03
Apr

Last week an unprecedented pike of messages in the indiepop-list happened. You know, it’s usually so quiet. Nothing ever happens there. An email conversation going by the subject “Anyone up for a book burning?” had everyone giving their opinion about the announcement of a new book called: “Twee: The Gentle Revolution”.

99% of the people were totally up for the book burning. No one felt that this was going to be a good book. The other 1% were either cowardly asking not to have ‘bad’ feelings about it and instead think of other things that can give you “good” feelings, or asked to wait until we get the chance to read the book.

The book is not out yet. It will be out on June 3rd. So we are mostly supposing things at the moment, but we can figure a thing or two from the book description at the publisher’s Harper and Collins site:

New York Times, Spin, and Vanity Fair contributor Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews and years of research, Spitz traces Generation Twee’s roots from the Post War 50s to its dominance in popular culture today.

Vampire Weekend, Garden State, Miranda July, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Mumblecore, McSweeney’s, Morrissey, beards, artisanal pickles, food trucks, crocheted owls on Etsy, ukuleles, kittens and Zooey Deschanel—all are examples of a cultural aesthetic of calculated precocity known as Twee.

In Twee, journalist and cultural observer Marc Spitz surveys the rising Twee movement in music, art, film, fashion, food and politics and examines the cross-pollinated generation that embodies it—from aging hipsters to nerd girls, indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Spitz outlines the history of twee—the first strong, diverse, and wildly influential youth movement since Punk in the ’70s and Hip Hop in the ’80s—showing how awkward glamour and fierce independence has become part of the zeitgeist.

Focusing on its origins and hallmarks, he charts the rise of this trend from its forefathers like Disney, Salinger, Plath, Seuss, Sendak, Blume and Jonathan Richman to its underground roots in the post-punk United Kingdom, through the late’80s and early ’90s of K Records, Whit Stillman, Nirvana, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, and Belle and Sebastian, to the current (and sometimes polarizing) appeal of Girls, Arcade Fire, Rookie magazine, and hellogiggles.com.

Revealing a movement defined by passionate fandom, bespoke tastes, a rebellious lack of irony or swagger, the championing of the underdog, and the vanquishing of bullies, Spitz uncovers the secrets of modern youth culture: how Twee became pervasive, why it has so many haters and where, in a post-Portlandia world, can it go from here?

The author of the book is called Mark Spitz. I haven’t read anything by him so I have no clue if he is a good writer or a bad writer. A bad researcher he definitely is though and I will tell you why (especially after this feature in Salon magazine).

But let me stop here first. What about the term Twee. Sure I hate it. I’ve never liked as it entails making indiepop a synonym of the word inoffensive. I truly don’t believe that. BUT at the same time I understand and accept that it’s a term that for most of us, Twee.net might be the best example, that twee in the end means indiepop, C86, p!o!p!, neo-aco, or however you want to call it. We all know, even if we don’t like the word, that twee is indiepop. Or at least, a sort of sub-category within indiepop. Can we agree on that?

Sure the term has been in existence longer than indiepop has existed. But it’s use was also almost non-existent in the English language. Maybe they used it to name Tweety bird. Who knows. But I can’t think of many examples. It’s rise as a word to describe something has to do with our music in the late 80s. It was mostly a term to dismiss the cutesy bands of the indiepop spectrum. I believe it was after 1994, when the Sha La La list was functioning and Twee.net was already established that the word gained power. And it was especially used to tag those small bands that were appearing in the US in the mid 90s like say The Receptionists or even Tullycraft, bands that had a sweeter, funnier, and cheekier approach.

So explain me then what does Arcade Fire has to do with anything of this? Sure they had one release in Asaurus, but that wasn’t a proper indiepop record. They released some, but in general it was pretty eclectic. What does Nirvana has to do with it? They championed The Vaselines, but does they make them a big part? Maybe a little footnote perhaps, and even so.

It’s mentioned that it’s the first great cultural movement since hip hop. This might not be liked by many that read me, but I don’t think hip hop has anything to add to culture. If there’s a culture surrounding it, it’s a terrible culture and I feel uneasy with even mentioning hip hop and twee in the same paragraph. There’s no comparison of the values of one and the other music genres.

