This Week In Music – 26th July 2022

A weekly update on all things music, advertising, and technology coming straight to you from Anthony Vanger at MassiveMusic. #TWIM

ARTIST OF THE WEEK: FOUNTAINES D.C.

Who said guitar bands were dead? Not this lot. Fontaines D.C., an Irish post-punk band formed in Dublin in 2017 straight out of music school, describes its third outing, Skinty Fia, as an “album of necessity”. I am not sure exactly what that means, but I will take a crack at it. I think the songs have evolved into that level of songwriting where the band members are channeling whatever demons they have inside without much control over the result. Bleak and brilliant vignettes are set to a tight rhythm section and simple arrangements. They remind me of the Stone Roses and Oasis, two other bands where working-class lads with big attitudes and loud guitars made music that transcended their individual talents and defined a generation. Who knows if these boys will reach such heights, but the music press is always on the lookout for the next big thing – and Fontaines D.C. is the latest candidate. They have appeared on all the US talk shows and even won the slightly ironic “Best Band in the World” at the NME awards. But ink and awards only go so far in this business, the music has to hold. A quick listen to the single “Jackie Down the Line” suggests that maybe, this time around, Fontaines D.C. might be the real deal? Maybe…

AD OF THE WEEK: PORSCHE 911 – A tale of NOW and THEN

Question: When does an ad play second fiddle to the soundtrack? Answer: Anytime you use Shirley Bassey. The grainy 70s-infused footage is fun and cool, but it just becomes footage to showcase a voice that has no parallel. The music is Where do I Begin from Love Story and from the opening frames of what looks like Los Angeles circa 50s-60s, with the shutter sound in the background and the black French New Wave split frames, Bassey’s distinctive voice dominates the action. She transports us to an earlier (better?) world of our parents when life was far more chic than it is today. Good work from Hamburg-based outfit, Grabarz & Partner.

WORLD’S FIRST BIOPLASTIC RECORD UNVEILED BY MUSIC DECLARES EMERGENCY

UK environmental pressure group Music Declares Emergency has unveiled the world’s first plant-based, bioplastic record.

The records, which have been produced in a very limited run, includes four tracks by acts affiliated with the labels Ninja Tune and Secretly: Bicep, Porridge Radio, Angel Olsen and Black Country, New Road. Both Ninja Tune and Secretly have been long-time supporters of Music Declares Emergency.

The organization will be giving away 20 copies of the bioplastic record, with people able to enter a prize draw by donating to a Crowdfunder campaign. In a note accompanying the campaign, Music Declares Emergency wrote: “This release will be the first publicly available example of a new bioplastic vinyl alternative developed by Evolution Music as part of their mission to decarbonize the production of physical product in the music business.”

All funds raised from donations to the Crowdfunder campaign will go towards supporting Music Declares Emergency’s work across the UK to encourage figures within the music industry to seek greener alternatives to the way they work.

Formed by a group of UK-based artists and music industry professionals in London in 2019, the organization has since expanded to three continents and now works with people from across various sectors of the global music industry. Find out more about Music Declares Emergency here.

BLUETOOTH IS GETTING A MAJOR TECHNOLOGICAL UPGRADE, INCLUDING SOUND QUALITY

Bluetooth technology is receiving a long-awaited upgrade, according to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG).

Originally announced in January 2020, the new Bluetooth LE Audio standard will enhance sound quality and power efficiency while offering new features like expanded support for Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids and Auracast technology, which allows multiple audio devices to connect to a single sound source.

The biggest upgrade comes in the form of the Low Complexity Communications (LC3) codec, which is said to provide higher quality audio at 50 percent lower bitrates, according to SIG. LC3’s predecessor, the SBC Codec previously forced manufacturers to make design tradeoffs between better audio performance and longer battery life.

The other feature of note, Auracast, will enable multiple people to connect to a single sound source, such as an otherwise silent television in a public space.

“With broadcast audio, you’ll suddenly find that you can listen to anything, anywhere,” said Chris Church, senior staff engineer at Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

According to SIG, initial LE Audio-supported products are expected to arrive this year.

SPOTIFY BUYS POPULAR MUSIC TRIVIA GAME HEARDLE

Spotify has announced its latest acquisition: an interactive music trivia game called Heardle.

Heardle was inspired by the word game Wordle, developed by software engineer Josh Wardle and sold to the New York Times in January for a seven-figure sum.

Spotify hasn’t disclosed what it’s paying for Heardle.

While Wordle players are required to guess words by choosing letters, Heardle players are tasked with guessing a song based on its opening notes.

They get six guesses, with each hint giving a few more seconds of music to inform their next answer. Ultimately, they get a chance to discover the song in its entirety, whether or not they guessed it correctly.

Spotify says that Heardle is “more than a trivia game”, adding that it’s “also a tool for musical discovery”.

Spotify also says that for existing Heardle players, the look and feel of the game will stay the same, and it’ll remain free to play.

Additionally, effective today, players can listen to the full song on Spotify at the end of the game.

Written by Anthony Vanger

Additional research and reporting by Adam “Badger” Woolf

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