Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.

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57 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    I’m still making my way through, but man, that first one caught me completely by surprise. I enjoyed it immensely.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Chris says:

      At least until the “chorus” with the other instruments kicks in, it actually reminds me a bit of Fridge (the jazzy drums and the cycling/repetitive pattern). I always thought these guys were related to Godpseed/Mt. Zion but I guess they are just on the same label (and have Album Titles So Lengthy, They Require Punctuation!). I wonder how some of these bands get paid with so many members – I know some of the Two/Tone ska bands explicitly broke up over the fact that splitting the take that many ways is a real pain.

      loud, effected guitars and

      AND WHAT JONATHAN??? Don’t leave me hangin’!

      That Shane Whitbread sounds more than a little like Eno’s “An Ending (Ascent)”. Judging from the title, maybe he realized that.

      Jesus…that “Happy Wanderer” video is making me all verklempt this morning.Report

  2. NewDealer says:


    I like a lot of the softer and more atmospheric stuff. As I get older, loud and thrashing rock or post-rock becomes more and more problematic for me to listen to on a regular basis. I am not quite at LITE-FM and hopefully never will be but I am more into Wilco, Stars, Belle and Sebastian, the Magnetic Fields, the Decemberists, The Be Good Tanyas, Fleet Foxes, Broadcast, New Order, Talking Heads, X’s later stuff, Lloyd Cole and the less aggressive side of alt and indie rock than I am into the Misfits and Bad Religion and Black Flag.

    Though I would need to be in a special frame of mind to listen to the longer songs. This is not exactly Ipod shuffle music.Report

    • Glyph in reply to NewDealer says:

      I know I have ranted about this before, and I like-to-love many of the artists you list here, but I do have a continuing complaint with how “polite” and pretty much of what is today called”indie rock” (both halves of that term often being suspect) is.

      I find myself longing for that period when the term still admitted the more unruly/chaotic* – it seems like now you have to move further into some subgenre of ‘noise’ or metal for that.

      Whether that’s a function of shifting terminology, or further genre balkanization/splintering, or an aging audience, or musical ideas growing old and toothless and watered down as they get passed on, or just a misperception on my part caused by access to way, way, way more stuff due to the internet (and the bulk of ANYTHING is going to be somewhat MOR), or some combination of all those, I dunno.

      *Actually I am mulling yet ANOTHER ’90’s post, on a semi-wooly post-SY guitar band that, while certainly not unknown, maybe doesn’t always get their due. Jonathan knows who I’m talking about.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Glyph says:

        I agree with a lot of what you are saying here including how both the indie and the rock are suspect terms perhaps.

        Maybe this is just a product of extreme nichification. I consider the bands I listed to be indie because they are not being played on most mainstream and commercial radio as far as I can tell. Maybe they get played on cooler public radio stations and college stations but would probably not get on your standard commercial rock or pop station. There used to be an alt rock station on Long Island called WDRE/WLIR but it went away a long time ago. Last I checked, Seattle and Los Angeles had indie rock type stations but many other major markets do not as far as I can tell. Though I could be absolutely wrong on this. I don’t drive very often and when I do I use Pandora on my iphone.

        The bands I mentioned also still tend to play in smaller venues. Last time I saw Stars was at a venue in SF that looked like it would hold 1000 people or so. Before that they were at the Fillmore. My last concert was Holy Ghost! at the Independent in SF which is another smallish venue. The last time I was at a big concert venue was for the National at the Bill Graham Civic Center (Dec 2012). This venue also holds more mainstream musicians like Robin Thicke.

        I think Rock has largely outlived its rebellious nature except on some real outerfringes like GWAR type stuff.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        Many of the bands you listed get played on what we used to call adult contemporary, but which seems to have been taken over by the soft, earnest rock genre (which has a large overlap with “indie rock”). Basically the station that would play Foster the People, Gotye, and Coldplay, plays those bands. Wilco might get played here more than elsewhere, but the rest of those artists have a radio home just about everywhere I’d bet.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to Glyph says:


        When I think of adult contemporary, I think of artists like Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Kenny G, Amy Grant, and other toothless wonders. This is what adult contemporary meant when I was a kid and the term was spoken with derision.

