Wednesday, August 7, 2013

BUT HOLD ON TO HIM! PLEASE! Whatever you may think of the new video, Eric Sundermann implore that you "don't let Mumford & Sons trick you into liking them":
The video presents a self-aware and ironic portrait of Mumford & Sons, and it shows that these guys get it. They know that Marcus Mumford looks like a clerk in the Oregon Trail games and that banjos are inherently goofy and vests are "quirky," which in this case is kind of a stand-in for "stupid" and their folk-stompy style has become so common that it's practically a cliché. They understand! Get it?! Do we get that they get it? ...
Outside of this stupid music video, the music Mumford & Sons makes is very bad. It's overtly sincere folk rock. It's more earnest than a sophomore in college who discovered Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass for the first time and quotes it regularly. It's more pretentious than tattooing "live, laugh, love" on your leg....


  1. Governor Squid3:54 PM

    You know what else is really pretentious, Eric?

  2. So, as I read this article, there's actually only ONE paragraph "arguing" that Mumford & Sons' music is bad. It's the "Outside of this..." paragraph Adam reproduced in part:

    Outside of this stupid music video, the music Mumford & Sons makes is very bad. It's overtly sincere folk rock. It's more earnest than a sophomore in college who discovered Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass for the first time and quotes it regularly. It's more pretentious than tattooing "live, laugh, love" on your leg. It's more precious than a youth pastor wearing a corduroy jacket with patches on the elbow and a fedora. It's so calculated that there's absolutely nothing unexpected, organic, or progressive that comes from the music. The sound is so bland and average that it's offensive.

    Um, ok. So his "argument" is a few conclusory statements that come down to "I don't like it." Uh, ok. I'd be open to an argument about why I shouldn't like this music -- I'm sure Isaac could write one that was entertaining and made actual points if he wanted to -- but Sundermann hasn't provided one.

  3. Jordan4:12 PM

    I was going to write about how there seems to be a movement towards superlatives, that everything is either the BEST or the WORST and you can't possibly believe anything in between. Why can't I like the video for a song I don't really like? I don't feel strongly about Mumford & Sons either way. I kinda like them (and really liked the Stringer Bell directed video), can't we leave it at that? That was what I was going to write, but then I read the article.

    The whole thing just reeks of faux-outrage and faux-intellectualism. Like he starts by quoting Baudelaire, except he doesn't quote Baudelaire, he misappropriates Verbal Kint riffing on a Baudelaire quote. And then the shot at "Leaves of Grass." Seriously? It's one of the most important works of transcendentalism and maybe the seminal work of Americana. But it isn't particularly cliche. Did you really see a bunch of college sophomores quoting it or did you just remember that scene in Dead Poets Society?

    Ooh, he rhymed "fire" with "desire." I can't wait to see what you think about "I'll tell you something/I think you'll understand/When I say that something/I want to hold your hand/I want to hold your hand/I want to hold your hand." Not every song has to be "Visions of Johanna." (And again, I don't really like this song).

    But let's look at your unimpeachable credentials. You grew up loving folk music, great so did I. Let's talk. "I still will argue that Bob Dylan is the greatest songwriter of our time" Argue with whom? Like seriously, I think pretty much everyone agrees with that. I can see an argument for a pairing of Lennon/McCartney one and Dylan two, but that's about it. "Self-Portrait" is underrated? Yeah, pretty much every critic will tell you that. "Self-Portrait" is his best record? Well that's just silly.

    So, um, about that self-awareness thing...

  4. Joseph Finn4:19 PM

    Yeah! Don't like what I don't like! *Sheesh*

  5. mikeski5:00 PM

    Seriously, I really do like the comment, I just figured...

  6. This guy just made me like Mumford and Sons. And I didn't want to. This reads like a hack stand up comedy set. What's he gonna go off on next? Air travel? The supermarket?

  7. MidwestAndrew6:02 PM

    Damn those Mumford and Sons and their trickiness! I'm scheduled to go on a two-day concert in September headlined by them, but now that I know I was being hoodwinked, and that I only liked their music because they were tricking me into liking it, well, call the whole thing-I've-been-looking-forward-to-for-months off! Why, let's thank Eric Sunderman for exposing the insidious trickery behind this band! I bet those aren't even Mr. Mumford's sons! I was bamboozled! This is worse than the time I found out that Ben Folds Five was a trio! I was lied to by my emotions and musical interests. How wrong I was to like what I liked!

  8. Marsha6:04 PM

    You are more than welcome to tell me that you think something sucks, or that you don't like it. I just don't understand why *you* care if *I* like it, and what right you have to tell me not to.

  9. isaac_spaceman9:09 PM

    I actually can't write a paragraph about why you shouldn't like Mumford & Sons' music. I could write that paragraph about any number of artists (not any number--not, like, a billion--and really believe it, but I couldn't write it about Mumford & Sons. I also couldn't write a paragraph about why you should like Mumford & Sons. It would be like writing an article about why you shouldn't live in a house with an even house number or why you should not name your child Prakash. I cannot bring myself to have an opinion about Mumford, or about any of Mumford's sons, or about the whole fetishization of ersatz old-timeyness and fey frontier-merchant impersonation. I love the Decemberists; who am I to judge?
    I do feel confident that nobody feels as strong and encompassing an affinity for M&S as some people feel for, say, Bruce, or the Thermals, or Prince, or the Grateful Dead, or Jay Z, say. For whatever reason, some waters are wide and others are deep.

  10. isaac_spaceman9:12 PM

    I do not necessarily agree re Dylan, though that probably doesn't affect your point at all.

  11. isaac_spaceman9:15 PM

    It's sometimes important (not in this instance) that people in general don't like something. Like Bieber. Right now, I think that it is societally important that people should not like Bieber. The guy is a menace, and people liking him just feeds that. The sooner people stop liking him (like, four years ago maybe), the better off we all will be, especially people who live in Calabasas.
    But in most cases, I do try to couch my criticisms in whether I think something is or isn't good, rather than whether you should or shouldn't like it.

  12. Yep. I like both albums. Tough cookies.

  13. "Both"? Assuming you mean Sigh No More and Babel, you need to download the live "Road to Red Rocks" album! :)

  14. Callie10:00 AM

    I really love the song Dustbowl Dance. I'm not ashamed. I think it's raw and emotional, and reminds me of a book that I really enjoyed, The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers. I'm going to go listen to it now, matter of fact. Thanks for the musical inspiration, Eric Sundermann.

  15. Fred App1:34 PM

    I've searched in vain for a cogent argument buried under all the vitriol in this article, and here's the best I could come up with: "I don't like Mumford and Sons. And you shouldn't either. Because they suck. You know why they suck? Because their music is crappy. And I should know. I'm the only person on Earth who thinks Dylan's best record is Self-Portrait. If you ignore me, the world is going to end."

  16. Christy in Philly3:58 PM

    I'm currently reading Leaves of Grass for the first time. And I adore it. I think I'm supposed to be offended right now...(sidenote, I haven't been a sophomore in college in 16 years)

  17. Adam B.4:13 PM

    I really fucked it up this time. Didn't I?