The Impending Lo-fi Blacklash

OK, so I’ve been going a little hot and heavy on the political stuff lately, so, in honor of Obama’s 101st day in office, I’d like to lighten it up here and talk about music, which we’ve gotten away from recently.

My bandmates and I have been discussing the latest indie fad, the resurgence of lo-fi bands, groups like Wavves, Vivian Girls, Times New Viking and others, that have found success by burying their hooks (0r in some cases bad songwriting) in a scuzzy layer of fuzz.Here’s “an interview” with Matt Whitehurst from Psychedelic Horseshit on The Post’s music blog, in which he goes off on the New Wavve(s) and tosses [expletives] aplenty in the process.Whitehurst is practically incoherent, but he throws down on the lo-fi crew. (On a sidenote, I frankly find the fact that The Post doesn’t have the balls to just print the interview with the nasty swear words included distracting, distasteful and stupid).

Then there’s this Pitchfork review of the Japandroids record, in which you start to see some cracks in the facade of the lo-fi fad, which Pitchfork had a heavy hand in building.

Due to their two-man setup and no-frills recording, Japandroids risk being lumped into the increasingly tiresome no-fi/noise-pop scene that finds bands using distortion to tear through the fabric of the medium and, in some cases, drown out weak songs.

I’m ambivalent about Wavves, and I think No Age and Times New Viking are actually kind of badass. But I hate the fucking Vivian Girls — they’re talentless hacks, who built a following based on their charming faux-punk bullshit. Pitchfork bought the bridge and now VG are as ubiquitous as T.G.I Friday’s, or Applebee’s, or whatever.

So the lesson here is: A group of bands that record trashy, fuzzed-out does has caught on to make a half-baked movement, ginned up by the military-industrial highly-influential Pitchfork, a publication that clearly relishes its role as the tastemaker for its generation.

I’m as big of a fan as Sebadoh and Guided By Voices as the next alcoholic-in-training schlzub, but these new bands are offering much weaker sauce. Lou Barlow and Bob Pollard weren’t hiding behind fuzz, they wrote songs that shone through limited recording technologies, and succeeded in spite of  those limitations. Anyway, this is obviously a long-winded treatise, but let’s get at this. Are these bands onto something? Or are they just hiding?

And lastly, this Bob Mould-No Age interview is pretty dope for anyone who has an interest in rock and roll and recording.

I’d like to credit my friends Alex and Ben for starting this discussion.

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3 responses to “The Impending Lo-fi Blacklash

  1. Pitchfork put Vivian Girls in the top 20 for best records of the year. In my opinion they are no longer creditable in anyway. Is there an alternative site I can use to keep track of my music?

    • Ah, I think that’s a little reactionary. The ‘fork is still the No.1 site for modern music, and they’re still the best at what they do. I think they face a very specific challenge in being top dog, too. It’s hard to be the best, especially in the field of criticism.

      The problem here is that they employ so many writers that they’re bound to run into a difference of opinion among their own staff. And when that happens, it helps undercut the larger editorial message that the Vivian Girls are a worthwhile enterprise. I think that shows Pitchfork’s willingness to allow various views in their own pages, which is nice.

      In the end, it’s always up to the listener, and in this case, I’ve listened to the VG and decided they suck; just because Pitchfork likes it doesn’t mean they’ve discredited themselves, it means they fucked up here.

  2. How does Guided by Voices stack up to the sweet melodies of Sisters with Voices?

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