The Daily News’s longtime chief pop music critic Jim Farber wrote a piece for his paper called “Stop being so sensitive! Burly men become girly men, turning pop music into a wuss-case scenario.” It opens with the question: “When did the wimps inherit the earth?” From there he explores why the “hip-oisie” are smitten with Sufjan Stevens, Antony, Iron & Wine, Devendra, Grizzly Bear, the National, Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend, Death Cab For Cutie, Bright Eyes, the Decemberists, and the “latest uber wimp” (his main focus), Bon Iver. He tosses out funny phrases — “high-brow/low-virility,” for one — and makes good use of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain in reference to the over-romanticization of Justin Vernon’s mono-induced cabin retreat, but he ultimately loses his course. For starters, offering the Black Keys as “perhaps the only hard act of hipsters who make any attempt to even things out,” is not a good look. There’s more:
I’ve been thinking aloud for a while — as I wrote in my Liars Double Take or again in my 18 Dark Bands To Watch — that in 2011 your average indie-rock kid has gotten more adventurously dark and, if not exactly “tough,” at least “tougher.” There’s plenty of “Dad Rock” and unrepentant twee, sure, but think about the ascent of longtime favorites Fucked Up into the record collection’s of ex-Cold War Kids fanatics. The interest in Iceage’s bloody shows. Ex-Decemberists acolytes memorizing Tyler, The Creators’ lyrics. St. Vincent fans discovering Big Black. The crossover of Krallice into non-metal quarters. (And Prurient’s potential crossover of the same sort.) I’d argue that things were more varied in the ’90s — consider Karp, Some Velvet Sidewalk, Lync, Beat Happening, and Lois Maffeo, etc., coexisting on K — and then got especially wimpy and hive-minded around the time “Blog Rock” broke. Recently, though, there’s been a slight return to that older, more open-ended form. Maybe it’s all the reunions. Or general nostalgia. Or puberty. But hell, shit’s not as sunny or vitamin-deficient as it was in 2005.
Whatever the case, Farber’s reading of Bon Iver is funny, and I appreciate the sense of history he brings to the piece as well as his attempt to rope-in hip-hop and other genres, but ultimately the only thing he proves is that he needs to listen to more music. Check out the conclusion:
Those seeking something with true bluster and force these days will have to sate themselves with an event like the Big Four tour, which, on Sept. 14, will bring to Yankee Stadium no less rippling a crew than Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth — all acts that date back to the ’80s.
When will our own decade create some smart and innovative equivalent to that — or at least to grunge? Maybe now is the time to kick off a movement for the quest: Enough with the sweet-souled stars. Can we please bring back the brutes?
Well, here’s hometown heroes Tombs plus 25 other brutes. Though we don’t need to go into metal: How about the appropriately monikered NYC crew The Men? Who are some of your favorites? And any thoughts on the thesis, wimps? (Like, why so focused on the testes?)