On Whirr and Navigating Canceled Bands in Canon

What do we do with socially discarded bands when they're still materially present? And other thoughts on shoegaze's most controversial band.

On Whirr and Navigating Canceled Bands in Canon

A couple months ago I wrote a 4,200-word dissertation for Stereogum about what I call the New Wave of American Shoegaze. It was my attempt at an extensive (thought certainly not exhaustive) scene report documenting several flourishing developments in American shoegaze music. Given that the genre is supported by an intensely passionate and scrupulously nerdy fanbase, and many lifers only recognize music that falls into a certain subset of hyper-specific parameters to even count as shoegaze, I prepared to catch some flack for what I wrote. Either because some people wouldn’t consider the bands I presented as shoegaze’s new vanguard to be “shoegaze enough,” or for only focusing on American bands, given there’s such a wide breadth of shoegaze makers operating all over the world.

What I didn’t anticipate was how many people would be fucking irate that I didn’t mention the band Whirr in my article. As it got shared around on social media, there was a vocal caderie of readers who were aghast that the semi-active, semi-canceled Bay Area ‘gazers weren’t heralded — or at the very least named — for their contributions to the American shoegaze renaissance that sprang up in the first half of the 2010s. I mentioned their peers (and one-time split-mates) in Nothing, whose last three albums contain playing and/or creative input from founding Whirr guitarist Nick Bassett. I also named the band Cloakroom, another one of the quintessential heavy shoegaze bands of the 2010s, whose landmark 2017 album, Time Well, also gives Bassett piano and composition credits. For what it’s worth, I also mentioned Deafheaven, a band who Bassett played in for a couple years prior to their 2013 blackgaze breakout, Sunbather.

But I didn’t mention the name Whirr once in my article, and it’s been eating at me ever since. Not because I feel like I made a mistake, necessarily, or because I feel like their absence was an oversight that discredited what I had to say. The bands I focused on for the vast majority of the piece don’t really have anything to do with Whirr, and in fact, I subtly suggested that most of the present-day bands making Whirr-style shoegaze feel derivative and inessential compared to what many of their more adventurous peer bands are making. But I was also treating the article as a document of what happened to the shoegaze genre throughout the last 12 or so years, and apparently there’s a significant number of people — way more than I expected, honestly — who consider Whirr’s three albums (and several EP’s) to be foundational material from that time period. In spite of what — from my vantage point, at least — the public consensus around Whirr has been for the last seven-plus years.

In 2015, Whirr were canceled before “cancel culture” was really a thing people talked about. As documented in this Vice write-up from the time, someone on the band’s Twitter account, seemingly unprovoked, began tweeting virulently transphobic things about the now-defunct trans punk band G.L.O.S.S., who were then blowing up in and outside of basement punk circles on the strength of their searing 2015 demo, which centered uncompromising lyrics resisting the violence and bigotry that trans people face, written and presented by a fearlessly trans perspective. One of Whirr’s tweets called them “a bunch of boys running around in panties making shitty music,” among other dehumanizing insults about their gender, and within a few days Whirr were enemy No. 1 throughout the broader indie/punk internet.

Run For Cover Records, who had released a few of their EP’s in the years prior, announced that they were severing ties with the band. Loads of other artists essentially told them to fuck off and die, throwing their support behind G.L.O.S.S. in an act of trans allyship. And as we’ve seen countless times since then when artists in the broader punk underground are accused of sexual misconduct, bigotry, violence, or other socially unacceptable misdeeds, it seemed like any decent person who cared about shoegaze music either disavowed their support for Whirr or kept their continued enjoyment of their music private (at least that's what I witnessed, as a 20-year-old invested in the musical world that Whirr participated in).

It’s worth mentioning that Whirr’s transphobic tirade wasn’t totally out of left field. Up until that point, the band had presented themselves as foul-mouthed renegades who maintained a confrontational relationship with fans and behaved like raunchy edgelords during interactions with the press. In one notorious Noisey interview, Basset said their M.O. was to “weed out the pussies” of their genre, evoking the juvenile hypermasculinity of a Henry Rollins diary entry during Black Flag’s My War era. Of course, the fact that Whirr, a band who reside in the meek, docile genre of shoegaze music, would adopt such a hostile persona was very likely their attempt at irony. Frankly, their tendency to dump on fans instead of profusely thank them, and to shake up the snoozing ritual of mutual politeness during rock interviews with scabrous barbs, could be quite entertaining, and I think it’d feel even more refreshing today after a whole decade of vacant niceness being the dominant emotion transmitted between artists and journalists. However, too many times did Whirr tip over the edge of mere provocation and end up reeking of cringey petulance, like when they called music critic Ian Cohen “a retarted pussy” for a Pitchfork review they didn’t like (in 2014, mind you, not 1984). I think they squandered whatever charm they had pretty quickly, beefing incessantly with music journalism outlets like Pitchfork and YouTube critic Anthony Fantano (a decade before Drake would do the same thing, so I guess they were ahead of their time in that sense), and constantly sparring with random fans in their own Facebook comments, slinging the r-slur with the frequency of a 14-year-old on 4Chan.

In the midst of the G.L.O.S.S. scandal, Bassett posted a statement on the band’s Twitter framing the transphobic tweets on “a good friend of ours” who supposedly had “free reign” to write whatever they wanted on Whirr’s account, and promised that that person had been “dealt with” and would no longer be associated with the band. To the rightfully incensed, it was too little too late. Whirr essentially went dark at this point, and I personally didn’t know anyone who openly listened to them (and certainly didn’t see any music writers mention them) in the following years. They just sort of drifted off into the recesses of the zeitgeist’s memory, willfully forgotten as other bands making similar enough music crept in and took their place in the public consciousness.

Or maybe not.

As far as I can tell, Whirr haven’t played a show since 2015, but in 2019 they did quietly drop a new album, Feels Like You. According to Discogs, the band have self-released four vinyl variants of it (including an 1,800-unit repress) that have all sold out quickly, and now go for hundreds of dollars each on the used market. Around the time of that record’s release, I started noticing that people on the shoegaze subreddit (a very active and dedicated forum for the genre) were non-chalantly posting Whirr songs again, and for the last couple years, they’ve been one of the most commonly talked-about bands on that sub. As of this writing, Whirr boast an impressive 400k monthly listeners on Spotify (nearly double their peers in Nothing, an active touring band signed to a respected label who aren’t “canceled”) and their new seven-inch, released on Valentine’s Day 2023, is currently listed as the best-selling shoegaze project on all of Bandcamp.

All of this is to say that despite Whirr being “canceled” seven years ago, and despite the music media apparatus (press, labels) ignoring their continued existence, Whirr remain incredibly popular for a small shoegaze band that doesn’t tour. In fact, more than just their popularity — an ephemeral condition that shouldn’t be conflated with “importance” — Whirr’s music appears to have had a tangible impact on the creators of several other notable shoegaze bands, and a not-insignificant number of people consider their work to be definitive of the era they came out of. In short, despite music journalists such as myself attempting to edit them out of the canon — either for the transphobic tweet storm, or for thinking they're simply not a good band, which is also a position that several music journos have expressed, even before Whirr’s public downfall — Whirr’s output has been canonized anyways.

When people started whining that Whirr weren’t included in my article, I felt frustrated. Not because people were challenging me, because I think every music writer should be challenged for everything they write. That's part of the job. I was frustrated because I didn’t have a clear answer as to why I decided to exclude them from the piece, even though it was in fact a conscious decision (on my part, not my editor’s, for the record). We’re in a time when so many artists have been “canceled,” but there’s no rulebook or standards for what we should actually do with those socially discarded artists when they're still materially present. When they still rack up thousands if not hundreds of thousands of monthly Spotify listeners and/or sell more vinyl than the “uncanceled” bands that do get coverage. It made me think about how easy it is for a band like Whirr to just fade back into the picture as if they’ve never left. It made me think about how a band like Whirr had to adjust their approach a little bit (rarely posting on social media, leaving their record labels, not playing shows) but never actually “left” the culture at all. They just dipped into the periphery.

Initially, I wrote like 700 words on why the pitiful state of music media is to blame for Whirr’s continued relevance. My general thesis was that if we had a stronger, more robust press that wrote about shoegaze more often, then a band like Whirr wouldn’t be so appealing (because I do think the “mystique” of having been canceled and sanctioned to the background is appealing to people) because audiences would be introduced to dozens of other shoegaze acts — ones that are, in my opinion, making way more interesting and engaging music than anything Whirr’s ever released. But after further consideration, I decided that it’s hubristic to think that the music press still has that kind of sway on narrative in the social media age. And the fact of the matter is, people like Whirr, and would probably still like Whirr even if some bespectacled chucklefuck like me said otherwise.

