Music writer Jay Papandreas visited a soup west, bumping into "the best record store in the midwest" on the way. In his latest memo, he tries to identify what constitutes the best record store in general - "it’s a function of care. It’s about the selection and knowledge of buyers. It’s about the effort that goes into making a daunting collection feel as inoffensive as a grocery store. It’s about organizing and breaking the mold of the judgmental record store guy trope but still having a higher taste level than any other store. The care for the music, as well as the customer, is what makes a space different from others in the same industry."

Oldies were newbies
March 13, 2023

How not to lose interest in new music as we age

The Conversation offers a few pieces of advice "if you want to train your musical taste to extend beyond the old favourites of youth:

  1. Cultivate different modes of listening including in formal (concerts), focused (solitary), casual (as an accompaniment to other activity) and social settings
  2. Make listening habitual
  3. Be curious about what you’re listening to. You can help your brain form new patterns by knowing something of the story behind the music
  4. Be patient and persistent. Don’t assume because you don’t immediately like an unfamiliar piece that it’s not worth listening to. The more you listen, the better your brain will be at triggering a pleasure response
  5. Find a friend to give you recommendations. There’s a good chance you’ll listen to music suggested to you by someone you like and admire
  6. Keep listening to the music you love, but be willing to revisit long-held beliefs, particularly if you describe your musical taste in the negative (such as 'I hate jazz'); it’s likely these attitudes will stifle your joy
  7. Don’t feel you have to keep up with new music trends. We’ve 1,000 years of music to explore."

It always did sound similar and, as it turns out, the word "saxophone" is etymologically related to the word "sex" - Olivia M. Swarthout points on her Twitter. It all began with proto-Indo-European word "sek" which means "to cut, divide".

Daisy Jones & The Six

An amusing list in Rolling Stone - "It’s a strange but often hugely appealing musical subgenre, and this is our attempt to figure out which are the true best songs of the fake best songs". Plenty of interesting music among the 50 chosen ones, set between ‘Time To Change’ by The Brady Bunch from the 1972 movie 'The Brady Bunch', and ‘That Thing You Do!’ by The Wonders from 'That Thing You Do!' (1996).22

The sound of office
February 28, 2023

QZ: Should a workplace have a soundtrack?

"These days, with devices and surroundings in constant competition for your visual attention, I’m interested in auditory experiences" - experience designer Layne Braunstein in the QZ argues why a future of soundscapes in offices could make us more creative and productive. "Sound has the incredible power to impact mood, increase productivity and creativity, and decrease stress and anxiety. The future of design for workplaces lies in wielding the power of evocative sound—a sense arguably more powerful than visuals and scent."

Easier being sad
February 27, 2023

Matthew Schnipper: The sound of grief

Frank Ocean

A lovely text in The New Yorker about music as consolation: "When Renzo died, Allegra and I decided that we wanted to have another child, to have our family feel like our family. Really what we wanted was for Renzo to not have died, but that wasn’t an option. We were living in our new apartment. Soon we would have a baby girl. Allegra wanted another Italian-sounding name. Cosima, with Coco as a nickname. I liked how it sounded spoken aloud, as lively as Renzo, but softer, close to, say, 'cosmos.' I wondered if we could have another musical middle name. Ocean, I proposed. Cosima Ocean Schnipper. Allegra said that she would think about it".

Drugs and partying specialist Michelle Lhooq is wondering how the eminent psychedelic legalization is going to affect partying in general. She asks three pivotal questions for the emerging era of post-alcohol partying:

"How might the energy of a dancefloor shift if everyone is vibrating on psychedelics?

What new aesthetics emerge from a social space designed for recreational psychedelic use?

Can nightlife be sustainable if its economic model does not revolve around booze?"

Sounds of silence
February 23, 2023

Ted Gioia: How long does pop culture stardom last?

"I’ve long believed that 80 years is a typical span of pop culture fame for superstars. I’m referring to the biggest names—the lesser stars burn out in 80 months or 80 weeks or 80 days. But the top draws retain their fame for the entire lifetime of their youngest fans—and given current life expectancies of the US audience, that can’t be much more than 80 years. We already see the price of Elvis Presley memorabilia starting to drop" - music writer Ted Gioia estimates how long stardom lasts.

