Jim Booth guest commentary over at Southern Creatives

If you’ve been paying attention you know that our boy Jim Booth recently published a novel. And that it’s really good. And that it presents us with the opportunity to consider fame and substance at war over the soul of an artist.

He has now authored a guest essay on “Southern Rock Stardom, Postmodernism, and the Persistence of Memory” over at Melinda McGuire’s outstanding Southern lit-focused site, concluding, appropriately enough that:

Here in the South, rock stars respect memory as all good Southerners do and, after all their wanderings, come back home where memory matters, Thomas Wolfe and postmodernism be damned.

Hear, hear. Give it a read.

Dr. Sammy's Best CDs of 2011, pt 2: the Gold LPs

I mentioned that 2011 was a great year for music in part 1, right? Well, the sheer number of Gold LPs (awarded for outstanding merit) should serve to illustrate the point a bit. So let’s get to it.

First, let me disqualify a CD.

Paul Lewis: Bag Of Rain
If my objectivity is clouded by close personal relationships, it’s absolutely obliterated by great self-interest. And since I was fortunate enough to contribute lyrics for two of the tracks on Bag of Rain, I’m not even going to pretend that I’m being critical. I can say, however, that Paul is an outstanding tunesmith and an even better singer – I’ve been saying he has one of the best voices in the business since the first time I saw him perform in the late 1980s. These qualities have only improved with time. “Platform of Our Lives,” for instance, displays a rare emotional vulnerability, and Paul the singer understands when to coat a tune in velvet and when to stomp the accelerator. Continue reading

#Occupy Van Halen?

This morning I took a few minutes to watch the vid for the new Van Halen single, “Tattoo.” I was a little startled, in the final verse, to encounter these lyrics:

Uncle Danny, had a coal tattoo.
He fought for the unions,
Some of us still do.
On my shoulder is the number
of the chapter he was in.
That number is forever
like the struggle here to win.

I had never thought of VH as a political band, so I did some snooping. Continue reading

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame sucks; here's how to fix it

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a joke. I think we all know this, but if you’re new to the issue a quick illustration should suffice: Madonna is in it. Rush, Kiss, Cheap Trick, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Deep Purple, Big Star, The Cure, Devo, Dire Straits, ELO, Hüsker Dü, INXS, Jethro Tull, Judas Priest, The Moody Blues, Motorhead, My Bloody Valentine, New Order, Peter Gabriel, The Replacements, Warren Zevon, XTC, Yes and Graham Parker aren’t. I could go on. And on. And on and on and on. But, in the interest of brevity, I won’t.

This is frustrating for a lot of people. Many of the artists would probably like to be acknowledged, and their fans no doubt take the slight personally. And the critics, gods, imagine trying to think about this if you’re a serious professional covering music. Continue reading

If only there were an American Idol for grown-ups: how to market new, indie music to an adult audience?

Once upon a time, marketing music must have been so simple: in the ’50s you just bribed a local DJ and off you went. By the ’80s it was a little more complicated – in addition to cash you needed to bring coke and hookers, but still, it was a straightforward process and everybody understood the rules.

Maybe that’s understating the difficulty of getting discovered back in the Good Old Days®, but there’s no arguing that things are a lot trickier here in the 21st Century, as nichification, genrefication, segmentation, fragmentation, the consolidation of major labels, the profusion of new media and the ascendancy of coolmongering has so dramatically complexified the challenge facing new bands that it’s a wonder anybody even tries anymore. (And if you’re naïve enough to think that hard work and talent will ultimately win out, well, welcome to math class.)

Continue reading

REMembering: from Reynolds Auditorium to Carver Hawkeye

You’ve probably heard by now: REM, one of the progenitors of alt.rock has called it quits after 30 years and 15 albums.

The first five REM records (Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction, Life’s Rich Pageant and Document) deserve at least 18 stars out of a possible 20 and 1992’s Automatic for the People earned five more. By any standard, they depart the stage as one of the greatest bands in rock history, and there’s probably a very good argument to be made that they’re the greatest American band ever. That would no doubt be a lively debate, of course (and one where the band wouldn’t be terribly well-served by the last 15 years or so of its history). Still, their music was groundbreaking and relentlessly original, and along with fellow mid-’80s college radio darlings U2 and INXS they forged the alt.rock landscape in ways that paved the way for thousands of artists who would follow. Continue reading

Nota Bene #120: Crazy Ivan

“If you can make a woman laugh, you’re seeing the most beautiful thing on God’s earth.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #117: Wake Up!

“Hollywood is so crooked that Mafia gangsters are entirely outclassed and don’t stand a chance. People in Hollywood are smarter. They have more sophisticated knowledge of money and deals and how to steal legally rather than illegally.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #115: RIP No. 32

“If you’re really pro-life, do me a favor—don’t lock arms and block medical clinics. If you’re so pro-life, lock arms and block cemeteries.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #114: Big Star

“The radio makes hideous sounds.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #112: GOOOLLLLLLLL

“Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity.” Who said it? Continue reading

The S&R Interview: 22 questions with Danielle Kimak Stauss of Rabbit Velvet

Lilac, lovelace / remind me of / your true grace

About four years ago I tripped across a band called The Lost Patrol. Since then I’ve noted their work a number of times: they made my best CDs for 2007 and 2008 reviews; their music served as a key element in a piece on the nonlinearity of influence; and they were the subject of a TunesDay post on the band’s “epic retro-futurism.”

Their lead singer when I found them was one Danielle Kimak Stauss, a woman whose hypnotic vocals haunted Steven Masucci’s vast, empty musical landscapes with an ice-cold passion that bordered on the transcendent. After 2007’s superb Launch & Landing Stauss and the band parted ways, and while LP has produced two wonderful CDs in the interim (featuring new singer Mollie Israel), Danielle was nowhere to be heard. Continue reading

Nota Bene #109: You Can't Tuna Fish

“It’s absolutely stunning to me, the contempt in which the network holds the audience. The idea that these people have standards is laughable.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #106: [no title due to budget cuts]

“Working for a major studio can be like trying to have sex with a porcupine. It’s one prick against thousands.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #105: The Illustrated Dick

“When all you are becomes defined as the amount of information traceable to you, what are we then? What have we become, in a world where there is no separation, no door, no filter beyond which we can say, ‘No. This is my personal space. Not yours. Here I am alone with my thoughts and free of any outside influence or control. This, you cannot have.’ I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #103: Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse

“To take people from the music world and give them the same kind of credibility that you give me, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker—that’s like an aberration. I know there’s some young actor sitting in New York or L.A. who’s spent half of his life learning how to act and sacrificing to learn his craft but isn’t going to get his opportunity because of some ‘actor’ who’s been created.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #95: STFU

Gonna try something different Continue reading