Clever. You almost had me, David Kamp and Steven Daly.
It’s a genius idea, really; pretend to write a snarky book, “explaining” rock snob-speak to those who’ve had to put up with lengthy tomes about obscure musical reference points from their hipster friends. Unfortunately, just a few pages in, I realized this book wasn’t for rock snob friends at all. It’s written FOR rock snobs… BY —you guessed it — rock snobs! The author‘s and illustrator‘s combined resumes feature stints at The Face, Vanity Fair, Spin, Rolling Stone, Interview and the mother of all that is (was?) hip and snarky, Spy magazine.
So what gave it away? Well…Crazy Horse and Cheap Trick’s “importance” might require some explanation to the general populace, but you overplayed your hand bringing Einsturzende Neubaten or T.O.N.T.O.’s Expanding Headband into the mix. Entries such as those (along with Steve Reich, Karl Stockhausen and Glenn Branca) will leave everyone BUT the rock snob snoring and drooling in the easy chair, with your book on the floor.
However, most music fans will enjoy entries such as the brilliant definition of “Post Rock”:
• Amorphus genre born of rock crit necessity in the nineties, mainly to explain to a skeptical public that the free form slo-mo noodlings of such semi-smart strivers as Tortoise and Low were not lazy, unstructured cop-out jams but the music of the twenty-first century.
Or “Pub Rock”:
• Frye-booted, nicotine-stained British mini-movement of the early to mid-seventies, posited by overeager critics in rock's pre-punk dog days as the antidote to PROG and concept-album torpor.
If you’re a true rock snob, you probably already have this book because, let’s face it: you can’t help yourself. You’re a collector. That’s what you do. But even if you already know what a Vocoder is, who Kim Fowley is, and where Budokan is, you should still search this book out because it’s real appeal is its' sly sense of humor. If you love reading about Nick Drake (the “sad sack compulsively muted English singer/songwriter”), Robert Fripp (“tiny British guitar god of nutty professor mien”) or Brian Eno (“egghead producer and electronics whiz with appropriately futuristic name and aerodynamic pate”), then this book will “reward repeated readings”.
Think of it as a love letter, followed by a slap to the back of the head. And it's the perfect bathroom book — that is, when you're not recording in there for the fabulous natural reverb.
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