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The Annals of Rock Snobbery

June 2005 Archives

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Bunnymen? Bowie?
An Aussie Lovely Rock Snob?
Oy: “Hollaback Girl.”

June 30, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


One of the oft-cited SEMINAL influences upon the Rock Snob brain trust is a middle-aged man named Ted Kamp who, as a youth, carted home vinyl LPs by such artists as Talking Heads, Captain Beefheart, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and, in one especially memorable instance, the then little-known Laurie Anderson, playing these records on the old turntable and forever altering the mindscape of his impressionable younger brother. Here, visiting brother Ted offers his perspective on moulding young minds into Snob shapes...

“It’s all my fault. But I wasn’t some sort of haughty record-store-clerk know-it-all. Or some argumentative King-Sunny-Ade-blows-away-Fela-and-Femi-Kuti polemicist. I was just an adventurous, sensitive, mentally disturbed youth who sought succor in a wide swath of the gifts of Calliope.

“And I resent being referred to as ‘middle-aged.’ I pass for A LOT younger. And then I mention seeing Art Blakey at the Blue Note, or, worse, seeing Elton at Madison Square Garden THE VERY NIGHT HE OUTED HIMSELF TO ROLLING STONE (!!!) and I am revealed. The main thing is:

1. I can kvell over the fact that my teenage psychosis and allowance money has created a younger brother who can speak knowledgably about Leland Sklar and Lester Bangs. And:

2. Ice Cream For Crow does REWARD REPEATED LISTENS.

Rock on, Snobs ’n’ Nitpickers.

Your Friend,
Ted Kamp”

June 26, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


One of the newer additions to our Snobroll is Joe Clark, whose Fawny blog displays an informed, witty perturbedness about everything from typography to rock music to, er, the Toronto gay community. Anyway, Joe points out to us that the designers who did the cover of the British edition of The Rock Snob*s Dictionary used the font Cooper Black, which happens to be the famous typeface used on the cover of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds.

Pursuant to this fact, we discovered this utterly delightful Behind the Music parody that brilliantly satirizes both Typeface Snobbery and Rock Snobbery while actually being informative to those of us who care about type usage, graphic design, and such. It takes a minute to load, but it really is one of the best found objets d’amusement on the Web.

June 23, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


We were going to wait ’til much, much, much later to run an image of the cover of The Film Snob*s Dictionary, since it won’t be available until next February. But since the cover’s been released on both Broadway Books’s Web site and on Hollywood-Elsewhere, a movie blog by the journalist Jeffrey Wells, we thought we’d do the Apple Computer thing and offer a tantalizing glimpse months before the product is ready for release. Unlike a new Apple operating system, The Film Snob*s Dictionary does not cost lots of money, nor does it take an hour or more to install. It does, however, feature Cupertino-sleek design and have something to do, vaguely, with Pixar. Closer to the publication date, will accomodate material from this book and a separate blog about Film Snobbery. We will also emit a buttery popcorn aroma via Griffin Technology’s new iSmell adapter for Macintosh.


Here are two preview entries:

Harryhausen, Ray. Animator and visual-effects maestro (born in 1920) behind a series of terrifying films, putatively for children, that combined stop-motion animation with live action. In such films as Jason and the Argonauts (1963), The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974), and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977), spray-tanned actors and actresses did furious battle with stiffly moving but nevertheless nightmare-inducing centaurs, minotaurs, walking statues, and other exotic predators. Though his filmography is more familiar to Kitsch Snobs than to kids, Harryhausen was awarded an honorary Oscar for his work in 1992, and was slyly namechecked in the Pixar film Monsters, Inc. (2001).

Wire-fu. Modish Snob term for both the genre and the technique in which martial-arts actors are attached to wires and pulleys, the better to suggest such superhuman powers as the ability to leap great heights and to slowly pirouette through the air while dispatching of opponents with combination kicks. Pioneered by the action star Jet Li in Hong Kong movies in the 1980s, wire-fu reached the mainstream with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and the Matrix movies. Some martial-arts purists lament the growing popularity of wire-fu, preferring the “wireless,” and therefore more audacious, stunts of vintage Jackie Chan. Ching Siu-Tung’s ninja extravaganza Duel to the Death is an awesome example of early wire-fu.

June 21, 2005 More Film Snobbery »


To paraphrase the unfortunate-looking Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears, “He gave you life-and in return you GAVE HIM HELL!”

So why not make amends with Pop this Father’s Day by gifting him with The Rock Snob*s Dictionary? Statistics indicate that an increasing number of dads consider themselves Rock Snobs, and they’re no longer just the severe audiophiles of yore who flipped out if you used their Bang & Olufsen Beogram turntables to play your Duran Duran records. (“And you left the Zappa out of its sleeve!”) The modern iDad is young, active, and perversely interested in the back catalogue of Gang of Four. So, for less than it would cost to purchase him a skinny tie or Thurston Moore’s scandalously expensive Mix Tape book, you can present him with the paperback that will stoke the fires of his Rock Snobbery for the rest of his days. The Rock Snob*s Dictionary is now available not only wherever silly books are sold, but also via Urban Outfitters’ Web site.

