at www.RARWRITER.com      

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Volume 1-2016






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ABOUT RAR: For those of you new to this site, "RAR" is Rick Alan Rice, the publisher of the RARWRITER Publishing Group websites. Use this link to visit the RAR music page, which features original music compositions and other.

Use this link to visit Rick Alan Rice's publications page, which features excerpts from novels and other.


(Click here)

Currently on RARadio:

"On to the Next One" by Jacqueline Van Bierk

"I See You Tiger" by Via Tania

"Lost the Plot" by Amoureux"

Bright Eyes, Black Soul" by The Lovers Key

"Cool Thing" by Sassparilla

"These Halls I Dwell" by Michael Butler

"St. Francis"by Tom Russell & Gretchen Peters, performance by Gretchen Peters and Barry Walsh; 

"Who Do You Love?"by Elizabeth Kay; 

"Rebirth"by Caterpillars; 

"Monica's Frock" by Signel-Z; 

"Natural Disasters" by Corey Landis; 

"1,000 Leather Tassels" by The Blank Tapes; 

"We Are All Stone" and "Those Machines" by Outer Minds; 

"Another Dream" by MMOSS; "Susannah" by Woolen Kits; 

Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and other dead celebrities / news by A SECRET PARTY;

"I Miss the Day" by My Secret Island,  

"Carriers of Light" by Brendan James;

"The Last Time" by Model Stranger;

"Last Call" by Jay;

"Darkness" by Leonard Cohen; 

"Sweetbread" by Simian Mobile Disco and "Keep You" fromActress off the Chronicle movie soundtrack; 

"Goodbye to Love" from October Dawn; 

Trouble in Mind 2011 label sampler; 

Black Box Revelation Live on Minnesota Public Radio;

Apteka "Striking Violet"; 

Mikal Cronin's "Apathy" and "Get Along";

Dana deChaby's progressive rock




"Music Hot Spots"




























Rick Alan Rice (RAR) Literature Page


CCJ Publisher Rick Alan Rice dissects the building of America in a trilogy of novels collectively calledATWOOD. Book One explores the development of the American West through the lens of public policy, land planning, municipal development, and governance as it played out in one of the new counties of Kansas in the latter half of the 19th Century. The novel focuses on the religious and cultural traditions that imbued the American Midwest with a special character that continues to have a profound effect on American politics to this day. Book One creates an understanding about America's cultural foundations that is further explored in books two and three that further trace the historical-cultural-spiritual development of one isolated county on the Great Plains that stands as an icon in the development of a certain brand of American character. That's the serious stuff viewed from high altitude. The story itself gets down and dirty with the supernatural, which in ATWOOD - A Toiler's Weird Odyssey of Deliveranceis the outfall of misfires in human interactions, from the monumental to the sublime. The book features the epic poem "The Toiler" as well as artwork by New Mexico artist Richard Padilla.

Elmore Leonard Meets Larry McMurtry

Western Crime Novel











I am offering another novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service. Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its sights on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado, 1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.

It is a ripping good yarn, filled with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950, when the story is set. Richard Padilla has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns. Use this link.



If you have not explored the books available from Amazon.com's Kindle Publishing division you would do yourself a favor to do so. You will find classic literature there, as well as tons of privately published books of every kind. A lot of it is awful, like a lot of traditionally published books are awful, but some are truly classics. You can get the entire collection of Shakespeare's works for two bucks.

You do not need to buy a Kindle to take advantage of this low-cost library. Use this link to go to an Amazon.com page from which you can download for free a Kindle App for your computer, tablet, or phone.

Amazon is the largest, but far from the only digital publisher. You can find similar treasure troves atNOOK Press (the Barnes & Noble site), Lulu, and others.




Music Listening Habits and Your Radio's Playlist

What is Cool Now?


So among the current firmament of new musical celebrities, who from your perspective is cool? Or even any good, for that matter?

If you were going to rely on your smartest local commercial radio station for your answer to that question, you were likely going to limit your sampling – your possibilities – to fewer acts than you can count on the fingers of your two hands (even if you've lost a few). That is true whether you are an Alternative Rocker or a Modern Country radio listener. Commercial radio stations have developed a standard programming format that offers seven or eight new tunes, a sampling of similar size of recent releases, and another sampling of like size from the radio station’s historic library. The rotation of the new tunes will be woven into the overall playlist with a higher level of spins per hour than the rotation rates of the latter two categories of product, so there will be those few that you will hear a great deal. But how exactly did it get on my radio station?

