ANNOUNCING THE NEWEST 33 1/3S

Today’s the day! We are thrilled to announce the next batch of 12 books for the 33 1/3 series. From Little Richard to Dolly Parton to Cardi B, we have a variety of new artists and albums to add to the series lineup. We look forward to seeing what our brilliant authors have to say about their music.  We received many outstanding proposals, which we delighted in reading and discussing. As always, it was difficult to select just 12. We are continually impressed by your dedication to music and honored…

Introducing “Genre: A 33 1/3 Series”

Calling all music nerds! We are thrilled to announce our new series, Genre: A 33 1/3 Series. Here are some answers to your most pressing questions: What’s the new series all about? Genre: A 33 1/3 Series is a series of short books that guide you through the musical sub-genres that have intrigued, perplexed, or provoked you. Like the original, critically-acclaimed 33 1/3 series, every book in the Genre series takes a unique approach and the series collectively offers a host of new perspectives, song recommendations, little-known tidbits, personal stories,…

712 Live Show, July 17, 2021 (Osaka, Japan)

Forty years of Shonen Knife—it’s an astonishing testament to the band, their music, and their fans. Other bands they’ve been connected with or compared to including the Beatles (ten years), Ramones (twenty-two years), and Nirvana (seven years) don’t even come close to Shonen Knife’s staying power in terms of touring and making music. I

Talking Food with Naoko (July 23, 2021)

There is no question that the members of Shonen Knife love food; this is obvious from their banter at live shows about food, their book Shonen Knife Land. I explored the band’s relationship with food in Shonen Knife’s Happy Hour: Food, Gender, Rock and Roll. For that book, I had a chance to interview Naoko about the 1998 album, its creation, and her insights about music. I feel honored to communicate with her again via email for part of this blog series. This time, the conversation focused on food. I’ve provided Naoko’s responses in English translation (any mistakes are shortcomings on my part). Many thanks to Naoko and Manager Shibata Atsushi for their help and kindness. 

Talking Tasty in Japan

In my previous post I outlined some of the ways food permeates Japanese food and popular culture. In this one, I dig a little deeper into the connections between food and the Japanese language itself. As I mention in my book Shonen Knife’s Happy Hour: Food, Gender, Rock and Roll, rice has historically been considered central to the Japanese diet and as a food it is loaded with cultural meaning. Indeed, the word for cooked rice, gohan (ご飯), is synonymous with meal. 

Food and Japanese Popular Culture

Most fans can agree on two facts about Shonen Knife: first, it’s impossible to be sad while listening to them; second, it’s equally impossible to not get hungry. Ranging from songs about savory ramen to sweet candies, Shonen Knife’s tunes work a synethesial magic on listeners’ tummies. Their forty-plus songs about food give new meaning to the phrase “musical taste.” But why does Shonen Knife have so many songs about food? I develop a couple of answers to this question in Shonen Knife’s Happy Hour: Food, Gender, Rock and Roll; one explanation is that food is a topic that all humans can relate to and take pleasure in, but that is not the only one.

Rockin’ Ramen

The Nissin Company, founded by Ando Momofuku in the early 1950s, rose to prominence with the invention of Cup Noodles instant ramen in 1971. Since then, instant ramen has become a prominent staple around the world and poor college students have spent weeks living off the savory soup-y meal. Indeed, Ando envisioned that Cup Noodles could help alleviate world hunger and bring about world peace. It should come as no surprise that Ando’s company is based in Ikeda, right next to Shonen Knife’s hometown, Osaka and now there is even a museum honoring Cup Noodles there. In Ikeda, the Osaka spirit of kuidaore or “eat til you drop” is strong. And like Ando, in Shonen Knife’s musical vision the optimistic belief that food can bring human beings together shines through. 

New Podcast Episode on Hole’s Live Through This

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Live Through This is an album about girlhood and motherhood; desire and disgust; self-destruction and survival. There have been few rock albums before or since so intimately concerned with female experience. It is an album that changed lives – so why is Courtney Love’s achievement as a songwriter and musician still not taken seriously, two decades on? In this two-part episode, we explore Hole’s origin and influences, their glam 90s LA image, and the 3rd wave feminist backlash against Courtney Love as she challenged every preconceived notion of “good” womanhood.

The Saddest Song on Everyone’s Album

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Jude Johnstone began writing songs at the piano as a child growing up in Hancock, Maine. She was technically “discovered” by Clarence Clemons of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band, who met her on a plane, listened to some demos she later sent him, and flew her to New Jersey, where she witnessed Springsteen recording The River. In 1979 she traveled with the band to Los Angeles, locus of the American recording industry, and established herself as a professional songwriter for artists from Johnny Cash to Bette Midler and Trisha Yearwood.

Midnight Train

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For a decade or so, Jorja Chalmers has been performing saxophone and keyboards with Bryan Ferry. She’s a dazzling presence on stage, as befits Ferry’s carefully curated and casually sophisticated image, plus her contributions to his concerts can be outsized. During a recent, pre-Covid performance at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles I attended, the backup singers on the iconic song “Avalon” lost their way in the final section. Ferry looked wide-eyed at Chalmers, who swiftly crossed the stage to guide the singers back in sync. Ferry, clearly grateful for Chalmers’s cool, shrugged off the misstep.