Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

January 2008 Archives

Ego? What ego?

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Unassuming, a little bit awkward and slightly naive, “egotistical” is the last word that springs to mind when talking to 23-year-old singer and songwriter Tom Schraeder. “Ambitious” is much closer to the mark, followed closely by “wildly enthusiastic.”

And another query from the peanut gallery

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Regular readers know how much I hate the notion of advertising as a vehicle to introduce new music. On the other hand, as a listener myself, I hate even more those occasions when I catch a snippet of some song I love and I can't find out who did it. With that in mind, a reader just send me the following question.

Reader request: Inspirational female anthems, anyone?

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Reader Elizabeth Allen-Smith recently sent the following email, looking for some help in choosing songs for a gig she's about to play.

Five months after the release of its landmark study declaring Our Town “a music city in hiding,” the Chicago Music Commission presented its findings to the community that it hopes to represent during a panel discussion Thursday night at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park.

Time Out considers the state of criticism

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Time Out Chicago weighs the impact of blogging on traditional print criticism and cultural journalism in a package of stories this week, including this article and this roundtable discussion featuring several local critics (this writer included) from a number of different beats, including music, food, film and books.

The New Face of Techno, Redux?

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For a brief moment in the late ’90s, as the alternative-rock movement waned and the major labels turned toward “the next big thing,” it seemed as if techno DJs such as Moby, the Aphex Twin and the Orb might become the “new rock stars,” making a very different kind of music but delivering live shows every bit as exciting as anything in rock ’n’ roll.

Alas, electronic dance music never really broke out of the underground, and the next wave of musicians weren’t very good showmen: There simply isn’t much excitement to be had in watching someone sitting in front of a lap top. But a new wave of electronic heroes is tossing that up once again, with Girl Talk, a.k.a. Dan Gillis, performing with the energy of Iggy Pop, and Dan Deacon continuing a tradition of mind-bending psychedelic-rock shows that can be traced back through the Orb to Pink Floyd.

Punk Is Not Ded!

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In addition to providing some much-needed perspective on the harsh realities of life in Iran for the average struggling family, the new animated film "Persepolis" is a poignant reminder of the power of music.

Not to be too incestuous, but...

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Talib Kweli: Coming on strong

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Just don't call it a comeback, please

And even a little bit more "Juno"

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Though I'm going to cut it off here. Seems like the pro and con have both had plenty of say by now. And a fine discussion it's been...

More "Juno" Fallout

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Comments have been rolling in since I first posted my critique of "Juno," the soundtrack and the film, on this blog last Tuesday. Yesterday, the article ran in the print edition of the Sun-Times, generating another wave of email.

Because it's unclear who the writer is if I post emails as comments (yo, Sun-Times Web gurus -- are you reading this? Can we fix it??), I've opted to run those emails below, with a few of my own comments interspersed in italics.

The critique has also generated some discussion on the blogosphere: here; here; here and here.

It is often said that in rock 'n' roll, the ultimate democratic art form, everybody's a critic. And I've never thought that movies should be any different.

Ringo Starr, “Liverpool 8” (Capitol) [1 STAR]

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Why "Juno" is anti-rock

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The soundtrack album, out today, holds the clues about everything that's wrong with this much-hyped film.

Hannah Montana is faking it?

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"Kurt Cobain: About a Son"

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Movie review, opening Friday at the Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport.

And now a word about Pulp

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Reader Sinjin Smith writes: "While reading over your year in review lists, I was struck by your inclusion of Air's latest 'Pocket Symphony' among you top 10. I'm not as fond of it as you are, but that's not the point. I was more intrigued by your thoughts on 'Pocket Symphony' collaborator Jarvis Cocker. I've been reading your columns for years, and I've found nary a mention of Jarvis or Pulp amongst your writing... I'm curious to hear your opinion on them, whether you've even given the band proper consideration, or if you've simply written them off as also-ran/wannabes."

And on the subject of Downloads...

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Continuing its inexorable march toward the tar pits of extinction, the dinosaur that is the old-fashioned physical-product music industry suffered a whopping 20-percent decrease in sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 2007, compared to 2006, according to the Nielsen Soundscan numbers reported by Variety, though to read about the bright side -- the increasing acceptance of paid digital downloads as a Christmas present -- you had to surf over the outstanding tech blog, Ars Technica.

Still, as my buddy Charles pointed out, if you're in any way feeling sorry for the old-school CD-slinging record biz, please note that the bestselling album of the year, with more than 3.5 million copies sold, was Josh Groban's "Noel," which is dreadful enough to make anyone with any taste toss their eggnog toot sweet.

Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead (Again)

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Yesterday, Radiohead finally released the old-fashioned shiny-disc version of its seventh album “In Rainbows,” initially issued as a pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth download last October. Not to be outdone, the Smashing Pumpkins have given us their own download-only EP, “American Gothic,” available only through iTunes.

Yoko Gets a Bum Rap

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In comments tied to this blog's posting of my article about the Best Shows of 2007, several readers have scoffed at the very notion that Yoko Ono has ever recorded anything worth hearing, or that she might have done anything worthwhile onstage at last year's Pitchfork Music Festival.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2007 is the previous archive.

February 2008 is the next archive.

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