While there has been a robust Do-It-Yourself (DIY) model at work in the universe of music makers over the past decade or so, only acts supported by big record labels, with promotions staffs, are getting their songs in those new release rotations. That is as it always has been. The practice of "payola" -- PR people paying money to radio owners to get their artist’s records played -- was criminalized a long time ago, but the practice still happens under a variety of workarounds. Labels have promotional campaigns that are designed to build radio audiences, so radio station owners receive payment in that way. You also see the big radio stations producing big-ticket festival shows in the summer, and the acts they play on their stations always are on the roster for those events, which is another way the stations turn label sponsorship into money. Up until 2006, label reps were still delivering cash payments to radio stations, but doing it through third parties that were not covered by payola law up to that time.  That it was obviously still going on as recently as that is evidence of how central it is to the relationship between well-funded record labels and radio station executives.

My choice of station in the San Francisco Bay Area is Live 105, an Alternative Rock station that was a Modern Rock station when it was born in the ‘80s. It extended the legacy of the great San Francisco station “The Quake”, which in the early to mid ‘80s was playing the coolest music I had ever heard in my life. KITS, Live 105, has never been quite as edgy as The Quake had been, and over the years their new release playlist has been uneven, to say the least. Music is, of course, a subjective thing, but the current new release playlist includes Mumford & Sons, Imagine Dragons, Walk the Moon, Foo Fighters, and George Ezra. This is Live 105, for Christ’s sake! This is what they’ve got? This is what they have decided to play in quick rotation?

Radio is still the place where most U.S. radio listeners find their new music. This is according to a recent survey conducted by Edison Research and Triton Digital, which revealed that 35 percent of the respondents rely on the radio to find out what is currently hip. That is pretty low – only roughly one in three people reported this – but it still vastly exceeds the other reported sources, including "suggestions from friends" and "searching streaming services". Radio remains worth the budgets that labels expend to get stations to play their products.

The horrible thing about this current state of radio/music affairs is that listening to the radio could leave you with the impression that pop music has just become a putrid corpse that happens to be rather well produced. The truth could not be further from that rotten perception. There is more music of all kinds in the world today than there has ever been before. The trick is finding the type of music you seek.

One might think that in the age of music streaming services, and the Google search engine, that finding the good stuff in the musical mine might be easy, but it’s not! About the closest you can come is to use the “other artists you might like” type of features provided by many music services, but those are spotty and one wonders how such results are sorted. It is, after all, possible to buy your way into better search engine results, too. One can imagine Tom Petty, for instance, showing up on the “other artists like this” lists regardless of the type of music you are listening to.

Sound Cloud has been a nice find for me. I often listen to indie artists on Sound Cloud and then, because artists using that service associate themselves with libraries of material from artists they enjoy, I find myself listening to some other band I probably had not previously heard of, and liking it. YouTube has a pretty good macro, as well, providing interesting links to related content. At www.Gnoosic.com there is a search engine that allows you to provide the names of three artists that you like, and then it provides a series of other artists you may also like based on your input. It is fun, though I am always a little hesitant to profile myself for the sake of any Internet service, their revenues all coming on the back end through the mining of such data.

Besides, the profiling tools used by the National Security Agency can be pretty hard on people who show certain tastes in pop music. I am told you really don’t want to fall into the Hozier bin.

So who is out there that you call cool?

The videos on the right are lifted from Little Stevie Van Zandt's Underground Garage "Coolest Song in the World 2014" collection. It must be qualified by Stevie's boss Bruce Springsteen winning the top spot for "This Is Your Sword", a song that no one remembers though it's only a year old. Check out the videos to the right, then use this link to look at some other, possibly better candidates for cool.

Nominees for Consideration

Nick Waterhouse: Grew up in Orange County, but a stint working a vinyl record shop in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury District turned him on to the R&B that allowed his particular brand to emerge.

Steve Conte: His resume includes the New York Dolls and the Company of Wolves.

The Muffs: Singer-songwriter Kim Shattuck's L.A. band has been around since 1991, though the band took a decade off before coming back in 2012.

Mark Rivera: Billy Joel's saxophone man has developed quite a following of his own.

