Tag Archives: shorts

the next thing

11 Aug

It’s been a long time since I posted anything. Let me fill you in on what’s happening.

I’m extremely close to launching a new site devoted to ‘writing about music.’ It will be called Cap Gun, and it won’t be music news, or reviews, or videos. It will be long-form music criticism a la Kelefa Sanneh’s treatise on Jay’Z’s Decoded and the language of hip hop as well as discussions with other music writers on the art and craft of being a critic.

My voice recorder is perpetually filled to capacity with thought-provoking proclamations and questionable musings by the musicians I interview. Much of it never makes it into the final piece. Cap Gun will be a place to sort things out. It will be a place to discuss the best medium for criticism (print? blog? podcast?) and a place to explore the question of why artists make unlistenable music. Content will be infrequent but worth reading.

Things around here had been focusing more tightly on music for quite a while, but I needed a clean break from Read::Zebra to make the new site what I wanted it to be. What you liked about coming here should keep you coming to Cap Gun, and I hope you do. I’ll have the official URL soon and hope to launch this fall. The first project in the works is a roundtable with Chicago-based editors of music magazines, weeklies, and Web zines. Should be really interesting.

I’ll be back with more info soon, but in the meantime you can keep up with my writing by heading to my portfolio, timothyschuler.com.

Thanks for reading. Can’t wait to begin the next thing.

the making of misty

2 May

Joshua Tillman was a songwriter before he became the drummer for Fleet Foxes. Now he’s traded Seattle for Laurel Canyon and his birth name for Father John Misty.

“In January, Tillman left Fleet Foxes and, somewhere along the highway between Seattle and Laurel Canyon, became Father John Misty. Los Angeles and all its gritty, sexed-up, Big Tent attractions became the raw material that Tillman used to assemble songs that are less ruminative and more narrative, and as sharply poignant as Boogie Nights.”

Take a second to listen to “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings.” 

Fear Fun is the “debut” by Father John Misty, aka Joshua Tillman, aka the Fleet Foxes drummer. Whether you like Foxes or not, don’t go into this thinking about that. That’s Seattle. This is LA.

an apt analogy?

13 Apr

“Many people have critical opinions on this subject, ranging from ‘this will ruin Instagram’ to ‘$1 billion is too much.’ And for many Instagram users it’s discomfiting to see a giant company they distrust purchase a tiny company they adore—like if Coldplay acquired Dirty Projectors.”
—Paul Ford, in New York Magazine

the ‘goldilocks zone’

27 Feb

An illustration of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, by Arthur Rackham. Music writer Alva Noë says Adele's music lands in the "Goldilocks Zone."

Alva Noë provides the smartest and most sensible answer to the recurring “Why do we like Adele?” question:

“Music that occupies the Goldilocks Zone, a song like Adele’s “Someone Like You,” sets up the release of dopamine in reward circuitry in the brain. No doubt. But it would be a mistake to think this is why we like the music. Dopamine is released because we like the music. And our liking the music has everything to do with our perceptual sensitivity to the way it fits into, and plays against, a musical conversation, which is really to say, a whole musical culture.”

Read the rest on NPR.

learn to tell your story

22 Feb

A day in the life of Matthew and Timothy Schuler

On Monday I shared some thoughts about telling stories, pulled from Malcolm Gladwell’s conversation with behavioral economist Dan Ariely. In response, my wife, Allison, posted about the positive effects that a story can have on individuals suffering from PTSD. I thought it was worth reposting here:

“…Telling your own story also rewires your brain completely. Dan Siegel, a neuroscientist, found that this was one of the best predictors of health. Individuals with post-traumatic stress syndrome often cannot tell their stories coherently at first, but with work, they eventually understand their own narrative, and this can often rewire and heal their brains.”

Learn to tell your own story. You might be healing past injuries as you do. Or at least understanding yourself a little bit better.

As for the photo above, I could tell a hundred stories about the characters, creatures, and inanimate objects I became as a little kid. But I’ll save those for another day.

tesla explained

22 Feb

One of the Tesla coils used by Bjork in her stage show. Photo by Will Hermes.

Thanks to NPR’s Bob Boilen for exposing me as a shoddy music reporter: Despite my mention of it, before this video I had no idea how a Tesla coil could be used as an instrument.

five new listens

21 Feb

This week's best: Releases by Buildings, Busdriver, Pharoah Overlord, Galactic, and Sleigh Bells

Five albums make Alarm’s cut this week. I review Galactic’s Carnivales Electricos [previously]: Michael Danaher listens to Reign of Terror. Meaghann Korbel digests Busdriver’s Beaus$Eros (pronounced “bows and arrows,” if you’re struggling to make sense of that). And editor Scott Morrow takes on Lunar Jetman and Melt Cry Sleep. Read the reviews here.

global love letter

14 Feb

No Stranger Here, by Business Class Refugees, Shubha Mudgal, and Ursula Rucker

A beautiful mash-up of spoken word, traditional Hindustani vocals, string arrangements, and Western beats. Inspired by Indian poet Kabir. It’s like a global love letter for Valentine’s Day.

via ALARM

‘nostalgic for aesthetics’

22 Dec

James Reeves on Billie Holiday, the preservation of vinyl, and other topics dear to me:

Strange, listening to that voice through the filter of seventy-five years of American pop culture, a voice trapped in Woody Allen movies and PBS documentaries, a familiar shorthand for smoke-filled lounges and doomed genius.

Check it out.

timberbrit: tragic circus

15 Dec

I spent the majority of my afternoon yesterday watching videos from the semi-staged production of Timberbrit, an opera by Jacob Cooper that tells the fictional story of Britney Spears’s final hours, in which Justin Timberlake comes to win her back / save her.

Here’s why I’m interested: the opera is constructed from the music of Spears and Timberlake, single lines time-stretched until they lose all resemblance to the original song. Behind the wavering vocals is original music that ranges from free jazz to shoegaze.

The conceit might bore or annoy you, but I can’t escape the ache in the music. Slowed down, the songs become the soundtrack for the tragedy that is popular music. And Britney Spears.

Watch the music video for “Worst Fantasy” below and you’ll see what I mean. The real footage they included almost makes me weep.

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