Wonder Girls "Why So Lonely" (2016)
It seems to me Wonder Girls were in great shape to go forward, though I don't know anything about their relations with one another or with their agency, JYP.* Their recent concept as a "band" may have been something of a gimmick, each member playing an instrument. But they were also all involved in writing and producing the new stuff, as good as anything JYP had provided them earlier. And not only was it good, it managed to mix in adult-like stylings, loungey and breathy and jazzy, without losing its danciness or its lightheartedness. And, while not as radical as Oh My Girl's juxtapositions with similar material, it was as good as that, too. Like K-pop as a whole, Wonder Girls were excellent at working in and playing around with decades and decades of Western dance-pop styles — hip-hop and r&b and synthpop and disco and soul and girl group — without sounding anything less than contemporary. And when Wonder Girls went explicitly retro they still weren't retro. I'll miss them.
Also, Wonder Girls were my first K-pop group: the first I heard and the first I posted about. Not because I knew anything about them, or about K-pop; didn't even know there was such a thing. I'd long been playing with the idea of the dependence of foreground — what you do — on background, on what your collaborators do, on what the rest of the world does, or what it leaves blank, what shores you up and highlights you and sets you off, what differentiates you from the rest and the rest from you, your light and their shadow and their light and your shadow, how they create you and demolish you and you create them and demolish them, everything potentially twisting everything inside out. This has been kind of my ongoing thesis and masterpiece, my most high-profile version focusing on the Rolling Stones and James Brown. One day in 2009 I read a UPI squib about a Korean girl group as the opening act on a Jonas Brothers' American tour. Out of curiosity I searched YouTube and lo and behold, there was the Wonder Girls video for "Nobody" with Park Jin-young (JYP) doing a gag as a James Brown wannabe who gets displaced by his background singers. So I posted under the title "Background Becomes Foreground," and anhh and petronia showed up in the comments and began my K-pop schooling.
( Like This and So Hot )
As for HyunA, she's long been appealing as the friendly sex-bomb next door, humorous and emotional and emotionally accessible, donning sexiness as a kind of plaything, enjoying stardom and playing chicken with the censors while being fundamentally unpretentious. I liked how she put herself at an angle from the K-pop work ethic. She was powerfully fun without needing super dance chops or technically impressive rap displays. What I wasn't expecting was the raw power of her singles from the last three years, especially "Red" and "How's This?" but "Roll Deep" and 4Minute's "Crazy" belong there too. They basically rock the fuck out of the joint. A lot may have to do with the whole writing and arranging crew on these, some or all of HyunA herself, Seo Jae-woo, Big Ssancho, and Son Young-jin. Her sexy pout may not be any stronger than it ever was, but it's now the riveting center of music that no longer just tickles or seduces you but knocks you over, too. Or knocks me over, anyway. ("How's This?" isn't streaming at the amount of the others, none of which are as high as 2011's "Bubble Pop!")** And she's becoming a template for other acts: CLC and Miso.
HyunA "How's This?" (2016)
Btw, if you want to, you can see a bit of a shadow side in all of this, all her sex and dance invitations: there's the question of whether anyone really has it in themselves to run with her. I think Jessica Doyle way overstates this at the Jukebox, the loneliness, but she does a great bit of analysis, and she's right, it's there. Mo Kim sees it too: "HyunA registers 'How's this?' less as a coy request than as a taunt: she's daring us to keep up. Read that as fun, or sad, or somewhere in between..." Of course you can hear it as bragging, too. "I'll be a wolf forever, or I can live alone." (Here's an EngSub vid for "How's This?" You can find 'em for most of her songs, and find most of her lyrics translated at pop!gasa as well.) After School stated this duality succinctly at the start of "Bang!" one of my primary K-pop tracks: "T-R-Y Do it now! Can you follow me? Yes, uh-huh. T-R-Y Pick it up! You'll never catch me. Oh no." 'Cause if you get too close, I'm gone like a cool breeze.
