Someone stole my Fela Kuti movie idea, which sucks. Actually, I had a different angle on it, so they didn’t totally steal it. Wanna hear the pitch? Okay. Here it is:
TWO biopics at the same time, one about Paul McCartney finding his voice post-Beatles, the other about Fela Kuti’s rise to fame after his discovery of black power in his abortive first US tour. It follows the ups and downs of the next three years of their lives, ending with resolution of the confrontation between Macca and Kuti as they sit around, listening to Band on the Run together (which I think actually happened). I would love to see this movie, so please someone with power and influence and creativity steal my idea.
I’m not here to talk about my Kuti/Macca movie. I want to discuss the fact that nobody has made a Fleetwood Mac movie yet. I may have talked about this at Idolator, but the question needs to be raised again. Why has this not happened? The Fleetwood Mac story is ripe for a cinematic imagining: sex, coke, cults, nose candy, sex, blow, rock stardom, cocaine…it has everything.
You could start with the Peter Green days and have some drama. Jeremy Spencer joined a cult mid-tour! Then Buckingham/Nicks join up and the band switches gears. Lindsey sleeps with Stevie. Stevie sleeps with John. Mick sleeps with Stevie. Lindsey sleeps with other folks. Christine…well, I’m not sure what she did and she wrote “Oh Daddy” and that song creeps me the heck out, so let’s not talk about her right now. And, good God, the drug use! Plus: great music, big career ups (Rumours), downs (Tusk…if that can be considered a “down”), solo careers, triumphant reunion. This thing just writes itself…it should be a miniseries!
For some reason I think that Jeremy Sisto would make a good Lindsey Buckingham. Not to be sexist here, but whoever plays Stevie Nicks has to be a real looker. Matos once remarked to me that Stevie Nicks was “illegally hot” when she was young, and, yeah, that about nails it. Christine Perfect/McVie…I wanna say Michelle Williams, but I have no idea why I feel that way. John McVie? I don’t know. Just have some actor grow a beard and wear shades. Nobody really knows what he looks like anyway. There was a time where Harry Shearer from Spinal Tap, though short, was a dead ringer for Mick. Now? Hmm. Somebody with bug eyes. Rhys Ifans?
Hollywood: I’m Rumpelstiltskin over here, spinning you solid gold where once was straw. Do not sleep on this.
What are y’all’s casting ideas for a Fleetwood Mac movie?
Instead of just letting this be a pop culture phenomenon, or meme, as they’re known, Kroeger wrote a threatening message to the woman behind the pickle page, which has since been posted to PopEater, stating the the page will be closed in two weeks. I’m sorry Chad, but you’re adding insult to injury here.
“It’s not ambition when you’re not making any choices, and it’s not daring when there’s not much at stake. In the digital world, a triple album is just a few more ones and zeroes to fit on the hard drive. It’s too bad really, that Have One on Me is so overdone because there’s a decent album hidden somewhere in there.”—
From the Popmatters’ 4/10 review of Joanna Newsom’s new behemoth, in reference to the album’s length. Not having heard the album, it’s hard for me to comment on this. I’m of three minds on long album length.
Practical Me totally agrees with this statement above. Throwing everything you’ve got at an album has nothing to do with ambition, especially if you had three years to record it. It’s not ambition; it’s convincing your record label to do it, which usually ain’t hard because it’s a good press angle. As a PR guy, I got so sick of receiving (and often having to pitch) 14 song, 65 minute debut albums. They were always the work of an artist or band in need of an editor. It was clear that the “album” consideration wasn’t really taken into account, that they’d put everything they’d ever done at that point onto their CD, which graciously accommodated them. Ask yourself this: who wants another Mellon Collie?
Wait, maybe I DO want another Mellon Collie. Listener Me is more ambivalent about this statement. I adore many of the supposed bloated failures out there. Tusk is my favorite Fleetwood Mac album. Odessa is near the top of the BeeGees canon for me (though maybe Horizontal or Idea is my favorite?). I’m a big Sandanista defender. The first two Tindersticks albums really hit me hard because they were so deep and so heavy and so long (an 80 minute CD?!). I like it when artists let it all hang out, when they throw a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what sticks, when they barf all over an electronic musical medium and say “HERE. Take it.” It’s exhilarating to pick through the wreckage, looking for misunderstood gems and good bad ideas.
