American Music: OFF THE RECORD features theorists Noam Chomsky and Douglas Rushkoff in an interrogation of the American music industry. The film covers a great deal of ground from the ...
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American Music: OFF THE RECORD features theorists Noam Chomsky and Douglas Rushkoff in an interrogation of the American music industry. The film covers a great deal of ground from the authenticity of live music to the circumvention of the corporate machine by indie distribution, to the demise of the privately owned music store. Written by
The whole marketing of this documentary is misleading. Noam Chomsky is indeed in it, but he speaks very generally about corporations and capitalism, not the music business specifically. Even the DVD menu has Buckethead on it (the only artist on the DVD menu), when Buckethead is in the film only for 30 seconds, and even then he's just performing on stage. Again, he offers no opinions about the music business.
It didn't say anything that anyone with the slightest bit of interest in music beyond the radio doesn't already know. Noam Chomsky and Douglass Rushkoff were the only two intellectuals, the rest of the talking heads were band members. It reminded me of many conversations I've had with my friends, only a few of which play music, but all, like most people I know, love it. There's nothing new here. I was hoping for the state of the modern music business (the internet was only mentioned once I believe), not how much the old model sucks. It didn't touch on medium-size independent labels like Victory Records or Fueled by Ramen.. in fact, it didn't touch on independent record labels at all.
About half the doc (literally, nearly 45 minutes of the hour and a half) was of people performing music, which would be OK, if it were a "sounds of country, blue grass and blues" documentary. I think the director really likes his blue grass. The constant cutting back-and-forth between the talking heads and musicians was a little distracting, pretty redundant, and got very old very quick. I ended up fast-forwarding all the music parts (I have to be in a certain mood to enjoy blue grass/blues/rockabilly stuff). Again it seemed misleading, like the director thought "this is my film, and I'm gonna cram it full of my favorite local bands to give them some exposure." In a documentary about how big record companies Are Not Good, the constant live footage of blues/country/folk/whatever musicians added very little.
I wanted to like this documentary - I love underground music, love film, and, like the director, am from Kansas City (it made me smile to recognize radio stations and music stores), but it's my opinion that it failed in its intentions.
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