Alternate Tuning

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Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, United States

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The New Bollocks

More feminist muso-musings from me in this month's column. Magneta Lane continues to fascinate me and I haven't even heard the new album yet.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New Reviews, New Magazine

The new Chord is out now, and it contains my first writing for the magazine. I've got reviews in on the new No-Neck Blues Band, Minus Five, and Ladies albums (which you can read on line), and a small feature with Jel (which you can't).

I have no reason for sharing this, except that it's fun for me, and all three albums I reviewed are quality.

I'm so tired...

...that only Sly Stone can rescue me.

I can't believe this is actually working, but it is.

NP: "I Want to Take You Higher"

Friday, February 17, 2006

Byron Hurt on PopMatters

You've likely never heard of documentary filmmaker Byron Hurt, but he's doing important work. You should check out his interview with PopMatters today, especially if you care about hip-hop or gender issues.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Another Missed Single

While reading these thoughts on Poplicks today, I realized I missed a single I absolutely would have voted for:

16. The Legendary K.O.: George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People
Awesome to see a fuggin' MP3 rank this high. I think it would have been higher had more people heard it.

I wonder how many people just didn't think of this one. I heard and sent the link to everyone I thought would like it. Oliver Wang quotes a P&J commenter on the topic:

The government left an entire stadium full of black people to die. And it was broadcast on national TV so we could all watch. And we only get one rap song? And it's an MP3? (Christopher Weingarten)

I missed that one, but it's an awesome take.

Here's the track in question for anyone who hasn't heard it (or hasn't heard it in a while):

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The State of Music Criticism Is...

...pretty much the same as the state of all other forms of media.

But maybe it's in danger of becoming useless, and if so, Tiny Mix Tapes has a good essay up on its usefulness. Actually that's not at all what the essay's about, but that's how I'd like to see it used, and that description gets me around saying phrases like "contemporary critical paradigms," which I was tempted to do.

This article, by sponge, is actually a belated response to a disastrous one published last summer at Cokemachineglow. The TMT article does a good job handling most of my complaints, but a few remain. The biggest problem with Amir Nezar's article (among many) is his general smugness. To stick with his "Crossfire" theme, he's the Tucker Carlson in this operation:

When I’ve called out reviewers in other publications for making baseless assertions I have honest-to-god heard a response that goes, “Well, experiencing music is a subjective thing,” and I have responded every time with the question, “Is Britney Spears a great music artist?”

A more interesting question would be whether or not Britney Spears's music is good, because it is, after all, possible to have little repsect for Brit's talents and still think that "Toxic" has impressive production. It's also possible to enter such a discussion without being either a complete relativist or a smirker.

Nezar also fails at living up to his own standards. He writes, "Reviews from even reputable online publications often spend in excess of 60% of the review detailing years of history before even beginning to get to evaluation." Really? You've got measured data on this? And you also have a sampling of people who think these reviews are good?

And, don't forget: you think the only job of a critic is to determine if something is good or bad?

Nezar also uses plenty of "those instances" and "most often" phrases without specific examples. If his basic point is that poorly-done reviews aren't good, then, yeah, but he seems to be getting at a general state of affairs without pinning anyone or anyplace down.

One last thing, I want to thank sponge at TMT for pointing out the flaw in this dichotomy: "Music criticism ought to be first concerned with the objective fact, the music itself, and secondly whether or not its relation to other things (history, tradition, cliché, etc.) makes it better or worse."

It seems like a convenient time to remind everyone to be reading Fire Joe Morgan in case you ever decide to use or not use stats in your writing.

Hear Music Here

It's been long enough now that I've forgotten what I originally meant to post, so here are some loose ideas in the hopes that someone else has thoughts on this:

The Starbucks Hear Music stuff seems odd to me -- not the selling of CDs in the stores, which is a perfect economic venture, especially given the constant advertisement for those very CDs that the coffeeshops provide on their soundsystem anyway, but the pick-and-burn kiosks, where you can select from 1000s of songs and burn your own CD to pick up at the counter.

The idea of sorting through music at a computer screen seems anti-thetical to the reasons I'd go to a coffeeshop. Browsing and sampling music doesn't have nearly the same feel as sitting in a comfy chair with a newspaper or a novel. It also seems that the people who'd be interested in doing this -- young people without computers at home -- probably aren't the typical Starbucks clientele.

But then I went to one of the test-run shops, this one in San Antonio. My first day there confirmed my theory: no one was using the kiosks. A waiter that night told me that usually they're full, so maybe I was in too early (8:30am). The rest of the week (my boss loves Starbucks, so we have breakfast there everyday on business trips), they were packed. The audience: people old enough to be at a loss with iTunes, etc, but young enough to be into just barely un-hip music.

Starbucks was pushing Kanye, Death Cab, and...Madeleine Peyroux (an unlikely star, but perfectly suited to the latte crowd). Peyroux, as well as the lesser known soul stars being played throughout the morning seem like wise choices for acts that someone would hear on the radio and think they want some of those songs without actually being willing to spring for a full album (although you can, right there, if you want).

And apparently people go there specifically to burn CDs, which is what confuses me. Maybe I'm making assumptions about how prevalent CD-burners are (aren't CD-R drives standard now) or how easy the generation ahead of mine finds iTunes, etc. to use. It just strikes me as really odd to leave the comfort of your house to sit on a little stool and mix yourself up a CD. And the functionality isn't that great -- mainly because too many tracks are available to hear, but not to purchase (although, again, the CDs are right there). Then again, I'm about half a misanthrope, so maybe "being out" is its own reward.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Too Little Magic Bus

I'm reveling in last night's Steelers win, but I'm still trying to figure out why, in 13 seasons, did I not once hear "Magic Bus" after Jerome Bettis monster-mashed someone.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I'm Back - Can I Go to Sleep Now?

Missed me? I'm back, as frazzled as ever, but with thoughts to come on Starbucks and explaining a genre to someone who have no terms in common with.