Hey Kids, Grow a Pair: How Music Blogs Neutered Indie Rock

Donita Sparks of L7
Donita Sparks of L7 photo by Charles Peterson

For my birthday this past January, a friend bought me a book called Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by Mark Yarm. It’s a collection of stories told through interviews with the folks involved in the creation of the Seattle scene all those years ago.  The stories come from band members, club owners, press members, booking agents, sound guys, and kids who just hung around the clubs.  Mostly anecdotal stuff, stories about rock shows and getting high in the parking lot before hand.

Having entered adolescence in the early 90’s, the music of Seattle and Olympia played a huge role in the development of my musical tastes, so the book felt like a great chance for a stroll down memory lane.  But as I got further into it, with its stories of how The U-Men once got shut down for setting fire to a lake in front of their stage at the Bumbershoot Festival or the time Mark Arm, singer of Green River, finished a set swinging from a fluorescent ceiling light over a crowd of sweaty kids, I began to get more and more pissed off.

I’ll explain.  Around the same time I got the book, I’d been trolling the blogs for the ubiquitous end-of-year top 10 albums, and time after time the lists I found would have made dry toast seem fucking electrifying.  Here’s an example from an actual blog that I won’t name to protect the utterly boring.

  • 01: Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Anima
  • 02: The Lumineers – The Lumineers
  • 03: John Samson – Provincial
  • 04: Mumford and Sons – Babel
  • 05: Sufjan Stevens – Silver and Gold
  • 06: The Walkmen – Heaven
  • 07: Beach House – Bloom
  • 08: Matt & Kim – Lightning
  • 09: fun. – Some Nights
  • 10: Jack White – Blunderbuss

Seriously?  This is the best 2012 had to offer?  Beach House? Mumford and Sons?  fun.?  Number 5 on the list is a Christmas album for Christ’s sake.  And this is from a reputable indie blog. (And yes, I know The Lumineers are a beloved Denver band made good, so don’t write me letters about it).  But honestly, when did all the skinny jeaned, fedora clad 20 somethings of the world decide to get together and completely fucking neuter music?  It’s like a whole movement of eunuchs out there walking around with synths and tambourines.

I’m so exhausted by this generation of watered-down, vaguely 60’s or vaguely folk, mid-tempo, non-offensive, cutesy indie music.  When I was 16 or 22 I wanted to break shit.  I was pissed off at an unjust world, at the indignities of high school, at my parents, at that ever-present dude who grabbed my ass at rock shows (I’m still pissed off at that dude, by the way).  I don’t get it, these kids grew up in a post 911, Patriot Act world where they will likely never make as much money as their parents or pay off their student debt and yet all they want to do is grow a beard, play the banjo, and hold hands.  What the fuck?

This can be blamed, to some degree, on the rise of the music blog.  I realize the irony of writing that on a music blog, but it is the reality all the same.  The Internet has created a space in which every journalism-major with an ironic t-shirt and a laptop has the power to shape popular culture.  It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t know who Brian Jones is or that he’s never listened to a T-Rex album all the way through.  It makes no difference that he can’t identify anything in the Talking Heads’ catalogue besides Burning Down the House.  You can’t see this person, you’ve never met him, and you have no idea if he has any credibility whatsoever, and yet, you’re letting him dictate your musical tastes to you. For all you know this kid spent his high school years listening to Linkin Park while trolling the web for date-rape porn.  He may have been a Juggalo until he was 18 when he discovered The Postal Service through some girl he had the hots for.  You don’t know.

Blogs have created a structure in which the handful of kids writing for the elite establishment like Pitchfork or Stereogum choose whatever unoriginal crap they like that week and all the little blogs fall in line.  They are all so busy jumping on each other’s bandwagons, nobody has bothered to notice their wagon train has been driving in a circle for roughly a decade now.

I say fuck the blogs.  Stop reading them (except for this one).  Lets go back to doing what we used to do.  Hanging out at record stores, going to shows, talking to actual people about what they’re listening to.  And stop buying singles from bands who put more energy into their hair cuts than they put into their songwriting, for fuck’s sake.  (I’m looking at you fun.)

There is a reason why bands like Nirvana took over the world in 1991 and why the new generation hasn’t been able to recreate that energy.  Nirvana came out of a small, tight-knit community of people who went to each other’s shows, played in each other’s bands and created a sound though collaboration and an authentic desire to make art that mattered to them.  They did this for no one but themselves, with no hope of achieving fame in a city that didn’t even exist as far as the industry was concerned.

In 1992, when Donita Sparks of L7 pulled out her tampon and threw it at the crowd at the Reading Festival, she didn’t do it to create a YouTube sensation or to make a Pitchfork top 10 list.  She did it in a moment of genuine defiance and frustration at a crowd flinging mud onstage.  She knew what was between her legs and she wasn’t afraid to use it.  And by that, I don’t mean a bloody tampon; I mean a serious pair of balls.  She had more balls than the members of Fleet Foxes can ever hope to have.  And that kids, is what rock and roll is all about.

About Kitty Vincent

Kitty Vincent has been playing music for over a decade. She is the singer/guitar player in Violent Summer and the founder of former Denver band, Le Divorce. She worked at the original Denver Wax Trax Records in the early 2000's and has been an avid record collector and music snob ever since. If there's one thing you can count on, it's that Kitty Vincent hates your band.

464 thoughts on “Hey Kids, Grow a Pair: How Music Blogs Neutered Indie Rock

  1. Loud and angry music is great but not the only kind of great music. You must have something better to do than dis Beach House. (Though I do appreciate your general observation that there hasn’t been enough dirty music lately.)

    –Someone who’s listened to a T-Rex album all the way through

    1. Rusdon,
      While I appreciate your comment, I think you may have missed the point of the article. My beef isn’t with Beach House, it’s with blog culture in general. Blogs create an atmosphere that churn out bands who want to get written up in blogs. They have neutered and watered down indie music in the same way major labels destroyed pop music in the late 80’s. I chose to talk about Grunge, because it was a response to the culture of major label rock in the late 80’s, just as I am looking for a response to blog culture now. I do not “dis” Beach House or any other band because they aren’t loud and angry, but because we have become a culture that celebrates bands who lack emotional authenticity.

      1. Everyone with a laptop is a journalist nowadays. Want to put an end to this? Pick up your local paper and read it. even if you don’t agree, at least it is quality journalism.
        Also, I was grunge before I knew what grunge was. No matter what we old farts want to think, these young kids to possess a sense of community and help each other out, just like all underground music scene have. Look in your backyard and look at the kids lout there putting their blood, sweat and tears into their craft. Even if you may not get it, you can admire their passion.

      2. You used the term “Grunge” and didn’t proofread your passe (your idea not mine) blog article. Stuff always sucks right now until other stuff starts to suck and the the original crap becomes ironic and sucks a little less. Who cares…kill yourself…or don’t. Whatever works…or doesn’t. Skrillex yo.

        1. That’s simply not true. Though I’m sure it’s comforting to people who lack the ability to have an opinion that isn’t dripping with cynicism. Somethings don’t suck. You might have to wade through an amazing amount of suck to find them though, and that does take effort. I know effort is a scarey concept. Better to just listen to what everyone else is listening to… ironically of course.

        2. That’s not actually how it “works”. Back Streets Boys or New Kids on the Block or whatever “it’s” called sucked in 89′ and it sucks now. Justin Timberlake is your generations fucking Bob Dylan.

          Bob Dylan, MBV, Nirvana, Sonic Youth still sound good because it’s timeless not because it’s now become ironic and somehow gives jaded, over medicated nerds something to be snarky and feel superior to.

      3. Is blog culture today any better or worse than radio culture was/is in terms of promoting bland mass music? That’s the way kids found out about what to listen to ‘back in the day’, particularly if they didn’t live in a large city and could easily go see live music.

        I’d say blog culture is better because there are at least lots of other options AND with all the new listening sites like Spotify, Soundcloud and even Pandora, you can at least find other ‘alternative’ music out there. It was much harder to find that in the olden days.

        I think the problem is less about ‘blogs’ – sites like pitchfork have become a media juggernaut for musicians. There are a lot of music blogs out there with less of an agenda. brooklynvegan in NYC, for example, promotes all kinds of music, not just hipster flavor. Problem is, most folks just want what’s spoon fed to them. That’s not generational.

        There are bands out there that are kickin’ it – NYC has a close knit and fabulous punk rock scene – bands like EULA and Snakes Say Hisssssssss, for example.

        I like punk rock and rap and electronic and yes, I like Beach House. I’m glad there are lots of opportunities out there to take it all in.


        1. You know what, that sounds like a great topic for a research paper. Why don’t you get together some secondary and primary sources, formulate a more concise thesis, and then publish your analysis on your blog that you’ve conveniently advertised here.

          I’d also love to hear your explanation for why acts toured more extensively in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and have recently excluded themselves to the “big cities.”

          But that would require more than reporting your feelings.

        2. Regardless of the ill effects “blog culture” (a completely trite qualifier) has held on the music industry over the past decade, let’s not go so far as to say that the multimedia environment of internet mags, slue of social music aps, and host of internet sites focused on the music industry have somehow “improved” the indie music scene–rock, folk, electronica or otherwise. It has opened the possibility of choice in listening, but look at how the algorithm favors executive studio and music listener trends. Some neural patters in taste can be attributed to natural tendency to opt for a similar sound, but these algorithms totally fail the growing population that is developing more diverse listening tastes based on the wider exposure provided by internet factors. The fact is that the control of heavy profit is still in the hands of the music executive rather than the musician and the listener is left with more music choices than they can sort in their own lifetime. Look. Be honest with yourselves as musicians, listeners, and producers. It’s not blog culture, it’s our own human nature that has screwed us over.

          1. Hey look, someone named Chas doesn’t know the difference between a compound noun and a qualifier, but does manage to apply the word “trite” in his opening sentence. I rest my case.

          2. Dear “tastes like sky”,
            I’m an English Language teacher and there’s nothing wrong with that post. The author is not classifying “blog culture” as being a grammatical qualifier. They are referring to their opinion that “blog culture” may not be as influential or unified as to warrant being called a culture in it’s own right. The writer is not diagramming their own sentence structure here, they’re communicating ideas, using words. Words like “qualifier”. Words that have HOMONYMOUS meanings. Maybe before your next snark attack you should check out the chapters on Morphology, Syntax and Semantics in “Contemporary Linguistics” by O’Grady et al.

      4. Maybe the trend also has to do with everyone listening to music on computers or with headphones, so more “intimate” music is popular – I think music was a lot more extroverted before everyone had their own personal gigantic music collection in their pocket or on their computer – then if you bought a cd you’d go for a drive or stick it in a stereo with friends and listen to it loud. Sharing music was turning the volume up – not giving someone a digital copy. Anyways, there is plenty of ballsy music being made today and many thriving scenes countering the one you’re criticizing.

        1. That’s a solid point. Publicists and labels are less likely to provide physical copies for reviewers as well. It’s all digital and streams

      5. Hi, Kitty. I didn’t comment on the point of your article because I don’t know anything about it. This particular blog post is actually the first music blog post I’ve ever read. I’m 33. (A friend posted a link to it on Facebook and I checked it out.) I don’t have time for blogs and don’t read any (on music or anything else). But how can you define emotional authenticity? I’d describe Beach House as smooth and pretty and I feel that way sometimes, and when I do I put it on. When experiencing different emotions I may put on Springsteen or Zeppelin or The English Beat or Mazzy Star or PJ Harvey or … But if throwing tampons and setting fire to lakes is rock, I’ll take Antony Hegarty at the piano rambling on ad nauseam about the cycles of the moon any day. I liked reading your post, but I am logging off … and going to the record store. Regards.

        1. “Emotional authenticity” is a poor turn of phrase, but what I think Kitty is trying to get as is a desire music that gives off deeper emotional resonance than “smooth and pretty.” Radiohead’s “No Surprises” is pretty, yet so wrenching with its everyday lyrics of woe. Metric’s “Twilight Galaxy” is similar. I find “Lithium” by Nirvana all the more haunting year after year.

          “Smooth and pretty” is kinda shallow, as is most of that top 10 list above. When I hear Beach House, I think, “I’d love this if I was stoned.” It offers me a momentary sense of euphoria and that’s about it. Mumford and Sons has a campfire singalong vibe. Since we’re inundated with media, music that offers us instant emotional gratification seems to cut through the morass. Nothing wrong with that, but is it really “the best”? It’s a little broad – like the 80s sitcoms of music.

          There’s another side too – Minor Threat is instant emotional gratification for anger, but Fugazi takes you places far beyond the rage.

          OF COURSE… This is just assholish opinionating. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been labeled a pretentious prig. But I want tension, I want momentum… I want MORE.

          (I might even WANT IT ALL! Though I’m not a Queen fan – too much….)

      6. I agree. Fuck the blogs. Fuck the radios and the labels but also, with all due respect, fuck you haha.
        Here’s what I think: In the perfect world only the music should speak for itself and in parts of this article, you contradict yourself in this article. It annoys me that you compare Fleet Foxes to L7. A) The music is entirely different. And B) yes her act of defiance to a bunch of ass holes is admirable but to say Fleet Foxes doesn’t have “balls” is a waste of time in my books. If Fleet Foxes became eccentric and impulsive it would look stupid because they would be forcing it. Again – the music should speak for itself and I think Fleet Foxes I’ve heard does a good job of staying true to that. You like what you like – that’s great. You say fuck the blogs – I say right on. But to me your comparisons are equally as toxic to musical integrity. Who decides what’s “authentic”? Good music is unquantifiable. If you don’t like the music, make better music.

      7. I agree with your points in the article and these comments, and sympathize with your passion for more resistant, countercultural music. It’s true that so many of these bands seem poised for both blog praise and radio play, while utterly lacking in any sort of intellectual or emotional authenticity (though authenticity statements are a complicated game in themselves). That said, resistant, intellectually and emotionally engaged music still exists in spades–just not always on the “normal internet” or blog cycle. In order to avoid cultural bankruptcy, many groups and artists intentionally avoid the vapid, hype-mill that is most music blogs. Also, rock/pop/white music is no longer the main venue for authentic artistic expression. If you’re truly interested in balls-to-the-wall artistic expression, listen to rap. Otherwise, scour the internet/local scenes for music that evades the homogeneity of mainstream/hyped blog culture.

      8. Hm. I really don’t think that reads as your thesis. It just comes off as “Music in the 90’s was better because it was authentic and dangerous! Music now is bad because it’s fay!” It just sounds like you’re fetishizing an image of badassness, which seems pretty naive to me. I guess the issue is that you don’t clearly define what “having no balls” is. You conflate the aesthetic qualities of musical eras you discuss with their level of commercialism, and only the outrage over aesthetics reads.

        You also really simplify both musical eras, effectively judging them only by the dominant narratives, served up by the media entities you supposedly reject. I mean, you allude to K Records, the very progenitors of twee. What was twee if not an alternative to the self serious depression of grunge, punk and hardcore. What was it if not “ball-less”? When did Belle and Sebastian debut? On the other hand, these days you still have bands like the Black Lips and Fucked Up. The NYC indie scene always has a pretty strong background radiation of hard garage rock, though as a movement it might have peaked around 2008, right before the surf trend swept through. Anyway.

        I do think popular indie rock these days is more palatable to Mom & Dad than the 90’s alternative movement. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make it susceptible to commercialization. I’m especially bored with so-called indie music right now. I feel like too many people have figured out the formula, so there are a lot of “vanilla indie” acts floating around.

        But none of that has much to do with your supposed critique of the blogosphere as a hype apparatus. I don’t think blogs are the reason that “ball-less” music is big right now. I think these are aesthetic reactions. Grunge and hardcore played themselves out. Now indie pop is feeling pretty played. Some good hip hop is happening. Maybe rock will reinvent itself again soon. Hope I’m not too jaded to notice or care.

      9. … in 1991… the music you discover and what you like has more, as you described, to do with the general media consumption styles and seemingly unrelated social implications therein.. thing is, it’s 2014. not saying I’m happy about it, but tis what tis

        1. Not necessarily, I mean each to their own but don’t start playing the comparison game, especially in the way that makes these genres sound mutually exclusive. Surely saying ‘It’s like trip-hop/it’s like post-rock’ is like attacking any band that merges one or more genres and draws on influences, and don’t say it isn’t because that’s the syntax of the review, and that’s what it’s saying. Also, I like Stereolab, I love Massive Attack, even their new stuff, and their new stuff isn’t great, but hey, I like Beach House, they can’t change the fact they get reviewed to shit and that everyone nowadays feels like people give a shit about what they think, which is why I’ll end this there. Peace though.

  2. I totally agree. I was ripped apart when I dared to give Tennis a bad show review (They were boring. I was honest.) but at the heart of my issue with Tennis was that their blandness got so much Pitchfork makey-outey love and really great, really rough and really rock bands in Denver were toiling away relatively unnoticed on the national stage. I stepped back from my post as a reviewer for many reasons, but among them was absolutely this feeling that I had nothing new to say about bands who had nothing new to make or do. I’m tired of getting force-fed the next hipster wedding playlist when I know for a fact that there are bigger and better sounds right in my own backyard.

    1. Oh, Tennis. Where do I begin? I just wish they weren’t so BORED onstage. I mean, if you’re intent on what you’re doing and are therefore not exciting then cool. But so many of these bands, when you watch them, look like they can’t wait to be somewhere else while they vacantly stare into space and hit one note on the keyboard over & over. Their music is pretty, though, I wish it had a little heart behind it. Air Supply, anyone?

  3. I concur wholeheartedly Kittty. BTW, I don’t care where the Lumineers come from, they’re boring as shit. I live in and love Denver and there’s much better to be had here. There is great non boring non angry music out there, but you’d never know it from the state of music journalism today. And of course there’s great angry music (didn’t want to anyone to think otherwise).

    1. I don’t hate the Lumineers or anything, their song is catchy and it is nice to see a Denver band do so well. But, yes, I do think their popularity is indicative of the the larger problem of worshiping bands who don’t have much to say. I also don’t want to see Denver categorized as a city that puts out folk bands. This scene has so much more to offer than that.

    2. Like what?

      I haven’t been to Denver in about a decade. What’s going on out there? This is as good a platform as any to shine a spotlight on something great (or greater than the Lumineers). So… what are we missing?


    What is sad is that what you say is true. I have been deprived of anything new without searching really fucking hard.

    I don’t think we have a culture that induces the raw honesty and energy of the “good ol days”.

    I think peoples minds have changed.

    1. amen brother! people’s minds have changed… consciousness is not the same as it was in the nineties… people are just into selling each other shit, no one wants to admit it but it’s like the emporer’s new clothes story… I don’t think people are learning how to be passionate sincere artists anymore they are learning how to market themselves and “conquer” social media… what happened to being punk rock?

  5. Well said. 100% agreement. I might add, if your lackluster band can’t get the music blogs to rate you very highly, there is always a horrible commercial that needs non offensive music to make everyone feel good about a lackluster product.

    1. Congratulations, you sound like your parents, “In myyyy day, the music was better, and we walked ten miles to the well for water”. I’m reading a lot of articles like this from Gen Xers (like myself) who just realised they don’t connect to pop culture anymore. The music wasn’t better in your day, it just resonated with you because you were young and impressionable. Anger and grunge over-sincerity isn’t more authentic than any other emotion. Plus, angry kids these days listen to hip hop. Open your mind to it and you’ll find the rage you need.

  6. Amen Sister! … And Lumineers Schmumineers! An old country dress and a pork pie hat do not a good album write not a revolution start!

  7. This is true, the vast majority of popular music today lacks balls. But there’s good news, a response should be imminent.

    There are always cycles in popular music Folk was a response to Rock n’ Roll, Heavy Rock a response to Folk, Punk was a response to Heavy Rock moving into Progressive Rock, New Wave a response to Punk, Grunge a response to New Wave and Glam/Hair Metal, and finally Indie/Piano Rock a response to Grunge. We are hopefully seeing the end of synths and acoustic guitars and people will plug back in for something new.

    A few years back at a festival, I sat through Dashboard Confessional’s awful set just to have a good seat for the Pixies. The contrast could not have been more apparent.

    1. Hey, I did the same thing at that Pixies show! I distinctly recall water bottles (full mind you) hitting Chris Carraba in the head repeatedly and him bursting into tears on stage. Or maybe that was just one of his songs, I can’t tell a difference.

      Either way, the dichotomy of 7th grade girls and 35 year old dudes in black bands t-shirts was almost as good as the Pixies were.

  8. “Nirvana came out of a small, tight-knit community of people who went to each other’s shows, played in each other’s bands and created a sound though collaboration and an authentic desire to make art that mattered to them.”

    You described exactly the kind of music scene Denver has. We’re a tight-knit group of musicians. We grew up together, played each other’s houses and generally support the fuck out of each other. I wish that part of our scene got more attention, though I won’t hate on any of the bands that hit the next level.

    1. Brandon,

      I totally agree. I have made that paralel between Seattle in the 80’s and Denver now many times. I think what we have here is special.

      1. We have a strikingly similar tight-knit community in Providence, RI…though not without it’s stifling redundancies….it’s a very familial scene. :D

        And Green River rules.

  9. This town does seem to love their singer/songwriters and folk bands. The local blogs do as well. Add to that the fact that bands with balls are evaporating faster then new ones are comin’ round. I am fine with a variety, and like a wide range of music….and I am an admitted sucker for some very poppy stuff…but the fact remains….we need more ballsy rock. We need to save the balls. Maybe we are just pissed off that there hasn’t been a hard rocking band from Denver break it.
    Band Z moves here…strums an acoustic…steals one of our drummers….breaks it big (repeat)
    The National blogs do side with the soft rock thing and I totally agree with your take on what a lot of them seem to get a hard on for. I think our situation here in Denver magnifies that frustration of an unbalanced appreciation.

    *There is no mystery anymore.

    1981 called.

    It said we are turning into softies…

  10. Neutered is a good word for today’s indie rock. It is a mirror image of the people who go to the shows. Girls dress like boys, boys dress like girls. Everyone is a gender neutral looking crowd. Nothing deep and angry. Highly intellectual. Nothing from the visceral gut. No slam dancing, just lame ass 3rd grade style dancing. No real deep passionite meaning in the music, at least from what I can see.

    The music business also needs to realize that catering to an older crowd is a much better and deeper pocketed demographic. People who expect to pay for music, shows, etc etc….most young kids will pirate songs and albums,,but ironically will throw $50 towards their friends shitty creative project ( we all know alot of that money is wasted on partying and other related bullshit ) via kickstarter….what the fuck ?!?!?!

