22 July 2008

How to tell if a band is from New York or L.A.

Today’s post marks my first fat, ugly steps into the fat, ugly world of internet blogging, or “web logging” as the old-fashioned types refer to it. I will not be introducing myself. I will, however, be talking about things musical and otherwise.

Today’s post: How to tell if a band is from New York or L.A.

If you’re like me, then you’ve spent the last five years trying to convince people that you can tell just by listening to a band if they’re from L.A. If you’re not like me, you’ll need a little help, which follows.

1) Check to see if the band has an album out. They do? Then they’re from New York or L.A., or an executive in New York or L.A. heard about them from their friend who used to live in Seattle.
2) Check the album for reverb. Is there a ton of reverb on that sucker? New Fucking York.
3) No reverb? Hold on, a minute, Judy. If there’s no reverb and the music isn’t very well-written (Cold War Kids, Ravens and Chimes), then the band’s from New York. However, if the music is well-written or the band full of actors (Rilo Kiley, The Apex Theory, Mellowdrone, Phantom Planet), the band is definitely from L.A.*

See? It’s that easy. I offer facts. The big question is, why is that the case? Here’s why. New York has an actual music scene. The L.A. music scene is about being famous. So the people that want to be famous work painstakingly on their songs and on being original and interesting, and when they record, they want that shit sparkly. New York, however, has always prided itself on its blasé approach to art and a sense of ironic distance from the rest of the world. New York: home of the nothing. That’s where reverb comes in handy. You don’t have to try as hard when every instrument sounds like a detuned flute, and you’re more popular when you don’t try very hard. Voila. Now you can tell where bands are from. Thank me later, when you’re enjoying your newfound respect as a band-city-teller-person.

*One deviant: No Age is from L.A. The music is horribly written, inarticulate and soaked in shitty reverb, which would normally indicate New York, but in this case, they are part of a small scene surrounding The Smell, a terrible club for idiots.