I do think the music media has failed in one regard, though. The music press (myself included) haven’t acknowledged Whirr since 2015, so anyone who stumbles upon their music now is left to gather crumbs of their existence through Wikipedia pages and fan forums. There is no authoritative entity reminding people who Whirr are, only dead links to defunct blogs and a Vice article that could be wiped from the archives by the next venture capital philistines who buy the publication, burying the evidence of what actually happened to Whirr in 2015 and painting over a small yet crucial bit of music history, one that's had — that should have! — an actual impact on the way this band is discussed, regardless of whether they “belong” in the shoegaze canon or not.

In fairness, Whirr aren’t solely blacklisted by the press; their name is persona non grata in large swaths of the broader indie/punk/DIY/whatever social media network. If you’re reading this, you probably spend some amount of time in those spheres, where the safety and dignity of marginalized people are, at least nominally (that's a whole other essay), prioritized over people who abuse the social contract of, say, not being a bigot and/or a sexual predator. The progress that's been made within those online spaces within the last 10 years is significant in contrast to the culture of 2000s music forums and comment sections, where venal sexism and dehumanizing slurs were tolerated with a much higher frequency (the type of social environment that “4Chan” has now become shorthand for, where the coarse insults Whirr doled out are the linguistic norm). The online wing of Whirr’s musical ecosystem (the one they used to participate in, at least) cast them out of the discourse during the G.L.O.S.S. scandal, and like so many other canceled bands of their stature, there’s an under-the-table handshake agreement to just not mention them anymore. And I don’t think it’s baseless speculation to assume that if a music publication were to spotlight Whirr’s music, in any context, then there’d be some level of social media backlash condemning the outlet for “platforming” a band who’ve expressed transphobic views. At a time when uncritical fan clicks and PR-guided artist retweets inform what many music publications write up, this symbiotic blackout between the press and the music communities they cover has ensured that Whirr are treated like a non-entity, despite all evidence (their sales, listenership, praise in less social justice-informed internet zones) to the contrary.

In many instances throughout my adult life, I’ve aligned myself with the philosophy that “platforming” a canceled artist is tantamount to absolving their actions. But is that ideology really the best way to serve justice? I don’t know. I think it’s a flaw to pretend that because a band is ignored, they no longer exist, or that ignoring a band with problematic behavior is the best way to rectify the damage they’ve caused. Or to think, implicitly or not, that their misdeeds can be avenged, in a weird way, by punishing them with silence and propping up other bands in their place. I don’t think that's how writers and fans actively think about it, but I do think that's what people are getting at when they say, “There’re other bands out there, choose one that’s not problematic,” when an artist gets canceled. That's not how human beings interact with art. Music isn’t just some small part in an assembly line of entertainment intake that can be swapped in with something new yet equally meaningful if the old one gets rusted over or tainted. That's why we have this perennial debate about what we should do with artists we like who do bad things. We put a piece of ourselves into the art we enjoy, so it’s never as easy as discarding that album or unfollowing that band on social media. We also have to decide how we’re going to dispose or repress or redistribute — or all three! — the part of our spirit we put into that artist’s work, or maybe even the artist themselves.

I’ve been skeptical about “deplatforming” for a while now. I’m not really sure what it does, or if it’s even possible in a digital landscape where everyone has a platform. Like I mentioned before, Whirr haven’t been given a “platform” by traditional industry institutions like labels and the media for over half-a-decade, but they’ve continued to press their own records, manage their own social media profiles and maintain a more engaged audience than so many of their “platformed” peers. What would it actually take to “deplatform” Whirr in a way that truly halts them from participating in the cultural community they were supposedly exiled from? Give streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music the authority to make moral judgements about what music can and cannot exist on their apps? First off, that would be antagonistic to their business interests, and second, that doesn’t seem like a power that artists and fans should be willing to give to these soulless tech companies. I don't see “deplatforming” leading anywhere other than draconian (and logistically impossible) censorship like banning the band from vinyl pressing plants or blocking them from using social media altogether.

And even if Whirr were somehow stripped of all possible ways to communicate with their audience, and their music was magically wiped from the internet forever, would that be gratifying retribution for what they said about G.L.O.S.S.? Would that limit the amount of transphobia being put into the world? Would that make anybody in Whirr’s audience — the people their “platform” ostensibly reaches — consider the lives of the people who Whirr’s nasty tweets denigrated? Or would it just create an easy excuse to wipe our hands clean of an uncomfortable situation?