Decoding As We Go

As a person spending a lot of time working in the Information Technology sector, I am reminded on a daily basis that what is required of us as users of language, in a technology-based society, is going through an evolution as head-spinning as the technologies we produce. In fact, adapting to that change by developing the skills required to decode what we read and hear, within the context in which this often arcane language is presented, has become the single most important skill of the digital age. It cuts across all sectors and it is made more profound in its importance by the myriad ways in which technical language has developed. Every aspect of business administration, every business sector, and every specialized field has its own vocabulary, and its own shorthand. And, of course, anyone who has enjoyed www.AcronymFinder.com can tell you that industries use the same acronyms and initializations, but with meanings specific to their own purposes, so the decoder is required to understand the arcana of the sector of interest.

People in all fields share a need to limit their communications to brief packages of readily understood cipher. The reasons for doing this are many:

  • It saves precious time.
  • It protects trade secrets.
  • It identifies those who are a part of the tribe.
  • It identifies those tribe members who are particularly competent, and who are worthy of your time and energy.
  • It works well in a project setting because it is specific and detailed, if somewhat terse.
  • And in an increasingly globalized world, where people from a variety of cultures and native languages are working closely together, it helps in overcoming problems with understanding words spoken with heavy accents, cutting down on syllables that must be spoken and heard.

Clearly communicating goals, objectives, and plans is a skill in itself, and hugely valuable in any organization, and that cannot be achieved in the world of today (and tomorrow) without having a mastery of the vocabulary specific to the tasks at hand.

Of course, this trend in language development has been noticed as having value, and it has produced a level of detritus in modern communications. People use coded language as a smoke screen to hide information they do not wish to reveal, because they are canny with what they know, or they have no information to conceal. The last thing you want to be in the modern age is a person without information.- RAR

Elmore Leonard Meets Larry McMurtry

Western Crime Novel


I am offering another novel through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing service. Cooksin is the story of a criminal syndicate that sets its sites on a ranching/farming community in Weld County, Colorado, 1950. The perpetrators of the criminal enterprise steal farm equipment, slaughter cattle, and rob the personal property of individuals whose assets have been inventoried in advance and distributed through a vast system of illegal commerce.

It is a ripping good yarn, filled with suspense and intrigue. This was designed intentionally to pay homage to the type of creative works being produced in 1950, when the story is set. Richard Padilla has done his usually brilliant work in capturing the look and feel of a certain type of crime fiction being produced in that era. The whole thing has the feel of those black & white films you see on Turner Movie Classics, and the writing will remind you a little of Elmore Leonard, whose earliest works were westerns. Use this link.


Dominic Howard

Muse's Under-Acknowledged Musical Center

There are essentially four types of drummers in the pop world of today: the groove guys, the bombasts, the virtuosos, and the melodists. Players are going to have elements of all of those types within their tricks bags but they are also going to have individual personalities that will make one of those styles their natural forté, and the thing they are as a player. READ MORE

Better Call Saul

Junior Brown - Just Right for Jimmy McGill

The first time I saw Bob Odenkirk and his portrayal of shifty lawyer "Saul Goodman" (aka Jimmy McGill) on "Breaking Bad" I thought immediately that he may have created one of the great TV-Film characters of all time. Now to put that in perspective, Don Knott's character Deputy Barney Fife (of "Mayberry RFD) is my idea of the highest achievement in art that man can humanly achieve, so...you know. I have loved the first season of "Better Call Saul", and nothing about it has given me a bigger kick than seeing that Junior Brown, the steel guitar/electric guitar virtuoso, has done the series' theme song, complete with video below.

