Monday, February 23, 2009

Field Notes #1

Maybe try to contact Todd Patrick and talk to him about the venues that he gets bands to play at, galleries, warehouses, etc. and how he feels that affects the scene.

Venues in Brooklyn that would be worthwhile to look into: Williamsburg Music Hall, Studio B, The Bell House, Terminal 5, The Knitting Factory and its recent move to Brooklyn, festivals at McCarren Park that showcase indie bands.

Some info on bands myspace's: (Checked everything on Monday, February 23 at about 9:45 p.m.) - MGMT - 48,262,067 plays, 13,997,334 profile views, 195,182 friends; Yeasayer - 1,199,805 plays, 1,891,991 profile views, 19,042 friends.  Does the fact that MGMT is on a major record label, Columbia being that label, make that big of a difference in getting their name out there?  That would appear to be the case when investigating these two bands myspace's.  I saw MGMT last year at Bonnaroo and now this year, they are back again, but Yeasayer is also on the bill this year.  Maybe Yeasayer is just getting larger national and international exposure now. I've been into them for a while, but maybe others have not.

Release dates of albums: MGMT, Oracular Spectacular - US release date, October 2, 2007; says that the UK release date was January 22, 2008; Yeasayer, All Hour Cymbals - Original US release date, October 23, 2007; UK release date, March 24, 2008.  Very close release dates of both albums in the US and in the UK.  Is MGMT selling out because they signed with a major label, even though they had offers from many indie labels?  I personally don't mind when bands sign to major labels...when they were on indie labels first.  I'm not sure how I feel about going straight to a major label.  I feel like for instance, when Death Cab went to Atlantic from Barsuk, it was a great move because they were finally getting recognition for all the hard work and great music they had made (even though I don't like the releases on Atlantic as much as I do the ones on Barsuk).  I really like MGMT's music, but to go straight to a major label may be viewed as selling out by some people.  I could feel either way about it; I'm not too sure yet.  It is good because it's like, great, I like your music, and I've been following you for a while, great that you hit it big from the beginning.  I guess the real testament to how I feel about it will be when they put out their next album and then we can all see how much a major record label has influenced their music.

I think I not only want at look at Brooklyn as a place that all of these great bands and artists have decided to settle and come out of, but also compare Yeasayer and maybe another band, one that I still haven't decided upon, to MGMT because of the fact that MGMT can't really be considered part of the indie scene anymore I guess because they are on Columbia records, even though they got their origins as a rising indie band in Brooklyn.  I'm also hoping to get in contact with the bands, somehow, I'm still not sure how, but if that could be possible, it would be the most ideal situation.  I also plan on talking to people who are into these bands and who are from Brooklyn to see what their thoughts on the whole scene are/if they've been to shows in the area and which ones they were, etc.  I feel that I want to do some sort of comparison between the mainstream and indie bands in Brooklyn and if I could talk to the bands personally and try to get their feelings on the issue, that would be the best possible scenario.  I'll have to see where it goes though.

Miller's "Jacking the Dial" Critical Review Questions

Do you think that because San Andreas paints this back story of CJ, the gamer is more influenced to make certain decisions, especially what radio station to listen to, because this is the decision that CJ would make?  Does this then take away from some of the freedom that players felt they have in other GTAs?  I realize it is ultimately the gamer's decision, but did you find that players were more influenced in San Andreas than in other versions of GTA?

Do you think that the music choices, and especially the location that the game itself plays certain stations in, for instance when you steal a truck in the country a country song is playing, reinforces certain stereotypes that are throughout the real world?  I'm also curious as to how the way the game situates certain genres of music within certain places and events effects players in real life.  Did you find that it made them view things differently because the game viewed them in a certain way?

For the class:
For those that have played, do you find yourselves listening to certain stations when doing say, a drive-by, as opposed to just driving around the city?  Do certain stations make what you are doing in the game seem more realistic and others make it feel like just another part of a game? For those who haven't played and those who have, do you find yourself listening to certain types of music when you want to get into a certain mentality?  Does it seem like a little too much for players to get into a certain mentality by listening to certain radio stations when performing missions and other tasks because of the fact that it is a game and not real life?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Schilt's "Riot Grrl Is..." Critical Review

In her chapter in Music Scenes, Schilt offers a look into the scene known as Riot Grrrl.  Through her research, she identifies its origins as simultaneously emerging from Olympia, Washington and Washington, D.C., but discusses how the scene grew into a translocal one because of fanzines.