This is when people start to make the “separate the art from the artist” argument, and this is when I tend to disagree. Not that I don’t do it. I listen to so much older music, specifically 80s/90s metal and hardcore, that I know is made by people who’ve said and done things — who stand for things — I find socially or morally reprehensible, and I just ignore that and enjoy the music for what it is. But at the end of the day, I’m not really siloing the art from the artist, I’m just actively making a choice to ignore an unsavory truth about the musician while I consume their music. When I listen to Type O Negative, I’m aware that Peter Steele was always a noxious edgelord who declared himself “pro-police, pro-government, and pro-parent” during the Bush administration, and flirted with racist jokes and pseudo-fascist humor in his songwriting. I’m aware that most musicians — most people — will, to paraphrase Patrick Kindlon on Drug Church’s “Unlicensed Guidance Counselor,” live long enough to do something wrong enough that they're socially condemned for. That doesn’t mean I subscribe to Kindlon and Co.’s libertarian anti-ideology that everyone fucks up, so if an artist in an elevated position of power says or does something heinous, just, ya know, pay no mind and carry on. Nor do I subscribe to the carceral whims of online loudmouths who serve as self-assigned discourse mods and treat condemning disgraced artists as a kind of thrill-seeking adventure.

But I still think that “separate the art from the artist” — the most common “solution” people offer to nuanced quandaries like Whirr’s cancelation — is such a hollow brush-off that absolves all parties involved from having to think critically and hold people who cause harm accountable. My main issue is that this work is always presented as the fan’s job. It’s up to us listeners to perform the labyrinthian untangling of the maker and the material, despite every facet of mass media for at least the last 75 years telling us otherwise.

Since the dawn of rock music, we’ve been told the art is the artist. The artist’s face is on the record cover. The artist’s names are in the credits. The artist speaks about the art they made in interviews. The artist talks about themselves and their life in interviews. The artist posts pictures of themselves living their life on Instagram and then posts an advertisement for their art in the next slide. The artist makes money from the art they create. The record label makes money from the artist’s labor. The artist performs the art to live audiences. The artist thanks the audience for supporting them and reminds them “we’ve got merch in the back,” where fans can buy a t-shirt emblazoned with the artist’s name, face or likeness, and maybe even get a picture with the artist themselves. Now, more than ever, in the lifestyle-as-commerce age of social media, where unhealthy parasocial relationships between fan and artist are built into many record label’s marketing plans, the art is in many cases touted as an accessory to the artist. The artist is what you’re buying.

And yet, when an artist does something harmful, we’re supposed to suddenly unhitch the musician’s art and nonchalantly stroll off as if the two were never connected in the first place. I think that's ludicrous. The artist is responsible for disengaging themselves from their work if they intend for people to truly see it as a distinctly separate entity. Whirr did not. They weren’t anonymous graffiti artists tagging up a railroad yard. They were a band putting themselves in front of their audiences at shows, recording music that they sold to people, and, again, maintaining an antagonistic yet intimate relationship with fans on social media, ensuring that the personalities behind the music were always at the foreground. So if listening to Whirr’s music or seeing their name makes you remember what they said about G.L.O.S.S., and if that reminder is troubling enough to make you want to shut them out of your life, then that's a reaction that Whirr in some sense earned for putting so much of themselves into the presentation of their music.

I don’t think consuming art is a political activity, or that consuming a piece of art is equal to endorsing an artist’s actions. At the same time, I think actions deserve consequences, and “separating the art from the artist” provides a convenient way to avoid consequences. I think the “art vs. artist” binary is a catch 22, forcing people to pick between a body of music and a human body; a composition of sounds that can have an intangible, inexplicable emotional reaction on a listener, and an anatomical conglomerate of flesh, blood and spirit — a mind and a soul in all of its messy, beautiful, ugly, kind, empathetic and evil contradictions. Not to get too esoteric with it, but music, and the profound way it can touch us, is too abstract to condense into a tactile object that we can pick up and then discard on a whim. Likewise, humans are too multidimensional to reduce to their best or worst moments.

