Site Changes Part One


For those loyal readers who care about these things, I am going to spend some time making long-overdue changes to the links you see at your right.

I have just completed making the easy changes to the non-blog external website links and will be tackling the more arduous tasks of the blogs soon.

If you want me to link to you, say so below!

Just for the record, the changes:
1. The link to Mercenary Audio is dropped due to their going out of business. For those who don't know, Mercenary was a dealer in high-end recording equipment located outside of Boston. While they were lead by a man called Fletcher, they were notorious for both the excellence of their customer support (doubling length of manufacturer warranties, for instance), the vituperativeness of their opinions towards underperforming and/or over-hyped products and their willingness to assist the inexperienced in coming to sound decisions about building their studios. That I only bought one piece of gear from them is a testament to my income over the years, not to the quality of the gear they stocked nor the advice they gave. I felt that putting a link to their site here was the least I could do after having monopolized a few hours of their time without ever quite being able to put together $2,500 for a nice stereo compressor.

After Fletcher left, the business died and eventually closed. Hence, no need for the link.

2. "The Milkshake Headache Of Vinyl Sites" now sends the "clicker" to a different site. The former receiver of page views is a site called Better Records, AKA DCC Blowout. I linked to it for a simple reason: the site was the first place I found my own experiences in buying and listening to vinyl confirmed. The vinyl enthusiast is constantly bombarded with new releases of new pressings of old music. The fact that the record is on vinyl is enough for most consumers, enthralled as they are with the format in the most superficial manner possible. That some of the new pressings are made from digital masters, or even, gulp, from recordings of older records (replete with pops, crackles, etc.), seems to not affect the reputation of the labels that are exploiting us with this crap. The boom in the vinyl market creates new opportunities to take advantage of new consumers. 

Better Records argues simply that a record pressed on good vinyl during the time when vinyl was the predominant format will generally sound better than most new reissues, and also, conversely, that there is generally little benefit to owning a first pressing of a record, especially one that was in print on vinyl for decades. Outside of jazz, I have generally found this to be true, and I have saved a lot of money buying a second press for $5 instead of some $40 200g limited edition blah blah blah.

I have taken down the Better Records site for two reasons. The first is that prices are getting a bit silly. I think I saw a $400 copy of Rumours the last time I visited the site. The second is the sense of mystification behind it. Excluding the justified rants against most audiophile reissue labels, precious little information is provided to those hunting for great copies of their favorite music.

To rectify this, I have changed the link to a website called London Jazz Collector, which, although restricted in its coverage to, well, jazz, provides a wealth of information on identifying pressings that anyone who seeks to buy jazz on vinyl can use to make informed purchases. I am preparing to go on a massive Blue Note* binge and I have found LJC to be invaluable.

There are no records for sale on the London Jazz Collector website.


* To those who care, I am going to start with all the Blue Note sessions lead by Sam Rivers, Andrew Hill, Don Cherry, Grachan Moncur III, Eric Dolphy and Jackie McLean (Bobby Hutcherson, Lee Morgan, Joe Henderson, Tony Williams, etc., to follow). The "inside/outside" period of urbane, avant-garde jazz that Blue Note documented in the 1960s is easily one of my favorite eras of music. If you like music, and want to know more, try these, in relative order of "difficulty":

Sam Rivers - Fuchsia Swing Song
Andrew Hill - Black Fire
Jacke McLean - One Step Beyond
Grachan Moncur III - Evolution
Eric Dolphy - Out To Lunch
Don Cherry - Complete Communion




It's all not-not all bad.

A few weeks ago I watched the following and I have nothing intelligent to say about it other than it blew my mind, which is actually not an intelligent thing to say. I watched it under near-perfect circumstances. I don't do drugs. I do do depressed, and the one positive and negative thing about working in the restaurant industry is that my sleep schedule can easily be thrown way off course with no noticeable effect on my ability to actually be on time to work. The only way to solve this problem sometimes is to stay up all night just to go to bed at a reasonable time. I watched the following around 10am on a day where I hadn't' seen sleep since 2pm the previous day.

Trecartin's work plays like the fever dream of some as-yet-unnamed part of the subconscious, the part of the id that only consists of the desires implanted in our brain by television and the internet. Call it the "med", short for both mediated and medicated. Scenes and sentences fly by driven in all directions by the logic of the quickly-scanned text, the portion of a paragraph read before a hyperlink directs us to the next page, the next half-read sentence. And the language is of advertising, is of a mind desperate to be understood by Facebook instead of the other way around.


I Still Love The Music I Love, I Just Can't Believe I STILL Love The Music I Love

Just a few things now that I've been linked to a few times (thanks, blckdgrd and Simon):

First off, the thing about Rough Trade NYC is that it is large, but it doesn't actually have that many records in it. It feels like one of those fashion boutiques that barely has any clothing. And I guess that serves to underscore the feeling that the records that made it "in" are somehow more totemic, unimpeachable, if that makes any sense. It's not filled to the brim either with the new, like a dance music specialist shop, or with the old, like some classic overstuffed used store. In fact, Rough Trade doesn't stock any used vinyl at all. This contributes heavily to the sense of the stock being curated, not only by the staff itself but also by those who do the work of deciding what records should and shouldn't be in print; what's "proper" for music in 2014, determined seemingly externally to the actual wishes of the customers. There are no accidents, no chance for the DJ or enthusiast to posit a counter-cannon due to the impossibility of purchasing non-"important" records.

I know it seems crazy to dismiss the entirety of the past. I can't do it. You can't either, and does it really make any sense to try? But, as I wrote in an email to a friend, maybe it's time to start blaming the past for the present.

