Blogging at the intersection of urban studies and popular music

Posts tagged "aesthetics"
whey we don't hear the city in Siouxsie and the Banshees

whey we don’t hear the city in Siouxsie and the Banshees

  Currently I’m revising and expanding an essay I posted here a year ago, about how Joy Division came to sound like Manchester, to present at the 2012 EMP Pop Conference next month. The artistic connection between Joy Division and their city of origin is clear and powerful for many listeners, but my argument is that the connection isn’t...
Tito Larriva: the hombre secreto of L.A.'s culture industry

Tito Larriva: the hombre secreto of L.A.’s culture industry

As a central destination for musicians, actors, filmmakers and artists, Los Angeles has more than its share of unsung, forgotten or behind-the-scenes figures who have made a significant mark on the city in the course of their careers. In this category, one of my favorites is Tito Larriva, who readers might recognize if they review...
living the urban crisis at the new wave rent party

living the urban crisis at the new wave rent party

I recently downloaded the reissued Human Switchboard album, Who’s Landing in my Hangar? Anthology 1977-1984, which set me off again obsessing about a subgenre of new wave that I’ve never really seen recognized.  I don’t even know how best to name this subgenre, although I’m convinced it has a musical coherence.  I’ll call it new wave rent...
under the shadow of Woodstock: listening to the Hudson Valley

under the shadow of Woodstock: listening to the Hudson Valley

Another problem with the “Brooklynization of Hudson River Valley” thesis that I discussed in my last post is that the music in these parts isn’t very hip.  That’s not a judgment, just a statement of fact if by “hip” we mean the product or embrace of 20-something hipsters who disproportionately reside in Brooklyn. However, the Hudson Valley...
the end of the line in Sheffield: Sex City? a review of "Uncommon: An Essay on Pulp" by Owen Hatherley

the end of the line in Sheffield: Sex City? a review of “Uncommon: An Essay on Pulp” by Owen Hatherley

With the horribly regressive debt-ceiling legislation passed by the U.S. Congress today, the West took yet another step toward making the neoliberal dream — gutting social programs, enshrining the market as the means and end of social well-being, idealizing upward mobility and the consumer good life, and leaving the lower classes to their own fate...
how Joy Division came to sound like Manchester

how Joy Division came to sound like Manchester

[Update: this blog post has been expanded and revised into an article for the Journal of Popular Music Studies.] I’m always puzzled when I hear how Elvis Presley or Mick Jagger “sounded black” when they first appeared on the radio.  Back in the 70s, when I was a kid listening commercial radio that played pop,...
uncovering the underground: Ladbroke Grove

uncovering the underground: Ladbroke Grove

As someone who’s been seeking out underground rock music for over 25 years, punk rock really fucked me up. Specifically, the punk rock dogma I internalized by reading the English music weekly New Musical Express religiously between 1983-85. Punk rock in England was largely over in these years, unless you were talking about groups like...
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...