As coronavirus and protests continue to disrupt the country and its economy, many have asked the best ways to support musicians who suddenly and abruptly lost their main form of income. The usual answer is “buy an album or merch” — and today (Friday, June 5) offers a rare opportunity to maximize the amount of…
Bandcamp is the kind of website we were promised when the internet started disrupting the music industry at the beginning of the century. It’s just the consumer and a million indie artists, with zero in the way of getting between you and what you want. There’s an exploratory aspect as well — you get the opportunity to discover things you wouldn’t have found otherwise. I’ve discoverd a handful of bands, some in genres that would never have occured to me, Via bandcamp. Behold, a sample of the really good ones.
See? It even embeds in WordPress. I can’t even get Apple Podcasts to do that.
“something much more existential, it’s just surfing on nothing. Being lost in your head or in your imagination but you know, whenever I listen to music I always find myself off somewhere. Somewhere in space. You know, in mental space and it’s a reference to that.”
In other words, daydreaming. I always thought they sounded a big shoegaze.
But is that why I like it? Did I, on some semiotic, unconscious level, get that about them?
Or did I just like the way the words sounded together?
Maybe I’ll try and figure that out. And maybe get one of their albums.
Sometime I create music as well. I consider them sonic doodles. Learning to play an instrument or absorb music theory feels like work. Because it’s work, and with you as your own taskmaster, inevitably you will be ridiculously lenient on yourself. So creating little sonic doodles and throwing them out on to the wild free internet gives you a sense of accomplishment and a reason to keep going.
This track, Butterfly Figure Skater, started as a deconstructed walking bass line, that I added a Guitar counterpoint to. The drums are a sample. It has aspirations to Jazz but is really just Rock.
The artwork is done with Adobe Spark.
Initially, I wanted to record enough tracks to put a 5-song EP on Bandcamp. I haven’t felt ready or had time to do that. And really, for that to be worthwhile, they’re going to need to be… good. And I’m not quite there yet. So this is a way for me to make stuff, get that feedback, and have fun with it.
Has any major pop star, of any era, required the level of indulgence that Kanye West demands? He’s a brilliant producer, an ingenious curator, and arguably the most consequential pop star of the last decade, but liking Kanye has always meant making peace with the arrogant, petulant, sometimes infuriating character in the foreground. For a…
For the record, I can take or leave him, music-wise (in terms of personality and politics, I take him about as seriously now as I did when he declared that George W. Bush didn’t care about black people). His stuff is interesting but I wouldn’t be heartbroken if I never heard any again. But I am not at all surprised to see the caste that held him up now prepared to drop him. And to be fair, this review does us the courtesy of not pretending that their reception isn’t colored by politics. So that’s something.
I liked Pop Culture better when it didn’t take itself so seriously.
Usually when I see an article about “Millenials” or “Millenial Trends” or “Stuff These Damn Millenials are Doing”, I scroll past it. Partly because it’s usually empty-calorie click-bait, but mostly because I’ve decided that “Millenials” are not a thing. There are people born between 1981 and 1997, and they have a set of shared cultural memories. They aren’t all hipsters, and they aren’t all vegans, and they aren’t all anything. They’re exactly like all other “generations” in this respect. Not all Boomers are Hippies. Not all Greatest are war vets. Not all Gen-X are nihilists.
[Also, if you’re talking about teenagers, you’re not talking about Millenials. Millenials stopped being born somewhere between 1997 and 2000, depending on who’s drawing the line. This year’s high school seniors were born in 2000-2001. They are Generation Z, which hasn’t had a label foisted on them yet.]
But I do like me some good music snark, so I clicked on “31 Incredibly Lame Bands Millenials Love.” Because a little You Kids Get Off My Lawn every now and again can be a worthwhile aesthetic exercise, so long as its funny.
However, this one failed. It failed hard, and it needs to be fisked. It’s a crappy slideshow with dull snaps and I’m going to make fun of it. Original in bold, response in italic.
Arcade Fire – A band that features a synthesizer, an accordian, a french horn, a harp, and a hurdy-gurdy, ffs. No wonder hipsters are absolutely obsessed with them.
The conflation of “hipster” with “Millenial” is deeply dumb. Modern hipsterism started in the late 90’s, and it was a late-Gen-X trend (the difference in experience between the Early and Late of any “generation” is one of the reasons “generations” are sociological nonsense). The guys in Swingers are not Millenials. As to the Arcade Fire, they’re not my cup of tea, but I’ve enjoyed a bit of their music. If you ever enjoyed “Automatic for the People”-era REM, you should have no problem with The Arcade Fire. Unless you think the kids are doing it wrong, which is your right.
