Long Winters in 4/22 NYT

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Dan
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Long Winters in 4/22 NYT

Postby Dan » Tue Apr 22, 2003 3:51 pm

Surprisingly, no Bright Eyes comparisons!

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/22/arts/music/22XSEAT.html

SEATTLE, April 21 — A decade ago Seattle was the rumbling epicenter of a coffee-fueled grunge nation. Its bands topped the Billboard charts and were on the cover of Time magazine. Hip designers snatched laid-back Northwest staples like the flannel shirt and put them on international runways.

But the romance began fading when Kurt Cobain, the scene's unwilling figurehead and leader of the band Nirvana, committed suicide in 1994, and these days Detroit is the new Seattle. Now, however, the local rock scene is experiencing a vibrant reflowering. The punk act Pretty Girls Make Graves and the literate pop group the Long Winters released engaging albums in 2002. The grunge pioneers Mudhoney issued "Since We've Become Translucent," considered by many the group's most confident CD in ages. Local clubs are filled with patrons, even on weeknights.

Civics has played its part in the musical resurgence. Laws restricting concerts and their promotion have been replaced or struck down. There is now a nonprofit organization that fosters children's participation in rock through hands-on training with sound equipment and in concert promotion and performing. Many believe even the dot-com bust helped: rents are sinking, making housing in the city more affordable for musicians.

"It's a good time for the Seattle music community to start reaching out to the rest of the world, maybe, a little bit more once again," said John Roderick, leader of the Long Winters, who will release their second album, "When I Pretend to Fall," in May.

Last August Krist Novoselic, the bassist for Nirvana, was in the City Council chambers as the council, which established a Music and Youth Commission last year, repealed the 17-year-old Teen Dance Ordinance. It had required, among other things, that promoters of dances for those younger than 18 have $1 million in liability insurance and employ one off-duty police officer at each event, provisions that smaller promoters argued were nearly impossible for them to meet. Last summer a state judge threw out a ban on posting signs on utility poles, a vital forum for advertising small shows.

For Nirvana and the city's musicians repealing the Teen Dance Ordinance was a a moral crusade.

"That had a lot of philosophical weight that really makes people feel like something is different," said James Keblas, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Vera Project, begun in 2000 to encourage children's participation in music.

In the early 1990's grunge rock (a term most people here abhor) mushroomed overnight. Nirvana towered over the city, and to its fans Pearl Jam seemed destined to be the next Who. But then Cobain killed himself, and in the fickle music industry a Seattle address no longer guaranteed hipster credibility.

"I don't think the spotlight really went away," said Mark Arm, singer and guitarist for Mudhoney. "I think the microscope went away."

The members of Mudhoney are elders in Seattle's rock renaissance. Their fiery playing on "Since We've Become Translucent," which even includes blasts of horns, is the sound of a band having fun again. Pretty Girls Make Graves represents the new guard. Its music is intricate without being ostentatious, and the band seems to explode in all directions while its singer, Andrea Zollo, rails against personal betrayals or extols punk's potential. The Long Winters, meanwhile, ply textured pop under tales of emotional escape, self-doubt and undermined relationships.

That diversity keeps the scene healthy, said Derek Fudesco, bassist for Pretty Girls. But the city's history sits uneasily with some.

"There was a whole component to the grunge myth that said: `We didn't want this, we didn't want to be famous, we didn't want to rich. And we don't care that the world loves us,' " said Mr. Roderick of the Long Winters. "To whatever degree that was true or false in that original generation, it had a powerful effect on everybody that came after. It was very important, and still is within Seattle, to have your motivations, to have them meet some criteria of authenticity."

That sort of anti-ambition was defeatist, Mr. Roderick said.

Today bands seem to be aiming high creatively, but many no longer see the major labels that propelled Nirvana and Pearl Jam to the top as necessary for success. Instead, local independent labels like Suicide Squeeze, Dirtnap, Barsuk and Pacifico are flourishing.

With this resurgence, some musicians and fans are asking if Seattle itself could become the next Seattle.

