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24 October 2011

Some thoughts about politics, music and Rough Trade

UPDATED NOVEMBER 7, 2011: Soon after posting this I discovered a great full-length BBC documentary about Rough Trade posted on Vimeo. I’ve replaced the Raincoats video that led this post with said documentary. (The Raincoats song is now at the end of this post.) I’d recommend watching the doc even before checking out the book on RT if only because music only really lives & breaths when seen & heard. Contrary to reports, I have not been watching the documentary on repeat since the original posting date of the first BLOG. I’ve just been occupied.


Kim Gordon & Thurston Moore separate. There’s protest in the streets again. Everything is born again & everyone dies. And sometimes people blog about it.

Anyway, here’s an excerpt from a book I’m reading about Rough Trade which somehow has everything to do with this.

GINA BIRCH: Before moving to London, I’d been at Trent Poly doing a Foundation Course and while I was there I got involved with what you might call a conceptual art tribe, people involved in Art & Language. It was very political because there were always lots of factions, but it was also very exciting. When I moved to London, though, and started studying at Hornsey Art College, although the course I was on was interesting, and it had some interesting fellow students — like Elizabeth Taylor’s daughter, who painted horses, and Anish Kapoor — there was no core to it, no tribe like there had been in Nottingham, so I became lonely. I was living with a bunch of drug dealers in Islington when Neil from the Tesco Bombers said I could move into his squat in West London. This was a squat within a group of squats and this became my new tribe. Richard Dudanski, who played drums in The 101ers, was there with his partner Esperanta, whose sister Palmolive played in The Slits.

There was this great community of punks and hippies and everyone joined in. We all used the Tea Room, which was kind of a local cafĂ© and food co-op in a squat where for 20p you could get brown rice and vegetables, a pudding and a glass of sarsaparilla. The punks the hippies really joined at this point and in some ways the DIY ethic chimed with many of the hippie ideals. I supposed that’s what we were, really — middle-class punk hippies.

It’s good to realize who you are. It’s good to realize how you do. It’s good to show no shame in it. Another excerpt after the jump. Read more »

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25 February 2008

Alec (who is the same age as Jesus) responds to his critic. Also, a special guest appearance by Judas aka Bob Dylan (you know, the guy from the panty commercial).

A commenter writes of my post on These New Puritans:

I have met people in their teens and early twenties who are much less arrogant than this writer(Alec Bemis). New Puritans are OK, definitly not cutting edge, and not like anything we havent heard before.Yes, I’m old, but I was into The Fall as well as the Stones thousands of years ago and I still recognize what bands from the past brought to the party.

Maybe Alec is burnt out on the oldtimers, which is understandable, but if he could think past his own experience it would be a nice.He remionds me of a spoiled kid I once knew that would break his toys when he got tired of them so no one else could enjoy them.

Posted on February 19, 2008 11:10 AM by andrew

Let me respond.

1. As a clarification, I am 33, the same age of Jesus. Clearly those kids in their teens and early twenties who you’re meeting have some work to do to get as arrogant as me. But don’t worry, sounds like they have plenty of time to catch up!

2. I never said that These New Puritans were “cutting edge.” They cite terrorist videos as an influence for Alec’s sake, and those have been around at least twenty or thirty years. I even point out in my post that their music reminds me of groups like the Fall very very much. I think you are taking a typical boomer-era view of praise, and assuming that I think the only art worth celebrating is “original.” Really, though, my criteria for artistic greatness has much more to do with “excellence of execution.” There is a huge difference.


3. I’m not “burnt out” on the old timers. To this day Sonic Youth are consistently one of my favorite bands to experience live and there’s a reason I was posting video of Mark E. Smith only a few days ago. I will see Bob Dylan live every opportunity I get until the man dies. But I am quite aware that the more comfortable a band gets, the more discomfiting sponsorship opportunities can be. I’d be the last person, for example, to criticize the Shins when their music was used to shill for McDonald’s early in the band’s career. They almost definitely needed the money. As a band becomes more of a self-sufficient entity, however, it needs become increasingly aware, and careful, of how its accumulated chain of cultural associations are wielded in public view.

In other words. Rolling Stones shilling for Rice Crispies in 1964 = A-OK!

The Rolling Stones shilling for Tommy Hilfiger on their No Security tour in 1999. Well, you’ve got to be joking me. Maybe if they called it their Social Security tour I would have been more sympathetic.

After the jump, Bob Dylan’s most embarrassing-slash-greatest commercial moment(s).
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15 February 2008

Sonic Youth: They Are Not Rock. They Curate Rock.

More from my thoughtstream about artists who might be taking too much inspiration from other art….

First, here’s an image I’d like you to consider: Sonic Youth rocking out last week at Marc Jacobs’ show during New York Fashion Week.

Pile that on top of the news Thurston Moore let leak that SY are in the midst of curating a traveling art exhibit:
“We’re putting together this museum show that’s utilizing all the artists that we’ve worked with on different covers and concepts, and that’s going to happen for two or three years… It’s going to happen in young museums, there’s one outside of Paris, there’s one in Malmö, Sweden.”

The blog which reported this news noted that Moore’s leak came “after the band played ‘Kool Thing’ at Jacobs’s request.” I’m not one to get holier-than-thou about bands selling out — selling out is how bands get by — but I’ll admit that sentence fragment made me throw up a little in my mouth.

More vomitus after the jump!
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