redefining music

DAY 340

So this is an album I first heard basically when it came out.  I actually have no idea how I first heard of Atom and His Package and usually I have at least a clue somewhere.  But it’s lost to the sands of time, I just know I liked him enough that when this album came out I got it on CD because I wanted it.  I got this on vinyl just recently because it was only $14 and it was worth it to me.

So this is such a strange bit of music to address because it feels almost like comedy except it’s not and it’s better than we tend to think of things that are comedic.  There is actually a long line of underground artists like this, people who just can’t quite take things seriously and it frustrates some people who want to see what the bad would do if they’d quit joking around.  I feel like those people just don’t understand what it’s like to not be able to stop joking around, it’s the only way you’re comfortable.  You can’t do something entirely sincerely because it is just too vulnerable, you have to shield yourself by mocking it some so you can say, oh see, I don’t take it seriously either so when you criticize it no problem, I meant for it to not be good/serious/whatever.  Which is what this makes me think of.  I like this record, it is catchy and the whole electropunk thing is a thing I enjoy.  But there is definitely that wall there, these are not deeply personal songs and the ones who get close to that they end up veering into jokes eventually.  I guess for me that’s part of the charm, I can see why it’s happening and so I have catchy songs that reveal more than they think they do.  But mileage may vary there.  Hey, at least there are 3 Mountain Goats covers here, that’s nice too.


“When you’re queer, no one ever sits you down and says ‘This is our story.’ Sure, you hear snippets. Friends tell friends what they know, terrible movies provide some context, but you don’t often get to share the experience of learning history together.”

With Serving Pride: The Handbook for your Queer History Dinner Party, Geeks OUT hopes to change that. Illustrated by contemporary queer artists, the book will guide dinner guests through a ritual meal where queer history is retold through readings, songs, games, recipes, and art. Guests will learn about the Daughters of Bilitis, sing chants from Stonewall, recall the drag ball culture of Harlem in the 1920s, and remember the queer figures who redefined American music, literature, and fashion.

In addition to printing a full-color version of the book, Geeks OUT intends to make a printable PDF version available for free. Support its publication and learn more about the project here.

The World’s Been Making Plans To Go On Without Me

Thanks Hendrik! I’ll be honest, I’ve always wanted to write for One Week // One Band. What I always wondered though, was the fairly important question of who the hell I was going to write about. Who could I write dozens of essays on, explaining in encyclopedic detail what each tiny portion of their discography meant personally to me? 

It turns out that the answer lay in a band whose last record I didn’t care for at all, that I rarely find myself listening to anymore, and haven’t seen live since 2013. 

Titus Andronicus has, on multiple occasions in my life, redefined my relationship to music. At 14, they forever altered my conception of punk: from a distant genre perfected by long-dead bands from the world’s largest cities, to something that (somewhat literally in this case) could be perfected by someone from down the block. Hailing from Glen Rock, New Jersey (the border of which lies a couple hundred feet from my house), the constantly-evolving ensemble centered around the cynical, ambitious and brilliant Patrick Stickles was the first band I could call my own. 

When my corner of Bergen County, NJ was the only world I knew, Stickles’ relatable barbs about local landmarks, lunkhead athletes and marching band gave his music the aura of gospel. He was the older brother I never had, an impossibly cool (he shared a label with fucking Radiohead) figure who had trudged his way through the same shitty environment I had and come out roaring with one of the most formidable bands rock had seen in decades. 

And yet, as I graduated high school (during which I saw them live 5 times,) went to college, and discovered that being a white kid in the cushy Northeastern NJ suburbs wasn’t actually the worst fate in the world, my devotion to the band began to fade. As I went to DIY shows in Western Massachusetts where moshing (which I did tirelessly at every Titus show I attended) would get you thrown out, and found myself enjoying the music far more as a result, I began to identify far less with the loud, often aggressive, heavy-drinking and baseball cap-wearing crowds of the more recent Titus shows I had attended. 

