12 Hippest Songs of 2012

I’d like to apologize to all the fine tunes I had to leave out, but these dozen were the ones that I listened to the most. Enjoy.

alt-J, “Breezeblocks”
Father John Misty, “Nancy From Now On”
Grizzly Bear, “Yet Again”
Hospitality, “Eighth Avenue”
Mansions on the Moon, “Darkness”
Miniature Tigers, “Female Doctor”
Patrick Watson, “Quiet Crowd”
Poor Moon, “Holiday”
Rhye, “The Fall”
Sea Wolf, “Old Friend”
WhoMadeWho, “Below the Cherry Moon”
Wild Nothing, “Shadow”

Feel free to comment with your fave song of the year.

Hipsters: The New New Puritanism?

Came across this on reddit:

“The hipster phenomenon has been regarded with, among other things, amusement, derision, and confusion by those outside the hipster subculture. Several websites (most particularly metafilter) disdain the use of the term itself, saying that it most commonly is used to mean “young affluent white people who I consider beneath me,” and generally lacks definition or any real reason for the profound dislike of hipsters emerging whenever the term is used.

In trying to pinpoint the defining traits of hipsters, I have come to a conclusion: hipsters are simply a new manifestation (brought to you by contemporary economic conditions, among other things) of Neo-Puritanism.

Hipsters pursue aesthetics in a way demanding work. They want to listen to obscure bands for obscurity’s sake (one of the most consistently documented features of hipster culture), and as soon as bands become popular, they lose their luster/appeal — though some still retain fondness for difficult to obtain early work. In other words, for it to be hipster-approved, you have to have worked to listen. If it’s on the radio, it came to you too easily. If a band is popular, you didn’t have to work to find them and appreciate them. The more obscure the band, the more you had to work and the more impressed other hipsters are.

When hipsters like more plebian things, they’re one of two things typically: they’re liked “ironically,” or they’re “guilty pleasures.” These two constructs each reinforce the idea of hipster as neo-Puritan. Ironic enjoyment of lowbrow culture shows that one isn’t simply enjoying things for the sake of enjoyment, they are working hard to appreciate it on a wholly different level. Guilty pleasures take an end-run around the work requirement for appropriate hipster enjoyment: you can enjoy it, but you need to feel appropriately guilty for doing so.

The same follows for other aesthetic traits, as well: while purchasing expensive stuff from Urban Outfitters may be considered okay, it’s poseur-ish. The real hipster works for his/her faded retro furniture and distressed clothing by shopping extensively at thrift stores. Unique vintage finds show that you not only have an eye for style, it shows you worked hard to find a store and perused poorly organized racks until they found something perfect.

Previous iterations of neo-Puritan thought in the United States have manifested as the Baby Boomer hardcore work ethic and intense dislike of people perceived as “lazy,” including many Gen Xers. Until the hipster phenomenon, neo-Puritans often focused their work drive on career goals. However, jobs have been notably scarce and adolescence has been prolonged among Millenials due to economic problems. Combined with aesthetic preferences increasingly connoting group membership and socioeconomic status, hipsters have transferred their neo-Puritan ethic into the pursuit of aesthetics.”

Keeping the Beat

“The hipster world that Kerouac and Ginsberg drifted in and out of from the mid-forties to the early-fifties was an amorphous movement without ideology, more a pose than an attitude; a way of ‘being’ without attempting to explain why. Hipsters themselves were not about to supply explanations. Their language, limited as it was, was sufficiently obscure to defy translation into everyday speech. Their rejection of the commonplace was so complete that they could barely acknowledge reality. The measure of their withdrawal was their distrust of language. A word like ‘cool’ could mean any of a number of contradictory things—its definition came not from the meaning of the word but from the emotion behind it and the accompanying non-verbal facial or body expressions. When hipsters did put together a coherent sentence, it was always prefaced with the word ‘like’ as if to state at the onset that what would follow was probably an illusion. There was neither a future nor a past, only a present that existed on the existential wings of sound. A Charlie Parker bebop solo—that was the truth.”

Marty Jezer, in The Dark Ages: Life in the United States 1945–1960