The Mountain Goats

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kind of an annoying article. those pieces happen, what's the big deal? sure they're kind of obvious, but i don't believe they're completely lost on the artists in question. w/r/t to the goats piece, an avid fan (friend of mine) was really excited to see it.

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 14:17 (5 years ago) Permalink

not feelin that gawker thing at all

just sayin, Monday, 16 March 2009 14:22 (5 years ago) Permalink

"In fact, profiles of super-cool independent musicians in mass-market consumer magazines almost inevitably turn out to be cringe-inducing, forced exercises in justifying the relevance of an artist that often doesn't really care about being relevant to begin with."

so non-mainstream musicians don't care about being relevant? hmmm

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 14:23 (5 years ago) Permalink

it's weird to throw the new yorker profile in there also, they have profiles of lots of pretty obscure ppl right? also that article was dope

just sayin, Monday, 16 March 2009 14:28 (5 years ago) Permalink

(the nyer one i mean)

just sayin, Monday, 16 March 2009 14:28 (5 years ago) Permalink

they have profiles all the time, obscure or not. it's like he's annoyed that these artists are getting mainstream attention -- "i liked them before you did!!"

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 14:37 (5 years ago) Permalink

yeah that's really the only reason i can think he would have bothered writing this

anyway like someone said in the comments, the reason why he can do this list is bcz profiles generally follow a formula (no matter who's getting profiled)

just sayin, Monday, 16 March 2009 14:40 (5 years ago) Permalink

I really didn't like that New York magazine article. One of the reasons I like The Mountain Goats so much is that for the most part, John's songwriting doesn't fall into the "sensitive acoustic troubador" category. That's why I got into them so much, it was so weird to hear a lone-wolf-with-acoustic guitar guy who wasn't just all "I'm so sad," but instead wrote these wry, literary songs about fictional people's sadness. I mean that's sort of changed these days, since The Sunset Tree and all, but I feel like the NY mag article is trying to pigeonhole John, trying to fit him into a category to which he never belonged.

I could be dead wrong, of course.

telepathy_rock!, Monday, 16 March 2009 14:41 (5 years ago) Permalink

No, actually you're dead right and I'm with you.

ilxor, Monday, 16 March 2009 14:52 (5 years ago) Permalink

I didn't really like the New York mag article because, well...

Wesley, of course, read from the Book of Darnielle, while the next girl read the lyrics of Conor Oberst, a.k.a. the folksinger Bright Eyes. Wesley was disgusted. “Bright Eyes is not a man, he’s just a boy,” Wesley told me. “Bright Eyes is just this over the top ‘I am wussy man, hear me roar.’ Did you know the word virtue comes from the Latin word for man? You get too sensitive, you lose your strength. And his stuff is so vague. John once wrote a song that has a line ‘I love you because you gave me sausage and cheese when I was hungry’—it’s earned because it’s a concrete thought: You fed me, that’s why I love you.”

if you like it then you shoulda put a donk on it (bernard snowy), Monday, 16 March 2009 14:55 (5 years ago) Permalink

lol at the comments on the new yorker piece:

Ew.
By ping on 03/04/2009 at 6:35pm

Sappy and pathetic and please no more.
By ELECTRAfied26 on 03/08/2009 at 10:45pm

What did I just read?
By whygodwhy on 03/09/2009 at 7:03pm

I mean explain it to me, in a way a stoned person could understand.
By whygodwhy on 03/09/2009 at 7:04pm

joe, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:02 (5 years ago) Permalink

lol

but it seems the problem is more with the publications overall, than with how they tackle INDIE music, no?