"I just don't think that'll ever happen again, which I think is a good thing," said Ben Gibbard, singer for Death Cab for Cutie.

The conventional wisdom here seems to be that things are going well enough again without the pressure of being a bellwether for cool.

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Postby stephanie » Tue Apr 22, 2003 3:53 pm

Dan, we posted this at the same fucking time.

JINX!

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Postby Merlin » Tue Apr 22, 2003 4:03 pm

Holy crap, that's terrific!

Nice post, Dan.

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Dan
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Postby Dan » Tue Apr 22, 2003 4:07 pm

Indeed. Wow.

I'm conflicted about this article -- if the floundering New York Times is going to continue to strive for legitimate credibility by lavishing attention on Seattle bands as it has Saddle Creek's roster (my snarky Bright Eyes comment was in reference to the half-dozen or so stories this year alone about the Omaha scene, all of which mention Oberst in some way -- not counting the "Is this the next Dylan?" story from the NYT Magazine!), then I suppose it couldn't happen to better bands or, indeed, people.

Six months from now, though, are we really going to be able to deal with reading Kelefa Sanneh's bizarre, adulatory reviews of Mudhoney shows wedged between the usual wildly out-of-touch write-ups of chamber music and ballet recitals? And if it truly is the new new indie burg du jour, whither Seattle when, say, New Haven rages into the national consciousness? (How's that New Haven scene coming along, anyway, kids?)

Simply because the Times has been embarrassing themselves lately as much as they've been pointing out salient trends, I'm holding my breath for now. Congratulations, though, on the excellent bit of press.

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Postby mandy » Tue Apr 22, 2003 4:55 pm

Yeah, kids keep trying to start a scene in New Haven but then someone always gets stabbed or beaten or ODs on crack or something. WTF.

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Postby miss michaela dee » Tue Apr 22, 2003 9:13 pm

though, annoyingly, only the new york times could make our ben gibbard sound like a TOTAL IDIOT. grrrblah.

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Postby John » Tue Apr 22, 2003 11:17 pm

Seattle is the new Seattle!

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miss michaela dee
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Postby miss michaela dee » Wed Apr 23, 2003 8:41 am

John wrote:Seattle is the new Seattle!


this slogan begs to be on a tee-shirt, don't you think?

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Postby meg » Wed Apr 23, 2003 1:52 pm

Dan wrote:Six months from now, though, are we really going to be able to deal with reading Kelefa Sanneh's bizarre, adulatory reviews of Mudhoney shows wedged between the usual wildly out-of-touch write-ups of chamber music and ballet recitals?


I have granted myself one hundred points for learning what Mr. Sanneh looks like. I was standing behind him on my way into the Brooklyn Postal Service show. All I heard was "New York Times" and a name I couldn't spell, and I though to myself, self, if you see a Postal Service review in the Times in the next few days, you will be the winner of one hundred points. He totally loves Jenny Lewis. How much does he love Jenny Lewis? Man.

Also, there were lots of amateur photographers at that show, and one of them was awfully ballsy and horrible--he kept stretching out his arm and invading Mr. Gibbard's standing space to take arty shots blah blah blah using flash blah. Mr. Sanneh, who was trying to take his own photos, got annoyed at one point and half-shoved the kid out of the way to get his shot. The end.

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Postby miss michaela dee » Wed Apr 23, 2003 2:06 pm

meg wrote:He totally loves Jenny Lewis. How much does he love Jenny Lewis? Man.


yeah, i was gonna mention something about how much he loves jenny. maybe he's had a crush on her since the troop beverly hills days.

cracks me up, though, to think of a NYT stringer taking dorky pics just like the rest of we music geeks.

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non-charging online sources

Postby Merlin » Mon May 05, 2003 2:13 pm

FWIW, it looks like the story got syndicated.

So if you were looking to link to it for whatever reason (now that's it's fallen into the NYT's "for-charge zone"), you can see it in papers like this:

http://www.bayarea.com/mld/cctimes/living/5759533.htm


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