Okay, let's face it, this whole blogging business is hit or miss. It's great to get the free tracks from musicians but equally disturbing to find your 14 yr old sister's wordpress page or when you meet that person who is really ego-centric and then you find out that they blog about their pets. It's a slippery slope. And its made even more slippery when it comes to something as subjective as musical taste.
That's when its nice to find someone who you really appreciate making a nice transition into the blogging community. Witness the rise of Carrie Brownstein - former Sleater-Kinney ax-slinger, current NPR blogger.
The blog, Monitor Mix, is only a couple weeks old and by Brownstein's own admission is a deeper look into how music and culture fit together. Or just on culture in general. Witness her take on the last episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Bloggers in general can't get away from ourselves. The ties between the form and journals, the arbitrary and subjective nature of the content, the unabashed belief that what you're saying needs to be shared, each one of these factors make blogs a risky and rewarding read. The start of a great blog, like Brownstein's, is the authenticity of the author and the reader's ability to trust what they have to say. So, Brownstein's former life in Sleater-Kinney makes her posts credible. The access to her personality that her writing keeps her readers hooked in. Just read her post about how she doesn't get Radiohead.
As a result, Monitor Mix is a pithy and exciting read. Not just posting about events. Nor bemoaning the death of her former band. Brownstein makes the insanity of culture seem accessible and chock-full of real-life significance. Call me a sucker for old-style criticism, which helped dictate taste and explain why certain cultural happenings were significant not only in the realm of culture but also in the lives of the writer, but it's something that bloggers should aspire to. Culture has unfortunately been hewn subtly away from our everday lives. YouTube's great, but if you can become part of the cultural landscape just for crying about Britney Spears...it shows how much criticism and cultural producers have become increasingly put on the backburner in favor of an instant response. Not to mention video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero which put the power of music right into the hands of the fans (Brownstein wrote a piece on this for Slate, by the way). Which isn't to cast stones on folks putting up videos of their cat drinking milk. We just need to figure out away to respond to this. Is it any wonder then, than that blogs have developed and proliferated to the extent that they have? The beautiful thing about Brownstein's blog is it helps wade through the junk and makes you think about the way that you wade through it as well.
James Baldwin once wrote: "The intangible life is a real life...the insatiable dreams of a people have a tangible effect on the world." It's up to bloggers, critics, and fans to figure out how these dreams work tangibly in the world. Or at least attempt to figure it out. Good thing we got Carrie Brownstein on our side.