“Chasing the Light” an overly-effusive, yet still-potent story of Minnesota band Cloud Cult

book cover - chasing the light cloud cultMark Allister's upcoming book for university of Minnesota Press, Chasing the Light: The Cloud Cult Story is as enthusiastic a band history and biography as one could ask for. That's where the trouble lies: it's so enthusiastic, it's so positive, it's so very cheerleader toward the band that one has difficulty seeing any sort of objectivity within its pages. Case in point: new members' reasons for joining are explained, but very rarely is explanation given as to why someone left. There are as many former members as there are current members of the Minnesota band, and with the exception of Sarah Young, the cellist who left in 2011 to raise a family, the other band members who've left aren't really explained at all. It's inspiring, certainly, to read the story of a band that rose, bringing its ethics and vision to bear on a world unready for unflinching honesty and environmental stewardship, but the overly-effusive nature of the book -- ably supplemented by the dozens of pages given over to fan testimonials -- makes this seem less a history of a band, and more like an extended and well-researched Tumblr page. Allister has been granted plenty of access to Cloud Cult and their history, and quite obviously has created a very intimate and detailed portrait of a band that inspires some very deep feelings. When one sorts through the praise and the adoration of the author, and gets to the honest aspects of the band and what they've gone through, the story is no less inspiring, but certainly far less twee. The final chapter, "Your Show Starts Now," cuts through the treacle and manages to combine heartfelt honesty with factual truth that demonstrates exactly how hard a band like Cloud Cult has had to work for and maintain their level of success. If nothing else, Chasing the Light's value can be seen in these pages, and is well worth reading for that. Mark Allister's Chasing the Light: The Cloud Cult Story is due out in October from the University of Minnesota Press, and is currently available for pre-order.

“Essential Ellen Willis” a varied, sprawling read

book cover - essential ellen willisThe Essential Ellen Willis, out now from University of Minnesota Press, collects a lifetime of Ellen Willis' work, looking to give a more nuanced and thorough view of her career and importance than was presented in her collection of music writing, Out of the Vinyl Deeps. Now, important and thorough does not necessarily an interesting or involving read make. I found myself struggling and trudging through some pieces. Historical importance and documentary worth do not equal easy or entertaining reading, because anthologies are inherently exhausting. They jump topics, tone varies, and just keeping one's self temporally oriented can leave a head spinning. It requires a nimble mind to be able to read straight through without needing the occasional break. Despite loosely grouping essays together by topic -- sex, drugs, et al -- it's a massive undertaking for even those short groups. For instance, "Classical and Baroque Sex" is a whimsical and clever relief from weighty subjects, yet by no means tossed off. While it's absolutely necessary in its placement, coming as it does before the harrowing details of "The Trial of Caroline Hunt," the tonal switch between the two take a bit of time to adjust. However, as much as one can struggle through the likes of "Why I'm Not For Peace" or "Confonting the Contradictions," something like "Beginning to See the Light" will blow your mind with a line such as, "It's just that they acknowledge the sixties, instead of trying to pretend all that stuff never happened." That idea -- that the past happened, and frames our modern views on everything -- is kind of the whole point of this anthology. It's a real joy to see positive hopes regarding sexual freedoms and preferences born out as prescient, and still relevant today. Ultimately, however, what I came to enjoy most in The Essential Ellen Willis were her pieces where she brought a personal element to weighty moral or philosophical concepts. "Next Year In Jerusalem" and "Escape From New York," while personal stories of travel on the surface, end up being about so much more. They're reflections on personal change and how one's perspective -- and especially their ideals -- can differ so much from those of one's firmly-held youthful beliefs. The Essential Ellen Willis is available now from University of Minnesota Press, where you can find mroe information and watch a trailer for the book.

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book-cover-out-of-the-vinyl-deepsIn her forward to the anthology of Ellen Willis Is Levitra Better Than Cialis, ' writings on pop music, From the Vinyl Deeps, Sasha Frere-Jones says of Willis, "[her] pieces retain the mark of their time without being hostage to it." It's quite true. The tone and detail mark these as exemplary works of criticism, but more than anything, the personal details -- such as "stacking all five of my Creedence albums on the stereo and [dancing] to them, one after another" in "Creedence as Therapy" -- mark her work as a clear forerunner of today's confessional style.

While Lester Bangs might have written detailed pieces wherein he was as much the focus of the piece as the supposed subject ("Innocents in Babylon" is more about him smoking weed and listening to reggae in Jamaica than it is about Bob Marley), his work is far more akin to that of Hunter S. Is Levitra Better Than Cialis paypal, Thompson than that of Robert Christgau. Willis, on the other hand, uses her personal life and details from it to pepper her work and give logical purpose to her emotional connections.