( Red, Hot Issue, Irony, footnote )
People complain that "neoliberalism" is vague but "socialism" encompasses François Hollande and Pol Pot.— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) July 18, 2017
Problem not vagueness but that "neoliberalism" is mostly used as a pejorative to smear Clinton-Obama as essentially like Thatcher-Reagan. /1 https://t.co/A4WzPHrsMU— Frank Kogan (@koganbot) July 18, 2017
Whereas socialist often used as a self-identifier, and you can ask people what sort of socialist they are. /2— Frank Kogan (@koganbot) July 18, 2017
Doesn't mean you can't use "socialist" to mischaracterize or misunderstand people, but "neoliberal" used for little else. /3— Frank Kogan (@koganbot) July 18, 2017
More charitably I'll say people who use the term want to understand e.g. why Dems are doing such a bad job of reducing inequality, racism. 4— Frank Kogan (@koganbot) July 18, 2017
But, though you can say that mixed-economy liberals underestimate the intractability of free-market capitalism... /5— Frank Kogan (@koganbot) July 18, 2017
...you're dishonest if you say that mixed-economy liberals embrace the unfettered free market, much less the intractability. /6— Frank Kogan (@koganbot) July 18, 2017
Okay, it might not be what you mean; rather, that neoliberals are too accommodating. But why not use the word "liberal," without the smear 7— Frank Kogan (@koganbot) July 18, 2017
Btw, this not directed at Yglesias, who only uses term ironically, as if directed at liberals like himself. E.g., https://t.co/SiraqbGNZ1 /8— Frank Kogan (@koganbot) July 18, 2017
Problem for those who feel farther left is that merely using "liberal" doesn't explain how they aren't themselves mixed-economy liberals. /9— Frank Kogan (@koganbot) July 18, 2017
The task here, though, is to be inventive in self-definition oneself, if one is farther left, and creative in one's ideas. /10— Frank Kogan (@koganbot) July 18, 2017
Aware @delong calls himself neoliberal, with interesting reasons, no doubt. He's pretty left. This was before current sneer use of term. /11— Frank Kogan (@koganbot) July 18, 2017
1. Lil Debbie "F That"
2. NCT 127 "Limitless"
3. MC G15 "Deu Onda"
4. Jovi "Ou Même"
5. CLC "Hobgoblin"
6. Miso "KKPP"
7. Juan LaFonta ft. Big Freedia "Bounce TV"
8. Pristin "Wee Woo"
9. Omar Souleyman "Ya Bnayya"
10. Steps "Scared Of The Dark"
11. Vince Staples "BagBak"
12. Cherry Coke "Like I Do"
13. K.A.R.D "Rumor"
14. Die Antwoord "Love Drug"
15. Alternative TV "Negative Primitive"
16. Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie "In My World"
17. K.A.R.D "Don't Recall"
18. Ashmute "Scenery"
19. Twice "Knock Knock"
20. Molly "Я просто люблю тебя (Dance version)"
21. Serebro "Пройдет"
22. Hyolyn x Kisum "Fruity"
23. G-reyish "Johnny Gogo"
24. Yungtime ft. Mihney "Uh uh, uh hum"
25. Nadia Rose "The Intro"
26. Mani Bella ft. Tenor "Déranger"
27. Reniss "Pilon"
28. Jessi, Microdot, Dumbfoundead, Lyricks "KBB"
29. Sunny Sweeney "Better Bad Idea"
30. IU "Jam Jam"
31. Maahlox le vibeur "Un Bon Plantain"
32. Koppo "Gromologie"
You once again get Debbie's nasty mug staring at you atop my playlist and my prediction is you'll get her all year. So — again — a punk's voting for a punk, me for Debbie. (See me a few months ago ripping in all different directions on punk, and a more malevolent punk voting for a more malevolent punk.)
As you may have expected, I've spent hours debating whether the CLC track ranks higher than the Miso or vice versa. I keep trying to throw Miso higher, for being the more powerful performer. But CLC get more help from their song, the zoom golly golly takeoff being seductive and razzy at the same time.
But Miso seems to have razz and seduction burned into her personality, or at least her persona: low-rent and going for instant ingratiation, which can be more alive and more enduring than art that has more forethought or money or integrity behind it. I really don't know how well I'm reading Miso, though, how much of this is just the low budget rather than the personality. In the video I think she's throwing herself at us, with smiles that aren't friendliness or niceness, so it's availability that's not altogether available, but a lot of wiseass fun. It's not unfriendly, if you wanna play along. Except as I said I'm just guessing here, and peering across cultures. The template is HyunA but without the immediate allure and playfulness (or without convincing me of the allure and playfulness); so where HyunA's strong and warm and emotionally accessible, Miso's aggressive and fast, but actually that's alluring too, a fast come-here-and-ride. A different allure. Or a video that couldn't afford a lot of camera setups.