As individuals, the members of Whirr shouldn’t be defined by the rest of their lives for the things that were said under their band name on social media when they were in their twenties. But as a group of artists making music together, presenting it to large groups of people in a shared setting, working with a record label, maintaining social media profiles — and all the countless social interactions that go into that decidedly collaborative process of being a band in the way Whirr were/are a band — what Whirr said about G.L.O.S.S. is part of their collective identity. It was an action that cannot be taken back, and one that cannot be easily forgiven for many trans people and trans allies, especially in the current political climate when the always-marginalized community is acutely under attack, and there’re real stakes to the type of crude transphobia that spewed from Whirr’s Twitter account.

So rather than distinguishing between art and artist, I’ve been thinking about “art vs. action.” When an artist commits an action that we find unconscionable, then that individual action — rather than putting the entirety of the artist’s multifaceted being on trial — can inform how we consider their music. If that sounds difficult, it’s actually quite simple. If a piece of music reminds you of a bad breakup, and that breakup — that emotionally turbulent action — is forever linked with that piece of music, then it’s a perfectly reasonable response to no longer want to listen to that music anymore. Right? So if a band’s song reminds you of the ugly transphobia that that band posted on social media, I think it’s reasonable to associate that action with that art, and potentially disengage from that art based on that unsavory association. If a band’s song reminds you that the singer of that band raped a teenager, is it a failure on the listener’s part to not treat the art as its own entity if you don’t want to listen to that song anymore? I don’t think people are just vessels for art that beams through us from some magical higher plane. I think art comes from within us, and I think especially if you’re a band releasing music with your own name on it, not anonymously sending it up into the clouds, then you’re putting yourself into it. And I think your actions are therefore linked with your art.

With all that being said, I still feel conflicted about not naming Whirr in my shoegaze article. And let me say, part of my decision was also rooted in my impression of their music. I never found Whirr’s output to be very remarkable, and upon revisiting some of it for this piece just to see if I was somehow missing something (I wasn’t), I think they’ve also been mis-classified as progenitors of the “heavy shoegaze” scene where they're now lauded. Bassett’s involvement in Nothing, Deafheaven and Cloakroom meant they were associated with those bands, but nothing on their first two records, 2012’s Pipe Dreams or 2014’s Sway, really sound all that similar. Whirr’s music has none of the grunge force of Nothing’s Guilty of Everything or the doomy dirge of Cloakroom’s Time Well, albums with an undeniable influence on modern-day bands like Greet Death, Cold Gawd and Teenage Wrist. Whirr’s music has actually gotten slightly more interesting over time (2019’s Feels Like You is by far their most sonically complex), but their so-called “defining” material is pretty down-the-middle shoegaze that didn’t introduce any new sounds into the genre’s fabric, and doesn’t really hold up particularly well today. It’s pretty at its best moments, but mostly generic and sleepy. The band’s crass attitude and famously loud shows did a lot of the heavy lifting in making them popular, and one of the main reasons they're so fondly remembered today is because they were a gateway into shoegaze for a whole generation of listeners. Turnover’s Peripheral Vision was my gateway into dream-pop. I have a great deal of nostalgia for it and still enjoy the album for what it is. Does that mean it’s a great record that deserves to be hung high in the dream-pop pantheon? If another critic said “no,” I wouldn’t argue with them.

Therefore, I’ll stand by my convictions that Whirr have always been an overrated band who aren’t nearly as influential sonically as they are culturally, but that's not the only reason I excluded them from my piece. That's not the only reason why so many (if not all) of my music journalism peers chose not to review their 2019 record, which was by all accounts one of the most popular shoegaze albums of its time, and on that basis alone, deserved to be considered for review — if we’re in agreeance that music journalism functions to provide insight and commentary on music people care about. We don’t acknowledge Whirr because we subscribe to the “platforming” notion that engaging with someone’s work, even critically, is simultaneously providing a megaphone for everything they’ve ever said and/or stand for. Bizarrely, the very absence of information is touted as the proper way to inform people. Ignoring Whirr is treated as the most efficient way to convince untold masses of people to do the same.

But is that route actually having any impact whatsoever on their historical status within the shoegaze genre, or just making journalists feel morally superior for not having to tangle with a band who've expressed transphobic views? Or is it actually doing more harm to not treat Whirr like any other band? Maybe their 2019 album should’ve been reviewed just like any other popular shoegaze record, with the context around Whirr’s departure from the public explained in the write-up. That would be actively holding them accountable, not holding them accountable once, in the week they get canceled, and then closing the door on them forever. In the case of an article like my semi-historical shoegaze scene report, is it the job of the critic to make moral judgments about which bands are worthy of inclusion in that canon, or is their job to simply be a sonic archaeologist, examining the fossilized bones of a musical period without acknowledging the social context of the music itself?

