Reflecting on timeless ‘Rumours’

An album sewn together by inter-band relationships with too many drugs, too much alcohol and as much vulnerability mixed in, it has remained a music staple for a generation that doesn’t even listen to full albums anymore. In this age of mass musical production and formalized success, listening to an album in its entirety and digesting it completely feels like a thing of the past.

Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours acts as the exception to this new normalcy. On many nights my freshman year dormitory hall would play Rumours from beginning to end on repeat. It acted as the soundtrack to our procrastination and was only listened in full. If received incompletely, the thrill and meaning of the stories embedded within the album are diminished. From each song to the next, stories grow and add. Moving from heartbreak to hope, vacillating between pessimism and optimism, the album is a tale of raw emotion. The storybook nature of this album allows it to be untouched by time and adds greatly to its continued relevance. But this is only part of the musical puzzle.

Sonically, the album was inspired by contemporary music and new production techniques. It dithers between the pop and rock genres well enough that it doesn’t need to be categorized. So with immense musical talents and an endless stream of alcohol and drugs, Rumours emerged. Lyrical influences were easily accessed and found in the relationships flowing in and around the band. With the infamous yet endearing Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham love story, the dissolution of the McVie marriage, the brief Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood affair, the hook-up generation could make heroes of these people. Failed relationships are a recurring motif, as is the pledge to end their existence. Lindsey mentions this and tries to guarantee his refusal of all relationships in the acoustically brilliant, “Never Going Back Again.” “Been down one time/been down two time,” he sings — haven’t we all, Lindsey. Next, and somewhat paradoxically, is the hopeful “Don’t Stop.” An intermission from the pain, this is sole pick-me-up song of the album. “Brighter days are around the corner” is the general message of this pop anthem before the album transition back into painful heartbreak. It is song passages such as these that delineate some of the great range of emotion the album canvases.

And then there’s “Go Your Own Way,” Lindsey’s “get away and stay away” ballad to his former lover Stevie. It is perhaps the most heart-wrenching song of the album, but mostly because of the heavy situation that lies beneath it. Excellently produced and lyrically potent, the ballad is heavy with emotion. Stevie’s actual presence in the song provides even more weight: she was present during the entire recording of the song, standing in the same room, providing backing vocals. That is rough, raw and personifies the power of the album perfectly.

Stevie’s response is the soft, heart-wrenching “Silver Springs.” Originally intended for the 1977 album, this song is the B-Side for “Go Your Own Way” that was released 20 years later. Now present on the deluxe version of the Rumours album, the song completes the story. Stevie’s voice holds the hurt and carries the listener through her view of the relationship’s demise. “Turn around and see me running,” she sings, obviously responding to Lindsey’s just go and “call it another lonely day” attitude of indifference. But the very creation of these songs emphasizes a distinct lack of indifference. Had true apathy existed, the album would be three or four ballads shorter.

Rumours provides what some look for in music: a frame of reference for making sense of the world surrounding us. People have so much in common: insecurities, fears, heartache, hope; the list is infinite. What people fear, in my experience, is revealing these similarities. The admittance of genuine emotion or feelings, in any regard, makes one vulnerable. And vulnerability is perhaps the most frightening emotion in the game. It is the precursor to one of two things: immense happiness or heart-wrenching sorrow. Rumours delves into these emotional ranges that generations of people have experienced. Feigned indifference can only get someone so far. Rumours is here for when the hurting, the doubts or the fears come creeping back in and logic isn’t helping. Stevie, Lindsey, the McVies and Mac have experienced it — and have written it all down — in one sonically awesome package that still works, even for those heartless millennials.

Spotify And Apple Music And Dubset

The biggest differentiator to once exist between SoundCloud and all other popular music streaming sites was the website’s offering of unofficial, user-uploaded content that the major labels don’t release. But back in March and May of this year, Spotify and Apple Music broke deals with Dubset, a music rights management service. And as of this past Friday, Spotify started finally using this service and streaming original mixes. The first song to be released in this new, mixed originals format is DJ Jazzy Jeff’s recreation of Anderson .Paak’s “Room in Here.”

What does this addition mean to for musicians and the music streaming sites that support them? Dubset’s service is reassuring in its promise to piece apart the artists included in the production of a track. Dubset helps Apple and Spotify to navigate who is going to get the royalties (DJs, labels, and publishers) when something is being listened to. But what does this mean on a larger scale? How could this change the music industry? Or would it at all?

SoundCloud and Spotify and Apple Music offered a variety of services across the three platforms, but there were always some characteristics that were specific to each. SoundCloud offered song remixes, Spotify offered easy personalization, and Apple Music offered the artist-created radio stations and playlists (Beats Radio is regularly recognized as the savior of the music streaming site). Now that SoundCloud’s strength has been effectively removed from the site, its decline will be all the more swift. 700 million people listen to mixed content last year. It’s a huge market of people that SoundCloud is about to lose to the Spotify and Apple Music giants.

