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Monday, January 27, 2014

New Music From Beck is Killer!!!

I have been a fan of Beck for more than 10 years. During that time, he has made heart-breaking personal music (Sea of Change), straight up Alternative Rock (Guero), and a killer 70s Soul/Funk album (Midnight Vultures).

Last week, his lead single off of his brand new album Morning Phase,was released. Blue Moon is the name of the single. It's been six years since he has released new music, and the wait was well worth it for me. Blue Moon exhibits haunting lyrics, and catchy as hell indie beats. All of these characteristics are what make Beck's music so great! Soak it in!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

IT IS FINISHED!!

The book review is finished and has been submitted to the Journal. Below is the final version


Lacey, K. (2013). Listening publics: The politics and experience of listening in the media age. Malden, MA: Polity Press. 238 pages.

According to Kate Lacey’s new book, Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age, listening has become a forgotten area of study in the field of communications. And for Lacey, this lapse in the understanding of listening has had far reaching consequences.
Lacey’s central argument is that listening is currently viewed as a passive activity within the communications field. According to Lacey, characteristics of passive listening include: little concentration, lack of involvement, and a sense of indifference towards political action. The evidence she gathers to support her conclusions come primarily through historical research. In fact the majority of the text focuses on the development of privatized listening habits of societies over the first half of the twentieth century. It is these privatized listening habits that influenced the early broadcasters of radio, who then began the paradigm shift in how listening is viewed.
What Lacey’s analysis shows is that as radio developed, society began viewing it as a primary way to communicate. Because of this, new communication techniques needed to be created. Soon the public’s demand for radio increased, and radio became more commonplace. As radio became more commonplace, the listening habits of the public began to change.
As radio became more affordable, it began to be marketed more for private use in the home. Thus, listening began to be viewed as more of a “private” activity, where an individual would be in control over what she or he listened to. This ability to make personal choices became very important. Lacey (2013) states “…The dominant trend through this history was towards the privatization and individualization of the listening public via the technological and textual inscription of an idealized and domesticated listener…” (p. 132) Previously, listening was viewed as more of a public activity, occurring in public spaces such as parks, auditoriums, and clubs, where individuals were openly engaged in the politics and activities of the community.
As radio grew, its champions began to see it as the great class equalizer, which would be able to assist poorer classes reach new heights of success and education. According to Lacey, as broadcasters began to conduct early market research and ratings polling, they noticed that the more “intellectual/educational” programming was not receiving the listenership broadcasters had hoped for.  Since individuals where now able to make their own personal choices of what they listened to, they chose to listen to entertainment programs, rather than educational ones. Hence broadcasters began to replace these programs with shows that would have more of a mass entertainment appeal. This shift in programming focus had a fundamental effect. “During the formative years of broadcasting, this passivity was understood by some as being imposed on the listener by the mass address that spoke to no-one as someone, and everyone as anyone, denying the possibility of active engagement, personal development or equality of response.” (Lacey, 2013, p. 114)
But why is whether or not we view listening as a passive or active activity so important to Lacey? If you are active, then you are engaged in the world, according to Lacey (2013): “Listening is at the heart of what it means to be in the world, to be active, to be political.” (p. 163) This individualization that had occurred via radio began to take the individual out of the world. Listeners were no longer publicly engaged. And the culture of listening as a passive activity took prominence. To put it another way, by choosing privatized listening habits, people were no longer engaging in public debates. Society chose listening to be entertainment focused instead of education focused. Broadcasters, watching this trend, replaced educational programming with more entertainment programming. And since an individual was not being moved to action or participation in politics, listening began to be seen as a passive activity, not an active one. Choice and privatization led to passivity. Listeners chose to listen to what “pleased” us. 
To reverse this trend, Lacey concludes that the communications field needs to review its standpoint on listening.
Lacey (2013) states: The politics of listening is an important corrective to conceptualizations of public participating that are restricted to notions of speech, dialogue, and text… theories and practices of media communication and public life miss too much if they don’t give the politics and experience of listening a fair hearing. (p. 199)
Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age, raises many thought provoking questions, and presents ideas/ theories that the communications field might do well to study more. Portions of her argument on the interconnectedness between listening and politics are especially intriguing. Lacey’s research gives credence and support to the statement: “To state simply – without a listener, speech is nothing but noise in the ether.” (Lacey, 2013, p. 166)
However this book leaves many questions unanswered. Lacey’s identification of the communications field and society’s lack of understanding of listening is provided. But then what? What can the communications field do to improve this lack of understanding, other than more research? What can broadcasters do to help improve listening’s image? Is passivity the only explanation for why listening has fallen from grace? How does an individual’s attention span play into how she or he listens? Additionally the historical research does weigh the text down at times. Majority of the historical research primarily focuses on radio’s impact on listening, but what about television or the Internet’s impact? Is society currently repeating the same mistakes that Lacey describes early broadcasters making with these new technologies? It would have been especially intriguing to see how Lacey would apply her research conclusions to television and the Internet.

