Hardcore for Nerds

"Why sneer at the intellectuals?"*
punk music, left politics, and cultural history - previously found here.
contact: gabbaweeks[at]gmail.com (sorry, no promos/submissions, thanks) or ask
Dublin/Galway, Ireland. 27, history graduate & human rights student
HFN | Best New Punk | HFN 2012 2011 2010 2009 | HRO 2k9 | Hoover Genealogy Project | @HC4N
*from the title of a review of Arthur Koestler's Arrival and Departure by Michael Foot, Evening Standard, Nov. 26, 1943.
Mar 03
Permalink
Vinyl Sunday: Pure Rockism Edition
The figure in the photograph on the left is Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys playing the Temple Bar Music Centre - now the Button Factory - in Dublin in September 2006. Apparently they have a reputation for terrible misogynist rockist music now (when they make music that’s, y’know, popular) but I was transfixed when I first heard Thickfreakness, and their covers of Junior Kimbrough’s ‘psychedelic blues’ on the Chulahoma EP are still fantastic. I haven’t listened to any of their new stuff for a few years now, though - once they made the sonic progression from raw, punk-ish blues to 70s-style blues-rock I lost interest. The one time I saw them live (well before they started playing shows in the O2) was one of the first live gigs I’d been to, outside of school battle-of-the-bands. It was the same show as in the photograph, taken by one of the owners of the Road Records shop in Dublin, and which I bought there when they were closing down a few years ago. Last week I discovered at the back of a shelf an unfinished loyalty stamp card from Road, which I’m currently using as a bookmark for Perfecting Sound Forever.
The record on the turntable is Jeff Buckley’s Grace, “produced, engineered and mixed by Andy Wallace” and released on Columbia Records. Both of the latter two get a lot of mentions in Milner’s book: the first as the source of “pure ambience”, high-fidelity recordings in the 50s and 60s; the second as one of three producers/engineers (the others being Tony Bongiovi and Steve Albini) he uses to guide the reader through the chapter on ‘Presence’ in audio of the 70s, 80s and 90s. There’s a certain cross-over with Retromania, although mostly in the ‘every generation looks to the past’ sense:

"It makes sense that Wallace’s less reverb-happy approach would captivate Gen Xers. Many of their earliest childhood musical memories were probably of dry-sounding seventies records, and the sound was a comfortable alternative to the overblown sound of the eighties, when Gen Xers were growing up and life was getting complicated."

