July 01, 2009
When my friend Dru made a website for me back in 2003, the idea behind it was for me to have a forum to express ideas about music, a resource page for my academic publications, and a means to keep my Canadian friends and family updated about my life in Scotland.
However, somewhere between 2003 and 2007, the growth of new social networking websites made this page somewhat redundant.
So here's the deal:
If you're looking for information about my academic career, you can find it on my academia.edu page.
If you're looking for information about my band, you can find it on our myspace page.
And if you're a long lost friend, it's not hard to find me on Facebook.
This website is still useful if you're looking for a convenient way to download digital versions of my academic publications. You can find them on the left-hand sidebar of this page.
All the best,
Posted by matt in
at 02:43 PM
March 25, 2008
Debut single, graduation, new job
This website has been seriously neglected since I submitted my thesis last June, but here are a few updates in case anyone thought I might have dropped off the face of the earth.
October 2007: My band released our debut single on seven-inch vinyl and digital download. You can purchase either a physical copy or mp3 via our website here.
November 2007: I graduated from the University of Stirling with a PhD in Film and Media Studies.
December 2007: I got a two-year work visa to remain in Scotland.
January - March 2008: I taught popular music part-time at both the University of the West of Scotland and Glasgow University.
March 2008: I accepted a job offer as a research assistant at the University of Edinburgh, and will start work on a project analyzing the live music sector in the UK beginning in April.
Posted by matt in personal
at 04:33 PM
June 14, 2007
You may have noticed that my posts have been less frequent in recent months. The reason is that my various projects and side-projects have all been escalating in intensity as of late.
The biggest such project has been completing the PhD thesis, and I'm happy to report that I submitted my final draft for examination on May 21st, after which I headed immediately off to a cottage in the Scottish countryside to record with the band. Then it was back to Glasgow for additional recording in a proper studio before hopping on an airplane to Barcelona for a vacation from both band and thesis! I hope to post some photos of these latter two diversions in the near future.
Posted by matt in academiks
at 01:57 PM
April 14, 2007
Super Puny Humans
As I desperately try to finish up the final draft of my thesis, distractions abound at every corner. One of the most pleasant distractions to crop up is an upcoming tour of central Scotland playing in my wee band. We're doing a series of gigs with a great Falkirk band called Y'all Is Fantasy Island and a novelist named Alan Bissett. It's guaranteed to be slightly off the wall, but if you're in the neighbourhood at the beginning of May, it would be great to see you out at a show.
You can read the press release below, or check out the tour website here.
"SUPER PUNY HUMANS! is a 4 date tour featuring three of Glasgow’s most exciting young talents: Y’all is Fantasy Island, ZVG, and the novelist Alan Bissett.
Alan was featured on the recent Ballads of the Book CD, organised by Roddy Woomble from Idlewild, uniting the cream of Scotland’s writing and music talents. The album twinned him with Arab Strap’s Malcolm Middleton for the song ‘The Rebel on His Own Tonight’.
The CD merges Scotland’s vibrant indie and writing scenes, a testament to their ongoing crossover. Irvine Welsh duetted with Primal Scream in 1996. Edwin Morgan appeared on Idlewild’s album The Remote Part. Iain Banks is currently arranging a CD of songs by bands based around his book Espedair Street. Young novelists Rodge Glass and Doug Johnstone moonlight in bands, while, conversely, Aidan Moffat has gone into spoken word.
For the first time in Scotland, however, two young bands are uniting with a writer to go on tour. Super Puny Humans! will see Alan Bissett reading from his novels Boyracers and The Incredible Adam Spark between sets from the acclaimed Y’all is Fantasy Island, and up-and-comers ZVG. A fizzy, trippy night of words and music is assured."
March 08, 2007
Charity doesn't always begin at home. Vanity Fair have invited "pop-humanitarian" Bono to be guest editor of the July issue, to try and "rebrand Africa". Some magazines have been sharing some other facts about Bono:
* In the year since it was founded, his Red campaign (licensed to Gap, Motorola, Apple etc) has raised $18 million - but companies have spent $100 million to market it.
* Bono doesn't invest his own money in Red.
* Apple sells a Special Edition U2 iPod. Its profits are not donated to Red.
* U2 made $389m from the recent Vertigo tour. Its revenue was then funnelled through companies mostly registered in Ireland and structured to minimize taxes.
* U2 moved its music publishing company to the Netherlands from Ireland in June 2006, six months before Ireland ended a tax exemption on musicians' royalty income.
* Richard Murphy, adviser to lobbying group the Tax Justice Network, says "This is somebody who's exceptionally rich taking the opportunity to shift his tax burden to somebody else, but then asking governments around the world to spend that tax take in the way that he would like."
Thanks to pop scholar Nabeel Zuberi for this!
