Amanda Palmer drives me fucking crazy—she drives a lot of people crazy. She drives our dearest Megan to crazy poetry. She drives the internet into a churning, frothing rage every few months. We've been talking a lot about her.
But every time the internet swells up with a big rage boner for someone, I start to wonder—could this by any chance be about something other than the actual person/store/Rollie Eggmaster at which the rage is directed?
On Saturday, I got exactly what I wanted in that discussion when Vulture published Nitsuh Abebe's "The Amanda Palmer Problem":
I hesitate to even point this stuff out, both because it's been remarked on at length over the past year, and because it amounts, in the aggregate, to an astonishing glut of policing the way Amanda Palmer feels like making art. It's not, after all, like she's defrauding or preying on anyone, which is more than can be said for people in countless other corners of the music world. And while the level of attention paid to her business is driven partly by serious debates that she willingly participates in, it seems just as much driven by the fact that many people inevitably find Palmer herself—her manner, music, eyebrows, gender, whatever—fun to hate...
You might argue that this is the sort of annoyance from which the world can easily look away; doesn't there come a point where people are pointing and groaning at the "attention-seeking" person because we're actually getting something out of it?
This article is not an anguished "Leave Amanda alone!" Rather, it's a look at what we can learn from the red-hot reaction we have to certain annoying people on the internet.
(Warning: I got so wrapped up in reading this internet-story-about-the-internet on my phone this weekend that I failed to participate in some really important nature that was happening around me. So you should make sure you're in a dentist's waiting room or a window-free office or something—not laying in a sun-dappled park somewhere—before clicking through.)
Care Of Editions is a German record label with a refreshing take on some stale ideas. They’re purveryors of experimental music, a genre renowned for its DIY ethic, but this is the first label I’ve ever heard of that goes so far as to pay you to download their music. Here’s how that crazy idea works: downloads are limited in edition, and are paid for by the sales of the record they're attached to, meaning that people can only download and get paid if others are also purchasing. The only way to “unlock” paid downloads is for consumers to purchase vinyl copies. What’s better, the more vinyl that is purchased the more a download pays. It begins with a $1 reward and goes up to $45 dollars for the last lucky downloader, provided of course that the last, the 45th vinyl copy, has also sold. C/O will do this six times between 2012 and 2013, effectively devouring itself and breaking even in the process.
As much a work of performance art as it is a distributor of art, founder Gerhard Schultz has even gone so far as literally eliminating the label's website in proportion with record sales and downloads to emphasize the zeroing out of it all. Downloads are paid in real time, too, the label writes you a check as soon as you download, and the label will keep writing checks until all the vinyl is sold. In this way the record label will always zero its own debt out by meeting exact demand with exact supply.
Gerhardt is in Berlin, but was kind enough to allow me to take part in his label experiment from all the way over here in Seattle. He provided me with a download of two of the records—Ezra Buchla’s At The Door, and Scott Cazan’s Swallow— and mailed me a vinyl copy of of the artist known as #/TAU’s First Dew. Though I didn’t get paid to download, or pay for the vinyl, I wanted to go all the way through the process to see how it worked. I’m assuming I would have made at least a couple dollars, then helped to free up one more download by paying for a record. What I found immediately, aside from added confirmation for my love of experimental music, was that participation in the process was like having a philosopher for a record label.
C/O Editions first two releases are not European experimental artists but electroacoustic releases from couple of Los Angelinos. Ezra Buchla is a viola player who loops his own strings and synth sounds into a hurdy-gurdy like drone, and chants over them unintelligibly to spooky effect. Buchla has reportedly taken for inspiration a Jack Spicer poem, and a 16th century lycanthropy trial and conviction (damn werewolves, everywhere). His limited vinyl and download are officially out on the lables websiteApril 12th, but can be preordered (download or vinyl) now.
Scott Cazan is familiar with stringed instruments, but rather than play them in any conventional way, he attaches microphones to them, then drums on them, sometimes he’ll even hold microphone between his own teeth, then tap at tablets and laptops and soundboards as he captures the essence of the wood and flesh of his chosen materials. His record is three tracks of high pitched frequencies: feedback that sounds like steel cable about to snap under tension, wine glasses ringing, flutes holding notes at hypnotically long intervals, only interrupted by the static, beeping, and voice samples with the voyeuristic charm of a pocket call.