I think for writers and fans, choosing not to engage with an artist based on their bad behavior is a lot easier when the artist is active. When it comes to tracing music history, it becomes a lot more challenging to omit artists when their work has played an important role in a certain scene or sound. Celebrity also plays a huge part in this. No matter what Kanye West says about Jewish people, his work will never be written out of the hip-hop canon, both because it’s unquantifiably influential on the genre writ large, and because as an individual, he’s simply too famous to erase from the culture by simply ignoring him. Marilyn Manson is another one. He’s a disgusting individual who’s accused of committing monstrous acts of violence against women, but it would be revisionist history (or at the very least incomplete history) to write his contributions out of the heavy music canon. The ability to exclude becomes a lot easier when we’re considering the canon of subgenres like shoegaze, in which there are no celebrity figures (sorry, Kevin Shields) and, due to the subculture’s scale in comparison to much broader genres like metal and hip-hop, there’s a lot less consensus to consider with while framing a certain band or micro-period in the genre’s lineage.

In writing this, I thought about other artists in other subgenres who’ve been canceled, and how their work might be treated in future retrospectives when writers wrestle with the same dilemma I faced with Whirr. The first band that came to mind is Jank, an emo band who were canceled in 2016 after their singer was accused of sexual assault. I’m not equating what Whirr said to what Jank’s singer was accused of, I only mention them because, like Whirr, Jank have also been excluded from the discourse since they were ousted from their scene for a huge scandal, right as they were becoming one of their genre’s buzziest acts. I haven’t listened to Jank since 2016, nor do any of my friends who also used to love them, and I haven’t seen anyone write about them since their exiling. Despite that, they now maintain nearly 130k monthly Spotify listeners — despite not releasing any new music or playing any shows in seven years — which really isn’t that many fewer active fans than a band like Origami Angel (268k Spotify monthly listeners), a perfectly un-canceled emo band playing similar music in the same scene Jank were ousted from.

I can’t find any trace of Jank’s cancelation on any of the major music publications that covered their music (Pitchfork, Vice, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, etc.), so the only evidence of it that exists are r/emo threads (always a reliable source for verifiable information) and the band’s Wikipedia page, which isn’t annotated very well (because again, there’s not much to link out to). My point is that if some uninitiated 16-year-old stumbles into Jank’s music in the Spotify algorithm right now, what’s preventing them from treating them like any other band? Maybe that 16-year-old wouldn’t care if they knew Jank’s singer was accused of sexual assault, or maybe that information would sway them from listening to their music altogether. Either way, they're not even given the chance to make that informed judgment if not a single reputable source has even mentioned their name since 2016, and I think the same hypothetical could be applied to Whirr.

Who and what are we, as music journalists, as fans, as thinkers, really serving by pushing artists who’ve done unsavory things under the rug? The implication is that by doing so we’re preventing future generations from enjoying their work or persuading the people who liked them in the first place to ditch them on their own volition, but that method doesn’t seem to have produced very many tangible results. It was an experiment that we, in the media, in underground art communities where the safety of others is ostensibly paramount, engaged with because there wasn’t a rulebook for how to perform what’s become known as “cancel culture.” But now that we’re over a half-decade out from the first wave of “canceled” bands, we’re getting to see not just the half-life of a cancelation (the time it takes for people to either forgive or forget their indiscretions and accept them back) but a look at how “canceled” these bands ever really were in the first place.

In writing this, I’m not propping myself up as an authority on these complex moral and cultural dilemmas. I’m not pretending that I have the answers, or that the questions I posed are the most essential ones. I’m not saying that I approached Whirr’s legacy with the right amount of consideration and tact. I’m also not saying that how I approached them was entirely wrong. But what I do claim to know is that, in writing this, in reckoning with how I approach my job as a music scribe, in ruminating on the way I interact with the music I love (and don’t love), I’ve decided, definitively, that if we claim to care about people, then we have to show it. We have to do it. Hiding from ugly truths can’t be it.

Update 3/6 at 7:55 p.m.: The initial version of this article included my incorrect assumption that a Narrow Head music video included a visual reference to Whirr. The band have refuted that and I've edited the above text accordingly.