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by Jeffrey Thiessen

10 Nov 2014

I’ll let you in on a little secret in music journalism that may, or may not surprise you: the part of this job that allows us to interview the musicians we listen to ... not all that great. I’m not being facetious or whatever. When I first started getting published writing about music six years ago, it was certainly one of the main things I was looking forward to. Took a while before I finally got to talk to someone I legitimately enjoyed as a musician (Alex Patterson of the Orb, who in fairness, was quite interesting and a delight to converse with).

Having said that, the vast majority of my interviews provided nothing of interest. It was sort of a letdown at first—“How come all these people who make vastly interesting and compelling music are such duds to talk to?” Then I figured it out. They might be duds, but they might not be—an interview is rarely a good way to figure this out, because most musicians don’t care about creating an engaging interview. They instead are using the interviewer to plug whatever upcoming or recent release they have to publicly stand behind.

by Jeffrey Thiessen

20 May 2014

The Dandy Warhols have a history that seems to have been talked about more than absorbed. Their discography is spotty by anyone’s standards, and their currency was that of amplified apathy masquerading as something more meaningful or sincere, or at least cool.

I don’t know, do you know anyone that truly loves this band? I know people who dig on a song here or there. I know Igby Goes Down benefited greatly from their music. But they have put all their supporters and detractors in the same place: an annoying, somewhat painful purgatory that allows us much room to drift between applauding their strange, surprising beauty and their stuff that clearly exists and can be enjoyed by nobody except the Dandies. A band like the Dandy Warhols—hold on, I should drink a beer.

by Jeffrey Thiessen

19 Feb 2014

When you look at American imperialistic history, for some reason the common assumption is that country failed horribly in the Vietnam War and was embarrassed on many fronts. In hindsight, most US citizens may view it as a mistake and a failure, but that would be an incorrect way to look at it. A failure indicates an inability to reach goals set out prior to undertaking the mission, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

I won’t get into it in detail, since we aren’t a political site, but it’s pretty clear from internal documents the US wanted to squash Vietnamese nationalist movements in the peasantry, and that was mostly happening in South Vietnam, not North Vietnam as widely reported. Essentially the South was all but obliterated, destroying the entire region. Looking at basic criteria, the Vietnamese war wasn’t a fuck-up; it was a thriving success.

by Jeffrey Thiessen

28 Feb 2013

“So you’ll write an article that will make me sound pretentious and arty, and you know what?  I’m pretentious and arty. And I’m proud of it”.
—David Thomas of Pere Ubu

There are very few negative adjectives more brutally crippling than “pretentious”. Very few can whittle away any pleasure from that description, and it’s often the kiss of death word when analyzing anyone’s artistic work. Think about it. What sort of images does that word conjure up when you hear it? Since music is such a large part of this site, we’ll attack it from that angle. To me, I usually conclude it’s probably something totally devoid of anything fun, first and foremost. Long and meandering songs that don’t really go anywhere, full of lame sociopolitical/interpersonal messages that are of importance to no one except the creator. Something Robert Christgau would definitely drool over. Nothing you could really play in the presence of other people in the fear they would waste no time asking “What’s this shit?”

by Jeffrey Thiessen

24 Jan 2013

Blowback is widely considered by Tricky fans as a true low point in his wild discography. I know this because I’m a Tricky fan, and have been since he was with Massive Attack (didn’t give a shit about that Wild Bunch act though). For it to be considered his worst effort is a particularly significant criticism levelled at the Tricky kid, since his last couple of records were, for the most part, ineffectual garbage.

I never liked Blowback. I bought it the first day it came out, I listened to it that day, and then slowly started generating militant disdain for it. Motherfucking fluff, the whole lot of it, I reckoned. And I was right: it is a fluffy, breezy album. Sort of (we’ll get to that more later). But one must consider the source here. Through his first four offerings (yes, I’m counting the brilliant 1996 collab effort Nearly God), Tricky’s best moments stimulated an urgent and imaginative eclecticism that spread the values of rock ‘n’ roll even as it brought them to their knees.  At worst, he rationalized the notion of absolutely no cultural mobility, concerned much too intensely with the mutated psyche of being in a real place that is logically seen as hell by all those who inhabit it.

//Mixed media

NYFF 2017: 'Mudbound'

// Notes from the Road

"Dee Rees’ churning and melodramatic epic follows two families in 1940s Mississippi, one black and one white, and the wars they fight abroad and at home.

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