The Mountain Goats

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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

^^those kind of "exposes" are bullshit imo because yeah it's usually at the level of just that xxp

The Prices are .......... VERY AFFORDABLE!!! (omar little), Monday, 16 March 2009 20:29 (5 years ago) Permalink

that goat is stocky

velko, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:29 (5 years ago) Permalink

I think he's referring to the post-punk Lounge Ax/Touch & Go scene circa 1999.

Eazy, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:31 (5 years ago) Permalink

Wait, Eazy, you're being sarcastic, right?

nabisco, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:34 (5 years ago) Permalink

um, that's what i assume the writer is referring to

Mr. Que, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:34 (5 years ago) Permalink

I mean that as early as 2000 he was getting booked by Billions, and the particular music scene he was around at the time was making music that played against the strengths of what he was doing.

Eazy, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:35 (5 years ago) Permalink

(But he was also pretty much part of the Hideout/alt-country world here in Chicago, played at a Doug Sahm tribute at Lounge Ax, and toured with Neko and others around that time, so he wasn't an ostracized guy at all; just didn't fit into what Billions and T&G were championing at the time.)

Eazy, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:38 (5 years ago) Permalink

andrew bird, comfortably splitting the difference between concertos and simplistic chicago post-punk.

He grew in Pussyville. Population: him. (call all destroyer), Monday, 16 March 2009 20:39 (5 years ago) Permalink

I don't understand how it would make sense to posit it as some formative thing that Bird wasn't attracted to the "flourishing" of a small group of Chicago post-punk bands.

xpost - by the way, we're talking about the mid-90s here

Honestly, I'm pretty sure that sentence is the writer's (non-music-jargony) way of referring to the alt-rock at the Metro, which it might make sense for Bird to react to. And I suspect the writer isn't otherwise aware that there was plenty of flourishing of complicated music on non-rock instruments happening in Chicago at exactly that moment. I suspect Andrew Bird told the writer he felt alienated from the rock/punk stuff going on in the city at the time, and the writer then assembled a sentence that made Bird sound, somewhat romantically, like a lone dissenter or misfit in a rock scene. Which makes for nice copy, but doesn't seem like a complete claim at all.

nabisco, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:41 (5 years ago) Permalink

I don't understand how it would make sense to posit it as some formative thing that Bird wasn't attracted to the "flourishing" of a small group of Chicago post-punk bands.

that's not what the writer is saying. the writer is saying (as I read it) Bird wasn't interested in concertos, and he wasn't interested in Tar/Shellac whatever etc etc

Mr. Que, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:46 (5 years ago) Permalink

Well, a lot of Chicago bands around him were fitting in with the sound of the labels here at the time: so there were Bloodshot bands, Touch & Go bands, and Thrill Jockey bands. What he was doing didn't fit in with those, and he was never on a local label, unlike a lot of his peers at the time.

Eazy, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:47 (5 years ago) Permalink

I dunno, guys: keep in mind that this is a general-interest article written by someone who doesn't appear to write about music.

Que, the sentence is organized to suggest, pretty strongly, that the stark/simplistic "post-punk" that Bird couldn't relate to was somehow the dominant Chicago scene -- that it was the sound that "flourished" in 90s Chicago, leaving Bird somewhat romantically trapped between his concertos and the rock kids.

Now, no matter what we think he's referring to, or what elements of felt truth there might have been in that, we're talking about an era in Chicago where one major thing that was "flourishing" involved like Jim O'Rourke making pop and the Sea and Cake and such, so the suggestion that Andrew Bird was somehow an outcast from the mainstream of the scene seems really odd to me (even before the Bloodshot/Hideout stuff comes into view).

I'd reiterate that this is a non-music journalist in the NYT Magazine -- I really don't know that he himself exactly has Shellac in mind. Like I said, my guess is that a general expression on Bird's part of not being able to relate to some rock scene has just slipped onto the page, making for nice copy, without the writer's thinking: wait, was that the main scene happening at the time? Is anything else missing from this picture?

nabisco, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:56 (5 years ago) Permalink

i think you're totally overthinking it. i think Shellac and the Sea and Cake and Jim O can all fall under post-punk/simplistic label (esp. if you're, as you say, a NY Times writer who doesn't write about music all that much) without too much trouble.

Mr. Que, Monday, 16 March 2009 20:59 (5 years ago) Permalink

ay yi yi, this thread. Happy Birthday, John! Hahahahahaha!

scott seward, Monday, 16 March 2009 21:00 (5 years ago) Permalink

O'Rourke records are too "stark" for Andrew Bird to relate to???

nabisco, Monday, 16 March 2009 21:03 (5 years ago) Permalink


<3 this pic haha

tylerw, Monday, 16 March 2009 21:04 (5 years ago) Permalink

who is this andrew bird character anyway? someone i should have heard of? (not gonna read the nyt piece.)

ian, Monday, 16 March 2009 21:05 (5 years ago) Permalink


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