Latest Blog Posts

by Michael P. Irwin

19 Jul 2010

Countless sums of money are spent worldwide every year on advertising, constantly bombarding us everywhere we go. Whether it is on television, radio, in print, or online, every day we see ads that encourage us to buy one product or another. I do have to admit that every so often the pitch works, and I find myself spending money on something that I don’t really need, but that I do really want. I’m not talking about buying any of the products, though—I’m talking about buying the music that I’ve heard used in the commercials. Whether it’s a current hit or an old classic, advertisers have been using pop music in commercials for decades, and have been doing so more and more in recent years. 

One such instance that will forever stick in my head was the use of Van Halen’s “Right Now” in the ad campaign for Crystal Pepsi in the early 1990s. In fact, the commercial was even shot in a similar style to the music video, complete with the “Right now…” statements:

I really wasn’t a fan of Crystal Pepsi (or of Sammy Hagar-era Van Halen), but the two will be forever intertwined in my mind. Crystal Pepsi disappeared from the shelves in 1993, and I didn’t even get the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge album until a few months ago. However, there have been a few instances since then when hearing a song in a commercial has made me say to myself, “I need to find out who that band is and get their album immediately”.

by Joseph Fisher

16 Jul 2010

By now, the narrative surrounding the recording and ultimate release of William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops has become an integral, if little known, part of post-9/11 American musical history. Basinski, the story goes, was in the process of transferring tape loops that he had made in the 1980s to digital hard disk, when he noticed that the tapes were disintegrating during the process, irreparably altering the music as it was originally recorded and permanently capturing the sound of decaying magnetic tape. The added significance of all of this is a matter of context: Basinski was transferring these loops during August and September of 2001. As he was completing the recording sessions, the World Trade Center was attacked, and Basinski watched from his rooftop in Brooklyn, The Disintegration Loops playing in the background as the Twin Towers crumbled into ash right before his eyes

Given the uncanny drama of this timeline, it is quite difficult to separate The Disintegration Loops from 9/11, even though the original recordings were made 20 years prior to the attacks. If we want to be accurate in the way that we historicize this particular cultural artifact, then it might be necessary to prioritize the original context in which the Loops were made over the incidental context of September 11, 2001. However, such a move would be a misstep, because even though the loops were unintentionally produced in the fall of 2001, their composition—the way that they capture the process of decay—makes them, perhaps, the most significant representation of the political and cultural tensions of post-9/11 America.

by Paul Maher

15 Jul 2010

Hailing from Montreal, Canada, Plants and Animals creates an indefinable brand of music, thick slabs of aural slices coming at ya. Their sound is by turns identifiable and then, without warning, ready to pelt you with nuances of originality. They rely on old school technology, abiding by the surefire techniques of analog to simultaneously transcend and subvert the digital age.

They are wayfarers of the open road, taking their music to over 100 cities so far since their inception in 2008 with their first release, Parc Avenue. They are three: Warren C. Spicer, Matthew ‘the Woodman’ Woodley, and Nicolas Basque, who go all the way, back to their boyhood evolving to the present from an instrumental-based unit to now, masters of pop songs that make their point— more often than not in under four minutes. Paul Maher spoke to Plants and Animals own Matthew Woodley about the band’s latest release, La La Land.

by Joseph Fisher

14 Jul 2010

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.

by Jessy Krupa

14 Jul 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.

//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