Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In case anyone still checks this...

Here's Freaks & Geeks' James Franco promoting Carl Wilson's book on MTV:

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Pitchfork gives music 6.8

Here's the links for Maggie and my presentation on the Onion's satire of Pitchfork.

This is Pitchfork's review of "I Am... Sasha Fierce."

And these are the review tropes that we came up with:

-reference to an obscure band
-mainstream pop cultural reference, usually undercut and ironic -- instead of presenting one reference, contrast two to bolster the critic's reputation
-comparisons with artist's other albums -- looking for evolution -- the word sophomore is often used
-present set-ups followed immediately by a joke that's usually sarcastic and glib
-measuring quality with a quantified system -- arbitrary methods such as stars (sometimes out of four, sometimes out of five) -- what makes a 6.0 album .3 better than a 5.7 album?
-tendency to psychoanalyze the artist and why he or she is making the music -- usually reviews contain little or no discussion of the music itself -- why is this acceptable in music reviews but not reviews of literature or film?
-more likely to knock something down that support something -- not necessarily ratio-wise, but the language used to criticize is stronger than that used to compliment (Wilson is an example of this)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Link for The Band

For anybody interested in learning more about the Band, this is a great place to start:
Rob Bowman's history of the group (under Articles) is a good one.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Some Music for Election Day

I thought this would appropriate in light of today's election.  As I was working for Thursday's presentation, I came across a video of Randy Newman sitting in what looks like his living room and videotaping himself sing a song called "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country."  Listening to this song, I couldn't help but be reminded of "Political Science," a much older song of Newman's that deals with similar themes.  But the purpose of the two songs couldn't be more different.  "Political Science" was released in 1972, while "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country" was first performed live on tour in 2006 and released as a single in 2007.  Listening to the two songs gives a unique insight into the development of an artist's political ideas.

"Political Science" is probably most famous for it's ultimate political solution: "Let's drop the big one and see what happens."  "No one likes us," Newman sings, so the easiest way to deal with the world is just get rid of it and make "every city the whole world round/...just another American town." 

"A Few Words" couldn't be more different.  Newman admits that our country's having a tough time--he admits that America's "time at the top/ could be coming to an end."  But times like these, he says, are the times "we sure could use a friend."  Gone is the talk of making everyone else be like us--now, Newman just wants to be pals.  The song ends with a beautiful image:

"Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
We're adrift in the land of the brave
And the home of the free."

It's hard not to think of the closing image of "Sail Away" when you hear those lines.

"Political Science"

"A Few Words in Defense of Our Country"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Even more writing about music!

Now that we're moving into the popular music phase of the course, I wanted to let people know about an opportunity for some music writing outside of class. I'm one of the music editors at Post- (that thing in the BDH on Thursdays), and we're always looking for articles about pretty much anything music-related: album and concert reviews, features on artists, trends, and genres, and more conceptual/literary stuff. Also lists. We like lists. Anyways, if you ever have an idea for a piece or want to be put on our potential writers list, you can email me at Evangeline_Kurtz-Nelson@brown.edu or talk to me during class. There's been a ton of seriously awesome writing in this class so far, and it would be great to see some more of it in Post-.

Monday, October 20, 2008

it isn't passive listening if you're actively trying to be pretentious

What would Stravinsky and Hanslick say about these listeners?


Saturday, October 18, 2008

"He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)"

In the grand tradition of covers, here's another one cover of "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" by the Crystals, this one by Grizzly Bear. I'm sure quite a few of you have already listened to this, but I imagine it brings an interesting gender dynamic to the song.


You can just follow this link, and there's a link that you can right-click and save as to listen to the song.