The current RTH poll, which I’ve included here for posterity, raises a point that Townsman Oats is “very curious” about.
Very curious about today’s poll. I’ve been thinking about how members of bands like Superchunk and Quasi are in their mid-40s now, and they still play their music with conviction and in some cases have only gotten better as musicians without losing much of the fire. When The Who were around that age, they were subjecting us to the 1989 tour. Sometimes, it’s not the “indie” bands that need slack-cutting.
I meant to follow up on that poll question sooner. It came to mind over the dinner table last week.
“Dad,” said my 16-year-old son as I took my seat, “do you think indie game developers should be cut some slack?”
Not being a video gamer, this needed a little explanation. My son is a longtime gamer and tech-head. He writes video game reviews for blogs and has a sponsored YouTube channel. He really knows his stuff, he writes well, and he makes more money with his extracurricular pursuits and has a wider audience than his father does. I’m proud of him.
“There are independent video game companies that I review alongside the major companies, like EA,” he explained. “No one has a problem if I criticize a big game, but whenever I post a negative review of an indie game, I get all kinds of comments, like ‘Aw, come on, man, you shouldn’t criticize the indies!’ What do you think, Dad? Do you run across this with indie rock?”
Before I get into my answer, let me say that for anyone who’s ever wondered if it’s worth all the trouble that goes into raising kids, moments like these answer a resounding YES! I had to look away for a second and pretend to yawn and rub my eyes to clear out a tear that was building. As much as my work here is geared to influence future generations of music lovers, these achievements are a hill of beans compared with the influence I occasionally hold over my own children.
“I know what you mean,” I told my son. “This comes up a lot among my music friends. I make allowances for things that can be influenced by a budget, such as production quality, but ultimately the music has to deliver. If the songs and the performances are subpar and show a lack of creativity, if there’s no spark, it doesn’t matter if the record was made independently or not.”
“That’s how I look at it, Dad. I don’t care if the graphics aren’t top flight if the game’s design and story are creative.”
Sunrise … sunset … sunrise … sunset. sniff …
I think we’d all agree (I hope) that if a band doesn’t deliver, who cares what label they’re on.
Honestly music has gotten so commoditized these days — and accessible through so many channels — does anyone look at the label anymore? Sure, there are certain labels that have a certain vibe/raison detre l(ike that Neutral Milk Hotel group) that the kids might seek out for the general style of output.
TwinTone and Sub Pop and Chrysalis all had their day, but I didn’t necessarily by the band because of the label.
But I digress: with all the great cheap computer tools out there, all these new bands sound so good now — sonic-wise — the indie/pro labels don’t matter at all. And when you’re buying music from itunes, who would even know?
I don’t know if there are really any “little guys” out there any more. So everyone is fair game, critic-wise.
Ah, I see now, Mr. Mod. I think you and I are largely on the same page with this. Great story too!
This planned, overdue post was not meant to contradict your fine point, by the way. Thanks for reminding me of my desire to give context to the poll.
On a related topic, I taped a Christmas-time rerun of SNL that ran this weekend because I get such hearty laughs from host Martin Short. Sad that Martin Short was my hook for “taping” a show I usually don’t watch for more than 10 minutes whenever I do try to watch it. The musical guest was Paul McCartney. I can’t imagine when the last time was I would have been excited to see Paul McCartney play live (even if recorded from an original broadcast 8 months earlier) on TV. Maybe around the time of the London Town album? Anyhow, he sucked, and his hair dye job was the worst ever. I love the Beatles like I love no other band, but I’m really getting so sick of washed-up, Dana Carvey parody Paul McCartney that it’s threatening to put a crimp in my Beatles love. Martin Short should have come out dressed like Paul during some holiday Christmas ballad and imitated him from behind his own piano, kind of like when John Belushi showed up across the stage from a wasted Joe Cocker.