The success of …Like Clockwork can first and foremost be attributed to its accessibility. It is the band’s sixth studio album, and their first since 2007, so fans have been salivating over its production for quite some time. The real key to the album’s appeal lies in a special skill head honcho Josh Homme has tapped into especially heavily this time around: emulating rock icons without sounding derivative. The album echoes Zeppelin, Bowie and late-Beatles, but never without Homme’s own demented creative spirit inspiring an overall vibe of originality. Generating considerable buzz with the announcement of guest appearances including Dave Grohl, Elton John, Trent Reznor and Alex Turner, both QOTSA and Matador have been teasing and promoting the record since March. The band premiered the single “My God is the Sun” at Lollapalooza Brazil for a crowd of 150,000+, and Matador released a live stream of the full album on iTunes the week prior to its release.
A quality record hitting number-one is no surprise. What is intriguing, however, is that independent labels are starting to follow more closely the model of promotion used by the majors. The magic formula of the indie label is a combination of strong marketing with an attitude of sincere artistic integrity. Matador founder Chris Lombardi explains, “The purpose of the independent label is to not be driven by commerce, by shareholders or parent companies. It’s about expressing yourself through your association with artists you truly believe in.” Capitol records purchased a 49% stake in Matador in 1996; it only took three years before Lombardi and co-owner Gerard Cosloy bought it back. While Matador’s business model has evolved since its conception in 1989, they have kept this ethos throughout. Matador’s values echo those of an early Miramax or HBO, companies that started small and never went public but were able to retain their reputations as critically-acclaimed arbiters of culture even as they started seeing massive profits.
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