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Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

Does Your Hometown Care?

This month’s issue of Exclaim! has an interesting feature on something it calls “Torontopia”, or the fiercely grassroots and DIY indie aesthetic that has been a large part of this city’s culture for the past half-decade or so. Citing current and past institutions like Wavelength, Three Gut Records and the Blocks Recording Club, it documents the rise – and alleged fall – of the scene and it got me thinking. I’ve been running this blog for four years now, less a couple days, and like to think I’ve done a reasonable job of writing about music from a native Torontonian’s perspective. So why was it that I couldn’t relate to the piece at all? Or to the bustling, creative community that it documented?

I guess it ties back to the point I’ve raised occasionally in the past about feeling some guilt about not covering more local music. Yeah, I’ve spilled lots of digi-ink on the local bands that have broken out on the (inter)national stage – Broken Social Scene, Hidden Cameras, etc – but what of the acts who haven’t reached that level of profile? Am I guilty of that infamous Canadian inferiority complex that craves validation from abroad before acknowledging homegrown talent? Or is it a simple matter of efficiency? I have x amount of time in a day to spend with music regardless of origin – should I apply some sort of CanCon guidelines to my time and in essence treat domestic acts like special needs children or should I leave the playing field level and if the new Born Ruffians record, for all the love it will get locally, doesn’t affect me the way that Austin’s Okkervil River does, then tough noogies? That’s sort of the approach I’ve been taking, but then things like the Polaris Music Prize come along and the guilt returns.

Other Canadian sites have done bang-up jobs of covering smaller Canadian bands – I Heart Music and From Blown Speakers, for example, have their ears pressed far closer to the ground than I. But it’s not entirely for lack of trying – I’ve gone out and caught lots of local bands, some intentionally, some incidentally, but the fact is that statistically speaking, I don’t like many of them. Lots of bands beloved by the Stille Post crowd leave me scratching my head or worse, plugging my ears. I find that part of what could be considered the “Torontopia aesthetic”, or that of its descendents, is an over-intellectualization of music and art. That’s sort of evident from the Exclaim! piece. It’s like people don’t start bands, they start cerebral art projects based on creating a new hyper-hyphenated ironic genre for the amusement of themselves or their friends, and not necessarily for the purpose of just getting together and creating good (by my definitions) music. Not that the two goals have to be mutually exclusive, but to my ears the more important of the two – the music – ends up taking a back seat.

Maybe I’m just as guilty of over-intellectualizing this whole thing – maybe I just don’t like Nintendo cover bands or looped Slavic poetry accompanied by fuzz-pedal sleigh bells. I could simply, at the heart of it all, be a meat-and-potatos rock and roll guy, not an avant-garde-ist, and what the community creates isn’t up my alley. There’s no shame in that. And I could also be projecting outsider baggage from high school, bitter at not being in the know, in the cool kid clique. Probably both. But as long as I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to expose myself to more Canadian music, to try and use this soapbox to get the word out on new acts that I can honestly and wholeheartedly champion. I do think I’ve gotten better at it, but it can be tough to balance that out with judging the music strictly on its merits and not its postal code, with trying simply to cover music I like wherever it originates. Believe me, it’s harder than it sounds.

I recommend reading this conversation with Carl Wilson of Zoilus at Indiepolitik as a very interesting and informative companion piece to the Exclaim article. But Carl, a superb local scene booster, has a very soothing tone to his writing. Like Morgan Freeman doing books on tape. Except without the talking. But rationalize it however you want, and maybe this wraps up this whole train of thought in a nutshell, but I still cannot listen to Ninja High School.

And apologies to the artist, whom you may remember from this, for cropping her illustration to fit my specifications. Please check out the whole piece in all its widescreen glory here.

The Guardian has an extended profile on Broken Social Scene, the extended family and their deep ties to their hometown while Wired holds the band up as an example of the tastemaking power of Pitchfork. The Globe & Mail talks to Brendan Canning about the score to the film Half Nelson, which the band didn’t actually score. And Captain’s Dead has a live acoustic radio session available to download. Via Claude Pate.

Harp talks to Emily Haines about her forthcoming solo record Knives Don’t Have Your Back. She’s streaming a song from it on her MySpace and another here. Also note that a third late show has been added to her two sold-out gigs at the Gladstone on September 12, the same day the album is released (it’s out a fortnight later in the US).

Harp also has a piece on another BSS lady gone solo, Ms Amy Millan.

PopMatters and Harp talk to the Good Brothers about The Sadies’ In Concert Volume 1.

Expanding our scope geographically, Exclaim! talks to Chad Van Gaalen about his new album Skelliconnection, which isn’t getting a whole lot of love from critics. And Stylus takes the wayback machine to mid-90s Can-Rock radio for their list of “Top Ten Canadian Rock Not-Quite-Smashes”. You know, I really liked Slowburn back in the day. “Whatever” was a great song.

And to anyone who feels cheated from the post title that there’s not actually any Superchunk content – accept this mea culpa of a couple live tracks circa 2001, recorded right here in Toronto (meme victory!). Much more free ‘Chunk audio here.

MP3: Superchunk – “Seed Toss” (live in Toronto)
MP3: Superchunk – “What Do You Look Forward To?” (live in Toronto)

One to file under self-promotion – the New Music segment on yours truly that was shot last month will be airing next week – it’ll be on MuchMusic on September 4 at 9:30PM and 1:30AM ET and repeat a week later on September 11 at 12:30PM ET. For those of you, like me, who don’t get MuchMusic, it’ll also air on CityTV on September 9 at 1:30PM ET and repeat on September 12 at 11:30AM ET. Naturally, I am not going to be around for, oh, ANY of these airings so I’ll be relying on the old VCR to capture what will amount to 20% of my 15 minutes of fame. It’ll be available online in the near future as well.

HAve you seen the new Flickr mapping functionality? It’s beyond awesome. Thanks to Duarte for pointing it out to me – alas their foreign maps are far less detailed than I’d like, but I am able to place my Toronto pics down to the intersection. Which is what I spent much of last night doing (but not done yet).

And finally, “Toronto Is Great” may have been a Torontopia slogan, but The Toronto Star says that Travel + Leisure magazine disagrees. They think we’re just good.

np – The Diableros / You Can’t Break The Strings In Our Olympic Hearts

By : Frank Yang at 8:10 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this post37 Responses.
  1. AW says:

    No, you’re right. For the average listener, music scenes = bad bands. That’s not to say artists like ninja high school (or aids wolf, for that matter) don’t have a right to exist, it just means their appeal is part, or mostly, "scene".

  2. Matt says:

    Hi there – long-time reader, first-time poster.

    I think you should stick to writing about what you like – one of the selling points when I first started reading your blog was that you’re not afraid to hold back if something’s not up your alley.

    I don’t really "get" some of the Torontopia/bad bands or what have you either. Maybe it’s because I’m involved in a different city’s (Waterloo’s) scene, maybe it’s that I’m not friends with everyone on the Toronto Stille Post boards, or maybe I’m just a meat and potatoes rock and roll guy too.

    Whatever the case, I know I can rely on your blog for well-written reviews and the word on the occasional new post-rock band that I haven’t heard of, and that’s good enough for me.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Chris says:

    Bang on.

  4. Karl says:

    My link love for Chromewaves is not unrequited! As someone who is laboring only to ensure that his circle of aging hipsters seems less pathetic, I’m honored.

    BTW, I had the PopMatters Sadies piece bookmarked, but not the Harp link, so I’ll be stealing that. Ruthlessly.

  5. Carrie says:

    Since reading Stillepost (every so often), I’ve learned that if a band is ridiculously hyped up on the board, it’ll be something I hate. And if the hipsters complain that a band sucks (e.g., oooh, RADIOHEAD), I’ll probably like it.

    As I mentioned to people earlier this week, I’d rather pour bleach in my eyes and stab myself in the head repeatedly than listen to any of the "bad bands" for a split second. I learned my lesson during CMW.

  6. John says:

    completely dead on.