    Get pissed off people! then again, this 20s something generation hasn’t lived through a painful time , never had hopeless feelings about the future that hit Gen X over the head ( i believe the 2nd wave of hopelessness is hitting Gen X again in their 40s …….no future, never made Johnny Rotten sound more prophetic )

    1. What’s sad is that I think this generation HAVE lived through a hopeless time with what seems to be an even more rapidly approaching dismal future. The news these days is far scarier to me than the impending nuclear disaster the USSR was supposedly going to rain on us when I was growing up, and the economy is more & more controlled by heartless profit-mongers who could care less about starving babies & mewling kitties with no Fancy Feast. Many of them are just so fucking sheltered by well-meaning parents who pay their rent & bills for them, go to their job interviews with them (http://www.npr.org/2012/02/06/146464665/helicopter-parents-hover-in-the-workplace) and in general protect them from any sense of reality, that they have nothing real to perform about except what they “discovered” while they were on their lovely little sailing jaunt in the ocean (I’m looking at you, Tennis). It’s fucking boring, man.

    2. I think you make an excellent point. I think it’s because we live in what is essentially a surveillance society, where it’s impossible to get pissed off without it circulating on the internet. I continue to wonder why people aren’t rioting in the streets and using rock n roll or hip hop to do it.

      S H E E P.

      Aside from that, I listen to new stuff all the time, but I only buy or stick with the stuff that I really like. And that ain’t much. Most of what is popular now is derivative of music that was created decades ago. Nothing new. Which I’m ok with. But I don’t like it being repackaged as some new thing. If I wanted to listen to great folk music, I’ll listen to the Chad Mitchell Trio or the Weavers or whatever. Soul Music? Obviously, I know where to get that.

      Is this indicative of a virtual dead end in American pop culture?

  11. Hey, whats going on in Denver? What are some good venues and bands I should check out? I play in a St.Louis band and were always looking for cities that are proud of our their local music and the camaraderie that comes along with it

  12. Music will always evolve. If you want some harder music, then go find it. I don’t even listen to these bands really but if I want to listen to a different style of music, I go find it instead of blog about it. You think that music is bad. It’s your opinion. It’s different. They’re obviously not going for the same sound.

    You’re so edgy man! We’re young, so we SHOULD all want to break stuff.

    No, some people just enjoy NOT being angry and wanting to break things. Why do you care so much?

    I don’t necessarily disagree with the 4th paragraph from the bottom and down. Bands shouldn’t play music to be famous (although Def Lepard did it, succeeded, and is an incredible band)– they should do it for the music, passion, and to help other people

    1. So do you believe that no one should write op-ed pieces? That no one, when they see what they think a problem, should call it out in the hope that it might change or be recognized?

    2. Right.

      I’m not from the Denver area, but have been out there a few times, going to a show and visiting the area, which has some good record stores.

      David Grubbs said in an interview a while back that he started Gastr del Sol as a response to the loud music he played in Bastro and he thought it was funny that the music scene, nationally, had gotten louder (Nirvana) when he chose to get quieter.

      A lot of times, it seems, people just make music and the music sort of happens. I know I couldn’t make ballsy music if my life depended on it (Although there is a distortion pedal around here somewhere). Finding the kind of music you like isn’t too hard these days. I hear what your saying, on the one hand, but on the other, people making music are gonna make whatever they want to and people are gonna like it, or not.

      Is the advent of “blog culture” responsible for the dearth of ballsy music? I dunno. 80s soft rock seems more like it. Thought provoking article. Thanks.

    3. You missed the point, he’s not saying this music shouldn’t exist. He is more so calling for more variety amongst music sites and blogs because most these sites are dictated by a certain subculture; hipsters, indie kids, etc. Notice the top 10 list he posted, there’s a big trend there and that trend is seen everywhere online despite great music coming from many different areas.

      1. people have never before had the access to wide genres of music that they do now.

        ps- the internet
        pss- author is a she…. ahh, the assumptions

  13. But honestly, when did all the skinny jeaned, fedora clad 20 somethings of the world decide to get together and completely fucking neuter music? It’s like a whole movement of eunuchs out there walking around with synths and tambourines.

    With the rise of the fucking hipster… I.e at the same time when beer became less favorable than herbal tea or some such shit, and 20-something kids care about BS like “organic coffee” and are more into ’70s obscure psychedelic bands from Thaland than their local scene.

    It’s like after the blast that was rock n’ roll, Elvis, Berry et al, kids went back to listening to Bobby Vinton, Pat Boone and the like…

    1. Well, I like me some Vinton & Boone. But yeah, only when they have their balance on the other end. I mean, everyone likes the good guy, but who gives a shit about Bilbo without Sauron? It’s like we’re living in the musical “happily ever after” except no one figured out that Bilbo’s music is only written about food & just make everyone sleepy.

  14. I really enjoyed your post. I grew up in a era of where you had to actually seek out music. Where you went to live shows to find out who you liked. Where you spent your hard earned check on a band that you never heard before only to find out they sucked. But every now and again you would find a gem and be hooked on them for the rest of your life. We would make mix tapes for our friends to introduce them to cool music. We cared about what we listened to and we were pissed off at the world and didn’t just roll over and take it.

    Back when I was in High School, if you wore a t-shirt from an indie band it automatically made you an outcast on the fringe. You certainly weren’t popular if you were listening to the Cure, the Smiths or Bauhaus in the mid-80s. And there was no irony involved. In the Bay Area we had scenes that helped thrash music evolve, funk music to evolve and rap music to evolve. All of these scenes would intermingle to a certain degree and it made for unforgettable times and helped change popular music for the better over the long haul.

    While most indie music today has no balls and sucks (yeah I am looking at you Beach House), there are scenes that are popping up that are like the ones you describe when talking about Seattle, they know each other, go to each others shows, play in each others bands, etc.)

    Take a look at what is going on in Oakland, CA for instance. Give a listen to the Wax Idols, the Burnt Ones, Blasted Canyons, Disappearing People, etc. This is one of many scenes who have their own sound and have balls.

    1. So how is a kid with a music blog different from a kid making mix tapes? I mean other than the obvious difference that a music blogger has the potential to help give an unknown band considerably more exposure than a kid making a mix tape for just his or her friends.

  15. Great article, Kitty, and glad to see you writing for YMIA! While the blogs do in fact represent an awful lot of what’s wrong with the whole idea of tastemaking, to be fair, the audience bears an awful lot of blame for the present situation wrt what is successful indie music these days.

    Really, if the only indie music someone samples is what’s spoonfed to them by the blogs, they’re arguably not really even interested in music in the first place. If you can’t sample a song unless it showed up on the front page of Pitchfork Stereogum, All Songs Considered, what, it doesn’t exist? Go to a damn record store and check out a listening station, or even, just start trolling iTunes store checking out anything that’s new.

    The so called indie audience that puts The Walkmen and the Lumineers atop the indie charts is really no different than the crowd that still buys Kesha and Chris Brown downloads, at least with regard to expressing any interest in having their music be anything but their background Muzak.

  16. Once upon a time, you could walk into a campus bar, or turn on campus radio, and hear some college kid DJ play some current tunes, some of which would catch your ear and make you think, “Who the **** is THAT?!?!?” I’m think “Volcano Girls”, “Carnival”, “Closer”, “Friends of P”, “Your Woman”, “Money City Maniacs”, “There There”, “Bang and Blame”, “One Angry Dwarf and 2,000 Solemn Faces”, and I should really step out of _one_ era and mention others from various years. Now it seems you walk into a place and it’s all Galaxie Radio (Canadian satellite radio playlists) and Sirius’ “The Bridge” (I love my ’70s). People don’t take the time to sniff out the gems in the campus radio promo pile anymore, but YouTube anything they see mentioned on Facebook, it seems. Musician, take up thy microphone and tour. It seems the only way for people to hear you now.

  17. Happy to see you writing from the heart Kitty. I think the problem with the music blog culture is bands don’t have to prove themselves like they used to. There’s not as much competition and bands don’t have to work as hard to get noticed. You can get one hipster to blog about you and go viral and all of a sudden you’re the next big indie band. It shouldn’t really work that way and I can understand your anger in that regard. I did, however, enjoy Beach House’s album and I’m a big fan of Arcade Fire and The National, two bands you could argue got where they are today because of the very culture you’re writing about. As messed up as it may be I still think good, emotional bands like those (in my opinion) can come out of it.

          1. I think you must either have misunderstood me or are replying to a different comment. Many of my favorite releases are either on tiny independent labels or were self-released by the artists themselves.

  18. The term indie rock is bullshit. I write about and play rock and roll bands on my radio show who are on independent record labels. They are not “indie.” That is merely a form of distribution, not a style of music. If you want angry aggressive music go out and find it. There is tons of it out there. Blogs are fine. They give a voice to real music fans. Maybe you are just reading the wrong blogs.

    1. In re: semantics:

      You remind me of the people railing against the OED and Webster’s redefining “literally” as an auto-antonym.

      It’s too late for your argument. The ship has sailed. get over it.

      Indie is now a genre. And it’s a shitty one.

    2. “They give a voice to real music fans. Maybe you are just reading the wrong blogs.” What the **** does this mean? First of all, those blogs were created for the people who won’t go out and find their own favorite bands. They are for the lazy, casual music listeners. Anyone who follows such blogs is not a true music lover AT ALL.

    1. Speedwolf ARE from Denver, and they do indeed fucking rock. I don’t think the article is saying that good bands don’t exist. It’s saying that the bands who are rising to the top in the blog world tend to NOT rock, tend to lack any real visceral emotion (which does not require “loud” as so many people seem to think since that’s the example that is used) & tend to be repeated from the big “indie” blogs all the way down the line to the point where real variety weeps in the corner.

  19. I was skeptical of your piece at first because I was reading that top 10 list and I thought surely some of these acts (Mumford and Sons, Jack White, Fun.) aren’t truly “indie.” But, after reading your piece, I’m assuming that you didn’t label them as such, and that the blog presented them this way. I thought on that for a bit and came to an interesting conclusion. It’s like “indie” is a genre now and it’s become this watered down mainstream version of itself. The underground became the mainstream and it’s just as boring and predictable as the pop of the last half century.

    I blogged something similar to this article last month. http://watchtowermusicblog.com/features/2013/2/17/pissed-jeans

  20. Must we go through this with every generation? No one ever has anything interesting to say about contemporary music besides “its not what it used to be.” Do you really want 14 year old girls (the ones making those bands you listed rise up in the charts) going to the same shows you go to? Honestly, I’m sure people love how “shitty” popular music today is because it gives them something to be superior over. Wouldn’t it suck if the number one band of today was way better than Nirvana? Once you get old enough no new music will ever be satisfactory, that is just the way life works. Besides, creepy old dudes aren’t allowed at concerts anyway. This blogpost is pointless.

    1. hey Joe, why don’t you try getting old first before you claim that at a certain age, new music that’s enjoyable is unattainable.

      i will say it was refreshing to see Swans and High on Fire rated so high on this list (even though i don’t think that HoF is among their best):

      i went to see Iceage last night and there are at least pockets of young kids full of energy and aggression (both on and offstage).

      1. Joe, that argument is over-simplistic, fundamentally flawed, and bullshit. Saying old people’s opinions are worthless is just saying that young people are all stupid, but in reverse. Neither one is true, both are lazy arguments that ignore all kinds of facts (the role of old fuckers in promoting/producing/managing bands that has ALWAYS existed.. honestly, you think it’s always been a DIY, bandcamp world?) and avoid actually looking at anything objectively. Personally, I think the “indie kids” are a pretty disappointing bunch, but not because of a lack of balls, although that’s part of the problem… its more the cocktail of two factors, one, that music and all media is far more easy to make and distribute than ever before, and two, that it’s harder than ever to say anything that feels remotely new. And making grungy, punky music does feel pretty pointless… yeah, let’s mosh again! But there are still myriad options which have not been explored. I feel their pain but the new generation really needs to think outside the box…quit being influenced by all the stuff stamped with an “obscure” pedigree.. Nick Drake, Love, whatever else. Learn to get your inspiration from un-cool, non-obscure shit. Maybe you like Juice Newton, or hell, Bobby Darin. I want to hear your version of that.

      2. Joe is right, because you can’t separate the music you like/d (and the rituals around consuming such) from the time, and place and age and feeling you were.

    2. I’d be happy to see a band bigger than Nirvana or even the Beatles break into the scene…funny thing, it aint happening. The music that is pushed out now is labeled indie, ironically by corporations such as Apple (iTunes) and Top 40 radio stations. Just as when Nirvana hit the scene, there was music that was getting stale and hackneyed right before them, and then they blew up. We’re in that pre-Nirvana phase again. Music is an imitation of itself. Some folk and “indie” is good. That I can say. However, the disturbing thing is not how bad the music is or how popular it has become. The problem is how the industry and the media treat it like it is THAT good.

  21. Or just like, write about music you do like and get off everyone else’s dicks. This is some whiny, “kids these days” garbage. You have all the power to create a blog culture around the music you enjoy that’s coming out. Sitting around complaining about what other people enjoy is a waste of everyone’s time. Right now you’re just giving these bands you think are so blah even more attention.

  22. I agree mostly. Every generation complains about “current music” My grandparents thought Led Zeppelin was the worst thing in the world. I think if she heard Slayer she would have a heart attack. It just depends when you grow up and what you like. I definitely think most new music now is crap, but there is still great music being made

  23. Kitty is pretty much spot on (By the way, I would like to apologise on behalf of my fellow Brits for inflicting the Mumfords on the world)

    This kind of you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours BS hackery has always been around, speaking as someone who went through Grunge first time round. I can remember one fanzine saying a band were in and loads of smaller zines falling in line. It’s the same product with these people, just different technology

  24. This article describes exactly how I’ve been feeling about the music scene for the past couple of years. I’m tired of this boring indie-folk crap that’s being played everywhere.

    If you’re looking for a change, check this out (free downloads), Progressive Neo-Classical Dark Fantasy Space Rock: http://www.facebook.com/BDEband

  25. This is a great read!
    I do miss the days of going to shows and nightclubs, meeting people, learning about bands and shows and feeling that something was happening. That feeling died out for a long time.
    In my city we have a rad music scene though – nobody is bothere about blogs/hype, because it isn’t going to come to us because we a) aren’t in London, b) all sound different and c) have full time jobs to suffer through. But it doesn’t matter – we all play in each others bands, we all record our own and each others records, we do play shows around the country with each other (and other bands from other cities doing similar things) and we all love it.
    Basically, fuck blogs, fuck hype, do what you want and others will really feel the same!

    PS this blog is pretty great, that is all :)

  26. What about all of us bloggers in our 30’s and 40’s? You know, the ones that used to hang out in record stores and still do? What about the ones that lived through the whole “grunge” movement, you know, seen Mark Arm leave to form Mudhoney, see Nirvana kill hair metal, see Soundgarden take off commercially, seen Pearl Jam go from Gods to a band that still plays with the same passion now as they did then? I’m not sure if this article was written in anger because pop music has taken over the radio or you’re just to lazy to dig a little deeper for blogs that offer good insights on bands that don’t suck and are x100 times better than anything you’ll hear on the radio. Those blogs exist. I do write for one. I run one. It’s pretty reputable. I’ve gotten bands noticed and even managed to get a few signed to smaller labels. Will you ever hear these bands in the mainstream? Probably not. You may see some written up in bigger publications such as Classic Rock Magazine, Metal Hammer, maybe even Rolling Stone. Not huge articles but rather smaller 1 to 2 paragraphs about their latest release in the back of the mags. Your article isn’t spot on. We’re not all skinny jean wearing, 20-something people with horrible taste in music.

  27. Nice blog Grandma – I remember when Walkers crisps were 15p a pack too. You basically sound like this:

    “In my day, you would have to travel 28km to the nearest town to wait for a hot air balloon to deliver all the new music on vinyl. Now it’s all just a mouse click away.”

    “I’ve been listening to (insert band name) since their first EP, so I’m clearly better than some kid with bad taste who only got into them last year. Music sucks now, not like it did in (insert halcyon year) when people really knew how to rock! I’ve been writing my blog for years now, and it makes me cry that someone else can write one without all of the journalistic training needed to start a blog. This is clearly ruining the very fabric of the music industry.”

    “My music taste is better, because it made me rage when I was a confused pubescent. Music today doesn’t sound angry, so it clearly has nothing to say.”

    I worked for a major music magazine for a long time, with no degree or qualifications – I saw people with years of knowledge make way for spotty kids with a flimsy grasp of musical history. I’ve heard every imaginable crybaby theory for why music sucks now and I’ve been privileged to see some forward-thinking bands and labels thrive, despite people with a lot more history than you saying they were doomed to failure. Every year that passes will see more blogs, more free downloads, more ‘amateurs’ having their say and more people like you acting as if music journalism is the sole preserve of those zealots who have appointed themselves ‘experts’, or who were around when Zeppelin were still going. If you think somebody putting Mumford & Sons in their top 10 is contributing towards sucky music, then you are missing the point. Blame people for liking that shit – if they didn’t then it’s unlikely anyone would write about them. You weren’t born listening to Big Black, nobody was – at some point, you were a child with bad taste in music, so don’t denigrate someone for graduating to better music, that’s how it’s supposed to fucking happen. Music is for everyone to make however they please and to write about freely.

  28. Hey Kitty. You got it. Where’s the angst?!

    There’s been a Paint-by-Numbers guide book available for years now to create a safe, I’ll say it again: paint-by-numbers, how-to “band” (similar to how-to “brunch”) run. Type it in people. “How to” write a song, increase listenership, tour, rehearse, make merch, book a tour, use midi, sound like band X, eq side chained reverb. I mean, you can book an entire tour online – and be selective because of availability.

    It’s watered down and not coming back. Everyone gets a trophy wants that song (NOW) to make them dance, smile and keep-on-keepin-on, just like in the commercial! It’s not cool to be pissed off while at the same time is not cool to, “keep it in the basement.” So, the seeming abundance of ‘talent’ to craft vanilla-but-well-made-songs does anger me. The new angst is play it safe, be vanilla and make them dance.

  29. Great article. The market is too saturated with watered-down bands of the week. It may be a bit self-promoting, but I run a ’60s music blog that tries to promote old music to young listeners. Anything to show people that there’s more out there than what Pitchfork and the Top 40 would lead you to believe. I like to say, “Don’t think of ’60s music as music old people listen to; think of it as music people YOUR age listened to a long time ago.”

    1. Anyone today who is passionate about music doesn’t listen to top 40 and doesn’t read pitchfork. They’re listening to local noisepunk in their city, going to EDM festivals, floored by Kendrick Lamar’s new album, learning Pallbearer songs, or kicking it in their own indie band. Etc.

      Music isn’t dead, it’s varied and mostly underground. It’s not all rock and roll anymore, and maybe rock is dying. But music isn’t dead and won’t die, and it’s not any worse now than it was at any other point. It’s changed. Since a vast amount of music is available in seconds now, often for free, there’s no cohesive movement — there’s a million small ones.

      Anyway, I love old music. But turning to it and encouraging young people to turn to it exclusively is silly, You can’t go see live music in its prime, you can’t be a part of a community, you can’t be hopeful about the future or appreciate the present. It just makes people bitter that the age of “good music” is gone and all we can do it worship the fragments of that movement that we have left. Not to say it should be ignored or forgotten, but it shouldn’t be treated as some Holy Age of music.

      There was good music in the 60s, there was good music in the 30s, and the 90s, and there’s good music now. Music of the 60s (or the 90s for OP) might be your favorite,– but it’s not any better than music is now, ever has been, or ever will be. You like it because it’s the music of your generation — you identify with it more, it’s more familiar, it reminds you of when you were young — not because it’s objectively “better” in any sense. And your generation isn’t any better or worse either, for that matter.

  30. “In my opinion,” which apparently is all that matters for each individual these days and screw history or actually researching anything, this actually started with the 90s alt. rock scene. NOT all the bands, but the wave of grunge-a-likes and the wave of fans that previously listened to metal that latched onto the scene because someone told them they would be popular if they did so. Hear Nada Surf’s “Popular” for full effect and explanation. Those of us there before grunge fought back, HARD, and lost. The 80s were degraded, so were the bands from then, and all art was lost on posturing and “who has the best flannel?” Even Riot Grrl was posing if you look at it objectively. These days, it’s all about what you post online, not if you have an actual statement and certainly not about art unless it impresses with the same vision as everyone else. Self righteousness is higly praised and art for actual art’s sake, the crowning tenet of the 80s alt. rock scene, is not only long forgotten, it’s ignored entirely if it shows it’s face anywhere. Pitchfork is HIGHLY to blame for all of this. There’s no reason for anyone to go to see live music unless they can take a self photo for their facebook profile. For the purist in me, I can make music and be ignored, know it’s good, and accept I will never get paid for it. It’s the best of times, and the worst of times, again.

  31. I think that this issue goes deeper than “kids like shitty music and blogs are the enemy.” There is a definite link between the explosion of indie your mom will love and the influx of corporate interests, particularly Apple, American Apparel, and every diet existential film made in the past 10 years. I can’t think of a time in recent history where it was actually cool to embrace the system, love the President, get press in huge publications (now in the form of blogs), and sell ads to major corporations. Modern indie rock is built to sell ads, it has been 100% co-opted by “the man,” and it is symptomatic of a generation of superficial, brand-obsessed, selfish sellouts.

    I think that accusations of Pitchfork being a huge part of the problem are unfounded. Pitchfork covers a lot of extreme metal and noise that none of their peers will touch. They have an obligation to report on what is popular but they do a lot to promote little-known artists, too.

    Finally, “dangerous” music hasn’t gone away, it’s just gone a bit more underground. The landscape has changed and expectations should change, too. Read more punk and metal blogs.

    1. It’s not who Pitchfork covers, it’s how. They focus on what caters to a specific age group, and everyone else gets butchered unless that specific age group reveres them. See how they handle My Bloody Valentine vs. how they handle The Cure or New Order for perfect examples.

      1. Amen @Chris Grigg. ” I can’t think of a time in recent history where it was actually cool to embrace the system, love the President, get press in huge publications (now in the form of blogs), and sell ads to major corporations. Modern indie rock is built to sell ads, it has been 100% co-opted by “the man,” and it is symptomatic of a generation of superficial, brand-obsessed, selfish sellouts.”

  32. agreed however i thought the highly blogged ty segall and black lips (no matter how much of a regurgitation of old shit they may be) were incredibly popular in recent times. you’re ignoring half of the young hipster generations who listen to rowdy music still.

  33. Full agreement with this post. This argument stretches back way before 92 Woodstock. You can trace this tradition & philosophy or rock as protest back to the very beginning. Some bands and artists still keep it alive and should be commended as such, but yes, disregard the “trendmakers.” Listen to what stirs you, and don’t be ashamed of it.

  34. Yep, some music sucks today. Your post doesn’t explain how blogs have made this so. Your post doesn’t say much other than “things are like they used to be!” Not very insightful. Yes, “mainstream indie rock” has become very fey and folky, with the popular groups like the Decemberists and Sufjan and whoever else is on KEXP. But there’s always heavy bands in the underground. Duh.

