Amoeblog

Anti-Casual Fridays (aka Formal Fridays aka Dress Up Fridays) and the Decline of the Western Civilization

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 28, 2011 11:23pm | Post a Comment


Casual Fridays (also known as Dress-down Fridays, Bis-Cas-Fris, or simply Casual day) began in the 1950s as employer-sanctioned faux-rebellion. Obviously just a perversion of natural order, occasionally those who don’t observe are required to pay a small fee. Interestingly, it’s like Saturnalia or April Fool’s day, a tool to keep the oppressed happy under the guise of benevolence from our betters.

After watching all eight hours of the Academy Awards ceremony last night, it's increasingly clear that men are increasingly confused by, ignorant of, or just wrong-headed about men's dress.


You had Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin dressed like waiters in a Havana nightclub and a large number of attendees wore black business suits, looking more like bankers than guests at what's supposed to be a prestigious awards show. I suspect there was a directive to ditch the traditional tuxedo in an attempt to appeal to the youth, who increasingly carry on dressing like children well into middle age.
 

Famous Grey Raincoat - Or, Silly Goth, Vampires Are for Kids!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 6, 2010 04:45pm | Post a Comment

In honor of this lovely weather we're having here in Los Angeles, I'm going to blog about the so-called Raincoat scene. Before Goth -- for that matter, before New Grave, Dark Wave, Cold Wave or any of those other overly specific scenes (that I will dutifully write about in time), the British music press took to lumping together a bunch of bands and their fans and calling them "raincoats." Why? Because since their invention in the 1850s, nothing has silently and eloquently conveyed, "I'm dark, brooding and Romantic" like slouching in a trench coat. OK, it could also convey, "I'm stealing porn and not wearing clothes underneath." That's a different sort of Raincoat Brigade.


The earliest usage of "raincoat" in this sense that I've found is in an edition of NME. "1982 was also a year of recession in the U.K. A broken economy, you could argue, enabled both genres to flourish: sleek synth-pop helped people transcend national gloom, glowering raincoat-rock authorised them to wallow in it." 

Keep on Music New Wave and '80s Reunion Party - The Vietnamese New Wave Revival

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 9, 2010 07:19pm | Post a Comment



Last November, Keep on Music threw a New Wave + ‘80s Reunion at Bleu in Westminster. This isn’t new wave in the sense that a lot of people use the term, but rather a mix of Italo, Eurodisco and other ‘80s dance music that notably found considerable popularity with Asian-Americans in the 1980s. I was only turned onto the scene four years ago, by Ngoc Nguyen, who is a Vietnamese New Wave super fan (especially of Sandra).

Flash forward to the present and near future: March 27th. On that day, Keep On Music’s having a second New Wave + ‘80s Reunion at the Can Asian Entertainment Bar in Garden Grove. Unlike last time, I won’t miss this one and neither should you! Luckily for us newbs and the uninitiated, some key figures of the new wave scene graciously agreed to sit down with me and answer some questions about the Asian/Vietnamese new wave scene for Eric's Blog

Chip off the old tune - chip music for the masses - apologies for the strained, non sequitur, idiomatic headline...

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 28, 2009 01:13pm | Post a Comment
Trailer for Blip Festival: Reformat the Planet

Chiptunes (or chip music) is a genre of electronic music made using (now) old video game and computer hardware. The limitations of 8-bit technology present considerable challenges that require surprising creative solutions. Kōji Kondō, pretty much the Mozart of the scene, composed the score for Super Mario Brothers that shows how brilliant the music can be. Using a remarkably tiny sonic palette he managed to create a catchy electro-Afro-Cuban melody that could be looped over and over without driving the gamer completely insane, even in shameful, febrile, all night gaming sessions. When the DJ Jubilee-led Take Fo' Superstars used it in "Do the Mario," it was amazingly still fresh. Witness:



The roots of chiptunes date back to the 1970s. In the first part of the decade, video games like Pong used sound effects sparingly. With the introduction of the Atari 2600 and the Apple II in 1977, video games and computers began to use music more extensively. Then Asteroids debuted in 1978 and ushered in video games' golden age with distinctive bleeps, blops and white noise.


