New Music Sucks, Part I. Mumford & Sons Ruined My Will to Live. Well, Almost...

New Music Sucks, Part I:  Fuck Mumford & Sons...


            Sitting here, enjoying a fine glass of Scotch(Glenmorangie, if you’re wondering, even though you probably weren’t.  It’s the nectar of the gods, brought down to earth for our sipping pleasure and is surely the finest beverage available to a mere mortal) and ruminating on why I hate new music so much, I have come to a few different conclusions:  One, music today IS actually much more terrible than it used to be(my most likely candidate, but all in due time, my dear, all in due time).  Two,  is what I call the “Bitter Old Man Syndrome.” In this scenario I have been completely jaded by my Classic Rock upbringing(Thanks Mom! Seriously though, that is not meant to be sarcastic.  I actually am thankful I had her Vinyl to flip through instead of obsessing over Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” which I did do in equal measure to be honest.  And, man, nothing gets a party going like “No Diggity” and “California Love.”  I am all-encompassingly a child of the Nineties).  And Three,  maybe, just maybe, it’s actually pretty good and I would like it if I gave it half a chance, which to be honest, maybe I haven’t…  Well, maybe I have,  fuck, I don’t know.  I totally fell for the Arcade Fire’s first album “Funeral” as a savior of modern Rock N’ Roll(as proclaimed by Pitchforkmusic.com, now just pitchfork.com, which has gone the way of Popular Music and sucks my hairy, sweaty nutsack, but more on that later, if I still have the strength, which I probably won’t), the heir apparent to Bruce and all the Holiness that He stood for, the record that I, as a Rock N’ Roll purist, have been waiting for, for many years.  I used to walk around Madison, Wisconsin with my Walkman/Discman, extra CD’s in the pouch of my Green Bay Packers hoodie, listening to “Funeral” over and over again as I walked through James Madison Park(or Tenney Park since it had footbridges which seemed very poetic and beautiful to me at the time, though, Tenney Park was usually my Bob Dylan’s “Love and Theft” walking route).  Full disclosure, the other CD’s in my aforementioned Packers hoodie pouch were the Stars “Set Yourself on Fire” which I loved for the romance and nostalgia it brought to High School and teenage relationships(being eighteen at the time,  they were of the utmost importance to me as that was all I had in regards to women) and Death Cab for Cutie’s “Transatlanticism” which had the song “We Looked Like Giants” which was was sort of an anthem at the time seeing as back in the tiny shit town I grew up in, the only places to make-out proper with a girl were parks and scarcely driven country roads, so, we spent a lot of time in the back of whatever shitty car we could buy with five hundred bucks, trying desperately for a lay, though in my case, mostly settling for some good tongue and a tit grab, such is life… 

            So, anyway, let’s start with Theory One:  Music today IS actually much more terrible than it used to be.  To forewarn you, this is not going to be a rant about Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus, we’ll save that for another day as there have always been crappy pop artists being exploited(and having their lives thusly destroyed), though handsomely rewarded as well, by music industry types for third quarter returns and bottom lines etc. etc. and on and on.  This is going to focus a bit more on the bands that are supposed to be “Good,” the new generation’s “Dylan’s” or whatever the fuck and so on and so forth…

Up until about 2007-2008 I really believed in the new generation of bands, they brought such hope and beautiful music to my little lonely world, which was now based out of a tiny, dirty 400-500 sq. ft. one bedroom apartment which I shared with my girlfriend at the time and a good friend of mine, who unbeknownst to me, was a bit of a Hippie(read:  didn’t use deodorant, didn’t clean a whole lot, liked to cook couscous at two in the morning, pass out drunk and leave the rest under his bed til the flies got so extreme in the apartment we left the windows open in the wintertime so they would leave of their own volition because you couldn’t possibly kill them all, you’d die trying, which I almost did on several occasions) which I wasn’t a huge fan of to say the least, in New York City.  My favorite bands at the time, not counting what I call the “Givens”like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles,  etc., were the Hold Steady(about whom I nearly creamed myself every time I got to see them play live in the City or in Brooklyn), Iron & Wine(who also introduced me to Band of Horses when I saw them open for Iron & Wine at the House of Blues Chicago.  I promptly fell in love with Band of Horses first record “Everything All the Time,” only to fall back out of love by the second.  Oh, all those crazy, drunken one-record-stands, I loved you all) and Bonnie “Prince” Billy/Palace/Palace Brothers/Will Oldham.  A little side note here, I listen to music in a bit of an OCD type way:  when I hear a band I love, I immediately go out, buy all their records(I remember hounding the guys at B-Side records, the best record store in Madison, WI, for “Days in the Wake”for weeks and weeks until they finally got me a copy, probably just to shut me up) and listen to them non-stop for months and months on end until I know every lyric, every riff; or until I find another album to carry my fancy for the time being.  I’m also terribly easy to distract.  I moved around a lot back then, so I could only manage to carry with me, in my fourth-grade, personalized gym bag, with “Brad Wik”sewn on the side next to “Horicon Marshmen,” our team mascot(which is not nearly as cool as it might sound, or could be.  One might imagine some awe-inspiring mutant created from the swamp, I mean marsh, that would rip your spine out Mortal Kombat II style just for kicks on a Friday Night.  A being so wretched that  all those who might dare cross it would be filled with and learn the meaning of true terror...  But its really just a man standing next to some cattails),  a select few CD’s.  There must have been a two year span where all I listened to was:

