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Alex Niven

Oasis' Definitely Maybe - 33 1/3

    Oasis' incendiary 1994 debut album Definitely Maybe managed to summarize almost the entire history of post-fifties guitar music from Chuck Berry to My Bloody Valentine in a way that seemed effortless. But this remarkable album was also a social document that came closer to narrating the collective hopes and dreams of a people than any other record of the last quarter century. In a Britain that had just undergone the most damaging period of social upheaval in a century under the Thatcher government, Noel Gallagher ventriloquized slogans of burning communitarian optimism through the mouth of his brother Liam and the playing of the other Oasis ‘everymen’: Paul McGuigan, Paul Arthurs and Tony McCarroll.

    On Definitely Maybe, Oasis communicated a timeworn message of idealism and hope against the odds, but one that had special resonance in a society where the widening gap between high and low demanded a newly superhuman kind of leaping. Alex Niven charts the astonishing rise of Oasis in the mid 1990s and celebrates the life-affirming, communal force of songs such as “Live Forever,” “Supersonic,” and “Cigarettes & Alcohol.” In doing so, he seeks to reposition Oasis in relation to their Britpop peers and explore one of the most controversial pop-cultural narratives of the last thirty years.

    Alex Green

    The Stone Roses' The Stone Roses - 33 1/3

      The Stone Roses shows a band sizzling with skill, consumed with drive and aspiration and possessing an almost preternatural mastery of the pop paradigm. This book explores the political and cultural zeitgeist of England in 1989 and attempts to apprehend the magic ingredients that made The Stone Roses such a special and influential album.

      Joe Pernice

      The Smiths' Meat Is Murder - 33 1/3

        A Catholic high school near Boston in 1985. A time of suicides, gymnasium humiliations, smoking for beginners, asthma attacks, and incendiary teenage infatuations. Infatuations with a girl (Allison), with a band (The Smiths) and with an album, Meat is Murder, that was so raw, so vivid and so melodic that you could cling to it like a lifeboat in a storm.

        In this brilliant novella Joe Pernice tells the story of an asthmatic kid's discovery of Meat is Murder. Here is a short exceropt: One morning as I was jogging my way past the bronze plaque commemorating the deaths of one student and one motorcyclist, my necktie flapping like a windsock, Ray floored the brake pedal of his Dodge as he closed in on me. Fifty mile an hour traffic came to a screeching, nearly murderous halt behind him.

        He leaned over and rolled down the passenger side window in one fluid motion. He dispensed with formalities while I marveled at the audacity of his driving and, tossing something at me, winked and said, "Here. I'm going to kill myself." He pegged the gas, leaving a surprisingly good patch of rubber for such a shitty car.

        In the gutter, sugared with sand put down during the winter's last snow, I saw written in red felt ink on masking tape stuck to a smoky-clear cassette: "Smiths: Meat."

        Mike McGonigal

        My Bloody Valentine's Loveless - 33 1/3

          This epoch-making record of the late '80s effortlessly combines dense swathes of guitar noise and dance music. This turned out to be their last record, guitarist and studio maestro Kevin Shields having set their standards so high it was impossible to surpass them. Shields is now playing with Primal Scream.


          Will Hagle

          Madvillain's Madvillainy - 33 1/3

            This book celebrates Madvillainy as a representation of two genius musical minds melding to form one revered supervillain. A product of circumstance, the album came together soon after MF DOOM's resurgence and Madlib's reluctant return from avant-garde jazz to hip-hop. Written from the alternating perspectives of three fake music journalist superheroes—featuring interviews with Wildchild, M.E.D., Walasia, Daedelus, Stones Throw execs, and many other real individuals involved with the album's creation—this book blends fiction and non-fiction to celebrate Madvillainy not just as an album, but as a folkloric artifact.

            It is one specific retelling of a story which, like Madvillain's music, continues to spawn infinite legends.

            Chris Ott

            Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures - 33 1/3

              33 1/3 is a series of short books about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the last 40 years. Focusing on one album rather than an artist's entire output, the books dispense with the standard biographical background that fans know already, and cut to the heart of the music on each album. The authors provide fresh, original perspectives - often through their access to and relationships with the key figures involved in the recording of these albums.

              By turns obsessive, passionate, creative, and informed, the books in this series demonstrate many different ways of writing about music. (A task which can be, as Elvis Costello famously observed, as tricky as dancing about architecture.) What binds this series together, and what brings it to life, is that all of the authors - musicians, scholars, and writers - are deeply in love with the album they have chosen.

              Jeff Gomez

              Math Rock - 33 1/3 Genre Series

                Math rock sounds like blueprints look: exact, precise, architectural. This trance-like progressive metal music with indie rock and jazz influences has been captivating and challenging listeners for decades. Bands associated with the genre include King Crimson, Black Flag, Don Caballero, Slint, American Football, Toe, Elephant Gym, Covet, and thousands more. In an online age of bedroom producers and sampled beats and loops, math rock is music that is absolutely and resolutely played: men and woman in rooms with instruments creating chaos, beauty, and beautiful chaos.

