Monday, October 26, 2009

TVD | Flares of Brilliance

Last week our lil hometown newspaper, The Washington Post, introduced a redesigned top to bottom print edition, and while I quite like much of the overall redesign—as an art director by day—I’ve got some problems with some of the changes which had me pining away for the ‘old’ and discarded look. The ‘golden days’ if you will. Of a week back.

But I didn’t even realize I was in the halcyon, ‘golden era’ of the Post two weeks back. I was in the present, not fully appreciating something that arrives day in and day out with regularity and familiarity. But yank that away, or better yet allow something to ‘evolve,’ and suddenly there’s a rearview mirror which renders what came before into focus from an entirely new perspective. That of, well, ...the past.

Along with the Post each morning, I’m also reading and scouring the blogs on a daily basis. It’s a routine—pour the coffee, browse the blogs. But it’s become a hollow experience...I mean, who the fuck cares about a Julian Casablancas solo record? Who gives a crap if the four preps of Vampire Weekend have another Paul Simon record in the can? Why would I ever care to read about, be inspired by, or find worthwhile the likes of Male Bonding, Bear Hands, We Are Enfant Terrible, Reni Lane, and Yes Giantess? (Random examples there.) But really, why should I CARE?

And I’m sorta pissed off because ‘fringe’ is the mainstream now of course. You might think you’re an indie kid with your Pitchfork and Stereogum bookmarks (to poke a trite example) but you might as well be reading Rolling Stone or Spin. Despite your Bobby Brady fashion inclinations, you are mainstream, corporatized, and while you were following along perhaps a bit too closely, the world turned on its head, sold you out, and your favorite band from Brooklyn’s in an iPod commercial. Or endorsing a beverage. Or selling you sneakers.

Deride the dinosaurs all day long, mock their reunion tours or their Walmart deals, but there was an authenticity at their genesis that none of the aforementioned acts who graced CMJ stages last week can lay claim to. The classic rock dinosaurs left a weighty footprint—but a rehash of a rehash from the same blueprint smothered in frosty, arty artifice is leaving me cold. Man.

I’m adoring the new Big Star box set that contains the working sketches of brilliance and DESPITE the Beatle influences, offers a newness these many years on. And yes, Big Star’s the blueprint for so many bands that followed—do the list in your head. If you do, that’s a pretty strong coterie of bands there.

So am I laying claim this week to the old adage that everything was better in ‘my day’ with the veneer of a crusty old fuck?


Big Star - Thirteen (Mp3)
Big Star - Give Me Another Chance (Mp3)
Big Star - What's Going Ahn (Mp3)
Big Star - Nighttime (Mp3)
Big Star - For You (Mp3)


Anonymous said...

I just love new music. I love finding it, listening to it, devoutly following it and proselytizing it. I can't imagine not. I know some of this is just for the sake of novelty but it's a habit I never broke.As to why bother listening to music. Well, while we're definitely in a post-rock and post-art in general world there is still great innovation, new sounds, new combinations, bands singing about contemporary feelings and topical subjects, new personalities; looks and styles, new cool bands like MGMT, White Stripes, Sufjan Stevens, Spoon, Rattatat, Phoenix, of Montreal, Muse, The Firemen (Paul's fantastic band with Killing Joke's Youth), Fleet Foxes, The Decemberists, and Bright Eyes. And these are all just easily accessible rock bands. I'd rather have them take your $17 or 9.99 itunes purchase than the truly awful sounding Who or Pink Floyd or The Dead sucking $175 dollar concert tickets out of the lazy and confused wouldn't you? To make a statement that no art since time X is as good anymore strikes me as a huge insult to the great bands that have put out music since 1972. It seems you pigeon-holing a genre by the strictures of the styles that developed up to that point neglecting the expansion of the genre by Krautrock, prog, post-punk, rave, mad-chester, dream-pop, brit-pop, electronica, avant-garde, trip-hop. etc, etc, etc. My god where would we be without Kraftwerk, Soft-Machine, Joy Division, Orbital, My Bloody Valentine, Nick Cave, Portishead, Radiohead, Manic Street Preachers, Boards of Canada. All these bands have put out art as valid, as important as will be listened to in 100 years as The Beatles, Led Zep, and Rolling Stones. The smart kidz will grow out of My Chemical Romance and Linkin Park just like I grew out of Men at _Work and U2. I think it's perfectly valid to be a like a specific genre and style of music, I don't have to tell you that. It's personal preference. It's opinion. But to say the expansion of the genre, the great contribution to the art is invalid, inferior and less significant betrays fear and ignorance doesn't it? When I watch Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity I see similar fear. Fear of the new, change and wistful reverence for a past that posits that everything should have stayed the same. If it did everything would be alright forever. BUT things don't stay the same do they? Be ambitious boys, be ambitious girls The beautiful thing about the internet. It's no longer a cadre it's thousand of people worldwide. I belong to many online communities who can agree that something is good and talk of it's merits and demerits. And, I can meet people on line and play in bands and get people to come to my shows who already agree that a genre is valid and move on to enjoying the music. It's okay to make mistakes when listening to new music and enjoying it. Some things don't age well, and sometimes I just plain old had bad taste or got fooled by a fad- that's okay, 'cause some of the stuff remains great. Thankfully I was open to trying it!

Jon said...

Wow - you really extrapolated into a weird place there Shamus...Hannity? Glenn Beck? Fuck no.

They're the enemy.

My point is that I love new music too - always have. Being the first in the know on something fresh has been our staple.

My point is that: MGMT, Sufjan Stevens, Rattatat, Phoenix, of Montreal, Muse, Fleet Foxes, The Decemberists...and Bright Eyes...well, they're of a dismissable genre. I simply DON'T CARE because the personalities and the music don't warrant it. Zero to offer.

Note that I edited out White Stripes, Spoon, Fireman because it's - for me - not artifice over art.

But you're talking about 'popular acts' there. My email box overflows with 10,000 that don't merit discussion all mining the same void. It's tiresome and dispiriting. That all.

"Be ambitious boys, be ambitious girls." AGREED!