Monday, October 26, 2020

You Bastard Kids Get Off My Lawn (An Occasional Series): Special "If You Don't Think This Crap is, as the Brits Say, Twee, You Really Need To Have a Word With Yourself"

From the October 19, 2020 issue of The New Yorker, please enjoy(?) the insufferable prose efflusions of Amanda Petrusich as she attempts -- and fails -- to justify the unlistenble musical stylings of a deeply mediocre Gen Z alt-rock singer-songwriter named Adrianne Lenker.

Here's the opening, which should give you an idea of just how awful the piece (and artist) is.

In late August, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist Adrianne Lenker stood beside a creek in upstate New York, watching the water move. The day before, Lenker, who is twenty-nine, had packed up the Brooklyn apartment she’d been sharing with two roommates. She was preparing to haul a vintage camping trailer across the country to Topanga Canyon, on the west side of Los Angeles, where her band, Big Thief, was planning to meet up. For the next couple of months, at least, the trailer would be home.

Moving can be disorienting—all that sorting and boxing and tossing out forces a kind of self-reckoning—and for Lenker the experience was only intensified by the ongoing anxiety of the coronavirus pandemic, which made imagining any sort of future feel optimistic, if not na├»ve. The exhaustion and sorrow of the spring had left everyone feeling precarious. The sun refracted against the surface of the creek until the water turned black. Our conversation drifted toward the Zen idea of impermanence. “Is it too early for this?” Lenker joked. “Nice to meet you—let’s talk about death.”

Lenker had spent the past few weeks recording with Big Thief at a home studio in the Catskill Mountains, run by the musicians Sam Owens and Hannah Cohen. The rest of the band—the guitarist Buck Meek, the bassist Max Oleartchik, and the drummer James Krivchenia—had since left, but Lenker stuck around to renovate the trailer. She had just ordered a twin mattress, a portable woodstove, and new linens.

This month, Lenker will release two solo albums: “Songs,” a collection of tender, harmonically complex folk tunes, and “Instrumentals,” which is composed of a pair of slowly unfolding guitar pieces. She made the records simultaneously, at a remote cabin in New England, in the early, panicked days of both the pandemic and a breakup. Lenker is a quick and instinctive writer, and even under normal circumstances her songs are raw and unfussy—it can feel as if they were dug up whole, like a carrot from the garden. She sometimes speaks about writing as a kind of conjuring. “She gives a lot of significance to that moment where she’s holding the guitar,” Oleartchik told me. “I never really think of her, like, fucking around and playing riffs or something. It’s always this instrument of witchcraft. It’s always holy. She writes music from this place that’s very intuitive and fearless, and she has confidence that there’s some kind of spirit or force that she can listen to.”

Before Lenker vacated her apartment in New York, she had to paint over an illustration that her ex-girlfriend had drawn on the bedroom wall. Lenker took some solace from the idea that the image wouldn’t be erased, exactly—it remained, even if she couldn’t see it anymore. Lenker has been in romantic relationships with men and with women, and doesn’t feel any particular obligation to outline her sexuality in precise terms, though she is comfortable being called queer. “The fact that there’s still people against that kind of stuff makes the words necessary,” she told me. “But hopefully we move into a place where it’s, like, You’re what? Why are you saying what you are?”

And on and on and on ad infinitum. Basically the essay is longer, windier and more boring than Miss MacIntosh, My Darling .

And here's one of the musician in question's new songs, which should serve to demonstrate just how undeserving she is even of one of history's most tedious New Yorker profiles.

Give me a fucking break. I could barely stand that kind of pretentious twaddle when it was being done by Joni Mitchell, who had the saving grace of being, in fact, a musical genius. But the above? Damn, it's like finding your ankle padlocked for a weekend to a sandwich machine in the basement of your old college dormitory.

13 comments:

Blue Ash Fan said...

I was the editor of my high school newspaper. That shit wouldn't have gotten past me.

That song was "holy?" As you said, Steve, "Give me a fucking break."

steve simels said...

The opening line alone -- "In late August, the singer, songwriter, and guitarist Adrianne Lenker stood beside a creek in upstate New York, watching the water move." -- should cause everybody in the New Yorker's editorial chain who had a hand in the essay to take a serious pay cut.

steve simels said...

Both the author of that essay and Ms. Lenker herself sound like the kind of deeply sensitive souls who underline passages in slim volumes of poetry and then write "How true!" in the margins.

Jai Guru Dave said...

Have you had your coffee yet this morning Steve?

MJConroy said...

The video looks like it was shot by an infant holding a cell phone.

daudder said...

Needs more cowbell. (sorry, couldn't resist)

BIlly B said...

Both the author of that essay and Ms. Lenker herself sound like the kind of deeply sensitive souls who underline passages in slim volumes of poetry and then write "How true!" in the margins.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!

Like the deeply sensitive soul playing the acoustic guitar on the stairs in Animal House when Bluto grabs the guitar and smashes it...

pete said...

Nowhere in the opening five grafs does it say what the music sounds like, although it doesn't really have to. I am not listening to the vid. Life is too short.

Dodgers68 said...

Why do you feel the need to make fun of someone else's efforts? Insecurity? Jealousy? Or are you just a Trumpish bully?

steve simels said...

Crap is crap. If you don’t understand that, fuck off.

Blue Ash Fan said...

"The sun refracted against the surface of the creek until the water turned black" got my gag reflex going a bit, too.

Mark said...

Occasionally New Yorker new music reviews are spot on. Most of the time they're not. But searching for informative contemporary music reviews in The New Yorker is a lot like, as Frank Zappa put it, "dancing about architecture."

This one about Adrianne Lanker is almost like a parody.

pete said...

When Beethoven was alive there were 300 other working composers in Vienna. We don't ignore their work in favor of his because we're bullies interested only in venting our resentments. It's because when we want sweeping, Romantic, Viennese music nobody else (well, possibly Schubert) is as satisfying as Beethoven. This is the kind of critical judgement people make, deciding what music to listen to based on it's ability to satisfy us. Pruning a plant helps it grow, just as pruning the culture of second-rate artists makes a culture grow. Elitist? Sure. It's what critics are for, to add to the consensus that Hank Williams was a greater artist than Red Foley, Muddy Waters a greater artist than Daddy Stovepipe, Aretha Franklin a greater artist than Cher.