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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 

So what about Tune-Yards?

I respect the hell out of the effort Brandon Stosuy and others put into this, and can absolutely sympathize with the desire to get people to take a clear-eyed look and a band that you really love who don't get a fair shake. I also have no aesthetic dog on either side of his fight. I have heard exactly one CocoRosie song, "Noah's Ark," and I liked it just fine, but not enough to seek out their other work, and nothing I've read (including that post) has made me feel like I'm missing out; at the same time, none of the things I've read accusing the band of being awful seem very compelling either. I may wind up listening to Grey Gardens at some point; I am currently behind on writing and have a backlog of 40-some records from this year I'd like to hear at least once, so it's not likely to be soon.

That being said, why on earth does anyone ever get Antony Hegarty (another artist whose work I respect but have little personal interest in) to write about art? I realize he's not trying to be a critic or anything, but on a page filled with mostly wonderful examples of artists writing movingly and perceptively about CocoRosie (personal favourite: Jamie Stewart, even with the pointless Vampire Weekend dig), he's the only one who accomplishes the exact opposite of what Stosuy intends. He's in turns hectoring and pretentious, disingenuous and elitist. I'm not saying the problems he points out aren't real (and look how wonderfully Annie Clark tackles many of the same issues, albeit with an extended quotation); but as always when you're dealing with someone who assumes that everyone who disdains an artist is acting from prejudice or bad faith, he succumbs to those faults himself. And ultimately, saying that everyone is deliberately forcing themselves to dislike CocoRosie is just as stupid as saying that anyone who likes pop music is faking it.

Has there been some stupid, vicious shit written about this band? Yes, and I applaud people who challenge that. But not every negative review falls into that purview, and I would defend someone's right to dislike CocoRosie's music just as feverently as I would defend Antony's right to think it's great, socially relevent art. I think Stosuy's roundtable is ultimately a good thing; I just wish it didn't lead off with the one piece that doesn't make me want to give Grey Oceans a shot.

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Ian Mathers is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Stylus, the Village Voice, Resident Advisor, PopMatters, and elsewhere. He does stuff and it magically appears here.

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