Who’s Your Musical Sacred Cow?

Sep 12th, 2008 // 100 Comments

sacredcow.jpgOn Tuesday, I upset a few people (well, one in particular) with a somewhat offhand remark about Elbow’s lack of popularity in America, or least my perception thereof.

Similar to another unfortunate escapade this year, I guess I just pushed the wrong button with a group of fans who would be willing to fight for their favorite act to the death (or, at least, over multiple posts in a blog’s comment section). Sure, it’s fun to say mean things about a band and have people react to them, but in the end, we’re talking about something people have an emotional attachment to in some way–a connection beyond a disc and a concert t-shirt.

What musical act would I be willing to go that distance for? I was stumped for a while before it came to me.

New Order.

My love for New Order, despite all the embarrassing sidesteps (and by this I mean, everything released following Technique not produced by the Chemical Brothers) borders on the totally irrational. I spent actual time defending the Retro box set, which I purchased on import a week before receiving a promo copy in the mail. I briefly considered choking a teenager in front of me at the Area:One festival who quipped “Who are these old guys Billy Corgan is playing with?” It’s not healthy, and it defies reason, but I love New Order to that extent.

So, what’s yours?

  1. T'Challa

    True story: I had to walk out of a super-exclusive Portishead show in L.A. when a “friend” decided to go off about how Detroit hip-hop producer/legend Jay Dilla (AKA Jay Dee) was “overrated”. It was either walk away or smack the taste of of this girl’s mouth, and I’m a lover not a fighter.

    So yeah, I’ll ride for my man Dilla until the end.

  2. T'Challa

    see? I get so mad just thinking about it that I can’t even type! I meant to say “slap the taste OUT of her mouth”–like anyone that doesn’t recognize the undeniable genius of Dilla has any taste whatsoever…

  3. T'Challa

    Oh yeah, I’ll happily defend The Specials to the ends of the earth. And just to keep it interesting, Richie Hawtin and the ORIGINAL Van Halen are also on the list…

  4. fabulousrobots

    Superchunk. And I defend the Fiery Furnaces to my friends daily, so them too.

  5. NervousBreakdance

    The Jesus & Mary Chain.

    I realise they’ve been recycling the same three chords and four songs since day one; I recognise that their whole Stooges-do-Velvets-do-Motown schtick could have easily been concocted in a lab…

    However, their entire output is beyond criticism.

  6. MrStarhead

    R.E.M. I’ll even defend about half of Around the Sun.

    Better Than Ezra. Kevin Griffin became a truly great songwriter around 1998; it’s too bad everybody had already written them off.

    Electric Six. Amazing live.

  7. DocStrange

    @Reidicus: I like Republic

  8. DocStrange

    @moomintroll: That’s another band I like to defend, mostly to idiots who have only heard “Song 2″.

  9. Kate Richardson

    Rilo Kiley

  10. Anonymous

    ODB. The man was a brilliant rapper who represented everything that you wanted in a great MC. I love Ghostface, no doubt, but it was ODB that was the greatest of the Wu. I guess it helps my case that he died, but regardless, you could never call the kid an amatuer.

  11. BenRad

    I will defend Midnight Oil…forever.

    New Order, and yes, I hated Republic when it came out, but as I’ve become older it’s grown on me and I thought the last 2 were pretty good.

    I always try to spread the love of Kitchens of Distinction and the Trashcan Sinatras. They did/do no wrong.

  12. Clevertrousers

    @gregcoff: I’m with you on Newman as a songwriter… but his fucking voice just annoys the living shit out of me… I hate his weird faux-bluesman delivery. It smacks of neo-minstrelry and bugs the shit out of me. And I hate it when Tom Waits pulls that shit, too (and I LOVE Tom Waits)… but for some reason it really drives me nuts when Newman does it. He’s still an amazing songwriter, though.

  13. friendslikeJimRome

    @chaircrusher: ditto on the Stones. The Stones are the Greatest Rock and Roll Band of all times. They are Rock, in all its glory and failure, just watch “Gimme Shelter”.