As David Frazer points out, "KKPP" uses the same sample as "Canvas" by HyunA's old group 4Minute, though that song's not the group's most HyunA-centric.
Speaking of "Canvas," it's number 4 on my list for last year, the final version of which was finished in February but I still haven't posted the list; last year I thought Rihanna's product wasn't as good as the cheap Eastern European knockoff (Era Istrefi's "BonBon"); this year T-ara's going-out-of-business single isn't as good as "Johnny Gogo," G-reyish's poor-boy-sandwich of a "Roly-Poly" imitation; and of course HyunA's single with Triple H isn't as good as the two HyunA imitations on my list.
( Francophone West Africa is killing it, even if I don't understand it )
(I'm on a break from hectic busyness, hope to post more.)
Speaking of great guitar lines, here's Ronnie Hawkins And The Hawks from February 1963 — don't know if that's the recording date or the release date; either way, I doubt that anyone at such an early date other than the guitarist here, Robbie Robertson, was putting down, on vinyl or tape, guitar lines with as much distortion, sustain, and virulence (in London you might hear something like it live from Brian Jones or Eric Clapton, but the tape's not running yet, not for a few more months).
I'm curious if I'm wrong here, if there actually are blues or rockabilly or country boogie guitarists already giving you as much distortion or bite. Possibly there are ones with as much sustain and distortion, but they're not trying to hurt you the way the young rock men are. Maybe James Burton* has something of that in him, but still he's getting you through the night more than he's tearing the night to pieces. Some of the rockabilly singers had that push in them, but the guitars were relatively even tempered.
Unless I'm wrong.
(Taking Robbie Robertson as fundamentally himself, rather than an heir or precursor to anything, he's here playing thick and thin at the same time, that is he's got the sustain that gives the notes a bigger bleeding brush, but he's still whittling his guitar lines down to a sharp point. Also, there's something of a stutter/jitter to his playing, what someone might later call funk.)
*Note that the track I linked is by Ronnie's cousin Dale.
1. Lil Debbie "F That"
2. NCT 127 "Limitless"
3. MC G15 "Deu Onda"
4. CLC "Hobgoblin"
5. Juan LaFonta ft. Big Freedia "Bounce TV"
6. Pristin "Wee Woo"
7. Steps "Scared Of The Dark"
8. Jovi "Ou Même"
9. Vince Staples "BagBak"
10. Cherry Coke "Like I Do"
11. K.A.R.D "Rumor"
12. Alternative TV "Negative Primitive"
13. K.A.R.D "Don't Recall"
Lil Debbie. By strapping herself tight to rhyme and meter schemes she becomes taut and virulent.* NCT 127. If this had been Super Junior doing the "baby it's you" part, the hair-on-the-neck harmonies would've been shivery and cold. NCT sound warm doing pretty much the same, and good for them. MC G15. The genre is "funk ousadia," Google translating it from the Portuguese as "daring funk" or "bold funk," which in this case is a slow goofy dance on a high wire.** The melodica brings me back to Ennio Morricone and Augustus Pablo, also shivery. CLC. HyunA moves with a nice ungainly beauty into which she's instilled presence and charisma while still being accessibly goofy. She's written and produced a HyunA soundalike track for CLC, who have none of her charisma and little of her talent, and they sound almost as good anyway and almost as compelling, also goofy.*** Juan LaFonta ft. Big Freedia. 60 seconds is an effective length for Big Freedia's insistent repetitiveness, about the length of a long TV commercial, which this literally is. K.A.R.D. Immediately gripping but the grip is too tight, or anyway the beats are a tad sludgy and, surprisingly, it's the female singers rather than the males who lie too heavily atop the rhythm. Lots of promise, though, in the songs and the singing.
*Virulence can be a massive irritant of course when linked to Debbie's childish toughness, and fuck that, but it's up to better people to make better music, and at the moment they don't.
**"Sexual connotations and puns in the form of humor," Wikip helpfully opines, also with the assistance of Google Translate.
***Hence the question I asked 30 days ago: "'What if the Rolling Stones had written and produced hits for the Shadows Of Knight?' (Well, what if HyunA wrote and produced CLC?)"
