Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Brooklyn Is Helping You Be Terrible

"A regional music scene—hereafter, 'RMS'—furthers art in the same way that, say, Wisconsin furthered progressive politics under Gov. and Sen. Robert La Follette in the early 20th century. RMSes generate ideas. They lend music character…. Brooklyn has a downside. Those who abandon their RMS to come to Brooklyn risk co-option by an aesthetic Borg. Things get mushy. There’s too much input, and there’s not a lot that’s not known. Somebody’s band sounds like Howlin’ Wolf and ESG and Gang of Four, but also sounds like REO Speedwagon and Glenn Branca and The Pointer Sisters. There aren’t many secrets. There are no mountains to go over…. Artists wanted to live in the city of Pollock, Warhol, and Basquiat; writers wanted to live in the city of Kerouac and Thomas Wolfe; bands wanted to live in the city of Suicide, ESG, and Talking Heads. And the musicians, once they got there, started sounding more like Suicide, ESG, and Talking Heads."
Regional music scenes "are disappearing because everyone is starting to sound like everyone else," goes this argument. To blame is the hipster Internet, which is Brooklyn. I also blame "taste" and its lockstep pressure. There's a really good Ariana Reines poem about this whole taste and culture and belonging thing, it turns out!

19 Comments / Post A Comment

brianvan (#149)

Now that you mention it, I do think Katy Perry sometimes sounds like the BQE

GiovanniGF (#224)

I left Williamsburg in 2002 (priced out), but I would go back to hear that band that sounds like REO Speedwagon and Glenn Branca and The Pointer Sisters.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@GiovanniGF "Priced out" in 2002? Son, if you couldn't hold a job just say so! No shame in that.

RunningDiceman (#237,921)

I concur, REO, ELO, Santana, allman brothers would trump all the fruitcake brooklyn fairys jumping around on stage in tight pants and pointy elf boots, ahah..kidding asaide just about any band is a pleasure to see long as your not surrounded by teenagers or shiny faced kids with tats, give me a break..

flossy (#1,402)

"Do not confuse Brooklyn with, well, Brooklyn… There are many Brooklyns. Los Angeles is Brooklyn. Chicago is Brooklyn. Berlin and London are Brooklyn. Babylon was the Brooklyn of the ancient world. In the 1990s, Seattle was Brooklyn. Young Chinese punks challenging Communism risk prison to make Beijing the Brooklyn of tomorrow.

Some Brooklyns aren’t even places. MySpace is Brooklyn. YouTube is Brooklyn. Facebook is Brooklyn. Spotify and iTunes are perversely, horribly, unapologetically, maddeningly Brooklyn."

I should have seen this coming in an article that started out with a Walt Whitman quote followed by "On July 5, 1997, my band…" but OH MY GODDDDD SHUT UPPPPPPP.

deepomega (#1,720)

@flossy Didn't you wonder what made New York the Greatest City On Earth? It's the fact that it is literally the ONLY CITY on Earth.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@flossy The history repeats itself because everything happened in Brooklyn. And it was all always about Brooklyn. As evidenced by this article.

deepomega (#1,720)

For the first time in recorded history, bands have imitated the sounds of other bands they respect. Now that imitation has been discovered, there is nothing we can do but burn our headphones in funeral pyres and pluck out our eardrums, that we may never hear anything ever again.

SidAndFinancy (#4,328)

Nah, this is just how "RMSes" come to be. People of varying levels of talent flock to the happening place, and that happens to be Brooklyn now.

A lot of members of bands from the Athens/Boston/L.A./San Francisco/Chicago/Austin/Detroit — even New Orleans — scenes, in their respective heydays, were from there, but many others flocked to the excitement, some of whom helped define the sound.

With the Internet, it's almost as easy to be influenced by an up-and-coming band across the world as across the street, and word of mouth spreads like wildfire, not slowly and regionally.

I fail to see what the root-mean-square measure has to do with crappy Brooklyn bands.

Gangnam Style is big these days.

ComradePsmith (#4,477)

@ComradePsmith "But it’s more efficient to refer to Ian Svenonius’s 2006 book The Psychic Soviet, an overlooked work of genius which I fear is fully understood and appreciated only by its author—the former frontman of Nation of Ulysses and The Make-Up and singer for Chain and the Gang—and me."


freetzy (#7,018)

@ComradePsmith Let me hear ya say yeah

hman (#53)

Based on the photo, I thought this was going to be about bike lanes. Who'd have thought there'd be something more irritating than bike lanes?

Flashman (#418)

You guys are *still* talking about Clinton's speech?

Leon (#6,596)

I like how the same sort of "music writers" who probably spent high school hating on the jock assholes who "were just going to join frats where they jerk off on a cracker" spend so much time producing so many words with less nutritional value than a jizzy triscuit.

(Jizzy Triscuit was the best band from my RMS I grew up in and superior to everything from Brooklyn).

Also, isn't it kind of weird to start an essay about how Brooklyn ruins things with Walt Whitman?

Urbania (#94)

Just got back from rural Brazil. We create the dumbest problems for ourselves.

Danzig! (#5,318)

God I wish some new band would sound like Suicide

I wish Gang of Four sounded less like Gang of Four :(

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