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Pity the indie-rock girlfriend

So, to follow the indie rock meme some more, I woke up this morning to discover that I have been woefully negligent in keeping up to date with this month's hot cultural criticism, and that my post last night came amidst a much larger argument right now about indie rock. (I can blame a recent relocation and new job... I've just moved to Buffalo from Boston... has left me high and dry... thus also explaining the dearth of posting on MetaEzra.)

But thankfully the Cornell Daily Sun is here to fill us all in :

For the .01 percent of music listeners who care about these issues, this past few weeks has seen a pretty exciting clash between two well-established music critics.

So we have the New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones, who asks: How did rhythm come to be discounted in an art form that was born as a celebration of rhythm’s possibilities? Where is the impulse to reach out to an audience—to entertain?

And then there is Slate's Carl Wilson, responding with this gem of a paragraph, which may hit a little bit too close to home:

Among at least a subset of (the younger) musicians and fans, this class separation has made indie more openly snobbish and narrow-minded... The profile of this university demographic often includes a sojourn in extended adolescence, comprising graduate degrees, internships, foreign jaunts, and so on, which easily can last until their early 30s. Unlike in the early 1990s, when this was perceived as a form of generational exclusion and protested in "slacker"/grunge music, it's now been normalized as a passage to later-life career success. Its musical consequences might include an open but less urgent expression of sexuality, or else a leaning to the twee, sexless, childhood nostalgia that many older critics (including both Frere-Jones and me) find puzzling and irritating. Female and queer artists still have pressing sexual issues and identities to explore and celebrate, but the straight boys often seem to fall back on performing their haplessness and hyper-sensitivity. (Pity the indie-rock girlfriend.)

And so, yeah, everything I wrote yesterday was before I read any of this.

But it makes great food for thought. Although Cowie would probably much rather have us doing anything else than be neurotic about.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on October 25, 2007 (#)

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