  35. There’s two kinds of music: Good or Bad. It’s all subjective. Blogs are replacing record companies as king makers. Those will always be around. Someone needs to make money off of music! Too bad it’s not musicians! So go to bandcamp and find a a band you like to support. If rowdy, raucous shit is your thing have at it. Or ambient, electronic, whatever.

  36. Hasn’t most of popular music ALWAYS sucked? Hasn’t the good stuff always been marginalized? Why does this still surprise and outrage people?
    Also, isn’t it usually fairly obvious who the shit bloggers are and who rises above? Is it really necessary to set the whole ship ablaze? In the ensuing violence, mightn’t yours go up to?
    This just seems really shortsighted.

    1. I don’t think its ALWAYS been that way… part of what the author was trying to say was that, in the early/mid 90’s, what was popular was actually NOT sucking… and it was a wonderful thing…

      1. I remember a LOT of terrible bands back then. Especially the popular ones. Stone Temple Pilots for instance. Or Soul Asylum. For every amazing punk or grunge act, there were two super popular schlock bands under the “alt” banner. Also Gin Blossoms and Spin Doctors. They were the Mumford & Sons of the day.

  37. This generation grew up with more anxiety and horror than previous ones, but also more modes of distraction that are more intrusive into life. I feel like previous generations did nothing but watch TV and play video games throughout junior high, then in High School we moved a bit away from it and went out and met actual people and did stuff in the physical world. Then in college or college years we got even a little further from the TV reality and got our own places, had more sex, etc. etc. (plus TV was really sucky back then, you kinda HAD to go live in life to get anything meaningful). Today these kids watch TV shows and play video games on their personal devices WHILE they’re hanging out at parties. It’s not healthy, I’m sorry. Add to that the problem that so many things have been done already, and revived already, that it is quite hard to make something that feels new. Hard but not impossible. I agree we need more balls, but garage rock/stooges/proto-punk and punk are not the only roads to that castle. Enough with the Jack White, he’s just a ripoff of Led Zeppelin and Devo. Let’s get some roots music going! And put down your farkin’ phone.

  38. Is that the reason why there’s all this super boring indie stuff now? I don’t read music blogs so had no idea about it being some giant circle-jerk.

  39. Bullshit, some blogs are fucking great and it’s so easy to avoid the bad ones. That’s stoopid. Different talk, sure, but that’s stoopid.
    I’m lost in the deepest country of France with nothin’ happenin’ and I can tell you that I would still be stuck to try to understand what’s so cool in stupid Radiohead’s songs without knowing that Ty Segall or The Go exist right now if there weren’t these blogs.
    Sure, there’s a lot of shit. But well, I know a bunch of record stores and concert places that are shitty too. Doesn’t mean everything’s to be burned. But I’m just sayin’.

  40. Kids these days! Don’t know what real music is, amirite?

    As someone who lived through the early 90’s, you can eat an entire bag of dicks you fucking fraud.

  41. Every twenty years or so, the “older” generations rhapsodize that their generation’s music had so much more to offer. Back in the 80’s, it was the 60’s generation, rolling their eyes. They didn’t really know what was out there, and our music sounded like shit to them. As I listened to them whine- I thought, “God, you sound fuckin’ OLD.” Now, it’s our generation who’s somewhat clueless. I think there’s a lot of good music/lyrics to be found, you’ve just gotta listen to the radio and sample stuff on iTunes.
    P.S. No one’s stopping anybody from releasing better shit on YouTube/iTunes!

    1. I was born in the 90s, and missed most of the 90s Alternative phenomenon. When I was more conscious of music, I had Linkin Park, Three Days Grace, My Chemical Romance, Rise Against, among others. Guess what? As I looked deeper, I found that the 90s were better than that stuff, because it felt real and not formulaic or made to ‘fit in’. I don’t mind early 2000s stuff, but look at what has happened to Muse, Linkin Park, among others: THEY ADAPTED AND BECAME TRENDY. They pulled away from their own ways to become part of a system which is not as profitable as it once was, they sold out. Music out today is both good and bad. A lot of it still feels like it is being made for the sake of money or the ‘casual’ music listener. Devoid of meaning and motivation, a lot of today’s music has become music for the sake of ‘something listening to’. There’s no more conviction…and therefore the content and quality takes a major hit.

  42. This isn’t about angry/heavy vs. folk/low-key music. This is about honest, raw & original vs. boring, uninspired music that is, in its must offensive characteristic, “non-offensive.” The movements of the past were the kind of music your parents hated, from Elvis, the Beatles, Zeppelin, through early punk and up until to Nirvana, NIN, riot grrl, and albums like Radiohead’s “OK Computer.” Any “folky” Leonard Cohen track has more depth, edge, and insight than the rehashed washed-out hipstery sounds hand-fed by Pitchfork. What marked each generation were the voices that made the previous generation uncomfortable because they expressed something we felt in unchartered territory.

    And we haven’t had that voice in many years.

    I’ll put on The Lumineers or some comparable non-offensive stuff in the background, and maybe my mom can sing along – but there are so few bands that I stop everything for just to sit and listen in my room like we once did when music was the foreground. There are few bands that the baby boomers would be horrified by the way they were when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” displaced Michael Jackson or when Wu Tang and Public Enemy broke through.

    Great article. Great insight. Who knows, maybe this is just our disco era before the new wave of something amazing knocks us over. (Fingers crossed.)

    1. Yes, it is. And no, it isn’t. And you’re yet another self-righteous idiot making blanket statements about music that happens to not be your own personal taste.

  43. I was talking about this very thing with someone recently, but we saw the problem also being the mp3/streaming music culture. In an era when people can stream music for free in a over-saturated market, what’s to keep someone listening to something if they don’t like it in the first 45 seconds? In the CD/cassette/record days, if you spent money on an album, you were probably going to listen to the whole thing a least a couple times to get your money’s worth. I don’t think my 8th grade attention span would have liked Nirvana if all I was exposed to was “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I came around to that song after hearing it in the context of the whole album. The Lumineers and Beach House, etc. are popular because they don’t challenge the listener. It’s not bad music, but it’s non-offensive music that won’t cause someone immediately jump to the next blog recommendation in their Spotify queue.

  44. stop expecting angry, loud, offensive, dirty music from rock. “the kids” have by and large moved onto other genres for that (namely rap and electronic music). If you really want rebellion in rock, you’ll have to turn to more fringe shit like hardcore bands that max out on 300 person venues

  45. I put on Velvet Underground and Nico for the first time in a long time and was shocked by how much it sounded like the stuff gushed about by the “corrupt indie media” (h/t Carles). Xeroxed. But it goes beyond a lack of hard and heavy bands – Ty Segall sounds EXACTLY like something I’ve heard before. What’s the deal with METZ? How does it differ from a host of post-hardcore bands from the 90s that I love? Blogs/media promote nostalgia rock. There is a reason why hiphop is getting more attention these days – I’m not a fan, but I can tell it doesn’t sound like the same old warmed-over shit.

    I found in the last few years I’ve completely given up on blogs. Now I hate-read. I got in an honest funk the other day because I was using Pitchfork’s app on Being a Brooklynite musician, there is a close community of bands here doing interesting things, and on top of that, they’re good people. I’ve heard Denver is similar – I visited a friend a few years back and saw some great local bands, grabbed a few CDs.

    The drag is really getting beyond that tight-knit group – touring just doesn’t make sense on an economic level. When gas was a buck a gallon, it did. Cutting through the noise of the Internet is impossible without media assistance. But maybe that doesn’t matter anymore. If you want to get pissed off, read this tripe by a whiny, non-adjusting musician who saw some hype in the late 90s/early 00s: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/43235/our-band-could-be-your-band-how-the-brooklynization-of/ He’s dead wrong on a few things – first, replace Brooklyn with Internet. Second, regional music scenes are growing because of the Internet – media overload is sending us to house parties, DIY shows, not trying to “find the next thing,” but just trying to enjoy some fucking rock. We could be seeing a replay of the early 90s… In every major metropolitan area.

    Anyway, thanks for bearing with my ruminations. Got an album in the can that I don’t know what to do with, working it out through ranting in random places.

  46. As an “old-school” musician (how the fuck did that happen?), I rarely find the time to read music blogs, but this by far is one of the best things I’ve read in a loooong while. Thanks for reminding me why I want to stick my head in the sand from time to time, and why it’s good that I refrain from doing so. By the way, check out today’s scene in Melbourne, Australia – It’s still going pretty strong. Best regards from an ex-pat New Yorker living in Oslo, Norway x

  47. Thank god someone wrote and published this. I’d like to think that I won’t need to continue complaining about the same thing now that someone else has put this in words. But I will anyway. Because, fucking hell, you know there’s gonna be another Mumford and fucking Sons record sooner or later.

  48. Bunny the Lifeguard has it right – this blog stinks. TL;DR – “Wahhh it’s not 1992 anymore wahhh.”

    There is so much great music out there, and more being made every day. Top ten lists on Pitchfork are meaningless anyway and nobody really cares about them. I’m pretty sure that most of the artists on that list couldn’t care less anyhow, especially, for example, John K Samson, who cut his teeth in Propagandhi (one of the angriest, most coherent political protest bands in existence) before founding the thoughtful punk rock group The Weakerthans. I’d imagine you find the Weakerthans’ lyrics a little off-putting though, seeing as there’s more to them than angsty shouting and teenage rage. But believe it or not, some of them make political points and do express anger and protest.

    Mumford & Sons don’t, obviously, and most of that tope ten list is boring major label corporate crap, but it’s unfair to pick it out as an example when it contains artists like JKS and Sufjan Stevens, who has run his own label for years and has as much of a community surrounding it as Sub Pop did in 1992, for example. It might not be “rock and roll” as you want everything to be, but it’s part of today’s music scene and culture, and if you can’t deal with that, go home, lock yourself in your room, put on Mudhoney and cry yourself to sleep.

    Either that or call a Wambulance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIikqPmbgvI

  49. speaking of hipster culture, there was an episode of Portlandia that gives a window into the regaling of “wimp rock.” In an outdoor battle of the bands, each band struggles to be more whispery and quieter than the next (cameo by J. Mascis having to physically move away from the stage because his unplugged instrument was too loud, is worth noting). It doesnt all have to be loud and angry, most of that stuff is overdone too but Come On! already with the stuff with little to no soul already.

    1. We did one of our periodic “class of 84″ punk reunions a couple of years ago. The Pet Products were really, really loud. Wimps (contrary to the current understanding of “wimp rock”) were really loud. Calvin Johnson with his current band was whispery quiet. A couple of years later, who do I think made the biggest impact, and had the biggest balls (since we’re all obsessed with balls here?). If anybody really cared about this, rumors of the Calvin Johnson / Carrie Brownstein feud would be racing through the blogosphere, fueled by crap sites like BET, whenever one rapper makes some cryptic unintelligible remark that could be construed as commentary on another. It’s a wonderful thing that nobody cares about this. At all. That’s where I like to be – places where nobody really cares about it, there’s a lot of peace and quiet there. But there’s always somebody with a chip on their shoulder, thinking they are in the middle of some important cultural moment, trying to stir things up and hype up other people into thinking it’s important. It’s still not important but its just a more noisy neighborhood.

  50. I think Pitchfork is a big part of the problem; they are a major gatekeeper between artists and audiences: I mean where would Charli XCX or the Arcade Fire be without them? They gave them MAJOR MAJOR push during there early careers. With this comes the major problem that Pitchfork really favors MOR/pretty/pro sounding records over weirder, messier things. I don’t know exactly how to summarize the ‘pitchfork sound’ except that it tends to be the most ball-less, least offensive pablum on offer. And this is what is given major, major push. I’m not say there isn’t a lot of fantastic music out there- there is, but it’s not represented well by the current middle-brow music crit establishment.

  51. This is stupid. While I agree that the top ten list for 2012 that you used as an example is pretty weak, there are literally thousands of music blogs out there to whet any appetite for sound. Dig deeper. It’s not that difficult.

  52. Old Man Response (I’m 42 and followed the late 80s ‘college rock’ scene before you Grunge whippersnappers):

    A lot of great points, and I can also see the difference between your genuine ire and your “oh god not ANOTHER hipster folk band” ire. The internet squee about some of these bands border on the embarrassing, and a lot of it is just that–just a bunch of of-the-moment excitement. You’d be surprised how quickly it fades if you’re paying attention.

    Case in point–I thought a lot of the Pitchfork/Stereogum-loved bands of the 00s were okay, but really didn’t leave much of an impression–I know and remember a lot of the band names, but I’ll be damned if I can remember most of the songs the music blogs thought were All That and A Bag of Locavore Veggie Chips.

    I think what’s starting to happen online now is also what happened with other signature bands and movements out there over the years: they’re ignoring the mainstream–or in this case, the blogstream–because they know it’s a dead end, and it’s more appealing to create their own noise, especially when the payout is more fruitful. Instead of getting the incestuous love from the blogs, they’re starting to go out there and do their own thing with the BandCamp/Kickstarter/etc and crowdsourcing. A good buddy of mine in NY (The James Rocket) is doing just that, and he’s getting airplay on Mike Watt’s show now.

    So I think in a way you’re right–if you’re sick of the Wonder Bread bands of today that all the music blogs are touting, it’s time to move on. Find a new outlet. Go to shows, hang out at the record stores, find out what other people are listening to. Hell, go Old School and listen to a bunch of college radio stations, most of them stream online now (I live in San Fran and often listen to one of my old favorites, WAMH out of Amherst College in MA). The trick is to keep looking until you find that sweet spot.

  53. I think your premise is flawed. When a supposedly “original” band charts, the labels rush to create similar bands. There was nothing “authentic” about Nirvana, and Kurt often said as much. Nirvana was, in his words, a rip-off of The Beatles, Boston and others.

    “Authenticity” is a dangerous concept to apply to art. Can you say Renoir was an authentic impressionist, while Toulouse-Lautrec or Monet were not? How do you draw the line?

    One man’s authenticity is another man’s affectation.

  54. While I feel like we hate a lot of the same bands, and love a lot of the same bands, I think you’re way off the mark in blaming the current rise of “beta-male whimpiness” in rock on blogs or online sites like P4k. For one thing, P4k has tended to trash most bands that purvey that sound (Beach House excluded), when they even bother to review them. Trends in rock come and go, and sometimes come back again, and to some extent it’s hard to say exactly why. At some point the crap purveyed by Edward Mumford and the Magnetic Lumineers will fall out of favor and something will overtake it, just as grunge, rap-rock, retro-garage, and arena emo had there time in the sun. But blaming blogs is ridiculous. Blogs are simply the ‘zines of the current music world. P4k and widely read online music sites are simply the equivalent of what Magnet or Alternative Music Press used to be in the ’90s. Sometimes shitty music comes into fashion; that’s just the way it is. Oh, and in case you weren’t aware, there are virtually NO MORE record shops in which to go and hang out. Growing up in the ’90s, I miss that kind of place, and can attest to many hours just hanging out at the cool used/indie record store near the college campus of my hometown in the middle of nowhere NC. However, those days are just gone. That said, I think we can both agree that the sooner this lame-ass whiny folk-rock shit is rejected in mass will be a great day for civilization :)

  55. I totally agree with the sentiment of this, 100%. Independent music, regardless of genre, used to be an awesome extension of punk ethos and anger at being marginalized and excluded.

    That said, I think it’s really unfortunate that you equated that anger and need to do it yourself (and in particular particularly an awesome and intensely feminine act) with masculinity. One of the commenters up there said something about gender neutrality, and that bummed me out too. Punk has often been one of the only save space for people who are gender variant, and this is just status quo-reinforcing posturing that does nothing to elevate the awesome things that women have done for the scene.

    I got into punk and indie and hardcore in the 90s because it was CHALLENGING. It was hard to listen to, and it defied what we were told we were supposed to be. That was fucking awesome to hear as a weird girl growing up in a small town.

  56. There’s so much going on in the music world now that there are almost always several simultaneous reactions to all the different movements going on. I don’t think there’s a lack of music with balls lately, it’s just not going to be in the same vain as older hard music because who the fuck wants to hear the same shit that’s already been picked clean by previous generations. There’s an interesting series of scenes that are erupting just as fast as others are falling out, and just as it’s been before, the mainstream is the least offensive most common denominator.

    It’s a more complex issue than just a few blogs mentioning the mainstream that the mainstream won’t even mention anymore. It’s a matter of the state of the music industry and a shift in how people get their music or hear about their music. There’s just as many fucked up angry people as there have ever been but you’re not going to find them listening to the Pixies or Nirvana anymore because that shit’s old. It might be good, and a part of music history, but it’s old. And people get tired of old shit. If you want to find new hard hitting angry music you have to go out and find it just like you used to. Go out to the dirty parts of the city, the run down house shows, the warehouse venues, places where people know they’re not going to make money, and there you’ll find the grimy new punk scenes. Music evolves and people grow up. Maybe you’re just out of touch, old man.

    PS: The generation that grew up with the internet grew up with indie music, of course they’re going to post about it more here than anywhere else. It’s their niche, it’s what they’re accustomed to and what’s easy for them. Get off the computer and go support your local scene. Nurture the shit you want to hear and help it come to fruition.

  57. You make some valid points, but there are a lot of metal, loud, and agro bands out there still. Most of them aren’t very good or particularly original, but they do exist and some of the blogs (and Pitchfork) cover them. One problem though is that too many indie artists are afraid to get political and stand up for political issues. And there are way too many blogs and way too many flavors of the week (although that’s been going on for decades in the U.K. thanks to the NME and the late Melody Maker). That blog’s Top 10 of 2012 was a pretty sorry representation of 2012 too (Beach House being the only album that remotely belongs on there). Finally, apart from Nirvana and maybe Pearl Jam, Grunge kind of sucked.

  58. Hmm, an article as boring as the phenomenon that it describes. The majority of people like to have non-offensive bands spoonfed to them. This has always been true. This was as true in 1980 or 1992 as it is today. Seriously, you are the old person saying, “You know, back in my day music was actually good! And on top of that we walked to school every day 15 miles in the snow barefoot uphill each way!”

    If you’d been born 20 years earlier you would have said the exact same things about grunge.

    There’s plenty of amazing music being made out there, you just have to look past the corporate garbage to find it. And there are incredible aggressive bands in existence today. You’d rather whine than take the time to find things that actually speak to you. It takes effort that you’re apparently not willing to put in.

    Music hasn’t been “neutered” (I won’t even touch on this patriarchal trash). The mainstream press just pushes bands you don’t like. Deal with it.

    1. Can people stop making this argument please? “You are old, you sound like grandma/pa.” We get it! Old people aren’t allowed to have opinions about anything younger people do! This argument goes without saying- when us oldies do complain, we have thought about this factor. We are not morons, you know. The reason we said it anyway is that we felt there was a real situation here and it was worth risking the grandparent factor. Nice grasp of the obvious, people. Now move on.

      1. I’m 40 and I agree with banana. I remember when I was 20 and 40 year olds were sneering at my favourite grunge bands. Plus, I still think there’s just as many Mudhoneys out there as there was in ’89. But there’s also a lot of bands like Crowded House too. People always bought more Crowded House records than Mudhoney.

        1. As well they should. If by “bands like Crowded House” you mean “pale imitations of Crowded House” I’ll pass on that, but if you mean “quality, melodic music from the heart like Crowded House”, please tell me more about it.

          1. Yeah, Crowded House was probably a bad example. Apparently all I could think of at the time. I even liked their first album. I think I more meant a band like Counting Crows or Hootie and the Blowfish.

          2. I don’t find myself hating on Counting Crows or Hootie – maybe because I wasn’t over-exposed to them on the radio (where I, and maybe others, was still getting most of my music – when I listened, which wasn’t much). It’s all so very subjective – Rolling Stones readers voted Hootie as one of the 10 wost bands of the 90s – right along side of Nirvana. They left Counting Crows off, but put Limp Bisquick on. Why would we trust the readers of Rolling Stone? I’d trust them sooner than I’d trust the editors of Rolling Stone, who criticized some of the choices, rather than shrugging and saying “to each his own.” That’s a good approach, whether you reading Rolling Stone or The Wire, or music blogs, and whether you’re listening to John Cage or John Lennon or John Phillips Souza.

          3. Well, yeah, it’s impossible to pick a universally, ultimately, entirely terrible, but very popular, band to use as an example. I definitely feel like Hootie, Counting Crows, Gin Blossoms, etc were the Coldplay, Mumford and Lumineers of their day—the watered down, popularized version of something that was already played-out and almost finished in the underground. AKA pop music.

            Anyway, looking back at my original comment there, I think I actually meant there’s plenty of modern indie bands just about on par with Crowded House (meant as a compliment). And they’re popular because the mellower sound is more palatable to the masses than the bands with a rougher sound.

  59. The thing about these so called music blogs is that they’re run by attention seeking dweebs who not only lack a passion for music, but are not even curious. They’re usually doing it for the free crap. They only attend shows they can get a ‘press pass’ aka free ticket. Usually with plus one which could be their jaded friend, or an OCD camera guy. If they do show up, they’ll appear late, and hang near the bar drinking specials and chatting to other jaded jerks. You’re lucky if they remember your show they next day to write a review.
    But that’s only part of it. The other part of the blame is the overwhelming amateurish culture and pampering. Make 2 bleeps and bloobs on a casio keyboard, and boom! instant rock star! Why bother doing the hard work and honing your craft? Your mom said you were a genius at everything anyways! Missed a note? No problem, it’s part of the joke! Worse of all these fly by night musicians take themselves so seriously. They come up with this watered down, highly derivative sound because they lack the creativity and the discipline. Meanwhile, actual musicians who have the passion and skills (because you know they worked their ass off) get put down for being ‘too snobby’ or serious. Good forbid somebody has standards these days.
    Decades ago musicians would get docked pay or boo’d off the stage if they missed a note, Nowadays you’re lucky to find bands that can play and dance on the beat.

    1. Damn right mate – standards are a joke these days but as a lad who grew up in studios – there is only one source to blame – Apple! Music production has been a joke since having a mac became the only tool required. It should be HARD to excel in your craft now all you need is a gullible parent and friends willing to fawn over you. I recall an article by Steve Albini from the mid-90s and a line about keeping riff-raff off the tape machine. holds true almost 20 years on. Geez – even degrees in audio production are laughable.

      Once kids start To relearn what ‘production’ really means – we will have good music again – but til then I’m ecstatic to be considered an old codger @ 30!! It’s cool to be an amateur now – professionalism is SO 1999 – didn’t you get the meme?!

      1. Yeah, because those ELO records are so enjoyable to listen to. Amazing engineering skills doesn’t a good record/music make. Learning to write a good song and perform with passion has zero to due with how you record it. And some of Albini’s sessions (the PJ Harvey record for one) sound far worse than album recorded by amateurs on home computers. Plus even Jeff Lynne praises working on a Mac.

