My last album reflection of 2013 went up today! This year was, without a doubt, the best year of my life, and I’m so so so grateful to everyone at PORTALS for being a huge part of that. You’re all awesome. <3
Ask me top 5 _____ of 2013 (or any timeframe, w/e)
I’ve never done one of these, but in the spirit of crazy writing and recapping of 2013 that’s happening right now, I’d like to play.
Ask me stuff maybe?
juanalikesmusic asked: What do you think of the last Shallow Rewards video? Although I have many reasons to disagree with it and not even care about it, it's inevitable for me to also feel discouraged. I'm guessing that you're going to disagree with it too, considering that it attacks Pitchfork and your job, but I was interested in knowing your opinion.
I just watched it now and although I have only seen a few of them this was not in my opinion one of Chris’ better videos. I looked at twitter several times today and saw quite a few “reactions” so maybe that raised my expectations, but this seemed to me to reiterate some of his regular talking points.
A few specifics:
As far as Liz Pelly’s piece about some bands in Boston, I honestly have no idea at all what he is talking about. My guess is that he reads a piece like this and tries to frame it in the terms of like a circa-1989 Everett True piece, where Liz was maybe trying to say that Boston is “The Next Seattle” (if you’re not sure what that means, kids, ask Chris.) But that was not my take on Liz’s piece. I don’t think she was really trying to say “This scene is going to be huge and needs to be paid attention to” but more “Here are interesting things going on in this place, where people are trying to carve out an individual space to be creative with music, a space that, having been involved with them, I can tell you about now.” He wonders if this should be international news in the NME and in my opinion this is exactly the kind of thing an NME reader might be interested in: a tight-knit music scene making their way, trying to do their own thing halfway across the world. That’s kind of what music magazines do, as far as what I see.
Chris uses some examples of old bands he might have known in the 80s and 90s and do they matter now? Uh, in the context of Liz’s piece, who cares? I read her piece and don’t remember the writer saying anything like “Here is what you are going to be listening to 15 years hence, when you are in your late 30s and looking back on your life in indie.” Chris has forgotten more NME articles than I’ve ever read, and he knows the last 40 years of the magazine is basically half things that seemed interesting for a moment and were later proven to be not such a big deal. Will these Boston bands fall into this zone? We will see! But to extrapolate from that piece to whatever his point may have been, well, that was in my view the biggest weakness with this video.
A broader point here, that advertisers and corporations are very interested in what young people think is “cool” and make it their business to find out what that is and capitalize on it, I think there is truth there. And in the digital age, with so much data, it becomes a precise science. Some people cash in on that. They become consultants or social media gurus or something. Being aware that this is going on (is anyone not aware?) is a good thing. Skepticism is good. Think. Act, based on what you know.
Does being paid for music writing necessarily mean entering into a morally dubious sphere related to advertising? In my opinion, and from my experience, it does not. But I know very little about advertising, and I’m in a business where it’s a source of revenue, so you should listen to me (or not) based on that. When I am at the keyboard I write what I want to write and I have never once thought about advertisers and all my checks have cleared. Still, I am not you.
As far as you, Juana, I hope that despite Chris’ video you will not be discouraged. I really, deep down, bottom-of-soul kind of stuff, believe that this comes down to expectations. Not a lot of people get to make a living writing about music. If you are thinking you might be one of them, it makes good sense to arrange your life so that you will have another way to make ends meet if that doesn’t work out. But if you can free yourself from just worrying about money and write about things that you truly care about, and if you do your best to render into words this thing and figure out why it matters and why it might matter to someone else, I think you might be able to make some money writing about music, and in a way that could be a part of a happy life.
Dog Day - “Rome”
*Some thoughts that I wrote while piecing together my latest album reflection for PORTALS*
Dog Day come about as close as you can get to universally-adored celebrities here in Halifax. They’ve been around for about a decade now - Fade Out, their fourth album, comes out on December 10 - and after years of putting out some of this city’s best music they show no signs of slowing down. Preparing myself for that album’s release, I’ve been listening to a lot of their older stuff recently and, unsurprisingly, I’ve fallen back in love with much of it.
Concentration, their second and greatest album, was released just as I was really getting into local music and as such carries bagfuls of nostalgic, early-adolescent memories. When I was twelve or thirteen, I would spend my nights binge-reading Halifax-based blogs, hitting repeat on Bandcamp and Myspace pages and dreaming of one day being half as cool as the people in these bands that I admired so much. Though it was being made only fifteen minutes down the road, something about the music felt distant, as if it inhabited a different level of coolness that my suburban existence could never achieve. Of course, that was all an illusion; as I grow closer to becoming the person I so desperately wanted to be five years ago, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the image and lifestyle I idolized as a preteen isn’t always as great as it had seemed. That’s not to say I was completely misguided - I’ve discovered even more to love about the local scene as I’ve gotten more involved, and I’m sure I’d have been thrilled to discover the person I’ve become - though I do sort of miss that lovely, soft-focus image of Halifax’s arts community that I once held.
"Rome," Concentration's beautiful, chiming centrepiece and by far the best song Dog Day have ever made, sounds like those idealized dreams, like feeling simultaneously trapped and inspired by my immediate surroundings. Everything is perfect: the kick-drum opening, the gorgeous guitar playing, the chilly husband-wife vocals; all of it clouded with memories of my past romantic ideals. At twelve years old, Dog Day sounded irreproachably cool, like a distant, unattainable future; now, at seventeen, these songs provide a rare moment of self-actualization, serving as a genuinely touching reminder of how far I've come.
Here’s my third monthly refection for Portals! I’m very proud of how this one turned out; reading it back it feels very “me,” which is ultimately what I hope all of my writing is able to do.