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Getting Past the Industry to Love Music Again
|Late Night Thoughts: Soup and Sandwich
|On a whim, I decided to check out Octaves a couple of years ago. Their debut, Greener Pastures, hinted at the notion that being a crafty metal or hardcore band wasn't dead in the water post-2005. Between 2009 and 2011, the whole Ebullition Records revival was in full effect. For other bands, Crank! Records worship has been growing steadily as well. In 2013, a lot of that is coming to the border of fourth and fifth wave territory. There is hope in bands like Canyons, Sohns, Full of Hell and a handful of others to keep things interesting and savant, but where would Octaves find themselves this time around?|
Surprisingly, they've sort of shed their O'God the Aftermath referencing I heard on Pastures for something more interesting and more of a throwback. What Octaves nails on Which Way The Wind Blows is keeping the path of the song turning. There never seems to be a return or reprise in each track, just another exit, another riff and an evolving formula throughout. It may not crush like Charmer, but it certainly runs the classic record's course. Phil Fosler's vocals match closely to that of Former Thieves' Matt Schmitz, yet waxes a bit more poetic and a bit more clear over the instrumental fun house.
It sounds negative to say that Octaves is another band less reinventing and more of a graduate turning in a solid thesis on everything great that has already been done. That's what Which Way the Wind Blows is in the most positive light. There are times when you can tell Octaves wears a bit of humor right above the heart on their sleeve, and that is just another positive to add to their sophomore record. While much of the variation that exists across Which Way the Wind Blows has been heard in the likes of Drowningman and Breather Resist - it's just done so well at a time where it's needed to be noticed and hopefully continued to be built upon in the year(s) to come. Because when the "past decade" worship turns into "the last six months" worship, Octaves will stand-out with one of 2013's most interesting records, and possibly one of the best of this new era of bands to date.
Towards the end of the pedal loops and insanity of the stand-out "Soup and Sandwich," Foster says, "all I want is someone warm who wants to listen to my records." Here's hoping most will hear this one, because it certainly deserves the attention.
|Tags: Late Night Thoughts, First Impression, Octaves
|Late Night Thoughts: Hanging Off
|I keep (uncontrollably and negligently) using the hashtag #thenewbeat to group a bunch of upcoming hardcore and punk bands together. It's a play on Refused, much like the #musicjournalismisfuckingdead tag I've been using over the last few months. As the latter teeters between a joke and real distaste towards my last job (and I guess 'current,' since I'm typing this out), the former goes back to the track "New Noise," and vocalist Dennis Lyznen's use of the phrase over and over again to exposition the song. Like "The Wave" or the "Screamo" movement most publications deemed the second and third wave before it, it holds some meaning swallowed begrungendly with a grain of salt.|
With that grain of salt, I want you to understand that in my terms, #thenewbeat means progression. It's about bands that may be paying homage to the Gravity and Dischord and Ebullition of the day, but in the context of things right now, sounds fresh. Fresh is sometimes growing out of the skin that made you famous or at least captured a buzz. It's about not wanting to write "hardcore" records anymore. It's about expanding your sound and finding comfort in new arrangements, because you're sick of the same old ride. It's happening. Title Fight's Floral Green is probably the most talked about last year, and with the new tracks from both sides of Touche Amore and Pianos Become the Teeth's recent split, the mindset that made fans of Thursday, Poison the Well and Thrice get cutthroat on each other over after the turn of each new release is happening within a contemporary scene once again. The torch was passed a couple of years ago, and now that these bands have some ounce of respect, what can they do with it?
Caravels has been one of those bands stuck between house shows and the small room. They're not wildly known by fans of some of the aforementioned bands, but they deserve a bigger following, especially after last year's Well Worn split with Gifts From Enola. In under 15 minutes, the band proved why they should be as big if not bigger than most of the more well known names within the contemporary hardcore and post-hardcore scene. (And you know what I'm talking about…not the Risecore shit. That is not post-hardcore. That is something of a mixture between glam-rock and metalcore.)
Before you read any longer, go listen to "Bone Voyage" and come back to what I have to say. You hear that? It's powerful. It tugs at your senses, and as the dynamics of the song builds and releases, it's hard to detach oneself from the heighten sense. With one listen to the first two tracks off the band's Floorboards EP, it's the same feeling. With Lacuna, the band's first proper full-length, some fans may be taken back a bit by how much the band has expanded into a more subtle and settling territory. The musical release of Lacuna feels more relaxed. It's the difference between War All the Time and A City By the Light Divided or The Artist in the Ambulance and Vheissu. All the albums are powerful, but the formers seem played out with force behind it, and the latter documents simply speak with feeling as the pieces flow along. That's what separates Caravels' full length from their former work - the flow. It's still a collection of songs lathered in anguish and anxiety, but highly concentrated in its stride and execution.
