Extended vacation, again

Kevin and I might get fired from this podcast joint if we miss another week. And hell, with the NCAA tournament coming up this weekend, there's no telling when we'll find time to do the next one. But the three of you out there who actually follow that can thank us later for not wasting your time I guess.

But I thought I'd share something here from Pitchfork, because it's not like anyone actually reads that website without being pointed there anyways. But there's a new column/weekly feature by Nitsuh Abebe in which he looks to analyze our music conversations. Adebe's one of the better writers over there, and it seems like a good idea to have some sort of meta-analysis for those of us who care about this sort of thing—it looks to be a pretty similar idea to this here Pop Curmudgeon; and who knows, maybe this pseudo-competition will prompt me to write more frequently and more insightfully. This time around he takes a look at two of pop music's more divisive females: Joanna Newsom and Lady Gaga. Turns out, I'm not crazy about either. But he does raise a few interesting points about what we expect from our indie acts, and pop music writ large. We label any sort of attempt at cross-over appeal as selling out, and anytime a big-time pop act tries to do something at a more intimate level we cast them off as misdirected posers trying to infiltrate a niche that, honestly, is no longer all that organic. But I was especially excited about his Parenthetical Girls shoutout, and I think they can serve as a useful fulcrum for the indie/mainstream right angle. They carry a mainstream-level bravado and grandeur with an indie candidness and self-deprecative jauntiness.

He makes the point that we expect some sort of humility from indie acts, and when they try to do something they get really excited about we just sort of kick them back down to street level. I'm probably pretty guilty of this myself, but I think there's still a standard that needs to be enforced in order to distinguish the gravy from the mud. The argument screams Vampire Weekend, and I'll argue that VW's pompousness is only part of their problem. Compare them to Colin Meloy: When the Decemberists were putting out joints like Picaresque and Castaways and Cutouts, not all that many people cared whether or not Meloy was a prick; but now that their songs are drawn-out and boring it's an issue. And I guess it's somewhat confounded in that both of these groups' pretense is grounded in thinking they're more innovative than they actually are, but that's probably symptomatic of what's really going on. The fact that they act so ignorant to their source material indicates some sort of rift between us and them: We're smarter than they are, so why do they act like they're smarter than us? I don't want to say bands owe us something for us having listened, but I think we do have to expect some sort of reciprocity. If they can't give us innovation or ingenuity, at least give us something to like.

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