Monday, January 31, 2011

Post-indie, Post-youth...

{free-form, ramble, random thoughts. Go.}

There's something odd about the various forms of late-'90's/ early '00's "indie-rock." Something that reminds me a bit of the "where do we go now?" in critical-dialogues post- post-structuralism and post- deconstruction?  This seems to me to be a bit of an "elephant-in-the-room" right now in the current vogue media-conversation about "what is the hipster"... where does the lethargy, near-fetishistic interest in irony, "lost-generation"-esque nihilistic pompous-non-chalance come from, particularly for the late-20's/ early-30's demographics that most closely fit the stereotypes of that label, yet most fervently hate being associated with it? I'll give you a hint- most of those people, between '97 and '03, were all either playing or avidly listening to some form or another of the "indie-rock" of the time... emo, screamo (before those terms meant what they do now), post-punk, the early-incarnations of "metal-core," melodic-pop-punk... etc. And prior to that? Most of those kids were in punk and hardcore bands in high-school, witnessing the final death-kicks of (the pre-commercially-viable later-incarnations of) those scenes.

I'm reminded of this by quite a few things lately that are unrelated, but tend to weave in and out of each other, nostalgia-wise.

First, there's been a strange superfluity of seminal bands the we all listened to in that era either suddenly getting back together or releasing their first record in countless years within the past couple of months. And there's the constant question at play with all such projects- what SHOULD the new record sound like, when all of the current "hipster" acts are all influenced by your back-catalog, but your "sound" is very conspicuously date-stamped.

I present as example two acts that chose very different answers to this problem.

1) The Get Up Kids are back together. If the handful of tracks that I've heard are any indication, they've taken the "extreme-update" approach-

Sure, this sounds like a whole bunch of what I listen to in 2011. But it certainly doesn't sound like the Get Up Kids... so I'm totally torn on it. There's definitely a bit of the odor of "trying too hard" lingering around this one.

2) The new Bright Eyes record is coming out soon. It's currently streaming in its entirety via NPR- . I'm not sure yet that it lives up to the tall-order tag-line the NPR blurb bestows on it: "This is the best record Bright Eyes has ever made".... but it's pretty good (it always takes me a few listens for a Bright Eyes record to REALLY sink in). And there seems to be a complete indifference to the date-stamp issue here, either in terms of recreating past records (which they certainly don't do) or "updating" too conspicuously or exaggeratedly.

Other things that bring this disconnect to mind include the occasional random flare-ups of sudden nostalgic interest in online content related to an emo-pop-punk band I used to play bass for, called Rusted Tricycle... or that, still, for some reason, regardless of how many projects I've played with since, when I go out at night in New Hampshire, I'm most likely to get "aren't you the guy from Rusted Tricycle?" than any other recognition (If anything, I would expect it to be the high-visibility management position I held with an unnamed adolescent-targetted retail store for years prior to moving to Arizona and going to college, but nope. It's that random band that never toured, never recorded a real album, and broke up ten years ago. Strange.)

(photo via Macalastair Ming of Tipsy Cougar.)

For some reason recently, I had a strange impulse to download a whole lot of old Saves The Day material. I have no idea why. And I'm thinking about throwing a random throwback-emo/ pop-punk track into the middle of my forthcoming ironic-"hip-hop" record with LeVautourEnsemble... just for fun. There's something odd about the music of that time (maybe that time in general?) for us, for sure.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Asbjorn Writing Workshop.

Do you write, or like reading/ critiquing new writing by others?

Over the summer, I had started up a workshopping group. It was starting to gather a bit of productive steam, and then, due to scheduling issues, the ball was kinda dropped for a bit.

But now, it's back, and I would like to build it to be an even stronger resource going forward.

Interested in participating, contributing, or even just observing? Stop by our facebook group-page and send a request to join the group so you can get into our discussion-boards, where the magic happens (at least initially).

Here's the blurb that I posted on the "Welcome" thread on the group's discussion-board, when I initially set it up, back in the summer, just to give a little bit of an overview of what we're trying to do with this- 

"The idea is simple. I want to spend much of the rest of my summer lost in a couple creative-writing projects that I don't have nearly enough time for during the semester. It dawned on me that I was a bit "out of the loop" of one of the most helpful elements of my process when I WAS a more active creative writer- the workshopping group. So, here it is. At least the ground-level, to get it moving quickly. If a different sort of forum would work better down the road, we'll move there. If (ideally) local cells of this group decide to meet up to do some flesh-and-blood round-table work, that would be awesome, and hopefully all tangible meetings will report back virtually for the benefit of those who were a bit out of range to attend.

Here's a quick run-down of the process I had in mind, at least to get started. 

Within the next couple days, I plan to make up a sort of generic form for intended submission for critique by the group... sort of a standardized abstract, with questions about your goals with the piece, intended audience, etc... My hope is that a piece of writing pitched as "experimental literary fiction, intended for academic journals" would receive a far different critical conversation on this forum than one prefaced with "I want to finally try to make some cash with my pen. Aiming for Readers-Digest-accessability." Neither (or anything in between) is preferred over the other here... I'm hoping the emphasis is mostly on writing-craft, with a specific focus on helping each other to most effectively meet our own stated goals.

