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Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012
The music industry seems to be aggressively reactive, either spurning technology with a kind of evangelical vehemence or taking far too long to figure out how to use technology to the advantage of all involved. Is it possible that the music business could learn something from the porn business?

Stereogum recently published an article discussing the difficulties that musicians have in receiving revenue from services like Spotify and Pandora. The piece provides a good overview of the larger problem while also linking to various other blog and Tumblr. posts that have taken up this very same question, so I won’t retrace those arguments here. (However, I will rather cantankerously point out that, once again, there is no real deconstructive work happening in these Deconstructing: [X] thinkpieces.)


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Thursday, Sep 13, 2012
I use music as a viable source of empowerment: it is capable of conjuring up words and concepts that are oblique, or pretentious, or all-too-easily invoked, expedient for folks who ardently need a way to articulate the feeling they either can’t quite explain or desperately wish to get in touch with.

In a piece I recommend you read at The Rumpus, Amber Sparks, a non-believer, discusses matters of faith, spirituality, and art. The piece is entitled “Seeking Grace in Strange Places”, and I think that title is fine. I do find it curious, being a recalcitrant agnostic myself, that Sparks would consider writing (especially poetry) a “strange” place to seek grace. For at least two reasons. One, I think writing (in particular, art in general) is not only not a strange place, it’s the ideal place. Second, this sentiment presupposes (and I’m not deliberately picking on Sparks or even trying to quibble over semantics) that, say, a church is not a strange place. Indeed, one could counter, with minimal snark and maximum truth, that there are many things strange about looking for—much less hoping or claiming to find—grace, or God, in a building designated for that purpose. For starters, it’s a sanctioned endeavor, turning the transmission of spiritual release into an act approved by a professional, like taking medication that a doctor prescribed.


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Thursday, Jun 21, 2012
Really, do we need another article posted on the Internet that ponders the paradigm-shifting possibilities posed by that very same Internet? Right now, I’m just not sure that we do.

Writing for The A.V. Club in late March 2012, Scott Plagenhoef considered the potentially destructive effects of Tumblr on the creation and distribution of contemporary music.  “Is Internet culture turning musicians into content-producers?” his subtitle asks.


The article was interesting enough, but it left me unsettled for a few reasons, not the least of which was the question of when, exactly, musicians haven’t been “content-producers” in some shape or form.  However, what I found most troublesome about the post was the rather hackneyed claim that, yet again, the Internet has changed music forever.


Really, do we need another article posted on the Internet that ponders the paradigm-shifting possibilities posed by that very same Internet?  Right now, I’m just not sure that we do.


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Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012
At the Drive-In and Refused are both reuniting for high-profile (and high-paycheck) shows in 2012. What does this say about their legacy, or punk rock in general?

At this year’s Coachella festival, two of the best punk bands of the past 20 years will reunite. Refused and At the Drive-In, two bands that succeeded in breaking the “my skateboard is broken and so is my heart” mold that most punk during the last half of the 1990s fell into, will be performing reunion gigs for the first time in years, and people will probably lose their shit. Which is all well and good, but what does it say about the state of punk rock that nostalgia has suddenly become not only popular, but profitable?


At the Drive-In in particular never seemed like likely candidates for a grab-the-money-and-run reunion show. The band, whose live shows were the stuff of legend, famously dissolved on the verge of achieving mainstream success with its 2000 album Relationship of Command, splitting into the more punk-influenced Sparta and the so-prog-it-hurts Mars Volta. Mars Volta leaders Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala distanced themselves from ATDI as much as possible following the split, at one point deriding the group as “jock rock”. But here they are. And why? “We’re not getting any younger and there’s been an offer of money every year”, Rodriguez-Lopez told NME this month. “You can’t avoid that. You’d be a fool and politician to pretend that wasn’t part of it.”


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Wednesday, Jan 25, 2012
Etta James was memorialized before she died, and it illustrates a new and common plight among older artists.

Etta James died last Friday, and the outpouring of praise and tributes came as usual. That’s not to say she wasn’t deserving of the various titles that came up, like Jerry Wexler’s famous coronation “the greatest of all modern blues singers”. But for James, she’d been hearing it for a while, and for someone like her, it was quite a thing to be memorialized before she felt she was done.


Despite recording some of the most indelible, iconic R&B tracks of the 1950s and ‘60s, James never achieved the same level of fame or recognition that some of her peers did. She consistently charted on the R&B charts and remained a top concert draw, but crossover success eluded her; she never became an Aretha Franklin or Diana Ross. Not that her disposition and habits would have let her—James lost good portions of her career to her drug habit, and her forceful personality would prove as much a drawback as an asset.


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