Friday, January 27th, 2006

The Man In The Iron Mask

Harp solicits some words of wisdom from the Barking Bard, Billy Bragg. Many bon mots to be found there, but I particularly like this one:

“I think cynicism is the enemy of anyone who wants to make the world a better place. In the end I think the most corrosive thing for the human spirit is cynicism. And you can’t argue with a cynic. They have all the fucking answers.”

His “Hope Not Hate Tour” comes through Toronto on March 11 at the Opera House, his first time back in Toronto since his Talking Woody show at the El Mocambo in 2003. This show won’t be nearly as intimate as that one, but it will be cozier than his 2001 appearance at the Molson Amphitheatre, at least. While the ElMo show was (almost) exclusively Woody Guthrie material, this show should cover all eras from Bragg’s illustrious career since it will be in support of the nine-disc Volume 1 box set being released on February 21 (and which you can preorder now from Yep Roc). Incidentally, Talking With The Taxman About Poetry was declared the 51st greatest British album of all time by the NME. Of course, any list that would put the Arct!c M0nkeys at #5 is dubious beyond words, but it’s still nice to see the props.

Billy recently appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered to promote the set’s release – you can hear the archived show here and they’ve also got a track from the Internationale/Live and Dubious disc. After the Toronto show, he’ll wind his way down to Austin for SxSW, for which he’ll be a keynote speaker. Then it’s a handful more US dates before returning back home to the UK.

And a fellow often compared to Billy, Ted Leo, talks gear in his latest news update. Of limited interest to most, but great interest to me. It seems that every time I see him play live, something of his is blowing up, be it his amp or Echoplex or whatever. You Ain’t No Picasso, up for “Dreamiest Teen” in the Bloggies, has a couple of Ted covers up for grabs – done acoustic because, presumably, all his electric gear blew up again.

Grandaddy will pass away quietly on May 9, leaving Just Like the Fambly Cat as their last will and testament. Pitchfork runs the obituary.

Rainer Maria have named their new album – Catastrophe Keeps Us Together – but still no release date I can find. They’ve got a new teaser track streaming on their website and it sounds just as good as “Burn”, the last sample they put up. This record is very quickly moving up the ranks of stuff I’m looking forward to hearing this year.

Glide talks to Rogue Wave.

Aquarium Drunk has an MP3-ed version of Kathleen Edwards’ long out-of-print debut EP Building 55 available for download.

Popmatters gets way too pedantic about the definition of “indie”. DIY is great, but if a SubPop or Matador is willing to do the heavy lifting of promotion, distribution, recording, etc, without demanding an artistic compromise, why in god’s name would anyone want to do it themselves? My take on “indie” is more abstract – to my mind, it means “independently minded” in terms of creativity and artistry (yeah, I’m probably being overly idealistic on this point but bear with me) and has nothing to do with the business end of things. The fact that bands that pursue this sort of direction happen to exist almost exclusively on independent labels is pure coincidence. Okay, not PURE coincidence, but it’s a consequence, not a reason, and the fact that so many acts that often have little to do their peers, stylistically, has s become a genre unto itself is just plain curious. So while those who argue the point that as a label it’s meaningless are technically correct, I find it simply makes for a much shorter conversation when people ask “so what kind of music do you like?'”. Rock = Zeppelin, alternative = Korn, indie = Magnetic Fields. Simple.

Thanks to Bradley of Almanac fame for the shout-out in his Get To Know Your Blogger feature over at Muzzle Of Bees. Brad has just posted one of his epically long posts if you got a minute or thousand to kill.

np – Ted Leo & The Pharmacists / Shake The Sheets

By : Frank Yang at 8:50 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post5 Responses.
  1. Glenn says:

    We went through the whole indie thing at Coolfer a while back. I tend to be more on the pedantic side of things when it comes to usage of the word.

    Is Death Cab For Cutie indie rock? Only if the word has become completely meaningless, which tends to happen to names given to specific music genres. Call me old fashioned, or maybe it’s because I actually work in independent music, but when a band is signed to one of the four major music groups, indie rock is the last term that should be used.

    Independently minded is far too vague. That could apply to anybody who has artistic control of his/her music, or to anybody who goes against the grain — anybody from Shania Twain to Guns N’ Roses to Fugazi to The Flaming Lips.

  2. Frank says:

    Okay, but does that mean the first three DCFC albums are indie, because they’re on Barsuk, but the new one is? But it’s the same band and the same sound. How about those Pavement albums in the 90s that came out on Atlantic? Is Crooked Rain Crooked Rain not an indie record?

    And yeah, my definition is probably too vague but I prefer the inclusiveness of vagueness to the exclusiveness of the strict definition.

    For me, use of the term "indie" is out of pragmatism. It’s a quick way to give people an idea of what I like and listen to, and it’s a little more descriptive than to say "I like what I like", which is really more accurate.

    Indie rock is like pornography. I know it when I see it.

  3. tyrone says:

    i’d rather tell people I like indie rock instead of "emo" or anything "core" anyday.

  4. Jon S. says:

    indiecore, anyone?

    But seriously, the idea of indie rock as a genre makes about as much sense as alternative rock – it doesn’t. I’m with Glenn on this one.

  5. Eugene says:

    Thanks for the Kathleen Edwards link!