The Chainsmokers – As a recent tweet put it, this band is what would happen if Axe Body Spray learned how to play music.
I have no idea who the Chainsmokers are and cannot comment. But the hatred at Axe Body Spray and associated cultural markers is proof if proof were needed that not all Millenials are the same and have the same ideas about culture.
Bon Iver– You will never find a whiter band than Bon Iver. Not Journey, not NSYNC, not Creed, not anything. This is apex whiteness.
And that makes him bad… because…?
Is there anything more tiring than the casual dismissal of ‘whiteness’ as a display of fake hip? HURR DURR WHITE PEEPUL, AMIRITE?
Bon Iver is a folk musician. He makes folk music. You may not like folk music, but it’s a tradition as old as America (older, actually). There’s nothing specifically Millennnial about him. He’s just his generation’s Bob Dylan. And Bob Dylan started sucking in the 70’s, and to my notice has not stopped. So until Iver starts writing hagiographies for dead gangsters, leave him alone.
Florence + The Machine – The stylized “+” is how you know they’re deeply, insufferably pretentious.
At least you can pronounce the “+”. That’s more than I can say for The Artist That Everyone Pretended To Be Huge Fans of When He Died Formerly Known As Prince.
Fall Out Boy – Fall Out Boy sounds like someone found a way to turn Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder into sonic energy.
That sounds awesome, actually. So you must be wrong, because I don’t much like Fall Out Boy.
Imagine Dragons– This is one of those bands that we’re all going to be really, really embarrassed about in about ten years.
And really, really nostalgic about in twenty. That’s how that works. There is nothing lamer than what was cool ten years ago, and nothing cooler than what was cool twenty years ago. This is the Iron Law of Fashion and Music.
The Lumineers – The Lumineers is like if Polyphonic Spree somehow became infinitely more insufferably twee.
“infinitely more insufferably”? Can you BE more dramatic?
Fleet Foxes – Hospitals could save a ton of money on anesthetic if they just piped Fleet Foxes tracks into their operating rooms.
Heh. Okay, that’s actually funny.
Twenty-One Pilots – If I have to hear “you don’t know, the half of the ABYUYUYUYUYUYSE” one more time, my head will explode.
Again, Twenty-One Pilots is a band teenagers like, and Millenials aren’t teenagers anymore. This is Gen-Z stuff.
Sigur Ros – Good life rule: when you hear the words “Icelandic avant garde rock band” strung together, immediately run as fast as possible in the opposite direction.
Yeah, why expose yourself to anything new or adventurous? Keep listening to the same stuff by the same bands or bands like them. Stay in Your Box, Consumer.
Mumford and Sons – THERE ARE NO SONS IN THIS BAND, WHAT IS THIS VILE DECEPTION.
Of all the shots you could have taken against Mumford, you go with that one? I mean, I get the need to lighten the mood with something not-serious, so people won’t think you’re a crank, but you’re writing a crank piece. Not one “Millenial” is going to stop listening to any of these acts because of you. So write the crank piece, vent your spleen, and be done with it.
Neutral Milk Hotel – Personally, I prefer Biased Milk Hotel.
Another name shot. Be lazier.
Say Anything – This band combines Blink-182’s painful whininess with random sound effects. A winning combination, that is not.
Blink 182 never struck me as whiny, but whatever. At least this one is about the actual music.
LCD Soundsystem – It’s amazing a band can have roughly 142 members and not one of them will have any musical talent.
No, what’s amazing is that you thought this snap was clever. This is bush-league, 4th grade material. An army of monkeys slapping keys together for an hour will produce something funnier than this. A 4Channer hopped up on Adderall could make a meme about LCD Soundsystem while playing Fortnite that would be funnier than this. Don Rickles’ mouldering corpse could just lay there being a not-funny-at-all memento mori, and it would still be funnier than “many-people-no-talent”.
LCD Soundsystem is music meant either for working out or partying. They work fine for both.
The xx – You’re not being edgy with your refusal to capitalize “xx,” JAMIE SMITH BECAUSE THAT’S YOUR NAME, NOT “JAMIE XX.” God.