Musician Me takes umbrage at the statement above. Do you know how hard it is to record lots of (good-sounding) material? Even in the computer age it’s not THAT easy. Some bands take years polishing ten songs. Lord knows, I speak from experience. Eighteen songs probably took a lot of time to write, record, mix, and master. Give her a break. That IS ambitious. And Newsom’s music (including the few songs I’ve heard of the new one) is not slapdash four chord strummy material. It’s carefully considered and arranged, built on a lot of details. Regardless of what you think about the end product, it’s not like Joanna Newsom went into the studio for a week and just pooped this stuff. And shouldn’t being prolific—if even in spurts—be celebrated? One of the reasons that the Beatles, James Brown, Dylan, etc. were all so prolific is that they treated musicianship as a job. Being a musician was what they did and society accepted this role of theirs. In this era of day jobs and bad economies and nobody buying music, this kind of artist is fairly rare. We should be encouraging the reemergence of the musical artist as a professional, not expecting them to edit!
But then I think about having to listen to 3 CDs’ worth of material, with my Ph.D. collapsing in on me, and there is just no way I have the time. Practical Me wins out again.
Something about this whole review, and the very fact that this show even happened at the place it did makes me feel very Rip Van Winkle-ish.
I mean, I saw Neko Case at the American Songbook series at the Allen Room three years ago. At the time that seemed amazing and wonderful and stunning! Now I kind of feel (and nothing against the um, “indie-rock” acts who’ve played this series recently, especially The Dirty Projectors and St. Vincent) that some of the performers are appearing a little prematurely in their careers. Is it just me, or is this series seriously becoming a victim of indie hype?
xoxo, michaela (BTW, I moved house a week ago and am still recovering, so I’ll be here sporadically until I’m more settled. At least the DSL is working now — but I still don’t have my all computers set up at home, etc.)
And it’s a biggie. In fact, said article by Marc Hogan is the best longform piece yet written on what’s going on, at least in English — drawing on a slew of interviews (which he’s making available in fuller form via his own Tumblr feed) and providing links, a range of observations and some honest-to-god data, it’s pretty much going to be the signal for more to come in other outlets. (A Rolling Stone/Spin story is inevitable at some point this year, an NYT/NPR story is a strong possibility depending on how the winds blow.)
That may sound melodramatic but it is also reflective of the imprimatur of Pitchfork now, its success as a brand. Marc’s piece is a spectacular double-whammy — it’s not only some good journalism on a subject that’s mostly been individual reflection and observation until now, it’s good journalism in the high profile location dedicated to music. Further, it helps cement an association of Pitchfork with its perceived dominant style — indie, however that term is used — all that much more.
It’s also a great piece because you can sense the strains going on throughout in trying to pin down something in a context that suits Pitchfork in particular. Some quick thoughts for now:
Back in 2008 in my response to an NY Times piece going ‘hey vinyl’s back and all’ I borrowed the phrase ‘dumb blowtorch of youth,’ coined on an ILM thread, to describe the tone of some of the sentiments on offer. (The idea being that the phrase sounds flat out contemptuous but is meant instead to be a classic case of recognition — ‘yep, I remember that mindset, I’ve been there.’) There’s a cracker of an example in Marc’s piece, courtesy of Alec Davis, mentioned as being twenty years old — bless the guy’s heart:
"When mp3s hit I was like, ‘Who needs CDs or tapes?’, but the further and further I got away from the experience of listening to full albums, going to the record store, and sharing what you found with friends, the more I realized I was just becoming a pretentious fuck with a full iPod, not somebody cherishing a collection of albums I was in love with. When I started listening to albums just to find out my favorite three tracks so I could make raging mixes or blog about them, I realized my complete lack of soul."
Quite a lot is said or discussed, sometimes indirectly, about the economics of the cassette industry as a dying one — it’s actually a welcome intrusion of reality, one of many in Marc’s whole piece, that it’s not simply the music or even the medium but the out and out mechanics. One quote appears about the English manufacturers that’s running out of stock and can only offer color-faded cassettes, another closes the piece with someone asking about a ‘tape burner.’ For all that the aesthetics of the cassette form come up, it constantly runs into these facts as well — and I wonder if future, more mass-market pieces might be more unduly breathless, ignoring those points.