    The Dead produced more garbage any other band ever but Good Lord, I love them. “Chinacat Sunflower” is the story of my life, if you know what I mean.

    In this very forum, someone said, “The Doors suck,” and I got soo angry. How can anybody not love, honor and appreciate the Doors, the creators of “Light My Fire?” (the Greatest Rock and Roll Song ever).

    Why yes, I did go to high school in the sixties, why do you ask?

  14. Anonymous

    Though they’re rather recent, and therefore pretty easy to stick by, I’m going to say The Fiery Furnaces and that includes both Rehearsing My Choir (which I love) and Matthew Friedberger’s solo double disc. So there.

    Also Roger Waters’ era Pink Floyd. I kind of equate T.S. Eliot to Pink Floyd. Pretentious, over the top, perhaps too often lofted on high, but I still love ‘em.

  15. Anonymous

    Morrissey/The Smiths. Yeah I’m one of THOSE people.

  16. Thierry

    @friendslikeJimRome: I bet you’d also defend the Jefferson Airplane. Pfffff! ;)

    That being said, the first one who tells me every John Fogerty song sounds the same will hear it from me.

  17. Rufus On Fire - David

    I often tell people the band with the lowest percentage of crappy songs in their catalogue is Cake. Sure, they may not have as many transcendent songs as a lot of other acts, but to me, no one has ever embodied “likeable” as much as they do.

  18. gregcoff

    Rilo Kiley I agree with.

    But my real answer is Randy Newman. The fact that most of young america knows him as either a Family Guy punchline or a Pixar lackey is…well, let’s just say I’ve made enemies trying to shove “Good Old Boys” down some throats. Not to mention “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today”

  19. Anonymous

    Prince is mine also. It was probably the toughest during the “Lovesexy” era. That album cover was pretty ridulous. BTW… “3121″ is the best album since “The Gold Experience”. Unfortunately, Universal didn’t promote it(even though it debuted at number 1). I think it would have fared better if Sony would have put it out.

  20. Marth

    Dare I say it? Metallica.

    I mean… they’re fucking Metallica! So they cut their hair, shop at Armani and make ridiculous comments about illegal downloading. But who hasn’t? These guys recorded fucking Master Of Puppets! And have you listened to And Justice For All lately? Holy shit! Even the Black Album is a whole lot better than people give it credit for.

    Load. Guess what? It isn’t bad! Sure there are some stinkers on it, but if you throw out any preconceptions about what Metallica is supposed to sound like, there’s some good stuff on it. And for all the crap they got for trying to sound like other alt-rock bands of the time, I really don’t know what other band they remotely sounded like.

    And St. Anger? Yes, it’s a giant clusterfuck. But it’s so completely weird that you have to admit at least these guys are trying to do something instead of just rehashing the same old stuff decade after decade (see: Death Magnetic. Although I haven’t actually listened to most of it yet).

    Anyway, while I don’t really even listen to them anymore with any regularity, the amount of pure, venomous Metallica hate that’s out there really chaps my hide. As you can tell by the amount of exclamation points on this post, I get really worked up trying to defend them. I feel like it’s me (and a bunch of long-haired 40 year old losers) against the world.

  21. Anonymous

    @Tiger_Tanaka:
    Big time. Steely Dan is flawless up through Gaucho. I definitely
    always defend Beck’s output as well.

  22. Anonymous

    Roger Miller….. Although I’ve never known anyone who didn’t like him, so I probably won’t ever have to fight that fight.

  23. Gnosis

    Big Country – more than a one hit wonder!
    Also, in a different medium, I find myself defending MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS, even though it sucks. I just think he was too restrained by a different language and Hollywood time schedules. :)

  24. D.R. Mosby

    @Dick Laurent is dead.:

    @D.R. Mosby: Blasphemy! Levitate is fucking brilliant.

    I dunno, that album gave me a headache. M.E.S. + DnB = C.R.A.P. in my book. Still, Levitate does seem like a genuine (though failed) attempt to make a decent album, unlike unlistenable disasters like Are You Are Missing Winner which comes off like Mark E. Smith’s attempt to bootleg his own band. Rotten artwork! Bottom of the barrel songs! Audible tape splices! Incorrect songwriting credits! Ultra-lo-fi sound! It’s hideous.