Generation Twee has it’s roots in the 50s. That’s a very strange claim. I guess I’ll wait for the book to read what’s his point about this. But it does seem farfetched. I can see some late 70s groups influences in it, like The Buzzcocks, but all the way from the 50s? Perhaps some sort of aesthetics? Morrissey’s quiff? It feels like he is just inventing something here that has nothing to do with our beloved indiepop.

I love this phrase: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers. I love it especially because I have no clue what they are trying to say. Should we be surprised that people in general, no matter the age, like some sort of music? Is our indiepop that terrible? Or what? I don’t get it.

Then there’s that list of “influences” or perhaps “examples of what Twee is. From that list I only like Morrissey and a bit of Belle & Sebastian. Zooey Deschanel can be pretty ok. But that does make her indiepop? That’s really stupid. I like one movie by Mirand July, her latest was very mediocre, but were her movies indiepop? No. Wes Anderson is very overrated. I think he is among the most pretentious and vacuous directors out there, but who cares what I think, are his movies indiepop? Do they show indiepop values? Again, no. I really don’t have to deal with Vampire Weekend, or even beards, right? I don’t remember Edwyn Collins sporting a beard. Or Davey Woodward doing so. Which indiepop stalwart sported a beard? Maybe he is confusing lumberjacks with musicians. Poor research. Again.

Then of course there’s the issue of ukuleles and kittens. This requires a long post. I dislike both. But a big part of the indiepop fandom loves them. So I’ll leave it like that for now. I guess he has a point about this. I can understand kittens in a way, they’ve been in so many jacket sleeves, but ukuleles? That’s only for the most terrible bands out there and thankfully I can only count with my fingers the bands that say make indiepop with an ukulele. Etsy, crocheted owls, food trucks, artisanal pickles, McSweeney’s, honestly I don’t see any connection at all. Maybe he is playing a game of six degrees of separation?

Twee movement in music, art, film, fashion, food and politics. Damn. I WISH! I dream of someone making an indiepop film. I know the Sarah documentary is coming up, and there has been a couple too like BMX Bandits documentary or the great Dolly Mixture one. But not really a feature film yet. That’d be something. Indiepop music sure. Indiepop politics. Yeah that exists too. Indiepop art? Mmm if you consider the art of the records, perhaps, I can be ok with saying that that exists. Indiepop fashion? I guess there are sort of looks people go for. Though I tell you, I’ve seen some people with mohawks or piercings all over their body following indiepop concerts and not missing any day of an indiepop festival. But I can see someone saying there’s a sort of fashion. But what about saying that there’s indiepop influence in food. You have to be quite stupid to make such a claim. What’s an indiepop food? Marmite because there was a band called The Marmite Sisters? Doesn’t make any sense.

And then they say: and examines the cross-pollinated generation that embodies it—from aging hipsters to nerd girls, indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Really? Again? Do we need to break down people this way? Clearly he hasn’t gotten what indiepop is. Indiepop is not like this. We are all equal. Bands can be fans, and fans can be bands. Fanzine writers can run a label, a label person can write a fanzine. Everyone does everything, it’s all about democracy and equality. And we don’t like hipsters or snobs or yuppies. Just for your information Harper and Collins.

Then they tell us that Disney and Dr Seuss are origins of indiepop/twee. It’s the twilight zone, isn’t it? I start to worry if the book will really be exactly what this book description is. What will happen to those reading this book and have really no clue what indiepop is. This is creating a caricature of all of us, and a bad one, one that is not close to reality. The only right part of it is a line that says “to its underground roots in the post-punk United Kingdom“. But one line among a lot of crap? Even mentioned my favourite Whit Stillman doesn’t help. I love his films, and I hold them dear, but to say he is indiepop! Or what about mentioning Pitchfork? For f*ck sake, they are all that indiepop isn’t!!! Its’s like the nemesis! They champion everything else but indiepop. They do it all for money, not for the kids, even less for the music. And indiepop is not about the money. Anyone involved in it knows that. If we break even we are already more than happy.

Then the last paragraph is a bit more accurate when they mention: “Revealing a movement defined by passionate fandom, bespoke tastes, a rebellious lack of irony or swagger, the championing of the underdog, and the vanquishing of bullies“, though I strongly disagree when they say there’s a lack of irony. That’s tremendously wrong. I think there’s so much irony, so much wit in indiepop, that we could give away to other genres that lack of intelligence. Perhaps these people don’t care about lyrics. I’ve met some like that in my life. Boring and uninteresting people.