        But I would agree there are too many people giving it a go due to the democratizing effect of the computer and sites like bandcamp and soundcloud. Lots of bands whose music I should never have ever been able to hear because they live in a small town in another country, now have global reach. Philosophically that’s great. But certain bands are supposed to be regional (or even unknown in their own town) for a reason. That reason being they’re boring and mediocre (a truly terrible band is always worth hearing).

        1. Wow, it’s impressive how much I disagree with you on aesthetic grounds – you inevitably drag up bands that I like as examples of what’s awful. I do find those ELO records enjoyable to listen to It’s certainly true that amazing engineering skills don’t guarantee a good record, but sometimes those pop journeymen come up with quality that can’t be denied. And sometimes I think there’s an interesting reverse snobbery at work. For example, Sleater Kenney apparently did something amazing when they did a passible cover of Boston’s “More Than A Feeling.” Tom Scholz who wrote the song, produced it, even invented the effects boxes he played his guitar through? Mere hackwork. But I have a much bigger disagreement with you when you talk about “Lots of bands whose music I should never have ever been able to hear because they live in a small town in another country, now have global reach.” Where to start? Maybe you SHOULD never have been able to hear bands from small towns (like Aberdeen or Olympia?) but are content to let somebody else do the filtering for you – but since that is the kind of music that has been giving me the most pleasure for at least the last decade, I would strenuously object if somebody tried to ratchet my choices back to choices of bands like Coldplay, or Nickleback, or Nirvana – you know, corporate rock. I am still slightly befuddled by the whole conversation here. I’m widely known as an asshole who hates almost everything and everybody. I’m sure many many people have come to that conclusion based on my posts here. So why is it so easy for me to find great music – impossible to avoid it in fact, I stumble across it daily, and feel bad that I can’t support every artist I love – when more reasonable, open-minded people are convinced the fucking sky is falling? The only problem I see is that all these great artists can’t make money, or enough money, making music.

          1. You do seem to like some terrible music. ;) I kid, I kid. I should just stop using actual examples (after a month, I should just stop posting here, actually). For ELO replace with “any overly polished, soulless production you personally dislike”. I have no real beef with ELO, that’s just what they sound like to me. Insert your own pet peeve producer/band.

            On a related note, I specifically didn’t use Boston as an example because Tom did some pretty amazing engineering work back in the day with the home studio that he recorded that album on, and wrote some great songs as well. Songs worthy of the praise ELO got (imho).

            But to you main point: I really do miss the days of a self-curating music industry/underground scene. Though Top-40 radio might have only been playing the equivalent of “Nickleback and Coldplay”, there never was never a point when music was truly ratcheted back to solely Nickleback and Coldplay. We always heard about the cream of the crop from towns Aberdeen and Portland. There was always a network which let us know about the bands that were catching people’s attention as they toured. The bands that didn’t have “it” toured and were ignored and broke up. It was a self-regulating system. And it wasn’t such a limiting system there still wasn’t plenty of chaff to sift through to get to the wheat. But not it seems like no chaff is discarded. I doubt there’s many bands you really like from Aberdeen and Portland (or Whatever-small-town) today that you wouldn’t have heard about in the old zines, touring and college-radio underground days.

            I don’t think, out of any of the bands that “didn’t make it” from my home town, I would honestly say about them, “It’s a shame no one from Albuquerque got to hear them. They were really world class.”

            Ultimately, it’s apples and oranges. Things are just different now and probably no better or worse on a fundamental, objective level.

          2. I still see patches of flesh that haven’t been pounded into hamburger yet, so I’m going to keep flogging this dead horse, I don’t see any reason for anybody to stop. It’s really a lot more than I want to go into right now, but I don’t see the indie music scene as that much of a meritocracy, based on close personal observation. I see the edge going to people who have the very main stream attributes of cold-blooded ambition, ruthlessness, a gift for hype, and sheer bloody-minded determination. It’s nice to think otherwise, but I just don’t think it’s so. I’d put the Westside Lockers and The Young Pioneers (from pre-grunge) and 10,000 Diving Robots and Mr. Jones and the Previous (post-grunge) ahead of any of the bands out of Olympia that have achieved widespread acclaim. Of course I recognize that without building the case about shortcuts and advantages some people got, this will just be dismissed as sour grapes on my part – the lousy bands I like just couldn’t cut it. But I also recognize that if I were to make that case, people would just say I made it all up.

            I personally am really happy to be living in the days where I self-curate my own musical environment, beholden to no scene, and belonging to none. The mainstream (at least it used to be before 9/11) is a lot more tolerant of apostasy than the underground, because it feels more secure. Underground cultural movements are basically reactionary, however forward-looking their aesthetics.

            A decade ago I presented the bedroom recordings of an artist I’d discovered to Kill Rock Stars and K. They showed no interest. In the spirit of DIY, perhaps I should have released the recordings myself – but that wasn’t realistic at the point in my life. Instead I continued to advocate for my artist, and in some small way, I have contributed to her success – and she has had a fair degree of very well earned success. I found the whole experience to be intoxicating, and it just encourages me to go my own way, rather than wanting to be part of a scene again, with all the enforced social norms that go with it, and the tolerance for bad behavior that you have to exhibit to be allowed to be one of the cool kids(tm).

          3. There’s pluses, there’s minuses. I don’t really think we disagree on anything fundamentally.

            Your anecdote about the bedroom recording artist is exactly the point I was making about the old indie-networks/system. The quality artists (I’ll assume she’s quality) will always have someone to advocate for them and help their name get known to some degree.

            My original criticism (and I always only intended it to be a very small criticism) of the new digital structure is now names get spread without anyone needing to advocate for them. Links get reposted without any effort or forethought. It creates a lot of noise to wade through. And I’m naturally a lazy sod. I’d rather be hand-fed to some extent (I don’t have to swallow what I’m given).

        2. Hey Jakob, do you live anywhere near Detroit? Do you like beer, preferably made from organically grown, locally sourced (not more than 100 miles away) hops and grain, and pure water gathered off a rapidly disappearing iceberg?

      2. It’s interesting how malleable talking points in these arguments can be. Everybody agrees that the golden age was at some point in the past. For those that found the golden age to be in the age of Nirvana – they were supposedly great because they got rid of all that production that burdened the musical styles they vanquished. Amusing that Steve Albini said that the riff-raff should be kept off tape machines. What gatekeeper allowed him access to the machines? One man’s genius producer is another man’s riff raff. There have always been (at least) two schools of thought… one viewed the recording studio as the frame, and the music contained in that frame should be presented with photographic accuracy. Studios accomplished this with astonishing results much earlier than you’d expect. The other camp included experimentalists like Les Paul, Sun Ra, George Martin (as a producer of both classical records and comedy records, he was almost uniquely situated with a foot in both camps), Trevor Horn, etc who saw the recording as a unique artifact, and the studio as another creative tool. Anything was fair game. That crowd was inventing “production” as they went along, and as soon as anything was codified into rules, it was shown the door. Gated drums everywhere today, gone tomorrow, maybe back in 15 years, then gone again, etc. In summary, it’s hard to know what version of the past you’d like to bring back, and if would even be something the people you seem to be agreeing with would even like.

  60. There was no Elvis before Elvis existed and there has never been another Elvis.
    There was no Nirvana before Nirvana existed and there will never be another Nirvana.

    Before and after everything great are loads of average-at-best filler. That’s just the way life, and music, has always, and will always work.

    I have to admit I’m a little confused about the overall argument. Mediocrity in mainstream popularity isn’t anything new. Wasn’t part of Curt Cobain’s problem that he felt like he sold out to mainstream popularity? Why would you fight for quality locally grown independent non-commercially-biased music to end up on top 10 blogs for everyone to see…wouldn’t that just push these bands towards what you dislike and are fighting against?

    Can music really be both underground and mainstream?

  61. Hey now, let’s be very clear – the ’90s scenes this piece mentions featured a good deal of gender switchups, guys thrashing guitars in dresses, women kicking unholy ass without any respect for traditional roles or beauty ideals (Christ man there’s a picture of Donita Sparks at the top of this) … so please, please do not play gender police in an effort to slag current “indie”. There is nothing wrong at all with people playing with gender and dressing how they want. Kind of a misguided angle on a story that holds Nirvana up as an ideal – more than a couple pics of Kurt in drag. So yeah, seriously take a minute and rethink your stance here, dude. No “progress” will come from trying to shame people on this stuff in 2013.

    1. Trying to figure out who JD is responding to – and trying to figure out how to respond to JD rather than Amateur Knight. I’m not sure s/he’s addressing me, but I did raise gender issues and don’t mind elaborating on them. Kurt Cobain in drag – it was entertaining when Milton Berle did it, and Frank Zappa, and Benny Hill. I don’t read any more into it than that, you can if you want. Of course there was a good deal of sexism in that scene – Riot Grrrls was formed in reaction to it. Of course, if you hang out with some of the most retrograde members of society, you are going to find out they have primitive value systems, and they’ll treat you badly. It’s a good lesson to learn, but sadly Riot Grrrls feminism is infantile and vacuous. I thought the main point being made here is you can be any gender, and any kind of person you want to be – as long as you rawk out the same way as the sky gods of grunge did it, and you have balls. Pretty retrograde. I always found it somewhat sexist that Sleater Kenney were treated as if they were some kind of child prodigies… when George Harrison, for example, put out 33 1/3, a shitty album in a long line of shitty albums after a full career as a Beatle, and short lived solo success – at the same age that people were patting Sleater Kenney on the heads and saying “Gosh, don’t these little girls know how to rock out, or what?” Yes, I find that more than a little sexist.

    2. Yeesh, something’s wrong with the coding on this page. it invites me to “Leave a Reply to Jakob Rehlinger” but apparently refuses me the opportunity to reply to JD, the person I’m actually trying to reply to. I just wanted to add to my previous comments that on reflection, I realize that JD couldn’t have possible been talking to me, S/he implores that the debate partner not “play gender police.” JD, you do understand how policing works? As long as you stay in line, the odds are with you that the police will leave you alone. Not 100%, but high enough that most people accept a strong police presence without too much complaint. But if you run afoul of the police, and they demand compliance, and you don’t give it, they may restrain and handcuff you, pepper spray you, tase you, perhaps shoot and kill you. All I’ve ever done here is 1. Agree or disagree with people on aesthetic grounds, where there are no right or wrong answers 2. Agree or disagree with them on issues of fact, supporting my arguments with examples. JD can’t possibly be talking about me. But then the question is – who can JD be talking about? Who is acting like police here? I can’t find anybody who is doing this.

  62. You know what’s really scary? People in the future saying “man, when Beach House and Fun. were playing, that was the good old days. This music today just has no soul.” That is horrifying.

  63. I couldn’t agree with this article more. You’ve explained exactly what’s been in the back of my mind for the last several years… that indie rock / alternative is losing its edge, its credibility, its relevance… I think some are misinterpreting the point here. Its not about angry music being better than non-angry music, its about music being a sincere response to the circumstances of our lives. It just so happens that there is A LOT for the 20-somethings (and up) to be angry about… like Kitty explains, in the wake of the patriot act, insurmountable debt, and living in a state of increasing police monitoring… I should think rebelling against the system would be a central theme in most new music. The fact that it ISN’T is definitely disheartening… and downright disturbing.

  64. Excellent blog post. You’re not alone on this. A few weeks ago I read an excellent and like-wise blog that I stumbled upon at work and can’t find again, but it talked about the ‘original’ Brooklyn scene (I am born & raised in Brooklyn). It talked about the ‘original’ Brooklyn scene in the late 90s and early 2000s when you had amazing and unique music coming out by real Brooklynites like AM Radio, Sporco, Ex Models, Icewater Scandal, The Seconds, The Boggs, The Catastrophe, etc. Of course you also had Interpol and Yeah Yeah Yeahs that were a part of it as well. But the early original scene was true garage bands (or ‘basement bands’) who were truly to create new stuff. It seemed like overnight, but then you had kids moving in to Brooklyn from all over the country to Brooklyn, who were either coming to NY for college, or had just graduated and had their parents’ money to burn still. It talked about how this massive influx changed the scene overnight and the original bands, with real people from Brooklyn, Brooklyn accents and all, were washed away and almost completely forgotten about. I think, as someone above mentioned, it is also about the ‘internet noise’ as well. No longer did you have to go to shows in small bars, record shops and coffee-houses (as there weren’t really any through-and-through venues at that time in BK) to check out bands, but all you had to do was go online and be told where you should go. Of course, what happened was people promoting their friends bands and then Pitchfork, etc. It’s definitely an interesting thing and it reminded me of all these bands that I had completely forgotten about, but whose music hasn’t been replaced. You wonder what happened to those people/bands.

    it did make me breakout the excellent compilation album ‘This Is Next Year’ of original BK bands (although doesn’t have everyone of course.)

  65. Please don’t glorify the 90s. The thing about most of the 90s was, all of the indie/punk bands were trying to capture the magic of the late 80’s, first few years of the 90s, and generally failing. The 90s were actually pretty dismal. Stone Roses, MBV, Ride from England and Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth, Guided By Voices and Pavement from the US. What else was there? A whole lot of depressing, sad, pseudo intellectual stuff from the Pacific Northwest and hardcore from places like San Diego that nobody could actually listen to. I was there and the general scene was even harsher than it is today, and no people couldn’t really play their instruments and they certainly couldn’t write a song. I guess if you like people with dyed blue hair and all girl shows where guys aren’t allowed in and flirtation at shows is looked down upon. It was not that original either. There a ton of bands all making the exact same music playing the same guitar lines. I think Tortoise, Sea and Cake, and Belle and Sebastian helped save the latter half of the 90s and set the next 15+ years on its course. While I wasn’t a huge fan, the Strokes helped usher in a general sense of taste amongst the larger indie world and for that I am grateful. I am an older guy and I’m supposed be nostalgic but I actually think indie music is much, much better than the 90s ever were. Let’s start with Tame Impala. Dungen. Ariel Pink. Beachwood Sparks. Kurt Vile. White Fence. King Tuff. I could go on and on. People stopped playing depressingly bad music that only terrible guitar players can eek out of their instruments as so many pretender bands did in the 90s. People are adding texture. Melody. Writing songs. Exactly what Kurt Cobain did and everyone in his wake did not. I am not saying you don’t have to pick through a load of crap to get to the good stuff but it’s always been that way. Just know there’s even better things in the bottom of the can than before.

    1. decent, good, great, superb bands from the 90s not on your list:
      18th Dye, Able Tasmans, Afghan Whigs, Alastair Galbraith, Alvarius B, American Music Club, An*l C*nt, Aphex Twin, Arab Strap, Archers of Loaf, Asian Dub Foundation, Autechre, Auteuers…and that’s just the As.

      every decade has produced outstanding music.

  66. I agree with one thing in this article: These bands SUCK! But who cares?

    There are plenty of garage/punk communities and bands out there. “Beach House” and “Sufjan Stevens” aren’t stopping anyone from going out to shows. My band does local shows all the fucking time with all sorts of different people and we have fun. Instead of blasting the internet, accept it, and use it to get people out. You can’t just cry about how it’s not 1991 anymore.

    Also, I think it’s fucking great that pop culture is ignoring all the good music. Let the idiots have their skinny jeans and tamborines.

    And check us out on Facebook, haha.




  67. I wonder if the author would have dismissed “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” if he was writing in 1963 instead of 2013. Or the Carter Family. Or John Lee Hooker.

  68. Isn’t it a bit silly to be writing that music blogs have ruined aggressive music, even though there are a number of music blogs (popular ones, too) that are specifically dedicated to music at the “loud” and “aggressive” ends of the spectrum? [see: Sputnik]

    Look, we get that you wish young people were more pissed off. So do I. But at the same time, 100,000 students in Quebec were protesting for months in the streets of Montreal last spring–something that NEVER happened in young adulthood anywhere in North America. Believe me, they’re pissed.

    The problem, as I see it, is that you haven’t listened to enough loud music today, that you read the wrong blogs, and that you’re trying to make Fleet Foxes into a “rock and roll” band when they obviously are not.

    Grow a pair, eh? And then go listen to Fucked Up.

  69. you’re totally missing the point. and with age comes wisdom, THINK about the points here and quit being so sensitive because someone just explained why your favorite pussified bands suck. Until then, maybe YOU should shut up.

  70. Apologies to anyone who might have made this point already (lots of comments, not enough time to read them).

    But I’m not sure it’s an inexperienced blogger/seasoned legitimate music journalist issue. It’s more of a pop vs. rock issue exacerbated by the meaninglessness of the term “indie” post-Arcade Fire and Radiohead.

    Mumford & Sons (and pretty much the rest of that 2012 list) are in no way “indie”. They’re what used to be called “pop-rock” when that was a term that was still used. Arcade Fire is really just a top-40 band.

    Indie is a problematic name for a genre these days because it doesn’t strictly mean “independently released” anymore. It encompasses pretty much everything that’s not hip-hop, R&B, metal or country.

    If you time-warped some 1983 records into 2013, a selection of “indie” bands might include Duran Duran, Violent Femmes, Dead Kennedys, New Order, Culture Club and John Cougar Mellencamp. But in 1983 equating DK with Duran Duran would have been fighting words.

    Indie is not an analogue for the long-abandoned term “alternative rock” yet people seem to use it as such. What “indie: actually means now is “What do we do?! How do we make music seem cool and sell it now?!?! Can’t call it pop! Can’t call it Alternative!”

    Seriously, it’s absurd to have bands like Odonis Odonis and Mumford & Sons lumped under the same banner of “indie”. That would be like pairing Mudhoney and Hall & Oats. Likewise comparing L7 to Fleet Foxes is kind of like comparing Janis Joplin to Tiffany. Of course Janis rocked harder than Tiffany but… is there even a point there? Two vastly different types of artist with their own purpose.

    It’s just that in the ’80s (and the first half of the ’90s) we called pop “pop” and rock “rock” and artsy independent oddballs “alternative”. Now it’s all “indie”.

    There’s plenty of good loud rock bands out there. Plenty of great quiet ones too. Except for a few years in the early-mid ’90’s, the quiet ones have always sold more records and gotten more coverage.

    Also don’t forget, Nirvana’s Nevermind sounds like The Bay City Rollers compared to a lot of the noise-rockers working today (A Place to Bury Strangers, Metz, etc).

  71. Just go back to say, ’76 thru ’80, and look at the albums that were released. Mindblowing. Sorry folks, but music was better when more honest people paid for the right to own it and technology didn’t allow run-of-the-mill schlumps to release records made by electronically reproducing the organic creation of music. Go watch Sound City (the movie). Great article, by the way.

  72. Haha, I think you’re getting old.

    Seriously though, has ANY reviewer ever had a top ten list everyone likes?

    And also, about this generation, our parents came of age in the 70’s and 80’s. (some of the younger parents, in the 90’s) Our parents drank more, did more coke, and generally rebelled harder than we ever could, or would reasonably want to do. We respect you for that.

    But now, you’re basically feeding the same lines to us, that the baby boomers (goddamn hippies!) did to you.

    What did you expect? That what you liked would be cool forever?

    We drink less, do less coke. We’re more into psychedelics and smoking pot. Though beer is still good. Beer is always good.

    We don’t need music to wake us up to reality. It stares us in the face every day. We kinda need music that calms us down, so that we don’t fucking strangle everybody.

    Worry not, our kids will rebel pretty good on account of their uptight, antisocial goddamn parents.

  73. This reads like a transcript from the Best Show… “It’s not like when we were kids Tom and we could just go down to the local rock club and check out Nirvana.”

  74. this presumes that people aren’t already functioning in tight-knit communities but simply not recognized by the cabal of tastemakers. is the complaint then that the blogs overlook or are oblivious to these things?

    are the more genuine efforts of local scenes only useful if they get this kind of recognition?
    is the smaller scale echo chamber of local groups of bands somehow inherently more geniune than the larger scale circle of bloggers?

    at what size of membership or sphere of influence can the authenticity of shitty indie no longer be trusted?

    is it not possible that the ways to express teenage dissatisfaction, disenfranchisement and alienation are not the sole property of shitty indie bands, regardless of their similarity to the music of your youth?

  75. This is dead on. All the whining comments need to go jump. You’re obviously all very happy with the homogenized drone that is indie rock so ignore this post and go enjoy it. I’m turning 40 this year and every new record I hear bores me to death. I’m supposed to be scared of new music by this point. The author is exactly right. Indie rock has lost its teeth b/c it’s being made for faceless morons on the internet, not for actual people situated in a specific time and place dealing with specific circumstances. Anyone who feels like they need to pipe up and disagree with this article or take a jab at the author is an isolated, complacent, wussbag.

  76. Of course there is new music out there that embodies the qualities Kitty is describing here of the “grunge” era (btw, I fucking hate that term, always have and always will…). I think perhaps what is disturbing is that the bands making that kind of music are not getting the respect they deserve. I would suggest that it’s because what is popular is cherry-picked because it’s radio-friendly, Top-40 friendly, easy for someone to appreciate, whatever… popular music doesn’t reward those who make music to challenge our thoughts or expand our thinking. It hasn’t in a long time. Who’s responsible for that? I’ve always thought the best new music usually took several listens before it was appreciated properly… and fewer people are willing to give new music that chance. I think there-in lies a significant problem… basically a lack of openness and patience.

  77. i think the whole blog thing could have been awesome, but i think that you’re right that it has devolved into a circle jerk. most blogs i see are lazy, have poor writing skills, and just copy each other. not to say that there aren’t a few good ones, or that it didn’t serve a cultural purpose at a time, but i think that music needs to live and thrive in the physical world, real people, real performances in real places, real releases in real stores, for blogs to cover. the internet is too insubstantial to thrive on itself, people need to get off their computers to find out what is really going on in their area. i don’t think music necessarily needs to be more aggressive to be better, but it has to be more direct, and i think that things on the internet are made to be a little too polished and palatable.

    people might not be aware, but there’s a growing scene on long island that’s actually really good. i won’t name names, i’m not trying to promote anyone in particular, but long island isn’t the cultural wasteland (or at least not totally) that it gets the rep for.

  78. ” I also don’t want to see Denver categorized as a city that puts out folk bands. This scene has so much more to offer than that.”

    Arliss Nancy, Slim Cessna, Tin Horn Prayer, Drag The River (just up the road a little)….All the way from Florida I love many pieces of the Denver scene.

  79. Kind of a cheap shot against the band “Fun,” who are in my opinion kind of fun. If your point is that Bloggers are lazy to think a band like Fun is significant or important in any way- I’m right there with you. But I bet they spent quite a bit of time making their music, and when I hear it on my hit radio station, I don’t turn it off as fast as I do most other dreck out these days

  80. no one’s force-feeding you anything. instead of being interdependent make your own music or at least read something that has been legitimately published.

  81. I’ve seen similar opinions expressed almost every decade since I came of music-loving age. Truth is, tastes change and blogs play an important part in creating a music scene these days. They are another appendage to the record store, the promoters, the venues, etc. I’m [really] not a fan of hopping on the Pitchfork bandwagon, but I am a fan of music bloggers chatting about music they love to each other, and fans, especially at shows. Music you don’t like will always find a way in, the reason I think people become music bloggers is to help shape musical tastes in their direction. I learn about great young bands that way.

