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Back to Sequenza21
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Merry Merryness

I want to thank Jerry for his generosity and encouragement, and thanks to those of you who've read, those of you who've commented, those of you who've communicated with me personally.

I've been spending most of the past week or two posting more on BoB than over here, rantingly bemoaning or bemoaningly ranting on, well, you all know on what. I have no idea what BDRIB will be in the future - and thank goodness new music is about to be released, and lots of it - but I do hope to spend much more time thinking about this than thinking about that (though that isn't really dependent on me).

Meanwhile, have more music:

For You, For Me

I've discovered this website at Georgetown. Please feel free to enjoy, and please, if you find something here you'd like to share with me me me or everyone else, please let us know.

You will need to log-in. For patron last name, type Blckdgrd. For a ID number, use 899495575.

Could someone please let me, and everyone else, know that it works in the comment section? I can't test that it works for offcampus right now (since I'm on campus right now, where it works, as I listen to John Adams now).

BTW, my personal contact info is over at bLCkdgRd

UPDATE: I suspect that only one patron Blckdgrd can be logged on at once. I have a way around this - if you're interested in having access at any time, go over to bLCkdgRd and find my email and send me a letter - I'll set something up for you. Please put bdrib in subject line: Lordy, I gets lots of offers to lengthen my staying power and other such spamola.
Artistic City Limits

On All Things Considered this past Friday (Dec 16), NPR broadcasted this audio article about an upcoming appearance on Austin City Limits by Coldplay. The drift of the article seemed twofold: to complement Coldplay for their "savvy" decision to appear on ACL, to question ACL for asking Coldplay to perform. The article suggests that Coldplayís appearance represents a watershed in ACLís history and perhaps a permanent change in ACLís musical mission.

Iíve never watched much ACL, though not by deliberate design. When Iíve seen it on while channel surfing Iíve stopped and watched, but the local PBS station in DC has either buried the show at three oíclock on a weekday morning or not bothered with showing it at all in the thirty or so years the show has been produced. I associate the show with music variously labeled alt-country and folk and alt-folk and rockabilly, and a glance back at the rosters of previous yearsí guests fairly bears out that association. Lyle Lovett makes yearly appearances, and Richard Thompson and Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris and many others I would associate with these musicians have appeared.

But before Coldplay, ACL had invited Spoon and Franz Ferdinand and Rilo Kiley and (repeatedly) The Pixies and The Flaming Lips and Modest Mouse and Guided by Voices. Coldplay may have sold more records than these bands, but none of these bands could fairly be called alt-country or folk or alt-folk or rockabilly. If All Things Considered wanted to report on the beginning of a paradigm shift on ACL, they needed to have started at least a year or two earlier.

Iíve nothing for or against Coldplay, but the idea that their music is so significantly different from the music of all guests on thirty years of ACL is just silly. I happen to think that The Flaming Lips and Modest Mouse and Guided by Voices and certainly The Pixies make far more interesting music than Coldplay, but what Coldplay has done is sell more records than all of those bands combined. Itís not the uniqueness of Coldplayís music that merits this storyís airing, itís the bigness of Coldplay the record-selling juggernaut. The issue is not whether Coldplayís music belongs on ACL, the issue is whether ACL should offer stage time to a band as already huge as Coldplay is. In other words, is ACL selling out?

The irony? Coldplay made its decision to appear on ACL - or at least itís implied in the story - as a tactical move against their critics accusing Coldplay of selling out. By choosing to appear on a show that offers them a much smaller stage than they could command, Coldplay hopes to remain critical darlings, or if not critical darlings, at least stave off being stamped sellouts. Perhaps theyíre trying to recover their artistic bonafides after allowing Starbucks to feature their last album on the register display of every Starbucks in the universe, up there next to Rod Stewart and Sheryl Crow and something called Michael Buble.

I am not decrying their decision regardless of whatever motivations they have, and they may very well be good and honest motives. I wouldnít want to be called a sellout just because an album of mine sold more records than anyone anticipated and I became a much huger band than I could have dared imagine. Bands often do sellout, putting out lesser dreck than the music that made them famous and taking the money while the takingís good, but just as often bands can put out music they seriously wrote, produced, and anguished over and still be called sellouts just because they made money. The old joke of my friends: that band was great until everyone else liked them, and then they sucked.

Which is not the bandís fault. It is a bit of a mobius curve though: in order to not seem to be sellouts, Coldplay claims artistic integrity by appearing on downsize ACL because Coldplay thinks it can sell more records in the future if people donít think theyíve sold out now. Itís an anti-sellout sellout. Maybe itís good for their own esteem, maybe itís good for business, maybe itís both.

As for Austin City Limits, buried at 3:00 in the weekday mornings in some major markets, not on at all in others, if putting on Coldplay is selling out and selling out is the price of survival, selling out is good business. Going broke is a poor reward for not selling out.

Don't you hate it when your President believes he's above the law and his supporters all accuse you who think he isn't above the law of being unpatriotic so you spend all your time fixating on what your country is coming to instead of thinking about music? Me too.

The Futureheads was actually released in 2004, but because it's a great album, it has the single best cover I've ever heard (Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" - I wish I could find an mp3 to post, but...), and it's my blog, there you are.

The Decembrists have made plenty of Best of lists. I can't put them on mine, but they do have a unique and interesting sound, tending towards the theatrical. You can download "Engine Driver" here.

Hot Hot Heat is power pop. Good power pop.

Laura Veirs is shoe-gazing. Good shoe-gazing.

Cloud Cult is power shoe-gazing. Good power shoe-gazing.