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  • Writer's pictureFred

boygenius = Traveling Wilburys

Updated: Feb 5

Yeah, that's not a compliment.

When I went over to Rolling Stone today, imagine my surprise:

Uggh. We are NOT fans of folk rock here at Beacon of Speech. We have a particular disdain for 2 folk rock artists, Bob Dylan and Phoebe Bridgers.

When I think of supergroups, I think of all my childhood friends being abuzz about Asia. I never understood the hype, John Wetton, Steve Howe, Geoff Downes, and Carl Palmer generated a ton of press, but ended up being a 2 hit wonder.

But a better comparison for boygenius would be the Traveling Wilburys. In 1988, when things below the musical surface were percolating, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, and Tom Petty rolled out with the pedestrian Traveling Wilburys Volume I. Rolling Stone almost crapped themselves with effusive praise:

"This is the best record of its kind ever made....a low key masterpiece."

Mojo Magazine gave the album a perfect review and it went to Number 3 on the album charts. Volume I was also nominated for a Grammy.

But I stand by my pedestrian statement, folk rock, by definition isn't exciting. In 1988, the most exciting album out was Appetite for Destruction by Guns 'N' Roses. I'm telling you, it crackled with energy every time I heard it on college radio. Don't forget, Appetite for Destruction was a slow burn, releasing singles until the end of 1989.

"Okay, Grandpa Fred, waxing poetic about old white guys. again"

What? Alright then, the Traveling Wilburys didn't even have the most urgent ballad of 1988, that would probably be Living Colour's Open Letter to a Landlord:

"Okay, Grandpa Fred, waxing poetic about classic rock."

Listen, we can do this all day. I hate most folk rock and country rock, Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back was probably the most important release of 1988.

"There you go again with the patriarchy."

When Kim Gordon sang on Daydream Nation-

"Citing straight people-"

When Michael Stipe sang Orange Crush-

"Gay males-"

When Tracy Chapman...

Sang about her Fast Car...

In 1988...

She was trumpeted by College Radio...

And then was nominated, and won, a bunch of Grammys....

"Let's cut to the chase Fred Hunt, you just don't like Phoebe Bridgers."


I have admitted that, many times.

She is an ordinary folk artist.

Her music, by definition of being folk, is not exciting. She doesn't make you feel it. You listen to Tracy Chapman, you hear the pain. Bridgers is not special.

In 2023, when I think of supergroups, I think of Dead Cross.

For Rolling Stone to say boygenius is the World's Most Exciting Supergroup, even before the album is on sale at your favorite digital retailer---


You know what? I'm sick of being on the defensive. I want to know how much Matador and Interscope are paying Angie Martoccio at Rolling Stone to pump up boygenius at every turn.

Seriously, maybe Martoccio should resign and become a full time publicist.


Beacon of Speech fans already know, in 1988, Alice Donut released their first album on Alternative Tentacles, Donut Comes Alive.

Their American Lips single is better than anything by Phoebe Bridgers or the Traveling Wilburys.

History will vindicate me!

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