PopMatters Updates

Trying to keep up on both sites but truth be told this one will probably go away before too long.


My new new column is up at PopMatters: "Kanye West: The Iconoclast Gives In." Go there now! You can read more about it over at my other site.

I neglected to link to my April column at PopMatters, a review of the gripping documentary Wild Wild Country and Bill Calahan's song "Drover." Read it here.

Interview with Future of Music Coalition re: Net Neutrality

I had the opportunity to interview Kevin Erickson from Future of Music Coalition about the impending vote to end net neutrality and its impact on musicians and the broader music ecosystem. Many thanks to Kevin and PopMatters for turning this around so quickly. Read the interview here.

An excerpt:




Posted on December 13, 2017 and filed under Music Criticism, News.

Statement on Net Neutrality

Net neutrality protects the true democratic potential of the internet: that anyone, regardless of wealth or social status, may produce new thought, knowledge, forms of expression, goods, and services, and contribute to the creation of new communities. While it's true that the internet is by no means perfect, eliminating net neutrality would remove a critical safeguard against the suppression of this potential. The current FCC proposal, titled "Restoring Internet Freedom," is a step backwards; what it restores is mega-corporations' ability to constrict, steer, and siphon the democratic potential of the internet. The proposal should be rejected.


The proposal introduced by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai would make three critical changes to the existing rules governing the internet: (1) it would reclassify internet service providers (ISPs) as an "information service" instead of the current Title II classification of "telecommunication service"; (2) as a result of this reclassification, the ban on paid prioritization would be lifted, meaning that ISPs would be free to charge higher fees for so-called "fast lanes" and, in effect, divide the internet into a two-tiered economic system that would also favor their own content, effectively ending net neutrality as it exists today; (3) the final major outcome of this reclassification would be less regulation under the guise of a weak transparency rule.


The most egregious aspect of this rule change is the allowance of paid prioritization, a move that favors large corporate "edge providers" who can afford to pay the toll of fast-lane access and discriminates against those who lack the resources to compete at their level. Small-scale startups, young entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, and independent artists will suffer. They will either pay more to ISPs and edge providers or make do with slow network speeds which will affect their ability to create and share work via the internet. Even if they can afford the first option, there's still no guarantee their audiences will be able to easily access the content they create.


The FCC proposal must also be understood in a larger contemporary context. The policy change justifies itself on the fraudulent concept of trickle-down economics which has time and time again proved to be an illusion. "Restoring Internet Freedom" instead contributes to the project of widening the wealth and income gaps through privatization and deregulation as pursued today by the Trump administration, Congressional Republicans, and right-wing lobbyists, think tanks, and corporate donors. Since economic inequality overlaps considerably with racial and gender inequality, the FCC's proposal will quite literally be discriminatory, further subduing those voices in the United States which already are heard the least.


These effects, economic and cultural, divert the unrealized democratic potential of the internet away from the significantly new and into the narrow confines of corporate innovation. As FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn has written in her dissent against the proposal, "innovation" is code for a more efficient way for corporations to maximize profit. I believe the significantly new is best explained by the philosopher Alain Badiou's concept of the "event": the emergence of an entire sphere of possibilities once thought impossible that can change the entire historical situation. The fate of the internet as an event—as a common good for the betterment of society—is undecided, but the FCC's brand of so-called innovation would in fact choke the potential that ordinary people can design, sustain, and communicate new thoughts, new works, and new ways of living via the internet. Instead, the FCC and its corporate allies would ensure the entrenchment and amplification of the worst social conditions today.


We cannot afford to give up this last mile of democratic potential.


NOTE: This statement has been filed as a public comment with the FCC. If you would like to voice your opinion on net neutrality before the FCC's vote on Thursday, December 14, 2017, go to: gofccyourself.com. Click on "express." Be sure to hit "ENTER" on your keyboard after you put in your name.

Posted on December 12, 2017 and filed under Music Criticism, News.

Upcoming Author Talk in Columbus

I'm thrilled to be giving a free author talk about Nothing Has Been Done Before at the Bexley Public Library this coming Thursday, December 7, from 7pm to 8pm. Bexley is just east of downtown Columbus. The library has hosted some terrific authors.

Click here and say you'll be there. I'll have copies of the book available for purchase. The perfect holiday gift.

Still working out the exact format, but there will be music. And maybe video. I'll have more specific info next week. Thanks to Bexley Public Library for having me, and for making this nice flyer...

Author Visit- Robert Loss 11x17.jpg



Nothing Has Been Done Before Has a Website

I created a website full of resources for my new book, Nothing Has Been Done Before: Seeking the New in 21st Century American Literature. Go here and bookmark:


The site includes audio and visual, a complete discography, outtakes, and more. Those resources won't update much--though I'm still building the annotations for the discography--but I'll update it with news, reviews, and the like.

Posted on November 15, 2017 and filed under News, Music Criticism.

Protomartyr at PopMatters

My latest column at PopMatters concerns the great band Protomartyr, from its first album to its latest, Relatives in Descent. Here's an excerpt:

Relatives in Descent is, musically, a more contemplative and less full-throttle Protomartyr album than the three which precede it. I almost wrote "intellectual", which in some circles -- (some) punk, pop country, the Republican party -- is an insult, but the thing with Protomartyr is that while its songs are thoughtful and smart, moments of knowledge and revelation are never presented as victories. They have no social effect, no obvious private effect.

Casey frequently refers to concepts, for instance. Places and names from antiquity. In "A Private Understanding", the opener of Relatives in Descent, he compares himself to Heraclitus the Obscure, who wrote that a thing may stay what it is by changing. If you think this is just some smart-guy posturing, congratulations, you're on the side that's winning—and that's the point. These are not even Pyrrhic victories. As much as these antique nuggets are metaphorical and narrative structures for Casey's lyrics, the way he positions and sings them betrays that today they have no special meaning in the great contemporary soup of information even if they should happen to float to the top.

Go here to read it.


Posted on November 15, 2017 and filed under Music Criticism, News.

The Latest: Shake It Up and Twin Peaks

A day late and a dollar short, as usual, but here we go:

My review of the rock 'n' pop writing anthology SHAKE IT UP is live at Los Angeles Review of Books, one of my favorite sites for criticism. A lot of leftovers from this one which I hope to get posted here in an "Extended Thoughts" section.

Also, my latest column is up at PopMatters. This one takes a look at the new season of TWIN PEAKS through Lynch's use of the episode-ending musical performances and my pathological need to imagine these musicians as local to Twin Peaks.

More updates coming soon on Nothing Has Been Done Before, out this November.

Posted on September 12, 2017 and filed under News, Music Criticism.

The Latest: An Interview with Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs

I had the great fortune to interview Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs last month for PopMatters. I don't conduct interviews very often, but as a Whigs fan since 1994, I jumped at the chance. It came a difficult time for Dulli and everyone in the Whigs/Twilight Singers extended family--it's explained in the article--so I really appreciate his time and generosity.

You can read the interview here.

You'll notice an extended discussion of Prince during which I bring up the relationship between Prince's "Housequake" beat and the Afghan Whigs' "Going to Town." Here, then, for your consideration:

This version of "Going to Town" drops in a bit of "Le Grind" from Prince's The Black Album courtesy of Shawn Smith.

Posted on August 8, 2017 and filed under News, Music Criticism.