There’s a big, big elephant in the room which Marc rightly touches on but doesn’t dwell on, though one wishes he could have. In discussing the absolute collapse of the cassette industry in terms of sales — as Marc notes, going from 8.6 million cassettes in 2004 to 34,000 cassettes last year is breathtaking in terms of speed — he also notes this: “Last year’s best-selling cassette: Jagged Era, the 1997 debut album by Atlanta R&B group Jagged Edge. Now you know.” It’s a hint — just — of where the ‘real’ market of cassettes might have been all this time, and in practical terms might actually still be — and it will be interesting to see if further or future stories even go that far.
I could say more but I only have so much time. Suffice to say, read this piece ASAP — you’ll hear a lot more soon now.
R&G: What advice or tips would you give to a do-it-yourself band that can’t afford a PR firm?
Daniel: First of all, you have to be really good, so work on your music a lot before you put it out there. Don’t just put out your first rough demos on Myspace. Work on them a little bit.
No offense, Daniel Gill*, but you do PR for WAVVES. BURN.
I kid and josh Mr. Gill, but I find most press coverage of PR to be pretty simplistic, and this interview does nothing to change that. It’s always formulated like this: “PR firm works with great band. Great band does well. Easy as pie!” Yeah, no. These things don’t exist in a vacuum, but the portrayal of music marketing (often by PR types themselves) is usually of the “work really hard” variety…which isn’t wrong exactly, but it’s not the full picture.
Let me backtrack a bit: Daniel Gill and Force Field have worked extremely hard to get to where they are, and Dan does have great taste. I’m not begrudging him/them anything. They deserve their reputation. But don’t you think that his track record and reputation have something to do with his continued success, more than merely picking “good” bands that people will care about?** When Force Field sends out a press release, 9 times out of 10 (not scientific) I see it parroted or trumpeted on any number of “big blogs” and/or the Pitchfork news/forkcast section. Heck, I read every Force Field press release, too, just so I can feel like au courant. But good PR companies become “trusted” and generate buzz because writers/editors/bloggers assume that what they work will become “important,” whether or not it’s deserved. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle. Think that any of Gill’s smaller, first-time artists (not talking Panda Bears here) would do as well if a lesser known PR company had worked them? Trust me…that’s a big nope. Successful PR companies don’t have a monopoly on “good” artists and bands, but you wouldn’t know that from the monochromatic tenor of the blogosphere, year-end lists, etc. Much like folks trust labels like Merge or Sub Pop they trust in certain PR companies, and that’s not without reason. Gill’s a great publicist with good taste and a sterling reputation, but do you think that Wavves gets half the same coverage if it’s sent out by an unknown PR firm? No wayy.
* I know Daniel Gill and like him, and I hope that he will still talk to me after this.
** “Care about” often has little to do with music quality and more about the story and connections behind the band. A band that sounds like Animal Collective meets Poco is one thing.*** A band that sounds like Animal Collective meets Poco that feature an appearance from some guy in this one Sub Pop band and features the brother of that guy in that one Matador band is going to do a lot better because people would “care” about it, whether or not it was good. It’s a hook, an angle. Too many good bands are angle-free. So many factors! See…not in a vacuum. Beware pedantic 1-2-3 prescriptions for EZ PR success.
Everything about this piece makes me rant and froth about poor music journalism. Um, don’t ask questions about someone’s old band when they’ve clearly moved on and would rather not discuss it. And, if you must, please be tactful, not naggy. Secondly — get familiar with the artist’s projects that he’s done since that old band broke up — you know, the projects he’s been doing successfully and wonderfully for the past DECADE?!? — so you don’t sound like an bloody idiot.
So, er, yeah. Peter Gaston, I don’t know you, but Facebook tells me we have 6 friends in common. That’s almost technically like knowing you, in this day in age. Bro, don’t write crap like this again, it’s embarrassing. I mean, especially when you’re talking to Greg Fucking Dulli. Thanks!
Lucas and Ned have already written here eloquently about the problems facing mp3 blogs, DMCA takedown notices and Google, but I wanted to comment on the headline this post from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that sent my blood pressure skyrocketing.
