Tag Archives: retromania

Carl’s Tuesday Musics: “Big Brown Eyes,” The Old 97s: Then and Later

The Old 97s at Local 506 in Chapel Hill, NC, July, 1997.

The Old 97s at Cactus Music, Houston, TX, Oct. 2010.

In Chicago this weekend I’m going to catch one of those “90s-band-plays-all-of-beloved-album” shows, in this case the veteran alt-country band The Old 97s, doing 1997’s Too Far to Care. It’s easy to feel embarrassed about attending these sorts of things. Nostalgia is so shame-ridden and uncool. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting some musical company as one grows old, or as I like to put it, “careens sidelong toward the grave.” Especially when the band isn’t re-forming as a cash grab but has remained a going concern. It’s no more embarrassing than pretending we’re still just as young, that time hasn’t passed, that we have no memories. So long as  wallowing in them is not all we do.

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Filed under carl wilson, music, Tuesday Musics

Tea With Chris: Bad Mirror

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Chris: This is kind of eerie. I like that his uniform appears to be pink, though.

“The deputy leader of Sunderland City Council said she hopes Margaret Thatcher ‘burns in hell’ on social networking site Facebook.” My dad’s hometown! “Social networking site Facebook”!

Send a suggestively blank email to Eileen Myles (well, okay, to her publisher) and she/they will give you something good.

Like Carl, I’m going to indulge in a bit of self-promotion: Godard films as R&B songs.

Carl: Quick! Today’s the last day Toronto artist Seth Scriver and Vancouver’s Shayne Ehman are raising money to make the second half of their autobiographical cartoon Asphalt Watches, about driving across Canada in sweaty-little-monster form. Check out the preview on Indie Gogo and I think you’ll agree you want to see the rest.

This syllabus is a very useful resource for any teacher who wants to address issues around the Occupy movement, or anyone who wants to do more independent reading on same. The course itself presents some interesting anthropological-pedagogical-political issues: The professor seems to be asking the students to take part in the movement for a grade. How would other activists feel about that? How about other teachers and students? I’m not against it – it’s not a mandatory course, after all. Just intrigued. Her argument: “As a class, we will have scrupulous contingency plans in place for each field visit, including buddy-systems, phone trees, and meeting places determined in advance. As a regular participant in the Occupy movement, however, I can say with absolute certainty that there is no foreseeable risk in teaching this as a field-based class. On the contrary, the risks of disengaged scholarship seem more profound.”

Dept of Self-Promotion: Ann Powers, Daphne Carr and I were asked to discuss Simon Reynolds’ much-praised Retromania book for a panel discussion on Bookforum. That was a couple of months ago, but the results just went up on the website this week. When we had the exchange it seemed like we were the only negative voices on the book (I also wrote about it on Slate last week). But now other dissenters are starting to surface, too.

Now, what kind of cultural recycling is this? “HI!! JACK! You’ll find your fortune in Chinatown! … Your love is broken into Five Easy Pieces!”

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Filed under carl wilson, chris randle, linkblogging, margaux williamson

Tea With Chris: You Don’t Need a Penis

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Carl: I’ve often made half-baked speculations about how younger people are listening to and relating to music, based on limited observations and guesswork, and often in front of people, sometimes for money. It apparently took a former scientist to go out and do some actual research. Her observations, while anecdotal, are intriguing and match things I’d suspected: that for teenagers period doesn’t quite exist any more. Music isn’t generational, and they listen to a lot of older music that they discover via video-game, TV and movie soundtracks, their parents’ collection, YouTube clips shared with friends, and whatever else they stumble across. Their interests are broader, I take it, than most kids’ were when I was that age. They just want to get a broad general knowledge, and what they prioritize is more personal than tribal. I was that sort of listener, in a lot of ways, at that age, but it was a minority approach that required a lot of reading and record-scouting prompted by having read about the blues or jazz or art rock and then searching for it. Now, the Internet has made it a natural approach.

The kids she talked to were becoming much more interested in staying abreast of new music around college age (and she’s in a college town so she can’t generalize about what non-college-bound late teens and early 20s kids are doing). And at no point does anybody listen closely to whole albums. Their listening is a much more impressionistic thing, usually while they are doing other things – texting and using the Internet in various other ways, primarily, plus socializing, doing homework etc. You could argue that in the music beginning to emerge from that generation, you hear both things – an awareness of styles from all kinds of eras, coexisting, layered on top of each other, and a vague fuzziness of attention, free-associating in a bath of sounds. You hear it across a range of genres. It’s so pervasive that I imagine there will be interesting reactions against it.

Prognosticating about musical directions is a futile game, but it’s been a while since there has been a zeitgeist to extrapolate from, so I’m indulging. As Simon Reynolds has been saying in interviews about his new (somewhat cranky-seeming) book, Retromania: “I think a bit of groupthink would be good. It happens in journalism. People are very reluctant to get behind each other’s ideas. I totally got behind David Keenan’s hypnagogic pop idea. I don’t care that he thought of it first; it’s a fantastic idea and I like some of that music a lot. But there’s much more ego value in taking the piss or criticising other people’s stuff. Actually joining together, unifying around things, no one seems to want to do that so much any more.”

Au contraire mon frere. I’m pretty happy with how this whole Polaris Long List thing came out, for example.

Also I have begun using this, which presumes that you want to listen to what other people are listening to, and it’s my favourite new way to hear music. Sometimes I even listen to whole albums.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that you don’t need a penis to disbelieve in God.

Chris: Count me as another person who’s happy with the 2011 Polaris Prize long list. I’m also happy that Spotting Deer, Michael DeForge’s most conceptual comic to date and maybe his best, is now freely available online. A reference text devoted to the titular made-up animal, it simultaneously documents the fictional author’s life-ruining obsession. Plus there’s good jokes about Canada. “Deer stand proud as stalwart champions of our most cherished national values: multigrain, diversity and volunteerism.”

Two circles filled with truth, via Maura.

Margaux: 5 million cheers for the Manal al-Sharif , the Saudi activist who posted to Youtube a videotape of herself driving her own car – an illegal activity for which she was jailed.  Today is the the official start date of the related campaign “Women2Drive”. I think it is going well.




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Filed under carl wilson, chris randle, linkblogging, margaux williamson