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Review Corner: John Paul White’s Beulah

August 23, 2016
(Source: Single Lock Records via iTunes)

(Source: Single Lock Records via iTunes)

Once there was the Civil Wars…

It’s been four years since the band stopped touring (November 2012) and stopped altogether. It’s been a while for John Paul White, but he has been working on a new solo album, something he hasn’t done in eight years. Now he’s finally in a place where he can put out new music and the result is the new Beulah. I picked it up on a whim and recognized the voice and the guitar.

It’s hard not to make “What’s So” into an instant favourite. Dark overtones, upbeat tempo, lashing vocals, it wouldn’t be out of place in a western film. Then there’s subtle but insidious “Black Leaf”, feisty “Fight For You” and another folk anthem with “The Martyr”. On a different tone, there’s “The Once and Future Queen” and “I’ve Been Over This” for more Americana folk. The tug at the heartstrings come via “Make You Cry” and “Hope I Die”. You will definitely find some flavour reminiscent of the Wars’ Barton Hollow, but this one’s all John Paul White and the deep South Americana in bloom.

Here’s the video for “What’s So” which I can’t seem to stop listening to at the moment.

Watch on YouTube

You can pick up the album on iTunes. You might not be into folk music or the Americana genre, but then again you might. I’d suggest you try listening a little. It’s good to listen to a little of everything.

Coming up next in the Calendar:

The illusion of celebrity worship (II). An Editorial.

August 14, 2016
(Source: TaylorSwift.com)

(Source: TaylorSwift.com)

We’ll be safe and sound, Taylor Nation.

I’ve tackled the prickly subject of celebrity worship before. Sometimes you wish your favourite artists would remain small. Sometimes all this talk about a fandom community irks me the wrong way because I don’t believe we are of one mind, nor that we should be. I think I can state that we all might at some point have differing opinions regarding what it means to be a fan. I think I might be in the minority saying the following: I don’t think Taylor Swift needs anybody to defend her. If anybody can weather a media storm, it’s her.

I know Taylor has embraced a role that we often give celebrities: the one of idol or role model. For many, she’s become a second mom, a wise older sister (or younger in some cases) or just a mentor that seems to be there when we need her the most. That’s not her role. Taylor is a singer/songwriter, an entertainer, an artist, a public figure and an intellectual property. You can like her music, feel empathy for her as a human being and be appreciative about her work ethic, but she has no real responsibility for your own life. Celebrities do not raise children. Stop thanking late music artists for your childhood, they didn’t do it for you.

Often enough, it’s celebs themselves who believe this pop culture illusion. I’m not saying fandoms are not communities. They certainly share their lives with each other. They form bonds of friendship. For the artist’s management, it’s a blessing in disguise that they think of themselves as a family. Yes, often enough they’ll help each other, but the “parent” is a distant one. Taylor might have come closer than most in closing that distance – but often enough it has been a case of a few in an entire nation of many fans.

I don’t believe we should ever feel exclusively attached to one artist. I believe that’s almost as wrong as the people who only read one book all their lives. Diversify. Listen to everything. Explore your music. Do not stay in one place. If the artist is good enough, you’ll come back to them. You won’t be able to get their music out of your head. But don’t follow because your friends do. Don’t like things just because they’re the cool things to like. Being a fan of an artists should not be a matter of loyalty but of quality. It’s their craftsmanship that makes you keep listening.

The other side (of the door) might sound a little mercenary, but it’s also true. What do you do when you as a fan don’t like something else that an artist is selling? Well, you don’t buy it. That should be it and there really is no shame in it. I believe you’re still entitled to call yourself a fan regardless of things you don’t like. Some people like the firsts albums of a band before they changed their sound. Some fans love Star Wars but abhor the prequels. I like some Stephen King novels but I skip others. Everyone’s body of work contains particular stuff that some fans will prefer to skip, but they still will hold their favourites in high esteem.

Question your own taste once in a while. See what else is out there. You might find something else you love. Don’t worry, when Taylor is ready she’ll make sure you get to listen to her new stuff.

PS: Don’t you find it annoying when people bring you negative media articles that trash Taylor Swift just to see if they can get a rise out of you? I know, grown up people do this too. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

Coming up next in the Calendar:

How can I ever try to be better. An Editorial.

July 21, 2016
Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

My apologies for the bad aftertaste of that last post, Taylor Nation.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read the last Rumor Control. Now we move on to deal with the fallout. Why? Because in some people’s minds, Taylor is guilty no matter what. That includes a lot of the media. If you want to talk about character assassination, snippy articles have been written about the Sparkly Dressed for a long time. She’s been attacked and condemned (and call endless names) already. I don’t know who among us would be able to handle all the pressure, but I for one would’ve quit trying a long time ago.

Taylor Swift has had her flaws. Not every one of her song has been constructive, and some of her lyrics in the past have gone into slut shaming territory (see: Better Than Revenge). I’m aware she doesn’t like to be called calculating but she’s very business savvy. She’s a workaholic. She values her image and how she is perceived to her fans. She’s lived most of her life on stage and having interviews. As she has grown up to adulthood, she’s no stranger to life in the spotlight. She’s expected to deal with shit like this all the time, and there’s a good chance she’s dealt with even worse without us knowing.

I’m going to be very honest with you, Taylor Nation. I’ve become a little disenchanted with the music industry. Famous doesn’t mean wise. Famous doesn’t mean even mature, as it has been proven time and time again. It’s funny (sad) how little talent is there in being Famous. But at least I would expect some manners. Then again, that’s what I expect from everyone. Instead, it seems everyone wants to make a clusterfuck out of every feud. Maturity level is dropping below sea level at this point.

