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Behind the Lyrics to “Comfort in the Noise”

“Wait a second—are you quoting your own lyrics?”

Yes, call me a narcissist or an egomaniac of the first degree, but I am guilty of this supposed faux pas. I quote my lyrics because writing them is a form of catharsis; I put a great deal of reflection into my lyrics, and sometimes struggle to understand what my subconscious is trying tell me. The process of composing helps me wrap my thoughts around large, unwieldy topics and align my feelings on a variety of issues.

Lyrics can often be obtuse—many of my favorite artists write quite cryptic words, and I’ve taken a great deal of influence from this style. Sometimes in obscuring an issue we can better measure our comprehension. I’m a huge fan of science fiction because when it’s done well, stories and characters serve as allegories that allow us to reconsider what we think we know and feel. In an age that feels a bit too literal and surface-friendly for my taste, this is very refreshing and necessary.

But sometimes we need to read about a film or a book after we finish it. Art can be too dense on a first or second take to properly comprehend. We know that something moved us, but we need some help in clarifying what exactly it was. When it comes to pop music, this is why the site Genius has been such a big hit.

Pop lyrics tend to get short shrift, and frankly I give them short shrift – I rarely pay attention to lyrics in pop music, and have found on many times that understanding the lyrics will actually diminish my gratification. (By contrast, many songs that have thoughtful, analytical lyrics tend to bore me on a musical level. Yeah, I’m a picky customer.)

So I’m not postulating that my lyrics are earth-shattering and will be remembered as fondly as Shakespeare’s sonnets, but inviting you to take a peak behind the curtain to see what inspired me. As we close out this VERY LONG YEAR and Libel moves onto bold, new material, I want to share how writing our 2016 album “Comfort in the Noise” helped me come to terms with the world around me as well as my aging self. I think you might relate to a good deal of it.

On the Album Title, “Comfort in the Noise”

We played around with a few ideas for the title:

  • “Targeting the LCD” (as in “lowest common denominator”) to complement our previous LP’s cheeky title, “Music For Car Commercials.” The conventional wisdom of today suggests the best way to make money in entertainment is to pander to the lowest common denominator.
  • “Calculated Misery,” a reference to how airlines determine how tortuous to make coach seating so you will upgrade. It seemed also a funny way to describe the process of making “sad bastard” music – how much planning goes into writing songs to bring you down. (Though we finished this long before Adele released her album “25,” I was amused at the behind-the-scenes stories about the songwriting – because she was now far more content in life, she really had to mine the pain and anguish that made “21” a huge hit.) Emotional manipulation isn’t limited to three-hankie movies.
  • “Help Is on the Way” is the refrain from closing track “Elevator Button.” Years ago, I took a photograph with the perfect Instagram filter of a “Help Is on the Way” button in an elevator, and the image has stuck with me. The idea of being trapped in a small metal box with a blinking light telling you that help will arrive imminently reminded me of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” itself a study of existentialism. Help is never arriving, it’s always on the way. We live our lives expecting that promised land is around the corner, but do we ever find it?

However, because “Comfort in the Noise” is one of catchiest refrains on the album— “By now you know you know there’s comfort in the noise” from “Dead Air”—it earned the title spot. The phrase seemed to align with a central goal of mine in writing music: to find solid ground in our media-centric, hyper-distracted, chaotic yet rigid world.

At the same time, I believe this album is a bit noisier than previous efforts (with great thanks to new recruit Justin Gonzales and his penchant for crazy sounds), and I imagine anyone who enjoys Libel (and many of our post-hardcore and shoegaze influences) finds a great deal of comfort in noise.

“Migration Patterns”

We managed to get a few articles written about this one. Not just a description of gentrification (“Raze the tenements to make space / For luxury condos”; “Discount stores on every block / Replaced by yoga studios and cheese shops”), Migration Patterns also conveys the callousness of the gentrifiers (“A new playground for the young and moneyed”) and their half-hearted sympathy for the locals sent into exodus (“Our hearts go out to those displaced / It’s a disgrace / You don’t know how bad we feel).

As someone who moved into a freshly renovated (and super cheap—for my income level, anyway) apartment in Bushwick and then watched as rents rapidly ascended, lifelong residents bailed and the bars and restaurants that signal “urban renewal” moved in, I wanted to bring across both the ridiculous nature of gentrification as well as my disgust at my participation.

