profile of TimByron

Music Reader: Angel Haze, Led Zeppelin, Richard Marx, Nirvana

Now that we're well into 2013, we're making a little change: Music Dump is now called Music Reader. We're dumping the "dump".

A lot of people, well, didn't like the word Dump, for some reason. Plus, as we're soon going to roll out "Reader" sections across the site, the idea of getting great SEO traffic from Google searches for "dump" didn't quite have the same appeal.

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The Only Black Guy At The Indie Rock Show by Martin Douglas (MTV Hive): A kid from North Carolina watching MTV in 1991 stumbles across 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. He's not the only one, of course, but there's nobody else around him who likes that kind of music: that kid is black. But, of course, being black is not the sum and total of someone's identity; Douglas was intelligent, introverted, against the alpha male mentality, and so naturally he's going to identify in a way with something like 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. But Douglas feels like a unicorn, something magical that shouldn't exist. At concerts, people openly say things when he's around like "I didn't realise black people like Joanna Newsom" or "so you like TV On The Radio, right?" 

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Right Here Waiting by Edward McClelland (The Morning News): McClelland, a writer from Chicago, hears the music from an ad for his hometown. He idly says it's embarrassing, compares its shamelessness to Richard Marx. The next day, he gets an email from Marx himself, to the effect of "who are you to say I'm shameless?" And then Marx emails again. And again. And then tweets him threateningly, a couple of times, saying he's not going away. So, McClelland decides to meet with Marx, to see if it actually is him (it is), and to have it out in person.

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Rapper Angel Haze On Religion, Rape and Survival by Alex MacPherson (The Guardian): It's fair to say that Angel Haze is not your usual rapper. I mean, for a start, she's female, and that's still rarer than it should be. Having grown up in a cult, she didn't even really hear rap until the age of 15. She's a strong feminist, the kind who'd diss in lyric form, say, Lupe Fiasco for half-heartedly calling out misogyny but then really blaming women. And rappers tend not to describe, in unflinching, brutal detail, being raped as a preteen.

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Interview : Dr. Ianto Ware (Polaroids of Androids): Ianto Ware has been known for a couple of thing: a musician in his native Adelaide, author of perhaps one of the greatest tour diaries ever, self-proclaimed "professional planning reform enthusiast" and, generally, the smartest guy in the room when it comes to the issues facing live music in Australia. Recently he's landed the job of National Live Music Coordinator of Sounds Australia. As Polaroids of Androids points out in this piece, "the appointment is part of a commitment made in the 2012 Federal Budget to boost funding to the Sounds Australia organisation, obtained (at least in part) off the back of strong lobbying during last year's SLAM Campaign." That sounds heavy but Ware both knows his stuff is able to parse it in plain speak for us dummies. This in-depth interview is a great way to graze over the challenges and undercurrents facing the future of live music in this country.

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Clampdown: Britpop Culture Wars, Kenickie, & Shampoo by Rhian E. Jones (The Quietus): One thing about the 1990s britpop that tends to get forgotten is that for a while it meant that a whole bunch of intelligent female-fronted bands - Elastica or Lush, for example - got a fair bit of airplay. Here, Jones (in an extract from a larger book) profiles the bands Kenickie and Shampoo and how they both navigated the minefields of being female and coming from the working-class in England (i.e., people thinking they were no-nothing chavs, basically) with a explicitly feminist cartoonish punk ethos.

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How Free Culture Saved Hip Hop In 2012 by Brandon Soderberg (Spin): In 2012, there was a lot of angst in indie rock circles about 'free culture', from the Galaxie 500 guy at Pitchfork analysing how much they get from getting played on Spotify to Amanda Palmer not paying her musicians. But in hip-hop land, free downloadable mixtapes are where it's at. And have been for ages. The industry is cool with it, and it's how the likes of Frank Ocean and Nicki Minaj first made their names. The under-the-radar downloadable mixtapes let hip-hop artists play around with samples that would never clear, and lets them experiment with styles and ideas without worrying about a major label nixing things that are too risky. And seems like everyone's happy with the situation. Mind you, black artists making music like hip-hop mostly never got paid well in the first place.

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The Winner's History Of Rock And Roll, Part 1: Led Zeppelin by Steven Hyden (Grantland): History is generally written by the winners. Nobody really knows what the Celts thought of the Romans 2000 years ago, but we know what the Romans thought of the Celts. But the history of rock music is pretty odd in that it's written by losers like, well, me (well, music critics in generally) who typically prefer subtler, obscurer music. So there's more good writing about the Go Betweens than about KISS, probably. Hyden here aims to rectify this with a series analysing big names in rock music, starting with Led Zeppelin (and currently up to #5: Metallica). Zeppelin of course were hated by critics in the '70s the same way modern critics hate stuff like Nickelback.

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Smells Like Teen Spirit. Again. by Bill Janovitz (billjanovitz.com): Bill Janovitz, 20 years ago, was in a minor alt-rock band called Buffalo Tom. These days, he has a daughter who listens to Pandora radio, and her Pandora radio station randomly selected 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' by Nirvana. You know, that song that changed lives. She was about to skip the song, but decided not to after Janovitz said this was the song that gave him a career (which it pretty much was). The incident got Janovitz thinking about his experiences with Smells Like Teen Spirit, and his anecdotes give a sense of how important the song was at the time, how guys who had previously just been another nobody musician doing it for the love suddenly could think about music as making them lots and lots of money. And it's a reminder that things can change quickly, that the current fixtures on the charts and JJJ will pass.

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Tim Byron

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