Junior Brown is one of hardcore country music's most enigmatic personalities, which is incredibly well portrayed through a chapter in his back story that could only be known if you somehow happened to be familiar with a band called Dusty Drapes and the Dusters. They were a high octane country-swing outfit of the 1970s that featured band leader Steve Swenson, still active in Minnesota as "Cocktail Stevie", and the dynamite country vocalist Dan McCorrison, who years ago moved to Nashville, but who may now live in Arizona. They were a lot like hippies pretending, very effectively, to be Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys on cocaine; but really talented dudes. They got a lot more talented, the story goes, late one night while driving back to their home base in Colorado from a series of gigs in Arizona. Out there along the roadway, hitch-hiking through the desert night, was this dark figure who introduced himself as Junior Brown. Hearing this story for the first time, one gets the impression of a Crossroads type of encounter with the devil himself. The Dusters gave the stranger a ride and he joined their band. The insanely talented Brown didn't think the band was country enough, but he joined as a featured soloist for a time, and during that period influenced the Dusters to assume a more authentically country-western stage presence. While he was with Dusty Drapes, that band was smokin', rivaled only by their country-swing competitor Asleep at the Wheel. The country-swing craze of the '70s passed, closing the door on Dusty Drapes and the Dusters after Asleep at the Wheel had slipped into the music industry rolodex, and that is why today we still have to put up with that creepy Ray Benson while Dusty Drapes is a fictional character lost in western music lore. Junior Brown left the Dusters after their prospects ran aground, and for years has stationed out of Oklahoma, regularly touring his hot rod sound. It is totally cool to see him associated with "Better Call Saul", another character with a back story. Dusty Drapes reunited for a couple shows in the Boulder, Colorado area in 2013. The talented Dusters included Don DeBacker (guitar, trombone), Ted Karr (fiddle, vocals), Fly McClard (reeds), Brian Brown (drums, percussion), Lemuel Whitney Eisenwinter (steel guitar), R.T. Murphy (trumpet, vocals) and Ray Bonneville (harmonica). And, at other times, Rick Delbert Schmidt and Tommy Evans. The video above-right is from the Dusters 2013 reunion at Nissi's in Lafayette, Colorado. Following is the Junior Brown "Better Call Saul" video.


Inside Llewyn Davis

by RAR

In 2014, the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan) released Inside Llewyn Davis, their exploration of the phenomenon of the "Folk Music Revival" of the 1950s and early 1960s, and most specifically the era in which folk music morphed into strains that are still a big part of pop music today.

Inside Llewyn Davis was a beguiling character study of a single representative  - roughly based on the life of folk music hero Dave Van Ronk - and the societal and psychological forces that were driving fundamental changes in that dusty and multi-faceted musical form in that era.

Folk music, in its 20th Century incarnation, was brought to life by a renewed interest in the 1930s in folk dancing. Perhaps it was a reaction to the hedonism of the 1920s, but for some reason during the Great Depression Americans began to realize a renewed interest in square dance and other manifestations of down home entertainment. Folk dance, and folk music, provided an inexpensive, low-profile way to satisfy ancestral stirrings that had been brought to life by international conflict, because from the Spanish-American War of 1898, and thereafter, Americans were reminded daily that the world was getting smaller, and in the process group identification was receiving greater and greater focus.  READ MORE

5-Hour Energy

Do You Recognize that Guy?

Corey Landis, who has been featured on this site for years as one of pop music's most likeable singer-songwriters, has been showing up on TV of late as the spokesman for 5-Hour Energy drink. Good for Corey, we say. For a Screen Actors Guild card-carrying member -- which Corey probably is based on his network television work ("That 70s Show") and his numerous SciFi channel movie roles -- there is significant money in landing a national TV commercial, including residuals for every time the commercial is shown. In the San Francisco Bay Area, we see Corey's 5-Hour Energy drink commercials frequently. Established stars like Mandy Patinkin and John Travolta got their financial underpinnings from such gigs, so power to Corey Landis. I hope he uses his new-found fortunes to produce more recordings of his original material, because he is bright contributor. - RAR


Frank Sinatra and Celebrity

The Beginning and Ending of the 20th Century Star


You know what every American kid, junior high to high school aged, knows about Bing Crosby? They know that he sang all those Christmas recordings that kids still grow up with more than a half century after their release, and they know that Bing was a strict disciplinarian as a father; maybe a little too strict. That last bit of public perception developed through books published by Crosby's children after Bing died of a heart attack in 1973. They described him as psychologically abusive, and two of his children (Lindsay and Dennis) committed suicide in 1989 and 1991 respectively. A commercial spokesman for the orange juice industry, an urban legend spread that Bing used to beat his children with a bag full of oranges.

Part of the reason that people found these scandalous stories so involving is that Bing Crosby was the first real "star" of the electronic age. He was there, established in show business as a Vaudevillian when the microphone was invented, which changed everything. Bing and his peers could sing with an intimacy that was never possible before, because they had never before had the mechanism that would allow them to be heard over their orchestrations. The Crooner was born with the microphone, although Crosby referred to himself as "the Groaner".

