Friday, February 4, 2011

Rockaliser At 100

Over the wayward course of the last 20 months, Rockaliser has gotten to its first big milestone: 100 posts. While Nathan and I make a point to link back to our writing when relevant, the level of self-promotion around here has never been very high. You’ll forgive us, then, if we rest on our laurels this once, and reflect on a few memorable posts.

Aaron's Choices
From The Rockaliser News Desk: King Khan and BBQ Break Up: The impetus for this was my friend’s email, which is excerpted in the post. Khan and BBQ’s antics sounded an awful lot like a break-up to me, but I wasn’t able to find out anything about it on the internet. I figured if no one was going to cover it, that I might as well share what I had. The comments section was the best part: the tour promoter weighed in, and Mark Sultan raged. I stayed up really late that night, fact-checking everything, refreshing the comments page, and reveling in how weird it all was.

Deleted Scenes From The American Indie Underground: I often have difficulty forming ideas that I feel are worth writing about. No such problem with this one. It turned out pretty well, but taken with the ideas offered in the comments, you have the outlines of a book nearly as worthwhile as Our Band Could Be Your Life.

A List Of This Summer's Jams: Sometimes I miss Rockaliser’s first summer, when things were a bit more freewheeling. A post that places Pavement’s R.E.M. song alongside The-Dream’s R. Kelly one? Why not?--just make sure to include the fragment of a failed essay. Things have gotten a little more formal since then, but I like this list of summer jams.

Eric Clapton’s Evil Speech: Occasionally, I’ll really enjoy writing posts for this blog (these two were the most fun, and pretty much wrote themselves). That was not the case for this 2,500 worder; I had about as much fun writing it as I would listening to a Clapton album. Since piecing it together (which took forever) I chanced across Clapton’s memoir at the library. The awful, troubling non-response contained in Clapton: The Autobiography made me even angrier.

Nathan's Choices
My Christgau Problem: I've never been very interested in going back and looking at the particulars of my writings (not the least because, like many, I tend to see little besides my mistakes, turgid attempts at humor, and failed sentences that could be half as long if I learned to edit myself), but I'm always curious when something I write engenders a passionate response, particularly from someone I don't know. This article, for instance, still gets new comments from time to time (Xgauians are a protective bunch, as well as a constantly Googling bunch), ranging from productive criticism to the more classical Internet-y rhetoric of "You suck, Christgau rules," which may also be a legitimate point.

On Why Cameron Crowe Is Often Incorrect: This article is a pretty clear example of what I often do on Rockaliser, which is harp on the most obscure and needlessly specific pop music minutia in Vox-like detail. The impetus for this particular piece came while watching Cameron Crowe's Fast Times At Ridgemont High, particularly the part where a character claims that the first side of Led Zeppelin IV is like an aphrodisiac for females. Having had some relatedly embarrassing experiences, I knew that to be basically untrue, and being the nerd that I was I put on In Through The Out Door instead, thinking that basically any other Led Zeppelin album works better as a make-out album than the punishing rhythms of the opening "Black Dog"/"Rock & Roll" combo. So that was basically my point, to which I added a bunch of jokes. Let it be said, though, that I still like Almost Famous, despite the cheese.

Ten Questions For The Lady Gaga Apologist: I had been confused for a while about the critical and commercial success of Ms. Gaga's music, which featured some of the most unimaginative synthwork and retrograde pop-isms this side of the Black-Eyed Peas (little did I know then, of Ke$ha). Seeing critics I admired declaring The Fame Monster a pop masterwork on par with Prince made me even angrier, and originally I planned some sort of extra-lengthy rebuttal, but realizing I had already run out of adjectives to describe how shitty this music sounded, I chose a different tack: why not ask people who liked her music to explain how and why they like it? Ironically, this gesture of attempted understanding was misinterpreted as an attack on the character of Lady Gaga fans. Nevertheless, I am still willing to bet my the whole of my reputation on the observation I made then, that Lady Gaga will be in ten years what Creed is to us now: an "I can't believe people used to listen to this" joke.

Frank Zappa's Ten Best Albums: I made this list because I couldn't find any list of Zappa albums that went much beyond the first few Mother Of Invention albums and Hot Rats. Lists are indulgent, obviously, and too often they are used as automatic traffic-boosters/collector's items, but at their best rock lists can at least point curious music fans in different directions than what they are used to. After writing this, a commenter named bnm responded that I had forgotten One Size Fits All, and you know what? He was completely right. Not including that awesome album in this list might have been the biggest mistake of my blog tenure. Another reason why Zappa will always be the bomb.

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