The pieces within the pages of From the Vinyl Deeps are important, yes, because they are the first major pieces of pop critcism by a female author, but also because they manage to so accurately convey the sense of excitement at a new album or artist, Is Levitra Better Than Cialis. So many pieces written about Bob Dylan are at such a remove that one cannot resolve the myth and legend from the music being made. The piece that opens the book -- the extraordinary portrait "Dylan," written for Cheetah in 1967, is revelatory, Is Levitra Better Than Cialis japan. It's astounding to see the transformation Bob Dylan made in the just five years between his debut album and when the piece was written, and Willis presents it in such a sensual, feeling style that, even if (like myself) you're not a fan of the man's music, you find yourself rushing to listen to these songs again in a new light.

Much in the same way is a similar long-form piece about the Velvet Underground, 40mg Is Levitra Better Than Cialis, from a 1979 book of desert island discs edited by Greil Marcus, entitled Stranded. Is Levitra Better Than Cialis, While more academic than the Dylan piece, the analysis of the music is note-perfect. Describing the Velvet's music as "antiart art made by antielite elitists" perfectly captures the simultaneous calculation and emotional resonance in the New York art band's music.

When in the process of reading this book, I mentioned on Facebook that it made me want to try harder at writing. It seems almost effortless, the way Willis streams together words to present that rarest of things, a piece about music that is musical in and of itself, Is Levitra Better Than Cialis us. Are there flaws. Yes, Is Levitra Better Than Cialis. As Willis was blazing her own trail with The New Yorker, she had the freedom to write about what she please, meaning she focused on the artists she liked most. This means lots of articles on Dylan, the Stones, Is Levitra Better Than Cialis mexico, the Who, and (surprisingly) the New York Dolls, but little on other artists. Still, her coverage of feminist rock acts like Ms. Clawdy and the nascent Laurel Canyon folk scene give life to musicians who would have otherwise never been heard of in this century.

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book-cover-englands-dreaming-tapesJon Savage's England's Dreaming is pretty much the Erythromycin Egg Uterine Wall Fertility Pregnancy, book on punk rock. Considering Savage started work on the book just ten years after punk first appeared, he was able to get interviews with the musicians, producers, club owners, and assorted hangers-on like the Bromley Contingent while their memories were relatively fresh. Also, quite a few of the folks interviewed are now either gone from this Earth or unable to be contacted.

Now, 200mg Erythromycin Egg Uterine Wall Fertility Pregnancy, roughly 20 years since he dropped England's Dreaming on the public, Savage has returned to the topic with The England's Dreaming Tapes. Subtitled as "The Essential Companion" to England's Dreaming, it follows the path of Totally Wired, presenting the transcribed interviews of the folks with whom the author spoke for a prior book.

Upon reflection, it seems a little lazy, Erythromycin Egg Uterine Wall Fertility Pregnancy. I mean, this is valuable historical material, 1000mg Erythromycin Egg Uterine Wall Fertility Pregnancy, but I can't help but see this as a way to fulfill part of a publishing contract without having to do much new writing. There's an amazing amount of overlap here, as well. It doesn't seem that Savage, despite claims in the introduction, has edited "for reasons of space, repetition, and the book's internal logic." Certain stories (how SEX came to be, the Sex Pistols on the Grundy show, Erythromycin Egg Uterine Wall Fertility Pregnancy us, et al) are retold by so many people that the reader finds themselves jumping about in the book, trying to avoid having to re-read it once more.

The second segment of interviews, entitled "New York," offers the best untold stories of how punk gestated in the United States, and how it ended up making its way across the pond to England. Erythromycin Egg Uterine Wall Fertility Pregnancy, "The North-West," with its tales from Manchester, is worth reading, if for no other reason than it's filled with stories that haven't been told to the point of absurdity (with the exception of Tony Wilson and yet another run-through of the Factory Records tale). "The Propaghandists" is the story of the journalists and photographers who covered the scene in its infancy, 150mg Erythromycin Egg Uterine Wall Fertility Pregnancy, and provides the most cogent analysis of how punk didn't just form instantly after a couple of performances by American artists (Patti Smith, the Ramones), but was instead slowly gestating in the form of pub-rock acts like Dr. Feelgood and the 101'ers.

I almost felt ashamed being bored at points, as entertained as I was by prior Savage works like the excellent Teenage. Reading a book with "Jon Savage" on the cover and being held with anything less than rapt attention just doesn't seem right. However, The University of Minnesota Press has put out an exhaustive 700-page tome that will undoubtedly be the source for many a term paper, 750mg Erythromycin Egg Uterine Wall Fertility Pregnancy, and an invaluable resource for music writers such as myself, but is by no means an example of Savage's intriguing writing style. His ability to provide in-depth analysis of myriad sources and still remain immanently readable is at no point on display here.

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