As punk began to move more towards hardcore and it became more of a place for men to flaunt their masculinity, women felt more and more pushed out of the scene.  Women began creating fanzines where they expressed their opinions about the punk scene and the role that women played in it.  It was the distribution of these fanzines that brought the development of Riot Grrrl about.  Riot Grrrl is very into the DIY ideology and this was made evident by the amount of fanzines that were out there, the release of small amounts of records on indie labels, and the fact that there was no manifesto and no right way to do things, but rather the autonomy to do things how you wanted to.  Conventions and chapter meetings also spread the Riot Grrrl scenes popularity.

When the scene began expanding and more feminists began becoming involved, lines between politics and music began to blur.  Fans wanted Riot Grrrl associated bands to take up their individual ideas and politics and spread them.  Bands often times did not want to do this.  There were also race issues that began springing up in fanzines and meetings.  Riot Grrrl was criticized for being too white and too exclusive.

Fearing "selling out," bands stuck to indie labels, and would try not to talk to the media.  The media in return began defining Riot Grrrls, and the scene was reduced to one about fashion, rather than about the feminist message.  Things started to fall apart as participants began leaving the scene, and new members were scarce.  The scene, or at least its ideas, do live on though through a series of music festivals known as Ladyfest.

Question: Why did the media's negative coverage of Riot Grrrl have such a strong impact on the scene?  UK Punk's fashion was covered a lot too by the media, and there were probably some articles written that were not accurate, but that didn't halt the scene after only a couple years. Was it also the differing views of participants of Riot Grrrl that led to the dissolving of the scene?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ethnography Project Initial Topic Post

I've been thinking about a lot of different ideas for this project and I've explored those different ideas, but still, I'm having difficulty picking one.  So, my ideas are these: 1) Hyphy in the Bay Area, it's rise towards the mainstream, and subsequent loss of artists identifying with the movement; 2) The indie scene in Brooklyn and it's recent rise towards the mainstream (at least for some of the bands that I would be covering);  3) The electro-indie-pop scene in Montreal and the bands that have managed to crossover to the states; and 4) The 60's garage/punk rock revival movement of recent, led by such bands as the Black Lips and King Khan.

I can foresee some problems that I might encounter with each of these ideas, which is making it all the more difficult to decide on which one to do.  Since Hyphy originated in the 90's, it might be a bit more historically focused and it might be hard to talk to people.  I guess also the fact that the scene took place/is still taking place across the country, it will probably be harder to find people that really identify with the music.  I see this being a problem for the electro-indie-pop scene in Montreal too.  I know that I could talk to the Black Lips, which would serve as a good resource for the 60's rock revival movement, but I'm not too sure how big of a scene that that's going to be to explore.

I'm thinking the indie scene in Brooklyn might be the best choice for this project.  Brooklyn is not that far away if I wanted to go try to interview people in person, I have friends who live there, there are some specific venues that the bands I would focus on play at, and I think I may be able to find some literature on the scene.  If I did do this, I would focus on bands such as Yeasayer, MGMT (who has hit it pretty big), Grizzly Bear, and Battles, but there are a lot more that could be covered too.  I would ask such things as why stay on an indie label?  Is it because the bands can't get signed to majors (except MGMT who did sign to a major)?  Or is it because they don't want to?  What do the venues add to the scene?  Do they influence the music in anyway?  Do they influence the audiences that are attracted to the shows, or is it purely the music?  Why Brooklyn?  Where did everyone in these bands first come from?  Did that add to how the music has developed?  Also, in setting up this research, I would probably cover a little bit of the historical music scene in NY and its shift from Manhattan to Brooklyn recently.  I'm definitely going to have to slim the topic's scope down a bit, but these are my initial thoughts on it.