  82. You probably did not mean it, but it sure did come across as if you thought the only valid form of music is the artistic cul-de-sac known as generic rock music with guitars, bass and drums and no adornment whatsoever, which is less about doing something different than it is about channeling teenage energies: rebellion, sexuality, leaving one’s mark etc. All are needs that a human being must outgrow, to make room for subtler values. The way you’re projecting your anger sure makes it sound as if you do not tolerate any music other than what is made by the three-chords-and-the-truth merchants with guitars, bass and drums. For me, even if a guitar band is good, they usually have elements that help redeem the more mindless aspects of generic rock-ism. The only negative aspect about hyping synth-based indie bands is the annoying hipster aroma, which I suspect irks you the most, really. But liking the Beach House does not have to preclude your musical knowledge of Talking Heads or who Brian Jones (I’ve been listening to Satanic Majesties by the Stones recently btw) was.

  83. Quite possibly one of the best blog pieces ever.
    Mumford and Sons = irreducible tripe with a goddamn banjo. Lumineers = music to slit your wrists by. Sufjan Stevens = I’m so fucking sensitive, my shit cries.

  84. It’s a seriously great comp! That’s true, some of these guys are still around, others doing new projects, but the aforementioned bands, and others not mentioned, used to be local heroes – gods, even – in the scene, and now they’re just one of the many, almost completely drowned out. You don’t really have big local hero bands anymore in BK. There’s just too much input now in BK and it’s too commercialized. It doesn’t have that ‘local scene’ feel anymore.

  85. I enjoyed the article, but I’m getting a certain vibe from it or the comments that sounds like “I’m over 30 and new music doesn’t make sense to me anymore. Blah blah blah.” There’s plenty of bands making angry music. Kids are different in every generation. Kids like EDM. Kids like folk-rock. Kids like pop. Kids like fucking 2 Chainz and Trinidad James. So the fuck what? There’s no more music for you? Good. Go see the 33rd anniversary of Bad Religion Tour. That’s what I did. But I’m also going to see fun. and Tegan and Sara. Or The Lumineers and Dr. Dog. Or Biffy Clyro. You know why? Because music is music is music. If it does’t speak to you, don’t listen. If there’s nothing out you don’t like, don’t buy it. There’s plenty of music out there for plenty of types of people. I happen to love Nirvana, but not because they were angry or pissed off, because they wrote AMAZING POP SONGS! Just like the Beatles, and the Beach Boys and The Knack and Cheap Trick and The Clash did and like fun. and Mumford & Sons and Dr. Dog are doing now. You know who ACTUALLY reads blogs? Other bloggers and music nerds. You know what kids like? What their friends like. What they see popping up in their FB feed and who has a hilarious Twitter account. Music is cyclical and the next rock movement will happen, and it doesn’t have to be embraced by anyone anymore. It just has to be. When I was a kid I thought EVERYONE liked the Germs and NOFX and the Melvins, because that’s what my friends listened to. I didn’t realize NO ONE gave a shit about them. When I stood on stage and played a Vaselines song and a Melvins song on guitar for a middle school talent show, and everyone wasn’t singing along, I was baffled. People are in their own worlds. Now, the internet gives everyone a voice. Pitchfork makes the loudest noise, but who really cares? You think bands care? They do not, I can assure you. As long as people are going to shows and enjoying themselves, that’s what matters. There’ll never be another Motown. There’ll never be another Beatles. There’ll never be another CBGBs. There’ll never be another Seattle. And there’ll never be another Gilman St. Times change. People change. Society changes. Music changes.

  86. Wow. I started a blog last year and my first post was ‘The Kids These Days and Their (Lack of) Rock and Roll.’ I’ve been a grumpy old man for a few years now in my mystification on how hipsters today listen to such safe, twee, forgettable music.

    Sure it’s an over exaggeration and there are some good new bands, but not many, and they sure as hell aren’t getting as much exposure as a band like the Lumineers, or fun. (i.e. dull.)

    I keep hoping at some point some kids will get pissed off enough to rock out, but it just doesn’t seem that way. Even a band like Wavves which is trying to sound like Nirvana, doesn’t have the same emotional heft.

    And I’m sick of any song with twinkling bells, banjos and a ‘woah oh oh oh’ style chorus. Y’know it’s too far when The Olive Garden (and every other commercial) uses music that sounds like that crap.

    Anways, nice to know I’m not the only one that feels that way! Good job!

  87. As one of the 20somethings in Denver making music who you bash in this article, what comes off here is that you are really out of touch. Go to a show at Rhino, Mouth House, Glob, 7th Circle, or any one of the underground, all ages venues in this town that jaded 30somethings avoid like the plague cause their cool friends don’t bartend there. If you step outside your bitter scene who wishes they got famous but didn’t, you would see some really great, exciting, angry, and interesting music being created by the whole generation you discount. Pitchfork sux. Duh. But the cool thing about the internet is that every little music scene can find it’s niche and audience in the world. Step down from your illusion of scene royalty and into a basement and see some cool music! But what I get from this article is that you are just not interested.

  88. To modify a comment above, there are two kinds of music: that which makes sound, and that which doesn’t. If the current cultural zeitgeist doesn’t favor your flavor, wait 5 minutes and it’ll change. I don’t connect to most of what makes the grade at Coachella now, or g-d forbid on the radio, but that’s a function of me getting older and (somehow) my tastes getting weirder and more esoteric. So be it. I still find plenty of awesome music, and the music I used to revere (Rollins Band, Soundgarden, Nirvana) seems quaint and a little overdetermined. (Full disclosure – I play in a noisy drone band that puts out vinyl.)

    There has always been, and always will be, tons of shitty popular music, and tons of overlooked great music, and tons of music that other people like and you don’t. I’ll get off your lawn now.

  89. The Beatles and Philip Glass are edgy. Paul Simon’s “Graceland” was edgy. Wagner was edgy. Nothing that’s out these days is edgy. It’s all been done. How could it be? There are no we songs left, no new chords or unplayed guitar solos. Unless you embrace atonality and dissonance.

    1. Pretty sure atonality and dissonance had been done to death by the no-wave scene 30 years ago. But that doesn’t mean there’s no new songs left. You could argue there weren’t any new songs originally. Everything any 20th century pop artist did was pretty much a rewrite of a 300 year old folk song anyway.

        1. Still been done to death in the ’90s post-rock scene. My point was more (meant to be) that, while there’s nothing new, there’s always someone doing something old in a fresh way.

          But it’ll never as huge as Mumford & Sons and Coldplay, which do stale things in a comfortable, palatable for the masses way.

  90. I have a somewhat different take on these matters than you do. I was there, and I don’t think you really missed out on that much by not being there, and if I could give my place to you, I’d happily do so.

    The music that emerged from that scene was the music that got played the loudest and most persistently, with a good dose of good-old fashioned American marketing (“hype”) behind it. Inarticulate, rage-filled music played at that volume isn’t music that builds community, it’s music that destroys community – it’s totalitarian music that stops dialogue and thought, and like the tantrums of a 3-year-old, and demands that all activity stop, and you all pay attention to the tantrum-thrower right now, dammit. In Olympia, each wave of punk beginning in the early 80’s obliterated more and more culture – first wave (my wave), relatively harmless but undistinguished poppy punk, then hardcore, then grunge… a sad slide into passivity, incoherence and heroin abuse. Culturally it was a giant void, book-ended by good music – PS O’Neill and his cohort at the front end, Andras Jones and his ilk finally emerging at the other end with some thoughtful and quality music.

    Perhaps introspection and thoughtfulness is what these times call for. Back in the day we had hated Republicans who we imagined if we were politically active enough would honor us by putting us on a watch list; now we have beloved Democrats who have shown that they can and will kill us for any or no reason at all. Any anger we might show towards the people enforcing the imperial order very well may reverberate forever on the interwebs, and even our friends are likely to disown us if we show excessive disapproval over the murder of people in Pakistan (and a dozen other places – who even knows how far the battlefield extends?)

    All the racket we made with our clanging guitars and clashing cymbals didn’t result in positive change in the world. If being a little moderate and sensible will keep the kids from a premature demise from an overdose, or getting their head kicked in outside a U-Men show, I’m personally all for it. I agree it’s useful to know and learn from history. I just think the main lesson to be learned from Brian Jones and Kurt Cobain is “don’t be that guy!”

    I hope you don’t think that I’m a stranger to rage. It still enrages me that Anton Webern was shot down by an occupying American soldier when he went out for cigarettes. Most rock and rollers engineer their own early demise (Mia Zapata being one of the rare exceptions that come to mind). But what will part of playing music really loud will bring him back, or stop it from happening again? What part of “a mosquito, my libido” is going to get people saying, “My gosh, I have seen the light, I don’t like that asshole any better now that he’s called Barack Obama than I did when he was called Dubya? Maybe we should try to create some meaningful change around here.”

    I don’t know much about the new bands you’re talking about; I have been forcefully exposed to Dawes, beardies all, with their loathsome sub-Jackson Brownisms. Yeah, not impressed. But I don’t spend a lot of time brooding on it – there must be hundreds of thousands of great bands out there; I’d bet there has never been a time with more great music, and a time when it was harder for people to make money making their art. I can’t swing a cat without smacking some wonderful new band, and the heartbreak is there is so little one can do to keep them going. I’m not going to spend one second mourning some rich guy who blew his mind out in the greenhouse of his mansion. And since you were so bold as to be all prescriptive about what we ought to do, I’ll extend you the same courtesy, and suggest that you shouldn’t, either.

  91. The Internet killed R’n’R.
    How can something that’s got its roots in Blues (aka the streets/struggling) can be honest when its made by a bunch of pampered assholes who have mom and dad pay for their tattoos and the rent of their apt in Williamsburg or loft in Bushwick. They can buy all the Rickenbakers they want, they’ll still sound like shit.
    People have blogs because they think they can write, just like they publish their photos on instagram believing that the world gives a shit…its the “whats on your mind” facebook generation who has to post a picture of their eggs benedict that they just ordered because they now can be so damn important thanks to the www.
    How is anything they do going to be relevant to anyone but their own kind?
    Hipsters trying to be different by all looking the same/sounding the same/wearing their cool clothes…how special, how different…
    They’ll write about themselves and their friends bands and the under-aged girlies will come in herds trying to make out with the posers that are shaking their tight asses on stage. They dont know any better, its an act. and a bad one. But they’ll buy into it. There’s nothing else.
    I wrote for actual publications, and the good ones all died.Look at that crappy site huffingtonpost…typical…they get random asses to write for free…its all published…and these peeps think they are big shots for being published on something that id wipe my ass with if it wasnt only on a computer screen. I dont bother writing anymore, it’s just a stupid circus that makes no sense.
    Tried to get into the Bellhouse 2 years ago to do a review, the guy who booked asked me “what can you do for me?”…what the hell? Im a writer…I write…Im writing something about your event, that’s what I’ll do…I’m not gonna go do your laundry or grocery shop for you. Needless to say I didnt get in. Its a whole different ballgame out there…a ballgame that I dont wish to play.
    Hanging out at record stores?
    Never happening again…Steve Jobs killed the underground record industry.
    Just like he killed human contact with his i-phone that people now have permanently attached to their hands.
    Its over.
    Want to see a real rock crowd, go overseas…it probably wont last long though before everything is the same everywhere.
    The best music is probably played by a bunch of teenagers in a third world country right now and no one will hear it.
    As for myself, I’ll just keep going to play my shows…maybe to no one, or a bunch of drunks, or people who don’t care. It doesn’t matter, I’m just playing for myself.

  92. I personally prefer the raw-underproduced sound that a lot of the 90’s bands had. That’s just personal taste of mine. I think pro-tools and over-production kind of took away from the sincerity of it all… I love Guided By Voices for going back to the homemade feel of things… but again, that’s just my personal preference. Analog recordings sound more interesting to me than the squeaky-clean digital stuff.

  93. The broader the audience the blander the product, in general.

    Small tight scenes are what foster excitement and originality — the edges get sanded off by the national/international spotlight.

  94. Get over it. Beach House has some excellent music. Your nostalgia for crap like L7 and a sophomoric tampon toss speaks volumes. If staying stuck in the early 90s is your thing, I bet you don’t mind “blogs” that cater to all those Sabbath rip-offs. For all its hype, Seattle and grunge puked out a lot of ghastly garage.

    At any given moment, there is sure to be a new band somewhere out there who might promise an innovative sound. The Internet and blogs offer a means for nearly anyone who wants to search for pop, indie, or something weirder or more exotic. I agree that Pitchfork can be lame, but at least you already know the remedy: if you like something, praise it; if you think something stinks then say so. The blogs are hardly to blame. They’re merely like online fanzines.

  95. I don’t know about where you guys live, but a lot of the more dangerous music being played seems like it’s by people who don’t have time for shit like music blogs, social networking, ass-kissing and all the other stuff that drives popularity. So, if you want to find those bands you have to put a little effort into it like we did in the olden days. Good music doesn’t always get handed to you and you might have to go to a real dive and not just a place with $7 PBR and graffiti in the bathroom.

  96. This is truly an awful article. I don’t see any reason as to why I should trust your blog over any of the others I ignore. I’d prefer to listen to music myself, and make decisions based on what I enjoy. This type of elitism is absolutely the problem (the name-dropping at the end doesn’t add to your cultural currency, despite the fact you believe it does). Pointing to a list of top 10 albums of the year, and then saying “see how awful they are? I mean, just look!” is a lazy, circular argument that is typical of dedicated bloggers. While I appreciate the emotion you put into this piece, it lacks the critical apparatus needed for me to take it seriously. It’s a joke, much like the blogs you criticize.

    This genre of argument is also fairly trite and tired. This type of article appears yearly, and is always awful. You might not believe it, but you are part of the problem, and not part of the solution.

  97. This is so simple … this stuff is pop music. It wants to be edgy and interesting, but it’s just pop music. Pop music is always predictable, follows a tried and true pattern, and appeals to a wide range of people who like predictable music. It’s verse-chorus-verse, nice melodies, nice tunes … at the moment, people who are taking chances are not getting press so much, but they’re out there. Pitchfork and whatever appeal to a broad audience and they cover the lowest common denominator … only the medium of online is somewhat new, the masses reading reviews of mediocre unadventurous music is totally normal. And, there’s a market for it … average people like average music.

    Back in the “good old days” adventurous bands also didn’t get press. Believe me, not everyone was listening to Joy Division in 1979 or PiL in 1980 … those things got good reviews after the popular imagination managed to grasp them … when a few people were listening to the Clash, most people were listening to Fleetwood Mac … in 1969 Jimi Hendrix was not being played on the radio, Sgt. Barry Sadler and the Monkees were … it seems that what has changed is that people seem to insist that their pop bands are doing something other than playing pop music. I don’t remember the Monkees or Fleetwood Mac fans ever saying that their music was adventurous or edgy, however. Saying that these bands are somehow “indie” or “underground” is like demanding that the Partridge Family was on the leading edge of experimentation … they weren’t. It was just some nice catchy tunes. That, however, is all that these new bands are doing (and that’s fine!) … making nice music for nice people.

    1. Of course Jimi Hendrix was played on the radio, along with Berry Sadler and the Monkees. Top 40 radio back then was very weird by today’s standards, with more variety than any radio of today except college freeform formats. If it sold, it got played, and I consistently liked 1 out of 8 songs they played down through the years (yes, I tracked it, I was obsessive). It was hard work finding good music, and expensive, but I found it. Now it’s easy and it’s free, and I probably still only like 12.5% of what I hear, but now it’s 12.5% of thousands upon thousands of things to hear every day, and one can filter out the stuff they don’t like and never have to listen to it again. It’s the golden age for music lovers, so why is everybody so glum? They burst into tears because there’s other people out there that don’t like the same things they like? Because of the nature of the beast, there is less choice in TV viewing options. It bugs me that so many people want to watch the antics of white trash in New Jersey or fictional serial killers – but I get by. I don’t feel the need to blog about how bad everybody else is. Maybe I should, lot of people seem to be getting off on this prolonged whine.

  98. ooohhh, I hope I never become the old person that remembers the ‘good ol days when music was actually good’ and ‘rock n roll was real.’ Music has a loooooooooooooooooooooooong history – and not all tied to anger and all shaped by the various forms of journalism of the day. There is room for celebration and community. Blogs are a flash in the pan.

    (and just maybe some of these folks that have neutered music enjoy a lighter style because it’s an escape or opposite expression from the all in-your-face harsh realities coming through the news lines, phones, blogs, computers, twitter, facebook and maybe they’re too busy using all their balls enacting real-world change through other means rather than just feeling like breaking shit.)


    someone who often wears rose colored glasses, frequents her independent record store, goes to shows, appreciates the new interests and tastes of a generation of watered-down, vaguely 60’s or vaguely folk, mid-tempo, non-offensive, cutesy indie music kids that wear burlap sacks and tweed vests, likes to hold hands, likes music that makes her body move, really enjoys jam bands and occasionally reads blogs and takes reviews for what they are – opinions and a source to stay in touch with pop culture and general interest. and also enjoys jazz, indie rock (yep, I’m gonna see Matt & Kim at a festival this summer and I’ll probably dance to that catchy song of theirs), grunge, rock, punk, folk, bluegrass, soul, rap, old, new, pop, et cetera.

  99. Pr-Tools democratized the recording process the way the Internet democratized publishing. You now have to wade through more crap to get to the good stuff, but that doesn’t mean that there’s less “good” music. There are more voices now. I agree that that digital sound is pretty boring, but without the technology I never would have recorded my (since retired) own songs.

    I think the Lumineers are getting short shrift here because they’re fairly popular right now. It’s just good old-fashioned Dylanesque Americana. More power to ‘em. Then again, whether it’s Radiohead or the Lumineers or Dylan, people seem to love to hate the artists I like. Oh well!

  100. I completely agree that indie rock is boring repetitive garbage these days, but I don’t think it’s completely the fault of music blogs. It’s just a trend perpetuated by mass media of all types. People want catchy easy listening that they can digest quickly and then throw away for the next thing a month later. That’s what our culture has become, cheap and plastic and replaceable just like all the products we purchase. The music blogs are just one gear of many in this machine. Printed publications and even radio stations are just as bad as the blogs (if not worse). Turn on any major “independent” radio station right now and you’ll hear the same crap played over and over again, just as you would on a commercial station. They aren’t taking any risks on any bands that don’t sound like the ones in that top 10 list you printed.

  101. I do miss the rawness of analogue recordings, but I agree for young bands having pro-tools and home recording is empowering, but they shouldn’t be afraid to mess with it. Trent Reznor is an example of perverting technology and making something amazing out of it.

    Watching ‘Sound City’ drove all this home again for me.

    There have been very few sonically challenging artists, so we get a cookie cutter effect. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem made some cool noises, The Horrors sound pretty cool, but its just using the 80’s template.

    I just want some ballsy rock and there just ain’t that much at the moment.

  102. Popular music has divested itself of its roots: the blues. Period. End of story. I’ve been teaching guitar 30 years and I’ve seen it all. No one wants to listen to gawky adenoidal dorks who couldn’t find a bass player. Believe me or don’t. Everything is square and yodely and homogenous: no syncopation or surprise. Music is not a haircut. Music is not a shirt. Music takes work and ability and not every will be good at it (though it’s for everyone to try.)

    And the band ‘fun’ needs a serious thrashing at the hands of a pack of meth-crazed Motorhead roadies.

  103. The 2000’s saw an abundance of hyper-masculine recording artists (especially in country music). The current music trend is a reaction against that. Soon it will swing the other way again.

    I have to say, though- the cookie-cutter effect is our fault, because we’re buying the stuff. I think modern artists realize that pro-tools and auto tune do the heavy lifting, so to speak, so they content themselves (under the heavy hand of their labels, I’m sure) with repeating a formula ad nauseum. Most of them don’t seem to have many ideas, but that’s how it was in the 1960’s. (Incense & Peppermints, anyone?)

  104. Great. I hear you. Maybe there is a sensory overload with all the cerebral blogging in current youth culture and there are no more “guts.” I am the other generation so I can’t really name it (I obviously don’t have cred) but these old people are still cool (they haven’t changed) so why not just listen to them for a while? There’s you, you are questioning, there’s me, I am still questioning, and then there’s the always boring, no matter what age they are. Donita Sparks is still cool but a lot of these people (young and old) have age issues and see the past as inferior, even if they are not creating a better future.

  105. I would agree with this article except for one caveat. Many of us said the exact same sort of thing about the 90s indie/alt scene too. It was all a bunch of trend-following, wimpy, sell-out poseurs etc. Basically everything sucks compared to what came before it.

    Although I do think it’s important that music stop following trends and allowing itself to be dictated to by taste-makers. But that applies whether we’re talking about Pitchfork or Alternative Press or Spin or MRR or Forced Exposure or NME or whoever else you want to put in there.

    1. Exactly. It wasn’t all rosey back then. We only remember the Nirvana, Sonic Youth and NIN and forget the glut of Tripping Daisys and Smoking Popes that dominated the college radio charts.

  106. The only “good” music that’s “new” is nostalgic throwback to the early/mid 60s… All this indie shit is lame as lame can be. There will never be a great rock band like the Beach Boys, Ramones, Jan&Dean etc. That was REAL rockNroll.

  107. Sufjan Stevens and the members of Fleet Foxes are incredible, original musicians who are clearly out for their art and not for some blog’s approval or some wealth. They’re also pretty clearly capable of expressing anger and other complex emotions in their music. Have you ever listened to some of Sufjan’s electric guitar solos? Jesus christ, they get raunchy. It’s sounds like you mostly just don’t like the music. Nothing neutered about it, though. So, like, shut up and listen to whatever you want.

  108. Finally someone wrote an article echoing all my feelings about why music sucks today, followed by the onslaught of completely predictable responses from the clueless masses who ironically run this place called the internet. If you fit in, had a lot of friends, loved school, and had a real swell childhood your probably not interesting enough for your opinion to matter.

    Not everything has to be super heavy and angry, just intelligent, interesting or dare i say thought provoking. If people at shows today did a quarter of the things real punks did in the 80’s and 90’s the audience would have an aneurysm and start some witch hunt via the blogosphere to get these degenerates ousted from their indie rock country club. Me and my friends started a band called Friend Collector which is pretty much a response to what we think is the very soul-less, hype-craving music described above and our first song on our first record is literally called BANDWAGON! Its more or less about what this author is describing here. I’ve also personally recorded a record myself titled “A Guide to Rational Living” and it explores these ideas further with a little less rage and a little more melody. Running a very small record label the past 7 or so years has been extremely depressing once i realized how all this shit “works” and how and why certain bands become huge – they are unoriginal, unoffensive, easy to draw comparisons to, and play nice with every single person they come in contact with while dangling some fool’s gold in front of the listeners the whole time. No one can really tell if they like any music anymore without having enough verified sources on the internet giving them the green light. In my journey of trying to run a record label i have become familiar with the ways of social networking and promotion and it literally makes me wanna quit. It pretty much just works this way:

    “Dear asshole, I’m in some completely unoriginal band that’s fun for drunken idiots to dance to at shows; please tell all these douche bags that follow you on the internet that we are cool. Here’s an unrelated picture of me funny sunglasses. Please use as much hyperbole as possible and write your review have a thesaurus.com tab open in your internet browser. Sincerely, some twatface.

