The Rise and Fall of Alternative Rock in the Nineties. (2012) In 1990 alternative music was where it belonged – underground. It left the business of rock stardom to rock stars. But by 1992 alternative rock had spawned a revolution in music and style that transformed youth culture and revived a moribund music industry. Five years later, alternative rock was over, leaving behind a handful of dead heroes, a few dozen masterpieces, and a lot more questions than answers. What, if anything, had the alternative revolution meant? And had it been possible – as so many of its heroes had insisted – for it to be both on MTV and under the radar? Had it used the machinery of corporate rock to destroy corporate rock? To answer these questions, Entertain Us! takes you on a journey through the nineties – from Sonic Youth’s ‘Kool Thing’ to Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’, Nevermind to Odelay, Madchester to Nu-Metal, Lollapalooza to Woodstock ’99 – narrated in the voices of the decade’s most important artists. This is the story of alternative rock – the people who made it, the people who loved it, the industry that bought and sold it, and the culture that grew up in its wake – in the last decade of the twentieth century.
Selected chapters from Entertain Us!
We're the Load of Crap - Mudhoney and the Pathetic Aesthetic
A Popular Consensus - Rock and realism in the early 1990s
Alternative to Alternative - The Smashing Pumpkins 'Siamese Dream'
Who Wants a Normal Life - Jarvis Cocker, the outside moves in
Check Out America - Culture Wars in Guyville
I am My Own Scene - Individualism in the Alternative Nation
Party Malfunction - Riot and Revolt at Woodtsock 99
Buy your copy here.
Modern Art, Rock and Roll, and Other Stuff Your Parents Warned You About. (2007) The Culture Club goes beyond the standard histories of Rock and Roll to reveal modern music's hidden roots in Modern Art. From Alexander Rodchenko to Franz Ferdinand, Antonin Artaud to The Flaming Lips, John Cage to the B-52s, Jean-Paul Sartre to Saturday Night Fever, a century of heavy traffic between the Pop charts and the Avant-Garde is brought dramatically to life. The Culture Club reveals how Futurism, Constructivism, Surrealism, and all the other '-isms' of the twentieth century found their way into your headphones, and into your head.
Read an excerpt here.
he Romantic Movement, Rock and Roll, and The End of Civilisation as We Know It. (2009) Hey! Nietzsche! Leave Them Kids Alone! uncovers for the first time the hidden roots of rock & roll in the Romantic movement of the 1800s. Picking up a clue in My Chemical Romance's 'Welcome to the Black Parade', the author follows it into a world where Keats meets The Cure, Wordsworth hangs with Weezer, and Byron exchanges haughty glances with Bowie. From Schopenhauer's darkest days to Queen's hits, Hey! Nietzsche! is a wild ride through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, with the best mix-tape in the world on your car stereo.
Read an excerpt here.
"Music was now an object that could be owned by the individual and used at his own convenience... Now the Symphony of a Thousand could play to an audience of one. Now a man could hear nocturnes at breakfast, vespers at noon, and the Easter Oratorio on Channukah. He could do his morning crossword to 'One O'Clock Jump', and make love right through the St Matthew Passion. Anything was possible; nothing was sacred; freedom was absolute. It was the freedom, once the cathedral of culture had been wrecked, to take home the bits you liked and arrange them as you please. Once again, a mechanical invention had met capitalism's need to recreate all of life in its image. The cathedral of culture was now a supermarket."
Evan Eisenberg, 1987
wu-tang clan | shaolin | age of mechanical reproduction | aura | ritual | art | artists
"What if I tell you now that I have often longed even for plays I have seen performed - frequently the very ones which bored me most - or for books I have read in the past and did not like at all? If that is not madness, there's no such thing."
"And you must not let yourself be misled, in your solitude, by the fact that there is something in you that wants to escape from it. This very wish will, if you use it quietly and pre-eminently and like a tool, help to spread your solitude over wide country. People have (with the help of convention) found the solution of everything in ease, and the easiest side of ease; but it is clear that we must hold to the difficult; everything living holds to it, everything in nature grows and defends itself according to its own character and is an individual in its own right, strives to be so at any cost and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must hold to the difficult is a certainty that will not leave us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; the fact that a thing is difficult must be one more reason for our doing it."
Rainer Maria Rilke, 1904
rainer maria rilke | kate bush
'Acousmatic, the Larousse dictionary tells us, is the 'name given to the disciples of Pythagoras who for five years, listened to his teachings while he was hidden behind a curtain, without seeing him, while observing a strict silence.' Hidden from their eyes, only the voice of their master reached the disciples.... In ancient times, the apparatus was a curtain; today, it is the radio and methods of reproduction, along with the entire set of electro-acoustic transformations, that place us, modern listeners to an invisible voice, under similar conditions.'
Pierre Schaeffer, 'Acousmatics', 1966
pierre schaeffer | musique concrete | sonorous objects | acousmatics | pythagoras | phenomenology | twin peaks | red room
'Imagine a traveller from a hundred years ago arrives at our doorstep and asks us why the music of the 20th century operates so frequently on the basis of cyclic repetition. Not just the rap and dance genres of popular culture, but also minimalism - perhaps the single most viable strand of the Western art music tradition... why does so much of our music work this way? What kind of needs do these patterns satisfy?'
Susan McClary, 1999
stardust | daft punk | susan mcclary | minimalism | loop | chaka kahn | repetition
"Could it be that we come to the city in order to achieve solitude? Such has been the unspoken premise of the modern city of utopian individualism. By solitude I do not mean isolation. Isolation is a state of nature: solitude is the work of culture. Isolation is an imposition, solitude a choice."
walkman | ipod | iphone | isolation | solitude | city | the crowd