Meet Me in the Dollar Bin

the libidinal historicism of early ’00s indie

For better and worse, my taste in music has been shaped by a drive to progress. When I was seven or eight, I’d sneak into my dad’s home office to watch MTV—disallowed on fuzzy moral grounds—on his TV-VCR while he was at work, enthralled by what I thought was the adult world. As I was learning guitar I sought out songs that pushed me to the next level of speed and dexterity, quickly graduating from punk to hardcore to metal and beyond. Then, studying music in college, I gravitated towards theory, following the growing chromaticism of the Romantic era until tonality broke in the 20th century, unlocking new systems so complex and abstract they seemed to precipitate from theory rather than the other way around. I wasn’t playing guitar, I was playing an RPG, a linear path with clear, quantifiable growth that could be gamed by grinding out any number of side quests.

This quest for the next led to esoteric territories, but left big gaps in my experience and understanding, ones I’ve been returning to over the past few years as I try to make sense of how I washed up on this particular beach. In hindsight, it’s painfully obvious how much of this journey was fueled by insecurity, a pain made keener by this insecurity’s origin in a genuine curiosity and excitement that was quickly twisted and stoked to pathology by the performance cultures of the private and elite institutions my family and community subscribed to. Music could have been a source of divergence, something I clearly craved in seeking out such countercultural traditions, but this exploration was quickly compromised by the identity I’d assumed to keep apace with the thoroughbred race I’d been thrust into. I liked my metal progressive, grotesque displays of instrumental complexity, not songs but etudes. The rap I liked wasn’t rap but hip-hop—the musical equivalent of saying African-American instead of black, so afraid to offend and so proud to dignify—backpacked and conscious, elevated by its verbosity to the virtuoustic, the lyrical version of shredding. The electronic I gravitated towards was equally literal in its pretensions, wearing this distinction with cringey insistence. Not dance music, but intelligent dance music. You can have your fun, but I’m too smart for that. I know theory. This is a polyrhythm. This part is in Mixolydian. As if vocabulary is proof of intelligence. As if having a name for a thing makes it so. Even the punk that started me on my journey wasn’t unhinged so much as snotty and suburban, the soundtrack to a high school house party, all that safe rulebreaking, ultimately serving to reify rather than destroy. The California Rumspringa of skating and schwag, Howard Zinn and 924 Gilman—these idealistic, inert provocations that will one day make selling out seem mature, considered.

My insecurity made me combative and, as with all sheltered children, instead of opposing real oppression, I attacked those who most resembled me, but differed in superficial ways, no hair too fine to split. In my head, there was a culture war between my music and anything Pitchfork might have favorably reviewed, what was being lumped into the catch-all term indie. I despised anything New York, especially Brooklyn, though I’d never been there outside the pages of Vice, then still actual pages. It was either too twee or too sassy, but either way it struck me as insincere and affected and willfully ignorant. It wasn’t independent, as indie insisted, or even really music. It was a look, a scarf paired with a deep-v, framing an insouciant triangle of chest hair. Colored aviators and a shag, nostrils ringed with coke. It was indebted to popular culture instead of subculture and it was only about culture, the music relegated to a supporting role, the instruments props in some theater, posers trying to hide their Midwestern accent or that an Upper East trust fund paid for their Williamsburg loft. It was a game of bar trivia, a name game—who knows what, who knows whom—making the music about references, the right references, ones that rang hollow to a kid who didn’t grow up on his parent’s music but on years of MTV and then online, diving as deep as the forums would go. I didn’t care about mining the past, a creative direction that felt regressive when we should be striving towards an unknown future. I didn’t care that something sounded like something else or that a guitar part was angular or any other adjective, not when I had a bachelor’s degree of proper nouns waiting to be deployed.