February 22, 2023

How to launch a web radio station

Resident Advisor reached out to five web radio stations across the globe - Dublin Digital Radio (ddr.), Rádio Quântica, Oroko in Accra, Skylab in Melbourne and Threads in London - to provide some tips on how to start your own online radio.

Not nothing - it's all
February 22, 2023

Ted Gioia: My lifelong quest for silence

"It may seem strange to hear it from a music writer, but I'm always looking for a quiet moment" - Ted Gioia takes a moment to appreciate silence and differentiate music from noise. "I always crave more quiet moments in my life. But I still love the music. Maybe I love it all the more, for having refreshed the ears with a dose of quiet before returning to that next song".

When the music's over
February 20, 2023

Ted Gioia: Why musicians can't retire?

"The more [musicians] get the acclaim, the more they start needing it. You might think that after all the big paychecks and standing ovations, they would eventually have reached some sense of self-satisfaction that would allow for an easy retirement. But that’s not true. In fact, the opposite is the more typical case. The more the artists are rewarded, the more they still want" - music writer Ted Gioia looks into the possibility of ending a career as a musician. "Sometimes it’s better to walk away when you’re still riding high. I greatly admire performers such as Audrey Hepburn or Shirley Temple, who happily launched second careers doing charitable works and good deeds. They used their fame for something different, something perhaps better. My view is that Madonna would have a much more powerful and positive legacy if she did something like that."

"True suckiness — like true greatness — is a subjective quality" - Rolling Stone goes presenting their selection of horrible albums by otherwise brilliant artists. Plenty of greats are there - Outkast, Bob Dylan, The Clash, R.E.M., The Who, David Bowie, John Lennon, Black Sabbath, Kanye West... "Did we rank them? We sure did. Beginning with least-worst and counting down to the most historic flop."

Music writer Ted Gioia shares a fresh chapter from his new book 'Music to Raise the Dead' - the results of many years of research into the most famous story in the history of the blues, namely guitarist Robert Johnson’s legendary deal with the Devil. Gioia goes deep into history and religious practices, as well as into the meaning of crossroads, and how it all provided an environment for Johnson's experience and music.

The day after
February 15, 2023

The 20 best breakup albums

"Feelings of loneliness, anger, and, perhaps most potently, loss seem like they’ll never end. The experience is utterly overwhelming, and it’s frankly not healthy to keep all of those emotions bottled up. The best way to get them out? The tried-and-true breakup album" - Consequence introduces their list of 20 best break-up albums. The interesting selection includes Adele, Bright Eyes, Converge, The Cure, and Taylor Swift, among others.

Despite the fact that the '20s were ruled by segregation and racist sentiments, the most popular music of the era in the US was heavily influenced by the work of black performers who created and defined ragtime, jazz, and blues - All Music introduces their selection of songs of 1923. The themes come out quite modern - 'Beside a Babbling Brook' is about a man who feels climbing the ladder of life "isn't worth the worry and strife" and he would rather spend his time "beside a babbling brook" in the midst of nature. Check out the full list here.

Quite a few funny little posts on Composers Doing Normal Shit Twitter profile lately, the latest being composer Burt Bacharach having cheese and crackers. Previously seen - Leonard Cohen playing pinball, Franz Liszt having miserable time with his students, Miles Davis having fun, and many more.

Death is not the end, it's the beginning
January 30, 2023

Nick Cave to a fan who misses his rage: Things changed after my first son died

"When did you become a Hallmark card hippie? Joy, love, peace. Puke! Where’s the rage, anger, hatred?" - a fan named Ermine asked Nick Cave. He responded on his Red Hand Files blog - "things changed after my first son died. I changed... Sitting around in my own mess, pissed off at the world... contemptuous of beauty, contemptuous of joy, contemptuous of happiness in others, well, this whole attitude just felt, I don’t know, in the end, sort of dumb... I felt a sudden, urgent need to, at the very least, extend a hand in some way to assist it – this terrible, beautiful world – instead of merely vilifying it, and sitting in judgement of it".