                This is the first book-length look at the global phenomenon. Containing interviews with prominent musicians, producers, and critics spanning the globe, Math Rock will delight longtime fans while also serving as a primer for those who want to delve deeper. It shows why and how an intellectually complex, largely faceless, and almost entirely instrumental form of music has been capturing the attention of listeners for 50 years-and counting.

                Claudia Lonkin

                Neue Deutsche Welle - 33 1/3 Genre Series

                  Neue Deutsche Welle (NDW), or “German New Wave,” was made extraordinarily popular in the 1970s and 1980s by the likes of Nena's "99 Luftballoons" and Trio's "Da Da Da"-and then left as quickly as it came. Conventional wisdom among artists dictates that it's better to burn out than fade away, but this doesn't tell the full story of NDW-the reason for its rapid rise and fall, the historical context that necessitated the genre, and where the energy of the NDW movement went after its end.

                  The genre has international influences but still demonstrates a uniquely German desire to build a new, sanitized identity in the aftermath of World War II. Originally quite subversive and underground, NDW became exponentially more mainstream until it could no longer sustain itself creatively. And rather than disappearing, it helped give rise to the post-Cold War rave craze and is still an important touchstone in music history.

                  R.J. Wheaton

                  Trip-Hop - 33 1/3 Genre Series

                    Trip-hop described some of the 1990s best music, and it was one of the decade’s most revealing bad ideas. This book chronicles the music and its leading artists, packed with recommended listening, essential tracks, great remixes, and under-recognized albums. “Your playlists will soon be overflowing.” - Spectrum CultureThe music itself was an intoxication of beats, bass, and voice.

                    It emerged amid the social tensions of the late 1980s, and as part of hip-hop’s rise to global dominance. It carried the innovations of Jamaican soundsystem culture, the sweet refuge of Lovers Rock, the bliss of club jazz dancefloors and post-rave chill-out rooms. It went mainstream with Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, DJ Shadow, Kruder & Dorfmeister, and Björk; and with record labels like Ninja Tune and Mo’ Wax.

                    To the artists despair, the music was tagged with a silly label and packaged as music for the boutique and the lounge; made respectable with awards and acclaim. But the music at its best still sounds experimental and dramatic; and its influence lingers through artists like FKA twigs, Sevdaliza, James Blake, Billie Eilish, and Lana Del Rey. This short book is a guide to trip-hop in its context of the weird 1990s: nostalgia and consumerism; pre-millenium angst and lo-fi technology; casual exoticism amid accelerating globalization and gentrification.

                    Marshall Gu

                    Krautrock - 33 1/3 Genre Series

                      Krautrock is not a music genre. Krautrock is a way of life. Its sonic diversity and global reach belie the common culture from where it emerged. This is a band-by-band history.

                      In May 1945, the Allies defeated Nazi Germany, putting an end to the European front of World War II and the Third Reich. In the immediate aftermath, German youth were tasked to create their own culture. Krautrock is this unlikely success story, as hundreds of bands-including Kraftwerk and Can-seemed to sprout overnight in the early 1970s, forging a unique and experimental sound that was different than American or British rock. The major innovation of krautrock is not only its motorik beat, the steady click-click of Can's Jaki Liebezeit or monolithic stomp-stomp of Neu!'s Klaus Dinger, but also how the musicians relate to each other. In krautrock, no musician is given more focus than any other, and listening to these bands is to witness interplay common in jazz music. Thus, krautrock represents German politics reflected in music: a dictatorship replaced by democracy.

                      Krautrock explores the history and methodology of the genre, charting its influences and innovations, its more mainstream acts (like Faust, Kraftwerk, and Can) as well as the less universally known (including Harmonia, Popol Vuh, Embryo, and Ash Ra Tempel), and how the genre developed in post-war Germany and what it means to today's listeners.

                      Larissa Wodtke

                      Dance-Punk - 33 1/3 Genre Series

                        Beginning in the late 1970s as an offshoot of disco and punk, dance-punk is difficult to define. Also sometimes referred to as disco-punk and funk-punk, it skirts, overlaps, and blurs into other genres including post-punk, post-disco, new wave, mutant disco, and synthpop. This book explores the historical and cultural conditions of the genre as it appeared in the late 1970s and early 1980s and then again in the early 2000s, and illuminates what is at stake in delineating dance-punk as a genre.

                        Looking at bands such as Gang of Four, ESG, Public Image Ltd., LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture, and Le Tigre, this book examines the tensions between and blurring of the rhetoric and emotion in dance music and the cynical and ironic intellectualizing associated with post-punk.

                        Julian Cope

                        Japrocksampler

                          Julian Cope, eccentric and visionary rock musician, follows the runaway underground success of his book "Krautrocksampler" with "Japrocksampler", a cult deconstruction of Japanese rock music, and reveals what really happened when East met West after World War Two. It explores the clash between traditional, conservative Japanese values and the wild rock 'n' roll renegades of the 1960s and 70s, and tells of the seminal artists in Japanese post-war culture, from itinerant art-house poets to violent refusenik rock groups with a penchant for plane hijacking.


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