  7. Le Mignon says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. There aren’t very many bands in Toronto that do it for me either. The Torontopia/Wavelength bands take the "art is whatever you can get away with" too far.
    Many seem to think that drawing influence(ripping off) from obscure or abrasive music is automatically more credible than makeing use of pop or more traditional conventions. Too much worshipping at the altar of self-conscious bands like Sonic Youth perhaps? The DIY/punk aesthetic only works if you actually have something to say artistically. Most of these bands only crave the criticle reverence enjoyed by their cult heroes. This bothers me even more than bands hell-bent on "making it big".
    Don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favor of experimentation. Just not in favor of "experimental" or "noise" as a cheap, easy genre. Waste of time…
    Good local bands in Toronto:

    The Easy Targets
    The Assistants
    Action Makes
    Fjord Rowboat
    Hoa Hoa’s

  8. Duarte says:

    1.2 million Flickr Photos Geotagged in 24 Hours!! Some of those are ours.

    http://www.techcrunch.com/2

  9. spitz says:

    woo hoo, mediocrity rules!
    the whole "taking it too far" comment makes me giggle. Do you try to shut down CMW shows too, le Mignon?

    anyway, Frank, yr criticisms seem to fall shy of their mark. Are you guilty because you’re disinterested in canadian bands until someone (american) else sez they’re grreat, or because you don’t listen to campus radio and therefore wouldn’t know of said bands until someone (somewhere) affirms their greatness?? sorry if that seems harsh, but tis the direction in which yr guilt points. see yr darling chad vanG, who canada mostly ignored until american bloggers started wetting themselves.

    I listen to a lot of canadian music that doesn’t make the usual blog/elbo.ws/&tc roundup — and I also go out to local shows (Guelph in my case, not Waterloo) where more inventive bands from all over Canada, including Toronto, get love. Even if Pitchfork’s never heard of ’em! Fantastic! Incroyable! This whole discussion just increases my respect for my local non-blog-reading but live-music-going peers, actually.

    frankly, it’s kinda weird that you have been completely oblivious to the "bustling, creative" scene that is (alongside/around/beside) torontopia. where’ve you been?

    As for chadVG., the new record’s pretty lukewarm, as CVG himself has admitted. time to start forming yr own opinions.

    p.s. the ‘special needs’ comment = bizarre, offensive on several fronts, yo.

  10. spitz says:

    p.p.s. i suspect that you wouldn’t know avant-garde if it stuck a well-lubed finger up yr ass.

  11. matthew says:

    I know that when I think of Chromewaves, I think of a blog that *always* waits for American approval — especially Pitchfork — before raving about a band. And pointing out that CVG scores low on Metacritic is clearly a sign that Frank is bowing to what other people have to say…it’s not like he regularly provides links to music news or anything…

    (By the way, thanks for the mention, Frank!)

  12. Matt Collins says:

    I posted about this over here (http://www.zoilus.com/cgi-b…), and it has been poitned out to me that perhaps I was a bit harsh (truthfully, yes), but as both a member of Ninja High School and part of the couple in charge of the label that put out the Bad Bands Revolution CD earlier this year, my hackles were raised a bit by this entry. Still, I think some of my comments on zoilus are valid, and that your assessment of BBR and NHS are as glib as my initial reaction. I don’t think we are in any competition with Born Ruffians, or, for that matter, anyone else in Toronto, and that drawing these lines hinders an otherwise amazingly united scene. I hope you give pluralizing your audience experience another chance.

  13. Frank says:

    Helen, I think you confuse my providing links to reviews and whatnot with my endorsing what they say. Also, I haven’t heard the new CVG record so I have no opinion of it as of yet. Rest assured when I do, it will be my own opinion. Or maybe BrooklynVegan’s.

    I hardly seek the validation of Americans – bloggers or otherwise – before supporting the home team. I just prefer to get some considered opinions from people who aren’t also drinking buddies with the artists.

    your other points… whatever. you presume an awful lot about me.

  14. spitz says:

    Points well taken, and I do appreciate that you have a sense of humour, Frank. I am curious, though, as to whom yr "drinking buddies" comment is directed. There seems to be a little hand luggage lying at the foot of that response. Prob’ly only carry-on (though you alluded intriguingly to its substance in the post itself).

    As far as the Canadian scene goes, it’s surprisingly small, and eventually you’re going to have a conversation with someone at a show (which might even lead to deeper critical understanding), unless you skulk at the back and then run home to write a blog entry. And that, while being rendering one prolific, is kind of missing the point.

    I do enjoy an occasional foray into yr blog, though the unfathomable point size drives me right bonkers. but that’s just the old guy talking.
    best,
    helen

  15. Frank says:

    with simultaneous conversations going on here and at zoilus, I forget what I wrote where.

