“How the New Preferential Treatment of Mainstream Music Embodies a Certain Lack of American Nationalism”

For the Love of God, Wilco’s New Album is Not Called “Shmilco.” It’s called Wilco, Shmilco. Just like Animal Collective’s new album isn’t “Painting with…,” it’s Painting with Animal Collective. All this ungodly amputation of verbal phrases reminds me of “cherries just,” the epically awful Mitch Hedberg joke in which he says, “My friend said he liked cherries, but I was waiting to see if he’d say he liked cherry tomatoes, before I realized he liked cherries just.”
How ‘bout no more “cherries just,” people? Can we please not act like glue sniffers with Down’s Syndrome, for once in our lives? And when Animal Collective puts out a scrappy, squirrelly and brisk album with an excellent opener and closeur, can you please not bash it as a way of making for yourself as king of the internet mole hill?
If you ask me, the stock market NEEDS to crash, to give some of these people some priorities again. I feel an excessive sense of freedom and entitlement emanating from these high-profile king-Caesar music listeners online… they want everything to be packaged for them, they want HITS… they don’t want to have to fill in any blanks, to mentally assemble anything for themselves. That should explain the public’s embrace of this absurd Radiohead album which actually recycles an old song. In case you haven’t noticed, Radiohead fans, Animal Collective has almost as many albums out as they do, and they’ve never taken five-year breaks between them, or recycled old songs for their release. And I get that this whole dildo-up-your-a** embrace of the mainstream is just a rebellion against last decade’s indie extremism, which by the way was every bit grounded and justified, commenting on the war with songs like The Decemberists’ “When the War Came.” Hell, why not. Yeah, I hate metric and phrasing unorthodoxies, key changes, tempo changes too. Yeah, whatever. This absence goes perfect with my life in general, just like losing my hair and getting barred from a teaching degree for drinking and smoking pot. Why the fu** not. But don’t get mad at me when in five years down the road you hear “Recycling” on the PA at Bar Louie. I know you won’t.
Ok. I feel a problem staring me in the face right now as I am writing this. And that is that album title misnomers involving Wilco have nothing to do with the Animal Collective not having “hits” on it (which by the way is like saying the new Margaret Thatcher video didn’t have any anal). But you know what, maybe they do. Maybe it’s the PRINCIPLE of the matter that’s bothering me, it’s the TONE. I mean if I honestly felt like people were having fun listening to this metronomic dreck like Sia and Adele, it would not pi** me off half this much… and if I honestly felt like any of these broads wrote decent lyrics, that their music weren’t purely an extension of American Idol, then maybe I would shut up, and be making more friends, too, for that matter.
Adele and Sia make music for staring at your phone. It’s music for the stationary. Maybe that has its place now, but still, it’s not without its subterfuge. I mean if Adele had really written the melody to “Hello” (no idea if its generally maintained that she did or not), I just feel like she would have in her muse’s tow enough inspiration to write lyrics that were more imagistic, more metaphorical or something. I FEEL like a robot when I listen to this music. Sia, for her regard, once was an “indie” singer. There was just one problem: it wasn’t that there were cheap crack whores like Taylor Swift denigrating the enterprise of indie, it wasn’t lack of notoriety. It’s that she wasn’t that god damned GOOD. It was like a glass of water with a dab of vanilla. Where’s the meal? Where’s the fight in you, where’s the black and blue?
Now, I get that these things don’t come easily, and I get that it’s bad for a pi**ed off bald dude to disrespect Sia, she’s definitely not the worst artist out there, and a hell of a singer. Also, I get that there’s such thing as TOO much fight, TOO much confrontation, TOO much semantics. Take Nirvana. I love Nirvana. “Very Ape” is one of my probably 10 favorite songs of all time. But it’s like, for Christ’s sake boys, smoke a peace pipe! Hardly a day went by where they didn’t bash some public figure, whether it was Pearl Jam, [1] whether it was Extreme, or just blind jabs at the industry at large. Sure, the industry is far from perfect, having almost rejected not only the Goo Goo Dolls but Green Day as well, [2] but at the same time, maybe it is this snobby culture, this elitism, that led to the hatred of indie music in the first place.
But I definitely feel like in the early ’90’s, there was just a general understanding that everything sucked, and grunge and hip-hop both tackled these subjects, even electro too, and maybe to an extent alternative rock. Whereas this new Taylor Swift stuff is just retro — it’s inbred melodies based on false communal stilts of function and flower-in-your-hair lollygagging. It’s unconfrontational music supposed to cater to the confrontational, and that’s not the way art works.
Pearl Jam tackled issues of domestic abuse and unrest immediately and thoroughly, with songs like “Alive,” “Daughter” and “Better Man” (you could probably tie pretty much any Pearl Jam song into motifs of household problems, even “Bugs”), but I feel like Nirvana’s problem was just that ART was destined to suck, always, and maybe in this Kurt Cobain underestimated something key. Maybe Nirvana never really had a VISION of society to begin with, their m.o. was just to intimidate with their loud, commercially friendly brand of punk rock. Pearl Jam is advocative fans of the The Who, whereas we all know Nirvana once made that truly unfortunate statement about their legendary guitarist.
And it’s funny, but Britain probably infiltrates America more than the opposite. For instance, you’ll never find a bloke or limey who likes Dave Matthews Band or the Grateful Dead, and I’m wondering if the same might be true in the case of Animal Collective. Sure, Animal Collective don’t actually crash the Day of the Dead [3] party, but just looking at that track and artist listing you read it like an exhaustive indie blueprint of the ’00’s in America, which or course begs the question of whether Britain really caught on to any of our indie music. The most important acts were The Decemberists, The New Pornographers and Beach House, and they’re all American (as in North American). Belle and Sebastian put out the key shining LP The Life Pursuit, but they’d already been in action in the ’90’s — they were not of this particular bellicose zeitgeist. NME didn’t even review Painting with Animal Collective. And god damn, I love me some James Bay. And god damn, well, I dunno what else.
[1] It is impossible to overemphasize how big of a**holes Nirvana’s biographer Everett True and Courtney Love are for how much they hated Pearl Jam’s bassist Jeff Ament. Ament is a blue-blooded advocate of music at roots levels, having aided Sub Pop Records in its early days, given smiling, articulate interviews in Single Video Theory, and you know, WRITTEN THE FU***ING SONG “NOTHING AS IT SEEMS,” lyrics, music, tax title and fu**ing license.
[2] Per the handy-dandy Green Day documentary film Heart Like a Hand Grenade.
[3] This would be a discussion of the recent sprawling Dead covers tribute triple album Day of the Dead (possibly one of the most pointless things of all time, especially given that the Dead themselves were an exemplary cover band).

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