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Song of the day – 307: Cults (a rejoinder to the hipsters)

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Inspired by Hannah Golightly’s recent impassioned words on Collapse Board, I began to listen to Cults.

I appreciate that the main point of saying you like a band like Cults is (superficially) to get in among what Chris Weingarten calls “the firsties”‘. That your opinion of them is somehow not valid if you weren’t among the initial batch of Pitchfork-led bloggers who got behind this ‘mysterious’ NYC-based duo a year back, and that if you don’t live near Brooklyn or Chicago, y’r fucked. That if Lily Allen got in there and signed the band to her label, and attempts have been made to create a viral video (while simultaneously following the Radiohead path of pretending not to market the band), a full year before I fell in love with them that … wait, what am I trying to say here?

1. This whole package stinks of the worst parts of hipsterdom.

The band, and the marketing campaign around this band, seems to have been specifically designed to appeal to the US kids whose whole existence hinges upon what Stephen Potter once so brilliantly depicted in his series of oneupmanship books. The name is unsearchable. The videos are near non-existent. Just makes folk wanna find them all the harder. The first EP was downloadable for free but only for a limited time, which totally increases its hipster value. Of course it’s available on seven-inch. If you weren’t into Cults during the spring of 2010 you might as well give up and get the fuck out of music – as my main Chicago lady Jessica Hopper snootily Tweeted from SxSW last week:

Loving the drunken #sxsw tweets of A&R guys and olllld rock crits “discovering” Pitchfork hypes from 5 months ago.

Bangs alone knows how low an opinion she has of people who didn’t – gasp – even go to the much overrated Music Business Conference For Rich Kids and Careerists.

Oddly, I don’t give a shit because:

2. This music is too precious to be left in the hands of the hipsters alone. Yes, I’ve come to it late. Yes, I’m way unhip. But you know what? You move out to Brisbane and come through the other side and you realise that much as there is an undeniable thrill to be had in discovering music first – and there is – this is only the very slightest of the pleasures to be derived when compared to that of actually listening to the music. Here. Maybe you too aren’t lucky enough to exist within the reach of the post-No Age kids, and aren’t a Vice editor. Don’t be worried. Come enjoy this. Music to make you swoon. Music that deliriously straddles several camps of music at once – the super-wonderful twee, Everett True’s summer season of femme-pop, Shadow Morton and all that, some ’78 UK punk attitude (hidden) and, most importantly for those with dollar signs in their eyes, some swoonsome dance beats like Portishead or similar once wrote – but is certainly none the less for it. It feels very Swedish, too.

This music is fucking amazing. I’m certainly not the first to claim this, but I won’t be the last either. And I’m not drunk.

Just heavily intoxicated.

22 Responses to Song of the day – 307: Cults (a rejoinder to the hipsters)

  1. hannah golightly March 22, 2011 at 9:56 am

    I know we’re not the first to discover Cults Everett but I’m with you on the whole ‘just discovering them at all so we can listen to their music’ is truly the coolest thing of all. Hip or not hip. I couldn’t give a fuck. I just like them LOADS obvs. Plus, whatever about them being around for a while. They only formed at the beginning of last year according to Maddy. And besides, lots of people I know have caught the Cults enthusiasm now and are all the better for it…

  2. hannah golightly March 22, 2011 at 10:14 am

    *since I wrote and talked about them. So pass it on, don’t keep Cults to yourself and don’t fret about the speed at which the internet launches things. I could write, record a song right now and have it online in 30minutes and call myself a band. I could record the vox while bathing in the tub and have it online in no time.

  3. hannah golightly March 22, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I’ve got an idea for a piece: FUCK THE HIPSTERS

  4. Amy March 22, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks for this. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel left behind in the super bustling suburbs of northern Mississippi.

  5. Everett True March 22, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    (from Facebook)

    Victoria Farmer
    thanks alot for the slap at hipsterdom. i hate this mood that the internet brought along, with all those people having to discover bands first and such. when these bands actually attain a larger fan base, those people very often don’t like them anymore because they’re ‘sellouts’… i mean what the fuck?
    seems like, as a band, you can’t do it right.

  6. hannah golightly March 23, 2011 at 8:09 am

    It’s like the whole world is on Fast Forward or something. A band who have so far never toured my country hasn’t really even started here yet. Their album isn’t even out yet. I got worried when bands started only lasting two albums- it wasn’t a good sign. Some great bands from the past needed several albums just to reach their potential… nowadays a band is ‘over’ before they’ve even released anything? That sucks. Blink and you’ll miss it! The other thing is how much crap music there is online these days. It’s cool that it’s all there so we can make personal choices and have the variety, but at some point, while looking for yourself, it can get tough. It can be a time-consuming mission just sifting through it all to find something you like. It is a miracle when something good emerges from the mist of the net or this musical-web-of-confusion as it could be known.
    Hipsters?? High-speed environmentally-irresponsible CONSUMERS more like! Chew it up and spit it out as soon as someone other than them claims to have heard OF the band.