Race is casually referenced off the bat – “A great pale shadow casts down on the east” – because I wanted to focus on the class issues. However, musically I wanted to joke on white appropriation of black culture with a beat inspired by Washington, DC’s homegrown go-go style and the sing-song “rap” sections (which I intended to sound as white as possible).

But as the song notes towards the end, gentrification is a symptom of a much larger problem – wealth inequality and cost of living that’s raced ahead of wages and income for most of the population. This has led to an ugly cycle – before I was gentrifying Bushwick I was gentrifying Williamsburg. So is the ending refrain of “Pack it up / Move on down the line” a tactless taunt to rooted residents forced out by gentrification or a rallying cry for the next round?

“Not Invited”

“Word ain’t always as good as bond” sums it up well. “Not Invited” focuses on the prevalence of cronyism and how connections are more worthwhile than skill and talent (“Charm will only get you so far”), particularly in the arts. We may try to dismiss such claims by citing that “je ne sais quoi,” but the real question is, “Who do you know? / Who validates your ticket?”


A companion piece to older Libel track “Simulation,” “Simulacra” is a meditation on Jean Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation” and even directly quotes the text (“No reference, circumference / Only eminence grise”).

A rather obtuse piece referencing and even further obtuse piece, the basic idea is that symbols (simulacra) of ideas and beliefs have actually become more important than the ideas themselves. For example, one could argue the cross no longer represents Jesus’ preaching but Christianity, which is essentially the cross itself.

The the mask hides nothing—what we’re left with is the hyper-real. “What’s realer than real is not real at all / What’s realer than real’s nothing more than a façade.” But the song itself suggests that such a realization “will tear you asunder / So turn the lights off and leave the mask on.”

I’ve found Baudrillard fascinating for a long time—yes, since I saw “The Matrix” many years ago. His ideas are abstract, but quite fun to ponder and make for wonderful songwriting inspiration. Also referenced in this song: the sample is from David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome,” and the chorus line “Images are treacherous, it’s said” is a nod to Rene Magritte. (The Jaguar Club had a riff on this as well.)

“Dead Air”

This song serves dual purposes—both to mock the pandering idiocy of modern media, and note its addictive nature. The title itself sneers at 24-7 programing and content, where “Being informed has never been more subjective / Why pay for knowledge when entertainment’s so cheap?” The second verse takes on the pointlessness of horse-race politics (which fills up a lot of media dead air), noting the “Rules laid out by the suckers paying the rent”—that would be the corporations and aristocrats funding the programming and ultimately the politicians.

The bridge—or really the second chorus—makes the song personal by noting that there’s “comfort in the noise.” We’ve gotten so used to—even reliant—on this barrage of blathering that “silence is merely devastating.” Repeating the motif of turning it on and off that first appeared in “Not Invited,” a second refrain in the buildup suggests we’ve lost control over the beast and become dependent—“once you turn it on, it’s always staying on.” Modern media is not junk food, but an addictive drug.

“Hats Off”

This straightforward song (in both music and lyrics) suggests that the social mediascape has awakened our inner self-righteous trolls, and they have run rampant to little effect other than making us all look like a bunch of assholes. But rather than lecturing on the death of discourse, the chorus uses the most pithy of snark—“Hats off to you, mighty dragon slayer”—to admit that I’m part of the problem. The acrimony festering on the Internet is seeping into all parts of life, to everyone’s chagrin.


Hey boys and girls—do you like economics? “Bygones” is inspired by the austerity practices that have left huge swaths of the world’s population struggling in the wake of the Great Recession. (“And if you find our methods callow / We offer the choice to spit or swallow.”)

But it’s really focused on conservative and business-minded types that push such policies along with “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” sloganeering aimed at those lazy, no-good poors. Of course, those some bloviators fail to see the advantages (ahem, privilege) that allowed them to rise high enough to condescend. Too many people (and nations) have bought into this bullshit at great cost to themselves.

Conservative economists preach a strict doctrine—“What’s written right can’t be wrong”—and write off failures as bygones, always finding some impractical or erroneous excuse for why their policies have tripped up… Or simply made the rich richer while smothering everyone else.


During the infamous Occupy Wall Street protests, I actually was working on Wall St. as an editor for Jim “Mad Money” Cramer. While I had my issues with the Occupied movement—namely its anarchic approach to organization when strong leadership could have pushed real change—I agreed with most of the principles.