1.              “Boys and Girls in America” – the Hold Steady, I couldn’t get enough of this.  Thin Lizzy type heavy riffs, a guy from the Midwest, stories of being bored and doing drugs, it sounded a lot like my childhood.  I loved it…
2.              “O” – Damien Rice, a beautiful record.  My favorite memory of Damien Rice is when he finally came to the States to tour.  I remember watching the opening band and me and my buddy were so enamored with this girl just sitting on a wooden chair on the side of the stage.  We made countless lewd comments, as boys are meant to do, about her throughout the Frames’(opening band) set wondering why she was sitting on the stage and not our cocks, etc., etc.  Then when Damien came out we realized it was Lisa Hannigan, which we knew from the liner notes and photos in the CD jacket; and also because she was singing with Damien Rice.  Lisa became the pinnacle of womanly beauty for me and my buddy for years after that.  Not because of her beautiful, sensual voice, it was mainly for her looks…
3.              “The Creek Drank the Cradle” and “Our Endless Numbered Days” – Iron & Wine, my obsession with Iron & Wine was not unlike a steamy romance:  there were years of unbridled love and passion, then I suddenly realized it had become everything I hated.  “Kiss Each Other Clean”is complete shit and I wish I could have my twelve dollars back and wipe that record from my conscience.  I’ll never forget what we had when it was beautiful, but I will never forget the damage that was done in the later years either…
4.              “Grace” – Jeff Buckley, I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful this record is or how much it means to me.  In my more drug-addled days, the bad ones, not the good ones, I kept hoping “Hallelujah” could save me.  And, in a way I suppose, it did…
5.              “The Low End Theory” – A Tribe Called Quest, I was late to the party with this one, but could not get enough when I finally made it there…
6.              “Set Yourself on Fire” – Stars, which was my main “depressed” listen throughout the 00’s.
7.              “Y’s” -  Joanna Newsom, I am still not sure why I became immensely obsessed with this record but I did and I love it to this day.  I’ve even pilfered some lyrics from this for my own music…
8.              “The College Dropout” – Kanye West, maybe it was because he was from the Midwest too, or maybe just because the songs are fucking awesome.  I’ve loved this record since the day I heard “Through the Wire.”  I particularly love the memory of going to LA with my other buddy from Wisconsin(the other member of the “Lisa Hannigan is the best thing that ever happened to Women, and therefore all Men who are lucky enough to have seen her” fan club) and just blaring this album, and reciting lyrics and just generally being obnoxious to the point that our LA friend’s shitty, coked-out, ridiculously good looking neighbors(he lived in West Hollywood) hated us…

So, you see, I owned and loved, many records from this Millennium and was all about the future of Music.  Seeing as I myself was a musician, this was also very self-serving, but nonetheless, I fully believed that music was “Getting better all the time.”  And though there was still the terrible Good Charlotte, Shitty Older, political Green Day, Puddle of Mudd, Nickleback, Creed(fuck, there was a lot of shit back then) of the early to mid 2000’s, the new millennium had brought us the height of Radiohead and Bjork and Wilco, dominating the radio and print.  Rolling Stone was actually reporting on good music for once, not just giving the new Britney Spears record three and a half stars.  These were exciting times.  I actually enjoyed life for a few years, instead of being a bitter, old twat and only speaking of things that I hate(like now, if you haven’t noticed).  Then, it happened…  In 2009, my world was turned upside down, I couldn’t even figure out what had happened at the outset, but I knew it wasn’t good.  The terrible thing which could never be undone, and which ruined everything for me(until it was ruined even further a few years later…More on that to come) happened… I am talking, of course, of the first time I heard Mumford and Sons…  For the record, I am not sure I have ever heard an entire Mumford song start to finish, but that certainly doesn’t negate it’s inherent shittiness; I have never watched an entire game of soccer but I am 100% sure that its terrible, and is poisoning our youth with lies of mediocrity, kicking a ball hither and yon for 90 minutes with NOTHING INTERESTING EVER happening, but, alas, we’ll probably get around to soccer another day, we’re not quite there yet.

