Sunday, April 27, 2008

Report: IASPM 2008

This weekend was the annual meeting of The International Association for the Study of Popular Music (US Chapter). That's a mouthful, I know. Last year was my first experience with the IASPM conference, and I was glad to be able to return.

This year's conference was conveniently held in Iowa City. Although part of the charm of conferences is going to different places, (and exploring their bars, restaurants and record stores), there's something to be said for not having to spring for a plane ticket, hotels, etc.

This year's conference was as enjoyable as last year's, and equally as draining (although that's partially due to a few other events going on simultaneously as well). I presented a paper that's I've been working on intermittently for the last year on the recent validation/legitimation of Yoko Ono's reputation in popular culture. The presentation went well, and I met someone who's actually writing a dissertation chapter on Yoko, so we bonded over that.

Here are some highlights from this year's music geekfest:

-As part of the conference, Friday night included a performance by Jon Langford and
of Mekons fame. I wasn't familiar with them, but it was a great acoustic set and some of the best in-between song banter I've heard in a while.

I didn't make it to the conference until midday on Saturday. The first panel I saw included a very interesting paper by Luis-Manuel Garcia on the vocoder and intimacy in electronic music. Part of Garcia's paper was picking apart Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek." I was going to post the YouTube clip to share, but you're better of just hearing it rather than attaching a visual. I don't know where I first heard this song, but I loved it, then promptly forgot about it completely.

The other panel I saw on saturday was perhaps my favorite. Liz Lindau gave a great presentation on Sonic Youth, John Cage and art rock, while Josh David Jackson gave another great paper on Bowie's tactical artistic and critical resurgence in the mid 1990s with 1. Outside.

I spent the entire day at the conference on Sunday. First, Steve Pond gave a plenary on the difficulties of jazz historiography.

Then it was time for my panel. Christopher Smit gave perhaps the most creatively written presentation of the weekend on the exile of Britney Spears, drawing a metaphor between our consumption and rejection of Spears to consumption, digestion and defecation. It was humorous, well thought out, and complexly framed. My colleague Dan Faltasek then gave his take on American Idol.

Then I did some hopping around. Luckily I caught Nick Rubin's presentation on college radio and the music industry. Interestingly, I felt his critique of college radio was similar to my take on public radio, and thus made me rethink the state of college radio today.

I closed out the conference chairing a panel on the relationship of music, tv and representing place. Andrew Vincent spoke on the relationship between commercial advertisers and indie music, drawing on his experience in writing a song for an Old Navy xmas commercial a few years ago:

Trevor Harvey then shared some of his ethnographic research about

All in all, it was a great conference. I liken it to a music festival. First, there are always cool things going on simultaneously and you have to miss out on some of them. Secondly, it's a great time with interesting people, but by the end, you're totally wiped out and just want to pass out for a few days.

Sadly, I didn't get to pass out for a few days. More like 3.5 hours last night. Oy vey.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Funk: A new release Tuesday preview

This week, I'd like to remind you of two discs dropping on Tuesday.

First up (and mentioned previously here) is Jamie Lidell's Jim. I've abstained from listening to advance copies, but I'm told it's hot. Also, my pal Paul and I will be heading to the windy city to see Mr. Lidell in June - should be great!

Here's another one from the new disc, "Another Day":

And also on Tuesday, The Roots release their eighth studio album, Rising Down. As mentioned elsewhere on this blog, The Roots may be on their way to becoming my favorite hip hop act of all time, supplanting Public Enemy. And that's not just because they hail from my homestate of PA (albeit, the other side of the state).

I've missed so many opportunities to see The Roots live, it's ridiculous. And this summer is no exception. They're playing at Carnegie Mellon University, which I missed for being in Iowa. When I'm actually in Pittsburgh in a few weeks, they'll be playing Chicago with Erykah Badu. I look forward to living in a major city next year for many reasons, access to concerts among them.

Anyhow, from Rising Down, here's "Get Busy," featuring the one and only DJ Jazzy Jeff:


I've been on a big Janet Jackson kick all week. It all started when the Design of a Decade video collection came my way via Netflix. Many of the videos I hadn't seen in quite some time, and the full clip for "Control" was especially great to see (featuring not only Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, but Jerome Benton too!). Curiously, the video for "Miss You Much" was cut short, which always bothered me when MTV or VH1 did the same thing. However, one clip that happily did not receive such edits was "Alright."

I have not seen this video in its entirety since it was still running high on the MTV Top 25 Countdown with Adam Curry.

Do they even have a weekly countdown on MTV anymore? Anytime I happen upon the channel it's always Room Raidersor that ridiculous sweet 16 show.

I digress. Watching the dvd also made me realize how much they milked pop albums for singles in those days. Rhythm Nation for example had 7 singles/videos. Control had 6. That just doesn't happen any more (although the Gwen Stefani solo records come close, clocking at 5 each).

I've also settled an ongoing internal debate. For a few years, I've toiled over which I like better - Control or Rhythm Nation. In asking like-minded friends, they scoffed as if it was even a question that Control wins every time. The conclusion I've come to on this is that Control is in fact a better album - it's the classic Flyte Tyme sound, it's more consistent and it has that breakout album energy. However, I think that I have more sentimental attachment to Rhythm Nation for whatever reason. Perhaps by that time I was a little more engulfed by pop music, taping things off of the radio and MTV (I so wish I still had those tapes), etc. They're both great though. I do love how each totally represents the two main sounds of Jam and Lewis (i.e. Control still sounds VERY Minneapolis sound, while Rhythm Nation sounds very much like The Time's Pandemonium album.

But again,
I digress. Enjoy Janet, Cab Calloway and Heavy D. getting down together.

PS-is it just me, or is YouTube being horribly slow/nonfunctional as of late?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"the weather's fine."

This has always been my "spring song," and given the great weather in Iowa City the last few days, it's been running through my head. Great song, one of my favorites from the boys. Ties only with "She Said, She Said" as Ringo's best drum line.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday Funk

Here's something to get your weekend started. The mix served two purposes. First, a challenge: only pre-1984 material (aside from a few associated tracks). This made for a very interesting mix. I ended up including songs that I don't think have ever made the cut on previous mixes of mine, including those solely dedicated to the purple one. Secondly, I was playing around with Cool Edit Pro. Nothing incredibly fancy in the mix, but it's seamless, and I'll be curious if anyone can spot the two substantial edits that I made.

I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out, I hope that you are too. If you're having peeps over this weekend, throw it on for good measure. Else, let this be your "getting ready to go out" music. It will do the trick, I promise.

Happy weekend!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"somebody put me together."

Faith No More's The Real Thing ended up being the soundtrack to my run today. Great album. I always mean to buy more of their albums (the only other one I have is Angel Dust), but somehow I never get around to it.

At any rate, here's a gem:

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Funk

Just grab him in the biscuits!
One of the most underrated hip hip groups of all time.
Happy Friday all - keep it funky!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"This ain't no party, this ain't no disco."

I've often said that my favorite music "scene" is likely New York City in the late 1970s. You had The Ramones, Blondie, Television, Patti Smith and the Talking Heads - often sharing bills at CBGB, the Mudd Club, Max's Kansas City...I can only imagine catching some of those shows. In the spirit of the lat 1970s NYC scene, I bring you an aural snapshot.

First up is a 4-song collection of Blondie demos from 1975. The highlight for me is a cover of the Shangri-Las' classic "Out in the Streets." Tight!

Blondie- Demo EP
1. Out in the Streets
2. Thin Line
3. Platinum Blonde
4. Puerto Rico

Following that line of thought, here are a collection of demos that the Talking Heads presented to CBS Records, also from 1975. Most of these songs were re-recorded for the band's first two albums, and the demo versions definitely exhibit the energy of those discs. The others wound up on the Sand in the Vaseline collection, and later as bonus cuts on the glorious Brick boxed set, which I **highly** recommend. I actually owned all of the albums previously, but was still blown away by the revamped collection. Well worth the money.

Talking Heads - CBS Demos

01 Psycho Killer
02 Sugar On My Tongue
03 Thank You For Sending Me An Angel
04 I Want To Live
05 I Wish You Wouldn't Say That
06 The Girls Want To Be With The Girls
07 Who Is It?
08 With Our Love
09 Stay Hungry
10 Tentative Decisions
11 Warning Sign
12 I'm Not In Love
13 The Book I Read
14 Love Goes To Building On Fire
15 No Compassion