That’s right, rock stars giving themselves new names is a totally new Millenial trend. Sir Richard Starkey, Jeff Hyman, Frank Ferrano Jr., and Lesane Crooks were unavailable for comment.*
The Arctic Monkeys – Arctic Monkeys were one of the first bands to come to prominence as a result of the internet. Thanks for nothing, internet.
I saw the Arctic Monkeys open for the Black Keys twice. They were great. The A.M. album is solid. You’re just wrong.
Bleachers – OK, yes, fine, the band’s music is good and all, but is it required to be so pretentious that you call yourself “Bleachers” rather than “The Bleachers?” Come on, guys.
Seriously? Not only is this another name shot, but it’s the worst, most philistine name shot imaginable. Not every band has to call themselves “The Somethings”. Pretentious? This doesn’t even rise to Archers-of-Loaf levels.
And on top of that, you admit that they make good music, so they don’t need to be here. You’re bad at this. You should stop.
The White Stripes – Half of this band was OK. The other half couldn’t find the rhythm with a roadmap and a divining rod.
Which half? You mean JACK GILLIS BECAUSE THAT’S HIS NAME NOT JACK WHITE, GOD!?
People, how many times are we going to go to the well of “Meg Can’t Play Drums”? The whole reason she was in the White Stripes was because she played the drums very simply, which is to say, she bashed them like a hyperactive ten-year-old. That’s what Jack liked. That’s what inspired him, and it fit entirely with in the overall band aesthetic. She wasn’t supposed to be Neal Pert, and she never pretended to be. Give it a rest.
Radiohead – Every single insufferable music snob you’ve ever met has been obsessed with this band, and I can’t think of a single more brutal condemnation than that.
And again, their big heyday was in the 90’s. They’re a Gen-X band. A late Gen-X band, but still.
And sometimes insufferable music snobs are right. Radiohead doesn’t suck. Go back and listen to OK Computer. It holds up. And this is coming from someone who didn’t care about Radiohead at all in the 90’s.
Modest Mouse – Remember the fifteen minutes when we all collectively thought this band was good? Yeah, I know you’d love to forget it — we all would — but it happened.
I don’t. I don’t regret a moment of digging Good News For People Who Love Bad News. It encapsulates fond memories of driving up the NJ Turnpike to visit my then-girlfriend, now-wife in Brooklyn. “Float On” is still my ringtone for her.
I didn’t think much of the follow-up album, and I haven’t paid attention since. That doesn’t mean we need to memory-hole them. Stop being such a nerd.
Wilco – Oh boy, fifteen minutes of discordant noises with no relation to each other. Sounds like a pleasurable listening experience!
I too have tired of Wilco after spending a summer listening to a lot of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. For some reason I just put it aside and stopped caring about it. So I can sort of relate, but this just sounds like bashing experimental music, so whatever. Enjoy your Top 40, I guess.
Kings of Leon – I’m not convinced there’s a more thorough indictment of the millennial generation than the fact Kings of Leon has four top-five albums in a row and counting.
Enh. I sort of get your problem, because their successful albums, starting with their fourth, have been bland arena-rock. I’m not trying to sound pretentious here, but I like their early stuff. Their second and third albums especially had a lot of good ideas on them.
The Shins – If someone could please explain why millennials consider one of the most boring bands in history to be revolutionary, I’d love to hear it.
Can’t help you. The Shins are pop-revivalists, influenced by Zombies/Beach Boys kind of stuff. People who don’t like that sort of thing won’t find this the sort of thing that they like.
Phoenix – HARD PASS
OMG THAT RESPONSE IS SO HOT RIGHT NOW.
Belle & Sebastian– Why is the prevailing trend in hipster music to be as relentlessly boring as possible?
Sorry, but I’m not defending Belle & Sebastian.
Bastille – It’s not even necessarily that this band is bad, but I’m still holding a grudge because I’ll have “EHHHH-EH-OOH-EH-OOH, EHHHHH-EH-OOH-EH-OOH” stuck in my head until the end of time.
“I don’t dislike their music, just this one song that wasn’t to my taste. Because I still think it’s important to get angry about that sort of thing. IT’S MY IDENTITY YOU GUYS!”
Tame Impala – Wait, we thought smooth jazz was over like 15 years ago? Why is it making a comeback now?
Because stuff makes a comeback. Aesthetic movements grow for a bit, become dissipated, then are revived by those they influenced. It’s human nature. Deal with it.