This is the line drawn across the timeline in any band's career - where it doesn't sound like pissed off teenagers being overly aggressive about their feelings and scribbling whatever ideas come out their heads into "art" or "music" or whatever. This is where your punk or hardcore band begins to showcase the confidence built in their initial buzz, while learning who they could be as musicians over time into something worth a lasting impression. Lacuna is not an album that's going to fit into the mold of the current trend, and that's fine. Ever since this scene started gaining momentum again, I've heard a lot of bands both nationally and locally "fit the mold." #thenewbeat is about staying as progressive as possible. While Lacuna will surely spark comparisons (Portraits of Past is the one that hits the mark for me), it's still one of the more finer executed steps forward in a circle that will soon grow stale in the years to come until the next #thenewbeat comes around in the cycle of the next ten years.
|Tags: First Impressions, Caravels
|Late Night Thoughts: A Brief Tutorial In Bachanalia
|I've been listening to my friends' record for the last week. It's a record that's been worked on for the last year. It's from a band you probably never heard of, even though they're connected (down to the point of recording) with many a band that receives praise and glory through the news feed of this very site and others. It's not important to tell you who they are, but to tell you their current story and where I'm going to go with it. I, and a few people I have shown a few songs to, think the music is pretty damn good to good to pretty epic. I think it's a solid release, and at the most minimalist of output with the final product, it at least deserves to get heard by how many people can hear it. Then again, that's the goal of all music ever created, right?|
There's no management, no label, no hype, no viral campaign, no six month outlook and no plans for a "spring tour" in the works. The only publicity the band has is a bio/press release I told them a year ago that I would write when they started working on the record. It is in fact an album, that when mastered at the end of the week, will be in a state of limbo. It was all funded out of the pockets of the three people who helped create the music. In this business, whether you are the one creating the music, pushing the music (management, publicists, booking agents) or writing about it (press outlets and Tumblr blogs galore!), it is all a "labor of love" with no job stability, 401K or guarantee of climbing the corporate rung based on a set output.
As someone who almost dropped out of it all, only to be blessed by a hand to pull me back in within a matter of days, I consider myself lucky and humble to be a part of a special minority of "people who actually give a shit" and still fuel their "labor of love" with a passion not lost in the muck of the day-in and day-out. I mean, I never thought I'd be happy filling out spreadsheets and taking inventory - but I also have a turntable on my desk - so fuck you society! I finally won!
Tonight ol' Nassiff texted me and asked me to read his response to Kevin Devine's Kickstarter campaign. While Devine didn't get an Amanda Palmer response just yet, he certainly won over my heart just by reading his statement about the project this morning. As someone who respects the hell out of Devine already, Nassiff also brought those sentiments home with his column tonight.
That being said, I still have my convictions about Kickstarter as a whole, and they are convictions I brought up with Nassiff over the phone after reading his column:
1) "The Whole 'DIY' Argument": You want to do something you love, well, fucking work for it. Nobody likes a fucking trust fund kid in the world of punk rock, but a kid who thinks he's so "punk rock" and "DIY" is just equally as annoying. That said, the only reason I have a laptop is because I had cancer as a kid, and I used scholarship money later given to me as a "survivor" to purchase one. It sometimes bothers me and still seems a bit shady. I mean, money to be able to purchase a laptop that I wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise, or money towards cancer research to save lives. I know it's a ridiculous stretch of an example, but I'm trying to make a hyperbolic statement that every system is abused, and that everyone is going to cry "Why not me?!" like a child...always and forever until we're all rich with gold mansions and rocket cars. Coming from someone who has always busted his ass while people around him just "get things," I get it. I've lived that feeling of frustration many times, and probably will still experience numerous times over until I'm six feet under. It's why we'll always argue about free healthcare and why some people can't get food stamps with next to no income and others making a good five figures beat the system. Deal with it. Sometimes it's not the system, it's the assholes who have access to it. Maybe I shouldn't hate Kickstarter for my "work for it dude!" attitude, I should just hate those assholes.
2) "Incentives": Here's the biggest gripe I have with Kickstarter. The linear notes, phone calls and little prissy things that super fans eat up for a couple of extra dollars. Is it necessary to whore your work out like that? An extra 7", a show in your hometown (that's probably just going to be plotted on the next tour) and even a test pressing are all tangible, not insane incentives to have fans get more "bang for their buck" as they say. (Do people still say that?) Anyway, I just think there's a fine line between "investing" money in a project and getting a return of something so low. Why not just sign all the Kickstarter funded bundles? Are you that big that your signature is worth a couple of extra dollars? Would you charge me that if I came up to you after a show? Why charge me that now? And by far, my biggest complaint is the "thank you" section that some pay for. I've been "thanked" in a few releases this past year. Most of the time, I didn't even know. It's a special moment when you go, "Oh shit. Cool. But did I do anything?" I certainly didn't pay $5 for it. To me, it just sort of bastardizes the whole system.
The truth is, in the last decade of change throughout the industry, the old ways are finally crumbling. There used to be four big shots, and now there are three. No one gives a shit about last year's American Idol, X Factor or America's Got an Hour to Kill Because Worked Sucked at My Dead End Job or whatever "talent" show is making some phone company a lot of money. There are smart people in this industry that still care about music and know how to help people make money. Unfortunately, they are few and far between. I'm lucky enough to have met and known a few in my time, but they are a minority in the overly saturated market or "music business by the books" graduates. I get that Kickstarter could be a step in the right direction in helping bands like my aforementioned friends get their music to the masses because enough people believe it should exist on some tangible level in a business where most consumers would rather just steal it because that sort of consumerism has become the norm.