June 16, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


Just a friendly reminder to check out our newish Snob Comix! section, whose debut entry is by none other than Mad magazine legend Al Jaffee.
Keep an eye on this section for future contributions by other cartoon and comix greats.

June 15, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


The United Kingdom is the spiritual home of Rock Snobbery, having given us Mojo magazine, the Incredible String Band, Nick Kent [see p. 55 of the book], Nik Cohn [see p. 21], John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and what have you. So it’s only fitting that we launch a U.K. edition, which our British publisher, Sanctuary, has outfitted with a soothing, pale-blue cover that resembles that of a 1970s sexual education manual.

Brit Cover

British readers, look for it on July 4th. And all you American Snobs, we’re taking it on faith that you know that in Britain, a guitar pick is known as a “plectrum.”

June 14, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


A choice passage from a 2003 New York Times article by Tom Vanderbilt about the Greenwich Village record shop and Rock Snob magnet Rockit Scientist, which is owned by one John Kioussis:

“I am no Luddite. I have bought many CD’s from I have taken advantage of the free shipping. Still, neither online trolling nor on-time UPS delivery compares with standing hunched over in the cramped gangway of Rockit Scientist, flipping through racks of angled jewel boxes. Maybe, in the background, some dissonant rave-up by the Seeds grinds on, but not loudly enough to drown out the vituperative argument between Mr. Kioussis and one of his regulars over the merits of albums most people have long forgotten. Such conversations are marked by heady, bristling and often confusing language, best digested in snatches; take this typical polemic from Mr. Kioussis about a collection of 1960’s Dutch pop, generally known as Nederbeat. ‘The problem I had with the box set,’ he began, ‘apart from the liner notes being in Dutch, is that they put in stuff like Brainbox, which doesn’t really flow into 60’s R&B. Where do you get the Outsiders, the Motions, Q65, then you put in Brainbox? You might as well put Supersister on there.’”

Nederbeat! How could we have missed that one?

June 14, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


...WNYC has already archived our moment of merriment with the Thurston Moore-ishly towering John Schaefer on his Soundcheck program. You can have a listen to David and Steven nattering on with poor John for nearly an hour by clicking here. We warn you in advance that, near the end of the program, a listener e-mails in to ask why the prog band Marillion isn’t in the book. Steven’s response is cruel.

June 09, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


Several weeks ago, we welcomed readers to indulge in our exercise of making two Desert Island Disc lists–the first list being the ten albums that you’d honestly take to that desert island for your listening enjoyment, the second list being the ten albums that you’d claim to be taking to impress other Rock Snobs. We promised to run readers’ submissions on a regular basis, but, like the Specials’ Jerry Dammers [see pp. 26-27 in the book], we failed to live up to our early promise.

In any event, we’ve finally gotten around to selecting more readers’ Honest/Snob lists for your contemplation and ire. The lucky listees this time around are Jill Kilfoyle of Long Beach, California, Amy Stortz Miller of Kansas City, Missouri, and Charlie Szabla of Cleveland, Ohio. Thanks for sharing, you three–and we don’t mean that facetiously.

Hunky Dory, David Bowie
Peepshow, Siouxsie & the Banshees
Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division
Bee Thousand, Guided by Voices
Hello, Half Japanese
Go Forth, Les Savy Fav
Turn on the Bright Lights, Interpol
No Secrets, Carly Simon
Nevermind, Nirvana
The Moon and Antarctica, Modest Mouse

The Soul Album, Otis Redding
Melts in Your Brain Not on Your Wrist, Chocolate Watch Band
Germ Free Adolescents, X-ray Spex
Yoko Ono & Plastic Ono Band, Yoko Ono
Blank Generation, Richard Hell & the Voidoids
The Modern Dance, Pere Ubu
A Gun to the Head, Mission of Burma
Double Nickles on the Dime, Minutemen
Anarchy in Paris, Metal Urbain
(1982) It Was a Live Cassette, Pell Mell

Jordan: the Comeback, Prefab Sprout
Darkness on the Edge of Town, Bruce Springsteen
Graham Smith is the Coolest Person Alive, Kleenex Girl Wonder
Desolation Boulevard, Sweet
Strum & Drum, Sex Clark Five
Inflammable Material, Stiff Little Fingers
Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts, the Adverts
Everybody Knows this is Nowhere, Neil Young
Murder Ballads, Nick Cave
Talk Talk Talk, Psychedelic Furs