    How could a “post 911, Patriot Act world” produce such flaccid fucking art?
    How could this not be the perfect environment for something actually rebellious; instead musicians have taken all the most obnoxious things huge record labels do to their artists and applied it to themselves so they can cultivate the perception of being a “serious musician”. If you have a choice WHY would you worry about how you dress and cut your hair. There’s no longer some dickhead in a suit trying to force your hand, these people do it willingly. You know why? Cause they’re music sucks and they’re “art” is phony as fuck. My whole life i grew up on the idea that i was actually an artist, and that being artist meant you spent a lot of time making art. It turns out being an artist is about %5 making art and %95 being a shameless, self-promoted whore. This is the point where i would just give up, commit suicide, etc but i can’t really do that to my friends or family. Instead i’ll try to continue making music that expresses my frustration.Not to post a commercial for my two bands but they literally FUELED by the sentiment the article is trying to convey and couldn’t help myself.

  109. Nirvanna were a pixies ripoff – so were Radiohead – go and ask them yourself…every generation has their hipster doofuses – these are this generations – I grew up in a land of soundgarden, pearl jam and Stone Temple Pilots – all as irrelevant as any of the bands you listed here…if you want real music – the kind youre describing you have to dig for it – it’s out there – you just have to find it – oh yeah, and no one will get it because it’s too far out of line with what is considered a mainstrema alternative…

  110. I just like who I like, man. I don’t need any blog to tell me what to like. I know that your rage is directed towards these blogs that puff up lightweights like some of the ones you mentioned (I happen to like Matt & Kim), but who cares? There’s so many blogs out there. As for the music itself, I tend to wish there was more harder edged stuff to listen to. I prefer 90’s alternative to just about anything that’s out now. Give me Throwing Muses, Veruca Salt, Nirvana, NIN and lots of others over what’s out now. However, I think it’d be a mistake to overlook the dearth of good bands and artists out there who DO make music with conviction. For every homogenized band like Mumford & Sons, there’s a great one like Lucius or Milo Greene. Go to shows. I’ve been surprised by lots of bands I’d never heard of. Hell, I was a kid in what I think was one of the worst decades for music EVER: the 70’s. Disco?

  111. This is coming from someone who’s played in angry snotty punk bands for the last fifteen years of my life (and still!) but if the choice is between some interesting introspective folk like the Fleet Foxes, or bullshit macho posturing like, well, a huge portion of the rock world for the last thirty years I’d take something like the Foxes first.

    Just cuz ya know, it’s a nice change of pace. Not all music needs balls or anger to be genuine or emotionally compelling. Not all music needs to be rock. Rock’s pretty good at being rock.

    Alright, I think I gotta turn in my official Punk card now, I’ll show myself out.

    1. I don’t think the point is that there is no good music to find. I think it’s that the avenues where good music should be found are clogged by the vapid cholesterol of muzak. Just one man’s opinion.

  112. While there are good things going on, I would say that this is a fairly accurate appraisal. The real problem with this phenomenon of lameness is that it makes it more difficult for the artists who are innovative to break through since they may not be easily definable. Not being definable makes it really tough to get shows and get in the good graces with the people, who for whatever unfathomable reason, get to become the taste makers. When I started playing in bands in the late 90s in Ohio it was tough being in the shadow of the Black/White Duos. While I generally enjoy that brand of recycled blues rock it doesn’t do anything to advance music. They’re not artists in the sense that Miles Davis was, somebody who was at the leading edge of the avant-garde pushing forward and reinventing what music could be. However the Black/White Duos reigned supreme so my notions of combining modal jazz, surf/spy music, funk, and a touch of Black Sabbath was sometimes a tough sell. I haven’t gone totally unappreciated, but I’m not a Pitchfork darling. Without some wiser aesthetes and more educated bar owners this is probably not going to change, and these young bloggers are certainly not helping. It’s sad that what’s happening now is more like the 50s, you put your single out and hope a bunch of teens clamor to it and perhaps the choir will preach to itself through the media. We don’t need less bloggers, just more sophisticated ones that after a hilarious rant like this article provides will calm down a bit and really articulate why Beach House shouldn’t be on a best of anything list. It’s not because they’re bad, it’s because they’re milquetoast. I’ve seen them live, they were relatively soothing, but they’re not musically interesting, nor are they emotionally demonstrative, and they’re obviously derivative. At least they are not as derivative as a mash-up “artist.” It is a huge disappointment that our artistic culture has become so dependent on other things that have happened beforehand, things that are not even that far in the past. That’s a boon to those who blog though because they can easily compare cultural touchstones that are readily known to even the least savvy of music listeners. This encourages a mindset of playing to critics rather than creating something that may be hard to classify to a promoter who wants to shoehorn you onto a bill. Therein lies the rub, you got to get on those bills to pay the bills.

    1. I think your point is what many people are missing in this article. It’s not that there isn’t a place for music that’s happy & easy on the ears, it’s that blog culture (and popular & commercial culture) have made it very hard for music that provides a balance or any sense of true innovation to it to succeed. Some balancing & innovative music make it through, but not nearly enough overall in my opinion.

      1. Two well put comments, back-to-back. Perhaps we should add that music (popular, classical, jazz) has become so omnipresent that it’s actually considered background now. That’s my theory with much of the emotionless blog rock pouring through the interwebz – it’s something you sorta enjoy on KEXP as your writing emails. People are jarred by music that actually grabs their attention, perhaps emotionally engages them with something beyond the power of a Hallmark card. (Reverse side is “dubstep,” which is music made by and for the ADHD crowd. I’d argue it’s not emotional, but aural overload.)

        In a sea for sound, the critics/tastemakers are looking for familiar reference points; increasingly the music that emerges is xeroxed copies of their influences. We put some faith into critics assisting us in filtering through the morass of music, and there’s a general feeling that they’re failing us. This is part of the overall feeling that the media is failing us (anybody see CNN earlier this week?), making us dumber and misinformed.

        Also we should stop talking about P4K because the majority of music that gets that site’s seal of approval is “experimental” electronic stuff that’s downright unlistenable (at least when you’re sober). Either that or re-releases (lamest of reviews) or bands they’ve already praised in the past (sometimes distant past).

        1. Interesting point. I DJ for a living, and I really like your take on “aural overload” vs. emotional. I’ll be writing an article on here soon. I hope you don’t mind if I use that concept!

      2. Were you really held back in the late 90s by the success of The Black Keys, who formed in 2001, and The White Stripes, who only had a smattering of singles and one album out at the end of that decade?

          1. Marx wrote that he, “started playing in bands in the late 90s in Ohio [and] it was tough being in the shadow of the Black/White Duos.”

            The Black/White Duos would have to be The Black Keys and The White Stripes. The former did not exist in the late 90s, and the latter did not achieve success until the early ’00s. Marx is complaining that his musical success was thwarted by bands who were barely on the radar, as opposed to “reign[ing] supreme.”

            Marx also complains that his notions of aping John Zorn “combining modal jazz, surf/spy music, funk, and a touch of Black Sabbath” were made difficult by the pervasive influence of these not-yet-successful bands.

    2. Slacker and Pandora are only going to re-emphasize the lameness. Most people can’t handle a lot of musical choices, and want to hear the same stuff over and over. There are going to be a few ‘programmers’ who are only interested in profits that are going to try and limit the spectrum like in the 80’s and 90’s.

  113. at least people are still listening to new music. when that ends, music ends. and quite frankly it is hard to hear a new sound. so when i do, no matter how good or bad, it reminds me that young kids still pick up a guitar and have a dream of making it in rock and roll. and that is a good thing.

  114. I just like this article ’cause I loved the 90’s. And while I’ve definitely got a wide palette of musical taste, and I’m definitely down with the current, I will 100% agree that looking backwards offers me a lot more sincerity in the delivery. I feel nothing when I hear any of the bands in that Top 10 that was posted. NOTHING. Mind you, my 2012 list was probably 90% underground metal. BUT, I’d like to point out that 2012 also offered up Father John Misty, The Men, Bobby Womack, Horseback, Lorn, Lee Fields, Frank Ocean, etc. Those aren’t aggressive or angry by any means, but goddamn they make a much stronger Top 7 than that 10! And there’s variety in there! Also, with any of those selections, I found a connection, a real level of sincerity in the delivery. That’s always been a key draw for me, and it’s meant that I’ve had to dig deeper to find what interests me these days. I work in a record store and I buy nothing from its shelves. It’s tough. I can hardly relate to the customer base. That’s not being snobbish either, ’cause I’m more than happy to help someone find that something that makes them happy, but I feel disappointed when it seems like such… vacuous music. I find people no longer desire emotion from their music, they just want pretty sounds, repetitive lyrics, and something to dance and/or chill to. Quality is not of concern, it’s how easy it is to digest that matters.

    I wouldn’t blame blog culture for it though. Blog culture has helped me to discover more music than I ever would’ve been aware of. My ears determine if it’s right for me, and my desire for more continues the search. Blame people with a total lack of desire to seek out something that they can really connect with. Or people who’s only desire is to be immediately satisfied. A steady beat, pop-hook, pretty voice(s) and a chorus on repeat is a formula for ear-worms and it works all too well. However, just ’cause it’s stuck in there doesn’t mean it’s actually good, or that you even enjoy it.

    But yeah, on that note, fuck that Top 10 and the bands on it.

  115. In fun.’s defense, Nate Ruess and his buddy Sam were The Format first — I sincerely recommend checking out that band over fun.. They wrote some amazing stuff. (I recommend Snails, If Work Permits, & Oceans)

  116. We have that very scene you talk about here in Downtown Los Angeles , with bands like brainspoon , million Kids, dirty eyes , electric children , Vicky & the vengents, sassafras, peg leg love , Kat Kong and many more

  117. I wouldn’t know about overseas bands, I don’t really listen to much except for local bands as I go out to see bands 100+ times per year and have been doing for the last seven years. It is always good when someone I like goes well but I don’t see the point of the fawning over international touring bands who have only released the one album. Lil’ Band O’ Gold is the only band from overseas I have been to see three nights in a row and they usually don’t even tour or even play outside of New Orleans.

  118. While I agree with the general sentiment of ignoring blog hype and sticking to making real connections happen, I think your anger is misplaced. Getting angry at blogs only makes sense if you expect them to play the role of the zines of the late 80s. They don’t. They’re not the vangard, they’re even lower and broader than mainstream press. Blogs are as dumb – and as smart – as conversations in the crowd at a concert. And I’ve heard some seriously dumb shit at concerts.

  119. I respect the meaning of this article. Like, that shit’s just true. Is this a new problem, though? Looking at my WKRP DVDs, it all seems pretty familiar… like, it’ll always be a struggle between what’s good and what’s popular until something can somehow manage to be both. Masses will always glom onto something that’s bland and palatable.

    But I agree with the core of the article, which I think is to demand better of the people you are talking to about music. Make sure they know their shit and that their shit relates to yours. I’ve got a shitty blog, and I am nakedly honest that it’s an attempt to keep educating myself, not an attempt to dictate what’s good. So that’s my response. (I liked some of the albums listed up there, hated some, and never listened to half.)

  120. “I don’t get it, these kids grew up in a post 911, Patriot Act world where they will likely never make as much money as their parents or pay off their student debt and yet all they want to do is grow a beard, play the banjo, and hold hands.”

    I don’t like most of the bands on that list, but seriously, how does this NOT make sense to you? Historically, it’s obvious that smashing shit is not the only way people react to a depressing state of affairs and injustice. I completely understand wanting to walk away from everything and glorifying the idea of being folky and free in the mountains. Even if it’s so clearly a heavily romanticized notion, it’s clear why people who will “never make as much money as their parents or pay off their student debt ” might say “fuck it, give me some rustic beauty” as much as they might try to tear down the state.

    As far as romanticizing things goes, anyway, I’d get over the 90’s, if I were you. Blog culture is whatever– it tends to become homogenized, just like everything else. No need to become a pseudo-Luddite over it.

    1. “Historically, it’s obvious that smashing shit is not the only way people react to a depressing state of affairs and injustice… Even if it’s so clearly a heavily romanticized notion, it’s clear why people who will “never make as much money as their parents or pay off their student debt ” might say “fuck it, give me some rustic beauty” as much as they might try to tear down the state.”

      You don’t find that resignation pretty depressing, especially in line with rock’s/pop’s rebellious roots? Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” ain’t a punk song, but it’s message hits you in the gut. I’m not saying every song should be a protest song, but that they should have a bit more depth and emotion…

  121. Hell yes. Someone had to say it. If it’s any comfort at all, there’s a little community of 30 and 20 somethings up in Ontario, Canada that still listens to grunge and absolutely wants to change this lobotomized music trend that’s destroying our culture. Me and my buddies formed a band, called TROVE and we are massive Nirvana fans. Here’s to bringing it back. Check us out: https://www.facebook.com/TroveBand

  122. Saying one generation is better than another because it was a whole lot angrier is stupid. I like Dean Martin, I like the Talking Heads, Joy Division, Fleet Foxes, Electric Guest, blah, blah blah. So what. Bindi who the fuck cares( I don’t) about your impeccable retro taste. Each to his own. Viva what you love.

  123. Funny thing…. I don’t ever recall anyone like Elliot Smith or Jeff Mangum setting fire to a venue or taking a piss on the crowd from the stage. It’s really kind of stupid that you’d compare rebellious post punk and grunge bands to today’s modern indie music. I really have no strong feelings towards either of them, but I at least understand that they’re two very different things.

  124. I largely agree with what you say, and I rarely read internet reviews, would much rather go to a show and make the judgement myself. But I know for a fact there are many great dirty, rough and loud bands out there that are simply being overshadowed by the music industries fetish with anything indie.
    I live and work in the Perth (West Australia) music scene and there are plenty of loud, but still talented musicians and bands here. And as much as I can support them, they still never get the recognition that deserve, even on a local scene basis.

  125. I’m not sure if the misplaced anger in this post is funny or just sad.

    You think some music blogs write about too much wimpy music, and therefore blame music blogs in general for what you perceive as homogeneity in today’s “indie rock.” Yet, at the same time, you praise Seattle bands of the early ’90s for developing a scene based around a particular sound, which made the marketing of the “Seattle Sound” so much easier for labels like SubPop.

    In other words, you condemn bands who cluster around a sound when said sound doesn’t jibe with your idea of good music, yet laud bands who did the same goddamn thing in the past. Sorry, you just blew your credibility.

  126. I think you should ask the band members and the fans of the music you mentioned above how they feel about their music and I ensure you will find as much passion as there existed in the 90’s. Bands today are obviously expressing themselves in a different way than ones in the 90’s. But just because this expression is different and you may not be in tune with it does not mean that it is lesser in quality or irrelevant. And like band’s styles have changed so has the way kids learned about music. The internet allows kids allover to learn about music and listen to whatever the hell they want. It’s insane to say that kids are more forced fed now (because of blogs) then in the 90’s because in the 90’s the internet was not as prevalent and so radio was pretty much the only medium to learn about music. Because of this, bands who get popular today have quite a deal of legitimacy with kids.

  127. Well, I don´t quite understand why you´re so angry about that music. I mean there´s a lot of shit floating around out there, basically because eeverybody can record stuff on a professional level nowadays and because labels and studios don´t have their initial function as “filters” of music. Now we need to filter everything ourselves and that´s a very painful and very long act, which is why I only listen to new bands occasionally, but I am a big fan of Jack White, I like the Babyshambles and although my band The Dephons might be slightly more dirty I´d love to do an album just armed with a 4 Track Recorder, an acoustic guitar and an analogue synthesizer. And one more thing: Besides loving the 90s I love the 60s.

  128. This advances such an elitest perspective, chock full of nostalgia along the lines of “it was better when I was young” and other such nonsense. Kitty comes across as a bitter, aging rocker who’ll either accept or dismiss someone based on their choice of t-shirt, or last 5 songs listened to on their ipod. Our younger generation will write the same stuff in 10 years, as will subsequent generations.

    30ish avid music fans have a defined sense of what’s quality and what isn’t, which was forged from years of great and shitty songs coming over the airways and across the stage. People’s tastes evolve over time. Don’t fret so much about what other people are listening to, and trash their sensibilities. It only makes you seem old, and out of touch with what turns the youth on. As The Who famously said, the kids are alright.

  129. Thank you. For saying what many of us who have been silently despairing of the state of music have been thinking. Thank you.

  130. First let me say I’m on your side but I think the rise of shitty “Banjo and Beard” music is really a reaction to the world of the SUPREMELY over-produced and over perfect music we are presented with today. Much in the same way Nirvana was a reaction to big hair and pointy guitars.

  131. Interesting article. I would however suggest that you might be looking in altogether the wrong places though, if you want innovation. I haven’t really encountered original or inspiring rock music for a while now. I think that’s why a lot of former rock fans (like myself) have moved on to electronic music and, to a lesser extent, hip-hop. California’s beat scene (focused on Brainfeeder) in particular leaps to mind, as an example of a lot of people making exciting and original music, apparently for the love of the art rather than desire to make money or please blogs. I’m not closed to the possibility of great rock music being made, but it seems to me that the broad genre of rock has had its day (or is at least in a slump at the moment).

  132. And get those little shitbirds off my lawn! Ah, old people. I’m an ancient, myself, and have seen a few generations of “kids these days and their horrible music.” If you open your ears past your own calcified tastes, you might hear a few bright moments. Don’t forget how much dreck there was during your own favorite musical period. We’ve all forgotten all the crap by now. Time always sorts the dross from the gold. I.e., don’t be so goshdarn uptight, old folks! Things are changing to be exactly the same, BBs. Plus ca change, dontchaknow.

  133. “I don’t get it, these kids grew up in a post 911, Patriot Act world where they will likely never make as much money as their parents or pay off their student debt and yet all they want to do is grow a beard, play the banjo, and hold hands. What the fuck?” Amen!!

  134. Great article, with one exception. Beach House is really an excellent duo, and on a combined with a good set of speakers, will bring you to sonic nirvana. I loved rockin’ out in the 90’s, I had a mohawk, and yeah, I was pissed off! – That being said I still liked to smoke a dubie once in a while, and even my 19 year old self would have like gettin high and listening to Beach House.

  135. Kitty,

    You’ve got a big set of balls to write this and I couldn’t agree with you more. Yeah, I’m 51 now but I still play and produce music as it was always meant to rock. i don’t give a shit if a band or artist is 20 or 70. If it rocks it rocks and if it don’t it don’t.

    Having seen some of the greatest bands perform in their prime (Queen: News Of The World in ’77 at Madison Square Garden, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Allman Brothers, and and and…it is an absolute joke to hear people defend today’s music as even holding a candle to these artists.

    No, I don’t subscribe to the bullshit that there’s nothing good out there. There is. I think Jack White is the real deal. i dig Derek Trucks too and a few others.

    But I even tried to see what was cool and checked out a Pitchfork Best Of 2012 playlist just to see what Cool means today and I had the exact same reaction as you…REALLY??? This is the BEST of 2012??? I slept through some dozen songs before one song slightly got me attention. It turned out to be the new single by David Bowie and I didn’t even know it. It just sounded like a real fucking song with some depth and creativity and actually said something.

    It’s pathetic to think that these are the times kids live in where they think we’re just ranting. But it’s only because if they could just get a taste of what we’re talking about (not the geriatric reunion tours but the artists in their prime) they would ao obviously go ‘Holy Shit! They were right!’

    Hats off for waking people the fuck up!

  136. Well… I agree with this post, yet, I don’t entirely agree with its conclusion.

    I also have a site, but I don’t typically read anybody else’s –I wound up here because someone linked me to it. I like your tone and what you’re saying a lot, so it’s not that I’m talking shit, I’m just not a blog reader, I’m an article writer. I created my own outlet because I wasn’t finding anything that I wanted to read. I’ll commonly push out thousands of words about shit that most people don’t give a fuck about, as if it was a magazine piece, which is not conducive to a format where people have no attention span and would rather bounce around collecting tiny morsels of information, than sit down and digest a piece that would provide them with all the information, plus the background, a transition into that information, and a foundation to pursue it further, if they’re interested enough. Name drop, try and talk over people and let them know that they are late for the party so that they catch up and believe that your opinion is fucking gospel. Form a cool club, where they’re all behind a curtain and are the equivalent of comic book nerds, with less credibility.

    The reason that I believe that “blogs” are ruining the way that people absorb and view music isn’t so much about the shitty, weak hearted “artists” that they support, but the reason why they do it. Music blogs are little more than glorified advertising and are news-based. Every one of the shitty press releases that you and I receive on a daily basis, they post. Everyday they need to let you know that a band is considering releasing a new album and they consider that a worthwhile post. The next day, they tell you the name of the album. Next week is an image of the cover art, then a tracklist of songs that nobody’s even heard yet, anyway, so it’s worthless information and worthless content. It’s digital littering on the information superhighway, with people trying to get a 4 second jump on the competition, with whom their sharing the exact same demographic. 3 days from now, the information is obsolete, but it still exists to clutter up the google search. Nobody wants real content, analytical thinking, or new viewpoints. If it’s a traffic based scenario, then the way to get the traffic is to pump out content. Review the album the day you get it and the live show that night. Don’t take time to absorb any of the information, verify information, research, or to form an actual opinion about anything. Pander to sponsors and connections, or, even worse, feed into a concept that isn’t real about yourself or the purpose behind what you’re doing. Get your name online. Have people listen to you.

    I went to the Sasquatch! Festival Launch party as “media” this year and watched everyone frantically tweeting out the lineup as it was announced in a video. A terrible fucking lineup, mind you, and one that was going to be on the festival website within an hour anyway. What’s the rush? Who gives a fuck? It’s a brilliant marketing ploy by the festivals to flood twitter with advertising. Macklemore showed up as the obvious “secret” guest with his terrible “hometown hero” bullshit and everyone went nuts for his 3 terrible fucking songs. Then everyone walked out during Built To Spill playing one of the greatest sets that I’ve ever seen them pull off in the 18 years that I’ve been attending their concerts (they even covered Beefheart’s “Abba Zaba”). The next day hip publications like the Stranger wrote about the shitty neo-folk lineup, Macklemore, and how they didn’t stay for BTS. It’s immediacy. It’s fast food “journalism.” People are living off of leftover Hostess pies.

