It may be one’s quest for the “perfect pop song” or, more simply, a song that stands out as one for you. Do you care to share and say why?
Archive for April, 2008
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on April 24, 2008
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on April 24, 2008
Here’s a fun exercise in self-reflection. What can you say that you have accomplished in the past eight days let alone eight years? If thoughts of petty drug running, job loss and failed relationships came to mind you’re not alone, but for the sake of being adverse let’s take a look at one of ‘us’ who got back what he put forth with great effort.
Ivan Suvanjieff, as some recall as former Detroit Creemster, Mark J. Norton, has spent the past dozen years doing what some only see on Oprah: Dedicating himself to becoming an agent of positive social change. That is to say, Suvanjieff, after having the fortune of meeting some young people who had had a rough time of it, was so inspired to develop a mulit-dimentional program aimed at such a population.
The product was PeaceJam, an organization set up to empower youth by inspiring them to take an active interest in their environment, whether it be family, school, neighborhood our outer community, conducive to change. The PeaceJam organization is an international education program built around leading Nobel Peace Prize Laureates who work personally with youth to pass on the strength, spirit and skills they employ. The goal of PeaceJam is to create a new generation of peacemakers through educational outreach who will transform themselves, their communities and the world. Since the program was launched 12 years ago, in March of 1996, almost 40,000 teenagers worldwide have had the opportunity to participate.
And now it’s hit the big screen. PeaceJam, the documentary, follows the lives of five teens over a six year period as they face harsh realities of growing up in contemporary America, and as they work together with leading Nobel Peace Prize Laureates – including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, President Oscar Arias, Rigoberta Menchu Tum and the Dalai Lama, – to learn about peaceful solutions for leadership in their communities. Taken from over 500 hours of filmed interviews and field work, this documentary records their transformation into young people of purpose and conviction.
PeaceJam, which wrapped in 2003, contains footage of eleven leading Nobel Peace Prize Laureates working with youth in the USA, India, South Africa, Mezzo-America, and Costa Rica, with rare footage from inside Columbine High School both during and after the shootings.
The film, also in book form, has received accolades from Andrei Codrescu to Michael Moore and if that wan’t enough, Suvanjieff – along with his partner and wife, Dawn Engel, – has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by six of the eight laureates he acquired for his series. To find out more, visit the website and check back for an inevitable interview.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on April 15, 2008
for your own version of a show like The View; geared toward music, pop culture & current events, who would you choose?
Posted by s woods on April 14, 2008
Posted by s woods on April 11, 2008
In regards to critically divisive musicians, I noted in the comments box last week that the early Ramones were more or less as good a case study as any — as this great, great ad attests. It’s for the group’s second album, Leave Home, and it consists entirely of excerpts from reviews of their debut. (I had to blow up and splice the ad in half so as to render it legible online… The ad also contained pics of the first two albums and was headlined “Ramones Get Noticed.”) When I think of how difficult this must’ve been for someone to compile back in 1977… Clearly SIRE had a publicist on board more than earning their keep.
Obviously, the reaction is far from split down the middle here — the majority of these are positive comments. Some of the negative ones are pretty harsh, though, and funny. And no one but no one can be said to sit on the fence.
I have to wonder, though, about this comment by Steve Morrissey: “Degenerate no-talents.” Is that THE Morrissey? If so, is he merely being cheeky? (Or perhaps the maker of the ad is being cheeky by pulling that particular line? Maybe he meant “degenerate no-talents” as a term of affection?) Didn’t Moz write a book about the New York Dolls?
Posted by s woods on April 10, 2008
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on April 9, 2008
Ready to tackle some new depression with yet another article about the precarious state of the critic? Patrick Goldstein did just that yesterday in his Los Angeles Times column, The Big Picture: The End of the Critic. Culling sources ranging from his son to journalism students and other critics, he tackles multifaceted issues within the issue, namely the dearth of the print age, the rise of the blog and how crass commercialism can impact both.
Also discussed in the article is the role of the critic; elucidator versus arbiter of taste is a continuing theme, though it’s generally agreed upon that it’s the sharing of opinions that still matters. However the notion of critic’s ability to be honest while paying attention to their readers is still a confusing contradiction.
Surprisingly, an encouraging passage involved students who reveal themselves to be more discerning than one might think. Yet, reading through, one can find themself caught between concern about the state of writer’s opportunities and sheepish satisfaction at some of the more windbagier scribe’s decisions to opt out or move on.
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on April 8, 2008
reader, editorial or publisher scorn? Examples, of course, could include band/artist and show critiques that incur the wrath of all three.