        I’ve heard the term “adult alternative” for Wilco and Wilco-esque bands and maybe that is so Gen Xers don’t feel bad about listening to softer stuff. Maybe the term helps people feel like they are not getting older.

        The crowd at Stars and Holy Ghost seemed to skew under 30 for the overwhelming majority. The National as well but it could have been more mixed. The Magnetic Fields gets a wide age range at concerts but largely seems to be between 20-something to late-40s.

        I also think all these bands have lyrics that skew to dark or inventive to come under the adult contemporary label.Report

      • dhex in reply to Glyph says:

        isn’t the current accepted term “dad rock”?Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        “Dad rock” works for me. And adult contemporary, back in the 80s, had Amy grand and Annie Lennox. I see a lot of those artists as being in the same vein as Annie Lennox.Report

    • veronica dire in reply to NewDealer says:

      Myself, I love that one Stars song about the elevator or whatever. 🙂 And I’m pretty happy with Metric, which you didn’t mention but I think fits well in the zeitgeist you describe. That said, I can’t let my punk roots go and dammit I don’t want to.

      Love the new Against Me!, but I guess that is predictable to a fault.

      There’s band Oh God the While Whale that is pretty much the best thing in forever. I never hear them mentioned anywhere.


  3. NewDealer says:

    @glyph @chris

    OT but what do you think of this as our two resident Music Lords?


    Is this a good poking fun or does it confirm to the stereotype that women can’t geek out to music like men do?Report

    • dhex in reply to NewDealer says:

      as a minor music dukedom, i’d say “man that’s a lot of adam and the ants to parse”. ugh.Report

    • Glyph in reply to NewDealer says:

      Oh jeez I was just reading that thing and popped over to the blog, just now.

      Are people really trying to turn that into a debate about sexism? It just seems like good fun to me.

      Anecdotally, getting bitten by the collecting bug for certain things (ex. guns/knives, baseball cards, comics, trains/toys, records, stamps) appears to generally skew male while other things (ex. jewelry, clothes/shoes, arts/crafts) tends to skew female and some (ex. books, wine, exotic spices or specialized/esoteric cooking implements) seem fairly evenly-distributed – though in this last group, I still wouldn’t be surprised to find a preponderance of males amongst the hardcore collectors.

      It would be interesting to ask how much of that is culturally-driven (what is acceptable for your gender to collect, and how much disposable income one has to blow on collecting, are certainly determined in part by culture), and how much is due to brain differences (it is interesting to me that the “male” ones seemingly involve more systematized & contextual information related to, or even outside of, the actual object collected – a weapon’s technical specs, a ballplayer’s stats, the producer/players/label etc. on a given record, different types of rolling train stock and even detailed train schedules, etc. Possibly some of the same mechanisms that make males more prone to Asperger’s/OCD/compulsive hoarding may underlie some of this.)Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Glyph says:

        @glyph — I think there is a context to this, which centers on the sexualized abuse of women who try to “intrude” into male-dominated nerd spaces. And it gets really bad really fast. And it’s fine to be a girl who does scrap booking and loves Sex in the City, but I ain’t that kind of girl. I like punk rock and roleplaying games.

        And maybe being trans makes it easier for me in those spaces, maybe not.

        (Well actually, being a six foot tall girl who is a blue belt in BJJ helps a lot, when dealing with shitty nerdbros. But never mind that.)

        The thing is, when we gals see nerdbros being nerdbros about their precious dudely spaces, and when we know that our being interested in that will expose us to an endless string of “fake geek girl” shit, punctuated by rape jokes, then, yeah, we gender that shit hard.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        @veronica-dire – I wonder how much of this is a vicious cycle. Assume for a minute that there’s a number of guys amongst hardcore collectors who are somewhere on “the spectrum” – aren’t some of the emotional traits that come along with that things like anxiety, inability to read social signals, trouble appropriately modulating their anger, etc.?

