Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Voxtrot: our ears are burning

Voxtrot have suddenly realised that they don't like the internet. Oddly, when their first EPs were released, and they were getting well-reviewed, they somehow forgot to mention this. Come their new album, though, and reviews placing them in the middle of the field instead of at the vanguard of new pop, and all of a sudden, they've remembered how much they hate bloggers:

"The internet is a very dark place to be," [Ramesh Srivastava] wrote. Addressing bloggers, he said, "You may think that you deserve to download an album at no cost, store it in your iPod, pass your particular judgement, and then immediately dispose of it or hype it at will, but you actually don't deserve that."

But Srivastava says the album is not one that you get immediately, and he has urged listeners to spend some time with the music, to get to know it before writing it off. It's unlike Voxtrot's earlier music, released on three short EPs and rich with hooks, melodies and sharp lyrics - in other words, perfect for immediate gratification.

As the band moves in a new direction, Srivastava hopes his young fans will be patient. He's not optimistic. He says when he was a teenager, he would buy albums at a record store and really labor over them because he had spent his money. Nowadays, he says, teenagers have no such investment.

"People in the 18 to 19 range don't understand why you would ever pay for music," Srivastava said in a phone interview with The [Baltimore] Sun. "The younger generation has never lived in that world. It's not like they're doing something intentional to degrade music. ... But everybody wants to download and everybody wants to be a music critic."

In other words: now everybody builds them up to knock 'em down.

Obviously, there is some truth in what he says - downloads don't have the same emotional impact and investment, but at the same time, suggesting that the world would be a better place if you had to invest a larger chunk of your income into each record because then you'd be stuck with it and have no choice but to play the bloody thing as you can't afford to move on. (Is it just us, or is this also the thinking behind the Tory Party's policy of giving tax breaks to married couples, so people who hate each other have to stay together because they can't afford to split up?)

The other reason why the argument is self-defeating lies at that concept of having to save up to buy a record. How wide would Voxtrot's audience have been had they had to rely on people willing to take a massive risk on investing in their EPs, unheard, as would have been the case two decades ago - to say nothing of the ease with which they've been able to find people who like the depth and angle of their singular furrows because the internet, and bloggers, have helped get them in front of audiences around the globe? Would they really have been better off trying to slowly grow an audience out of their neighbourhood, then through their city, and across the state, hoping that they'd get their discs into shops and be able to tempt enough people to take a leap of faith, with fingers crossed that they might find a sympathetic college radio or two to play their music?

There is also, of course, the possibility that people aren't warming to their music because the album isn't as good as everyone hoped.