With progressions this past week with Bandcamp, it's a sign that Kickstarter is not the only means to a new business end in this industry. I'm just saying that the entire system of "crowd-sourcing" as it is deemed needs some work from the users and rewarders of the program itself. We're living in a time of great ideas and expansion. Don't become greedy like our corporate relics. Let's be fair, and show the next generation that this one killed the dinosaurs and finally learned from their mistakes.
- love and respect
|Tags: Late Night Thoughts, Kickstarter, Crowd Funding, Music Industry
|Late Night Thoughts: (Other) Songs About Old Roller Coaster
|It's been five days that I've been in Los Angeles so far. One day of training in the office, and two real work days. That's not the surreal part. The surreal part is being on the other side and looking in. There are things you can't repeat (duh) and you begin to see a bit of the opposite end of the spectrum you once worked on. In time, you'll begin to grow into the opposite polar end of being within the confides of the music industry (in this case management, product, tour planning, etc.), and far removed from the other end of publicity, fandom and consumerism. You can still be a fan, but I'm sure some of the "know" will take a bit of the magic out of it all somewhat. That's fine, I've slowly crossed into that emotion throughout the years, so yes, I now know that Santa Claus isn't real and that he didn't fuck the Easter bunny like most of the uneducated portion of America believes.|
It's all smoke and mirrors, and if you're not aware of that, then you've obviously never heard of the Internet. It's disgusting, but it happens. Thankfully, I don't work for such a company, but it exists more often than not. I guess these companies haven't heard about the Internet either. In today's industry, who can you trust? That's why it's harder to get an album advance more than ever. It looks like now, even press releases will be hard to come by.
Then again, personally, that whole write-up is scum to me anyway, and is a mockery of something sacred.
But as I've mentioned in a previous entry, I have a project that's in the works to make sense of all the madness that's to come this next year. Rest assured, Cathy Pellow will be the first to read it. It's not going to be digitally transcribed through this blog or any other on the web, and it will be handwritten in a journal that my mother gave me for Christmas. There will be no names, and there will be no "tell all." It's about once again restructuring my writing into something else - the challenge of it all, and anything I have ever set out to do.
See, this past week, a good friend asked me how to get into the "writing game" or "journalism" business. After 3+ years of working during its bitter downfall, I want to tell him to run as far away as possible and get that law degree fast. It's not that "music journalism is fucking dead" because of things like this, it's for a lot of reasons, and few of which I had to get out of writing for the time being. (The irony is that I'm typing this now, right?) One of the biggest reasons is that I saw myself cycling similar thoughts about different records, different viewpoints on the industry and even catching myself contradicting my initial understanding or dismissal of certain information and/or social interaction. Another was the lack of long form in media. I don't necessarily blame it on the publication, I blame it on our spoiled nature of wanting things now and fast and cheap in the last five years.
Sure, prostitution is illegal, but we'll fuck anything if it's free, right? The death of print is not only in the death of the long form article, it's also in saying, "Why the fuck would I pay for a magazine that will take up space, when it's on the web for free and even gets to the point in a matter of minutes?" No one "has time" for the long form anymore. The progression of technology has somewhat become a crutch our mind can happen to lean against subconsciously within routine and time.
In following that line of thought, I will come to why I had to really step away: I was tired of being part of the subjective hype. Like I said in my final column last year, what's so great today isn't shit tomorrow. You can't wait four or five years to put out a record, because that's a long time where someone has come along to take your place in that listener, fan, consumer's mind. If you didn't make a big impact on that first run (that's a Catch-22 in itself - sophomore slump, forgetful third record, etc.), time is not on your side in this fast-paced, electronic dreamland of an entertainment industry. I found myself using "hype words" and "buzz phrases" in the excitement that half the time would just calm down some months and even years later. I found myself part of the problem, not the solution. It was fucking depressing to me in the last six months of the year.
Now, I'm sitting here very happy. I have no television - though I renewed my Netflix account for some entertainment escapism. I'm also trying to eat a bit better. Most importantly, I have a new outlook on life. A more positive one. I hope this year I can push all the negative tendencies I have for not only the slop most of America eats out the urinal some companies still are willing to produce, but my own apathetic views on the industry by now working within it. I thought about killing myself in 2012 multiple times toward the end because nothing in life and what I loved made sense anymore. In five days, the sun has looked bright over the hills these past few mornings when I woke up. To me, that's a great start to a new year.
- love and respect
|Tags: Late Night Thoughts, Life, Music Industry
|Late Night Thoughts: Coin Toss
|After a week without my computer, I can finally inform you all my plans for the new year. I plan to finish the book on the post-hardcore scene I started within my free time. The other part of my free time will be to work on a journal outside of this one (a written one in fact) and will chronicle something special. It's taking my Consequential Apathy column into a gonzo state of experience and retort. Other than that, this year will be amazing for music. Sargent House's current release schedule alone is incredible, and that's just one label.|
I get on a plane tomorrow night and get put into a new world, a new perspective and new rack of many hats to wear.
