Utne Blogs > Literature

A Golden Moment for Lyrics

 by Julie Hanus


Tags: literary news, the Guardian, literary bands, music festivals, scene, Vampire Weekend, the Hold Steady, the Mountain Goats, Fleet Foxes, the Silver Jews, Ally Carnwath, n+1, Benjamin Kunkel,

It’s a “vintage year for writerly U.S. bands,” reports the Guardian. Festival season is in full swing in the United Kingdom, where “a slew of witty, hyper-literate American groups [are providing] a much-needed corrective to Britain’s indie malaise.”

Citing acts such as Vampire Weekend, the Hold Steady, the Mountain Goats, Fleet Foxes, and the poet-fronted Silver Jews, music writer Ally Carnwath concedes they don't represent a homogenous bookish scene. In their work, however, Carnwath recognizes a shared “sense of lyrical ambition and adventure,” and the writerly bent is coalescing into a golden moment for literary bands. Carnwath talks to n+1 co-editor Benjamin Kunkel, who points out that these days, rock ’n’ roll is a genre with lifelong appeal—not just for youthful rebels—which puts “new pressure on lyrics to be meaningful and intelligent.”

(Thanks, Bookforum.)

bix12
10/11/2008 1:52:22 PM

I love listening to The Decemberists--both for the tunes as well as the words--gosh darn good stuff!


kit in st. louis_1
9/17/2008 6:06:52 PM

There are several good American indie bands known for good writing and fun music. See Portland Oregon's rootsy, acerbic Youthbitch, St. Louis' inventive Gentleman Auction House, and both Wilco and Jay Bennet for great bands with fine lyrics.


joel_2
8/8/2008 9:58:56 AM

Tangentially related comment: I read Moby Dick because of a metal band. Mastodon's "Leviathan" got me to finally read the classic, which is now one of my favorite novels. Very Metal.