The Null Device

Everett True vs. Music White People With Beards Like

Veteran music critic Everett True has a column in Something Awful (that was one of those troll/griefer forums before /b/ took over that market, leaving only the respectable trade in content), in which he plays the Grumpy Old Man and calls bullshit on the more-special-than-thou stylistic posturing of privileged white college kids, from the point of view that only a cranky old guy can have. In the first one, he demolishes Animal Collective:
None of us like to be associated with those chicks with their tits hanging halfway out of their bra-straps, teetering down the Valley on four-inch white high heels. So we can't be caught liking what they listen to (probably Lady Gaga or Britney). None of us want to be seen hanging with the lads who think it's a laugh-riot to see how far a wall can splatter blood. So fuck their taste (probably Chili Peppers or Nirvana). Your parents, they're old. They like songs that have melodies and structures and stuff (probably Weezer or Blondie or Beck). Crap, how '90s. Secretly, in your heart of hearts, you want to keep listening to Radiohead's OK Computer but you know that your beard-growing college chums would despise you if they knew, even though they all feel exactly the same. Really, all you want to do is have a few brews and chill out, and not have anybody freak you out with loud noises.
Someone once wrote to me that "A fellow I know once stated that the Animal Collective are at the apex of what he termed the 'skipping-CD Beach Boys meets the Lion King soundtrack' age. Recently he informed me that era was finished, and the 'record your girl-group songs in Pro-Tools then add distortion to make them lo-fi' epoch was now upon us."
And here, he tears apart the entire NPR Top 20 of 2010 for its lily-white beards-and-sweaters indie homogeneity:
1. Gorillaz: Plastic Beach. My son listens to Gorillaz. He has a good time listening to Gorillaz. He likes to shoot a few dance moves, talk about what the cartoon characters get up to, and make the scary chuckling noise when we least expect it. My son is five years old. I'm not saying you should be embarrassed of sharing your taste with him - he also loves The Specials, Mary Poppins and Ben 10 - and I'm not saying that Gorillaz haven't uncovered a brand-new 'mature' (i.e. downbeat) sound on their new album, but just when were you thinking of growing up?
14. Flying Lotus: Cosmogramma: Ah, the obligatory non-indie record in the Top 20 - so NPR's listeners are open-minded after all. Oh, no, wait, that's not Thom Yorke I see lolloping over the horizon, eager to add his unshaven whine to the squiggly electro beats? Oh fucking fuck, it is.
The exact proportions in the abovementioned writings of righteous, insightful debunking of stale bourgeois convention, cheap shots at straw men, and grumpy-old-man kvetching about how music these days is all shit, unlike back in the good old days, is left as an exercise to the reader.

There are 3 comments on "Everett True vs. Music White People With Beards Like":

Posted by: Greg Sat Nov 20 00:10:21 2010

I enjoyed these pieces (see also his new one on Kings of Leon). Criticism is necessary in music and other arts. There is great art, but it is hidden within a mountain of bullshit, most of which is generated by the algorithm "I would like the social, sexual and financial rewards enjoyed by that great artist over there, therefore I will attempt to produce pieces that are similar to theirs." Constant criticism, and the threat of it, works to wash away the me-too pile. Everett True does the world a service by putting his well-known name to use producing and publicizing these critiques.

My minor gripe with ET is that for each of these "rage against the pseud" pieces, he'll tend to publish gushing praise of musicians he likes, and it isn't always clear what differentiates these groups beyond random personal preference. For example, he championed grunge, and kept praising Nick Cave for too long.

Posted by: Greg Sat Nov 20 00:25:02 2010

My other gripe is that this stuff is of the past. Debates about "I like band X, not band Y" animate 40-60 year-olds because they grew up in an era when pop music mattered. Now the money and the revolutionaries have moved elsewhere, and to the generations growing up now, pop music isn't that big a deal. They are less likely to identify with musicians, and more interested in other battlegrounds such as the Internet. The recent movie about Zuck points the way forward.

Posted by: Jerry Mon Nov 22 22:29:13 2010

"grumpy-old-man kvetching about how music these days is all shit, unlike back in the good old days"

eh? have you actually *read* any of my writing in the last year/two years/five years/10 years (delete as applicable) Overwhelmingly, 99 per cent of it is praising new stuff. Always. I have NEVER said or tried to imply that music was way better in the past - simply because I have never believed that.

Nice payoff line, nonetheless - at least you're not forgetting one of the inviolate rules of music criticism: never let the truth get in the way of a good line.

Greg's second comment is an interesting one.