Pop! Culture! And Why It Sticks Around.


The first record I ever bought with my own money was No Doubt’s Rock Steady. When my friends came over, we’d take turns mimicking Gwen Stefani’s chesty vocals into an old broom handle while the CD whirred in my plastic pink boom box. I still have the CD, and it sounds exactly the same now as it did in 5th grade; the punchy melodies and bass-heavy hooks are preserved forever, trapped in the worn laser disks hard physical matter. Despite having listened to this album countless times, I’m still effectively transported back to the emotional roller coaster of my pre-teen years by the end of the first track. This mysterious relationship between sound and memory I suspect, is why music is like time travel: it is a powerful trigger of emotion, capable of transporting the listener through the heavy sediment of recollection. Just  ask any die-hard deadhead, devout festival-goer, or reunion tour enthusiast, music solidifies a communal memory parallel to the historical memory of academia. Mainstream participation is at the heart of pop culture, a social element often dismissed for being decidedly non-academic.

Gwen, my 5th grade hero.

Gwen, my 5th grade hero.



(while pop does ultimately offer a sweetened and approximate perception of reality, a close examination can effectively illustrate temporal distortion in popular American memory, and its divergences from legitimate history. Shifts in American perceptions of time and leisure in the mid-20th century facilitated a dramatic increase in commercial consumption. This development hugely affected the music business, and its effects on pop culture.  The record industry played a significant role in marketing the ideas and aesthetics that ultimately composed mainstream content)


There is validity in mass appeal. Popular culture—particularly when paired with mass media—is especially relevant to the study of collective memory. Contrary to to common depictions, subculture and counterculture aren’t the opposite of mainstream culture, just different opinions framed within the same conversation. They are offshoots, not irreconcilable poles. So what is pop culture, exactly? A dictionary definition tells us pop culture is simply, “the commercial culture based on popular taste.” Clothes, movies, magazines, and music are all pertinent facets, and although rarely ever explicitly stated, pop culture serves as a foil to ‘high culture,’ different a cultural product held in higher academic esteem. For example: Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa can be considered high culture, a mustache penciled on her reproduction, pop culture. Popular culture is not new, but it is distinctly marked by postwar collisions with the rise of mass media. This phenomenon is distinctly American, because of the economic prosperity following the Second World War, and the comparably shabby condition of the rest of the Western World.


Pop culture’s fundamentally accessible nature often delegitimizes much of its academic appeal, but this detachment from traditional scholarship does not invalidate it. In fact, the contrary is true; pop culture is important to note in discourse pertaining to patterns and trends in group opinions and memory. Since the majority of even Western populations exist outside of the proverbial University, an examination of historical perceptions outside of academia can provide relevant historical insight into how history is portrayed by mass media. Since music is recorded, and accessibility to recorded music increases every year, correlations between music and their temporal context are often drawn after the fact, serving as a physical historical record for the attentive listener. American music is of particular interest, starting with the sentimental pop music characteristic of the mid-20th century. These recordings were relatively inexpensive and accessible, endowing everyone from the lower-middle class upward with a certain degree of purchasing power. This music was also not intellectually challenging, it was designed and recorded with the intention of being as appealing to as possible and to as many people. This added to the appeal of music in a commercial sense, offering at the same time narcotic escape from “the banalities of social life,” and collective identification with the rest of music’s anonymous audience.

… What do you think?


Mac DeMarco Cooks Up Something Good on “2”

Man vs. Mannequin II: The Reckoning

Man vs. Mannequin II: Return of the Mac

Oh hi! Didn’t see you there. I’d like to talk to you about a wonderful little record by a guy who goes by the name of Mac DeMarco. DeMarco – a Canadian singer-songwriter, formerly of the band Makeout Videotape – released his second album, fittingly titled “2”, in October, and I finally got  around to checking it out a couple weeks ago. I’m gonna be honest with you – I was pretty positive I would hate this album before I listened to it. The cover and Pitchfork hype made for a lethal combination in my mind, acting as some kind of harbinger of “ironic slacker” doom. The album’s first track (“Cooking Up Something Good”) even starts with a kinda chunkity-chunk Jack Johnson guitar part. Luckily, by the time the song’s chorus hit, things started to turn around. By the third track – The “Sultans of Swing”-esque “Freaking Out the Neighborhood” – I was hooked. Every song on the album is a catchy, hook-filled fun-time bonanza, full of jangly, shambolic grooves (think Pavement at their most singer-songwritery, laid back moments). These are songs you’ll be humming all day, then you’ll catch yourself humming them and be all “man, I ain’t even mad.” It’s the feelgood album of the summer, except, like, you know, in the winter. Let DeMarco and his band of merry men transport you to sunny days where the drinks are free and Jimmy Buffett is nowhere in sight. Swimming pools and barbecues are there too. Seriously, it’ll be cool. You just gotta listen.


Roc Marciano

First Hip Hop Charts of 2013

Here’s just a quick snapshot of some of the new Hip Hop that is getting played on KZSC in the new year:

1 ROC MARCIANO – Reloaded
2 DJ VADIM – Don’t Be Scared
3 E-DUBBLE – Reset
4 PAT MAINE – Doomsday Charades
5 PLAN B – Ill Manors
6 MAIN ATTRAKIONZ – Bossalinis And Fooliyones
7 PROF Kaiser – Von Powderhorn 3
9 P.O.S. – We Don’t Even Live Here
10 KLASSIK – In The Making

Be sure to check the Hip Hop charts on cmj.com to stay updated on the weekly Hip Hop playlists!


