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 +4Posted on Jul 3rd, 2014 | re: Is Festival EDM Dying, Or Is It Just Getting Interesting? (15 comments)

“Surprisingly, it was spearheaded by Daft Punk, the French robot-men whose wildly successful pyramid stage show helped inspire the EDM craze in the first place. Random Access Memories famously attempted to “Give Life Back To Music” via retro disco sounds created largely with live instruments. Together with aging pop singers like Pharrell, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, and Katy Perry, they helped launch a disco revival that cast dance music as something more lighthearted — and more palatable to older generations — than dunderheaded so-called “brostep.””

I object to this because Daft Punk didn’t launch any kind of revival, it was already around for years. Nu-Disco was popping up in French and European clubs beginning in the late ’00s, and was even present stateside a year or two prior to Daft Punk’s record in the works of Johnny Jewel and his many Italians Do It Better off-shoots and other similarly-minded musicians like Sam Flax. In fact, Jewel and Flax were doing the AOR disco thing Daft Punk hopped on, using a rock format to make disco palatable to non-dance music fans. All Daft Punk did was create a “Dream Team” version of that by getting Nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder on their record.

Let’s examine for a second the backgrounds of these different people. Swift was born into a conservative area of PA and into a very religious family, Katy Perry was born to Pentecostal pastors (both having converted after “wild youths”), LDR also came from a deeply religious family — so those three specifically came from conservative Christian backgrounds. Even if Perry has gone out of her way to reject that background by playing up her sexuality, and even to an extent the same with LDR, it still informs at least a part of their worldviews. Swift has never rejected that background, instead embracing it to woo those audiences. It’s not much of a surprise, then, that three women raised in conservative Christian families would end up rejecting the tenets of feminism, ideas they were probably raised to believe were opposed to their own.

Woodley’s the only outlier of that group that would be harder to explain.

Look, the cognitive dissonance thing wasn’t a personal attack. We all filter our experiences through the prism of our beliefs, it’s something we all do. We readjust experiences to fit our beliefs. Someone who is far-left is going to view a more moderate liberal as conservative even if they have certain points they agree on. Relative to where most of America is, NPR skews liberal.

That said, I realize the American brand of liberalism is a conservative one. It’s always been as far back as the American Revolution where the colonists gave Britain multiple chances to reform before throwing up arms; even the rallying cry of “no taxation without representation” is a conservative mantra that brings to mind accountants before it does freedom. Compare that to something like the French revolution, with its violence and cries of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” or the Bolsheviks, who also gladly shed blood. That you’re arguing an American form of media is too conservative when you acknowledge American liberalism is conservative just seems odd.

@garbonzoalfonzo: While I don’t entirely disagree with you on the fact that NPR is out to promote the aims of the American government, you could also be perceiving their reportage as more biased than it actually is. Look up research on cognitive dissonance. Generally, we try to fit the world into the context of what we believe. Those at the far ends politically speaking will always tend to view centrist or center-whatever their belief is as being farther to the opposite direction than it actually is.

NPR does lean left, but it’s left-center. It’s economics aren’t conservative so much as they reflect social democratic principles (not to be confused with democratic socialism). Basically, they’ll side with socially-liberal causes while promoting the free market. That is the new liberalism today, for better or worse (but mostly worse).

As for giving preference to generals over dissidents, that has as much to do with the credibility of the speaker as it does their position in power. They frequently do give time to dissidents…when those dissidents are academics, scholars, politicians, etc. It’s a matter of credibility. You can’t just pull a demonstrator in off the street and use him/her to buttress the facts in your story because listeners are conditioned to the issue of speaker credibility from a young age. We’re naturally skeptical of anyone without some of official title and that military rank affords credibility, because who the fuck knows why.

 +1Posted on Dec 11th, 2013 | re: 10 Artists Who Broke Free In 2013 (36 comments)

Sorry guys, I’m done. Been reading since ’08, can’t justify returning anymore. Was bothered by the unsubtle SXSW Doritos plug a few years back, but rationalized that it wasn’t that big a deal, because money. Slowly began to grow suspicious of the artists being featured here after pop acts starting showing up more often under the guise of poptimism, but I told myself that it wasn’t just Stereogum that was playing into this new age of blogola so I shouldn’t worry. Really began to become bothered by the fact that the same five or six indie music blogs started to push the same “new” acts and hyping all the same music, but I figured that this scene is pretty incestuous anyway.

Now I click-through on an article dedicated to artists trying to independently fund their new albums and various other projects through crowdsourcing and it’s prefaced with a plug for a corporate sponsor. I can’t even tell if this is supposed to be a joke, because I’m not sure anyone involved was probably aware of the irony. I can only hope they’d be so naive, because if they were aware then that makes it infinitely worse.

So, in short, it’s been fun and stuff, whatever whatever, bye.

 +4Posted on Nov 30th, 2013 | re: Mastodon Say Their Thanksgiving T-Shirt Is Not Racist (25 comments)

Where’s that large Dying Fetus/Stereogum crossover audience? Probably why there isn’t a bigger issue about that shirt. Mastodon has been a part of the indie hype machine for a few years now (remember that 7″ they did with Feist?), so the uproar over this makes sense.

Basically, it’s a bunch of left-leaning white dudes who thought they were being funny by making a jab at American exceptionalism but stumbled over their own privilege. Fear not though, I can assure you that somewhere on Tumblr a gaggle of social justice drones are waiting to launch a humorless counter-assault, with a thesis amounting to: all metal fans are neanderthals.

 0Posted on Oct 15th, 2013 | re: Total Slacker - "Sometimes You Gotta Die" (Stereogum Premiere) (7 comments)

Reminds me a bit of Psychic Teens. Seems goth and shoegaze are starting to intermingle again (Lycia?). Instead of slimegaze, how about deathgaze as a ridiculous sub-categorization?

 +5Posted on Oct 5th, 2013 | re: Deconstructing: HAIM, Lorde, And The Monogenre (110 comments)

I disagree.

We’ve seen this before. That point in the early ’80s when new wave, an evolution of an independent strain of rock music (punk), suddenly started finding commercial success. Non-new wave artists began incorporating elements of the genre in an attempt to seem relevant (Frampton’s Art of Control) or simply out of a lack of distinction in sounds (Whodini’s first single being produced by Thomas Dolby) while new wave artists began incorporating others sounds like hip hop (Blondie’s “Rapture”, Malcom McLaren “Buffalo Gals”) and other genres that would be seemingly opposed to their sound. Then there were people like Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince, people who so fully merged multiple genres that they gave us the first true conception of modern pop music. By the end of the decade, there really wasn’t much of a distinction in the pop realm between many of the genres, so you had something like Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance” which appealed across a spectrum that could include college radio but also the pop charts in the same way a Lorde is positioned today, but that changed sometime in the early ’90s.

What we’re seeing isn’t a monogenre, it’s simply another ebb in the constant shifting of the musical landscape. Something in the ’90s led to a complete fracturing of sounds so that rock became distinct from dance which became distinct from hip-hop which became distinct from R&B. Everything became a niche in that era where you had so many fractured radio formats popping up to cater to specific audiences that it was almost a joke. This is those sounds finding their way back into a place where they can coexist peacefully. There were obviously a number of things the preceded this happening in the indie rock community, for example the rise of Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem as icons in a scene that valued the guitar over the sequencer, and out of that the return to a danceable form of rock music in the mid-half of the last decade which allowed for many rockists to start expanding beyond the guitar-bass-drums dynamic. But more than anything, it was the iPod. iPods and music-streaming services like Spotify have nearly killed niche radio formats. Rock stations are hard up today because they stick to a specific format of specific bands. Hell, what was the biggest hit of the ’00s? “Hey Ya”, a song that somehow appeared on rock radio just as often as it did pop or hip-hip stations. What wasn’t as big a hit? 99.9% of the stuff that was normally showing up on those stations. Seriously simple stuff like the shuffle function allowed people to see how different styles were actually quite similar. And people like Andre 3000 used that as a springboard to help merge styles that had seen distance for so many years.

I don’t think the story in HAIM or Lorde is the death of indie, it’s the ascent of women as the primary force in the market. You mentioned the gentrification of indie in a previous article, but seriously? Indie was ALWAYS gentrified. It grew out of college rock, which was white college kids grappling with the ennui of their existence. These were also almost exclusively men. You would have the occasional Siouxsie as a force but she was something of an exception because it was rare to see such a fierce female personality finding success in that world. Today there’s a general shift in America where the male half of the population is slowly losing its hold over the cultural currency it once so freely spent, while the female half is taking that growing power and using it to reshape genres to fit its idea of what they should be. So HAIM can reference Fleetwood Mac and still maintain relevance as an “indie” band.

 +2Posted on Sep 24th, 2013 | re: Deconstructing: Chvrches, Icona Pop, And The Decline Of Guitar Rock (107 comments)

Sorry, don’t know why my reply didn’t end up below yours. Anyway, one last point:

I also think you overstate the value of guitars being cost prohibitive. Most of the kids I see using computers at shows today aren’t fucking around on >$400 laptops, they’re using expensive Macs. You almost even concede this by bringing up GarageBand. Many good quality guitars can be had at prices that are cheaper than the rigs many use to produce that kind of music. Do some people skate by on low grade electronics? Yes, but does anyone really listen to James Ferraro besides music journalists?

I think everyone concedes that guitars aren’t cool now, but the very notion that guitars are dead is itself as retro as the guitars. It’s been said countless times before (disco, synthpop, techno, electronica, hip-hop, rap, etc.) and proven to be wrong every time. This is just another down cycle after a period of oversaturation.

 +1Posted on Sep 24th, 2013 | re: Deconstructing: Chvrches, Icona Pop, And The Decline Of Guitar Rock (107 comments)

I lived in Bumblefuck, USA, not Brooklyn. I wasn’t the only non-Brooklynite to hear of Peaches or Fischerspooner. Most parties at the time found a way to work “Fuck the Pain Away” into playlists. It was also at least partially responsible for helping to kickstart interest in the indie dance movement by helping to drive coverage to bands like LCD Soundsystem and Crystal Castles, both of whom were labeled as electroclash when they first emerged. It didn’t fully catch on as its own label, but it was an important piece in the formation of indie dance as a thing, which came to define a portion of that era’s music. So yes, it was part of a wider youth movement. It also turned out to be somewhat prescient of this era’s youth movement as we’re now seeing Italo disco, synthpunk, coldwave, and a host of other genres it amalgamated become hip reference points as poptimists cast off the tyranny of the guitar for the rebellion of the synthesizer.