    The "drinking buddies" comment was more a general reference to the stille post dynamic, where so much of the boosterism of various bands comes from friends of the people within the bands. I’ve learned to take such recommendations with a salt lick. Is there some baggage? sure, but find me someone with an opinion or attitude that isn’t informed by personal experiences.

    And I do talk to a fair number of local musicians, as you point out it’s kind of unavoidable. But sometimes that line of critical detachment and being polite/friendly is tough to walk. Which sort of comes back to the initial point that life would be so much easier if I actually liked most of what was being produced in the 416/905/647, but sadly the batting average is not terribly impressive.

  16. spitz says:

    So, the fact that you read stillepost, and I almost never do, leaves me confused about a few things:
    1. your obliviousness to the torontopia phenom 2. your stated wish to remain unsullied by boosterism 3. your confounding expectation that a music scene should exist without people to participate in it. Sometimes your posts read more like you wrestling with your indifference to what the kids are loving on any given day – thus the frequent external links to reviews. There would be no scene without friends to cheer it on, not here, not in toronto, not in vancouver or brantford.

    And if your aim is to hold yrself at a critical distance, it can hardly be accomplished by dismissing others’ "personal experiences" while using yr own as an escape route. I think you’d find just as much cliqueyness and backscratching and "boosterism" (I love the quaint 50s connotation to that word – quick, someone start a band called Booster Club) if you knew personally the Pitchforkers, or the editors of Magnet or Harp or Punk Planet or even those who run with the Vegan. Or the New York Times cafeteria. Cliques and booster clubs = straw man. And – weirdest of weirds: how could you miss Torontopia if yr such an avid zoilus reader??

    p.s. you also called carl a booster, and i think you meant it as a compliment :)

  17. Frank says:

    my obliviousness to Torontopia was in respect to the official name/movement for it. Obviously I knew the players were up to stuff but the rise and fall arc that the Exclaim piece documented was news to me. As for Carl having written about it at length, well mea culpa – I guess I didn’t read those entries or notice the big picture.

    regarding the boosterism – I’m not saying it’s inherently a bad thing, not at all. You’re quite correct in saying that without the mutual support of other artists, fans, etc. My only point is that I don’t necessarily find it a credible indicator of whether I’ll think a band is any good. I can’t count the number of acts that I’ve checked out based on positive local hype and simply been left cold by. But c’est la vie – they don’t need me, I don’t need them, the world doesn’t end.

    And to be clear – I don’t have a formal ethos for how I choose what to write about. Talk about the blog echo chamber all you like, but the truth is I don’t really read many blogs and I’m just as likely to react against the hype or more probably, ignore it completely. Believe what you wish about the hive mind. It’s just as much of a straw man as your cliques.

    And I probably shouldn’t read stille post at all – it’d surely do wonders for my attitude.

  18. Karl says:

    Hesus Marimba! I’ve never read Ms. Spitz’s blog until just now. She writes there that she’s been a little "lippy" lately, so I’ll assume from Frank’s rather restrained reaction to her fantastically rude posts here reflects a better understanding of her blogging persona than I have.

    The fact is that there’s a whole big wide world of music out there. Everyone can find things to like and dislike. It’s great if you live someplace that has a "scene" you can support, but there is no law requiring that you actively boost everything your local scene offers, even if it does nothing for you personally. I’m pretty sure that even Canada’s domestic content regs don’t stretch that far.

    Certainly, boosterism has its place. Great stuff can go unheard without it. And a booster, if he or she can articulately or passionately convey what inspires that boosterism, can even help the casual listener get into — or at least respect — what an artist or band is doing. But Frank is entirely correct in noting that you may want to take it with a grain of salt. And if a particular group of boosters rarely comes up with something that appeals to you personally, why wouldn’t you be a little skeptical as to whether the next one is going to be great (as far as your own opinions and tastes are concerned)?

    Similarly, regarding the notion that there is a blog "echo chamber," I would note that while the Fork may have a great deal of influence after a dozen years or so online, no one simply awarded it to the site, and it persists only as long as its reviews and features ring true with an audience (just ask Rolling Stone). One of the great benefits of the Internet that did not exist when I was in school is that you can almost always sample the new music yourself and make your own judgment. This in turn, makes it much easier for blog readers to determine for themselves which sources are likely to provide recommendations that they will enjoy, or be challenged by, or whatever the reader wants to get out of the reading and listening.

