Why Isn't Joanna Newsom in More Academic Journals?

I was reading Drum [Media] this morning (the gig reviews to be exact) and found a wonderful review by Sarah Norris on one of Phoenix’s sideshows at the Factory. She reinforced my view on what exactly made Phoenix one of the gigs of the year. I can only imagine what she would said about the latter Phoenix gig, had she gone. I was thinking about this the other day, in the car whilst listening to their cd, Its Never Been Like That, and questioned could this French quartet really surpass Joanna Newsom? Could anything? Or is it possible that Joanna has to fall a crude second? Most of you know how much I truly admire (and worship) Joanna not only for her technical skill but also because of the soul so innate and intensely driven into her work – its beautiful and literally quite breath-taking. Hence, the next part is written with (admittedly) a degree of bias.

[This where I (attempt to) get all scholarly about it] I’ve been reading philosophy (and mainly the criticisms) on music lately by a Frenchman (how apt), Roland Barthes. He discusses a lot of issues about semiotics and their interplay in music, image and text. Interesting indeed, until he criticises the integrity of modern music. What I think he’s saying is that music is no longer made by true musicians but rather performers (actors), interpreters and technicians, to the degree that Barthes implies technical imperfection as key in modern music – that it is absent of heart and structuralism. Frankly, after reading this I felt quite disturbed only because Joanna Newsom is a fine example of modern music that falls (to coin Barthes’ term) in contra to his criticism and there is probably more precedents to support this. Barthes refers to a lot of Freud (someone I clearly haven’t worked out yet), most of which flew over my head as this is kind of reading that requires both cerebral halves.

And now for something completely different, I’m heading out to a ska-punk gig tomorrow night. Can anyone give me tips on what to expect? Other than rowdy crowds and to look a bit tougher (which I don’t think I can pull off, to those that know me).

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3 comments
  1. jellie said:

    And a lot of what you posted flew over the top of my head too.. I recognise a lot of what you said, but putting it together is a bit much for my soggy mind at the moment. I agree with this Roland Barthes though, the points he raises about “modern musicians” only being interpreters and actors.. after all, in retrospect, some of my favourite bands are only that – performers (sob).

    Good luck for the ska-punk gig tomorrow.. I’m sure you’ll still have fun. My only tip – black. Lots and lots of it. And always try to have a blasé expression pasted on your face at all times before and after the gig. During it – you’re open to all options.

    Anyway, I opened a WordPress blog! Hurray for template layouts.

  2. RO said:

    Yeah sorry, I thought I’d exercise some knowledgeable rant before uni starts again. I thought it was easy enough to read.

    Black hey? Architects are always full of black clothes.

    I hope you’re gettin my domain!

  3. Wengistein said:

    I’d expect a lot of hardcore stuff. I myself and never listened to ska-punk music, but knowing punk, you need to be really tough and push your way through. No more Mr. Nice Guy, you need to be mean. And just a lot of loud thrashing and such and such.

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