by carl wilson

Just What I Feared


... about Liz Phair's new album, as articulated by Eppy i.e. Mike Barthel - as it could only be said by somebody who, like me, liked her last album. (Though I didn't like it as much as he did, and certainly didn't like it more than, like, Guyville, which makes him a more extreme specimen of something or other.) Catch the provocative list of favourite indie albums that he calls BORING at the end of the post - Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Decemberists.... - I don't agree with alla that, but the man's got a goddam point. Still I think the more salient one has to do with the fallout that festers when fans treat artists as their jesters and slaves, as their aesthetic performing ponies, and basically think like consumers buying tastee-freezes rather than people trying to take in an artwork. (Not that it's un-okay to enjoy music like a frozen treat, but hating it is more complexicated.) The demoralized sequel to the bold stylistic departure seems like the inevitable depressing denouement.

Later: More recommended reading: Douglas's piece on the cellphone-iTunes complex and the coming category killa, "the Next Small Thing" - the first installment of his new column (congrats!) in the Chicago Reader, which is finally putting more content online, albeit only in PDF form. I Heart Music has a nice interview with Matt Hart aka the Russian Futurists. And a country song in the shape of a country press release.

On Record | Posted by zoilus on Thursday, October 06 at 6:47 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (8)



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Posted by joestoe on November 4, 2005 5:01 PM



Is it just me, or did Liz Phair sing flat during much of her stint on Jay Leno last week?

And what an awkward shimmier!

Posted by john on October 9, 2005 2:38 PM



I hope I didn't say they sound the same or that there's anything uniting them besides the fact that they're boring and trendy. "Boring" seems a useful, if subjective, category to recognize. And Carl's quoted my reasons for objecting to their trendiness, which I hope are clear. I just don't like seeing bands that sound boring to me being presented as exemplars of music-making, because I fear it makes for more bad music-making. A given band, as it forms and learns how to play and develops its sound, can choose from a wide range of styles to pursue, so it pains me to think they'd pursue any one of the styles the listed bands are employing rather than, say, the style employed by USE or the Scissor Sisters or the eponymous Liz Phair album.

Anyway, as many people have liked the technique as have been put off by it, so if nothing else I guess I was right to leave it out of the published version! (Or, arguably, not, ha.)

Posted by Eppy on October 8, 2005 7:35 PM



I read that too, but it sounded like a pretty weak defence to me. I don't like all those bands either, and I'd agree that the near unanimous critical praise they get does get a little tiresome after a while (which, in turn, makes it hard to appreciate them). But lumping them all together, and saying they all sound the same? That's either completely lazy/ignorant, or an overt attempt at being controversial...and judging by his other writing, the former doesn't seem to apply to him.

As I said, though, I'd agree with you about the monotony of the praise. If you read a lot of music sites, the uniformity of opinion on a lot of those bands gets boring quickly, and it's tempting to transfer that boredom over to the bands themselves.

Posted by matthew on October 7, 2005 11:56 AM



PS I repeat that I don't find all of those bands boring, though I do find some of them dull, and he's right that there is something incredibly boring about all of them in the aggregate, altho that might just be the thudding repetition of the praise they're all given if one follows these things too much, which would just indicate that one should not follow these things so much.

Posted by zoilus on October 7, 2005 11:28 AM



I don't think Eppy's worried about coming off as an indie snob, since he isn't one remotely. What he actually says in the comments is that he cut the list from the published version because he knew it was a provocation that would piss people off and distract from his point, which is true, but less fun. What he says in the comments is: "If they were just doing their thing, I would find them boring, and objectionable on that level, but not really worth any particular ire. But because they, by definition, represent a trend, I would prefer not to see that trend continue, i.e. I would very much like to not see other bands encouraged to do this kind of crap. I don't like to see boring indie legitimized."

Posted by zoilus on October 7, 2005 11:26 AM



That list at the end of the Liz Phair review is just stupid. If you read the comments, he comes close to implying that he only mentioned them just to not sound like an indie snob. It kind of devalues the rest of the review...

(And I'm glad you enjoyed the Russian Futurists piece.)

Posted by matthew on October 7, 2005 8:51 AM



Demoralization will continue with the "she's gone back to her roots" album.

Posted by yrmom on October 6, 2005 8:49 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson