A twisting path through Austin’s underground music scene in the twentieth century’s last decade, narrated by the people who were there.
It’s 1990 in Austin, Texas. The next decade will be a tipping point in the city's transformation from sleepy college town to major city. Beneath the increasingly slick exterior, though, a group of like-minded contrarians were reimagining an underground music scene. Embracing a do-it-yourself ethos, record labels emerged to release local music, zines cheered and jeered acts beneath the radar of mainstream media outlets, and loads of small clubs opened simply because music-minded people wanted a place to play.
This vibrant scene valued expression over erudition, from the razor-sharp songcraft of Spoon to the fuzzed-out poptones of Sixteen Deluxe, and blurred the boundaries between observer and participant. Evolving in tandem with the city’s emergence on the national stage via the film Slacker and the SXSW conference and festivals, Austin’s musical underground became a spiritual crucible for the uneasy balance between commercial success and cultural authenticity, a tension that still resonates today.
The first book about Austin underground music in the ’90s, A Curious Mix of People is an oral history that tells the story of this transformative decade through the eyes of the musicians, writers, DJs, club owners, record-store employees, and other key figures who were there.
Was punk just another moment in music history, a flash in time when a group of young rebels exploded in a fury of raw sound, outrageous styles, and in-your-face attitude? Greil Marcus, author of the renowned Lipstick Traces, delves into the after-life of punk as a much richer phenomenon—a form of artistic and social rebellion that continually erupts into popular culture.
In more than seventy short pieces written over fifteen years, he traces the uncompromising strands of punk from Johnny Rotten to Elvis Costello, Sonic Youth, even Bruce Springsteen. Marcus's unparalleled insight into present-day culture and brilliant ear for music bring punk's searing half-life into deep focus. Originally published in the U.S. as Ranters and Crowd Pleasers.
Making Scenes is an exploration of the subtle politics of identity that took place within and among these scenes throughout the course of the 1990s. Participants in the different scenes often explained their interest in death metal, punk, or reggae in relation to broader ideas about what it meant to be Balinese, which reflected views about Bali’s tourism industry and the cultural dominance of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital and largest city. Through dance, dress, claims to public spaces, and onstage performances, participants and enthusiasts reworked “Balinese-ness” by synthesizing global media, ideas of national belonging, and local identity politics. Making Scenes chronicles the creation of subcultures at a historical moment when media globalization and the gradual demise of the authoritarian Suharto regime coincided with revitalized, essentialist formulations of the Balinese self.
A fascinating analysis of a punk rock hotbed, Politics as Sound tells the story of how a generation created music that produced--and resisted--politics and power.
A raucous look at a small-city underground, Punks in Peoria takes readers off the beaten track to reveal the punk rock life as lived in Anytown, U.S.A.
As an industry insider and pioneering post-punk musician, Vivien Goldman’s perspective on music journalism is unusually well-rounded. In Revenge of the She-Punks, she probes four themes—identity, money, love, and protest—to explore what makes punk such a liberating art form for women.
With her visceral style, Goldman blends interviews, history, and her personal experience as one of Britain’s first female music writers in a book that reads like a vivid documentary of a genre defined by dismantling boundaries. A discussion of the Patti Smith song “Free Money,” for example, opens with Goldman on a shopping spree with Smith. Tamar-Kali, whose name pays homage to a Hindu goddess, describes the influence of her Gullah ancestors on her music, while the late Poly Styrene's daughter reflects on why her Somali-Scots-Irish mother wrote the 1978 punk anthem “Identity,” with the refrain “Identity is the crisis you can't see.” Other strands feature artists from farther afield (including in Colombia and Indonesia) and genre-busting revolutionaries such as Grace Jones, who wasn't exclusively punk but clearly influenced the movement while absorbing its liberating audacity. From punk's Euro origins to its international reach, this is an exhilarating world tour.
Patti Smith arrived in New York City at the end of the Age of Aquarius in search of work and purpose. What she found—what she fostered—was a cultural revolution. Through her poetry, her songs, her unapologetic vocal power, and her very presence as a woman fronting a rock band, she kicked open a door that countless others walked through. No other musician has better embodied the “nothing-to-hide” rawness of punk, nor has any other done more to nurture a place in society for misfits of every stripe.
Why Patti Smith Matters is the first book about the iconic artist written by a woman. The veteran music journalist Caryn Rose contextualizes Smith’s creative work, her influence, and her wide-ranging and still-evolving impact on rock and roll, visual art, and the written word. Rose goes deep into Smith’s oeuvre, from her first album, Horses, to acclaimed memoirs operating at a surprising remove from her music. The portrait of a ceaseless inventor, Why Patti Smith Matters rescues punk’s poet laureate from “strong woman” clichés. Of course Smith is strong. She is also a nuanced thinker. A maker of beautiful and challenging things. A transformative artist who has not simply entertained but also empowered millions.
The central experience of the Ramones and their music is of being an outsider, an outcast, a person who’s somehow defective, and the revolt against shame and self-loathing. The fans, argues Donna Gaines, got it right away, from their own experience of alienation at home, at school, on the streets, and from themselves. This sense of estrangement and marginality permeates everything the Ramones still offer us as artists, and as people. Why the Ramones Matter compellingly makes the case that the Ramones gave us everything; they saved rock and roll, modeled DIY ethics, and addressed our deepest collective traumas, from the personal to the historical.
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