The music and sound capabilities were a selling point for video games, and computers and programs like 1980’s Atari Music Composer and 1987’s Ultimate SoundTracker (preceded by the 1982 introduction of MOS Technology SID in Commodores) allowed users to make chip music. Eventually, Atari’s POKEY, Nintendo’s Ricoh 2A03, GI’s AY-3-8910, Yamaha’s YM2612 and other hardware fueled the growth of chip music.


Celebrated professional chiptune composers of the golden age include Ben Daglish, Chris Hülsbeck, Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka, Jochen Hippel, the aforementioned Kōji Kondō, Martin Galway, Nobuo Uematsu, Rob Hubbard, Tim Follin, Yuukichan's Papa and Yūzō Koshiro.


Prominent amateur chiptunes composers include Baroque, Duz, 4-Mat and Turtle. Their preferred way of making their music available was through computer files, although, by the late ‘90s there began to be CD releases of chip music – roughly coinciding with contemporary video game scores moving toward indistinguishablity from those used in films, relying increasingly on full orchestrations or collections of popular songs. Nonetheless, there remains a dedicated movement of musicians who still make chiptunes.

In many of the musicians’ cases, they’re probably too young to have played video games that used 8-bit technology, which probably leads some to dismiss the practitioners as engaging in hand-me-down nostalgia. That may be partly true (although chiptunes have recently been revived for several new games). Some chiptunes musicians bristle at the suggestion that their music is merely a retro trip and distance themselves from the music’s video game roots, attracted more by the unique aesthetic, timbres and artistic limitations of the format than an ironic revivalist spirit. In fact, many newer acts don’t limit themselves merely to chip music, instead using the technology (and samples of it) into more conventional genres like indie rock, heavy metal (e.g. Nintendocore) and dance.


Newer chiptunes progenitors, in addition to releasing recorded music, have, unlike their forebears, turned to live performance (although some professional video game composers have adapted their scores to symphonic performance. This era was ushered in with 8 Bit Weapon’s 2005 performance of "Bombs Away" and "Gameboy Rocker" on G4's Attack of the Show! Today, performers like Alex Mauer, Aliceffekt, Anamanaguchi, C-jeff, Firebrand Boy, mcfiredrill, Paza Rahm, PDF Format, Random, Role Model, Sabrepulse, Solemn Camel Crew, Trash80, Virt, XC3N and YMCK incorporate chiptunes to varying degrees in music in many cases made available through netlabels like 8bitpeoples, 8bitcollective, micromusic, Pause, superbutton and mp3death.

For more about chiptunes, check out these links:

Coffee Bar films - Between skiffle and beat, a short-lived scene percolated

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 10, 2009 02:08pm | Post a Comment

In the 1950s, Britiain's teenagers were exposed to a lot more American culture than they were perhaps previously used to. Disparate strains of American culture including beatniks, teenage rebellionrock 'n' roll and coffee all got mashed up in one slightly confused and frothy concoction. Leather-favoring motorcycle enthusiasts who embraced the scene were labeled coffee bar cowboys. F




or the aspiring juvenile delinquents and those just out for kicks, alcohol was suddenly the choice of squares and java joe was the way to go, dad! Soon, the English were brewing their own strain of rock 'n' roll in Soho "caffs" (most famously, The 2 i's). Of course, as with any proper youth movement, exploitation films inevitably followed.


The Tommy Steele Story (1957)



"He traveled the world listening to the musical heartbeat of people everywhere and he came home with his head and heart full of songs that captivate all who hear."

The Golden Disc (1958)


Serious Charge (1959)


Beat Girl (1959)







Expresso Bongo (1959)






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