Wednesday, August 31, 2005
One other thing: galleys of Music from Big Pink are on their way to those who requested them. I'd love to know what you think, once you've read it.
Friday, August 26, 2005
The final book in our quartet of new releases this week is Geoffrey Himes' monster tome (relatively speaking, of course, but I think it's the second longest in the series, behind Erik's) on Born in the U.S.A.
"Bruce Springsteen is best known for his most public acts. It's in the concert hall - more than on the stereo or the screen - that he engages his audience as few other performers ever have. And yet, the most important moments of his career have taken place in utter solitude. A writer's work takes place far from an audience, and anyone seeking to understand Springsteen's work has to investigate those solitary moments. The most important of all those moments took place in the waning weeks of 1981 as he sat alone in his house in Colt's Neck, New Jersey, and wrote 'Born in the U.S.A.'..."
The most commercially successful album of Bruce Springsteen's career, Born in the U.S.A. has often been underrated by critics and hardcore fans. In this thoroughly researched book, Geoffrey Himes makes the case for the album being Springsteen's most successful marriage of romance and despair, comedy and drama, literary craftmanship and political engagement. Himes examines Springsteen's prodigious output during 1981-1984 and discusses why some songs wound up on Born in the U.S.A., some on Nebraska, others on Tracks, and others on no official album at all.
Geoffrey Himes has written about music on a weekly basis in the Washington Post since 1977. During that time he has also written about pop music for the Oxford American, Rolling Stone, No Depression, Paste, Jazz Times, and many other outlets. He won a 2002 ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award for Music Feature Writing. He lives in Baltimore.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Also shipping out from the warehouse this week is Hugo Wilcken's wonderful book about Bowie's Low album. (And I should take this opportunity to recommend Hugo's first novel: The Execution, published by HarperCollins in 2003.)
"Berlin was an island, cut off from the world, but big enough to get lost in as well. Each layer of the Berlin myth seemed to reflect something in the Bowie persona - the Expressionist artists; the cabaret decadence; the cataclysmic destruction; the isolation behind the Wall; the Cold War depression; the ghosts who never depart. Above all, Berlin wasn't quite real. Its military zones, the bullet-holes still pockmarking the edifices, the watchtowers, Speer's megalithic relics, the bombed out buildings next to shiny new ones, the huge black tanks that rumbled along the streets... As Tony Visconti put it, "You could have been on the set of The Prisoner"."
Low is a kaleidoscope in which Bowie's obsessions and traits explode into fragments and reform in a new pattern. Sonically, it is hugely adventurous: combining a driving rhythm section with the experimental soundscapes of Brian Eno, it evolves a whole new musical language. Thematically, it's the sound of a man struggling to get well. Bowie has often talked about his fear of insanity. Despite - or because of - this, he drugged himself into a state that looked very much like schizophrenia, and then recorded an album that structurally reflected the illness.
Hugo Wilcken is a Paris-based, Australian-born writer and translator. His second novel, Colony, will be published in 2006.
Sure, they're channelling the same influences as almost every other indie-rock band right now (the Smiths, the Cure, early R.E.M.). I don't hear any bandwagon-jumping going on here, though. These songs sound remarkably fresh, natural, instinctive, and pure. Can't wait to see them play when they come to NYC in September.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Here's another of the new books that's shipping out from our warehouse in Harrisburg as we speak: Don McLeese's excellent volume on the MC5.
"We hadn't known what to expect, but none of us had expected the 5. Almost none of us had ever heard of the band, except those who had made the drive from their native Detroit. Though we thought we'd been ready for anything, the frenzied, ear-splitting performance left most of us shellshocked. It was a musical mugging so far beyond the realm of expectation that it would take years before punk or metal would provide some sort of frame of reference, though no punk or metal band would ever match the galvanizing force of the 5."
When Kick Out the Jams was released in early 1969, the MC5 found themselves at the crux of a contradiction that rock has yet to resolve: how do you subvert the values of corporate America when you are subsidized, packaged, produced, and promoted by corporate America? The MC5 thought they had a license from Elektra to shout "Motherfucker!," preach militancy, and issue proclamations vowing a "total assault on the culture by any means necessary, including rock and roll, dope, and fucking in the streets." They quickly discovered otherwise. Here, Don McLeese tells the story of one of the most hyped, controversial, and polarizing albums in the history of American rock music.
Don McLeese is an associate professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Iowa, and a senior editor at No Depression. He was previously the pop music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and the Austin American-Statesman, and he has written for many music and general interest magazines.
We're only two places below Joe Strummer, and thirty-six places beneath Joss Stone. Not a phrase I thought I'd ever type.
Monday, August 22, 2005
It takes place at Kate's Mystery Books in Cambridge - the address is 2211 Mass. Ave. I'm told it's near the Davis Square stop on the Red Line. The event is scheduled to start at 6pm.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Just in stock, and releasing from our warehouse next week - should be on sale from early September onwards at the usual places.
"What resonated about Endtroducing... when it was released in 1996, and what makes it still resonate today, is the way in which it loosens itself from the mooring of the known and sails off into an uncharted territory that seems to exist both in and out of time. DJ Shadow is not only a master sampler and turntablist supreme, he is also a serious archaeologist with a world-thirsty passion (what Cut Chemist refers to as Josh's 'spidey sense') for seeking out, uncovering and then ripping apart the discarded graces of some other generation and weaving them back together into a tapestry of chronic bleakness and beauty."