The problem here with this piece is not that legitimate journalists are being treated like pirates (and I’m not convinced they are), it’s perpetuating the breathless hyperbole that comes with seemingly every single discussion these days. Taylor Swift is not a “feminist nightmare”. “Indie” is not dead. (How could it be if Vampire Weekend had a number one album earlier this year and the very next week Spoon made the top five? Sounds healthy enough to me.) Speaking of Vampire Weekend… oh, never mind. Now, music journalism is still not "the new piracy".
Music writers will continue to tell the stories behind the songs they listen to, it’s what we do. That won’t change, what will likely change is that instead of blogs hosting an mp3, they’ll more likely embed a YouTube video or stream the song, or (heaven forbid) rely on text alone. Going from physical to digital review copies of albums was probably more traumatic.
This isn’t to say that music journalism doesn’t have its own problems or couldn’t be improved (or that change is painless), I’m just saying that having a little less traffic directed your way from Hype Machine doesn’t warrant making the top fifty.
I wish we could go back to the days where not liking a certain album only meant you had no soul.
Clearly I wasn’t the only person thinking about this lately, as Michael Mannheimer's paper topic makes clear:
“Big Wave Rider: Cassette Tapes, Inverted Nostalgia, and the Creation of Glo-fi” As we approach the end of the aughts—a decade where the fundamental way we listen to music changed, one MP3 blog at a time—an interesting phenomenon bubbled up in the underground: a yearning for a recorded medium that went out of style 20 years ago. Looking into the past for inspiration is hardly original, but when Dirty Projectors sent out advanced copies of their new record, Bitte Orca, the fact that it came packaged as a tape was more than a novelty gag. Last summer, a whole wave of hazy, nostalgic music popped up, bedroom recordings from artists in New Jersey and Texas, complete with bullshit genres (glo-fi! chillwave! disco-jangle?) that were more almost as much fun to coin as they were to listen to. Music trends are always circular, but what is it about this particular scene that lusts for a time before everyone recorded on a MacBook? The one common thread (er, spool) between all these disparate recordings is a medium that, until the last few years, was seen as even more outdated than a VHS: the cassette tape.
In this lecture, I will examine the rise and resurgence of tape culture by talking to a host of underground tape labels and distributors—including Portland, Oregon’s Eggy Records and Iowa City’s Night-People—about releasing music via an archaic medium in an era of instant gratification. As technology advances, why are we continually looking to the past? Is the medium the message, or is it the music that really matters?
Given my colleague Lucas’s aggrieved post just now on things like glo-fi and chillwave I almost feel bad bringing this up. (Almost.) But the larger point stands — not only is there clearly a ‘thing,’ it’s now seen as relevant of discussion within the larger framework of the Pop Conference (this year’s theme being music and technology).
“After all, chillwave was never really about the beach.”—
The most laughable line written in a review this year? This presupposes that chillwave was ever about anything! Keep up your myth-making, Pitchfork. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that Pitchfork contains Many Great Writers and it’s Not A Monolithic Entity (and I’ve argued that many times myself), but they still make editorial decisions about running reviews such as Joe Colly’s Toro y Moi review from today and deciding which news stories to run about which bands, which track reviews to assign, etc. The process works like this: give the Best New Music to something. Then it’s interviews, videos, news stories, tour dates, articles about how you mentioned pooping on your blog can you believe it, etc. Next comes reviews of related or similar-sounding artists…it’s a movement, man! But, uh-oh, the backlash is setting in. The numbers are falling (a 7.6…now a 6.0). Now comes the slowly backing away from what we said. Finally, it’s time for the hatchetmen, time for an Ian Cohen to start sharpening his knives (I love him for this, btw), until we can safely get nostalgic and “re-evaluate” someone’s work…Shitgaze Revisited: coming to you in 2017. Like most publications, whether they like to admit or not, there is an institutional culture, and saying that it’s just a group of individuals doing good work is true, but a fairly simplistic look as to how any organization works. I remember talking to a few writers there about some Best New Music thing…A Place To Bury Strangers? I can’t remember who it was, but nobody I talked to liked it or would admit to liking it. I asked other people, editors even: nope, nah, not my thing. And, yet, at the time, there was breathless coverage of the band in the news section and the then-nascent Pitchfork TV. The band’s boring videos (I’m pretty sure I’m thinking of APTBS now) were making the rounds at the old Forkcast. It was an echo chamber of low self-esteem: by constant coverage we will prove to you that we were right.