    The notion that Frank is an echo of the Fork is laughable, as one of the reasons I regularly visit Chromewaves is that I find things outside the Fork ambit here, particularly Canadian stuff. I peruse at least a dozen music blogs daily, many more weekly. There is a degree of overlap among some, but that tends to reflect my taste as much as theirs. I don’t spend a lot of time reading sludge metal blogs because I’m not a big fan of sludge metal.

    As for Frank linking to other reviews and such, I’ll plead guilty to the same offense. There’s a long history of discussion on blogs about different categories of blogs. Some bloggers primarily offer up original material, whereas others primarily offer up links, functioning more as an editor or traffic cop. Frank, imho, tries to balance the two — he does much, much more original stuff than I, but probably less than someone like Carl Wilson. To which I say, "So what?" Frank may be getting criticized simply because he is neither fish nor fowl in this regard.

    Maybe I’m mellowing in my middle age, but I would respectfully suggest that folks may just want to take a step back and realize that everyone can do their own internet thing without detracting from anyone else’s internet thing. It’s not a zero-sum game.

  19. Ryan M says:

    I should’ve posted this earlier, but:

    Le Mignon: “The DIY/punk aesthetic only works if you actually have something to say artistically.”

    What makes you think these bands have nothing to say artistically? The lyrics of a Ninja High School track are infinitely more relevant artistically than Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. And the live NHS experience says a lot more about what that band is about, and what their artistic intent is, than Destroyer. Or Feist, or The Dears, or countless other examples.

    Frank: “It’s like people don’t start bands, they start cerebral art projects based on creating a new hyper-hyphenated ironic genre for the amusement of themselves or their friends, and not necessarily for the purpose of just getting together and creating good (by my definitions) music. Not that the two goals have to be mutually exclusive, but to my ears the more important of the two – the music – ends up taking a back seat.”

    Well, this is a very limited conceptual view of what music is, and a lot of those “bad” bands are trying to point out the fact that what music *is* is a lot more broad than someone like yourselves seems to conceive it. The music you seem to be talking about (I don’t read your blog very often) is based on the aesthetics of entertainment. It’s entertaining, in whatever way you determine that, and that’s the function it’s meant to serve. There’s a lot of stuff that isn’t entertaining, but is art. Christine Taylor (or whatever her name was) wasn’t trying to entertain you with her photos of rotting corpses. She was making a point, which is also true for a lot of the bands you seem to be talking about. I can understand if you don’t like the Ninja High School album, but have you seen a show? Same with Garbage! Violence Enthusiasm! These bands are much more about the experience of their music and the aesthetic of the experience of their band as a whole than just how it’s translated when you hear it on your iPod. The recordings are just a representation of what those bands are. To “get” them, you need to listen to the lyrics, check out the website, go see a live show (or a few). Bands like the Postal Service put all of their art into their recording, and (in my humble opinion) they put on a piss boring live show. NHS has, bar none, the most amazing live experience of any band I’ve ever seen. And G!V!E! is pretty close. Those live shows are involving and are a spectacle unto themselves. To the point where the band plays amongst the audience. G!V!E! even wear helmets and encourage you to throw things at them. Feist will never do that. GBV will never do that. Yo La Tengo will never do that. And it’s the involvement, the blurring of the audience and artist barrier that really epitomizes Torontopia. We’re all participants. We’re all in this together. Let’s do something! Granted, you may think that people aren’t getting together to make "good" music, but they’re making music, and "good" is subjective.

    What point is Do Make Say Think trying to make other than “we make amazing music”? It’s an artistic band, and one with an amazing live show, but for very different reasons than, say, The Barcelona Pavilion. As an art form, there are no limits. There is no "should". It’s not about what music should be, but what music can be.

    I think the reason you don’t “get” these bands is because you aren’t interested in giving them a chance. Because they don’t fit into your narrow, one-dimensional conception of what it means to make music, you’re throwing the baby out with the bath water. Music is more than what a band sounds like and you’re neglecting what it really means for music to be an art form.

    If Broken Social Scene’s Cause=Time was poorly recorded, would that make it a bad song? No. It’d be a good song that was poorly recorded. There’s a huge difference there. Are you listening to what the music sounds like or what the music is? What music is goes far beyond what’s coming out of your headphones and that’s what a lot of these band are trying to get you to realize.

