24
Aug 01

Say you’re a winner, but, man, you’re just a sinner now….

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Say you’re a winner, but, man, you’re just a sinner now….

HYPE – Slang (n.)
– Excessive publicity and the ensuing commotion
– Exaggerated or extravagant claims made especially in advertising or promotional material
– An advertising or promotional ploy
– Something deliberately misleading; a deception

So now, we have Neumu presenting hype about the hype about the Strokes – specifically, quotes from Neumu readers and contributors addressing the issue of the abundance of supportive Strokes press. Some of the discourse is good, and some of discourse is not so good – as right as Jenny Tatone might be to note the tried & true trend of hipsters bucking against widespread publicity (and anyone attatched), it’s also good to note Anthony Carew’s comments regarding the Strokes’ surprising success in Australia – “You don’t debut at #5 with a debut record featuring no hit singles without some deft retail-fellating.”

Of course, Ms. Tatone’s commentary fails to recognize that the hipsters are balking at all this attention given the Strokes because of their sensitivity to such press. Yes, this hype is focused on specific media pockets, and isn’t as pervasive as naysayers would have you believe. However, if you’re even within shouting distance of these pockets, the din is deafening. Regardless of where you stand, it’s hard to take a band seriously if you’re first exposure to them is on the cover of NME, being hailed as The Most Important Band of the Past 25 Years. The British press has been known to fluff pillows in its day, but their treatment of the Strokes has been excessively egregious, to say the least.

Thankfully, in the US, the Strokes blitzkrieg is nonexistent. Not that such hype is unfamiliar in these parts. After Nirvana’s success, any band circa 1992 with a sliver of talent and a handful of that ever-elusive “indie cred” received dot-com like dollars to climb above ground and take a run at the ring. We all know what happened with that, though.

About five or six years ago, another NYC band (Jonathan Fire*Eater) found itself in waters similar to the Strokes – hyped to the gills, jumping from indieville to the majors in little time with little exposure (excepting their being in the Right Place), working their charismatic spooky garage mojo. One EP on the Medicine label (a small NYC-based outfit), one record on the Dreamworks label (yes, the Spielberg / Geffen / Katzenberg multi-media enterprise), perhaps a vinyl single or two as well, and they vanished without so much as a half-hearted wave. If you’re willing to dive into those dusty bins at your local used CD emporium, you’ll probably find copies of their work for cheap. I’d recommend giving them a chance, if you’re into that sort of organ-driven mysteriously-cool faux-gothic sneering sort of garage rock. (For those interested, members of JF*E have formed a new band – the Walkmen. There’s a bit of hype around them as well. Tread carefully.)

Of course, if you’re into that sort of music, I’d recommend giving the Strokes a chance, too – having FINALLY heard them, I can safely agree with Mr. Ewing’s assessment. They’re not bad; I’d go so far as to call them pretty damn good for what they are. (Granted, the Strokes remind me a LOT of Spoon, circa A Series of Sneaks, and I’d kill for Spoon, so take this as you must.) And maybe they’ll be able to fashion a career out of all this hectic speculation and hyper-promotion. Any press is good press – regardless of your reaction to THE STROKES, the name is out there. These meta-discussions help perpetuate this promotion as well, though it’s really just one extended round of Telephone. A pretty good band can become the next Velvet Underground and crap out in the time it takes for a full-length CD (or CD-EP, or various vinyl singles) to stop spinning.

Personally, I’m all for just ignoring the press-at-large and making up your own mind (which you can do, if you just click here), but then I’d have nothing to write about. Plus, I wouldn’t be able to quote Billy Squier lyrics in such a meaningful fashion.

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