The economic effects of this change isn’t all that concerning. Dubset, as a service, guarantees proper payment to the appropriate parties. But what remains of concern is how the market will react. Will Apple Music and Spotify rise up as the almighty holders of streaming music? How will the market react? Will the wealth be spread or left alone to exist in these places-to-find-music places? The market will hopefully respond with something new. The market will provide more options new and upcoming artists to post onto. The market could develop something new. More money will be spread, but music streaming options will be more limited. And with more market share means a larger hold of one company on all of its customers. So the musicians and the listeners can listen to and endorse more artists — and that has always been a good thing.

Featured Playlist: The Cure for Sonic Restlessness

If you’re a frequent music listener like myself, it is very likely you periodically enter phases of boredom. I recall days when the “Browse” option on Spotify just isn’t doing it for me, or when I even go so far as to use iTunes radio to find something to match my current pallet. And your computer is supposed to be there to help: by placing my “Starred” Spotify playlist or frequently listened to tracks into some electronic algorithm I am easily presented with a collection of songs or albums that are supposed to satiate by current musical taste. But I still find this method futile. Just because I listen to Fall Out Boy’s “Sugar We’re Goin’ Down” fifty times over the course of 72 hours does not necessarily imply that I’m planning on exploring the musical anthologies of Yellowcard or Cute Is What We Aim For. It honestly just means that I was feeling particularly angsty that week. “Ocean Avenue” jam sessions are fun, and a little Relient K now and then is always good, but all these are just forms of temporary gratification that cannot offer a solution to my sonic restlessness problem.

This sonic restlessness typically begins at the start of every month, when my surroundings are changing but the music blaring through my headphones is not. I’ll explore the depths of any and all music blogs and websites like a frantic drug addict, ranging from Rookie to All Songs Considered to Indie Shuffle to Chunky Glasses. But when I’m stuck in a rut this deep, modern music never works. Sylvan Esso is fun, as is The Orwells or that new cool single by Aphex Twin, but they are all modern music options that require a certain mental stamina. They have to be purposefully listened to, understood, and digested before your ears and mind can adapt to and accept this sound as enjoyable, and then normal. College already sucks up most of our brain cells, whether through those mindless accounting problems, the never-ending readings of your Russian history class, or just the good old alcohol and Mary Joe of the weekend festivities. There is sometimes no room for musical deliberation, even for nerds like me.

Over time and far too much analysis, I have found the antidote for my (and hopefully many others’) musical disease: a collection of songs that I believe to have transcended decades of musical evolution and pop culture changes. These songs rope the listener in and force you, through their excellence, to remind yourself what you truly love about music. The commonality among many of these songs is that many have slipped back into modern popular culture through movie and TV-show soundtracks. They have survived because they are ruthless, whether that be in their message, their musicianship, or the nostalgia that they represent.

Still relatable, still interesting, or are just as good or better than the music of today, these songs are the cougar living down the street in American suburbia that all the sixteen year old boys suggestively whisper about each time she passes by in her BMW on her way to Bikram yoga. They’ve still got it. I’ve never been one to claim that the music of the past is and always will be better than the music of the present. This is a blasé opinion held by small-minded individuals. The emergence of more technology in music production has only ever made music more interesting and has placed talent where it may have otherwise remained undiscovered. The cure for sonic restlessness ignores differing or changing styles of production. The presence, or lack thereof, of synthesizers, backboards, or electronics in these songs do not diminish the value of any of them.

I have compiled the following mixtape over the course of several musical brain blocks and have faith in the ability of these songs to cure anyone suffering similar symptoms. So stick this in your Spotify and shuffle it.

Spotlight on Alex Bloom: The College-Grad Among Us With An Album

It typically takes people a long time, or a while, or a lifetime to figure out what they want to do (in your career, in your life). And it usually takes even longer for most of us to figure out what we are good at (in our careers, and in our lives). Through the rose-colored frames that artistry brings, it’s easy to imagine that the creative types have it all mapped out in front of them. From the outside looking it, the artists seem cosmically preordained.

Gigmor sat down with Alex Bloom, a recent graduate of USC’s Thorton School of Music. A couple of months after graduation, he released his first solo project, Blue Room. Lyrically and musically, the album is touching. It’s only noticeable similarity to music today is in how original it is. Blue Room has complex simplicity —á la the Beatles—with nuances of Fleet Foxes folk and something similar to Elliot Smith. It’s a first album to be proud of. Alex spoke with us about his college experience, his non-cosmic ordination, and how he wrote the album.

Gigmor: So, you did it!  You made an album!

Alex: May 6th it was finished. And then I finished up a short film that will be coming out to soon for the album. feels like something coming to a close. I’ve been getting a lot of really great feedback, and it’s opening a lot of doors to writing with other artists or producing with them.

It’s like updating your LinkedIn profile after you getting a job, isn’t it? The second you get a job, the Internet starts e-mailing you.

Yes it’s like that. When I put out the album I started getting contacted by more musicians and artists being like, “Oh, you make music, too? Great, yes let’s collaborate.” And it’s really nice to feel some sort of validation for all that I’ve been working on for so long. In the meantime, when all things aren’t focused on writing and music, I’ve been working in a studio. I help with production and other little odd jobs around the studio. So that’s been cool. I don’t know, life is in a little bit of weird place right now.

Preach, same.