As a Gen Y-er or a Millenial, or whatever, I didn’t really absorb or engage with music at all until my teenage years, so the term ‘child of the 90s’ doesn’t have a lot of resonance for me in that respect. Secondary (i.e. high, between about 12-18 years of age) school for me was 2000-06, and it was in those years that I discovered music part-rooted in the preceding decade and part-rooted in the present. I heard of Green Day by reputation, and 2000’s Warning was the first album I bought (on CD). Followed I think by the Offspring’s 1992 Ignition. I don’t think I was particularly aware of that being much of a time gap (in perspective, it’s like buying a 2006 record today!) since the whole Californian punk movement, that broke into the mainstream in the 90s, was at that time my main entry point into music. The other thing I do recall and that still seems odd today, however, was the immediacy and ‘presence’ (in a sonic and social sense) of another of Wallace’s productions - Nirvana’s Nevermind. Even in the early 00s, in the Dublin suburbs, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and yellow-on-black Nirvana hoodies were still the shorthand for teenage rebellion. 
I don’t listen to Nirvana or Nevermind much any more - not quite in the “I don’t need to listen to it because I can play it any time in my head” sense, as I don’t have a great aural memory, but similar enough. While it’s still great music, it exists mostly as a memory of ‘great music’ before I really knew what or why that was. Of course, I’m still grappling with that, and I just started with understanding the ‘how’ part. I remember it came as a shock to me to discover that Nevermind's guitar sounds were multi-layered: it had never occurred to me that the defining essence of rock's potency was a studio production. On the other hand, when I first experienced live music it took me a while to adjust to and actually enjoy it: having been used to the sound of mostly 90s albums reproduced cleanly on CD players, with neither the over- or under-production of the 80s to challenge my expectations, it was disorienting not to have a vocal or guitar line to clearly pick out in the mass of live distortion. (Conversely, when I bought some decent filter earplugs to protect my hearing a while ago, I was disappointed to hear live bands sound like a CD track; I dropped them while dancing around at a Dan Deacon gig and haven’t replaced them yet.)
An important if obvious question Milner points to in respect of ‘hi-fi’ is fidelity to what? With Edison, he argues it was a Platonic ideal of music to be recorded acoustically, without any electrical mediation. Common sense and technology prevailed to an extent, but still an idea persisted that what ought to be recorded was the music itself, free from its acoustic surroundings. The antithesis of this was the notion of ‘presence’, which also served later as an escape from the excesses of technological production. The 90s, in general, were a sort of middle ground that isn’t wholly satisfying. Listening to my CD of Nevermind this morning, I wondered did the drums have to sound like that? Yet I’m a little mystified by the attitude of Albini at least as presented in the book - what use is replicating the studio experience as-is, when I’ve never heard a band play live in a studio, but instead only in a noise-saturated, busy pub venue? As I write that I can see the solipsism in it: one can presume that the artists themselves would prefer you to hear it as they intended, in the studio (although, at least in punk, a major challenge is usually considered to be ‘capturing’ the live sound/energy). I suppose, ultimately, the only thing to be faithful to is the artists’ vision, however well that matches the tastes of the time (maybe I should wait until I reach the end of the book to see if it offers a different answer, but given the title especially, I’d be surprised if it did.)
***
The other thing the book and its accessible-to-the-layman discussion of sound recording and production is making me think about is the experience of listening to vinyl. Generally I’ve tried to be agnostic about the ‘does it sound better’ issue, mostly because I’ve been literally clueless about sound quality and the more technical aspects of music. Originally I started because the only way to own certain punk records was on vinyl, and because the physical objects and their artwork were appealing. Add to the latter the kinaesthetic experience of actually playing records, and the social aspect of being able to financially support artists other than by buying digitally redundant CDs. I’ve never been able to honestly rank the ‘sound’ experience itself above a placebo, augmented by the other tactile and visual sense-pleasures. Also my speaker system is the same as I use for playing through my netbook, Altec Lansing computer speakers that are powerful and well-defined enough for my untrained ear, while my turntable is a basic USB model that also includes a pre-amp - meaning that any sonic comparisons are hampered by having to switch volume levels every time I change between digital and analogue input.
I feel like I’ve gradually been getting a better handle on sound of late, however, in part I think from broadening my taste in music (and thus, by extension, my record collection). In the end, I never got round to buying too many shouty modern screamo bands on vinyl; it was much easier to pick up the latest indie album here in Dublin. One criticism of the recent explosion in vinyl sales, from an audio perspective, that has stuck with me is the one that points out the contradiction inherent in people eagerly seeking the analogue reproduction of digitally recorded and produced music. Vinyl may be better, this idea seems to argue, for old music (or bands so retro that they record entirely through analogue), but these days digital should lead to digital. And for a certain idea of fidelity, that probably makes sense.
However, I think I’m beginning to realise that for production in its wider aspect, the argument and the criticism is a little more complex. For me, it’s not about vinyl being ‘better’ (so far - I don’t know enough to make or evaluate such a claim, certainly not in a technical sense) but being aware of its difference. Which makes it odd that the quintessentially digital album of last year, Grimes’ Visions, is also one I really enjoy on record: it just jumps out at me. Or rather, it sounds like it inhabits its own space, and sucks you in. Why (or if) that is any different from the digital version (which I also enjoy, although seemingly in a different way), I don’t know exactly, but I’m developing a theory. Grace was an experiment to see if I could distinguish any particular quality about the LP, which was kinda irresistible to buy considering how beautiful the album sounds anyway (I remember first hearing it on my portable CD player on a bus, right after purchasing it: very 00s/90s).
By the time I got to the second side, I still had the vague feeling that the vinyl was a more pleasant listening experience; closer comparison with a digital version resulted in a conviction that the notes on ‘Hallejulah’ sounded more extended and more detailed, but the vinyl still seemed to sound better, somehow. But switching back between them I noticed an urge to further adjust the volume on the digital track - louder or quieter than what had seemed an equivalent volume to the vinyl, as the music itself shifted in volume. I’ve read about vinyl having a smaller dynamic range (between quieter and louder sounds) which gives at least part of its distinctive ‘feel’; digital, being more versatile, has a more expansive sound in technical terms but for that same reason can feel overbearing and over-detailed. I think that could explain why I prefer one experience over the other - and it says something interesting about how I value fidelity. 
Could it be that the physical vibrations of a needle in a groove transmit a range of sounds which, while inferior in (actual, audible) quality than what can be transmitted digitally, result in a more aesthetically pleasing experience for the listener? Likewise, the more subtle criticism of some modern vinyl releases is not that they are plainly digital, but the mastering process used is not sufficiently sensitive to the changed medium to make the end product worthwhile as an experience in itself. I keep thinking of the metaphor of a painting and a photograph - the latter is undeniably more accurate and realistic (at least in a physical sense), often powerfully so, but the former retains an affective and artistic potential despite its physical limitations. Although I suspect the analogy is faulty, since a vinyl record is probably closer in technological terms to a film photograph: and thus we enter into another artistic debate. Fidelity, whether to artistic vision or to audience expectations, is an endlessly malleable concept.

