Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I keep getting these emails from

Hello SCW Reynolds, we have recommendations for you

Hello SCW Reynolds,

Are you looking for something in our Music, Stage & Screen Books store? If so, you might be interested in these items.

Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to its Own Past
by Simon Reynolds

RRP: £17.99
Price: £9.00
You Save: £8.99 (50%)

Rip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984
by Simon Reynolds

RRP: £11.99
Price: £6.23
You Save: £5.76 (48%)

Generation Ecstacy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture
by Simon Reynolds

RRP: £23.99
Price: £22.29
You Save: £1.70 (7%)

Got to give their algorhythms some credit, from my past purchases and searches they have developed a very good sense of what I'm into!

(also recommended by - Luke Haines's Post Everything and Dorian Lynskey's book on protest songs)
"The Rise of Dress-up and the Fall of Pop" (another take on the VMA's from Nitsuh Abebe)

some other good reads:

compression still ruining music (Nick Southall's Quietus update-for-2011 of his celebrated Stylus loudness wars piece

"internet voids" (Joshua @ .. As Though the Shame Would Outlive Him)

(Michaelangelo Matos for the Guardian on where all those damn names came from)

"it's an escape hatch to a better musical world" (long-time-a-comin' sequel to the electronic dance critique "souffle not rising" post, mnml ssgs's on three elecronic non-dance releases that indicate ways forward)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

my latest guest-blog for Bruce Sterling's Beyond the Beyond @ Wired is about the retro-fiesta that was this year's Video Music Awards

a choir of Michael McDonald ketamine elves


one of the questions not addressed in Retromania is the possibility of music that is innovative but is also repugnant, or silly.... there might be any number of paths "forward", in fact, but if most of them are intolerable in some way or other, perhaps regular folks can be forgiven for sticking with the dependably pleasurable, the time-tested and true


that said, not sure about this Blake-Iver effort at all, in lots of ways it is astounding in a "Starsailor"-meets-Supercollider--meets-MusicFromBigPink kinda way... I suspect that it might grow on me, like moss or like the fungus a couple of trees down our street that looks like pizza made of dung and earwax...

Monday, August 29, 2011

No doubt the Weighty Theme laden Let England Shake is set to sweep the Mercury but from this year's nominees my pick would be this lot

Pound for pound Metronomy's The English Riviera beats PJ's effort for melodic invention (plus it's not encumbered by a strained Great War allegory presented as contemporary-political-comment)

I don't think I've ever had melody-induced insomnia before, but the other night I was kept awake for a couple of hours by the unstoppable rotation of "The Look" in my brain

Not the sound but the effect of the record reminds me of Vampire Weekend's debut: that combination of freshness and inexhaustibility... and that upside-of-atemporality quality of being vaguely-redolent-yet-always-elusive ... The English Riviera doesn't yield to analysis, breaking down into its constituents and sources... the official account--a South Coast 00s take on West Coast 70s--I cannot hear at all... certain curls of vocal and melody remind me more of ... Gary Numan after Telekon? Except not really.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

cf DEV's "In the Dark"

another song i'm loving hearing on the radio

sort of Cardigans overdosing on Red Bull

(like DEV though another offputting video)


there are a LOT of songs on the radio that are fun, super-exciting, mad catchy etc

but that equally are

* not breaking any new ground whatsoever

* don't have any content as such

* don't have any character as such either

(which has a lot to do with AutoTune turning everybody into OmniBotSinger ... case in point, Britney, where what's distinctive about her - the husky croak in her voice - is extinguished by the Antares-Adorno effect)(one reason Ke$ha stands out is that she's found a way to convey personality through/despite AutoTune)

an interesting state of affairs, especially for people whose job (or inclination) it is to write about pop... in the absence of anything much going on in those three categories (innovation / content - resonance / personality) what is there to say? the redescription of such pristinely functioning and anonymous pleasure-machinery seems superfluous... these songs explain themselves, they are purely sensation-al

rolling thunder...

something almost country about the vocal

"don't let the bastards get you down" "only up from here/no downward spiral"

check those cheer-less lyrics

like a lot of music on the radio at the moment it reminds me, in spirit if not substance, of this

"woke up this morning got myself a beer / the future's uncertain and the end is always near"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"The Ghost of Teen Spirit" - piece by me on grunge nostalgia for Slate


"Rejecting the Remix" - Op-Ed by Trevor Butterworth at The Daily addressing Retromania and related issues

Saturday, August 13, 2011

in today's New York Times Book Review -- a review of Retromania and an excerpt from the book

Friday, August 12, 2011

A few weeks ago I had a real “Hollywood” week where, in the space of a few days, I met Billy Idol and John Carpenter.

Idol was unexpected--a late addition to the panel for the Toby Mott exhibition of punk rock memorabilia and artwork that I was on.

