Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Walking 'round London town

Pogo newsflash: Lily Allen is actually rather okay! Normally I don't trust anyone with skin that looks like it was designed by IKEA, but this here, this here is positive. Watch her "LDN" video for the rad sneakers-ball gown combo, candy apple trumpet riff and the way it manages double-duty as trenchant urban commentary and hometown love letter. Watch even more for the 30-second intro, which allows Allen to get some digs in at misogynist record store culture. It's funny precisely because while men are expected to instigate "my 10-inch Japanese import is rarer than yr German 7-inch test-press" genre-dropping wank contests, women just aren't. Plus, photoshopping the original Rough Trade shop facade to say "Tough Grade" takes chutzpah. Really.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Stop making sense

Last archival Reynolds quote of the week, cross my heart (and sorry for the naked lady). I just can't resist, he's like the rock critical Gayle Rubin. Which = brilliance of a thousand shiny diamonds.

Feminine Pressure is the name of an all-female garage DJ crew. In a very real sense, UK garage is organised around the pressure of feminine desire; a key factor in the scene's emergence was when women defected en masse from the junglist dancefloor, fed up with the melody-and-vocal-devoid bombast of techstep. 2-step garage bears the same relation to jungle that lover's rock did to dub reggae: it's the feminized counterpart of a "serious" male genre [12] . Like 2-step, lover's rock was a UK-spawned hybrid of silky US soul and Jamaican rhythm that restored treble to the bass-heavy frequency spectrum [13] and replaced militant spirituality with romantic yearning.

Speak of the Reynolds, he's on next year's EMP Pop Con committee. You should totes go and show off yr Foucauldian/Butlerian/Wagnerian take on acid house/psychobilly/Glenn Gould/harmonica-core. Last year was nice, I ate some tiny pastries filled with artichoke.

The 2007 Pop Conference at Experience Music Project
April 19-22, 2007
Seattle, Washington

Music happens, then it ripples. What is the relationship between the circumstances that produce music and our swirling notions of pop's past, future, and zeitgeist? How do the times affect the notes? What factors literally and figuratively change the beat of a city? Some decry postmodern "pastiche," while others defend pop concoctions as multiculturalism in action or intoxicating aesthetics. But what are the power relationships at work when music stops time and lets us dance in place?

For this year's Pop Conference, we invite presentations on music, time, and place. This might include:

*Reading time and place into musical innovation. The breakbeat as a refunking of sonic structure and origin myth; or the social history of changing time signatures.

*The racial, class, and gender components that constitute a pop place or time's "we"; the mutating New Orleans of the hip-hop, funk, R&B, and jazz eras, for example.

*Evolving notions of musical revivalism: retro culture, questions of periodization in music, and the validity of the concept of youth culture as a sign of the times.

*Geographies of sound, or how place is incorporated sonically. Lise Waxer called Cali, Colombia, an unlikely bastion of salsa revivalism, a "city of musical memory."

*The dematerialization of the album into the celestial jukebox and other new media. Does the Chicken Noodle Soup dance live on 119 and Lex or on Youtube?

*How dichotomies of nearness/experience and farness/history affect music fanship, music writing, and music making.

*The "place" of pop now, culturally, professionally, and certainly politically.

Proposals should be sent to Eric Weisbard at EricW@emplive.org by December 15, 2006. For individual presentations, please keep proposals to roughly 250 words and attach a brief (75 word) bio. Full panel proposals and more unusual approaches are also welcome. For further guidance, contact the organizer or program committee members: Jalylah Burrell (New York University), Jon Caramanica (Vibe), Daphne Carr (series editor, Da Capo Best Music Writing), Jeff Chang (author, Can't Stop Won't Stop), Michelle Habell-Pallán (University of Washington), Josh Kun (University of Southern California) Eric Lott (University of Virginia), Ann Powers (Los Angeles Times), Simon Reynolds (author, Rip it Up and Start Again), Bob Santelli (author, The Big Book of Blues), and Judy Tsou (University of Washington). We are excited to announce that presentations from this year's conference will be considered for a future issue of The Believer.