2012. The year that almost killed me.
2013. The year that....
...hoping for the best. I'll take on one giant at a time I guess. I'll always have a story to share with you guys. Thanks for listening for so long.
|Tags: Late Night Thoughts, Sargent House, Life, Music Industry
|Late Night Thoughts: Blood Tongue // Disease Artist
|It's been pretty surreal to think about the last week. I've worked most of it at my shitty serving job, but in seven days I've also taken care of getting rid of my car, have figured out where I'm going to store and who I'm going to sell my possessions to, and just two days ago, my ticket was purchased to head to L.A. for the next album in my catalog of a life. With a whole month still left, there is still a ton of labor to be done after the ground work is now laid out, and so many people to say "bye" to...|
...therein lies the biggest thing to cope with.
I've talked a bit about the environment we live and how it affects our daily intake of ideas, and most of the time, also our output as well. Some years back, when I first decided to move to Austin after college, many of my friends and acquaintances asked why I was moving to Austin and not New York or L.A., because for some reason, that's where they saw me fit. It's busy, crowded and usually the two largest birthplaces of hype and bullshit - two things I can't stand next to superficial behavior and "bro-ness" - as it's loosely defined. So I found comfort in the remote of Austin. That's not to say that all of that shit I hate doesn't live here, because it does.
But back to our environment: As much as I was a respected writer to some (I guess I'll use the term "was" since I'm no longer truly considered a freelance writer with my move into the other side of the industry), I couldn't have done it without the people I've met and interacted with, the experiences these past three years and especially my friends. They are inspiring. Their involvement in the smallest house show to the best venues. My closest friends with which I get fucked up with on the weekends and those I only get to see here and there. Their love of music and the arts and integrity keeps me sane.
When you pack it all up and move out to an area you're unfamiliar with, where do you go from there? The scenery changes, you start meeting people you despise, and the only comfort is that you're working for one of the most progressive entities in the business. You're working with bands that you believe can make a statement, but it's your job to make that statement last. You're not writing a review because an album captures you like no other, you're writing e-mails and press releases to push that band into the spotlight they deserve to get seen in among the saturation of an overly bloated industry that just can't take one more tiny wafer.
Friends and family keep asking me if I'm getting excited, like it's some kind of trip to Disney World or I'm seeing a band I've never seen before for the first time. There's a fine line between being excited and being anxious. "This is what you've been working towards..." and "You deserve this, you're going to kill it..." keeps coming up a lot. No one deserves anything in this life outside of shelter, food and warmth all tied back to one's own health. I haven't been healthy for a while. (That wasn't meant to be a "I had Leukemia as a kid" joke either.) But there has always been music. There has always been a build and a release. Sometimes there's a slow drone, and sometimes a bright melody. Even at our darkest moments, the ones we're a little fearful of, there is harmony in there somewhere. Call it hope, call it dedication to finding a light in all our confusion and frustration.
In 2013 I'll be plucked once again from familiar territory and thrown into something where it's "Titanic or Phelps." Over the phone she asks, "How organized are you?" Well, I've kept my sanity, finances and passion afloat for this long, I think having one focus is going to make that better. If that answer isn't enough, trying waiting tables for the Sunday brunch crowd in any restaurant within a mile radius of a church or two. Now that's sink or swim.
- love and respect
|Tags: Late Night Thoughts, Life, Sargent House
|Late Night Thoughts: In The Branches of Yggdrasil
|Okay, so I know I said I was stepping away for a while, but everything sort of happened so fast today. One minute I was reading texts and social feed updates from colleagues and readers about my decision to step down, and the next minute Cathy Pellow was updating the Sargent House Twitter feed with an announcement that I would be leaving Austin for Los Angeles to work at a company that's been a real dream of mine to get fully behind all these years. I'm excited as I am anxious. But I'm giving up everything to get out there and do this.|
All these years I've been griping with how to change the industry, and now (like I've said in the past) I have the opportunity to do just that. Get into the belly of the beast while working with an amazing entity of this industry. I've always told people how much Pellow inspires me. Anytime I needed to call and talk, she answered. Anytime I needed advice or to think I wasn't crazy, she put not only my concerns, but my fears at ease. She's one of my biggest fans and mentors in my life.
This all fell into place at this unplanned, yet strategic lapse of short time. It's unexplainable because you never saw it coming, but it makes sense at the moment in the grand scheme of things. It's complicated, but somehow natural. Now, I'm about to bridge the gap here between jobs. As the first perk of my job, I've gotten a chance to listen to 220.127.116.11.0. If you were happy with the two tracks you've been able to hear so far, you'll fall in love with this record. While you can't denounce the skill and slickness of Animals, the band's sophomore album turns those skills into more formidable tracks. No British swagger is lost in the mix, but you get an album that's a cross between American Football's glorious self-titled and Local Native's Gorilla Manor. There are a ton of interesting layers to pull back with each listen, but it doesn't sound like a jaw-dropping show-off session. There are just a ton of savant pop songs. Like Maps and Atlases, Tera Melos and Portugal. The Man, This Town Needs Guns is another band that has figured out how to craft beautiful melodies within the spectrum of their instrumental prowess.
Sure, this may seem bias because of my association with Sargent House now, but I can say that I'm even more stoked that this is how I will be starting my year with the company.
