Friday, December 01, 2006

Is Metal Dead?

Here we go again: You can't kill a genre.

The latest to claim that you can is Anthony Lane in The New Yorker: ""Spinal Tap" ... not only assaulted the rock documentary and left it for dead but practically killed heavy metal as a musical species. (Not that hard-core metal heads would notice. They can’t hear you anyway.)"

At least he parenthetically concedes the point I made before: After a genre's "dead", practitioners of the genre somehow carry on making music anyway. So, once again, what can it really mean for a genre to be dead.

What's weird is not that Lane thinks Spinal Tap is Christopher Guest's most successful film (it is, far and away) but that Lane wasn't onto Guest a long time ago. Of one unsuccessful part of For Your Consideration, Lane says, "“Entertainment Tonight” is already so close to self-parody that it requires no further assistance." And metal isn't? It's as though Lane thinks metal was an important (or at least self-important) institution before Guest came along and -- zing! -- exposed it for what it really is. The fact is that metal, like all the marginal activities that Guest "documents", was/is important to practitioners and listeners and absurd to everyone else. Isn't the central conceit of every (not just the latest) Guest movie, "Hey, look at these freaks. Aren't they daft? Let's make fun of them!"

Lane accuses Guest of "rigging the evidence" in only his latest film… as if that’s not what he was always up to.
Don’t get me wrong -- I love Spinal Tap -- but it's of a piece with every Guest film that came after it, better though it may be. They may not show up in a Lane review or a Guest film, but there are intelligent metalheads who are conscious of how absurd or stupid the rest of the world thinks they are -- and have a sense of humor about it.

All right, so I’m a metalhead. Sue me.

Just for fun, let's just say you could kill a genre. If you're going to call in a hit on metal, you'd be much better off sending a real documentary -- Some Kind of Monster -- to do the job.
Forget the bologna-doesn't-fit-the-bread scene from Spinal Tap. Almost any scene from Monster is likely to be more damning. But, especially for mashup fans, I’m thinking of two interludes from the film in particular. One shows Kirk Hammett in full jogging regalia running down the street, and one shows James Hetfield driving an absurdly long hotrod (insert Freudian cliche here), and both are paired with a Metallica song. These are images of what money and California can do to even one of the most venerated metal bands paired with the incredibly heavy music for which they are venerated. The juxtaposition is powerful (and hilarious).

I hear the new Deftones album is good. Even The New Yorker thought so. And I recently found that Emusic has my two favorite metal albums: Sleep "Volume 1" and Confessor "Condemned". They also have a bunch of Don Cab stuff.

Speaking of Don Cab and Metallica, both make an appearance on my podcast. The problem is the podcast has yet to make an appearance on iTunes. World Famous Audio Hacker has been incommunicado. (Maybe he’s in jail again.) His site is down, and iTunes won’t connect to Bootie-to-Go. All this has gone on since my mix was supposed to air. Coincidence or not, it feels like a letdown. I didn’t want to steal WFAH’s thunder, but I really want to post this thing, so here goes.

This is sans interview -- which hasn’t happened yet, and which will no doubt be incredibly witty and insightful -- but all the music’s here if you care to check it out.

Noddable Industries Bootie-to-Go podcast

MP3 audio, 38 MB


Edit: I heard from World Famous Audio Hacker. He wasn't in jail, just working (can seem like the same thing sometimes...). Long story short, podcast is forthcoming after WFAH works out some technical bugs with iTunes. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Noddable Industries Bootie-to-Go podcast

The Bootie Blog is doing a podcast called Bootie-to-Go, which features a different U.S. based mashup artist each week. This week it's featuring me!

The podcast is scheduled for release on Tuesday. It will have an interview with me followed by a continuous mix featuring all "original" material. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes -- just search the podcast directory for "bootie" and you'll find it. There's more information about subscribing to or downloading the podcast here:

I posted a playlist here: If you've been following my music, most songs on the playlist will look *eerily* familiar. But there are a few surprises, one of which I'll let out of the bag now: "Celebrity Break" (Fugazi vs. Twista). It's sort of a B side to "Overnight Superman". You can hear it streamed at my MySpace page or download the mp3 at my "official" page.

Thanks to World Famous Audio Hacker and the Bootie Blog for putting this together.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Two More Swervedriver Mashups

Here are two Swervedriver mashups I did this summer.