Posted by s woods on April 5, 2008
Music Q&A with Peter Guralnick at Inside Vandy (Vanderbilt University):
I’ve never written a single piece about anybody or anything that I haven’t chosen myself and hasn’t been out of my admiration for their work. It would be inconceivable for me to write something about a subject that I wasn’t totally invested in.
Posted by s woods on April 5, 2008
43. The Liberation of Sound: An Introduction to Electronic Music (Herbert Russcol) – Paid a dollar for this 1972 hardcover at a library blowout sale, back when I was buying any and every music book that held even a modicum of interest. In fact, it’s a pretty great find. Have mostly just skimmed it, but from what I can tell it’s a fairly comprehensive history, published at a time when “electronic music” was largely just shorthand for musical eggheads messing around with tape recorders and scales, when “futuristic” meant not Emerson, Wakeman, and Schneider but Varese, Cage, Stockhausen, et al. (the only pop act I see listed in the index is — big surprise — the Beatles). Comes with listening recommendations, a glossary, timelines, some great photos, etc… quite pleased to own this… Etcetera: The Amazon page for this title has one lonely but positive customer review.
Posted by s woods on April 3, 2008
I don’t mean to rudely cut into A.C.’s usual “Q of the Week” feature, and anyway, this is a somewhat different kind of question for anyone who cares to take a stab. I’m trying to compile a list of what I call “critically divisive musicians.” I’m not talking merely about “controversial” musicians (though in most cases, the critically divisive musician is in fact somewhat controversial), but rather, musicians who receive both a lot of praise from critics and a heaping of vitriol as well. It has to be both — that is the key — and the more equal those two streams are (i.e., equal ratio of good reviews to bad reviews), the better. Obviously, there isn’t a revered musician on the planet who hasn’t received their share of negative reviews, so I guess I’m formulating this question with a longer view in mind. Um, perhaps I should illustrate with a few examples.
Take the Beatles and Prince. Both have surely had a few brickbats tossed their way through the years (from the critics, I mean), but in the overall trajectory of their careers, I’d be hard pressed to call either of them “critically divisive” (though you could certainly make a stronger case for Prince, especially post-80s Prince). The critics, by and large, have been on their side (and in the case of Prince, I think in the ’90s a lot of critics simply lost interest or gave up on him rather than slammed him per se… he was nonetheless always highly revered — and his current sins duly forgiven — for the work he did in the decade prior).
On the critically divisive side, two examples come to mind immediately: Madonna and M.I.A. Madonna’s an interesting case in that during the mid-’80s the scales were tipped way in the negatives (with just enough positives — Marsh comes to mind, also the folks at SPIN — to make her such a compelling critical figure), but the balance shifted hard in ’89 with the fairly mass critical acceptance of Like a Prayer. Following which, I’d argue that she’s been riding a teeter-totter effect ever since (I’m reasonably certain, for instance, that the Sex book and the “Justify My Love” video drew sharply divided responses). M.I.A.: I admit I’m judging solely on the basis of all the web arguments that took place around the time of her first album — i.e., all the back and forths about her supposed terrorist ties, questions of her “authenticity,” etc. However, last years Kala received what caption writers like to refer to as unanimously glowing reviews; out of the many that I perused (including the 4.5-star one I wrote myself), I think I came across only a couple that weren’t entirely convinced. So maybe she’s not a great example any longer — perhaps her built-in awesomeness ensured that her role as the Great Divider would be short-lived?
Does this make any sense? Can you think of some examples of Critically Divisive Musicians? Any era or genre is fine, including people outside of rock/pop. Do any jazz artists fit this bill? Electric-era Miles Davis, perhaps? (Also, feel free to slice careers into sub-careers; is it fair to say that the Rolling Stones overall are not “criticially divisive” but that the Rolling Stones post-Exile are?) Don’t be shy about chiming in with hedged responses, as, quite truthfully I’m not even sure this idea is going anywhere or if it’s a total non-starter… it’s just something that’s been nagging at me a bit lately.
Posted by s woods on April 3, 2008
Via the Music Press Report, Mark Rotella at Publisher’s Weekly provides an excellent rundown of a number of music books hitting stores soon, with the emphasis on biographies and personal memoir type of reads (the latter following somewhat in the vein of recent books by Klosterman, Hornby, Sheffield, et al.). Not a lot of actual music criticism that I can detect, but an almost staggering list of titles regardless, some intriguing, some too frightening to ponder (Gene Simmons… shudder). (Note to Rotella, though: Grandmaster Flash wasn’t in Run-D.M.C.; nor for that matter is he a “rapper.”)
Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Posted by A.C. Rhodes on April 1, 2008
what writers and editors would you have on board?