Holy lord, I love Raffi. Sometimes, people who you like as a child turn out to be creeps. And sometimes, they turn out to be really great grown-ups (like Mr. Rogers, who was one of the loveliest humans ever). Right now, children's singer-songwriter Raffi is taking to Twitter to lament the awfulness of Canadian teenager Rehtaeh Parsons's recent suicide, and rape culture and slutshaming in general, specifically calling out men to address their own issues and adults to fix some of the systemic fuckups that lead to these tragedies.
"rape culture"? what has society become—who tolerates such hideous violence& insult to human dignity? MEN, Youth—SPEAK OUT!! — Raffi Cavoukian (@Raffi_RC) April 12, 2013
heartbroken by the ongoing prevalence of online violence & shaming. social media enables terrible acts—needs regulating, teaching. #tech — Raffi Cavoukian (@Raffi_RC) April 12, 2013
Turns out he's been involved with kids' and teens' safety on the internet for a while, founding a project called Red Hood, inspired by Amanda Todd's suicide, that aims to get social-media platforms to take cyberbullying and young people's safety into account in their design. GO, RAFFI! I love you.
UPDATE! And alithea in comments wins the internet today with this "Baby Beluga" redo:
BABY BELUGA DISMANTLING THE PATRIARCHY ENCOURAGE DISCOURSE SO EVERYONE CAN BE FREE WITH MRAS UP ABOVE AND NONINTERSECTIONALISTS BELOW AND A CULTURE OF WHITE MALES CALLING EACH OTHER "BRO".
Some generations are force-fed misremembered vainglory, some are led off the marbled cliffs of excess—let's take a moment to appreciate Manjula Martin's take on John Roderick's punk-failed-me screed, the exceptional parody "The Jazz Age Is Bullshit." Take it away, Martin:
My experience of my youth subculture is indicative of everyone else's experience. I, a heterosexual white male in my 40s, really got what the Jazz Age meant. And jazz definitely meant exactly the same thing to other people as it did to me, especially people of color and women and queer folk and younger generations who came after me. I mean, come on. It's not like jazz provided a viable subculture for youth to turn to at a time when many kids were caught between eras, struggling to figure out what to keep and reject of their parents' worlds while battling the larger economic and geopolitical changes at work in the world, not to mention the common brutality of adolescence.
And it's not like flapperism did anything for women, either. I mean, an entire subset of young women doing the things boys did and wearing short hair and showing their gams without fear certainly didn't provide other young women with a vision of life beyond the oppressive gender and sexual norms of the past. I mean, people don't even wear corsets anymore, so what's even the point of the so-called flapper rebellion?
I can't believe this is real. Also: FUCK TWITTER. It's heartbreaking that this human couldn't find another human to talk to, in real time, in real life, sans internet. I wish people still used the telephone. Sincere condolences to his loved ones and family.
The great but financially strapped counterculture magazine Arthur will be returning to print after a four-year hiatus. Published by Jay Babcock, the LA-based Arthur existed from 2002-2008 and ran some of the most insightful and provocative music/countercultural/ political journalism in America and helped to raise the profile of "freak folk" throughout the world, aided in part by The Golden Apples of the Sun compilation it issued in conjunction with Devendra Banhart in 2004.
Publishing such a non-mainstream zine, while aesthetically satisfying, led to $100,000 of debt. The strain of trying to edit the mag and raise revenue proved too stressful for Babcock, so he ceased operations in 2008. But a move to a location just outside of Joshua Tree, California and a reliable source of income have given him incentive to relaunch Arthur. This is great news for lovers of interestingly written, left-of-center music/art criticism.
by Dave Segal
on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 10:06 AM
It’s always a pleasure to see a local artist you champion break out into international awareness. Such is the case of Panabrite (aka Norm Chambers), a Seattle synthesizer master who’s been accumulating much blog praise over the last year or so; now his work’s earned a rave review in that most stringent of print publications, The Wire. (You have to get the physical copy to read the review; it’s the August issue with Ariel Pink on the cover.)
In the review, critic Joseph Stannard writes:
[Panabrite’s music bears] some relation to Jon Brooks’s work as The Advisory Circle and the solo exploration of Zombi’s Steve Moore, but percolate[s] its own flavour of nautical wistfulness. Although Chambers’s music is created using vintage analogue synths, he doesn’t trade in anonymous burble. He composes instrumental pieces with strong, memorable melodies, layering them all with the kind of painstaking craft associated with studio obsessives such as Todd Rundgren, Lindsey Buckingham and Jeff Lynne… Chambers has released an oceanful of material in a relatively short space of time, and what’s astonishing is that it’s all tremendous.