Posted by matt in powers that be
at 11:38 PM
January 09, 2007
Hip hop hostilities
I watched James Brown’s “homecoming” funeral service on Boxing Day, and I was struck by the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson calling on black musicians, particularly rappers, to change the lyrical content of their songs. They’ve done this before, but the difference this time was that they bolstered their opinions with the views of James Brown himself, who had an immeasurable musical influence on rap music, and who in his last conversation with Al Sharpton had apparently expressed the following sentiments.
CNN transcript of Al Sharpton eulogy: [James Brown said] “I want you to keep fighting for justice. But I want you to tell people to love one another. I want you to fight to lift the standards back." He said, "What happened to us that we are now celebrating from being down? What happened we went from saying I'm black and I'm proud to calling each other niggers and ho's and bitches?" He said, "I sung people up and now they're singing people down, and we need to change the music."
This isn’t a new debate, but it made me wonder using Brown’s memorial service as a platform, watched by millions the world over, might provoke a noticeable response from hip-hop artists and the media that covers them. I wonder no longer:
Excerpted from The Guardian: "In the highly competitive and at times violent world of New York hip hop, it is anything but unusual to hear rappers attack each other verbally in forceful terms. But seldom do they go as far as the writer of a new song that calls for fellow rappers to be lynched…. It singles out what the author calls "you fake-ass gangstas" and says "y'all should all get lynched". An accompanying video shows pictures of black men swinging from trees....
The rapper in question is NYOil (pronounced NY oil), a Staten Island-based artist who has posted the song Y'all Should Get Lynched on his MySpace page. The song has been downloaded tens of thousands of times, been highlighted on hip hop radio channels and provoked lively debate among listeners…
His beef is with well-established rappers such as 50 Cent, Jim Jones and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy whom he accuses of spreading irresponsible messages to black youth. Most hip hop lyrics, he believes, glorify selling drugs in the hood, doing time in prison, gang violence and murder for money. They also objectify black women as "hos" (whores) and "bitches". NYOil has also written a song bemoaning black people's use of the n-word in self-description, called "What up my Wigger". In it he argues that by failing to show themselves respect, black people are opening themselves up to the disrespect of others....
Though his use of language may set him apart, NYOil's critique of mainstream hip hop strikes a mood that is steadily intensifying. Fellow New York rapper Nas recently hit No 1 on the Billboard chart with his new album, Hip Hop is Dead, in which he rhymes "Heinous crimes help record sales more than creative lines" and "Everybody sound the same/Commercialised the game"."
December 20, 2006
The loony Zune
As everyone gears up for Christmas, expensive gadgets and gizmos are on parade and making demands that you buy them for loved ones. Among these is the new Zune mp3 player, Microsoft's answer to the iPod and apparently quite a rubbish piece of technology:
Chicago Sun-Times: "Yes, Microsoft's new Zune digital music player is just plain dreadful. I've spent a week setting this thing up and using it, and the overall experience is about as pleasant as having an airbag deploy in your face. "Avoid," is my general message. The Zune is a square wheel, a product that's so absurd and so obviously immune to success that it evokes something akin to a sense of pity.
The setup process stands among the very worst experiences I've ever had with digital music players. The installer app failed, and an hour into the ordeal, I found myself asking my office goldfish, "Has it really come to this? Am I really about to manually create and install a .dll file?" But there it was, right on the Zune's tech support page. Is this really what parents want to be doing at 4 a.m. on Christmas morning?"
Posted by matt in music biz
at 11:10 PM
November 15, 2006
Hello friends! Just touching base to let you know I'm still alive and well in Glasgow. Still trying to balance the thesis, teaching, and band, but so far all three are still intact. If I manage to keep all three of these balls in the air until the end of the year, it will be the kind of miracle that only Christmas could bring.
For anyone in the Glasgow area, the band will be playing a free show at Brel with the excellent Y'all Is Fantasy Island on Thursday, November 23, as part of the now infamous "Out To Play" nights presented by Say Dirty Records. Maybe I'll see you there. Otherwise, keep it mischievous until we meet...
October 05, 2006
Canadian reggae-funk, new band name, and the Angelshakes
This semester is easily shaping up to be the busiest period of my life so far. I'm a teaching assistant at Stirling University for a class in Film and Music, I'm a lecturer at Glasgow University for an introductory class to Popular Music Studies, and I'm trying to write up my PhD thesis. Sheesh! It never rains but it pours. Fortunately, these are all things that I want to be doing, and I feel like my life is on a busy, but ultimately fulfilling track. A few other neat things are happening as well:
I recently wrote an article on Toronto reggae, funk, and soul for The Dominion. You can read the article here.
I used to have a Glasgow band called The Lost Marbles, but we discovered that when people googled for us all they got were totally unrelated American wedding bands using the same name. So we have officially changed our name and logo to what you see above, which we like, if only because when you google it we're the only band that comes up. We've been playing a good run of shows at Glasgow venues like the 13th Note, the Barfly, and Nice and Sleazy's. We've also got a myspace page with free MP3s.
Finally, my kid brother has also recently made his debut on the myspace scene. His name is Pat Brennan, and he's got a great musical project called The Angelshakes. You can check out his fine music here.