Monday, May 15, 2006

Heavy Rotation: The We Shot J.R. Playlist for 5/15/06

Some albums that have been getting a lot of play around WSJR HQ lately:

Daniel Johnston- Yip Jump Music (recently saw the new documentary about him, and its fan fuckin' tastic. I liked Daniel Johnston when I was a teenager, mostly because I thought he was cute and funny. The documentary renewed my interest in him in a completely different way, especially the idea that he sometimes purposely went off his meds a week before one of his shows because he knew that people wanted to see him act crazy. That just really made an impression on me for some reason.)

Hot Chip- The Warning (new Hot Chip fucking rules. End of story.) "Boy From School" Link

ESG- A South Bronx Story

Wu Tang Clan- Wu Tang Forever (recently found this album in some boxes. Hadn't listened to it since like 1998. Its better than it was before.)

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young- Deja Vu

T.V. On the Radio- Return to Cookie Mountain (Is that really what the album is gonna be called? Either way, its about five times better than their last one.) Link "I was a Lover"

The Jesus Lizard: Liar

The Boredoms- Pop Tatari

Sunset Rubdown- Shut Up I am Dreaming (all the bloghype is well deserved)

Tapes n Tapes- The Loon (this one is getting better and better every time I hear it)

Led Zeppelin- III, Houses of the Holy (yeah, I just got into THAT phase again. All I have to say is "Tangerine.")

Gang Gang Dance- God's Money

The Replacements- Let it Be (My favorite of theirs.)

Sonic Youth- Sister (80's retro has driven me to 90's nostalgia)

Sunn O)))- Black One

Flipper- Generic

Feathers- S/t (slowly becoming one of my favorite records of the year)

Ariel Pink House Arrest "Every Night I Die at Miyagis" Link

On another note, Gorilla vs Bear posted a link to this little write up on Sudgefan Steffuns, detailing why this guy is sick of him. I kind of agree, except I think I was sick of him the second I heard him. Like the guy writing the post, I do acknowledge that he is a great songwriter, and I do like some of his stuff. But like blogfriend Pimplomat, I don't quite get what all the fuss is about. Don't know why. I guess it might be because I'm not a slave to all your trendy hipster shit and have my own totally unique taste in music that is superior to most peoples and based on nothing but the sounds that I hear and the magic that is deep inside my soul. Oh yeah, thats why.

If artists or management do not want a song posted on here, please email me and we'll take it down immediately: THANKS


Anonymous defensivelistening said...

No offense, but Sister is an 80's album.

4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It came out in 1987.

4:54 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

true, but for me its totally 90's because that is when I heard it and Sonic Youth for the first time. Lets see... Sister came out in what, 87 or 88? Back then, I think my "heavy rotation" list would have consisted of Young MC, Bon Jovi, and maybe my mom's Purple Rain tape.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Sam M. said...

The new "sudge-fan" b-sides album that leaked, Avalanche, has some incredibly good songs. His catalog on the whole is kinda overrated, but, you know, no matter how good some of his songs are, a good % of the world will never like them because the dude uses flutes. You could list all kinds of other attributes, but really, that's the make-or-breaker. Flutes.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous msp said...

No Quarter!

Jesus Lizard is easily one of my 5 fave bands ever and ever and forever.

5:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unconscious Collective yaar

I'm really surprised you like Jesus Lizard, stonedranger.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous zak said...

Young MC. Very Nice.

So that Sunset Rubdown is good? I'll check into that on eMusic I guess.

I like Sufjan, but I tire of him quickly. Great voice though.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

for me to read that stonderanger's taste in music isn't trendy is probably the most laughable thing i've heard all year.

you were making a funny right? i mean, your coverage of music is pretty much restricted to trends only, right?

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Yow! said...

Jesus Lizard Top 5 songs(in no order)

Here Comes Dudley (crap that's 6!)

5:04 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

No, I've never followed ONE SINGLE TREND in my entire life. Remember when people wore JNCOs all the time? I NEVER wore them once. And to be even cooler than that, I'm going to start wearing them now.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sister was the second to last album SY released in the 80's.

it definitely influenced more bands from the 90's, but how dare you call it a 90's album, just because that's when you heard it first.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better make it 7...
Slaveship, fool!

5:14 PM  
Anonymous wm. david sims said...

That's BLOODY Mary to you, Yow.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous ZepGrrl said...

