The partying part
August 02, 2021

Films about partying worth watching

Music Journalism Insider has given over this week's edition to film critic Aaron Gonsher, who suggested a few films about parties and partying. Among the chosen ones are 'The Hip-Hop Nucleus' - a documentary on the notorious mid-to-late ’90s hip-hop parties at the Tunnel, 'Crowd' - subtle capture of Giséle Vienne’s extraordinary dance performance, 'Talkin’ Headz - The Metalheadz Documentary' - a snapshot of the cultural moment/movement when jungle crested and drum & bass surged...

Magazine chose the video star
July 31, 2021

Rolling Stones' 100 best music videos of all time

MTV as a music television exists no more, but music videos still complement songs, create mythologies, and cause chatter and controversy - Rolling Stone says introducing their selection of the 100 best music videos of all time. Starting with The Buggles' 'Video Killed the Radio Star' and finishing with Beyonce's 'Formation' "all of these picks are perfect examples of how pairing sound and vision created an entire artistic vocabulary, gave us a handful of miniature-movie masterpieces, and changed how we heard (and saw) music".

Longer than 15 seconds
July 30, 2021

The best of the first MTV videos

MTV celebrates its 40th birthday this weekend, with Billboard and Stereogum looking back with a selection of the 40 best videos played on the very first day on the network. There were 116 videos played in the first 24 hours, with Stereogum and Billboard agreeing Talking Heads' 'Once in a Lifetime' and Blondie's 'Rapture' being the best.

Albums are forever
July 28, 2021

10 of the best posthumous albums

Inspired by the recent success of late Pop Smoke, whose both posthumous albums reached the top of the Billboard 200 chart, Guardian chose "the best records from those lost too soon". Their choice includes Prince's 'Originals' as it gives a "tantalising glimpse into a restless genius’s artistic process", Joy Division's 'Closer' as it "oozes claustrophobia, Curtis’s sepulchral lyricism augmented by Martin Hannett’s haunted production", Janis Joplin's 'Pearl' as it "captures both her startling vocal prowess and electric live energy", and other forever-living albums by the ones gone too soon.

Island sports
July 26, 2021

Japanese music and the Olympics

"Tokyo has shaped the sound and image of songs all the time, and this Tokyo emerging in 1964 is the one that shapes ‘70s “new music,” that provides the glitzy excess of “city pop” and other ‘80s offerings (not to mention the fake memory of the capital latched on by people today), the continent-hopping cool of Shibuya-kei in the ‘90s and even the more glum post-Vocaloid hits of now" - Make Believe Mailer writes introducing part one in a series of texts about music from Japan and the Olympics.

Cultural critic Steven Hyden discusses the no-band-t-shirt-to-that-band-gig rule in his latest blog post. He first makes a distinction - it's quite ubiquitous on a metal show, but a no-no at an indie-rock show. His point: "When you go to show, nobody cares about what you are wearing. If there is one quality that all humans share, it’s that we’re all too wrapped up in ourselves to think about the shirts on the backs of strangers".

Music writer Ted Gioia read about the idea by a Norwegian company to build a doomsday vault to preserve the world’s most important music recordings, stored on an especially durable optical film. Gioia has a related business idea: "I suspect there’s demand for digital platforms that make a similar promise. The business I’m envisioning would use blockchain technology to ensure that a song could never be deleted from the Internet".

"It’s delightful that there are still questions Siri and Alexa can’t answer, and that people argue fervently about rock lyrics from more than 45 years ago" - LA Times writes in an article about the Internet argument over a Bruce Springsteen lyric. The song is 'Thunder Road', it begins 'Born to Run', the 1975 album that made Springsteen a star, and it's the opening lyrics - “The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves”, or is it "sways"? The problem is, Springsteen isn't sure himself. In the original album gatefold design of 'Born to Run', the lyrics are printed “Mary’s dress waves”, but on page 220 of his best-selling 'Born to Run' memoir, Springsteen says “‘the screen door slams, Mary’s dress sways’ — that’s a good opening line”. Or maybe Boss just doesn't want the story to end, as he admits in his Broadway show: “I come from a boardwalk town where everything is tinged with just a bit of fraud. So am I. I’ve never seen the inside of a factory, and yet, it’s all I’ve ever written about… I made it all up”. Springsteen's longtime manager Jon Landau settled the matter in the New Yorker - “The word is ‘sways. That’s the way he wrote it in his original notebooks, that’s the way he sang it on 'Born to Run', in 1975, that’s the way he has always sung it at thousands of shows, and that’s the way he sings it right now on Broadway. Any typos in official Bruce material will be corrected”.

