Lost In The Grooves: Scram’s Capricious Guide To The Music You Missed, edited by Kim Coooper and David Smay, illustrations by Tom Neely
Often I find it easy to rag on hipsters, among whom these authors would definitely be included, for the way that they tend to be more focused on what to be against than what to be for. This book, though, takes up the question of what a hipster approach to music would be in terms of what is liked and not only what is disliked. There is certainly plenty of material to be criticized in what the hipster authors find to be worth appreciating. The authors appreciate music that is so obscure that it has never been legally released, and where various bootlegs must be obtained in order to listen to them. The music can be considered one of two kinds, one of them is music that is so obscure that it is nearly impossible or sometimes even less than legal to obtain, and the other is music that was at least a little bit popular but which is not appreciated to the extent that it can be. The authors appear to appreciate music that can be enjoyed ironically but which is itself made sincerely, and that is a striking point that is worth considering.
This book is rather straightforwardly organized. The book begins with a short introduction which explains the approach of the authors and then the body of the work then consists of an alphabetically organized (by artist/band) account of music that the authors and contributors feel has been unjustly ignored and neglected. My own thoughts about this are mixed. I should note, for the record, that I greatly appreciate the authors wishing to highlight good music that was unfortunately ignored. I also appreciate the praise that the authors give to commercials that often bring neglected indie music to the attention of general audiences (which is how I have found some of the music discussed in this book). If the authors’ feelings are ultimately subjective and my own sympathies with the worldview of the authors is limited, there is still a lot to appreciate. It is also nice, as a change of pace, to see hipsters praising the obscure rather than simply bashing on the familiar. This is probably the best hipster book I have read on music, and it is hard to imagine one I would like more.
One of the aspects of this book that I found particularly notable is the way that the authors and various contributors approached music. The authors appear to be most interested in giving credit to artists who have not received a lot of attention. It should be noted, though, that while the authors give plenty of credit to artists who others may not take seriously (The Tijuana Brass and Jackson 5 come to mind, for example), most of the groups discussed here are deliberately obscure. Some of them, I must admit, I have listened to on the advice of friends, such as Captain Beefheart and The Neutral Milk Hotel. Most of this music is unfamiliar to me and likely to most of the book’s readers as well. It is also worth noting, a bit unfortunately, that this book gives a great deal of praise to authors mainly based on how candid and how disordered their lives were. The authors appear to deliberately relish various types of disorder, and if that is something that does not appeal to you, this book is not going to be as enjoyable to read as the authors would intend. Also, if you tend to prefer order and decency, you are probably not a good candidate to be a hipster anyway.