Archive for ‘Commentary’

May 1, 2013

Just Because I Was In A Shower In My Music Video Doesn’t Mean You Can Objectify Me, Thanks: Sexism In Indie Rock

I’m no stranger to sexism in indie rock. The subject has been oft-written about by me for various sites that I’ve contributed to, namely the now-defunct Awe Chasm, and one I’ve had to deal with in various forms for a number of years now, being a young woman in the music industry. As a music journalist, my second interview ever walked out on me when I refused to get sexy with him, even though I was on the job. I remember the horrible feeling that accompanied the scene as it played out before me and the crushing realization I had as I drove home: Being in the music industry is one small step above prostitution. I comforted myself with the idea that, well, isn’t any job one step above prostitution? Especially as an artist, you’re being forced to sell yourself, your art, your ideas, and thus, you let others appropriate it as they see fit.

There’s a number of things glaringly wrong with that statement, namely the fact that journalism in any form should not make you feel like a whore. No job should, except for maybe prostitution itself.

In the subsequent years since that realization, I’ve seen friends, colleagues, musicians, and strangers treated similarly to how I’ve been treated and all of these groups had one thing in common, other than being in an artist’s industry. They were all female. It’s very rare that you see an article concentrating, say, on Matt Berninger’s physique, however women like Lana Del Rey and Grimes are commonly referred to as “cute” with their music being a slight afterthought.

It’s offensive but the fact of the matter is that it’s something I never truly grasped the complete grossness of until recently. You see, readers, I’m not just Amber Valentine, your friendly Michigan pal who likes to force her musical tastes upon unsuspecting interweb strangers. As of late, I’ve also been the gal behind Amber Valentine’s Shriveled Heart & The Skeletons Left Behind. Recently, we released a new single and an accompanying video. In the words of my bandmate, the incomparable Zunk, the vid was meant to leave the viewer feeling “a little f–ked up after watching it.” When Hearingade’s own Abby said the finished product “made me feel nauseated,” I knew I could borrow George W.’s Mission Accomplished banner, wrap myself in it like a human burrito, and sleep soundly.

See for yourself.
August 20, 2012

‘Out of the Blue’ and into my heart: How Debbie Gibson became my favorite pop star

This past weekend, on Aug. 18, marked the 25th anniversary of the release of pop singer/songwriter Debbie Gibson’s debut album, Out of the Blue. At that time, in 1987, I was just a wee thing at 5 years old, and wasn’t hip to the day’s pop hits. I knew children’s music such as Raffi, Tim Noah and Joe Scruggs; I knew the music that my parents listened to, like the oldies (Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Connie Francis, Gary Lewis, etc.), classical, and some adult contemporary stuff; and I knew what I heard in movies. One thing I definitely wasn’t keen to was Debbie Gibson.

But, for whatever reason, my mom bought me Debbie’s album on an audiocassette tape and that was that — I was a Debbie Gibson fan. In first grade, I had friends who fawned over Paula Abdul and New Kids on the Block. We would meet for playdates and they’d play those tapes. “Paula Adbul is my FAVORITE,” my friend Michelle would rave while we drew pictures (hers being exclusively of horses, another one of her FAVORITES) and I would shrug. “Do you wanna listen to Hangin’ Tough?” one of my besties Alison would ask while we jumped rope in her driveway. One thing all of these friends had in common was that they did not have any albums by Debbie Gibson, MY favorite.

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June 20, 2012

David Lowery And Emily The Intern, Viewed Through The Lens Of Sir Paul

David Lowery made and makes some fantastic indie music, and writes deep, thoughtful blogposts on the state of the music industry that has both succored and frustrated him. Emily White is a college DJ and blogger whose stray thoughts on music as physical medium vs. free digital commodity got published by NPR. Sir Paul McCartney recorded Ram in an attempt to convince the world he wrote all of John Lennon’s Beatles stuff.

