You do. We should have had this conversation long ago!
You do. We should have had this conversation long ago!
Which of the three Loop albums should I check out first?
Though I disagree with much of this, I pretty much laughed my ass off while reading.
Sorry if this has already been posted elsewhere.
The 20 Worst Hipster Bands: The Complete List
By Ben Westhoff
Published Thu., Aug. 23 2012 at 7:47 AM
Who are these hipsters we see each day in the streets, on our Tumblr feeds, and on the local news? And why are so many in bands? It's not the mere existence of hipster groups that distresses us -- some of our best friends are hipsters, after all -- it's their lemming-like tendency to, if you'll pardon a mixed metaphor, ape each other.
On its surface hipsterdom seems to be an individuality-grab, but most of today's 20 and 30-something bands from Silver Lake and Williamsburg sound shockingly similar. They're all playing variations of retro garage and soul music -- or bringing glockenspiels and choirs on incestuous nationwide tours -- all the while clad in vintage garb likely infested with lice. We're not saying that they should be outlawed by, like, Congress or something. Just that they should be avoided. Here then, is our field guide to the worst offenders. -Ben Westhoff
The Black Keys
20. The Black Keys
The guitar-and-drums "blues" punk combo thing wasn't very good even when The White Stripes did it. Still, that hasn't stopped legions of bearded, be-flanneled ersatz blues men from bringing great shame upon their ancestors. The Black Keys stand at the very vanguard of posh cracker blues rock, displaying a lack of authenticity that would make John Fogerty blush. Further, whereas Jack White can actually play, Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach is more concerned with beard grooming and disheveling his hair. -Nicholas Pell
TV On The Radio
19. TV On The Radio
Sure, TV on the Radio concocted an original aesthetic, but it was so hideous we should be glad no one thought of it before. The supposed "soul"-indie fusion of their early work is walled up by rigor mortis drum machines, off-the-grid falsettos and drab, moaning textures. This wasn't helped by their look-at-us Pixies cover or calling their first record OK Calculator. Band member-producer David Sitek has even managed to make Scarlett Johanssen sound ugly. -Dan Weiss
18. Sleigh Bells
Remember in 2010, when we all lost our collective minds over these guys, with their iPod beats, garage-metal guitars and schoolyard-chant vocals? It was, like, the most original sound ever! Then the second album came out and everyone was more like, "Huh. Actually, this kinda sounds like shit." Also, Alexis Krauss started wearing her own band merch at shows, which you're really only allowed to do if you're Morrissey. -Andy Hermann
One could argue that fun. is not a hipster band; that the sincerity behind songs like "We Are Young" by default bars them from the title. We argue that having punctuation in their name earns this distinction by default. The stylization is bad enough, but their music rides the very worn coattails of Arcade Fire and Edward Sharpe, the kind of overblown romanticizing of youth and self-destruction that at this point sounds more cliche than "carpe diem." -Andrea Domanick
Exploiting LOLcat culture and synthy, psychedoodling indie-dance for pop crossover was such a good idea, apparently, that MGMT made it all their own. They tried to be meta about it on their big 2008 breakthrough single "Time to Pretend," which is about rocking 'til you die with "models for wives." And a follow-up hit was not to come; the hookless prog meanderings of their difficult second album (2010's Congratulations) made it clear they weren't in on the joke after all. -Dan Weiss
Death Cab For Cutie
15. Death Cab For Cutie
Death Cab for Cutie is the grandfather of crappy hipster bands. Singer and songwriter Ben Gibbard delivers sickly-sweet lyrics in a nerdy, nasally voice; he's overtly "sensitive" while employing nauseatingly twee titles like You Can Play These Songs with Chords. (First released on cassette, of course.) Musically, the songs are flat, resting in an "easy listening" register. Death Cab sounds like what would happen if you stripped Weezer of their power chords and sense of humor. -Linda Leseman
Wavves sound like a high school outfit exclusively influenced by "ironic" rock bands. Perhaps this is how they've become the darling of the hipster Gestapo at Pitchfork, The Onion AV Club and Spin. (And even, we admit, us.) An early cassette release showed they weren't afraid to use obsolete recording formats, and they've since taken the whole lo-fi "punk" with whining, atonal vocals to levels a million Z-grade Strokes copycats hitherto only dreamt of. Throw in guest appearances from Best Coast and Fucked Up members and you've got a band that are trying way too hard to be off-beat. -Nicholas Pell
13. The Decemberists
The real Decembrists protested Nicholas I assuming the imperialist Russian throne. If you think adding an 'e' (like this band) is an ingenious play on words, you're cordially invited by Colin Meloy's cult for a "free stress test." It includes: 1. Fans who think he's literary 2. Fans who think listening to him makes them literary and 3. Folk-rocking 40-somethings who made the Decemberists certified chart-toppers after Peter Buck and Gillian Welch helped them safely cross over to NPR. Meloy's endlessly nasal prog-folk operas deserve them all. -Dan Weiss
