Menomena – Wet & Rusting

Friend and Foe
Year :
TV on the Radio / Wolf Parade / Pavement

Yesterday, I was violated. At four discrete times, my trust was shattered by the very institution in which I had placed it. I am the victim of marketing automation gone wrong.

Nowadays, people seem to generally be aware that their activity on the internet is tracked. Some of that activity is tracked as a matter of necessity and record-keeping. Some activity is tracked, we are told (looking at you, NSA), to keep us safe. Most, though, is tracked so that someone somewhere can make a buck. Because we all like things that are free, we seem to generally accept this as, if not fair, at least tolerable. Google gets to know a little bit about me by virtue of my voluntarily supplying them with data in the form of search terms. In exchange for their “free” information concierge service, Google gets to sell that knowledge about my interests to advertisers. In other words, it seems “free” because I’m paying with something that I’m implicitly proving is worth little to me.

In some cases, this is a good thing. Savvy marketers can, for example, use data to stop advertising products that you already own or, through your behavior, have proven that you don’t want. One could argue that it actually makes your experience of advertising better. Or, at least more efficient. On the flip-side, it’s a little bit creepy when the entire web seems to know things about you that you haven’t even admitted to yourself. Moreover, much of this sort of advertising happens in a way that’s completely automatic. Computers see what you do, an action is triggered, and you get the right message at the right time. In theory.

All of this data collection, though, doesn’t always yield the desired results. Yesterday afternoon, I was bombarded with messages from the music streaming service Spotify. It was critical that I know about the Menomena album Mines, released in 2010.


This is completely confusing. It generally goes without saying that I need not be blasted with advertisements for anything that happened three years ago. Frankly, I’m disappointed. Spotify should know damn well by now that not only do I have all of Menomena’s albums starred and on playlists, but that I actually listen to them regularly. Wouldn’t a better message have been to tell about something new that I should like because of that fact? I don’t object to these kinds alerts on principle, but I do expect them not to come four at a time to urgently tell me what I already know. If you’re gonna turn my entire life into data points at least put them to good use.

Funny thing, though—I still went back and listened to Menomena. I am a sucker.

But, Menomena is good. Really good, actually. Their 2007 album Friend and Foe is one of my favorites of the last 10 years. It’s a thoughtful and adventurous little rock album that un-ironically mines everything from gospel and funk to New Orleans funeral dirges and, somehow, pulls it all off without ever sounding like the band is overtly trying to do anything other than make a great record. “Wet & Rusting” is not even one of the five best songs on the album but I’m sharing it here for a few reasons:

  • Excellent, contemplative lyrics that showcase one of the band’s major strengths.
  • Some may recognize the piano riff as the source sample from ScHoolboy Q’s willfully outlandish (and also good) “There He Go”.
  • The video is blessed by patron saint of indie rock moviemaking, Lance Bangs, who brings a distinct early-90s sensibility to the video, including an amazing Kanye West shoutout/request. (Guys, can we really make that happen?)

Ultimately, I guess I can forgive Spotify for this isolated (right!?) case of blasting me with needless marketing. At the end of the day, it is about music that I love. Something in their black box of marketing automation is apparently tuned correctly, if not the timing. But, Spotify, listen—if I start getting alerts about Katy Perry from you I’m gonna be really sad.

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(@YahSureMan) is the Founder of The Daily Soundtrack and Bark Attack Media. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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