I made sure that 2018 was the year I finally made my way through The Sopranos. I finished the final season just before the year ended. It was quite the trek and nicely timed given that The Sopranos Sessions was set to release this month. After finishing the show, I jumped into the book and went on the wild ride all over again.
Michael Azerrad is no stranger to writing about music. He’s the author of Our Band Could Be Your Life, and he recently released Rock Critic Law. The latter is a book that includes 101 unbreakable rules for writing badly about music, as the subtitle notes. The book is an extremely quick read as the rules are presented in tweet-length format.
The biggest difference between racial issues in the UK and the US is the attitude the people have towards the topic. In the US, there is a constant call for racial tolerance, racial awareness, and racial acceptance. Emphasized from childhood, people of color are aware of the racial differences. However, in the UK, there is an unspoken rule that race should be ignored. In Britain, racism is more subtle. It’s more insidious. Sometimes, you won’t even know you’re being discriminated against. The way the script usually goes is, “Hello. So nice to meet you.” Fake laugh, fake laugh, and more fake laughter, until you leave the room, and they say, “We are never going to employ that woman.” Many of them have mastered that script.
Meet the two successful black British women, Yomi Adegoke, and Elizabeth Uviebinené who have written Slay In Your Lane, a book with the tricks for black women to make lemonade out of the lemons given to them by racists. Yomi Adegoke is a journalist and senior writer at The Pool. While her best friend, and co-author, Elizabeth Uviebinené is a marketing manager at HSBC. They met at Warwick University years ago, and among the many things they share in common is their goal to protect black people at all cost.
Twilight of the Gods: A Journey to the End of Classic Rock by Steven Hyden is just the journey I was looking for. In the day and age of staring at screens most of the day, reading a physical book was a great way to unplug. I read this book over three days and enjoyed every bit of it. The book is formatted as a double LP. Sides A-D contain tracks that denote each chapter. It’s a clever way to present the book and it’s little things like that which just add a little extra to the reading experience.
This book covers all walks of classic rock. Hyden talks about Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, and Bruce Springsteen, among many others. He touches on crucial points, too, including the fact that the white men in classic rock pulled influence from artists of color who never received the same kind of recognition.
Chuck Klosterman is the only writer where I’ve stockpiled the complete collection of his books. With X he’s on his tenth book, which is a feat in itself for any author to have ten books. That said, I have yet to read all ten, but this one called to me as an immediate read when it arrived in my mailbox. As someone who has similar interests in general with Klosterman, his writing always intrigues me.
This book is a collection of Klosterman’s writing over the years. Some were familiar, namely his GQ interview (or lack thereof) with Tom Brady while the whole “Deflategate” situation was going on. And despite having already read it, I read it again anyway. In a way, I would like my writing to grow to be what his is, but still something that’s my own. Hopefully that makes sense to someone other than myself. Klosterman covers sports and music in a way that many writers in those areas probably wish they could. He has access that not just anyone gets. His interview with Kobe Bryant is fantastic, and the Lakers fan in me is beyond jealous.
Jesse Cannon’s latest book takes a look at the creative process and how to get results that you’re happy with. While it focuses largely on music, it can easily apply to so much more than that. Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With isn’t a behemoth of a book like Get More Fans, but it’s equally as effective. The book takes you through the motions of finding who is a best fit to work with, how to make music you’re happy with, and so much more.
Scott Crawford took what he worked on with Salad Days and brought it to a nice coffee table book format. He compiled a list of influential punk bands from the 80’s DC scene. Each entry gives the perspective of the band members, concert goers, photographers, and more. It’s a thorough look at the history without being overwhelming. The format works well since it focuses a lot on the images and sometimes those can tell stories better than words can.
I wouldn’t say I’m in tune with all of the punk bands from the 80’s era, let alone all of the ones around Washington D.C., but I’d like to think I know at least a little about punk music. This book has the bigger bands you’d expect with Fugazi, Bad Brains, and Minor Threat, but it’s the others that will surprise you if you haven’t done your homework. Ian MacKaye sprinkled his talents around in more bands than I had thought, so he’s a prominent feature in this book.
Being drawn to Laura Jane Grace’s memoir, TRANNY: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout, is a natural side-effect of being hypnotized, mesmerized, and forever in awe of Against Me!’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues. I appreciated Transgender Dysphoria Blues for a myriad of reasons: It’s a hell of a rock-and-roll album, it’s intimate and personal in its storytelling, the way my favorite artists have always sung their stories, and it made me a better person. The latter point is not something that can be said for a ton of my favorite albums.