It’s crys­tal clear why this trio won’t ever fit into the hip mu­sic scene

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Opinion -

Two in­die mu­sic fans walk into a bar. Ad­just­ing their Ur­ban Out­fit­ters shirts to show off their vin­tage T-shirts, they put down their iPhones and take a break from tweet­ing links to YouTube videos to talk about mu­sic.

There is a bit of hand-wring­ing about the fact that one of their cur­rent fave bands are in a new ad for an Ap­ple prod­uct. They con­clude that no ide­o­log­i­cal dam­age has been done be­cause Ap­ple make cool stuff. They’re on safe ground with talk of Ar­cade Fire and the pre-em­i­nence of the Montreal mu­sic scene. They swoon once again over Joanna New­som, name-check The Hype Ma­chine, give out about Pitch­fork, and fret a bit about if it’s still okay to like Ryan Adams.

They’re both wary about talk­ing about new mu­sic be­cause of the “The Rules”. Th­ese are: if you men­tion a band you like and the other per­son has heard of them, you lose. The other per­son owns you.

The above is para­phrased from Chris­tian Lan­der’s Stuff White Peo­ple Like. The book grew out of a blog that took satir­i­cal swipes at “left-lean­ing, city-dwelling white folk”. It was the rigid cul­tural dik­tats of th­ese anti-cor­po­rate, en­vi­ron­men­tally and so­cially aware

ur­ban­ites that prompted Lan­der into sar­donic action.

This self-ap­pointed lib­eral elite tend to clus­ter around the me­dia and feel an ob­ses­sive need to in­form every­one, in a peremp­tory man­ner, of their cul­tural loves. The Wire, Ar­rested De­vel­op­ment, Fleet Foxes, Bro­ken So­cial Scene et al are all solemnly ap­proved of in a self-ag­gran­dis­ing man­ner. Their voices now carry a tech­no­log­i­cal echo thanks to the pro­fu­sion of so­cial net­work­ing sites such as Twit­ter and Face­book.

And you daren’t fall foul of their in­flex­i­ble aes­thetic. You will be sneered at, de­rided and bul­lied. Cul­tur­ally, you be­come an “un­per­son”.

Then in wan­ders Crys­tal Swing. This hard-work­ing band from Lis­goold, Co Cork are like thou­sands of oth­ers, looking to break into the world of light en­ter­tain­ment. But theirs isn’t Choice Mu­sic Prize mu­sic, they don’t look like The Strokes, and there’s not a scin­tilla of be­spoke ur­ban angst about them. So sneer at them on your Twit­ter feed, blog your em­bar­rass­ment, set up the “post-ironic” Face­book fan page. Add in the nudge nudge ref­er­ences, evoke the im­agery of an Ir­ish “duelling ban­jos”, and even al­lude to “Out­sider Art”.

The treat­ment meted out to Crys­tal Swing by those who be­lieve them­selves to be cul­tur­ally en­light­ened, so­cially aware me­dia com­men­ta­tors is a dis­grace. Sneer­ing at and ridi­cul­ing a fam­ily pop band who don’t tick their right-on boxes is a type of bul­ly­ing.

In his book, Lan­der refers to how the self-ap­pointed

cul­tural/ lib­eral elite hate and mock any­thing that’s “main­stream” be­cause they’re so des­per­ate to find things that are “more gen­uine, more unique and re­flec­tive of their ex­pe­ri­ences”. It would there­fore have been con­sis­tent for the ridiculers to dis­miss Crys­tal Swing as an un­wel­come throw­back to the show­band era, but that hasn’t hap­pened in Ire­land.

In­stead, we get ex­cited re­minders that a lead­ing US chat show host, Ellen DeGeneres, has played the Crys­tal Swing video on her show – DeGeneres be­ing so­phis­ti­cated and ur­bane enough to be in on the “joke”, of course.

So so­phis­ti­cated and ur­bane is DeGeneres that, mo­ments af­ter play­ing the video, she quipped: “Most peo­ple in Ire­land wear green on St Pa­trick’s Day, so when they pass out on their lawn, they’ll be cam­ou­flaged and their neigh­bours won’t see them.” This zinger was fol­lowed by: “I’m good at River­danc­ing but I can’t show you now be­cause I’ve sprained my shil­le­lagh.” Jay­sus.

There are also calls for Crys­tal Swing to be added to the Ox­e­gen bill. Wouldn’t that be the coolest thing? Once you’re done with the “more gen­uine, more unique and re­flec­tive of your ex­pe­ri­ences” in­die bands on the bill, you could deign to cul­tur­ally slum it a bit with Crys­tal Swing, as if they’re some sort of ru­ral Ir­ish freak show.

If, as has been stated nu­mer­ous times on blog posts and Twit­ter feeds, Crys­tal Swing make some of th­ese peo­ple “em­bar­rassed to call them­selves Ir­ish”, might we not at least ask Mary Mur­ray-Burke and her chil­dren Dervla and Derek how they feel about shar­ing the same na­tion­al­ity as their mock­ing de­trac­tors? I know which side I’m em­bar­rassed by.

In­ter­net sen­sa­tions

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