Though my animosity was juvenile and reactionary, vulnerable to the same criticisms I would’ve levied against my imagined enemy, I don’t think I was wrong about the concerns of this music. Unlike the intellectual pretensions of music prefixed by avant, art, and post or the insular intensities communicated by the suffix core—my genres of choice—indie is one of the labels slapped on music that operates primarily on a culturally symbolic layer, same as other so-called retro movements. It is independent because it emerges from youth movements, groups without the resources to sign to a major label (yet), but it is a highly dependent music, almost a form of quotation or revision. It may be more accurate to describe indie and related retroproductions—neo-, -wave, revival, deconstructed, etc.—as a process instead of a product, a way of reinterpreting musical traditions of the past, now far enough in the rearview they have been flattened into myths, in the sense of Barthes, or pure simulacra, following Baudrillard. Liberated from much of its original context, a genre becomes more of a sound or an affect, a potent distillation of aesthetic elements concentrated even further by the new generation’s ignorance. Who would think to make ungodly hybrids and accelerations like hyperpop, emo rap, freak folk, folk metal, and baroque pop, if not people who didn’t know any better?1 1 I imagine this is why retroproductions tend to refer to genres by their contracted nicknames—psych, prog, emo, etc.—rather than more formal descriptors. What begins as an attempt to describe a sound with an adjective (rocking, rolling) eventually codifies into a genre with a dedicated noun (rock’n’roll) that eventually is contracted to a nickname by its familiars (rock), facilitating its transmission and reproduction at the cost of fidelity, slowly hollowing out the original meaning. Retroproductions don’t have a good vantage on this process or its product, now degraded, so they inherit the most extant form, this torch usually carried by loyalists who favor the familiarity of a nickname. The nickname fits retroproduction though, embodying the superficiality of its encounter with what is now more of an affect than a genre. This superficiality, however, is also what enables retroproductions to return the noun back to something more adjectival, using it as an ingredient in a pastiche, these compounds of traditionally unlike elements. This is also why neo adherents often insist on referring to genres by their original names, another of their techniques that aim to restore rather than repurpose.

Where a neo movement attempts to refurbish a genre, return it to its former glory, a retro movement has no memory of the past other than these myths furnished by the nostalgia of parents and their media, a meaningful gravity, but one opposed by the counterforce of youthful rebellion and pressurized by contemporary capitalist realities. Energized to create and define their own subjectivities, but heir to a wealth of hoarded cultural memory; trained to consume and be consumed, but priced out of the crowded markets created by the previous generation—the upcoming generation is consigned to dig through dollar bins in search of the peculiar novelty the outmoded offers, an uncanny mix of cringe and genuine curiosity. How did people think this was cool? Wait, actually, this is kind of sick. Oh yeah, I think I’ve heard of this. Let’s try it on. No, pair it with this. Now let’s tear it up. Stitch it back together. The difference between neo and retro is perhaps the same as antique and thrift, the former elitist, the latter populist until its inevitable gentrification into vintage. This is what a genre like indie does, a curation of the musical past that converts trash back to treasure, but the treasure is transformed by the subjectivities of the curator and any wear the physical recording has experienced over time, perhaps why so much indie presents the familiar with a rough, warm, lo-fi wobble. This is the sound of a record worn over time or at least how the analog grain of vinyl would sound to ears raised on the squared edges of the digital.2 2 Today hyperpop is doing the same for the moment the digital was emancipated from CDs and distributed online for the first time. To facilitate storage and transfer, CD rips had to be compressed, leading to a bitcrunched sound, one furthered when songs were converted to MIDI for ringtones or MySpace pages, and one that would be further compromised by the stormy waters of digital piracy, which led to all sorts of fragmentation—partial downloads, mislabelled and typoed metadata, etc. This is not to mention the CD already had an imperfect materiality, the discs accruing wear that could lead to skips and pops that would be inscribed in digital files, which I hear now in hyperpop’s hiccuping delivery.

When I was a teenager, the dollar bins were full of stuff from my parents’ childhood of the late ‘60s—folk, singer-songwriter, psychedelia, and chamber pop—and the pop that soundtracked their yuppie adulthood in the ‘80s, all the soft rock and new wave, or, if you were lucky, some post-punk or a synth OST here and there. Of course the ‘70s had already been plundered by the teens of the ‘90s, but you could go back to the ‘50s into surf and doo-wop, both the raw materials and their quotations in something like Twin Peaks, where they are presented so sincerely as to be surreal. Going back and listening through Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums of 2004 list, the year I started college, I hear so many of these sounds, often blending in exciting or illuminating ways that I was unwilling to hear at the time. The Go! Team’s Thunder! Lightning! Strike! unites surf guitar and folk harmonica, pep-rallying around a shared Americana. Air’s Talkie Walkie and Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs both run folk instruments through synthetic processing, turning banjo and acoustic guitar, respectively, into uncanny hybrids of the analog and digital. Not all of the references are so recombinant, however. The Concretes’ song “You Can’t Hurry Love” lifts its Vox Continental lines right from The Monkees and its music video drains the colorful psychedelia from Yellow Submarine, turning it into a literal, monochrome Francophilia, complete with red berets and baguettes. And not all of the references are to an assumptive lingua franca, as in the Xiu Xiu album that opens the list, Fabulous Muscles, which is more indebted to Noh theater, Balinese gamelan, and early video game music than anything from the Western popular tradition, and this is to ignore all that might spring sui generis from Jamie Stewart’s mind.