Vinyl Sunday: Pure Rockism Edition

The figure in the photograph on the left is Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys playing the Temple Bar Music Centre - now the Button Factory - in Dublin in September 2006. Apparently they have a reputation for terrible misogynist rockist music now (when they make music that’s, y’know, popular) but I was transfixed when I first heard Thickfreakness, and their covers of Junior Kimbrough’s ‘psychedelic blues’ on the Chulahoma EP are still fantastic. I haven’t listened to any of their new stuff for a few years now, though - once they made the sonic progression from raw, punk-ish blues to 70s-style blues-rock I lost interest. The one time I saw them live (well before they started playing shows in the O2) was one of the first live gigs I’d been to, outside of school battle-of-the-bands. It was the same show as in the photograph, taken by one of the owners of the Road Records shop in Dublin, and which I bought there when they were closing down a few years ago. Last week I discovered at the back of a shelf an unfinished loyalty stamp card from Road, which I’m currently using as a bookmark for Perfecting Sound Forever.

The record on the turntable is Jeff Buckley’s Grace, “produced, engineered and mixed by Andy Wallace” and released on Columbia Records. Both of the latter two get a lot of mentions in Milner’s book: the first as the source of “pure ambience”, high-fidelity recordings in the 50s and 60s; the second as one of three producers/engineers (the others being Tony Bongiovi and Steve Albini) he uses to guide the reader through the chapter on ‘Presence’ in audio of the 70s, 80s and 90s. There’s a certain cross-over with Retromania, although mostly in the ‘every generation looks to the past’ sense:

"It makes sense that Wallace’s less reverb-happy approach would captivate Gen Xers. Many of their earliest childhood musical memories were probably of dry-sounding seventies records, and the sound was a comfortable alternative to the overblown sound of the eighties, when Gen Xers were growing up and life was getting complicated."

As a Gen Y-er or a Millenial, or whatever, I didn’t really absorb or engage with music at all until my teenage years, so the term ‘child of the 90s’ doesn’t have a lot of resonance for me in that respect. Secondary (i.e. high, between about 12-18 years of age) school for me was 2000-06, and it was in those years that I discovered music part-rooted in the preceding decade and part-rooted in the present. I heard of Green Day by reputation, and 2000’s Warning was the first album I bought (on CD). Followed I think by the Offspring’s 1992 Ignition. I don’t think I was particularly aware of that being much of a time gap (in perspective, it’s like buying a 2006 record today!) since the whole Californian punk movement, that broke into the mainstream in the 90s, was at that time my main entry point into music. The other thing I do recall and that still seems odd today, however, was the immediacy and ‘presence’ (in a sonic and social sense) of another of Wallace’s productions - Nirvana’s Nevermind. Even in the early 00s, in the Dublin suburbs, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and yellow-on-black Nirvana hoodies were still the shorthand for teenage rebellion. 

I don’t listen to Nirvana or Nevermind much any more - not quite in the “I don’t need to listen to it because I can play it any time in my head” sense, as I don’t have a great aural memory, but similar enough. While it’s still great music, it exists mostly as a memory of ‘great music’ before I really knew what or why that was. Of course, I’m still grappling with that, and I just started with understanding the ‘how’ part. I remember it came as a shock to me to discover that Nevermind's guitar sounds were multi-layered: it had never occurred to me that the defining essence of rock's potency was a studio production. On the other hand, when I first experienced live music it took me a while to adjust to and actually enjoy it: having been used to the sound of mostly 90s albums reproduced cleanly on CD players, with neither the over- or under-production of the 80s to challenge my expectations, it was disorienting not to have a vocal or guitar line to clearly pick out in the mass of live distortion. (Conversely, when I bought some decent filter earplugs to protect my hearing a while ago, I was disappointed to hear live bands sound like a CD track; I dropped them while dancing around at a Dan Deacon gig and haven’t replaced them yet.)