And, so to chillwave/glo-fi/whatever. It’s not a movement. It’s not a unified sound (to be fair, neither was grunge, but it had locational and attitudinal identity). Most of these chillwavers sound like lo-ish-fi tinkerers with drum machines as far as I can make out. I’ve made lots of chillwave songs at home, apparently, and I never knew it! I suspect there are lots of other 4 trackers out there who have done the same. But beyond the “My Kid Could Paint That” element of it all, the Echo Chamber has been cranked up, the necessary product of having jumped on a blogger-fomented, Wire-confirmed (I adore the Wire, but they create and destroy three genres daily) sub-craze covered in the Stranger that one time.
And creating a movement is easy if you talk about yourself enough! Note the reference in the review to an interview done by the reviewer wherein a guy in Toro y Moi references other “chillwave” artists. See, it IS an actual “thing” now because the guy in this band talked about these other bands because I asked him to! And in the second paragraph, this:
"The other hump to get over when discussing chillwave is the purported sameyness of the artists involved."
No, the other hump to get over is that nobody actually knows what a chillwave artist is or nobody who gives a poo really discusses this. There is no real critical discussion about this, is there? Maybe I’m reading the wrong blogs or hanging out with the wrong crew, but the “chillwave phenomenon” seems pretty isolated.
Oh, but too late, Lucas! Chillwave DOES exist, now that you’re talking about it and other people used it on their blogs and P4k wrote about it a bunch in self-referential reviews. See how easy that was?
And so chillwave endures via constant chest-beating for a barely contiguous movement with no genre parameters other than “we think stoned kids made it” and “drum machines?”…justification for going out on a very weak limb.
Fun blogger project for today! Everybody go out and create a subgenre of music! Find some bands that sound kinda like each other maybe a little bit (e.g. they all have no bass or play drum kits without cymbals or like sandwiches*) and then give it a name. Make that subgenre name extra-lame, so that saying it makes you feel just stupid enough to assume that it has to be a real thing (see also: horrorcore, trip-hop, freak folk). Now write a glowing review about a “flagship artist” in your new subgenre. This is your chance to “make it” for a new Washed Out! Next, run the artists’ gauzy, lo-fi videos about broing out or getting high or whatever. Add interviews wherein you reference or ask them about other bands in the movement (who you have hopefully reviewed favorably by now). Even if they’ve never heard of them or played with them, get the band members of Flagship Artist to say something like “That sounds interesting” or “I never thought of that before.” It all TIES TOGETHER, see? Make sure that you reference these interviews and reviews in everything you write from now on. Weave a tangled web with your new subgenre. Make references to house shows and sparsely attended shows as Pivotal Events (it worked for Rites of Spring and emo!). Try to get other bloggers to take notice. Pretty soon, the big boys will come calling, your Wires, Pitchforks, and Strangers. Before you know it, you’ll have a poorly sourced stub-class Wikipedia entry! You win!
Pretty hard to improve on the Otis Redding original, so Tindersticks take the alternate route, delaying the payoff for as long as humanly possible until POW. And how full-blooded is this recording compared to the fussy and overworked mid-tempo plastic that passes for “orchestrated rock” these days?
Of course, it helps to have impeccable source material.
Matt on The Strokes. This piece is actually a longer version of an e-mail that inspired me to acquire their entire discography. Go read it!!
Hey, you guys? When some of you out there start to feel this way about Interpol, too, I AM GOING TO LAUGH MY ASS OFF. I’m already laughing just thinking about it.
I always liked The Strokes. Took a lot of shit for it over the years, but apparently, I have prevailed!
For the record, I only give my Haterade to watered-down retread schlubby “authentic” lo-fi crap music made by privileged white kids slumming in Williamsburg. I will probably never, ever hate a band with style.
If you have a problem with my taste in this particular arena, please complain to, in no particular order: Bryan Ferry, Martin Fry, and David Sylvian. (Wow, that’s the closest I’ve ever come to writing a manifesto. Wow!)
Update 2/11/10: We looked into this issue further and identified one case where a blogger did not receive notification of any DMCA complaints before their blog was removed. We’re sorry about this.
