The Rock Snob*s Dictionary
A * symbol indicates a Rock Snob Vanguard item, denoting a person or an entity held in particular esteem by Rock Snobs.Acetate.
A small-batch test-pressing of a recording, used for demonstration purposes in the pre-digital era--so that record-label executives could vet an upcoming release, or so that music publishers could pitch their new songs to the labels. Often used synonymously with the term WHITE LABEL, though a true, vintage acetate, recorded straight from the studio master tapes and cut on heavy, fragile lacquer that wore out after a few plays (as opposed to the more durable vinyl), is an even rarer commodity. The official Brunswick release of "My Generation" kicks ass, but it doesn't quite capture the primal mod savagery of the acetate.Ackles, David.
Hard-luck Californian singer-songwriter who released four cultishly worshipped albums from 1968 to 1974, the most celebrated of which is American Gothic
(1972). Like his poor-selling contemporaries VAN DYKE PARKS and Randy Newman, Ackles, in his work, evoked the great American songbooks of Stephen Foster and George and Ira Gershwin more than he did the stoner confessionals of the LAUREL CANYON troupe, making him something of a man out of time--though he would later be praised as a genius by Elvis Costello and Bernie Taupin, Elton John's lyricist. Ackles died of cancer in 1999, before a proposed collaboration with Taupin could be realized.Adler, Lou.
of the L.A. music scene since the late fifties, having discovered Jan & Dean, shepherded JOHN PHILLIPS and the Mamas and the Papas to stardom on his Dunhill label, organized the MONTEREY POP festival, cofounded the Sunset Strip clubs the Whisky a Go-Go and the Roxy, and produced Carole King's denimy singer-songwriter showpiece, Tapestry
, in 1971, thereby bringing the LAUREL CANYON ethos to the mass market. A cool, inscrutable figure who often sits beside Jack Nicholson at Lakers games, Adler functions as the urbane antithesis to the scrappy guttersnipe Strip scenesters KIM FOWLEY and RODNEY BINGENHEIMER.Albini, Steve.
Self-consciously difficult Chicago-based record producer who chafes at being called a producer, insisting that he merely "records" bands; best known for having produced--er, recorded--Nirvana's studio swan song, In Utero
, and for issuing snarky comments to the press when some of the album's uncompromisingly raw songs were later remixed by other producers. Albini, who pushes the bounds of hard-rock iconoclasm by wearing glasses and having short hair
, enhanced his outsider cred by playing guitar in the not-very-good hardcore bands Big Black, Rapeman, and Shellac. Man, that drum sound is a monster! No one knows mic placement like Albini
. Self-righteous rock-country hybrid genre whose practitioners favor warbly, studiedly imperfect vocals, nubby flannel shirts, and a conviction that their take on country is more "real" than the stuff coming out of Nashville. Heavily influenced by GRAM PARSONS. Also known as the No Depression movement, after the title of an album by the SEMINAL alt.country band Uncle Tupelo (which itself purloined the title from the CARTER FAMILY song "No Depression in Heaven"). Though such alt. country standard-bearers as the Jayhawks and Neko Case continue to embrace the genre's conventions, the former Uncle Tupelo mainmen Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar have emphatically de-twangified, the former as the leader of the crit-beloved pop eclecticists Wilco, the latter as a solo artist after disbanding his post-Tupelo alt.country band, Son Volt.Americana.
Catchall term for any indigenous American music that draws influence from the United States' earthier pre-rock idioms (country, folk, bluegrass, etc.) and bears no obvious imprimatur of slick New York and Los Angeles A&R men; used to describe everything from mail-order-only cassettes sold by West Virginia fiddlers to high-profile
ALT.COUNTRY releases by attractive, slightly wind-chapped young women such as Tift Merritt and Laura Cantrell.Anthology of American Folk Music, The.
Multivolume collection, first issued by the FOLKWAYS label in 1952, of obscure and semi-obscure folk recordings as compiled by eccentric musicologist Harry Smith (1923-1991). Significant for having allegedly triggered the late-fifties-early-sixties "folkie" movement that gave us Bob Dylan, and therefore, by extension, for making pop music subversive, turning the Beatles into druggies, and irreparably rending the fabric of our society.Anti-folk.
