this must be the place....goin strong , yeah baby!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2008


...the way you can watch these things as they are happening. This is a rant, so it will inevitably include leaps of logic and easily misunderstood language. Be prepared. It's a little piece on how the music industry works, which is something every citizen in America should be aware of, IMO. It's a case study, and the source material is The Vivian Girls.

Pitchfork just reviewed the new Vivian Girls record and started with this line:
"In a year when Brooklyn buzz travels around the world at lightspeed, you can probably count on one hand the number of new bands that, when the hype settles, are more than inconsequential collections of postures and exhausted second-hand styles."

I have a one word answer to that: Yes.

You could read the rest of the review, but to me, this first line reads as "you are going to accuse us of this, and we are going to let you know we are aware of your forthcoming accusations, and use them as a straw-man argument to debunk them as they pertain to this band, even though that's not the sort of thing you can really debunk in a record review."

It realy strikes at values, I guess, but I have a number of theories involving this "Vivian Girls explosion" (which i'm calling pitchfork best new music a culmination of.) Before I continue any further, let me say I don't think they are bad. The point of this "article" doesn't related to how good or bad they actually are, outside of the fact that they are not IMO that super fucking awesome. And i feel comfortable saying that as someone who has only seen their live material on the internet and hasn't heard their whole record, given partially to the fact that what i saw of them live wasn't interactive in a way that would suggest the experience live is different than the record really, and also due to the fact that their "LP" is TWENTY TWO minutes short, so having heard their myspace tracks, and from the live footage, its possible I have heard their whole record.

The point of this article for me is more why "The Vivian Girls" instead of The Strange Boys (also on In The Red), The Barbaras (In The Red/Goner), or The Oh Sees (just to name the bands that off the top of my head I think are better, doing a similar sound for longer, been working harder for longer, and not immediately sucessful in the same way)? This is not to mention the bands that have done the garage sound recently who I'm not familiar with, but know I should be, a list which would include Reigning Sound, and I know there are some others that I should be able to think of and just can't.

the short answer:
1) The Vivian Girls are from Brooklyn, where the music media industry literally lives, works, and breaths.
2) There are 2 hot girls in the band.
3) They have a good single, with an accompanying music video.
4) There are certain elements of known quantities about them: they will be able to sell records (see items 1-3), they play a sound that has an established national scene, and they have buzz, which is related to items 1-3 and also a considerable about to the first half of item 4.

what is buzz? Buzz is when a bunch of people see a band and say to themselves "this band is going to be a much bigger band than they are currently." not "this is a great band that no one knows about!" If 95% of people in the music industry literally did not know the difference between good and bad music, they would be saying the same thing about Yellow Fever, starting, oh, 9 months ago. I think Yellow Fever is going to be fine (from an "industry standpoint" to totally seperate the commercial side from the art literally rolling my eyes as i type this)

I should also mention, another reason this example in particular strikes a chord with me has to do with the fact that its garage, which is a) not that hard to do a shitty job of, witness the wave of shitty bands inspired by The Black Lips and then again I've been told by Jay Retard, and b) this current garage revival has created its own circut which it is possible will now become infested with money-grubbers and kill a lot of creativity, and also, even though it may have only been a matter of time, I think Vivian Girls is going to be the band to do it.

So why not those other bands? 1. geography. 2. they aren't hot girls, and certainly not in this typically American early 20s definition of what hot is way

Anyways, this probably isn't all I have to say on the subject, but I gotta go see a show, so anything else will have to wait (I'm going to see Golden Triangle, who may be one of those 5 bands that is not all hype from Brooklyn...I'll find out soon enough...and also Quintron and Miss Pussycat)

1 comment:

  1. Strange Boys, Barbaras and Oh Sees sound nothing like Vivian Girls.

    One reason they're getting attention is that, while not trailblazing anything, they are playing a style of "indie/garage/punk/whatever" rock that hasn't been played in the past 10 years or so.

    By that, I mean, noisy, melodic pop a la Black Tambourine, Tiger Trap, Aislers Set and you could go back earlier and say Marine Girls, Shop Assistants, etc.

    I can see some of what you're saying, but you come up short on a lot of your analysis.

    For one, yes they are attractive, but not in a textbook kind of way, like a pop star or what-have-you. There are LOTS of bands with goodlooking girls (you'll see this when you see Golden Triangle) and it hasn't benefited them at all.

    Basically, the attention they're getting comes from these things:

    1. Touring relentlessly. Look at their tour schedule. This is how the Black Lips and Jay Reatard became successful. Touring. Touring. Touring.

    2. In The Red. It's been a label that major indies have scooped artists from for years. Black Lips, Jay Reatard, The Ponys, King Khan & BBQ Show.

    3. The 1st press of their LP sold out in about 5 days. Obviously, this gets the ball rolling as far as internet interest.

    Ok, that's it.