April 2005 Archives
Next Thursday, May 5, the authors of The Rock Snob*s Dictionary will stage a live reading at Jack's Stir Brew Coffee on West 10th Street, between Greenwich Avenue and Waverly Place, in historic Greenwich Village, New York City. David and Steven will read with musical accompaniment and playful mugging by guitarist and actor Lucas Papaelias, best known for playing the bassist in Jack Black's (adult) band in School of Rock, and for playing innumerable stringy-haired druggies in the various permutations of Law & Order that dominate NBC's evening slate.
Toby Cox of Three Lives & Company bookstore, Jack's down-the-block neighbor on West 10th, will be on hand to facilitate book purchases.April 28, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
Both the Boston Globe's Mark Feeney, who wrote a very nice article about The Rock Snob*s Dictionary, and Insound.com, the shrewdly run online indie record store, have solicited Desert Island Disc lists from the Rock Snob brain trust. We decided it would be more fun to submit two DID lists apiece: the first list being the Snob author's honest list, reflecting his true, I-don't-care-what-you-think choices of what he'd tote with him to that hypothetical desert island, and the second list being his "Snob credibility list," the roster of ten albums he'd claim to be taking to impress other Rock Snobs. Here's what Steven and David came up with:
FOR DAVID KAMP
Perhaps our readers would also like to indulge in this Snobberific exercise. If so, write to us care of firstname.lastname@example.org, give us both your honest and Snob-substitute DID lists, include your full name and hometown, and we'll post some of our favorites.April 26, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
Bostonians awoke this morning to a teaser on the front page of their broadsheet, the Boston Globe, asking them if they wanted to be "rock 'n' roll snobs." Inside the paper, in the arts section, they found Mark Feeney's interview with the Rock Snob brain trust, David Kamp and Steven Daly, which you're welcome to view here.
Being (recovering) Rock Snobs, we can't resist listing two footnotes to Mr. Feeney's piece:
1. When Mr. Kamp likens Mr. Daly's former group, Orange Juice, to the Pixies, he's speaking not of any musical similarity--O.J. was way wussier than the Pixies--but of the way both bands posthumously gained greater repute in their native lands than when they existed. (The Pixies have since gone on to reunite, but, thus far, VH1's excitable Aamer Haleem has not ambushed Mr. Daly in his dingy warren, begging him to help reconfigure O.J. for a Bands Reunited episode.)
2. The Stooges' 7-disc Complete Fun House set from Rhino Handmade, to which Mr. Daly alludes, actually costs $120, not $100. And, alas, Rhino Handmade dropped from its catalog the Jobriath album of which Mr. Daly makes sardonic mention (in his Desert Island Discs list). The album ended up being released by Morrissey's Attack imprint, a division of Sanctuary.April 25, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
On another note, there's no finer web site for the Archivalist Snob than Rock's Back Pages, "the online library of Rock & Roll," administered by our alarmingly thin friend Barney Hoskyns. For just six dollars a month or $50 a year, you get unlimited access to Barney's awesome trove of rock writings by rock critics past--the really good stuff from Crawdaddy! (see p. 25 of our book), Mojo (see p. 73), the good-old-days Rolling Stone and New Musical Express, and so on. Whether you're a 45-year-old seeking to relive your prog heyday or a 19-year-old who wishes to become an Eno expert, Rock's Back Pages is the place to go!
You also get a weekly update e-mail every Sunday of what they've added to the site, and it always gives the Rock Snob brain trust a chuckle. In particular, we loved this entry from Barney & co.'s most recent bulletin: "Lenny Kaye is unmoved by Fanny's 'Charity Ball' (Rolling Stone, 1971)."
For more info on Fanny, see p. 39 of The Rock Snob*s Dictionary; for more info on Lenny Kaye, see p. 85.April 24, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
We're moved by the outpouring of suggestions for the "next edition" or "second volume" of The Rock Snob*s Dictionary, the inference being that the book will sell well enough for Broadway Books to order second, third, fourth, and nineteenth printings, and then demand an all-new "special edition" with bonus material--as Broadway's corporate sibling, Doubleday, has done with The Da Vinci Code. Well, sure, gang, keep buying the book, and maybe this will happen. We're imagining a "Director's Cut" of Rock Snob with outtakes, author commentary, and special CGI simulations by Pixar of the vehicle-crash deaths of Marc Bolan, Duane Allman, and Nico. (Speaking of Director's Cuts, keep an eye out for The Film Snob*s Dictionary... coming in early 2006.)
