Posts tagged #Music Criticism

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:

http://nothinghasbeendonebefore.com

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.

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.

Lana Del Rey's "Love" In a Time of Trump

My new music column is up at PopMatters today. It concerns pop chanteuse Lana Del Rey's recent single "Love" and listening to her use of nostalgia in a time of Trumpism. In many ways, this is a catching-up-with-things essay, and also very personal since it concerns, in part, my students at CCAD.

I should be back to a regular monthly schedule at PopMatters now that the book is handed in. (See the update below for more about that.)

Posted on April 3, 2017 and filed under Music Criticism, News.

Nothing Has Been Done Before To Be Published by Bloomsbury

So I can finally announce the big news I've been keeping hush-hush: Next fall, Bloomsbury will publish my book of music criticism! The working title is NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE. The book explores the concept of the "new" in American popular music since 2000 and argues for a different way of engaging with that idea, and with music in general. It is not a book about, so help me, "trend forecasting." It's an unorthodox take on what newness, innovation, and novelty mean in popular music in this very particular and peculiar culture of ours.

I've been working on this since late 2014. The book has changed considerably since then, and I expect it to keep changing over the next several months before I submit the manuscript. That includes the musicians I'm writing about, but to give you an idea, there's a chapter on Kanye West and there's a chapter on Gillian Welch. I'm hesitant to give away too much about the book, and frankly, I have a lot of work to do. I don't imagine I'll post much "process" work, but we'll see.

So for now, here's a photo of a stack of paper: the working draft. I got the official word on my birthday back in July and signed the contract soon after. This is the biggest thrill of my professional life, and while there are a lot of people to thank, I owe everything to the biggest thrill in my life: my soon-to-be wife, Jamie.

Posted on August 24, 2016 and filed under Music Criticism, News.

Summer of '16: Fantastic Negrito's "Working Poor"

My new column is up at PopMatters. It's one of those survey-the-land kinds of pieces, reflecting on where we're at as a country. Specifically it considers Fantastic Negrito's song "Working Poor" from his new album The Last Days of Oakland and what the song does--not just what it's about.

I want to clarify that my interest in and examination of working-class music does not mean that I think those who do not work, or can't work, are lesser citizens. As the Clinton campaign ramps up, it continues to spread the centrist gospel that working people just try harder than those who don't work, and that those who don't work don't deserve much, if any, regard because...well, the implication is that they're lazy. The rhetoric would never outright state this, of course; it's too verboten, too "tacky" and non-inclusive. But Clinton's neoliberal policies negate or obscure the systemic ways in which the poor are made poorer. This pretty much captures it:

The idea that only people who work full-time shouldn't have to live in poverty is disgusting to me. I don't want to contribute to that already pervasive perspective, and I plan to address this in a future column.

Posted on July 14, 2016 and filed under Music Criticism, News.

This Week's EP

Once again I'm trying to keep my pencil sharp by reviewing single tracks from wherever, whenever, most of it fairly new unless otherwise stated. This time around I'm calling it "This Week's EP" because the EP is a lovable form: brief, intense in its focus compared to an LP, but spacious enough for some noodling around. The idea is that the included songs would fit on an EP. If that means six songs, or two, so be it. The point is to write this off-the-cuff, no planning, typos okay, lots of semi-colons, perhaps.

The endeavor to create a weekly update, or even any kind of regular update, on this site has failed before, and I expect it to fail again.

Track 1. "Complicated," Fitz and The Tantrums, from their new self-titled album (Elektra/WMG)

The zenith/nadir of indie pop in the sense of highly compressed synth-crunch made with the "spirit" of indie-rebellion-something-or-other, this song, on the heels of the band's single "HandClap," reminds me of the white-collar bar near the Short North Market called Brothers, a meat market kind of place I wandered into once years ago and will never wander into again. "Kissing like a car crash" is a good lyric, though. My rating: three half-smoked cigarette butts on a sidewalk.

Posted on June 10, 2016 and filed under Music Criticism, This Week's EP.

Documenting The Life of Pablo

My latest column at PopMatters has posted. It's about Kanye West's new album, The Life of Pablo, and its evolving nature. I was reading a recent essay by the philosopher Boris Groys concerning contemporary art and the internet, and something clicked. West's constant revising of his album has been treated like a novelty, so I wanted to dig a little deeper into what's going on.

You can read Groys' essay, "The Truth of Art," at the art journal e-flux here. My thanks to Matt Mitchem, my CCAD colleague, for hipping me to it. I've been reading a lot of Groys lately for my book of music criticism; one of the challenges for that book, and this PM column, is to think through what he's saying about visual art in regards to music.

I regret I didn't write more about The Life of Pablo's actual tracks, but it just wasn't in the cards given my subject. Maybe in an expanded version, or here on my site.

Posted on April 4, 2016 and filed under Music Criticism.

Day Late, Dollar Short

If I'm not updating the website, it means I'm busy, which is good, right?

Continuing developments goin' on in the background, but here in the foreground, my PopMatters column from last month about Donald Trump and propaganda music.

May have some announcements coming up. Blind Engineer continues its work on the EP; we're getting close to finishing it.

Posted on March 30, 2016 and filed under Music Criticism.

Catching Up: Ties That Bind and More

My latest column at PopMatters is up: "Bruce Springsteen, 'The Ties That Bind,' the Working Class and Authenticity." Which pretty much explains what the column is about.

Also, I didn't post my previous column here. That one was part 2 of this series on working class music and focused on John Lennon's "Working Class Hero." Read it here.

In other news, The Blind Engineer went into the studio in early January. We came away with twelve songs recorded, five for an EP which is the top priority, the rest for a full album. With any luck they'll both be out in 2016. No titles yet.

A lot more going on behind the scenes but that's all the info for now.

 

Blind Engineer Shows and a Springsteen Review

The Blind Engineer has two shows coming up. I'm playing Friday Dec. 11 at the Mingo Town Music Acoustic Holiday Party, a five-hour extravaganza featuring pretty much all the artists on MTM: Harvest Kings, Heartbreak Orchestra, Devil Doves, Al Smyth's FBnCC, Apple Bottom Gang, Jake Follrod, and Jon Schaer. Eric and Jesse will join me, so it's a BE set without drums.

Next week we'll be heading down to Athens again to one of our favorite spots, Casa Nueva. Here's the show flyer, which is proof that I could never teach Photoshop or InDesign.

blindengineercasa1

Also, my review of the Bruce Springsteen box set The Ties That Bind is up at PopMatters. Had some leftovers from that but I'm saving them for the January column. The December column should be up sometime soon.