Call for Music Writers... Rock, Indie, Urban, Electronic, Americana, Metal, World and More

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Thursday, Nov 22, 2007
by Kai Bandele

While they aren’t the first to explore the notion of a formula for “cool”, marketing maverick, Noah Kerner and fashion visionary Gene Pressman, may have the most comprehensive analysis of the elusive subject to date. In their new book Chasing Cool, Kerner and Pressman take the reader on an insightful journey revealing the most fundamental reasons why some brands, companies, gadgets, ideas hit the “cool target”—while others fall drastically short. Making for a more colorful and poignant chronicle, nearly 100 celebrities and successful “brand-persons” are interviewed and the insight they provide is often simple, sometimes comical, but surprisingly almost always profound. Popular artists, retail chain managers, magazine editors, restaurant and nightclub owners, fashion designers, and more, give personal testimonies on how they are able to “stand out in a cluttered marketplace”.


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Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007

For those who see a thousand words in a single image, we recommend these two books:


Scrawled graffiti, crafted murals / bright ads in the windows of mom & pop stores, fake ads with real political commentary / sub-culture sleaze, pop culture sharp / fashions that last, fads that die / artists, assholes / sophisticated, down and low / serious danger, perceived fear / the quite silly, the deadly serious / the real thing, a riff on the real—all the expressions of life, expressive life, seen at street level in a scene captured in the eyeball/camera lens of a paid pro, a perceptive amateur—whatever—an astute observer no matter her/his status, no matter her/his location in the world, only the perception and the things captured matter. This is a gorgeous montage of hundreds of single images capturing thousands of stories, diverse and unified, clashing and blending—ignorant and aware, but the one with the lens knows. Those who get what I’m saying will ‘get’ this book.  It’s hefty.  It’s visual, it’s emotional, with some astute text for context.  The rest is up for interpretation.  Just like life, lived. [Amazon]


Street Art and the War on Terror: How the World’s Best Graffiti Artists Said NO to the Iraq War by Xavier Tapies [$35.00]

Graffiti of a political nature must be smart, pointed and fast—fast for the artist is on the run, fast enough to get the message through at a glance, and prepared for a fast death, as the piece may not be standing / may be covered over before the end of the day. Street level political commentary, anti-Iraq war particularly, is captured throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and the Far East in these pages, and its poignant stuff. The criteria for the “World’s Best Graffiti Artists” is not fame, although you’ll find Banksy and his ilk among these pages, but the ‘fastness’ of the message, if you will, the power in the punch. Plenty of “unknown” artists’ messages are included, here. Feel free to glance at the commentary for the works’ locale, at the minimum, and ignore the editors’ interpretation of an image for your own (again, I think the messages come through free and clear, without the static of such narration), or indulge in the brief commentary at your choosing. [Amazon]


 


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Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007

It’s one thing to simply read President Washington’s words as related through an intermediary, and quite another to hold in your hands a faithful recreation of his original letter—this experience significantly personalizes the history. McCullough bucks textbook compression of history, amplifying the legacy of towering historical figures by focusing on their uncertainties and doubts in a time when it seemed like the fledgling independence movement would be snuffed out in its cradle. A gorgeous, coffee-table friendly book, 1776: The Illustrated Edition is in fact abridged. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that McCullough has shirked his duty to the past by simplifying or compressing the truth, however. The historian has tightened the original text to provide room for an impressive array of images and illustrations that make the book a fascinatingly immersive trip back to the 18th century. [Amazon]


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Monday, Nov 19, 2007

Punk 365 by Holly George-Warren [$29.95]

Silent Pictures by Pat Graham [$22.95]

Coffee table books are always a good bet for that person who has everything. At least you can bet they already have a coffee table to put the books on. This season brings three excellent volumes spanning rock history from the 1960s up to the indie present. Lynn Goldsmith is a brand name in rock photography and this simply titled tome, Rock and Roll, begins simply with a 1964 snap of the Fab Four’s Cuban boot- heeled feet and ends with the 1980 John Lennon vigil following the Beatle’s assassination. In between, Goldsmith photographed every legend in the biz and branched out into blues, soul, and reggae, as well.  Mostly bypassing punk for rock and pop and then new wave, Goldsmith nevertheless documented decades worth of great musicians. For that punk dose, head on over to Punk 365, which features the shutter work of seminal talents like Bob Gruen, Roberta Bayley, and a dozen or more leading lights, as well as the fine writing of Holly George-Warren. Equally strong on documenting both UK and US punk, Punk 365 is chock full of classic and illuminating images. Meanwhile, for the indie obsessive hipster of today, Pat Graham brings us Silent Pictures, a collection documenting nearly 20 years of American indie musical history. From Fugazi to Ted Leo and Bikini Kill to Modest Mouse, the major touchstones are all mostly here and accounted for. [Amazon: Rock and Roll | Punk 365 | Silent Pictures]


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