Saturday, December 14, 2019

Preface To Gary's Favorite Releases 2019: Apologies In Advance

Why apologies in advance?  Am I going to apologize about my opinions now?

No, no.  I like what I like & you can ask me why I like it & I'll tell you why I like it, & I never feel sorry for that.  I don't believe I have any "guilty pleasures."  That implies you're a little ashamed you like something - but I have a reason for liking everything I like, & growing up a proud & nerdy comic book collector & reader makes you pretty impervious to people shitting on what you like.

No, I'm going to apologize for how non-diverse this week's show is.

Because, while I listen to lots of different kinds of music - I love to go down musical rabbit holes in most every genre - the stuff I return to is the stuff I alway return to: indiepop, indie rock, postpunk.  I understand how that can be a bit samey.

& I'd love to pay attention to electronica, world music, hip hop, country, folk, etc.  & I do listen to that stuff when I am tasked with subbing those shows, but it's not what I return to again & again.

So: apologies for the sameness of this week's Self Help Radio.  I guess I should be grateful I still listen to new stuff.  So many folks my age just simply don't.

Friday, December 13, 2019

No One Listens To Artists

Like a lot of people, I am really bummed about the UK elections.  It seems so obvious that Boris Johnson is a hateful clown; it's unthinkable that anyone would buy anything he's peddling.

Many folks say the same thing about Trump over here.  The thing is, Trump lost the 2016 election by three million votes.  It's only the antiquated Electoral College that let Trump "win."  The fact that pundits & commentators talk about Trump winning "half the country" always obscures the truth that he didn't really win at all.

We can therefore say that more than half of all voters didn't fall for his con-job, & probably most of them still don't.  But I don't want to speculate on that.  I want to talk about something I noticed in the run-up to the UK election:

To a person, artists opposed Boris Johnson.  Musicians, actors, visual artists - look at statements online & you'll see they almost unanimously supported the Labour Party.

This happens in the United States, too.  As was seen at the Republican National Convention in 2016, the biggest "star" they could get - someone who doubtless thought it would revitalize his career, although it obviously hasn't - was a 1980s actor whose biggest role was a supporting part on a long-running but mostly forgotten sitcom.

There may be a Jon Voigt here & there who supports Trump, but the vast majority of musicians, artists, actors, even professional athletes wouldn't go anywhere near that orange toxic waste dump of a man.

Why do artists skew left-wing?  My own thought is that is has to do with empathy.  To create worlds, to channel emotion, to be creative, one needs to be able to extend oneself to attempt to feel & understand many different ideas, points of views, ways of life.  Inside an artist there is rarely "one" person; usually there's a multitude.  & they see the cruelties of the conservative world-view.

& people utterly rely on artists.  Everyone goes to see movies, everyone listens to music, everyone watches television.  Even the most hackneyed & tired creations out there need some form of artist, either by inspiration or creation, to put them together.

Yet it seems most voters in the UK said, fuck the artists, let's go for the ridiculous man who has plainly said hateful & racist things.  Artists said, you will cause more suffering voting for this, you will lose your health care, you will bring economic ruin to your country.  & the average British voter said, as long as it doesn't benefit people who don't look like me, I'm fine.

What is the artist's response to this?  I have no answers.  I just hope that in a year, reflecting over the events of our own election, I'll be able to say, "At least the majority of us in the United States listened to the artists this time."

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Kill All "Best Of" Lists Dead Forever

This is something I wrote for the blog three years ago, I believe, yes, I checked, the original post is here.  I argued there why I think it's dumb to make "best of" lists.  Since no one knows who I am, nor cares, I doubt it has influenced anything - but I have noticed that Allmusic now says "favorites" instead of best. Hmmm.

As I've done for the past couple of years, I repeat my original argument.  I still believe it.  That's why this week's show is called "Gary's Favorites" & not "Best Of."  Enjoy the reasons why I don't believe you - or anybody - can say anything is the "best" as an objective observation:

1) No one has listened to every album or single or ep released that year.  Sorry.  You may think you have, but it's impossible.  If all you're listening to is major label stuff, you are most definitely not listening to what I think is the most creative & interesting music out there.  You've fallen into the trap of believing that commerce determines what is "best" like the Grammys.  But it's almost guaranteed that half of the commercial releases you think of as "best" will be forgotten in a few years.  Anyway:

2) Fuck popular culture.  Music is not about heavily choreographed events.  Music is not about moments created by publicists & teams of "songwriters" whose contributions are focus-group-tested.  Radio, as it always has, caters to the moneyed musical interests & plays the same stuff over & over, but that no more makes something great now as it did in the past, where there's a graveyard of "successful" & "best of" records that no one thinks about anymore.  & even imagining that you as a critic can free yourself of the influence of the corporations that send you music for free, there's the fact that:

3) You can't compare "best" albums through different genres.  Think about it.  Can you really say a hip hop album is better or worse than a bluegrass record?  How?  Why?  Even if you have an unusually broad taste in music, you surely have a favorite genre, & you're going to prefer one over another.  In the end, when the jazz fan likes a record in some other genre, it's peer pressure & good ol' familiarity that determines that opinion, it being played constantly at work or on the radio.  & those sites that let every critic have a vote & somehow tally those votes?  How idiotic is that?  Because:

4) Nothing is "great" because of popularity.  I repeat this for emphasis, because this is something that just baffles me.  Why does anyone think something has value because a bunch of people like it?  Perhaps I am disposed to dislike something because of hype, but I most certainly don't believe something is great because of the money it makes or the fans it has.  & when it comes to critics, listen: people usually like critics that agree with them, or challenge them, but if you believe that just because someone can write or talk eloquently about things they love or enjoy, you're dealing with your own insecurity, because:

5) No one opinion is better than another.  At best, you can call an opinion better informed.  For example, if you said you hated Bob Dylan because you didn't like his voice, I wouldn't put much stock in your opinion about his records.  But that doesn't mean you're wrong that Bob Dylan isn't your cup of tea - it just means that you're wrong if you think his music is bad & music you like is good.  It's just a personal opinion, & as I've said, that means you can never say what is "best" except for what you like & think.  & therefore:

6) Everyone should retire year-end "best of" lists.  No one knows what's best for everyone.  They can't.  It's impossible.  They can say what they like, & they can back it up with information & opinions & pretty words.  But that no more makes it "best" than album sales or popularity or awards or the consensus of critics.  What makes it "best" to you is personal to you.  You see:

7) Opinion is always & forever subjective.  Just say it's your favorite music of the year, or something else that isn't a statement that suggests it can be proven right or wrong.  Because you don't have any clue whether something is the best of the year any more than any other person.  Maybe later - years? decades? - we'll know what music stood the test of time (even though that wouldn't necessarily make it "good" or "best" to you).  But a few months after it was released?  Give me a break.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Self Help Radio 120919: Chill

(Original image here.)

Oh, hey. 'Sup. Just chillin'? Yeah, I'm just chillin' too. That's chill. We'll chill out together.

That sentence up there is how I hoped this week's Self Help Radio would go.  I don't think it went that way.  I possess no chill!  But I suppose the songs were mostly chill.  One day I will perfect a Self Help Radio without me, & that will be the chillest Self Help Radio of all.

If you were chillin' & missed it, or you want to chill out with the show again, it's available now for your listening pleasure at the Self Help Radio website.  Remember the username & password - those would be SHR & selfhelp.  What happened on the show (songs & interviews & stuff) is below.

Now I can chill.

Self Help Radio Chill Show
"The Chill Is On" Joe Turner _Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974_
"Cold Chills" The Sounds _I'm Ready - The Modern Story_
"Chills & Fever" Ronnie Love _Whip! Wobble! & Grind!_

introduction & definitions

"Chills" The Receptionnists _The Paper 7"_
"Chills" Papercuts _Fading Parade_
"A Summer Chill" This Is Ivy League _This Is Ivy League_
"Dim The Lights, Chill The Ham" Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet _Dim The Lights, Chill The Ham_
"You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart" Eurthymics _Savage_

a visit from Ned Dry, the Nedymologist

"The Sweetest Chill" Siouxsie & The Banshees _Tinderbox_
"The Chill Of October" Client _City_
"Silent Chill" Call & Response _Winds Take No Shape_
"The Chill Of Death" Charles Mingus _Let My Children Hear Music_
"I Felt The Chill Before The Winter Came" Elvis Costello _Secret, Profane, & Sugarcane_

interview with blogger & influencer Duke Simpson

"Night Of Chill Blue" The Chills _Brave Words_
"Wind Chill Factor (Minus Zero)" The Boomtown Rats _The Fine Art Of Surfacing_
"Chilling" The Tape-Beatles _The Grand Delusion_
"Chilled Hidebound Hearts" The Ettes _Look At Life Again Soon_
"Fever Chill" Telekinesis _12 Desperate Straight Lines_

interview with pharmaceutical expert Jeremy Omni

"Chill Pill" Sounds Of JHS 126 Brooklyn _Electro Funk Sessions_
"We're Chilly" Solo Sound _We're Chilly_
"I'm Chillin'" Trouble Funk _Dropping Bombs: The Definitive Trouble Funk_
"Time To Chill" DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince _He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper_
"You Gots To Chill" EPMD _Strictly Business_

conclusion & goodbye

"Chilly Winds" Odetta _At The Gate Of Horn_
"Thrills & Chills" Helene Smith _Eccentric Soul (The Deep City Label)_
"Hot Thrills & Cold Chills" The Blue Notes _Hot Thrills & Cold Chills_

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Whither Chill?

(Image from here.)

This is a true story: when I first met with someone (I guess the volunteer coordinator) at one of the Portland radio stations at which I am now involved (this would have been in June of this year), she asked me, "What is it you would like to do at the station, & when do you want to start?"  I said, "Everything, & now."  I later apologized for being overeager, at which point she said, "Oh that's all right.  Portland has no chill."

At some point in conversation with someone at another radio station in town, I recounted this story to that station's Program Manager, who said, "What in the world is she talking about?  All Portland has is chill!"

So either this week's Self Help Radio is attempting to remedy the city's lack of chill, or just chilling out like the city always does.  It depends, as always, on how you measure the chill around here.  It has been chilly lately, but it certainly wasn't in the summer.

Also: please do not think "Self Help Radio & chill" is somehow supposed to be equivalent to "Netflix & chill" (which means this, in case you didn't know).  Nothing naughty should be happening during Self Help Radio.  It's bad enough as it is.

Self Help Radio's show about chill is on tomorrow morning from 6-8am on Freeform Portland, available at that website I just linked to, as well as on the air at 90.3 & 98.3 fm.  I'm not very chill, though.  I'll be a bit agitated throughout.