So I was disturbed by what held me back from being a part of the protests: fear of losing the comfort of my job, my career. Not being able to pay off my debts or fund my musical projects. Survival was more important than standing up for what I believed. I hated myself for sitting on the sidelines and “bracing for the moment’s end.”

“Preoccupied” traces the rise of the Occupy movement while criticizing myself and people like me for being too meek to answer the call—“Enlightenment is knocking but the door’s been bolted shut / Inside we sit with our heads between our knees.”


In pop music, the majority of lyrics concern with the most basic of relationship tenets: I want you, I love you, I miss you, I’m sad because we’re not together anymore, you broke my heart.

How many ways can you rephrase the same old sentiments? Why not explore more interesting territory in relationships, such as the power plays involving sex? Each partner yearns for control in a relationship, and the simplest move can exploit the other’s attraction. It’s easy to lose yourself (and control) in lust.

So yes, “Frivolous” is a sex jam about partners vying for overarching control in a relationship via sexual maneuvers. And in the climatic section (see what I did there?), the two realize they are even; they’re both conqueror and conquered at the same time within their passion. Is the foreplay that leads here itself frivolous? It’s not clear.

“Arrogance of Youth”

“Mediocrity rises up.” Pretty much my general complaint about pop culture and a lot of art in general. You could argue this is a worldwide phenomenon that applies to workplaces, politics (though the election of Trump points to an immense dissatisfaction with mediocrity), etc., as illuminated by concepts like the Peter Principle, but for this song, let’s stick with pop culture. The bland and safe are celebrated by the masses and their creators financially rewarded.

On one hand this song is a lament about the cultural status quo, the consensus and the “popular canon,” something I’ve poked fun at since “We Sustain” (2009!). But on the other, it’s about growing up.

When people complain about “millennial traits” like selfishness and delusions of grandeur, I typically reply, “That just sounds like the arrogance of youth.” Thinking that because you’re fresh and untainted by the world, your ideas and output must be brilliant. You know better than everyone because you know nothing.

I feel like many of us 30-somethings have been through (and/or possibly are still going through) the process of recognizing that maybe we don’t what’s best for the world… Maybe we barely know what’s best for ourselves. That questioning yourself and your beliefs is not a negative thing; it’s essential for progressing.

In the end, the melody returns to the opening riff. The lyrics suggest that mediocrity has already flooded the valley and “the crops are done spoiled.” Am I saying that there’s no point in trying to change the humdrum cultural landscape? No, I think I’m saying (and definitely trying to sell myself on the idea) that there’s no point in caring.

“Elevator Button”

Oy, the song no one wants to play, me included because the lyrics depress the hell out of me. “Elevator Button” is an appropriately melancholic ditty about the dystopian now: waiting for the train to take me to work and holding back all my anxieties about the future (“Circumventing heart attacks”); feeling helpless about economic concerns (“Capitalism has run amok”) that make me feel I’m caught in stasis.

And we return to would-be album title: “Help Is on the Way.” One day it will all get better. When? Uh… Where exactly is that Godot fellow we’re supposed to meet? The elevator even makes an intriguing analogy because it’s constantly traveling up and down, caught in its own cycle.

After a foray into escapism (“I gotta disengage”), I return to the opening lines but add the statement: “There’s gotta be something more.” When I wrote the line, I swore I was repeating myself. Eventually I realized I was referencing the old Alphabetical Order track, “Dress Up/Dress Down,” a song that critiqued how identities are bought and sold.

It’s a little weird thinking about “Elevator Button” Post-Trump because instead of feeling stuck in a cycle, I’m dreading how the cycle will be shook up. If anything, I feel more powerless now (which is what happens when you empower authoritarians). So at least there’s fodder for more lyrics and discussions to come…

Back in the Saddle With Hats Off

Hola amigos – Been a while since I rapped at ya, but life’s been quite busy. Besides the toils of the day job (which includes visiting such horrid locales as San Diego), I was on tour with The Jaguar Club. Yeah, yeah – I’m a guitarist, I get around. The JC had several dates in England – including the very fun Rockaway Beach Festival in Bognor Regis – followed by a US stint with Idlewild from Scotland. We played a lot of amazing shows to big crowds, and we’re eagerly working on new material currently. Here’s a sample of our live sound.

But what about Libel, Gavin? That’s what everyone’s here to talk about!

