Sound Malevolent #1: Dumb Kids in the Suburbs Rage, Unaware Win Butler Was Their Voice

Welcome back to Vision Malevolent. Obviously, without my Project Runway muse, I’ve been unable to foment the ambition to actually write columns for this blog. I vow to continue to come just up to the brink of actually writing a column about another show before becoming distracted for a few minutes and aborting the mission entirely.

This week, I’m actually going to engage something relevant for once, that being the award show for people that “listen to everything”… the Grammys. The Grammys are the one night where everyone can gleefully pop out of thinly veiled womb-metaphors whilst happily ignoring any instance of sound, in any context, that sold under 500,000 units, be it a Shugo Tokumaru album or a black-capped chickadee in a forsythia bush. It’s a night for the mainstream to celebrate itself.



Hello from Canada Lande! God Bless the Queen, and Scott Thompson dressed as the Queen!


The Grammy Award for Album of the Year, the Grammys’ most prestigious honor of hushed-toned deference, has been awarded to the likes of Steely Dan (in 2002), Christopher Cross, and The Bodyguard Soundtrack. Last night, it was awarded to Arcade Fire, who you also might know as The Arcade Fire, or perhaps you know them as “THE FUCK? WHO’S THAT FAGGOT WITH THE FAGGOT HAIRCUT THATJUST BEAT MY BOY EM YO?!”

The EnoughEmpty universe, which includes a blog you don’t read and a radio podcast show you haven’t even heard of, is a citadel for music geekery. Our interest in the Grammys is a bit different in comparison to most. Obviously we’re upset that Max Richter, or Motorpsycho, or popular grindcore band Midfield Sarcophagus Fetus Chomper weren’t even nominated. Which is balderdash.

But why is the rest of the country, these United States of Comcast, this collected rabble of artless cretins, so apoplectic over Arcade Fire’s Album of the Year Grammy win? There’s a number of base contentions to answer this uproar, the main one being that out of the five albums nominated, The Suburbs was not merely the best album… it was the only commendable album. Again, that’s a distinct failure in the nomination process, since MSFC’s Retrieved Antlers Perineum Disembowelment was a masterpiece.

But as for Arcade Fire, even the most casual hipster, draped in the most casual neon handkerchiefs, could tell you that The Suburbs was barely in the top 5 Indie albums of the year, if that. Or that The Suburbs is the 3rd best of the three Arcade Fire LPs. But that’s irrelevant. The Grammys have, at the least, stayed consistent: by rewarding an act for something they did years ago. In this case, it’s merely a half-decade instead of the usual 3 or 4.

But this outrage amongst the general public over their “obscurity” is preposterous. It isn’t like The Depreciation Guild won Album of the Year, or or even quite popular indie bands like Wavves or Deerhunter, or ubiquitous ones like Sufjan Stevens or Spoon. It’s fucking Arcade Fire. They’ve been everywhere the last 7 months. And I’m pretty sure most people have been on the internet in the last 7 years; Funeral is the archetype internet buzz album, regardless of how closely you follow the underground.



I wonder if there would have been a homophobic reaction if...


And if you hadn’t heard of them by last night, and yet you’re still this aggravated by the goddamn Grammys, this is no longer just a case of “where the hell have you been?” or “Do you even like music or is music just a chemical reaction for you requiring no effort beyond that?” Grammy nominations were announced over two months ago. Any confusion over the existence of the Arcade Fire could have been solved exactly two months ago, by sticking your head into the Internet treehouse door and taking a look around. This is 2011; every single song the Arcade Fire have ever recorded is available on Youtube.

Obviously the sad, impotent, ignorant rage going on right now, especially on the Grammys Facebook page, is ceaselessly hilarious. I mean yes, it’s terrifying to be confronted with the undeniable stupidity of the general public. It’s harrowing to know that this many people are genuinely uneducated. But it’s still amusing to see so many people resort to the “How can they win?! I’ve never heard of them!” argument and not even realize that this is a logical fallacy.



This guy has, but he powers through them by the grace of Himself.


But what disturbs me is that this reinforces the notion that most people are total sycophants when it comes to music; just along for the ride in the formation of their own aesthetic taste. When the Academy Awards’ nominations for Best Picture are announced, there’s always a novelty nomination, an obscured film almost everyone purposefully ignored. And when that nomination is promulgated, the general response is, at the very least, to make halfhearted promises to see that film.

Perhaps it’s because the radio is free and accessible, requiring far less effort than actually driving to a theater. Or perhaps there really is a dearth of taste. But Arcade Fire weren’t afforded that curiosity. Most people have zero interest in actually putting effort into discovering music on their own. That makes their braindead shrieks more delicious, but also dismaying.

The most incriminating aspect in all of this is that these people care about the fucking Grammys. In fact, there’s two repugnant groups in all of this:

The Cultureless Swine

This is the group offended that an “obscure” group such as Arcade Fire won Album of the Year over more deserving offal such as Katy Perry and Lady Antebellum.