We’ve contacted the blog owner and restored their blogs, effective immediately, and we fixed the bug that caused the termination without prior notification. We’re also looking into additional preventative protections. We know the DMCA process can be difficult to navigate, and we’re working on ways to make this process as smooth as possible.
It might not be a full switch in what’s been going on (yet) but it seems part and parcel with everything Google’s been doing this week (“Here you go, you’re friends with everyone you ever sent an e-mail to!…oh you didn’t want that? Really?”).
Google responded to the MP3 blog massacre with the standard party line…too many DMCA complaints, etc. etc. What bothers me is why now and why all of a sudden, given that they supposedly softened their stance on this a while back and the bloggers targeted were—at least in my experience—“law-abiding types.” Meanwhile, Blogspot remains a hive of scum and villainy, wherein people like this just post Rapidshare links to full albums. Yes, that is my band’s album. Yes, you can download it there for free*. Thanks for the “exposure,” Shoegazer Alive! That’s some trenchant commentary you’ve posted there**.
Techdirt really nails Google’s scaredy-cat, once-size-fits-all approach, which is—also in my experience—so often borne of the inevitable miscommunication between labels, PR teams, bands, and managers, as well as the “guilty until proven innocent” nature of takedown requests. It’s time for codification: is the music industry okay with MP3 blogs or not? If so, make standardized rules for behavior and apply them evenly. One would hope that, in the end, the dessicated shell of the music biz would realize that wielding a cudgel against relatively benign sources of free promotion is probably not a wise business strategy in a world where they need all the help they can get.
* If you want a 320 MP3 rip straight from the source (with correct song titles), just ask me. I’ll be glad to give it to you. Hell, most bands would be, I suspect…we just want to be in control of the free stuff, not random folks on Blogspot. The rips are usually terrible and the information is often faulty. For example, one of our songs, “Charm City” first showed up as “Charm” in the first round of leaks, and that name has persisted among the leakers. It’s dispiriting to look at your last.fm numbers and see that the leaked versions of things get WAY more play than the legit ones, though it’s certainly not shocking.
That story I’ve linked there that just went up earlier today from LA Weekly music editor Randall Roberts doesn’t contain the phrase, but if you do a quick Google search on it you’ll find that there are a few entries for it already out there, mostly from last year (here’s a blog entry from Hydra Head from last summer). Randall’s linked to a prediction from three years back that pretty much called it — the first slight inkling I had was when Foxglove/Digitalis switched its limited release emphasis from CDR to cassettes a couple of years back. I knew things were about to go overground a bit when Hometapes sent around a year-end promo sampler on cassette in December. while just today over at Arthur Byron Coley and Thurston Moore, by way of arguing the opposite, said it was “beyond the point of convincing anyone that some of the best music/sounds is happening on small cassette labels.” Get ready for a trend, again.
Why? The three year old piece I linked mentions a general cultural/pricing sense, but today an ILM thread broke out on the very subject and provided some more concrete thoughts from people actually releasing such work. One poster argued:
This might be a “no shit” statement but I think a lot of current cassette culture is a response to the Internet making it easier for bands to distribute their music around the world without being on a label. The whole indie/punk aesthetic was built on this concept of the struggle of being underground; now that there isn’t really an underground anymore, bands have to intentionally handicap themselves, work to make themselves obscure and hidden, to be part of this idea. In addition, from my personal experience, part of playing music are the competing urges to want to be more popular and also to want to be more private/hidden. I can see how releasing music on cassette in the 2000s is attractive in the sense of making yourself deliberately obscure.
i pretty much disagree with this. if anything releasing cassettes is a way to revive the value of physicality in a time when bands are often nothing more than an mp3 and a couple jpegs on someone’s ipod; some will upload a cassette to their ipods, but i think the point isn’t that they want to be obscured but they want to make something people actually want to have. obv people itt aren’t interested in owning cassettes, but i don’t know, a lot of other people are. i’ve got a friend who runs a cassette label, and he sells out every release of usually 100-200 within a month or two. i think itunes is fucking stupid, and although i spend most of my music allocated money on vinyl, i buy cassettes pretty often. my band couldn’t afford to make a record so we made a tape, it was really cheap and it sounds pretty good.
