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by Jane Jansen Seymour

30 Nov 2010

Freekbass arrived at Moogfest in October with a different Headtronics trio than usual, which is just part of the footprint for the band. He’s a protégé of legendary funk bassist/singer/songwriter Bootsy Collins, and in Asheville, Freekbass was hanging out with another legend, the “Wizard of Woo” Bernie Worrell of P-Funk. DJ Spooky was enlisted to take the place of DJ Logic but this seemed perfect, since he’s the one who appeared in the Moog documentary along with Worrell. Every show is start to finish improv, all crazy funk with bass, electronic beats and keyboards—no matter who is playing the show.

Are you enjoying Moogfest? Is there anyone you want to see?

Oh yeah, definitely.  I want to actually see [DJ] Spooky’s own set. I’m also excited to see Dan Funk who is a Los Angeles DJ kind of musician and I love really where he’s coming from, his whole headspace and what he’s doing. So we’re just trying to squeeze in as much on this Halloween as we can, you know?

Tell me about your Funktronic sound.

Well we came up with that word.  There’s obviously the electronica music scene, which is huge, and then there’s the jam band scene.  So it’s combining that—a lot of people have been using “jamtronica” for a little bit. But we’re coming from the organic side, from a funk sensibility which is kind of where my roots are obviously. Bernie’s roots, that needs not to be said, and then you mix the electronic in with it too. We started playing a few shows and a little catchphrase started catching on—“funktronica—and I thought that’s a pretty cool word.  It seems to really match what we were doing.

by Corey Beasley

29 Nov 2010

“She was going with a cinematographer / Everyone knew that he was really a pornographer!” yelps Isaac Brock at the beginning of “Lounge (Closing Time)”. He’s always had an ear for verbal rhythms—ten years later, Johnny Marr would talk about the recording process for We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank and how Brock would belt out freestyle lyrics over the two men’s guitar sessions to astonishing effects. This natural talent for flow and rhythmical pyrotechnics shows itself in his musicianship as well, as “Lounge (Closing Time)” bounces along on the disco guitar stylings that Brock often uses to inject into his compositions a hip-shaking impulse that takes their visceral results to the next level. “I’ve got a girlfriend out / Of the city / I know / I like her, I think / She is pretty” he sings later, in flawless lockstep with his stuttering riff.

“Lounge (Closing Time)” can be seen as something of a sister song to a track on the band’s previous LP, This Is a Long Drive for Someone with Nothing to Think About, titled—simply—“Lounge”. Both employ those dance-inflected rhythms and jittery tension to tell tales of vaguely unsettling nighttime liaisons between Brock’s narrator and a woman, their rendezvous filtered through a general lens of drunken haziness and disturbed consciences. Both, too, begin hyperactively before slowing into extended down-tempo outros, the musical equivalent to the crash that comes after the drugs start to wear off. “They all went down and did the porcupine / And everybody was feeling high”, Brock sings with manic energy, before the line about his out-of-town girlfriend, the revelation of which brings the change in the song’s mood.

by Victor P. Corona

24 Nov 2010

With a mix of journalistic curiosity and slight bewilderment, various American and international news sites have reported that a course called “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of the Fame” will be taught next spring at the University of South Carolina. Taught by Mathieu Deflem, a tenured sociologist, the course will use discussions of the pop star’s music and sartorial flare to build his students’ “empirical knowledge of some of the most important social dimensions of fame as exemplified by the case of Lady Gaga”. According to the course website, students will read academic studies that include fundamental works in the sociology of pop music by Simon Frith and others, Elizabeth Currid’s The Warhol Economy, and my forthcoming article in the Journal of Popular Culture, “Memory, Monsters, and Lady Gaga”. Although a University of Virginia writing course called “Gaga for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity” also garnered substantial media attention, Deflem will likely offer a unique perspective. He also manages the website and even owns the studded cane and wheelchair used by Gaga during her blood-soaked 2009 MTV Video Music Awards performance.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

23 Nov 2010

Since 1999, the Octopus Project has been forging a new hybrid known as indietronica by happily expanding upon the quintessential rock quartet to include modern techno gizmos and vintage experimental gadgetry. Rarely relying on vocals to explain the soundscape, each member plays all sorts of instruments—even switching to another mid-song.  While at Moogfest in Ashville, North Carolina over Halloween weekend, the group was called upon to quickly learn a few Devo classics to play with Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerry Casale after Bob Mothersbaugh was injured. The very next day Toto Miranda plus married couple Josh and Yvonne Lambert sat down to catch their breath with PopMatters.

by Corey Beasley

22 Nov 2010

“Convenient Parking” (and its later sister song, “Trucker’s Atlas”) reveals The Lonesome Crowded West for what it is at its core: a driving album. The track’s repetitive lyrics, its constantly coiling tension, and its fixation on car culture place you behind the wheel on a long drive whether you’d like to be there or not. The song insistently threatens to explode into a caterwaul of unabashed rock, but it never does. It’s a sly play on Modest Mouse’s part, and it displays the attention to theme and cohesion they bring to every track on this record.

“Soon the chain reaction started in the parking lot”, Brock sings in an almost conversational tone, “Waiting to bleed onto the big streets / And bleed out onto the highways / And off to other cities / Built to store and sell these rocks / Well, weren’t you feeling real dirty sitting in your car, with nothing / Waiting to bleed onto the big streets…” And so goes the circular pattern of the verse, the type of lyrical looping that Brock often uses to great success. Fitting his lyrics into a groove, one that spins and spins on repeat, is just the right move when writing about the feeling of stagnation with which “Convenient Parking” concerns itself. Few lyricists pay such literary attention to how form reflects content, and Brock—for all his trucker sentiments—proves himself here to be a writer of real intellectualized merit.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

READ the article