Oh, this is going to be awkward.
Um, I've been managing Led Zeppelin for about two years now, and... Well, I don't wanna be a dick, but... I'm gonna need you to refrain from playing their music on your website. I appreciate you getting the word out, but the boys are hungry, and it would be helpful if people would go buy their albums instead of taping them onto their computers.

Be sure to catch Led Zeppelin this Saturday at Randy's Rock Room, the newest club in Depp Ellum. It's located in the same spot where I used to keep my soul.

They're opening for XKlaim97 and Deeply Held Sigh. I think Ayo from the Edge is gonna be there!

5:27 PM  
Blogger streisand said...

that's the way of the world

5:28 PM  
Anonymous ZepGrrl said...

Well, he SAID he'd be there while he was fingerfucking me at Curtain Club during the Feds, but... I trust him!

5:28 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

Damn it. So I can't even mention their name on the blog? If they want more people to listen to them, they should come up with better album names. I, II, III and IV just aren't gonna cut it.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous ZepGrrl said...

Well, the next one that they're working on out at Indian Trails is actually called I Part II.

Vinnie Paul is sitting in with them on a track!

Want me to put ya'll on the guest list? I have one slot left!

5:35 PM  
Anonymous zach carter said...

he is MUCH more than a great songwriter. yikes

i think the reason you aren't into him could be the same cause of your Spree-hatred.

6:04 PM  
Blogger The Fold said...

Led Zep at indian trails and opening for a band that can't spell at a random Deep Ellum club?
That's so ridiculous I almost believe it.

On the other hand, if any recording engineer in DFW knew them, it would be Harvey Gerst @ I.T.
That man has a hell of a resume.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Defensive Listening said...

Basically, Sufjan has a very good publicist who works for a cheesy company called Fanatic who are very good at what they do. That's why most of you think you should even have an opinion on this matter. Because a lot of major media have been duped into covering this "phenomenon" by said company and publicist. Sufjan plays extreeeeeemely safe acoustic singer/songwriter material so it's very easy to convince a broad range of people into thinking this is something really great. It sounds lame but it's packaged as hip so it works. Sufjan has accomplished this through the tired indie rock tradition of having a small orchestra play over his very bland music. Very few bands can pull that off. If you get the chance, I advise you to see the Danielson movie which is called "Danielson:A Family movie". If you watch this film, you'll see Sufjan got his start with the Danielson Family, basically aped the more accessible aspects of their music and live setup, and then took it out on the road. You'll find that he ripped them off pretty badly and is a much less interesting and skilled songwriter than the band he took so much from. I know they're friends and aren't supposed to be rivals but it's an outright shame that Sufjan has gotten so much acclaim for his mediocre talent while the Danielsons have struggled to even keep the band going. The fact that they received a 9.1 from Pitchfork might also mean that they've hired Sufjan's publicity company but they actually deserve to have their originality recognized. It has tortured me to watch this guy get his ass kissed for playing the kind of stuff I've heard at Christian coffee shops.
The Danielson Family have yet to make a shitty album and I hope the hype machine that you buy into (Pitchfork, in this case) finally tips you off to listen to a band that was great in 1995 when they were on Tooth and Nail. Of course in '95 you were probably too cool for that label and were too busy shining your shoes for the next ska show.

6:34 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

I've ALWAYS been too cool for Tooth and Nail.

So, I'm not sure about something, and I'm not asking for argument (because I agree with you on Sufjan), I'm asking for real: how does the good publicist lead to the good Pitchfork review? I'd actually like to know the chain of events in that scenario.

6:40 PM  
Anonymous Defensive Listening said...

