F2K10 is a countdown of the 20 worst songs of 2010. Track our progress here.
Here are five compelling reasons why Salem is the worst new band of the year:
1. They really, really, really, really don’t care. About anything. And not in a cool, nihilistic, destructive, deconstructive Sid Vicious way. More like, “I have no passion or pride in my own music. [Fart noise]. Are you going to eat those fries?”
Salem is the type of band who sleeps through their New York Times interview; and then gives answers so waffley and non-committal that I’m convinced they’re too stupid to function as humans let alone musicians. The infamous videos of them performing at the Fader Fort include the band doing what they do best—looking like a mix between nervous, aimless, and totally confused; poking and prodding at their gear like it’s going to bite them; fetching cigarettes in the middle of a song; and somehow making their “breakout star” a white person who can stand in front of a room of people and freestyle an atonal, arrhythmic Southern-rap minstrel show. I have no idea how these talentless fuckups sleep at night EVER, let along through Ben Ratliff’s phone calls. By the way, yes, they got booed by a bunch of people at the Fader Fort only there for free jeans and bragging rights. Good work indie rock. Your tireless persecution complex about not being invited to the cool parties in high school is now making underground music a parade of people too unemployable for the fashion industry!
2. It’s embarrassingly easy to do what they do. Hey, look what I made!
3. They are the living, breathing, American-Apparel-clad definition of white privilege. Because I’m seconds away from throwing my computer through the window, , I’ll let our man Brandon Soderberg do the heavy lifting here:
“The slowed down vocals do not only have the effect of bringing the vocalist’s voice down to stoned crawl, they make the white performer sound black. This, coupled with lyrics that are content-wise, what my grandmother thinks rap’s about (murder, rape, misogyny, repeat) and the problematic, conscious ‘hip-hop’ pronunciations underneath that vocal effect, makes Salem’s music pretty egregious. This is a group of white kids who’ve screwed their vocals down to ‘sound black,’ and then use that screwing-down of vocals to say things they wouldn’t-and couldn’t-say otherwise”
In the case of “Trapdoor” it’s some dude who looks like he’s trying to sneak in the back door of P.S.1 talking about how “I seen a bitch run but I doubt she know why.” What romantics! Anyway, I had a friend speed up this song. Finally, this dude once again sounds like the try-hard dorkus malorkus whiteboy he really is. You can hear that here.
4. They are a unique combination of many genres, all executed poorly. Rap! – I mean, its hilarious that rock critics are doing backflips for Salem when actual rappers are making transcendent, suffocating ooze (see Waka Flocka Flame, DJ Paul, Juicy J, Nappy Roots, 8Ball & MJG). But of course getting a rock critic to listen to anything that one of the big three publicists doesn’t hand them on a silver platter is like herding cats. Really sad, lonely, basement-dwelling cats. There’s rapping in cereal commercials better than “Trapdoor” and at least Barney Rubble doesn’t pitch down his voice to sound like a hipster-junkie version of Bun B.
Shoegaze! – All their drones are as hilariously simple and monochromatic as letting your cat nap on your Casio. Anyone who gets lost in their sonic world would probably get lost in a Pizza Hut.
Noise! – True noise artists use hacky car crash sounds from sound effects records. Good job, geniuses!
5. There’s like a million great bands you should probably be listening to instead. Sorry to get all “positive” for a second here. My 79-minute anti-Salem mixtape hasn’t been taken down yet, which I can only assume is a tacit endorsement from a music industry who also quietly believes this band blows balls. Go download it and never think of this band again—which I assume won’t be the hardest thing come 2011.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 16, 2010