But as the two posters agreed in a further follow-up exchange, all these reasons can apply rather than being mutually exclusive. Other ideas that had been rummaging around my head before reviewing all of today’s links (so forgive the repeated sentiments) included the less-obvious way that cassettes could be ripped (but not completely less-obvious — otherwise Ion wouldn’t be selling this), the perceived ‘junkiness’ of the format as its own attraction, and the idea that something handcrafted could be applied to what seems like the least handcrafty of products. I really don’t have a general romance attached to mixtapes as they were, but a couple I received stand out in my mind for how not merely the cassette itself but the J-card and even the case would be decorated or enhanced.
I’d been doing some thinking about all this in recent months as I’d gone ahead and jury-rigged a connection between my old tape deck and my computer to dump a slew of old interviews I’d recorded into digital format. I decided to go ahead and do something similar with the very random collection of cassettes I had around and I freely admit to rediscovering — and newly appreciating — a lot of music that had been released on any number of cassette-only or cassette-friendly labels (Unread and Best Kept Secret being just two of many examples) and via bands on their own about a decade back, chugging away well under any sort of radar. The work of Luv(sic) in particular has been lovely to hear once again, but that scrapes the surface. I’d also wondered if the work of folks like Messthetics, especially via the Messthetics’ Greatest Hiss comp, and Mutant Sounds, which has featured god knows how many obscure early eighties tape releases over time, had played a further part in calling people’s attention to the form in a new way.
Much more can be said about this, but don’t be surprised to see a lot more talk and attention now being paid to the format — and to see that phrase a lot more. I was going to end with a recommendation to check out Sunset's Eternally Dead, but I see that it’s sold out — thus perhaps raising the questions as noted via the ILM thread about access and obscurity and economy. But they’re good questions to ask.
I guess the professional contrarians and rabble-rousers at Slate (how do they sleep at night?) don’t read Chain of Knives! The author of the Slate piece contends that Bruce is picking on the little guy, in this case, the club Connelly’s in NYC by suing for not paying its ASCAP license. ASCAP listed Bruce as a plaintiff (and he has retracted his involvement because he found out about it) in a lawsuit against the club most likely because they had verifiable proof that some ASCAP songs (in this case, Bruce’s) were played in the club while they had lapsed on their license. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN DID NOT SUE ANYBODY. His name was listed on the lawsuit. In fact, ASCAP is not obligated to notify the artists when they sue on their behalf. Sure, when you sign up with ASCAP or BMI, you give them license to sue on your behalf. As the Slate article notes—completely contradicting its Bad Guy Bruce premise in the process:
In fairness, there’s no reason to believe Springsteen is any more litigious than the average songwriter or music publisher. His name likely appears in the caption of so many complaints simply because his songs are played so often in bars and restaurants. ASCAP sends increasingly stern letters to unlicensed venues; if those letters are ignored, it sends investigators, who note the songs they hear. Those songs then appear as “Schedule A” on the numerous complaints it files each year.
Restaurants and bars don’t like ASCAP’s practices, and they occasionally kvetch to the local press. But the backlash rarely hits well-known artists, because the named plaintiffs are usually faceless corporate entities like “Sony/ATV Tunes LLC” or “Jobete Music Co., Inc.,” recognized by few except the songwriters who cash their checks. Springsteen is only in the news because he had the balls—or the lack of foresight—to publish his songs as “Bruce Springsteen.”
Bruce Springsteen is just Bruce Springsteen. He doesn’t hide behind a publishing company, and his songs ARE covered a lot in clubs, which is why the ASCAP folks were more likely to get a club on this infraction regarding one of his songs. We can debate whether these lawsuits are productive or not, but the article completely misrepresents these lawsuits as being the actions of Bruce Springsteen and then excoriates him for backing out of the lawsuit once the bad PR hit! He’s a terrible person for suing (which he didn’t) and a big jerk because he pulled out of the lawsuit (probably the first time he heard about it!). Bruce was probably appalled that his name and image were being used in this lawsuit, so he was removed from it. And that’s a jerky thing to do? You can’t have it both ways, Slate. Once again, instead of reporting on an interesting, complex issue from all angles, Slate redlines and massages the information to suit its inflammatory headlines, manufactured controversies, and false premises, all of it stemming from a New York Daily News article that was spurious at best.