The Pop Conference connect academics, critics, musicians, and other writers passionate about talking music. Our second anthology, Listen Again: A Momentary History of Pop Music, will be published by Duke in 2007. The conference is sponsored by the Seattle Partnership for American Popular Music (Experience Music Project, the University of Washington School of Music, and radio station KEXP 90.7 FM), through a grant from the Allen Foundation for Music. For more information, go to http://www.emplive.org/education/index.asp and click on "Pop Conference."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Rip it up and read Backlash again

What do you get when you throw together the world's brainiest pop critic, the world's brainiest pop star and some last-ditch subcultural idealism in response to a near decade of dire Thatcherite what-the-fuckery? You get subversive male feminist dialogue in the pages of Melody Maker, that's what. From a country that produced Emmeline Pankhurst, maybe we shouldn't be surprised.

Simon Reynolds: It's still not widely appreciated that men can want to be objects, as much as agents, of desire.

Morrissey: But I think men are seen like that, actually - now. Men are aware of their sexuality in a way they previously weren't, or weren't supposed to be. I think women have become very open about their needs and desires, and this was entirely due to feminism. By women being open about sex, it made life much easier for men. And this is why feminism helps everybody, to be slightly more relaxed about life.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Old World Emily, Where Are You Now?

Mairead Case on Emily Haines' forthcoming LP, Knives Don't Have Your Back:

the packaging...is gold and perfect-bound and anatomically correct (atrium, ventricle, atrium, ventricle). i wish the lyrics themselves were equally exciting -- "maid needs a maid" fills the envelope a bit limply. sure, a man needs a maid, so does a woman, but the maid needs a union and you should make your own bed.

Knives does threaten to be a come-down for those of us still sugar-rushing on Metric circa Old World Underground and the adamantine synth-hump sparkle of "Dead Disco" and "Succexy." Back then the commentary was always as sharp as the Casio'd bass lines, whether in service to Haines' blatant politicking ("All we do is talk static split-screens/ as the homeland plans enemies") or straight-faced music crit biz-bashing ("Everything has been done/ La la la la la la la la la la la la.") Still, "Our Hell" discourages gloomy 2003 nostalgia-wallowing even as it smacks of piano-heavy Tamborello/Broken Social Scene collaboration fallout. And Haines' dagger survives mostly undulled--check out the eerie salvo of "Docor Blind," in which she opines "the lack of light/hollow sea/poison beaches/limousines/toothless dentists/cops that kill." If you listen hard enough you'll recognize the post-apocalyptic vocabulary of Old World Underground lurking underneath Knives' songwriterly slide toward maturity. The burn still beckons; the fire just doesn't spark as high.

Re: stopping - can't/won't

The hiatus was a stupid idea, so I am declaring it over. Writing in here has become like an involuntary instinct, and I can't stop doing it. Sorry to fake y'all out like that--to patch up our relationship let's all go watch this together. I think it really expresses how I feel. And besides, nothing heals like side-wipes, light sticks and giant painted fingernails.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

We were born to sin

Fuck the hiatus. This moved me, and I'm sharing it. Best politcal song and video I've come across in ages.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Annus mirabilis

On Tuesday I begin my attempt to obtain a master's degree. I expect this to be rather like trying to run through a brick wall for two years without stopping. I am going to archives/library school, but today's top programs are not the cuddly, bespectacled, snack-and-nap-time affairs you might be thinking they are, where you sit around on cushions all day debating the pros and cons of Library of Congress vs. Dewey Decimal. You see, about fifteen years ago a bunch of highly forward-thinking prats came up with the brilliant idea of combining library science with information technology, producing a scaly, grumpy half-breed discipline that is not entirely one or the other. As a result there are very few classes in my program involving actual books but lots with names like "Design in a Mosaic of Responsive Adaptive Systems" and "Drupal Configuration and Customization." At the end of the two years, however, if I can still stand up, I will be qualified to get non-corporate jobs that actually pay me a living wage and allow me not to hate my life. I will also be able to bring compassionate radical feminism to a profession whose leaders really do wield power over people's lives.

In view of all this, I am putting this blog on hiatus until further notice. Art and theory and punk rock and feminism are still the most important things in my life--I am only starting to understand how much I need them. But the best way for me to guarantee that I can make a difference in them later (making the riot grrrl archive, writing, activism, etc.) is to focus on school now. I may update sometimes when I need a break, but I probably won't.

This has been an amazing year for me (no small thanks to Carebear and Jon), but now it's over and I have to do practical engagement workshops and figure out what "informatics" means. I can't think of a better way to go out than to contribute to Mairead's Sleater-Kinney tribute in Venus. After that, I really have nowhere else to go.

Keep pogoing in the interval,

Lizzie Pogo