Tuesday, September 8, 2009

TVD | Wavelength

I had a bit of an iPod epiphany the other day. ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ queued itself up in shuffle mode, and man if it didn’t reek of being outdated, moldy, and so mired in one era that I shuffled right on past it only to be followed byyyy: A Flock of Seagulls’ ‘I Ran.’

Which sounded bloody brilliant in comparison.

I hear some of you snobs guffawing out there but it’s true—Nirvana’s a dead soldier and the Flock reeked of morning at the bakery: all warm and sugary.

But that can’t be right, right? I mean, if I had been born or come of age in the 90’s, I’d herald Nirvana’s breakthrough as an evergreen classic (ala The Beatles oeuvre) and ‘I Ran’ as outdated, moldy, and mired in one era. Right?

Well, I’m not so sure. WAS New Wave a one gimmick pony and not the refreshing breakthrough that I felt at the time when my ears were newly attuned and acute? Could it be that MY soundtrack from that time will forever be on point?

To be fair, I don’t know.

So, a little experiment this week—I’m dusting off the cliché tracks from the New Wave era (1980-1984, let’s say) for a fresh listen. What if the Flock was a new concern alongside Vampire Weekend? Or the Flying Lizards were to be reviewed right next to Animal Collective? Could Culture Club withstand the scrutiny and accolades being heaped upon Grizzly Bear? CAN fresh ears for the sake of it reveal something long overdue, long overlooked, or ...long in the tooth?

Well, let’s see.

Here are five that I think are quite smashing indeed. (Still.) Tomorrow some that haven’t fared as well...

A Flock of Seagulls - I Ran (Mp3)
Th Vapors - Turning Japanese (Mp3)
The Flying Lizards - Money (Mp3)
Culture Club - Church Of The Poison Mind (Mp3)
Talking Heads - Psycho Killer [Live] (Mp3)


fiftypercent said...

Well, as you can tell from my ongoing blog, I am firmly in the "80's New Wave is magic" camp. It had everything - life, colour, ambition, fun, simplicity, political messages, etc. By comparison much of the music from the 90's (especially grunge, emo and industrial rock) just sounds dead and lifeless, with nothing to say. Rather like when the 60's explosion dead-ended in prog rock.

Anonymous said...

Another vote cast for the 80's New Wave camp. I rarely, if ever, listen to 80's music, unless it is to indulge in some fine shoegaze. Grunge is repetitive to the point that one group sounds exactly like the next, whereas New Wave is fresh, experimental, filled with different sounds, tempos, vocals, and the musicians are easily identifiable by style.

What a great subject - kudos! I can't wait to see/hear your choices for the not so successful tunes. :-)


Anonymous said...

Major typo....80's=90's....sorry about that.

Jon said...

Well, I tend to agree with you both, Fifty and MissP. BUT lemme get to those clunkers...

Anonymous said...

The huge problem with new wave was Video. When image became as important as the music, it really did suck the life out of it. It created sell-by dates, meaningless sub-genres, and stars where none should've existed. Can you divorce the bands from the videos in retrospect? I can't. I find Culture Club fairly un-listenable and cringe when my wife puts it on. That said out of the ashes of new wave came great bands like Talk Talk who simply divorced themselves from the image game. Grunge and in particular Nirvana did everyone a huge favor by killing Metal (awful stuff) and video image forever- god bless them. You can argue that their music is negligible all you want however. BTW, agreed that I Ran is a great song! Also, Psycho-killer written in '77 was certainly not new wave. Shamus