The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

Meme Engineering, Or, I Am a Conceptual Bro

Cross-reference with Tim’s post: Hipster Runoff asserts that Animal Collective is a Band Created By/For/On the Internet.

Several people have pointed me to Hipster Runoff as this sort of mad savant of internet culture. Don’t let his language fool you; this is some trenchant analysis:

I remember when I saw [Animal Collective] live in the post-Strawberry Jam world, it was swarming with entrylevel alts who were looking for a more meaningful experience than just a ‘marginally dancey Cut Copy show.’ At Animal Collective concerts, people are willing 2 unite, kind of like meaningful core during its peak days (ie the DeathCab TRANSATLANTICISM era).

He’s created a whole dictionary and taxonomy for himself. And after you read him for a while, it starts to make sense.


There is nothing more annoying that Conceptual Artists/Bands who have allegedly garnered mainstream praise. For example, the Radioheads. Or maybe the zany broad BJORK. Maybe Sigur Ros or Arcade Fire (those 2 are a lil different/smaller). I think the main gimmick behind these bands is convincing yourself that their ‘product’ stands for something more than most music. They are pretty much a lifestyle brand for every sort of alternative ideal possible: social change, innovative instruments + recording techniques, reflections on humanity, usage of performance + visual art during the live show, environmental awareness, anti-War, embracing technology, innovative/meme-able music videos, having opinions on politics, and stuff like that which makes the band interesting/easy to write about.

Band as lifestyle brand! I don’t know, I guess it’s obvious on some level, but the way he articulates it is really sharp and refreshingly harsh. And the package matters: His bizarro blog dialect and earnest inline images are part of the argument, too.

You gotta read the whole post. Seriously. Even if you hate it. Especially if you hate it.


P.S. I found an Animal Collective track that I like.


I love the comments thread: “Whoa, that shiz is long, bro!” 😉

I had a friend who did his PhD research in sociology on fan attachment to indie and alternative bands — the whole phenomenon of abandoning bands who got too popular, the tribalism of all of it.

And of course, my buddy Bethany Klein has worked on music and advertising — the trouble that starts when your lifestyle brands start to mix and mingle, or your attachment to a band associates itself with something you DON”T identify with. (Band ad for iPods? cool. Band ad for McDonald’s or Nike? Revolution!)

Also, it seems clear to me that as I’ve argued before, media phenomena get big when you can accumulate a bunch of niche audiences. AC or Feist or Radiohead all seem like good test cases for that thesis — they’re bands that you can seem cool listening to but that your parents / children / girlfriend / boyfriend will like.

I think I would like the Hipster Runoff thesis more if it were truly post-Hipster — if it just disintegrated any notion of authenticity as itself a kind of hipsterian construct. As it is, I still suspect that the alt bro in question kind of still buys into the idea that there really ought to be something behind it all — a metaphysics of music fandom that I am happy to dispense with.

Wow, this is well-wrought:

As it is, I still suspect that the alt bro in question kind of still buys into the idea that there really ought to be something behind it all — a metaphysics of music fandom that I am happy to dispense with.

Love it!

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