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by Jason Gross

6 Aug 2008

So says the press release…. and yep I contributed before and I’d be proud to do so again.  They were a great, much-needed publication and we still need ‘em.

“Plans for a major overhaul of NoDepression.com—the website of the former bimonthly alternative/roots-music magazine No Depression—are well under way this summer, with the new site set to be launched in late September. NoDepression.com, which will be edited by the magazine’s founding co-editor Peter Blackstock, will include regular blogs by many of the magazine’s most frequent contributors, including Blackstock and fellow founding co-editor Grant Alden. The new site will also include record reviews and live reviews, features on emerging artists, news updates, the current website’s popular upcoming-releases list, reader-participant discussion forums—and, perhaps most significantly, a vast and cross-referenced archive featuring almost all the content from No Depression magazine’s 75 issues published from 1995 to 2008.

In preparation for the September relaunch, the website is promoting the No Depression Founders Circle, a way for fans
and supporters of the magazine to assist with its continued presence on the internet. In addition, those who sign up for the website’s mailing
list at NoDepression.com will be eligible to win an Epiphone DR-100 Vintage Sunburst acoustic guitar which has been provided by Epiphone.

New York-based web consulting firm Familiar is designing the site, with longtime No Depression co-publisher Kyla Fairchild helming the business operations. Plans are also in the works for a series of launch events in several American cities this fall.

A new No Depression “bookazine” (to be designated No Depression #76) also will be available in print-form on the shelves of bookstores nationwide in October. The publication, a joint venture between ND and the University of Texas Press, will be issued twice annually (every fall and spring). Blackstock and Alden will serve as co-editors, with Alden also reprising his magazine role as art director. A handful of book-release events at bookstores and record stores nationwide are also in the works.”

www.nodepression.com

by Jason Gross

6 Aug 2008

Maybe, as this New Music Box article says in a hopeful manner.  I don’t know if the traditionalists are still sanguine about the post-bop crowd and vice versa just yet (I don’t see the Vision Festival signed up at Lincoln Center just yet) but at least the article does point out that something of a détente is happening.

by Rob Horning

6 Aug 2008

Drawing on Rob Walker’s Buying In, philosophy professor Mark Kingwell, writing in the Toronto Globe and Mail, postulates the existence of the “exceptionality fallacy”:

Most people believe they themselves are immune from marketing tactics even as they note the sad susceptibility of other people. I tested the EF on myself and it held: I drink Starbucks coffee because it tastes good; you drink Tim Hortons because you have bought into nostalgia and sham nationalism. Now you try.


A corollary to this is the idea that advertisers are shrewdly trying to persuade us that we are smarter than they are and we can fully resist them—they advertise their own futility as a way to actually enhance their subtle power. (Thomas Frank explores this in The Conquest of Cool.) So it takes ads to persuade us that we are smarter than ads, and everyone else. Then we are in that vulnerable hubristic state when we are most open to being persuaded.

Kingwell notes the futility of trying to stay ahead of marketing in pursuit of authenticity: “You can do the dance of sideways dodges, trying to stay cooler than the cool-hunters, savvier than the savvy-trappers. But however you dodge, you are done, because they’re already inside your head.” I relate this to the problem of a good’s actual functionality serving as the ultimate self-deceiving ruse—it’s what permits the exceptionality fallacy. As Baudrillard argues in several different places, the “use value” of a good is just an alibi; it anchors our ploys for status through goods in a kind of objective-seeming authenticity. To use Kingwell’s example, I have to find ways of justifying my love for Starbucks in the product’s alleged superiority, so I don’t come across as a phony, mindlessly consuming a brand that has come to signify membership to the haute bourgeoisie that I want to belong to. My defense of its quality, even to myself, becomes a ploy in a larger game of trying to seem as though I’m not playing the identity game. Of course, I’m playing the identity game at a more self-deceptive level.