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:03 (5 years ago) Permalink

i mean sometimes i have a problem reading anything in the new yorker

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:07 (5 years ago) Permalink

that was retarded

moonship journey to 51 (k3vin k.), Monday, 16 March 2009 15:10 (5 years ago) Permalink

i think the authors point isnt "oh how passe and lame and uncool of you to write about neko case"--i think the point he wants to make is "writing, as a journalist, about bands for which you have a deep & abiding affection doesnt make for very good journalism."

there are all sorts of sub-issues he has with that--like, deciding to write a piece abt your favorite band will often lead to paper-thin justifications for writing about that band so as to avoid the appearance that youre just writing about the band because you like them--and also that writing a piece about a band you love is a lot more likely to lead to the kind of cliched darkness-success-redemption story arc than writing about a band for a different reason (say, they have a new & compelling arc to their career, or you can make a successful argument for their uniqueness as a band).

obviously this is all subjective--to wide-eyed fans of neko case, john darnielle, etc., these artists are so compelling just on the face of it that you shouldnt need a justification to write about them! but to the other portion of the population (say, me) who dont really care too much for andrew bird, i need more of a reason than "hes really good" to read about him (in a journalistic setting, of course; criticism is a different animal, at least in the eyes of the blog post)

i guess i kind of agree with him.

rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Monday, 16 March 2009 15:13 (5 years ago) Permalink

when i say kind of, i mean, the darnielle piece wasnt poorly written, just poorly conceived, and i basically disagree about the bonnie prince billy piece for a couple reasons, incl. the new yorkers tendency towards hook-less articles that stand on the strength of their writing, and oldhams comparative stature vs. case, bird, darnielle (no offense john)

rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Monday, 16 March 2009 15:15 (5 years ago) Permalink

let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

or something.

ian, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:17 (5 years ago) Permalink

on a more positive note, my sixteen year old cousin is coming to visit me in a few weeks so she can go see the mountain goats thing with slice-of-key-lime-pie. her father is dying of cancer (soon) and she really needs to get outta the house for a while.

i guess that wasn't positive.

ian, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:18 (5 years ago) Permalink

The justification for writing about anything is always "I find this interesting/informative/entertaining" (delete where applicable). There isn't really anything else to it as far as I can tell, regardless of the subject or the setting, so I don't get where you're coming from, max (the disconnect appears to be between what you find intersting/informative/entertaining and what NYer editorial finds i/i/e).

Wes HI DEREson (HI DERE), Monday, 16 March 2009 15:23 (5 years ago) Permalink

the gawker deal is pretty much ridiculous because a) it means the author has bothered to read all the articles he claims to despise and b) it's barely readable sub-undergrad compare-and-contrast bullllllllshit. you think he'd have found better, more informative pull quotes if he'd dug 'em out of the Wire, the Believer and Rolling Stone? Doubtful.

ian, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:25 (5 years ago) Permalink

i guess what i'm trying to say is: the problem is not with the publications particularly, but with a tendency towards laziness and easy questions in rock n roll journalism as a whole.

ian, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:27 (5 years ago) Permalink

the canonization of the subversive musician

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:28 (5 years ago) Permalink

there is nothing particularly subversive about neko case though, amirite? and why do people attach such importance to these musicians being profiled in mainstream, middle-brow publications? the mtn goats, oldham etc haven't been obscurities for many, many years now.

ian, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:30 (5 years ago) Permalink

apparently the neko case album debuted at #3? pretty weird to say 'only the write cares abt her' or whatever

just sayin, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:32 (5 years ago) Permalink

*writer

just sayin, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:32 (5 years ago) Permalink

and why do people attach such importance to these musicians being profiled in mainstream, middle-brow publications? the mtn goats, oldham etc haven't been obscurities for many, many years now.

― ian, Monday, March 16, 2009 11:30 AM (5 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

i think that's exactly why -- cuz they have already established their own sort of relevance, and people get annoyed that these publications approach them like a sort of discovery. but the thing is, for a lot of people, they still are! it's kind of an audience issue.

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:44 (5 years ago) Permalink

The justification for writing about anything is always "I find this interesting/informative/entertaining" (delete where applicable). There isn't really anything else to it as far as I can tell, regardless of the subject or the setting, so I don't get where you're coming from, max (the disconnect appears to be between what you find intersting/informative/entertaining and what NYer editorial finds i/i/e).

