Welcome to the second installment of The Week In Music Writing. Every Sunday, we’re gathering an unranked list of five recommended music-related pieces from the past seven days. We’re bound to miss an excellent article from time to time, so definitely leave links to others in the comments. This week, check out five excellent pieces from Spin, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and Pitchfork.
1. “Pissed Jeans: The Curious Case of An Unrequited Hard-On” by David Bevan for Spin, February 20
Surrounding Pissed Jeans’ recently released album Honeys on Sub Pop, David Bevan visits the singer of the band, Matt Kosloff, at his home in South Philadelphia, on a night when he and his wife Maria are hosting their annual dessert party. Bevan hangs out with them as they are prepping for the party and putting their one-year-old son Anders to sleep. “There could be no scene more at odds with the ugly, indigestive, idiosyncratic racket Pissed Jeans have perfected over the past decade,” writes Bevan. Bevan interviews a rep from Sub Pop, No Age’s Randy Randall, WFMU music director Brian Turner, and various other characters to map out the history and influence of the band, and the ways that growing up and having kids impact the rhythm of life for a band like Pissed Jeans. The most compelling parts of the piece though are definitely Bevan’s own observations hanging out at the Kosloff household. At one point, before their party guests arrive, he asks Maria if their son has heard the new Pissed Jeans record yet. “He has,” she says. “We actually listened to it together the other day in the car and the funniest thing happened: he just fell asleep, within seconds.”
2. “A Hip-Hop Moment, but Is It Authentic?” by Jon Caramanica for the New York Times, February 19.
For the Times this week, Caramanica looks into two current pop phenomenons, Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” and Baauer’s “Harlem Shake.” “Thrift Shop” has been the number 1 song in the country for the past few weeks, says Billboard Hot 100, and “Harlem Shake” has inspired a viral dance-video meme. “Depending on your lens, this reflects a tremendous cultural victory for hip-hop or the moment when hip-hop, as a construct, begins to lose meaning,” writes Caramanica, calling this a sign of hip-hop’s “centerless future, in which elements and references will be widely up for grabs.” He considers who the audiences of each song are, and what that says about hip-hop culture.
3. “Beach Fossils Frontman Dustin Payseur Knows Who He Is, And Embraces It” by Eric Sundermann for the Village Voice, Feb 20, 2013
Sundermann meets with Payesuer in their neighborhood, Greenpoint, and picks up on the telling details of his personality and mannerisms. Surrounding the release of Beach Fossils’ Clash The Truth, and in advance of their record release show that happened last night, a sold-out show at the Bowery Ballroom, they talk about the struggles Payseur dealt with in getting that album together, growing up in North Carolina, and his goals with music in general. “You want to look back in 40 years or whatever and be like, that’s who I was when I was 25,” Payseur says. “Or who I was when I was 26. And that’s exactly how I was feeling at the time. You don’t want it to be full of shit.”
4. “Can Our Christian Rock Band Leave the God Ghetto For A Secular Career in Indie Rock?” by Jessica Hopper for the Village Voice’s Sound of the City blog
Fan Landers is Jessica Hopper’s regular column on the Village Voice’s music blog wherein Hopper answers questions for musicians. Hopper has played in/managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, worked as a publicist, and written extensively about music — all experience she puts to use every week with this advice column. This week she writes back to a band who is having trouble erasing their previous associations with a Christian music label. “Not to dismiss your complaint outright,” she tells them. “But have you gotten any direct feedback from people all skeptical about whether or not you are a Christian indie rock band? Because it sounds like you are projecting.” Read the rest at the Voice’s music blog.
5. “Resonant Frequency: ‘Happy Birthday, Kurt'” by Mark Richardson for Pitchfork, February 20, 2013
The newest installment of Resonant Frequency, Pitchfork Editor-in-Chief Mark Richardson’s excellent recurring column, looks into Kurt Cobain’s evolving legacy surrounding what would have be Cobain’s 46th birthday this week. “If you live long enough, you see artists transform from people into icons,” writes Richardson. “Death accelerates this process because it freezes the person in time; when the image becomes fixed, ideas start attaching themselves to it.” The most interesting part here is Richardson’s look into the ways that social media is influencing the ways Cobain is being mythologized and remembered by generations encountering him online today. “In the 19 years since his death, he’s gone from being a guy in a band into a meme, an idea, something that keeps cycling through culture in different ways depending on the current state of media,” writes Richardson. “Ten years ago, that might have meant he appeared on magazine covers advertising retrospective features, but now that means he’s showing up in Tumblr and Twitter and Facebook. Which means I experience him mostly through the internet.”
What’d we miss? Let us know in the comments.