        And these guys, who may have trouble navigating social spaces to begin with, and have found some solace in a retreat to their carefully-ordered and predictable corner of the world made up of lists and facts and toys, suddenly find it invaded by the most confusing creatures they ever met, and whom they have long felt rejected by – girls.

        None of this to excuse bad behavior. But it might help explain some of it.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Glyph says:

        @glyph — That’s fine, but so what?

        Women will still want to negotiate these spaces, and I’M REALLY SERIOUS HERE, if you are not familiar with what it is like for (most of) us, then that is your failing, not ours. We’ve been speaking loud and clear.

        I suggest you Google “fake geek girl” to begin to get a taste.

        The point is this, the behavior we experience in geek spaces is abusive and misogynistic. In contrast, our behavior is in no way abusive, neither to men nor to autistic people — and I would suggest you lose the idea that being autistic leads to being a misogynistic shit. No way, no how. Autistic people are not a subject on which you can position your shitty theories. They are people with agency.Report

      • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

        not everyone is chris-chan.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        Er, what shitty theories? I was just speculating, extrapolating from the fact that males are more prone to “breaking” in terms of collecting-type obsessions, and wondering how the underlying causes and dynamics of that might play out in male-dominated “collecting” type spaces. Have I abused you or yours in some way? Girls are always more than welcome in my spaces, I assure you. I don’t particularly like excessive testosterone in my spaces. Too aggressive and prone to needless brawling.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Glyph says:

        @glyph — what you said is stigmatizing to autistic people. (Here I am assuming you are a neurotypical person sharing his broken theories about autism. If you *are* autistic, then I withdraw my objection.)

        And do I need to point out the problem with calling women “confusing creatures”? We are not. That such a thought occurred to you, along with that dehumanizing phrasing, reveals something not-so-nice about you.

        I would suggest quiet reflection.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        @veronica-dire – I thank you for your suggestion of “quiet reflection” which frankly reads like “shut up”, and in turn suggest that you more carefully read what I wrote (“confusing creatures” was obviously from the perspective of the hypothetical socially-maladjusted males, and I am not CALLING them autistic, I am speculating that some of the same underlying causes of these disorders may also manifest more commonly as collecting obsessions – which is why these things are “spectrums”), as well as the Slate piece and blog which started this conversation, which is about a harmless bit of marital comedy that some people are attempting to escalate into a broader statement on sexism.

        You are looking for a fight, but it’s not with me. I’ma go make some pasta.Report

      • greginak in reply to Glyph says:

        FWLIW…the collecting obsession is hardly just male or female. All sorts of people collect all sorts of things. Some type of things ( records, toys, comics, etc) are defined as nerdy. Some women collect shoes or clothes or dolls. My wife is a fairly obsessive scrap booker. She does Shutterfly books for all our trips. Of course those are pretty cool, but that seems like just another kind of collecting and preserving. The original blog seemed more like playful teasing and not all this meta stuff.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Glyph says:

        @glyph — Just to clarify, and then I’ll drop it, I’m personal friends, face to face, with quite a few autistic people, mostly women, who work as autism activists. And while I cannot speak for them, being neurotypical myself, I try to be a good ally to them. To my view, this includes calling out stigmatizing language used against them. I believe you did that, very much. To try to “understand” abusive behavior according to this model is broken and hurtful and probably does little to get to the truth of the matter. Misogyny is rampant in geek culture, and while some of it may arise as you describe, I seriously doubt that accounts for most. And it does little to help the women facing this stuff. Why good does it do a women, facing a barrage of rape threats, to suggest without evidence that the dudes are autistic? And since such a tactic is oppressive to autistic people, I would expect feminists to reject your theories and seek instead to name the core problem: misogyny.

        I really don’t much care why these men are misogynistic. I am happy to establish that they are, to expose their misogyny to the world, and to work to make these spaces safe for women.

        Regarding the misogynists themselves, let them do the hard work to change, or else sit home alone and stew in their hate. It ain’t my job to fix them.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Glyph says:

        @greginak — The blog is obviously intended to the playful teasing, but intentions aren’t magic. What you mean to do does not erase the effects of a your actions in the broader culture.

