This post is meant to move toward explaining an implicit statement I made in my last Cat Power review that there was a lot of “interchangeable political bullsh**” going on, which is admittedly a very vague plaint, if not downright grammatically and semantically incorrect.
Literally, though, I’m nauseated. Everything is so flavor-of-the-week these days. We all sit on social media all the time and, it seems like, it even tells us how to think, as in the case of something I just saw TODAY, The Line of Best Fit’s headline that “Hormonar is the feminist punk band we need right now,” on Hormonar’s Facebook feed. Now, I do like this band: let’s be clear about that. But they are Icelandic and probably sometimes wield a certain inferiority complex before international matters which would spawn them to just latch on to whatever submersion of themselves within the larger ubiquity takes place, and just go with the flow, even if it is a headline which attempts to streamline all people as if we’re the same and need the exact same things. (I think The Line of Best Fit is British which I could see stirring up some compulsion toward making these obscene blanket statements such as the one I think Noisey made, which caused me to stop following them once and for all, that “The Clash is the only band that still matters.”)
Ok. I don’t even know where to begin with this “feminist” and “punk” sh** I keep hearing these days. I could start by saying how TLOBF obviously hasn’t heard Chicago’s Negative Scanner, which is about as “feminist” and “punk” as you get, lead singer Rebecca Valeriano-Flores defacing herself into an unrecognizable smear on one album cover and then picking her nose on another. Chicago is also, mind you, the city that brought us those witches trying to cast a spell on Donald Trump.
I could say how punk is old and really, outdated. Feminism is and should still be viable but is often abused, in my opinion, by women who apparently seek to blur gender lines one minute and dress themselves in provocative, showy garb to achieve popularity another. Pu**y Riot, to me, are spotlight hounds, about as musical as a cow, valuable if you want such a thing as that, which is assuredly none of my business.
Well, arguably, Grimes has been the most vital female artist on the planet this decade and her music, abrasive electro pop, is actually in lockstep with the times, not a mythical throwback to when people thought mohawks and moshing could save the world. I have heard accounts of her apparently dealing with sexual abuse in the studio with male producers, who would offer to work with her for free in exchange for carnal advances, and in my opinion, there has not been enough of an outcry about this for “feminist punk” to have any rightful claim to the cultural mainstream these days. Feminism should always advocate the artistic advancement of women, even if it means sticking one’s neck in the primary line of fire, and men should help women feel safe and free, obviously. If that’s not feminism I don’t know what is.
But in my Cat Power post I explain how Rob Schapf cannot be explained, with his unconventional disposition and obvious multifarious talent, in terms all this “interchangeable political bullsh**,” and what I mean by that is simply that he is not interchangeable with other people. Finally, to wit, somebody has stepped in and recognized that Cat Power is not some spotlight whore writing cheap “hit singles” for labels to get rich on: she makes meaningful LP’s of organic music from the ground up. She does it not for money but for muse’s pervasion. These are things I thought would have been made crystal clear during the explosion of indie music in the ‘00s: what’s more, made clear BY MATADOR, which was putting out Cat Power, which was putting out The New Pornographers, which was putting out Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks. Some of their bands might have had minor hits that decade, but it was nothing that was mainstream-catering at all: it would have all been based on musical quality and not concession to a hitmaking strategy, if that makes any sense. What’s more, all of these bands have ample fans to where the records would sell even without “hit singles,” on the strength of the music being genuine and from the heart. Anybody who doesn’t believe this is a pompous a**, or worse, a capitalist with no penchant for music at all. To turn music into assembly line product is to devalue the minds of the listeners themselves, an incredibly noxious act to commit upon the larger populace.