A pleasant surprise anyway (always had a soft spot for “Rebel Yell”, “White Wedding” and “Eyes Without A Face”) and I was impressed that despite having lived in LA for X number of years and being your Archetypal Rockstar Rebel he did not appear to have a single tat. (Ink is verily a scourge in LA). Nice guy and cool also to effect a "Cyberpunk, meet Cyberpunk" introduction afterwards between Bruce and Bill (Sterling co-invented it, Bill did an album titled it)

Here is a bit of the panel where riffs on the Meaning of Punk from the p.o.v. of One Who Was There and then I riff on the Meaning of Punk from the p.o.v of One Who Wasn’t.

Carpenter was an interview for a video for the upcoming Sound and Vision festival (more on this below). It was filmed in the office at his production company HQ. In the conference room, I noticed a sign on the boss’s desk facing out to his employees and bearing the legend “No Whining”. There was a hint of that old-school director steeliness in his manner (I imagine interviewing Howard Hawks, or Russ Meyer, might have been similar). But overall a very pleasant, courteous fellow, Mr Carpenter.

The interview is going to be previewed in two parts on the web and then shown in full as part of the Sound of Fear: the Musical Universe of Horror event at the Southbank Centre in London on 3rd September 2011, which is part of the Sound and Vision festival of music for visuals from films to games to advertising. More information here and here.

For now, a taster. Do bear in mind that the questions and reaction shots of yours truly were filmed after Carpenter had left the premises. Standard practice in TV, but a ruddy peculiar thing to have to do, let me tell you, re-enacting what you just did, but this time into the void of silence. It gave me a new respect for the slickness of your professional TV interviewers.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

good on-the-ground analysis of the anarchy in the UK from Luke Turner at The Quietus

good idea also from the Quietus--a list of recommended releases to buy to direct cash-flow towards PIAS-distributed indie labels devastated by the loss of their stock in the Enfield warehouse inferno

i ordered Kaputt by Destroyer and swear to god it was five minutes before i realised how freakily apt the artist name and album title was
"i try to write a good song
a song with feel and care
i think it's quite a good song
'til i hear one of theirs

the Lament of the Epigone


ELO invent Oasis a decade ahead of schedule

but wait, there's this

and this

interesting article by Nick Murray for Village Voice connecting Retromania and the "Just like Honey" Spector-beat and C86-isms rife on the Brooklyn underground
loving hearing this on the radio

(video is a bit off-putting though)

but yeah, dig that pure-97 UK Garage digi-sax lick

Dev is already immortal for "slizzard" in "Like A G6"

the Cataracs specialise in sleazy video

Monday, August 08, 2011

And so I enter the reissue business myself...

Blissed Out: The Raptures of Rock is available once again 21 years after its original publication. It's one of the debut batch of reissues launching Backpages Classics, which is the e-book imprint of Rock's Back Pages.

Blissed Out returns in substantially expanded form with five bonus essays that track the development of underground music and artists such as Morrissey and My Bloody Valentine in the years following the book’s 1990 release. There's also an in-depth Afterword contextualising the rants 'n' raves therein as the byproduct of a unique historical phenomenon: the “space of possibility” known as the UK weekly music press.

On sale here and here

more information about Blissed Out here and here

RIP Conrad Schnitzler

Friday, August 05, 2011

I'm pleased to announce that the German translation of Retromania will be published by Ventil Verlag in 2012.

Other foreign-language versions of Retromania in the pipeline:

Italian (ISBN Edizioni, due September 2011)

Spanish (Caja Negra, due early 2012)

French (Le Mot et le Reste, due early 2012)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

RetroM US coverage (slight return)

supersharp review by Nicholas Carr in The New Republic

good dialogue with John Williams at The Second Pass

good chat with Erik Davis for his Progressive Radio Network show "Expanding Mind"

good dialogue with Thomas Rogers at Salon

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

round up of Retromania US coverage so far:

smart review by Michael Azerrad for Wall Street Journal

smart review by Nitsuh Abebe in New York magazine

smart review by Eric Harvey for The Atlantic

smart piece by Ann Powers at NPR connecting Retromania and the ritual pleasures of seeing beloved bands (in this case, The Feelies) year after year after year

interview with Steven Hyden for the A.V. Club/Onion

interview with Mark Richardson to launch Paper Trail, Pitchfork's new series of chats with music authors

interview with Mark Spitz for Vanity Fair

interview with Sophie Duvernoy for LA Weekly

radio conversation with John Schaefer for his WYNC show Soundcheck


and one non-American interview: a three-part chat with Luke Clancy of RTE (Ireland’s counterpart to Radio 4 or NPR) - the instalments are dated July 12th/ 13th/ 14th and can be found here if you scroll down a bit