- love and respect
|Tags: Late Night Thoughts, This Town Needs Guns, First Impressions
|Consequential Apathy: Killing Yourself to Live
|I just can't stop thinking about Lester Bangs' death. It's sort of toiled on my mind for the last couple of months. Bangs died at the age of 33 in New York. Unintentional or not, he died after ingesting three different types of drugs. It was reported that he was listening to The Human League's Dare. The thing that keeps scratching at the back of my cerebral when it comes to all of this is not that Bangs died of a drug overdose, or that he was listening to early post-punk pioneers who crossed over into minor mainstream success. What bothers me is whether or not Bangs got to say everything he wanted to say about music before his death. He lived through the '60s and '70s. These were the golden ages of rock and roll, a less saturated market of commodities and touring acts. He got to experience the birth and death of punk and died listening to one of its predecessors.|
Still, there was no experience of where the rock that Bangs both denounced and admired turned into. There is no experience of lavish hair metal. He died before Damaged could truly make an impact. He'll never know what a man like Kurt Cobain could do to music. Bangs will never be able to rattle on about how the digital age is killing the industry and and how the resurgence of vinyl is a trendy sham that will only explode "new arrival" bins in the next ten years. In the time of his many musings and mad ramblings he cemented a lot unabashed biased and thought about both the artists who create and the industry who flips it. Beyond that, he called out his fellow writers and critics as well.
He was a mad, deranged, anxious, disturbed human being who truly loved music on a valued level many of us, myself included, will never fully understand. At a time of "hype" and social registry that moves so quickly, we forget about bands that blow us away in the span of the beginning of the year when they were two thousand-whatever's brightest new hope to save, blah blah blah…and then they may only get an "honorable mention" at best come time to write up that "best of things everyone has their own opinion on" lists we'll sit and argue and scoff over for hours flipping through.
This past weekend I decided that I'm burned out and I need to walk away. Doing this and not having a stable job to back it has been both draining on me mentally and physically, and it's time to put my mind on this industry to rest. In the last three years I've grown to understand many things and become aggravated by many others as well. For me, it's my time to move on. I've said all I feel I could have said about this industry, punk rock, our relationship with music, etc.
Doing what you want to do is not easy. I feel like I'm writing that sappy "band break-up" note we post at least once a week. When you start to gain any sort of success, there is a world around you that will latch on and never let go. You will meet people who you can trust and admire, and you will meet others with their own agendas that include you as a small piece of their bigger puzzle. The music industry is like a darker humor version of Dilbert crossed with the insanity that is the plot of Airheads. There are a lot of laughs, but most of the time you're just shaking your head going, "This makes no fucking sense."
Still, I'm in a position where people respect my opinion. So I'll leave you all with three keys to success in this life: honesty, humbleness and humor. Be honest with everyone from your friends to your business partnerships. Sure, there's a couple of white lies and stretches in there, but just be upfront about shit. Be humble and thankful for opportunity. I've watched people act like they're entitled to something, when you're downright entitled to nothing and should be thankful you're not sitting in a cubicle punching numbers or flipping patties or listening to the "checkout beep" for hours on end. Lastly, have a sense of humor. Crack a joke sometimes. Don't take life too seriously, or you'll drive yourself mad. Even if it makes you crack a smile and no one gets the joke that makes sense to you in your head - it's a natural nirvana.
As this door, chapter and metaphor comes to a close in my life, hopefully another one is about to open. It's going to be even more frustrating, but it's something I believe in and can get behind one hundred percent. It's a position I've been complaining about on the Web for years, and it's finally time I make my way into the system to cash that big fat check I wrote with my mouth. I'll be able to say more on that soon, but for now, the future looks bright and I'm ready to take all this passion and channel it into something full-time, even if it means giving up most of my free time, travel and property to do so.
From the bottom of my big fat heart that sits atop my big fat stomach, thank you.
Don't cry for me, I'm already dead.
Mr. Gumble, this is a girl scout meeting....
- love and respect
|Tags: Consequential Apathy, Life, AbsolutePunk, Lester Bangs
|Consequential Apathy: Shake Harder Boy
|In 1994, Unwound released New Plastic Ideas through Kill Rock Stars. A year prior, Nirvana would release their third record, In Utero, and the rest is grunge history. There's a blur between the years of 1993 and 1996 where grunge became indie and indie became one hit radio wonders now cased in a not-very-quickly-sold The Buzz packaging on an even more outdated system of commercial spots. If you haven't heard New Plastic Ideas and worship(ed) the groundwork that Nirvana paved into mainstream gold for so many others, one listen to the opening "Entirely Different Matters" should wake you up. I've even heard rumored that at a point in time, Unwound and Nirvana shared a practice space together.|
So in an era where bands like The Pixies, Unwound, KARP, Pavement and Fugazi should have moved from underground gods to mainstream integrity, they didn't. Even The Pixies didn't see such mainstream exposure until the film adaptation of Fight Club brought the Surfer Rosa favorite "Where is My Mind" into nu-hipster glory, and for a brief moment "Here Comes Your Man" seemed like a one-hit wonder to some in a certain lapse of time. Now, today, Doolittle is not only a rock staple for critics, scholars and hipsters alike, it finally has a mainstream folklore captivated behind it. In fact, I'm sure many a mainstream music consumer thinks "Where is My Mind" is off that very record.
