May 18, 2007
the feist thing: illogical, complicated, probably unsatisfactory

i am sorry, i didn’t even realize that there were a bunch of comments on the feist post. lots of you got marked as spam.

this post is dedicated to andy beta, who has–and i think he barely realizes this–gotten me into more music that i’ve come to love than almost any of my friends.

anyway, i think beta thinks that my feist crusade is, well, both a “crusade” and a headhunting, to the point that he pre-empted me with a wonderfully complicated post about his personal relationship to the album (nb: i have heard feist. i listened to let it die several times and even purchased it for relatives; i listened to a couple snippets of her new one, which, no, i have not heard in its entirety). further, beta calling me a “professional acquaintance” sorta begs the question of the possibility of us having this back-and-forth to begin with–we’re friends, which is why we’re bothering. right?

my beef with feist isn’t a beef with feist at all, as i told him in a marathon phone conversation a few weeks ago. it’s about the response to her music. it’s about the idea of feist, not as a person or even as a musician, but as a probably unwilling phenomenon. Results 1 - 10 of about 123,000 for feist “sophisticated”. (0.24 seconds). do i have a problem with sophistication? not inherently. i love steely dan, and my aunt and i bumped let it die b2b with katy lied last christmas. what.

ultimately, my reaction to feist–OR MORE, LET ME POSIT AN ABSTRACT: HER “FEISTNESS”–is as personal as beta’s passion for her. i mean, calling the stylus review a “backlash” seems like a devastatingly blind way to consider what is ostensibly a middling review. does liz’s stance that feist is more “corporate” than before constitute criticism? no, i don’t think so. but liz definitely seems to feel like feist used to walk an important line, and now the line’s gotten blurry, and now she seems less potent to liz. fine. these are all charged opinions skating around on the invisible concrete of value systems. did i like liz’s review? it was okay. maybe too aggressive. did i like the piece in the new yorker? it was okay. maybe too irrelevant. did i like the pitchfork review? it was okay. it leaned hard on fest’s self-sufficiency and abstracts when i feel like what we need regarding feist is more context–who listens to feist, who sounds like feist, where is feist on the musical map.

then again, we’re all revealing our biases here, which is fine. for me, lately, i’ve been depressed by the critical masquerading of adult-contemporary music as any sort of edge at all. i am 24 years old and grant myself this rebellion. i spent a long time trying to “like” “everything,” but have, as of late, found myself gravitating away–flying, really–from the kind of baby-powder, fresh-lacquered sounds that seem to have struck my generation into a fast middle-agedness. do i want feist to sell one billion records? sure. i want everyone to be rewarded for their hard work, which is partially why i’ve given up on communism. i would love to see feist as a happy, rich woman. would i get just this small twinge of disappointment though, if, stuck in among the billion, were some of my best friends, people whose tastes i’d grown up with, sipping riesling in some fresh socks? maybe.

and that’s my problem, people. maybe i’m bucking my inevitable aging. maybe i want a riesling and feist. maybe i don’t want to want a riesling and feist. maybe the fact that i cannot stop listening to dan deacon or epmd or stetsasonic or raymond scott is my last gasp of energy before a gentle, 60-year coma. maybe the fact that i am trying to focus my attention on quiet music with teeth–excepter, juana molina, robert ashley, the ghost box groups–is just a weird placeholder for my inevitable senility. weirder things have happened, e.g. the discovery that ducks have corkscrew-shaped penises. strange but true.

i am following something a lot more difficult to parse than critical opinion here, and so is beta, which i applaud. and i applaud his bravery for being frank about it. i just get the feeling that in the sea of wilcos, seas and cakes, feists, and all the other unweird indieness wafting out lately, that someone, somewhere is lying to themselves about their age. i have no problem with carole king or with my mom’s musical opinion. we can both listen to the del-vikings; she’s in it for nostalgia, i’m in it for the easy, optimistic weirdness that permeated records of her youth. but when my aunt and i listen to feist, we’re both just sprinkling lemon juice onto a salmon fillet, waiting patiently for the future, which could mean nothing at all.

also: someone interviewed me for salon about my emp paper. of this i am proud.

GETTING WARMER at 3:02 pm, .