oct 17

Miscegenation Rock

My only problem with Sasha's New Yorker screed on the de-miscegenation of indie rock (which no one was talking about and now suddenly everyone is talking about) is that it feels like selective modern history. Sure, Arcade Fire is white, and they kinda suck. (Shut up, they do too. And so do The Shins.) But how about the other sectors of "indie rock" -- LCD Soundsystem or Bloc Party or M.I.A. and Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Sasha's analysis feels like choosing the Pixies in 1990 as the representative of everything, and then bemoaning that no one sings in Spanish anymore. That said, he makes great points about political correctness and sampling that I've never seen elsewhere. UPDATE: Sasha responds.


"What I really wanted to hear, after a stretch of raucous sing-alongs, was a bit of swing, some empty space, and palpable bass frequenciesin other words, attributes of African-American popular music."

In other words, Why can't music I dislike sound like music I like?*

That's a really stupid question to ask and when your answer is racism you sound even stupider.

While it's true that indie rock was pretty white in the mid-90s it's ignorant to say it's stayed that way. And SFJ knows that, he's just trolling.

"About five years ago, indie rockers began to rediscover the pleasures of rhythm." SFJ wrote that. In march of this year. He knows how ridiculous he sounds and yet he cherry picks artists to name drop because that's how trolls get down.

Towards the end he writes "Thirty years ago, Banhart might have attempted to imitate R. Kellys perverse and feather-light soul. Now hes just a fan." And it is true. Banhart hasn't covered R. Kelly. But he's covered Lauryn Hill. And The Mountain Goats have covered R. Kelly. And Bonnie Prince Billy has covered R. Kelly. Way to cherry pick in order to make bad points.

My only hope is that in the next issue SFJ admits he was trolling and then spends the rest of the article reminiscing about that miraculous week where he was successfully able to rap. That would be a far better thing to read.

* Can you imagine a writer covering any other field taking this same approach? It would be ridiculous. A crime film aficionado reviews the latest Pixar offering..."What I really wanted to see was some violence, some bloodshed, in other words, attributes of popular crime films."

posted by Kevin Kee at 4:29 AM on October 17, 2007

Sorry about the length there. I know comments on blogs are supposed to be short and funny it's just not every day that something so poorly written ends up in the New Yorker.

posted by Kevin Kee at 4:33 AM on October 17, 2007

I've not yet read SFJ but I did want to contest your opinion that Arcade Fire kind of sucks, and point out that The Pixies, in fact, were know to semi-frequently season their tunes with a bit of Spanish.

posted by JPL at 2:42 PM on October 17, 2007

I have heard you have a reputation of having good taste in music. Too many posts about Arcade Fire sucking and that reputation will be as inconceivable as why anyone would git a crap about the "de-miscegenation of indie rock". There is just too much navel gazing on the blogs these days.

posted by Ben Edwards at 3:22 PM on October 17, 2007

JPL: Yes, of course The Pixes used Spanish -- that was my entire point!

Ben: Navel gazing? This is the freakin New Yorker!

Kevin: It's trolly, but small parts of it feel right on.

posted by Rex at 3:48 PM on October 17, 2007

Oh, um, good point then.

And I've now read the SFJ piece and found it just ugly.

posted by JPL at 5:53 PM on October 17, 2007

Oh, and btw, my taste in music might be known because I have no time for bands like Arcade Fire. In five years, people will wonder why they thought Arcade Fire represented an important moment -- and will be portrayed as another U2 impersonator.

That said, I hate people who feel they must foist their music opinions on other people, so to-each-his-own, or whatever.

posted by Rex at 6:11 PM on October 17, 2007

Cosign on a bunch of this, including (especially) the Arcade Fire sucking.

posted by Matos W.K. at 8:45 PM on October 17, 2007

He sure likes to use some pretty loaded words, like miscegenation. I wonder if he'd be willing to call the guys from TV on the Radio "race traitors" since they play music more like Grizzly Bear and less like Sly and the Family Stone?

posted by bg5000 at 11:21 PM on October 18, 2007

NOTE: The commenting window has expired for this post.