Twee became pervasive? Not really. It’s a very small scene. A little pocket that no one really cares about, only us in it care about it. It has many haters? I haven’t met any. I only meet people that have no clue what indiepop is and give me a hard time explaining them what it is. So yeah, all wrong.

Then there’s this on the Salon feature:
“Tweens?”
“No. Twee.”
“I don’t know what that is.”
“You know! Everything happening in Brooklyn.”
“Hipsters?”
“No, Twees. It’s a movement!”

I go to Brooklyn often for drinks, to party, etc. I have never met anyone that knows about indiepop or twee. I’ve never seen anyone sporting an indiepop badge/pin. Or even a t-shirt. I believe the author lives in NYC, somewhere in the five boroughs, most possibly Brooklyn. I’m very surprised he would make this claim. Because even a The Smiths t-shirt is kind of rare in Brooklyn. I think the ones I see the most these days are Black Flag t-shirts if you are wondering. And yes, Im very observant.

Anyhow, to dissect that interview would maybe require another post, as it is a big joke to twee/indiepop. So I’ll get on that on my next post, on part 2.

The question for now is, if this is just a book description to catch people’s attention, to get sales, or is the book really like this? That’s the answer I’m looking for. I guess we’ll have to wait until it’s published! Let’s see how much it will be hurting our indiepop scene,how many will jump in the bandwagon, and how many ‘haters’ (at last) it will create of indiepop?

————————————————————

Now into the obscure band of the week: The Clamber. Though it’s surprising that someone has uploaded to SoundCloud the song “Choose The Way”.

Clamber: an awkward and laborious climb or movement.

More like a laborious climb to find out who this band was!

That song was the A side of their one and only 7″ released sometime during the mid 80s. A British band most definitely as on the back sleeve we can clearly read Basildon, Essex. The only other information on the back is that the record was produced by both The Clamber and D.J.M. entertainment. The sleeve was designed by Mark Molloy.

Aside from those credits we do know that the B side was “Everywhere You Go” and that the release was the first one in the catalog of Clamber Records. So definitely a private release. Some descriptions I found online of previous listings on eBay say: “Somewhere between Friday Club, early Style Council, Ala Pana Fuzo and Where The Hell Does Jane Smith Think She Is.” Definitely on the right track. I can guess that this description must have written by the great Uwe at Firestation Records! The only other clue we get is from the center label of the record. It credits both songs to a K. Boardman.

Aside from that, there’s nothing else online about the band. Listening to “Choose The Way” one ends up wanting to know more, to research them properly, find out what happened to the band, who were the members, and how can one find a copy of it, with a sleeve (as it seems the sleeves are rare too!). It’s a great track obviously. The trumpets. How can I be won by trumpets!!! Catchy, classy, elegant. The kind of record I love! Check it out!

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Listen
The Clamber – Choose The Way

20 Responses to “:: The Clamber”

Totally agree with your thoughts about this book.

Also : “Bands can be fans, and fans can be bands. Fanzine writers can run a label, a label person can write a fanzine. Everyone does everything,”. a big, big yes. That’s exactly what I felt the 1st time I attended a popfest.

April 3rd, 2014

YEAH, The CLAMBER!! I love this 7″!

uwe
April 4th, 2014

Could you please explain the line “I don’t think hip hop has anything to add to culture. If there’s a culture surrounding it, it’s a terrible culture and I feel uneasy with even mentioning hip hop and twee in the same paragraph.” Because I (and others) think it sounds racist and class prejudiced.

Thanks

Shaun
April 20th, 2014

Damn you English people love to be so polite but insulting at the same time! Why the hell am I being racist or class prejudiced? I think you are the one that have stereotypes and prejudices as you are fantasizing between the lines and making these assumptions from what I wrote.

Roque
April 21st, 2014

Not at all, I’m really hoping that I’ve made a huge mistake. I’m not making any assumptions, really, I’m not casting any aspersions on your character, but what I am doing is questioning what you wrote. Could you at least define what you perceive as ‘hip hop culture’?

Shaun
April 21st, 2014

“Because I (and others) think it sounds racist and class prejudiced.” That’s exactly what you wrote. That’s making an assumption, wait, actually that’s calling me a racist, or am I reading it wrong? I never mentioned anything about racism or class in my post, because that would be terribly stupid and ignorant, and most importantly, I would never have that sort of ideas or behavior. It baffles me, it’s obvious you never read me or don’t know me to just assume the worst out of me just because… I’m guessing you believe hip hop is ONLY and 100% black and low class, am I right? Well, maybe some reality check wouldn’t hurt as you’ll notice that’s not the case, and by thinking that way you are the one having the stereotypes, not me. But I guess you are welcome to interpret things in twisted ways too, you are free to do that. But keep it to yourself, no? Because, really,if you come here to just insult me or provoke me, please don’t waste my time.