I don’t mean to suggest that these musicians aren’t playing for more immanent concerns like personal expression or to elicit an affective response in a listener, but that this music is also—if not primarily—engaged with the ways listeners will encounter certain genres and sounds, mythologized and mediated as they’ve been. The listener expects certain sounds to map to certain moods, moments, people, etc., but are now being asked to revisit these with new contexts supplied by the artist’s interpretation. Many artists are happy to conserve and romanticize, flattering the listeners recognition and inviting them to fondly recall a bygone era “as it was,” attempts to satisfy what Jameson calls a “libidinal historicism,” while others are compelled to complicate things, initiating and guiding aesthetic reinterpretation of these sounds and the meanings we encoded within them, meanings that have already warped and worn in the intervening years. The Concretes are really just covering or remixing some known sounds while Jamie Stewart is reforming his materials—already exotic to many listeners and eclectic to all but Stewart perhaps—into something strange and new, the difference between these establishing the axis of a semiotic dimension, one that takes on a primacy in indie and other retroproductions.

This shifts the loci of attention away from what music theory can say and presents new challenges for how we might theorize music. The songs are situated in keys tonal theory would recognize, but these are less important than the cultural key the music is in, signatures identifiable by very specific places, times, and social milieus. The key of the Laurel Canyon scene. Revolution Summer emo. First wave Detroit techno. Second wave ska. Louisville noise rock. Memphis horrorcore. Louisiana sludge.3 3In this sense, the name games of most indie rock reviews are an apt way to discuss this music, though often this exercise stops after it pins down the music’s references, treating them as influences that have been metabolized into an artist’s genuine creative self, which mystifies this semiotic process and ignores how the musicians are actively participating in it, consciously or not. Even more limiting is that these reviews inherit the deifying tendency of rock journalism, one clearly corrupted by a need to sell readers on their stance (if not the album too), which produces writing looking to kingmake on the basis of some prowess, usually songwriting, a term as vague and unhelpful as indie. The musicians are playing the instruments we all recognize, but there is a widened gulf between specific guitars, specific basses, specific drums, and the way we play them, amplify them, etc. Where music theory makes instruments interchangeable at some level—all guitars with the same number of frets and tuned the same way can play the same notes using the same patterns—a more referential music fragments this universality, demanding musicians consider the entire signal chain and not just the electroacoustic one, but its semiotic superstructure, which extends back into history and plucks symbolic strings within the listener’s ear. So while musicians may be holding familiar instruments, these double as the picks, sticks, bows, reeds, mallets, mouthpieces, and mics that give access to a much broader, more abstract instrument. Put another way, the traditional instruments have all become samplers, hardware that gives the user the ability to excerpt and flip existing sounds to varying types and degrees of defamiliarization.

It’s important to acknowledge that this function is not unique to indie or even contemporary or popular music (or just music). This semiotic and postmodern lens affords a useful vantage for understanding the interactions between our instruments, the sounds they make, the responses these sounds elicit in listeners, and how all of these elements are mediated by cultural forces, especially capital, which makes this lens increasingly relevant as we deathmarch later into it.4 4There is a blackpilled argument to be made that Jameson’s four constitutive features of the postmodern—a depthless culture of the image, a weakening of historicity, a flattened emotional ground tone of intensities, a webwork of new technologies that exceed our comprehension—have led to a romantic desire for lost depths—meaning, history, feeling, and understanding, respectively—that capital quickly and shallowly satisfies, perpetuating a cycle of unfulfillment that ratchets further with each turn. Images become yet more superficial, more easily reproduced, offering a compounding embarrassment of riches for retro art to reference, which turns out to be necessary, our tastes as consumers escalating as synapses deaden and their flushes of dopamine grow briefer and weaker, incentivizing even more retroproduction that an overproduced and undercompensated labor must rush to meet. I can see how this cynicism is appealing, especially for someone coping with the adverse material and spiritual paucities outlined by the theory. I also want to avoid the banal reductiveness of the universal, paying attention to the unique patterns of these interactions. All art engages in bricolage at some level, but punk, for example, makes this explicit to the point of hyperbole with its cut-and-paste art and safety-pinned fashion, which also imbues it with a lower-class resourcefulness. An adolescence too, the compositions not just crude and simplistic out of material necessity, but to wallow in the low, making a spectacle of itself to magnify and mock the way normative culture sees its underclasses. I encounter The Ramones as a suburban revival of the urban delinquency of the ‘50s, as epitomized by the greaser, his pomade now cracked, hair grown into an unruly shag, jeans stained and shredded at the knees, a little baggy around such a skinny frame. The new generation is undernourished and overstimulated, and their music too is amphetamized, as if catching the greaser’s jukebox up to the accelerated pace of modernity. Catching it up but also running it ragged, mixing speed with beer, glue, ludes—whatever they can get their hands on. This scavenging, under-the-kitchen-sink approach manifests in a collision of musical concepts, the twelve-bar blues of early rock supplanted by the chord progressions and turnarounds of doo-wop, bubblegum, and surf.

