Sunday, July 23, 2006


A nice man from Stereotype Records emailed us yesterday about his label's "neo-Utopian/idiodic scheme" to give away all of their artists' tracks as free downloads, encouraging music consumers to then buy the songs from iTunes. I suspect this kind of alternative distribution model might work when a roster is as daring and interesting and good as Stereotype's. Subverting the dominant paradigm doesn't happen overnight, though, and if you're interested, you can read a little about the label's struggle with these issues.

My quick impressions of a couple of Stereotype's (anything but stereotypical) artists' songs:

Ohio - Amanda Jo Williams
At this point, it's kind of a risky move to write a song called "Ohio" that references Vietnam. Especially if you're a former fashion model. And especially if your vocal style could most politely be termed "Appalachian field recording." But the nice thing about Amanda Jo Williams is that she doesn't seem to give a damn about seeming ridiculous. She has a lack of self-consciousness rarely found this side of children's records. Take the way she belts "Ohhiiooo" with gusto and abandon, like she's trying to outshout guitar and fiddle. It reminds me of how my frustrated little brother used to capitulate to/win verbal arguments by yelling "I can't hear you, I'm not listening, la la la la la." We can always use more eccentrics.

Prozac - Ollie Byrd
Ever since Elizabeth Wurtzel went and wrote that embarrassing book, and the resulting Christina Ricci vehicle went straight to video, antidepressants just haven't had the same romantic prestige. Pity, because melancholia's actually still a rich source of entertainment, if not for the sufferer exactly, then at least for those enjoying the fruits of the sufferer's labor. "Prozac" isn't the solipsistic exercise you'd expect from it's title. Nor is it a typical bedroom recording, though it starts like it with an urgent little beat and droning voice. But about two and a half minutes in, something different happens--Byrd kicks up a craggy coda, like he suddenly decides he wants to rawk and realizes there's no reason why the form should hold him back. I like these moments. It makes the dreary sameness of mainstream indie rock tolerable.

Many more where these comes from at the label's site. But remember that if you like, you need to buy, and if these people are playing your town, go and see them (dates here). That's how most artists at this level make money.


Realizing that everyone and their cousin's girlfriend's golden retriever has already discussed this film (and noting that you're not used to me talking about cinema and may not care), I finally saw Càche last night on DVD. There's never been a section in any video store I know of called "films about films," but if it existed, that's where you'd find me. From Rear Window to Peeping Tom to The Player to Day For Night, I love critiques of the form and process, even when a film has nothing otherwise to recommend it. Which is why I don't get some of the critical (pro and amateur) reactions I've scanned post-viewing about Càche's "ambiguous" ending. Granted, this is a film rich with interpretive possibility, not just, as I've already suggested, as a discussion on voyeurism, the unreliability of visual representations and issues of spectatorship. But also as a very specific address of France's troublesome history with Algeria, hints about this whole terrorism problem, and, as my blogmate Joe (aka JC, aka "the quiet one") talks about elsewhere, of bobo values. But to read Càche as a standard narrative to be "solved" in a pat denouement is missing the point entirely. Here's a not-so-subtle hint as to why this is a fallacy: Traditional Hollywood films employ very few extremely long, extremely static shots, especially in crucial scenes. And with good reason. They make it almost impossible to tell a story. Even if it works sporadically on that level, this film is not about storytelling.


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