The Mountain Goats

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although that isn't even fair, this has been going on way longer than Pitchfork has been around (see: Simon Reynolds)

Wes HI DEREson (HI DERE), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:21 (5 years ago) Permalink

j0hn needs to hook up with winona and be like IN YOUR FACE GAWKER LOSER

bnw, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:21 (5 years ago) Permalink

otm

max i think i need to delve into it again now that ryan got us a subscription. haven't read it in a while, so i'm probably way off.

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:22 (5 years ago) Permalink

you might be thinking of people who read the new yorker and feel the need to show off how smart they are? see also: the economist.

rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:23 (5 years ago) Permalink

If you keep a New Yorker on your coffee table, Surm, visitors to your home will assume you're Cultured.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:24 (5 years ago) Permalink

I keep mine there because it saves money on coasters.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:24 (5 years ago) Permalink

i generally don't have a huge problem with the new yorker (though i think the cartooning sucks, have virtually no use for the event listings etc, i can still usually find one or two things to read & enjoy per issue) i DO have a problem with people who read/carry/use the new yorker as a way of showing off how smart they are. xpxpxpxp otm

ian, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:25 (5 years ago) Permalink

HI DERE: I think you would have a good point except that it's not really "a piece that is intentionally written as a moment-of-time meeting between an artist and one of his fans"; or rather, it is, but it dresses itself up as some kind of broader 'hey check out this crazy youth cultural phenomenon!' thing, and kind of rings hollow in that sense.

or in other words: given the choice between a good piece that would only be interesting to people who had heard of/cared about/were fans of the Mountain Goats, or a kinda-crappy piece that would have (slightly) broader appeal, this leans towards the second.

if you like it then you shoulda put a donk on it (bernard snowy), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:25 (5 years ago) Permalink

btw while i DO think there are probably a lot of people who read the new yorker in a large part because it is a STATUS SYMBOL of some kind i think the number of people for whom that is the ONLY reason they read the magazine is VASTLY OVERESTIMATED--maybe this is because i am something of a nyer stan, but it is, for real, a REALLY GOOD MAGAZINE, and id like to believe that people read it because of its quality more than any other consideration

rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:27 (5 years ago) Permalink

i DO have a problem with people who read/carry/use the new yorker as a way of showing off how smart they are

how can you tell these people apart from those that "actually" like reading/carrying/using it

mookieproof, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:28 (5 years ago) Permalink

yea, point taken re: the new yorkers' audience base (and the economist). ryan was reading it on the subway yesterday and i was afraid people would get the wrong idea! ;)

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:28 (5 years ago) Permalink

in fact it strikes me that oftentimes people read the new yorker both because it is a really good mag and also because it confers a certain kind of status on them--that maybe in fact these reasons are not as separate as we might like to think

rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:29 (5 years ago) Permalink

i smell a junior lit paper

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:31 (5 years ago) Permalink

I think you would have a good point except that it's not really "a piece that is intentionally written as a moment-of-time meeting between an artist and one of his fans"; or rather, it is, but it dresses itself up as some kind of broader 'hey check out this crazy youth cultural phenomenon!' thing, and kind of rings hollow in that sense.

I don't think it does that at all. I think, if it has a broader point, it is saying, "fandom still exists and it hasn't changed".

I think it is a well-written, banal piece. I enjoyed reading it because I like the way the author wrote it but it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know about J0hn, the way some of his fans act, or the way fandom in general works. More to the point, I don't think it was trying to say anything new; it was trying to pull a human center out of a story that is simultaneously unremarkable and touching.

Wes HI DEREson (HI DERE), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:31 (5 years ago) Permalink

this is my favorite part of the article... hey indie musician who built your fanbase through years of gigging and releasing albums, your persona is not appealing! plz leave this stuff to the pros who know how to blow it up, like katy perry.

John Darnielle is a wonderful songwriter and deserves many happy turns, but the cruel fact remains: On the scale at which New York usually operates, he is a commercially marginal musician. He is not about to blow up, nor will he soon appear in the pages of Us Weekly on the arm of Winona Ryder. He makes very, very good records that not very many people, relatively speaking, will ever hear. The same is true of Case, Oldham, and Bird. None of them feel compelled to do the things that actually famous musicians did in order to get famous, like create an appealing persona and deliver it to a fascinated reporter.

鬼の手 (Edward III), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:32 (5 years ago) Permalink

i know, weird right?

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:34 (5 years ago) Permalink

so, indie musicians don't care about their persona, or their cultural relevance.

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:35 (5 years ago) Permalink

He is not about to blow up, nor will he soon appear in the pages of Us Weekly on the arm of Winona Ryder.

we all know how this worked out for dave pirner. wtf john?

She Is Beyond Food In Weevil (Mackro Mackro), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:36 (5 years ago) Permalink

i was gonna say "he'd have a point if he replaced 'create an appealing persona' with 'take your shirt off' and 'fascinated reporter' with 'lad mag'" but neko case has done that.

da croupier, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:37 (5 years ago) Permalink

xp yeah but wasn't it presented as "The complex bond between the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle and his sensitive fans," and didn't it make plenty of generalizations about people who listen to him? i have no huge problem with sociological inferences or broad statements (if it seems like the writer was thinkin'), but i wasn't sure if i was supposed to be reading about all MG fans, this one MG fan, or this one MG fan as a representation of all MG fans.

mike powell, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:37 (5 years ago) Permalink

what should musicians do in order to get famous?

a) create an appealing persona and deliver it to a fascinated reporter
b) make good music

sigh... I expected so much more from a site named gawker

鬼の手 (Edward III), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:40 (5 years ago) Permalink

i can't bring myself to read gawker, in general.

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:43 (5 years ago) Permalink

i like gawker for the most part

rip dom passantino 3/5/09 never forget (max), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:45 (5 years ago) Permalink

gawker has become a whole hell of a lot less fun since new york media started getting bulldozed.

He grew in Pussyville. Population: him. (call all destroyer), Monday, 16 March 2009 17:46 (5 years ago) Permalink

look max, you're not gonna turn me into a new yorker readin, gawking 25yr old OK?

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:48 (5 years ago) Permalink

:P

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:49 (5 years ago) Permalink

last time I saw Neko was at this tiny sold out club called Irving Plaza.

bnw, Monday, 16 March 2009 17:55 (5 years ago) Permalink

look, if she gets famous it's because she finally figured out how to make her persona more appealing to fascinated reporters, while oldham, bird, and darnielle remain sitting in their tearstained undies puzzling over the rubik's cube that is worldwide renown in the 2009.

鬼の手 (Edward III), Monday, 16 March 2009 18:07 (5 years ago) Permalink

i actually really liked the oldham article.

i mean i get what the gawker thing was saying about the sort of cliched "oh we hung out thing" but oldham has been so evasive for so long it WAS actually kind of a big deal for his long time fans....plus, the whole thing with the weird concert down by the lake was super rad i thought....him havign a "work house" and a "sleep house", stuff like that was fascinating...his mom seemed cool.

brother marquis (M@tt He1ges0n), Monday, 16 March 2009 18:36 (5 years ago) Permalink

and just to one-up y'all in the "writing about neko case apparently makes writers turn retarded"...here is one from the new newsweek....manages to one up that racial miscengeny one with the weirdo claim that in 2009 Neko Case has returned melody in "alternative rock"...wresting it from the hands of noiseniks like....nirvana....and...green day? hed asspllode

brother marquis (M@tt He1ges0n), Monday, 16 March 2009 18:38 (5 years ago) Permalink

Acts such as Bon Iver, Iron & Wine and Antony and the Johnsons have been bringing pretty back, to paraphrase Justin Timberlake.

i hate this so much.

Wes HI DEREson (HI DERE), Monday, 16 March 2009 18:41 (5 years ago) Permalink

...right now.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 16 March 2009 18:42 (5 years ago) Permalink

But whereas Kurt Cobain once felt the need to hide affection for R.E.M. from his underground peers lest he be booted from their secret society, today's alternative acts no longer look at melody as the love that dare not speak its name.

Cobain was so terrified of this secret society that he confessed this affection in the noted indie zine Rolling Stone.

The Screaming Lobster of Challops (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 16 March 2009 18:44 (5 years ago) Permalink

I'm trying to figure out whether j0hn will be mortified or honored that we are using this thread to mock a) mainstream coverage of corny indie fuxx0rs and b) those who mock mainstream coverage of corny indie fuxx0rs

鬼の手 (Edward III), Monday, 16 March 2009 18:53 (5 years ago) Permalink

I enjoyed the attention of the New York piece, but really, I demand my Newsweek piece immediately, and it has to be super-long with sidebars and plenty of pictures

and the cover, I want the cover

Just one thing I was thinking about as I was getting on the copter (J0hn D.), Monday, 16 March 2009 18:55 (5 years ago) Permalink

i want a party with roomfuls of laughter
ten thousand tons of ice creaaaaam

Mr. Que, Monday, 16 March 2009 18:57 (5 years ago) Permalink

this makes me so happy today

fuck bein hard, BIG HOOS is complicated (BIG HOOS aka the steendriver), Monday, 16 March 2009 18:57 (5 years ago) Permalink

J0hn, trust me. You REALLY don't want to be drawing attention to Veruca Salt here.

meta pro lols (libcrypt), Monday, 16 March 2009 18:58 (5 years ago) Permalink

ok how about freddie then

Just one thing I was thinking about as I was getting on the copter (J0hn D.), Monday, 16 March 2009 19:03 (5 years ago) Permalink

disappointed that "He looks more or less like the rest of the assembled Mountain Goats faithful, a cross section of earnest young poet boys, geeky music-philes, and self-styled off-the-grid types carrying messenger bags—nearly a thousand of whom have gathered here tonight to bathe in Darnielle’s light" wasn't followed with a "if I can't piss on my fans, I don't want to be famous" quote.

da croupier, Monday, 16 March 2009 19:22 (5 years ago) Permalink

we need to create an uber-ma+m0s fan as article bait

mookieproof, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:00 (5 years ago) Permalink

i saw a fan go up to oldham with the "you're such a genius" shtick, it was really awkward until the guy asked if he knew where the bathroom was and oldham said "so you really like my music and you gotta take a piss?"

bnw, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:05 (5 years ago) Permalink

I'm trying to think of any examples of music profiles, other than Bill Buford's dirty-fighting takedown of Lucinda Williams, that don't just perpetuate the image the musician has already created a la written equivalent of an Annie Liebovitz photo.

Eazy, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:09 (5 years ago) Permalink

That's why they're called "profiles" and not "exposes".

Wes HI DEREson (HI DERE), Monday, 16 March 2009 20:11 (5 years ago) Permalink

point taken

Surmounter, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:12 (5 years ago) Permalink

i remember some rolling stone article in the 90s where they sort of went into detail abt what a fraud they thought eddie vedder was

just sayin, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:20 (5 years ago) Permalink

fuckin guy doesn't even WEAR flannel.

ian, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:22 (5 years ago) Permalink

eman, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:27 (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.

My usual problem with them, actually -- and this applies to some but not all of the pieces in question -- is that they're so often written by people who don't cover music.

That's not inherently a bad thing, depending on who you are. Most of these articles aren't really aimed at people who'd know or care a ton about the artist to begin with -- they're taking well-known figures from the music world and (often) hiring the feature and profile writers already in their address books to introduce those figures to a broader audience. (I have faith that there are plenty of music writers who could produce great magazine-style profiles; I assume they're just not always in the loop of the general-interest publications that run such things.)

But like someone said above, it does often turn into a case of a culture writer sort of parroting received wisdom about the artist in between gushing about how moved they are by the music, and how fascinated they are by the musician. They explain the mythology of the artist in ways that those in the artist's field have already started complicating. They make the artist's "cult-like" status sound like something particularly magical, whereas people who follow such things tend to be aware that the same article could be written about any number of the artist's peers. And in a lot of cases, it can lead to odd bits of misinformation, or semi-misleading emphasis of information, or the taking for granted of claims about music that a music writer would (hopefully) be more curious or critical about.

The one that most got me on this front was the Andrew Bird article, which contained claims like this:

He had lost interest in classical concertos, but he couldn’t relate to the stark, self-consciously simplistic sound of the post-punk scene that flourished in Chicago in the 1990s.

I'm not even sure what this is referring to: Chicago's popular alt-rock bands? the Chicago no-wave hardly anyone listened to? a 90s Chicago that contained no post-rock? This might seem like a nit-pick -- it is, really -- but it's the sort of thing I come across and don't understand why I couldn't be reading the same piece as written by someone who has enough connection with the material to unpack these things ... as opposed to what seems like a magazine guy who just happens to like Andrew Bird a lot:

Jonathan Mahler is a contributing writer. His most recent book is “The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight Over Presidential Power.”

I don't mean this to sound elitist, though I suppose it might technically qualify. It's just that ... I get the sense it's a lot harder for music critics to pitch stories about Hamdan v. Rumsfeld than it is for people to go in the opposite direction, and I'm not sure editors know some of the things that go wrong with the pieces that result.

nabisco, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:28 (5 years ago) Permalink


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