  7. Everett True March 23, 2011 at 9:31 am

    It’s like the whole world is on Fast Forward or something.

    Fast Forward was a great cassette magazine, actually.

  8. Wallace Wylie March 24, 2011 at 6:28 am

    When people talk about how long they’ve been listening to Cults, they’re trying to say they’re not hip because they were listening to them BEFORE they were hip. When people say they listen to Cults now they’re trying to say they’re not hip because they didn’t listen to them WHEN they were hip. Complaining about hipsters in while celebrating Cults is like complaining about apples while drinking cider. Cults are hipsters. The people who listen to them are hipsters. The reason they’re famous is because of hipsters. Anyone who even KNOWS who Cults are right now is a hipster, regardless of what anyone says. I don’t understand this hatred of ‘hipsters’ or who ‘hipsters’ even are. Hipsters are always saying ‘stuff’ but when I ask for an example nobody can point to anyone actually saying anything along the lines of “I liked Cults before they got big and sold out”. They’re like imaginary beings who say and do stuff that is so utterly arseholeish that you can’t help but hate them, yet they don’t truly exist. People complaining about hipsters is a pet peeve of mine, (http://wallacewylie.blogspot.com/2010/10/hipster-short-rumination.html), and I think people need to give it up. Please, let’s all stop pretending we’re big nerds and just accept the fact that we are actually music snob hipsters.

  9. Everett True March 24, 2011 at 7:47 am

    I’m with you 100 per cent of the way, Wallace. Damn hipster-hating hipsters! I sort of answer my own point here.

  10. Hannah Golightly March 24, 2011 at 9:37 am

    …While I on the other hand think Wallace makes little sense whatsoever! Maybe it’s in response to what his ‘imaginary beings’ said, not what I said or you said. Read my first comment. In fact, read my article and shut the hell up. Unless I got it all confused with his ‘no one is a hipster therefore everyone is a hipster but they cannot be a hipster if they blah blah blah’ puke.

    Wake up Wallace and realize that nobody likes the ex-girlfriend of a new lover! And no ex-girlfriend recognises the love that the ex-boyfriend has for the new girlfriend. “The love we shared was completely different and more profound and meaningful.” Whatever… Their mother loved them first so wanna keep playing?

    By your definition the first fans liked them just because they liked them… and the new fans couldn’t possibly like them for the same reasons or in the same way… because of what? CHRONOLOGY? Timing? Most idiotic thing I ever heard. OR a subject for philosophical debate.

    The first fans BECOME the ‘Hipster’ the moment they play the one-upmanship card of saying that they knew about them AGES ago… yet curiously, despite being a fan from the start have NEVER mentioned them until they became ‘Hip’. What does that tell you?

    I personally don’t care what anyone else thinks about my personal taste in music as long as I love it. I don’t like what’s cool- well I haven’t for a good 12 years anyway and I see that as unfortunate. I am currently enjoying a renaissance of inspiration from modern music triggered by MGMT, growing stronger through Warpaint, peaking a little at Cults and turning left at the traffic lights and on down the road of Best Coast. When what I like and what is thought of as cool (and is therefore more available and shareable with others) come together, magic happens.

  11. Hannah Golightly March 24, 2011 at 10:01 am

    And Wallace… I’ve just read your blog article and in case you wanna count me amongst the Best Coast album buyer type hipster, just remember this: I live in a place called North Wales, in the middle of nowhere right now. So if I have even heard of Best Coast at all, it is not due to some marketing campaign, it is due to searching. Hip or not hip… a child of grunge, I happen to like music that sounds like L7 cross bred with Breeders on a valium binge ok?

  12. Wallace Wylie March 24, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I think you misunderstood my point. The opening sentences of my comment were just me trying to show that everybody goes out of their way to avoid being tagged a hipster. Everybody says they just like Cults or (insert band here) because they like the music, and I think everybody is probably telling the truth to a large degree. I think people need to stop worrying about hipsters and what they’re doing and saying. If you just found out about Cults now and like them, that’s great. I wasn’t saying it makes you less of a fan or indeed any of the things you seem to think I was saying.

  13. Hannah Golightly March 24, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Maybe that explains why I thought you made no sense then.

    Anyway, let’s suppose there’s no such thing as a hipster. Hipster just describes the moment when someone attempts to show off and make person they are showing off to feel inferior. No one fits that description as a personality- it is merely a passing moment in social life and can hit anyone, any time, anywhere.

