Welcome to the third 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 pieces from Rookie, Dummy, the New Yorker, the Village Voice, and New York Magazine.
1. “This Charming Man: An Interview With Morrissey” by Amy Rose for Rookie
On the same day that Morrissey canceled his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Rookie ran this interview covering his evolving creative process, the state of the music world, how to find cruelty-free nail polish, and more. The best parts of this, though, are the questions Rookie – an online magazine for teenage girls – asks about Morrissey’s experiences as a teenager. “As a teenager I found life to be inevitably disgusting, and I could see no humanity in the human race,” says Moz. “When my time in music began, I found all my goals were reachable. For the first time ever in my life, I spoke and people listened. I had never known such a thing previously. My life as a teenager was so relentlessly foul that I still can’t believe I actually survived it. Perhaps I didn’t…”
2. “Comment: How punks learnt to dance” by Steph Kretowicz for Dummy
Kretowicz — a writer with punk roots who was “staunchly anti-EDM” for years — speaks to Pete Swanson, The Haxan Cloak, Blanck Mass and RVNG Intl. about “their journeys from punk to techno, and what it says about our times.” The piece maps out the similarities and differences between the two genres on aesthetic and fundamental levels, as well as the shortcomings of punk rock in a world of more expansive sounds and accessible electronic equipment. Pete Swanson, whose Punk Authority EP is out March 12 via Software, talks about the name of his new EP and draws on his experiences in both music worlds: “It’s a fairly oxymoronic name … Anyone who has spent time in the punk underground, they get how ridiculous that is conceptually, but they also understand that that exists. In a lot of ways, at times punks will mirror the behaviour of these authoritarian entities that they explicitly claim to be in resistance to … but so can techno and so can noise.”
3. “Giving Voice: A surgeon pioneers methods to to help singers sing again” by John Colapinto for The New Yorker
In the March 4th issue of the New Yorker, John Colapinto profiles Dr. Steven Zeitels, the founder and director of the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation. Zeitels has worked on the vocal chords of several popular musicians including Adele (who thinked Zeitels from stage at the Grammys), Steven Tyler, Keith Urban, Roger Daltrey, Cher, Lionel Richie, and James Taylor. The 10-page feature paints the life and work of Zeitels in vivid details, as well as the interactions and impact he’s had on some of the most famous musicians in the world. Fellow Bostonian Steven Tyler is interviewed for the piece, and recounts his first interactions with Zeitels: “I had done a show in Florida, and afterward I got into an argument with the monitor people, so I yelled at them after a two-hour show,” he remembers. He went to see Zeitels the next day. “I fell in love with him when I asked him, ‘How does somebody become a surgeon?’ … He goes, ‘I don’t know. I used to sew leather Avenue.’ ” You’ll need to purchase a digital or physical copy of the New Yorker to read the entire piece; there’s also a fairly lengthy summary posted on the magazine’s website.
4. “The Men Get Out of the Gutter” by Eric Sundermann for the Village Voice
Brooklyn’s The Men are on the cover of the Village Voice this week. Eric Sudermann’s lengthy profile of the band comes in advance of their fourth full-length, New Moon, out March 5 on Sacred Bones. Sundermann writes that in the album “there are strains of country, Americana, and classic rock … They were there in traces on Open Your Heart, too, but New Moon takes the band further into that realm, off the hard-bitten city streets (of Williamsburg) and onto dusty back roads.” Sundermann interviews Ric Leichtung of Brooklyn venue 285 Kent, Jamie Morrison of Pale Angels, plus several band members including former bassist Chris Hansell, and describes in detail their process of writing and recording the new record.
5. “David Bowie’s Golden Years: Assessing a Radical Career” by Bill Wyman for New York Magazine
“We blink, and he is nearing 70, courtly and calm,” writes Wyman in his comprehensive reflection on Bowie’s career. “The onetime un-not-watchable figure has been uncharacteristically quiet for nearly ten years, perhaps because of a collapse backstage during a tour in 2004; it turned out he’d had a heart attack. But now he is returning with his first release since 2003’s Reality, titled The Next Day. ” Wyman then starts at the beginning and eloquently walks us through all of Bowie’s albums and phases: “He was born David Jones in 1947. There was, on his mother’s side, a history of mental illness; an older half-brother was institutionalized and eventually killed himself. He played in bands from a very early age … Besides the bands, he trained as a mime and appeared in underground plays. He worked as a commercial artist and joined a freethinking art collective. He got a publishing deal…”
What’d we miss? Let us know in the comments.