Media’s Cock Roach

Living in Trump’s dystopian nation (if you haven’t ingested the Kool-Aid), sometimes you can forget that this American life sometimes delivers treats, too.

Last week, it was #InternationalClashDay. This afternoon, while listening to Maine Calling, hosted by Maine media vet, Jennifer Rooks, I found out it’s #WorldRadioDay. Hot damn! I love radio, so why not celebrate the hell out of the day? The verdict of Rooks and her guests was that radio’s still going strong and will continue to survive.

I grew up when you could still hear rock and roll on the AM dial. Now it’s the domain of conservative talk dirges and hosts positing an alternative version of America vastly different than the one I grew up in. Wanna’ make America great again? Flush Rush from the airwaves and play some music!

Happy families listen to the radio.

When I’m home and working, I stream music via several dial-based stations that I can’t pick up in Maine. This is one of the wonders of the internet and technology in my opinion. Here are my top four.

  • KEXP (Seattle, Washington)
  • WMFU (East Orange, New Jersey)
  • WMBR (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
  • WMPG (Portland, ME)

I can pull in WMPG’s signal on my stereo receiver and of course, in my car. I am a fan of their weekday afternoon “rock blocks,” especially Wednesday’s Radio Junk Drawer, with David Pence. More and more, I’m apt to be streaming KEXP most afternoons that aren’t Wednesday. Continue reading

Combat Rock

It’s difficult sitting here in 2018 Trumpworld, recalling how another hated politician spawned a musical revolution. But back in 1975, when Great Britain’s longest-serving post-WWII prime minister took office, the fury of the then-nascent punk scene hadn’t yet been funneled her way. Punks’ anger and rage found an able target in Margaret Thatcher just two years later.

Thatcher climbed atop her conservative perch, two years prior to the release of Never Mind the Bollocks, the Sex Pistols’ punk “shot heard round” the music world. Britain would never be the same, as Thatcher (much like Reagan in America), turned her attention to dismantling much of the country’s social infrastructure. And Trump seems hellbent on scrapping what remains of America’s.

While the Sex Pistols received the lion’s share of attention from the media for their outlandish “manners,” sneering frontman, Johnny Rotten, and McClaren-esque media savvy (not to mention their shot across the bow, “God Save the Queen”), it was a group of working class twenty-somethings from Brixton who embraced an incendiary ethic of rage, channeled through punk sensibilities and three-minute song structures, that would later evolve and incorporate reggae, rap, dub, and funk, demonstrating that punk could be more than three chords structures, played at breakneck speed. Continue reading

Ziggy Played Guitar

[I wrote this Monday night]
As we age, it’s an ongoing battle not to become a nostalgia act—in the music we listen to, the books we read, the clothes we wear—especially when others our own age are entrenched in the past.

I see it on Facebook. In the people that I once knew, went to school with, and most of whom I likely haven’t seen face-to-face in 35 years. And yet, we somehow have some tenuous connection that Mark Zuckerberg is able to exploit?

Last week I was listening to KEXP, one of the stations I enjoy streaming, given the sad state of radio in my own region. I prefer to listen to music that was written and recorded in the last decade and stations like KEXP (from Seattle) play a mix of newer music, while recognizing some of the pioneers and icons of rock and their contribution to the history of the genre.

David Bowie would be one of the latter. In fact, KEXP highlighted Bowie, celebrating his birthday last Friday, with what they were calling “Intergalactic David Bowie Day,” playing a shitload of his music, old, and new, including his latest (and last) album, Blackstar.

David Bowie, as Ziggy Stardust (circa 1973).

David Bowie, as Ziggy Stardust (circa 1973).

Continue reading

News From Around the World

The past four days have been an interesting stretch. I’ve actually been down the rabbit hole for much of three of them, piecing together the most ambitious short-term freelance assignment that I’ve landed to date. The payout for giving up my weekend is about a month’s worth of income. After the year I’ve had, any ka-chingle at this point is welcome. I’m actually in the throes of a decent late-year rally.

Up from the rabbit hole.

Up from the rabbit hole.

While in the course of my work, a major international event occurred, too—a terrorist attack in France—but I literally couldn’t stop to ponder or pay much attention to it (save for about 5 minutes on Saturday morning when I checked my social media feed). I did see that many “friends” were acting like lemmings. Continue reading

Fridays Are For Music

The JBE loves music. Aspects of the JBE brand are embedded with and influenced by many DIY aspects inherent in music from both the punk and post-punk eras of rock music history.

I still listen to “what’s new” via streaming audio, most often, KEXP, based in Seattle, WMBR (based at MIT), especially Saturday’s James Dean Death Car Experience, and WFMU, one of America’s last free-form radio stations, what’s become an oddity in this age of corporate media consolidation. Continue reading

Music in My Car

Mogwai, The Heartless Bastards, Kurt Vile, Jeff Buckley, Todd Rundgren.

Mogwai, The Heartless Bastards, Kurt Vile, Jeff Buckley, Todd Rundgren.

Music has always been a big part of the Jim Baumer Experience. Every blog I’ve ever maintained at least occasionally brushed up against music, especially music with a big beat, albeit, rock and roll.

The term rock and roll isn’t what it used to be. When the first electric guitars got plugged in and amplification changed modern music, rock was a rebel yell into the conservative abyss and a kick in the teeth to the status quo. Now? Not so much. Continue reading