Friday, May 03, 2013

Coolness is overrated

Though I haven't yet heard more than the two tracks that have so far been released (one of which I previously noted), I'm pretty excited about the new Vampire Weekend album, since I love their first two.

(There are albums for which I want to be in the right state of mind before I hear them, and I just haven't gotten there yet in this case.)

There's a passage from today's Guardian review of the album and interview with the band that has only reinforced that anticipation:

Ezra [Koenig] speaks like a throwback from 1920s New York: clipped, nasal, articulate. It could come off as an affectation, and read like standoff-ish arrogance in print. But in person, he is quietly charming and intelligent with an undefinable star quality. There are no errant words in his sentences, no gauche contemporary "likes" or "y'knows". Despite being the product of an age where over-stimulation and lack of attention span has apparently made it impossible for us to be bored (and therefore, the theory goes, be creative), he philosophises a lot, too. About what it means to be in a band; about wanting money ("I'm not ashamed to say it"); about accepting it's OK not to be "cool". For instance: "It's great to be like everyone else, it's great to be able to identify what's important to you and respect what's important to other people and find a middle ground where you feel connected to people. There's something narcissistic about thinking you're special and everyone else is boring, and if you end up doing normal things you're a loser. You have to find your way around that otherwise it will just fuck you up." 

That quote reminded me of something I recently read in a not-so recent interview with John Darnielle, of The Mountain Goats:

Pitchfork: You started putting out Mountain Goats albums in the midst of 1990s indie culture, which some associate with generational cynicism.

JD: People are afraid of not looking cool, which involves dismissive and exclusionary stances. I grew up in Claremont, Calif., and when we would all go to L.A., we'd always worry that we weren't fitting in. When our bands would try to play there, we'd get a big "no" from all the clubs. We didn't know any of the right people. So we constructed our own scene where there were bands that you could not, for the life of you, try to figure out what they were trying to accomplish-- but you'd find the beat and nod your head to it. There's been a movement over the past few years toward focusing on good-hearted things that bring pleasure. Thrash kids back in the day talked about being badass, wicked, and evil. Those were all positive terms in that scene. You learn to present dark things without including their ability to harm, treasuring them for what they are.

To which I can only say: 'Cool'. 

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