  25. Anonymous

    Todd Rundgren, definitely. I mean, watch this video and then just try to disagree with me:

  26. Anonymous

    I’m of two minds about defending Morrissey: his fans could use a little more humor, generally, given his own obvious love of camp and novelty songs and his frequent weirdness and actual disasters like “America Is Not The World” – so shouldn’t I just agree, when the mockers get to mocking, and swing in with a “but” about Ringleader of the Tormentors being a gently sideways narcissistic self-portrait-as-landscape which more people should appreciate for what it is? But the problem is that people mock Morrissey to me on “black eyeliner and razorblades” grounds which have nothing to do with the talent. I can’t find common mocking grounds with someone whose idea of what my man even DOES is so completely skewed, so our conversations always become contentious despite my horrible awareness of the cliche and uselessness of it.

    I think Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty and Courtney Love will be valued as artists in fifty years despite their best efforts during their lifetimes, but for now, I completely give up on making any noise about it.

  27. Poubelle

    After getting into a huge argument about CDs and downloading this weekend, I realized my sacred cow isn’t so much a band or artist, but the concept of actually paying for my music.

    That said, I’d go the distance for Pulp (though I don’t think I’ve ever had to) and used to for the Flaming Lips, until At War With The Mystics. It wasn’t even interesting-bad.

    Oh, and I defend Green Day more than I probably should.

  28. Lax Danja House

    I believe the correct answer is, “none, I’m not psychotic.” What’s my prize?

  29. cassidy2099

    Sloan, Jay-Z, Ghostface.
    Canadian powerpop kings(still doing it)
    Flow of the century.
    Wallabee king.

  30. Thierry

    @gregcoff: I’ll be right with you defending Newman.

    My list would also include the Replacements, Harry Nilsson, Dwight Yoakam, Tom Petty, and French pop in general.

  31. rekoil

    Thumbs up to whoever mentioned Information Society…

    Also agree with New Order, including the “anything up to ‘Republic’ caveat. Beyond that, my personal sacred cows are most likely to be:

    Wire – I actually discovered their 80s output first. Amazing how every album can sound completely different yet still completely brilliant.

    Meat Beat Manifesto – discovered realtime video sampling and went all EBN for their live show, making them just about the best electronic show around this side of Daft Punk.

    Kraftwerk -’Nuff said.

  32. Anonymous

    The Twilight Singers and Greg Dulli’s body of work.

  33. Arthur2sheds

    AC/DC. OK, they haven’t made a truly great record since Back in Black, but I’d stack their Bon Scott-era records up against any of the music made by the giants of 19’70s arena rock, including Zeppelin and the Stones.

    Oh, and Thin Lizzy too.

  34. Dick Laurent is dead.

    @D.R. Mosby:
    Agreed, or Cerebral Caustic. That’s the great thing about them though, “Don’t like this record? eh, give us a year and we’ll have another out.”

    Obviously they’re another sacred cow for me…also a big Morrissey-fag as well.

  35. Maura Johnston

    test

  36. Anonymous

    @dripdrip: hey, someone referenced the fire show! they good!

    two that come to my head: (1) black flag–even I have a hard time with their shift to metal, but there’s good stuff in the later years, and I respect the hell out of them for it; and (2) the Alarm, who somebody once referred to as “U 1 and 1/2,” but have a place in my heart, mostly from seeing them back in 1984, big hair and all.

  37. amyk

    Lloyd Cole (nobody knows who he is, so it’s an easy defense)
    Steely Dan
    Paul Simon
    Squeeze
    XTC
    Dexy’s Midnight Runners
    The DBs
    Elvis Costello
    Superchunk
    Afghan Whigs (though I’ve never had to defend that)
    Jill Sobule

    And I second Poubelle’s ‘paying for music’ arguement. The people I love don’t make much money for their music, so I pay for it.