Roque
April 22nd, 2014

Roque, I strongly disagree when you write «I don’t think hip hop has anything to add to culture. If there’s a culture surrounding it, it’s a terrible culture». You didn’t have to trash a genre you don’t know to prove your point. I think it’s especially wrong since it’s a genre which shares a lot of common ideals with the one we love (vinyl records, independant labels, DIY, …).
This being said, I’m also scared of that book…

April 22nd, 2014

It’s ok to disagree Tom, I know there’s so many people that likes it and who am I to change your mind? But to say I don’t know it because I’m not a fan that is not really true. You get hip hop almost 24/7 in this country, I’m not ignorant about it to not have an idea.
I’m never going to be against vinyl records or indie labels or DIY, how could I?, but then again every genre shares these characteristics at some point or another. Nothing special about that, so I won’t make an evaluation about things like these. Those are not really ideals nor values that make a genre different.

Roque
April 22nd, 2014

I’m not trying to be a troll here Roque. I called someone on a comment that I found dodgy to say the least. Other people have as well, only they have hit social media with your comment and lets just say they have not been as polite as I have been. As a matter of fact, I used to read you quite regularly until your attack on a helpful guy on a bus. It was the furor on facebook at your comments that lead me back and at least I took the time to actually take these points to you rather than just slander you.

Again, the comment on hip hop isn’t my issue (dictating taste is a bit wanky isn’t it?), what is an issue is slandering ‘hip hop culture’ (which you are yet to define). I don’t think hip hop as a 100% black culture, but it’s roots are tie themselves around black politics, black music and black culture. I don’t think indiepop is a 100% white culture, but it’s fair to say it’s mostly white. I love indiepop, all of it, but I think what I love the most is it’s so inclusive. Everyone is welcomed with open arms and I love that. Comments like yours only alienate people, and that’s just wrong. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but I read that statement as being racist and thought ‘maybe I’m being a ultrasensitive pinko liberal here, I should ask him what he meant by that’. Which was kind of a waste of time.

Shaun
April 22nd, 2014

See Roque, you’re doing with hip-hop what he does with twee. You feel like you know what it is but you don’t. It’s deeper than you could ever imagine. Just because you’re overwhelmed by bad hip-hop does not mean you know it. Who would I be to say electronic music sucks just because my ears are bleeding from all that euro-dance crap ? Hip-hop is music, but it’s also graffiti, breakdance, turntablism… and the roots of hip-hop are based on a political and simple motto: «peace, love, unity and having fun». Hip-hop is a very strong culture and it’s that big of a culture that there is as much crap as any other big genres… I don’t like reggae or hard rock at all but I would never say it doesn’t add anything to culture. It’s just not the one I like…

April 22nd, 2014

One can’t say “this culture is better than this one”. It doesn’t make sense at all !

April 22nd, 2014

Hey Shaun,
I’m not sure what you mean by the comment hitting social media. I just came back from vacation and I haven’t seen anything about it, only suddenly your comment here where you were calling me a racist. That wasn’t polite at all, but if you say there’s been other people being less polite, well I’m surprised, I don’t know what to expect!

I’m not dictating anyone’s taste. I’m glad that people don’t agree with me, I’ve never expected everyone to do so! I don’t have to define hip hop on request though, but there are plenty of things that I feel are very wrong about it (and I know that you know what they are), but I also know that discussing this will just bring more trolls to comment here and it would be a waste of everyone’s time. Happy to discuss this over a beer at Indietracks if you fancy, but I’m not going to go on and on on false assumptions either.

Roque
April 22nd, 2014

Tom,
I’m not ignorant about it, I’m an avid reader about music, and I do actually LISTEN to other music than indiepop (for some reason no one believes it but whatever, not really my problem). But to me, and this is a personal view (as is my blog), those things you mention, turntabilism, graffiti, or breakdance, don’t add anything. Obviously I wouldn’t write a book about hip hop as I’m not passionate about it at all.

