A blog about Bloomsbury Academic's 33 1/3 series, our other books about music, and the world of sound in general.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Contest for Home Recorders

Contest info is below, but first, a little background...

We recently published a great book called Understanding Records: A Field Guide to Recording Practice.
Understanding Records explains the musical language of Recording Practice in a way that any interested reader can understand. Drawing on readily available hit records produced since 1945, each section of this book explains a handful of core production and engineering techniques in chronological record-making sequence, elucidating how those techniques work, what they sound like, how they function musically, where listeners can hear those techniques at work in the broader Top 40 soundscape, and where they fit in the broader record-making process at large.

Author Jay Hodgson currently teaches popular music practice and history, and the ‘project’ paradigm of production and engineering, at the University of Western Ontario, as part of North America’s first (and only) Bachelor of Arts in Popular Music Studies and Master of Arts in Popular Music & Culture programs.
Understanding Records is required reading for anyone who wants to make sense of what they’re putting on tape, and for anyone who wants their recorded output match the songs they hear in their heads. It’s great for people experimenting at home, but it’s essential for anyone thinking about paying for studio time. When you’re on the clock, you want to know what you’re asking from the engineers…and they will be grateful that you’ve done your homework. It is really a great resource and an education.

Once upon a time, when I had more space and time, I dabbled in home recording, and over the last few years I’ve been going back and revisiting some of my old tapes and digitizing them so I can rock out on my ipod. Though I don’t have a chance to play and record as much as I would like, I still keep my TapeOp subscription current (you should, too, it’s free), and I also tend to gravitate toward the 33 1/3s that get technical about the studio work (Murmur, Big Star). I imagine there are lots of you out there who play instruments and do the same, especially now that amateur recording is so much more accessible with garageband and other software loaded on computers right out of the box. So with that in mind, I would like to propose a little contest…

Contest Guidelines:
  1. Send me one song at [I took my email out of here since the submission period has expired-JMB], that you yourself have recorded at home (using a 4 track, ProTools, reel to reel, wax cylinder, whatever).
  2. Include your name and mailing address with the submission.
  3. The track should be recorded as a mp3, and of a reasonably emailable file size.
  4. No limits on musical genre, all are welcome.
  5. We will choose ten tracks and put those up on the website for people to download and listen to. We will be judging the songs, not the recording quality, so don’t be shy about that.
  6. The lucky ten will receive a copy of Understanding Records and one 33 1/3 of their choosing in the mail.
  7. Deadline is October 15th. Spread the word!
PS: Here are a couple of my own tracks of dubious fidelity from back in the day to get things started.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Van Dyke Parks to Play at Pop Montreal...WOW

Van Dyke Parks himself will be performing at this year's Pop Montreal festival on Thursday, September 30th. Not only will he be performing, but he'll be hosting a song-writing workshop earlier in the day so that the masses might get a chance to imbibe some of his knack for crafting catchy melodies. Our very own Van Dyke Parks 33 1/3 by Richard Henderson was published earlier this summer, which you can read all about here. Rumor has it there will be some of the books for sale at the merch table at the show on Thursday night.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bryan Charles on Pavement on Newtown Radio

Bryan Charles will be talking about Pavement on Newtown Radio on Monday, September 20th from 8pm to 10pm. Also on hand will be Matthew Perpetua from Fluxblog, Wowee Zowee cover artist Steve Keene, and Joseph D'Agostino of the band Cymbals Eat Guitars.

They will be talking about the band, playing their favorite Pavement songs, and generally extending the Pavement high from this weekend's NYC shows.

Click here to listen in.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

33.3 Event in Chicago Friday Night

Let this Onion AV Club feature serve as a reminder about tomorrow's 33 1/3 event at Quimby's in Chicago tomorrow night. Friday, September 17th, 7pm! More info here!

Some particularly nice words about the series from the intro to the AV Club piece:
"In 2003, Continuum launched a book series that any music critic and aspiring music critic would dream to be a part of: the 33-1/3 book series."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dan Kois on Pavement Tickets

The New Yorker's Talk of the Town section has a nice piece by Dan Kois, on the harrowing logistical nightmares faced by Pavement fans who've been hanging on (or not) to their reunion show tickets for pretty much a whole year now. Here's a taste:


“It’s so rare that you hold on to a physical artifact now,” Yancey Strickler, a Pavement fan and a co-founder of the Web site Kickstarter.com, said. Strickler has to be philosophical: he hid his Pavement tickets in a book and lost them right away. “I remember thinking, This book will remind me of Pavement,” he said. Since then, he has searched every book he owns. “I found a lot of old airplane-ticket stubs, but no concert tickets.”


And you can read the whole thing here.