Yes, we took our own sweet time putting together a full-length follow-up to “Music for Car Commercials,” but it really is THIS CLOSE to done – we’re evaluating the masters right now, but I wanted to share a solid track: Hats Off, my ode to how the Internet and social media have facilitated our transformation into a global pack of trolls. 140 characters of self-righteous banter brought no one to their knees.

Oh yeah, the new album – “Comfort in the Noise” – blends dual guitar pyrotechnics, a skin-tight rhythm section and many of my favorite lyrical themes: gentrification (“Migration Patterns”), the arbitrary nature of fame (“Not Invited”), media as a drug (“Dead Air”), arrogance of youth (“Arrogance of Youth”) and even austerity-based economic policies (no, I’m not kidding – “Bygones”). We’re shooting for an early 2016 release, though would be open to any record label interest. Expect another beautiful album cover and music video from talented illustrator and animator Michela Buttignol (no pressure, honey-bun!).

We’re also returning to the stage: Friday, Dec 4 at Matchless in North Brooklyn (Williamsburg). Facebook invite here. We hope to see you there, singing along to “Hats Off” (ahem, the lyrics are on Soundcloud…).


Jon Stewart ‘Eviscerated’ My Boss, Jim Cramer

I was a copy editor at in 2009, and one of my main responsibilities was transforming Jim Cramer’s hastily thrown together emails (usually in all caps and sentence fragments) into readable blog posts. I was in the office when Santelli gave his infamous tirade that somehow launched the Tea Party – yes, CNBC was always blasting in our newsroom. As he was ranting, my colleagues and I stared at each other in disbelief. “Is he really saying that?”

Dread built up in the office before Cramer’s appearance on The Daily Show​. “This is not going to go well,” was the unspoken sentiment. The Daily Show’s CNBC coverage had been brutal, but Jon Stewart echoed a lot of feelings we all had about the network and financial journalism in general. Especially me – I had moved to New York less than a year before thinking digital financial journalism was my best next move.

But lo, I soon felt quite crappy about the content I was contributing to – especially as the realities of the bad behavior that led to the financial crisis sunk in. I had to explain to an opinion writer why quoting Gordon Gecko’s “Greed is good” speech was not a good idea and edit a series on investing in private prisons. And yes, a few times I had the horror of editing Lenny Dykstra’s Nails on the Numbers newsletter. I had no idea who Dykstra was before I started working at TheStreet, but holy shit – I don’t think what was in those writings was of human origin, let alone in English.

I did not watch the “evisceration” when it originally aired, but at the office the next day. Wow. Ow. I wasn’t the only one covertly watching the clips over and over, trying to balance my glee at seeing Cramer forced to atone on television for all of CNBC’s sins with my fear that I was about to be unemployed.

Cramer rallied the troops but our editor’s desk around 11. We learned that’s CEO has resigned and there were other executive shifts coming. You see, Cramer’s appearance had coincided with TheStreet’s stock taking a serious dive and an earning’s miss. Yes, for some odd reason, TheStreet was a public company. Cramer himself looked defeated, worn down; but he always appeared different in-person compared to TV. The few times I chatted with him, he was quite reserved, but seemed more tired than anything else. On this day, he gave a short, weak speech that definitely didn’t fire up the troops, but he must have known nothing would in the face of what was coming.

If I remember right, 21 people were laid off that day across several departments, including editorial, including the guy that had trained me a few months before. I kind of knew I wasn’t going to get the ax because I didn’t make enough money and had impressive output. However, I didn’t last that much longer at TheStreet. A few months later I misunderstood a cue from my editor and made a stupid mistake in one of Cramer’s blog posts that circled in a CNBC colleague – it led to my swift termination. It was a blessing in disguise – I had been offered my a gig as editor at a digital advertising blog and was able to start after a two-week tour with The Jaguar Club​. (Before, my editor said I’d was too valuable to lose for two weeks and was going to stick me with a laptop and a wifi card for the road.)

Seeing clips of the Cramer interview now make me squirm; I can’t help thinking, “That guy was my boss… at that moment!” When I was fired, my economist father said he was relieved he didn’t have to hide from his friends anymore that I worked for that idiot on television. I don’t think Cramer is dumb, but he is caught up in a ridiculous system in which he tries to make the grim, obtuse and often unfair world of finance entertaining for the masses.

