A year of favorites: Tobias’s Notable Music Writing From 2011

Posted by Tobias Carroll
Every year, I read a lot of writing about music. Here are some of my favorite pieces, from examinations of nostalgia to reflections on punk culture to discussions of the problems with recording compositions in progress.
“The problem isn’t simply racism or sexism, but boring racism, boring sexism that hearkens back to the black power macho of Amiri Baraka and Eldridge Cleaver at their worst. It’s the work of a failed provocateur boorishly brandishing his ancient affects. The obvious defense is that this is an exploration of West’s psyche, of his fantasy. But actually it isn’t.”
“Out back, the bands smoke between sets, near a clown fashioning balloon hats. I run into Cassie Ramone and wonder if, by participating in the cruise, she’s setting herself up to be mocked. She swats the question away.”
Amos Barshad on the Bruise Cruise
“But it kills me when it’s used by smart people who I respect against someone like Bachmann, who has no shortage of completely legitimate reasons to inspire ire. Calling her a bitch is too easy—it glosses over the actual concrete problems with her as a candidate—and more importantly, the woman-specific use of “bitch” toward people who allegedly “deserve” it only serves to further crack open the door to it being used against any woman who’s trying to make her way in a male-dominated field.”
“It’s also an album of singular vision that sounds like it’s being narrated by 20 different people—a statement of radical individuality made by a kaleidoscope. The emotional and political scope reminds me more of an artist like Stevie Wonder than it does most of her peers, like she realized that writing from her own heart with her own voice also means writing through the hearts and voices of your friends and neighbors.”
“Most of narcissism’s critics, however, do not evince much concern for its sufferers, whom they regard with more Schadenfreude than pity. They just find all this expression of ego to be grating, gauche, and borderline immoral—like wearing tights as pants, talking during movies, or being ­Snooki.”
“The other thing about rehearsals is that one tends not to give brass a hard time for flubbing high, exposed passages. Brass instruments are like those crazy dragons from Avatar or whatever; it’s some kind of spiritual connexion that has to be achieved between the lips and the metal and sometimes you just aren’t going to get that at 10 AM on a Tuesday morning.”
“His stage banter got weirder as the concert progressed. Despite the aforementioned heft of the audience, Joey seemed taken by our attractiveness. “Where were you back then?” he asked, referring to the group’s heyday. “You were babies. Babies! With enormous buttons.” Joey did an impression of a baby with a Flavor Flav–sized button around its neck, weighing it down, complete with “goo goo ga ga” noises. “
“Her music is exhaustively interested in investigating the feeling of lying on the carpet in a square of dusty light and trying to remember how long you’ve been high, and lyrically she prefers impressionism to detail; like lots of people, she writes best at her plainest, but probably doubts it. “
“In the nascent years of punk rock as in other eras of rock ’n’ roll, if the pages of Slashand Flipside are any indication, the stakes were high, and boundaries were to be upheld — or else we might lose it all, the implication was. The scene would slip through their fingers and be gone. “
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