Thursday, June 21, 2007


I have no outright beef generally with good music being placed in advertisements, but I gotta admit shock whenever I hear a band I dig on the TV backing something or another.
I just now saw a University of Phoenix ad featuring the New Pornographers.

And then there's the new VW/Wilco ad:

I can clearly remember hearing Richard Buckner in another VW ad. And the first I heard Devendra Banhart was in a New Belguim ad (I actually discovered the world of music-in-TV-ads message boards searching out what the hell that tune was).

In my mind, the notion of "selling out" as it's usually applied to music certainly predates Napster, if not the mass use of the Internet itself. Between the Net and digital music distribution methods and Clear Channel and the unapologetically dirty world of record label consolidation, things just ain't remotely the same any more.
I don't think that excuses anything outright. But I think there needs to be a new conversation on the matter, including everybody who holds an opinion.

Having met folks from most of the bands mentioned above (if just in the fan-at-a-show way), I can't bring myself to hold a hard line on the subject. Frankly, it just may be a post-modern, anti-anti sort of way of excusing previously DIY-banned behavior, but I reckon the phrase "sell out" is just about done.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Catfish on the way to the nightclub

It's almost time to head out and catch Shearwater. I'm curious about what I've heard from the Austin band (a good chunk of the latest record as it was first released, plus an earlier split 7 inch) and excited to see some quasi friends again. Shearwater shares at least two members with Okkervil River, hands down one of my favorite bands these days. The difference is the songwriting, and it's a hell of a difference because without knowing, I'd never guess the bands shared some members.
Shearwater is fronted by Jonathan Meiburg, the keyboardist and ornithologist, while Okkervil River is fronted by Will Sheff, the guitarist and movie critic. And that's a gross oversimplification of each of them, but they're both in both bands.
I mention quasi friends because Okkervil River played show here on Thanksgiving a few years back and all ate dinner at my house and crashed there later. I've chatted with them each time they've been through since and you'd have a tough time finding a more fascinating group of musicians and all-around weirdos.
Anyway, high hopes for a band that I'm fairly unfamiliar with musically despite what else I know of its membership.