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tl,dr: Shallow Rewards (continued), race, and empathy
Maybe some of you saw my response to a response to a recent installment of Shallow Rewards. Among the few things that bothered me about the video (none of which were that big of a deal), I quipped that “whenever I watch his videos all I think is ‘white guy white guy white guy white guy white guy white guy white guy.’” This being The Internet, and Tumblr no less, Chris Ott found his way to my post and responded unenthusiastically:
I wonder how tumblr would respond if someone inverted your last statement. Truly detestable comment there.
Getting called out made me self-conscious, because I quickly apologized to Chris in a follow-up comment. But I also explained that I ultimately did not regret what I wrote, even if I second-guessed the way in which I said it. (Unfortunately that’s about ninety percent of the battle, so I screwed up there.)
The biggest takeaway from this run-in was the ever-present fact that reading communities are not closed circles, especially on the Internet, and especially on Tumblr. I foolishly assumed that, like the lion’s share of the material on this blog, the comment would be read by my followers and those immediately associated with the people who’d started the reblog chain which eventually made its way to my dashboard. But this isn’t an assumption I made with the hope of keeping an allegedly racist comment hidden from the person toward whom it was directed.
Not to flatter him too much but Chris Ott’s tenure at One Week // One Band covering The Cure has been everything I want One Week // One Band tenures to be. The Spotify playlists are extremely helpful. I’ve never been one for The Cure, they were never of any significant relevance to anyone I knew so I just missed out on them, but I’m having a real good time getting the gaps filled.
we exist in a world where the fear of illusion is real
I listened to The Tea Party1 a fair bit around the turn of the century. I still have a certain amount of memory-linked affection for the music, but I basically don’t listen to it anymore and my thoughts about it are generally along the lines of “oh, past self, you were wrong about things sometimes”.
So today when I saw Chris Ott describe them as “Ontario’s most successful ethno-Zeppelin Goth act”, and their early albums as “a bloated but occasionally curious carousel of rock melodrama, a watered-down God Machine with fatuous stadium hooks to rival Collective Soul”…
…I enjoyed it quite a lot.
The band, not the far-right political activists who didn’t exist yet. ↩
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was 1992: Nirvana were passing out on magazine covers all over the world. Spin, the suburban town crier, passed to stranded youth the biggest news from a scene still directed in secret, in cities, by fanzines made on hijacked photocopiers. I was 16, learning to play drums in a basement band, everyday after school, and thanks to Spin's sidebar annotation discovered a record that sounded almost as bad as the 4-track recordings we were making. Pavement's "Slanted and Enchanted" was a bridge between the sounds I dreamt of and those I was capable of making. It was as instructive as it was inspirational. For music as cocky, atrocious and clever as Pavement's to have come from the amorphous, always dying world of American indie rock was really surprising, specifically the SUCK!-sess of their 10" EP "Perfect Sound Forever." Vinyl was just beginning the resurgence it would enjoy for the remainder of the decade; record store clerks and college DJ's marveled that a 10" could be produced in 1991. Clothed in its obscure, messy (yes, FALL) sleeve, the EP sold out, prompting Spin to write it up alongside the pre-release cassette of "Slanted and Enchanted" that had everyone buzzing during the summer of 1991. Nirvana were recording "Nevermind." I was listening to the major-label debuts of Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., and the Lemonheads to the Blake Babies' "Sunburn" and the Pixies' "Doolittle." All of them had been featured on MTV's "120 Minutes." The Cure had gone to #3 in the U.S. with "Lovesong." Formerly independent UK bands like Ride, The Stone Roses, and My Bloody Valentine were available in suburban malls. Pop music was overripe with new ideas. Something had to give. It was obvious, and it was sort of a bummer. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" appeared on promotional compilations tapes throughout the summer of 1991, and we blasted it in our parents cars' with glee. By the fall, kids were playing "Nevermind" and "Metallica" back to back at parties, and they pretty much flowed together. Nirvana loved music--truly, madly, deeply--but they had no allure, no mystery. They were Buffalo Tom to Jesus Lizard's Dinosaur Jr., and their great rock music appealed to as many jocks as it did outcasts. I didn't want to drink with those meatheads. I drank before school. There had to be a soundtrack for this. The guitarist I was playing with went off to college in New York City and in September 1992 sent me a 90-minute cassette that changed everything. The first side contained songs by Slint, Pere Ubu, and the Minutemen. The second side was "Slanted and Enchanted." I hadn't been able to get Pavement's album at the mall, and the two times I'd gone record shopping in Boston, Newbury Comics didn't have the record in stock--it had sold out. I'd been waiting to hear Pavement for almost five months since the adoration appeared in Spin. The dead, thudding drums and walkie-talkie guitar production sounded like our garages, our basements, and high school auditoriums: the secret reason "Slanted and Enchanted" rises above its sonic limitations is the bass lines. Though they only on feature on about half the songs, it's one of the few modern pop recordings to use the instrument as it was intended: as the foundation of the song. The guitars are mixed either hard L to R or mono; in all cases, the treble is kicked to the limit. Remastering for this edition adds some noticeable punch to the drum kit, but thankfully preserves the rest of the original sound, clarifying the tracks without isolating them in the mix. You think it's easy, but you're wrong. The 14 classic "Slanted and Enchanted" tracks are here, from the hazy, lazy pop of "Summer Babe," its bass line like Mike Watt in slow-motion, to the late-night, recorded-direct poetry of "Our Singer." There's the CCR/R.E.M. hybrid "Zurich is Stained," the superb pre-Polvo guitar and chorus of "Perfume-V," and of course, indie rock's very own "Every Breath You Take": "Here" (Track 9 for those of us that put it on every mix tape). ... In retrospect, it seems "Slanted and Enchanted" fortified and refocused the tired, exploited underground reeling from Nirvana's co-option. It showed us that regardless of the suits and ties invading our world, there was plenty of room to operate beneath the mainstream radar, and moreover, there was plenty of new music to be made. It reminded us that Sebadoh were still out there, fighting the late-80's and early-90's; critics should kiss the band's ass for the variety of ways Pavement have allowed them to pontificate. We all seem to have forgotten the buzzword "slacker" (and here's to that), but let's stop here and take a moment to reflect on its short-lived potency in the early-90's, when a vast majority of Pavement's press crowned them kings of the shrugging-to-be-clever set. As late as 1994, the cover of Spin magazine read: PAVEMENT: YOUNG, GIFTED, AND SLACK”—
—-Chris Ott, Pitchfork review of Slanted and Enchanted.
This captures everything I love about Pavement and Slanted even though I was a generation and a half behind and have never played in a band, everything I identified with in the music I was listening to in high school, everything I love about that seemingly indescribable feeling of discovering new music, and everything I wanted to fight against that no longer existed in the 00’s.
Dokumentation des Tages: Shoegaze
Der Journalist und ehemalige Pitchfork-Mitarbeiter Chris Ott ist laut Eigenbeschreibung gelangweilt vom Schreiben. Anstatt den ganzen Tag Bier zu trinken, nutzt er die Zeit und produziert ganz tolle Dokumentationen zu verschiedenen popkulturellen Themen. Ich stiess heute auf seinen Beitrag über Shoegaze, der wirklich mehr als sehenswert ist. Der erste Teil befasst sich vornehmlich auch mit der ersten Generation, im zweiten Teil geht es dann chronologisch korrekt um spätere Sachen. Auf der Seite von Ott gibt es noch einige andere Filmchen, die ich nicht minder empfehle.
Too Little Too LateJoJo
Listening to this for the first time since maybe I heard it on MTV Hits or something in 2006, but after probably 30 or so spins of the Chuck Person EccoJams A3 loop (care of Chris Ott/Shallow Rewards.) So good. The loop has a reputation for making JoJo’s lyric “be real, it doesn’t matter anyway” weightier than it was in the original context, but I think this song is actually just as heavy, especially when the chorus kicks in at :47. It’s like the song gets multiplied by two. Also, it’s just uncanny hearing it at normal speed after months of listening to it at quarter time.
Time shifted loop changed my perception of of time over time or something.