Indie rockers got wise a while back and decided that in order to move more units they needed to start acting more like major labels and get their very own cool/punk/indie version of the scum that runs the backroom deals of the music industry. So all these shitty little publicity companies popped up practically overnight. Their only job is to call up college radio dj's, zine writers, alternative weekly writers, music websites etc. and basically be a total pain in the ass to get these institutions to write about the band (or play their new single on the air) that has paid them to do this. Some of these people are pretty good at what they do. If you consider being a totally obnoxious shithead a talent, that is. You'd think that most bands would balk at the idea of feeding into this kind of semi-professional wannabe music industry scam. You'd be wrong. A lot of people I've known have fed right into this shit at the tune of $3000 and gotten absolutely no results. That's what bands need to be aware of: Most of these people don't know what the fuck they're doing. They'd really like to be working at Capitol but instead they're making artsy websites and ripping bands off. And as for the average music fan, I wish I could say that they, too, would be disgusted at Indie (short for independent, right?) rock for being just a more amateurish clone of the Mainstream Music Industry. I bet a lot of coolies think that what they're into wasn't just bought and sold like any other meaningless entertainment commodity. But the reality is that nine times out of ten, what's cool is a very calculated and manufactured process. A lot of the underground has been ruined by these people. It's works just like the Republican National Committee, the people with the most money win. So supposed Indie Rock labels who have a lot of ties to corporate major label funds (like Sub Pop) and supposedly cool distributors/retailers who have access to similar funds (like Insound) have the best publicists. Remember as fucking intense as you think you are when you're on pills at the Wolf Eyes show, even they have a publicist. A sugar daddy to let the world know about this new kind of noise. A lot of people might have no problem with this and that's fine. Just don't fool yourself into thinking it has no bearing on what you spend your free time doing or your hard earned money on. Judging by most of the top records on that Good Records list, you don' have a problem with that.

P.S. You could just say, "But, hey, the music journalists and dj's could just stop listening to these people and accepting favors (which are very common) from them." Most music journalists and dj's are so easily swayed by attention they make most of Congress look honorable in comparison. Which is why hate-filled anonymous blogs are so important. They haven't been totally taken over....Yet.

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Defensive Listening said...

Oh, and that Hot Chip link sounds like a vocal track from This Heat's "Deceit" album layered over a house beat. That's not a good thing.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shite. cept for flipper. who's not listening to flipper though? kim gordon needs a punch in the face.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

sunset rubdown's album is one of the two best albums released so far this year.

but then again, i totally only like them because of the hype.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i listened to that hot chip and its really shitty, a girl w/ a bad voice and a casio...

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:01 PM  
Anonymous zak said...

Defensive Listening is right... the great majority of the records and bands you read about have artificial buzz built around them by an indie publicity company like Fanatic or Team Clermont or World's Fair. They specialize in radio, or press or 'new media' (fancy term for the blogs and online zines) or all three. There are also indie Marketing firms like Hellfire that make sure stores take notice of a new record, play it in-store, etc.

A case close to home: Midlake... World's Fair helped generate that early buzz by 'leaking' Roscoe. But I’ll say, if that song sucked the publicity campaign wouldn’t have mattered.

So usually what happens is you pay one of these firms for a package... set by a time limit like 1 month, 2 months, 3 months.... etc. They write up some cool stuff, select some emphasis tracks or work off your emphasis tracks, print up stickers (with some eye catching writing) that get stuck to the front of the case and then you mail these out to the firm's list of contacts that they have built relationships with. So when Pitchfork gets a package from Fanatic or whatever, they'll take more notice of it more likely than something that is not.

Let’s be honest though, no matter how much you polish a turd, it's still a turd. Even if people hate Sufjan, there are plenty that do like him and his 9.0 wasn't bought, yes attention was brought to him through great publicity but it’s not like it is an awful record or just a quick fad the way Morningwood was. Pitchfork or PopMatters is not told what to say or what to give it ratings wise. Some bad records with shit ratings had publicity money behind them. Some records that deserve attention get it from these same publicists... like I'm sure Danielson did. Paying for this is no guarantee but it does give your music a better chance at recognition and a larger audience. I would strongly disagree that a good publicist straight up equals a 9.0 on Pitchfork. Maybe it is the difference between a 7.5 and 7.0 but no way did Fanatic buy a 9.0 for Illinois. Even in the indie world, the more accessible music will usually sell the best.

It is interesting to look up these publicity companies on the net… look at their current client list. I’ll also say that these publicity firms don’t just take anything, they are very selective about what they take, based on if they really like it and whether they think they can work with it and make it successful. They don’t just take anyone who throws money at them.

There are of course the great exceptions like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah that truly did not have a publicist. They were built off the back of legitimate buzz generated from the NY blogs like Brooklyn Vegan. And then there are great records that do get ignored because they didn’t have the budget behind them to compete. Yep, that sucks.