Chocolat's contracts expired in February, and Melanie has given an interview to Kpopalypse.The interview does speak for itself. I'll add here that Melanie's whomp of a wail of "I want it all, all or nothing" in "I Like It" — a song she felt nothing for — showed right off that she had major talent. Even before that, in her narration of the first ChoColat publicity clip she was easily alive and playful in front of the camera. So, was management entirely obtuse, given that they picked Melanie to narrate right at the get-go, and had her loud and highlighted on the second single? Also, management chose good songs every time (i.e., songs I like), which is extraordinarily rare, and for all we know the girls themselves would have chosen worse.
To summarise, they never earned any money, the CEO was useless, the staff constantly pressured them to work harder and lose weight, and Melanie became depressed and began self-harming. And after thinking up the biracial gimmick the CEO decided that Melanie was "too American" and needed to look and behave like a proper Korean girl.
So, we don't know management's own view of this, or the other girls': Still, if you're choosing performers because they're different, it seems lunkheaded to then try and squash down the differences. And if your training technique is psychologically backfiring on one of your talented singers, you should try to change the technique, right? (Yes, I realize this isn't so easy or even always possible when there's more than one performer involved, with each potentially responding differently to the coaching but all more or less needing to be given the same rules. Still...)
Also — I don't know this and obviously haven't done the research — but I had the impression back in 2011 that Korea was developing a body of case law that said that if a youngster signs a 7-year contract at age 12 or 15 or something and she subsequently sues to get out of the contract, the courts will back her and invalidate the contract. Of course, having a right to sue doesn't make actually doing so emotionally or financially feasible, or protect her from getting blackballed for it.
(1a) A punk votes for a punk (Johnny Rotten says nice things about Trump). Okay, he's not necessarily saying that he did vote for Trump, though from what he said it's a good assumption he did; but anyway, my armchair psychosocial analysis of the Trump win already had been "Punks voted for a punk," my using the word punks in a sorta pre-punk-rock sense, meaning people who compensate for subconsciously feeling weak by scapegoating and bullying and hurting the vulnerable; but such "punks" can include normally nice people too, people who let the punk aspect of themselves do their electoral thinking.
(1b) Only "sorta pre-punk-rock" given that original garage-rock punks such as ? And The Mysterians and the Syndicate Of Sound and the Seeds were indeed punks in the old sense, weak bully-type punks (and sexists as well),† but most of the great punk rockers — I'd start "punk rock" w/ Stones and Dylan, actually, with the caveat that the true punks, the garage rockers, weren't Stones and Dylan but the garage kids who'd dumbed Stones, Dylan, and Yardbirds down into punk, which'd be a fine explanation except that no one limits "punk rock" this way; most critics etc. would also include the Velvet Underground and MC5 and Stooges and Patti Smith and Richard Hell and Rocket From The Tombs and even more would include Ramones and Sex Pistols and the Clash and the Heartbreakers and X-Ray Spex and Black Flag and Nirvana and Hole, generally self-aware nonbully types, and if you're going to do this you've got to go back and count Dylan and the Stones — ...anyway, most of the great punk rockers (as generally defined) were about punk way more than they were punk; nonetheless, being self-aware, they drew the connection between actual inner true punk impulses and the punk rock they were playing, understanding their own weakness and that bullying and scapegoating were in there lurking, sitting dangerously inside. But anyway, of all the great punk rockers, the Sex Pistols, who were maybe the greatest ("They make everyone else sound sick by comparison," said my friend Bill Routt), were the ones who were true nasty punks as much as they were about punk. They were the band that made punk safe for fag-bashers (fortunately only somewhat safe).* None of which explains why Johnny Rotten would shit his brains down the toilet and support Trump (apparently, Johnny can't tell a racist from a hole in the ground). If you want to turn to social affinity and group identification as an explanation, Johnny's loyalty is to real punks, not to punk rock. (Yes, there's no way to come up with a unitary reading of the word "punk" in this paragraph. It'd be a stupider paragraph if you could.) I doubt that many self-identified "punks" — those who embrace the music as part of their social identity — voted for Trump. These people veer left instead. If you go by social category, Trump got many of the rocks and hoods and greasers and grits and burnouts — at least, more than he should have — but few of the punks. (Among whites he got a significant amount of the jocks and middle managers, too, and their psyches are probably as much punk as the hoods' are, but that's not relevant to Johnny Rotten's social identification.) I doubt that many Trump voters had ever bothered to listen to punk rock (not counting the garage hits they heard way back); if they had, the aboutness would've stung them, and they'd have been repelled. Nonetheless, I think I can understand that what makes the Sex Pistols sound true and real to me, the screaming squalling blind attempt to stand against anything acceptable and settled that can get you by, is what makes a lying hollow pathological bully like Trump sound transgressive and therefore real and true and honest and substantial to a lot of his fans.