Pet Sounds , the Beach Boys
Loveless, My Bloody Valentine
Crazy Rhythms, the Feelies
This Nations Saving Grace, the Fall
Deceit, This Heat
Songs of Love and Hate, Leonard Cohen
Vehicle, the Clean
Sweetheart of the Rodeo, the Byrds
Endtroducing, DJ Shadow
Sincerely, Dwight Twilley Band

Road Food, the Guess Who
The Hounds of Love, Kate Bush
Armed Forces, Elvis Costello
Alive, Kiss
Summertime Dream, Gordon Lightfoot
The Pretender, Jackson Browne
Band on the Run, Paul McCartney and Wings
Wrap Around Joy, Carole King
Aladdin Sane, David Bowie
The Capitol Years, Frank Sinatra (boxed set)

The Velvet Underground and Nico, the Velvet Underground
The Slim Shady LP, Eminem
The Songs of Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen
Dusty In Memphis, Dusty Springfield
Dub Housing, Pere Ubu
Trout Mask Replica, Captain Beefheart
Heartbreaker, Ryan Adams
Either/Or, Elliott Smith
Never Mind the Bollocks, Sex Pistols
The Queen Is Dead, Smiths

June 08, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


In our entry on Nick Drake [p. 32 in the SnobText], we mention that the poor fellow “was frequently photographed standing dolefully among trees.” Well, here’s your chance to live the leafy, morose dream! At 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 2, Central Park Summerstage presents “The Music of Nick Drake.” Best enjoyed under a pink moon.

Rare is the rock band that forges a symbiotic, unwankerly relationship with a great poet, but Mercury Rev is such a band, and in the “Hey Hopper” section of their site, band bassist Grasshopper offers moving tribute to Rev fan and friend Robert Creeley, who died earlier this year.

And rejoice, American Scot-ophiles, for Domino Records is at last getting around to releasing The Glasgow School, the compilation of early singles by the SEMINAL Scottish band Orange Juice. The early records were the ones that featured the fey timekeeping of pageboy’d drummer Steven Daly, who later went on to become a “music journalist.” The Glasgow School drops on July 11 in the States.

June 07, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


Some readers have complained about this site’s unabashed commerciality and entertainment-mindedness–evidently, it’s not okay to exist in the blogosphere for the purposes of promoting a book and providing uncomplicatedly fun stuff like free excerpts and free comix. So we’re going to make a concerted effort to be more “bloggy.”

First, we will work harder to write cryptic doodles in hipster code in the manner of Sasha Frere-Jones, whose words conjure a fascinating, impenetrable world of obtuse Brooklynites whose homespaces smell of acrylic paint. Okay, here goes: “Pajo’s latest squib didn’t bum me as much as it did Skelly, ’cos no one gets as bummed as Skelly, but I gotta say that I was tempted to hate on, but not as much as I hated on back in the day when Stump was cadging troutmask replicance from Beefheart. As my preschooler said the other day from the backseat, ‘Kick out the Shams, mubberflubber!’ His sputum and Gowanus bilge are the only things that turn my green hip-waders yellow.”

Next, we will say something reflexively mean about Pitchfork: “The kind of person who takes a side in the Killers v. the Bravery is the same kind of plaid-shirted, smug buttwipe who buys his music off Pitchfork and moons over Tube Sock Girl in the American Apparel ads.”

Is that more like it? Are we doing better now?

June 06, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


Avast, ye public-radio listeners, and pay heed, ar. The Rock Snob brain trust returns to New York’s WNYC this Thursday, June 9, this time to match wits with John Schaefer of the station’s Soundcheck program at 2 p.m. Please tune in and listen to us being ornery.

Should you miss the program, WNYC is pretty good about archiving stuff quickly so that you young people can listen to program as a “Podcast.” Did we say that word right, “Podcast?“

June 03, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »


It’s a fact: Lots of dads are Rock Snobs. Whether it’s the scruffy, beleaguered first-timer who’s up at 3 a.m., nursing little Fiona with a bottle of breast-pumped milk while humming a lullaby version of Keith Richards’s “Little T&A,” or the greying boomer who loves Loudon and doesn’t get why his costume-designer son prefers Rufus, the American dad often finds solace in Rock Snobbery. Sometimes, if he’s particularly generous of spirit, he’ll take it upon himself to educate his children, burning them Marc Bolan career-retrospective CDs so they can understand the elfin Brit’s evolution from psychedelic freak to glam princeling.

So, now that it’s June, why not thank Dad with the perfect Father’s Day gift, The Rock Snob*s Dictionary? For less than it would cost to take him to a movie, or even to buy him a designer cocktail in a Manhattan hotel bar, you can present him with the paperback that will stoke the fires of his Rock Snobbery for the rest of his days. The Rock Snob*s Dictionary is now available not only wherever silly books are sold, but also via Urban Outfitters’ Web site.

June 01, 2005 More Rock Snobbery »

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