Monthly Archives: March 2012

Web 2.0 Self-Fashioning

I want to be myself, just like my friends.

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Why I won’t be pinning anything.

Pinterest is like self-expression stuck in high school: just a bunch of images on your wall to tell the world who you want to be. I’d rather see what you are, not what you like. There’s a big difference.

 

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Filed under Culture, Ideas

Kill Your Heroes

I am sick of all the genre bands in Beijing. I don’t need to hear someone’s take on the Blues with Chinese characteristics or Chinese Punk. Or ska, or “folk music” or whatever.

When you go see those bands, you’re not really listening anyway. What you’re doing is using them as a conduit to whatever the best band in a given genre is. The highest praise for one of the genre bands is something like, “Those guys are great, they sound like Oasis or the Skatalites or XXX.” There’s nothing organic about the experience at all. You might as well be drinking gin and listening to your iPod.

I’m not interested in hearing a rehashed version of the music I already like. Good music is about having something to say, not being authentic to some kind of cannon or form. The cannon is there to be learned, assimilated and then destroyed by something new. Fuck the cannon and fuck your heroes. If you can’t, then you’ll just be a pale imitation of what you like.

It’s time for musicians in Beijing to burn the fucking history books and the how-to manuals. It’s time to throw out the music that inspired you.

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The Brand Spanking New not there Logo

Finally we have a logo.

A big thanks to the awesome, amazing Ana K for the design work. Hugs from not there.

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Filed under China, Music, Not There

Listening Project: Bad Habits

The continuing quixotic quest to review every album on my iPod from A to Z

 

Artist:

Nina Simone

Album:

Bad Habits

Comments:

Nina Simone’s voice is fucking indescribably amazing. I’ll just leave it at that.

 

Artist:

Sonic Youth

Album:

Bad Moon Rising

Comments:

Pretentious garbage. I like a lot of Sonic Youth, but Bad Moon Rising sounds like a horde of high school thespians mimicking beat poetry and dry-humping their instruments.

 

Artist:

Jim O’Rourke

Album:

Bad Timing

Comments:

Hmm. Mostly a collection of slightly off-kilter finger-picking, Bad Timing is pretty good background music, at least until the last 3 minutes of “Happy Trails.” Then, unexpectedly and inexplicably, O’Rourke is suddenly accompanied by a marching “band of brass” playing an absurd fan-fare. The whole Sousa thing left a bad taste in my mouth.

 

Note: It’s ironic that O’Rourke and Sonic Youth followed each other. O’Rourke played with Sonic Youth in the 00s.

 

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Listening Project: Welcome to the Letter B

The Listening Project is my quixotic attempt to listen to every album on my 120 gig iPod in alphabetical order.

 

Artist:

Glass Candy

Album:

B/E/A/T/B/O/X

Comments:

Meh. Pretty damn forgettable hipster dance music. 80s pastiche only goes so far. Would be good to work out to. Maybe.

 

Artist:

Baby Charles

Comments:

Baby Charles

Comments:

Meh. The letter B you are off to a week start. Baby Charles is one of those revival soul acts from Britain. They hit all the right notes and ape all the vintage sounds, but it’s a pretty damn soul-less affair.

 

Artist:

Bloodkin

Album:

Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again

Comments:

Bloodkin are a neo-Southern rock band that gained a little notoriety in the 90s because Widespread Panic liked to cover some of their tunes. Apparently the guys in Bloodkin liked to do a lot of drugs and drink lots of bad whiskey. Turns out that’s not good for your career, especially if you’re not popular enough to warrant the filming of a VH1 Behind the Music. Baby, They Told Us We Would Rise Again is Bloodkin’s Behind the Music in album form. Actually it’s not nearly as bad as that sounds. The boys have an interesting turn of phrase and an understanding of how to write catchy rock songs. “Rhododendron” is a killer song. The album is probably worth stealing if you’re really into southern rock.

 

Artist:

Bob Marley & the Wailers

Album:

Babylon by Bus

Comments:

I’m stunned there’s only 1 album on my iPod that starts with the word baby. I was expecting between 3 & 17. Frankly I’m relieved. Maybe all those babies were 90s R & B or something.

Back to Babylon.

I’m not a huge reggae or Marley fan, but I love this album. Babylon by Bus is a live album, but don’t hold that against it. Ashton “Family Man” Barret’s bass playing is astounding and highlights the record. The groove is so simple but so deep, it’s impossible to ignore. Marley’s voice sounds a little bit torn & frayed but that just makes Babylon feel more authentic.

 

Artist:

Trombone Shorty

Album:

Backatown

Comments:

Meh (again). I should love this album. I love New Orleans music and the Trombone Forum follows me on twitter. I also like Shorty in Treme, despite the fact Treme is basically a 2 year long hectoring PSA. But Backatown just didn’t do it for me. The arrangements were very stock and I thought the groove was way too square. I’m sure I would enjoy the hell out of Shorty live, but he needs to step up his game in the studio.

 

 

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How do you judge an idea?

Someone asked me last night if there’s a criteria I use to judge an idea. There is. I am a big fan of the 6 keys to stickiness from Made to Stick.

A good idea must be:

1. Simple

2. Unexpected

3. Concrete

4. Credible

5. Emotional

6. A Story

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