(1c) Of course Trump doesn't win if he gets only the punks. And my armchair analysis isn't based on any actual research of mine into "the Trump voter." As I said two sentences ago, there's more than one type of Trump voter, and individual voters are multi-faceted in their urges and ideas anyway (so a particular Trump voter can be more than one type). I'm actually doing two questionable things: (i) reading the characteristics of the voter off of the characteristics of what they voted for, rather than actually asking the voters who they are and why they like what they like; (ii) using a psychological model that can apply to an individual person to explain the behavior of a group of people (the punk types who voted for that punk Trump), as if the group were an individual writ large. Obviously I think the analysis kinda sorta works, or I wouldn't have made it. It's a strong hypothesis, punks voted for a punk, strong in my mind anyway, though maybe someone more knowledgeable could beat it down with an alternative. ("Strong" analysis? Seriously? How so? It tells you what most of you already know: (1) that I don't like Trump, (2) that I think many of his voters voted for a lot of what I don't like about him, even if they don't understand the policy implications, and (3) that he's a punk. You already knew that. He's a punk. It's maybe a correct analysis, but not strong, since it doesn't tell you anything you don't already know. Maybe it makes you think harder about punk rock, and what I write below maybe'll help you think harder about social class.)
(1di) ( Trump got more working-class whites than he was expected to )
(1dii) ( The terms hoods, greasers, grits, and burnouts as stand-ins for current social identities )
(1diii) ( The class systems in people's immediate experience are not an exact match for the upper-middle-working class grid )
(1div) ( They voted against Clinton because she's a student-council type )
(1dv) ( Kids who bombed out of the classroom still hurt by it )
(1e) ( Middle class divided )
(1f) ( Want to hurt people and feel good about hurting them )
(2) ( The failure of education )
(3a) ( Duncan Watts criticizes idea of 'representative agent' )
(3b) ( How would we measure 'punks voted for a punk'? )
(4) ( The principle of the inferred et cetera )
(5) ( Top 100 singles of 2016 )
(6) ( A punk votes for a brat )
(7) ( Etc. )
In the meantime, here's a Chinese cover of Dschinghis Khan's "Moskau."
(Unfortunately, there are no high-quality rips of the MV — in fact, this rip seems to be the only one, though of course there are many rips of this particular rip, this being one of them; i.e., probably not the original rip itself.)
H/t John Wójtowicz for reminding me there's a Dschinghis Khan, and Twitter person @LoofaFace for the empty-chair ref I used as the title of this post. (@LoofaFace's moniker itself is taken from a memorable Daylin Leach tweet.)
Urgent update: David Frazer informs me that there's a North Korean dance to "Moskau" performed by Mullah Resmat protégés Wangjaesan Art Troupe.
1. A point-counterpoint of the extremes in my attitude towards politics. 10 items in all, plus further musings and slip-slidings. For a taste, here are numbers 1 and 2.
Odd number. (1) Politics is a social space that allows for people to say things that are more stupid and destructive than what they allow themselves to say in almost all other spaces.2. Kind of bouncing off this first post, my psychologically creating the conditions under which I might actually engage in politics per se.
Even number. (2) Politics is a means by which the most vulnerable and targeted people in society can organize to defend themselves and gain some social power. (Obviously, it's also the means by which other people can target and rip off the most vulnerable. Those vulnerable people themselves can't actually organize and defend each other unless they gain allies and advocates among the less vulnerable. In fact, it's these latter who do most of the organizing and defending.)
(1) Don't assume we have to dumb ourselves down to (a) sway voters, (b) pressure our enemies, (c) get along with our allies.3. For a brief period, mid 1977 to mid 1978, I was writing poetry. I'd barely ever read the stuff, barely read anyone's poetry, not counting Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson, and not counting song lyrics (the latter being a pretty sizable amount of "not counting") — to the extent of knowing traditions of poetry were there but barely knowing what they were. I approached the enterprise with alienation and adventure: this was someone else's dinner table, but I could somehow leap the process, start in the neighborhood of my own rocks and foothills. I was using as my workbook Kenneth Koch's books on teaching the writing of poetry to kids and old agers (Wishes, Lies, And Dreams and Rose Where Did You Get That Red and I Never Told Anybody). I worked hard at not falling into being "writerly" or "poetic." —Harold Bloom and Mark Sinker to thread, but note that poetry and poets definitely weren't my touchstones: this came at a time when I was running away from my music obsession, and trying to evade my calling as a critic. I emphatically did find my poetic voice, one like no other. And then I stopped. More accurately, music called, and songs, and criticism, "poetry" somehow briefly installed on the path.
