Thursday, February 21, 2008

Signs I'm Getting Old

I recently celebrated my 33rd birthday, but that doesn't make me feel old. 2008 will bring my 15th high school reunion, but that doesn't make me feel old. I'll be a dad in six months, but even that doesn't make me feel old.

What makes me feel old is the thing that I thought made me forever young. The thing that I either knew about more than anyone in the room (or at least hold my own in conversation) was music. Of course, I'm primarily talking about indie rock. I long ago gave up on popular music, but independent rock was my thing. It kept me ahead of the curve. It was underground. It was cool. And I knew everything there was to know about it.

I remember seeing Modest Mouse, The Flaming Lips, Built to Spill, among others in small clubs before hardly anyone knew who they were. I witnessed the last shows for both The Afghan Whigs and Pavement (US show). My count on Guided By Voices shows
is in the double-digits.

My point is that I used to be in the know when it came to indie rock.

Now, the scene is passing me by. I realize that I don't attend the same number of shows as I used to or am up on the next "it" band, but the whole thing has just left me behind.

I began to notice my lagging music fandom when, at a party, this acquaintance was saddened that the only upcoming release he was interested in was the new Breeders' record. Instead of thinking, "Yeah, that's kinda sad." I was thinking, "The Breeders have recorded a new album? Awesome!"

Another way that I judge my music coolness ratio is by checking out all the year-end lists on magazines, both print and digital alike. Pitchfork is often looked at as a bastion of indie rock hipness. Their list only faintly resembled mine. There is no electorprog (Battles, LCD Soundsystem), world beats (MIA), or Athens-based psychedelia (Animal Collective, Of Montreal, Panda Bear) to be found on my top-31 records of 2007. Not only do the lists not match, but when we do have similar picks, I rank them low (Radiohead at #28) and Pitchfork rates them high (#4) or vice versa.

The print media hasn't been much friendlier to my hipness. Magnet Magazine, the one publication I've deemed worthy of a subscription has let me down. I always appreciated Magnet's 90's-centered coverage of indie music. They love alt-country, Guided By Voices, and lo-fi, just like me. Then came their year-end list. I couldn't have been more let down. I was flipping through their list. I only had one pick in common in the first ten (Okkervil River). Then, I was excited to read that Spoon was #3 (my #2) and The New Pornographers were #2 (my # 11). I was thinking about which of my picks could be #1. The Arcade Fire? Beirut? Feist? Who was #1? Ween. That's right. Dean and Gene Ween topped the best-of-2007 list of my favorite music rag. They didn't even make my 31. They'll never make my top anything list.

The article starts like this:

If you're reading Magnet, you probably agree that there's no such thing as a bad Ween album.
Except that I read Magnet and I think all of the Ween albums suck. Not even my lone beacon in the indie universe could support my music hipness ratio. I've been distraught ever since.

I thought that these events would cause me to never want another 7-inch or Merge newsletter again. Then I thought that maybe the entire indie rock universe is wrong, and I'm right. Maybe I've awoken in an alternate universe of alternative rock. I'm on Oceanic Flight 815, trapped in a place where time is altered and puffs of black smoke come out of nowhere to kill off all the best characters. And all I can think of is "How does Hurley keep his batteries charged so that he can keep listening to the cracked-hippie band, Gomez?"

The one comforting I've found was reported in Pitchfork yesterday (or today, depending on when this post is dated). It's here. And if you can make sense of it, then you know more than me.


Pizza Cottontail said...

You're not old until your favorite acts start getting four star reviews in Rolling Stone.

W. said...

Don't worry Zac, when you turn 35 you'll get the Establishment Starter Pack. This lovely collection of non-indie gems includes: Aerosmith, Sting, Kenny Chesney, The Foo Fighters, Miley Cyrus, Rod Stewart, John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, and U2 (everything from "Joshua Tree" to present).

Huey said...

oh have always been my indie hero. now what am i to do?

comoprozac said...

Pizza - The sad part is that many of the bands I like have earned 4 stars in RS.

W - Great. I'm so looking forward to it.

Huey - That's the kind of stuff I was fishing for. Where are the rest of those lim fans telling how great I am?

kristen said...

OMG..I agree with everything you just wrote. (including "all ween albums suck") I went to my old hometown record store, ear x-tacy, this past weekend while visiting the family in KY, and I was completely UN-inspired to buy ANYTHING new. On top of that, one of my musical idols from college (Jason Noble, of Rodan/Rachels/Shipping News fame) was WORKING there stocking CDS...and i didn't even DROOL..Am I an old cynic now that is only nostalgic for the 90s???? jeez. this sucks.