When all is said and done, we still have the Blonde With The Sparkly 1989 Microphone. Still standing. Perhaps a few people will decide not to buy her records or get tickets or stop voting for her at fan awards. If people make up hashtags and/or write internet memes and it becomes cool to hate Taylor, then other people feel compelled to follow the trend. Me, I remain a long standing citizen of the Taylor Nation. However, I’m cool with people who don’t like her. Honest. But hatred is a different thing and an ugly thing at that.

There’s a lot of things going in the world because of hatred. Violence. Mass shootings. Bat shit crazy people both in positions of power or aiming for positions of power preaching hatred. And people follow them. It then falls unto us, us meaning the people who think, feel, act and give a damn to be better. We gotta be the bigger person when everyone else is running around with their brains turned off because there’s nobody else. I don’t blame you if you want to give up and move to Canada. I already moved to Canada and I’m still hearing about it.

Remember you have the right to look for your own happiness.

In the meantime, you can find me blogging about Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival 2016 over at NeverThinkImpossible.com.

Coming up next in the Calendar:

Rumor control: A phone call in twelve clips

July 21, 2016

mobile-phone-426559_640Sorry, Taylor Nation. This is not going away. The bitter pill is better swallowed quick, so we’ll be swift here.

First of all, the facts we know. Kim Kardashian recorded a call between Taylor Swift and Kanye West. The call was about Kanye’s upcoming song, Famous. We have not listened to the entire call. What we have heard so far is twelve separate Snapchat posts from that conversation. In one of them Kanye says a line from his song that includes the “me and Taylor might still have sex” line. This clip only has Kanye. It does not include Taylor’s voice before or after. Another clip has Taylor thanking Kanye for calling her before including a line about her. In another one, she’s talking about something just been cheeky. People have tied along the clips together in the order that Kim posted them and posted that as if it was one thing. Nobody has any proof that the clips are in order. The line about calling Taylor a bitch and making her famous is not included. None of the sound bites have the beginning or the ending of the call.

Second, Taylor’s camp has never denied the call exist. They state that Taylor has not heard the song. Taylor herself has denied ever hearing the line about being call a bitch and being made famous. Taylor’s people also stated Taylor did warn Kanye about the misogynistic message. No clips have been posted about that.

Third, the implications for Taylor. The implication for her is the perception that the clips constitute approval. If so, she lied about not approving the song. Some believes this carries forth to Taylor’s Grammy acceptance speech. The speech alludes to “some people” taking credit for your accomplishments or fame. This results in tarnishing Taylor’s name and image.

Fourth, the implications for Kim and Kanye could be legal. According to the Digital Media Law Project, it depends greatly on where the call was made. California state wiretapping law requires the consent of both parties. New York state wiretapping law of just one. Kanye has recording studios in both California and New York. Taylor has houses in both California and New York. If both of them were in California, mutual consent was needed. If both were in New York, K&K are off the hook. If one of them was in one state and the other in a different one, then this becomes a legal conundrum.

That’s it. No speculation.

Coming up next in the Calendar:

(Sources: Digital Media Law Project)

The Weekly Rant: Taylor visits Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital… Wait, why is this a rant?

July 13, 2016

Perhaps I should call it the monthly rant, Taylor Nation.

(Source: Lady Cilento Children's Hospital via Facebook)

(Source: Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital via Facebook)

Here at the Swift Agency, just one guy that will explain how this becomes a rant in a minute, we’re happy to report the Blonde With The Sparkly 1989 Microphone took time off from… her time off… to visit Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital. The children were all enchanted to meet her, and she made sure she spend time with them taking selfies and even singing a few songs. So, where’s the problem?

Well, obviously she did it for selfish reasons and should be ashamed and go hide under a rock and never come out. Sound reasoning, let’s move o- WAIT A DARN FRIGGIN’ MINUTE.

I honestly think a lot of people in this world are in competition to prove how stupid they can get. Apparently some (and by some I mean a lot of people who looove to share their opinions in comments) think this was a publicity stunt. I’ve read that obviously Taylor must have payed these kids. Because if you’re a sick kid in a hospital, you don’t want visit- NOPE. Wrong again. Sick kids in hospitals WANT visitors. Celebs, non-celebs, anyone – go visit a children’s ward in any hospital and you’ll be happily received. Specially if you bring presents. Specially if they know you from somewhere. Or if you can sing. Or if you just want to spend some time with them. Or just help in any way. You will not be turned away.

Now it could still be true that Taylor did it for publicity. There’s lots of ways to get publicity actually. Show up at a club. Show up at some fancy restaurant. Visit some stores. A children’s hospital? Yeah, I guess but that involves spending time. And kids? You’re expected to talk to them. Taylor’s a singer (ok, not according to some of YOU but they do expect her to sing) so she sang with them. She even has songs that a few of them might even know. I’m being freaking sarcastic, of course they knew! If T-Swizzle was looking for publicity she surely picked one activity that would take time and attention.

Here’s the thing. Are you doing charity? Great! In that case, I know for a fact you don’t mind if a young celebrity shows up and does some charity work. There’s work to go around. But if you’re commenting on how fake she is or her motivation to do it or some implication on how it’s all done for show and has no value… Try doing charity work sometime. It will take effort. It will take time. You might feel great or not, but at some point you’ll realize whatever your motivation was, your assistance was needed and it was appreciated. Did Taylor do it because she wanted to feel better about herself? Guess what, it’s valid. That is a totally valid reason to spend some time with some sick kids. Do you do it for some altruistic goal? Good on you. Then you won’t mind somebody else’s motives, right?

To quote the Rock, it doesn’t matter what you think. What matters is going the distance. The motivation can be what you will. The people that benefit will be thankful regardless. Me and my soapbox will shut up now.

Coming up next in the Calendar:

(Sources: Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital via Facebook)

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