Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Don Letts' Documentary, "Punk Attitude"

According to Dangerous Minds: In this fine documentary directed by Don Letts (who knows a thing or two about punk rock) a bunch of aging punkers talk about the roots of the punk scene and their love of the music they make. There’s not much new here but it’s good to see Steve Jones, Pete Shelley, Howard Devoto, Siouxsie Sioux, Captain Sensible, Mick Jones Jones,David Johansen, Jello Biafra, Wayne Kramer, Thurston Moore, Legs McNeil and Tommy Ramone, among many others, wax poetic about the music explosion that was detonated in the mid-70s. It’s amazing how many survived. And deeply saddening that since this film was made in 2005 we’re down to zero original Ramones. 

“Punk is not mohawks and safety pins. It’s an attitude and a spirit, with a lineage and tradition.” Don Letts.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

New York City's 1975 Fiscal Crisis: template for neoliberalism, and a precipitant of hip-hop

Initially, the crisis was portrayed as a local story, a reflection of New York and its “mongrel” population, liberal social policies, profligate spending, and powerful unions. But the means of its resolution became a template for the imposition of neoliberal policies around the world. Ruling elites took seriously the call to “think globally, act locally,” making a municipal finance problem into an event of world significance.

Read on, in Jacobin.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Brands and Bands and SXSW

David Carr, "A New Model for Music: Big Bands, Big Brands," on page one of the business page, New York Times, March 17, 2014.


In Austin last week, the salty, cheesy wonder of Doritos was brought to you by the sweet, uplifting allure of Lady Gaga. Or was it the other way around?...

In a streamed world where music itself has very little value, selling out is far from looked down upon, it’s the goal...

The consumer wants all the music that he or she desires — on demand, at a cost of zero or close to it — and we now live in that perfect world.
It doesn’t feel perfect, though. At this year’s festival, historically a place of artistic idiosyncrasy, music labels were an afterthought and big brands owned the joint. Venues were decked out with a riot of corporate logos, and the conference’s legacy as a place where baby bands played their little hearts out to be discovered seemed quaint in a week in which Jay Z and Kanye West kicked it for Samsung, Coldplay headlined for Apple’s iTunes and Tyler, the Creator played a showcase for Pandora.
This new order evolved because when music moved into the cloud, not much of the revenue came with it. CD sales are a fraction of what they once were, and the micropayments from streaming services have yet to amount to anything meaningful...

Given that Bob Dylan, of all people, recently made a big-money commercial for Chrysler, none of this is surprising, but it still has implications. No one will miss the stranglehold the large music labels had on the industry, but having shoe and snack food companies decide what is worthy could strangle the new, unruly impulses that allow the music business to prosper...

For South by Southwest, Lady Gaga filmed something of an infomercial for Doritos, urging people to use the hashtag #boldstage and submit a video of themselves doing something “bold” to compete for access to her performance...

(You could say it was a new low, but last year, I saw Public Enemy, musical heroes of my youth, perform “Fight the Power” inside a mock Doritos vending machine.)

At her keynote address on Friday, Lady Gaga thanked Doritos and said plainly, “Without sponsorships, without all these people supporting us, we won’t have any more festivals because record labels don’t have any” money.

Carrie Brownstein, the star of “Portlandia” who played in the rock band Sleater-Kinney for years, was in town with her co-star Fred Armisen to speak on a panel. Like many, she marveled at the number of brands that wallpapered the festival.

“I almost felt like I was in festival-land and the bands were there as part of the theme park,” she said. “Still, it’s good there is a physical place where people gather to watch music because so much of it seems to come from nowhere at a cost of nothing”...

“The willingness of artists to partner with brands happened because revenues dried up from physical discs,” [Peter Gannon] said. “The labels are not going to get a lot of sympathy because they were not very good to artists. At least when a brand is involved, there is an understanding that we are borrowing the cachet that the artist has built and we try to make high-quality projects that give value to both the client and the artist. ”

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Documentary: British Asian Sound Systems

Call it Bhangra managements: in a period stretching from the 90s to the early 00s, a musical and social phenomenon took place within the UK’s Asian community. A sound was developed that incorporated the pleasures, pains and politics of second and third generation Asian Brits. From the remixes of classic Bhangra tracks to the creation of drum & bass this period of time encapsulated a movement where cultural identities where announced all through the audible soundscapes of incredible music and the vital heart of youth nightlife. 

From Dazed magazine, via Shocklee Entertainment Universe. Here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Vice: Mexican Mods Helped to Reshape the Cartel-Ravaged City of Tijuana

Very interesting article from Vice (Dec. 15, 2014) about the mods of Tijuana.

"The mod scene in TJ is small, but being a Mexican mod isn't all that different from being a regular Mexican," says Tijuana a Go-Go DJ Astronauta Jackson. "We all like to get fine and dandy, shake our hips to the oldies but goodies and get wasted by the end of the night. It's all about the music mainly. If you want to pop on a Fred Perry and some shiny shoes, cool. It's all the same people getting together and listening to the music."