Aaargh. Yesterday’s Film & Music section in The Guardian contains a letter that really just typifies everything that made me go into a violent, year-long anti-guitar rage a few years back. The letter is from somebody called DP Woodhead, which is already a bad sign. Does he think he’s a novelist or something? This is the man who’s peering over your shoulder in the indie record shop looking for ways to be superior to you. “Hah! I bought that last year when it originally came out on invisible vinyl — didn’t you?”
Although Arcade Fire’s Funeral was released in the UK in 2005 through Rough Trade, the album was originally made available in the US through Merge in mid-2004 (and the songs’ publishing credits accordingly read 2004, not 2005).Similarly, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s debut was self-released this summer, though it will undoubtedly appear in 2006’s end-of-year lists. While this may seem a pedantic and “indier-than-thou” point, it does reveal the UK mainstream music press’s adherence to domestic release dates and promotional schedules comprised of jaded, lazy and out-of-touch scribes, waiting to quote verbatim the next hyperbole-laden press release.
Why would a UK newspaper want to refer to UK release dates? I really don’t know… “2005? Pah! If you went by private jet to New York you’d have got it in 2004! Just like I did! So there!” Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are already in my bad books now.
The Guardian has clearly taken note of this letter of complaint, though, because today’s Guide contains a prime piece of indie-without-a-clue. It’s not on the website so I’ll quote it in full.
SIGUR ROS Hoppipola (EMI) With its opening volley of piano droplets like melting icicles, cheapshot synth strings and mounting preset brass effects, this is a shameless attempt to go commercial on the part of Icelanders Sigur Ros — from remote cool to Coldplay in one ignominious swoop. The sort of song whose video might well see the group trudging pensively across icy plains, as a crowd of children forms in their wake. Uuughhh.
In short, “They’re popular now, so they must be bad.”
Synth strings? Preset brass effects? I think not. Anybody with clean ears will tell you that Hoppípola is one of the best songs — if not the best song — that the band has come up with for five years. The only difference between Sigur Rós then and Sigur Rós now is EMI. And why let that get in the way of wonderful music?