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Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010
As I channel my inner Fox Mulder, I should be clear that I don’t see any conspiracies here. However, I do read the When-Drew-Met-Canning narrative sketched by so many of us in the blogosphere, whether intentionally or not, as a controlling cover-up that restricts attention to the boundless spontaneity that is, in many ways, the most compelling feature of Broken Social Scene’s music and legacy.

Depending on which version of the story you trust—and part of Broken Social Scene’s charm is that there are so many different versions of the story—the band began as either a deliberate joint venture between Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning, or it was something that evolved (and continues to evolve) spontaneously and with little premeditation.  Given that the buzz surrounding the group’s two major releases since You Forgot It in People (2002) has had at least as much to do with how many new members have been pulled into the fray of the band’s activity as it has had to do with their music, it’s pretty evident that the consensus leans toward spontaneity—the idea that the group is a democratic collective, one in which new musical directions are always embraced and where the central creative force driving the band is always spreading out and enveloping each member, new or old, equally.  Everything’s communal, in short.


This is an appealing narrative, no doubt.  And if I’m being honest, I approach it much like the venerable Agent Fox Mulder: I want to believe.  The problem is that the very same media outlets that have lent a hand in writing this narrative have simultaneously, and somewhat paradoxically, emphasized the opposite—the notion that BSS is in many ways not the sum of its assorted parts but is rather the creative vision, primarily, of its two founding members.  Though this conclusion might not seem particularly profound, it is one worth examining (especially in light of the praise for the band’s latest release, Forgiveness Rock Record) because it is necessary to consider the limitations that the narratives we ascribe to the band poses for it, if not for its fans as well.


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Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010

“Oo You” opens side B of the McCartney album, and despite the fact that it is such a great, bluesy little rocker, it isn’t discussed much. Strangely, I can’t seem to find any evidence that McCartney has ever performed it live. When searching for information on “Oo You”, sometimes you come up with things about the Beatles working on it together. While some of the songs on McCartney started out as Beatle jams, whatever you hear about this being one of those songs comes from mere speculation. In 2005 a online music store came up with the idea to make the album that the Beatles would have made if they stayed together. Part of this ensemble of covers and Beatles’ Anthology tracks was a brief interpretation of “Oo You”. That is where those rumors of it originally being recorded by the group come from.


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Tuesday, Jul 13, 2010
Dreadzone drummer and founder Greg Dread talks to PopMatters about his group's new album Eye on the Horizon, the merits of all of his bandmates, and benefits and downsides of making music in the digital age.

Probably one of the hardest-working bands around, Dreadzone have been cutting records for nearly two decades now, forging a path as one of the more trusted names in dub-rock to emerge on British soil.  After a number of experiments in club-land sonics (namely, the dub-trance of Biological Radio and Once Upon a Time’s rave-rock hip hop), the band turns their attention toward the call of radio and opt this time for what is as close to a pop record that the Dreads can make. Eye on the Horizon is an album aimed at both the head and the feet, and Greg Roberts (AKA Greg Dread - founder and drummer) talks about Dreadzone’s approach on their latest offering.


PopMatters: Upon hearing the new Dreadzone album, there is an obvious shift toward pop-oriented structures. That is to say, the album seems to feature more “songs”, rather than “clubbers”. More emphasis lies in the instrumentation, rather than experimentations in loops/backing tracks/breaks etc. I could almost say that the music belies elements of orchestral pop, without it being exactly “orchestral”. Talk about the approach you took in making “pop” songs (if you at all agree with this assessment). What informed this new sense of direction and why at this point in your career, when you could have easily made a “pop” album earlier?


Greg Dread: Good question; it sounds like you have really understood this record.  It is much more “pop” though in our own individual way with our rhythm and sound giving it an edge. The songs are our way of expressing the feeling from the last few years of losing people close to us, along with our desire to grow as songwriters. also we have gone beyond being a dance group with guest vocals, we have our own identity and voice and find it easier to channel those ideas after such a time. I don’t think we could have made a “pop” record before although Second Light had hooks that came naturally and people picked up on it. After all what is pop ... popular, reaching out a wider audience. We have a vibe we want to share with many people, and why not. ..this album is very much about expression through words and melody; a lot of dance-orientated groups throw vocal hooks on but miss out on a strong identity. I am kind of determined to make people recognise us for our tunes and not just as “dub dance festival band”. There are only so many times that we can reinvent the dub-meets-dance blueprint. It’s all about the song, for this album at least.


Tagged as: dreadzone
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Monday, Jul 12, 2010
An album is purchased (via in a store or online) and is quickly ripped to your iPod. Does this practice make it harder for an album to grow on a listener? Or is the iPod just forcing us to become more disciplined listeners?

Right now, Beach House’s Teen Dream is my favorite album of the year. The Baltimore duo has crafted a phenomenal arrangement of baroque pop. Sadly, I’ve only listened to it three times. The National’s High Violent is another great album, but since purchasing the album, I’ve only listened to it once. One major reason was because I listened to it repeatedly when it was available for streaming weeks before the release.


I shouldn’t feel guilty for voting an album “one of the best of the year” and then watch it collect dust. After all, people have no problem dubbing a movie or book as the best they’ve seen or read this year after a single viewing or reading. But it seems that music is the only major form of pop culture that requires an unspoken demand that an album be absorbed multiple times before dubbing it “the best” of the year.


Tagged as: albums, ipod, ipod shuffle
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Friday, Jul 9, 2010

Side A of McCartney closes with “Man We Was Lonely”, which was the first song that both Paul and his wife, Linda, wrote together and sang together as a duet. In a way, it is a precursor to Wings. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it is about the pair’s true feelings for each other, being that the two could be considered lonely before they got together. When they first started dating, Linda was a recent divorcee and Paul’s long-term relationship with actress Jane Asher had just ended.


Regardless of the song’s meaning, Paul admitted in 1970 that it was one of the last songs recorded for the album. He and Linda wrote the chorus while in bed the morning of the day it was recorded. Later that afternoon, they wrote the middle part. The background is made up of a bass drum and three different guitars, all played by Paul and tracked on together later. As for the song’s unique steel guitar sound, Paul revealed that he created it by playing his Telecaster “with a drum peg”.


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