In fact, Crosby's style remained rooted in the period that spawned him, which from his birth in 1903 to his breakout stardom in 1934, was punctuated with humbling boom and bust cycles; war, recovery, and depression. Crosby's approach was old school: what the people want is a show! And you see that in everything Bing Crosby ever did. He was a nudge-nudge-wink-wink type of entertainer, standing a little outside of what was happening, with a knowing grin, letting his audience in on the joke he was portraying in song, or through his movie acting. It was utterly charming and one-half of the reason the Hope-Crosby movies worked so well. Bing, seemingly brimming with confidence while at the same time being void of ego, was reassuring, a comforting presence in an era in which Americans needed comforting. The cushy Christmas season was created around this fatherly persona that he created over time. And that's why the rumors of his mistreatment of his children carried such weight. We couldn't have seen that coming from Bing. We really didn't have that sense of intimacy with him, or any other entertainer of his era.

That all came with a guy who idolized and emulated Bing Crosby: Frank Sinatra. READ MORE

The Virtual Reality of Future Reading

It's weird. The Omni by Virituix folks seem to be counter-engineering the human experience, substituting natural human movement for that motion that is a byproduct of the limitations of computer game animation. The human is forced to simulate the mechanical movements of the machine in order to make the virtual reality display work.

What, you might ask, does operating a first person shooter virtual reality sensor pack have to do with reading books on Kindle? Not nearly enough, I would say... READ MORE

Creative Culture

What's With all the Speculative Bullshit?

This edition of the CCJ includes articles on a number of the odd topics that fascinate consumers of media content these days, from the supernatural to the conspiratorial. The old days of broadcast television are gone; the big three networks reduced to also-rans in a field of niché players competing on equal footing for audience share. That his fractured the broadcast message into hundreds of streams of entertainment information. I find that some nights, when I really need to park in front of the TV, that I must make difficult choices, like should I watch Survivorman Les Stroud wander around the Canadian Rockies utterly terrified at the thought of finding the Bigfoot species he is allegedly seeking? Or should I watch Georgio Tsoukalos tell me those same Ancient Alien stories he has repeated for years, as his budget for hair product has soared to yield near-vertical results? These are not easy choices, when the rest of the 300 available channels, not counting the premiums, are showing paid commercial programming, exposés on crazy people who hoard, animals, sports, reality TV, religion, Asian and Mexican soap operas, and stuff that purports to be news, but sounds a lot like opinion. Is it any wonder that Bigfoot seems welcoming by comparison?

Our culture has come to be an incredibly curious thing, because humans are an incredibly curious species. We want to know about stuff, to look stuff up, and that is why Google is the big deal it is today, and why it has this mission to improve people's lives through better ways of organizing and delivering information upon request. Google's sights may be lofty, in one way or another, but on the output side of their search engine are monkeys trying to drink from their firehouse of sorted data, and being overwhelmed in the process. It could make an ape seek help.

What we are requesting most these days is direction to get us through the reorganization of our belief systems. Information is disruptive to our established ways of thinking, whether we want it to be or not. You may still be an Islamic or Christian fundamentalist, but now your next door neighbor may well know more about your religion than you do, and may be asking questions that you can't answer, all because he has been using his Internet search engine with a passion. People seeking ways to respond to the challenges they confront will consume the information they need to reinforce their positions. This reduces the role of truth in our data management equation; in fact, it produced Stephen Colbert's word truthiness. The arbiter of information quality is now the number of Likes that a piece of information receives on Facebook or YouTube. That is, of course, bananas!

Sources have agendas, and history is mere interpretation. Perceptions will continue to change, and that will drive the direction of society in some way. The uncertainty of the direction we are headed, as the human species, contributes to the chaos we feel in our lives. Perhaps it also creates our need for comfort quests, like never-ending searches for mythological creatures, the actual finding of which would likely yield a great feeling of loss.- RAR


On Being David Icke

It may be that one of the problems with being out of your mind is knowing that, basically, you have things right.



Sometimes I try to put myself in the mind of David Icke.

I imagine that I am a former professional football player turned broadcast personality – Icke did BBC sports commentary following his brief soccer career in Britain, cut short by arthritis – and then one day I  hear this woman tell this story about attending functions where the British Royal family turned into 7-foot tall reptilian creatures and ate the flesh and drank the blood of human sacrificial victims. And I observe the earnestness with which the woman tells the story, and it crosses my mind that reptiles have figured into the creation myths of a lot of the world’s cultures, and as a young person I did hear these wild stories that former Prime Ministers Ted Heath and Harold Wilson were both a part of a cult that sacrificed human children. And then other people hear that I am entertaining such stories, and they tell me about their weird experiences where someone they were talking with had, just for a flash of a moment, appeared reptilian, and I start to think that maybe this is all real. READ MORE



What the Huh?

