Posts tagged #PopMatters

PopMatters Updates

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

ANYWAY:

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.

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.

The Latest: Algiers at PopMatters

My July column, "Algiers and the Political Structures of Noise," is up at PopMatters: read it here. I've been a fan of the band Algiers since their debut self-titled album. Nobody else sounds like they do: a bucketful of warm soul and cold techno-punk...or is it cold soul and warm techno-punk? Their fusion is utterly unique, so give The Underside of Power a listen if you haven't. There are no leftovers from this essay, or rather, the leftovers will be created now that it's done. For a good analysis of Jacques Attali's book Noise (referenced in the essay), check out this essay by Robin James at The New Inquiry.

Coming soon: an interview I conducted for PopMatters and a review of the rock writing anthology Shake It Up for LARB. Also, I'll be posting a little more about my forthcoming book.

Posted on July 17, 2017 and filed under Music Criticism, News.

Power Play: Brian Williams, Leonard Cohen, and "First We Take Manhattan"

My new column is up at PopMatters. Read it here. One of the more interesting discoveries in researching this piece was finding the videotaped interview from Toronto 1988 from which the prominent quote about "First We Take Manhattan" is taken. The quote from Part I of the interview that I included sheds a little light on the context of the more prominent quote, which is at the beginning of Part II. (Each is embedded in the PopMatters article.)

The fact that Cohen died the same week Trump was elected at first felt like some kind of cruel prank played on us by the universe. (He died on Monday, Nov. 7 but it wasn't announced until Nov. 10.) Here's the official video for "First We Take Manhattan."

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

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.

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.

PopMatters: The Flea-Market Music of the Felice Brothers

My new "Ties That Bind" column is up at PopMatters, this time around concerning The Felice Brothers' music which I lovingly think of as "flea-market music":

With the release of “Plunder”, there are now two new Felice Brothers singles in advance of the group’s forthcoming album, Life in the Dark. Both songs sound like they were made from a flea market. Not about a flea market, or at a flea market. From a flea market. Of it, born from it, cobbled together or fashioned from pearl-handled baby spoons, Amish clocks, weathered license plates, frayed copies of Life magazine, beat-up ukuleles, cigarette smoke, dried mud, and the lazy cacophony of hagglers, collectors, and weekend comedians. Neither song is dressed as kitsch or irony; they’re not dressed “as” anything. Each is simply the expendable, the boxed-up and unpacked, the well-handled, common, and priced-to-sell stuff of shopworn America that someone thinks ought to be worth something to somebody. And it is.

I was stuck on what to write about for a while, then heard "Aerosol Ball" and things clicked. "Plunder" came out while I was finishing the piece. Not much in the way of extended thoughts right now. It's all there.

Posted on June 15, 2016 and filed under Music Criticism, News, Reviews.

Extended Thoughts on Prince: Never Stop Arguing

When Prince passed away on April 21, I knew that my next column at PopMatters would be about him. That column, "Prince: Never Stop Arguing," is up now. Read it before reading any of what's below.

The problem was that I didn't know what to say. For me, trying to write about Prince has been like trying to walk around an ocean. Where do you even think about beginning? I've been a Prince fan since I was thirteen and first heard Purple Rain. As a young musician I was blown away by his talent, his soul, his ambition, his dedication. I traded for bootleg tapes. When my truck was broken into one night, I was more pissed about the thief taking my Paradiso live CD than I was about the shattered window. I've been trying to write about Prince for years, either for a PopMatters column or something else; I have a few stalled essays, one dating back to the album 3121, one as recent as last year.

Posted on May 16, 2016 and filed under Music Criticism, News.