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"[W]hat I really wanted to hear ... was a bit of swing, some empty space, and palpable bass frequencies."
October 19, 2007 1:22 AM   Subscribe

Q: Is [country] somehow more soulful than Wilco? A: Oh, hell yeah.: Sasha Frere-Jones writes a polemic on why indie music lacks a certain something. Writes more and more and talks about it, too. The Voice weighs in. Slate says it's class, not race. Or perhaps kt's response is more your speed?: not everything needs critical assessment or whatever.
posted by wemayfreeze (103 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
*yawns*

People use music to separate themselves from other people, then pretend there's some other reason for it even though there never has been and never will be.

News at 11.

Seriously: Whinging about music styles is old and busted. Whinging about video game styles, now there's the new hotness.
posted by effugas at 1:59 AM on October 19, 2007


"Dr Dre... Ice-T... They're the equivalent of Wordsworth." - David Brent
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:00 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who gives a shit what Sasha Frere-Jones thinks? Not only does he love to throw "racism" around to make people notice him, but he's the fucking pop music critic of the New Yorker, a post we ought to pay attention to as much as the opera critic at Maxim.

(Rob Harvilla at the Voice is a smart guy -- I have worked with him and know him a bit. His response is pretty well reasoned.)
posted by Bookhouse at 2:04 AM on October 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Your favorite music critic sucks.
posted by grouse at 2:24 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


When I was teaching junior high, my students loved Rebelde. What does that mean for the future of music?
posted by betweenthebars at 2:31 AM on October 19, 2007


"And what I really wanted to hear, after a stretch of raucous sing-alongs, was a bit of swing, some empty space, and palpable bass frequencies—in other words, attributes of African-American popular music."

Good for her. I want more raucous sing-alongs thanks. Music evolves, older generations don't get it. Say stupid things about how it was better in the old days. The world still turns.

Why don't critics (or any grumpy supposed muso who knows better than the rest of us) realise that they are not the musicians but rather a driving force for keeping music crap and keeping themselves in a job.

I miss John Peel.
posted by twistedonion at 2:34 AM on October 19, 2007


What I always missed when I listened to Motown tracks was the lack of that "piratey" sound from traditional Irish music.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:43 AM on October 19, 2007 [12 favorites]


SFJ is right, there isn't enough rhythm and groove in indie rock these days. I'm going to storm down to the head offices of Indie Rock Inc. and yell and scream until I see some affirmative action policies in place.

Maybe you can make the criticism that indie rock's lack of "rhythm," combined with its surge in popularity over the past few years, is indicative of some sort of latent racism in mainstream audiences, but that falls apart pretty quickly once you look at the Billboard charts. Or maybe it just means the indie rock crowd harbours some aversion to "black music." Maybe, but does that point to racism? Or is anyone who doesn't get rhythm or is without rhythm automatically racist? Remember that some of the appeal of indie music back in the day—especially stuff like twee pop and second-wave emo like Braid and The Promise Ring—was that you didn't necessarily have to dance to it, or even know how to dance at all.
posted by chrominance at 2:46 AM on October 19, 2007


I'm not, you know, a writer for pitchfork or anything, but Sasha Frere-Jones sounds likes he or she is ignoring a hell of a lot about how various things evolved and got popular.

Blah blah race blah get over it.
posted by blacklite at 2:48 AM on October 19, 2007


I really hate Sasha Frere-Jones. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Alex Ross, on the other hand, I have an undying crush on.
posted by revfitz at 2:50 AM on October 19, 2007


Though, this reminds me of something important: why weren't the Beastie Boys laughed out of the recording industry? I mean, if we're going to start talking about white vs black music.
posted by blacklite at 2:52 AM on October 19, 2007


Or maybe it just means the indie rock crowd harbours some aversion to "black music." Maybe, but does that point to racism?

Like a roadmap.
posted by three blind mice at 2:57 AM on October 19, 2007


I mean, if we're going to start talking about white vs black music.

"Play that reggae music, white kids" You don’t have to be obviously non-Jamaican to be at the cutting edge of reggae, our writer finds - but it helps
posted by patricio at 3:08 AM on October 19, 2007


I also never thought traditional Japanese samisen music wasn't funky enough.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:08 AM on October 19, 2007


What revfitz said. I wish they'd let Alex Ross write about music in the space that Sasha Frere-Jones currently uses to write about Coldplay.
posted by equalpants at 3:17 AM on October 19, 2007


I guess I'm sympathetic to the point that I wish there were more "full-throated", extroverted vocalists in indie these days, as opposed to intorspective, slightly whiny singers, but that's just what the current trend happens to be. It always comes back around.

That said, any discussion of rap that goes straight to Snoop without mentioning PE or Tupac, or a breakdown of Wilco without mentioning Uncle Tupelo or "No Depression" seems at least a little, if not flawed, then too breezy to be taken too seriously.
posted by psmealey at 4:05 AM on October 19, 2007


N'thing love for Alex Ross.
posted by psmealey at 4:16 AM on October 19, 2007


White people play music like this: "Wah, Wha, Wah, Wha!"
Black people play music like this: "Boom-ba, Boom, Boom!"


Dear New Yorker, where is my column contract? I figure a hundred bucks a word is a good rate. After all, I just saved you like four pages of space that you can fill with ads and ever so droll cartoons of guys getting into Heaven!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:13 AM on October 19, 2007 [5 favorites]


psmealey, envision energetic head-bobbing of emphatic agreement re: the PE-Tupac-Tupelo-Wilco angle that goes unexamined. Quite so.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 5:18 AM on October 19, 2007


Like a roadmap.

So I guess the fact that the indie rock crowd tends not to listen to a lot of Asian artists is an indication that they hate all Asians, or just the Chinese?

I mean, hell, this isn't even so much about racial representation in indie rock—if it were, then Frere-Jones would be arguing harder against the easy appropriation of so-called "black music" by white people, instead of for it. What it boils down to is Frere-Jones thinks indie rock should adopt more elements of the blues, hip-hop, rap, etc., and then asks somewhat pointed questions about why it doesn't seem to happen so much.

Except that he ignores a) the many bands that fall under the now impossibly vague banner of "indie rock" that subscribe in part to his ideals, b) the fact that the average MP3 player probably has a far more diverse collection of genres than record collections thirty years ago, and c) that to some extent the phenomenon works in reverse, too: aside from Kanye rapping over Daft Punk, has rap, hip-hop, etc. taken any cues lately from genres far removed from the familiar?

Well, he ignores the last two points only until the final paragraphs of his article, and then STILL manages to put the blame squarely on indie rock. Devendra Banhart should be stealing from R. Kelly? What about R. Kelly stealing from the likes of Devendra Banhart? (Please feel free to insert a more popular folk artist here.)

There's so much music out there that it seems pointless to point at a specific (or non-specific, in this case) genre like indie rock and say, "hey, you should do more stuff like this!" because if you direct your attention two degrees to starboard, hey, there's a bunch of people playing exactly the kind of music you propose. Two years ago Interpol was everywhere, and since I didn't have the apparent requisite Joy Division background I thought it was boring and dull. I didn't then decide that all independent music was shit as a result; I just listened to a ton of albums that didn't sound like Interpol.
posted by chrominance at 5:23 AM on October 19, 2007


"It’s difficult to talk about the racial pedigree of American pop music without being accused of reductionism, essentialism, or worse."

True, that.

Sasha Frere-Jones, you're a reductionist, an essentialist, and a taint-monger.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:53 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


so can anyone explain to me why so many hiphop records don't swing?

there's a lot of reasons for the lack of swing in today's music - first, many of today's musicians don't listen to enough of the past for inspiration - two, the demise of the top 40/dance/or heavy rock bar band in the 70s and 80s

a lot of musicians learned their craft in those bands - but when punk rock arrived, no one had to play those songs anymore - and no one even had to be good enough to - (although certainly many were) - they could play their own! - (perhaps i exaggerate, but there was a significant decrease in bar bands at that time and it did hurt music and musicianship)

add sampling to that in the late 80s and the overall effect has been to devalue musicianship - it's not just indie rock, it's pop, hard rock, metal, hip hop, everything except perhaps country (although the songs and singing drive me away every time)

i don't hear much about great guitarists or great drummers or great x any more - (i'm not talking about yngwie malmsteen or neal peart, i'm talking about keith richards and charlie watts) - instead we all have a bunch of people who are imitating each other - and you can be sure that if an original like joanna newsom comes along, there will be a new crowd that imitates her

maybe when real musicianship is recognized, you'll get better music
posted by pyramid termite at 6:16 AM on October 19, 2007


More likely than indie-rock lacking soul is Sasha Frere-Jone lacking a significant idea and, sadly, publicly, striving for one.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 6:17 AM on October 19, 2007


Sez Frere-Jones

By the time I saw the Clash, in 1981, it was finished with punk music.


Christ, isn't he a little *old* to be writing about how your favorite indie band sucks? Let's all remember: critics are nothing but poseurs and scribblers. Pop culture critics, that is.

Alex Ross, on the other hand, could write intelligently about a camp fire sing-along. More Alex Ross!
posted by KokuRyu at 6:19 AM on October 19, 2007


I like how he conveniently ignores the most recent Cat Power album. Because, you know, that album has no soul at all, and owes nothing to predominantly black music from the early 60's.

In a world where Will Oldham can be the fucking hypeman in a Kanye West video, it's clear that's not the only thing he's ignoring.
posted by god hates math at 6:19 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Where is the rhythm? I mean, where's the music you can dance to? I don't mean that tedious 120bpm Eurodisco stuff, but well-crafted pop/rock music with its roots deeply into funk/soul. Hell, even the edgiest of the New Wave sounded better and was infinitely more dance-able that what's out there now.

When I put music on, I want to tap my feet, move my body. The current pop/rock zeitgeist has failed to deliver. When the music starts moving again, then I'll start buying again.

In the meantime, I'll keep mining the archives for the good stuff.

Fuck art, let's dance!
posted by smcdow at 6:33 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


... the opera critic at Maxim.

I want that job.

Seriously, you could just make shit up all the time, and no one would ever cop to catching you at it because it would mean they actually went to operas.
posted by lodurr at 6:38 AM on October 19, 2007


sfj's lastfm site (judge for yourself if he's putting his money where his ears are)

sfj's blog (I like the photos)

Alex Ross' blog (for the fans - includes info about his new book)
posted by senor biggles at 6:43 AM on October 19, 2007


Christ, isn't he a little *old* to be writing about how your favorite indie band sucks?

Hey, easy there. Last I heard there was no minimum or maximum age requirement for liking (or hating) any band or vapidly generalizing about genres. As much I enjoy ripping on music critics too -- as I now have a family to spend time with and a difficult job that prevents me from doing the endless and painstaking band and genre research that I did when I was younger -- critics can still be at least a little useful as a way to point me to things I might be interested in checking out.
posted by psmealey at 6:44 AM on October 19, 2007


Who gives a shit what Sasha Frere-Jones thinks? Except that he is right. Most indie music lacks soul. It's just pop music, but a little more heady, kind of like the art rock of the 70's, and boy did that drag rock down. Punk came along and shook things up. Indie is different as not as it's audience is smaller, it has made less of an impact. So the fact that it lacks something really doesn't matter except to the hipsters who want to be listening to the new, new thing, and that new, new thing, well it isn't really rock and roll, it's Barry Manilow with a Morrissey coolness (but at least Morrisy doesn't lack for soul and even Barry Manilow has more soul than Arcade Fire). A lot of it is still pretty good though, and the lack of soul is by no means universal in indie music, but it sure is prevalent.
posted by caddis at 6:46 AM on October 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


I love Sasha Frere-Jones, and it isn't merely because I watched him create a terrifying beauty with the band "Dolores" in the 80s. I also love his writing in the New Yorker.

I don't understand the vitriol directed at him. He's too old to speak about pop music? What? He's 41.

I think it's valuable to know art history when criticising art.

And you know what? Your favorite "indie" band probably does suck. If you're lucky, they might suck in an interesting way. Most bands suck in a boring way; that has always been the case.

Some people celebrate sucking, and make it their entire ethos--see Lester Bangs.
posted by e.e. coli at 6:52 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


as not
posted by caddis at 6:52 AM on October 19, 2007


Yes, I often ask myself why literate kids who tend towards creative pursuits aren't as influenced as they should be by misogynistic thugs who rhyme about how expensive their pants are.

As I'm generally a nice and trusting person who gives people the benefit of the doubt (read gullible) I gave a ride to a kid who promised me gas money if I took him to pick up his paycheck. Before he ditched me without paying he lectured me on not listening to hip hop, spitting indie as if it was a curse, asking why I didn't listen to rap when his white friends did.

The thing that sticks with me is I'm pretty certain he didn't intend to rip me off until he learned my musical taste. Before music came up I was just another guy in a hoodie who was part of the same tribe as him, and afterwards I was just a mark to hustle. The lesson learned, that some people actually see indie vs. rap as a battle on the scale of mods vs. rockers, was worth the ten dollars and gas money. When combined with the bag of clownish clothes he picked up from his girlfriends house and left in my back seat, I'll probably clear fifty dollars on ebay.

So back to the point, why do indie kids not steal from urban music like they used to? To roughly paraphrase one of the scumbags from Three Six Mafia: "Music is just another hustle for us. We don't care about art and that shit. Our music isn't art, it's product. The moment that we stop making money in rap, we'll move on to another game. The music don't mean shit to us." Garbage like that seems kind of incompatible with the indie aesthetic. Here's hoping for a tidal wave of soul to wash the world clean of thugs rapping about money, what money can buy, and how rap brings them money. Then a thousand Booker T and the MGs will bloom out of the ruins and the cross-pollenation can begin again.
posted by bunnytricks at 6:54 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have never been so grateful that I simply listen to music I like, and don't listen to music I don't. I'd sooner shoot myself in the head than feel compelled to weigh the merit of music by analyzing all of its various origins and socio-political implications and cultural biases and perceived level of "authenticity" or "miscegenation."
posted by pardonyou? at 6:56 AM on October 19, 2007 [5 favorites]


We're all going to be fucked* when the indie rockers discover Meters albums.

*In a good way
posted by drezdn at 6:59 AM on October 19, 2007


Wouldn't it be easier to make an argument about racism in music-listening by point out the "mainstream" success of Amy Winehouse over the likes of Sharon Jones, even though they both essentially had the same backing band?
posted by drezdn at 7:00 AM on October 19, 2007


Amy truly is going to go to rehab
posted by caddis at 7:08 AM on October 19, 2007


He starts off complaining about Arcade Fire covering The Clash. One of the points of a cover is to do it in your own style, or in a different style from the original. It'd be boring if their cover sounded the same.

The white-artists-covering-black-artists-without-rhythm complaint isn't exactly new.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:11 AM on October 19, 2007


Where is the rhythm? I mean, where's the music you can dance to?

smdcow nails it for me. My ears, buttocks and nervous system favor music skewed towards rhythm and syncopation rather than melody. This isn't a character flaw, any more than my preference for the color teal, or the flavor of Massaman curry.
posted by Scoo at 7:13 AM on October 19, 2007


Most indie music lacks soul.

Define indie before you generalise and I'll happily argue this point. Otherwise you are talking through your big pretentious arse.
posted by twistedonion at 7:20 AM on October 19, 2007


It's just pop music, but a little more heady, kind of like the art rock of the 70's, and boy did that drag rock down. Punk came along and shook things up. Indie is different as not as it's audience is smaller, it has made less of an impact.

I think the initial criticism and much of this whole discussion is based on a lot of overly broad and bad assumptions. For one thing, "indie" is not a specific genre, with a particular sound that you can make sweeping generalizations about so much as it is a particular attitude toward how to work within whatever particular genre you're exploring.

Jurassic 5 is an indie hip-hop band, for example, and they're not the only ones. Indie hip-hop is a whole genre. And Wilco, as a now multi-record major label veteran, is only indie in the sense that they began life as an indie band, and continue to exercise a much greater degree of creative control over the music they produce than most other major label bands.

Indie isn't a genre, its an approach to managing ones own career as an artist that emphasizes self-reliance and creative control at all costs.

The only truly common characteristic underlying nearly all indie music (whether indie hip-hop, indie rock, indie pop, or any of the other varieties of indie ice cream) is the DIY ideal. Unlike previous generations of music acts, which relied heavily on producers, managers, record label support, etc., indie bands tend to exert much more direct control over their musical output and do a lot more of the peripheral work required to produce and promote a recording themselves.

So to hold Wilco up as and example of "the problem with indie music" is to misunderstand, in a fundamental way, what indie music is and will always be about.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:24 AM on October 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Dialogue Musique

C: Music style A isn't enough like music style B.
M: That's why they have different names. They're different. By definition.
C: But I like music style B better.
M: Then listen to music style B and shut the fuck up.

The End
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:28 AM on October 19, 2007 [18 favorites]


drezdn : We're all going to be fucked (in a good way) when the indie rockers discover Meters albums.

Oh, man. Yes, yes, yes!!!

WhyTF hasn't this already happened?
posted by smcdow at 7:29 AM on October 19, 2007


When I saw this FPP first thing this morning on the way into work, I thought that the ensuing discussion could end up representing either the best or worst of Mefi. I am so far completely undisappointed in this regard
posted by psmealey at 7:29 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jesus h Christ on a pogo stick. There is enough great music out there that swings, or has great guitar, soul, drums, whatever you want. Perhaps not in the top 40, but that is as much the fault of a music industry that pushes pablum as it is due to lazy ears. Right now there is such a surfeit of great music to be found and listened to that any critic that has to write such a godawful article bemoaning any paucity in music is just damn lazy.
posted by edgeways at 7:32 AM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Once upon a time Stephen Merritt, the dude from The Magnetic Fields, said in an interview basically that Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Beyonce were famous for their looks and as part of a commercial package.

In response, this douchebag started writing everywhere about what an enormous racist sexist asshole he was.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:41 AM on October 19, 2007


Ever since hip hop and r&b became the dominant genres back in the 90s, I think that indie rock has sort of become the default music for people who aren't into hip hop or r&b. Turns out most of those people are white.

I agree, though, that a certain element of soul is missing from a lot of indie rock. In particular, I miss the bluesy vocal stylings of rock musicians past. The whole screamy, whiney emo/pop punk singing voice drives me up a fucking wall.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:44 AM on October 19, 2007


The Frere-Jones piece that's sparked this whole thing is so flawed, I don't know where to begin. So rather than type out a long debunking (Slate did it for me, really), I'll simply requote this bit of the Slate article:

Last March, in direct contradiction to what he says in this week's New Yorker essay, Frere-Jones wrote in an LCD Soundsystem review: "About five years ago, indie rockers began to rediscover the pleasures of rhythm." Where are those indie rockers now? Vanished, because they would mess with his thesis. He isn't really talking about all of indie rock, but a folkier subset that's hardly trying to be rock at all. But to say so would be less dramatic.

As a piece of provocation, Frere-Jones' article is certainly effective, but as an actual article, its arguments are suspect and it ignores vast swathes of popular indie-ish bands that Frere-Jones puts on year-end best-of lists.

So, uh. Yeah.

This is all deeply silly.
posted by sparkletone at 7:50 AM on October 19, 2007


I don't necessarily disagree with Frere-Jones' larger point. But isn't Arcade Fire sort of an odd band to single out as the paradigmatic example of indie rock's whiteness? I remember that when 'Funeral' first came out, lots of the reviews praised the group's use of Motown-style rhythmic elements in songs like 'Wake Up,' and a song like 'Haiti' certainly has more than a trace of black influence in it. Their last album has some gospel tinges, with 'My Body is a Cage' being about as blatant an attempt at a blues/gospel/rock melding as you can find anywhere.

Of course, Arcade Fire are still pretty damn white. But I can think of a dozen other popular indie acts who seem far less influenced by black music. The inapt choice of example, and the fact that these observations came to him at a concert, makes me think Frere-Jones' is, if not consciously then perhaps subconsciously, commenting more on the fanbase of these groups than their actual music.
posted by decoherence at 7:57 AM on October 19, 2007



WhyTF hasn't this already happened?


Jon Spencer Blues Explosion "borrowed" from The Meters, but other than that I'm not sure. I'd love to have a band with some funk to it.
posted by drezdn at 8:00 AM on October 19, 2007


The inapt choice of example, and the fact that these observations came to him at a concert, makes me think Frere-Jones' is, if not consciously then perhaps subconsciously, commenting more on the fanbase of these groups than their actual music.

Correct. In as much as there are problems, they are cultural not sonic.
posted by sparkletone at 8:04 AM on October 19, 2007


IT'S A TRAP!
posted by klangklangston at 8:19 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


also, on this:

I’ve spent the past decade wondering why rock and roll, the most miscegenated popular music ever to have existed, underwent a racial re-sorting in the nineteen-nineties. Why did so many white rock bands retreat from the ecstatic singing and intense, voicelike guitar tones of the blues, the heavy African downbeat, and the elaborate showmanship that characterized black music of the mid-twentieth century?

ever heard of post-rock? it's a sub-genre within indie the whole idea of which is to once and for all move the fuck on and explore new directions that aren't all bound up in the received traditions of "rock and roll" (a term which BTW has been so diluted over the years it's practically meaningless at this point anyway).

as others have already pointed out, what this pretty much seems to be saying is why don't the latest crop of young white musicians try harder to rip-off black musicians, like the previous generations of white musicians did?

if you want "voice-like" guitars, i'd point you to rob crow's heavy vegetable, damn near the farthest thing from the blues you can imagine. if you want ecstatic singing and elaborate showmanship, what part of that doesn't polyphonic spree have, apart from being "too white"?

rock and roll puritans are the worst kind, because they can't even see how stifling and pro-status-quo their particular form of cultural chauvinism really is. rock-and-roll, we're supposed to believe, is inherently all about the rejection of cultural norms and youthful rebellion, so any rebellion can only be done within the tried-and-true rock tradition--rejection of that tradition itself leads only to bland soulless conformity.

you try listening to elliot smith sing about his personal struggles with heroin addiction and look me squarely in the eye and tell me how "soulless" his music is.

screw it, i'm gonna go ahead and say it: i personally don't even like a lot of so-called rock and roll. much of it is, in my mind, just a way of using sex to sell music. how else do you explain elvis sharing the same "genre" as led zeppelin? what apart from sexuality do they have in common? and is that all music is ever allowed to be from now on, something that makes your loins tingle and serves as a pleasant prelude or accompaniment to sex? if that floats your boat, fine. but to impose that as a cultural standard on everyone else is asinine.

/rant
posted by saulgoodman at 8:37 AM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


how else do you explain elvis sharing the same "genre" as led zeppelin? what apart from sexuality do they have in common?

talent
posted by pyramid termite at 8:50 AM on October 19, 2007


SYOFB

(That is, "Start Your Own F**ing Band.")
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:57 AM on October 19, 2007


Remember that some of the appeal of indie music back in the day—especially stuff like twee pop and second-wave emo like Braid and The Promise Ring—was that you didn't necessarily have to dance to it, or even know how to dance at all.

The Lucksmiths, in my opinion one of the best twee bands today, have a song which includes the bit:

I could never understand you
Hating music to hold hands to
Sometimes something you can dance to
Is the last thing that you need


---

I think the slate article is pretty spot on in their class critique, but in the end I'm pretty convinced that music criticism, on the genre and scene level, is a loser's game. It happens, by necessity, in retrospect, and with incomplete information. In order to discuss a musical scene, critics must first create it through discourse and in doing so, fix it in time and kill it.

Real music happens before the critics get to it.
posted by Arturus at 9:04 AM on October 19, 2007


Or perhaps kt's response is more your speed?: not everything needs critical assessment or whatever.

I'm with "kt". Acarde Fire sound "too white"? Whatever Sasha, you are one of only four people in the world who give a fuck.
posted by MikeMc at 9:12 AM on October 19, 2007


I hope this doesn't mean I'm stupid, but I don't understand the point of either article.
posted by the jam at 9:25 AM on October 19, 2007


Wouldn't it be easier to make an argument about racism in music-listening by point out the "mainstream" success of Amy Winehouse over the likes of Sharon Jones, even though they both essentially had the same backing band?

I think that's more of an age/image thing than a race thing.
If Sharon Jones was younger, skinner, etc. she might well be outselling Winehouse.

Both of those records are ace, BTW.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:26 AM on October 19, 2007


I hate Frere-Jones as much as the next person, but not only has he been in bands, one of those (Ui) was one of the bigger post-rock bands out there. So let's at least get our insults straight.

drezdn's quite right that Jon Spencer brought a lot of blues and soul influence back to indie music, particularly the garage rock scene of the time. I'd actually say the JSBX fell off when Spencer started going overboard on the newer, more digital (perhaps more hip hop in its production?) sound of Acme or Plastic Teeth.

Anyways, a lot of people in garage rock took up that gauntlet & got deeply into blues or soul. The re-release of so much amazing 'source' music (by which I mean soul, blues, funk, original r'n'r & r'n'b, you name it) has only fed this hunger for the real goods.

But those people tended to either get fairly purist (which is of zero interest to the current indie hipster scene), or else mixed up that sound with either metal or noise influences. Those bands have some level of success, but, at least in Toronto (I can't speak for other places), the garage/soul scene and the indie hipster scene just do not mix. They're aware of each other, and might be friends, but most of the time are decidedly unintersted in seeing each others' shows.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:27 AM on October 19, 2007


Whatever Sasha, you are one of only four people in the world who give a fuck.

I'm not sure how much of a refutation this is. The fact that only he and four other people give a fuck seems to be part of what he sees as the problem.
posted by sparkletone at 9:29 AM on October 19, 2007


I hate music. It has too many notes.
posted by Tacodog at 9:33 AM on October 19, 2007


The only thing hipper than being indie is calling indie rockers out for being too white.

I think we may have been had by this guy's cyclical spiral into uber-post-meta-hipsterism.

Also, what the hell? Half the bands he names are on major labels. What an ill-defined mess of pretension. Music is music, listen to it if you like it, don't if you don't. Taste is relative, duh.
posted by dosterm at 9:44 AM on October 19, 2007


FWIW, there's a fun (and lo0o0ong) thread over on ILM about the essay. Meh, and Simon Reynolds does a pretty good job framing Sasha's essay.

I wish I could muster a little more on the care-o-meter w/r/t Sasha's essay, but there are just so many self-evident holes that it's tough to know where to start. Wilson's response does a pretty good job, though.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 9:49 AM on October 19, 2007


From the V.V. comments section:

I'm thinking that now and then you guys wake up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and say "Why do I have a job?" Perhaps, on those days when you can't come up with an answer, rather than writing about whether you should permit yourselves to enjoy this or that sound being produced by this or that person, you should say, "Maybe I could try something that is useful to the people with whom I share this planet."

Now that's what I'm talking about! I can just picture some guy sitting around pulling his hair out trying to come up 2,500 words of navel gazing for the next issue.
posted by MikeMc at 9:51 AM on October 19, 2007


Do we really want indie-rockers copping the musical styles of contemporary black artists? I mean, Jesus, isn't one Maroon 5 enough?
posted by billysumday at 9:56 AM on October 19, 2007


In response to:
how else do you explain elvis sharing the same "genre" as led zeppelin? what apart from sexuality do they have in common?

Pyramid Termite wrote:
talent

If talent's the only requirement for being "rock-and-roll," was Mozart rock-and-roll, too? Or did he not make the cut? (Too many notes?)
posted by saulgoodman at 10:02 AM on October 19, 2007


By the mid-nineties, the biggest rock stars in the world were rappers, and the potential for embarrassment had become a sufficient deterrent for white musicians tempted to emulate their black heroes. Who would take on Snoop, one of the most naturally gifted vocalists of the day?

It's too bad Sasha couldn't be bothered to leave the house and, y'know, ASK INDIE ROCK MUSICIANS if this were true. I forget if it's the Wilson response or one of the others, but someone mentions that, after 30+ years of rock critics chiding white blues-bands for "stealing" the blues, proto-indie bands might have felt kinda iffy and legitimately worried about the appropriation and instead decided to go in a different direction with guitar rock.

Whatevs, "Paler Shade" a pretty cut 'n' dry case of making yr facts fit the thesis. If he'd spent as much time researching and refining his essay as he did promoting, maybe it'd be a worthwhile piece of rock crit.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 10:19 AM on October 19, 2007


Can one be a "troll" when writing in the New Yorker - to get a rise out of the critics in the Village Voice etc.? Like a bonnacon or something? There needs to be some kind of term for published critics like Sasha Frere-Jones. He lost all cred. when he ranted about Stephin Merritt being a racist.
posted by Raoul de Noget at 10:22 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dorian Lynskey writing in the Guardian pretty much sums up the ramshackle nature of Frere-Jones' argument. Among other points:
Is it necessarily wrong for a white musician not to engage with black music? I might not want to listen to their iPod but all I can expect from an artist is honesty. I'm not going to lock Stephin Merritt in a cupboard and bombard him with Mobb Deep albums until he repents.
posted by jokeefe at 10:34 AM on October 19, 2007


"If Sharon Jones was younger, skinner, etc. she might well be outselling Winehouse."

No, not really. If Sharon Jones used Mick Ronson as a producer, more likely. But Jones and the Dap Kings are too fucking self-consciously retro for my tastes, whereas Winehouse (or Aguilera, whose "Ain't No Other Man" was both one of the swinging-est and best singles this year) are making old music their own. It's the same problem I have with The Detroit Cobras.

Oh, yeah, and ps. to S F-J: Move to Detroit. All the kids there want to steal all the black music they can, just like the Stones did.
posted by klangklangston at 10:45 AM on October 19, 2007


As an exploration of Tuvan throat singing, the complete Rolling Stones catalog is an utter failure.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:14 AM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


If talent's the only requirement for being "rock-and-roll," was Mozart rock-and-roll, too?
According to Falco? Yes.

He was Superstar
He was popular
He was so exalted
Because he had flair
He was a virtuose
Was a rock idol
And everyone shouted:
Come on and rock me Amadeus

posted by Flunkie at 11:32 AM on October 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


Bob Babbitt was one of the bassists in Detroit-based Motown's Funk Brothers during the late '60s. He played bass on "War," "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)," and hundreds of other soulful songs. He's also white.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:04 PM on October 19, 2007


Yeah, it's too bad these indie bands don't know nothing about soul music.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:31 PM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


BitterOldPunk, thank you. I've enjoyed some tunes by Betty Lavette and Drive By Truckers, you've just inspired me to buy that album.

Is it necessarily wrong for a white musician not to engage with black music?

Seems like the defining question for me. Why should all white bands be influenced by 'black' music? Heck, why should black artists be influenced by black music? Why shouldn't a black artist sound like The Magnetic Fields or the Byrds, if they want? Why can't some music be separate, some mixed up? (I say this as an indie kid who's been thrashing Muddy Waters at Newport and Solomon Burke recently).
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:16 PM on October 19, 2007


The best thing about this argument is that it's entirely possible to fill another column by rearranging the races/ethnicities. Why aren't more African American musicians influenced by Latin American music? Why doesn't Indian music pay an homage to metal?
posted by drezdn at 2:21 PM on October 19, 2007


drezdn, I think there's been a real reluctance to identify non-African-American influences in American popular music. For example, I hardly ever hear anyone talking about the latin influence in Springsteen. Once you listen for it, you can't not hear it, but your average Springsteen fan has never given it a thought. And you hardly ever hear anyone talking about celtic influences.

So, yeah: Fertile ground for wanking. To be sure.
posted by lodurr at 2:25 PM on October 19, 2007


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by dhartung at 2:38 PM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


IJ: you're welcome. Pretty good record, too.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:39 PM on October 19, 2007


"Why aren't more African American musicians influenced by Latin American music? Why doesn't Indian music pay an homage to metal?"

I believe that this is handled in the ILX thread titled "Why does black people never want to rock?"
posted by klangklangston at 2:41 PM on October 19, 2007


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by dhartung at 5:38 PM on October 19 [+] [Flagged]



???
posted by caddis at 5:01 PM on October 19, 2007


[Cubicle indie] is the music of young "knowledge workers" in training, and that has sonic consequences: Rather than body-centered, it is bookish and nerdy; rather than being instrumentally or vocally virtuosic, it shows off its chops via its range of allusions and high concepts with the kind of fluency both postmodern pop culture and higher education teach its listeners to admire...This doesn't make coffeehouse-indie shallow, but it can result in something more akin to the 1960s folk revival, with fretful collegiate intellectuals in a Cuban Missile Crisis mood, seeking purity and depth in antiquarian music and escapist spirituality. Not exactly a recipe for a booty-shaking party.

Word.
posted by dydecker at 6:25 PM on October 19, 2007


The Bad Plus offers their take on the issue.
posted by drezdn at 6:29 PM on October 19, 2007


caddis: follow the link.
posted by dhartung at 6:57 PM on October 19, 2007


I have never been so grateful that I simply listen to music I like, and don't listen to music I don't. I'd sooner shoot myself in the head than feel compelled to weigh the merit of music by analyzing all of its various origins and socio-political implications and cultural biases and perceived level of "authenticity" or "miscegenation."

What's wrong with analyzing the layers and implications of things? It's not a condemnation just to make NOTE. Just to be curious about history and context. I like what I like and don't like what I don't, and in the end it's that way for everyone I suppose. But I also like to know why I like what I do and don't like what I don't and then to find out what influences other people, if that's at all possible. Or at least to talk about it.

Call it wanking if you want. Taking things too seriously. Whatever. It helps me to enjoy music (and any art) more when there are layers and context. I wish this thread was more than a long attack against a hated music critic.

When I saw this FPP first thing this morning on the way into work, I thought that the ensuing discussion could end up representing either the best or worst of Mefi. I am so far completely undisappointed in this regard

Yeah. These things can go either way I suppose.
posted by Danila at 8:38 PM on October 19, 2007


He played bass on "War," "Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today)

and "signed, sealed, delivered (i'm yours)" - that bass rules - i always thought it was jamerson

carol kaye's claimed that one too, but i kind of doubt it - she rules too

how many indie musicians know those names and know the riffs they played?

THAT'S my problem with a lot of what i hear - these guys just don't know - it's like musical ability stopped counting - as long as someone can grind out some chords and dress it in the proper attitude or with a weird twist to it, it's ok - and once in awhile, it is

but the average recording musician of today is not as good as the average recording musician of the 70s - period
posted by pyramid termite at 9:07 PM on October 19, 2007


"but the average recording musician of today is not as good as the average recording musician of the 70s - period"

Oh, bullshit.

The average musician today is a sessioner, just like in the '70s (numbers, man), and they're as technically adept or more so. The problem is that you want to argue best against, well, whatever weird-ass blahting you think represents the mainstream. You're trying to posit your taste as a universal by using "good" unqualified, and I call that shit out on jonmc too.
posted by klangklangston at 10:24 PM on October 19, 2007


Standing in the Shadows of Motown is a documentary about the Funk Brothers. Several of them, like Jamerson, died before getting the recognition they deserved. They didn't get credited on any albums until Marvin Gaye's What's Going On in 1971.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:37 PM on October 19, 2007


Oh, bullshit.

bullshit, yourself - back then, they didn't have pro tools and the rest of that crap to hide the fact that bands couldn't play their instruments

also, there are live performances one can check out

The average musician today is a sessioner, just like in the '70s (numbers, man)

not talking about session musicians - who always have to be on top of their game and are emphatically NOT average musicians - your saying that proves you don't know what you're talking about

we're talking about the average member of the average rock and roll band - and numbers, man, say that's your basic indie or bar band

The problem is that you want to argue best against, well, whatever weird-ass blahting you think represents the mainstream.

nope - it has nothing to do with that

you're trying to posit your taste as a universal by using "good" unqualified

nope - if they drag the beat, it's not good - if they're not in the pocket, it's not good

that's NOT a matter of taste, it's a matter of skill and musicians know the difference

and i'm telling you right now - today's average musician doesn't swing as well as the average musician in the 70s - it has nothing to do with genre, or taste, or aesthetics or any of that

they just don't
posted by pyramid termite at 10:59 PM on October 19, 2007


I would not be at all surprised at all if this thing breaks down along more or less chronological lines. I suspect you hit a wall in your 30s, as far as musical appreciation goes. I know I did. Everything starts sounding derivative, and this problem is compounded if you've spent your whole goddamn life stuffing your head with music: you've heard it all before. And hearing something the second time is never as good. And when you hear something new, it's still embedded in this associative context that makes it really hard to hear it as new.

And since you are now officially an Old Fogey, hearing something genuinely new sounds scary.

I dunno. I never thought my musical tastes would ossify. But they have. I've realized I can spend the rest of my life hearing old jazz I haven't heard yet, or exploring Bach and other composers I don't know enough about, or filling my iPod with 70s garage bands like The Real Kids, and never NEED to look for more. Most new music has to reach out, grab my throat, and slap me around before it will catch my attention in any but the most superficial way.

It's like I've developed a set of grooves within which I feel comfortable continuing. I can tell you about my local rock scene, southern/alt, outlaw country, and post rock with some enthusiasm. I'm current, or reasonably conversant. But get me out of my grooves (even within rock genres I like) and I'm hopelessly ten years or so behind the curve. We get older and we dig in. Perhaps burrowing deeper makes us miss things on the surface, but within our burrows we hoard our treasures.

Now get off my lawn.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:05 PM on October 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


for chronological, read generational
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:07 PM on October 19, 2007


Everything starts sounding derivative, and this problem is compounded if you've spent your whole goddamn life stuffing your head with music: you've heard it all before.

are you so sure you haven't? i don't think it's an illusion - you probably really have heard most of it before

And since you are now officially an Old Fogey, hearing something genuinely new sounds scary.

it rarely happens to me these days - but when it does, it's memorable, even if i decide i don't care for it

it's kind of funny, but sometimes it seems like the most adventurous stuff is pop dance music - i'm not really into it - but i often hear something that does sound different
posted by pyramid termite at 11:16 PM on October 19, 2007


Oy, I really do not enjoy SFJ's writing, though I would take it over any pimpled windbag Pitchfork writer any day.

Anyway, the miscegenation piece had so many problems it's hard to know where to start. It's bizarre to me that he eked so many words out of such a half-baked theory -- if he's going to argue something so vehemently, he would be much more convincing and engaging working out an idea that's coherent and fully-formed.

I feel kind of bad that the Arcade Fire got caught up in his bizarre tirade. Half of them, including the drummer, are from Ottawa, which is a pretty damn white place to be from. I don't think they set out to incorporate any specific influences or to institute any kind of racial representation. They're just kids doing what's natural to them. They are working with what they've got.

I do see a seed of truth in SFJ's idea, or at least something that's worth talking about, but it's so stinking disingenuous to set out to provoke, he just ends up sounding obnoxious and smug. Music criticism is difficult -- I have done some professionally myself and know it's impossible to please everyone -- but I can't help but feel SFJ has held this comfy post for a little too long. I'd like to hear a new voice in the New Yorker. Let SFJ flesh out his idea-du-jour on his blog like all the other crackpots out there.
posted by loiseau at 9:53 AM on October 20, 2007


"not talking about session musicians - who always have to be on top of their game and are emphatically NOT average musicians - your saying that proves you don't know what you're talking about"

Dude, your average working musician sure as hell is a sessioner. Even in relatively podunk spots like Ann Arbor and Detroit, they outnumber the guys in bar bands. They play on radio jingles, they fill out big bands, they knock down backing tracks. They usually have bands besides being a sessioner, but that's where the guys in bars make their real money if they're at all adept.

Further, that's who you were comparing folks to upthread.

"bullshit, yourself - back then, they didn't have pro tools and the rest of that crap to hide the fact that bands couldn't play their instruments

also, there are live performances one can check out"

God, you're retarded. First off, pro-tools is just that: a tool. It doesn't hide people not being able to play their instruments, or whatever other bizarro old man ideas you have. That's like saying that people aren't good photographers because photoshop exists.

And I've been going to multiple live shows per week for about the last six years. There are great technical musicians everywhere—In fact, they just don't seem special anymore, because there are so many of them. Go to any bar in the country and you can hear a guitarist who plays Page solos note for note.

Sure, you could then argue that what set apart folks in the '70s was innovation of these cliches, but then you're going to have to cede that bars aren't where you go for innovative music.

"and i'm telling you right now - today's average musician doesn't swing as well as the average musician in the 70s - it has nothing to do with genre, or taste, or aesthetics or any of that"

And this is where you're clearly high. Swinging IS an aesthetic choice. There are plenty of bands, like !!! or Out Hud or Nomo or any number of dancey indie rock bands that explicitly do swing. And there were shitloads of bands in the '60s and '70s who didn't.
posted by klangklangston at 11:10 AM on October 20, 2007


Dude, your average working musician sure as hell is a sessioner.

you're deliberately and knowingly changing the definition of "average" here to include the top musicians

God, you're retarded. First off, pro-tools is just that: a tool. It doesn't hide people not being able to play their instruments

to the average person, yes it does - and as someone who actually plays musical instruments and uses pro-tools like programs, i know what can be done and what can be hidden with them

Go to any bar in the country and you can hear a guitarist who plays Page solos note for note.

if that's your idea of a great technical or musical acheivement, you're hurting your own argument - jimmy page isn't a technical wizard and frankly, you should be paying more attention to the bass and drummer and how well they lock in together and how well the guitarist can lock into that than whether he can play stairway to heaven note to note

it's also funny that that you call me an old fogey and then turn around and praise todays' guitarists because they can play jimmy page solos - in fact, it's hilarious

couldn't you come up with a younger reference point than that? you know, musicians being so much BETTER in your time than mine, i'd think that you'd be using your own generation's guitarists as a guiding light, not jimmy page

you've severely damaged your case with that

Swinging IS an aesthetic choice.

only IF you know how to swing in the first place - and with the possible exception of some very robotic techno, there's always some swing in music - the question being - how much and is it done well?

the answer these days tends to be - not a lot (which can be valid) and not well at all, which isn't
posted by pyramid termite at 11:27 AM on October 20, 2007


"couldn't you come up with a younger reference point than that?"

Not and be certain you'd get it.

"you're deliberately and knowingly changing the definition of "average" here to include the top musicians"

And you're trying to exclude them because you really have no case at all.

"to the average person, yes it does - and as someone who actually plays musical instruments and uses pro-tools like programs, i know what can be done and what can be hidden with them"

As someone who both listens to a huge amount of music and knows how to use pro-tools, no, it doesn't. All of the sweetening and all of the tempo shifts that you can do with pro-tools, you can do with tape and a budget. Further, pretty much anything you can't do with tape (auto-tuner) you can hear in the result. All pro-tools does is eliminate the expense of a professional engineer sitting there for hours cutting loops and matching tempos. Just like how all the tonal balancing that you can do in fifteen minutes on Photoshop used to mean hours in a darkroom.

"couldn't you come up with a younger reference point than that? you know, musicians being so much BETTER in your time than mine, i'd think that you'd be using your own generation's guitarists as a guiding light, not jimmy page

you've severely damaged your case with that"

I said technically equal or better. Because they can match the sound of anybody. As far as musicians that I consider "guiding lights of my genereation," very few play straight rock and very few you've heard of. For example, James Ilgenfritz is an amazing bassist (who also does session work), but his best-known gigs are playing with Larval, a math-jazz outfit. Or Tobe Summerfield, who plays in an assortment of Chicago outfits. Or hell, Ben Chasny as a guitarist, from Six Organs of Admittance and Comets on Fire.

And that's leaving aside the huge number of Nashville musicians who still play by the numbers.

So hey, maybe y'all suck in Kalamazoo, but it should be pretty clear to anyone who's not remembering the '70s through rose-tinted glasses that you've got no case.
posted by klangklangston at 12:17 PM on October 20, 2007


And you're trying to exclude them because you really have no case at all.

no, i'm deliberately excluding the top musicians of any given era because they are solid and they are not AVERAGE - i was speaking of AVERAGE and you insist on avoiding that

As someone who both listens to a huge amount of music and knows how to use pro-tools, no, it doesn't.

funny how so many professionals use it for that, anyway, isn't it? - don't tell me they don't, i've read the confessions

As far as musicians that I consider "guiding lights of my genereation," very few play straight rock and very few you've heard of.

typical hipsterism - cite people few have heard of and insist they're the guiding lights - this isn't about the hampton grease band vs comets on fire, it's about led zeppelin vs creed or nickelback

i'm comparing what got played on the radio back then to what gets played on the radio now

i don't know what's happened in the past 5 or 10 years, but it's dire and you can't blame it all on the record companies or the radio stations

I said technically equal or better.

to jimmy page - who's rather sloppy as a lead guitar player - (he makes up for it with good feel and a real willingness to take chances - not to mention great rhythm playing)

your citing him as a metric has all sorts of problems with it

1 you don't know that he's not that technically great a lead guitarist

2 which calls into question your ability to know great technique when you hear it

3 which makes me wonder why you're looking for it in lead guitar playing in an era where such talents are considered self-indulgent wanking by many - what about grooves, man?

4 which makes me wonder why your little list of leading lights seem to be a bunch of postrock/jazz fusion/avant garde obscurities - can you dance to them?

5 which makes me wonder why you even bother to comment about AVERAGE musicians because AVERAGE musicians are trying to be the next papa roach or train or something and it's obvious you don't care about the mainstream anyway

6 and why don't you care about the mainstream these days? hmmm ... let's see ... could it be that they suck? - yeah - and why do they suck? - hmmm - could it be because they're not that good musicians, have to have studio help to sound listenable, couldn't swing if you put them on a rope and a tire suspended over the grand canyon, and haven't really listened to jackshit to learn from it?

yeah, probably - i can't blame you for ignoring all that noise for obscure jazz/fusion/postrock performers

and jeez - wasn't that my damn point to begin with? that the AVERAGE musicians of this era aren't as good?

yeah - i believe it was

otherwise, why aren't you listening to them? - you're not - you're listening to the better than average - you know it, too

i'm talking about fried chicken and you're talking about pheasant under glass - and the fact that you keep defending the latter proves my point - you won't defend the popular music of today against that of 30-40 years ago because you can't

and you KNOW it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:08 PM on October 20, 2007


"typical hipsterism - cite people few have heard of and insist they're the guiding lights - this isn't about the hampton grease band vs comets on fire, it's about led zeppelin vs creed or nickelback"

I'm going to ignore the rest of your comment right now and focus on this—You have no idea what the fuck you're talking about.

Here's why your "average" construction is fucked: There are so many confounding factors to what's on the radio as your metric.

I mean, let's start with the fact that FM radio is incredibly different today than from when new Zep would have been played. In the '70s most FM was still freeform, and was very much playing to the fringes. You can compare Paul Anka and Chicago to folks like Mario and Panic! At The Disco if you want, but the leading lights of the '70s weren't on mainstream radio either (until the '80s).

Since then, we've had consolidation and commodification, we've had a diversified media and subculture. To insist that "what's on the radio" is an accurate picture of what's going on just shows how fucking out of touch you are. It's like getting all of your pop culture information from Ed Sullivan—for every Beatles, there's going to be 50 Gary Puckett and the Union Gaps.

Which is why I don't give a fuck about your half-assed "hipster" barb—That's such a bullshit way to admit that you don't know who the fuck I'm talking about.

It's useless for me to attempt to defend the music of the day against someone who doesn't know and doesn't care about music today.

I'm sure that the rest of your comment was equally useless bullshit, so I'll read it later.
posted by klangklangston at 11:58 PM on October 20, 2007


I'm going to ignore the rest of your comment right now and focus on this—You have no idea what the fuck you're talking about.

actually, i do

In the '70s most FM was still freeform, and was very much playing to the fringes.

no, actually it wasn't - i was listening to it then, were you? they were playing the popular music of the day, either top 40 - album orientated rock - or "progressive" rock - much of which was actually what we'd call classic rock these days - and the rest of which was very popular

there were playlists and program directors and fringe bands that wouldn't get played - some of the stations were a little looser than they are today, but basically that meant that once or twice an evening a dj could play something different

the format of playing the same 50 to 100 songs over and over again was well established

the leading lights of the '70s weren't on mainstream radio either

they most certainly were until 1977, when radio ignored the punk revolution - after 1977, there seems to be a real divide

this is how sloppily you think - first you tell me that radio in the 70's was "freeform" and then you tell me that the leading lights weren't on mainstream radio

wait - was radio freeform or mainstream? if it was freeform, what was stopping the leading lights from being played? if it was mainstream, why do you assume the leading lights weren't being played?

To insist that "what's on the radio" is an accurate picture of what's going on just shows how fucking out of touch you are.

to insist it isn't is half-assed hipster elitism and an admission that you find the average music of today to be unlistenable

you've actually proved my point

and you're the one who's out of touch with what people are actually listening to these days - not that i really blame you for that

you're listening to the fringe because the average stuff sucks, just like i said it did

I'm sure that the rest of your comment was equally useless bullshit, so I'll read it later.

i don't know what's worse - your rudeness or your dishonesty with yourself

bye
posted by pyramid termite at 6:03 AM on October 21, 2007


"wait - was radio freeform or mainstream? if it was freeform, what was stopping the leading lights from being played? if it was mainstream, why do you assume the leading lights weren't being played?"

Again, ignoring the rest of your retardery.

No, freeform wasn't mainstream. Mainstream radio in the '70s was AM, not FM. It was '78 before FM listenership exceeded AM.

Even though you lived it, you still have no fucking clue. And yet you want to prat on like a spaz.
posted by klangklangston at 9:43 AM on October 21, 2007


... Mainstream radio in the '70s was AM, not FM. It was '78 before FM listenership exceeded AM.

Even though you lived it, you still have no fucking clue. And yet you want to prat on like a spaz.


So, let me make sure I'm getting this straight: You weren't there, but you read in a book that FM wasn't "mainstream" before 1978 -- so therefore, anyone who disagrees because they were there is 'prating on like a spaz'?

That's one of the stupidest things I've heard in a long time.

klangklangston, you're coming off a lot like those ugly Americans who go to foreign countries and lecture the locals about their history and politics. Sometimes it's a good idea to try to go beyond what you read in some book somewhere. Some of us were there, actually listening to it.

FM radio was predominantly mainstream in the 1970s, by any normal, useful definition of "mainstream." You seem to have chosen to narrowly and arbitrarily define "mainstream" as meaning "the single broadcast medium with the largest gross listenership." Instead of "reflecting the same musical taste as the mainstream" -- e.g., top 40. Apparently, in your definition, either AM is mainstream or FM is mainstream, but not both. If that's not the case, then whether or not FM surpasses AM in listeners is an irrelevant datum; without that datum, you're just making an unsupported assertion, and heaven knows you wouldn't want to do that.

You may have read somewhere that FM was "not mainstream." Whoever told you that was either massively overstating their case, or didn't know what they were talking about. FM AOR stations may not have played the same set list of singles as the AM Top 40 stations, but in general, that just meant that they played cuts by the same artists off their albums instead. So instead of "Born to Run", you got "Thunder Road."

Way alternative.

(And seriously: 'Spaz'? Are you for real?)
posted by lodurr at 1:29 PM on October 21, 2007


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posted by loiseau at 2:09 PM on October 21, 2007


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