Oy, I don’t even know how I found this, but I think I just lost like 20 minutes reading the referenced thread on the EA board. OMG. With everyone complaining about Wavves lately, it’s nice to see some old school grudges are still in play. Or something?
I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but what in the holy hell is remarkable about Wavves? Why do I have to read breathless updates of their every move? Why was this one bro plucked from the legions of similar bros playing generic 1996 indie rock b-sides in basements all across America? It ain’t the songs. It ain’t the production (OMG HISS). It ain’t the live shows (playing for more than 20 minutes is hard!). It certainly isn’t dude’s demeanor, which can only be described as face-punch-worthy (oh, and watch this interview and try not to rip your underwear out through your mouth when New Drummer Guy speaks…and Nathan does a “retard voice”…haha!). Can someone please explain it to me? I think this is probably just a big, fat practical joke that’s gotten way out of hand. At some point, all the enablers like Schreiber and The Onion and even The Grey Lady (c’mon, y’all!) are gonna pop out from behind my computer screen and yell “Surprise!” and we’ll all have a good laugh at how idiotic they all made music taste look in 2009/2010.
This is probably the greatest thing to ever run on Stereogum. A lot of this is totally right-on and needed to be said, if just to counter a lot of the dumb reviews this group gets. Huge respect to Brandon Stosuy for putting this together, and to Scott Lapatine for running it.
Actually, a lot of this rings hollow, as it’s little more than a justification for liking music that makes you feel smarter than the unwashed masses. “Don’t you get it, man?” Yes, I totally get it, man. I get that the CocoRosie sisters revel in being the great provocateurs of the 21st century. They live for it. In fact, they live for it so much that the music they make suffers because of it.
There’s been some pointed discussion over on ILX of the Stereogum panel piece, and a lot of people have voiced their objections in ways I wholly agree with but would take me much longer to formulate in my own words.
About the song “Jesus Loves Me,” Dan Perry writes:
what it’s supposed to be: A satirical take on the contradictory nature of religious values
why it fails: Because it uses the word “nigger” for no reason other than a hateful evocation of black people, yet uses much more restrained/sensitive verbiage to talk about issues surrounding the arbitrariness of some bible rules as well as the sexism and homophobia, it explicitly singles out black people for disdain and derision in a manner wholly out of keeping with the rest of the song, completely undercutting any meaningful message it’s supposed to have with a very strong, palpable undercurrent of “btw if you are black, fuck off; we don’t want you listening to our music”.
This is the type of hamfisted, unthinking point-making you do when you are either a sheltered kid who has heard of racism but have never actually experienced it or a self-absorbed person who lacks the empathy necessary to translate your experience into terms that make the experience relatable rather than repellent and offensive to others who have gone through similar experiences. Had there been parity in language with references to “faggots” and “bitches”, the point of view would have been better defined and the narrative less confused; as it stands, you have a song by some people who hate religion and black people but only realize that they hate religion.
About the vigorous defenses in the Stereogum piece itself, Sean Michaels writes:
Like, I get that people who like Grey Oceans are bummed that not everyone agrees. But to write essays explaining how it’s because we’re sexist buffoons is pretty fucking enraging. I wish these contributors did a better job describing the pleasures they find in the music. (Some do try to do this, but largely it isn’t precise enough.)
Given that Cocorosie are a band that, to outside eyes, stink of scenesterism, the NY-loft-microcosm vibe of many of those Stereogum contributors also doesn’t help. I’m surprised Sean Lennon didn’t chime in.
Like I said there, my dislike of the CocoRosie sisters and their albums and their whole thing has nothing to do with me being male and hetero. It’s all about my finely tuned bullshit detector, and those girls fucking stink like bullshit.
ADDENDUM from the next morning: Now that I’ve had a night’s rest to better clarify why this whole thing angers me so, I had a chance to boil it down in the comments section over at Stereogum. I’m reposting here:
The whole reason some of us have reacted to this article and the comments from its panelists is its scolding tone. Let’s boil it down, shall we? A few years ago, Brandon writes a review that was later substituted for one that undoubtedly made for better reading. Oof! That probably hurt his feelings, because he could not fathom that people may not actually like a band he likes. So he’s been sitting around stewing on it for years until it reached a head. Now he goes out and approaches other people to write a defense of band who really doesn’t need defending. These people go on to say some of the most ludicrous things all as a means to justify why they think Cocorosie -really- isn’t getting the coverage, when in reality it’s just a matter of music publications having only so much room and making a concerted effort to fill that room with reviews people might actually want to read. No one likes a review which consists entirely of reasons we should like that band, against all we know that’s better logic. That’s what fan club message boards are for. Granted, I haven’t read nor do I know the content of Brandon’s original review, this whole thing comes across as sour grapes.