This becomes a spiraling process which makes it harder and harder for us to actually access the use value of something; we have to instead consume the idea of ourselves being the kind of person who would find this sort of good useful. It becomes impossible to taste the coffee qua coffee.

by PopMatters Staff

6 Aug 2008

Chandeliers
Mr. Electric [MP3] (from The Thrush releasing 14 October)
     

Apollo Sunshine
666: The Coming Of The New World Government [MP3]
     

Singing to the Earth (To Thank Her for You) [MP3]
     

Fleet Foxes
Blue Ridge Mountains (Live on Late Show With David Letterman) [Video]

The Crash
Big Ass Love [MP3]
     

The Dead Science
Make Mine Marvel [MP3]
     

Mark Berube
Flowers on the Stones [MP3]
     

Chairlift
Evident Utensil [MP3]
     

Against Me!
New Wave [Video]

by Jer Fairall

6 Aug 2008

Perhaps it is misleading that I am writing this under the banner of Pop Past, given that the band in question released their sole album less than one year ago, but it has nevertheless come to be sadly appropriate in the case of Georgie James. Principle members John Davis and Laura Burhenn quietly announced the band’s breakup on their website yesterday:

After three years, Georgie James is calling it a day. We’re proud of the album we made and everything else that we were able to do during our time together. We are both working on our respective solo projects (John’s can be found at www.myspace.com/titletracksdc and Laura’s at www.myspace.com/lauraburhenn) and hope to have albums out early next year. Thanks to everyone that helped our band over these past few years. And thanks to those who’ve listened to the music and come out to the shows. It is greatly appreciated. See you around soon.
—John and Laura/Georgie James

Their album, Places, was, to my ears, one of last year’s very best, a collection of infectious, gimmick-free pop songs that was astonishing, largely, for just how unassuming it was. Indie rock never seems to be at a loss for bands looking to evoke the virtues of classic rock and pop, but most of these acts are quick to reveal one particular musical fetish or another, whether it is for the iconic songwriting of Brian Wilson or Lennon/McCartney, or for the un-self-conscious maximalism of ‘70s glam pop. While recognizing the greatness of such celebrated retro-poppers as Sloan or the New Pornographers, or the playful Smiley Smile-esque innovations of the Elephant 6 collective, there is a level on which their music is as much about it’s very retro-ness as it is about the band’s own explorations of their craft.

Georgie James were instead much closer in spirit to such pop true believers as Aimee Mann and Matthew Sweet, crafting songs that sounded instantly timeless simply by virtue of never feeling the need to sound married to any particular era, past or present (the closest the band may have come to indulging in retro-ness was with their wispy cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “El Condor Pasa (If I Could)”, the b-side to single “Need Your Needs”). It was only when listening to this album the first few times through, trying to mentally contextualize it alongside what I assumed to be it’s contemporaries (Burhenn’s voice is not unlike Jenny Lewis’ and it would be all too easy to mistake Davis’ nasal rasp for A.C. Newman, and Places was released within a month of Rilo Kiley and New Pornographer’s 2007 offerings), that I realized that while I had heard countless albums in recent years that I had wanted to sound like this, I had heard very few that actually did sound like this this. Perhaps it was the casual nature of a project born out the experience of its players—most of whom are veterans of numerous other bands, with Davis having drummed in the spastic post-punk outfit Q and Not U—but Places had an assured ease that was rare for a debut album, fully capturing the spirit of falling in love with great pop music (how many albums contain an ode to the perfect pair of headphones?) while never seeking to be anything more than perfect melodic pop music itself. 

I was looking forward to hearing the next five or ten Georgie James albums, but whether it had any relevance to their dissolution or not, Places had the misfortune of debuting amid one of the more dazzlingly eclectic years for music in recent memory, only to become predictably lost in the shuffle. 2007 was a year in which even the most celebrated guitar-based indie bands—Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes, the New Pornographers again—found their latest albums being met with a relatively muted critical response as the music press found sustenance in the rich genre-bending sounds of Justice, M.I.A. and LCD Soundsystem, Radiohead’s groundbreaking distribution methods, the Kanye vs. Fiddy hullaballoo and the inescapable gravitational pull of a certain “Umbrella-ella-ella”. If Georgie James were admittedly too unflashy to gain even minor critical attention in such a dynamic year, Places will remain a would-be pop classic ripe for eventual rediscovery. Give it a belated listen today on your own pair of comfortable headphones.

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