I was sitting on my couch the other night watching Botch's DVD of their final show. I'm not sure if its the recent rock star news as of late that just boils under my skin, but I grabbed my phone and started a tirade on Twitter. To those of you who started following me because of it - I'm sorry. But in this grandiose moment of clarity I went, "Oh fuck, how did we go from a band like Botch to Falling in Reverse?! How did Fear Before the March of Flames put out The Always Open Mouth, and then we got five years of breakdown after formulaic breakdown and Whine Fests about being friend zoned?!"
Yes, I got that you were mad at Norma Jean for "ripping off" Botch, but at least they did it well. I don't understand why Enter Shakari's new album is being compared to The Shape of Punk to Come, and for the love of god, someone please explain to me why we need so many side projects these days?
None of this bitching is new to any of my 20 regular readers. So I must digress into the "why?" of all of this, because it all of a sudden hit me after watching this YouTube video/sketch this past week. (Now, it should be noted that it is a skit and not the real head of MTV's programming. In fact, the head of MTV's programming did not renew his contract, and Susanne Daniels is now in the drivers seat after this week.) But the skit does make a lot of valid points as to why a channel that truly was a marketing tool to sell music is no longer as relevant as it was in the '90s - the stretch of time some of us will never want to give up on.
Seriously, Nickelodeon is ruining the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise and Disney has bought the Star Wars franchise and no one is doing anything about it. Fucking kill me.
The other night I did troll this thread. I did it for two reasons. The first being, I thought it was funny. Plain and simple. The second being that the compilation which sold enough copies to be #16 in the United States is fucking terrible. For some reason, these rock star, gimmicky scraps of music - if we can even call it that - is outselling real rock bands. These bands are being financially supported and the other pool of talent - some of which I like and some I'm not into - have like one big festival a year and still tour to mid-sized venues.
You kids are paying to go see a guy who literally stopped a show to kick out the people who put money in his pocket, over a personal discrepancy with another band. You're still buying tickets to support a band that has cancelled numerous tours for being rock stars and making mediocre albums about how tough life is. On the reverse side, as well as the "Wave" - or whatever - is doing on the polar opposite end of all this resounding bullshit, there are kids in that scene that just download and download and never put back in.
To go back to the MTV skit, it's your fault. It's our fault. We ruined good music. We have always ruined good music. When we ruin good music, the person on the other side of that trying to make a living, half of them don't really fucking care about music. Clear Channel doesn't care if Bieber is huge or if Circa Survive breaks into mainstream rotation. If Issues' and Balance and Composure's next albums break into the top five best selling records for the month, there will be singles from each played back to back - because that's what fucking sells.
The real problem with why one band succeeds and another doesn't is how much support we put into it. It blows my mind when a PR person wants our publication or any other publication to "push" a band or "push" an exclusive. Exposure exists in more forms than just this publication, Alternative Press, SPIN, Pitchfork, etc. There were kids crawling over each other during Title Fight the other night. As I asked Michael York from Pianos Become the Teeth if it was like this every night, he simply looked back and said, "This is actually pretty tame." Sure they got a song released on NPR and a stream through SPIN, but none of their fans give a shit how they get to hear the band's music - it's that they support it.
I said this already, and it's not a joke - music journalism is fucking dead. Publications, affiliates like MTV and festivals like South by Southwest are leveled wormholes to the general public. A great label is a great support system, but it's not the only iron lung you need to keep your band in to survive on. In 2012, I've learned there is apparently still room for rock stars because some of you kids keep buying into this garbage. This isn't a long argument about how my music is better than yours or whatever. This is about actions speaking louder than LPs.
To end this, I'll just take from a friend and personal influence who put it best last week: "There are just so many artists out there that are working their asses off and making great music that deserve your support and attention. Just my opinion."
It's mine too Matt. I'm sure there are a ton of people who feel the same way. A lot of people who still care about the art of music. It can be the dance-noise of HEALTH, the story-telling of Kendrick Lamar, the pure rock of Metz or the youthful angst of Title Fight.
When there's so much to choose from, why pick from the Jersey Shore of record bins.
- love and respect
|Tags: Consequential Apathy
|Consequential Apathy: Exit 152
|There's a fine line that some music journalists ride that I often wonder whether it's a lie or they really grew up in the hippest parts of America and were listening to Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted before they even entered high school. Or were they listening to Tantric and Live, went to college and acted like the first 18 years of their lives never existed. I'm not sure if it's denial, or I just wasn't that cool when I was their age.|
The thing is, I know I wasn't that cool. I still am not.
I remember you telling me what you told me. The first relationship I was ever in. I felt hurt. I felt angry. I told you to get out my car. I quickly sped off. For some reason, the speakers in my car wouldn't turn up loud enough. As I parked the car and walked back to the dorm, I heard you crying in the distance, calling out my name to talk. I didn't want to talk. You said enough for the both of us.
So as much as this past weekend has meant to me seeing bands like Braid, Refused and The Promise Ring. I discovered those bands late in high school or in the case of The Promise Ring, my formidable college years. To me, it doesn't make their music mean any less or more as to when I discovered the band. Each one is just another rung in the ladder.
What really got me this week was my fellow staffer and friend Ryan Gardner's review of Taking Back Sunday's Tell All Your Friends 10th Anniversary Tour here in Austin. Ryan and I have a very significant age difference sitting between us. So when I was in high school rocking out to one of our generation's most influential records, Gardner was nine-years-old. Honestly, I can't even remember what I was listening to when I was 9. Probably the radio? It was my last year of having Leukemia, so that part of my life is a blur in itself.