But, when the band released The Most Lamentable Tragedy, an album which (in my opinion) played up to the worst aspects of rock, among many other faults, my not liking it felt personal. It wasn’t just an album that I didn’t like, it was an album by my band that I didn’t like, feelings about moshing be damned. My revulsion to it was so personal in fact, that it managed to push me away from rock as a whole for quite awhile, and left me diving into hip-hop, pop and electronic to find music that would speak to me in the same way. 

Of course, I’m not an impressionable, naive 14 year-old anymore though. It’s doubtful that any band will ever grab me by the collar, and inspire tireless devotion in me the way Titus Andronicus did at that age. Regardless of how I feel about them now, my relationship with their music is, by a wide margin, more personal and complicated than any I have with any other artist. With that said, I’d like to warn y’all in advance that I could never do an objective summary of the band’s four-album discography. This is about Titus’ music yes, but it’s also about my own relationship with that music, and how I felt I’ve come of age alongside, and changed perspective with, Patrick Stickles. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Here’s my syllabus:

Monday – Introduction (check!), The Airing of Grievances 

Tuesday – The Monitor

Wednesday – Ephemeral stuff (“Kanye on a Plane,” Titus Andronicus LLC Mixtape Vol. 1)

Thursday – Local Business, Titus closes out Maxwell’s

Friday – The Most Lamentable Tragedy
Teacher Wants One Direction To Help Teach Kids To Reach For Their Dreams
One Direction are one of the most popular bands on the planet. In five short years One Direction have redefined the pop music industry and gone from X-factor

One Direction are one of the most popular bands on the planet. In five short years One Direction have redefined the pop music industry and gone from X-factor hopefuls to global superstars. One Direction shown that, with hard work and a mindset that leaves no room for giving up, you can not only chase your dreams, you can catch them too. By any measure One Direction’s success has been nothing short of incredible. In five years One Direction have completed four major world tours, scored five number one albums and played shows to many millions of people. One Direction’s story shows that you can achieve your dreams if you have the courage and will to follow them.

One Direction have not only made their own dreams come true they have helped to make dreams come true for many other people too. Just last week it was reported in Inquisitr how One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson has worked with charities to help make dreams come true for the families of very sick children. Put simply One Direction have become a huge inspiration to millions of people, a fact not lost on Indiana school teacher Shelby Toll.

Miss Toll is a special education teacher who works with children with a range of special needs. Many of her children have had a tough start in life, are dealing with conditions like autism, and have a low sense of self-worth. Miss Toll is trying to teach her kids to reach for the stars, to glory in life and, like One Direction, to follow their dreams.

Miss Toll is a One Direction fan who has a nurturing relationship with her students, they trust her and confide in her and know about her musical passion. As a result the kids have challenged miss Toll to show that dreams come true by achieving one of her own dreams, to make contact with One Direction. Shelby would love to meet One Direction but is realistic in her ambitions and would just love to see One Direction make some kind of contact with her kids.

“My students can often get down on themselves, we talk about how just because they are struggling right now, doesn’t mean they have to give up on their dreams. If I could get One Direction to reach out to my students it would boost their self-esteem and show the that even in the toughest of times they can achieve their dreams.”

As a result of trying to help students realise that dreams can come true miss Toll has set up a project website hoping that a member of One Direction will notice it and reach out to her kids.

As the Mail pointed out back in August One Direction stars Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne were incredibly generous with both their cash and their time when supporting children’s charity Believe In Magic. Shelby Toll is hoping that the massive generosity of spirit that One Direction members show through their charitable efforts will extend to her students.

She hopes that One Direction would read at least one letter from the project and acknowledge her students. By doing so she believes that One Direction could have a massively beneficial effect on the children’s live by boosting their sense of self-worth and believing that dreams can come true.