What I’ve heard of The Baroque Atrium bears out Stannard’s enthusiasm. The disc contains some of Panabrite’s most accomplished compositions: somber, majestic, beautiful sojourns that propel your mind to vast, unknown realms. This is way beyond your assembly-line drone stuff (much of which I love, don’t get me wrong); Chambers has developed into a world-class sculptor of melodic grandeur. Those sci-fi-film and nature-documentary soundtracking assignments should start pouring in.
The Baroque Atrium is available through the Australian label Preservation.
It started on Saturday, when Emily White, a 20-year-old NPR intern, admitted that she's really only ever paid for about 15 CDs in her life, but she has over 11,000 songs in her iTunes. She collected the songs from mix CDs, her college radio station's music library (which she worked at), other people's iTunes, and, yes, some illegal downloading, and she (apparently) doesn't feel too bad about not paying these artists any money for the music she enjoys every day.
And boy did the shit fly.
Really, White didn't say anything that isn't already true for a whole bunch of other people. She was just given a platform in which to say it. But, even if I initially wanted to roll my eyes and walk away from it, her post has spurred a discussion that should've happened years ago. A number of musicians have come out to defend paying for music, music fans are coming clean about their downloading habits and discussing when it's okay, when it's not okay, and thinking about what it means to share music without artist compensation.
The funniest response is from Yo La Tengo. She named them in her post as a band whose music she got for free and yesterday they Tweeted this:
I never went through the transition from physical to digital. I'm almost 21 and since I first began to love music I've been spoiled by the Internet.
I am an avid music-listener, concert-goer, and college radio DJ. My world is music-centric. I've only bought 15 CDs in my lifetime. Yet, my entire iTunes library exceeds 11,000 songs.
I wish I could say I miss album packaging and liner notes and rue the decline in album sales the digital world has caused. But the truth is, I've never supported physical music as a consumer. As monumental a role as musicians and albums have played in my life, I've never invested money in them aside from concert tickets and t-shirts.
But I didn't illegally download (most) of my songs. A few are, admittedly, from a stint in the 5th grade with the file-sharing program Kazaa. Some are from my family. I've swapped hundreds of mix CDs with friends. My senior prom date took my iPod home once and returned it to me with 15 gigs of Big Star, The Velvet Underground and Yo La Tengo (I owe him one).
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Jun 1, 2012 at 3:31 PM
Look for Seattle's most adventurous hiphop group, Shabazz Palaces, on the cover of the next Wax Poetics magazine (#51, an all hiphop issue) in finer shops near you (WaxPo content is rarely made available for free online, in keeping with its pro-analog/pro-trying-to-survive-in-a-hellish-time-for-print-media philosophy).
Note: There's also an edition with Nas and Danny Brown on the front and back covers. Buy 'em both.
If you're already tuned into the local music scene, there's nothing really surprising on this list, but it's worth taking a peek at if for no other reason than to see some talented Washington bands get some deserved national press.
Congrats, all! You're making the Pacific Northwest look real nice.
(Also: It's good to see some more great bands and musicians are getting shout outs in the comments, too. Get in there and show 'em what else we've got!)
...Andy Falkous of Future of the Left just posted a rebuttal to Pitckfork's review of the band's new album, The Plot Against Common Sense (it received a 6.0). It's a pretty hilarious read (as is most of the stuff that comes out of Falkous's brain):
Many things occurred to me on reading your review of the new future of the left record 'the plot against common sense' and I would like to take this opportunity to debate with you some of the points you raise in the piece, although of course by 'debate' I mean 'shut up and listen to me'.
According to the opening line of your review I am 'something of a hero to you'. I would almost be flattered by this sentence if it were not for the level of qualification obliquely provided by the use of 'something' but will choose to skip over the ham-fisted arse-kissing of your opening and move on to deal with some of the more pertinent matters of the day.
Allow me to efuckidate in an easy-to-understand fuck-by-point manner -
As we approach the bottom of your first paragraph you refer to the 'corporate slick production on future of the left's third album' (*1) - a question, my dear friend - would this be the kind of corporate slickness you get through recording an album in 16 days (using the same methods as ever) over a six month period in studio downtime and friend-financed to the tune of £2,000 (whilst we work in temporary jobs and with credit, when available, to support our habit) or instead the kind of corporate-slickness (since, as tone indicates, we’re using the term pejoratively) a person could get from writing for a site which has run the adverts of a variety of corporations, big and small, for many years? I may not be wearing my eyeglasses at this particular moment, but I can definitely see a lovely shiny one sitting atop your review at this very moment.
Oh … it has moving pictorials and everything – quite lovely!