― Wes HI DEREson (HI DERE), Monday, March 16, 2009 11:23 AM (13 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

well, yeah, this is absolutely true, and i acknowledge the subjectiveness of the argument being made in my post.

but there are very, very few publications out there where you can successfully pitch an editor on a story with just "hey, i love neko case, can i write an article about her?" (the ability to pitch like that probably has more to do with the writer him or herself--john mcphee, for example--than the publication). at the very least youre going to need "she has an album coming out"--and even then the editor is going to want more, since god knows how many people have albums out in a given month. arguably, case is big enough (#3 album etc) to warrant that kind of coverage--in fact, this is absolutely the case, since the writer was able to pitch the story to the editor successfully.

but then the article comes out and its structure is almost exactly the same as the structure of 3 other articles about musicians working in roughly the same melieu! and its like, what exactly is the threshold of 'interesting/informative/entertaining' here? if the pieces match so completely, is there really something interesting enough about the subjects to be worth writing about?

rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Monday, 16 March 2009 15:47 (5 years ago) Permalink

but there are very, very few publications out there where you can successfully pitch an editor on a story with just "hey, i love neko case, can i write an article about her?" (the ability to pitch like that probably has more to do with the writer him or herself--john mcphee, for example--than the publication). at the very least youre going to need "she has an album coming out"--and even then the editor is going to want more, since god knows how many people have albums out in a given month

The Gawker piece was awful, and this is the only defense for publishing Neko Case, Darnielle, and Bird articles in mass-market publications.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 March 2009 15:51 (5 years ago) Permalink

I do wish articles like the one in Gawker would stop impugning the motives of these writers, the quality of their essays notwithstanding. I like Neko Case, so if I worked for The New Yorker and knew she had an album coming out soon, I'd pitch an article. What's so hard to understand?

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 March 2009 15:54 (5 years ago) Permalink

btw am i supposed to like know neko case? cuz apart from the name, i don't :/

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:56 (5 years ago) Permalink

Next time you run over to Starbucks for a toffee bar, you'll know.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 March 2009 15:56 (5 years ago) Permalink

Neko is gonna be heartbroken, sur

Wes HI DEREson (HI DERE), Monday, 16 March 2009 15:57 (5 years ago) Permalink

smoky alt-country chanteuse, you might like her. in that new pornographesr band IIRC. xpxp

ian, Monday, 16 March 2009 15:57 (5 years ago) Permalink

I do wish articles like the one in Gawker would stop impugning the motives of these writers, the quality of their essays notwithstanding. I like Neko Case, so if I worked for The New Yorker and knew she had an album coming out soon, I'd pitch an article. What's so hard to understand?

― The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, March 16, 2009 8:54 AM (2 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

huh? it's pretty easy to understand that writing about an artist just because you like him/her and then reaching for other flimsy reasons/justifications in the article makes for bad/self-indulgent/puffy writing, no matter how ok of a stylist you are.

Matt P, Monday, 16 March 2009 16:01 (5 years ago) Permalink

pls. notify me when someone does one of these pieces on xasthur or the ying yang twins or any artist that does not slot somewhere in comfortable singer-songwriter modes of expression.

He grew in Pussyville. Population: him. (call all destroyer), Monday, 16 March 2009 16:01 (5 years ago) Permalink

i mean how is that not writing about "culture" 101

x-post

Matt P, Monday, 16 March 2009 16:02 (5 years ago) Permalink

it's pretty easy to understand that writing about an artist just because you like him/her and then reaching for other flimsy reasons/justifications in the article makes for bad/self-indulgent/puffy writing, no matter how ok of a stylist you are.

You must not read much rock journalism then, eh?

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 March 2009 16:03 (5 years ago) Permalink

lololololol @ the idea of someone writing a piece like this on xasthur

POLLonius (country matters), Monday, 16 March 2009 16:03 (5 years ago) Permalink

Better an emotive ode than a rehashed press release.

Eazy, Monday, 16 March 2009 16:04 (5 years ago) Permalink

i rarely post here, but i was thinking about the mg and bpb pieces a lot recently, so i felt compelled to jump in --

the nyer/nymag profiles bugged me because all they did was corroborate the same reputations of these guys that exists on the underground level, i.e. oldham: the "enigmatic," rootsy, shapeshifter and darnielle: the balance of hyperintimacy and cerebral detachment.

i don't mind major-mag profiles of these guys -- they totally deserve it. i just wish that the writers had done *some* kind of work to depart from what has already been written about the artists. the MGs one felt like a huge missed opportunity to actually do a little critical thinking about *why* darnielle's fans might love him so much (the superfan is a devout christian -- is it some kind of coincidence that darnielle actually writes about religious material and regularly lays down spiritual subtext in his songs about Normal Folks? duh.). also, for articles about "iconoclasts," they didn't really situate these guys within a landscape -- i.e. to say why they're different or unique. the nyer one was better, in this respect, but i still put the mag down wishing it had somehow been more "definitive" (this might be because i think kelefa s. really does write some good, concise criticism sometimes, and this piece, being a "profile," didn't seem to think that some criticism was within its jurisdiction or something).

mike powell, Monday, 16 March 2009 16:05 (5 years ago) Permalink

pls. notify me when someone does one of these pieces on xasthur or the ying yang twins or any artist that does not slot somewhere in comfortable singer-songwriter modes of expression.

Remember the "Wait" controversy a few years ago?

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 March 2009 16:05 (5 years ago) Permalink

that new york times article on DEATH (70's proto-punk hard rock african-american power trio) this weekend was excellent!

sorry, just didn't know where to post that. maybe on the black acid rock thread...

scott seward, Monday, 16 March 2009 16:06 (5 years ago) Permalink

WHAT IS FURDEST FROM CDS I HAVE, HEAVY METAL AND HIPPITY HOP

many x-posts to alfred well yeah because by those standards a lot of it sucks! but some of it doesn't (i.e. does something else besides 'here is a person, they did some things, they play nice music'), and i like that.

Matt P, Monday, 16 March 2009 16:07 (5 years ago) Permalink

the nyer/nymag profiles bugged me because all they did was corroborate the same reputations of these guys that exists on the underground level, i.e. oldham: the "enigmatic," rootsy, shapeshifter and darnielle: the balance of hyperintimacy and cerebral detachment.

this i actually agree with heartily

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 16:09 (5 years ago) Permalink

this speaks to a larger trend of pigeonholing artists like this, with cliched terminology

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 16:10 (5 years ago) Permalink

A lot of these disappointing profiles are shaped by the attitude of editors too. A piece on Darnielle in New York would produce exactly the kind of collision of sensibilities we'd expect.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 March 2009 16:10 (5 years ago) Permalink

not all music journalism can be good music journalism, guys.

ian, Monday, 16 March 2009 16:11 (5 years ago) Permalink

the MGs one felt like a huge missed opportunity to actually do a little critical thinking about *why* darnielle's fans might love him so much (the superfan is a devout christian -- is it some kind of coincidence that darnielle actually writes about religious material and regularly lays down spiritual subtext in his songs about Normal Folks? duh.).

From the article:

If Wesley’s explanation of Darnielle’s appeal isn’t especially complex, it’s certainly heartfelt: “His songs are all full of literary allusions and Bible references. Everything that I’m into, he writes about. A lot of them are about people feeling isolated, and I knew what that felt like.”

[...]

Wesley loved that while Darnielle wasn’t a practicing Christian, he still had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible. One day, Wesley played for me the song “Pigs That Ran Straightaway Into the Water, Triumph Of.” “That’s a reference to Matthew 22:6,” Wesley told me. “That’s where Jesus casts the demon into a herd of swine. That he can work that into a song is so cool.”

Wes HI DEREson (HI DERE), Monday, 16 March 2009 16:34 (5 years ago) Permalink

critic on critic jackoff sesh

bnw, Monday, 16 March 2009 16:45 (5 years ago) Permalink

Remember the "Wait" controversy a few years ago?

not specifically...was it about more than the content of the song? is there a new yorker profile of the YYT i need to track down?

He grew in Pussyville. Population: him. (call all destroyer), Monday, 16 March 2009 16:59 (5 years ago) Permalink


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