Dedicated to classics and hits.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll


Book Review
Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There
by Lewis Carroll
p. 1871

 Through the Looking Glass is the sequel to Alice In Wonderland published six years after the first book.  Through the Looking Glass is an extended chess metaphor with a heavier dose of logically dense dialogue than the first book.  Through the Looking Glass has memorable Alice in Wonderland characters like the Jabberwocky, Tweedledum and Tweedledee and Humpty Dumpty.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee

  I read this book on my bare bones kindle and it was a drag- this is the kind of book that you want to read in a large format with color pictures. Truth be told I did not get much out of Through the Looking Glass except for understanding where the Jabberwocky and Tweedledum and Tweedledee come from.

  Honestly I'm dreading the approaching 20th century.  I kind of feel like the novel peaked in the late 19th century when the Russians, English, French and Americans all had classic hits in the same decades.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Show Review: Nick Cave @ The Balboa Theater

Nick Cave

Show Review
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
@ The Balboa Theater

   I'm not a Nick Cave fan- at all!  It's crazy- Zoo Music is partially named after a Birthday Party song (Nick Cave early band)- you would think I would be into him.  But just not!  Same thing with Tom Waits!  And most of the films of Jim Jarmusch (Mystery Train, Down By Law excepted.)  At the same time I deeply respect Nick Cave and the career he has fashioned ad-midst the ongoing collapse of the music industry.

    If you are looking at a younger Artist and trying to figure out "Well- what would be a good career to emulate?" Nick Cave would be high on that list.  Tom Waits would  be high on that list.  I'm talking about mature artists who have a career when they have not absolutely prostituted their art.  Compare the dignity of Tom Waits & Nick Cave with the off-putting late career antics of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.  All I'm saying is that choices have consequences.

   First time at the recently renovated Balboa Theater (located in the Gaslamp at Horton Plaza.)  They have knocked down the  abysmal Sam Goody building so now you can see the Theater facade from Broadway & 4th and let me tell you it was a good look.  The theater itself was a pleasure- seats weren't too small and the sound was AMAZING.  From my second row balcony seat the mix sounded great- and The Bad Seeds were rolling seven men deep?  Eight men deep?  Keyboards! Fiddles! Xylophone! Synths! Pianos! Guitars! Atmospheric noise elements on loop!

   Being a Nick Cave NOOB I hesitate to say anything about the performance except for the fact that he played for close to two hours.  That he played his hits. That the crowd fucking loved every g-d minute, that Cave relies heavily on the theme of Dr Faust where the Doctor sells his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge.  This story was appropriated by Blues aficionados most often in the narrative surrounding "lost" Blues Men from the Delta and the idea that they sold their soul to the devil at the crossroads- and their lyrics to that effect.

  Nick Cave seems like a sophisticated, erudite kind of guy so I'm assuming that he is hip to Dr Faust and Goethe etc.   He has crafted this image that has a relatively narrow but deep appeal- deep enough to sell out 1000+ cap venue with tickets that cost between 70 and 100 plus dollars and sold out instantly.  That's a good Audience!

  Even without a firm grasp of the catalog I was deeply impressed by the set.  I was less impressed by the Audience- shout out to the guy sitting next to me who watched the whole- two hour- performance through a pair of opera glasses.  Rock on, my man.  Looking down from the balcony it was hard to ignore the advanced... age of the crowd.  I would probably attribute that more to the cost and difficulty of obtaining the tickets vs. a knock on the age of Cave's fan base.  Still, to feel like "the youngest person there" as a 37 year old- at a ROCK concert is something else.  I've felt older at the Opera.

  It is pretty clear from everything that Nick Cave says and does that he fucking hates playing the rock touring game and probably thinks a good portion of his casual fan base are morons.  I don't know how you could watch that performance and be deeply, deeply impressed with Cave's live show.  And the man himself.   Nick Cave runs his own show- puts out his own records, books his own tours etc.  DIY as fuck.  Lesser Artists could learn something from his hard core DIY approach and the long term success that has resulted.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dirty Beaches & TONSTARTSSBANDHT Russia Tour Starts TOMORROW!!!


17.4 St. Petersburg, Russia - Zoccolo ^
18.4 St. Petersburg, Russia - Griboedov Club *
20.4 Moscow, Russia - Club Artplay *
21.4 Kursk, Russia - Antimusic Club *
24.4 Volgograd, Russia - Marksbar *
25.4 Rostov-on-Don, Russia - Tochka *
27.4 Kiev, Ukraine - Xlib Club *

^ Femminielli, Andy Boay + Eola sets only

 Alex Dirty Beaches self booked this tour, and it just shows you where he's at- he could have done anything and this is what he WANTS to do- a DIY tour of Russia and Ukraine.  How fucking cool is that?  How many indie bands fucking wish they could pull off and can't because they are essentially, pussy ass bitches. Oh what all of them?  I've only seen a couple other indie bands make it to Russia- Prince Rama is one- and I pay attention to that information.

 The FB event pages in St Petersburg, Moscow and Rostov on Don all have one hundred plus RSVP's or organic invitations.  Moscow has 1200. (900 are invitations)  This was all accomplished on the web with zero "major label" level support let alone the involvement of an international booking agency.  DIY style.  An advertising "budget" of under one hundred dollars.  So you tell me why Dirty Beaches needs a big indie backing him up?  When he can do this with zero help from anyone. Hmm.