An important if obvious question Milner points to in respect of ‘hi-fi’ is fidelity to what? With Edison, he argues it was a Platonic ideal of music to be recorded acoustically, without any electrical mediation. Common sense and technology prevailed to an extent, but still an idea persisted that what ought to be recorded was the music itself, free from its acoustic surroundings. The antithesis of this was the notion of ‘presence’, which also served later as an escape from the excesses of technological production. The 90s, in general, were a sort of middle ground that isn’t wholly satisfying. Listening to my CD of Nevermind this morning, I wondered did the drums have to sound like that? Yet I’m a little mystified by the attitude of Albini at least as presented in the book - what use is replicating the studio experience as-is, when I’ve never heard a band play live in a studio, but instead only in a noise-saturated, busy pub venue? As I write that I can see the solipsism in it: one can presume that the artists themselves would prefer you to hear it as they intended, in the studio (although, at least in punk, a major challenge is usually considered to be ‘capturing’ the live sound/energy). I suppose, ultimately, the only thing to be faithful to is the artists’ vision, however well that matches the tastes of the time (maybe I should wait until I reach the end of the book to see if it offers a different answer, but given the title especially, I’d be surprised if it did.)

***

The other thing the book and its accessible-to-the-layman discussion of sound recording and production is making me think about is the experience of listening to vinyl. Generally I’ve tried to be agnostic about the ‘does it sound better’ issue, mostly because I’ve been literally clueless about sound quality and the more technical aspects of music. Originally I started because the only way to own certain punk records was on vinyl, and because the physical objects and their artwork were appealing. Add to the latter the kinaesthetic experience of actually playing records, and the social aspect of being able to financially support artists other than by buying digitally redundant CDs. I’ve never been able to honestly rank the ‘sound’ experience itself above a placebo, augmented by the other tactile and visual sense-pleasures. Also my speaker system is the same as I use for playing through my netbook, Altec Lansing computer speakers that are powerful and well-defined enough for my untrained ear, while my turntable is a basic USB model that also includes a pre-amp - meaning that any sonic comparisons are hampered by having to switch volume levels every time I change between digital and analogue input.

I feel like I’ve gradually been getting a better handle on sound of late, however, in part I think from broadening my taste in music (and thus, by extension, my record collection). In the end, I never got round to buying too many shouty modern screamo bands on vinyl; it was much easier to pick up the latest indie album here in Dublin. One criticism of the recent explosion in vinyl sales, from an audio perspective, that has stuck with me is the one that points out the contradiction inherent in people eagerly seeking the analogue reproduction of digitally recorded and produced music. Vinyl may be better, this idea seems to argue, for old music (or bands so retro that they record entirely through analogue), but these days digital should lead to digital. And for a certain idea of fidelity, that probably makes sense.

However, I think I’m beginning to realise that for production in its wider aspect, the argument and the criticism is a little more complex. For me, it’s not about vinyl being ‘better’ (so far - I don’t know enough to make or evaluate such a claim, certainly not in a technical sense) but being aware of its difference. Which makes it odd that the quintessentially digital album of last year, Grimes’ Visions, is also one I really enjoy on record: it just jumps out at me. Or rather, it sounds like it inhabits its own space, and sucks you in. Why (or if) that is any different from the digital version (which I also enjoy, although seemingly in a different way), I don’t know exactly, but I’m developing a theory. Grace was an experiment to see if I could distinguish any particular quality about the LP, which was kinda irresistible to buy considering how beautiful the album sounds anyway (I remember first hearing it on my portable CD player on a bus, right after purchasing it: very 00s/90s).

By the time I got to the second side, I still had the vague feeling that the vinyl was a more pleasant listening experience; closer comparison with a digital version resulted in a conviction that the notes on ‘Hallejulah’ sounded more extended and more detailed, but the vinyl still seemed to sound better, somehow. But switching back between them I noticed an urge to further adjust the volume on the digital track - louder or quieter than what had seemed an equivalent volume to the vinyl, as the music itself shifted in volume. I’ve read about vinyl having a smaller dynamic range (between quieter and louder sounds) which gives at least part of its distinctive ‘feel’; digital, being more versatile, has a more expansive sound in technical terms but for that same reason can feel overbearing and over-detailed. I think that could explain why I prefer one experience over the other - and it says something interesting about how I value fidelity. 

Could it be that the physical vibrations of a needle in a groove transmit a range of sounds which, while inferior in (actual, audible) quality than what can be transmitted digitally, result in a more aesthetically pleasing experience for the listener? Likewise, the more subtle criticism of some modern vinyl releases is not that they are plainly digital, but the mastering process used is not sufficiently sensitive to the changed medium to make the end product worthwhile as an experience in itself. I keep thinking of the metaphor of a painting and a photograph - the latter is undeniably more accurate and realistic (at least in a physical sense), often powerfully so, but the former retains an affective and artistic potential despite its physical limitations. Although I suspect the analogy is faulty, since a vinyl record is probably closer in technological terms to a film photograph: and thus we enter into another artistic debate. Fidelity, whether to artistic vision or to audience expectations, is an endlessly malleable concept.

vinyl Jeff Buckley nirvana 90s Perfecting Sound Forever
Comments (View) | 5 notes
Aug 07
Permalink

The Vaselines - ‘Lithium’ from SPIN: Newermind - A Tribute Album

twee bitch?

