I Hate The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers at DC's 9:30 Club by flickr user soft_revolutionYes, it's true. I know this may come as a shock to all my friends. For about as long as I can remember, my friends have been telling me that I would "love" The New Pornographers. I like pop music, I like indie supergroups, I even like the occasional Canadian musician who happens to be in that band (Dan Bejar, I'm looking at you). And I like redheads. This all adds up, supposedly, to the perfect musical storm for me. And yet...and yet, their songs leave me cold. Not just cold, but vaguely angry and wishing I had my three minutes back.

I saw them at the 9:30 Club this week (minus Bejar, unfortunately); I bought the ticket because A) Okkervil River was opening, and B) everyone in the world has told me I need to give this band another chance. The results:

A) Okkervil River was amazing. Will Sheff's heavy-lidded intensity matched his poetic lyrics and dramatic voice perfectly, and the songs all took on great new facets live. Despite the fact that the keyboardist looked like Ted from Accounting, and the fact that they were all wearing suits [Editor's note: The Walkmen wore suits when they opened for Spoon in Philly last week. What's the deal with the suits?], and the fact that, as my friend Eduardo put it, "no matter where you move that capo, you're still just playing C, G, and D," they put on an incredible show comprised of brilliant songs played excellently. I guess you could call me a fan.

B) I walked out about 2/3 of the way through the New Pornographers set. Between the oh-so-witty banter and the endless 2-part-harmony-let's-all-repeat-the-chorus-together-10-times-in-a-row-then-end-the-song setlist, I just couldn't take it. I did bop my head along to one or two songs, and when they covered ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down" in their encore, I stepped back inside to sing along, but other than that, this show did nothing to win me over.

So: if any of my friends or loved ones are reading this, please, please stop recommending The New Pornographers to me. It's just not going to happen.

For your pleasure, here's one of the very few TNP songs I actually enjoy:

And of course some Okkervil River to balance things out:

You would see an embedded player here, but...imeem apparently has a small snag in their licensing deals that results in some tracks that play fine on imeem.com turning into 30-second preview versions when you embed them on your own site. This song, "John Allyn Smith Sails," fell victim to that, so kindly click on it to go hear the full version at imeem. It's worth it, it has a Beach Boys cover at the end!

Do you have any bands that people insist you're just going to love but you end up hating? Let me know in the comments.


Unknown said...

Hmmmm... do wide swaths of jazz count? There's a lot of jazz I do like, but for the most part when people talk about jazz they're talking about bebop, and I've tried to get into it; it just doesn't work for me.

Also (blasphemy!) the Arcade Fire (wait, wait, don't ditch me as a friend I'll explain!) I don't dislike them at all. Actually I quite like them. But me and them are like that couple who dates for 10 years and then gets married and then splits up within a year because at the end of the day it's not true love, and that's how I feel about that band. I ALMOST love them, and some of their songs are fantastic, but it's not the real thing.

John Das Binky said...

The second people find out you're a big They Might Be Giants fan, they simply cease recommending any music to you. This is my lot in life.

And some asshole keeps telling me I should like Steely Dan, but I just can't get into them.

kate said...

Okay - first off. I'm excited to hear that Okkervil River was great in concert. I'm only familiar with The Stage Names -and I love it. I can't argue with you about NP - I just disagree. I am surprised, tho. I've never seen them in concert... But I love the ELO cover. Just downloaded it a few weeks ago.

Molly Malone said...

i think the only new pornographers song i know is "spanish techno." i like it well enough. makes me bop along, but so far they don't strike me as a band that i particularly must spend money on. i do like the lyrics, "traveling at godspeed over the hills and trails ..." makes me think of early astronauts and explorers. ("godspeed, john glenn," etc.)

don't know of any band/music people tell me i'll love and i don't. as for other art: i know i "should" love Little Women, but i've never been able to finish the book.

Newmanium Reveler said...

Led Zep is the seminal band that I try my hardest to ignore. I hate the Beastie Boys too. And while Arcade Fire is a solid B-, they are nowhere near "album of the decade" status accorded each of their releases. Especially since both came out in the same decade.

What is it with Canadian bands and banter? In any case, the New Pornos played "The Bleeding Heart Show" that night, which I still trumpet as a kind of power-pop-hallelujah. Power-pop-hallelujah. (See, I can do the Phil Spector thing too - double the chorus, double the chorus.)

Coda: Power-pop-hallelujah.

99 said...

Destroyer. I know you and other people swear by them/him, but his silly Hedwig-voice and tendency to over indulge in the cheese-rock keeps me away.

Iron and Wine. Help, I'm falling asleep . . .

The Decemberists. So much damn hype, so much crap.

Anonymous said...

i saw the very first performance ever of this band at a "rent party" in a now defunct clothing store in vancouver in 1998(?) and i remember standing there watching it, hating everything about it. The worst sort of wimpy, insular, white-bread, middle-class, shit. then when i turned around to see the rest of the crowd, they were in ecstatics over it. go figure. I guess "dickless nerd-rock for soccer-moms" is over my head.