Sunday, December 11, 2011

Seasonally Appropriate

As 2011 winds down, you may be taking a moment or more in the next couple of weeks to reflect on all the great music you heard this year. Remember James Blake's debut LP? That was in January! Everything since then has all been this year! Many, many great albums and singles were released in 2011. I've never tried to compile a list of favorite songs from a year before, but I decided to do a two-week special highlighting my top 50 songs of the year on my radio show this January. Making that list turned out to be a lot harder than I'd expected -- firstly, because I couldn't believe that songs I was really into by solid artists such as Lykke Li, Blouse, Radiohead, the Rapture, Tennis, Dirty Beaches, and Panda Bear didn't make the cut; secondly, because qualitatively ranking songs turned out to be really hard. How is any music fan supposed to reconcile that music which falls nearer to being "high art" with music that's satisfying because it's just dumbly glorious pop? In others words, do I really like Colin Stetson more than Beyonce? Or the other way around? Why -- and how can I justify that? Then I remembered reading, a little over a year ago, this essay by Mark Richardson, and I reread it, and realized that such dilemmas just plain don't matter. If you, too, have anxiety about compiling a year-end list, or if you enjoy perceptive writing about pop music, you may find it of interest. It's also very concerned with the meaning of sharing music you love, which ideally any DJ with a music show is doing at least once a week (on his/her radio show, get it?), so it's probably of interest to everyone who might for some reason be reading this blog.

Speaking of the art/pop dichotomy that may or may not exist, you may also want to read this excellent review of Fuck Death, the new album from Frog Eyes/Swan Lake frontman Carey Mercer's side project Blackout Beach, by Cokemachineglow's Conrad Amenta. It's extremely well-written and contains some important thoughts that pertain to the practice of music criticism in general, not just to the record at hand (which is amazing -- listen to one of the best songs here). It makes for an interesting pairing with the same website's review of Drake's newest full-length, Thank Me Later.

Lastly, on the subject of year-end lists, here's an unusual one for 2010, from I Was Young When I Left Home, a strange and beautiful (aesthetically, poetically, sentimentally) little music blog whose posts are rare but often deeply gratifying to read. If you're working on a "Best of 2011" list of your own, perhaps it will provide inspiration for a new way to go about an old project.

Best of luck with Finals Week!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

MONDEGREEN: New issue out now!

Hey DJs and WRMC blog enthusiasts!

The brand-new Fall 2011 issue of MONDEGREEN, Middlebury College's very own music and culture magazine, hit the stands (?) today! You can find stacks of Mondegreens in strategic locations all over campus. Take one, read it cover to cover multiple times, tell all your friends how great it is, and then lend it out, bring it back for another to enjoy, or covet it for its interesting contents and gorgeous binding until it's worn to tatters. This issue features: interviews with Chamberlin and Apollo Run; reviews of new albums by current WRMC rotation favorites such as M83 and Real Estate; a helpful map; pretty pictures; essays on subjects you care about like teen angst and censorship; Eminem's face; and Goat Pack. Don't miss it!


a word or phrase resulting from a misinterpretation of a word or phrase that has been heard.
Compare eggcorn.
See also malapropism.

1954; coined by Sylvia Wright, U.S. writer, from the line laid him on the green, interpreted as Lady Mondegreen, in a Scottish ballad

Interested in contributing to Mondegreen? We accept writing of all kinds about music and popular culture, as well as 2D visual art. OR are you interested in helping out with the publication process next semester? In either case, email the editorial staff at!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Future Is Not What It Used To Be

Once simply a (frighteningly addictive) anonymous mix exchange, Tiny Mix Tapes is now one of the foremost online publications about independent music and popular culture currently running. Its contributors' broad-ranging tastes run more toward the experimental and esoteric; this, as well as their seriously well-read, probably college-educated (hey!) backgrounds in philosophy, sociology, and literary theory (references to thinkers from Freud to Foucault abound in their reviews), set TMT writers apart from their colleagues at other major online music publications. TMT can be counted on to remember, when other music publications do not, that true cultural criticism is a serious intellectual endeavor, not -- as their review of Lars von Trier's new film Melancholia argues -- the "simple criticizing" of a cultural text, despite the apparent kinship between the two concepts.

I bring this up now because, as it happens, TMT contributor Jonathan Dean has just published an incredibly intelligent, perceptive, and rather bleak essay on TMT entitled "2011: Dispatches From the Pop Museum: The Future Is Not What It Used To Be." The essay sharply assesses the state of contemporary popular music/culture -- and if you're not a regular TMT reader, take note of how much more substantiated its criticisms are than those of essays posted on more popular, less theoretically well-versed music sites such as Pitchfork. "The Future Is Not What It Used To Be" follows in the wake of preeminent British pop music historian Simon Reynold's excellent new book Retromania as an academically credible work unenthused by pop culture's recent obsession with nostalgic reenactment of itself. If cultural theory interests you -- and if you play pop music on the radio, it probably should at least a little! -- I recommend Reynolds' book. It'd be a good pick if you've got time over the upcoming break...but in the meantime, please check out Dean's truly wonderful essay (note: I am not proposing that these two works make the same points) here.

PS. And here's Pitchfork (I know I just kinda said they're intellectually inferior writers who pander to the masses but whatever) editor-in-chief Mark Richardson's interview with Simon Reynolds about his book Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past. AND here's a now-notorious anti-chillwave article by Wire journalist David Keenan that deals with similar themes and was one of the most talked-about pieces of music criticism during the summer of 2009, when what Keenan calls "hypnagogic pop" was initially in ascendancy -- featuring, among other things, a few words from Zola Jesus' Nika Roza Danilova, which is reason enough to read anything! Although, really, Keenan is a distressingly reactionary critic unwilling to grasp the pervasive postmodern logic described by Dean, and Reynolds' book does little except clarify a very interesting but ultimately obvious just read the Dean essay! It's great, I prooomise. It's only three pages. That's a mere fifth of the length of the paper I should be but am not writing right now! So short!

Bon Iver's Video Epic

Last week, Bon Iver released the deluxe edition of their 2011 self-titled album, featuring 10 videos corresponding to each track on the cd.  Bon Iver's official website described the videos as "the comprehensive vision for the record captured in moving picture.  The visual works both complement and enrich the audio on the album...while not music videos per se, these visual accompaniments are striking in their distinctive atmosphere, and compelling works in their own right."  Each video features stunning cinematography done by various artists, including Bon Iver's own Justin Vernon, who brings a whole new dimension to one of this year's best albums.  Check out the video for "Holocene" below, and head to Bon Iver's official YouTube page to see them all.  -Diane Martin

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Pet Radio

You might not realize it, but you could be broadcasting to more than just people. Recently Uzoo, the #1 source for animal videos, released a clip about DogCatRadio, a radio station for pets. It's been around for a few years now, though its current status remains a little ambiguous. I'm thinking this will provide some inspiration as we start thinking about programming for the spring. Watch the video here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Music Video: YACHT "I Walked Alone"

The new YACHT seems to at first to be a mere epileptic fit, but it quickly evolves into something much more. The video is supposed to convey a sense of community, and for that there are many circular camera pans that create a sense of gathering around a central figure--YACHT's newest song. By starting the video with a vast and empty landscape, YACHT contrasts the end nicely with the stark colors and enclosed spaces that characterize the latter half. This is definitely worth five minutes of your time. -Steph Roush