Better than the Belgian chocolate
July 14, 2021

Great mix - the year of 1937

Centuries of Sound is making mixes for every year of recorded sound, and this time around it's the year 1937. The artist that marked the year was - Django Reinhardt, a self-taught, illiterate guitarist with only 8 fingers who would change the face of jazz, and music as well. That year also had Stephane Grappeli, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Robert Johnson and so many more.

Black Music and Black Muses writer affirms the beauty of whistling; a great essay on the pretty little skill: "What superfluous love and mischief lurks in a sudden whistle? What calling into being of what playfulness and what hysteria travels on the thin wavering line between gasp and gust we call whistling, a form of telling ourselves secrets in public, a polite diversion from the blankness of it all... Why not let lips pressed together lightly and spiraling the air into witness be friendly? What malice is there in absent-minded desire? Why not objectify one another on a whim and improvise high-pitched windows into the atmosphere to say hello. Why do we feel entitled to the hyper-reverent silence of monasteries as we pass the living on sidewalks, in cities, full of synaptic impossibilities that only noise can heal or render as ease instead of shame?".

Tyler Thackray is a former dreadlocked metalhead, and current Android developer who builds and then destroys violins in his spare time. There's a point in it, as the New Yorker states: "The notion that you can torture—or to be tortured by—a violin in the first place arises from our sense that the instrument is somehow alive, responsive, perhaps even agential... with a social life that intersects with other instruments, people, histories. So much of playing an instrument is having your existence dictated by its demands, to the extent that your body and your instrument come to seem inseparable... These are not instruments that anyone will miss, and @violintorture is ferrying them into a hitherto inconceivable afterlife".

Like a darker Nick Cave song
July 08, 2021

Podcast: The Lawson family murders

"The Songs in the Key of Death podcast looks at the historic true crimes that inspired a selection of murder ballads. It combines music, true crime, history, and edge-of-your-seat storytelling". The latest episode goes into the Lawson family murders. "On Christmas Day 1929, Charlie Lawson committed the chilling act of murdering his wife and children. What’s darker is the reason why, according to some true crime authors. But are they right, and what do we know today about the rare phenomenon of familicide?".

"Millions of listeners now subscribe to lo-fi hip-hop playlists to relax, study, chill, and sleep. Its popularity has spawned a DIY business opportunity. Companies like Lofi Girl (formerly ChilledCow) have carved out their own lane, launched their own record labels, built an independent brand of merch, products, playlists, and more" - Trapital says presenting Music Ally's piece about the chill-hop genre.

An elephant in a music book
July 05, 2021

Essay: How Indian notes interrelate to cries of animals

Music historian Katherine Schofield writes a short essay for the Grin, marrying her knowledge of Indian classical music and art, about how each swara or Indian note, seven in all, interrelate to cries of animals. Sur is a musical sound made up of swaras.

They rehearsed after school let out for the week on Friday nights, inspiring them to call the band On a Friday, but when they got signed, the label suggested they change their name. The band members all loved the obscure Talking Heads song, so the Radiohead were born. It gets worse on Rolling Stone's list of 25 worst band names - The Polka Tulk Blues Band is a lousy name for any band, let alone the one which will come up with heavy metal. Geezer Butler seeing crowd of people lined up to see the Boris Karloff film 'Black Sabbath' saved the day.

The crime of being free
July 01, 2021

Podcast: The sexism of Omie Wise story

"When we talk about the sexism of murder ballads, 'Omie Wise' jumps to the forefront as one of the most prominent examples" - the Songs in the Key of Death podcast says announcing their latest episode, about the 19-century murder story. "Whether the true story involves a woman who was drowned because she became inconvenient or because she stood up to a no-good man, they both end the same way — with Naomi Wise dead, and many tales that got it wrong".

Bring your tee to the knower
June 30, 2021

10 iconic metal T-shirts

Vintage dealer and a dedicated metal fan Harry Cantwell has - using his sense of history, style, and a deep love for skulls - picked up his top 10 metal shirts of all time for GQ. One of the T-shirts is from a joint Venom/Metallica 1984 tour: “I chose this shirt as an example of [one] that really captures a place and time, to show how much history you can convey with a T-shirt. It’s just a really interesting convergence of metal history that encapsulates a small period of time that's really, really important: the passing of the torch British early ’80s British [bands] over to thrash".