As my best friend since high school - who was in town for Fun Fun Fun Fest this past weekend - and I pushed through the crowd, there were a lot of young faces mixed with ones my age. Given the fact that Taking Back Sunday's original line-up is now back together, at the age of sixteen, I didn't even get a chance to see this moment until now. (Well, it should be noted that I've seen the guys play together twice since then, but to play an album like this all the way through, is a whole other level of nostalgia.)
I don't remember much from last night. I remember going to bed early, shutting the door to my room while the party continued in my apartment. Now as I'm getting up, I can hear you laughing from the other room. The room of my best friend.
There's something special about an album like Tell All Your Friends. It's a feeling that runs through records like Say It Like You Mean It, Sticks and Stones and all those other heartbreaking records as a teenager. There's probably a Fall Out Boy record in there for some of you. At least sixty percent of the Saves the Day catalog is just an uphill fight about love, loss, rejection and awkwardness. Then there's Deja Entendu, equally rotated with Friends in my younger years.
These albums stick just as much as Usher's Confessions or Copeland's Beneath Medicine Tree. Which, between them, they're the same record really.
What makes me wonder about the longevity of an album like Tell All Your Friends is why it has stuck for so long? Is it the anger and frustration felt through out? Is it everything we want to say, but lack of words thereafter? Is it that in the struggle of relationship after relationship, both platonic and romantic, we've already attached ourselves once to such a record, that it's a comforting reminder of sorts in the years to come? The fact that it stuck through a decade, kid after young kid, the same bullshit and the same feelings. It's incredible really.
I'm pretty exhausted from the weekend so far, but I'm leaning against this empty guitar cabinet thinking of us. Yes, yes Adam, that's exactly what I want to tell her. Now I'm belting it out. I'm 26 standing to the side of this young crowd, and I'm still singing out every perfect quip that I want to text her right now. I wonder when I'll grow out of this.
What really struck me is the look on Gardner's face after the show. It was like the look on my face after seeing Refused, Braid and The Promise Ring this weekend. I saw something I missed out on. Something that meant a lot to me for so many years that I never experience at the time I discovered it. While Refused never wrote an album about heartbreak and pulling yourself out of a personal ditch, each album you hear holds a significance for one reason or another. It could be a sound, it could be the musicianship, it could be the songwriting or it could be a feeling and attachment. There are records in my library that will always be cataloged to a moment in my life for better or worse. The coolest part is how it holds meaning to generations younger than me.
I think, well, what if I was a ladies man. Would all these records mean as much? Would they just be great records laced in excellent songwriting with no personal attachment? Does that make them better or worse then? Does that make me and millions of others understand them more or less than others? In the end, that attachment in any form makes for a special keepsake. That substance in music is why I keep trudging along writing these rants. Somewhere out there, there are a few people who get it, and my story doesn't seem as lame as it does inside my head.
I can feel you getting distant. I feel myself doing the same. The only thing I'll regret is that I never let you hold me back.
- love and respect
|Tags: Consequential Apathy, Taking Back Sunday, Nostalgia
|Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012: Sunday
|The final day of one long weekend. I had awoken soar and spent from a long Saturday. It was worthwhile to stay out a bit later to see Sainthood Reps, La Dispute and Regents tear apart the new Holy Mountain venue in Austin. Given the extra hour, I just couldn't make it to Retox, which I'm highly bummed about missing. With a little sleep, I headed back to the park for one final day of glory. Between Fang Island, The Promise Ring, Japandroids and Fucked Up - there was a lot of rock and fun to be had.|
I got to the park early to catch what I thought was Fang Island's set moved up, but instead I got to see UME, an Austin based rock outfit that tore up the early afternoon. There's been a lot of buzz about this band not only around town, but nationally as well. There's a noise-garage feel to the three piece that just washes over you. To sum it up bluntly: It's Courtney Love with class and style.
After wandering for water, some friends and I made it front and center for Fang Island, who even in the blistering sun, put on an intense live show, even tossing a free vinyl out to the crowd. Whether or not you feel like Fang Island shifted their sound drastically, added more vocals, personal complaints I've heard, etc. - you still have to love these guys. I don't think Major is a step back, it's just a different spin added to the party mix.
Okay, so I wanted to see A Place to Bury Strangers, but I decided to go hangout with Sainthood Reps and La Dispute before the guys left to hit the road. I walked up on Liturgy, who, I just don't get it. It was awful. Everyone around me thought it was awful. I'm not sure what I was watching. It sounded like a backing track to some dilapidated haunted house ride. Am I missing the praise here?
The guys in La Dispute put on an intense show. I know that I know the guys, so you can spew all over my bias, but it's great to see them getting the recognition they're getting, and I'm excited for their slot on the upcoming Hot Water Music tour. They never disappoint. I hung out a bit afterwards, met Alex Garcia-Rivera of Give Up the Ghost, talked a bit about how it used to be and how it is now, and then I ventured out to watched Japandroids. Unfortunately the bright setting sun was killing a bit of my enjoyment as it was coming down directly behind the black stage, but the set was great nonetheless. It was one of the biggest crowds of the weekend at the black stage as well with just as much dust being stirred up as there was during some of the weekend's more heavier acts.
