On the Fight for (Getting INTO) the USA

I write this, regretfully, not in Roanoke, VA at the SEDAAG Meeting. The abstract/registration deadline proved too tight for me after I moved to Tennessee and began working here. Next year! At least I’ve received word from a few of my colleagues who are there and having a great time. Serious respect is due to my colleague Derek Martin, who took home the honors for best PhD paper. I linked that video because he hates it.

Respect is also due to my colleague Matt Cook, who I just discovered drew inspiration from my site to resurrect his. So, I’ll feed the worm of mutual inspiration its tail and use that as inspiration for me to throw a quick update out there. I’ve relayed a number of fun announcements about new books in the works (both involving and not involving my work), but since I’m knee-deep in the end-of-semester crunch time, I don’t have a whole lot of time to contribute a substantial essay to the glut of web content for now. But there are a couple of items you all may enjoy coming in the next few weeks. For now, here are a couple thoughts about Canada.

In case you’re at all interested in underground/punk culture, progressive politics, or just great writing on underrepresented issues, Razorcake is absolutely essential. It’s a non-profit monthly fully dedicated to the universe it covers, and subscriptions are inexpensive and worth every penny. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to contribute band interviews to the magazine and their (soon to be overhauled, I think) website in the past few years.

For those of you who have access to it, do try to find the latest issue and have a read of their interview with Steve Adamyk of the Steve Adamyk Band. It’s a simple, straightforward conversation about the restrictions that he and his band face in trying to set up shows south of the border (in the United States). Between the months-long application process and expensive equipment rental and management, to simply play three hours south of his hometown of Ottawa (without risking getting banned for years) has become nearly impossible for a musician of his means.

Over the past few years, I’ve seen bands from the Middle East remove all dates from their websites in order to fly under the radar of the State Department, and I’ve heard singers from the Great White North tell crowds “if anyone asks, we’re here for a bachelor party!” Granted, if you knew the latter band I’m talking about (they’re pretty good), you’d probably question their singer’s ability to say anything serious.

Toronto: Exhibit A (source: beatgoeson.com)

Considering what fertile power-pop music scenes Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal have grown over the past decade (or for that matter, have had for decades), it’s incredibly disappointing how our government denies us this goodness by leaning on poorly managed and antiquated border laws. I’ll never understand what the United States accomplishes with roadblocks for visiting artists, forcing musicians to construct elaborate lies just to build their fan bases and bring their music to potentially tens of thousands of fans. Fortunately, countries like Germany have been a boon for Adamyk and bands like his, opening their arms to his music (even releasing records for him). Here’s hoping that the network of American fans will, sometime in the near future, be able to show up and shout along with the solid, hardworking Canadian bands that don’t happen to be filling arenas (and asking their fans to play dress up).

Entendiendo por qué Airbag Prefiere la Playa

I’m currently working on a large piece about Boston that will function as a preview or pre-cursor to a research paper I may be working on soon, but unfortunately that entry has been delayed. Instead, enjoy what could one day generate a paper in itself : power-pop from the Mediterranean.

Congratulations to Málaga’s Airbag on celebrating fifteen years as a band with a retrospective DVD and I would imagine a greatest hits album. In this video, watch/hear them distill the aesthetic of the Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach,” as well as the early Beach Boys, (i.e. iconographies of both US coasts) into a song about their own home on la Costa del Sol.

And what celebration of cars, girls, and fun-in-the-sun would be complete without a song about Russian Mafia invading their beautiful hometown? Bonus points for the Transformers cover.

Here is a live video of them playing it in Madrid in 2006, with a roomful of fans screaming along. So, who wants to buy me plane tickets to see them in Granada this weekend?

Tengo que huir. Más palabras pronto, os prometo.

Apologies to F.A.N.T.A. and many other Ramones-worshipping Spaniards I left out. Also, apologies to any of you who don’t understand the lyrics. At least the music is catchy enough regardless.