        I’ve only glanced briefly at the criticisms of this thing, but from what I see folks aren’t saying that it is terrible, or that the couple doing it are the worst people ever. Instead what I see are suggestions that this blog plays into the harmful stereotypes women face in geeks spaces.

        Is this criticism fair?

        Well, let us examine.

        First, do women really face such abuse in geek spaces?

        Uh, yes, they do, very much. A lot. And we women have posted probably 3094823409823094802398409389392939384098502938409324 blog articles explaining why in detail. Google around; try search terms such as “fake geek girl” or “geek misogyny.” If you are really brave, look up Anita Sarkeesian.

        Does this music blog play into that?

        Well of course, not deliberately. No one seems to be suggesting that. However, the critics suggest that the way this blog is being discussed among male music geeks is indeed sexist.

        Okay, so I haven’t read all of that stuff. I suppose I could. That said, I have seen this conversation play out elsewhere, and I am making an educated guess that, yes, indeed, the discourse surrounding this stuff plays into these harmful stereotypes.

        Does this mean the blog should be removed?

        I don’t think so. Is anyone suggesting that? The blog actually seems funny.

        So what is the point?

        To shine a light on the shitty places, the crap that women face, to bring our concerns to light, to analyze and understand. Critique is political action, to name what happens to us, to alter the conceptual framework so that our lived experience can be communicated and understood.

        Of course, for any of this to work, you kinda have to already care that women are abused.

        Just saying.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        I don’t mean to be the party pooper in this incredibly uplifting subthread, but I think we’re moving dangerously close to violating the intentionally vague and informal but always capitalized NO POLITICS! rule that makes Mindless Diversions the funnest Ordinary place. It’s Jonathan’s post, so he can of course override me here, but in my view @veronica-dire, you’ve said your piece, we’ve all read it and can consider it, so let’s move on to talking about the music of those crazy Canucks, or hell any music.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Glyph says:

        @chris — I didn’t realize this was a “no politics” part of the site. Sorry about that.

        Then again, I wasn’t speaking alone; it seems at least two others were happy to find the politics in this. Why I am I being singled out?

        (You don’t need to answer that.)Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        A few reasons: 1) Glyph is a Mindless Diversions contributor who knows the informal rule, and had excused himself likely in part because of it, 2) I got the impression that Glyph was mostly defending himself against some rather unpleasant accusations, and 3) I figured you might not know the rule [Added: I @’d you because I know that shoots the @’d person an email, and I figured you were more likely to catch it that way.].

        I’m not sure who the other person you meant was. NewDealer? The discussion he linked is edging pretty close to start, I suppose.

        Anyway, I don’t fault you for expressing your concerns about the topic ND raised or what Glyph said, or Glyph for saying what he thought or defending himself. I don’t mean to chastise you for saying it. I really did just mean, “OK, let’s get back to music now that we’ve gotten that out of the way.” Sorry if it came out differently.Report

      • veronica dire in reply to Glyph says:

        In fact, @chris , I think I would prefer if you simply did not speak to me, like ever. I cannot recall the last time you said anything to me that was not entirely dismissive.

        If the moderators here want me to shut up and go away, then I will.

        (Are you a moderator? I actually have no idea.)Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        @veronica-dire , if you don’t mind, can we continue this in email? Mine, broken up to avoid spam, is mixing memory at the gmail. If you do mind, that’s cool, we can drop it. I will just say that I have been on your side of discussions more often than not. That we disagree about a few things, important things to be sure, and that we have at times clashing personalities, is an inevitable consequence of us being different people.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        Well, that was some mediocre pasta.

        @greginak – I conceded right up front that the collecting bug bites all genders. I was merely thinking out loud about the multiple reasons for some of the splits we see (and immediately conceded cultural/social factors, such as the fact that scrapbooking is seen in our culture as “girly” in a way that, say, collecting swords is not.)

