Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Bookmark and Share
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
After talking to the band, it’s impossible to see how Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia was created. But it’s probably best that way.

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.

Bookmark and Share
Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014
Sound Affects examines the recent trend of musical acts gaining popularity from word-of-mouth documentaries, using the cases of Death, Big Star, Anvil, and Rodriguez.

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.

Bookmark and Share
Thursday, Feb 28, 2013
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.

“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?”

Bookmark and Share
Thursday, Jan 24, 2013
Blowback is a pop album for the ages because like any great pop effort, it's based in the pleasure principle, but here Tricky takes it completely seriously.

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.

Bookmark and Share
Thursday, Aug 30, 2012
For the longest time, I’d auto-choose Nirvana's In Utero over its catchier predecessor Nevermind. It’s not embarrassing I chose In Utero for so long. But what is embarrassing is how I reached that conclusion.

A funny thing has happened to me the last few years. I started believing Nirvana’s In Utero was a better album than Nevermind. This conclusion wasn’t based on pertinent study and compare/contrast models, though. Instead, it was beat into my brain through brutish peer pressure. Peer pressure so effective, I didn’t even know it was happening until it was too late. You have no idea how many people would say this stuff to me, as though it was some obvious truth everyone now accepts as Seattle gospel.

Now on PopMatters
PM Picks

© 1999-2014 All rights reserved.™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.