10/21/16 3:35pm


A few years ago Paula Mejia had to pick a topic to write for her thesis as a student at George Washington University’s English graduate program. Around that same time came the call for new proposals by Bloombury’s 33 1/3 book series, each of which spotlights a particular noteworthy album. “[Professor and author] Gayle Wald was my thesis adviser at the time,” Mejia says now, “and I went into her office and I said, ‘I have a crazy idea. Can I write a thesis that is academically-rooted and use it as a way to enter this proposal for the series?’–not expecting it to get picked up at all.”

Mejia’s eventual choice was the Jesus and Mary Chain’s 1985 debut record Psychocandy. An album that has since gone on to become a bonafide classic, Rolling Stone ranked it as one of The 500 Greatest Albums of All TimePsychocandy combined heavy feedback-drenched guitar, reverb production, moody lyrics, and catchy girl-group pop melodies into a glorious noisy rock record, courtesy of Scottish brothers Jim and William Reid. You can hear traces of the group’s influence on ’90s British shoegazing bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, as well as current acts like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. A few years ago, the Jesus and Mary Chain did a series of shows to commemorate Psychocandy‘s 30th anniversary.

“The perception that they gave that they were either totally freewheeling or didn’t give a shit. It’s so surprising to know that they stayed up in their bedroom, drinking tea, and meticulously plotting out this whole thing. It was all premeditated. For that to seem so effortless is kind of an incredible skill in itself.”

What started out as a thesis idea for Mejia–a Brooklyn-based freelance music writer whose stories have been published in Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and The New York Times —has now become the latest addition to the 33 1/3 series. Featuring interviews with the album’s main participants, including singer Jim Reid, bassist Douglas Hart, and drummer Bobbie Gillespie (later of Primal Scream), Psychocandy the book not only discusses the album but also provides the social and cultural context behind the music.

To coincide with the book’s publication, Mejia will be appearing at Greenpoint’s WORD bookstore on Oct. 25 in discussion with Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffeild and Kristen Yoonsoo Kim. Mejia recently spoke with Brooklyn Based about the genesis of her book and love for the Mary Chain. (more…)

05/07/15 9:00am
From top to bottom: Sex Pistols (Koen Suyk, via Wikimedia Commons); Jerry Garcia (Carl Lende, via Wikimedia Commons); Daft Punk (Fabio Venni, via Wikimedia Commons)

Spring is a bloom with new music books, including must-read tomes about, from top to bottom: the Sex Pistols (Photo: Koen Suyk); Jerry Garcia (Photo: Carl Lende); Daft Punk (Photo: Fabio Venni)

The year’s barely begun, and there’s already a heap of really interesting and diverse music books being published, including some highly anticipated memoirs by notable legends Willie Nelson, Philip Glass, and former Sex Pistol John Lydon. Spanning the genres of punk, electronic, country, contemporary classical, hip-hop and classic rock, these titles offer the histories and personal stories behind the artists and the music business. Here are 12 music books either out now or in the next few weeks that are sure to be page turners.


New Order by Kevin Cummins
March 17, 2015
Photographer Kevin Cummins unveils his latest photo book on New Order, the influential British post-punk/electronic dance group that came out of the ashes of Joy Division and the suicide of its singer Ian Curtis. Following a similar format of Cummins’ 2010 photo book on Joy Division, New Order features performance and candid shots of the group during the ’80s and early ’90s, along with interviews with the four original members: Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert. A must for die-hard fans.

UndergroundMassive HC c-edited

The Underground Is Massive: How Electronic Dance Music Conquered America by Michaelangelo Matos
Dey Street Books
April 28, 2015
In this comprehensive history of electronic dance music (EDM) in America, music journalist Michaelangelo Matos documents the genre’s rise from its underground beginnings in the early ’80s in Chicago; through the ’90s rave scene; and to the mainstream popularity of such current artists as Skrillex and Daft Punk. This book does a tremendous service to a genre that had been until now on the fringe of mainstream acceptance.


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