank Sinatra Jr. or Chris Jagger. Just don't ask Allison Moorer. Sure, she's the sister of vocal sensation Shelby Lynne and wife of country-rocker Steve Earle. But Moorer is no mere coattail-rider, as her latest album, Getting Somewhere, makes sparkling clear.

A singer, songwriter, and guitarist, the Alabama native has been taking on the world since she was a wee child — and has emerged victorious nearly every time. She got her bachelor's degree by the time she was 20. ("I worked two jobs so I could afford to live by myself," she tells New Times.) Moorer not only met the Nashville Music Machine head-on with her singular take on country music; she thrived there, artistically speaking, and "moved units," as industry types say. Albums such as Miss Fortune and Show (both Universal South) are the proof, Moorer says, that, "I always had artistic freedom, but I didn't belong on Universal." She knew there were new vistas to be conquered — cue eclectic, roots-oriented Sugar Hill Records, who know a good thing when they hear one.

Moorer's first Sugar Hill release, The Duel, found her channeling her smoky-voiced, assertively soulful approach through the seething electric side of Neil Young. Getting Somewhere is a new chapter. Without cribbing, aspects of "Beatles, Neil Young, the Stones, Dusty Springfield, all combined with my Southernness, [led to a] reflection of where I was," she says. Make no mistake, however — Getting Somewhere isn't some conceptual, "tortured artist" album; Moorer's not about to waste disc space taking her demons out for a walk. Hell no. The vibe here is one of exultation, of acknowledging life's complications while finding some joy and wisdom along the way, and circumventing any self-aggrandizing blather. So, yes — Moorer's got family in high places. But she's more than capable of Getting Somewhere on her own. — Mark KeresmanPostface Family Reunion

This Friday's Bikes show at Alligator Alley is more than your average indie-rock show. And it's not just because the band is releasing its brand-spankin' new CD that evening; that's only the half of it. The other half's the show's lineup itself, which includes the Kaptain, Tongues of the Heartworm, and Boxcar Timmy and the Immortals. Still don't see the significance? Then let's break it down by band member — four band members, at least: Rick Ambrose (Bikes, Tongues), Mike Hrabovsky and Greg Johnson (both in Boxcar Timmy), and Steve Johnson (Tongues). Sure enough, if you put them all together, you've got Postface,South Florida's long-defunct psychedelic post-punk group. Though the guys have stayed in touch over the years, collaborating in one way or another, this will be the first time all four have shared a stage in seven years.

"The last time we were all together was the Postface reunion show in '99," Ambrose says. That was many moons ago, no doubt, but it was a good ten years after the band formed — when the guys lived in Ford City, Pennsylvania. The band's exodus to Florida came shortly after, as did the silly pseudonyms — Wolfboy (Steve), Roy G. Biv (Rick), the Wooden Dynamo (Mike), and Apeman Jack/Gene Research (Greg).

"When we were in Postface, we never used our real names," Greg says. "But since then, we've matured and blossomed and evolved into other bands." Yes, the Apeman has evolved into an upright musician.

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