From Indie to Top 40? Hope You Are An EDM Producer w/ Hits

  I think the most interesting song on the Billboard Hot 200 right now is Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX I Love It.  It's currently #17 on the Billboard 200- which is also its peak position.  I Love It has been on the Billboard 200 chart for 10 Weeks.

  The timing of I Love It rising on the Billboard Hot 200 is likely related to the placement of I Love It in the trendy HBO dramcom girls (written & starring Lena Dunham.)  Billboard recently changed the formula for the Top 200 to include "buzz" measures like You Tube plays. Another huge beneficiary of this switch, and another Indie/EDM cross-over is Baauer's viral smash Harlem Shake.

  The rise of I Love It on the chart is due to more then just a savvy synch in a buzzy cable tv show.  I can testify to the fact that I Love It is being played on FM radio, the traditional arbitrer of the Billboard 200, and the continued rise of what is essentially an indie edm track into the Billboard 200 Top 20 is conclusive prove that an indie Artist can penetrate the world Top 40.  Here's the catch: You have to be an EDM producer with hits.

 Icona Pop is not the first, nor the most popular of indie artists who have infiltrated Top 40.  Perhaps the most succesful notable current representative is Calvin Harris.

    I remember Calvin Harris as a legit indie EDM producer circa  2005-2006 when I was reading Big Stereo and dance music was "in."  He went from that point to Rhianna #1's in what- five years?

 I think there is a solid case to place Swedish House Mafia in the same category- an INDIE EDM artist who has made it onto the pop charts.  Here, the issue is whether Swedish House Mafia could be considered an INDIE act vs. an act controlled by the major labels.   I don't have the facts at my finger tips, but I'm pretty sure I could make the case in about five minutes based on label and distribution and touring history.

  When I get emails, and a picture of the band is included and the band has 3-5 bros with guitars (which is every email I get unless it's just one bro and no guitar), I think to myself...this is not the easiest way to do it.  There are easier ways to get people to pay attention AND ALL OF THEM INVOLVE INCORPORATING EDM INTO YOUR SOUND.

    I'm not saying you need to beat an 808 like a drum as does Calvin Harris, or that cheesy ass fake DJ performances are the route to the top, like it has been for Swedish House Mafia.  All I'm saying is that EDM is popular, has a huge Audience and current examples of people who started in the same place as all Indie musicians and rose to the top of the Billboard chart within the last year.

  And sure, at this point all those acts have major labels involved, but not at the beginning.  I'm fairly certain that for Calvin Harris it was a publishing deal that got him the entre- something available to any indie songwriter.  Icona Pop appears to have been driven by a sync placement- again- something available to any indie songwriter.  Swedish House Mafia built a following with relentless touring over multiple continents  again- something that an indie band can obtain.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Watch Waterpark by Evan Prosofsky w/ Dirty Beaches OST

Shorts on Sundays: Waterpark on

  Here is something else that happened totally independent of anything I do or tell people to do- you can watch the Evan Prosofsky directed Waterpark- which is a documentary about a water park in Canada- with an OST by Dirty Beaches.  I've encourage Alex in this area. Who wants to be touring night clubs for the rest of their life? Movies seem like a cushier, not to mention unionized, gig. (GORILLAVSBEAR)

Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
p. 1872

  The idea of a political avant garde existing alongside an artistic avant garde seems like a particularly 19th/20th century concept from the perspective of 2013.  Sure, Al Queda and their cohorts fit the description of "political radicals" but you could hardly call a bunch of Muslims hiding out in caves a political "avant garde."  They are like the opposite.

 In the United States, we've got the tea party movement and again, while they are certainly best described as "radicals" they are hardly avant garde. Again- they are like the opposite. The fact is that the people who are potentially politically avant garde are now well ensconced inside the capitalist industrial complex, whether they are professors, grad students, culture industry employees or independent professionals.

  Dostoyevsky was the first novelist to really dig into this 19th century political avant garde.   His contemporaries might include a character here and there on the margins of a multi-plot Victorian Novel but it was up to Dostoyevsky to bring the now well known figure of the feverish (figuratively and literally) Russian intellectual/political conspirator to life.  Dostoyevsky's radical milieu in Demons:  A group of alienated Russian upper class communist/nihilists; is completely without parallel in contemporaneous depictions of society by other Novelists.

  At the same time, Dostoyevsky also features a disorienting and confused first person narration that foreshadows modernism.  Of all the 18th and 19th century novels I've read in the past several years, this was the first one where I had to go online to answer questions like "Who is the narrator?" "What is the plot?"  This kind of narrative confusion is often ascribed to ALL Russian novelists, but if you've actually read Turgenev and Tolstoy you will understand me when I say Dostoyevsky's technique out paces both in its ability to disorient.

  The Russian novelists are interesting because I believe them to be the first loose group of Novelists to break out of a provincial literary scene and into the limelight to be hailed as geniuses.  This is something that happens again and again and again throughout the 19th and 20th century in a variety of Art disciplines: studio arts, novels, films, etc.  Some small group of Artists come from the margins and rewrite how the main stream thinks about their artistic discipline.  So the Russian Novelists of the mid 19th century, being first, are of particular interest.

  Many of the novels on the 2001 list of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die between 1870 and 1900 are Russian novels.  So there will be a lot of discussion of Russian novelists on this blog for the foreseeable future.

  Demons was actually what I would call a tough read- I didn't particularly enjoy it and had trouble staying focused, but I was certainly cognizant of what Dostoyevsky was bringing to the table in terms of plot, theme and style.

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