A prece­dent for crit­i­cal suc­cess

Jes­sica Hop­per’s new book shines a light on the best fe­male rock writ­ers

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS - Lau­rence Mackin

The ti­tle of Jes­sica Hop­per’s new book speaks vol­umes. The First Col­lec­tion of Crit­i­cism By A Living Fe­male Rock Critic may be a bit of a mouth­ful but you can’t say the edi­tor-in-chief of Pitch­fork Re­view is ig­nor­ing the ele­phant in the room.

Hop­per (right) was a Babes In Toy­land fan who took the fanzine route be­fore pay­ing work came her way. The book’s 40 pieces are a snap­shot of her 20 years in the busi­ness in­clud­ing pieces on R Kelly, Lana Del Rey and Hole, ru­mi­na­tions on the ex­cite­ment of Riot gr­rrl and a poke around the emo move­ment’s prob­lem with women.

Be­sides pro­vid­ing a strong through­line with her whips­mart writ­ing, Hop­per also makes you re­alise how rare it is to see the work of fe­male rock writ­ers col­lected in this way.

While there have been many fe­male rock crit­ics be­fore now – Hop­per lists Ellen Wil­lis, Lillian Roxon and Caro­line Coon in the book, and you can add Jane Scott, Ann Pow­ers, Sylvie Sim­mons, Dream Hamp­ton and Jaan Uhel­szki to that roll-call – it’s al­ways the old boys’ club of Lester Bangs, Greil Mar­cus, Robert Christ­gau, the over-rated Chuck Kloster­man and oth­ers who dom­i­nate the dis­course.

“Some­times you have to wave a flag around any sort of prece­dent in or­der to make a path,” said Hop­per in an in­ter­view about her book. “Not to sound too Je­sus-y about it, but I wanted to put this book out to cre­ate the prece­dent . . . I want books from Hazel Cills and Doreen St Felix, and ev­ery sin­gle per­son that works at Rookie.” Jim Car­roll

Wel­come to the hit fac­tory

Em­pire is the lat­est tele­vi­sion hit to take mu­sic as its set­ting; what’s sur­pris­ing is that apart from it and Nashville, there isn’t much com­pe­ti­tion. So here’s our pitch for new se­ries Red Rock*, about an Ir­ish band on the make.

Bren­dan “Off The Chains” McGrane (Robert Shee­han) is a tor­tured soul and tal­ented song­writer. He loves the cans, is push­ing 24, and re­alises that he’s got one last shot be­fore the mu­sic world passes him by. Like all as­pir­ing Ir­ish mu­si­cians, he’s al­ready been down the boy­band route, but af­ter five years play­ing shop­ping cen­tres with LadzTown, he de­cided he wasn’t ar­tis­ti­cally sat­is­fied.

Now he’s ly­ing about his age and putting a band to­gether (“Drum­mer needed. Must have own car”); we’re think­ing an Ir­ish rock hip hop crew to ap­peal to that emerg­ing US mar­ket look­ing to get down with the homies while hon­our­ing their her­itage (a brief flir­ta­tion with the Chris­tian mar­ket will pro­vide artis­tic fric­tion in sea­son four). Lo­cal manager “Stabby” Joe Jin­gle (were think­ing Bren­dan Glee­son) used to be the king of the show­band scene, and now Chains looks like his ticket back to the top: one he’s even will­ing to kill for, al­beit in hi­lar­i­ous com­edy fash­ion. He’s also got an eye for a quick buck though; will he have the sense to sign the lads up for that lu­cra­tive St Pa­trick’s Day Ger­man tour, or take the easy route and con­vince them the do­mes­tic wed­ding band cir­cuit is worth a lash? (Poorly writ­ten fe­males char­ac­ters will be added at the last minute or at worst by sea­son three.)

The glam­our of the Ir­ish sum­mer fes­ti­val cir­cuit (in ex­change for play­ing, most of the band get a free day ticket); all the bling of Ir­ish rock star­dom (rid­ers in­clude one six pack and two packets of Tayto); heavy­weight man­age­ment strug­gles with de­mand­ing venues (“yeah of course they’ll play Brown Eyed Girl”); cru­cial artis­tic de­ci­sions that could de­cide the band’s ul­ti­mate suc­cess or fail­ure (“Will we do a Euro­vi­sion song?”); and end­less trips to play down the coun­try, with nice Fáilte Ire­land-spon­sored swoop­ing shots of cliffs: all the smash-hit el­e­ments are in place for any TV com­pany will­ing to take this on. Ru­mours that Bressie is at­tached as ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer are sadly wide of the mark (call us Bressie). *Name changes pos­si­ble depend­ing on who spon­sors the show. Any sim­i­lar­ity to per­sons/shows living or dead should be taken up with Robin Thicke.

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