I read the Washington Post’s free commuter daily, Express. On Thursdays they have a lengthy entertainment section, with lots of recommendations of stuff for young people to do over the weekend. Since I have two little kids at home, I never actually go anywhere, but it’s fun to live vicariously and see what my town has to offer. My one gripe with their coverage is their over-emphasis on indie rock and other music styles played and enjoyed primarily by young white people. This is an interesting editorial decision in a city whose African-American population is greater than 50%.
Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I am a white male, not quite young anymore, who has been known to listen to a lot of indie rock. I also played in an indie-rock band and worked for two alternative newspapers that were probably just as guilty of ignoring hip-hop and other genres. BUT THAT WAS OVER TEN YEARS AGO. Surely indie rock has run its course by now and more interesting things are going on in popular music today.
Just to be sure I wasn’t projecting my own PC sensitivities onto Express, here is a rundown of the musical acts given prominence in today’s issue:
Cover: “Funky French. Phoenix Rises.” A French indie rock band called Phoenix.
E5, full page: “Cheeky French band Phoenix is on the verge of becoming an indie-rock highflyer.”
E6: “NoVa new-wavers 4 out of 5 Doctors re-team for a fresh take on shiny pop.” At least it’s a local story, but another all-white act in a mostly white genre.
E6: “D.C.’s Nihilitia calls its brand of psychedelic sludge rock ‘stonerglam.'” Again, glad its local, but do we need more “stonerglam”?
E8: “Venezuelan party people Los Amigos Invisibles never fail to bring the funk.” A stab at diversity, but of course they have to cover this band because they came all the way from Venezuela.
E8: “Sebastien Grainger has given up punk for happy, shiny music.” In other words, indie rock.
E9: “D.C.’s Mary Timony is making music again, this time with a new band and epic sound.” Another local indie rocker (remember Helium?)
E12: “Dirty, glammy, gorgeous things the New York Dolls have never cared whether or not people like them—they want to be worshiped…” I guess you kinda gotta mention the New York Dolls’ reunion tour, but is there nothing else going on, maybe in some SE neighborhood I fear to tread? Remember, I’m living vicariously here.
E13: “Czech Rock: Let there be accordion!” International white-people music from a band called Czechomor. I might actually enjoy this, of course.
E15: “After leaving the popular indie-rock band Page France, Michael Nau is back with a new outfit he’s calling Cotton Jones.” No comment.
E19: “…Yanick Noah has stayed in the spotlight for his sweet voice, danceable melodies and rebound-grabbing basketball star son.” I think he might be black! Oh, wait…he’s also French.
E24: “L.A.’s the Aggrolites make some music you can bake out to… The funky rhythms and twangy melodies of the reggae/ska mixture…” (White) people really still play ska?
E27: Aerosmith. Um…
E28: “D.C.’s music history would be lacking without an entry on ’90s post-hardcore rockers Frodus.” Maybe so, but I’m sick of “post-hardcore” too (whatever that is).
E30: “Gleaming Alt-Pop: Camera Obscura.” In other words, indie rock.
Put in more graphic terms:
Hip Hop = 0.