Over the course of several long conversations with Josh Davis (DJ Shadow), Eliot Wilder digs deep into Shadow's early years in California, finds out about the friends and mentors who helped him along the way, and discusses the genesis and creation of Endtroducing..., Shadow's widely acknowledged masterpiece.
Eliot Wilder is a Boston-based writer and musician.
Friday, August 12, 2005
1. Matt Ashare 2. Aaron Burgess 3. Jon Caramanica 4. Daphne Carr 5. Ian Christe 6. Kandia Crazy Horse 7. John Darnielle 8. Laina Dawes 9. Geeta Dayal 10. Jon Dolan 11. Sasha Frere-Jones 12. Jess Harvell 13. Jessica Hopper 14. Chuck Klosterman 15. Michaelangelo Matos 16. Amy Phillips 17. Dave Queen 18. Ned Raggett 19. Simon Reynolds 20. Chris Ryan 21. Scott Seward 22. Derek Taylor 23. Douglas Wolk
It's going to be published about 18 months from now by Da Capo Press.
It makes me think, though - is there a whole young generation of British music writers that we're missing out on? The 33 1/3 series is as widely available in Britain as it is in the US, and yet probably only 2% of the queries I receive from interested writers come from the UK. And only 6 of the first 31 books in the series are by British writers. I guess there's just no equivalent back home of papers like the Village Voice, Seattle Weekly, Creative Loafing, etc. Sure, there's Mojo, Uncut, Q, and the NME, but there must be far fewer opportunities for younger writers to get started. The Hereford Times doesn't quite cut it, although they do have a great selection of cheap second-hand cars.
Maybe we should get the best young British writers and go head-t0-head with Da Capo? It'll be like the Ryder Cup all over again. Except with less running on the greens.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
1. Dusty in Memphis, by Warren Zanes
2. Forever Changes, by Andrew Hultkrans (anybody know what's happened to Arthur Lee?)
3. Harvest, by Sam Inglis
4. The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, by Andy Miller
5. Meat is Murder, by Joe Pernice
6. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, by John Cavanagh
7. Abba Gold, by Elisabeth Vincentelli
8. Electric Ladyland, by John Perry
9. Unknown Pleasures, by Chris Ott
10. Sign 'O' the Times, by Michaelangelo Matos
11. The Velvet Underground and Nico, by Joe Harvard
12. Let It Be, by Steve Matteo
13. Live at the Apollo, by Douglas Wolk
14. Aqualung, by Allan Moore
15. OK Computer, by Dai Griffiths
16. Let It Be, by Colin Meloy
17. Led Zeppelin IV, by Erik Davis
18. Exile on Main St., by Bill Janovitz
19. Pet Sounds, by Jim Fusilli
20. Ramones, by Nicholas Rombes
21. Armed Forces, by Franklin Bruno
22. Murmur, by J. Niimi
23. Grace, by Daphne Brooks
24. Endtroducing..., by Eliot Wilder
25. Kick Out the Jams, by Don McLeese
26. Low, by Hugo Wilcken
27. Born in the USA, by Geoffrey Himes
And coming soon - although the numbers might change:
28. Music From Big Pink, by John Niven
29. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, by Kim Cooper
30. London Calling, by David L. Ulin
31. The Notorious Byrd Brothers, by Ric Menck
Publishing March or April next year:
32. Doolittle, by Ben Sisario
33. Paul's Boutique, by Dan LeRoy
34. There's a Riot Goin' On, by Miles Marshall Lewis
35. Stone Roses, by Alex Green
36. Daydream Nation, by Matthew Stearns
37. Court and Spark, by Sean Nelson
Publishing September next year:
38. Highway 61 Revisited, by Mark Polizzotti
39. Bee Thousand, by Marc Woodworth
40. In Utero, by Gillian Gaar
41. Night Owl, by Gerry Rafferty
42. The Who Sell Out, by John Dougan
I made one of those up.
And floating in the ether, as ever, is Loveless, by Mike McGonigal.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
The books on In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and Music from Big Pink should be printed by mid-late October, and in stores from early November onwards.
We got a nice blurb from the writer Andrew O'Hagan about the Music from Big Pink book:
Music from Big Pink is a book to awaken a deeper appreciation of TheBand's sweet poetry. The book has a powerful style of its own and a story that might illuminate an entire period. It is a piece of writing that will be admired by anyone who's interested in the era that made our own, andthose who read it are unlikely to forget its cool Updikean temperament. - Andrew O'Hagan, author of Our Fathers and Personality
I don't know who this guy Josh is, but he appears to be a fan of the series (not to mention Shaun of the Dead), so I like him.
Does anyone know anything about The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir?
While I'm plugging bands, here's my friend Dan's new venture, all the way from London town.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
I don't know too much about the L Magazine, except that they hand it out every other Wednesday (I think) at Union Square station in NYC, for free, and it often looks kind of crappy and cheap, but when you start reading it - some of the writing is *damn* good.