To put it simply, and relatively mildly, in my opinion at least, I FUCKING HATE MUMFORD AND SONS.  But seeing as I rarely put anything simply, or mildly, let’s go into it further.  First off, I would like to clarify that listening to, and liking, Mumford and Sons does not make you a bad person.  After extensive soul searching, and in a great effort to better myself and generally become less angry and cynical, I have forced myself to finally ascribe to this realization.  I used to spend hours and hours hating people who liked shitty music/movies/books/art etc. and it was a grand waste of my very limited amount of time, emotion and energy on Earth.  Plus, it generally just made me a douche.  So, there you go, I have accomplished at least something with my life, however small and meaningless, seeing as it was something I never should have done to begin with, but there it is.  I DO, however, believe that the act of liking something as shitty as Mumford and Sons is ruining music today, at least what little is left of music, with the record companies killing most of the industry already.  But more on that in a bit, first, let’s focus on Mumford.  I have an all-encompassing, indescribable(even to myself) emotional repulsion to this band(I’m sick of even just typing their name, so I’m going to stop).  They have somehow come to villainize everything that makes me sick, everything I hate about new music and just everything in general that displeases me about the world in relation to music and hipsters and the whole lot of it.  Now, there is no way to accurately quantify an emotion, which is the main reason why the whole thing remains shrouded in mystery even to myself.  But I knew, from the first note of whatever terrible excuse for a song it was that I first heard, that I could not stand this band, that they shouldn’t exist in this world and do so only to torment me with all their terrible music and faces and banjos.  I suppose, that if I really wanted to, I could choose to live in an alternate reality(as we all do in our own way anyhow) in which, since I almost never read music news or pay attention to pretty much anything happening in the world around me anymore, Sports excepted, M*mf*rd *nd S*ns doesn’t exist.  I rarely, if ever, go to bars that might play one of their wretched songs, associate with no one, since everyone I know has undoubtably heard me rant and rave of my hatred towards them,  who would dare mention them(fearing I would launch into it once again) and could generally live a very M*mf*rd *nd S*ns -free life.  But I don’t.  I instead, and probably unwisely, force myself to deal with it, and by deal with it, I mean just be angry about it all the time. 

           One of the things that has always interested me is our ability, as humans, to immediately identify things that we dislike.  It happens all the time, and on a wide variety of topics.  We meet people, whom we’ve never seen before, and immediately don’t like them, based on nothing real, at least not yet.  We see food that instantly turns our stomach.  We identify books and movies we won’t like without ingesting any of the content.  But how?  And why?  It seems the consensus of people much, much smarter than I, not that that is a terribly difficult accomplishment, but nonetheless, is that our brains are far more capable than we give them credit for and are able to instantly process thousands of bits of data, weigh them within the context of our past experiences and likes/dislikes etc., and come up with an answer before we have even begun to actively “think” about whatever it might be we are forming an opinion of.  It’s happened to me many times, and I’m sure its happened to you as well.  You meet someone, instantly disliked or even hated them, only to find out that…  You were right.  They are indeed a terrible person, who is abusive, a drunk, a cheater, a liar or even just generally a douche, like me.  It happens when you try new foods, like oysters, which I knew I would hate, until I tried them, and then I really fucking despised oysters.  Now, some people like to think that I am predisposing myself to react unfavorably, but I know in my heart of hearts, that I am being true to myself and that, yes, oysters are just terribly disgusting.  This is all somehow trying to explain what has happened in regards to that band which I have learned to loathe.  Maybe, it was because I immediately heard the strum of a banjo, which drives me absolutely fucking insane(banjos are not inherently evil, they can be used for good.  Go see a good bluegrass band or Steve Martin or Steve Martin playing bluegrass, which is actually quite good.  But if you’re just too lazy to learn how to properly play the banjo then FUCK YOU, don’t play it).  Maybe it was the whiny, terrible, trying to be affected and therefore sound sadder than it really is, bullshit voice which sang whatever crappy song I first heard.  Maybe it was the poorly written, lazy, awful lyrics that I was hearing.  Maybe it was the dumbass stomping I was hearing.  Chances are it was all of it.  And I knew, even before I knew that I knew, that M*mf*rd *nd S*ns was the worst thing to happen to music…  And that we could never, as a society, both musically and socially, sink lower than this…  That is until I heard… Fun….  (To note, the first period is from their stupid fucking name, the other three being an ellipsis, and seeing as I didn’t go to school for writing I am not completely sure if I am supposed to factor their period in and just add the proper punctuation at the end or count it as part of the ellipsis, but either way, fuck them for their ridiculous fucking name.)


          Part II to follow soon...