In any event, we've received some good ideas for inclusion in an amended version of Rock Snob, among them:
Great American Songbook, the. (Irrititating crit trope.)
And then there was the fellow who apoplectically asked us why we didn't include Edgard Varese, avant-garde composer and Zappa muse. Sir, the "Varese, Edgar" entry is on page 132.
We plan on creating a new section on this site for Should'ves (things that should've made the book), but for now, send such ideas to The Nitpicker's Corner--after you've purchased and thoroughly perused the book.April 22, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
Stereogum.com, a new addition to our Snobroll of "vaguely Snobbish blogs and sites you may enjoy," has an amusing, Mad-magazine-ish exchange with its readers called "You might be an Indie-Yuppie if..." You can connect to it here. We might add, You might be an Indie-Yuppie if, every time someone responds to one of your e-mails with "LOL," you think not of the phrase "laugh out loud," but of Lol Tolhurst, the keyboard player who Robert Smith putsched from the Cure for drinking too much.
For an authentic experience of unvarnished Rock Snobbery, check out this extraordinary piece of writing from the Village Voice, which actually includes this passage: "'Crazy Love' is a Nick song I at first took for a weak Polly number, which he should take as a compliment. He'll never have Polly's gravitas, and certainly not her brains: 'Desperanto' ('the language of despair') re-creates the disco skronk of Faithfull's notorious 'Why D'Ya Do It'..."
Perhaps there is no stranger phenomenon in the art-versus-mammon struggle than the penchant among European automakers for hiring Tom Waits soundalikes to sing (or, better yet, growl) the praises of their products. Opel, the German auto manufacturer (as opposed to Opel, the Syd Barrett album), is the latest offender, having incurred the Swordfishtrombonist's wrath for running commercials in Scandinavia featuring the voice of a Waits-alike. Waits, who has already endured similar situations with Audi in Spain and Lancia in Italy, issued a statement expressing his extreme displeasure, concluding, "Commercials are an unnatural use of my work... It's like having a cow's udder sewn to the side of my face--painful and humiliating." Spoken from experience.April 21, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
Well, it had to happen.
NOTE: The Voice credits someone named "David Camp" for the illustration of Kurtis Blow. The illustration is in fact by Ross MacDonald. There is no one involved in The Rock Snob*s Dictionary named David Camp-with-a-C. Though "David Camp" would've made a good name for a sub-Jobriath glamster.April 20, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
On Wednesday, April 20, the Rock Snobs themselves, David Kamp and Steven Daly, appeared on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show to discuss the book and take calls, which, predictably, all came from men. Men who don't seem to have day jobs. Though Lehrer himself was out sick (and let's please quash those rumors that Lehrer, who was a music major at SUNY-Albany, faked his illness because he doesn't like what we have to say about Karlheinz Stockhausen), the delightfully avuncular Marty Goldensohn ably held the fort. To listen to the Rock Snob brain trust's chitchat with Marty, click here and scroll down to the part of the program entitled, aptly, "The High and Mighty." You can even download the entire program for your own personal Podcast.
(As Rock Snobs, we can't help but think that "Podcast" sounds like something Cynthia Plaster Caster carries around in her work bag.)April 20, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
On Wednesday, April 20, at 11:40 a.m., the Rock Snobs themselves, David Kamp and Steven Daly, will pay a brief visit to The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, that titan of New York City public radio. Be sure to tune in (93.9 FM, 820 AM) and hear Brian snob it up with the boys. No word on whether or not Morning Edition's mellifluous Soterios Johnson, who actually went to high school with one of the Rock Snobs, will stop by.April 19, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
His Holiness John Paul II was the closest a pontiff could come to being a Rock Snob: he met with Bono and Bob Dylan, attended a Rome benefit concert at which Lou Reed performed, and waved his arms encouragingly at some breakdancers who were spinnin' and poppin' on the floor of the Vatican.
