Editorial: Say It Ain’t So, Carrie

One of the bright spots of 2007 in the blog world was when Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein started Monitor Mix for NPR. Brownstein offers insightful looks at the music world on both a micro and macro level. I’m usually a big fan of her writing, but her latest entry is disappointing as fuck.

Brownstein offered a rehashing of the same arguments against Vampire Weekend’s quick rise to fame that we’ve already read from Spin, the Village Voice and a buncha shitty blogs. And just like everyone else Brownstein admits she likes the album. Yes, we all know they’ve only released one album, and we don’t know if the next one will continue the trend.

But why do all of these journalist spend one line saying they like the album, and then three paragraphs trying to knock VW down? I’d usually ignore Brownstein’s ramblings and move on, but what she did next was particularly uncouth. She drops a photo of a Sperry Top-Sider, and admits her hesitation to fully embrace Vampire Weekend might stem from “the fact that if you take preppy yacht rock too far, you end up back at Jimmy Buffet.”

Why are so many people that are supposedly about “the music” spending so much time talking about Vampire Weekend’s fashion sense and Ivy League educations? I’m sensing some major jealousy. I guess if critics fawned over every note I made, yet I couldn’t sell records to save my life I’d be jealous too. Meanwhile, I still find new parts of Vampire Weekend’s album that catch my ear. But why discuss the actual music when we can just guffaw at preppy and yacht?

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9 Responses

  1. Thank you Scott for this post, I couldn’t agree with you more. The day the Voice reviewed the album, they ran two separate reviews – one reluctantly praising the album for its obvious merits as good music, and another trashing Vampire Weekend as obnoxious hype.
    Old man Lefsetz similarly trashed VW with a long, rambling letter about how he can’t keep up with the pace of the hype these days. And the basis for his review (“they suck”) was their performance on Letterman. He actually said he was PROUD that he hadn’t succumbed to the hype and listened to the album.
    Carrie Brownstein is old news just like Lefsetz, and her post on VW sounds defensive and elitist at best. Let’s let the people decide if Vampire Weekend is good or not. Personally I think they’re great. The album is very original and super-catchy. And their live show is improving every time I see them – from a free outdoor gig last summer to a sold-out night at the Bowery. Brownstein wishes she was this relevant…
    Kudos to you Scott for calling her out.

  2. Very well said. This idea that you have to have a strong opinion on Vampire Weekend is ridiculous. I like the album, it’s fun. Nothing mind blowing to me. End of story.

  3. Great stuff Scotty. As a big VW fan I sort of see what people want to hate on them. Most bands spend years honing their skills, touring, etc. before they get to the level that VW has in just what a year? This isn’t something new in the blog age, but VW exploded a bit faster then some of the other “blog broken” bands out there.

    People hated The Strokes for being kids of privilege that dressed in thrift store clothes, but if the music wasn’t good we wouldn’t be talking about these bands at all.

    Hope any of this made sense.

  4. I could redirect you own argument back at you scotty- why do people get so incensed at other people’s strong opinions?

    if its end of story for you, great. but for a lot of people who say it should be suppposedly about “the music”, it seems to be very personal for them as well… Vampire Weekend hasnt spent nearly as much time defending the backlash as a lot of their ‘casual’ fans have.

    I think it has nothing to do with the actual band… If it werent these guys, it wouldve been someone else… In my opinion, its a backlash to something more general than this specific group of priveledged white boys.

    you know im a big fan of your writing, but this latest entry misses the mark, i think..

    Of course, you know my opinions on this as I’ve discussed them ad nauseam. Thats latin i think. I learned that from one of the guys in Vampire Weekend 😉

  5. some dude, right on…

    whether its jealousy, class warfare, or some weird hatred of Ivy League schools, this ‘backlash’ is more than an isolated incident so there’s definitely something to it… i think the way its being articulated by a lot of critics is the problem.

    Were Lester Bangs around, i think he’d explain in a way that might leave the defenders less pious… or more pissed off haha

  6. The VW debut is so completely fun from start to finish that it immediatley reminded me of the another home run of an debut – the first Violent Femmes album. I can’t help think that they would received the same treatment as VW if it was 2008 that we first heard “Add It Up”.

  7. i dont know dave… VFemmes were discovered playing on the street or something like that, and i think theirr songs were more relatable to most people than songs about summers on the cape.. but musically, thats a good comparison..

    although, if i may add a fresh new complaint to the VW haters arsenal, if i hear one more person praise them for having “clean, articulate guitar tones” im going to smash them in the face with a TS9

  8. Regardless of your take on this whole thing, it takes some satch to drop an actual blog critique of a jammies’ wife.
    it shouldn’t matter, (the nepotism deal) but it always does.

    Jam is always so damn rainbows and sunflowers, many jam writers have become glorified fluffers.

    [b] I guess in this situation, no one can accuse either Brownstein or Bernstein of brown-nosing.[/b]

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