California Contrails

In 1996, there was a paper published by the Air War College of the Department of Defense titled "Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather by 2025" (use this link to read the document). That abstract showed pretty clearly that the Defense Department was conversant at least 20 years ago with the idea of militarizing weather solutions. Would that include weather modification for the purpose of influencing the citizens that the government represents?

KC-135 and C-130 aircraft are being used for purposes that may include population control, according to federal government whistle blower Kristin Meghan. She had an eleven-year career doing bio-environmental engineering: monitoring health and environmental standards through soil testing and remediation at U.S. Air Force facilities. After noticing shipments of carcinogenic materials, documented with Material Safety Data Sheets, arriving at an Air Force Logistics Facility in California, where she was assigned, she started looking into the notion of chemtrails and charting contrail dissipation rates. She did sampling that found berryium (aluminum) in the soil in the areas in which unusual contrails had been charted.  READ MORE


Ready, Aim

Joshua Fletcher Readies New Release

Fletcher is often compared to Ryan Adams, but on his new 10-song LP he will bring Paul Simon to mind, as well. He is a strong songwriter.

On May 26, 2015 Nashville-by-way-of-Atlanta singer-songwriter Joshua Fletcher will release Ready, Aim, a ten-track collection of honest, beautiful pop songs produced by The Damnwells' Alex Dezen, on Portland, Oregon-based In Music We Trust Records. "Alex Dezen is one of my favorite songwriters," comments Fletcher on his happiness over Dezen producing Ready, Aim. "The Damnwells have been one of my favorite bands for close to ten years, and I never imagined that he would think enough of my songs to do this for me... We made something about a hundred times better than what I heard," says Fletcher on the results of Ready, Aim, when asked if the record came out the way he heard it in his head. "Alex added so much to my ideas and this thing morphed into something so much bigger than I imagined it could ever be."

Recorded over a month in Silverlake, Los Angeles By Dezen, Fletcher recalls his struggle to surrender control and allow Dezen to lead the way. Though, in the end, he's glad he did. "It was the longest I've ever spent on a recording project, but it was also the most intense process. It was my first time working with a producer, and that process was different than any I'd ever been a part of," he says. "I'm pretty reluctant to give up full creative control, so it took some work from Alex's end. In the end, he won most, if not all, of the battles because I ultimately figured out that he knew better than me. We spent the majority of the time piecing together some pretty ordinary sounds and turning them into something familiar, but odd... I think we made something worth sharing, and I'd like to have the opportunity to share it with as many people as possible."

The video above is not off his new LP, but rather a nugget from three years ago.

Kid Harlequin

Netherlanders Debut Wired

Kid Harlequin is an Amsterdam/Rotterdam contingent fronted by singer/guitarist Julien Graut. He wears a kilt, for some reason, and that and his curly hair create a kind of bewildering androgyny, which has everything to do with the character of this industrial groove band. Their debut Wired is now available. Graut is supported by Ari Jo, a female guitar slinger, and a female drummer, Sharon Harman. Bassist Bronco Kuijt is all male. Kid Harlequin is inspired by Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails and Placebo, but they have a ballad sensibility to go with their heavy edge. The video below will give you an idea of what you'll get from Kid Harlequin.

Break On Through to the Other Side

Library of Congress Opens Its Doors to the Doors

The first album by The DoorsThe Doors, released in 1967 — has been added to the National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress, along with 23 other titles at least 10 years old that have been deemed culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. The registry, established by an act of Congress in 2000 to preserve the nation’s audio legacy, now has 425 recordings dating back to wax cylinders of the late 19th century. (As reported by William Grimes on Bloggerborre.com.) 

It is just about impossible to describe the impact of The Doors on pop culture. They really went someplace no one had ever gone before - and no one has really gone since -- where it was way okay to notice how utterly strange the world around us sometimes is, and then they had to audacity to embrace that strangeness through their haunting, vaguely Indian sonic explorations. Their recognition in the Library of Congress means, in some way, that 50 years after the fact, we have have embraced The Door's own spacey perception of life experienced in the the new age.


Savannah Rockers Set with June EP

Angel Bond, Brian Lackey, and Bryan Harder make a distinctly retro sound that recall '80s era girl pop, ala Dale Bozio (Missing Persons) and Josie Cotton. Use this link for a review of the upcoming release.

Those Optimistic Mittenfields

D.C. Rockers to Release Debut LP

As Washington, D.C. indie rock outfit Mittenfields know, it’s hard to be remembered. To be fair, it always has been. But we live in a time of unprecedented access to other people’s creative work; it’s never before been so easy to move on to the next thing. It’s never been so tempting to forget, in order to make room for the next.

For artists, naturally, that’s an anxiety-inducing thought. That anxiety, and no small amount of anger, color the songs on Optimists, the debut LP from Mittenfields. But the songs in this collection of raucous shoegaze and noise pop are both memorable and memory-inducing, calling up Doug Martsch’s widescreen scope, the raw simplicity of Kim Deal and the shouty quaver of Win Butler circa Funeral.



Going Back, and Back...

Use this link to go to the previous edition, where you will find additional links to other archived editions.


Montage of Heck

It feels pretty grim sitting through the Curt Cobain (Montage of Heck) and Frank Sinatra (All Or Nothing At All) documentaries showing on HBO these days. It is almost always disheartening to pull back the curtain to discover who your heroes really are. This is partly because they always represent some side of your self that you particularly like, blown up bigger than life, which is what you respond to in them. Discovering that they have other sides that aren't like you at all, and in fact are recognized to be frailties and fetishes, may tend to make you feel sad, and so the heroic myth is constantly built to be shattered.

There is a ton of sadness in the Cobain and Sinatra documentaries. The part that has to do with the hollowness of fame is present in both but doesn't move us much anymore; the story, in all of its permutations, has been told a thousand times over in "Behind the Music"-type documentaries. More alarming is the contrast of these two big stars at around the same age and at similar points in their careers. Sinatra was living the high life in a time when people still wore suit and tie on a daily basis. WW II was being won and optimism lie ahead. Cobain, 50 years later, was living the high life as a junky in his underwear in grungy Seattle. There was no optimism ahead, and the Cobain home movies portray something like a dementia suffered by victims who don't yet know that what they have is the plague. Sinatra was a self-absorbed player, while Cobain was a self-absorbed fluke of the universe. Both were suicidal, subject to despair over the improprieties of their love interests, and essentially weak characters who were motivated by base emotions of lust and fear.

At least Sinatra, for all of his flaws, comes across as an artist: a guy who was working hard to master his craft and improve his skills. Cobain, on the other hand, had broken big during a dead era in rock, when hip-hop had first broken onto the scene and changed the entire playing field of popular music. Cobain's documentary has the effect of revealing the limits to Cobain's musical horizons. He seemed to only imagine one musical expression, that he more or less repeated song-after-song. That is, of course, the formula for fame into which Cobain had been born, which leaves very little room for popular artists to "change" or vary from what made them famous. Sinatra, in his era, had no alternative realms into which to stray, so he too was stuck on a certain track, but at least he had the advantage of working with a variety of songwriters, with a variety of musical approaches. And, of course, they had optimism that Cobain never had.

The Cobain documentary certainly does not help the popular images of Cobain's Nirvana band mates. Chris Novoselic and Dave Grohl come across as two of the luckiest guys in the world, who for some reason got to ride on the train wreck of Curt Cobain's life. Seeing them in their native states reminds us of how incredibly un-special they are, and it makes us wonder what that says about those of us who gave ourselves to their music back in the 1990s, when there just wasn't much else going on with the radio.

And then, finally, there is Courtney Love, whose presence in the Cobain documentary brings to mind those tales of the Grim Reaper, who would show up in fields outside of medieval towns and spread the Black Plague with his scythe. Love's weapon was her own lethal personality, and her poisonous powers to seduce an ill-fated innocent and rob him of his fame and fortune.

Contrast Love to Sinatra's femme fatale, Ava Gardner, and you have changing America in a 20th Century nut shell.


There's Our Plucky Boy!

George Lucas' Poverty Patch

As anyone who has ever lived and/or worked, or even gone anywhere near, Marin County, California knows, the species of human found there represents a nadir in human development. They are among the wealthiest citizens of these United States, and particularly well-endowed with that sense of entitlement that means they always go first, whatever the situation. This makes driving in Marin County a jaw-dropping nightmare, and things don't get that much better on the sidewalk.

Movie mogul George Lucas has been having a hard time with his Marin neighbors for years, and of course it has to do with them not allowing him to do something he wants to do. He wants to build a 263,701-square-foot Lucasfilm production studio on his Grady Ranch property, and local residents have killed the project with protests over increased traffic, ruined views and potential damage to the local environment.