        Is misogyny *a* factor in some of these gender splits? Sure. Is it always *the* factor? Not unless we think everything in the world always boils down to one thing.

        I would have thought that I was more than sufficiently nuanced and qualified and tentative enough (Possibly some of the same mechanisms that make males more prone to Asperger’s/OCD/compulsive hoarding may underlie some [collecting with external systemization]….None of this is to excuse bad behavior….Assume for a minute that there’s a number of guys amongst hardcore collectors) to make it clear that I was just spitballing in a combox, rather than submitting a peer-reviewed paper, but there you go.

        @veronica-dire – I am well aware that women face all sorts of vile language and behavior when they enter any male-dominated space, be it a Comic-Con, a locker room, or the construction site on the corner. In no way do I think it’s all, or even mostly, due to spectrum behavior. That would be ridiculous. However, social maladjustment may contribute to the overall misogynistic environment. If you have a space of 20 guys, and 3 of them are actual aggressive misogynists, and 5 of them are socially maladjusted enough (spectrum or no) that they don’t really know how to act around girls so they just follow the lead of the aggressive guys (“hey, they seem like they know what they are doing”), and the remaining 12 are just too meek to get involved or say anything at all, that environment is going to be toxic for girls. And those socially-maladjusted guys are part of that.

        And I don’t think it’s particularly controversial to state that when you get into hardcore collecting, you meet some socially-maladjusted people, though it’s a bit chicken-and-egg (did they pursue their obsession to the detriment of social contacts, or did they retreat into their obsession because they were never that comfortable with social contact anyway, or is their obsession in fact the source of the ONLY social contact they are able to easily maintain).

        It appears to me that from the beginning you and I have been having different conversations. FWIW, being someone maybe on the outer fringes of collecting, I don’t find the blog problematic at all, and wish more people would take the time to try to understand/participate in their loved ones’ obsessions, or at least be good-natured about them – and I wish that more of us who ARE the obsessed would good-naturedly realize that what we do, and who we are, is a little ridiculous and can stand some fun being poked at.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Glyph says:

        And, sorry, I didn’t see all the intervening posts. Chris is right, No Politics at MD, my apologies to Jonathan and everyone else.Report

      • greginak in reply to Glyph says:

        I agree Glyph. I’d rephrase a little bit to state that everybody has some sort of obsession regarding something trivial. By trivial i mean pop culture or collecting something meaningful. Of course some are more obsessive than others and some have more charming or endearing obsessions, but such is lifeReport

      • NewDealer in reply to Glyph says:

        I would like to apologize for putting the article up here. I thought it would be interesting to Chris and Glyph and did not think it would get into a political discussion but the article was political so I should have guessed better.Report

      • Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        No one needs to apologize! I just meant to put a period on it.

        I can see we need some more of this:


      • veronica dire in reply to Glyph says:

        @chris — No, I’m done with you. Please don’t talk to me.

        @glyph — Sorry I got harsh with you. You know gender issues get me going, and I really didn’t know this was a “no politics” zone. That said, I think you’re very misguided on the autism stuff, to the point of being actively hurtful, which is something I will fight over — another time, perhaps, in a different part of the forum.

        @greginak — Likewise. I’m sure we’ll get another chance to hash out gender stuff elsewhere.Report

      • Kim in reply to Glyph says:

        should you wish to carry on this conversation, a OT post would certainly do the trick.
        I’d like to see it, as I’m certain greg and Glyph would as well.Report

    • Chris in reply to NewDealer says:

      I didn’t know that there was such a stereotype. I mean, this town just wrapped up the ultimate geeking to music festival, and there were a whole hell of a lot of women there.Report

    • J@m3z Aitch in reply to NewDealer says:

      In my family, my wife’s the album collector. I love music and have pretty eclectic taste, but a big part of me says albums just take up lots of space.Report

    • j r in reply to NewDealer says:

      This is the perfect example of what I call hipster ethics. What have we got? An NPR reporter. Check. A vinyl collecting husband. Check. Social media meditations on the supposedly larger ramifications of geek…ing and gender. Check. This is classic SWPL navel gazing passing itself off as deep thoughts on social justice.

