unpopular opinions about popular music

Now it can be said:

  • Those of you who enjoyed the new Titus Andronicus record — which should be all of you, as it’s really good — would do well to reconsider the Bright Eyes records Digital Ash in a Digital Urn and I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning (and maybe the rest of the oeuvre; I couldn’t say). At the time of their release, I can’t recall any friends saying anything even vaguely nice about these albums, with two exceptions: 1) Lindsay expressed delight at the phrase “hoodie-clad trim”, which I suppose doesn’t really count, and b) Susan agreed with me that they were good and hey maybe all this NEXT DYLAN BUSINESS was maybe not so crazy, potentially? No: probably it was crazy! But pause for a moment and consider that, statistically speaking, Susan is almost certainly both smarter AND deadlier than you. Then reflect on whether you have given Conor Oberst a fair shake or whether you have discriminated against him just because he has so many feelings. Or because he was overhyped, or because his fanbase uses strange social networking sites that confuse and terrify you.Get past that. They’re good albums, is what I’m trying to say, with timbre, cadence and emotional content similar to the Titus album. Worth a shot.
  • On Monday I listened, for the first time in at least half a decade, to the high points of the first big-hit Everclear LP. You know what? It holds up. This was not actually a surprise to me: I have been an apologist for Sparkle & Fade and So Much For the Afterglow for years now (the other albums: emphatically not). What was surprising: this is an alt-country album! Sort of, anyway. The guitar work is a bit too clean, and there’s nobody playing pedal steel while chain-smoking. But try listening to the phrasing of the songs on S&E with the words “Son Volt” in your mind; I think you might be surprised. And anyway albums about heroin always tend to punch above their weight. Reconsider.

7 Responses to “unpopular opinions about popular music”

  1. Adrienne

    Re: Oberst, I kind of agree. It’s always hard when a musician seems to be absolutely insufferable yet makes (for the most part) good records. Exhibit B, Ryan Adams.

  2. lindsay

    I’m glad this is my legacy.

  3. ACLS

    Since Everclear is from Portland, it was inevitable that I would eventually randomly see Art Alexakis on the street. It actually happened last fall, and I did what any upstanding citizen would do, which was nearly hit him with my bicycle.

  4. Matthew Yglesias » Endgame

    […] honor of Tom Lee, it’s Everclear’s “Santa […]

  5. Spencer

    Confession: I’ve never listened to more than a couple of Bright Eyes songs. I know this will surprise all of you who know me, but I develop strong opinions based on visceral dislikes of people or magazines or memes or developments that unfortunately colors my perspective on things they advocate. Conor Oberst was collateral damage in a dispute I had in college. On your recommendation, I’m going to listen to these records and give them a fair shake. But can we not agree that Against Me! is a perfectly acceptable musical antecedent to Titus Andronicus?

  6. Tom

    I appreciate your willingness to give it a shot. To be honest, I’m not sure you’ll like it. I find the drawled delivery, the lyrics and the bursts of anger pretty compelling. But I can definitely see why many people write it off as being too whiney.

  7. Edoc

    Sparkle & Fade is indeed a worthy Everclear album. I think of Art Alexakis to be a grunge John Cougar Mellancamp on that album.

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