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Books

'Switched on Pop' Schools the Academy

The first book from Switched on Pop hosts Charlie Harding and Nate Sloan leans into the podcast's academic tendencies, as it makes the case for music fans to take all music a bit more seriously.

Recent
Books

'Playing Changes' and the Enduring Strength of Jazz

Nate Chinen's treatise on the subject of jazz in the 21st century, Playing Changes, is erudite, passionate, and downright inspiring.

Music

Aretha Franklin: Context, Intersectionality, and the Rock Canon

Viewing Aretha Franklin's work through a focus on race, gender, and other categories of analysis can challenge us to do the same with all music, acknowledging how multiple points of oppression and privilege impact the production, consumption, and reception of a wide range of music.

Books

Robert Christgau's 'Is It Still Good to Ya?'

Robert Christgau is the rare critic who can write insightfully and passionately about a sweaty performance by a popular Congolese soukous band and a magisterial show by Senegal's Youssou N'Dour. That magic is captured in his latest anthology, Is It Still Good to Ya?

Music

Reactionary Rockism: The Dangerous Obsession with "Authenticity" in Indie Rock

We should take seriously indie rock trends driven by nostalgia— the revival of white rock forms, the whitewashing of disco and yacht rock, and the rise of normcore—as what they are: conservative gestures flying under the radar in a climate of poptimist reappraisal.

Reviews

Where Does Kanye West's 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy' Stand in the Canon?

Kirk Walker Graves' mix of fanboy marvel and critical detachment will convince even Kanye West detractors to give My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a close listen.

Music

Pronounced Dead: The Art of Cultural Assassination

Two critical catfights are claiming to have buried art-forms which have shaped our civilisation for decades and centuries apiece. Are they entitled to do that?

Music

EMP's Pop Conference Goes Mobile and Returns Home

In its 13th year, the Pop Conference offered more exciting ideas about music and mobility than you could shake a walking stick at.

Music

Jody Rosen vs. Ted Gioia, and the Advent of New Fogeyism

Ted Gioia's piece "Music Criticism Has Degenerated Into Lifestyle Reporting" spread like wildfire, and Jody Rosen's response was equally compelling. While the debate rages on, these two critical titans are highlighting a changing of the critical guard that is happening slowly and begrudgingly.

Music

The Year of the Overnight Release: How Much Time Should a Critic Get?

Given the anticipation level and lack of pre-release availability, Yeezus offered a perfect test case for the nagging question: How has the model of digital media changed the amount of time music critics spend with the records they’re assessing?

Books

On James Wolcott's Engaging, Irritating, Snarky and Insightful Criticisms

In Critical Mass James Wolcott directs us to the intellectuals, entertainers, performers, and/or celebrities who have graced, cursed, or captivated him ever since he quit Frostburg State and hit Woody's Manhattan.

Books

'Conversations with Greil Marcus' Are Not Conversations About Greil Marcus

This is Greil Marcus: he views the end of the ’60s and the start of the ’70s through the changing aesthetics of the Rolling Stones, and offers his most tender response when asked about, in this case, Elvis. But when asked about himself, he just shuts down.

Music

Textbook Oppositions and Alternatives: Re-Thinking the Role of Race in '60s Rock and Soul Music

Black rock musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, and Arthur Lee (Love), as well as white soul musicians in the racially integrated bands playing on recordings of singers like Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett, existed during the '60s. So why is rock and soul so black and white?

Josh Friedberg
Music

How Close Is Too Close? One Music Writer Considers Where to Draw the Line

Why do we write about music? Why do we try to surround ourselves with people who either share that love or are at the very least part of the reason we feel the way we do? And why, if we sincerely love when those lines cross, can't we do something about it?

Music

Accentuate the Positive: Why Music Critics Write So Many Favorable Reviews

The author is expected to not only justify the album’s existence, but to justify the need to write about it in the first place. Is it any wonder then that such an intensely personal (and often defensive) writing tends to veer towards positivism?

Music

"A Fanatical Fan with Fanatical Opinions": An Interview with Jim DeRogatis

Noted pop music critic Jim DeRogatis discusses much with PopMatters, including getting into fights with Wayne Coyne, why Lou Reed is frustrating to talk to, and why Lollapalooza is Wal-Mart ...

Books

Rush: Rock Music and the Middle Class -- Dreaming in Middletown by Chris McDonald

If, like me, you’re a plebe who doesn’t go in for this sort of analysis, go listen to Permanent Waves.

Books

Coltrane: The Story of a Sound by Ben Ratliff

Story of a Sound isn't just the story of a sound. It's a piece of jazz criticism that passionately questions and enhances the role of jazz criticism.

Chris Vognar
Books

The Boy Who Cried Freebird by Mitch Myers

Despite reading like a book set on random, Myers is a fantastic writer with a great ear for rhythm.

Jodie Janella Keith
Books

Inside the Music of Brian Wilson by Philip Lambert

It's the ultimate in the band A = band B + band C style of music criticism, and it grows old quickly.

Adam Bunch
Music

Who Owns What?: Engaging the Fog of Hip-Hop

How do the "artist" and "critic" reconcile each other's presence? How literally must one walk this way in order to talk that way?

Music

"My Tastes Don't Evolve; They Broaden": An Interview with Robert Christgau

At a transitional moment in his career, one of pop music's best-known and most-respected critics talks about the changes in culture, academia, and journalism.

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