Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A tl;dr on music. Don't mind me. Just venting a little.

NEW BELLE & SEBASTIAN ALBUM!! You have no idea how happy this makes me. I don't know if I've recounted my full history with Belle & Sebastian but I feel in love with them way back in 1998 when If You're Feeling Sinister landed on my college radio station playlist. I've seen them many times in concert and will see them twice more this year.

The thing is… a new Belle & Sebastian album also makes me kind of sad because I remember the days when I used to get excited about new albums from new bands landing in my inbox at the radio station. I realized that I don't have a single outlet that I trust to find me music that I might like from America or the UK or basically anywhere not in Asia.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ramblings on "The Birth of Korean Cool."

While I was out at the book store looking for children's books for a friend's kids, I picked up something for myself: "The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture" By Euny Hong. I can't exactly recommend it, though I did find parts of it interesting. The book is about 1/2 cultural observation and memoir and 1/2 mediocre NYTimes magazine piece-style filler. The cultural observation and memoir sections were good but not good enough to outweigh the mediocrity of the surrounding filler sections. What do I mean, hmm?

Well, in short, I thought Ms. Hong did a fine job of exploring why and how Korea has pushed it cultural output to places like… Manipur. But she falls very short in evaluating the content that it's pushing. The problem is that Ms. Hong was born and raised in the US and retains a Western standard of what makes "good" product. In one particularly (pardon the pun) tone deaf section, she pulls out the same old post-Woodstock Generation talking points about "bands" and "authenticity." Because the Korean music getting exported is not made by "organically formed, self-contained bands" (her words, p.120) ergo it's worthless, except as product.

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