2.12.2013

The broader the generalization, the better!!!

Is it me, or has (white) American music and surrounding critical discourse never really recovered from the turn against psychedelia towards roots in the late 1960s? I don't think the "betrayal" is even really acknowledged or perceived.

Outside of black music, the UK rules my world. I don't think it's a fetishization of the exotic (though I imagine the UK like I imagine a perfect city - small enough to know everything about, large enough to not have to see everyone you know every day - that's the only romanticization). 1965 - 1995. Revolver to Different Class (putting aside electronic music!). For years now, I've tried to get myself into all of the classic 1980s American music that I "should" like. The Replacements, Husker Du, etc. But it all seems strangely parochial to me. We're a parochial country (we won't even notice when the rest of the world doesn't need to care about us anymore). Even Black Flag always seemed like it was concerning itself with a local struggle. LA cops. "My War". I know I'm wrong. Probably it's just the sounds. Maybe it's just that I like reverb? Space?!?! Eventide. Lexicon. Flood, hell yes, Albini, only if you know martial arts.

Say what you will about U2, but I always liked their ambition. The broadness of scope. Could an American band even make Achtung Baby or something equivalent (don't take me too literally here - no more Bonos necessary in this world at this time, I agree)? It's too bad that most of the people who like that record are U2 fans, you know what I mean (because I still think you all are missing something out there - but whatever - I don't even think the people who like it get it or else things would be different now)? All the bands they were inspired by when they made that album are always just going to be "cool kids" bands. Loveless is great but I remember being 13 and feeling like I was in on some joke that excluded everyone else. Like, "don't you know there are nice, melodic pop songs buried underneath the forty layers of guitar?". How much is that knowledge really worth? Nothing. At least those forty layers are nice.

Stravinsky is "urban", too. Do people actually listen to music or do they just notice who is making it?

Small town blues. Everyone here has tattoos and flannel shirts and there are many beards (am I too old to try and look like David Sylvian in 1981? I can't pull off the hair, that's for sure, but maybe I can stop wearing jeans? Grey wool flat-front trousers - punk as fuck - Organization Man is made of straw).

The big downside of the American underground's fear of pop is perhaps the resistance to any sort of totalizing vision. It's just a unique view of life instead of life. And the uniqueness is what is compared and contrasted with other uniqueness. Does it really matter if "life" is correct? Outside of the 1960s, there was Nirvana. And REM (but "Shiny Happy People" sounds like what I hate about politics in a country that imagines there is no class society or self-preserving elite - like maybe if we paint a picture of earth with a caption underneath that says "don't mess with my mother" on a placard and stand outside a nuclear power plant then we can show those corporations and then we can drink some tea afterwards - sencha). And the Talking Heads, too, maybe (I'm not old enough to know). Is that it? For the BIG stuff with BIG ideas, I mean? I don't think Blondie quite makes it. Who else? Fleetwood Mac? But the subject matter is a little different (though I still haven't heard all of Tusk - jesus what do I do with my time?). Foghat! The Wipers deserved better, but probably wouldn't have taken it. See what I mean? Pere Ubu? Big hole in my life, methinks. I hope so.

Perhaps the UK just likes weirdos more (more likely they just have to sell fewer records to have their say). Except we're all special here in America, aren't we?

Entryism is the worst pop ideology, except for all the others. Have I posted that here before? I've been meaning to for a long time.

None of these ideas are new to me. I could have written this a decade ago.

But I need this crap out of my brain and somewhere else.

I may be incorrect. Or worse, boring!

Could you imagine being my editor? If so, you must be getting paid well. Congratulations!

;-P

4 comments:

brian said...

bad brains?

:-p said...

I should, shouldn't I.

I guess I am talking at cross purposes. Fun.

1. I need some inspiration.

2. For all of the self-celebratory exegesis, ontological restructuring of culture is pretty damn rare in this country, innit. No shit, huh?

Paul Behrer said...

American musicians are too busy trying desperately to be simultaneously popular, avant-garde, cliquish, and reverent toward the Theme of the Moment. Followers to a man/wo-, they're largely cowards.

Pop? What IS pop anyway?

American band with ambition, ...Trail of Dead, encapsulated everything I said above with its "progression" of albums following Source Tags & Codes, itself a nice punny album name that links to links.

Who are touted as the American Bands with Ambition? They all fucking suck. Arcade Fire? Blow me, you pretentious knobs who equate "ambition" and "copycatting in the form of revival." Yuppwogs take their cues from Austin City Limits, which won't carry any band who isn't sure to please 90% of viewers. Yep, real ambition, real daring, real originality.

I just chose to let my tastes stagnate, it's easier than constant disappointment with What's New.

:-p said...

I'm sort of caught between stagnation and disappointment. I was listening to the album Empire and Dance by Simple Minds for the umpteenth time today (have you tried it? you might like!) and... I dunno... read the Ben Jefferey article I linked to... for those of us used to listening to new stuff, that process of perpetual discovery also creates its own narrative of personal history. Is one of the most perfect albums for me still something recorded in the year of my birth that I first heard over a decade ago? Fuck! Has nothing changed? Have I not changed?