    I once got into a ludicrous argument (while attempting to make small talk with a guy (how DARE I?!ha ha) who clearly had some issues that I innocently triggered with the line “So, are you going to that Rave in the Cave?” That everyone present was apparently going to) and during the ensuing discourse the guy starts lording it over me asking in a snobbish accusatory manner “Well, have you read *insert academic literature of relevance here*?” He was trying to win the debate by trying to make me think I was stupid or inferior for not having done so. I saw this and refused to play ball. “No. Is it any good?” I replied.

    The guy was not trying to prove how hip he was, just how much better than me he was. And this is all that a so-called Hipster is ever trying to do. It is a form of insecurity being expressed.

    p.s. why are you so interested in Hipsterdom?

  14. Hannah Golightly March 24, 2011 at 11:16 am

    p.s. I don’t go out of my way to avoid being tagged a Hipster. I am too socially dysfunctional to realise that I should be editing myself for mass social consumption. So that’s one person who doesn’t fit your theory. I reckon there might be a few more…

  15. Lucy Cage March 24, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Hmm. I get what Wallace is saying about hipsters just being the people who are listening to and making the amazing music that gets wider critical acclaim further down the line. It’s a tricky thing to pinpoint: what used to refer to an elite club of geographically and culturally proximate people has become something that can only be much more fuzzily defined. Everything is further complicated by the fact that the internet levels it all out considerably: you can sit at home in rural UK and hear a tiny but magnificent band from Santa Fe that some blogger from Seattle is raving about and instantly become one of the people in the know. If you love the band too and tell others about them, does that confer hipsterness upon you by default? Does it just depend on who is doing the telling and who is being told?
    If you know about/love Cults now, and, furthermore, if you’re writing about them for a intensely hip’n'happening online music magazine, then you are, relatively speaking, amongst the hippitty-est hip of global hipsters. Even if you’re in North Wales not Brookyln. But that’s Wallace taking the term in a nice, neutral way. And for my own amusement/to satisfy my unfortunate envy, I’d prefer to wield it as a pejorative to lambast the tweeting SxSW glitterati, who, in my version of events at least, are more interested in maintaining their status than in revelling in the absolute fucking JOY of the music that you express so well in your article, Hannah. (Even if those despicably shallow scumbag twitterati are really pretty much just luckier/cleverer/more successful versions of me: bring on the hate!)

  16. Hannah Golightly March 24, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Perhaps the issue we should be handling is Fakers. The people who name-drop the ‘cool’ bands but who don’t really listen to their music as I suspect anyone who claims to have been into Cults AGES ago must be… since once you’ve heard Cults you wanna tell everyone… and how come these people have kept so quiet until now hmm? Or Musically Possessive types who wanna keep the ‘treasure’ (Gollum style) in a box (stereo) in their bedrooms all to themselves.

  17. Hannah Golightly March 24, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Lucy, I didn’t read about Cults on some blog. In fact this is the only music blog I read. I use youtube and myspace to find music. They might be a bit out of date by now, but at least I can hear some fucking music with relatively little hassle. I also listened to Radio One podcast(a major UK popular music station) which is where I heard Maddy doing an interview where she recommended Best Coast and Dom. Anyway, this thread began with me and Everett claiming that neither of us were hip enough to have discovered Cults at ‘the beginning’ and me saying ‘who cares, they are amazing’… I don’t trust the NME to educate me as they always talk crap about the good stuff and don’t represent my taste. I only trust my own instincts and they are working well right now as I have happily found some music that I both love and relate to. The rest is bullshit. The music is all that matters in the end.

  18. Julian Sanchez March 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    FWIW, I’m not sure that tweet is most charitably read as garden-variety music snobbery. It does, after all, single out for mockery people who *make their livings* off a type of claim to hipness——or at least the claim that they are so exceptionally well informed about promising new artists that other people should look to them for guidance. If it turns out that they’re not even up to speed with what the other major music publications have been actively touting, I think it’s fair game to take the piss a little.

  19. Everett True March 24, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Yes, of course Julian. Spot on. Jessica wasn’t upset by my genial dig at her Tweet (nor did I intend her to be). Quite the contrary! She re-Tweeted it.

  20. Trent May 27, 2011 at 2:17 am

    I was going to comment, but your statement Hannah ‘The rest is bullshit. The music is all that matters in the end,’ has made me reconsider. Perhaps you could apply that same rational to your music journalism and get a plumbing job instead or something.

  21. hannah golightly May 27, 2011 at 6:05 am

    No need for that Trent. Just because I focus on the music I love instead of the music I hate in my journalism doesn’t mean I should pack it in. I might well comment on things I disagree with, but I’m not gonna write a piece slagging off the Arctic Monkeys- that’s a major waste of energy. Jeez- some people can get really personal when hiding behind computers can’t they! How mean!

  22. Darragh May 27, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Fuck the hipsters. I’ll listen to it regardless.

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