A plea for the gatekeepers of yore.
It’s more than a bit dismissive of some of his points to declare this conservative reactionary nonsense, but it’s about as far removed from my lived experience with music that it might as well be in Russian. Then again, I’m not a music writer trying to live in a world where bands “hustle” in a multivariate mediaverse because of the 800lb elephant he ignores – people don’t buy music like they used to, and the barriers to entry have fallen or split into dozens of tiny pieces.
I’ve seen a similar notion pop up about the creation of a trans-national musical monoculture (the favorite term of the nattering nabobs of the fearful future) or some such rot, simply because the world we live in is different than the one most of us (meaning post 25-year-olds) grew up in. I am convinced that this is a kind of romanticism, and not just the old cultural cachet of being in the know (the “firsties” of the end of the 20th century), but of a slower media environment. When finding things was more deliberate, perhaps, or at least more easily digested.
That said, a slower pace is not unavoidable. All it requires is a little bit of effort. And more to the point, Robert Christgau invented Twitter-snark decades before the kids who made Twitter existed.
Richard D. James Album [Elektra, 1996]
Jungle sure has livelied up this prematurely ambient postdance snoozemeister. His latest synth tunes are infested with hypertime electrobeats that compel the tunes themselves to get a move on. And where once he settled for austere classical aura, now he cuts big whiffs of 19th-century cheese. He even sings. Hey, fella–I hear Martha Wash needs work. B+
I also like to throw the occasional stone at The Quietus, if only because their Britishness is often overwhelming in a way that makes me feel slightly punchy*, but this particular essay is mostly true. I have no stake in what happens to hip hop as it wallows in its hair metal denouement, but autotune and dancehall seem like a perfect match to me.
My own version of that article would skip AutoTune and jump directly into British rappers, as in “No Brits – and perhaps no Europeans – should ever rap in public.”
The sidebar would be a transcript of a prank call to The Spaceape asking how many shillings a year he gets paid to mumble about his grocery bills. (I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all but holy mother of fuck is he ever a musical shit midas.)
* As in “wanting to punch something”, not tired. But if you needed an indie rock and pop and a little bit of whatever source to read on the internet, you’d be hard pressed to do better than they.
A small part of the problem is a design flaw – the stock earbuds that come with any player are going to be shitty. They never fit anyone’s ears properly, so there’s always going to be leakage.
The larger issue is that people desire a cocoon. It’s a bit like the bass car issue, but in the opposite direction. The bass car is meant to attract attention, to say “I live with my mom and am probably a rapist.” A poem written in shitty music by shitty people.
The loud earbud issue is about isolation. If I cannot hear the world, it ceases to exist, at least until it’s time to get off the train. Whether this is a desire for a contemplative space in a hurried, secular world or simply wanting to drown out the hundreds of people who are also pretending that no one else is on the train…well, that is for each seeker to decide on their own. What it does mean is that you end up hearing a lot of cymbals. It’s also a bit of a blow against ethnic stereotyping, as (what sounds to be) cock rock is beloved by people of all races. When did that happen? Why did that happen? Continue reading
This was easily the best tax day I’ve spent in a long time. Of course, I file months ahead of time to keep ahead of the voluntary taxation trainwrecking machine we call the Federal Government, but I am unusually paranoid about such things. Though I cast a very dim view toward the “tax amnesty” types and their scams/religious crusades, I do understand the crucible in which their fear/joyful mania is forged. Continue reading