Though they draw from different wells and with different sentiments, indie has a similar process to punk—imitate, hybridize, update. This process is made most explicit in a song from the same 2004 year-end list, the Scissor Sisters’ cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” from their self-titled album (#43 on the list). The cover is a glittery, jittery makeover, the original’s narcotized grandeur sped up into a camp disco anthem complete with chipmunk falsetto lifted directly from The Beegees. It hits many of its notes directly like this, winking at the listener, inviting them in on the gag, but it also adds a staccato guitar (also lifted, but from “Another Brick in the Wall”) and some electronic flourishes that wouldn’t take hold until disco was dead. Like many covers, the tone is one of loving mockery, somewhere between tribute and parody, reveling in and revealing the silliness of the original’s pretensions—“to dethrone the serious,” as Sontag would say. “Comfortably Numb” is a psych mini-epic, an ode to heroin’s gentle grip, but also a lament of its crippling power, one earned through seductive promises. It’s not a shallow stance, but it does romanticize its subject, granting dignity to a suffering that members of the band—university dropouts from comfortable backgrounds—may have witnessed but didn’t experience themselves, a fact obscured by their druggie image and fanbase. To cover this song as the Scissor Sisters do, lifting it with unabashed joy, might be naive and simplistic were it not such a clear rejoinder to the manufactured melancholy of the original. Instead of wallowing in our pain and its denial, what if we were to queer this reality, flipping an individual struggle into collective love, stasis into energy, brooding artistry into poptimism. The interest is not just in the original or its revision, but the odd couple they make, the queen dragging the gloomy wallflower out onto the dance floor where he surprises everyone by showing off moves even he didn’t know he had in him.

But for all this ecstasy, there is also an anxiety to the song and to the indie of this era as a whole. It’s in that staccato guitar line of “Comfortably Numb,” striking a nerve beneath the sequined pop. It’s in all the jagged downstrokes and droll, compressed shouts taken from Manchester post-punk, but lacking that scene’s erratic rhythms and experimental spirit, giving a band like Interpol a clean, medicated quality they mirrored in their monochromatic look. Post-punk is a useful reference point, sonically and spiritually, because while indie is not as angry or confrontational as punk, it’s still a youthful music that aims to provoke, its provocations delivered with a more oblique stance, as suggested by the pet word angular. The punk has graduated from the moody outbursts of high school and headed off to art school where smirking, aloofness, scoffing, averted vision, and other conspicuous understatements are supposed to reflect a worldly fatigue over what are now irritants more than enemies. We’re concerned with more important things, indie says, our loves no longer earnest and raw, but studied and wrapped in critique, poetry, abstraction, irony, performance, and other obscurings of meaning and intention attempting to dodge a crisis of authenticity. Indie is the soundtrack of sophomore year, drunk on a sheltered independence and a few modern lit seminars. Hence the dancefloor, the obliqueness, the peacocked sleaze, the reverence for French New Wave or Factory Records or for a forgotten folk album recorded in a bar on the outskirts of Fresno in the summer of ‘68. The more specific the niche, the more difficult it is for someone to call out your knowledge. The more lo-fi your production, the less people will assume your higher education. If your Americana is rusted and worn enough, you must be too, not a Boston Brahmin whose inheritance paid for your Gallatin degree. So much hagiography has attributed indie’s anxiety to living under the threat of terror in post-9/11 America, not knowing whether we should mourn or fight or fuck or shop or what, and it’s an empowering, poetic notion, that we can transmute adverse conditions to productive expression, but I recognize this anxiety as a different kind of fear. It’s not anxiety so much as it’s insecurity, ironically, one afforded by a safety net.