279 plays
nirvana 90s
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Apr 27
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romeplows:

D-7 by Nirvana, a cover of a song by The Wipers, recorded for a Peel Session in 1990 and released on 1992’s Australian tour-only EP, Hormoaning, recently reissued in a limited edition batch of 6000 for Record Store Day.

(Source: theussmillicentkent, via peels-teenage-kicks-deactivated)

623 plays
nirvana 90s
Comments (View) | 38 notes
Sep 17
Permalink

here we are now, entertain us

three studies in the sociopolitical nature of performance art: 

"so as we were standing there i told elizabeth that this whole thing felt really In Bloom, which is the title of the Nirvana song where Kurt sings, “he’s the one who likes all our pretty songs, and he likes to sing along, and he likes to shoot his gun, but he don’t know what it means” and we wondered about what the politics of the people there were because a lot of them looked like they may have donated to the republican national committee, not in a david duke way but in a horatio alger or ayn rand way but still, a donation is a donation is a donation, as they watched Rostam play guitar with a rainbow guitar strap and bopped along to Diplomat’s Son which is a gay romance story"

Pitchfork Reviews Reviews - ‘feeling in bloom at the vampire weekend concert’

"I had no real idea what sort of people would turn up at the show – for which the Grand Canal Theatre was sold out – especially when it emerged that the support act was 1970s folkie Roy Harper, whose career Newsom has revived. But I was taken aback at how alike – at least physically – most of the audience seemed to be.

They were nearly all thin, for one thing. The male attenders also had a strong tendency to have beards. Not big bushy beards like 1970s folkies, or members of the Taliban. No, the beards were thin too. And the most uniform thing about the audience was that – I swear – they were all 27 years old. So, at least when my daughter and I were averaged out, we were about the right age.

I have since learned that many of those present may have been “hipsters”, an exclusive, self-policing subculture of sophisticated urbanites who, according to The Hipster Handbook (2003), “possess tastes, social attitudes, and opinions deemed cool by the cool”. Mind you, the same handbook cautions that hipsters no longer use the word “cool”, preferring “deck” as an adjective of approval. But that was back in 2003, and the codes will all have been changed again since then to prevent the likes of me getting in, no matter how many Joanna Newsom albums we have.

I suspect my daughter, on the other hand, is a future hipster – or whatever the species has morphed into by then. She was effortlessly cool throughout most of the concert, dropping her guard only to make me buy her ice-cream and sweets, and then to fall asleep for half an hour until the Monkey and Bear song woke her up. In her defence, it was way past bedtime.”

An Irishman’s Diary - The Irish Times - Fri, Sep 17, 2007 (Frank McNally on seeing Joanna Newsom - normally I cringe at any mention of hipsters in a newspaper like the Irish Times, but Frank McNally is a funny guy, basically the heir of the Flann O’Brien/Myles Na gCopaleen tradition of humour in that paper.)

"The premiere of “A State of Chassis,” described in the programme as “a political-polemical-satirical revue by John D. Stewart, Tomas MacAnna and Eugence Watters,” at Dublin’s Peacock Theatre, was interrupted for about five minutes last night by Mr. Eamonn McCann, chairman of the Derry Labour Party.

[…]

A woman in the audience screamed: “The only solution is non-violence,” and McCann replied: “Nono (sic)-violence my arse-tell that to the imperialists !”

"Mr. MacAnna: “The show will go on.” Mr. McCann: “Anyone who thinks that the events in Northern Ireland as a matter for laughter is a hypocrite."

Mr. MacAnna (to the audience): “All we can say is to echo the words of Byron: If we laugh at any mortal thing, it is that we may not weep.”

Mr. McCann then left the theatre with some of his friends.

In the lobby during the interval, before the protest took place, Mr. McCann complained that the players were “jumping around for the delectation of the people of Dublin who can afford 17s. 6d. for a seat”.

The Irish Times Archive, September 17th, 1970  (“A revue in the Peacock Theatre in 1970 about events in the North found itself overtaken by some of the objects of its satire.”)

irish indie history vampire weekend politics nirvana
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Jun 28
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Nirvana - ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ from Nevermind (1991)

There’s not one instance of this song in its original form on my dashboard - only covers, covers, and more covers (okay, there is one 'home demo'). But sometimes you have to go to the thing-in-itself, tathagata, and hear it one more time. Because of history, because of now, because of what we wanted to be: irony-free (not). Here we are now, entertain us. 