So, we can either pick and choose what is ok... "I don't like Sufjan so it must be the publicist that tricked everyone into thinking it was great, but Danielson is genius so it’s ok or Liars is a great record and the publicity didn’t matter." (Mute spent quite a bit on that Liars record, I’m sure) Just be smart, and realize that bands are not getting attention based solely on their musical merits. It’s a clichéd two-edged sword. This is the way it works though. Those spots on the listening stations at the stores you go to are bought and paid for by record companies (hell, I always thought that was picked by the ‘cool’ people that worked at the stores. Even in-store play cds are influenced by marketing or even pay). All of this to bring attention to a record. Spending money is still the best way to get people to buy your record. And if musicians want their records heard they will do it and let their record label do what is necessary to expose a wider audience to it. But if it sucks, or is just ok, or only appeals to a niche market you still won’t see massive sales. And no matter what… you still have to tour like motherfuckers to support your new record the old-fashioned way. Many factors go in to making a successful record.

DIY still works to a point and that is great, but it is rare to sell 40k+ records all by yourself. The whole thing may not be ‘pure’ the way we want it to be, but I don’t see that getting changed any time soon. The bloggers and myspace made it easier to self-promote but even those areas have been overtaken by money.

And I’d say, be thankful a bit for this system… it has helped you find great music whether you like it or not. You may have read a great review or downloaded a hyped up MP3 of a great record that you would never have heard of if not for that publicity push.

Sorry this was so long, hopefully it made sense. Tough to discuss this through typing. This whole thing was very eye-opening for us too…

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, defensive listening is totally correct. With the current system, it takes a lot of money for indie bands to get on the radar of the "underground press."

A lot of good points were made about sufjan too. Although I don't think he's as boring as the rant makes him about to be, Danielson is definately a far more interesting band thats been doing the same schtick for longer.
The two seems to be feeding off each others publicity in a good way though. The sucess of Illinoise will definately have an impact on 'ships.'

10:50 PM  
Blogger jonofdeath said...

Are these people the kinds of folks that y'all are talking about? It seems like they are. Especialy Big Hassle. But their websites are so vague it's hard to tell. But their client lists are ridiculous. It's all stuff that I listen to!
Girlie Action
Big Hassle
Good Cop PR

-jonofdeath is seeing the dirty truth.

12:20 AM  
Anonymous MC said...

Actually Fanatic isn't that great, I know people who have been ripped off by them, like the cases you allude to.

But the reality is inescapable, you have to invest money if you expect to sell your music (that also being capitalism in its purest form). If you wanna be 100% pure & clean then give away your music and blow all the money you made selling vegan wraps & used books on gear, CD-rs, and album art. Or the next step, you sell a little merch to break even. Do well enough at that and maybe you'll make a little beer money. Do even better and then you'll want to get your album heard on a larger scale ... you know, be probably most people's definition of a "real" band ... the only way to do that is to either buy these publicists or promote the damn thing yourself. Which, if you do it right, is very time-consuming, and takes the kind of savvy the majority of musicians sadly do not have, and is pretty much a heavy part-time job in itself. However, I will say that DIY promotions, if done properly, have just as good a chance at landing you a Magnet or a Pitchfork I do believe. At least if you are targeting the writers who know what's up. That is, if your presentation is good. Again though, this is not an easy task at all.

A band is like the service industry. It can be a lemonade stand where you break even and deal in dimes, or it can be a Super McDonalds where startup capital and franchise fees are huge but that has the chance to earn you a real good living. Or it can be a free keg that you bankrolled yourself where you are the kegmaster. Just be prepared to be late on rent. And late to work.

12:39 AM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

What an interesting conversation. Its funny because I completely agree with both Zak and Defensive Listening, and both have posted extremely well written and informative comments.

Through operating this blog, I've started to experience some of this publicity machine myself, both via email and Myspace. Despite the fact that this is pretty much just a local music blog with no special design and a questionable amount of talent behind it, I get all kinds of offers for all kinds of shit every single day. I'm probably on the "contact" list of about 20 or 30 different PR companies and record labels. I can't imagine the kind of shit that Chris over at GVB gets on a daily basis.

For example, someone from some PR company emailed me last Friday and offered to give me a free cd and free Red Hot Chilli Peppers concert tickets if I posted a link for their new video, which was called like "Timmy Goes to California" or something. Anyway, the song, just like the band, is fucking horrible, And of course I didn't post it.

Why? Because first of all I don't like it, and don't give a shit about free concert tickets to see that band. But second, even if I did like them, I still wouldn't have posted it. Why? Not because I claim to be some saint with all kinds of "indie values" or something, but because all of you would have probably called bullshit on it, and it would have had a negative effect on the readership of this blog. Now, imagine how careful I would be about stuff like that if I was actually trying to make a living, or even part of a living, by doing this.