His successor, however, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger--who, as of today, goes by the vaguely hip-hoppish tag of Benedict XVI--is defiantly anti-rockist. In a small volume published in 2000 called The Spirit of the Liturgy, itself an expansion of an essay Ratzinger wrote in 1986, the future pope argued," 'Rock'... is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals, it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship. People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the experience of being part of a crowd and by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects. However, in the ecstasy of having all their defenses torn down, the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe."
Well, before we dismiss the new pope as an out-of-it fuddy-duddy, let's parse his words. He only seems to be talking about rock "festivals" with "special lighting effects," which, generally, are as dreadful as he says. And one of his pet peeves, the implementation of quasi-rock music into the liturgy at some churches, is indeed an abomination, as anyone who's ever sat through a Rockin' Mass with amplified guitars can attest. (Tony Hendra, the Benedictine monk turned gonzo humorist, and the guy who played Ian Faith in This Is Spinal Tap, wrote a brilliant essay on this subject for GQ some years back.)
Nevertheless, Pope Benedict's blanket condemnation of rock as a whole is tin-eared and unfair. We expect Bono to "open a dialogue" and rectify this situation ASAP.
Meanwhile, over here at Rock Snob HQ, the conclave we're puzzling over is the one at Roger Taylor's Surrey mansion at which it was determined that Paul Rodgers should fill Freddie Mercury's tights in the 2005 touring version of Queen.April 19, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
ROCK SNOBBISH THINGS TO ASK PINK FLOYD’S NICK MASON WHEN HE APPEARS AT THE BARNES & NOBLE ON UNION SQUARE, NYC, ON TUES, APRIL 19
1. Don't you think the band was better with Syd in it?
2. How is Syd? Do you hear from Syd? Have you seen Syd lately?
3. Has Syd played you any demos of his recent work?
4. Don't you think The Madcap Laughs is better than Ummagumma?
6. Will you be jamming with Syd later at Irving Plaza?April 18, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
Thanks to the book's publication on April 12 and lots of mentions of Snobsite.com on the radio and in places like James Wolcott's blog, E!Online's site, and Gawker, we've experienced a huge upsurge in traffic to this site. Which makes this an opportune moment to re-introduce ourselves.
Snobsite.com is the online home of The Rock Snob*s Dictionary, and, while it was conceived to promote the book and edify non-Snobs the world over, we're also adding lots of original content (look for announcements about this in coming weeks) and inviting readers to out-Snob us in the section called The Nitpicker's Corner. As we note there, nothing pleases a Rock Snob more than showing up another Rock Snob, and The Nitpicker's Corner affords purchasers of the book the chance to tell us where we've gotten things wrong. Both celebrity and civilian Nitpickers have already seized upon this opportunity, as a trawl through the Nitpicker's Archives will show.
We might add that we're thrilled, if not exactly surprised, at how many e-mails we've received from Great Britain, the Rock Snobbiest country in the world. Even though the book's U.K. publication date is still almost three months away, several British readers have ordered The Rock Snob*s Dictionary online, paying a premium for the import version--just like we Americans do when we hear there's a new Sigur Ros album out!April 16, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
All things considered, we were not expecting much gush from the rock press, but we're genuinely humbled by the lovely treatment we've been afforded by Spin and Blender, the latter of which has just given The Rock Snob*s Dictionary five stars, its highest rating. There was also a nice write-up by a perceptive bloke from the Hartford Courant.
And if we've helped even one critic ease up on his use of the word "coruscating," then our lives have been worth living.April 14, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
One of the challenges of preparing The Rock Snob*s Dictionary for publication was keeping up with the unlikely reunions of SEMINAL [see p. 109] bands who were re-forming left and right as we went to press, forcing us expend thousands in extra printing costs to acknowledge their reformation. We mean bands such as the Stooges [p. 121], the Pixies [p. 95], and the New York Dolls [p. 78], the last of whom reunited despite the deaths of two of the original five members and the imminent death of a third. Now that the book's out, Snob-band reunion mania continues apace, with the MC5 [p. 70] reuniting in Dolls-like fashion, minus two dead members, and utterly unforeseen tours planned by the power-pop [p. 96] standard-bearers the Raspberries and the overglorified Liverpool popsters the La's [p. 61].
