Thursday, October 2, 2008

Blog Names: So This Is What The Volume Knob's For

The Mountain Goats: Dance Music


I'm in the living room watching the watergate hearings
while my step father yells at my mother.
launches a glass across the room, straight at her head
and I dash upstairs to take cover
lean in close to my little record player on the floor
so this is what the volume knob's for

It's no secret that, in trying to provide a diversity of viewpoints and a consistency of care for good old country, rock, and folk, our broad and eclectic tastes here in the Star Maker collaborative transcend the true spectrum of the bloggiverse. The popular crowd at blog aggregator Hype Machine says it all: once you clear the deck of the dance remixes, the vast remainder of the blogs out there focus on either the sort of top forty buzzness that once would have passed for college alt-radio fare on one hand, and predominantly lo-fi, slightly dorky indie music on the other.

I'm not much for remixes, and top forty doesn't need our promotion. But I do harbor a not-so-secret love for decent lo-fi indiefolk of a particular authenticity, and the best indie blog I know in the latter camp is another collaborative, kept by five female music journalists from opposite ends of the earth who manage to walk a consistently tight balance between well-written indie buzz and unapologetic gushing about their favorite artists.

The authors of So This Is What The Volume Knob's For share a love for Andrew Bird, Neutral Milk Hotel, Sufjan Stevens, and the Mountain Goats; it's a pretty narrowly defined sound, when you get down to it, though it's an especially fertile ground these days, by no means limited to those four bands, and through the work of June, Julie, Megan, Jess, and Lizzie, I've learned to love this little corner of the indie world. The lovely ladies of VK treat press releases and rumor, new releases and industry news with an equal amount of aplomb, and they've got great sources, often coming forward with information before it hits the rest of the blogosphere; their wonderful voices -- ranging from terse to practically academic, but with a common thread of snarkiness and gleeful wisdom -- make it fun to read about, too.

Volume Knob is named after a wonderfully light Mountain Goats tune which, under its Charlie Brown bounce, turns out to be a seriously sick paean to the power of great music to provide a safe haven from the totally F-ed up world; the song manages to speak to both the strong emotions which the blog authors manage to capture so effectively and the desperate need for such emotion which these ladies take as a given. If only they were wrong, about either, we wouldn't need the music so damn much. But as long as we do, I'm grateful for Volume Knob for bringing it on.

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