Happy being sad
January 29, 2023

The 20 best sad albums

Consequence has rounded up a list of "20 of the most bleak, grim, melancholic albums out there for the most efficient commiserating", because "sad songs are so cathartic". The interesting list starts with Greet Death’s 'New Hell', at No. 20, to reach the catharsis with Mount Eerie's 'A Crow Looked at Me' at No. 1. Check out the full list.

"Medieval Córdoba had more influence on global music than any other city in history. A thousand years before New Orleans spurred the rise of jazz, and instigated the Africanization of American music, a similar thing happened in Córdoba, Spain. You could even call that city the prototype for all the decisive musical trends of our modern times" - Ted Gioia proclaims in his latest post, about the culture hub which at the time had the largest population in the West - 450,000 inhabitants (much more than Paris, London, or Roma at the time). “This was the chapter in Europe’s culture when Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived side by side,” asserts Yale professor María Rosa Menocal, “and, despite their intractable differences and enduring hostilities, nourished a complex culture of tolerance.” It is that intersection of cultures that made it so impactful - "It is our single best example of how the West can enter into fruitful cultural dialogue with the outsider—to the benefit of both... The Córdoba Model still has something to teach us today. If we flourished by living together a thousand years ago, why shouldn’t it happen again now? The role model we need isn’t hard to describe—the rules are tolerance, connectivity, interaction, sharing, a welcoming attitude to new peoples and influences".

Let's jazz in
January 20, 2023

The 20 best jazz albums for beginners

"Sure jazz is a big body of music, but it is full of wonders. If you’ve always wanted to get interested in jazz, just jump in. Don’t approach it with fear or a sense that you don’t know enough about it. It’s just a smorgasbord of stuff to enjoy. Or not. Take your pick from the variety" - PopMatters dares you to give jazz a chance. There are two lists - "the historical canon for those who want to be students [Coltrane, Holiday, Davis, Ellington...], but first I’m giving you a list designed to draw you in [Billy Cobham, Louis Jordan, Cassandra Wilson, Aaron Parks...]. No lessons here. No crusty things that don’t groove or only appeal to the brain. But, yes, it’s JAZZ, with the improvising and the daring but without the scary stuff".

"ChatGPT has no inner being, it has been nowhere, it has endured nothing, it has not had the audacity to reach beyond its limitations, and hence it doesn’t have the capacity for a shared transcendent experience, as it has no limitations from which to transcend... Judging by this song ‘in the style of Nick Cave’ though, it doesn’t look good, Mark. The apocalypse is well on its way. This song sucks" - Nich Cave writes on his Red Hand Files blog about a song the AI made in Cave's style. "Writing a good song is not mimicry, or replication, or pastiche, it is the opposite. It is an act of self-murder that destroys all one has strived to produce in the past. It is those dangerous, heart-stopping departures that catapult the artist beyond the limits of what he or she recognises as their known self. This is part of the authentic creative struggle that precedes the invention of a unique lyric of actual value".

Freedom of breach
January 16, 2023

Ciaran Tharan: Unsilent witness

"Social media and online music content is being prejudicially mined for evidence in criminal trials" - Ciaran Thapar looks back at years of trials against young rappers, based on their lyrics. "Most older adults are still coming to terms with the mere existence of social media, let alone the mind-boggling speed of TikTok, the nuances of British rap or the respawning etymologies of slang. But these are the people overseeing the metaphorical guillotine that now hovers over a whole generation of lost youth. Young people who have grown up under a mounting cost-of-living crisis, cared for by public services — youth clubs, schools, the NHS, the judiciary itself – that have been gutted by austerity".

"My plan for this year is to make a new record with the Bad Seeds" - Nick Cave writes in his first post of 2023 on his The Red Hand Files site. "This is both good news and bad news. Good news because who doesn’t want a new Bad Seeds record? Bad news because I’ve got to write the bloody thing". He continued on to detail the difficulty of songwriting: "Writing lyrics is the pits. It’s like jumping for frogs, Fred. It’s the shits. It’s the bogs. It actually hurts. It comes in spurts, but few and far between. There is something obscene about the whole affair. Like crimes that rhyme."