The most conspicious reunion tour of the moment, however, is that of a group who did not make it into The Rock Snob*s Dictionary but should have, the post-rock [p. 96] combo Slint, whose 1991 album, Spiderland, is receiving the sort of borderline-irresponsible love-bath of rock-crit reappraisal not seen since the reissues, nearly a decade ago, of Oar by Skip Spence [p. 118] and Born to Be with You by Dion [p. 30]. Is the fourteen-year-old Spiderland really a masterpiece? Even its creators don't seem to think so, but it doesn't matter: a Snob juggernaut has been launched.April 14, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
One of the members of the Rock Snob brain trust had an audience with New England Patriots quarterback and two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady last night, since Brady is in town this week to host Saturday Night Live. The Rock Snob expressed his surprise to Brady about the latter's surprisingly Snobworthy iTunes Music Store celebrity playlist, which, far from being filled with the wretched, expected jock-rock offerings of Hootie & the Blowfish and Toby Keith, was laden with Britpop (The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony," Oasis's "Wonderwall," Coldplay's "Shiver"), high-end rap (Nas, Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest), and even a Soundgarden song! No Captain Beefheart or Roky Erickson, but still... for an NFL quarterback, wholly unexpected.
"You were expecting sort of mellow seventies type of stuff, right?" Brady said. "I'm kind of all over the map." The quarterback explained that in the modern NFL locker room, just about every player has both an iPod and one of those portable Bose or Altec Lansing stereo doohickeys into which he can plug his Pod, making for a Babel of musical styles. If you're open-minded, like Brady or placekicker Adam Vinatieri, you pick up on other guys' taste and become an eclecticist. However, Brady says, most players' musical taste is pretty much defined by position: the offensive linemen go for country, for example, and the defensive backs and wide receivers like gangsta rap. The one surprise: the Patriots linebackers, especially Ted Johnson, are jazz fans.
Brady's musical guest on SNL will be Beck, ensuring that the young QB will further his Rock Snob education.April 12, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
From Lubbock, Texas, to Saugerties, New York; from El Cerrito, California, to Macon, Georgia, the town halls are bedecked in tri-color bunting emblazoned with images of Gram Parsons, Syd Barrett, DJ Kool Herc, and the Ibanez Tube Screamer effects pedal--all because today is the official U.S. publication date of The Rock Snob*s Dictionary! Though the book has only just come out, it has already received favorable notices hither and yon. Please run to your local bookseller or click onto your favorite virtual merchant's site to purchase this essential--nay, SEMINAL--book for the Rock Snob(s) in your life.
We are making an appeal for Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm to put aside their differences, and for Garth Hudson to put aside his beard, so that these three surviving members of The Band might favor us with a version of "King Harvest (Has Surely Come)" with the words "Rock Snob" substituted for "harvest."April 12, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
With the publication date of The Rock Snob*s Dictionary nearly upon us, it's time for the Rock Snob brain trust to start making public appearances. At 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning, April 13, the Snobs will appear on Alex Bennett's program on Sirius Satellite Radio. And on Thursday, May 5, David and Steven will appear at Jack's Stir Brew Coffee on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village for a reading/event/be-in with musical accompaniment, a presentation that promises to be as mesmerizing and uncategorizable as the Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd's shows at London's UFO club. Though Jack's is a small place, and therefore does not afford space for Floyd-style bubble machines, screen projections, and undulating dolly birds on pedestals, it does serve what New York magazine has deemed to be the best cup of coffee in New York City. More details on this and other appearances to come.April 11, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
A word about the two conspicuously non-rock links on our Snobroll. The first is to James Wolcott's eminently satisfying site. Though Jim has been blogging more on subjects political and mediathonical than rockological, his Rock Snob bona fides are unquestionable: He hung out at CBGB in the late 1970s and actually interviewed Tom Verlaine once! He has also kindly praised our site and its graphic design, noting that it's "kind of Britishy in its lapidary look," the credit for which goes to our wonderful designer, Sekimori. In his day job at Vanity Fair, Jim Wolcott is the greatest magazine critic working today, the Bunny Wilson, nay, the Dwight Macdonald, nay, the Kenneth Tynan of his era. (If and when we get around to writing The Public Intellectual Snob*s Dictionary--and what a unit-shifter that would be!--we'll tell you who those people are.)