  20. zoilus says:

    Sigh. I would just like to say that in all the shouting, the most important point has been lost: How much like Morgan Freeman I am.

  21. mike says:

    I intended to comment yesterday but I was having problems with my computer. I am enjoying the intensity of this discussion. Man, do you know how to stir up bullshit. ;-) But seriously, although I can generally see where you’re coming from with regards to your reasons for not being a fan of much of the music coming out of the Torontopia/Stille Post/Bad Bands revolution/what-have-you scene, I think you hastily dismissed some of those bands’ music as being insincere by expressing that the scene is an "over-intellectualization of music and art". You’re definitely a ‘meat and potatoes rock n’ roll guy’ and I don’t think you should form such an opinion of the Torontopia music scene based on your musical standards.

    You stated that you can’t listen to Ninja High School. Well that’s a given since I believe you don’t listen to rap/hip-hop music. I suspect that if you were a fan of rap/hip-hop, there’s a better chance that you’d appreciate NHS more or at least not dismiss them so hastily.

    Finally, I’ll have to agree with Spitz with regards to her point, "And if your aim is to hold yrself at a critical distance, it can hardly be accomplished by dismissing others’ "personal experiences" while using yr own as an escape route". Having already stated ‘first’ your opinion of the Torontopia music scene(and obviously caused a stir), leaving your comments till the end of the discussion that attribute your viewpoints as a combination of your own personal experiences doesn’t seem sufficient.

    Although you consider Chromewaves as the opinions of one music fan(that being yourself), I think the reason why there’s such a stir of emotion is that Chromewaves’ influence is far more outreaching. On one hand you are Frank the music fan, but on the other as Chromewaves, your remarks are much more deeply felt. I’m not saying that you have to only talk about bands you like or lie about the stuff that you don’t like but in dealing with the stuff you don’t like, a little more diplomacy will go a long way.

  22. kermit the frog says:

    I’ve seen G! V! E! They suck. People need to either come up with tunes or pursue a career in performance art. It’s clear to me that these people are just over-ambitious scenesters hoping to sustain a career in music without having a lick of musical talent, or anything of value to say. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but when critics start championing intentionally bad music as some sort of vanguard art, something’s gone terribly wrong…

    Still, despite my complaints, I’ll admit that the music isn’t completely without value, and perhaps in the future they’ll surprise us with work that backs up their boundless bravado.

  23. Jay says:

    Carl, I have a copy of March of the Penguins that I’d really like to overdub with your own narrative. Kinda serious.

    Also, not all the bands are trying to make some statement about art or be ironic or any of that. I’m in GVE because I wanted to participate in the whole toronto thing instead of just being a bystander, and have fun doing it. And some people at our shows really enjoy it too. And that means a lot more to me than any "artistic merit". Wait…maybe that gives it artistic merit…i’ll leave that up to the art nerds to argue over.

  24. Frank says:

    mike – your point about NHS being in a genre outside of my frame of reference is a valid one. I only singled them out because they’re generally a lightning rod for the good or bad of the Torontopia debate. That and the fact that I was sent a copy of their CD last year and actually listened to it.

    As for dismissing others’ opinions, that’s not actually true – I’m saying that I’ve listened to the recommnedations of others and generally been left disappointed so I’ve learned to be suspicious/distrustful of anyone’s glowing praise of anything.

    And I don’t really buy into the "great power/great responsibility thing". People are free to put however much weight on my opinions as they like, but they’re never put forward as anything more than that. and if you had any idea of the amount of stuff I’ve refrained from writing about because I’d have had nothing nice to say, you’d know I’m plenty diplomatic about it.

    ryan – I think you and I are simply far apart on our individual ideas of what is good or bad music, showmanship, concert experiences, etc. I’ve never felt cheated or unengaged because I couldn’t pelt the artist with refuse. I am perfectly happy to watch a show and enjoy the music.

  25. Ryan M says:

    Frank, I agree. I’m not the most articulate guy, by my point is not that music must be experienced one way or another, but that all ways are valid. And I feel like a lot of people call NHS or G!V!E! or Bad Bands invalid as forms of music or experience because of preconcieved notions of "irony" or "sceneters" or "music" which I think are grossly untrue.