This post should, obviously, serve as a reminder of two recent 33 1/3 volumes:

Dan Kois' own book, on Israel Kamakawiwo'ole


Bryan Charles' Pavement book.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Chicago! 33 1/3 Night at Quimby's

Three albums, three books, three authors... One event!

Joe Bonomo – AC/DC’s Highway to Hell
Joe Bonomo strikes a three-chord essay on the power of adolescence, the durability of rock & roll fandom, and the transformative properties of memory. Why does Highway To Hell matter to anyone beyond non-ironic teenagers? Blending interviews, analysis, and memoir with a fan’s perspective, Highway To Hell dramatizes and celebrates a timeless album that one critic said makes “disaster sound like the best fun in the world.” Joe Bonomo teaches in the English Department of Northern Illinois University. He is the author of Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones, America's Garage Band and various other works.

Mark Richardson – Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka
The Flaming Lips' 1997 album Zaireeka is one of the most peculiar albums ever recorded, consisting of four CDs meant to be played simultaneously on four CD players. Approaching this powerful and complex art-rock masterpiece from multiple angles, Mark Richardson's prismatic study of Zaireeka mirrors the structure the work itself. Thoughts on communal listening and the "death of the album" are interspersed with the story of the Zaireeka's creation (with assistance from Wayne Coyne) and an in-depth analysis of the music, leading to a complete picture of a record that proved to be a watershed for both the band and adventurous music fans alike. Mark Richardson is the managing editor of Pitchfork. He was a contributing editor to The Pitchfork 500 and his writing on music has appeared in many publications.

Scott Plagenhoef – Belle and Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister
If You’re Feeling Sinister shows how Belle & Sebastian transformed themselves over the space of a decade, from a slightly shambolic cult secret into a polished, highly entertaining, mainstream pop group. Along the way, the book shows how the internet has revolutionized how we discover new music—often at the cost of romance and mystery. Scott Plagenhoef is Editor-in-Chief for Pitchfork Media.
* * * * *
And just because, here's a picture of Bon Scott and friends in a hotel room in Atlanta, from page 76 of Joe's Highway to Hell book.
Update: some love from Chicagoist!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Sinister Resonance in Bomb

David Toop, author of Sinister Resonance, is interviewed by Keith Connolly of No-Neck Blues Band fame in the new issue of Bomb.

"When I came across Sinister Resonance at the bookshop I was eerily drawn to it by its title. Then I flipped through it, and there were Machen, and Blackwood, and Malevich, and so much more. Upon reading it I was even a little spooked: the resemblance of some of its contents with my own explorations and impressions were, to borrow one of Toop’s key words, uncanny. From prenatal listening to impressions of birdsong, and from Edgar Allan Poe and Virginia Woolf to Harpo Marx and David Lynch, Sinister Resonance investigates listening as experience as well as its portrayal. It is, in my opinion, a work unmatched, a veritable sourcebook with innumerable points of departure, and overall a stunning achievement."


Those of you in the UK might be interested to watch Mastermind tomorrow evening, on BBC2. The four contestants will be, as usual, answering general knowledge questions and will then each be grilled on their specialist subjects:

"Topics are the Tudor monarchy, the travelogues of Michael Palin, postage stamps of the 19th century and Belle and Sebastian."

I haven't watched the show in years, but remember it being fiendishly difficult back in the 70s and early 80s. So I wonder what kind of questions the young lady will be asked, about Belle and Sebastian...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The series in 2010

So, it looks like we'll publish 9 volumes in the series during 2010. Those that have published so far in the year are:

The Flaming Lips - Zaireeka, by Mark Richardson (January)
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole - Facing Future, by Dan Kois (January)
Public Enemy - Nation of Millions, by Christopher R. Weingarten (April)
AC/DC - Highway to Hell, by Joe Bonomo (May)
Pavement - Wowee Zowee, by Bryan Charles (June)
Van Dyke Parks - Song Cycle, by Richard Henderson (June)

and those currently in production to round out the year are:

Radiohead - Kid A, by Marvin Lin (November)
Slint - Spiderland, by Scott Tennent (November)
Fleetwood Mac - Tusk, by Rob Trucks (November)

There's a *very* slim chance that the legendary/oft-rumored Nine Inch Nails book might squeak in by the end of the year - but, who knows?

Slam-dunks for the first half of 2011 include books on Television, the Rolling Stones, Ween and I hope at least a couple of others.

Nota bene

The complete list of published 33 1/3s is finally up, ordered by volume number. You can find them on the right column under Useful Information. Or you can click here. Each of the titles links back to the corresponding page on the Continuum website. Some of the more recent titles have electronic previews available there, so you can check out the first 20-odd pages before buying if you're so inclined.