Roque
April 22nd, 2014

It’s like saying reggaeton’s and it’s perreo adds something you know. Possibly some people will say yes too. So it’s like that. I don’t see why it’s such a big deal.

Roque
April 22nd, 2014

Hehe, no problem. I always thought that one couldn’t blame a culture, just the people who were part of it. And it makes a huge difference.
Sorry if I take it personal but I would probably have never been into indiepop if I hadn’t been a hip hop fan back in the days. That’s what I explained in the interview we did together in the yellow fanzine. And of course, anytime for a (warm) beer !

April 22nd, 2014

Yeah, I tend to agree with you, like you can blame football for hooligans right? But then football has made so much effort to eradicate them, so I definitely support that. I feel in hip hop not much has been done to eradicate all the terrible things that it involves if you know what I mean. I have big issues with that.
But totally, I can understand you taking it personally, I did when this guy was writing about twee, right? We are passionate about these things and we can have a discussion. Sorry if I was on the defensive though, but you saw how someone just came and called me a racist just because of stereotypes or false assumptions, that was not cool.
Yup, (warm) beer one more time! Also at the Travelodge this time. That’s going to be great 🙂

Roque
April 22nd, 2014

I am the writer of Choose the way and Everywhere you go. Firstly I just wanted to say thankyou for your kind words and interest about my band the Clamber. The single was released in 1984. Our management was based in Basildon but the band was mainly Paddington and Wembly based. We had a good run for a while but was very hard to get the whole band together on a regular basis. We were a 9 piece toward the end and we all had busy work loads, real shame as Ioved my time in the band. We had several other songs but none of that production level which was only just above demo qaulity really. We produced it ourselves and the experience showed, could have done with a skilled pro producer and maybe I’d be writing this from the side of my swimming pool ha ha. Anyone interested you can find me on facebook or keibudo@hotmail.co.uk Cheers.

February 17th, 2015

Further to Keith Boardman’s latest post on The Clamber and his involvement with the group. I can throw some extra light on an other key member of the band. Their lead guitarist Greg Gregori also known affectionately to the rest of the band as Peck, named so after the actor Gregory Peck and incidentally thought up by the bands full time roadie and original manager Pete Boardman – the late father of Keith a much loved and missed personality in his own right.

Shortly after the band split Greg moved to the U.S to seek his fame and fortune. It was sometime in 86 when he based himself in Los Angeles, lured there by a wild music scene quite different from The Clamber’s easy going sedate and mellow tones.

Bands in L.A at this time were playing fast and loud with venom and energy not seen since the hay day of Punk, Greg wasted no time and auditioned for a number of acts, at one time he had three different bands on the go. With the lifestyle came the drugs, drinks and woman, for Greg unsurprising to those who knew him these were his weaknesses and would eventually take its toll on him later down the line.

By 1989 and after countless efforts to hit the big time and now in ill health Greg became disillusioned with the music industry as a whole. He packed his guitar and left L.A travelling aimlessly across the American mid West, hitching rides & jumping freight trains were ever he could heading East from town to town.
By the winter of 91 tired and worn out by two years of travel and scraping a living busking on street corners and railway stations not to mention the odd night in jail, Greg arrived in Hazlehurst, Mississippi.

Within a day of his arrival Greg chanced upon a dusty old rundown bar. Lured by the sound of an acoustic guitar echoing from within and accompanied by a deep baritone of a voice howling with the expression of love lost and misfortune.
For Greg this was his eureka moment and so began a life long passion for the Blues.

Greg with his new found enthusiasm found himself travelling the Mid West again but not as an aimless hobo but as a fan and scholar of (in his mind) the most pure & honest of musical genres.

Here the trail goes cold but rumour has it that Greg returned to the UK in the mid to late 90’s and sought help for his alcohol and drug dependency.
Further he met the love of his life in rehab, a rich young beautiful girl from an aristocratic background also undertaking treatment at the time.
The only other thing I can add to Gregs whereabouts now is that he and his now beautiful wife are living the quiet life down in Cornwall breeding Alpacas and manufacturing clothing from their wool.

That’s all I know to the best of my knowledge be it all sounding a bit far fetched but you couldn’t make this shit up…..could you?

J. Lattie
February 18th, 2015

I can confirm that Greg is now living in Cookoo land, must be the Cornish Cider!
I visit him there regularly. LOL

February 19th, 2015

Hey, K.Boardman, I sent you an email! 🙂

Roque
February 20th, 2015