(EDITOR’S NOTE : from time to time, Austin music blogger / fledgling independent label operator Norman Wanklord takes a break from his own unique brand of trenchant analysis and hard-hitting commentary to grace the pages of CSTB with, well, even more trenchant analysis and hard-hitting commentary – GC)
Unlike certain living-off-past-laurels jerks I could mention but shall not because I’m such a positive, community minded guy (AHEM, PAVEMENT, COUGH, COUGH, PAVEMENT) , not all of us are lucky enough to earn a living from the music business — not even those of us who tirelessly review upwards of a dozen soundcloud links a week. No, instead, I’m paying the bills by teaching the future of tomorrow, beautiful, sweet innocent public school children. And while these kids are pretty goddamn lucky to have a mentor like me (by the way, who spray paints a penis on a middle school teacher’s car? when I was their age, I didn’t know what a penis looked like!), in many other ways, I pity them. Sure, they’ve got all sorts of cool new gadgets (iPads, electronic cigarettes) but they’re never gonna have the thrill of discovering paradigm-smashing new music in a way that’s personal and meaningful. Simply put, no amount of Soundcloud links or Spotify album premieres can replace the incredible moment when me and the rest of my generation saw Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! make their network television debut.
(BLOG ROCK IS STILL REAL TO ME : you can keep your Kurt Cobain! The anonymous balding guy with the melodica was my gateway to an entire universe of people dying to cut loose)
If you were there, I don’t have to tell you what it felt like. But if you weren’t, you’ll just have to take my word that it represented an epiphany for countless white males who didn’t have much rhythm, sex appeal and really didn’t want to make too big a racket because we just moved into the gated community and what’s the point getting off on the wrong foot?
It was a moment where we all realized everything was possible — just so long as, y’know, we didn’t have company after 10pm and remembered which day was recycling pick up.
I wouldn’t think I’d have to refresh anyone’s memories of that glorious age, but Grantland’s Steven Hyden has made such a crash course in early 2000’s music history sorely necessary. Of the genre, “blog rock”, Hyden writes, “Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Cold War Kids. Tapes ‘n Tapes. Black Kids. Nearly 10 years ago, a new crop of bands appeared and a new genre was born before quickly dying. Did it mean anything at all?” Excuse me, dying quickly? Would my site be generating nearly 100 unique visitors a week if BLOG ROCK WERE DEAD? Would the recordings I’ve issued by some of Austin’s least intimidating bands have received nearly as much acclaim from other Austin music blogs with nearly 200 unique visitors a week if the struggle fought by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were all for naught?
Hyden — who I am starting to think might be an even more cynical, elitist creep than the guy who publishes CSTB — says of a latter CYHSY TV appearance, “this was an actual band, and not a comedic sketch written by a person who hated indie rock and wanted to exaggerate the genre’s most familiar mannerisms.” Oh, so now you’re the mannerism police! There’s more sneering (“MP3 blogs were just another extension of the industry, frequently promoting bands as ‘real’ that in retrospect would be more aptly described as ‘corny’) and ultimately Hyden dismisses CYHSY as a merely “solid indie-pop act”, not quite the equal of The National (why not just say they’re not as good as The Beatles meets Radiohead meets Jesus, Stephen? Talk about an unfair standard!).
I mean, duh, they aren’t the National. I’m not Raoul Hernandez, either, but that doesn’t give Hyden the right to diminish an incredibly special time for those of us of a certain age (who routinely got our ass kicked by metal kids). I realize Clap Your Hands Say Yeah only sold a few tens of thousands of records, but every single person who bought one of those records went on to work in the tech industry. Which of your precious punk/thrash bands are gonna be nearly as influential? Lumpy & The Dumpers? Listen, I’m only the person in music/new media who has earned the right to be compared to Lumpy Rutherford, so those guys can fuck off, whoever they are.
Alright. That’s about all I have time for. There’s papers to grade and tomorrow’s pile of Soundcloud links aren’t gonna review themselves, though if I manage to paraphrase the press releases while tossing in the odd “delightful” and “toe-tapping”, they come awfully fucking close to reviewing themselves! That’s a time-honored trade secret…don’t tell anyone!
yours from the live music capitol,