29 January 2008

Give him some Merritt

They're Not There: Disguised as Magnetic Fields and Cat Power, Stephin Merritt and Chan Marshall are still playing games with the singer-songwriter archetype.

Passing on an article from salon.com asking why certain singer-songwriters, who channel their single talents into those of an entire band, seemingly hide behind a mask. The author implies that with age and maturity, transparency is the natural result. To do anything else, he suggests, betrays the artist's true self, and thereby, the fans.

That's where I disagree. While the piece repeatedly name-drops Jesus and Mary Chain as an influence and John Darnielle as an example of what should be done, it fails to note the basic fact that regardless of what our favorite musicians develop, the fans will judge them on their art, not maturity. The mask a musician dons, especially if an act of preserving a definitive personal self that's different from the stage persona, seems an act of higher development.

Here's a smattering of songs mentioned in the article:
The Magnetic Fields - Take Ecstasy With Me.mp3 (off Holiday)
The Magnetic Fields - California Girls.m4a (off Distortion)
Cat Power - Metal Heart.mp3 (off Moon Pix)
Cat Power - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.mp3 (Rolling Stones cover) (off The Covers Record)

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