Here's a weird analogy. Maybe alternative culture is like the constituency of the Republican Party (bear with me). No matter how much power the Republican Party gains, their membership always feels put upon. Even during the periods in the first decade of this century when the Republican Party controlled all branches of the Federal Government, it was still, supposedly, us coastal liberal elites that prevented the changes desired from occurring. To paraphrase someone else, the voters wanted an abortion ban and got tax cuts for the wealthy.

What was interesting about the Tea Party movement (and let's put aside the issue of the Koch brothers, etc.) is that the Tea Party actually started to attack elected Republicans for once instead of blaming the Democrats. Where is this leading? Well, what if "we" won? As Mark Fisher pointed out years ago in another context, where is the actual mainstream that rejects Sonic Youth? Instead of still imagining that there is some establishment keeping us down, it's time to consider what our "elected representatives", those bands, artists, scenesters, label owners, etc. that supposedly speak to "us", are actually doing with the power that they have been given.

Simon wonders how to prevent whatever it is that could be made in opposition to the oppressive tastefulness from being swallowed by it? I don't know. My best guess is that, in trying to better-define the ideology of post-ideology, in mapping its contours, we may be able to find that which it is NOT. And that NOT may be able to become something positive. How to write a record that gets a 0.0 on Pitchfork's website and is also so excellent in its own way as to delegitimize that website? I can't even imagine this aesthetically.

Speaking of aesthetic critiques, I have been careful to offer none. It's not a question of "intrinsic" merits. As has been discussed here, Johnny Rotten had to have owned the Pink Floyd shirt first before defacing it. PIL and Pink Floyd sit quite happily next to each other on my LP shelf.

What I find interesting about the near present versus the past is that no amount of commodification and copying seems to undermine the original. The advent, for instance, of really mediocre bands trying to sound like Joy Division or Gang Of Four a decade ago paradoxically only served to burnish the reputation of those bands (originals and copyists), instead of making them uncool. How many biopics of Ian Curtis will it take to make him just as frustrating to hear about as Bob Dylan? When will The Smiths not matter to the alienated and literate and bed-ridden teenagers of the future? Why are all of the kids starting to believe the stories the adults are telling them? The punks said "no future" but surely it should be "no past" now? We voted for revolution and we got… download coupons.

I wrote this about a year ago:
Listening to 1960s bands is a bit depressing, now, isn't it? For all of the resentment I felt towards ye olde boomers growing up, as their history was constantly sold as History in order to market nostalgia, I miss the feeling of culture being dominated by a group of people with a clear sense of the world and their place in it. Those years seem really, really far away now. The irony of retro culture is that, if it is an attempt to discover history towards finding a footing on which to build the future, the process has yielded quite the opposite result.
According to what bit of Harold Bloom's The Western Cannon I remember from flipping through it a trillion years ago: he said something to the effect of… as we go further back in time, the cannon necessarily narrows. To me, that makes a tremendous amount of sense, a very positive thing for culture, for community, in terms of building consensus, in terms of the revering and jettisoning that constitutes personal and collective identity. But now the opposite is happening. Worrisome. Why? Another day...




It'll be a few weeks until I make any progress on whatever it is I am writing, and I don't want to get expectations too high anyways…

But, in response to a commentator, I must say the following:

Maybe I was being a bit dramatic in declaring alternative culture dead, but here's why I feel this way: almost everyone I know who feels that there is/was something at stake in their love of music and art, in their desire to live differently, in their attempt to create some better version of human existence, well, they are suffering, and so am I. It's really hard to live without something to believe in, without feeling that there could be something to be accomplished. I love these people. I love my friends. I love the people who I don't even know who did things I can't even imagine anyone now having the courage to do. Sometimes, I even love myself. It's out of sympathy that I am declaring this culture dead. I am trying to find a way in which we can all be absolved of our fealties to various pasts which inspired us only to lead us nowhere, which inspired us with visions of possibilities that have seemingly been snatched from even our imaginations. Maybe by giving up on this past, we can begin to imagine a future for ourselves again.

I am only a nihilist contextually, not constitutionally.


D d delay

I want to write something good but all my best writing so far has been done in basically one take. If I am ever to progress, I'll have to actually learn to leave something and recover the inspiration days or weeks later.

I do want to throw one thing out there, though.

I was in New York for about 28 hours and I went to the new Rough Trade shop and found in one space all that is wrong with "alternative culture".

Let's just say this for now: alternative culture is over. It'll be hard to jettison. I don't know if I could ever do it myself, and I'm sure it will be harder for those of you who have experienced the Velvet Underground or Joy Division or Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine as something more than a $30 180g repress prominently displayed in a heavily-curated section of a record store whose function seems to be a living museum of what was once deemed oppositional.

What we need to work towards, what I am failing at writing about, is a way to completely and coherently describe the actual ideology of "post-ideology", to enumerate the characteristics of the bland tastefulness that makes a store like this possible, where all of the competing and formerly vital beliefs as to what music is and should be are all housed together, with no contradictions apparent*, towards both delegitimizing this state of affairs and towards seeing this state of affairs as being intrinsically tied to the culture itself as opposed to being imposed upon it externally.

Does that make any sense?

Only new desires will save us, and they aren't to be found in the music that composes, or is made by people versed in, the archive of old desires.

(*ugh I'm just describing postmodernity aren't I)


2013 part won

This is the one without the writing. Maybe I'll get to some writing. I have three or four different drafts lying around. Can they cohere? How many different ways are there to be negative? Have I used all the ones I know? Tune in next time!

The Knife - A Tooth For An Eye

Chasing Voices - Awoken By Tears

Ekman - Tears Of A Clown (2012 but whatever)

Desolate - Actaeon (just a snippet on sound cloud)

Fuck No!
Haim - Falling

Daft Punk - Get Lucky


Ranty ranty rant rant

I guess it's just that giving good service now feels like performing alienation.