The Earth was not enough
June 29, 2021

Sun Ra: The impossible attracts me

Sun Ra liked "the new", whether it be instruments, words, genres - The New Yorker points out in a profile about the innovator. He gave instruments new names, like the “space-dimension mellophone", the “cosmic tone organ" and the “sunharp", whereas his band the Arkestra weren't musicians, they were "tone scientists". Sun Ra himself was an exploratory soul - “the impossible attracts me, because everything possible has been done and the world didn’t change". This spring, the Chicago gallery and publisher Corbett vs. Dempsey reproduced a series of Sun Ra poetry booklets: 'Jazz by Sun Ra',' 'Jazz in Silhouette', and 'The Immeasurable Equation'.

We will rock... later
June 28, 2021

Video: 10 albums critics hated (at first)

YouTuber Rocked counts down 10 albums music critics have hated at first, only to get lauded later. It's exclusively rock albums, by AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Pearl Jam, Pink Floyd, Queen, Radiohead and some other big rock bands.

Analysis of Singapore's GDP is funnier!
June 28, 2021

Hey Pitchfork, could you lighten up a bit?!

An obvious question, for years now, which nobody has loudly set, to the very clever and way-too-serious Pitchfork writers (or, maybe, should its owner Conde Nast answer it?!). "Pitchfork is devoid of personality to a startling degree, especially in a pop culture magazine" music journalist and critic Wayne Robbins argues, defining Pitchfork texts "as post-humor assertions of importance regarding artists no one outside a young cohort of music nerds would find meaningful or important". What the P lacks, Robbins is certain, are expressions of personalities: "There isn't a single critic at this magazine that has a distinctive, look-forward-to-reading style or personality. And I bet you could make a substantial list with names of writers who are capable, but for some reason can't, or won't, let their freak flag fly".

The jazz music writer shared a passionate piece about how one wrong turn changed the destiny of a big jazz label Columbia Records was until one sad day in 1973 when they let go Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Keith Jarrett, and Bill Evans in what is now known as “Great Columbia Jazz Purge”. "With the right leadership, the label might have held on to a roster of the greatest musicians in jazz, with all the bragging rights that entails, and made money from their recordings for decades to come. The sad fact is: Columbia could still do this, if it understood jazz the way Manfred Eicher and a few other visionaries do".

Two shades of blue
June 26, 2021

Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' 50 years later

A great read in the NPR about the 1971 Joni Mitchell album 'Blue', and women who helped make it, as well as about Miles Davis' 1959 album 'Kind Of Blue' and all the men who contributed to it. The bottom line of the article: "It's interesting to think about why people decide some works of art can change their lives".

“Jon Lucien’s 'Search For The Inner Self' is my own personal treasure that I will never give up. It’s from the early 70s, on Ampex Records... It’s a great record. Jon Lucien told my friend he only did the track because he needed some money at the time, but he struck gold. It’s got amazing string arrangement, great words. That title alone – 'Search For The Inner Self' – has got to be worth the money" - Paul Weller told The New Cue about a bit of gold he owns.

YouTube music theorist Rick Beato goes back into Brazilian guitarist Sérgio Mendes' 'Never Gonna Let You Go', the song he believes is "the most complex pop song of all time". Beato first tried to play it four decades ago and still doesn't know it by heart.

Purple is the color of his true love's chest hair
June 21, 2021

'The Lavender Cowboy' - the first queer country song?

Almost a century before Lil Nas X caused a stir at parts of the country music community with his song 'Old Town Road', author 'Harold Hersey' wrote 'The Lavender Cowboy', a song about a cowboy with only two hairs on his chest that saves the girl and gets the honor of being buried in the prairie with cacti commemorating his passing. Country Queer explores the life story of that song.

The Pacific potion
June 21, 2021

Mexican love of anime - explained

"Anime in particular is extremely popular across Latin America, but it has a special significance in Mexico, with a history dating back nearly 60 years" - Bandcamp goes to explain the influence of anime on Mexican underground music. "In 1964, 'Astroboy' was the first Japanese animated series to be dubbed and broadcast in Mexico, becoming a fixture of network television and followed in subsequent years by 'Speed Racer' and 'Captain Tsubasa'... Large Japanese diasporas in Peru and Brazil were also quick to embrace anime, as rapidly growing syndication blocks paved the way for Latin America’s golden age of anime and manga in the ‘90s".

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