    Being approved for credentials again, I went to Sasquatch! last year, by myself. The last time that I went was for WEEN and Pavement, so there’s no denial for me about my aging and my frustration at the youth. But, at the same time, most of the music was derivative trash and the line between independent/underground artists and popular major label powerhouse has been blurred more than ever, also thanks to the internet and the fact that the concept of “independent”/”underground” music has been recognized as marketable. Macklemore’s calling himself “independent.” I recently saw an interview with Fun. where they speak about how “alternative” their music is, and how “alternative” their sound is. They believe that they are actual artists. Last year we ran into those jokers in the media area at Sasquatch! and this guy I met in there asked them if they were a band or something, and they got incredibly frustrated about it, trying to let them know who they were, while making sure that he knew that they were extremely important. It was the best thing that happened all weekend. I photograph by myself and stick to myself, because I generally don’t get along with the “media” that believes their own shit. A kid asks me who I’m shooting/writing for and I tell them “myself” and try to convince them to start their own outlet and that the whole thing is a sham. I was surprised, however, to meet like-minded media folks last year, that just wanted to catch the Spiritualized set, instead of fawning over Girl Talk. This year is the shittiest lineup yet, but I’ll probably go, just to catch Primus 3D, see Death Grips, and EL-P again… etc. It’s about the sidestages, as usual, but so is everything. Everything is about the sidestage.

    And I think it’s important to think about that word “alternative,” because I’m sure that you remember it being used religiously in the 90s. It became a marketable term that quickly lost any relevance or meaning whatsoever. You speak of Nirvana like it was the truth birthed from a genuine scene that overcame a vapid popular culture, and you’re right about that. The problem is that you are writing about that vapid popular culture right now when referring to music blogs. The internet isn’t alternative media and the music blogs aren’t underground platforms for music. Nirvana got famous and was absorbed into that world, but they weren’t supposed to get famous. Melvins sure as fuck didn’t. Mudhoney didn’t get anywhere–Mark Arm works in the shipping department at Sub Pop right now. You don’t think that people of the seventies were fighting AM GOLD? The world hasn’t really changed in a lot of ways. I live in Seattle, and, unfortunately, don’t know much about the Denver scene, but there are people in this thread claiming to have a similar underground movement. The internet music blogs are their would-be oppressors, much like MTV in the 90s, which started out as a racist institution in the early 80s refusing to play Remain In Light-era Talking Heads videos because they were “too black.” There were people who chose to get their information solely from MTV and those who didn’t. There were people who chose to get their information solely from the radio and those who didn’t. People used to have to dig for information, that’s true; but they still do, even more than ever, because the medium that they’re finding it through is the same. It’s like having 12,million radio stations or music video stations. You might have to listen/watch one at 1 am, like 120 minutes. I will say, however, that I’ve had 2 contacts for Denver recently from people who wanted to write for my site; one was into “EDM” music that sounded like Final Fantasy and the other was into conscious rap. I’m sure people are still angry, especially in Denver. That disappointment will feed into the scene and not destroy it.

    But, aside from that, I completely agree with you. The music is trash, but it’s not more trash than Better than Ezra and Counting Crows. It’s no more trash than Kajagoogoo. The problem is that the underground, isn’t really the underground, and people don’t seem to realize that even these independent radio stations are full of shit, whether or not their bumper stickers give you street cred among your fellow patrons in the Whole Foods parking lot. It’s terrible and, my own other real issue is that people feel proud enough to try to tell me about how I should be listening to it all of the fucking time and try to shove it down my throat. Have a little more shame about your tastes folks, please. I’m not trying to make anyone listen to Sun Ra. The blogs are indeed a sham, but I think that’s the nature of them. If those albums that you listed made the list and the last SWANS album didn’t, then I don’t want to read that shit anyway. These people are jokes and, if someone can’t figure that out for themselves, they belong there, reading that trash.

    All that being said, I do agree with your sentiments, for the most part, and I really did like reading this post. Thanks for giving a shit… about anything, really.

  137. Some of the hecklers in the comments are doing so out of mere defensiveness. The fact is, this is a brilliant post. Why? Because, much like the music of the early 90’s Kitty is describing, the blogger CARES. They have passion. That’s clear whether you respect the opinion or not.

    Also, I think it’s pretty clear that the vaguely Americana, vaguely folk, indie rock phenomenon HAS been going in circles a long time….picture if new metal kept going for 15 years in the mainstream after Godsmack got on board and you’ll have an idea. It’s weak and stale and suitable to show your grandparents. And even if you don’t agree, let others have their opinions. It’s not a comprehensive study with analytics…just a passionate blog. Enjoy it!

  138. Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man. You actually take “blogs” seriously? Having come of age in the early 90s, one thing I do not take seriously is the internet. It’s built for trolling, downloading music, stalking exs and that’s about it. Get over yourself.

  139. I don’t think the blogger cares at all, I think they’re confusing nostalgia for being young with nostalgia for an objectively better time for music en masse.

    You want to make things better tomorrow, stop pretending they were better yesterday.

  140. youre fucking awesome.

    when i was teenager in a band on the warped tour confused about life who didnt know what tomorrow would bring i wanted to play music loud and ( to quote rollins) fuck on the floor and break shit…. now im a grown up with a bit more of an idea of what makes my world go around, a mortgage and a job ive been at for 7 years and … i want to play music loud fuck on the floor and break shit.

    while i love what it’s done for communication ( and porn ) , i hate what the internet has done to music. When I had a band.. all we had to do was come to a town, play an awesome show, and if we were on our game, when we came back again.. there would be more people there next time. no mailing list, no online panhandling for facebook likes and kickstarter dollars or youtube views, just a burning desire to start some shit , enough gas money to get to the next city, and the determination, sweat, and live show to make it happen.
    you rule. i wish everyone was like you

  141. I was there in the 90s as a participant in scenes, shows, and record stores and I couldn’t agree more that blog culture is pretty Annoying. Since you did hold the list up as an critical darling examples, however, I have to say that a couple of those new artists are Grammy winners (the kind of honor I used to use as a lame-meter), and most would probably be found on Billboard or Top 40 lists under Pop were it 1990. Now they’re more likely found on cell phone commercials and that would make comparing any of them to anyone as inspiring as L7 kind of like comparing apples to butt plugs. Anyway, entertaining article. It makes points I’d agree with several times in the past 20 years. Myself, and fortunately many kids out there still do thirst for more emotionally raw and evocative entertainment in REAL life outside their bubbles. They just don’t fill too many venues.

  142. A lot of music these days sound like people still living the dream of high school band class. 6-10 people on stage with half of them playing misc. instruments, trumpet playing the hook, upbeat and happy crowd chanting, etc.

    1. Who is making music like that? I’d like to have me some of that kind of music, because I think I’d enjoy that very much. I’m not hearing anything that sounds like that now, so I must be going the wrong places for it. I’d like to add it to the mix of stuff I’m listening to.

        1. Thanks very much for the recommendation, I listened to several songs, and I’m very keen on them. However, I wonder if they are the sort of thing IPFreely had in mind – I only heard something that sounded like trumpet on one song, and not once did I hear it carrying the melody line.

          1. Thank you for introducing me to this music, I appreciate it. It seemed IPFreely had something pretty specific in mind (though s/he seems to think a lot of people are doing it) – but looks like s/he’s a one time visitior and it’s up to me to find music in this genre if I want to hear it. Which I do, at least once.

  143. The music world is in desperate need of a shot the arm of Rock N Roll. Banjo’s and Beards, Craft beers and 10 speeds, tight pants and flanels..don’t forget your Native American Cigs.
    I’m 39, played at the Croc in Seattle in 89 with the Fast Backs and Nirvana in my crappy band..but at least we didn’t use a computer to auto tune our shitty acoustic music. We sweat, we bled, our ears rang..it was real. What the world needs now is a new Cobain minded youth who will mow all these fuckers down like Kurt did with the iconic dinosaur comercial BS bands of the 80’s- Fuck naming it..just make it real.

    1. Matz, Thighs, Odois Odois, A Place to Bury Strangers,The Men, K-Holes, the list could go on. I think there’s actually more quality “Cobain minded” youths now than there was in the 90s.

  144. Good article. Very true- even the “tough rock n roll” is somewhat wimpy these days. You don’t have to be tough to be a good band, but playing hard rock n roll, wild music.. having intensity and passion; is sorta what it is all about to me.

  145. I see my comment linking to the facebook page for Ms. Vincent’s band Le Divorce was denied publication. Is it not allowed to share with others the music Ms. Vincent makes while attacking others for music she deems unacceptable?

      1. Well, since I’ve invested so much time in this already, I thought I might check this out. It’s all so very subjective isn’t it? I find this music competent, but uninspiring. Still, much better the music she advocates for. Yet close enough to the music she denounces that if I were her, I might squirm just a little.

        1. Apologies. Not sure if it got purged as spam or accidentally marked to be deleted w/ comments that violated our terms – of which there have been enough. There is absolutely no problem with anyone critiquing Le Divorce as long as personal attacks or overbearing vulgarity are avoided, none of which I remember seeing posted by you. Opinions are opinions, and you have as much right to yours as Kitty does to hers.

  146. Since there have been several replies in the last few hours, I’d encourage everyone to check Ms. Vincent’s band’s Facebook page (link below), where you can listen to their music for yourself. I’m not saying it’s terrible, but it really needs to be heard in order to place the above article in context. Ms. Vincent is attacking other bands for their “neutered” music while making music that some commenters here might consider fairly neutered itself, based on what a lot of folks have written in response to her post.


    1. In my opinion, some of these commenters missed the point (and perhaps you, but I’ll let you make that determination), which wasn’t that a band needs to be necessarily loud & angry, but rather that they need to invest their music with some level of emotional authenticity that the writer obviously feels is missing from many of the bands rising to the top of the blogosphere. She uses grunge to illustrate her argument of a scene that she feels in its young & original form had that authenticity – and obviously because its a music she finds to be that way. You may or may not agree that the early grunge scene had it – and there are a couple of writers on this blog who are not fans of said scene – but the point is there either way & can be considered on its own should one choose to do so. Clearly some people got that point and some others did not – both on the positive & negative end of its reception.

      I think there is an argument here that runs deeper than whatever scene was chosen to illustrate it. Those who choose to use that scene as the argument in and of itself either love it or hate it based solely on that, and as far as I’m concerned are often just disruptive noise (e.g. “Linkin Park” fan, “gender stereotype” guy & some others you handpicked for your blog to buttress your opinion) and others who didn’t clear to this comment section because they thought it ok to call the writer things like “c*nt,” b*tch,” etc. or to make veiled threats because they don’t agree with her opinion.

      As far as Kitty’s band goes, well, its emotional authenticity can be argued by people who are a fan of the band, just as fans of fun./Beach House/whoever can argue that they find emotional authenticity where so many clearly do not. I don’t feel how loud, quiet, angry or joyous the music is was the point though.

      1. The only point I got from Ms. Vincent’s post was bitterness. What I think of grunge is really irrelevant, as she simply parroted the same stuff I’ve been hearing and reading since long before grunge hit the big time. The first time I heard the basic arguement (today’s music stinks, and the old stuff is where it’s at, man) was during the 1979/’80 school year, when some kids in my English class did a presentation on the music of the sixties, wherein they opined that no good music had been made since 1969. Since then, I’ve heard variations on it again-and-again-and-again.

        “I slept through the ’70s.”
        “The 80s was the worst decade ever for rock’n’roll.”
        “’90s music sucks so bad compared to what happening in the ’80s.”
        etc. etc. etc.

        I’ve found that the argument is often made by people who have an overly strong emotional investment in the music of their youth that prevents them from accepting music from other eras, especially later ones. Or it’s made by people who apparently think all good music will automatically find an audience, so all they need to do is sit back and wait for it to be spoonfed to them. When that doesn’t happen, they complain that there is no good music anymore, especially compared to the music of whatever period with which they most strongly identify.

        Ms. Vincent’s article seems to exhibit both phenomenons, hence my initial comment about its misguided anger.

        I completely agree about the ugly name-calling in way too many responses to this article. It’s just a blog post, fer chrissake!

        As for Ms. Vincent’s band, they sound very much of a piece with the time period she is praising. Loud/quiet/angry/joyous are all beside the point; in my opinion, her band’s music sounds like safe, radio-friendly, alt-rock. The tone of her article, and her examples of what she claims is missing from today’s indie rock, seem rather at odds with what sounds to me like a band put together by a marketing committee. Again, though, that is merely my opinion.

  147. If their blog is shit, your blog is shot. You can’t have one or the other. It’s subjective. If the type of music you like isn’t covered by the prominent blogs / platforms, then don’t read them & find the ones that do cover the sort of music you like. It’s that fucking simple. The music you like isn’t going to get any worse or better depending on who is covering / reading it.

  148. I’ve very curious to read the 318 responses to this article, but each time I click on the link the page freezes then starts over. Are these comments visable on another page,etc?

  149. This blog and 80% of the people commenting on it are the most pretentious pieces of shit I’ve read in months.
    Could you not think of a more compelling topic than “back in my day”? This type of thing should be relegated to a high school newsletter. I guess they really WILL give anyone a blog these days.
    Your own logic is inherently flawed. If you were really so involved in your scene and the music you love you wouldn’t be wasting your time posting about what other people are writing about, you’d be promoting the good music that’s out there. But no, you’re probably just someone who hasn’t actually followed music in years, is pissed that your tribute acts are either dead or have given up and are now trolling for page views.

    1. “If you were really so involved in your scene and the music you love you wouldn’t be wasting your time posting about what other people are writing about…” And yet, here YOU are doing just that. Interesting.

  150. I get why you’re pissed off about all of the watered down boring bands coming out these days, but it’s always been like this. You can look at it as a big cycle, or a pendulum effect. Take punk rock for example. People began to confuse punk rock ideals and fashion with each other. It eventually became mainstream. It happened with the hipsters too. It will always happen, you just have to be patient for things to cycle back around. But if you don’t want to wait, write your own kick ass music that everyone will like and eventually copy.

  151. This is the first music blog-post I’ve ever read.
    I don’t like blogs in general, I guess because every idiot can make one and every idiot does.

    Anyway, I quite liked your writing. I was angry too. I wasn’t grunge, well, maybe, I was a weird mix of death, black metal, grunge and pink floyd and just skateboarded and drank lot. Nothing else to do in our town if you didn’t like souped up BMW’s 325i’s or tuned mopeds or playing football (the yuropean kind). I remember being punched in the face at some death metal concert, not for the sake of fighting, just because, well, that’s what people did, fuck things and eachother up. Mostly I remember sitting outside where the concert was, not being able to hold my head up due to too much headbaning. And the possibly puking a lot.

    These days I listen to everything. Garbage “Crush #1″, Chris Isaak “Wicked game”, Moonspell “Opium”, Radiohead “OK Computer”, Nirvana “Big Lon Now”, Pantera “Walk” was my morning communte-music amongst others. Yesterday I listed to a new Morbid Angel single. I’m not angry any more, but I’m bored with the crying music and the falsetto men (and I partially blame Radiohead, but I’m gulity of loving eveyrthing of theirs up to and including OK Computer). I also get sad when you play something from Incesticide and people have no idea what it is, they remember Rape Me, maybe, if they don’t possibly that castrated MTV-album with no balls.

    Anyway, nice writing. I like it.

  152. Explain how to measure emotional authenticity please. Or share where you purchased your Analog/Digital Emotional Authenticity Meter because I can’t tell if a band is really playing their hearts or are being dead and dull. Explain the science please. Share your limitless golden knowledge so I too can speak in absolutes, so that my current opinions can be touted as irrefutable facts, and so I too can read the emotional authenticity of people without actually knowing them. Please start the best band of this decade because clearly you have the rare attribute of detecting and emitting emotional authenticity.

    I hope your emotional authenticity detection abilities caught the sarcasm or you might need a new 9v battery.

    “Emotional Authenticity “has got to be the most hipster, pretentious vomit-worthy phrase I’ve heard in over a decade. Congrats on that feat.

    The subjectiveness of preferences is acceptable, but when you’re arguing against whether someone is emitting honest emotions you’re just makng yourself an ass for speculating and jumping to conclusions based on your biases. So keep on ASSuming. You obviously have no idea of what Punk or Grunge is besides a technical, hardass type of definition. You’re trying so hard to fit in with that scene, which in fact further alienates you for giving too many damn fucks.

    1. Analog/Digital Emotional Authenticity Meters are available at your local Best Buy. Get one that takes D batteries, though. The ones that take a 9v battery are apparently bad at catching sarcasm. Thanks for reading!

  153. Just forwarded this to Mark Arm, and he’s laughing his ass off. He’s amused by your attempts and finds it hard to believe you’re trying this hard to understand rock when you’re doing nothing, but insulting bands you personally don’t know.

    I agree with him. You need to chill and realize all you’re doing is arrogantly flaunting your ignorance.

    1. It’s wonderful that Mark has you to speak for him. Should he care to directly share his thoughts on this article or the state of music today we would be glad to get them from him when he plays here in July.

  154. Well Kitty, the problem is that all of the bands you have mentioned are very radio rock. There a PLENTY of awesome bands out there today. In fact I think most of them are much crazier than any of the grunge bands you mentioned. The thing about today’s music is that there is now more than ever, a huge variety of GOOD music to pick from, and most of those bands being indie bands. Not the pop rock you mentioned above. Do some digging and you will find something worth wile.

  155. Explain your uncanny ability to read emotional authenticity please. I don’t get why some people here don’t realize the pretentiousness of that phrase. You’re directly judging whether a band is being “fake” or not, but you assume you have the means to tell if someone is being authentic. Yeah, you dislike or hate some bands, but going off with a holier-than-thou attitude about who’s “real” or not is just plain stupid. If you can’t see that then you’re as bigoted as a politician.

  156. Couldn’t agree with this post more. Hopefully we haven’t contributed to the crap pile like others have. We’ve always tried to be honest with what we put out there for consumption. It helps to not be beholden to advertisers or record companies, then you can say whatever the fuck you want.

    I typed this on a laptop.

  157. Hi Kitty,
    My name is Simon. Your article snapped so many pieces in place in the puzzle of the musical landscape. Thank you. I was in a band called the Stinky Puffs and I grew up with Nirvana (literally). Krist and Dave played with my band after Kurt passed in 94. Feel free to google me. I’m super old man now, 28, but am trying to carry on the tradition of ball-laden music in San Francisco, the heart of the enemy hipster. It’s brutal on the front lines but I’d love to send you a copy of my group Gaviotas’s cd, Assemble. I’m not looking for exposure, just want to share music with like-minded people. Your article inspired me and its good to know I’m not alone.

    1. Hi Simon!
      Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading. I would love to hear your album. I’ll check it out and get back to you via email.

    2. Can you supply documentary evidence that your music is laden with balls? Can you give me an actual count of how many balls we can expect to find in each song, and the average weight of each ball in grams? Can you provide photographic evidence of a surfeit of balls? There hass been so much discussion of balls in this blog post and comments, but a paucity of detail. I think it’s time to move beyond these vague generalities, and deal with important questions such as “are these balls hairy or smooth to the touch? Are they sweaty or dry? Are they tightly scrunched up, or loosely swinging?” America is waiting for an answer.

      1. I think you just said balls more than in all of the previous comments and the original post combined…why don’t you go ahead and let us know which kinds of balls you prefer and we’ll see what we can make happen for you?

        1. boyhollow on April 24, 2013 at 1:01 PM said: “I think you just said balls more than in all of the previous comments and the original post.” So that’s what you “think”, is it? Fortunately, we don’t need to rely on idle speculation, we live in an age when we can easily test information impirically. I did just that (the results of my scientific inquiry below) giving further support to my original assertion a greater degree of precision is needed if we’re going to talk about balls.

          In my post, I used the word balls 6 times. In the article and previous comments, the word “balls” and derivations comes up 28 times. Please don’t attribute to me an excessive interest in balls when I’m merely trying to advocate for others who have a seemingly overwhelming interest in balls.

          Ask not for whom the ball tolls. It tolls for thee.

          The heading for this piece alludes to balls twice, once as in Grow[ing] a Pair, and once as in losing them by being Neutered. In the text Kitty uses the word balls twice, attributing to Donita Sparks a serious pair of balls, averring that “She had more balls than the members of Fleet Foxes can ever hope to have.”

          Tony C. on April 17, 2013 at 3:58 PM said: This is true, the vast majority of popular music today lacks balls

          T on April 17, 2013 at 5:17 PM said:
          bands with balls are evaporating faster then new ones are comin’ round.
          we need more ballsy rock.
          We need to save the balls.

          Brian Zurik on April 17, 2013 at 10:22 PM admitted:

          I couldn’t make ballsy music if my life depended on it
          and asks
          Is the advent of “blog culture” responsible for the dearth of ballsy music?

          Rusdon Torbenson on April 19, 2013 at 12:27 PM said: why is everyone so obsessed with balls?

          convolutedmind on April 17, 2013 at 8:05 PM avers:
          most indie music today has no balls and sucks
          and later affirms that Oakland California has one of many scenes who have their own sound and have balls.
          (understanding as the does that many of the people here are looking for balls)

          Clinton on April 18, 2013 at 9:53 AM expressed that he personally, I think (s) the “indie kids” are a pretty disappointing bunch, but not because of a lack of balls,

          Clinton on April 18, 2013 at 9:32 AM said I agree we need more balls.

          Matt Love (OK, this one is me) on April 21, 2013 at 9:50 PM said:

          Matt Love on April 21, 2013 at 9:50 PM said: who do I think … had the biggest balls (since we’re all obsessed with balls here?

          Aaron Sunshine on April 18, 2013 at 10:37 AM decried the ‘pitchfork sound’ for tending to be the most ball-less,

          Dan McEntyre on April 18, 2013 at 11:05 AM said: I don’t think there’s a lack of music with balls lately,

          flymetothemoon on April 18, 2013 at 1:53 PM wondered if music neutering people aren’t busy using all their balls enacting real-world change through other means rather than just feeling like breaking shit.

          smellslikeinfinitesadness on April 18, 2013 at 2:19 PM said: I just want some ballsy rock and there just ain’t that much at the moment.

          Chuck Buried on April 18, 2013 at 3:36 PM said: Not all music needs balls or anger to be genuine or emotionally compelling.

          Rhoneil on April 18, 2013 at 6:40 PM said: Ovaries AND balls. Music needs ovaries and balls

          Matt (Not me)on April 18, 2013 at 7:23 PM said: there is plenty of ballsy music being made today

          mark Hermann on April 19, 2013 at 1:13 PM thinks Kitty’s got a big set of balls to write this

          Hello on April 23, 2013 at 3:04 AM claims this is the first music blog he’s ever read, but even he understood that it’s all about the balls, closing with a reference to that castrated MTV-album with no balls.

          Simon Timony on April 24, 2013 at 11:37 AM of course claims his music is ball-laden, inspiring my post.

