Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Blurst of Times?!?!

A band like The Airborne Toxic Event just kind of rubs me the wrong way. I had become vaguely familiar with them in the past several months—that is to say more “aware of” than “familiar with”—and they're just one of those bands that you get an immediate, admittedly unfounded dislike for. I'm sure it's happened to all of you: you hear some hype about a band, see ads for their super-hip new album plastered around websites, hear a little more hype...and next thing you know, without any particular reason, you now officially have some kind of bias against them. I found myself wondering if this band would become the next big, over-hyped, mediocre indie darling. You know, the music equivalent to Little Miss Sunshine or Juno. And since the real key to becoming the cute little indie sleeper of the year is apparently paralyzing mediocrity, i'm sure they'll fit right in.

My initial reaction to having finally listened to their music/watched a few youtube videos, was that they were some sort of fat-cat concoction to bank off the growing success and popularity of “indie” bands. You know, because these days all the 17 year old kids who would've been jocks or at most skaters when I was in high school now wear skinny jeans, white belts and listen to Circa Survive.

Seriously, this band just screams of “genetically engineered to appeal to as many demographics as possible.” I mean, let's face it, they've got a pretty solid recipe for success:

-Band name ripped from a popular “lit kid” novel. Sure, I like White Noise as much as the next guy, but to rep Delillo in front of a lit major—or even worse a big post-modern douche bag—is like trying to impress a bunch of Jazz assholes by namedropping John Coltrane. No go hoss.

-Fender Jaguars. And lots of them! (board room meeting: “They all need top of the line Fender Stratocasters!” “Those aren't 'hip' anymore.” “Well then, what is?”) Jazzmasters might be harder to recognize and Mustangs are a little folksy. The Jaguar is a solid choice.

-THE BASSIST PLAYS WITH A BOW. Why? To meet their daily fag quotient? Who knows. But it's a sure fire way to get the lowest-common-denominator post-rock crowd. OMG I LOVE SIGUR ROS.

-Cute girl. If you're going to Frankenstein a successful indie band, you need at least one cute chick with bangs that could slice bread. Let me guess, she plays the violin? Naturally! What else can girls play, the harp?

-They're sure to take lots of pictures of themselves playing with a lot of fog under neon lights. You know, because it's moody and brooding. And shit. It kind of calls to mind My Bloody Valentine. Is there still a big shoe-gaze fan base? Tap that shit, too!

-lyrics lyrics lyrics!! The more cliche and banal, the better! "she walks up and asks how you are/so you can smell her perfume/you can see her lying naked in your arms." Sounds like something straight out of Delillo!

So, the above ranting was all really just me spit-balling about the elements some record exec wanted to see in the next big indie band. I'm probably way off base, right? Turns out, this wasn't some record label's master plan, it was just plain old, human egotism and pandering.

So, this guy, the lead singer. He was writing a novel. I'm sure it was terrific. I'm sure it's main influence was Catcher In The Rye. Wait, no, this is a hardcore lit kid! It was probably Gravity's Rainbow or Infinite Jest! Anyway, that's not the point. He was writing the Great American Novel, but then, his girlfriend broke his heart, his mom was diagnosed with cancer, and he got that disease that Why? named an album after and that dude from The Darjeeling Limited had. So he decided to put his shoe-in for the PEN/Faulkner award off for a while to get everything off his chest in song form. Sound familiar? Vaguely.

Anyway, if this dude's lyrics suck this much, I can't even imagine what his novel was like. He's like that kid in your creative writing class who says he's working on a novel even though he's never written a short story in his life and is pretty much retarded.

"Sorry, I really lost my head
I'm sorry, I really lost my head.
But you know those words that you said
They get stuck here in my head
And this feeling I dread, makes me wish I was dead
Or just alone instead, i'll be alone instead.
I don't need anyone in my bed
Just these ceiling tiles falling through my head."

Fuck dude, forget prose, I think poetry is your thing. It's like we just unearthed the long-lost fourth Bronte sister.

But then again, this guy likes Don Delillo and plays a Jag. Shouldn't I be eating this shit up?

I'm sure their CD has one of those "For Fans Of..." stickers on it. God, I hate those things. The last band on the sticker is always Converge too, as if Converge were the single most unifying and universally appealing band in the last twenty years.

This band is the culmination of the idea that if "you like A and B, then you'll love C!" And I hate that.

endnote: in my research for this post (yes, I do research!) I went to their website and found that they had written a novel-length "response" to Pitchfork's review of their album. Apparently they hate this band as much (or more?) than I do. Anyway, they go well out of their way to say they don't care what reviews say, and that every other review says their album is one of the best of the year! After which they proudly display a feature in NME, which is like a commercial saying that John McCain approves this message.

I need a video to wash all this suck off of me. How about Bill Callahan's serene video for "I Feel Like The Mother Of The World?"

This band is the musical equivalent to a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters writing the Great American Novel.



'stina said...

Prose before hos.

megan elizabeth said...

Those lyrics look like he's just stringing together the ends in -ed entry from his rhyming dictionary.

Also, girls are allowed to play keyboards half-heartedly, bass in the 90's and drums if they've fucked at least one guy in the band.