Ted Gioia writes an hommage to harpist Therese Schroeder-Sheker who has "devoted her life to performing music for the dying. She has done this on countless occasions, and has accumulated a huge body of knowledge, wisdom, and practical skills that she generously shares with others... This life story would be impressive under any circumstances, but especially so when you consider that Therese Schroeder-Sheker had a brilliantly successful career as a recording artist and concert hall performer. She could have spent her entire life as a music star, but instead put her primary focus on serving those in the most dire and hopeless situations... She is the antithesis of a pop star. Therese is an exemplar of compassion, caring, and contemplation".

"There’s a long history of feared or conquered foreigners as musical innovators. But their new musical styles are initially attacked and suppressed, although they eventually enter the mainstream. This seems to be the case with the Aztec zarabanda... The chaconne, too, probably originated in Latin America before showing up in Spain in the late sixteenth century. Early source documents describe the dance as Peruvian, although some believe it came from the Caribbean coast areas of Mexico. As with the zarabanda, the chacona was viewed as sexy and disreputable" - music writer Ted Gioia goes back centuries looking for the roots of chaconne and sarabande, now examples of European classical music popularized by Bach.

Rave new post
January 03, 2023

Michelle Lhooq: Exit the clout matrix

Drugs and parties specialist Michelle Lhooq checked out New York Dimes Square scene and published a great post about it, including some very interesting thoughts:

“One thing is obvious: when too many people try to adopt the contrarian position at once, it’s no longer contrarian. Mavericks become the new herd.”

“At the end of the night we’re all humans working to the real cause of just being,”

"There’s no such thing as purity anymore."

The former American president revealed his favorite songs of 2022. In includes SZA’s 'Shirt', Danger Mouse and Black Thought’s 'Belize' featuring MF DOOM, Lizzo’s 'About Damn Time', Rosalía’s 'SAOKO', Beyoncé’s 'Break My Soul', Bad Bunny’s 'Tití Me Preguntó', Kendrick Lamar’s non-album hype track 'The Heart Part 5', and others.

Music writer Ted Gioia made a list of his favorite online articles and essays from 2022 on music, arts, and culture - "if the article is good enough, I include it, no matter what the subject". Interesting pieces about heavy metal’s fascination with Roman emperors, the connection between Mozart na J Dilla, using music as torture, and many more.

Ink cave
November 28, 2022

Nick Cave: Should you get a tattoo?

"I’m happy to carry this remnant of my youth with me, not just as a reminder of two of the most beautiful people who walked the earth... but also that there was a time when I was both heroic and dumb enough to get a tattoo of a badly drawn skull with my girlfriend’s name on it" - Nick Cave answers a fan's questions on his Red Hand Files blog, whether he should get a tattoo. "I guess I am wiser now, but that folly of youth will always go with me, and when I am finally in the ground, the grinning skull will continue to mock and jeer at all the lofty pretensions and vanities and cautions of these, my latter years. So, should you get a tattoo, Chris? As a sage man of a mature age I would advise against it, which is why I think you should probably get one".

... and the Bad Sounds
November 26, 2022

Nick Cave: I don’t love crickets

"Dear, sweet tinnitus — the musician’s curse. Mine is actually pretty manageable most of the time, it comes and goes, and only really kicks off when I am playing live music, which now I come to think of it is most of the time" - Nick Cave answers a fan's question about tinnitus in his Red Hand Files blog. "An ear specialist once told me there was not much I could do other than to ‘love my tinnitus’ — and then charged me three hundred quid" - Cave continue "but, you know, I don’t love my tinnitus, I don’t love my tinnitus at all, it’s a pain in the arse. So, I feel for you, Denise, sitting there in your solitude, with your tinnitus for company, and I don’t really have any advice for you, other than to say, if it is any consolation, that not only my cricket choir is singing, loud and very clear, but Warren’s is too, and Larry’s and Colin’s (Greenwood), and Wendy’s and Janet’s and T Jae’s — all our dreary crickets singing their moronic and endless serenade back to you".

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