Peter Kreten (M.Ed., Saint Xavier University) is the Director of Student Media at Saint Xavier University. He is currently the President of College Radio Day.

Friday, January 10, 2014

This Might Be the Final Draft

Yesterday I met with a very close friend of mine, who is a former copy editor. She has been providing me feedback on my book review writing process. I cannot tell you how much this in-person meeting helped me better articulately my ideas.

While we were talking, it became clear that I was misinterpreting which types of politics Lacey was talking about. It wasn't primarily politics as in "government", but politics of the broadcasting field, and how their decisions effected listening habits. So with a few minor edits, I think I finally have a final draft of this book review. Below is my latest text, properly formatted.


Lacey, K. (2013). Listening publics: The politics and experience of listening in the media age. Malden, MA: Polity Press. 238 pages.

According to Kate Lacey’s new book, Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age, listening has become a forgotten area of study in the field of communications. And for Lacey, this lapse in the understanding of listening has had far reaching consequences.
Lacey’s central argument is that listening is currently viewed as a passive activity within the communications field. According to Lacey, characteristics of passive listening include: little concentration, lack of involvement, and a sense of indifference towards political action. The evidence she gathers to support her conclusions come primarily through historical research. In fact the majority of the text focuses on the development of privatized listening habits of societies over the first half of the twentieth century. It is these privatized listening habits that influenced the early broadcasters of radio, who then began the paradigm shift in how listening is viewed.
What Lacey’s analysis shows is that as radio developed, society began viewing radio as new primary way to communicate with one another. Because of this, new communication techniques needed to be created. Soon the public’s demand for radio increased, and radio became more commonplace. As radio became more commonplace, the listening habits of the public began to change.
As radio became more affordable, it began to be marketed more for private use in the home. By doing this, listening began to be viewed as more of a “private” activity, where an individual would be in control over what she or he listened to. This ability to make personal choices becomes very important. Lacey (2013) states “…The dominant trend through this history was towards the privatization and individualization of the listening public via the technological and textual inscription of an idealized and domesticated listener…” (p. 132) Previously listening was viewed as more of a public activity, where individuals would have little control over what they heard, but where more openly engaged in the politics and activities of the community.
As radio grew, society began to see it as the great class equalizer, which would be able to assist poorer classes reach new heights of success and education. According to Lacey, as broadcasters began to conduct early market research and ratings polling, they noticed that the more “intellectual/educational” programming were not receiving the listenership broadcasters had hoped for.  Since individuals where now able to make their own personal choices of what they listened to, they chose to listen to entertainment programming, rather than educational ones. Hence broadcasters began to replace these programs with shows that would have more of a mass entertainment appeal. This shift in programming focus had a fundamental effect. “During the formative years of broadcasting, this passivity was understood by some as being imposed on the listener by the mass address that spoke to no-one as someone, and everyone as anyone, denying the possibility of active engagement, personal development or equality of response.” (Lacey, 2013, p. 114)
But why is whether or not we view listening as a passive or active activity so important to Lacey? If you are active, then you are engaged in the world, according to Lacey (2013): “Listening is at the heart of what it means to be in the world, to be active, to be political.” (p. 163) This individualization that had occurred began to take the individual out of the world. They were no longer engaged. And the culture of listening as a passive activity took prominence. To put it another way, by choosing privatized listening habits, people were no longer engaging in public debates. Society chose listening to be entertainment focused instead of education focused. Broadcasters began to see this trend, and replaced educational programming with more entertainment programming. And since an individual was not being moved to action or participation in politics, listening began to be seen as a passive activity, not an active one. Choice and privatization led to passivity. We chose to listen to what “pleases” us. 
To reverse this trend, Lacey concludes that the communications field needs to review its standpoint on listening.
Lacey (2013) states: The politics of listening is an important corrective to conceptualizations of public participating that are restricted to notions of speech, dialogue, and text… theories and practices of media communication and public life miss too much if they don’t give the politics and experience of listening a fair hearing. (p. 199)
Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age, raises many thought provoking questions, and presents ideas/ theories that the communications field might do well to study more. Portions of her argument on the interconnectedness between listening and politics are especially intriguing. Lacey’s research gives credence and support to the statement: “To state simply – without a listener, speech is nothing but noise in the ether.” (Lacey, 2013, p. 166)
However this book leaves many questions unanswered. Lacey’s identification of the communications field and society’s lack of understanding of listening is provided. But then what? What can the communications field do to improve this lack of understanding, other than more research? What can broadcasters do to help improve listening’s image? Is passivity the only explanation for why listening has fallen from grace? How does an individual’s attention span play into how she or he listens? Additionally the historical research does weigh the text down at times. Majority of the historical research primarily focuses on radio’s impact on listening, but what about television or the Internet’s impact? Is society currently repeating the same mistakes that Lacey describes early broadcasters making with these new technologies? It would have been especially intriguing to see how Lacey would apply her research conclusions to television and the Internet.