The Mountain Goats – The fact every single Mountain Goats song sounds like it was recorded on a Speak N’ Spell — and that this is a deliberate stylistic choice — should tell you everything you need to know about this band.
Okay, first of all, that’s not a fact, that’s your subjective impression. Your feelings are not facts.
Second, lo-fi is a genre/recording style as old as the hills. It may not be to your taste. In fact, it really only appeals to a small number of people. But it does appeal to them.
Finally, they started in 1991, and they’re releases were mostly cassette-only until they signed to 4AD. These two ACTUAL facts indicate a Gen-X pedigree.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – This band deserves all the shade in the world just for having a name that’s incredibly annoying to say.
A name that’s in how many choruses to rock songs?
You know, as someone who delights in dumping on bad band names, I am really tired of all these name shots. You’re not going after bands with actual bad names, and you aren’t funny when you do it. And the whole point of this exercise was supposed to be that the Band is bad, not the name.
The Black Keys – NOPE. NOT GONNA BE MEAN TO THE BLACK KEYS, THEY ARE TREASURES.
*AKA Ringo Starr, Joey Ramone, Nikki Six, and Tupac Shakur.
Band names/artistic monikers are so, so, so important, people. Anyone who subscribes to bullshittery such as “It’s only a name” or “It’s unfair to judge a band/artist on name alone” needs to call 911 so the EMTs can rush him or her to the ER for an emergency head-from-ass extraction. The quality level of a band name/moniker is a paramount reaction upon many other facets of whatever it is that you’re putting in front of the world. Of course, there are many express routes to utter failure re: band name/moniker choice, and “Dr. Dog” checks four boxes: 1) Traditionally Bad; 2) Aesthetically Repellent; 3) Accurately Implementative Of Bad Musical/Sonic Elements At Work; and 4) Poor Choice In Band Name = Poor Choices In Musical Presentation. Though it might not seem like it, this is one of the more harmless results of assessing a bad band name. At least there’s a perverse originality to it. Don’t get me started on the blink-and-miss-it idiocy, crash-and-burn “cleverness” and dire dearth of originality behind such monikers as “Joanna Gruesome,” “Sauna Youth” and “Zora Jones.”
As with many things Andrew Earles has written, I agree. My old music blog, Genre Confusion, used to snark at bad band names.
Girl in a Coma — I’m going to pass up the obvious quip about the name describing their sole fan, and simply try to calculate the odds that they play weddings and bat mitzvahs.
Brent Anamaker and the Rodeo — Indie band or childrens’ book? You decide.
But can I argue the assertion of my headline? Yes. Because a band name is your band’s first piece of branding. Everyone hates that word now, but anyone who’s ever been in a band knows that it’s true. Your band name has to be an expression of who you are and what you’re trying to create. That doesn’t mean you have to focus-group them (you probably shouldn’t do that, in fact), but it does mean you have to approach it with some kind of awareness. It could very well make the difference in whether someone buys it or not.
For fans of High Fidelity, this means that “Sonic Death Monkey” is a way better band name than “Kathleen Turner Overdrive”. The latter is derivitave, ironic, and “clever”, and is the kind of thing that bands that make music you don’t buy call themselves. You laugh at the name, you laugh at the band. You don’t give them money. “Sonic Death Monkey”, for all that it’s a cliche, at least gives you an expectation of what they might sound like. I would guess some kind of indie punk or metal. You might roll your eyes when you hear it, but if a friend says their first album is good, you’ll pull it up on Spotify and decide for yourself.
But if you give yourself a bad band name, it doesn’t matter how good your music is, no one’s going to buy it. So good music will never be heard. Which ruins it.
I am generally distrustful of bipartisan legislation, especially when the CEO of RIAA is this enthusiastic, but this doesn’t look too bad on its face:
A key provision of the bill is for Congress to establish the equivalent of a SoundExchange for songwriters to track credits and distribute royalties when digital services use their work. The switch to a market-based rate standard for artists and writers, closing the pre-1972 loophole that denied digital compensation to legacy artists and the addition of copyright royalties for producers and engineers are other changes widely hailed as improvements by a wide range of industry organizations, from the Recording Academy and the RIAA to ASCAP, BMI, the American Association of Independent Music and the American Federation of Musicians.
Sounds like a good compromise on the needs of artists and distributors. Establishing the means to accurately enforce contracts is what we have a govenrment for.