So, let's say, as a working premise, that we can and should speak and act honestly and thoughtfully, and if colleagues claim that strategy and tactics demand we don't, the burden of proof should be on them. Don't fall for tones of voice that sound "realistic" and "knowing."
This argument is with myself as much as it's with the world.
(2) Joy. There needs to be joy and satisfaction not just in the outcome and the sense of trying to do the right thing (neither of these joys being very available e.g. when we're losing or when we're flailing and confused); there needs to be joy in the doing, joy every day or at least every week. This reverts back to the previous point. The joy of thinking, the joy of discovery: these are always available if we want them and for me they're necessities, not luxuries. But also, for me, they ultimately — thinking, discovering — need a community. This isn't just because ideas get better when discussed and argued over. For me, ideas need to be shared or the whole process rots. Maybe that's because, in my head, the audience I imagine for my words is even worse than the one that's actually out there. Nonetheless, out there there's obviously a malfunction, a train wreck, a breakdown...
4. Bob Dylan really did deserve that Nobel prize, but there's a point-counterpoint here, too. The first point is that if the Nobel people really did want to open the floodgates to American song, allow for songs to come rushing in, Dylan is a gutless choice, the songwriter who's the anomaly with the billboard sign "A Poet, Not Just A Songwriter" rising up to the sky above him. Whereas the true obvious worthy recipient, the living master and genius who nonetheless doesn't safely push the Respectability button or the High Art And Literature button, is Chuck Berry. And once you've got Chuck you've opened those gates to everybody from field hollers and nursery rhymes to Brill Building to Jay-Z, hicks and hacks and streetcorners, truly breaching the cellophane that separates low and high and medium.
But the counterpoint here is that if you take songwriting for granted, and the breach as long done, Chuck is a rather staid choice, obvious indeed as an accepted classic — whereas Dylan is the danger guy still,* the one who explodes everything, simply wipes out the limitations of what you can do with words, draws on everyone and invites you to overthrow them all, no limitations on ambition, yet try it yourself and you're more likely to blow off your own hands than to produce much of value.
And then, this not on the subject of whether or not he's prizeworthy, we need to take account of the content of a lot of those exploding words. Dylan as much as Lou and Iggy (not to mention the more decorous Leonard Cohen and Paul Simon) effectively inserts into popular song the idea of self-destruction as a form of social protest. If you put together my critiques in "The Autobiography Of Bob Dylan"** and my "PBS" essays in the first two issues of Why Music Sucks, what you get is that we — indie-alternative, the supposed underground, the rock critics, our set of Musical Marginal Intellectuals — let self-destruction stand in the place of social analysis. Or let it validate the social analysis, let it make the analysis feel real whether or not the analysis was actually any good. And of course this applies in spades to the Academic Left. (This isn't Dylan's fault, it's in our culture without Dylan anyway, and I wouldn't say that you should think of self-destruction as the main legacy or message of Dylan, what the guy's about in full, and of course he pushes against the self-destruction too — he's an overload of messages, that's a feature — just there's this whole extolled "poet" thing that manages to sidestep huge hunks of what the poetry actually says and does.)
*I mean, I don't think of what he's doing now in the 2000s as danger-guy stuff (though maybe if I knew it better I would). 1965 and 1966 are the key danger-guy years, and they're still there, as it were — still here — haven't been assimilated.
**And here (or here if Google books switches up as it sometimes does and makes the other two go blank).
The only major glitch in the copying is that in my posts my video embeds were lost, which means that, whenever I want to find a compulsive activity that enables me to avoid being in the social world, I'll go back and spend time adding videos back to the old posts on Dreamwidth. Also, as far as I can tell, Dreamwidth doesn't have the capacity to let us embed videos in comments at all, which is a drag; so not only are all your and my video embeds lost from comments, they can't be reinserted either. Oh, and Dreamwidth sidebars will have fewer links and I don't think there's a way to stick Taylor Swift's "Lose Yourself" there either.
Under the cut I describe what impelled the change.
( A wild or turbulent disturbance )
*None of those words is really accurate: I didn't "migrate" so much as simply got Dreamwidth to copy all my old posts onto Dreamwidth. But as I say up in the text, the LiveJournal posts stay on LiveJournal too.
Frank Kogan • Red Dark Sweet • The Pillowmakers
Two thirteen-year-old boys went out to fight each other in 1967, when I was in eighth grade. I and a friend of mine went along to watch the fight. It turned out that the boys were afraid to really fight, which both relieved and disappointed me. The boys made up rules: no punching, no hitting in the face. So the fight was just a shoving match. After watching the boys push each other for a while, I said to my friend, "This reminds me of that song from last year..." "Yeah," he laughed and finished the sentence for me. "You're pushing too hard."
I started listening to pop radio when I was twelve. I liked songs by the Cyrkle, Kinks, Count Five, Buckinghams, Beatles, Troggs, Human Beinz, Simon and Garfunkel, People, Easybeats, Electric Prunes, Eric Burdon, Bee Gees, Monkees, Neil Diamond, Music Explosion, Outsiders, Grass Roots, Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, etc. The two songs that hooked me on rock and roll were were "Hanky Panky" by Tommy James and the Shondells and "Mother's Little Helper" by the Rolling Stones. I was attracted by the intense sound of this music rather than by the lyrics, though in retrospect I realize that the lyrics reflected my feelings. I couldn't listen to "96 Tears" because it upset me too much. Most of these songs were variations on the Dylan-Stones-Yardbirds transformation of rhythm and blues into hard rock. They took r & b's call-and-response and turned it on its head, so that it felt like separation and alienation. The epitome of this was the Stones' "Get Off Of My Cloud." The best of the '60s stuff still kept a sense of r & b rhythm. I was impressed by singers like Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, and Iggy Pop, who used the voice as a rhythm instrument.
In the late 1970s in New York I thought about joining or putting together a band. My friend Rich Campo told me to listen to James Brown. I did that, and also listened to a lot of '70s disco and funk I'd been too stupid to pay attention to the first time around. I got the idea, stimulated by watching the Contortions, that a new music could be created if I took the emotional edge of a group like the Velvet Underground and give it a firm base in swinging blues and funk. I was excited by Spoonie Gee's "Spoonin' Rap" and "Love Rap," which felt like punk and sounded like disco. I wanted to make music that went beyond the narrow (and narrowing) emotional range of hard rock (a.k.a. punk) without denying its truth. This tape is evidence that I didn't succeed. Rich and I made several attempts to put together a band, but nothing jelled. Finally I met up with Andrew Klimek and Charlotte Pressler, who had little interest in disco-funk but a lot of ideas of their own. We played out together as a trio in September 1981 under the name Red Dark Sweet. Shortly after that we added Charlotte's friend Donna Ratajczak on drums. Donna stayed with the band until early the next year, when she quit and was replaced by Rick Brown.
Charlotte and Andrew had a knowledge of music that ranged from medieval to early country to avant garde, but its core was the same '60s garage-goes-Velvets stuff I'd grown up on — except Andrew and Charlotte had heard interesting possibilities in the music that I hadn't. I explain it like this: freedom, expansiveness, improvisation, and noise experimentation are a logical extension of music like that of the Byrds and Bob Dylan (Bringing It All Back Home is a good example). These qualities already belong to rock and roll; they needn't be brought into the music from some other tradition (such as jazz, art rock, or the serious avant garde). I truly believe that Red Dark Sweet was (and still is) playing the essence of '60s and beyond rock and roll. Red Dark Sweet differs from the current punk revival groups because Red Dark Sweet plays the music for its possibilities rather than its notes. In any event, club owners immediately classified us as an art band, which says more about their fear than our music. It also limited where we could perform, and who would see us. This frustrated me. These frustrations eventually caused me to quit the band. I wanted to take the show on the road, so to speak. I wanted to go out and find an audience, as the Dolls had, as Black Flag had. The other band members thought that this was unrealistic, given our lack of money and connections.
Ironically, Red Dark Sweet is now in Cleveland where they are performing and actively trying to promote an alternative music space. I've spent the last year and a half working on this tape and failing to put a band together.
