Saturday, November 16, 2013

Slow week

So, yes, I've still been listening to a lot of music, and watching a lot of TV, and reading books, magazines and websites. But, nothing has truly stood out in a huge way for me- except a few things that have been better discussed elsewhere. Still, just for the record- I like Lily Allen's new single. Yes, she's a racist, but no more so than me- which is to say, as a white male, I don't hate black people, brown people, tan people, or whatever else you can to mention. No, I don't think of anyone as less than me- even the most stupid probably have a value to society that equals mine- but I cannot help but be a little bit racist in that I am still white, and as much as I oppose the culture I was raised in, I was still raised in it. So, yes, Lily Allen, too, is a racist, but I think racist in the cultural sense, not in the personal sense. That she lampoons stuff in hip hop culture says less about her beliefs than it does about the industry she's in- I am willing to bet that her production company wouldn't have touched the project if she didn't include twerking, gold chains, bling and rims. ( Do you really think Miley freakin' Cyrus discovered hip hop on her own? Madonna? Lily Allen? Don't you realize these people have a mountain of handlers, advisers, choreographers, managers, and assorted people around them who pretty much keep them in a total bubble?  We're far away from Elvis Costello making drunken racist remarks about Ray Charles, here. ) My only problem is Lily's unwillingness to really bite the hand that feeds- tell her fans to go to hell, and record a record of songs she both wrote, and performed on her own, without any concern over what will resonate with anyone else, and then we can talk about how hard it is.
I also will admit I like Chris Hardwick's new show @Midnight. I really have no defense for it. I know Hardwick is clearly an industry mole sent to exploit internet geekery, and that the pseudo game show is just a ruse to get us to watch yet another formatted clip show, complete with formulaic "outrage"- but you know what? It makes me laugh. Out loud, and embarrassingly so. So I'm not going to lie and say i hate it, because I really do enjoy it.
But, that's what happens, sometimes. Some weeks you end up just being a bit boring.  I'm not yet up to the task of making my trip to NL seem interesting, but know that I'm still on it...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

And if Passion ends in Fashion...

Yes, I have been away, and I bet you didn't notice. That's good. See, I write this stuff more for me than for you. I guess the best way to describe it is that I have a certain kind of arrogance. I truly believe that I have the best handle on my tastes of anyone in the world. I believe that I know what I like. So, following this conceit, I am writing, in blog form, the reviews and views I wish I was seeing everywhere, as if the world shared my excellent tastes. I know that the world, however, is slow to catch up to me, and is not yet ready to cater to my every whim. So, it's a sign of how very far advanced I have become that I can stop writing for a week or two, and no one is the wiser, because no one has caught up to me, yet.
Ok, ok, Archness  filters off- truthfully, I write this blog as a real "web- Log"- this is still more journal than journalism, so I'm amusing myself. However, if anyone is keeping track,  I have been away, off to the Netherlands. Not that I'm in the business of travel reviews, but while the country is still light years ahead of this dingy little backwater where I make my home, The Netherlands has nothing on Scandinavia. I'm dutch by birth, and so, dutch I will remain, but, if I could have my wishes, I'd be Scandinavian- Finn, Swede, Norwegian, or Dane, I think they've got the best overall culture on the planet, right now. That's not to say that we lowlanders have nothing to offer- I picked up a Triggerfinger T shirt and CD, replaced a dEUS CD, drank some great beer, saw the Van Gogh museum, and marvelled at the Dutch ingenuity with the turbines, windmills, dykes, et al- but really, when it comes down to where I'd rather live, give me Porvoo over Lisse, give me Copenhagen over Amsterdam, give me Gothenburg over Groningen, and give me Stavenger over Utrecht. If anyone is really interested, let me know, and I'll do a full travelogue on my trip, but honestly, I think there are few things more boring than "Let me show you my vacation photos"
Anyway, what's prompting this entry is a combination of a few factors- amoung the other things I've been hearing, reading and watching in the past ten or so days, has been the new Eminem "Marshall Mathers 2" release, the new Zeromancer "best of" compilation, and MIA's new one "Matangi" and the pitchfork review of Matangi, as well as the Youtube music video awards. My reaction to all of the above is a reflection upon Adam Ant's great song "Press Darlings" ( no irony, there, I think it's a great song and I've covered it in two separate bands I've been in) - I wonder why people write about music, in the first place. To get it out of the way- I think "Matangi" is a triumph, and, if the world were honest, she'd be getting Kanye West's press. I think Eminem has a couple of good tracks, here, mostly when he apes the Beastie Boys. Zeromancer are cheesy industrial goth dance music, but I like that stuff from time to time.
So, I'm reading this review in Pitchfork, and I'm struck by how much of the review of the Album ( you know, an album of music, like an album of jpegs?) is spent basically reviewing Maya as an interview subject, and media figure. There's not much spent on what the music actually sounds like- and when they do, they throw out references to archetypes of songs, rather than actual discussions of the music ( not one actual reference to a musical instrument, not one mention of a note, not one discussion of a production technique, not a reference to tempo, or even an allusion to key) . Now, I know that I don't get as technical as I could on here, because I reckon it's boring for non-musicians, and condescending to musicians, but I do reckon that I write about music more than I write about books or TV because I actually like music. Probably much more than you do. So, for example, I can state that part of the appeal of "Bad Girls' is taking the off-key, high pitched whine of gangsta rap, and turning it into a mode . I can see the rest, too, of course, and know the political undertones to what MIA is doing, and can appreciate how she's doing a dance with western media not unlike the contempt a prostitute has for a john, but music is what brought me here- not trend, not image, and certainly not ego- I don't care what you think of me, and would be unimpressed if you thought of me as a music business insider- but I'm willing to bet that's exactly what brings in most of the writers for high profile industry crap like Pitchfork. Because, if they were honest, they'd see how what MIA is doing has more to do with the Zeromancers of the world than the Eminems.
Then, I saw the Youtube music Awards, and I nearly despaired- it was such a mess of pseudo hipster, fake indie industry bullshit that I reckoned that western culture was doomed. Then, I saw Eminem's performance of "Rap God"- a throwback to mid 1990's utterly corporate unapologetic fake music- and slowly, the  camera allows us to see the musicians, playing in darkness in comparison to the washout white light on the celebrity- and that's my one hope- there are still people toiling in darkness, maybe, but still following their muse, still playing real instruments, still trying to actually create, not just look cool, and it brought  back to mind the Adam Ant song- " If Passion ends in Fashion, Nick Kent is the best dressed man in Town"- which was a sarcastic dig at a truly great music journalist getting a song wrong ( Kent thought that an early Ants song " Deutscher Girls" was evidence of Nazi sympathies- the song is actually a reminder of what happened to people who went along with something awful, simply because it was liked by the majority- the line is " remember the curls of the deutscher  girls?" which calls up the image of  Nazi prostitutes who were shaved bald and paraded  through the French streets after the war ) So, my point is that I still need this, for me- I need to carry my little light for what I think is valuable because Passion doesn't end in fashion- all this will be forgotten and lost, even by me, unless I keep it, if only for me.