My point is not about this blog, but is more about all of our power to fight back against some of the crap that gets forcefed to us by these marketing companies. Not as voices in a democratic system, but voices as consumers. We have the right and the ability to be intelligent about what we listen to, talk about, purchase, download, read about or whatever.

Now, I don't doubt the power of these media machines to influence our perceptions of the music we hear and read about. One of the main points I have tried to make on this blog is that context matters with music. They way in which we are presented with a band, song, or whatever has a huge effect on how all of us feel about those bands or songs or albums. Acknowledging that fact can help us analyze both the music and the hype machines more effectively, and can help us to better understand why we do what we do when it comes to music consumption. Believe me, the PR firms and record labels have a pretty good idea about why we do what we do, and the more we know about ourselves and them, the more informed our choices can be.

1:03 AM  
Blogger The Fold said...

Amen to that.
When we had the print version going, I had a very loyal customer that bought full page ads all of the time. She gave us stuff to give away at parties, but hey...she was paid advertising & it was obviously that way, & she wasn't advertising a band.
But then her graphic artist was married to some guy in a godawful cover band. She started slipping in ads for the band into the space for the original client in exchange for graphic work w/said client.
Still not my problem, it was obviously an ad.
But then she started trying to get us to write about that shitty band, and then pulled the whole "I can get them to stop advertising" bit.
And I said "no problem, I just pulled your ad for the next issue, don't bother."
I lost a good client, but I think I avoided a whole load of bullshit.
Some of the things that woman offered...I won't even go into that. But needless to say it was sad.

I never got much in the way of offers from the real douchebag promoters, but it's probably because I ignored most of them.
Every now & then I still get the "guest list" e-mails.
I write them back & tell them if they were any good, they'd know we stopped printing about a year ago.

1:36 AM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

And you bring up a good point too. Paid advertising that is obviously advertising is one thing, and I really don't have a problem with that at all.

The problem comes with the new focus of many of these PR people, which is to directly affect the, dare I say, "editorial" decisions of bloggers and magazines and everything else. They aren't advertising, they are "branding," and trying to advertise without coming clean about it. This is nothing new (the concept of "branding" has been around since the 70's, at least) but it is certainly effective, because it is not something that very many people think about.

1:42 AM  
Anonymous msp said...

I can't wait to read this with a clear head in the morning. In the meantime, may I just say:

"Remember as fucking intense as you think you are when you're on pills at the Wolf Eyes show, even they have a publicist."

Fucking awesome D.L...

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is the best string here in over a week.

sweet redemption

2:15 AM  
Blogger jamo said...






2:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

were all you fuckers not held enough as babies..... please realize you don't have to write a dissertation to get the full moneys worth on your GEDs

3:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know people who worked for fanatic and i dont think you can credit them for the sufjan phenomenon. look at their roster. they didn't do anything for him that they didn't do for all those other artists and we don't know who they are. i think they got paid to answer his phone calls more than anything else.

"most" indie media are jaded college aged kids just like us and can spot the "shiny turd" just like us.

these pr companies didn't rip your friend's band off! no one liked the music the pr firm sent them thus didn't write about it. that's the bands fault not the pr company and thats exactly how it should work.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

also.....anonymous blogs like this are vital to keeping the traditional media outlets in check.

however i've seen alot of good bands get knocked just because people think a band is over hyped. i include myself in this. i will often completely dismiss a band just because everyone else is going ape shit over them. this isn't fair or objective criticizim either.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Defensive LIstening said...

A lot of these pr "firms" are fly by night operations that don't know what they're doing. There's no real accounting for them because you can just blame it on a band sucking if the people who run the company don't know how to manipulate the system. They are just an amateur version of the real firms that work with or for the major labels. In other words, all most of them can really offer you is their inexperience. But they'll still gladly take your money. If most college aged indie kid media could "spot the shiny turd" as you say, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Anon @8:10 AM has a very idealistic and positive view of how these things work. Everything is the band's fault and that's "exactly how it should work". I would love to live in your world. Where only "good" bands do well and "bad" ones fall by the wayside. No tricksterism is involved, no hype over substance. You sound like a blues musician in the thirties that thinks the nice man with the contract is going to take care of everything. And I don't criticize something just because it's over hyped. A lot of my favorite bands were probably over hyped at some point. But when band after band in today's hype machine is terribly uninteresting, something is up.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"terribly uninteresting" to you. not the people who wrote about the review article etc... these people aren't completely mindless robots manipulated by the system like you would have us believe.

i don't even realy disagree with you your point is valid and well stated. but i agree with Zak, its a "double edged sword".