Overnight Superman

"Overnight Superman"

rap = Twista, "Overnight Celebrity"
rock = Swervedriver, "I Am Superman"
beats = Outkast

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Incredible Duel

"Incredible Duel"
Swervedriver, "Duel"
Slim Thug, "Incredible Feeling"

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I'm on the... Radio!

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On the
Who's Nodding Now tip, I found out recently that "Whole World Loves Jesus" was featured on Canadian radio this summer. How cool is that?

The show is called Impending Loom. It airs on Radio Malaspina, CHLY 101.7 FM, Nanaimo, British Columbia. The hosts are DJ Doc and MC Mic Control. The playlist for the night on which I appeared features some amazing artists. (Like... how did I get on this list? Not that I'm complaining!) I wrote in, and the guys kindly offered to try to get a stream of that night's show for me. If they post it, I'll post it here. Otherwise, I'll find out if they mind me sharing it.

Impending Loom and other cool links that turned up in the net were added, as always, to the Who's Nodding Now post, but I thought this was worth calling attention to. Thanks again, guys, for putting Noddables in the mix.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Are Mashups Dead?

I posted a response to a post on the blog Touch That Dial. (By the way, my brief response did not do justice to the vast wrongness of the post -- I just hit the high points.) To summarize, in typical hipster fashion, TTD declared mashups dead. Submitted as evidence is the Jay-Z vs. Linkin Park mashup album. My point was that genres are declared dead all the time, but somehow people keep making music.

To be honest, I had basically dismissed out of hand the possibility that mashups are dead. But then -- after seeing the recent attempt at a live mashup at the Grammies -- my man SF called and asked me to stop making mashups. (He wasn't the first!) He said that after the Grammies (I didn't see it, but apparently it involved the aforementioned offenders and a slew of others), mashups are over. I respect SF a lot, so I was forced to reconsider the argument. Here's what I came up with.

As mentioned in my response, every genre is declared dead at some point. According to Kundera, classical music was dead after Schönberg. After going electric, Miles declared jazz dead. And remember when Tortoise and co. rendered rock obsolete, to the point that they spawned a "post-genre," post-rock? Despite these genres being dead, musicians still work within them.

I haven't changed my mind. I still think that declaring a genre dead -- beyond being a hipster's way of seeming above it all -- is just a weird thing to do. I'm not certain what it means for a genre to be alive, but I assume it means that music made under its name is vital or relevant. So, right off, declaring a genre dead is a way to dismiss some music you've heard and a whole lot you haven't. The problem here is the same problem with genres in general -- it reduces music to types and cuts people off from a lot of (possibly good) musical experiences.

When it comes down to it, genres are irrelevant. There's music. People experience music and they think it's good or they don't. Whether someone declares a genre alive or dead is also irrelevant. To paraphrase Michael Chabon, it's a cop out to pass off your own limitations as the limitations of a genre. It's also a cop out to blame bad art on the category into which it happens to fall.

I do agree with SF and with TTD insofar as it's disheartening to hear bad music -- mashups or otherwise. But bad corporate mashups don't signal the death of mashups. If anything, they reinforce why mashups were ever "alive" in the first place.

In the music business, music is exactly that -- business. To even get The Strokes and Christina Aguilera in a room together, you'd have to overcome a huge list of obstacles that have nothing to do with how good or bad they would sound together musically. Luckily, they don't have to be in the same room. But, to bring them together, you have to bypass an entire industry that, ultimately, cares about money, not good music.

So far, to my knowledge, no one working from within the industry has produced a good mashup. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) And, to me, that is no coincidence. Having said that, home remixers rely on the industry, and sometimes an industry artist like Jay-Z blatantly does them a favor. No, I'm not talking about Collision Course. I'm talking about the Black Album acapellas. Jay-Z could not have predicted what other people could do with his music, and he didn't try -- he just made the acapellas widely available and let people go at it. (Obviously, Beastie Boys eventually did him one better, since their acapellas are available free.) Collision Course was a misguided effort to cash in on a DIY phenomenon. The acapellas illustrate that the more free/accessible music is -- and the more free people are to make it -- the better music can be.

The TTD post to which I responded is a terrible piece of writing. Does it follow that "writing must stop"? Of course not. People make bad mashups. Does it follow that "mashups must stop"? Of course not. It does follow that everyone who writes needs to write better, and everyone who makes music needs to make better music.