Aging Indie Rock Fan Criticized For Resting On Laurels Of Past Successes
Recent albums purchased by Tom Sutton, 29, bicycle messenger and indie hipster, have been derided by colleagues for lacking any stylistic progression, maturity or relevant message, harsh criticisms for a man formally considered by many in his apartment building to be a rising star in the indie fan world.
Once highly-regarded for his cutting-edge style and uncanny ability to combine the freshest and most pertinent in musical stylings in one trip to the record store, the aging hipster is now being called out for playing it safe and avoiding exploring new territory, an area he once so deftly navigated.
"Tom keeps asking that guy at [local music store] Reckless Records if the new Jens Lekman album has come out, but it's like 'Hello, he just played main stage at Pitchfork Music Festival -- time to move on!'" said friend and one-time collaborator Jeff Hutchins. "There was a time when Tom was the only guy who knew who Jens Lekman was, which was about the same time that Tom's wave crested, but that was years ago and the guy might as well be querying into the latest Belle and Sebastian or Stereolab while he's at it."
Hutchins claims that instead of exploring new, unheralded talent, Sutton can't seem to get over seeing a then-completely-unknown and "great" Jens Lekman at local indie club Schuba's in 2004, and continues to like the now-relatively-unknown and "terrible" Swedish songwriter. Even worse, says Hutchins, is that Sutton thinks that Lekman's new material is an improvement over his older, more tongue-in-cheek catalogue.
"Lekman clearly has allowed the lack of anonymity affect his writing process, which has become painfully self-aware of his own practical fame," Hutchins says. "Perhaps [Sutton] identifies with him."
Sutton made a name for himself in the late 90's/early 2000's by being the first of his friends to ever hear of former-unknowns Modest Mouse, Badly Drawn Boy and Death Cab for Cutie. But it was not until his purchase of The Streets' debut release "Original Pirate Material" in 2003, prior to the British hip-hop artist's success with American audiences, that he found the notoriety he seems poised to lose if future album choices do not revitalize his image as a barometer of the best in underground music releases.
"Last I heard, he was holding a re-released version of [Led Zeppelin's] Houses [of the Holy], while asking the guy behind the counter if they had any more copies of [Jack White's latest band] the Raconteurs," worried Kevin Wheeling, former band mate of Sutton in the short-lived group Hans Kerowhack and the Nine-To-Fivers. Wheeling is also a regular contributor to the Letters to the Editor section of indie zine "Love, Chicago". "Although that's just a rumor, if it's even halfway true, I'd seriously consider an intervention on the guy."
According to Wheeling, things started to go awry with Sutton around 2005 during a routine trip to the record store.
"He could have chosen to break some new ground with the latest album by [spastic indie rockers] Liars, or even something by [experimental band] Wolf Eyes, but he chose instead to play it safe with the new Flaming Lips release, because he said something about liking their live show. What's next, Pearl Jam?"
Despite lackluster reviews of his latest releases in his collection, Sutton remains confident in his ability to plumb the depths of the emerging underground music scene. The Enduring Vision caught up with Sutton and his friends at local record store Lori's Planet of Sound.
"Along with maturity comes the realization that just because something isn't brand new or more than 40-years old and available only on vinyl doesn't mean that by buying it I'm selling out," suggested the musical epicurean, a comment that elicited snickers and laughs from friends standing over by the country music section. "I might have taken a lot of shit for defending Belle and Sebastian's latest release [The Life Pursuit], but the fact of the matter is that it stands up to anything they released between [1996's] 'If You're Feeling Sinister' to [2000's] 'Fold Your Hands Child You Walk Like a Peasant'."
"Hey Tom," sneered a local shopper in response, "why don't you talk about Radiohead next?"
Ultimately, when informed that the latest Red Hot Chili Peppers release was not available, Sutton proclaimed that he'd go to Best Buy to pick it up -- a sign, critics say, of the one-time indie master now going "corporate".