Obviously many good bands go unnoticed and many horrible bands are raved about. i would love to hear a scenario of a music industry were this does not occur.

12:07 PM  
Blogger streisand said...

defensive listening do u work at a record store in dallas? I think i know who you are!

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Defensive Listening said...

Streisand, I would never work in what passes for a record store in Dallas. Except maybe Groovenet and they don't hire. You don't know who I am.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... fanatic a fly by night promtions company? that's the company brought up by you and mc who said his freind was ripped off by them. You say they manipulated the system to get sufjan where he is and mc says they suck and ripped off his friends band. which is it? if they are so savy why aren't we reading about all the other bands on their roster? maybe alot of people realy like sufjan? maybe no one liked that dude's freind's band?

i know this sounds like crazy talk please berate me now.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous zak said...

I would disagree about these PR Firms being amateur versions. Some are certainly, but Team Clermont or Fanatic have proven themselves over time... look at their client lists and the labels that continually go back to them. There is a reason Kill Rock Stars uses Fanatic for most of their releases... great results.

These firms know what they are doing for the most part and have solid contacts.

I still say that records are not getting great reviews because of PR money and favors. They are getting more attention however. And as bad music has gotten attention through these channels so has very deserving music.

Hype and over-saturation is where these PR firms make their mark on our tastes and what we listen to and take notice of. SOUND Team is another great example of this... are they really that great or special? Are we all waiting in anticipation because it is a brilliant record or have we just been bombarded with weekly updates and hype from the blogs who have been stirred up by the PR firm?

So still, those that don't live up to hype quickly sink. Those that do, continue to do well. Yeah those PR firms can put quite a spin on anything, even make a bad record seem better than it is. If someone spends a lot of money on PR and it fails, is it really the failure of the PR firm or is it that the music didn't catch on? This would assume that the PR firm is the complete arbiter of success or failure and the consumer and the media has no determination. Too many factors involved to purely pin success or failure of a record or band on pure PR. Many intangibles here too. PR alone will not equal success. No matter hwo much money you throw at it.

The reason we see so many un-interesting bands getting all the hype is because all labels even the indies we adore still pick bands that they think will not only make their investment back but bring in some revenues. This means that to some point, they are more accessible to a wider indie audience.

I just won't throw blanket disapproval on the system because for every Morningwood or We Are Scientists there is a Liars or Deerhoof that does not suck and recieve acclaim and attention too. We have a lot of tools on the internet to be smart consumers, it is up to us to decide what we like. Unfortunately, safe and tame music will always do well... there will never be a world where challenging records dominate the favor of the buying public.

I don't believe it is a conspiracy. I just believe the great majority, even indie music fans, still don't want to think about their music or deal with music that might require them to understand other music they are unfamiliar with. They want their indie rock to be easy and safe and have some great hooks just as mainstream fans do too.

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


if we are questioning PR responsibilty for hype the Sound Team example is very interesting. i mean are we constantly reading about Sound Team, Tapes n' Tapes, Voxtrot etc...because these bands are so truely amazing or is it the PR stirring things up? i would love for Chris from GvsB to weigh in because i have a hard time beleiving that he and the others doesn't just truely love those bands.

12:40 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

yes, I too am hoping that he weighs in on here because being the winner of the SXSW Best Music Blog award thing, I'm going to go ahead and guess that he deals with this PR machine every goddamn day in one way or another.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous mc said...

I don't think Fanatic sucks in general, but I do know a band that they ripped off ... meaning they did little to no mailings for them and kept in their pocket a boadtload of CDs. This was probably a case of some stoner/slacker employee, but point it it does happen.

Yeah a lot of those companies A.) Do a pretty good job and B.) Only pick up decent acts therefore lending their press credence. If I get a CD from Nasty Little Man or Tag Team Media or one of these, I look at it and listen to it a lot harder. So yeah at some point it does offer some value. A PR company can be an identifier like a label can. Most importantly they do the grunt work most musicians don't have time for and/or don't know how to do.

Like I said though, a good DIY presentation can be just as effective or moreso, assuming the journalist isn't corporate at heart or a moron.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous mc said...

p.s. SOUND Team was really interesting about 4 years ago, they put out a really cool self-release.

Then it started getting to their head and labels started calling and they turned into a boring indie-pop band.

