Geoff Barrow isn’t workin’ for the Weeknd

geoff barrow at mixing desk

Portishead’s Geoff Barrow at the mixing desk. Photo by John Minton.

It’s weird when friends fight.

Yesterday, the Weeknd launched a new video for the song “Belong to the World.” Mere moments after the song hit the interwebs, Portishead mastermind Geoff Barrow logged in to his Twitter account and said, “This is bollox” or something like that. He’s referring to the fact that the Weeknd song samples the kick-ass drum part from Portishead’s “Machine Gun,” and apparently was used:

a.) without permission

b.) more specifically, despite Barrow turning down a request to use said sample

For context, here’s “Machine Gun”:

And the Weeknd video can be found at

I like the Weeknd; maybe more specifically, I love House of Balloons. The other two mixtapes were OK (Thursday) and good (Echoes of Silence). I love Portishead. I have two of their albums inside my top 20 of all time.

I generally have no qualms with sampling as a form of expression. Seems like most of what I like about House of Balloons has its roots in sampled material. “House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls” is pretty much Siouxsie & the Banshees’ “Happy House” with some falsetto (the first half of the song, anyway); two other songs benefit from the foundation of samples from Beach House (“The Party and the After Party”; “Loft Music”). I also really like the songs “What You Need,” “The Morning,” and “Coming Down,” which might very well use sampled material as well, just not instantly recognizable to my ears like the Siouxsie and Beach House material.

Music I like and admire certainly used uncleared samples. Of course, a lot of that music was created before De La Soul got smacked down by a lawsuit from the Turtles (for sampling a Turtles song featuring music the Turtles didn’t write…). And for whatever reason I have no qualms with what Girl Talk does, probably because it’s more often than not really well done.

And Portishead samples. I know. And as Barrow has pointed out on Twitter, the lion’s share of songwriting credit went to the original artists, or the samples were crafted in collaboration (“Glory Box” and “Western Eyes,” respectively).

In this instance, the reason I tend to side with Barrow, aside from the fact that he as the originator has the right to say no, boils down to this:

Did Tesfaye really need to use the “Machine Gun” drums to prop up this tune? Couldn’t he have programmed a militant beat of his own? To go around Geoff Barrow’s denial and use the sample anyway kinda tells me he couldn’t…which seems pathetic.

The Weeknd has some classy backers on Twitter, people who are getting the retweet treatment from Mr. Barrow. Example A:

Laughable, regarding the sentiment that this new song is “way better than ‘Machine Gun.'” Weaksauce, in terms of nigga and fagg.

And this guy, who seems to be pretty tight with Abel:

First of all, *SHOULD HAVE.

Second of all, *YOU’RE STUPID. (Yes, you are.)

Third, I’m sorry, this song isn’t that great. Too glossy, too “lite.” The synths sound more Carly Rae Jepsen than mysterious R&B. The Weeknd excels when the mood is gritty, dark, sensual. This sounds pretty thin, aside from, well, the Portishead drums.

I guess that’s why he used them after all.

MoSS? Presents… Albums to Watch for in 2013

Albums 2013

Seems like every website is putting together a guide for upcoming album releases in 2013. Why should MoSS? be any different? We aren’t going to bore you with an endless list of shitty albums coming out this year. Instead, we are just going to share a few of our most anticipated albums.

Todd’s Most Anticipated Albums of 2013

January is a big month for me because four albums I’ve been not so patiently waiting for are being released.

Free Energy, Lovesign [Free People]. This one’s a real guilty pleasure for me. The songs can be sort of cheesy but they are catchy as hell and these guys don’t try to be anything but straight up rock and roll.

Bleeding Rainbow, Yeah Right [Kanine]. The band formerly known as Reading Rainbow.  I guess if you name your band after a beloved PBS children’s show, you can expect lawyers to come knocking at some point. Anyway, they are back with their 2nd LP. It was supposed to be released in October 2012 but was pushed back. I am hoping the delay wasn’t because the record sucks.

Local Natives, Hummingbird [Frenchkiss/Infectious]. Another group hoping to avoid a sophomore slump. I’ve heard two songs from it and both are pretty good. If the rest of the album is as good, then they should have a record of the year contender on their hands.

Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob [Warner]. I really loved the last two Tegan and Sara albums. The ladies released a single “Closer” from Heartthrob last fall and they revealed a much more dance/pop oriented sound. At first I hated it. Eventually, as my family (and its placement in my Top 10 Songs of 2012) can tell you , I wore that MP3 out.

There are a few albums I’m excited about being released this spring. The album I am most anxious for is…

Youth Lagoon, Wondrous Bughouse [Fat Possum]. I missed the boat way back in 2011. Youth Lagoon’s first LP, The Year of Hibernation, came across my desk at MoSS? HQ but I ignored it. Since then, I have listened to that record more often than several of my Top 10 of 2011 selections. Maybe this one will make the 2013 Top 10.

Other releases I’m hoping for…

Phoenix, TBA [Glassnote] 

Neon Indian, TBA [Mexican Summer]

I Break Horses, TBA [Bella Union]

Small Black, TBA [Jagjaguwar]

Release I am always hoping for but will probably never happen…

Pixies, TBA [4AD]

Chris’ Most Anticipated Albums of 2013

I don’t know why I am buying into Kevin Shields’ promises anymore, but supposedly we are getting a new My Bloody Valentine album sometime soon. Of course, Shields said it would be out before calendar year 2012 concluded. And he’s said numerous times before that something would soon follow up the 1991 masterpiece Loveless. Yep, the 1991 album. But there seems to be some concrete talk this time. Bassist Debbie Googe spoke about the album, even though she made it sound as though Kevin is channeling his inner Billy Corgan and handling a lot of the instrumentation himself. And one of these times it has to be the real thing, right? So I’ve got this to look forward to…possibly all year long (and beyond).


Toro y Moi, Anything in Return (January 22). I really liked Causers of This but was slightly disappointed by the 2011 release Underneath the Pine. I’m hoping for a return to greatness with Anything in Return.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, II (February 5). I loved UMO’s first album in 2011; here’s hoping album No. 2 is even better. Led Zeppelin and Crystal Castles set the bar pretty high for albums titled II, though (as did Chicago, for that matter).

Iceage, You’re Nothing (February 19). Another band that released a wonderful, economic debut in 2011. Frankly, if Iceage simply releases another 12-song, 24-minute blast of dark punk, I’ll be satisfied.

Junip, TBA (April 23). Jose Gonzalez never fails to deliver.

The Weeknd, TBA (?????). If you believe his Twitter feed, Abel is dropping a new album in 2013. I’m still a huge fan of House of Balloons and found the other two parts of Trilogy to be interesting at worst and quite excellent at times, so I’m in on more Weeknd.

Also, without comment:

The Joy Formidable, Wolf’s Law (January 22)

Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob (January 29)

Sally Shapiro, Somewhere Else (February 26)

Rhye, Woman (March 5)

Marnie Stern, The Chronicles of Marnia (March 19)

Best Music of 2011: #10

Washed Out, Within and WithoutTodd: Washed Out, Within and Without

At first listen, this may seem like just good background music. After subsequent listens, songs like “Before” and “You and I” start to stand out and become the soundtrack to your day.


The Weeknd, House of BalloonsChris: The Weeknd, House of Balloons

This album redefines cool and groovy (different from how Ken defines it in Toy Story 3, to be sure). Sampling Siouxsie and Beach House, creating a hazy vibe, and inspiring sexy videos such as the one for “What You Need.”