Friday, January 29, 2010

A Sound to be Heard, an Infinite Point

It's time for another post, folks, a few days short of two years since our last.

Here Eustace returns to imply the question, with an intuitive logic distinctly his own, How have I arrived at post-folk? And, more important, What questions does and doesn't post-folk answer; and what questions does it pose? Now Eustace:

Salt trucks and snow days and sleet and boy scouts and frosting and hoarfrost and crisp fall nights and warm hands and warm breasts and cigar smoke and football on television and soccer on Saturday mornings and cinnamon and green ovens and white shirts with pen ink stains and eyes like small fires seen through undressing branches and a car that rattled when the RPMs went up and inappropriate touching in inappropriate locations with giggling girls and bloody knuckles echoing off cinderblock walls and green linoleum floors and clocks that don't click they just turn real slowly in a circle so you never know quite what second it is and you start to get the sense that time never stops and that there is no such thing as a finite point in time and then you wake up and you're 32 for a second.

I remember when time was a bullet I used to throw around and then I threw it as high as I could and watched it fall down when I was 25.

I remember when the claw marks of a hammer had been painted like they weren't even there and watched as they stared down at me from above my bed on the cool floors of a lingering town of silliness.

I remember when I used to want to leave places early to catch a glimpse of people I had seen but didn't know, hoping they would pass me by on the street.

I remember when I didn't think about things like money and homes and carpet colors and failing.

I remember when I thought that no one knew anywhere near as deeply as me how big a little life could be or how important my friends I had always hoped to replace with the newest models were.

The quiet eager nights with nothing to do but drive and drive and drive and contend with the long days and long nights and short weeks and infinite years --

-- and possibly the only thing I can't remember is whether I knew then that I would be so bored and unhappy and tired and devoid of the divine inspiration I was so sure would come when I sat down quietly in my dreamed-up glasses and my fake blond hair outside of some imaginary coffee house with some imaginary girl looking over at me and trying to pretend she was reading a book.

I remember thinking how long life would be if only I could write some magic phrase and know it perfectly without thinking how the size of the words mattered and the length of the thought mattered and the accessibility mattered.

Someone would always be able to read it if I meant it hard enough.

I remember when guitars made sounds I had never heard.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


The worst thing a folk musician can do is stop smoking. Smoking is important. It tells the world that you understand your own transience and mortality. At least, it enables surface conversation outdoors in large cities, remarks punctuated by a silent inhale, a glance into the night sky. And in better circumstances -- and to the smoker, this is smoking's persistent lure -- it is a vehicle for existential "fuminations" on the mortality that smoking both defies and defers to. This writer is lame. He has stopped smoking. He is spiteful, spiteful, spiteful. He misses his transience. He is unhappy about how long he will have to not smoke cigarettes in order to safely die. Please, God, please, make America smart, but make it stupid about smoking again. And oh, if your mother was a waitress who died of emphysema, mine was a doctor who died of gin.

Eustace Pendragon III

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Post-Folkology 101 with Eustace Pendragon III

With regard to the proliferation of sonorous compositions via the live and recorded platforms, this writer would like to create intercourse focused on the concept of “folk” music. What does that entail? Is it a museum piece of Americana that is no longer pertinent to our commercial/psychological landscape? Or is it a progressive element of our cultural current, synthesized every moment as we watch and react to what our celeb’s children wear?

On the right coast, which is all this writer can speak of, save for a small West Virginia town of little note, the folk music entity is a wheezing understudy to the climbing aesthetics of boredom. It seems as though the general goal of do-it-yourself and indie music is to confound itself, to squeeze its own juices out into nothing and wipe them away before hearing, i.e. Califone’s Roots and Crowns. Frightening music. Its implications are staggering. To this writer it seems as though the body of music itself on said record is a convulsion of American music, a sort of cancerous sound derived from blues and old fiddle. Is it folk music? Is it indie rock? Is it American? Is it new? Is it old? Answer: yes.

So what is this monster, this thing exemplified by, but not limited to, Califone? This writer would like to call it something like post-folk. It ain’t not your grandpappy’s rock and roll.

Eustace Pendragon III

Post-folk, Defined (Sort Of)

First: What is post-folk music? Brace for disappointment if what you seek is absolute clarity. As Eustace Pendragon III -- who was, upon release of his brilliant but popularly overlooked historical revision of hurdy-gurdy subculture in 14th-century Europe, labeled by Revolving Rock magazine (now-defunct) “an essential and timeless musicologist” – would have it (and as he will elucidate further in subsequent posts), post-folk music is merely, solely, a label. Unbreakable is the habit (or, to put it pejoratively, addiction) of denominating music and those who create it. Even if done only for convenience, the practice often unfairly compartmentalizes artists, thus jeopardizing their individuality and muddling labels themselves – indeed, it is a cyclical problem. Yet we at the Bjournal, these beliefs in hand, have devoted a publication to the very practice we question. Why? If labels must exist, must be ascribed, must mean, we prefer to assist in the development of that meaning. Lest the meaning be altogether lost.

For starters, then, post-folk is an elaboration on, a reinvention of, its traditional predecessors. An obvious idea, maybe, but it becomes quickly and frustratingly uncertain when one begins to observe all the various, even innumerable elaborations both possible and actualized. How are observers to keep up? And how are those with narrative influence to assist? One method is to brush label off completely, another is to label excessively – “... Joanna Newsom has gone from strength to strength as the poster girl for the indie, alt country, post-folk crowd on the back of her much-trumpeted Ys album,” wrote a journalist in New Zealand last year. The assiduous study will do neither. He will dissect art’s elements. He will understand the synergy between what is new and what is appropriated. He will discuss it and label it accordingly. In short, he will call it like it is, because he is fucking qualified. Again, and without further ado, welcome to the Bjournal, and read on.

Monday, December 3, 2007


Thank you for visiting The Post-Folk Bjournal, which is dedicated to the promotion and analysis of all the post-folk music that's fit to print. Come back soon for more substantial content (it is likely that said content will confront the inherent problems with "anti-folk," celebrate the inherent goodness of certain post-folk purveyors, and encourage the proliferation of other such purveyors). In the meantime, go folk yourselves.