As the Staten Island Advance has seen fit to remind me, I'm have sometimes described myself as a snob when it comes to the rock stuff. Of course, I've been called a snob many times before I started calling myself one. The first instance was probably during my teen years when a classmate vehemently called me a snob for saying that Unrest was better than Pennywise. (I'm not sure if history has proven me right on that one.) It's happened recently as well. The editor of A New Nuance chided me as a snob for not particularly looking forward to the second Arcade Fire record and saying that I found Clap Your Hands Say Yeah as "dull as dishwater." (In case you don't remember, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was a band briefly popular in 2005.)
Using the historically tested method in identity politics of turning a negative into a positive, I decided to adopt the word for myself thus negating its derogatory power. (i.e. "Snob" is my N-word.)
What's fascinating to me is how well it's worked. Almost too well. When people call me a snob, it's a pejorative. When I call my self one, I'm self-aggrandizing even if I mean it in a tongue in cheek, self-effacing way.
When I tell a friend I don't enjoy a particular artist he or she likes, I'll follow it up with "But I'm snob, so, you know..." I don't mean this to imply that I have better taste than anyone else and can't be bothered with your inferior myopic nonsense. I mean that I have a huge personality defect that makes me very particular and judgmental about music generally made with guitars so heed not and listen to what you like.
A similar point was made in this week's Popless column over at the Onion AV Club. Noel Murray writes:
It's odd how defensive people get when they mention certain bands or movies, like, "I know people will jump on me for this, but I really like Groundhog Day," or "I hate to admit it, but The Bee Gees have some good songs." There's an assumption being made, that the world at large has agreed that some things are meant to be taken seriously, while others are "guilty pleasures" (or just plain "suck").(For the record, Groundhog Day is a great film and the Bee Gees have some outstanding songs, particularly on their first few albums. However, the band Murray mainly uses to illustrate his point in the introductory essay is Steely Dan, who are awful. But that's neither here nor there.)
I've often wondered the same thing. Why do people get so apologetic for liking Justin Timberlake or Amy Winehouse or even the Killers? They sell millions and millions of records! Tons of people like them! I'm the one who likes the wacky fringe shit! I should be apologizing for contemplating if if the Disco Zombies song "Drums Over London" is racist or simply sung in character. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, that's exactly my point.)
For all these reasons I've decided that I need stop referring to myself as a "rock snob." (Also because the other "self-described music snob" in the AWE piece likes these guys thus proving the term totally ineffectual at conveying my personal taste.)
I may have to go on a little hiatus from this blog until I come up with a better term to describe what kind of music I cover here. (And not because I'm going to be really busy with work and other things for the next week or so). The best I can come up with so far is "dumb smart guy rock." Can you do any better? Please share.
Speaking of "dumb smart guy rock" I was lucky enough to catch Thee Oh Sees and Sic Alps at Brooklyn's favorite illegal performance space/sauna on Sunday night. So good were they, I briefly forgot about the awful, stomach-turning events of that afternoon. Their respective 2008 releases, The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In and US EZ, are highly recommended.
Also highly recommended for those in the New York City area is the Tyvek/Thomas Function show at Cakeshop this Friday, October 3rd. This marks the first time that two of the bands from this blog's "Make This Band Your Myspace Friend" feature have played together in New York. (Especially noteworthy since I've only done the feature 4 times.) Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it as I'll be attending a wedding but don't let that stop you from going. In fact, you might have a better time without my presence. I can be a bit of a snob from what I hear.