Tuesday, May 24, 2005

And here is a review.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Pick here.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Perfect Pop

11. "Jive Talkin'" The Bee Gees (1975)
The wet-galoshes guitar scrapes; the bass line (a Moog, perhaps?) pushing rhythm and melody; those vocals -- every single part of this song is a genius pop hook. I'm not sure it gets better than this.

Anyway, this song always makes me happy, and isn't that something?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Column here.

Monday, May 09, 2005

In reaction to the link below, I originally wrote most of the following on a mailing list I'm on. I decided to retool slightly and post here, and I'd like to get some feedback from any interested parties out there. Agree, disagree, little of both? Comment away.


I obsess about this rockism thing way too much. And yet...

Douglas Wolk is, I think, one of the smarter critics out there and certainly one of the best writers of the lot. And I like that he is actually trying to think through an issue, acknowledging it's not a clear-cut one, rather than just grandstanding as in the New York Times piece by Kelefa Sanneh referenced in the third paragraph.

Nevertheless, I'm still trying to find out what is the reason of this article's (these articles') existance. Rockism: The Case For Or Against -- Is this something that people who are not rock critics actually think about when determining whether they like a piece of music? The whole rockism debate is pretty much inside baseball, isn't it? As such, it's probably a bit more relevant in the Seattle Weekly a few weeks after EMP than it was in the NY Times last October. But still.

The debate is constantly framed, at least implicitly, as Bruce Springsteen/Ryan Adams vs. Ashlea Simpson/Usher. Is the focal point of your own personal musical history Ornette Coleman or Stephen Sondheim or Bessie Smith or Iron Maiden or some kind of arcane folk music that was never even recorded? Sorry, but you kind of don't count here.

"...and it chains both artists and their audience to an ideal rooted in a particular moment of the past, in which a gifted lyricist is bydefault a "new Dylan" (not a new Charley Patton, not a new Bill Withers, and especially not herself)..."

A) The "new Dylan" thing is a just a tired bit of lazy journalism, like putting "-gate" at the end of a scandal involving the President of the United States. Calling someone the "new Dylan" is dumb, but not because of rockism.
B) If you want to come to terms with the rockism thing at all, I think you will have to concede that rock (or certain rock artists) had a much larger cultural impact (UPDATE: let's say between the mid '50s and the late '90s) than other (though not all other) genres. Charley Patton and Bill Withers are... how to put this.... not as famous as Bob Dylan is.

The wrap-up idea -- "But one shortcut is for music critics to stage raids on other kinds of culture criticism" -- is really vague, and seems more like a launching point for a whole other column. It is a nice idea, though I'm not even sure how much of a new one it is.

Despite all this, I think Wolk's piece is a fine, fine thing. The next step, for someone, is to maybe examine what is it that attracts many music writers to rock and its sounds that results in it becoming an -ism, without necessarily turning into a value judgement. As that doesn't exactly leave a whole lot of room for being snarky and smug, I wouldn't hold your breath.
It's like a visual assist for The Maxell Conundrum.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

In the City Paper, I have a column and a pick. Also, here is my first review for a new outlet of mine, a New York-based music site called Prefix Magazine.
So there are many things to write of late, which is good. There may be fewer musings on here for the time being, but there'll be more links to published stories. Everyone wins.