When I left Red Dark Sweet I got together with Stefano Arata, a guitarist who liked the Troggs, Television, Pere Ubu, the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, and other groups like that. This was what I wanted. I'd decided to abandon the idea of punk-disco fusion (a fraudulent version of which was beginning to dominate radio) and stick with my garage roots. This was a mistake. Without Andrew my music lost its expansiveness and I fell back on sounding like junior-high meanness. I broke out of that towards the end of the Pillowmakers' existence by writing ballads. As did Stefano. That period of the Pillowmakers is not documented on this tape because I don't like the concert tapes of those songs. Stefano and I spent months auditioning drummers, most of whom thought we sounded weird or that we were doing art rock. I thought we sounded limited. Finally we asked Stefano's friend Carol Meinke to drum with us. We worked hard, and eventually were able to put on some tight, intense shows. But I never could convince myself that our music mattered.
Except for "Hero Of Fear," an old Red Dark Sweet song, the solo material on this tape was written in the last fourteen months. I wrote the music to "Baby Doe" on my thirtieth birthday.
Miscellaneous Notes—In "Mrs. Hanson" I repeat one note for seven minutes. "Di Conti" is narrated by Di Conti's boyfriend, impersonated by Charlotte. "Hero Of Fear" is also known as "Bagel With Schmeer." "Linda Lu" was originally a Red Dark Sweet "song"—really a bass line and words that the band tried to make into something. Stefano's guitar playing on the Pillowmakers' version pulls the song together. The bass line was inspired by "Funky Nassau." Andrew is the only person who has understood the third verse of "Fire Hydrant" without it being explained to him. "Baby Doe" uses the same rhythm as "Sister Ray." FK's lyrics: Early stuff ("Worms," "Hero Of Fear," "Stars Vomit") are about people being addicted to their own oppression. "Transit Cop" is based on a true story. At the Canal Street subway station in Lower Manhattan you can transfer from the BMT line to the IRT line. The BMT goes into middle-class Queens, the IRT goes into the ravaged slums of the South Bronx. The cop didn't want the bum riding into a good area, I presume. After he's kicked off the train, the bum starts babbling. The other songs are all "Hey Joe."
( tracklist )
( Personnel and credits )
( Accolades and a few recent thoughts )
Were you mildly disappointed in the new M.I.A. album even though you kind of liked it, and decided to listen to M.I.A. knock-offs instead and were then disappointed in them, too?My reply: Haven't made it to the albums, but on this year's singles Tkay Maidza seems to be getting the singsong M.I.A. but not the jumprope or the tunnel-under-the-earth-and-claw-your-
Try THIRD generation M.I.A. knock-off Tkay Maidza, who out-clonestamped Santigold this year, and ALSO gave us a second gen Sant-O-gold and also gives a few hints of, like, is that Kid Sister? – or something. Basically, this album takes all the shit I’ve been kind of rooting for but not feeling for the last five years and just gives me a 100% decent all the way through album of it. Don’t expect anything less than totally derivative, and if that bothers you then, well, I hope you enjoy all of that super original horseshit you’ve got clogging up your year-end lists. 2016 is a nightmare; give me comfort food.
I wrote this last night in about three minutes while waiting to see our therapist:
If Clinton wins I want to go forth with the joy of intellectual argument and dispute. If Trump wins, I may need to forgo this joy in favor of simple support for those engaging in intellectual and practical resistance. —Of course it's hardly either/or. Think of the joy of the intellectual dance step. Soldiers take time to dance. And support and resistance don't lose their pull even if Clinton wins, with danger not quite so pressing.
(Then our therapist ushered us in.)
What was on my mind was what a hero I think Matt Yglesias has been overall at Vox and on his twitter feed, but that he's kind of being a minor jerk whenever he gets snarky about theories of "economic anxiety" and such that are sometimes applied to Trump voters. It's like neither he nor anyone similar knows how to get to an intelligent conversation on the subject, or really knows how to want one. It's not an urgent conversation, but life would be more fun taking the Yglesias types to task than just supporting them shoulder-to-shoulder on the subjects of greater urgency (like urban density, which he's truly smart about, but poses no fun philosophical puzzles). —Really, I believe if done right disputatiousness is an important part of support. But if Clinton wins I'll feel a sigh of relief and think even if the disputatiousness is not done so right, it'll eventually right itself, or something.
But it's important to dance.
Dance to the beat of the living dead.