i heard that shit back in january.

remember the good old days when you could just tell someone about a band, and if that person hadn't yet heard of that band, he would take a listen, and if he liked it, he would say something cordial, something like, "thanks for introducing me to this band. if you had not told me about them, i probably would not have listened to them. they are a great band, and i will listen to them often. thanks again." for most cynics in their twenties who have more or less followed the "indie" circuit long enough, those days are long gone. maybe not for everyone, but for a lot of us, they are.

these days, it seems that an individual can't even talk about music anymore. maybe i'm just imagining it, but it's as though some unspoken rule has emerged where a person can't even say, "have you heard of so-and-so?" my cousin rich once asked his friend george if he had yet heard the new pleasure forever album. george, who still currently serves as a prime example of a music nazi/elitist, responded with, "of course. i heard that shit back in january." it's impossible to try and get someone like george to listen to a new band, nevermind like a new band. he falls under the category of people who are drive to find all music on their own, and thus make it their own.

george had to be the first, and he had to be the only one into such obscure music that he started listening to stuff like squarepusher and lightning bolt. rich told me about it, and he said that george was so into this idea of being obscure and hip that he couldn't even put on a regular lightning bolt record. no, george preferred lightning bolt b-sides. rich often jokes about this need for obscurity, this desire to be the only one in the know, that often he makes this recurring joke that he can't just buy the artist's record - instead, it has to be the "japanese imported b-sides and outtakes remixed mash-up record."

the music nazis have made listening to any music difficult. meagan and i were at sonic boom once, and she was thinking about buying the anniversary's your majesty, as it was on sale for only $2.99. "would it not be cool for me to buy this?" i said that i didn't know. eli, the ultimate hipster clerk who also had graduated from seattle u, said to her, "i like that cd a lot. it's still a great album." she ended up buying it.

the last time i went record shopping with my cousin rich, we were at rasputin's in stockton. he wanted to buy a record that the actress zooey deschanel had just released, but he had forgotten her band's name. he was hesitant to ask any of the clerks, saying that he "didn't want to be one of those guys." i knew what he was talking about. we both used to be record store clerks at tower, and it didn't matter what band any customer was asking about. it could've been something lame like p.o.d., or something we actually enjoyed, like sigur ros. the mental response was always, i can't believe you're fucking buying/asking about that, or jesus, am i really lame now because i listen to the same bands as this douchebag? it wasn't good. in record store land, at least from our perspective, it was better if no one ever asked about anything, or purchased anything for that matter.

but when we were shopping at rasputin's that day, i was older, wiser, less cynical, less afraid of looking uncool. after all, i had spent the entire year living at home and not working. i had saved up enough change and sold enough of my belongings on craigslist that i could afford to buy myself a new record that i had been thinking about buying for many, many months beforehand. i walked up to the register and put down my sealed copy of the magnetic fields' distortion on vinyl. "do you happen to know what zooey deschanel's band is called?" i asked. the super hip asian female clerk didn't even look up. "she and him," she said.

i don't know why this should concern me. it's just strange how warped our idea of music and sense of cool has become. i wonder where the super elitists are at this point. the kind of people who probably have already seen the pains of being pure at heart at least three times before the rest of us discovered them through pitchfork's favorable review of their latest self-titled record. maybe the super elite don't even read record reviews - they're just that cool. maybe they think that the pains of being pure at heart sucks because shoegazing is over and retro is dead, and who wants to listen to another stupid band that sounds exactly like the jesus and mary chain or my bloody valentine?

my cousin byron often tells me how he hates that all his friends listen to mainstream rap and r&b, stuff like ne-yo and rhianna and - i don't know, whoever's poppin' these days. he himself enjoys the animal collective, los campesinos, etc. he tells me, too, how sometimes he'll play music he likes for his friends, and they'll tell him they don't like it. he tries and tries to get them to listen to bands that he likes, and almost every time, they tell him they don't like it. john has told me a similar story. he told me once how he brought in m.i.a.'s kala and a peter bjorn and john record to listen to at school. he played it for his classmates, and they didn't like it. months later, however, they were all listening to those same albums. this infuriated him.

when did people get so uppity about the music they listen to? why do people always want others to listen to bands only they seem to know and care about, but then when everybody's listening to it, when feist's "1, 2, 3, 4" is on every ipod commercial, or when seth cohen mentions death cab for cutie on the o.c., the music stops being cool? maybe because things are so much more accessible now with the likes of youtube, playlist, pandora, amazon, facebook, etc., it's becoming harder and harder to be the only one who's in the know.

i wanted to be in the know, so i used to collect cds. i would latch onto bands, and then i would buy up their whole discography. if a friend already owned the cd, it didn't matter that i could just borrow it, or copy it. i had to have my very own copy, complete with album artwork, insert, the whole package. everything. and then when the deluxe edition was released, along with its bonus tracks and music videos, i had to buy that, too. it became an obsession, something to do with one's life. that's what people say to do when you're bored or unhappy, right? get a hobby, collect something.

i was at urban outfitters the other day, and i saw this little notebook that had the design of a nintendo controller on the cover. i looked at it for a while, wondering if there was ever going to be anything original ever again. i browsed some of the books they had for sale. there was the stuff white people like book, and the i can haz cheezburger book. i was pretty pissed off that these things were for sale, that people actually bought these things and put them on their coffee tables and thought that they're funny.

the following morning, aileen, the work study girl, looked at my bag (the one that looks like a big blue cassette), and she said, "that's a nice bag. it's very hipster," she said. "i got it in the philippines," i said. "that's even more hipster," she said, "to actually have stuff from another country." i told her that i was at urban outfitters the night before, and i said that i was turned off by all the blogs that had been made into books. she asked me why. the truth is, it's because my blog hasn't been turned into one yet, but of course, i didn't say that. "i just don't feel like we can have anything original anymore. everything is either wannabe vintage or it's a self-parody..." "did you just hate everything you saw there?" "yeah," i said, "but even hating those things (what's trendy and considered "hip") is a cliche in itself." she laughed. "you should start a blog," she said. "it should be called a cliche within a cliche. don't you think that's good?"

"yeah," i said, sarcastically. there was no stopping it.

1 comment:

sprout said...

eli is a dick.