“One Direction is important in my students’ lives. Listening to their music allows my students to unwind from a stressful day. One Direction’s music makes them smile and happy even on the worst of days. One Direction has allowed my students to work on their social skills and make friends. One Direction has allowed me to make a connection with my students and build a bridge of trust.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda: An American Original by J.J. Abrams (Time):

Lin-Manuel Miranda conceived, wrote and stars in this breakthrough masterpiece, cementing his place as one of the most miraculous creative minds of our time. Like Alexander Hamilton, Miranda is a powerful reminder that greatness comes from unlikely places. His Puerto Rican parents’ collection of Broadway-musical records was as strong an influence during his New York City upbringing as the hip-hop he would come to love. There is no recipe for genius, but one can see the disparate elements that Miranda has miraculously seized and synthesized, embraced and celebrated, to create something profoundly moving and wholly original. He has redefined the musical and made us see anew the origins of the remarkable experiment called democracy.

Knowing the man, experiencing his exuberance and dazzle up close, is as delightful as the show itself. His wit would be intimidating if not for his natural and infectious charm. Somehow he is as generous, collaborative and lovable as he is innovative and brilliant. He and his wife of five years Vanessa Nadal (a scientist and lawyer—yes, scientist and lawyer) have a 1-year-old son. In other words, this young man is still in his first act. It’s thrilling to consider how lucky we are to be in his audience, anticipating his next concoction, with his Hamilton’s promise echoing in our heads: “And there’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait … Just you wait.”



Atom & His Package - “Anarchy Means I Litter”



“Dieter Rams Has Got the Pocket Radios” by Ram’s Pocket Radio (piano/rock/alternative) massive sound, great production

They’re the biggest band in Asia, but Big Bang’s days may be numbered

They’re one of the biggest boy bands in the world. Their concerts make One Direction’s look poorly attended. Compared with their fans, Beliebers seem halfhearted.

They’re Big Bang, and you’ve probably never heard of them.

For a decade, these five stylish, edgy guys have defined and redefined South Korean pop music. They’ve defied the idea that so-called K-pop is inevitably sugarcoated and factory-produced, and that boy bands are all about pretty faces and lip-synching.

But now, as Big Bang celebrates its 10th anniversary, fans are beginning to deal with the unthinkable: that Big Bang as they know it may not exist for much longer.

Thanks to the threat of North Korea, South Korea still has compulsory military service, requiring all men to complete at least 20 months’ duty before they turn 32.

That means the clock is ticking for Big Bang, which consists of lead singer G-Dragon, who takes his stage name from his Korean given name, Ji-yong (“yong” means “dragon”) and four others who go by the names T.O.P., Taeyang, Daesung and Seungri.

Speculation is rife that T.O.P, who’s 28, could enlist this year, while G-Dragon and Taeyang, both 27, are tipped to enter the military in 2017.

It’s a subject the band doesn’t much like to talk about.

“If we’re going to talk about that, we’ll feel sad,” G-Dragon told The Washington Post in a rare interview in Tokyo while the band was on its M.A.D.E. world tour. “I’m just kidding,” laughed the singer, who was wearing sunglasses and an oversize suit jacket over a purple turtleneck and spoke in fluent, slightly rapper-style English.

But the reality can’t be avoided.

“We are Korean, so we have to go someday, but I don’t know when it’s going to be,” he continued. “Until then, we’ll just try hard to do what we got to do.”

The M.A.D.E. tour ends this weekend in Seoul and has been huge. Big Bang sold 910,000 tickets for 18 concerts in Japan alone. By comparison, Taylor Swift sold almost 2.3 million tickets and One Direction sold 2.4 million on their tours last year – but it took them 83 and 85 shows, respectively.

Big Bang’s tour has included stops in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and New Jersey, as well as South America.

“We were amazed that people knew our songs in countries that we haven’t even been to, such as in Mexico,” said Taeyang. “They’d never seen us other than on the Internet.”

K-pop took off in the 1990s, when South Korean music companies started putting potential stars on grueling training schedules — living in dorms with no phones or Internet — and churning out highly manufactured groups with a saccharine sound. Vocal talent came second or third to looks and dancing ability.

This style of music became popular in Japan and then, in the 2000s, across Asia, as part of the “Korean wave” of popular culture that also included dramas and movies, as well as fashion and, increasingly, plastic surgery.