People don’t like Cocorosie? NEWS FLASH. Lots of people don’t like lots of bands. But it would never even cross my mind to gather a bunch of quotes from other musicians in an effort to scold people into liking some band I like who I don’t think is getting a fair shake. If you want to do Cocorosie any favors, quit coddling them like you would a sweet sixteen who had no one show up to her party. They’re big girls and they know full well what they’re doing is going to split opinions. I’m sure it makes them feel warm and fuzzy to read all these nice things from their peers, but part of them has to feel insulted by the notion that they need some gang of protectors because the big, bad public at large out there is completely oblivious to their existence. Wah.
This is probably the greatest thing to ever run on Stereogum. A lot of this is totally right-on and needed to be said, if just to counter a lot of the dumb reviews this group gets. Huge respect to Brandon Stusoy for putting this together, and to Scott Lapatine for running it.
I admit, and this is been bugging me for a while, I kind of let a recent post here trashing the cover of the new CocoRosie album slide without making some kind of rebuttal comment. I shouldn’t have. Because, seriously, Grey Oceans is a pretty special and lovely record.
Though I don’t always understand exactly what Bianca and Sierra Casady are up to, I do think they’re worth hearing and deserve more respect than the name-calling and finger-pointing that accompanies much of the commentary surrounding their work.
I can’t decide which comment I like best in the roundtable linked above; Annie Clark pretty much takes the day, I think. Then again, I’m kind of floored by Jaime Stewart saying, ”Thank you so much for making art that is freaking me out.” Doesn’t that just kind of sum everything up right there?
I haven’t had time to digest it yet and offer up a review, but I can tell you that it is the work of a real musical thinker, regardless of whether or not I end up spinning it a lot.
I’ve been trying to develop an Advanced Musical Thinker Theory for some time now. In my most “music sucks now” moments, I feel that we have a paucity of new musical thinkers entering our musical discourse. They don’t fit easy narratives, they aren’t always catchy or commercial, and they often make bad decisions. Most of the great musical thinkers we have are old ones: Scott Walker, Kate Bush, David Sylvian, Brian Eno, Bjork, Mark Hollis (is he even around?), Gil Scott-Heron, Terry Riley, Michael Gira, Peter Gabriel perhaps. By musical thinker I’m talking about musical auteurs, people who often dabble in both the commercial and the avant-garde, but mostly work for themselves, often frustratingly slow and rarely with an eye toward commercial concerns. They tend to find commercial success through happenstance or subtle tweaks to their formula. The zeitgeist comes around to meet them, but they don’t necessarily seek it out. Terrible analogy here, but it’s kind of like wearing bell-bottoms all the time. You’re gonna be out of style for a while, but every decade or something you’re back in vogue.
But most of the people I’m talking about had some money behind them, often major label benefactors. Is there anybody young out there right now tackling music on a high concept level like these folks did/do? And is anyone going to take a chance on the new Japan or latter-period Talk Talk? Are the Dirty Projectors and Joanna Newsom as conceptual as we’re gonna get*?
* I should also state that I know there are plenty of awesome experimental types out there toiling away in relative obscurity. I’m not talking about people who get capsule reviews in The Wire. I’m talking about the artists who do interesting work, but are viable enough to be, well, to be streamed by NPR.
“Making its debut online on Tuesday, Cambio is the product of a partnership of AOL, the brand strategy company MGX Lab, and the Jonas Group, which represents the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, Jordin Sparks and other entertainers. It is being billed by its backers as a next-generation video network for the Web, a kind of MTV without the pesky middleman, intended for 13- to 24-year-olds who spend hours online but not enough time on AOL’s sites.”—
NPR president and CEO Vivian Schiller appeared at Wired’s Disruptive by Design conference Monday morning to announce the new Public Media Platform, a partnership between American Public Media, National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting Services (PBS), Public Radio International and the Public Radio Exchange distribution network.
The Public Media Platform is “a series of platforms that will allow all of the content from all of those entities — whether news or cultural products — to flow freely among the partners and member stations, and ultimately, also to other publishers, other not-for-profits and software developers who will invent wonderful new products that we can’t even imagine,” said Schiller.
“The MTV TJ position is a modern-day re-imagining of the pioneering MTV VJ. While the MTV VJ had a one-way dialog in reporting music and pop culture-related news to the audience, the MTV TJ will actively engage MTV’s hyper-social audience — answering their questions, amplifying their interests, doling out behind-the-scenes information, cool links and exclusive media across MTV.com, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and in 30-second sponsored on-air interstitials. The MTV TJ will be based at MTV’s global headquarters in New York City.”—
This is seven layers of terrible, I just can’t … a live finale with voting (on Twitter, no doubt — but won’t it be hilarious if it’s a phone/text vote!?), “head-to-head” “Twitter challenges” … the excessive American Express co-branding. Welcome to the future, everyone. Smell the desperation and fear!
Blind Love I RECorded this cover the other night. The original’s by Tom Waits off his album Rain Dogs. I’m not great on any one instrument, but I can play a few of them well enough to make a song when I need to. Even after some whiskey.
Can’t post this on hitRECord, because technically it’s sorta illegal, but figured I’d throw it out here anyway.
I clicked on this thinking, “Okay, yet another young celebrity getting into the indie music act by covering Tom Waits…blah blah blah,” but I gotta say I dig it. JGL played all the instruments, and because of that, it has a loose-y goose-y feel to the arrangement that compliments the song. It’s certainly within the same wheelhouse as, say, a Will Johnson. Plus, the guy doesn’t come into it all THEATRE trying to astound with his vocal chops. I found the Ryan Gosling stuff a little showy in that regard, like you could tell he was acting. Perhaps I’m feeling a lot of Joseph Gordon-Levitt goodwill because I just watched Mysterious Skin again the other day, but I’d listen to a record of this.
I get the chills just reading about the opening to “Plainsong”, to say nothing of actually listening to it. It devastates me the same as it did the first time I heard it, blasting out of nowhere while I sat on the couch with a high school girlfriend, who’d had a similar experience with the song a year before. I was late to The Cure, but I think the 1-2 punch of this—this moment exactly—and hearing Sugar over the loudspeakers at Turtle’s saved me from the clutches of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
pitchforkreviewsreviews, this one’s for you: I like Ariel Pink, and all, but I can’t really speak as to whether or not this is coincidental, or if the albums have gotten progressively better over time so predictably, but ya gotta admit that last jump is kinda fishy!
I wrote this earlier today on Vulture in response to a lame Washington Post article that gave NPR way too much credit for being a tastemaker. I hope I don’t sound like too much of a dick about this, but it’s not exactly an unqualified opinion or uneducated perspective given that I’ve been in music blogging for a long time, write regularly for Pitchfork, and spent a fair amount of time as a music producer in public radio. I think what NPR has been doing is great, it’s just dishonest to act as though they aren’t chasing the interests of a particular demographic of music fan who finds their music online.
One of the problems with the NPR thing is that the word “tastemaker” is so hot right now. It’s become the fashionable label for a host of quite different roles along the adoption curve or hype cycle or whatever you want to call it. The kind of early adopter “FIRST!” stuff the leading edge blogs to, the aggregation the Hype Machine does, the first-critical-filter role Pitchfork plays, the second-filter NPR plays for its rather different audience, the activities of individual critics…. they might all get the T-word applied to them.
It’s playing the role in music circles that “influencer” does in marketing ones, and like that word it either needs tight, explicit and agreed-on definition, or it needs retiring in favour of more accurate ones.
I guess I haven’t been talking about this loudly enough to the right people.
If you didn’t see NPR’s status as some kind of … indie music tastemaking clearinghouse for people who don’t have time to read music blogs (or Pitchfork, or anything music-related, even, for that matter), you haven’t been paying attention. Music is just part of NPR’s new scheme to stay relevant in the new media environment and stay afloat as it gets less and less funding from local, state, and federal governments.
A friend was visiting from Austin a few weeks ago, and the discussion turned, as it often does, to a progress report about Austin institutions and the way the city is constantly changing and chafing against its old image. We were discussing KUT, and my friend let me know about some changes to the long-beloved music programming on the station from old-school deejays Paul Ray and Larry Monroe (each has reportedly had shows chopped down to an hour from 3+ hour slots they’d had for years) and the introduction of OMFG INDIE ROCK PLAYLISTS to bizzaro morning show Eklektikos — which has, according to her sources, sent the old reliable subscribers — that treasured 55+ demo — fleeing in droves. They’re not renewing. Now, I’m torn — a friend works on Texas Music Matters, which is one of the new additions to the station’s lineup that features “indie” rock such as we’re discussing here. And I’m glad that she’s got that gig, because she totally deserves it, and is doing a good job — but I can’t not agree that making radical changes to the station’s programming isn’t going to have serious financial repercussions in the long term unless they start making money elsewhere.
A few weeks ago, I received the University of Texas College of Communication’s alumni newsletter in the mail. Now, the thing that needs to be remembered is, that, despite the fact that KUT is associated with the University of Texas, it isn’t even remotely student-run. And yet! The entire front page of the alumni newsletter was a story about how the new Communications Building complex will dedicate huge resources to KUT, including an “outdoor performance pavilion” (or something like that — I can’t find the newsletter online). An outdoor fucking performance pavilion! (I can feel the desperation. They want my money so bad!)
Which of course, immediately reminded me of … WNYC’s new Greene Space. Which hosts live performances by touring and local acts, and though it ostensibly has a hollistic focus for all the station’s activities, it’s pretty much being promoted as a hoity-toity, exclusive indie rock venue. Which makes me wonder — is this happening in NPR’s other major markets?
Because what’s happening here isn’t just tastemaking — this is clearly part of NPR’s overall agenda to be an alternative media conglomerate, with an emphasis on targeting audiences online. And they’re doing a great job of it — and they need to. If you were paying attention during the recent pledge drive, you’d recall hearing that less than 10% of WNYC’s funding comes from the government. They’ve gotta make money somehow. So — they’re taking a two-pronged attack — the terrestrial station has basically become a talk-radio station (granted, with good talk radio, but still…), with no music (more on that below) and the music-focused events and online content helps shoot for a wider, younger audience, too. It’s about building a sustainable business model.
But, of course, there’s always a pinch. About that talk radio thing. I was a dedicated listener to WNYC’s New Sounds for years. It came on after All Things Considered daily at 7pm, and was a fantastic modern classical music show. After WNYC acquired The New York Times’ classical station (did you even know that existed?!?) WQXR last year, it shunted ALL evening music programming over to the lower-powered station. It begrudgingly kept New Sounds (after briefly moving it to WQXR) on, but moved it from an early-evening slot to 11pm. And as soon as it’s over? Back to talk radio. Furthermore, due to the fact that WQXR listeners wanted to hear Classical Hits All the Goddamn Time (apparently), the awesome evening programming relocated from WNYC, that played New York-focused modern classical in the overnight slot was replaced by … Classical Hits Mix.
Anyway, as you can see, this is something that has been bugging me. And, because I’m no longer a journalist, I can’t spend any time researching and massaging this story the way I’d like to. I want to draw connections, I want to point to trends that show that NPR Music is pushing strongly encouaging local affiliates to get with the program and feature “indie” music that’s preselected by the national staff led by Bob Boilen. But I really can’t. What I don’t doubt, though, is that NPR Music would be more than happy to become a sort of 21st Century music powerhouse (an old-school VH1 of the Internet, if you will), complete with all-access SXSW coverage, Tiny Desk Concert videos and Carrie Brownstein’s blog and early album streams from pre-approved hip artists. You know. All the stuff that’s already happening. And believe me, there will be more in this vein to come.
(Finally — a nitpick out of the original Washington Post article: NPR hasn’t got the attention of the “music business” — the artists cited [Radiohead, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan] are all independent and currently unaffiliated with a label. NPR has the attention of big name publicists. Let’s just keep things straight here, shall we? Also, EMI, the “giant music label” — don’t make me laugh. Seriously.)
“Marketers are looking to the web to connect with consumers in an authentic manner,” said Doug Rohrer, Chief Revenue Officer. “Adding these top music sites to our already terrific offering further grows BUZZMEDIA’s ability to provide marketers with the ability to leverage the authentic voices that are defining the latest trends to reach young, social, and influential pop culture addicts on a large scale.” (source)
Well, that was fun while it lasted.
ETA: Well, this is supposedly just an ad deal, forwarding “unique partnerships” with each site. Except for that interesting investment with option to purchase over at GvsB.