Most of my online activity as of late has been at the “Vintage series” of blogs I’ve set up, which aim to commemorate the anniversaries (in increments of 10) of all that happened in music 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 (maybe more?) years ago.
The original idea behind all this was that theoretical proposition that I think any music nerd pontificates on at one point or another; what would it be like to spend a week/month/year in (insert “golden age” era here)? I’ve heard of a few people trying this out, restricting themselves just to music that came out during a specific year for a month or so to try to encapsulate what was unique or important about that era. But these kind of thought experiments always miss the mark because it’s too difficult to denote the gaps that broader culture gave context to (see the nostalgic 80s film trope that paints the bubbly music, bright fashions, and aspirational wealth as some kind of benign utopia whilst ignoring the misery and darkness of that era).
So, instead I decided to just give a broad scope overview of the sonics of the years in question (2003, 1993, 1983, 1973, 1963). With the potential though unlikely exception of 2003, it’s unlikely that any living individual from any of the aforementioned eras would have ever been in contact with all, or even most, of this music. Therefore, it’s more of an internet-age assessment than a cultural thermometer. If blogs had been around at the time, the vintage series would be what those online portals graphed out of the full scope of the landscape that was worth retrieving.
Music mags from these eras are peculiarly biased by their audiences. Though there were certainly exceptions in which rock mags started embracing hip-hop, dance, et al., the limitations of the culture industry failed to recognize many things that the internet's long, long, neverending tail has been retrieving ever since.
For the two eras that I was somewhat musically cognizant in (1993 and 2003), I’ve also included a few things that worked for me at the time, but which maybe are not so great in retrospect. Nostalgia's a powerful force when wrapped around a memory.
Some of the posts are just a Youtube link, while others contain a brief paragraph or two about the song, album, or artist in question. For the most part, I’ve tried to stick to one track per album/single/release, but I have and will cheat on occasion. Rules are loose here and this is obviously a taste factory that I've conceived, not one purposed with any specific historical thesis or theoretical objective.
Why put forth so much effort? What’s the point of all this?
- It’s not that much effort. For the most part, this is just music I’m listening to at work and posting when I come across something relevant.It’s a timefiller satisfying a retromantic impulse to gaze backwards, illustrating how impossible it is to capture it all
- It’s a cumulative education. At the end of the year, I plan on posting year-end lists, just as you would in any current year. I also figure that this project can go on as long as I need or want it to. If I make it through 10 years, I will have pretty much documented the whole of post-rock-n’-roll history.
Outside of this (loose term here, people) "work", I’ve also submitted a few pieces of fiction to some publications, though I’m open to ideas though of what some good places that publish are. Please send suggestions as I'm not too familiar with mags, zines, anthologies, that do short fiction, plays, or speculative non-fiction (do any places do this in a respectable capacity anymore? Not to even remotely compare myself, but where would a Ballard go now? ).
I also have a cassette release that is the second release on Good Behavior Records, run by my former neighbor in Philly, Donnie Felton of Grubby Little Hands (whose very good psych/chillwave-ish album The Grass Grew Around Our Feet was the label’s first release- I did a couple remixes of the lead track here). The album, Harvest Monsanto, is being offered in special deluxe packaging as a limited edition “Investors Only” 100-run cassette that is jewel-encased in ugly chemical plastic and complete with nutrition label, rubber glove, and a short pitch for a cutting edge corporate product.
Stream the album or purchase the cassette here (If you’d like to review the album and want a free copy, e-mail me)