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Ramsayings

A Blog About Nothing in Particular

LVL UP — Hidden Driver

Heard Sub Pop’s LVL UP on All Songs Con­sid­ered as I drove to Cincin­nati last night. Not only are the per­fect for the per­son who’s still obsessed with Neu­tral Milk Hotel, but this song, “Hid­den Dri­ver,” is about a web­site co-found­ed by one of my very tal­ent­ed grad school class­mates, Astra Tay­lor! I’m excit­ed to hear LVL UP’s Return to Love at the end of next month.

In Praise of Dinosaur Jr.

Have I real­ly not writ­ten any­thing about Dinosaur Jr. since this post? Seems so, apart from a pass­ing ref­er­ence in 2011 to J Mas­cis’ excel­lent Sev­er­al Shades of Why back in 2011. It’s crazy, because when I real­ly think about it, Dinosaur Jr. may be that band that some­how sur­vives every crit­i­cal hangup I ought to have about them.

I mean, I found things wrong with my favorites that makes it hard to under­stand how I ever loved them so much in the first place. R.E.M., neat­ly summed up in a 2-part pod­cast over at Shal­low Rewards, is one exam­ple. Pave­ment, Spoon and Son­ic Youth? Love them bare­ly ever lis­ten to them these days. Even bands I fell in love with as an adult, like Fiery Fur­naces, Liars and TV on the Radio feel dat­ed.

Some­how, I don’t feel the same way about Dinosaur Jr. Maybe it’s the unmis­tak­able crunchy riff­ing or the time­less­ness of J Mas­cis’ voice, but there’s some­thing deeply sat­is­fy­ing about them. I find myself return­ing to these records and Mas­cis’ recent solo work more often than I real­ize.

As sum­mer fades and fall draws near, I know I’ll be spend­ing more time with their lat­est record, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, like a favorite sweater.

Stereogum’s Tom Brei­han on the Pitch­fork Music Fes­ti­val:

I find some­thing quizzi­cal and hon­or­able in this: A whole fes­ti­val built around music that is not, in any way, designed for par­ty­ing. In a way, isn’t that the log­i­cal end­point of a decade-plus of inter­net music con­sump­tion? We’ve all spent all this time find­ing music on our com­put­ers and pip­ing that music direct­ly into our ears, rarely if ever hav­ing real-life con­ver­sa­tions about some of the artists who mean the most to us. Why shouldn’t we be ded­i­cat­ing entire fes­ti­vals to that same anti­so­cial expe­ri­ence?

Need a #latepass here, but I’m not alto­geth­er sure what this is about. I attend­ed the show Sat­ur­day with a friend, cour­tesy of Pitch­fork, and found myself chat­ting with present and for­mer Pitch­fork crit­ics, as well as the Super Fur­ry Ani­mals in the VIP.

There was also a mas­sive crowd in Union Park singing “Bar­bara Ann” as I left. It sound­ed about the same as when I first expe­ri­enced the Beach Boys 30 years ago at the Great Allen­town Fair.

Overlooked Culture

Maybe I’m fol­low­ing the wrong peo­ple on social media, but has the word “over­looked” lost all mean­ing as it per­tains to cul­ture? It seems to me that when we’re still print­ing spoil­er alerts for ten-year-old TV shows that “over­looked” has lost all explana­to­ry pow­er. Now when I see that word in a review, I roll my eyes. Chances are the reviews are just as over­looked as the cul­ture they describe, if not more­so.

Sure, with­in your niche the new records from Vam­pire Week­end or the Nation­al may be on everyone’s lips, but it’s a safe bet that the word of mouth out­paces actu­al con­sump­tion of that par­tic­u­lar cul­tur­al arti­fact. You may per­ceive that those records have gone main­stream, but the real­i­ty is your neigh­bor has nev­er heard either band.

There’s def­i­nite­ly a bright side to this; with this shift, it appears to me at least that snob­bery los­es in the bar­gain. The on demand nature of cul­ture now enables any­one curi­ous enough to book­mark those things men­tal­ly and nar­rows the gap between the expert and the novice. More­over, we’ve done away with the cul­tur­al mono­liths that once dom­i­nat­ed the pop cul­tur­al land­scape that allow us to gath­er around real and imag­ined water cool­ers for dis­cus­sion and debate.

But how do crit­ics describe this shift as the pace of cul­tur­al cre­ation plows under what came before? Blink and you could miss the next cul­tur­al epicy­cle. Has cul­ture been mar­gin­al­ized or per­son­al­ized? Can any­thing be described as ephemer­al, or were we just always talk­ing to our­selves, the myth of mono­cul­ture just anoth­er imag­ined com­mu­ni­ty peo­pled exclu­sive­ly by elites?

Youth Lagoon -Wondrous Bughouse

Youth Lagoon’s Won­drous Bug­house is a haunt­ed cir­cus of a record. It rivals Clinic’s Free Reign II for dark psy­che­del­ic mas­ter­piece of the year.