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VINE VOICEon 19 February 2012
I have a couple of years on Simon Reynolds....but seems like our minds are tuned in.
I remember the moon landing of '69...and have been I guess ever since a "Space Child"..not Cadet I may add.
My life has been full of music..i played it, listened to it and perfomed it...and loved it. I was fortunate enough to be around and old enough to "get" punk...Simon Reynolds BIG thing was Post Punk.
I didn't "Get"rave or acid house....I guess I was always more guitar orientated rockist.
So anyway ..I was also an avid reader of William Gibson and Alvin I was expecting so much more from the "Future" than we have got. Worrying that Gibosn no longer writes books based in the future...but the present.

I think his conclusions are valid and true.....the last two decades have provided for me as a music lover ..with nothing really very exciting...i have avoided the use of "Original"...because we all know....blah blah blah..
At first,I just thought it was my age...that I had seen the "what comes around turns around ".
But it is deeper than that and Simon Reynolds has put it done in black and white

So retro is not cool...nobody likes to admit they are retro....but there isn't any where else to go for input and influences but back....rehashes of rehashes but rather than say...going back ti the fifties.....musicians are only stepping back ten or twenty years.

A very enjoyable read as have his other books been. Kept me interested all the way through...although the last section does seems to drift off a little.(Cue the stylophone break as Space Oddity fades out....)

If you have any interest in music/sociology/literature...or arts in general this is an excellent read.
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on 19 June 2015
Contemporary popular culture studies in music consumption, display and inspiration. Witty, insightful and also personal analysis about how the digital revolution through internet connecting and sharing has changed the experience of music. The access to any style and time is no more only for little-know-all, but the immediate presence of all the history of music for the new musicians and bands could be a heavy burden for new creation and singularity. How can a band not have hundreds of possible resemblances to other previous successful or alternative ones? The comparisons the author makes about the paradoxes in trying something new in fashion and in contemporary art are brilliant. And also the psychological analysis of the compulsion of collecting in general. And though Simon Reynolds makes us aware that there always have been cycles of looking backwards in music for inspiration, followed by revolutionary leaps forward, still there is a yearning in his writing for future forms of music, as a revival of that spirit of newness and looking ahead. Great!
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on 4 November 2011
I like Simon Reynolds' books, but this one is a disappointment. Although his writing style is quality as always, he is this time not so much writing about music itself (groups, tunes, albums etc.) but is writing about writing about music. Still no problem there, only that he just doesn't deliver the answers, but mainly is posing a lot of questions using tons of Amazon forest. Because of the lack of answers Retromania seems at times to be about name-dropping, although I'm sure it's not on purpose. But in a way it sometimes reads like a tale from a rock journalist who once had an almost divine final saying on every release...those days are gone....those days won't come back (that's some progress isn't it?). The classic rock writer as cultural curator is gone; everybody owns a blog.

Sometimes he's (probably) consciously ignoring things: sixties / early 70s was THE era of the cover (everybody was covering everybody basically), that's some retro, isn't it? And how about the decline of the music industry in the 2000s, that lead to an incredible (and quite) cheap re-issuing of releases? That's a economic reason, not a arty one. And above all: why should we connect future and rock music in the first place?

I enjoyed Reynolds' Energy Flash a lot; up till the point he was writing about the now & future (the last chapters). While his writing on the past (Post-Punk for example) is beautiful, meaningful and filled with passion, his writing on the future (he is a SF fan by the way) is mediocre: his construction of the now and future is unoriginal and something you heard many times better elsewhere (he is referencing a lot to other thinkers, writers, etc.)

The funny thing is this book is best when it's dealing with the past (Part 2 'Then').
But I'm sure though that he will deliver a better book in the big 'F'.
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on 12 June 2011
This wonderful book by Simon Reynolds, is, quite simply the most important book to be written on the subject of popular music so far this century. As we know, popular music is at a crossroads, and Simon has eloquently stated the case for both the prosecution and defence in regards to where we have been and to where are going (maybe). The book is sectioned into three parts, Now, Then and Tomorrow (after two excellent introduction and prologue chapters), and deals in depth in an easy language that readers of all ages and abilities can understand, the impact and importance of popular music on all generations throughout the 20th Century. Our desire for reliving the recent past is hamnpering our development of the art form in the present, and as such, will have an impact on the future. Is there a future for popular music, or is it to be relegated to a doomed career as soundtracks for television adverts, or maybe, even worse, working on Marshall McLuhan's famous mantra, that the "medium is the message" that our devices are to be more important than the tunes that they carry? Of course, nobody can predict or see the future, but Simon has fired the first important warning shots across the bows of the good ships complacency and ennui in awakening a new debate about our atttitude to the history of this most social and communicative international language. Has it all really been done? Did post-war popular music really hit a peak with the "newness and nowness" pinnacle of art, music and fashion of 1965, or are we in a period of transition? The truth, like the future, is out there somewhere, and it has nothing to do with three chords and a backbeat, nor The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Sex Pistols or any other culture changing group, for that matter. This book is for anyone interested in popular music, its history and development across the ages, and as such will be regarded as an important landmark publication that any right-minded and intelligent person should have on their bookshelf. Dip it in gold and save it for your grandchildren, they may well need this book one day. Highly recommended without reservation.
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on 26 April 2015
Retromania is a history of modern pop obsessed with the “rift of retro”, which is to say, the moment in (Reynolds thinks) 1983, when people stopped looking for new things and simply started cannibalising the old. It’s fascinating for me, not only because it’s my own life that I see stretched out for consideration, but also the most exciting elements of cultural studies for me, such as Situationism, and Futurism. Reynolds has some wonderfully Foucauldian approaches, including a section where he writes the history of the “I Love the [decade]ies” TV shows, in which he delves into the changing aims of the programme makers, and observed that the “I Love the Noughties” was so premature that it was actually broadcast in 2008.
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on 22 February 2012
I came to this book after hearing a lot of criticism that in it Reynolds was making the argument that there's nothing new in music and that we're just eating our own past. After finishing the book I can't believe how wrong those critics are. Yes, Reynolds does point out the unique position of western music culture at this point in history, but he accounts for it with a certain amount of inevitability in that we are now so exposed to our musical past via YT, the overabundance of reissues etc that we can't help looking back - he also suggests that looking back is endemic to the human condition. RETROMANIA also makes a great case for how the past has been used to stimulate genuinely innovative contemporary musical creations, and that it is our technological advancements (which might not be the same ones us fiftysomethings were encouraged to believe via episodes of THE JETSONS) which have made this possible.