In the West, just as Latino music went from fringe to mainstream, so, too, is K-pop breaking out of its niche. Both Spotify and iTunes now list K-pop as genres.

Big Bang emerged from years of training under YG Entertainment, one of South Korea’s top music labels, which also counts Psy of “Gangnam Style” fame among its stars, to make their debut in 2006.

From their origins in the K-pop machine, the band has matured to become a new generation of boy band, one whose artists are involved in writing, composing and producing.

Indeed, they bristle at the label “K-pop.”

“Actually, I don’t know why they call Korean music ‘K-pop,’” Seungri said. “Good music is good music, so if you are going to be doing good music, then they are going to be listening to our music.”

G-Dragon chimed in. “We are Korean, so obviously they call our music K-pop. But we never thought of our music as K-pop. Our music is just our music.”

“It’s like this,” added T.O.P. “You don’t divide pop music by who’s doing it. We don’t say, for instance, ‘white pop’ when white people make music.”

Mark James Russell, an entertainment journalist based in Seoul who has written two books about K-pop, said that the band has defied categorization.

“Of all the mainstream acts, they’re doing the most to push boundaries of what is considered K-pop,” said Russell. “The group has been pretty active in trying out all sorts of different stuff.”

Big Bang’s videos, in particular, push those boundaries. The trippy “Bae Bae” has garnered 58 million views on YouTube. (Which may be nothing compared with Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift but is huge for Asia.)

In another innovation, the band released eight singles last year — including “Bang Bang Bang,” “Loser” and “We Like 2 Party” — then put them all out as the “M.A.D.E.” album last month.

“Bang Bang Bang” is so punchy that the South Korean government has been blasting it across the demilitarized zone into North Korea as part of its propaganda war with the communist state.

The band members have “become artistic superheroes,” says a representative of a rival Korean music company, who asked for anonymity because he was talking about a competitor. “They have shown versatility and success in whatever they do.”

But the question of military service continues to hang over the men, and it almost seems as if the band has been preparing for this inevitability, with each member cultivating his own image and all of them marketing themselves as individuals and smaller units.

Taeyang and Daesung both have solo acts planned, while T.O.P. has been concentrating more on acting.

As for G-Dragon, well, G-Dragon is fashion incarnate. He was in the front row of the Chanel show during Paris Fashion Week this year, clad in a Navy-style Chanel suit and a huge black fur hat. When G-Dragon posts a photo of himself, whatever he is wearing usually sells out instantly.

Industry insiders say he has a confidence and swagger that make him appealing, plus a David Beckhamlike ability to look both androgynous and studly at the same time.

So, what happens next? The band members are philosophical about the future. “I believe in destiny, and I’m going to let it flow and see how it goes,” said T.O.P.

But there is a sense, after 10 years, that the thrill of being an idol is wearing off.

“I never got tired of the music thing till now, but we are still young, so we can do whatever we want,” said G-Dragon. “I just want to try something new. That’s my new goal. Like fashionwise, or like whatever.”

But for now, they’re not talking about splitting up. As G-Dragon put it: “Carpe diem, you know.”

Source: The Washington Post

“I keep saying I’m trying to make music for human beings. I try to express something or do it in a way that either moves or entertains people. You do that, and then you just see. I have a harder and harder time as I do this longer and longer, to categorize any of it. At a certain point I think it’s beyond category. You know, we don’t have much time in our day, and to sit there and worry about categorization seems like a waste. I think it’s also that sometimes for me, I don’t even know any more (laughs). I really don’t know what I’m doing. And I’m very happy about why that is.”

I will always enjoy the hell out of this man, he loves his music and it shows in every piece. 


Meet the organization bringing music to children in Palestine 

Musicians Without Borders, an international organization, works in refugee camps across Palestine, hosting music workshops and leadership training programs with children and adults. They’re not a political organization. Though Palestinian refugee camps mostly arose in the 1940s after the creation of Israel, Musicians Without Borders is not pushing a broader agenda. They merely attempt to support vulnerable communities and offer training in nonviolent forms of protest and expression. They’re redefining how kids approach music.