Peter Kreten (M.Ed., Saint Xavier University) is the Director of Student Media at Saint Xavier University. He is currently the President of College Radio Day.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My 10 Favorite Albums of 2013


Well, I'm a day late, but I wanted to make sure I posted my 10 favorite albums list of 2013. 2013 saw a ton of great music released. I also found myself expanding my musical tastes slightly by beginning to explore Alt. Country genre.

10. She & Him: Volume 3
This is a perfect summer time album. Zooey Deschanel has matured as a singer/songwriter and it shows on Volume 3. M. Ward again, provides some great guitar riffs that work so well with Deschanel’s singing. Volume 3 is without a doubt my favorite offering from She & Him thus far.



9. Superchunk: I Hate Music
Indie rock legends Superchunk return with the perfect indie rock album. Tongue in cheek, and filled with songs that move an individual to fall in love with music, I Hate Music represents why Superchunk is so damn good.


8. Frightened Rabbit: The Pedestrian Verse
It was only a matter of time before Frightened Rabbit released that “big music” album. Pedestrian Verse is home to some of the bands biggest anthems, and most introspective lyrics. It absolutely boggles my mind that Frightened Rabbit is not bigger than they are. This band is the total package.


7. Billie Joe + Norah: Foreverly
When I first heard that Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones were recording a covers album of Everly Brothers songs, I thought the project was destined for disaster. I could not be more wrong. This album is beyond charming, with Billie Joe and Norah’s voice blending seamlessly together. It actually pains me to place this album so low. This is a GREAT album.


6. Indians: Somewhere Else
This is a great example of the importance of writing out “Best of Lists” throughout the year. Being released in early 2013, I almost forgot about it, because I’ve listened to it so much, for so long. Indians does a great job of blending folk and indie rock together into a haunting melody. This is a band to be on the lookout for to do great things!


5. Frank Turner: Tape Deck Heart
This will forever be known as the album that made Frank Turner HUGE! Tape Deck Heart showcases all of Turner’s strengths as a singer/songwriter. The songs are catchy, but self-reflective. Get on Frank Turner’s bandwagon now, because he is only going up from here.


4. Arcade Fire: Reflektor
Without a doubt the most decisive album of 2013, Reflektor sees Arcade Fire take the biggest chance, thus far, of their career. For me it pays off big time. I find it absolutely fascinating to hear Arcade Fire lyrics over disco beats. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem is the unsung hero of this album.



3. Moby: Innocents
Moby continues his upward trend of becoming one of my favorite artists of all time. Each album I listen to has incredible sounds and melodies that can only be fully appreciated when listening to them on headphones. Innocents is home to some great songs and great guest vocalists. But the hauntingly beautiful Almost Home is the stand out track for me.



2. Los Campesinos!: NO BLUES
I love this album! I mean I really love this album. Since I first listened to it back in October to now, it has never left my CD player, or strayed far from my iPod playlists.  No Blues shows Los Campesinos! maturing as a band. Not since Hold Now, Youngster has Los Campesinos! captivated my attention like this.


1. Queens of the Stone Age: …Like Clockwork
We had to wait a very long time for this album, but man was it worth the wait. Queens of the Stone Age delivers the album of the year. And that’s what makes it so great. To truly appreciate its greatness, you need to listen to the ENTIRE album. All of the songs play into the overall theme and tone of the album. By listening to a few songs out of order, the listening experience is greatly diminished. In the iTunes age of buying individual songs, it is so refreshing to see that great albums can still be written. This very much reminds me of listening to Led Zeppelin for the first time. If you haven’t listened to this album yet, stop what you are doing and check it out.