There are many moments in this book which made me nod my head in agreement - I found the passages on BOARDS OF CANADA's triggering of potentially fake memories particularly interesting - and being a fan of the 'hauntology' movement it was good to see its recognition in the musical canon.

Only 4 stars because like others I was distracted by the author's occasional digressions, and also while I loved the book I couldn't help thinking how much relevance a 20 year old would find in it.
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on 9 February 2015
It was like having someone whispering truths in my ear, and has had listening to music, both new and retro, with more attention to what's being played and why. It's also very readable, and doesn't disappear where the sun doesn't shine in its attempts to put its points across.
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on 5 June 2014
What has Simon Reynolds done with "Retromania"?

I'll tell you what he has done. It's taken a book like this to confirm what most of us knew all along but were too afraid to admit. Pop culture has hit a dead end with very few original ideas to take us forward. The biggest problem facing musician's of today is that they are no longer given a few albums to find their feet. If the first album flops they get punted by money hungry and unforgiving labels. We must remember that Bowie was a relative unknown until his 5th studio album.

Through the book Simon takes us on a journey that explains our obsession with all things retro. Too many media outlets are stuck in time warps and refuse to give new, progressive and talented artists a go because they don't have enough money making potential. He also covers, in great detail our general love for retro in the arts, fashion and pop culture in general.

Simon puts forward many arguments for and against each cause within. His writing leaves you in deep thought at times, questioning your very own standards.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's time you ordered yourself a copy and got cracking on a jolly good read!
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on 20 August 2013
I'm a big fan of Simon Reynolds and this book is a decent overview of the subject of Retromania.
This book is more accessible and chatty in style than some of his work and is thinner on Sociological theory and analysis than his previous books, which I found a bit of a shame.
Nonethless, it covers a broad range of topics and has some interesting anecdotes.
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on 12 September 2011
There can be few journalists more cerebral (but also accesible) than Simon Reynolds. A former journalist in Melody Maker, at the time he would be championing more 'challenging' musics. Since departing the weekly newspaper, several of his published works have become definitive. This latest book, however, towers over everything else and is an urgent assessment of the state of pop culture.

The basic treatise of the book is to ask whether pop culture's addiction to its own past is, in fact, killing a culture that needs constant new and creative input to go forward. The analysis is very wide-ranging: this is not only a problem of reissue culture, of 'old' bands reforming, of a nostalgia culture. It's new bands who sound like they are old (without the context the first time around). It's the role that the internet has played: paradoxically, access to everything has meant that archives of all pop culture is available to everyone. It's the development of a collector culture and a curator culture, of a formalisation of pop culture (museumification). Even apparently left-field musical movements appear to depend on this addiction: the chapter on hauntology, on hypnogic pop, on sampling and mash-ups makes clear that recycling elements from the past, even in fields that we could consider creative, are actually contributing to the idea that there is little new left to discover. There is also an astonishing chapter on the reactionary roots of punk which is excellent in slaying a sacred cow.

And the referencing in this book is extraordinary. Pretty much all of my favourite bands made an appearance: from the description of Saint Etienne (as if the 1960's took a left turn) to Sonic Youth (not positive, if only due to their decision to tour on the back of the reissue of 'Daydream Nation'). It is jarring that he can find several pages on Oneohtrix Point Never not only as an musician but as an artist. And honestly when Reynolds wrote about 'the future' (talking about the influence of the past on contemporary musical styles) I read the book with a notepad by my side to check out several of the artists mentioned.

Don't think that the book covers only music, either. When he talks about 'pop culture', it is because he's also taking in other aspects linked to music: fashion, publishing ... the record industry as a whole.

The basic thesis (that by chasing its own tail Pop Culture is strangling itself) could be depressing for those of us who consider that music should advance and challenge. And yet, despite the overwhelming evidence of this addiction, it is hard to close the book and feel pessimistic. To start with, there is nevertheless so much vital music out there and constantly coming out, even if it is not 'new' and despite the constant referencing to the past. And, above all, pop culture's loss has become publishing's gain through such an extraordinary book.

If you care about music and pop culture, you can, should and must read this book. It is not only the best book about the state of pop culture in 2011, it is the best book about music that I have ever read, an accolade that I do not bestow lightly. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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