Well people, welcome to the world of every music geek for the last 60 years. The Grammy’s gave the goddamn Grammy to Steely Dan of Radiohead’s Kid A. And, it should be noted, an Eminen album as well. And why did Steely Dan win that award? Because they were known. The same reason that, no matter what, if Bob Dylan releases an album it will be nominated for Album of the Year.

You could even go further, into the “safe” category. Why did Lionel Ritchie beat out Purple Rain and Born in the USA? Because he was old and safe. Why does Bob Dylan, no matter how mindlessly boring and irrelevant his albums becomes with each passing release, gets nominated every fucking time for Album of the Year? Because he’s old, and, circa 1998, he’s safe.


The Pop Apologist Wankers


This hurts me, being a pop apologist myself. This group is strident at the moment that since a group such as Arcade Fire won album of the Year, no longer will staid criticism of the Grammys five decades of incompetent nominations and voting skewed towards middle-aged banality be substantive.

Steely fucking Dan


Kid A



The one recorded instance of Steely Dan laughing.


Much more than the glorified grunts and feces lobbing of the first group, this is a much more nefarious presence. They’d very much like to think that this one moment of triumph erases 50 years of balderdash. They are fully aware of the logical fallacy evident here, because they are music critics, the most noxious kind of asshole you can find. Their peremptory smugness over Arcade Fire’s victory doesn’t faze me; you cannot ignore historical gems such as Celine Dion beating Beck’s Odelay, or Frank Sinatra beating our The Beatles’ Revolver, or …


And there’s the rub. The Grammys are so staggeringly jejune in their very nominations that it’s impossible to find enough examples of their incompetence. For instance, David Bowie received zero nominations for Album of the Year in the 70’s. Not one. They chose to ignore him. He only received a nomination for Let’s Dance, the death knell of his artistic peak.


Must have taken a lot of goddamn salt peter for those old bastards to ignore that bulge.


And frankly, that’s where we are now. Yes, the Arcade Fire were an unpredictable choice, but a safe choice, nonetheless. The Suburbs is their most accessible album, and sold nearly 500,000 copies. To cite them as the indie band that finally reached the summit is bollocks. This wasn’t a bold choice at all. It was calculated, something that challenged the perception of the Grammys without undermining the actual context of the awards one bit.

And let’s not forget that indie itself is a safe subterranean avenue with which to flirt. It’s not ambient, or black metal, or dubstep, or 8-bit, or post-rock or psychobilly or trance or prog or no wave or WHATEVER. It’s indie. Despite the fervent nature of some dreadful people trying to turn indie into a bunch of spindly dudes with awkward posture  and awful haircuts on stage in front of laptops on tables… indie is what it has always been: guitar pop. The Meat Puppets were guitar pop. Pavement were guitar pop. Arcade Fire are guitar pop.

And so…

In conclusion, LCD Soundsystem deserve it more than anyone, Arcade Fire prove that in the digital age you’re often rewarded after your meaningful records, and the Grammys are only good for trolling and I hope The Smith Westerns win it next year over Kanye and really enrage the populus. And I mean really enrage them. Like, to the point where there’s a physical electrical reaction, solving the future crisis over precious resources by ridding the world of a substantial portion of it’s insufferable philistines. I’m J. Michael.


5 Responses to Sound Malevolent #1: Dumb Kids in the Suburbs Rage, Unaware Win Butler Was Their Voice

  1. Anonymoose says:

    All very true and insighful, except I felt the Suburbs was a better record than Neon Bible. Also disagree with LCD Soundsystem being the best of the year; not the best LCDS album.

    • I’ll always defend Neon Bible as the ultimate AF record. I’ve always been astounded that they were able to pull off an album like that under the intense pressure to match Funeral.

      I’d agree about LCD Soundsystem. I think Murphy peaked with Sound of Silver and 45:33. But as far as albums that could legitimately be culled from Indie Land and nominated for a Grammy, I think his is the best.

  2. MessianicRebel says:

    What a delightful stream of vitriol and surgically placed accusations. Very funny, and despite not caring for Arcade Fire at all, find myself agreeing with you completely.

    It’s funny, because if I was too look back at 2010 and name an album that deserved radioplay, it would be a toss-up between Dess – A Badly Broken Code, and Ashcan Orchid – The Woods.

    • And did you notice, Chris, I even avoided the Jethro Tull-Metallica reference. And I gave even gave a nod to something besides indie! 😀

      Ashcan Orchid… I’d like to see them where Lady Antebellum are.

  3. fuckyournames says:

    I always–always–enjoy bringing up the Jethro Tull/Metallica debacle, especially in relation to those who gobble up both the Grammy’s bile as well as Metallica’s. I also enjoy Jethro Tull. Superb.

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