Skip to main content


There can be many red flags that spring up when you review a book you were interviewed for. There can be even more when you're thanked in the acknowledgments at the end. The deal is, I would have read Greg Kot's new book, Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music, whether I was interviewed for it or not.

When I heard about the idea for the book, I wanted to read it as soon as it was available. I was a big fan of Kot's first book, Wilco: Learning How to Die, so it made sense I wanted to read his follow-up. As somebody who has listened to Sound Opinions (the radio show/podcast Kot co-hosts) for four years, I wanted to read what he had to say on the Internet and its effect on music.

Well, I must say this book is incredibly thorough and understandable. I never thought I was talked down to or talked over my head. Rather than preaching an apocalyptic view that things will never be the same in the era of the iPod, Ripped gives many reasons why there are more options now in the digital era. And that, after hearing enough news stories for the past nine years about how terrible things are in the world of music distribution and performance, is welcome.

If Time Life were to resurrect their History of Rock 'n' Roll series or if VH1 did a Behind the Music episode on the first decade of the new century, I wouldn't be surprised if the topic of burning CD-Rs and ripping MP3s was easily glossed over and tied up in a neat bow. Thankfully, at no point in reading Ripped did I find anything truly simple or black and white. When the fog lifts from a foggy era, many matters are easy to forget once it's passed. So having a book that documents this foggy time is pretty crucial.

Profiling artists as diverse as the Grateful Dead, Wilco, Prince, Death Cab for Cutie, Radiohead, and Girl Talk, and labels like Merge and Saddle Creek, the ones that are in for the long haul get the spotlight. These are people that choose to embrace technology rather than fight technology. The same goes with the music fans, including myself. I experienced the fast absorption of Napster from a music geek thing to a mainstream thing in just a matter of weeks when I was in college. I knew I wasn't the only one, so sharing my experience along with many others was validating.

So yes, you can consider this recommendation a biased one, but I'm not some robot who's unbiased nor am I someone whose meals are funded by promotional dollars. I like reading books about music, bands, the music industry at large, and the many mindsets that operate alongside or in it. Ripped is very much worth your time if you want to understand the context of the past and have an idea about where things are going in the digital era.


Popular posts from this blog

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Catherine Wheel

Originally posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2006 Despite managing to release five proper albums, Catherine Wheel was one of those bands that always seemed to slip past the mainstream rock crowd. Yes, they got some nice airplay in their day, but people seem to have forgotten about them. You may hear “Black Metallic” or “Waydown” on a “classic alternative” show on Sirius or XM or maybe even on terrestrial radio, but that’s about it. For me, they were one of most consistent rock bands of the ’90s, meandering through shoegazer, hard rock, space rock and pop rock, all while eluding mainstream pigeonholing. Led by the smooth, warm pipes of vocalist/guitarist Rob Dickinson (cousin of Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson), Catherine Wheel featured Brian Futter on lead guitar, Dave Hawes on bass and Neil Sims on drums. They weren’t a pretty-boy guitar band, but they weren’t a scuzzy bunch of ragamuffins either. Though the band hailed from England, Catherine Wheel found itself more welcome on American air

Hello, Control

I'm still a big fan of iTunes . I haven't tried Napster , Urge or eMusic as I've been perfectly happy with Apple's program ever since I downloaded it two years ago. However, an annoying new feature has come up with its latest version, 7.0. Whenever you pull up your music library, a sidebar taking up 3/4ths of the screen appears plugging the iTunes Music Store. Why is this an annoyance? Well, first and foremost, since you can't close the sidebar, you can't escape it. I believe a music library is a private collection, a spot away from the music store. So what's the need for constant advertisements and plugs? To provide a better visual, let me describe what I see whenever I pull up a song in my iTunes library. When I listen to "This is a Fire Door Never Leave Open" by the Weakerthans, I see a graphic for Left and Leaving , the album that it comes from (and available in the iTunes Music Store), along with a list of the Weakerthans' other albums,

Best of 2021

  Last year, my attention span was not wide enough to listen to a lot of LPs from start to finish. Too much went on in 2020 to focus on 10-15 albums, so I went with only a couple to spotlight. Well, 2021 was a little better, as I have a list of top four records, and a lot of individual tracks.  (I made a lengthy Spotify playlist ) So, without further ado, here’s my list of favorites of the year: Albums Deafheaven, Infinite Granite (listen) Hands down, my favorite album of the year. I was not sure where Deafheaven would go after another record that brought My Bloody Valentine and death metal fans together, but they beautifully rebooted their sound on Infinite Granite. The divisive goblin vocals are vastly pared-down here, as are the blast beats. Sounding more inspired by Slowdive, the band has discovered a new sonic palette that I hope they explore more of in the future. It’s a welcome revelation. I still love their older material, but this has renewed my love of what these guys do.  J