I kid, except I don’t: Have you listened to Ram? The thing these three people have in common is music, and its role in artistic achievement. White thinks music alone isn’t worth paying for, but the mechanism for receiving and sharing it might be. Lowery strongly retorts that music is the only thing that gives the mechanism any value, so why short the artists who create it? McCartney, perhaps more than anyone living, proved the power of music to establish an artist as a force in control of his or her commercial destiny. (The fallout from the Lowery-White tit-for-tat deluged Twitter on Sir Paul’s 70th birthday, and I love the synchronicity of that.)

When the Beatles ceased touring in 1966, no one at Capitol/EMI could tell them to get back on the bus. They’d sold too many records.

When McCartney and George Martin hired a string octet to record “Eleanor Rigby” on what was supposed to be a rock record, no one at Capitol/EMI could tell them to scrap the strings and plug back in. They’d sold too many records.

When the Beatles locked themselves into Abbey Road Studios for 129 days of late-night recording and mixing sessions, trying to create the most provocative, impressionistic and eclectic LP in rock to that point, no one at Capitol/EMI could order them into detox. They’d sold too many records. Also, detox hadn’t been invented.

When the Beatles decided they wanted control of their output throw their homegrown  Apple Records collective, Capitol/EMI had to come to the table and negotiate. They’d sold too many records.

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May 23, 2012

Band I Dislike, Song I Do Not: Foreigner, ‘Long, Long Way From Home’

Reasons I dislike Foreigner

  • I’m pretty sure when the band started they were just looking to fill that “poor man’s Bad Company” void.
  • Somehow Ian McDonald went from being a member of King Crimson when they did this to playing guitar on this horseshit.
  • If you’re like me and grew up in a town where your radio choices were basically “the good classic rock station” and “the bad classic rock station,” you’ve heard enough fucking Foreigner in your life. See also: Boston, Journey, Boston, Styx, Boston.
  • “I Want To Know What Love Is.” Get away from me.

Reasons I like “Long, Long Way From Home” 

  • If the sound of a clavinet doesn’t immediately arouse you, you might be dead.
  • If there’s one thing Foreigner could do, it was write a seemingly epic but mostly pointless story song with badass power chords. (I also really like “Jukebox Hero,” too, but that’s mainly for ironic reasons.)
  • Mmmm. Sax-UH-ma-PHONE!
  • It’s not one of the five Foreigner songs played to Goddamn death by classic rock radio. And it’s really short.
May 18, 2012

Band I Dislike, Song I Do Not: The Eagles, ‘Those Shoes’

Reasons I like “Those Shoes”

  • Joe Walsh. Talk box. My ears.

Reasons I dislike The Eagles

  • C’mon. They’re The Eagles. They fucking suck.
May 11, 2012

Band I Dislike, Song I Do Not: U2, ‘Bullet the Blue Sky’

Reasons I dislike U2

  • Bono isn’t a good vocalist.
  • The Edge’s revolutionary guitar style usually involves playing through three separate delay pedals and going “Hey guys, doesn’t that sound WEIRD?”
  • They haven’t made a legitimately good record since the late ’80s yet the press keeps S-ing their D’s.
  • Did I mention their names are Bono and The Edge? You’re musicians, not damn comic book characters.
  • The sunglasses, the leather jackets, the beanies. Make up your minds — are you hot or cold? Guess what, it doesn’t matter, you’re probably indoors. Douchebags.

Reasons I like “Bullet the Blue Sky”

  • Driving bass line, which is basically what the whole song is built around. Lead bass FTW. ALWAYS.
  • Nice, somewhat understated slide guitar. Touché, Edge. (You’re still bald. Not fooling anybody with those hats.)
  • The “rattle and hum” lyric, which made for one of the best concert video titles of all-time.
  • That whole “arms of America” ending reminds me of the ending of this song (and that song just happens to be the song that made me pick up a guitar, so… there).
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