156 plays
90s I was four at the time NO PAST nirvana punk
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Permalink
douglasmartini:

Due to my impending review of the record (which I finished writing last night and should run sometime this week), I’ve been listening to King of the Beach a lot over the past few days. This New York Observer article is probably one of the most even-handed pieces I’ve read about Wavves yet, adding to the hype of the forthcoming record, comparing Nathan Williams to J-Kwon (everybody in the club gettin’ tipsy, indeed), and very compellingly focusing on subjects like the whole “beach-punk” trend and the notion of anti-intellectualism in indie-rock.
My review of King of the Beach should run sometime within the next week, to coincide with Thursday’s digital release of the record. My editor thinks it’s the best review I’ve written yet, and I think I agree with him.

That’s a really good article, although I think it’s even-handed only in the sense that the first half isn’t as brilliantly eviscerative of the Wavves image as the second is. The author of the piece and this one is also [blog secret!] pitchforkreviewsreviews' friend and literary foil, and appeared today at the end of this post:

"the other day Leon was telling me about seeing Wavves’ live because he knows how much i love the new record, and their contempt for their fans and themselves, about how they dropped out of college and put that forward as a competitive claim to authenticity, and i thought about their smugness and knowingness and referentialism, and then i thought about bob marley and how he stood for the opposite of those things. there’s a time and a place for everything, including bratty solipsism and confrontational self-satisfaction, but for me, right as i’m standing on this platform waiting for my transfer, it’s just like too hot for that. download Legend and light up the darkness you know?" 

This is my take-piece from the article, (it even touches on the subject of dancing!):

"What’s up John Norris, how you doing?" said Mr. Hayes from behind the drum kit as the band tuned up, having apparently spotted the former MTV News personality. The lummox’s shtick was contempt for the journalists and hipsters who love Wavves and he yelled out jokes at their expense throughout the set that were reminiscent of nothing so much as Diesel’s despicable and depressing "Be Stupid" ad campaign. "Hey, if anybody’s writing anything out there, I can’t read," he said at one point, drawing howls. "Pretty good think piece, right? I made it up." Earlier in the set, before the song "So Bored," he took another shot at all the pencil necks in the crowd, first telling Mr. Williams sarcastically that he liked him better when he was a "naive college grad," and then interrupting himself to say, "Just kidding. He didn’t graduate from college. Me neither. We all quitted. ‘Cause we dumb!" Before the encore, he looked out at the audience and said, "I wish I was skinny and cool."
Everyone cheered for this stuff, including a lot of skinny, cool people who work in the media. It reminded me of sitting in the press section at the Republican National Convention in 2008 listening to Sarah Palin give that speech where she blasted “all those reporters and commentators” and promised she wasn’t coming to Washington to “seek their good opinion.” All the journalists around me at the Xcel Center in St. Paul were just typing it all down and writing notes to themselves, not betraying any awareness that they were the ones being targeted. On Thursday night, at least two critics—Ryan Dombal from Pitchfork and Jon Caramanica from The New York Times, who would praise the show in the next day’s paper—avoided the mosh pit and the crowd surfers by standing in the back.”

It’s difficult to criticise something so self-evidently sarcastic (that’s the protection it offers the user), but I’ll have a go anyway: people don’t quit college solely or even mostly because they’re ‘dumb’ - after all, they have to meet some sort of entrance requirement on some measure of being ‘smart’, right? Maybe it’s a contributory factor, to the extent that they are unable to keep up with the work (which, it is often noted by lecturers here in Ireland at least, is of a different order and complexity than secondary level). Really what the idea reinforces - even if he’s trying to subvert it - is that college is inextricably, and exclusively, linked with ‘smart’ (when, in fact, all college does is make you more cultured, sophisticated and capable of critical thought…!)
Anyway, that’s the ‘Palin-esque’ reading of their image, and ultimately the article remains, to its credit, agnostic on the the subject (“Whether the anti-intellectual rhetoric that Wavves employed onstage on Thursday was an affectation calculated to project an image of recession-era no-collar punk rock is unclear”). I can’t help finding this quote both snide and funny, or snobbish and accurate: “I feel like if someone intelligent was doing it, it would be a satire.” Or this comparison:

A 21-year-old named Gio Betteo who plays in the San Francisco band Young Prisms (also into “summer themes”) told me I wasn’t super off-base to think that maybe Real Estate and the other Underwater Peoples bands are, in certain meaningful ways, the polar opposite of Wavves.
"You can see the difference," Mr. Betteo said. "One’s like, ‘I’m so punk and I dropped out of high school or whatever,’ and the other one’s like, ‘I graduated college but this is still what I want to do.’"
Wavves “is definitely more punk,” he added, before pausing for a second. “Or he comes off as more punk. That’s PR, man: Punk Rock!”

I should think it’s pretty obvious that I’m into punk and ‘intellectualism’; if the title of my blog somehow doesn’t even give you the first, then at least the tag-line (a quote from a 1943 book review by the late Michael Foot, Labour politician) should give you the second. However, “anti-intellectualism” is not something I think I’m defensive about: what I really want is more and better intellectualism.
Listening back to Green Day’s Dookie, which is almost a bigger touchstone of the 90s, as lived vicariously through my 00s teenage years, than Nevermind, I’m confirmed in my belief that Wavves’ pastiche of 90s sounds isn’t that exciting; and what’s exciting about Dookie is not the slacker attitude nor the anti-intellectualism which, largely speaking, isn’t there - it’s the heartbreaking quality of an album that exudes bittersweet feeling as much as it does brattiness. Green Day weren’t angry because they didn’t care; they were angry because, as much as they put across an image of themselves as outwardly apathetic, inside they did care. That’s punk. Even a song about masturbation contained feeling, that’s how much they cared (and were honest). And where Wavves songs should have emotion they have masturbation, of the cold, unfeeling, intellectual-termed kind.
What comes across in a song like ‘Linus Spacehead’, the closest King of the Beach has to a track that actually grabs me, is not 90s sincerity or untrammelled rage, but post-grunge, airy bombast - it’s as if you take somewhere between Nirvana and Animal Collective, and end up with the worst posturing rock of the early 00s -  ”I’m stuck in the sky/I’m never coming down”. Fine, stay there. Kurt Cobain only ever sang that he felt stupid; he never proclaimed his own stupidity as a grand punk rock gesture. Entertain us!

douglasmartini:

Due to my impending review of the record (which I finished writing last night and should run sometime this week), I’ve been listening to King of the Beach a lot over the past few days. This New York Observer article is probably one of the most even-handed pieces I’ve read about Wavves yet, adding to the hype of the forthcoming record, comparing Nathan Williams to J-Kwon (everybody in the club gettin’ tipsy, indeed), and very compellingly focusing on subjects like the whole “beach-punk” trend and the notion of anti-intellectualism in indie-rock.

My review of King of the Beach should run sometime within the next week, to coincide with Thursday’s digital release of the record. My editor thinks it’s the best review I’ve written yet, and I think I agree with him.

That’s a really good article, although I think it’s even-handed only in the sense that the first half isn’t as brilliantly eviscerative of the Wavves image as the second is. The author of the piece and this one is also [blog secret!] pitchforkreviewsreviews' friend and literary foil, and appeared today at the end of this post:

"the other day Leon was telling me about seeing Wavves’ live because he knows how much i love the new record, and their contempt for their fans and themselves, about how they dropped out of college and put that forward as a competitive claim to authenticity, and i thought about their smugness and knowingness and referentialism, and then i thought about bob marley and how he stood for the opposite of those things. there’s a time and a place for everything, including bratty solipsism and confrontational self-satisfaction, but for me, right as i’m standing on this platform waiting for my transfer, it’s just like too hot for that. download Legend and light up the darkness you know?" 

This is my take-piece from the article, (it even touches on the subject of dancing!):

"What’s up John Norris, how you doing?" said Mr. Hayes from behind the drum kit as the band tuned up, having apparently spotted the former MTV News personality. The lummox’s shtick was contempt for the journalists and hipsters who love Wavves and he yelled out jokes at their expense throughout the set that were reminiscent of nothing so much as Diesel’s despicable and depressing "Be Stupid" ad campaign. "Hey, if anybody’s writing anything out there, I can’t read," he said at one point, drawing howls. "Pretty good think piece, right? I made it up." Earlier in the set, before the song "So Bored," he took another shot at all the pencil necks in the crowd, first telling Mr. Williams sarcastically that he liked him better when he was a "naive college grad," and then interrupting himself to say, "Just kidding. He didn’t graduate from college. Me neither. We all quitted. ‘Cause we dumb!" Before the encore, he looked out at the audience and said, "I wish I was skinny and cool."

Everyone cheered for this stuff, including a lot of skinny, cool people who work in the media. It reminded me of sitting in the press section at the Republican National Convention in 2008 listening to Sarah Palin give that speech where she blasted “all those reporters and commentators” and promised she wasn’t coming to Washington to “seek their good opinion.” All the journalists around me at the Xcel Center in St. Paul were just typing it all down and writing notes to themselves, not betraying any awareness that they were the ones being targeted. On Thursday night, at least two critics—Ryan Dombal from Pitchfork and Jon Caramanica from The New York Times, who would praise the show in the next day’s paper—avoided the mosh pit and the crowd surfers by standing in the back.”

