Blogging at the intersection of urban studies and popular music

Monthly archive January, 2011
are you really going to listen to their new album?

are you really going to listen to their new album?

I’ll admit, I got excited after seeing the announcement that Echo & the Bunnymen are performing their first two albums, Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here, in their entirety on an upcoming North American tour.  Ocean Rain is fine; they played that whole album on tour awhile ago anyway.  For my money, though, the gloomy garage rock—“Going Up,” “Over The...
out of the valley of the dolls

out of the valley of the dolls

Since we’re talking about Legs McNeil and Gilliam McCain’s Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, one of the most colorful quotes in a book chock full of them comes from Peter Jordan, the oft-forgotten replacement for bassist Arthur Kane in the New York Dolls. Jordan describes the 1971-74 milieu in which Kane fell...
please skill me: the growing credentialism of NYC's rock underground

please skill me: the growing credentialism of NYC’s rock underground

Using an admittedly unscientific sample of 38 indie-rock groups from Brooklyn, I poked around the bands’ Wikipedia pages and their underlying sources to look for any members’ college affiliations. In no time at all [update: and with further information from my sources; see below], I found information for 26 groups. Even if we assume the remaining...
heavy metal before subculture

heavy metal before subculture

Anyone who went to an American high school in the 1980s or later, when black t-shirts displaying stylized band logos were a common sight, is likely to be confused by what “heavy metal” meant in the prior decade. I’m still unsure, frankly. Today, the consensus is that in the 1970s, heavy metal was whatever Black...
making the scene in the creative city

making the scene in the creative city

In exploring how cities sustain musical creativity, you eventually get around to the creative city thesis. This is most commonly associated with Richard Florida, the regional planning professor and urban consultant who contends in books like The Rise of the Creative Class that the most prosperous cities and regions are the ones with the highest density of...
the urban ethos on a Saturday night

the urban ethos on a Saturday night

My considerations of musical urbanism owe a good deal to the work of Adam Krims, particularly his book Music and Urban Geography. Like much scholarly work on popular music, at times it’s a little weird to read his highly academic language (I had to look up one of his favorite terms, “cathexis”) applied to the Wu-Tang...
dancing in uptown Kingston

dancing in uptown Kingston

Ran across “This is Ska!,” a light but fun promotional film from 1964, on Dangerous Minds (one of my go-to culture aggregators). Some thoughts: 1.Wow, that place is jumping. It must have been amazing to be young at that moment in post-independence Kingston. 2: [Around 3:45] Really? That’s how you “dance the ska”: plant your feet, wave...
great moments in selling out: the Paisley Underground

great moments in selling out: the Paisley Underground

I first heard about the so-called Paisley Underground in 1985. Sitting in the office of a drivers ed classroom, I flipped through a copy of People magazine, where I read a feature about the Los Angeles scene of 60s garage, country-rock and pop revivalists, and gawked at photos of groovy kids in paisley shirts and...
haunting the urban: dubstep

haunting the urban: dubstep

First post draws on Bassweight, a new documentary about the dubstep scene coming out of South London. The film begins with a DJ leading the camera on a daytime tour of Croydon’s sidewalks, pointing out a nightclub here or there atop anonymous commercial buildings before ending up at (what else?) a record store. At some point...