Jazz Charts 1/15

Hello everyone,

Here is this week’s edition of the KZSC Jazz Charts. Topping them this week comes an independent/self release from vocalist Lauren Desberg with her EP “Sideways.” This album features many up and coming young jazz stars on the scene today including bassist Joshua Crumbly (Terence Blanchard, Taylor Eigsti), drummer Corey Fonville (Nicholas Payton, Christian Scott), and arrangements by recent Thelonious Monk competition winner in piano, Kris Bowers. The album is produced by all-star vocalist Gretchen Parlato and also features the unique musical expressions of Dayna Stephens and his tenor saxophone. More information and tunes can be heard at her website www.laurendesberg.com.

Other than that I got a TON of jazz incoming this week, thanks for the support!

KZSC Top 10 Charts
1    LAUREN DESBERG    Sideways    Self Released
3    AMBROSE AKINMUSIRE    When The Heart Emerges Glistening    Blue Note
4    DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER    Live At Yoshi’s    Verve
5    AMIKAEYLA    Being In Love    RootsJazz
7    PAUL HEMMINGS UKETET    Introducing – The Paul Hemmings Uketet    Leading Tone
8    ALFREDO RODRIGUEZ    Sounds Of Space    QWEST
9    ANDREA BRACHFELD    Lady Of The Island    Zoho
10    BRAD MEHLDAU TRIO    Where Do You Start    Nonesuch
KZSC Jazz Adds
Jackie Ryan    Listen Here    Open Art
Organissimo    Dedicated    MFA Jazz
Patricia Barber    Smash    Concord
Erik Deutsch    Demonio Leclado    Kuumbwa
Davina and the Vagabonds    Black Cloud    Kuumbwa
Wasabi    Wide Open    Kuumbwa
Daniel Lantz Trio    Daniel Lantz Trio Plays Bond    Kari-On
The Summarily Dismissed    To Each    Kari-On
Didi Favreau    Vague Recollections Pt. 1    Self
Shake it Like a Caveman    Digital Football    Self
Hashem Assadullahi    Pieces    Origin Records
Mimi Fox    Standards Old and New    Origin Records
Inbar Fridman    Time Quartet Project    Origin Records
Lary Barilleau & The Latin Jazz Collective    Carmen’s Mambo    Origin Records
Rob Ryndak    A Wonderful Thing    New World n Jazz
James Sanders    Blue Violin    MFA Jazz
Nate Najar     Blues for Night People    Lisa Reedy
Jerry Leake    Cubist Prominence    Self Released
Pamela Hines    3. 2. 1.    Kari-On
Lisa Forkish    Bridges    Kari-On

-N. Mokover


Loud Rock Charts: 1/15

After 4 long years, Voivod is finally back with their newest full length, Target Earth. It’s the first record to feature their new guitarist, Daniel Mongrain, and the first since 1991 to feature their original bassist.

Also, Incite, who is releasing an exciting album soon, is touring with Soulfly in the coming months in support of All Out War. So much exciting stuff coming out, and it’s only the first month of the year!




1 VOIVOD Target Earth Century Media
2 INCITE All Out War Minus Head
3 NIGHTFALL Cassiopeia Metal Blade
4 BLACK EXPLOSION Servitors Of The Outer Gods Metalville




1 DEFTONES Koi No Yokan Warner Brothers
2 ALL THAT REMAINS A War You Cannot Win Razor and Tie
3 CORSAIR Corsair Shadow Kingdom
4 GAMMA RAY Skeletons And Majesties Eagle Rock
5 RAMMSTEIN Mein Herz Brennt [EP] Universal
6 SLAM ONE DOWN Who Really Wants To Live Forever Pour One Out
7 LEAVING EDEN Between Heaven And Hell Nova-Right-UNI
8 CULT OF LUNA “I: The Weapon” [Single] Density
9 RECOVERY COUNCIL Plan-Do-Check-Act Dot Ultra
10 MESTIS Basal Ganglia



Django Fail !

Though not for the reasons being bandied about, I did not like this movie. But, since this is a blog for KZSC, let’s keep to issues musically related……      I am a huge fan of QT, and have found his use of music in film amazing!   Especially, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction & Jackie Brown.  Oh lordy lordy, I do have many a fond memory.  But, alas, as far as this latest film from him, the soundtrack, it gets a big “F” for FAIL!  To be fair, I can think of couple of times when a tune worked with the film.  However, for the rest, instead of enhancing the movie, the music detracted and distracted from it.  You get pulled out of a scene, rather than being drawn in.  If you are sitting in a theatre, thinking about how crappy and inapropriate the soundtrack is, that can’t be a good sign.  For all the talk about how graphic and authentic the depictions of slavery were, how about a couple of  hyms or spirituals drawn from the abolitionist movements of the time period?    By the way, the “N” word was not overused in the movie, but I do have an “N” word to use for the music offerred in Django Unchained… NO, NO, NO, NO & NO !!!