It’s difficult to criticise something so self-evidently sarcastic (that’s the protection it offers the user), but I’ll have a go anyway: people don’t quit college solely or even mostly because they’re ‘dumb’ - after all, they have to meet some sort of entrance requirement on some measure of being ‘smart’, right? Maybe it’s a contributory factor, to the extent that they are unable to keep up with the work (which, it is often noted by lecturers here in Ireland at least, is of a different order and complexity than secondary level). Really what the idea reinforces - even if he’s trying to subvert it - is that college is inextricably, and exclusively, linked with ‘smart’ (when, in fact, all college does is make you more cultured, sophisticated and capable of critical thought…!)

Anyway, that’s the ‘Palin-esque’ reading of their image, and ultimately the article remains, to its credit, agnostic on the the subject (“Whether the anti-intellectual rhetoric that Wavves employed onstage on Thursday was an affectation calculated to project an image of recession-era no-collar punk rock is unclear”). I can’t help finding this quote both snide and funny, or snobbish and accurate: “I feel like if someone intelligent was doing it, it would be a satire.” Or this comparison:

A 21-year-old named Gio Betteo who plays in the San Francisco band Young Prisms (also into “summer themes”) told me I wasn’t super off-base to think that maybe Real Estate and the other Underwater Peoples bands are, in certain meaningful ways, the polar opposite of Wavves.

"You can see the difference," Mr. Betteo said. "One’s like, ‘I’m so punk and I dropped out of high school or whatever,’ and the other one’s like, ‘I graduated college but this is still what I want to do.’"

Wavves “is definitely more punk,” he added, before pausing for a second. “Or he comes off as more punk. That’s PR, man: Punk Rock!”

I should think it’s pretty obvious that I’m into punk and ‘intellectualism’; if the title of my blog somehow doesn’t even give you the first, then at least the tag-line (a quote from a 1943 book review by the late Michael Foot, Labour politician) should give you the second. However, “anti-intellectualism” is not something I think I’m defensive about: what I really want is more and better intellectualism.

Listening back to Green Day’s Dookie, which is almost a bigger touchstone of the 90s, as lived vicariously through my 00s teenage years, than Nevermind, I’m confirmed in my belief that Wavves’ pastiche of 90s sounds isn’t that exciting; and what’s exciting about Dookie is not the slacker attitude nor the anti-intellectualism which, largely speaking, isn’t there - it’s the heartbreaking quality of an album that exudes bittersweet feeling as much as it does brattiness. Green Day weren’t angry because they didn’t care; they were angry because, as much as they put across an image of themselves as outwardly apathetic, inside they did care. That’s punk. Even a song about masturbation contained feeling, that’s how much they cared (and were honest). And where Wavves songs should have emotion they have masturbation, of the cold, unfeeling, intellectual-termed kind.

What comes across in a song like ‘Linus Spacehead’, the closest King of the Beach has to a track that actually grabs me, is not 90s sincerity or untrammelled rage, but post-grunge, airy bombast - it’s as if you take somewhere between Nirvana and Animal Collective, and end up with the worst posturing rock of the early 00s -  ”I’m stuck in the sky/I’m never coming down”. Fine, stay there. Kurt Cobain only ever sang that he felt stupid; he never proclaimed his own stupidity as a grand punk rock gesture. Entertain us!

punk wavves green day 90s nirvana
Comments (View) | 14 notes
Mar 28
Permalink

velveteenrabbit:

crosseyedandpainless:

Leadbelly, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”

149 plays
nirvana 90s blues
Comments (View) | 27 notes
Feb 11
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erikcarter:

Nirvana – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Home Demo)

a grossly overplayed song? then listening to it in terrible quality will do the trick.

200 plays
nirvana 90s
Comments (View) | 19 notes
Nov 04
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pgwp:

newspeedwayboogie:

Nirvana - School

When I was in high school in 1991—I think I was a sophomore—my band’s first-ever show was a talent show at the high school our guitar player went to. One of the other bands on the bill played “School,” and I think it was the first time I had ever heard anything from Bleach.

My band did a cover by this band Kinghorse, “Lay Down and Die”. I don’t know how I found that record. Yes I do: I walked into the record store and the guy behind the counter saw the bullseye on my back: “Glenn Danzig produced it, and Pushead did the cover art.” So I bought it immediately and fell in love with it.

This weekend I met and interviewed the singer of Kinghorse while I was in Louisville working on the Slint book. It was probably equally exciting as meeting and talking with one of the guys from Slint.

The AV Club just reviewed the reissue of Bleach (A-). Some interesting revisionism/counter-revisionism going on in the comments. Not all that much, really, compared to what can get going on that site.

60,993 plays
nirvana 90s
Comments (View) | 20 notes