Thursday, January 29, 2009
Why Tooth and Nail doesn't Suck Eggs: part I
I am a bit of a music snob. I admit it. In fact, I go beyond admitting it, I relish in the title. I like to try to follow the indie scene. I occasionally read paste, HM, pursue the web for music blogs, check out who pitchfork is currently raving about, and on the rare occasion, I have even cracked the pages of RollingStone. By no means do I declare myself an expert in the world of indie music. I am just an indie loving, hipster-want-to-be, who is not ashamed to admit his crush on Rebecca St. James (and really...that’s not very hipster of me). Acknowledging that my opinions do not follow the strict sect of hipsterdom, or their cannon--Pitchfork, I have to bring to surface what I believe to be a great sin of the indie music world. This is the out right down play of Tooth and Nail Records. Senior writer for Spin magazine and author of "Body Piercing Saved My Life; inside the phenomenon of Christian rock" (great book by the way), Andrew Beaujon says, "...it's really quite astonishing how few of Seattle's hipsters know that there is a local independent rock label that routinely sells hundreds of thousands of CDs and it isn't named Sub Pop or Barsuk."
I confess, I have been rocked and nurtured in the proverbial embrace of T&N since I was an indie infant, so they are a label close to my heart whom I would fight tooth and nail (pun completely intended) for. However, as I approach my critical indie adolescence I have become aware of a few of T&N supposed "faults".
It is true that Tooth and Nail has a niche that will follow them to the ends of the earth. Any band who signs to T&N is bound to have thousands of fans before they have even started touring (heck, if in some hellish parallel universe Nickelback signed with T&N, they might even gain a couple fans...I shutter at the thought) just because of the immense fan base that T&N as a label carries.
It is also true that many of Tooth and Nail's bands sound a lot alike; those Anberlin fill-ins after the band's exit and move to Universal Republic Records. But lets not hold that against T&N either. T&N is a business, and these are the bands their target audience (the youngins) are listening to these days. Certainly they have some bands that currently fall far from the category of pop alternative (whether for better or worse, I will leave you to decide)--Neon Horse, Joy Electric, Surrogate, and Corey Crowder are a few that come straight to mind.
Perhaps the greatest thing that Tooth and Nail has going against their "cool" factor in the indie scene is what Andrew Beaujon calls "one of the last politically correct prejudices"--that its ok to ignore a Christian label because it's a Christian label.
The problem is that in the fast past world of indie music, the great accomplishments of Tooth and Nail have been forgotten, or flat out ignored because of their Christian status. And so here it is, here I make my oh-so-bold claim; there are few indie labels that have made such an impact on both the general and indie market as Tooth and Nail.
"What!" you say. Are you seriously claiming that the label that brings us KJ-52 has been one of the greatest contributors to the indie music scene?!?!
Yes. Yes I am.
In my next few posts I will attempt to reveal the impact T&N has had in the music world in the past sixteen years.