6.27.2006

Revenge of the Nerds?
Yes, it's true. Two of the world's richest men admit that free market capitalism is incapable of doing anything about poverty.

My quick Intonation festival top five:

1. Blue Cheer, not the original guitarist but I sure couldn't tell. They might have relaxed the tempo on a few tunes but were otherwise powerful, charismatic and real... which couldn't really be said of any of the other live acts.

2. Lupe Fiasco, skateboarders on stage, more paranoia about people downloading or recording his tracks, but he has a vibe and some pretty catchy tunes... okay, really just "Kick Push" but he was on.

3. Free-flowing 312.

4. the poster tent... I'm really into those skill-screened rock posters, even though I think it's hard to find one that both looks good and has good bands on it. I have a small collection that I have carefully unstapled from boarded-up walls on Division Street. There was a nice Tristeza poster but I can't even remember who that is. There was a killer screen for a Sonic Youth show in 2002 that I actually went to. But Sonic Youth?

5. The BBC fake Masterpiece Theatre tent. Guerrilla marketing can be annoying, but I really want to go in this tent and play pool, I just didn't quite drink enough to do that.

6. MSTRKRFT and Jordan spinning on Friday night at Smartbar with tons of sticky, nasty people dancing like some kind of futuristic pagan tribe.

6.18.2006

Strummer in 20/20
I gave a certain magazine editor a hard time a few years back for publishing an inaccurate bio piece on Joe Strummer. I knew that Strummer wasn't "working-class" as he was repeatedly described in the piece. The ed's excuse was "the writer has a lot of experience" or something like that, and "we don't pay our writers." Nice. Anyway, I was recently vindicated in a big way in Mojo magazine, which really got to the heart of the Strummer land of make-believe and even gave us the lowdown on Cut the Crap, that weird Clash album with the drum machine that I bought on cassette the day it came out. Crap was crappy, but it primed me for B.A.D. whom I still really like. The magazine with the shoddy fact checking and lots of freak folk in it still exists.

6.02.2006

A lot of stoner rock out there is bullshit, but I'm really digging on Danava, coming to Chicago in July.
Frere-Jones is the crunkest member of the Magnetic Fields
I think he's on fertile ground in this piece on why recent British pop (or indie) exports don't often connect with mass American audiences, but I'm not sure what it is. He seems to say (let's infer) that a puritanical American music biz can't handle the social realism of songs about prostitutes, certainly a stretch. He cites examples of inoffensive, upifting fluff like James Blunt that has gone into the charts. Thankfully, he doesn't mention the Spice Girls, even once. Is he saying that Americans prefer uplifting fluff? When I was living the UK (early 90s), uplifting, schmaltzy fluff was all you heard on the radio. The Brit indie scene was ace but in retreat and post-grunge dominated the music press, except for Suede who laid a lot of the groundwork for the resurgence Britpop.

What he doesn't get into wondering is why are some American bands able to go over to the UK, get big (so quickly) and use that as a launching pad for US success while others seem to fall flat in the UK. I'm not sure I have an answer. I do have some anecdotal knowledge of how the British music industry sometimes worked in the ’90s which might be a contributing factor. At least one band I know had their label pay off a British music journalist to write glowing profiles of the group before its UK tour. Voila... a cheap investment produces a five year career! Does it still work that or did it ever? I have no idea. Can anyone explain Adam Green for me?

Another thread to be explored is the government programmed radio angle. The BBC has only a few channels and manages to expose a massive amount of people to a wide variety of music and styles often programmed by experts and actual DJs rather than commericial-funded corporate monoliths. Why do British people give a shit about dance music, for instance? On the other hand, why has commercial hip-hop failed to get a foothold in the UK? Traditionally, the music press in the UK has more influence, but radio also matters more there than it does here. Man, I'm rambling...