      I call it hipster ethics, but it’s really hipster aesthetics. Or rather, hipster ethics are almost always aesthetic concerns pretending to be ethical concerns. This is about appearing to be the kind of person who is concerned with the deeper ramifications of record collecting. Read that sentence again. “… the deeper ramifications of record collecting.” Yes. It is as absurd as it sounds.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to j r says:

        The ethics of aesthetics are an interest of mine. And I am a classic SWPL kind of guy. I keep my New York Review of Books classics as a distinct category in my book collection/shelves.Report

      • j r in reply to j r says:

        That’s just it. There are no ethics of aesthetics. Aesthetics are aesthetics and ethics are ethics. There’s nothing wrong with being a yuppie and listening to NPR and collecting vinyl and wanting to have conversations about the gendered nature of geekdom. There’s nothing particularly right about it either. It is a preference and not necessarily ethically superior to other sets of preferences.Report

  4. So… uh… who wants to chat about post-rock? 😉Report

    • Chris in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

      I’m jammin’ out to Do Make Say Think, to the extent that jammin’ is an appropriate description for what listening to them entails, which is I suppose is not a very large extent. But I am enjoying them.Report

    • dhex in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

      at what point do we hit peak post rock? that is to say, when does it get sucked back into the larger umbrella of rock? e.g. that tv show about hs football and explosions in the sky.Report

      • Glyph in reply to dhex says:

        First of all, Friday Night Lights was awesome, and Explosions actually weren’t featured in the show (though there was a sort of soundalike for the theme).

        Secondly, I dunno. “Post-punk” just means “after punk” in which a lot of different things were (and are still) happening, but “postpunk” now often refers to a very specific style of bass-led playing. But Post-rock…well, “rock” was never really over to begin with, and bands like Mogwai are pretty “rock”, and again as the OP notes, the term covers so much territory as to have been mostly meaningless to begin with.

        Thirdly, I just realized that most of the post-rock I listen to is pretty, pretty old at this point. Bark Psychosis, Talk Talk, Slint, Disco Inferno, Fridge, the aforementioned Mogwai and your Godspeeds, etc. Like we’ve been talking about post-rock since the early 90’s.

        Fourth, Tortoise are still boring wankery. No, I can’t explain why. Maybe I just didn’t like Tortoise fans. I was convinced they just liked Tortoise because it’s a good band name.

        Fifth, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah, my lawn.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to dhex says:

        I would never have guessed that a band called Tortoise would be boring,Report

      • dhex in reply to dhex says:

        d00d tnt is a good album as is millions now living. i will not vouch for the rest.

        i thought explosions in the sky got famous because of friday night lights (i am not that familiar with either, frankly)Report

      • Chris in reply to dhex says:

        They got famous for the movie.Report

      • Glyph in reply to dhex says:

        EITS is all over the soundtrack for the movie (didn’t see it) upon which the TV show was based.

        Speaking of, the Mogwai soundtrack for Les Revenants is pretty good. I never heard the one they did for Zidane.

        I dunno, man…I tried to listen to “Djed” again last night, to see if I had gotten over my Tortugaphobia…I was still bored. Maybe I’ll try TNT today. Like I said, it could be a social thing as much as anything else. Tribes within tribes.Report

      • dhex in reply to dhex says:

        it’s possible i just like a lot of boring stuff too, though.

        i do like the intersection, well some of it, in the instrumental metal/post rockian blender. i mean, if you take the political stuff out, early burzum is very post rock ish, just with screaming. but buzzsaws and slow theatrics, yup.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

      I’m sorry for the inadvertent diversion. I did not expect it to blow up.

      I liked some of the stuff you posted but it is not everyday listening day music to me and I am not sure what makes it post-rock to me. I generally like lyrics in songs and am still not sure about 20 minutes of ambient music. What mood are you when when you feel like listening to the longer stuff? Is it sit with a brandy in a darkened room in a lounge chair music?

      Chris gave everyone a happy song so I will too.