  26. Frank says:

    re: irony – only the artist truly knows if their intention is ironic or not. The rest of us can only speculate. Me, I have a very low tolerance for irony in art and considering how hyper-ironic our culture is in general these days, am probably over-sensitive to it.

  27. Alizee says:

    Well, to be honest, judging by the comments left here, one thing that the Toronto music scene lacks is self-irony. Anybody who doesn’t like us = scenester… Good-bye

  28. Karl says:

    I don’t think anyone would remember the Velvet Underground had it not been for Malanga’s dancing.

    And since the readership seems to have been skewing toward the simultaneously over-earnest, humorless, condescending and dogmatic, let me note explicitly that the prior sentence was sarcasm. Which is probably as beaten to death as irony, but I’m trying to use an idiom understood by people who don’t actually know the definition of relevant.

  29. Karl says:

    PS: Not all irony is intentional irony. For example, when people who gravitate to and immerse themselves in forms of expression that are quite obviously not aimed at a mass audience and are born of a reaction against whatever is considered "popular" at a given moment, yet complain that it does not get enough publicity, that is ironic, but probably not intentionally so.

  30. palpable says:

    Jesus. Hat’s off Frank for having a thick skin and keeping your comments cool. I guess that is necessary to stay in the blogosphere for 4 years. And hats off for that. And the archives. And the concert photos. And *all* the links, endorsed or not.

    Some of the comments here are very rude. Music criticism seems to be a difficult game. If you don’t like Frank’s tastes, look somewhere else. I like a lot of what chromewaves is, moreso than most blogs in the game.

  31. Madison says:

    I’m also impressed by how tempered Frank’s responses have been. Perhaps his ability to stick to walls and web things provides him a perspective on power/responsibility the rest of us just don’t have.

    And also in chromewaves’ favour – I think Frank has demonstrated that his opinions certainly aren’t sacred cows. I seem to recall several instances of "now I get it!" posts on bands he previously didn’t like. Certainly a paean to Panic! At The Disco is forthcoming.

    Speaking of tempered observations; is the original posting that started all this really a slam on local bands? Are a lack of props really the same as a diss…..um, yo?

  32. Le Mignon says:

    Ryan M., My comments weren’t directed at NHS. They are artists who I have respect for and I can see have clearly put a lot into their craft. I was speaking more about bands who are on the "noize/exp bandwagon". A rather prevelant trend at the moment. I haven’t heard every experimental band in the city but pretty much all i have heard has been B.S.
    "I have eaten the city" among a few others would be an exception.

  33. nick@nickstorring.com says:

    thanks for the "exception", le mignon :-) perhaps you should dig deeper there are a quite a few exceptional experimental bands, i do agree there are a few more mediocre ones, but there are a lot of mediocre other bands too…

    good places to start: the rat-drifting label (the silt, eric chenaux, drumheller, st. dirt elementary school, guayaveras), nick fraser & justin haynes are faking it, barnyard drama, singing saw shadow show, polmo polpo, awesome, deep dark dark united, songs of the new erotics, six heads, CCMC, odradek… these among others are excellent avant acts in toronto.

  34. Nick Storring says:

    whoops i put my email instead of my name… i’m such a weenie

  35. Mesopatamia says:

    I’d have to say that mediocre bar bands are committing worse atrocities to "music" and "artistic creativity" than any of these retarded concept bands.

  36. Adam says:

    You know what I find hilarious in a "etymology can be funny" kind of way? The suffix "topia" comes from the latin topos, meaning place. The positive implication of the word "Utopia" comes from its "U", meaning new (similarly the negative implication of the word "Dystopia" comes from the "dys"). So Torontopia, despite having a ring to it, would imply little more than Toronto Place.

    I prefer Utreal.

  37. Amy says:

    OK, I know I’m late on this convo, but I just saw it and wanted to respond to kermit the frog. I’m also in GVE and I actually think it is kind of wicked that you hate my band because if everyone dug it, I would feel like I was doing something terribly wrong. I do want to address this idea you seem to have about our goals though. Since when does playing in a band mean that your aim is to have a career in music? I have a career aside from music that I quite enjoy. What is wrong with fucking around and making some songs based on a couple of random ideas? Furthermore, I don’t get why you draw such solid distinctions between performance art and music. Hating my band is totally fine, but making assumptions that I have some overblown "scenester" careerist motivation because I beat dudes over the head with garbage? Random, guy.