Archive for January 2012

In Defense of Nickelback or: How I learned to stop worrying about having credibility


When I started this blog, if someone had asked me what the last thing I’d ever write on here would be, I’d have quickly answered: “a post defending Nickelback.” Then the question-asker and I would have had a good laugh, do an awesome high-five and a jagerbomb, compliment each other on our great new haircuts, and then go back to talking about some obscure indie band that neither of us had actually heard of, but pretended to out of fear of being judged as less than cutting edge by the other.

The other thing I never wanted to do with this blog was write a run-on sentence with too many commas. As you can see, I’ve already done that. Now, here I go with the whole defending Nickelback thing. Of course, I understand if that means you’ll stop reading this post at the end of this sentence…


Not Just White Noise Supremacy: The Diversity of the Underground Punk Network in late 1970s-early 1990s America


Recently, a book called White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race, edited by Stephen Duncombe and Maxwell Tremblay, was released. Race has been at the forefront of debates on punk, probably before, and definitely since, Lester Bangs wrote his article “White Noise Supremacists” in the Village Voice in 1979. Reactions to White Riot reveals the diversity of opinion on race and politics in punk milieux, especially this review of the book in Maximum Rocknroll, White Riot: Another Failure.”

Discussions on punk and race instantly brings to mind not only the Clash song “White Riot,” but also the Minor Threat song “Guilty of Being White.” The song was written by Ian MacKaye, who was frustrated by being mistreated, because of the color of his skin, by black youths in the community he grew up in. Highly contentious, debate and different interpretations continue to surround the song. As the book White Riot and the reactions to it show, this contention extends to the issue of race and punk as a whole.

The thing about punk is, as D. Boon said: “punk is whatever we made it to be.” From the late 1970s to the early 1990s, punk was a melange of not only different races, but also voices, messages, outlooks and ideas. Music scenes sprung up across the United States (and parts of Canada), forming an underground network where people could raise voices differing to the status quo of the mainstream.

In the following, I try to touch on the diversity that existed in the underground punk network in the United States. It is by no means comprehensive, but should provide a taste of what was happening, and how the varying elements of that diversity mixed together.

Well, except for Diversity being an old wooden ship from the Civil War era


The Best 2011 List You’ll Read ANY Year


The end of 2011 and start of 2012 has been marked – as the transition between years often are – by a lot of “best of” lists. Top 5s, Top 10s, Best Hairstyles, Worst Celebrity Moustaches, Hottest Chicken Wings, Biggest Plates of Nachos, Coolest High-Fives – the lists go on and on.  I’ve seen a lot of great music lists too, but unfortunately they’ve all been missing one 2011 release. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry: it’s even more obscure than a hipster’s plaid shirt. You’ll probably recognize what it was inspired by – but if you don’t know that, well…yikes.

That’s right. The release missing from all the Best of 2011 lists was inspired by the nearly Oscar winning Patrick Swayze film Roadhouse, also starring Sam Elliott and Jeff Healey. The reason you might not have heard of this release, from Edmonton musician Tyler Butler, is because you didn’t go to the Wunderbar Folkraiser back in November 2011.


Thesis Playlist


So I thought if I was going to write a thesis, it might as well have a playlist. Give a click on any of the tracks listed below see what kinda stuff was having an impact on the music milieux of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, 1950s-1990s.

Charles Peterson is the best photographer ever.


Occupy Playlist


So way back in mid-October of last year, I wrote a post on the role of music in social movements. At the time, it really seemed like musicians were going to be participating in the Occupy Movement, and I reckoned it would be good to show the tradition of music being used in earlier protests, activism, dissent, revolutions, and other words I looked up in my thesaurus.

Although it seemed like music was going to be a big part of Occupy, I was still a little worried things would turn out like they did after the United States shocked and awed Iraq – namely, that not much new protest music would appear. Sure old regulars like Pearl Jam wrote songs and spoke out against the war at concerts, but by and large protest music stayed out of the mainstream discourse – and those musicians that did use their voices, like the Dixie Chicks, suffered an immediate backlash for not being patriotic. Sure, punk bands that had been writing protest songs for years continued to write new ones that questioned America’s involvement in the Middle East…but there was a stark lack of new voices, ideas, and numbers.

Eddie Vedder’s favorite president AND shirt

When it came to Occupy, however, my worries were quickly quashed. Musicians old and new, mainstream and underground, Capricorns and Pisces, all started to get involved at the grassroots level – playing in Occupy camps where there was literally no barriers between audience and performer. Here’s a few examples of music, participation, and voices being heard: