Friday, January 30, 2009

major labels and indie labels and why they're the same fucking thing

want to see something funny? read this.

it's a badass article about how badass the fleet foxes guy is because he's squashing a rumor that his stupid crappy band is signing with virgin. he says, "Fleet Foxes will never, ever, under no circumstances, from now until the world chokes on gas fumes, sign to a major label. This includes all subsidiaries or permutations thereunder. Till we die." pretty bold.

why not major labels? "I just don't see the point. Most major labels seem anti-music." pretty firm. it lacks an attention to detail that many arguments possess, but who am i to pick nits?

at the beginning of the article, pitchfork newsman Tom Breihan talks about how many records they've sold. 180,000 by early january, 211,000 to date. these are pretty impressive figures for an "indie" record, especially one put out by a guy who so vehemently opposes the chokehold that major record labels have on the music business.

trouble is... subpop, the "indie" label to which fleet foxes are signed, is owned (49%) by warner music. if you'll recall my previous post whining about fleet foxes, you'll recall that warner music is a subsidiary of raytheon industries, one of the largest weapons manufacturers we've got.

so an indie band, signed to an indie label, owned my a major label, owned by a weapons manufacturer, won't sign to a major label "until the world chokes on gas fumes." this fucking country.

incidentally, why is it ok to go on saturday night live but not ok to sign to a major label? could it be because robin pecknold is an idiot?

Friday, January 16, 2009

fleet foxes ----> SNL

a good many years ago, godspeed you! black emperor put this on the back of their album 'yanqui uxo'.

the flow chart shows that every major record label is a subsidiary of a weapons manufacturer. they were roundly mocked for being naive. the point they were trying to make wasn't that military contractors are force-feeding us pro-war music in a nefarious effort to accomplish... something. the point was, simply, that major record labels are amoral, joined at the hip to an industry of mass death; companies have no values, and as a musician, you can do better than to let them be the ones who feed you.

this is "naive" because survival is the ethic of any musician, and only in movies do people turn away money because of principle. cut to present day:

fleet foxes, the hottest shit in the universe for the moment, will be performing on saturday night live this weekend. usually it takes a while for a "cool" band to end up on SNL. (modest mouse weren't allowed on until they wrote "float on".) even more usually, saturday night live's stage plays host to ashlee simpson, justin timberlake, perhaps mudvayne.

last winter, vampire weekend played SNL mere months after their album was released. now it's fleet foxes' turn. NBC is owned by GE, the third largest military contractor in the history of the world. what's my point?

bringing it back to godspeed, they would never be invited to play saturday night live, nor would they be likely to accept such an invitation, were it ever to be extended. is this because they are better people? no. it's because they are better artists.

if GE doesn't mind pimping your music, you're probably playing something the suburban dads of this country can get behind. i, for one, believe this means you suck, out of hand. fleet foxes suck. vampire weekend sucks. (glad i got that out there)

when i was working in a record store in san francisco, we had one section called "indie" and another called "rock". a co-worker tried to move vampire weekend from the former to the latter, since the promotions blitz our employer was engaging in cast serious doubt on the independence of vampire weekend's operation. (story continues in next paragraph)

did you know that record labels send assholes around to record stores in order to make sure that their shit is being pushed with appropriate enthusiasm? they do. it turns out, vampire weekend was in the "indie" section because of a financial arrangement between my record store and their distributors. ain't that a kick in the teeth?

long story short, "indie" bands who get put on saturday night live to promote their debut record are not "indie". they are "corporate", like "christina" aguilera.

Friday, January 9, 2009

something on the internet has bothered me

these days, your average pitchfork review ends with a link to the relevant group(s) myspace page. it's nice of them to do this. for instance, a band called "lemonade" has just had their self-titled (debut?) record reviewed. the album gets an 8.3 and is "[recommended]". aside from saying that one song goes on too long, there isn't a single negative word about the record, which must make that song pretty fucking long.

but i digress (frequently). what's important is: it's another douchebag indie dance record. after my last post, in which i asked what's so damn special about yet another kind of electronic folk/pop, the experience of listening to lemonade's myspace songs presents an almost spooky parallel. another group of white kids makes another record that recalls the eighties. the songs aren't terrible. to me, though, they aren't even particularly memorable. i've heard so many fucking indie dance records that i can no longer tell one from the other.

noentheless, pitchfork sees lots that i don't. it would seem that the songs are "rife with rhythmic density and intensity." the band employs a "muscular, aggressive approach to dance music." one song has "a pounding 4/4 beat that would go over both in Williamsburg warehouse parties and Dubai super clubs." (does the spectrum you've just been given leave you any hints as to which social class is being marketed to?)

my point, again, is: so the fuck what? they've rejuvinated 80's dance music? again??? but -- WHY?

if what you want is an enless march of "muscular, aggressive" dance music "rife with rhythmic density," [DENSITY?] you've certainly had your desires met in the last decade. you were a pig in shit in '04. but for the rest of us (those of us who don't see the point in rehashing genres that have already been resurrected, co-opted, and pastiched all over again), these cracker-ass indie dance bands are getting rather tiresome.

what's the appeal? why does this shit continue sticking to the wall? i have a theory.

reviewer sez: "As the [final] track fades, it's overcome by a chorus of sampled voices all uttering the same statement: 'we're all having a good time.' Given Clendenin's cryptic, fragmented approach to singing, you can't fault Lemonade for using these dying seconds to state the obvious." after hearing the song in question, the line is clearly an ostentatious attempt at irony, which seems to be entirely lost on the critic. regardless, this is what music means to these people. they want their bands to have a good time, they want to be reminded of good times they temselves had in high school, they want simply to forget that the last twenty years even happened.

what better way to escape the desolate creative landscape that corporate media has fashioned for this american generation? the critic wants to hear that record that reminds him of his first blowjob -- a simpler time, before critics and the internet destroyed american cool music with their solipsism.

Monday, January 5, 2009

still fussin

been a while. anybody there? perfect.

animal collective has a new album coming out, and i've just today had the opportunity to read a review a full two weeks before i can buy the cd in a store. talk about anointed! (PITCHFORK: the day after your winter break, you reviewed an album that isn't out yet, some label's 25th aniversary box set, the current project of some beta band refugees, an "english indie-dance trio", and ludacris. what the fuck? the only unfamiliar band is another fucking indie-dance trio. why does pitchfork hate our freedom?)

but look, i wanted to rant about the animal collective review before i had a chance to hear the album, which i'm confident will be at least passable. that's not the point. i wanted to examine the praise it received, in isolation. this is a dumb thing to do, but nobody's reading, so you know.

to start, animal collective get praise for the "open-ended ideas about what their music might 'mean.'" i don't know why "mean" gets its own quotation marks; it could signify a number of things that render the sentence "meaningless". more importantly, though, the open-ended meaning thing is great for critics, who can write eight full paragraphs (a relative epic in the pitchfork decade) about why this album is the tits.

moving on, "Since their inception, Animal Collective have wandered the territorial edges of music, scoping out where boundaries had been erected and looking beyond them." check it: "looking beyond them". as in, "oh hey, what a great view we have from this boundary. that stuff out there sure looks interesting."

at the end of paragraph two, the bomb is dropped. the album is "the result of all their explorations pieced together to create something accessible and complete." accessible and complete. complete and accessible. these words are telltale signs that you're truly tickling the critics aural prostate. but what on earth does "accessible" mean? it allows you to access it? like a museum? other music is inaccessible? like an underwater cave?

an early nominee for turn-of-phrase-of-2009: panda bear is praised for his "his fuzzy, head-in-the-clouds dreaminess." if that isn't the perfect embodiment of everything pitchfork's thrown at me for as long as i can remember, i don't know what is.

on and on... "a towering edifice of sound"... "from one chanted melodic nugget to the next before building to a huge swirl of psychedelic sound"... "ego-pulverizing bliss of shoegaze"... "brings to mind altered states and the confusing gap between the familiar and the strange" [confusing to whom, sir?]... "the words seem like a running commentary on the essential mystery of being alive". hubba hubba!

look, animal collective's not so bad. they've had their moments, and even an album or two. but jesus christ, i'm sick of this shit: "What they've constructed here is a new kind of electronic pop." well bully for them, but how many new kinds of electronic pop do we need? it's like buying shampoo at duane reade. WHY ARE THERE 800 DIFFERENT KINDS OF SHAMPOO!?

good to be back.