The Cramer interview also cemented in my mind what an important figure Jon Stewart has been over the past 17 years. While many great pieces of journalism and documentary film-making have appeared in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis (“Inside Job” is a hard watch but a must-see), nobody quite hit the nail on the head like Stew-beef.

I’m very sorry to see him leave The Daily Show, but I think he’s done a great job and deserves a break. It’s a good moment for fresh blood – and you have to admit, it’s generous that he’s handing his replacement the comedy opportunity of a lifetime with the 2016 election. I remember when Jon Stewart took over the Daily Show thinking, “This guy again? Don’t they give him a TV show that fails like every other year?” I had no idea what The Daily Show would become; I don’t think any of us saw it coming; and I thank him for everything.

And whenever I see Jim Cramer on TV… Now I just smile and shake my head. Sell, sell, sell…

Coachella Blues

I’m both amused and depressed by all the headlines I see around Coachella: “Cutest Couples at Coachella”; “Hottest Bros at Coachella”; “Best Dressed Girls at Coachella.” Even before the event, pretty much all the text was dedicated to the “Coachella Crowd” – young bourgeoisie out in the dessert for Spring Break hi-jinks fueled by drinking and drugs. Basically, the same as any Florida beach last month, expect with more diverse background music.

Because that’s really all the music was – the soundtrack for a bunch of kids rolling full hedonism. In the years past, I dreamed of being able to afford a ticket out to Coachella to see Radiohead, Portishead and a ton of other awesome groups on the same bill. There were plenty of favorites of mine out this year, including The Afghan Whigs and Queens of the Stone Age. I can also afford the flight and the concert ticket now. I didn’t want to deal with that crowd.

It ain’t about the music anymore – it’s all about the people. Yup, this is the social age.

Teach the Children Well

My friend Eric Tischler of The Hurricane Lamps and The Jet Age posted this classic Onion piece on Facebook – “Cool Dad Raising Daughter On Media That Will Put Her Entirely Out Of Touch With Her Generation” – with the comment, “My heart-felt inner monologue rendered as satire.”

I can relate: As I explained in an interview once, my dad had firm control over the radio dial, so growing up in the 80s I only ingested classic rock, which sounded a lot better than the contemporary stuff I was hearing. (Of course, now I listen to a ton of bands from my childhood that I had no idea existed – it wasn’t on the suburban radio station and I lacked a cool older sibling.) Oh how the kids at school made fun of me for my love of Bowie, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the uncoolest band of all time: The Beatles.

I was especially given a hard time by the jean-jacket-wearing, mullet-spouting guys who were into Metallica and Guns & Roses. Now considering how far from grace both of those groups have fallen. Primus is another band I remember the cool kids raving about – the best description I ever read of Les Claypool and crew was by Dr. David Thorpe, who commented that Primus is that band that your older brother was into, and he seemed so cool when you were young, but then you got older and listened to it and realized, “Wow, this kind of sucks.”

I have to give a lot of credit to my father for shaping my taste in music early, and actually inspiring me to pick up the guitar. I struck out on my own listening path around the time Nirvana broke, but my dad actually considers Nirvana Unplugged one of his favorite albums. I think my love of NIN was much harder for him to relate to, though I was listening to The Bends a lot at the same time, another modern favorite for him. I’m still trading music suggestions with him now.

When it comes to music, Eric’s kids are lucky to have a dad who is a talented musician, has pristine taste, and can probably listen to contemporary artists and point out their influences, thereby furthering their musical discovery. Also, I think the current crop of kids (Generation Z?) are growing up in a time similar to my childhood: mainstream music is simply godawful. Since “indie” itself is now an industry producing one milquetoast product after another, the hunt is on for the “new alternative” (it is not revivalist emo).

Perhaps Libel is part of that… Tell your kids they can’t listen to my album because it has explicit lyrics – that’ll really get them interested… Eric mentioned his friend David  told him the secret about how to upgrade his kids’ musical tastes: he just puts cool music on without any preamble, and answer all questions as if he’s distracted and not really interested in talking about it but he’ll indulge.

BTW, I don’t have kids (that I know of), but I’m deathly afraid if/when I do that they will find my music incredibly lame…

On Political Songs, or Not Sounding Like a Self-Righteous Prick

Something I always contemplate in lyric writing and my band banter is how deep do I dive into politics? As my friend Steve put it, “Music For Car Commercials” features my first overtly political song, “Old Boy,” but it’s definitely not a left vs. right piece. The key lyric: “Old words spew from that fresh face/yeah, he’s just like the guy he replaced/Old Boy, ain’t such a thing as change.” There’s also the line, “Hope’s just a thing they say.”

Now “Old Boy” and a few other songs on the album are about resignation and feeling powerless in modern society. But there’s a reason the album ends with “Thoroughly Modern Milieu” and the line, “You are not all right, you are not OK.” It’s a call to realize that while much looks bleak for us huddled masses (the term “Old Boy” in my mind refers to the everyman), don’t stop fighting for what you want, what you believe. Resignation is for chumps.

“Old Boy” is a bit more of a warning against politicians, the media and the financial system. Even the first chorus is a call to rise above the shit: “Tired of running the race/when we can’t even keep on the pace/Old Boy, never get ahead that way.” The game is rigged? Stop playing it – but stop playing, just make your own game.

A bit vague, maybe. But overtly political music irritates me because it’s self righteous and preachy. I enjoy me some 80s hardcore, but I try to filter out the “Reagan Sux!” lyrics and revel in the pure emotion (anger). I enjoyed the first few Bright Eyes albums (definitely out of my normal stomping grounds) but he warded me off for good with his anti-Bush screeds in the mid-00s.

A political message shouldn’t eclipse the actual song. Take a listen to Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.” The lyrics are biting but don’t punch you in the face; what grabs you is that catchy chorus and the tremolo guitar (especially the harmonics, which I’ve heard sampled countless times). Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” is a hot groove before being an anthem – you’re tapping your foot and nodding your head in time as you say, “That ain’t right.”

The power of music should be it’s ability to stand the test of time, transcend from generation to generation. History and politics roll in cycles – I can relate to the words of both “For What It’s Worth” and “What’s Going On” though they comment on society before my birth. The lyrics reference a time, but also a sensation as timeless as the music itself.

Will “Old Boy” pass the same test, with future generations whistling alongside the chorus? Probably not, but you can’t say I didn’t try. And I doubt I’ll look back and say, “Christ, what preachy bullshit.”

“Still devoid of wit, subtlety and danger”

I listened to pieces of the new Arcade Fire and was shocked how well this review by Chris Richards summed up my thoughts. Since I first heard “Funeral,” I’ve always thought Arcade Fire was pretty fucking milquetoast. Sure, there were hooks and singalong choruses, but never any energy, never any edge. Any time I tried rock my head in beat with something like “Neighborhood Whatever (Lies)”, I found myself half-heartedly nodding. Their stuff is never bad (arguably highly derivative of Springsteen, and now late 70s Bowie it seems), just bland. They were definitely an inspiration for my newer lyric, “Mediocrity rises up/overfloweth the cup.”

There is a larger argument to make here that Arcade Fire was a key in the transition of the term “indie” from punk and vanguard to safe music segment for upper-middle class white kids to differentiate themselves from mainstream pop fans/listeners of adult contemporary radio. That would take some time – never forget that music is always about class.

Why should you listen to this Chris Richards guy? Well, he was part of Q & Not U, which was edgy and innovative while dropping killer hooks, and some pretty offbeat lyrics.

There’s Nothing Confusing About Love

The Sound of Confusion has given Libel a little love for “This Is Love” today – “Brooklyn group Libel are releasing ‘This Is Love’ as the first single from their new album ‘Music For Car Commercials’. We’re not sure this punky rock tune will be suitable for that purpose, but it ticks the right boxes for us, cramming in plenty of fuzz and distortion whilst making ample room for some melody too. A classic formula, but one that works great in capable hands.”

Indie Is Dead, Slain by Pop!

Steve Hyden is a go-to music writer for me, and this Grantland piece analyzing Haim (not related to Corey… unfortunately) nails the current dilemma. As a bunch of my snobby music friends agree, groups like Haim and CHVRCHES are basically bubblegum pop (I’ve seen more than one snarky Shania Twain comparison for the former). As far as pop goes, both seem to be pretty good, but it’s marketed and criticized as… indie, which is still supposed to mean “alternative to mainstream.” So the alternative to mainstream (which I fully admit is disturbing) is… Bubblegum pop? OK, once again we’re looking for the alternative to the alternative – it really is like 1998 all over again!

This is a chief reason we’re forgoing the indie tag… It means less than it ever has before…