I spend a majority of my time writing demos and working on music.

I have another age-related question for you. I think that a lot of kids our age (the recent college grads and 20-somethings) are going through the motions of what they think they should be doing right now. They aren’t sure how happy it will make them in the long-term or even sometimes in the short-term, but they are doing it anyways. Do you feel that way ever about music? I’m trying to imagine what these feelings would be like for a young musician or artist or anyone that has started in on some specific, more creative path.

I’ve been working on music since I was about fourteen or fifteen years old. I’ve always had that to fall back on no matter what happens. Going to music school was kind of a consequence of that. I wanted to make music and become a better musician in whatever capacity I could. I still have this thing, writing songs and doing music in general. I guess the difference between me coming home from music school and someone like you coming back from Michigan — they have a job that they go to from 9 to 5. There is more structure there. I do all my ‘work’ on my own time. Or all the time. I don’t know, it sounds cliché.

No, no it doesn’t, it makes sense. You’ve figured it all out then, no more struggle.

(laughing) Yes, yes I’m set. No more struggle. Life is perfect.

Great, excellent. Interview over.

No, honestly it feels more like a constant struggle. I worked with a producer once who asked me about my highest aspiration for my music career and where I see it going. And I couldn’t really answer him, because I haven’t really thought that far ahead. So it’s pretty scary because I don’t know what lies ahead, and I don’t know what will be required from me moving forward in this career path. I just have to keep doing what I’ve been always doing since I was a kid. I’m lucky that I get to do what I love, but it’s still pretty scary. So I combat that fear with low expectations.

Makes sense. Let’s get into the making of the album. How was the writing process for you?

I decided last summer that I wanted to record. I was making demos in a studio in my backyard. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos to teach myself different instruments, like learning how to play the drums and tune them, too. I loved doing it, and I learned how to arrange music in the process. A lot of these songs were from that. Three or four are just from me in my backyard. There are a couple others that will never see the light of day.

In terms of when and how I wrote them, it was a gradual thing that happened over the past year. I wrote “One More Shot” in November of this year. It really all came together at the end of the year — I was taking too many credits at school and things got busy. So I’m glad I eventually got myself to complete it.

How did your music school education play into the making of this album? I don’t imagine that you sat down and wrote charts out for it. It was probably more organic than that, like you just messing around in your backyard.

Yeah, yeah that’s interesting. Writing and composing music for class is so much different for a class. I took a music arranging class and learned a bunch of things that nobody really needs to know about. Or with music theory classes, I would look at the mathematics of music. But when I’m arranging and writing my own music it’s all just by ear. I’m not bogged down by the logistics of it all, of all those things I learned in school, and I think I’m lucky to still have that. That was one of my biggest fears when I got to college, especially since when I got there I didn’t know how to read music.

You listen to the Beatles. You can just tell from listening to your album that you listen to a lot of the Beatles.

Oh yeah. They are the band that I always go back to. They’re probably my favorite band.

It’s that developed pop song vibe you’ve got going that made me think that. The pop song that sounds simple but is highly developed. Kudos to you there.

Listen to Alex Bloom’s album, Blue Room, on Spotify, iTunes, and Apple Music, and make sure to check out his profile on Gigmor.

Photo by Halle Pelfrey

Product Updates October 2016

The Gigmor team has been working hard! We just launched a bunch of enhancements to the site and more are on the way. See below for more details and for tips on how to use the new features. Questions, comments or suggestions? Email us at info@gigmor.com. We’d love to hear from you.

 

New Look

We’ve been rolling out our new design in stages over the past few months and we’re proud to say we just completed that process. The new site has a cleaner look to make it easier for you to find what you need and connect with Gigmor artists and industry pros. It’s also a much better experience on mobile.

 

Book This Band

We’ve added a booking button to all Gigmor artist profiles. This is just a first step toward launching our gigs marketplace later this fall. Individuals and industry pros can now fill out a one-step form with details about a gig opportunity, including event type, pay and more. Gigmor artists will get a Booking Inquiry message and email right away. So, bandleaders watch your inbox!

 

Switch to SoundCloud

Gigmor now only accepts music through SoundCloud. In a few months we will no longer display music on your profile from any other sources so we highly recommend opening a SoundCloud account and connecting it to your Gigmor profile right away. Here’s how:

  1. Create a SoundCloud account by clicking here.
  2. Upload songs to your SoundCloud profile.
  3. On Gigmor go to your settings page > edit profile > music. Type in your SoundCloud profile name or copy and paste your account URL into the form. Your profile will be added and you should see your songs from your SoundCloud account added below.
  4. From here you can edit which songs you want to be displayed on your profile, and you can always go back to make changes the songs you show.

 

Add Your Address

We just greatly enhanced our location database. Now we need members’ street addresses, as well as city and zip. This means you’ll get faster and more accurate results in both matching and search. Click here to update your location now.

 

Coming Soon

This is just the beginning… Our mission is to make finding gigs and booking talent much easier. The whole world loves music so our dream is to make it easier than ever to hire live bands. Stay tuned for more news about our upcoming gigs marketplace.

Interested in joining our beta? Click here to get on our beta list.