So, the first step to contribute a piece for critique is to complete the form, and post it to a new thread (this can be done before you even begin writing, as just the synopsis and goals for a nascent idea, or in regard to a piece that you've already written that you wish to get feedback through the process of editing of, or anything in between.) Responses from readers are welcome and encouraged to these initial forms, to help both you and your readers better clarify where we're heading. Then, just run with it. Respond to feedback, mutually brainstorm, post fragments or links to complete files. Receive feedback, respond, edit, rinse, repeat. You get the idea.

Know someone who might be interested in contributing? If you think they'd be a good fit, by all means, send an invite. The more the merrier (and more constructive.) A word of warning however (particularly if you're new to the workshop setting)... I am (at least initially) primarily gearing this group toward professionally-minded writers serious about whipping their writing into shape right up into the publication process. This isn't necessarily always an endeavor for the faint-of-heart or thin-skinned... sometimes, for many of us, the most realistically-helpful feedback is also the most brutal and candid. I can't promise, for instance, that anyone on this forum will tip-toe around your potential emotional-investedness in your work... this is all about making our works the best they can be, not stroking each others' egos. With that said, however, hopefully it goes without saying, but just in case... keep the criticisms clean, above the belt, and constructive, folks (i.e., if you're going to tear something up a bit, cite specific examples, base your argument on craft, no cheap shots or vague derogatory statements, etc.) I don't want to have to police this, but I will if it comes down to it." 

There are already a hand-full of threads up, and a few pieces posted mid-process... But this would still be a great time to get in on the ground-floor, as a few more active participants would be phenomenal.

Friday, January 28, 2011

In case you missed it... (performance-poetry about translation-acts) more video, as part of my catch-up of stuff I've worked on since my last post (as I mentioned in an earlier entry, i'm trying to break my return-to-posting promo-dump into a series of smaller, more specific entries this week, and this is one of those)... primarily for those who don't religiously follow my Facebook feed.

This one was another that began as part of an academic project. It's a bit of performance-poetry this time around.

...there might be others that I missed... if you're curious, you can peruse the Asbjorn Arts Collective's Youtube channel, and subscribe if you like what we're doing here. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

LeVautourEnsemble Update.

I'm currently working on a new record with my solo-electronic project LeVautourEnsemble. This one will be called "Machinique Meltdown," and is a follow-up to "...whose wings are a dull reality," which came out this past October through HeadHat Records. (If you haven't gotten a copy yet, it's downloadable for free/ donation- click here.)

I'm hoping that this one doesn't take NEARLY as long to finish. In fact, I was originally shooting for exactly the opposite extreme, to start and finish the record in a single week, right after I finished school... but the week turned into two, and now it's been about a month, I have two songs and a bunch of fragments (which, of course, is still a step in the right direction, since that's FAR more accomplished than in any single month over the course of the ten years I was working on the last one for.)

I decided this one is going to veer a bit more into the hip-hop(ish) direction... because I felt like it.  This will also be a bit more of a themed/ conceptual endeavor- a collection of tracks about various sorts of apocalypses.

Here is a video for the first track on the record, "Preface."

Another track, "I Am The Tongue," that will appear on the album was actually originally completed as part of an academic project... but as of now I think that it'll still work-

If anyone out there happens to be interested in dropping a cameo on the new record, by all means, be in touch. I'd love to pack this thing with as many odd-ball guest-appearances as possible.

Also, if you're perversely curious how that "PASTICHE" show that I had alluded to before turned out, peruse the following, at your own risk-

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tipsy Cougar on Headhat Records!

After much delay, Tipsy Cougar, my noisy indie-electro/ "metro-grime" project, has finally finished and released our album, "Immaculate Conceptions," through our good friends over at Headhat Records.

... and, guess what? It's available right now, to download for FREE/ donation! Click here to get it directly, or here to browse the rest of the excellent stuff in the Headhat/ Webhat catalog!

I was going to explain a bit about this project and the gradual creation of this record, but... Just download it and see for yourself... I think this mess may speak for itself. 

Yes, it's supposed to sound like that.

Monday, January 24, 2011

...resumptions... or somethin'... again...

So it happened again, after saying at the beginning of the semester that I was going to be better about using this blog than I had in previous terms, my posts fell off about mid-way through. Oh well.

But, that's all in the past now. As of January 1st, 2011, I am officially a "Master of Literature"... whatever that means. I want to send some massive thank-you's to everyone who's been supportive over the whirl-wind last couple of crazy years. You know who you are. It's been real... something.

In the meantime, I've taken the first part of January to decompress and re-gather myself... which has sorta kinda almost worked? Now it's get busy, get motivated, get it done time. Ready or not (jury's still out on that one).

And so this starts again.

I'm not going to lie, I've come to sort of hate these "return-to-posting," playing-catch-up sort of posts.  So, rather than post a laundry-list of links to all the garbage I've been working on and interested in since my last post (I'm not delusional enough to think anyone actually READS my info-dump entries, anyway... I just feel better to know I threw it out there in case anyone randomly WAS actually interested), I'm going to split it up this time into short bursts of more specific promo-garbage over the next week.

So I'll leave you here for today. Welcome back, and see you tomorrow.