In a break from my normal oeuvre, a couple of weeks ago I went with my other half to see the “supergroup” (a term I am perhaps exaggerating here) McBusted, formed of McFly and Busted, both of whom enjoyed success in the UK a decade ago. Whilst I knew what I would expect as to the venue (faceless stadium) and the clientele (a mix of tweens and 30-somethings reliving their student days), what really stood out to me was the way in which this concert exemplified the current mass-music scene in the UK.
New this week on Popshifter: Brad reviews yet another Scream Factory reissue, this time it’s The Burning; Jeff finishes up this month’s Waxing Nostalgic Cover Albums series with Replicants’ eponymous album; Paul informs critics that being average is not worse than being bad; John pays tribute to The Olivia Tremor Control’s Bill Doss; I embrace the post-punk transvestite stylings of The Garden on their new album The Life And Times Of A Paperclip; and enjoy a lot of good movies new on home video and in theaters: Trance, Kiss of the Damned, The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh, and Berberian Sound Studio.
With geek culture becoming more and more prominent, there is a lot of discussion, both online and IRL, about convention etiquette. The topics range from how to act around celebrity guests, to when to take pictures, to how to respond to sexual harassment at conventions. But I’m here to tell you that conventions you aren’t even attending may deserve more respect than you’re giving them.
Because, you see, I don’t care whether you can afford to go to my convention.
I should explain. The convention that I work on gives 100 percent of its proceeds to charity, unlike most fan-based conventions and corporate conventions, which may include philanthropy but which operate mainly as businesses. We may not have world-famous celebrity guests, but food and lodging are included in the ticket price (with varying rates for day trips and one-night stays, of course). And yet, despite our charitable purpose, it feels like we can’t even mention our event in public without someone complaining about how expensive it is.
New this week on Popshifter: Jeff praises The Armoury Show’s “gorgeously slick cathedral Goth with strangely danceable grooves” in the Cherry Red reissue of Waiting For The Floods; Danny calls the new Meat Puppets album, Rat Farm, “the band’s most playful and diverse offering since 1985″; Melissa B. laments the passing of George Jones in her review of the CD reissues of George Jones Country and You’ve Still Got A Place In My Heart; I describe the “geographic grandeur” of the full-length, self-titled debut from Big Black Delta; describe how no-budget, sci-fi flick Manborg “comes from the heart”; explain the “nuanced, complicated” joys of A Royal Affair; congratulate Melvins on their excellent album of covers, Everybody Loves Sausages; and get excited and photo-happy about the upcoming Vicki Berndt art show in Los Angeles.
Whatever I watch on my iPad has better resolution and color than the television I grew up with. Note the number of choices one has by just searching on “television” in the app store.
With Big Data making big news for Netflix, I’m hoping that more Americans ditch cable for streaming television. I’ve received several questions from readers of this column asking why I think streaming services are so much better, and why I advocate throwing over cable completely for Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and the rest of our new media overlords. There are lots of reasons we should throw away the current model of cable and satellite subscription services.
Here I’ll list my top five; if you really need more reasons than these, you’re either a Comcast employee or use your television as a tool for self inflicted pain.
Inside Llewyn Davis
New this week on Popshifter: Paul takes Men’s Rights Advocates to task in his article on Women in Gaming and tells tales of pro wrestling redemptions; Chelsea loves Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s first full-length album RiPLEY PINE; I fawn over new releases from Parenthetical Girls, Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie “Prince” Billy, and Iceage, share the latest from Big Black Delta, and review French Horn Rebellion’s newest EP Love Is Dangerous; and Hanna admires both the humor and scientific methods found in The Marriage of True Minds from Matmos.
By Paul Casey
John Walker, the co-editor of video game website Rock, Paper, Shotgun has written something rather good about women in video games, and the ongoing obfuscation from “male rights activists” (MRAs). You should read it, as it is one of the best recent bits on the most important issue in video games of the last year, and probably 2013, too. Walker raises some interesting points from his perspective working on Rock, Paper, Shotgun:
“What’s interesting about the nature of the MRAs is that they take this behaviour, and whether consciously or not, subvert it. So when they encounter an article describing a negative treatment or depiction of women, they adopt the agenda-driven irrational response: because you have written this you don’t care about men’s issues. Not because they believe that, but rather because it proves the fastest route to diverting attention away from, and derailing discussion of, sexism or misogyny. The real goal, of course, is to prevent the discussion of such matters.”
As Walker points out, this can be seen as a tactical move to frustrate any attempts to make progress on issues they for some reason or other can’t stomach. Over the past year there have been some shameful acts of intimidation and stupidity from various sectors of the “videogame community” towards women who dare have an opinion on their representation. It is also fairly common, though, to find deep confusion when a man takes interest in the same issues.
Kiss of the Damned (full poster)
New this week on Popshifter: I reveal a behind-the-scenes video on the making of the upcoming What The Brothers Sang album by Dawn McCarthy and Bonnie “Prince” Billy and weigh in on Suede’s new single and video; Paul praises Spotify but has stern advice for Prince; Cait has the scoop on the terrific new Omnivore Recordings George Jones United Artists singles compilation; and Elizabeth reassures us we can still call television “television.”
I think the moral lesson behind The Booth at the End is: Don’t over think things. It’s also worth noting that while neon signs still use tubes to convey messages, this is no longer true of modern TVs.
Two weeks ago I wrote a piece acknowledging Netflix as our new media overlords for the occasion of the premiere of House of Cards. The success of the first independent series produced by Netflix, along with the continued success enjoyed by web series and Hulu-produced content, has some scratching their heads about what to call this new viewing experience. I have an answer to this question: when enjoying The Booth at the End on Hulu or MyMusic on YouTube, one is watching television.
This search for another name for what we are doing while we enjoy Very Mary Kate or Husbands is pointless. That many consume this entertainment via a screen on what we now call a computer rather than on what we have traditionally called a television is immaterial.
By Paul Casey
When I had a talk before about why compilations needed to die, I was concerned about their tendency to solidify tastes rather than challenge them. I would stick to a handful of albums and obsess about arranging them, producing classy covers, and finding people to absorb my musical missives in good humor. Even though I have made attempts every few years to shake myself up and haul in new music to replace old, it was still such a costly exercise that I was rarely satisfied.
For those who have had Spotify available to them for several years, please forgive me for pointing out the obvious: It is possibly the greatest thing ever. Here in Ireland, being a largely backwards outfit, we have only recently been given the chance to put an ear towards such a severe streaming catalogue.
Ten euro a month is nothing for the quality of the service provided. Twice as much could be charged and it would still be an obscene bargain, especially for those humans who are still attached to the idea that financial recompense is a fair deal for created things. There are problems and quirks with Spotify of course, and a lingering question over whether this kind of subscription service can ever provide a living for artists. Seeing as the Internet has made solipsism the thing with music, I will ignore these for the moment and expand on how I have personally benefited from this service.