But before the insecurity, there was an excitable kid, fascinated not just by the adult world but all worlds, and I hear him too, though he tends to keep to his own corner of the playground. The freak who is drawn to folk. The punk who discovers a kindred anarchism in free jazz. If the insecurity of indie is what limits it to cryptoconservative imitation games, this inner child is what frees the scene to more curious, elastic exploration of the dollar bin and anything else within his grasp. The child risks recombination because he is just playing with his toys, swapping the barbie head onto the GI Joe body or melting them both on the stovetop. This is why so much of the most interesting music of this era is invested less in the tried and true instruments than in gear: pedals, samplers, synths, and amps as well as broken instruments, non-instruments, etc. These tools don’t have the same canonical, theorized uses as a guitar, encouraging more open-ended, self-determined, and trial-and-error discovery, resulting in more idiosyncratic palettes and compositions.

The poster child of this ingenuity was Animal Collective, their album Sung Tongs the runner-up behind Arcade Fire’s Funeral on the 2004 Pitchfork list. On this album, they sound like they’re still discovering what their instruments can do, luxuriating in certain textures, looping others until they warp and decay. The Collective’s naive approach to sound is reflected in their album art, here and across their early discography where you find notebook sketches, splatterpaint, cut-and-paste, leaf prints, tracing. It’s the art made by restless boys stuck inside on a hot summer day, bouncing off the walls of “the good house.” Their lyrics are full of these familiar declarations and childlike nicknames drawn from a tickled domesticity—the fast child, Kids on Holiday, ice cream, meow kitties, the swimming pool, a sweet summer night, sticky shoes, a stump of old wasps, our cartoon show, the children that can make us house paint, yes this mess is minebig, big, big; sick, sick, sick; dear, dear, dear—or just word-like sounds, an infant’s babble harmonized and looped until it builds into something ecstatic. Sounds for sound’s sake, but ritualized into incantation, one that is vaguely Native and American though not Native American. The Native is especially present in their song and album titles—Here Comes the Indian, Flesh Canoe, Loch Raven, Native Belle—totems meant to imbue their chanting with a sacred primitivism, though of course this appropriation is more profane than anything, a young boy’s pantomime of a drum circle or a rain dance. These are not any Indians recognized by a tribe, but the subsumption of the Indian into a youthful, midcentury Americana—The Indian in the Cupboard, the cigar shop Indian, Cowboys and Indians. The Collective have since tried to disavow this appropriation by renaming their 2002 album Here Comes the Indian to Ark, but they can’t so simply rewrite their entire aesthetic, which is suffused with a boyish wonder for this picture book Other. This wonder is what animates their reckless creative spirit and what made it such a potent antidote to the other, more claustrophobic music of the era, but also a guileless participant. Like other indie of the day, they were mining a personal and collective past, a past that gave them permission to play around more than others, freeing them from the crisis of insecurity, but only until they grew up and realized how sheltered they’d been.

If there is an album on the Pitchfork list that offers an uncompromising puer aeternus, it’s Blueberry Boat by The Fiery Furnaces, ranked a respectable #4. The Fiery Furnaces are Eleanor and Matthew Friedberger, siblings, a detail that is more than trivia. Like Animal Collective, their music is boisterous and steeped in a childhood mythology, though one with fewer skinned knees and mud pies. The Fiery Furnaces are children who prefer rainy afternoons, home-schoolers allowed to let their imaginations run wild, Blueberry Boat the play they stage for their stuffed animals, who double as characters in the expansive world of the album. It’s a world populated by pulp and cartoon characters—Red Faber, Sir Edward Pepsi, Chief Inspector Blancheflower, Madame Professor, and others, real and imagine—and exotic locales encountered on the titular boat’s picaresque tour of the globe—from Santiago to Chicago, from U.S.A. to H.K., the Damascus computer cafe, a Pontoon putt-putt, the store room of Mrs. McVeigh's Inn, and, like Animal Collective, Their Own Little House. The lyrics are littered with nautical slang and nonce words and there are entire sections in pidgin, a kind of cryptophasia the siblings share that polarized listeners, who found it either “Joycean” or “self-consciously wacky.”