1:00 PM  
Blogger wakka-wakka said...

The comments are insightful, but I can't tell if anyone is actually concerned or surprised by this. I know I'm not. Then again, I've never understood why payola is illegal either.

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Defensive Listening said...

Right on MC, I saw Sound Team in early 2003 and they were a truly great band. They were probably the only Pop rock band in Texas that I actually liked that year. They did a cover of Martha and the Vandellas' "Heat Wave" that was really inspired. Their eventual signing to Capitol totally caused them to water down what they did and that's no surprise. I have never witnessed a band retain their dignity and/or what was great about them after doing something like that. The Sound Team example holds no interest for me because they are on Capitol. I expect Capitol to work the hype machine, they only have about a century of experience doing so. They're a major corporation. It's what they do. My whole problem is that the indie/underground/diy/punk community only started to behave like this semi-recently. It's gotten really bad in the last ten years. This wasn't always the case and it doesn't have to be today. The reason terms like "diy" even exist is because you didn't just pay some people to do everything for you. And I don't understand paying more attention to something based on the publicity people that a label or band payed to push it. I am a fan of music, not businessmen.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

defensive listening, thank you. zep grrl, jamo, fuck you. seriously, music is not fucking politics, nor is it religion. love, brian epstein.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I'll chime in, but speaking only from my extremely limited point of reference, PR firms are more of an annoyance than anything else. their philosophy a lot of times is to throw as much shit against the wall as they can and see what sticks (do I want to post the new Soul Asylum tracks? no thank you). I would say they have little to no hand in generating "buzz" or influencing editorial decisions, (w/ blogs, anyway...i can't speak for myspace or zines or whatever else).

to revert to the root of this discussion, re: "defensive listening"'s comment, if Fanatic was so great, why did Sufjan fire them? they had very little to do w/ his blog attention and ultimate critical and (modest) commercial success. sites like Stereogum, Pitchfork, reputable blogs, etc. don't allow PR firms to dictate content at all, trust me. if they did, fucking Elefant or somebody like that would rule the nerdosphere, but that ain't happening.

zak, i'd like to see an example of someone like Team Clermont or World's Fair generating "an artificial buzz" on blogs. i just don't see it. if World's Fair sends me a Midlake track, I'll post it if I like it, or delete if i don't. and i think most blogs operate by those standards. maybe some of the newer, smaller blogs will shill for these companies so they'll send them free shit, but no one reads those sites anyway.

there are plenty of bands who have generated an insane amount of buzz (Tapes 'n Tapes, Beirut, Birdmonster, Oh No! Oh My!, etc.) with no PR prescence at all.

and i think the interesting/un-interesting debate is sort of a moot point, as it relates this conversation. one person's boring, un-interesting band is another person's Hot Chip.

now you see why i don't post more on here, i tend to ramble and my views are rarely relevant to the subject at hand.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous zepgrrl said...


2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw soundteam play behind a music gear rental store (b/c of but not a part of SXSW) in (i think it was) '01 and they were HORRIBLE. the sound was off, the songs weren't very good... there was none of this Eno vibe that there is now.

...singers couldn't sing, etc etc.

then they put out an "interesting" indie release, and now they are one of austin's most hyped bands and are signed to capitol records

...all you need is hype, dum de dadada.

oh and for someone to tell you the right way to sing, dress, play, act, talk, "be influenced", etc.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

listen to "that's the way" on III....its got this really simple sounding acoustic guitar but the rythm is really bizarre...the more you try to listen to the rythm the more it will throw you off, there's another meandering ambient guitar in the background and some corny Robert Plant of my favs and I'm not that big of a zep fan

3:18 PM  
Anonymous bugg said...

and the point of all this is- no one will remember these bands in 10 years.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous zak said...

I think if you see a band on a top PR company's client list, then see them all over the net, that firm definitely got the word out. They know how to contact people and make sure the music gets in the right hands. Their press kit/bio/sticker hype whatever it is, makes the record or song sound extremely interesting. They do the work for the little labels that the majors have whole in-house teams do. Outsourced PR I guess?

I'm not saying or even trying to imply you or any other blog posts music because you are told to or that there are any shady dealings going down. In fact, what I was trying to say is that you can't force bad music down people's throats no matter how great you make it seem. I don't believe that PR directly equals a good review on Pitchfork. Some might think Sufjan sucks, but that doesn't mean his success last year was fake. All I believe PR does is garner extra attention and higher priority to your product when it is delivered to certain media and radio outlets.

