Archive for July 2012

Holy moly gosh darn dang

2012/07/16

Calvin Johnson is in Edmonton tonight, and he’s performing at the all-ages Elevation Room on Jasper Ave. Edmonton’s Liam Trimble, Halifax’s Nick Everett, and Vancouver’s Katie & The Lichen are also playing. Even if you haven’t heard of Johnson, you’ve likely been influenced by him. Here’s an excerpt from my MA thesis, discussing his importance:

…While [Bruce] Pavitt was still in Olympia, he met Calvin Johnson, who also volunteered at [college radio station] KAOS. Johnson, starting under similar circumstances to Pavitt, went on to form Beat Happening, a band that stressed emotion first, and musicianship a distant second. This vital component to the punk attitude was apparent from the Beat Happening’s first performance, which was at a house party where they did not have any equipment. The band played regardless, for Johnson felt that they could “proceed on their own terms,” without having to rely “on equipment or technical issues to be who [they] are.” The band continued with this approach throughout its career, never touring with a drum kit: “our attitude was if people don’t let us borrow drums then we can go grab a garbage can or cardboard box and that will do,” recalled member Bret Lunsford. Indeed, Heather Lewis estimated that Beat Happening had practiced 20 times by 1988. Lyrically, Calvin Johnson carried an air of innocence, but songs were often critical of chauvinism, or even the [baby] Boomers. In “Bad Seeds” Johnson sang, “the new generation for the teenage nation/ this time, let’s do it right.”

Beat Happening: Calvin Johnson, Bret Lunsford, and Heather Lewis.

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The History of Punk, Class #9

2012/07/12

Saturday 14 July 1:30PM
Location: Humanities 1-14,
The University of Alberta All-Ages, All-Welcome

Money for Nothing and the Chicks for Free: Diet-Grunge and Punk-Lite

After punk broke into the mainstream via Seattle, the city reversed a trend that had held true since Ray Charles left the region for a record deal in Los Angeles: instead of leaving, bands started coming to the Pacific Northwest to further their music careers. Rather than trying to sound like the latest hair metal band, imitators were latching on to the sonic characteristics of punk bands…and wearing lots of flannel.

This week we will trace the legacy of punk since 1991, and the bands that cashed in on the angsty grievances of a generation. Not all the musicians that became successful were doing it just to get on MTV though, so we’ll examine milieu participants that stuck to their ideals, and the punk attitude, as they navigated their way from community hall shows to Top 40 rotation. The hardest part, of course, will be telling the difference between authentic punks and the marketable pretenders. So we’d better bring food to share, be prepared to sit outside and the sun, and let the debate begin.

Readings:
This is Not For You: The Rise and Fall of Music Milieux in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, 1950s -1990s, pp. 167-180.
That Tom-Tom Club bought all the Wack Slacks, Fuzz, Plats and Kickers!
In Defense of Nickelback or: How I learned to stop worrying about having credibility

Playlist:
The Offspring -“Jennifer Lost the War” live on public access 1988
The Offspring – “Days Go By”
Green Day – “Disappearing Boy”
Green Day – “When I come Around”
Rancid “The War’s End”
NOFX – “Bob”
Bad Religion – “Stranger than Fiction”
Pennywise – “Fight Till You Die”
Good Charlotte – “The River”Avril Lavigne – “Sk8er Boi”
Simple Plan – “I’m Just a Kid”

Hey, so listen to this…

2012/07/08

One of the seminal music experiences in your whole life happens when you’re just a kid – when someone you look up to plays you something you’ve never heard before. Normally, this person is both a bit older and related to you (but can, of course, be someone from a different family tree), and you take what they say very seriously. Your parents can’t be included, because music you get from them is a whole other seminal music experience on its own.

Take, for example, the eleven-year-old in Almost Famous. His older sister happened to be Zooey Deschanel, and she introduced him to all kinds of great music. The next thing he knows, he’s writing for Rolling Stone. This happens all the time in real life, as long as your name is Cameron Crowe.

Speaking of real life examples, one day, a young and impressionable Chuck Klosterman was given a Mötley Crüe tape by his older brother. The next thing we know, there’s an apologist for  that entire genre called Hair Metal, writing for, well, at least Spin anyways.

At that very impressionable age, I had someone introduce me to a lot of music I hadn’t heard before. If it wasn’t for him, I may have been stuck in a whirlpool of classic rock and mid-90s California punk forever…

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The History of Punk, Class #8

2012/07/06

The Edmonton Free School
Saturday 7 July 1:30PM
Location: Humanities 1-14, The University of Alberta
All-Ages, All-Welcome

“Punk, Grunge, and Selling Albums vs. Selling Out”

This seminar will discuss whether or not bands such as Mudhoney, Nirvana and Beat Happening were part of the underground punk community. Moreover, while viewing it as a social and cultural construct, this seminar will debate if the grunge movement, was, in fact, an extension of the norms, values and practices of punk culture.

Spoiler: I argue that grunge was an extension of punk, and when it hit the mainstream, there were all kinds of resounding implications for the mainstream music industry, underground culture, and a generation known by the letter X.

Once again, we’ll start with a short lecture, and then transition into our intellectual picnic format – so bring food to share if you can!

Reading:
I’m Just Selling Albums, I’m Not Selling Out

Not Required Reading:
This is Not For You: The Rise and Fall of Music Milieux in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, 1950s -1990s

Playlist:
Mother Love Bone “Crown of Thorns”
Jane’s Addiction “Had a Dad”
Soundgarden “He Didn’t (Live from Seattle Bumbershoot Festival 1988)”
Mudhoney “Touch Me I’m Sick”
Ronald Reagan “Morning in America”
Fugazi “Waiting Room”
Hüsker Dü “Eight Miles High”
The Replacements “Unsatisfied”
Scream “Came Without Warning”
Martha Quinn “MTV VJ 1982”
Mötley Crüe “Girls, Girls, Girls”
The Dead Kennedys “Pull My Strings”
Mr. Epp and the Calculations “Of Course I’m Happy, Why?”
Rodney Bingenheimer “Rodney on the ROQ Theme”
Wipers “Doom Town”
Beat Happening “Black Candy (live on TCTV 1998)”
The U-Men “They”
The Melvins “Happy Grey or Black”
The Fastbacks “Swallow My Pride”
The Gits “Insecurities”
Skin Yard “Skins in My Closet”
Green River “This Town”
Malfunkshun “With Yo’ Heart (Not Yo’ Hands)”
The Posies “Ontario”
The Young Fresh Fellows “Amy Grant”
The Green Pajamas “Kim the Waitress”
Screaming Trees “You Tell Me All These Things”
Nirvana “Spank Thru (1/23/88)”
Tad “Loser”
Sonic Youth “Kill Yr. Idols”
Sonic Youth “Teenage Riot”
Alice in Chains “We Die Young”
Pearl Jam “Why Go”
7 Year Bitch “M.I.A.”
Bikini Kill “Double Dare Ya”
Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

 

Do-it-Yourself Dutch Punk

2012/07/03

“The New Messiah” was recorded in 1986 (or maybe ’84 or ’85) by two friends in the Netherlands. Music and background vocals, Joost Maessen. Lyrics and lead vocals, Tibor van Rooij.

It’s DIY, political, and an example of youthful self-expression. The song highlights what kids outside traditional punk centres were up to, and it also shows punk as an attitude rather than a specific sound.

Listen to it over here, on the Tumblr:
http://thepastisunwritten.tumblr.com/post/26424505052