  38. GhostOfDuane

    Oh wow I missed this whole shebang last week. But, the answer is obvious: Little Feat. I’m just doing my part by reminding everyone that they are the best rock band in American history. One day you will come around.

  39. summeroflove

    @slowburn: I’m surprised it took that many comments to hit on Radiohead but I’m with you. I’ll go down fighting for that one.

    Oh and first lineup of Smashing Pumpkins, agreed!

  40. Anonymous

    The bleedin’ Fall.

  41. Anonymous

    In reading some of the earlier posts, it’s great to see someone mention Sloan, who are definitely power pop gods. But they DID release crap here & there. But I guess yeah, I would defend them til the end. I’m from Detroit, & they’ve given us some really ace shows.

    And I have to mention it again, The mighty Fall.

  42. KurticusMaximus

    The mentions of the Beatles (and Prince, and the Stones…) seem kind of extraneous. I mean, does anybody really have to “go the distance” to defend the Beatles? Even with all the anti-Rolling Stone boomerism, there doesn’t really seem to be much anti-Beatles flaming going on.

    Although, I do rather dislike the Stones, but I’m quite the minority on that one.

    I’d go the distance for third wave ska, though. No concert can ever be as fun, dollar for dollar, as a ska show.

  43. Anonymous

    I recently discovered this quote from a 6 year old interview on Pitchfork with one of the guys from the Fire Show:

    “The Velvet Underground invented rock as I understand it. A minute of “Sister Ray” from the recently-released Quine Tapes means more to me than the whole Beatles catalog. They maintained a collective open heart, an embrace of rock as art (rather than craft) and a pursuit of transcendence through pushing simple concepts to extremes. For me, the Beatles are the 16th Century church and the Velvets are Copernicus.”

    This is pretty much exactly how I feel, other than the first two Big Star albums, the Velvets are the ultimate sacred cow in my musical cannon. Quintessential rock and roll. When defending things as sacred cows, what it really comes down to is defending your scared cows perceptions against what other people deem to be superior groups\musicians. Like this point that the guy from the Fireshow is making, that the Velvets are more interesting, more important to him, and better than the Beatles. In that same vein, here is my list in no order:

    1. The Grifters are better than GBV
    2. Comus is better than Fairport Convention
    3. the first two Big Star albums are better than most things, but especially anything referred to as “Power Pop”
    4. REM never should have stopped working with Mich Easter, because their first two albums are far superior to anything released after them
    5. The Comsat Angels first two albums are better than Joy Division’s
    6. Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett is far better than Pink FLoyd without him
    7. The New Wolf Parade album is better than the first.
    8. Anyone who thinks that the Sex Pistols are better than Second Edition or Flowers of Romance is clearly delusional.
    9. The Replacement’s ‘Let it Be’ is the best album of 1984.
    10. And to bring it it all back around, why does no one care about the fire show? I wouldn’t say that they’re the best modern post punk band, but a close second.

  44. Anonymous

    I am way past depressed to hear that anyone would even HAVE to defend David Bowie. The man is a god in my book. So, I guess he’s my #1.

    Second would be Radiohead. Dump on me all you want, I’ll still go to the mat for them.

  45. amyk

    @galactus5000: I love the Commotions albums (even Easy Pieces), but i’ve bought every single thing he’s put out. Even the instrumental. Lloyd Cole instrumental is not a good idea – but it’s Lloyd and I can’t resist.

    I used to make fun of maniac Morrisey fans and I really don’t have a leg to stand on once people figure out the Lloyd thing.

  46. King Of America

    Prefab Sprout. There’s something about Paddy McAloon that grabs at my stringy heart.

  47. revmatty

    I’ll also add: anything with Mike Patton.

  48. galactus5000

    Tori Amos, REM, The Tragically Hip, Jenny Lewis – I would follow into molten lava.

  49. galactus5000

    @amyk: With or without The Commotions?

  50. Anonymous

    I pretty much get bitter and grumpy anytime a bad/blah review of Mike Patton’s work runs. I refuse to hear dissenting opinions and will get close to fighting mode when I hear them. Call me touchy.

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