I would argue that without World's Fair, Midlake would not have torn up the internet like they did. It seemed like a very well planned strategy to build up anticipation for the album and get a rather unknown band on the minds of people nationwide. Maybe not artificial buzz, but in similar cases like this someone started it and it usually is a PR firm. I really don't have a problem with it either.

And of course the great exceptions you listed prove that hard work and good music can still succeed without PR hype. Just takes a lot of work that many people are not willing to go through and would rather pay a professional for.

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and the point is- no one will remember these bands in 5 years.

4:56 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

just as a side note, either Midlake's manager or the band themselves (whoever runs the Myspace page) wouldn't let us post a "Roscoe" MP3 when the song leaked back in January.

4:57 PM  
Blogger stonedranger said...

I'm not sure what part of their strategy that was.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous zak said...

Hmm yeah, that's kinda idiotic.

5:24 PM  
Blogger james said...

In related news, Metrognome is currently being shaken down by ASCAP.

They want %.8 of our annual gross ticket revenue, and if we don't pay, and have a single DJ night, or a band plays a cover, they can and will gladly sue us for $5000 and up, for each offense.

Its frustrating that even if we DO pay them, that the artists who we TRY to promote, whose songs ARE performed, and whose music we play between sets won't see a dime of it, and instead, we will be lining gwen stefani's pockets.

Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

come and see Shoplifting, Finally Punk, and Eat Avery's Bones. but be warned, $.04 of your cover charge is being stolen from the poor and given to the rich.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hot Chip = Hot Lunch
ASSCAP = a big hot Cleveland Steamer

5:11 PM  
Anonymous zak said...

Now call me ignorant here, but is that standard practice with clubs?

Certainly that ain't right?

6:09 PM  
Blogger james said...

I believe it is standard practice, although the pay schedule is different for venues that are classified as bars. in fact not only clubs, anyone who publicly plays copyrighted music, including grocery stores, restaurants, even businesses who have music on hold all have to have licenses. The exceptions being businesses who play radio broadcasts, music stores, and a few other instances that don't apply to us.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous d said...

Many of you seem to be affected contrarians. That's ok. It's fine. We've all probably been that way before, but it's true.

Good blogs wouldn't exist if PR saturation was working.

As for Chris, and what one can deduce by simply reading his blog, well, he's a tastemaker. People can be tastemakers.

Sound Team wasn't around in 2001. And if they were, that was five years ago. Many things can change.

They're a great band.

Deerhoof is a wonderful band as well.

Not Beirut, but it's ok.

Sonic Youth is very good, too.

tapes 'n tapes, birdmonster, sunset rubdown, sound team, and all the many others...they've well paved their own course. You can do things like that when you're good at something you love doing.

PR doesn't know how to create genuine excitement.

Music does, and people like Chris et al are dutiful messengers.

Good day.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear "d",

A few things:

1. Good blogs exist? Where? PR saturation is everywhere.

2. Nobody "makes" my taste.

3. Sound Team has been around long enough to start sucking. Capitol pays a lot of money for you to suck exactly how they want you to suck. You're right. Things can change.

4. Deerhoof and Sonic Youth are good? Are you serious? I'm glad you told me! You sound like quite the tastemaker yourself.

5. Most of the other bands you named are from the new school of hype. Deerhoof and Sonic Youth were around long before things were done this way.

6. PR doesn't know how to generate hype? Have you been to SXSW? Or most "new" music festivals? Bloc Party sold out venues before they had even recorded a single note of music! This happens all the time. You seem to know a thing or two about a thing or two to be so blind.

6. Dutiful Messengers? Affected Contrarians? What a sad state of affairs. I'd say a contrary practice is talking about how much it is all about the music when your eyes and ears are constantly raped by false hype put together by companies. I love how you think a bunch of hyped up bands "well paved their own course" by "being good at what they love doing". Since when did the modern music industry become such a romantic notion of perseverance and all good bands get rewarded? Didn't that Trail of Dead major label debut get a fucking 10 on pitchfork? Why didn't one of their Merge albums get a 10? Maybe the big labels know how to really put the publicity pressure on. Do people even talk about them very much now days? Time will prove a lot of these things.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous conrad's hair said...

Actually that first TOD major label record was really good ands more consistent than Madonna ... the 2nd one was a puke-stained pile of tan gooey poop that was really sickening to hear.

11:43 PM  

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