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

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Michael Chabon on Bryan Charles

From the Wall Street Journal's "Great Writing You Missed This Year" feature on December 28th:
Michael Chabon, author of “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union”: Bryan Charles–whom I met during a residency at the MacDowell Colony a few years back–actually published two excellent books during 2010: There’s a Road to Everywhere Except Where You Came From, a memoir; and Pavement’s Wowee Zowee, part of the delicious “33 1/3″ series from Continuum. Though one is an account of aspiration and scuffling in Manhattan in the year leading up to the 9/11 attacks (Charles filled a cubicle in the WTC and his account of the day is startling and fresh), and the other is a (quirky, personal) consideration and history of a great band’s neglected masterpiece, the two books actually interlock and engage with each other in a number of interesting ways.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cultural Dictionary of Punk Contest

Nick Rombes, author of A Cultural Dictionary of Punk, has a contest running on his blog in time for the holidays. I'll point you here for the full details, but it involves free stickers and a secret message implanted in the book. (By the way, I had no idea there was a secret message. It's news to me...)

No Limit album covers

Evil geniuses have given some classic albums Master P's No Limit Records cover design treatment. Click here for the full gallery. You might want to wait until you're not at work to view the full gallery.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Don Van Vliet, RIP

Very sad news today about Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart.

I remember my brother putting some Beefheart songs on a cassette for me when I was maybe 14, and having the living daylights freaked out of me. In a good way.

You can read Maura Johnston's short piece in Rolling Stone here. And of course you could always check out Kevin Courrier's book about Trout Mask Replica - details below:

In the spring of 1969, the inauspicious release of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s Trout Mask Replica, a double-album featuring 28 stream-of-consciousness songs filled with abstract rhythms and guttural bellows, dramatically altered the pop landscape.

Yet even if the album did cast its radical vision over the future of music, much of the record's artistic strength is actually drawn from the past. This book examines how Beefheart's incomparable opus, an album that divided (rather than) united a pop audience, is informed by a variety of diverse sources. Trout Mask Replica is a hybrid of poetic declarations inspired by both Walt Whitman and the beat poets, the field hollers of the Delta Blues, the urban blues of Howlin' Wolf, the gospel blues of Blind Willie Johnson, and the free jazz of Ornette Coleman. This book illustrates how Trout Mask Replica was not so much an arcane specimen of the avant-garde, but rather a defiantly original declaration of the American imagination.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Truth Has No Patterns
Chapter One: A Desert Island of the Mind
Chapter Two: A Different Fish
Chapter Three: Jumping Out of School
Chapter Four: A Little Paranoia is a Good Propeller
Chapter Five: Music From the Other Side of the Fence
Chapter Six: Fast 'N Bulbous
Epilogue: Everyone Drinks From the Same Pond

Kevin Courrier is the author of several books, including Dangerous Kitchen: The Subversive World of Zappa, and Randy Newman's American Dreams. He has been a writer/broadcaster and film critic for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) since 1990.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kraftwerk - Proof that cultural critics can dance

A few words from John Foxx on Sean Albiez and David Pattie's book:

No one but C-3PO makes love to Kraftwerk.

No one liked them much to begin with – certainly not in Germany.

Yet they eventually managed to attract sufficient critical mass to create a new star. And everyone else found themselves firmly in orbit.

This book of original essays scrutinizes their cultural influence from all angles.

Here, Kraftwerk are cast as Cousins of Iggy Pop, Duchamp, Gilbert and George, Heirs to Hitler, Stockhausen, Gropius and The Beach Boys. Brothers of Beuys and Bambaataa, Kin to Kiefer, Godfathers of British Pop, Uncles of Rave, Midwives of Detroit Techno, Sperm Donors of Dance - as mysterious and potent as the monoliths in 2001, as daft as Punk, as indispensable to understanding modern culture as Musclebuilding, Warhol, or Strictly Ballroom.

If this book were a film, it would move from macro to micro every scene, if it were a meal it would be prepared by Heston Blumenthal. It’s a mutation waltz, a stumble rumba, a nimble mambo, a complex minuet – and proof that cultural critics can dance.

John Foxx

You can preview and order the book here.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Oxford American Music Issue!

I'm eagerly awaiting my copy, but for now, I got my hands on a jpg of the table of contents. This year's theme is Alabama, and there are some familiar names within:

Franklin Bruno, Zeth Lundy on Ralph "Soul" Jackson, Amanda Petrusich on Odetta, Hayden Childs on The Godsin Brothers, Carl Wilson on Baker Knight, Kim Cooper on Sex Clark Five (this one is available online), Nick Rombes on Sister Gertrude Morgan, and of course that cute kitten on the synthesizer.
[Click the photo to enlarge]

There are a few pieces up on the OA's Music Issue page, and all sorts of awesome stuff worth clicking on in the online exclusives section of the website.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Browser Books in San Francisco

A reader recently sent us this photo of a staff recommendation display at Browser Books in San Francisco. Thanks Nitu!

[Click image for full size]

KEXP's Review Revue

The KEXP blog occasionally features scans of well-worn albums from the archive plastered with reviews/comments/snark from the DJs over the years under the "Review Revue" tag. I linked to the Slint entry the other day, but I went back and scrolled through the backlog of these and thought they were brilliant, so I thought it would be fun to put up some links to some of the bands (if not the particular albums) that have been featured in the 33 1/3 series. There's a surprising amount of overlap... or maybe not so surprising, considering that the KEXP blog is also on a quest to review each and every volume of the 33 1/3 series. Anyway, as someone who has shared living spaces with former college radio program directors for 8 of the last 11 years, I gotta say this rings true.

There's much more where that came from. Enjoy!

Monday, December 06, 2010


I've been dying to use that pun. Forgive me.

Slint's hometown paper, The Louisville Courier-Journal, has a long interview with Scott Tennent about his 33 1/3 on Spiderland.

Also, check out this well worn and much loved copy of Spiderland from KEXP's archives. I love it.

Click here to read transcriptions of the DJs' notes.


This morning’s installment of NPR’s ongoing series “50 Great Voices” featured Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, subject of the 33 1/3 by Dan Kois on Iz’s album "Facing Future."

It's nice to see the big man getting some love.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Celebrate Spiderland in Lala Land!

Next Thursday, our 33 1/3 author Scott Tennent will be celebrating the release of his book on Spiderland. If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area, all are welcome.

Here are the details:

Party starts at 7pm, goes till 10pm.
It's at the Mandrake and there will be drinks.

The book is now available online!

Bookending the 90s

The picture alone is worth the price of admission (it looks pretty cold there, eh?), but The Quietus has a nice feature on the two most recent 33 1/3s, Slint's Spiderland and Radiohead's Kid A.
"...from [Slint's] minimalist, obscure, dour, pre-internet, word of mouth start to leftfield indie rock in the 1990s, Continuum pull a blinder by choosing the altogether more world bestriding, maximalist, inextricably tied to the internet, fin de siecle summoning, not to mention multi-million selling Kid A - as the subject for volume 76."

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Footage of the Flaming Lips Event in Tulsa

Our author Mark Richardson alerted me just now to this, on YouTube - a nice recap of what looks like a great Zaireeka event at the weekend, in Tulsa.

And of course you can learn more about Mark's book in the 33 1/3 series here.