This month's Rolling Stone (with Peter Dinklage on the cover) is the first Rolling Stone magazine I've bought in probably half a decade. It's smaller and thinner than I remember. It's pricier, too ($4.99? Really?), but it was totally worth the cost just to read (and re-read) Josh Eells's story about Tom Gabel, the lead singer of Against Me!, who came out as transgender last week. Most people know by now that Gabel is going to start living her life as a woman—she's going to take hormones and eventually change her name to Laura Jane Grace. And while thousands of people have commented on the blog post announcing the news, re-posted it on Twitter and Facebook (and it's been linked to just about every other music-related blog in the world), I hope just as many people read the full story to see the person who's behind the admittedly surprising "Famous Rockstar Is Becoming a Woman" headline.
Eells does a wonderful job telling Gabel's story. I feel so many writers could've taken advantage of her generosity and used this opportunity to write a darker, heavier piece. It's the first time a famous musician has come out as transgender, after all, and her transformation still leaves so many unanswered questions. It'd be really juicy to focus on all of the dramatic possibilities—Will the band stay together? Will the marriage last? Will the fans support her?—but Eells's piece is very straight-forward. He celebrates Gabel's bravery and paints everything in a very optimistic light. He recognizes the dark places she's been over the years, of course, but then ultimately focuses on Gabel's strength and the happiness she feels now that she's being true to herself.
We get to see what it was like when Gabel told her wife (she didn't know which pronoun to use at first either), her bandmates (they got stoned and decided they needed to work out to protect her), and her mom (who sounds awesome). We get to see a very vulnerable side of Gabel, but even more importantly we see her sense of humor, kindness, and excitement. Instead of being all about the adversity, it's about the triumph. It's really, really inspiring.
Basically, it's an amazing story, it's told especially well, and everyone in the world should read it.
If you love or are curious about electronic music from the pre-digital ’70s, you now have the luxury of reading about some of the genre’s most important figures in Synapse magazine, which has been uploaded to cyndustries.com. Coverage of crucial composers/players like Robert Moog, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, Terry Riley, Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Dr. Patrick Gleeson, Tangerine Dream, Todd Rundgren, Malcolm Cecil (TONTO’s Expanding Head Band), and many other exemplars makes this a fuggin’ treasure trove of analog-synth history and revelatory gear knowledge.
by Dave Segal
on Tue, Apr 3, 2012 at 2:23 PM
Paste has posted a list of what it perceives to be 20 of the most important music writers who are also musicians. The Stranger’s Brian Cook (Russian Circles) and ex-Stranger writer Zac Pennington (Parenthetical Girls) made the list, but, sadly, Trent Moorman (every hiphop group in Seattle) and Larry Mizell Jr. (Don’t Talk to the Cops!) did not. But the latter two are in good company, as David Toop (Ocean of Sound author and excellent experimental composer) didn’t merit inclusion, either.
THIS IS WHAT YOU DO NOT DO when sending your album to media outlets.
Creativity is appreciated. Kithkin sent me leaves and rocks. Speaker Speaker once sent me jellybeans. But this motherfucker right here was sealed in eight layers of tape, meaning I had to spend minutes tearing through women doing stupid poses in their panties in order to open the package. Strike one. Then, inside, the short note taped to the front of the CD spelled my name wrong. Megen. Strike two.
I like bands with a sense of humor. I like getting weird shit in the mail. But I don't want to have to tear through Victoria's Secret models and clippings from an old GQ in order to hear your music. Is that really the first impression you want to make?
The music wasn't my thing. It sounded like singer/songwriter stuff that would've been used on Dawson's Creek back in the ’90s. Strike three. You're out.
by Dave Segal
on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 5:06 PM
Indispensable crate-digger-centric mag Wax Poetics celebrates its 50th issue and 10th year in existence with a mix by DâM-FunK encompassing 10 Prince songs, remixes, and re-edits that haven’t been played to death. Congrats to WaxPo for reaching this milestone in a very difficult publishing environment for print media.
"If You Need Another Reason Not to Watch the Grammys: How about because Chris Brownwill be performing three years after he beat up Rihanna en route to the awards show."
SERIOUSLY, WORLD? Are you for reals? Sometimes you disappoint me so hard.
Rihanna also will perform at the show. She's nominated for four awards, including the top prize—album of the year—for her platinum effort Loud.
Among the phrases that make me lose my shit, "Chris Brown comeback" ranks up there very, very high. And Rihanna continues to impress and amaze me by making hot songs about rough sex and controversially rapist-murdering videos and basically telling anyone who expects her to act a certain way just because she was a victim of domestic violence to fuck right off, please.