If you experienced the worst Christmas of your entire life in 2010, it was either because you were too broke to buy gifts, or you encountered one of three Hyundai commercials featuring the Bay Area duo Pomplamoose covering Christmas carols like "Up on the Housetop" and "Deck the Halls." These encounters grew ever more frequent as the holiday season wore on: This compelled some viewers to become infatuated with Pomplamoose, while greater numbers ventured into the streets looking for Hyundais to smash into. Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte, the real-life couple who make up Pomplamoose, seemed to epitomize everything about too-ironic, too-precious, too-self-conscious indie pop. If creating cutesy YouTube videos of club staples like Beyonce's "Single Ladies" and Lady Gaga's "Telephone" made the band an Internet sensation, it also betrayed an annoying propensity for holding the wink a little too long, musical talent notwithstanding. -Mike Seely
See also: Pomplamoose's Christmas Hyundai Commercials Cause Hatred of Pomplamoose, Hyundai and Christmas
Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros
11. Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros
This gang of overgrown children aren't just hipsters, they're hippie-sters: A double whammy of annoying that melds the folly and creepiness of a hippie cult with the semi-ironic pretension of a hipster's attempt at spirituality. Their grins are a little too wide, robes a little too Jesus-like and sing-songy joy a little too childlike to ring true, and it distracts from their legitimate talent as musicians. It's good and well that frontman Alex Ebert is sober and pushing himself in different artistic directions, but the new beard and persona make him less of a Bowie than the Charles Manson of twee. -Andrea Domanick
10. White Rabbits
Why do bands need a second drummer? In recent years everyone from Local Natives to Bon Iver to fucking Radiohead has thrown a second kit out there, or at least a floor tom or two. If you think all that extra bashing make bands' music more interesting, then you must love Brooklyn's White Rabbits, because they've sometimes employed three drummers! Unfortunately, they end up proving that when you write forgettable, buttoned-down indie rock, no amount of percussion can save you from sounding like a second-rate Spoon. -Andy Hermann
9. Beach House
Beach House lead singer Victoria Legrand has been compared to Nico, which makes sense in that Nico has an extremely vapid voice. A wash of down-tuned Baltimore neo-soul, it's trip-hop for people who never knew Massive Attack and post-rock for those who missed Stereolab; in other words, derivative electro mush. The band's moniker is also misleading. As Linda Richman might say, they're neither about beaches nor house music. Discuss. -Linda Leseman
The Airborne Toxic Event
8. The Airborne Toxic Event
They named themselves after a Don DeLillo plot device. They frequently play with a string quartet. They released a live album recorded at Disney Concert Hall. Their best-known song contains the lyric, "She's holding her tonic like a cross." They favor the sort of spiky, Modest Mouse-y guitars that signify "edgy." And the bio on their website touts their "captivating blend of literate, visceral indie rock and propulsive, anthemic choruses." If any L.A. band has hipster pretension down to a science, it's TATE. -Andy Hermann
See also: The Airborne Toxic Event Likes Motorcycles, Mexican Food and Blowing Stuff Up
7. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti
[Editor's note: The Weekly staff is divided on Pink; for an argument in favor of his genius see our recent feature story. For the opposite opinion keep reading.] Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti is the Inception of hipster bands: From the '70s sitcom synth lines to Pink's nonsensical psychedelic babbling, their music is layers of irony within irony manipulating you into thinking you're listening to something original or innovate. Live, Pink has the stage presence of a bored teenager and sounds like he's doing drunk karaoke covers of Hall & Oates on Sesame Street. -Andrea Domanick
Beirut's Zach Condon? Please step into our office. It's time to talk about what it is your band does here at Rock Industries' Eclectic Division. "Ok. Um, well, you see, we take Boards of Canada..." Go on... "Then we throw it to a merciless horde of Slavic horn players to be savagely violated while an unintelligible cheap Jonathan Richman knock-off croons. Sounds interesting, right?" No Beirut. It does not. In fact, it sounds like the type of thing you invented just to get laid at Bonnaroo. To boot, Balkan Beat Box is killing you in every performance metric right now. Please collect your things, security will see you out. -Paul T. Bradley
5. Grizzly Bear
These altar boys embody everything bad about the clean-scrubbed end of the hipster spectrum. They spend more time on expensive and fastidious arrangements than choruses, which they sound annoyed to have to throw in occasionally. Their lyrics evoke nothing you can see with your eyes, as if they assume the "beauty" of their tentative melodies will fill in the blanks. Many bands have made vaguer, more directionless music but none of those ever had the chutzpah to crack Billboard's top ten. At least with say, Godsmack, you can tell why they're depressed. -Dan Weiss