I know that everybody thinks Google is the second coming, and I admit to loving a good many of their applications (except Buzz…who is that for?), but their one-size-fits-all shock and awe campaign against music blogs seems ill-advised, particularly in a world where most blogs work really hard to post legal MP3s from promo companies or vet their choices with bands, labels, and bands. I know the people affected here, and they’re not the types who post whole albums or leaks or anything like that. They’re not shady Russian Mafia blogs. This is the kind of reactionary binary code response that the music industry has employed for years. You see how well that’s turned out for them. The lesson here: think before you pledge fealty to another corporation (one that sold people out in China before they took a principled stand).
I hadn’t heard about this, so I thought I’d make sure that you had; the Factory Records One Charles Street office has been reopened as FAC 251, a three-story venue that’s jointly operated by x-New Order bassist Peter Hook and club operators Tokyo Industries. The space is managed by old Hacienda regular & DJ Aaron Mellor, is and designed by the original Factory architect Ben Kelly.
“There is no music anywhere better at this trick [ed note: “Holding apparent incommensurabilities in your mind-body continuum is a spiritual discipline available to anyone capable of both compassion and pleasure.”] than Afropop, and often without apparent cogitation. One of the blithest-sounding records I know is _Electric Highlife: Sessions From the Bokoor Studios_, in which a bunch of obscure Ghanaians, working in an early-’80s period of rampant inflation, sing soulfully but ebulliently about their poverty, their enemies, their faith in God. Their bravery is something to marvel at even if you worry that it’s really escapism. There’s no way any American pop band could equal it. But try to emulate it? Really, why the hell not?”—
You can’t have it both ways — does VW write sunny, lightweight pop, or secretly meaningful and weighty pop? Pick one.
Which is to say, though I’m all for globalization (really, don’t get me started on that topic, you’ll be bored), I’m not sure that I’m down with this particular international culture mashup. If VW were writing songs about being underemployed and living paycheck to paycheck and having no health insurance, I might be able to see your point.
ps — I know we’re not supposed to talk about VW anymore, but I just couldn’t pass this up.
“I’m out this bitch. To all my fans, my real fans, I really, really, really truly love you. I love you with all of me, for real. I’ll probably be loving everything else because I love you so much. Thank you from the bottom [of my heart]. Do not forget about me ’cause I will forever think about you, and I cannot wait for you to see me again. I’m out.”—lil wayne says goodbye (via maura)
Folks, it’s festival announcement season, which means it’s time for the blogosphere to alight with the sounds of a serious lack of priorities. This annual horse race to irrelevance will feature such deep discussions as “2007 was totally better” and “The Flaming Lips AGAIN…way to go, Grandpa” and “100 bucks for 50 bands that would charge 10 bucks apiece by themselves…*SIGH*”…all while people in Haiti struggle to find running water! Delight in the fact that every single festival features 75% congruence in lineup! Astound at how everything “sucks” or “is a disappointment”! Listen to the youngsters trash bands featuring members over 40 that might actually be good at playing music in a live setting! Watch them feign excitement at each festival’s token hip-hop/international/electronic acts! What will be this year’s Band Name Buzzword? Bear? Crystal? Wolf? The future is an exciting place!
Jezebel’s Dodai uses YET ANOTHER “Lady Gaga wuz robbed by Taylor Swift” article (this time on the strangely ad-heavy, ideologically scattered lesbian blog Autostraddle) as a jumping-off point to remind us yet again that Taylor Swift is EVIL and FAKE and how TERRIBLE it is that she panders to dorky unpopular teenage girls who love Jesus and wish they could date popular boy next door. And how her high school experience wasn’t about that at all, and therefore Taylor is, again, EVIL and FAKE and repressing girls from um, reading Anais Nin. Or something like that.
You guys, this is seriously getting out of hand. The complete short-sightedness of the people who write these pieces is so frustrating. Can’t they see that they’re not helping the state of the world by belittling the experiences of the dorky unpopular small-town Jesus-loving girl? Not to be a total cunt about this, but I wish these smug bitches would just shut the fuck up already, because this is what makes me dread feminism in all its current forms. To whit: Liking Lady Gaga more than Taylor Swift doesn’t make you spokesperson for what’s best for all women everywhere.