The music is equally carnivalesque, a mishmash of genres most strongly anchored in the rollick and pomp of the ‘70s rock opera, and has proven equally divisive. Their sound has been described variously as a “Noah's Ark of retro guitars and garish prog keyboards” (Pitchfork), “stitched-together, underedited collage of half-finished tunes, random guitar blurts and keyboard flotsam” (Rolling Stone), “a curious kind of garage-prog” (The Guardian), “straightforward psychedelic pop, with melodies and chord progressions that could have been written at any point in the last three decades…[s]o all the twists and turns are for their own sake” (Dusted), and “toe-curlingly unlistenable” (NME). It’s possible to play the name game, dropping the needle and seeing what influences can be picked out, but this is to reduce something so idiosyncratic it verges on autism, influences so completely swept up into hyperactive creative whim they constitute something genuinely original, if also insular and manic. Any insecurity the Friedbergers may feel about their status5 has been shanghaied by this pirate vessel. 5Which by all accounts seems quite comfortable, if not too comfortable. They grew up in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago once ranked among the nation’s snobbiest cities using the following criteria: median home price, median household income, percent of population with a college degree, private schools per capita, performing arts per capita, art galleries per capita, and fast food restaurants per capita. It’s unclear, however, whether the Friedbergers grew up wealthy or not, the most direct address of the subject I could find being an interview NPR’s Marketplace conducted with Eleanor about financial lessons “inherited” from her family (she is cheap like her dad). There has been no apologetic rewrite of “Quay Cur” that removes its Inuit words, which in 2004 was often cited as evidence of the album’s ambition and singularity. Whether it’s good or not is besides the point when art this confident and permissive is rare, maybe increasingly so. It pulls off a high-wire act of being both prog and progressive, a reinterpretation of tradition that also invents its own.

For every Blueberry Boat, however, there are countless retroproductions that take few such risks, striking that perfect middlebrow balance between familiarity and novelty that marks a piece as vintage and not just thrift, promising nostalgia with no álgos. And now, twenty years later, it’s time to add another layer of historicism as bands from this era reunite and retrospectives are penned and adapted to movies. LCD Soundsystem sold all 30,000+ tickets for their twenty-show residency at Brooklyn Steel in a matter of minutes. Here in Berkeley, if I want to see Meet Me in the Bathroom in theaters, my nearest option isn’t in San Francisco but in Larkspur, one of the many suburbs that yuppies move to—or back to—to raise families. I’m not so different, writing in the comfort of my home office, on Gilman of all streets, site of my own youthful unrebellion, one that appears to be sprawling indefinitely as I continue to grapple with what feels like inexorable flows of culture and capital.

This is why as much as I admire the idiosyncrasy of The Fiery Furnaces, I do so from a distance. My defense of their work is more an intellectual argument than one felt in the body or spirit. By now the curious child has become a jaded adult who is stranded between a foolish wish to return to what once was and a drive to progress to something better, or at least something different, compromised as that may be. The album from the Best of 2004 list that most captures that ambivalence is Les Savy Fav’s Inches, which opens a song that mocks the insecurity of the retro but also its own sanctimony. There is no progress or regress. It’s all part of the same tired game, but what else is there? I will keep playing and playing, this its own blessing and curse.

Meet Me in the Dollar Bin

Dead tired. Bone dry. Admired, till I
can't make with the batteries. Bad day at the cannery.
They're making a mess of me. Best left tested by history.
 I grab this mic
and spike it to the ground, the lightning's bad
but at least it’s not loud. The lighting's bad.
The band can’t see the crowd, so I'm coming down.
I’m coming down. I’m coming down.
I’m coming down. I’m coming down.
I’m coming down. I’m coming down.

There is no incident. There is no incident.
There’s nothing incidental in this song.
There is no accident. There is no accident.
There’s nothing accidental in this song.
There’s no coincidence. There’s no coincidence.
There’s nothing coincidental in this song.
Dead tired.
Bone dry.
Till I,I grab this mic
I spike it to the ground. The lightning’s bad,
but at least it’s not loud. The lightning’s bad,
the band can't see the crowd so I’m coming down.
I’m coming down.
Meet me in the dollar bin, it’s a band I once was in.
Haven't done much better since. This is no coincidence. Been
rubbing off our fingerprints, covered up with phony skins.
This giving in has worn so thin that you can see the beat within.
Born fat or flat-chested, the best of us tested.
We passed and we passed, we passed out when we could.
We got old, but we got good and we did all
we said we would.
. . .

File Under

2004, Animal Collective, canon, cocaine, counterculture, cryptoconservatism, curiosity, Fredric Jameson, indie, juvenalia, Les Savy Fav, libidinal historicism, music theory, naïve art, performance culture, Pitchfork, post-punk, postmodernism, progress & regress, punk, retroproduction, Scissor Sisters, semiotics, status anxiety, The Fiery Furnaces, trash & treasure, Xiu Xiu

Further Reading