4. Bright Eyes
Conor Oberst has been straining to open an impossibly sealed mason jar for about 14 years now. At least, that what his singing sounds like. Between his impish whine and depressing lyrics, it's a wonder he has any fans who aren't yet suicide victims. Since he basically robbed fellow Nebraskan Simon Joyner of his sound, he's even unoriginally terrible. Oberst once hilariously told an interviewer that he was influenced by a Cure record he bought in 3rd grade -- perhaps the worst "I was into them before you were" hipsterism possible. Presumably he was really into Leonard Cohen as a zygote, too. -Paul T. Bradley
3. Arcade Fire
If the essence of hipsterdom is fetishizing the authentic, then Arcade Fire deserve a Canadian Nobel Prize for sucking the life out of the pop music canon. Sure, all artists build on their influences, but Arcade Fire sap the passion, intensity, and sincerity from greater acts who came before them, wringing their sounds out through a sponge and lustily devouring the drops. In a way, they're like the over-processed food our generation consumed as children; with color and nutrients added after the fact, they almost smell and look like something that's good for us. But they're not. Arcade Fire is not good for us. -Ben Westhoff
tUnE-yArDs hAs a mOsT aNnOyInG nAmE and their sound isn't far behind. The group's magnum crapus, 2011's w h o k i l l, is a collection of sonic refuse cobbled into atonal melodies and rhythms that fail to approximate tUnE-fUllNeSs. That the album won the 2011 Pazz and Jop awards is a testament to the emperor has no clothes phenomenon that continues to afflict music writing. -Linda Leseman
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver
1. Bon Iver
"But the melodies! The harmonies!" You protest. Sorry, but it's time to admit that Bon Iver is the sonic equivalent of an empty canvas totebag. Worse, the Justin Vernon-fronted act is wholly indicative of our musical fall from grace. What happened to us as a generation that this guy gets to bear our sonic torch? Those who came before us rocked, bumped and grinded. They exuded raw sexuality and riotous anger; sweaty human realism. They hoovered drugs or angrily rejected them, they humped strangers in club bathrooms in adolescent indiscretion; they broke shit, laughed, cried, partied on rooftops or in warehouses, exorcised cultural demons and personal failures, made spectacles. We, instead, get a whiny guy who built his own studio in the woods; perfectly exemplifying that narcissistic hipster ethos of "Whatever man, I'm just gonna go over here and be chill, I don't want to be bothered or have my mellow harshed." Bon Iver coos the celebratory ballads of hip poseurs who refuse to get their hands dirty, that is, unless that filth is quaint and photogenic. -Paul T. Bradley
Follow LA Weekly Music on Twitter @LAWeeklyMusic, Ben Westhoff on Twitter @brwestho and like us at LAWeeklyMusic.
It's totally pointless to write things like this about bands like Linkin Park, Godsmack, Disturbed, etc, because you'd only be preaching to the choir.
I'm just glad someone finally put White Rabbits in their place. You show 'em, Andy Hermann!
White Rabbits: The Biggest Band in Indie Music
Last edited by skyismad; 08-30-2012 at 04:12 PM.
Everyone should know by now not to expect anything decent out of LA Weekly ever.
I didn't, but their schtick isn't really my thing.
Those LA Weekly lists have been super dumb. Flamebait. Not funny, not offensive.
Parker Posey plays the mandolin on this song. I had no idea.
I just discovered Spotify Radio for individual artists. It chooses songs related to the artist that you start with, and sometimes does a really decent job. Today I tried to do Boredoms artist radio. It said there were no artists like Boredoms. Spotify gets it.
Date, City, David Byrne in Conversation with... Event topic Tickets
Sept. 14 Minneapolis Steve Seel, founder of Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current Delivering Music—How Technology Shapes What We Hear MORE INFO
Sept. 17 Chicago Bettina Richards, founder of indie label Thrill Jockey & Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune music critic Stay Free!—How To Survive In The Indie World MORE INFO
Sept. 19 Toronto Cory Doctorow, blogger, journalist, author, co-editor of Boing Boing Wassup Internet?!—Music in the Digital Landscape MORE INFO
Sept. 22 Montreal Win Butler, musician (Arcade Fire) I Am Standing On A Stage--Why Do We Do It? MORE INFO
Sept. 24 Boston Steven Pinker, cognitive scientist, author Are We Born Musical? MORE INFO
Sept. 28 Philadelphia Greg Milner, music, film, and technology writer Delivering Music—How Technology Shapes What We Hear MORE INFO
Oct. 1 DC David Lowery, musician (Camper Van Beethoven, Cracker), producer Music and Copyright in the Digital Era MORE INFO
Oct. 14 Los Angeles Trent Reznor, musician (Nine Inch Nails, How to Destroy Angels) and Oscar-winning film composer & Josh Kun, author and professor Going It Alone: Music, Marketing and the Web MORE INFO
Oct. 16 San Francisco Bernie Krause, author, electronic musician, and soundscape pioneer What You Hear is What You Are MORE INFO
Oct. 19 Portland Carrie Brownstein, musician (Sleater-Kinney), writer, and actress. Acting Out—Why Perform? MORE INFO