•What the fuck is "blog rock"? Musicdom has some pretty lame genre designations--coining a genre post-anything is lazy, even if the music's often pretty neat, and don't get me started on cringe-inducing neologisms like shitgaze and glo-fi. I even remember people discussing blog house in the recent past, and that seemed pretty dumb. "Blog rock" seems like a backhanded attempt to saddle indie with stereotypes about internet users and sweatpants. And since the term is used interchangeably with "indie," it's semantically useless. We don't call the Kings Of Leon "glossy page rock," even though they feature in magazine fashion spreads.
•The post notes the popularity of lo-fi sounds. In our ProTools era (the liner notes to Fucked Up's Couple Tracks note that the band has never recorded on anything but ProTools) no song needs to sound like "Poldeo" ever again, but many still do. The post refers to lo-fi as "anti-corporate," and implies that it no longer is. But has lo-fi ever really been co-opted? I can't think of an instance. Lo-fi had remained outside the mainstream in ways that most elements of punk and indie haven't. And while I'm no partisan of neo-lo-fi, I ask those who disparage it: what makes lo-fi production values an inferior aesthetic choice, or any less of an aesthetic choice, than hi-fi production?
•Finally: let's set aside bands that make explicitly political music. Might there be something oppositional in the brainy music of Grizzly Bear or The Dirty Projectors? Michael Azerrad thinks so, and he's worth quoting at length:
A lot of people sneer at so-called "NPR rock" for being wimpy or something, but it's a hoary cliché that underground music has to be loud, fast, and out of control. Once upon a time, mainstream culture was blandly, blindly complacent, so underground music was angry and dissatisfied—look at the Velvet Underground droning about heroin while America tried to paste a fluorescent smiley-face over Vietnam; look at the Sex Pistols railing that "England's dreaming" in '77 while the Queen's silver jubilee distracted from rampant unemployment and racial unrest. But in 2010, mainstream culture isn't complacent; it's stupid and angry. So underground culture has become smart and serene. That's not wimpy—it's powerful and constructive, a blueprint for kicking against the pricks. (link)I've been thinking about Azerrad's argument for weeks now. It's compelling and highly original, but I'm not sure I agree 100%. I'm still digesting it, but I welcome your thoughts in the comments.