Tag Archives: Music & Popular Culture

Burning down the (empty) house

– Carolina’s got no culture ’til the mushrooms kick in…

Doco burned the house down last night. Unfortunately, nobody was in it at the time.

The house, in this case, was the Little Bear in Evergreen, CO, a well-respected venue that hosts everything from local mainstays to up-and-comers to significant national acts. And Doco is a band we’ve mentioned before here: Trevor (guitar, vox) and Josh (bass) Booth are the sons of our colleague Jim Booth, and they’re one of the most talented young acts you’re likely to run across.

But any young band trying to put a dent in the market knows nights like last night. Read more

Democracy & Elitism 4: equality, opportunity and leveling up the playing field

Pulitzer- and Emmy-winner William Henry‘s famous polemic, In Defense of Elitism (1994), argues that societies can be ranked along a spectrum with “egalitarianism” on one end and “elitism” on the other. He concludes that America, to its detriment, has slid too far in the direction of egalitarianism, and in the process that it has abandoned the elitist impulse that made it great (and that is necessary for any great culture). While Henry’s analysis is flawed in spots (and, thanks to the excesses of the Bush years, there are some other places that could use updating), he brilliantly succeeds in his ultimate goal: crank-starting a much-needed debate about the proper place of elitism in a “democratic” society.

Along the way he spends a good deal of time defining what he means by “egalitarianism” and “elitism.” Read more

The Best CDs of 2009, pt. 3: the Super-Platinum LPs

In Part 1 we noted that 2009 had produced some really good music. In Part 2 we explained that the past year had given us some really great music. Today, though, we take an unprecedented step, because a few of the platinum-level releases from 2k9 were simply a cut above the rest, necessitating the creation of a Super-Platinum LP award. But that’s okay – if artists keep cranking out more exceptional music than we have categories to deal with, we’ll keep inventing new ways of honoring their efforts.

IAMXKingdom Of Welcome Addiction
Darkness? Yeah, Chris Corner knows a thing or two about darkness, and in Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction he’s kind enough to escort us through a blasted, perversely alluring landscape of addiction, lust, self-loathing, sexual degeneracy, spiritual poverty and alienation that’s about as dark as it gets. And the landscape is distinctly British in a way that recalls perhaps the greatest portrait of England ever painted, TS Eliot’s The Waste Land. Read more

The Best CDs of 2009, pt. 2: the Platinum LPs

Best-CDs-of-2k9In Part 1 we had a look at some very good 2009 releases, and in other years some of those CDs might have made a run at a Platinum LP. As I said, though, this was maybe the best year for new music since Jimmy Carter was president. So please, give these recipients of the S&R/Lullaby Pit Platinum LP a listen.

The Platinum LPs

Antony & the JohnsonsThe Crying Light
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of in-between where Antony Hegarty is concerned. Listeners either get it or they don’t, and while I’m in the “he’s brilliant” camp, I do understand why some find his music hard to access. In a nutshell, it’s probably some of the most painful stuff I’ve ever heard – pure, distilled essence of anguish at times. Read more

Saturday Video Roundup: Gossip

Meet one of my favorite new discoveries of 2k9 – Gossip. I’m still trying to parse everything that’s going on here – seriously, they’re described as “punk,” which they certainly are, but they’re also maybe the best indie party dance band I’ve heard since The B-52s. I’d never have thought you could slam everything from The BellRays to Paula Abdul to Kate Pierson to Yaz to Duffy together and make it work. But somehow, that’s exactly what Beth Ditto and company have done.

Expect to hear more when my year-end “Best CDs of 2009” list drops here in a couple of weeks.

From their 2009 release, Music for Men, this is “Heavy Cross.”

Read more

TunesDay: scary monsters

When we think about Halloween and art, we sort of automatically think of film. And why not. We have a decades-long library of movies designed to scare the pants off us. But there are some bands out there working the shadows with their music, as well. While it’s unfair to dismiss so many talented artists as Halloween acts – because talented and unconventional is cool 24/7/365 – it’s also true that during this week the veil between the mundane and arcane grows thin.

So, to help you prepare your playlist, here are some of our scary music favorites.

First, from Toronto, one of the absolute best darkpop bands in the world, The Birthday Massacre. This is their video for “Blue”: Read more

In praise of young girls, in defense of Roman Polanski

Child rapist Roman Polanski has been apprehended in Switzerland. Read all about it.

Outrage is palpable – on both sides. Yes, there are two sides. In addition to the “hang the pedophile” side, there’s the – if I might repurpose Wilde here – unspeakable in defense of the unconscionable crowd. Hey, lighten up folks. It’s not like the guy was a priest or anything.

Anyway, those in the hang-the-pedophile camp are offering up as aggravating evidence some wild shit Polanski said back in 1979.

“If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls. Everyone wants to fuck young girls!”

Appalling. Just disgusting, isn’t it? Read more

TunesDay: Go West, young man

You may not have heard of Adam Marsland. You may not have heard of his former band, Cockeyed Ghost. But as we’ve tried to demonstrate, time and time again, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Radio is a wasteland, the RIAA is waging a toxic war on the artist, and the explosion of media and Internet channels has so fractured and nichified the listening audience that the Second Coming of The Beatles probably wouldn’t be noticed by more than a few hundred people. Upshot: there’s a lot of great music out there that you and I haven’t discovered yet (although I’m searching as hard as I can). Read more

Hip-hop jumps the shark

Specifically, hip-hop jumps the great white shark.

3OH!3 breaks into Top 10

Boulder-based duo hits #9 on Billboard charts

A local hip-hop duo whose members hail from Boulder have broken into the top 10 on the charts.

Boulder natives Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte make up 3OH!3, and their single “Don’t Trust Me,” this week hit No. 9 on Billboard’s “Hot 100,” up from the No. 13 spot it held last week. The single has been on the charts for 21 weeks.

Yes, folks, the genre spawned by inner city black culture has now been taken over by kids from the whitest place in America, Boulder, Colorado. Don’t get me wrong – Boulder is a beautiful city and I have nothing against white people. Some of my best friends are white. In fact, white people love me. Read more

Duh of the Day

People say the funniest things.

In the latest Lefsetz Letter, Bob Lefsetz, incredulous at how little play the new Antony & the Johnsons disc has gotten in the US, wonders:

Are Europeans just that more sophisticated, or does radio suck just that badly in the U.S?

I can’t speculate on the first part of the question, although I have some suspicions.

Regarding the portion after the comma, I can only guess that this is one of them “rhetorical” questions I’ve been hearing about.

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