          1. Eesh. It was a joke. Don’t get your balls all up in a knot. (Oh, and it’s “empirically,” as long as we’re going to be all precise and stuff)

      2. The balls in Gaviotas are filled with billions of sperm who wish to penetrate ears worldwide whose genetic coding carry things such as a desire to see humanity succeed, unpretentiousness, tolerance for gays, people of color, women, children and animals and most importantly comes predisposed with distortion. Lots of distortion.

        1. But Simon, Matt is apparently far more concerned with what they look like than what is inside them i.e. hairy, smooth, low-slung, riding high…and apparently he speaks for all Americans, so we better listen.

        2. I think you pretty much have the final word on musical balls, but I decided to toss my jockstrap in the ring with my composition, “Balls” – https://soundcloud.com/wacky-moose/the-lunkheads-balls. I recorded it with my band The Lunkheads, but I don’t think we’ll continue to do it, as the other guys said it’s got plenty of balls, but not enough scrotum, so if Gaviotas was to perform it, you may do so. The same thing goes for Kitty, she may perform this song also. btw, I noticed when it came to selecting genre, the soundcloud’s dropdown menu gave me lots of bally options: simply Balls, Ballsdeep (or Balls Deep), Ball Sack, and Balls Out Rock. I went with the last one.

  158. Just got this in my inbox from Utne Reader: “The End of Male: Male fertility is at an all-time low—are chemicals to blame?” If they followed this blog they would know the real answer. (Other) music blogs are to blame.

  159. There’s a difference between “I like” and “This should be.” Or “I feel this when I hear that” and “This is how this music is.”

  160. Kitty, you pretty much extracted words forming in my heart for the past few years with this entry. Wow. I think I’ll print this out and just hand copies over every time I’m about/trying to have a conversation about music. Save me some time.

  161. Am I becoming my old hippie dad?

    This view seems to be the uniform feeling among our age group.Is it a generation gap of sorts? We don’t seem to understand how kids(of the 20 smth kind…) get involved with their music ,by not hanging out in record stores,radio,concerts etc. but instead hang out in blogs and post top albums lists of crap they downloaded.

    Should i be concerned that ,my kids in the future will bore me with their bland music,instead of shocking me ,like we did to our parents?

    The other thing is freedom.I’m all for freedom of speech,freedom to say your views without censorship, but not freedom from quality.And let’s just say that 80% of the journalistic freedom that goes with blogs(not only music ones) has escaped the necessary quality and high standards control, instead of promoting inflamatory views.It’s much more important to be hip and market friendly rather than talk about things that excite you or make you angry.Right?

    After all music is just an excuse to grab your ass.And bands like the Walkmen and Beach House are the perfect sountrack of ass grabbing without you noticing…because you have fallen asleep…

    1. “And bands like the Walkmen and Beach House are the perfect sountrack of ass grabbing without you noticing…because you have fallen asleep…” HAA HA HAAA HAAA!

      More of a sign of us getting old is that newer music sounds so derivative… Dammit, we’ve heard it all before!

      1. “More of a sign of us getting old is that newer music sounds so derivative… Dammit, we’ve heard it all before!”

        Well ,we (or it’s only me)still have hope that something new or fresh(different from blank new) will come out.The problem i think is new things are so fractured among genres and get blanketed by the sheer volume of music that gets released(either via records or via the web).So it becomes extremely time consuming for “older guys” to catch up, unless you give up your day job and become a “new music hunter-nerd” full time.

        By fractured let me give an example of fresh stuff (means:deviating from the strict copy of played- before material) over the last 3 years:post metal (or however its called e.g. Isis),the new psychedelic soul sound (theeSatisfaction) ,some hipster movements like witch house(terrible label) that come and go .The problem is it’s all spread among vastly different genres so you have to always have open ears to discover and nothing new(sound wise) seems to form a scene ,in the old school sense.

        So yes new sounds do come out , but i’m getting too old and tired to go on the gold digger’s hunt in this mess.

        And then the new Bobby Womack or the new Swans album comes out and i get into the old “i’m done with the kiddies” mood…

        1. Bobby Womack is a name I don’t know, but shall check out. I guess I would throw Swans into the post-rock category – “The Seer” and the new Godspeed album were two bright spots last year.

    1. What’s new copycat? Out of the blue, the subject changed from balls to ass grabbing…

  162. I don’t necessarily know if it is the music blogs that have neutered music but so-called indie music has definately been neutered. I came of age in the eighties playing in an left of the dial punk/psychedelic band. Anyhow, there are a few current bands — meaning the bulk of their body of work was recorded in the past decade that know how to rock. Here are a few.

    Drive By Truckers — late bloomers to be sure, the main guys in this band were pushing forty by the time they got big enough to headline large clubs and mid-size theaters. They’ve been consistent, though.

    Opeth — Progressive death metal from Sweden. Even the cookie monster vocals sound fantastic.

    Lucero — If Shane McGowen were from Memphis instead of Ireland this would be his band.

    Lee Bains iii and the Glory Fires — did his apprenticeship playing guitar in the final version of The Dexateens. His current band recalls the Twin Tone era Replacements minus the alcohol fueled train wreck. See these guys now while they are still in the small clubs.

    Justin Jones — His current band is a four piece where the guitar interplay between him and Bobby Thompson recall the mid-period Velvets, Television, the early Dream Syndicate, Heaven Up Here era Echo and The Bunnymen and The Gun Club. Old school, left of the dial alternative from Washington, DC.

    1. Pretty sure Drive By Truckers and Opeth are from the previous decade. Their hey day was over ten years ago at least.

      There’s plenty more bands cropping up every year doing what they both did/do though. Probably the same goes for the other bands you listed, which I’m not as familiar with. Just gotta read the right blogs to discover them.

  163. I think it boils down to privilege and visibility. Today’s boring indie bands are primed for making cash and making it big by capitalizing on age old themes of rebellious youth. The difference for them is that being “outsiders” is no longer challenging to the status quo, to the banal, mind numbing spectacle of the empire. Even in the decadent 80s and 90s, rebellious youth and outsider artists didn’t have as much access to the luxuries of wealth and fame, so they didn’t pursue them very passionately. When punk bands made it big, they still somewhat rejected the corporate world and caused commotions. The indie bands of today, as weird or artsy as they present themselves to be, seem to have no qualms about eating from the corporate hand or maybe worse, being trust fundies or graduate students having fun with keyboards. Still, I know that there are actually poor and working class youth in my city, LA, who are organizing their own free shows, making zines, distributing free food and actively rejecting that precious fake indie commodity culture that comes down the mainstream shit chute.

  164. I’m probably 10 years older than the writer, or at least formed 10-15 years before grunge. When grunge came out, it sounded like a vaguely commercial/metallic reflection of the punk rock I loved from 1978 till the early 80s. Hadn’t these kids ever heard Television or Flipper?!? That was my first real taste of being a generation past The Kids’ music, and it’s happened several times since.

    I’ve never been this old before, so I don’t have any practice. I can’t always be sure when I should shut up and step aside. I will say that it’s not totally invalid for me to call bullsh*t on Mumford & Sons (a weak reflection of some of their bearded brethren).

    My main beef with music delivery today is how it tends to ghetto-ize music into highly-specific camps. “If you like this, you’ll like this demographically-similar product!” Stop naming genres, for chrissake – I don’t care if something is in the same weird subcategory as something else that I like; it still might suck.

    Keep your ears big, and let accidents happen.

  165. stop writing about music… start listening to it. jesus. the irony of this article being part of the problem is completely lost on you.

    1. Except that the writer specifically mentions the irony, so I’m not sure how it is “lost” on her: “This can be blamed, to some degree, on the rise of the music blog. I realize the irony of writing that on a music blog, but it is the reality all the same.”

      1. The elephant in the room of…irony is the indie tag itself,not the “blog blaming blogs”. We cringe about “indie” bands being marketed and commercialized products…Wrong imho.

        There are no big labels to loathe anymore.You don’t fight the system by fighting Geffen these days…
        Youtube and Google pushes you(vevo) to check out trending music based on hits and popularity.
        Pitchfork and co. have their own agenda ,based ,heavily, on “indie” and “diy ethos” minded artists, that somehow get the “cool” or the “don’t miss out on…(x)…” tag.

        Frankly i don’t know who the enemy is ,anymore…

        1. Is there even an enemy? You can’t have light without darkness. You can’t champion your favourite underdog band unless there’s a Mumford & Sons to claim they’re better than. I wouldn’t want there to be a time without popular light weight MOR/AOR (or “indie”) bands to inspire people to try harder and make better music.

          But also the majority of music consumers have never been music fans, just people who want something pleasant to listen to. I’ve long since failed to see the point in being upset over the popularity of someone like Justin Beiber (or Beach House). Indie blogs aren’t the reason people like crappy, derivative, dispassionate bands. People like them because most people like milquetoast.

          1. I agree with your “we need the crappy side to inspire good music” narrative.But please let’s get the “indie” tag out of the way.There’s nothing indepedent or underground in the process of being discovered by pitchfork and being spoonfed to the hip crowds.

            I’m not at all targeting people that like to listen to pleasant and easy things.They are ,at least ,honest with what they want.

            I’m confused with people that have respectable taste(or at least good reference points) in music but somehow get their “new music fix” by the aforementioned website or the part of the blogosphere that produces internet traffic.
            Arguing with them that ,when you get used to low standards on what makes a great ,original record is bad for the good and innovative material that rarely comes out, is like trying to masturbate with your ear.Their worship for still corners,beach house or the walkmen is not allowed to be challenged.

            Or maybe i’m just a purist geek who can’t get it…

          2. Yeah, it’s definitely too bad that “indie” gets used for everything that isn’t pure teen pop or classic rock. Same as it was too bad “alternative” came to mean mainstream rock. But it’s just a term. And Pitchfork is just the exact same thing as Spin or Rolling Stone used to be. It’s seems absurd now, but RS used to be cutting edge. And P4K does cover a lot of good stuff (the same as the old magazines used to even after they became corporate shills) along with the contrived stylish schlock. Which is just kind of how the music business has always been.

  166. I had to steal this line for our booking page…

    “11. *NEW* If you are a band that puts more time into your haircuts than your songwriting then you will not fit here.”

  167. Here is the real problem is as you got older you forgot about finding music and the rest of the world has too. When was the last time you went to a show where you didn’t know a single band on the bill? Do you chose your music due to what someone else has to say about it? People have gotten lazy not the bands. There is great music out there being played with passion and ferocity every night. What was the last basement show you went to? Is the $5 dollar cover charge so taxing? Waiting for the world to tell you what is good is never going to get you the results you want because they are the results they want.
    When your at the grocery store do you stand around the oranges and tell everyone buying apples they are lame?

  168. I loved this blog post, I agree with what it’s saying, and yes, I’m old. I disagree that I’ve stopped connecting with bands because I’m old. I’ve loved MUSIC, period, my whole life. I love it as a human being. If anything getting old has freed me up to focus on what I actually like, because I no longer give a shit what other people think is “cool”. I went to a ton of small shows in the last decade in Seattle. Often I would stand there, arms folded across my chest (in a room full of people assuming the same stance). I would be bored, the band would look bored, and I would wonder why I was spending money and time on the show. I agree that the Pitchfork crowd and its ilk seem to lionize this type of cutesy, boring, non-challenging band. But there ARE balls-y new bands out there, and when I find these bands, I connect, even if the kids in the band are young enough to be, well, my kids. (Actually THAT’S where I feel my age, loving a band so much and realizing how very young the band members are. It makes me feel like a dirty old woman. But when the house lights go out and the band starts to play, nobody cares how old I am, and I can enjoy the music.)

  169. I agree with a lot of this post, and I hate a lot of the bands on that list you mentioned, but Beach House is fantastic. Also, if you’re going to bag on a list someone else offered, it’s incumbent on you to offer your own alternative(s).

    1. Hear, hear! Not to Beach House so much but to the alternative list. At least to give the post some context and to see if someone like Amanda Palmer is on it (people can let their judgements fall where they may there).

  170. Very good reading, enough of this escapist bullshit ‘indie’ already.

    So many wankers in indie it’s becoming surreal.

  171. There are some valid points in this article, but the main problem is it tries to say that the ‘skinny jean, fedora clad’ Mumford & Son-like indie bands today’s mediocre blogs write about are the equivalent to L7 and Nirvana. They aren’t. In the 90s, Nirvana was THE ONE band that became mainstream (alongside A LOT of shitty bands) L7 and Sonic Youth had one or two big hits each, and all their Touch & Go and Amphetamine Reptile brethren languished in obscurity.

    If you are reading top ten lists that include mediocre, shitty bands you should do what music fans did in the 90s and dig DEEPER because in the 90s, to find out about great bands, you had to make a real effort. The equivalent to reading uninspired blogs back then was listening to uninspired college rock, and if you followed their crappy ‘Best Of’ advice you’d wind up with a Ned’s Atomic Dustbin album, a crappy ‘socially conscious’ rap album, and a 10,000 Maniacs LP. Those were the ‘skinny jean, fedora clad’ wusses of that era and lazy, self-appointed ‘music critics’ complained about them just as much back then.

    1. Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa WHOA! Ned’s Atomic Dustbin’s “God Fodder” is probably the best album of the ’90s (the rest of their discog, yeah, terrible).

      Other than that, I agree with you on every point. (I just would have substituted Buffalo Tom or Soul Asylum in as the “best of” darling that was actually quite terrible). I know for a fact it took a LOT of digging (and being lead astray by CMJ) to find the gold.

  172. Fuck yea! Also I do believe technology(protools sanitation) plays a part in the boring nature of this newest batch of so called Indie Rock along with a bizarre corporately driven politically correctness that makes it almost illegal to offend anyone. As far as this blog thing ; I once had a girlfriend of mine implore all of her friends to write comments about how great her records was on her website playing as if they were critics, she tried to get me to do it, I would not of course, well she is no longer my GF.

  173. This comment is for the author of the story, I didn’t bother reading the comments since I assumed it would turn into a flamewar/shameless self promotion thread.
    This was brilliant, and more writers need to “Grow a Pair” as you put it and start going against the grain.
    I play music in a band and I don’t really care about what the music industry even means. Ever.
    I won’t drop names here but I trust that with your musical taste scrutiny, you will hear us someday.
    For starters though, the music industry needs less lap-tops, less singers, and more people that know how to play an instrument.

    1. Ryan shamelessly and smugly self-promotes, but thiinks he’s somehow being more sufferable by not mentioning said band by name, but content in his self-delusion that we’ll all hear of it some day. Isn’t that cute,

      1. You’re still here? Jesus. Anyway, I’m not sure how much Ryan is “self-promoting” if he provides no reference to what his project is. Wait, actually, I AM sure. He’s not. At all. There is no promotion if you provide absolutely no way for people to access what you’re supposedly promoting. Your comment makes no sense.

        1. Perhaps not self-promoting (or not doing it very effectively), but definitely self-satisfied. We probably will hear about his band. More than having “balls” or having any taste or talent at all, just having that kind of irrational surety that you’re so awesome is what it takes to “make it” in the industry he doesn’t even care about.

        2. Are you still here? Satan. Anyway, he says he’s not here to listen to what anybody else has to say, apparently he has all the answers, but someday we’ll all be listening to him. It’s that kind of arrogance that DIY did away with, although no bad idea will never goes away, it will always come back around every few years. He’s actually not even doing a good job of upholding traditional values… people who have met David Bowie say that he doesn’t make you feel like he’s the most important, fascinating person in the world – he makes you feel like YOU are the most important, fascinating person in the world. This charisma can be used for evil, too, they say the same thing about Bill Clinton. At any rate, I’m sure that people have succeeded despite having this kind of attitude – people like Ted Nugent, maybe.

          And of course, pretty much any form of bad behavior will have it’s acolytes and copycats. My friends in The Lunkheads, for example, were totally down with Ryan on this.


  174. Oh whaaa. Guess what? Nirvana did the same crap you accuse all the current hipsters of doing, for a different generation. They killed underground music for a whole generation by filling it with pop-punk/metal disguised as something interesting because it was dressed differently and had a different producer. People like what they grow up with. That’s it. That’s as complicated as it gets. It isn’t any more complicated than that. Just ask the fat hippie still wondering why nothing sounds like Jefferson Airplane anymore.

    1. I admire you for your iconoclasm, and I also happen to agree with you. People credit Nirvana for killing hair metal, probably true – but they also killed off technical guitar playing, some of which I enjoyed, and the new wave, much of which I enjoyed. New wave music really was something new – mixed-gender bands, gay-friendly, new sounds… it was an exciting period. Then a bunch of long-haired guy bands came along, smashing their guitars rolling things back 20 years … and people saw that as something new and a step forward? It seems pretty reactionary, so the discussion of everything in terms of ‘balls’ here is unsurprising. Novaselic said their goal was to combine Black Flag and Black Sabbath – a dubious goal and achievement at best. Throw in some Black Oak Arkansas, and I’d agree with him, and said they achieved what they set out to do. It was hyped to death by the critics – they keep piling absurd honors on top of them – “best song of the last quarter century,” yadda yadda yadda. Very recently, when Rolling Stone’s own readers selected Nirvana as one of the 10 worst bands of the 90s, they insulted their readers, rather than re-evaluate. Wow, how underground can one band get?

  175. One really beneficial effect of this blog posting and all the attendant comments… it’s caused me to think long and hard about just what it is about Kurt Cobain that gets on my balls, and I think my somewhat inchoate thoughts on the subject have crystallized.

    I remember the first time I heard Nirvana. I was struck by how powerful the music was, an invitation to join the singer in nihilistic descent into the darkness. Unlike many people who embraced that message, I felt a visceral rejection of it.

    We’d been living through the barbarous and cruel Reagan regime, we were in the grip of the AIDS epidemic. It’s easy to understand the impulse to give up, but it was not an acceptable choice. Then Cobain came along, full of inarticulate rage, with no message of resistance, only surrender. He could not be bothered to develop a coherent message – his work didn’t really develop, he just sang whatever words he happened to have on hand when he went into the studio. Cobain laid out the blueprint for his demise in his earliest recordings.

    It’s often been remarked on how adept the mainstream is at identifying developing subcultures, coming in and mining them for their best assets, and parting out the rest. Michael Azerrad does a very good job in explaining how this happened in the case of Nirvana. It’s an idea that goes down easy, as it demonstrates the rapacious nature of capitalism, and the dominant culture. What remains rarely commented on is Cobain’s embrace of this odious form of nihilism, as it undermines the myth of Cobain’s Christ-like heroism. I’ll let Kurt speak to us from beyond the grave: “I made about five million dollars last year. and I’m not giving a red cent to that elitist little fuck Calvin Johnson. NO WAY! I’ve collaborated with one of my idols William S. Burroughs and I couldn’t feel cooler. I moved away to LA for a year and came back to find that three of my best friends have become full blown heroine [sic] addicts. I’ve learned to hate Riot Girrl [sic], a movement in which I was a witness to its very initial inception because I fucked the girl who put out the first Grrl Style fanzine and now she is exploiting the fact that she fucked me. Not in a huge way, but enough to feel exploited. But that’s OK because I chose to let corporate white men exploit me a few years ago and I love it. It feels good. And I’m not gonna donate a single fucking dollar to the fucking needy indie fascist regime. They can starve. Let them eat vinyl. Every crumb for himself. I’ll be able to sell my untalented, very un-genious [sic] ass for years based on my cult status.”

    Kitty denounces passivity in today’s youth. I don’t care if it’s loud passivity or quiet passivity, rude or polite passivity, the result is the same – capitulation to existing power structures. Cobain is the poster child for this ball-less behavior.

    In conclusion, I’d like to express my appreciation that balls are finally getting their due:

    1. Matt Love, you should probably start your own blog because you have basically turned Kitty’s blog post into your own blog at this point.

      1. I don’t see howthat can be – her blog is still here in its original form, I’ve just added commentary – made it more Talmudic, as it were. At any rate, I don’t want to contribute to the problem of music blog proliferation.

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  177. Previously radio shoved mediocre music down our throats, then it was MTV and now it’s music blogs. Nothing has changed, you still have to dig deep to find the gems.

  178. Ironically, the bands mentioned by the writer of the article were discovered at a record store when a store employee told me to check them out.

    1. Ironically you are talking, with respect, out of your bumhole which you seem to do an awful lot over at the SH-ite forum.
      It’s retarded!

  179. It’s a generational difference, that is the way it will always be. I say let each generation do what it will, this age of music blogs and Pop-Indie will pass, just like every other before it has. All we can do is try and spread the music we love!

  180. Here’s the Billboard Top Ten in 1991, the “year grunge broke.”
    01. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You » Bryan Adams
    02. I Wanna Sex You Up » Color Me Badd
    03. Gonna Make You Sweat » C+C Music Factory
    04. Rush Rush » Paula Abdul
    05. One More Try » Timmy T
    06. Unbelievable » EMF
    07. More Than Words » Extreme
    08. I Like The Way (The Kissing Game) » Hi-Five
    09. The First Time » Surface
    10. Baby, Baby » Amy Grant

    Mainstream music will always be sanitized for the masses, and that’s fine. It’s not that music blogs were the ones that perpetuated this Garden State-phase of indie to the masses—that type of indie rock just simply became the mainstream archetype.

    When grunge broke, the mainstream got exposure to an entire subculture of amazing music—and that was really just a blip. The Nirvanas brought attention to established indie bands (Rocket from the Crypt, for example), but also created a vacuum for garbage like Candlebox. A silver lining to the 90s alternative explosion was that the underground got to be repopulated with a whole new generation of bands, so there was a creative flourish.

    Media will always exist to expose new bands, and bandwagons will always fall to mob rule. That’s the nature of capitalism. But, who cares what the trends are when there’s always amazing stuff under the radar. And, with the advent of the Internet, all that stuff is highly visible. There’s tons of new bands that have “balls” and are fueled by anger and dissent. Like discovering bands through talking to record store clerks or combing the reviews in the back of MRR, it just takes a little more effort.

    What I’m saying is that you’re just reading the wrong blogs.

  181. While I completely agree that this top 10 list is laughably bad, that is the inherent beauty of the music blog. Just based on this list I can tell that the writer and I don’t agree on what is good, let alone “best of” material and as such I can take their thoughts with a grain of salt. It doesn’t make their opinion any less valid, it just so happens to be one I don’t agree with. Music blogs are still a great way to discuss music and possibly introduce it to others. This discussion here is proof enough of that.

    My top 10 albums of 2012:

    1) Title Fight – Floral Green
    2) Dikembe – Broad Shoulders
    3) Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror
    4) Japandroids – Celebration Rock
    5) The Menzingers – On the Impossible Past
    6) Glocca Morra – Just Married
    7) Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE
    8) Best Coast – The Only Place
    9) NOFX – Self/Entitled
    10) Silverstein – Short Songs

    Feel free to eviscerate. I am old enough to accept that my opinion does not reflect popular culture.

  182. Completely agree with the Nirvana example, and still. The music industry came a long way since those time for better or for worse. It will definitely change, but probably to other unknown directions.

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