We have also newly linked to Ben Schott's site, for Ben, over in Britain, is a kindred spirit. His Schott's Miscellany series of books has set the gold standard for exquisitely type-set compendiums (compendia?) of useless information. And there is some rock stuff in his books, such as his "Untimely Deaths of Musicians" chart in Schott's Original Miscellany.April 08, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
Just two days live on the Web, and already, the hardcore Snobs are heating things up at The Nitpicker's Corner, with feverish arguments over who "invented country rock." (In the book, we attribute the genre to Gram Parsons. Others take deep umbrage at this assertion and champion Gene Clark, Chris Hillman, Michael Nesmith, Rick Nelson, and just about every musician who played L.A.'s The Troubadour in 1961-66.) And Snob overlord Greil Marcus nitpicks about the name of the Nitpicker's Corner! Be sure to jump to that section and read all about it.April 06, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
Some of the British visitors to this site have inquired about the U.K. publication date of The Rock Snob*s Dictionary. We are happy to report that the book will be published in the U.K. on July 4 (of all dates) by Sanctuary Publishing, the publishing arm of the Sanctuary Group, the music conglomerate whose record-label arm is responsible for the recent comeback of Morrissey and the fine albums of the self-immolating young band The Libertines.
American readers, remember that The Rock Snob*s Dictionary will be available as of Tuesday, April 12.April 06, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
One of the dark, shameful secrets of the Rock Snob brain trust is that one half of it (the shorter, Scottish half named Steven) was once an actual rock musician in a SEMINAL Glaswegian band called Orange Juice. Next month,to coincide, more or less, with the publication of The Rock Snob*s Dictionary, Domino Records will release, for the first time ever in the U.S.A., a compilation of Orange Juice's early work called The Glasgow School.
Here's a quote from the rather extraordinary press release: "Orange Juice were 'indie' before 'indie' was a word, and their provocative sound and image was unlike anything anyone had ever heard... Scottish bands like Belle & Sebastian, Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai, and Jesus and Mary Chain will all concur: If it were not for Orange Juice in the late '70s and early '80s, they would not sound the way they do... One listen to The Glasgow School will throw the floodgates wide open. Orange Juice's delicate melodies, disco basslines, and sexy masc/fem ambiguity were unlike anything anyone had ever heard."
To see photographs of Steven in his "sexy masc/fem" heyday, pick up a copy of the April issue of Uncut magazine, the one with The Band on the cover. The pageboy haircut was acceptable for men back then.
On a more serious note, we send our best wishes to former Orange Juice leader Edwyn Collins, who is recovering from a grave illness.April 05, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »
Welcome to the official home of Rock Snobbery on the Web. Though this site was conceived in part to promote the Broadway Books soon-to-be bestseller The Rock Snob*s Dictionary, we're also using this site to offer news and commentary of interest to Rock Snobs, and to give Nick Drake fans a special place to share their feelings.
This section, The Annals of Rock Snobbery, will be the most active part of the site, with news of Rock Snob-related events and such. But feel free to navigate the rest of the site to learn more about Rock Snobbery and read excerpts from the book. And the more strident of you shouldn't miss The Nitpicker's Corner, our special section in which sociopathic Rock Snobs can take us to task for getting stuff wrong (or, in any event, not quite right). Already, some noteworthy readers have come through with nitpicks, so be sure to check that section out.
For those of you who aren't Rock Snobs, we hope that this site, along with its companion book, will help you achieve a greater understanding and tolerance of the Rock Snob(s) in your life. Cheers.April 05, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »