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 +1Posted on Jul 24th | re: Caption The Sad Jack White Cubs Photo And Win A Prize (327 comments)

 +4Posted on Jun 24th | re: Vote For The Song Of The Summer 2014 (183 comments)

I just want to introduce the notion, rj, after having watched the video, which clearly borrows heavily from Kung Fu Hustle, that the thesis of this one line manifesto is to engage thy neighbor (who might otherwise encourage you to “turn it down”, or even convince the police to encourage you to “turn it down”), thereby tearing down the societal walls that separate us and uniting the masses under the flag of twerk, or whatever the kids are calling it now. Especially if you happen to be wearing sweatpants.

 +4Posted on Jun 24th | re: Vote For The Song Of The Summer 2014 (183 comments)

I would like to say that it was not my idea to include Sylvan Esso in the ‘Gum reader’s comment thread, but I would make a strong argument for Hey Mami as a second to Seasons Change.

Also, I would like to believe that the reason for choosing 9/10 of the songs in the survey was to ensure that Seasons Change was the winner (as was mentioned above).

However, that might be giving Stereogum a bit too much credit.

 +10Posted on Jun 24th | re: Vote For The Song Of The Summer 2014 (183 comments)

It may be that you haven’t heard a lot of these songs because the only people who have listened to all of these songs have been subjected to them rather than choosing to listen to them (i.e., they’re shit).

 +1Posted on Jun 24th | re: A Ghost Is Born Turns 10 (51 comments)

I’ll take a shot, but you are asking two different questions:

1.) Songs that encapsulate what the band is about
-Misunderstood (live version, if possible)
-via Chicago
-Art of Almost or Spiders/Kidsmoke

2.) Surefire winners (while simultaneously having no idea what you are into)
-Jesus, etc.
-A Shot in the Arm
-Theologians or Hate it Here (can’t go wrong with Impossible Germany, either

That should also give you a good range of albums.

 +2Posted on Jun 23rd | re: A Ghost Is Born Turns 10 (51 comments)

I agree about Sky Blue Sky, carson. Very good album. I think that it only suffers from following Summerteeth, YHF, and A Ghost is Born. For me, as much as Jeff Tweedy’s songwriting centers on melody and poetry, he also embraces a certain level “I don’t care what you think”. That cognitive dissonance created, for me, an uncomfortable moment (or moments) on each of the albums that I would consider “great”. I came to love those moments, but Sky Blue Sky doesn’t really have that feature. There are a couple of great moments that rival anything that they ever did (sonically). Perhaps the entire album is a statement in contrarianism, and I think that your description is apt. Sky Blue Sky is very nice to listen to, and I am a huge fan of “dad rock” (apparently). Just isn’t at the same level for me.

I disconnected with Wilco after Sky Blue Sky because it feels like Tweedy has gone too far down his own path of contrarian doodling. With few exceptions, the songwriting has constrained one of the best drummers and one of the best lead guitarists working right now. The lineup is great if you have the opportunity to see the band live, but that doesn’t really translate to LP.

 +4Posted on Jun 23rd | re: A Ghost Is Born Turns 10 (51 comments)

Great writeup, and thanks for it. This was the last great Wilco album, and I’ll part ways with you at your last paragraph. I won’t argue that A Ghost is Born is better than YHF, but the songwriting is sharper, the fog is foggier, and the sunshine is brighter. The album slumps a bit in places, but I would argue that all of Wilco’s albums do, YHF included. I think Wilco have written more great songs than any band going right now (Radiohead might be a contender, speaking of), but this is the album that I go back to most frequently as an entire piece.

I’m not going to defend Death Grips’ artistic integrity, because they aren’t artists. In fact, very recently I referred to them as “atonal shit peddlers” on this very site. However, anyone who goes to a Death Grips show knowing what they are deserves to get whatever happens. I don’t want to come off as trolling anyone, but all the whining and name calling is fairly Charlie Brownish. How many times does Lucy have to move that football before we start holding Charlie accountable?

Lookit, these guys are absolutely devoid of any redeeming musical talent. They have little recourse in terms of relevance except to continually pull bullshit stunts. I tend to side with the author here, because I think there needs to be some evaluation of what musical performance “is” if music critics are going to continue to pile acclaim onto hacks. Expect some pretty weird/awful/disappointing shit if you pay money to go and see these kinds of acts. If they could stand in front of an audience and essentially provide a display of their art, then they would. (Oh, and I get that they play “shows”, but middle schools also have “shows” and have the audacity to describe them with the word “talent”. Same concept.)

The only similarity between Death Grips and any of the bands mentioned above is the crowd disappointment. I think it’s interesting that the line from the Smashing Pumpkins effrontery “and included at least 40 minutes of formless prog-metal dirges and artless, atonal drones.” could be used as a description of any number of concerts in 2013. Yet we’re not so pissed at these acts.

And just one note for the author, I think that the best comparison, in terms of asshole stunts by an act, would be DOOM. Though I just love that sonofabitch, he consistently does some fairly childish and discourteous things to his adoring fan base.

 +3Posted on Aug 6th, 2013 | re: Deconstructing: The O.C. And Indie Rock Gentrification (108 comments)

WMP, I guess maybe I wasn’t trying to be quite that cynical. Not everything is shit. I share the sentiment of your last statement, because that act of seeking is something that I value. The bottom line is that I am getting old in music years. I have limited time or patience for critical hyperbole (seriously, go back and see how many albums were deified with AOTY posts last year on Stereogum). Journalism as a whole, even straight journalism of the “news” variety, has suffered from the constant push for novelty. The cycle of “find interesting story, research, source information, revise, check sources, revise, publish” has been completely compromised. I will say that I find the knowledge base from the writers and posters on this site quite deep when compared to many media outlets, but vendors essentially have to shout as loud as they can into the wilderness in order to elicit clicks, views, likes, tweets, or whatever else is driving revenue. I get it, but I think that the lasting effect of this behavior is very extreme leaps followed by drastic over-corrections. I decided a few years ago that I could not trust any reviews of media from any site that I frequent (as far as metadata, Rotten Tomatoes does a serviceable job, though). There are albums that have taken six months to sink in. I’m supposed to just trust the “4.9″ or “9.5″ that got slapped on after someone spent a couple of days with an album? I respect Stereogum for the variety of the AOTW choices, but I rarely find myself going back to them after a few listens (for the most part). There is something lost when one vies to be the most current or interesting instead of the most sincere (speaking here of the artists, not the site).

K, In regards to the “in opposition to” dichotomy, I’m not sure that quite captures it. That’s sort of like saying that I shouldn’t make any commentary on McDonald’s because my feeling is only an opinion. Further, I shouldn’t distinguish between a person who eats McDonald’s occasionally and one who eats McDonald’s at every meal. Or further distinguish people who eat at restaurants that they know are going to be bad, eat it anyway, pretend it’s good, then recommend it to their friends, all for the sake of the restaurant being philosophically aligned with their values; then go off to McDonald’s and gorge themselves on Big Macs to wash the taste away. I can’t say that I have never changed my opinion of someone based on the music that they listen to. It isn’t the only measure of my personal opinions, but it is a strong indicator of whether or not you can see eye-to-eye with another person. Case-in-point, most people now claim to hate Riley Cooper (why they would have an opinion of him one way or the other is a mystery to me) because he shouted a racial slur and was recorded doing so. If instead, you had just told me that Riley Cooper went to a Kenny Chesney concert (to say nothing of the racial slur), I could have predicted that I probably wouldn’t have too much in common with him.

So, to use the degrees of hidden complexity paradigm, there are degrees of complexity to judgment that extend beyond a stark separation between” Love it/Hate it because I said so”. A person who has devoted thousands of hours to playing an instrument is a better judge of performance than a person who plays infrequently. Experience lends itself to expertise. The more broad the experience base, the better qualified one is to judge value. Personally, I am a neophyte in terms of musical criticism. However, if I am riding in a car with my niece and all she wants to listen to is NOW That’s What I Call Music, 47; I feel that I have some right to deem her musical tastes shallow. I’m not going to say that to her, and I’ll appease her wishes, but the difference of our viewpoints has nothing to do with her “not being me”. You can’t legitimize every person’s bullshit schema because they have the right to opinion.

But there is an even more important reason to have the conversation, which is the acultural syndrome in our society that results in WalMart, “polo” shirts, minivans, top 40 radio, and recycled-Hollywood-script-as-summer-blockbuster. You don’t have to be an elitist to a) recognize the black hole of thoughtlessness these things represent; b) comment on it.

 -1Posted on Aug 5th, 2013 | re: Deconstructing: The O.C. And Indie Rock Gentrification (108 comments)

I don’t know guys, I think maybe “indie” just means bands that are signed to independent record labels. I love how this author sort of glosses the fact by asserting that we all accepted the transition from “business model” to a descriptor of music. Maybe a majority of us accept this, but I’d place myself solidly in the minority. Once you just accept that “indie” is not a genre, it is simpler to recognize that there is no unifying sound or theme (and there needn’t be). “Indie” as genre label is a completely deficient construct. The “gentrification” of independent music really does owe to MySpace, O.C., and whatever other media we were using to communicate preferences at the same time that “traditional” models for distributing music were disintegrating. I have a problem with the term “gentrification”, though, because there is an implication (and explicit assertion) that the flag bearers of “indie” music have become more reasonable, classier folk:

{“that so much of what has been dismissed as guilty pleasure in the past happens to be genres dominated by women and minorities, that an embrace of such so-called guilty pleasures is an implicit rejection of racism, patriarchy and elitism. That’s a good thing!”}

That anyone should be considered elitist (not to mention misogynist and racist) for being discerning where music (or movies, food, drink, etc.) are concerned is childish. I have no idea what “poptimism” or “rockism” mean; I feel like our tendency to label, then sub label labels is an overcompensation. People who invest a tremendous amount of time in exploring any hobby should be allowed to consider themselves experts. I used to be one of those people, but I really don’t have the time anymore.

More than time, though, there has been an uncomfortable shift toward posturing in place of substance with a lot of new music, as if a haircut or really shitty-looking shirt makes one viable. The trouble is really that the market (or the place where listener and “artist” intersect) has a serious lack of filtration. Whereas the casual consumer of music could, once upon a time, rely on some vetting prior to exposure, we are now bombarded by any number of freakishly atonal bands who are grasping desperately for notoriety. The result from music “critics” has been to embrace semblances of musical normality (radio-friendly drivel). While they still name-drop no talent shit peddlers (Cloud Nothings, Death Grips, and I’ll stop before I offend all the ‘gummers), at the end of the day, a lover of music needs something to grasp onto. As a result, it is now completely normal for alternative music media outlets to embrace the likes of Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and perpetual buffoon, Kanye “Yeezus” West (I would argue that he was one of the first “pop” icons to benefit from this bipolar disease):

{“In the aughts, that pattern repeated to a certain extent, with some indie-rock refugees gravitating toward extreme, abrasive music like black metal and Yeezus-style aggro-EDM. But just as many have aligned themselves with pop superstars, the kind of performers once assumed to represent the antithesis of forward-thinking taste”}

As an aside, it is ironic that Kanye fits into both categories mentioned above (pop superstars and Yeezus-style aggro EDM)

So, yeah, I’ll take dad rock and “retro” sounding “indie” acts if it means that I get to skip out on labeling every tendency that I have in some desperate act of “I’ve-really-got-to-figure-out-how-to-make-something that-I-have-to-say-legitimate-and-noticeable” narcissism.

And Seth Cohen makes me hate white people. And I’m a white person.