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A Paler Shade of White is an interesting article about indie rock and race. Its basic premise seems to be with the rise of legitimate black mega-star musicians, white people are self-consciously limiting themselves from doing what has previously made white music good — namely stealing from black people. Mostly he pins it on a lack of rhythm:

How did rhythm come to be discounted in an art form that was born as a celebration of rhythm’s possibilities? Where is the impulse to reach out to an audience—to entertain? I can imagine James Brown writing dull material. I can even imagine the Meters wearing out their fans by playing a little too long. But I can’t imagine any of these musicians retreating inward and settling for the lassitude and monotony that so many indie acts seem to confuse with authenticity and significance.

It’s a neat analysis and it’s fun to put down boring jangly Pitchfork whiteboy rock. I liked this quote:

But by the mid-nineties black influences had begun to recede, sometimes drastically, and the term “indie rock” came implicitly to mean white rock.

But there are lots of counter-examples. The White Stripes for instance are still healthily stealing from black people and are doing just fine by it. My city has more blues-rock bands than you can shake a stick at. But I guess they don’t get called “indie rock” as they’re not white enough.

Posted on - October 26, 2007 [at] 11:20 am by Brad
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