Hazily defined genre originally inhabited by young white tenement squatters who combined folk and punk sensibilities, but more recently embodied by the LO-FI pretend rustics Will Oldham and Bill Callahan, who, under their aliases (Palace and Bonnie "Prince" Billy for Oldham, Smog for Callahan), thrum acoustic guitars and warble ominous murder-ballad lyrics in the style of the authentic twenties hayseeds heard on Harry Smith's ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC. The anti-folk movement (which took its name from English acousti-punk Billy Bragg's description of his own sound) traces its origins to a scroungy eighties Lower East Side scene that spawned, among others, Beck, Michelle Shocked, Cindy Lee Berryhill, and Ani DiFranco.Aphrodite's Child.
Hirsute, preposterous Greek PROG outfit from the late sixties and early seventies enjoying new life as a staple of retro-funk compilations. After the group's 1972 split, walrus-sized vocalist Demis Roussos, possessor of an unlikely castrato singing voice, went on to dubious Euro-fame as a kind of Hellenic Barry White, crooning MOR love songs for the aprs-ski set, while keyboardist Vangelis Parpathanssiou jettisoned his last name and won international fame for his synth-heroic soundtrack to Chariots of Fire
and Snob plaudits for his noirish Blade Runner
Knuckle-dragging thug-titan of Britain's early rock scene; the Suge Knight of his era. Gaining a toehold in London's postwar show business scene as a boy comedian and singer, Arden (ne Harold Levy) muscled his way into promotion, organizing British tours for such kindred-spirit wildmen as Gene Vincent, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis. As manager of THE SMALL FACES, Black Sabbath, and the Electric Light Orchestra in the sixties and seventies, Arden earned a singular reputation for violence, famously dangling fellow maverick Robert Stigwood from a balcony during a business dispute. When Arden's daughter Sharon took over the management of his client Ozzy Osbourne in the early eighties, marrying the cro-mag rocker in the process, Don declared war on Sharon, and she tried to run him over with a car. But Arden has mellowed in recent years, reconciling with his daughter and shuffling through episodes of MTV's The Osbournes
while singing Yiddish music-hall songs.Association, the.
Prime arbiters of the late-sixties "sunshine pop" ethos, having scored a string of featherlight CURT BOETTCHER-produced hits such as "Along Comes Mary," "Cherish," and "Windy." Though the Association was big enough to have been the opening act at the MONTEREY POP festival, and their multilayered harmonies and sophisticated arrangements were sometimes worthy of BRIAN WILSON, their credibility was hampered by their wussy image, relentless deployment of ba-pa-ba-paaah
backing vocals, and the fact that their main musical force, Terry Kirkman, played the recorder and flute onstage--ultimately consigning them, perhaps unfairly, to the BUBBLEGUM ranks.Austin City Limits.
Public-television program originally conceived, in 1974, as a showcase for Austin, Texas's burgeoning music scene--the first guest was the pre-superstardom Willie Nelson--but later reconfigured as a hip, wide-ranging TV alternative to Nashville's fogyish Grand Ole Opry (with such guests as TOWNES VAN ZANDT, Emmylou Harris, Rosanne Cash, and Lyle Lovett), and, later still, as a magical melting-pot for both mainstream country acts (Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Vince Gill), and ROOTS-sensitive rock and pop acts like Sheryl Crow, the Jayhawks, and Ben Kweller. Rodney Crowell turned in a smokin' set on
Austin City Limits last night
Small stringed instrument, also known as a chorded zither, whose gentle twang, portability, and visual appeal (it's cradled in one arm and stroked by the other, like a newborn) have made it a favorite of both old-timey musicians (such as the CARTER FAMILY) and newfangled AMERICANA artists. Catherine O'Hara strummed one in the folkie send-up A Mighty Wind
Imbecilic term for an electric guitar, nevertheless embraced by rock critics and hobby guitarists with advanced degrees. My Sebring
axe doesn't have the pedigree of a Fender, but man, it can shred like one!Axelrod, David.
Snob-exhumed purveyor of sixties orchestral funk. A West Coast producer-arranger with a CV worthy of a James Ellroy character--as a young man he dabbled in violent crime and went on to become a jazz producer in the fifties--Axelrod established himself in the mid-sixties producing artists as varied as Lou Rawls and the Electric Prunes, and under his own name recorded ambitious, layered albums that defied categorization. (He once used Blake poems as lyrics.) A commercial failure in his own era, Axelrod embarked on a cocaine-fueled downward spiral, but fortune smiled upon him in the nineties when the likes of Lauryn Hill, Dr. Dre, and DJ Shadow sampled his work.
Rehabilitated songwriter whose metrically and melodically unorthodox sixties pop-luxe hits, such as "Anyone Who Had a Heart" and "I Say a Little Prayer" (written with lyricist Hal David), were dismissed for two decades as square and Muzaky until Rock Snobs decided in the nineties that...