Lucas has now decided to spend $150 million of his own money to develop the land for affordable housing, including Section 8 housing. Some of the housing will be allocated to specific groups, such as seniors, nurses and teachers. The complex would include a community centre, a pool, an orchard and small farm, a barn, interior roadways and a bus stop.

Marin County is one of the most affluent locations in the US, with a median household income of $90,839, and 7.7 percent of people living below the poverty line. According to his lawyer, Gary Giacomini, Lucas said, "We've got enough millionaires here. What we need is some houses for regular working people."

I Want to !?#! You Like a Corporation

Trent Reznor Redesigning Apple's Beats Music App

Apple is moving forward with a long rumored overhaul of its streaming music services lineup that will incorporate a reworked Beats Music app developed with the help of Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, as well as a revamped iTunes Radio service.

Less than a year after buying Beats for $3 billion, Apple is working hard to position the audio firm's streaming service as the flagship in a new digital music initiative.

According to the New York Times, Reznor, who was previously Beats' chief creative officer, is heading up development of a redesigned Beats Music app that could see release as part of iOS 8.4.

Priced Out of the NOLA Jazz & Heritage Festival

Give something good enough time, and it will find a way to turn bad. It is not that the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is bad - in fact, it is one of the premier music festivals in the world, to the extent that it features New Orleans' own homegrown talent - but it is most assuredly being bastardized in ways that have nothing to do with the culture it was designed to celebrate.

Many parts of the music press, and even Internet politics and policy trolls like The Daily Beast, have shrieked over ticket pricing at the 2015 event, with sky-high festival prices turning the festival into an well-to-do, all-White snob fest, too expensive for most New Orleans natives to attend. This year's bill includes The Who and The Eagles, neither of which have anything at all to do with New Orleans music; in fact, have more to do with exploiting the potentials of an established venue to attract big name pop acts that drive ticket prices through the roof.

Bozz Scaggs Finds His Inner Voice

The video below is a snippet of an interview that Bozz Scaggs did recently with radio personality Tavis Smiley. In this interview, Scaggs reveals that it has taken him years to find his inner voice, and that it embarrasses him to listen to his hit "Lowdown" in its original version.

The CCJ was struck by a couple things. One is that it is interesting to hear a guy who has been as successful as Bozz Scaggs has been talk about how long it took him to become the singer he wanted to be. This is interesting in that most hit pop singers win their laurels at a young age before they could have experienced the type of growth that Scaggs discusses in this interview.

Possibly more eye-opening: Bozz Scaggs thinks of himself as a singer? Who knew?


New Study

Music Trends

Imperial College London has published the findings of a study they sponsored to trace the evolution of pop music. A group of researchers used 30-second snippets of 17,904 songs that appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 list from 1960 to 2010. This digital music library represented 86% of all the singles that made it on the Hot 100 list during that 50-year span.

They assigned each song to one of 13 style groups, based on the patterns they found. They looked for musical diversity and they identified points at which music style evolution took great leaps to different overall profiles. By calculating rates of change between songs over time, the researchers pinpointed three periods of rapid evolution: 1964, 1982 and 1991. They concluded that the arrival of Hip-Hop, in 1991, represented the most profound stylistic change overall, having the greatest stylistic impact.

This sounds right to me. The 1964 British Invasion was really an extension of traditional musical forms. The 1982 New Wave era was also an extension of existing forms. Hip-Hop, on the other hand, was a radical departure, and understanding exactly why this represents something truly profound was outside of the intent of this study.

For Baby Boomers who have lived through all of those changes, the Imperial College study will tend to confirm something they felt instinctively: the world changed at those points identified. And by the time of the Hip-Hop revolution of 1991, the world that Baby Boomers knew was gone, replaced by what would likely feel like a complete different reality.

Speaking personally, as the father of two kids born after 1991, I see on a daily basis that the cultural contexts within which my kids have grown up has created something beyond the age-old "Generation Gap", but rather has signaled a new age of new values.

A Baby Boomer, like myself, may find that the measuring sticks we have always used to estimate the quality and the intrinsic value of the cultural artifacts of our time are going to yield some very unsatisfying readings. Trying to figure out whether this is something to be alarmed at may be a waste of time, however strong the urge. The values and the quality characteristics that are being developed in 2015 belong to those who will be around for years to come to experience their effects.

The old world, and all of that which it considered its riches, is gone. - RAR





















Copyright © November, 2018 Rick Alan Rice (RARWRITER)