Long live rock and roll in any form.
So here's the deal. I'll be completely upfront and honest about my actions before The Promise Ring. Maybe it was because we were front and center having to begrudgingly sit through Deerhoof (and before you smirk back, I like Melt-Banana), but my friends and I got pretty hammered. So when The Promise Ring took the stage and opened with "Size of Your Life," it was college again when I discovered the band, and I was again drunk and being emotional about a girl sitting and listening to Wood/Water. If that's not nostalgia, I don't know what is. It was a great time, and an even greater set list to back it up.
I was sobering up during Lagwagon's set. While the band wasn't a major notch in my teenage CD holster like NOFX, New Found Glory, No Use For a Name or The Vandals were, there's something about that sound that brought me back. I think that's a powerful thing when looking back at your timeline of music discovery, that a specific sound can do that to you. It was a set full of laughs and punk rock and for a minute I thought I had to get up at seven the next morning to catch the bus.
I ended my weekend with Fucked Up's phenomenal set. Apparently the band played in Japan the night before, so to have the set they had was mind blowing. This is my fourth time seeing the band, and I'm sad to see them hang it up. Of all of punk rock's frontmen that should be remembered, a lot of praise should be given to Damian Abraham. He gets in that crowd and just gives off the most inviting and positive vibes any I've ever seen out of any punk band. After quite a weekend, this couldn't have been a better way to end it.
Thank you to Transmission Entertainment for having me again this year. This is my Christmas. It never gets old and is always full of surprises.
|Tags: Show Review, Fun Fun Fun Fest
|Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012: Saturday
|I have so much to spill out about Saturday, and yet I'm still quite speechless as to what happened that night. I saw Dustin Harkins walking out of the pit caked in sweat and dirt. He's trying to figure out what he just witnessed. Myself? I'm walking away shaking my head, "Holy fuck. Holy fuck. That was unreal. Holy fuck." Reunions can be a time of nostalgia and fun, or sometimes a band comes back and just denounces the last decade of punk rock they helped build. Refused said they wanted to "do it right" this time around, and if you witnessed what I saw Saturday night, or any of the shows earlier this year, you know that's a fucking understatement.|
Let me backtrack through the day first, and then I'll ramble about Refused's set more. I got to the park to catch the last few Joyce Manor songs, but I already had a beer in hand and was ready for Red Fang. Yes, during the epic part of "Wires," I did take a couple of shots of whiskey from my buddy's flask. Even though I was beading in sweat from the sun sitting directly over the black stage, I couldn't control my head banging and early afternoon air guitar.
I was front and center with a lot of friends for Braid's set. I missed their club set the night before since I was seeing the Tell All Your Friends tour (no complaining, it was awesome, and I will get to that in this week's 'Consequential Apathy' column). I'm really glad the guys are back, playing the classics and making music again. I wasn't the biggest Hot Water Music fan growing up, so this is my HWM reunion. So many fist pumps while belting out those beautiful choruses.
I was catching up with a friend while Why? was playing, but it sounded great. I'm not sure there's ever been a Why? show I've been to that's been disappointing though…
I caught a couple of Surfer Blood songs. Went well with the early evening weather, but I ended up watching Wyatt Cenac and David Cross right after. Both sets were great, but I thought Cenac was more solid than Cross in the end.
I headed back to the black stage to hangout before Refused's set. Not much knowledge on Seaweed (see, I don't know everything) but with talk going around, I knew I had to catch them. It didn't disappoint. Kind of scratching my head wondering why this band was not part of my teenage years actually. Great set. I caught most of Youth of Today from the stage. Not my style of hardcore, but the band certainly put on an energetic show. While Youth of Today is not only an influence to Refused, the Swedish outfit also toured with Youth of Toady's vocalist, Ray Cappo, other band Shelter. Saturday night, both bands gave shout-outs to the other.
Here's to community.
I'm not a huge Wavves fan, but it wasn't a bad set, a little boring. It was the first time seeing The Sword, and the band was spot on, riff after riff. Again, not a band I frequent, but a solid show. As I scratched my head wondering why Youth of Today wasn't a direct support to the band that owes them praise, I began to question myself. Why couldn't bands like Wavves and The Sword be direct support? It's all punk and metal just their own. Hell, they should have had a DJ before for that matter.
I was standing behind the stage with one of my best friends and Jason Bartell and Marc St. Sauveur of Fang Island watching the band get set-up. What was ironic about the situation was that a punk band who ended in a basement in Virginia was now having their rig set-up by someone else. I think of what they said about having things "perfect." As bands move out of the basements and into bigger audiences, they hire techs and tour managers to make sure things go off more "perfect." They want the way they sound to expand into a spot on performance. As you get bigger in this industry, your expectations grow as well. So again, I was standing there fighting my teenage standards with my elder knowledge.
I could feel this year of nostalgia coming to an end as my mind was racing in anticipation.
I watched the first two songs from behind, witnessing David Sandström just annihilate his kit. I could see so much going on from behind the amps that I pushed my way back out front. For the next hour I was blown away. Saying everything was "perfect" is just being at a loss for words. Hearing "The new beat!" belted out live, the drums on "The Deadly Rhythm," and the chants during "Rather Be Dead," it was all overwhelming. When the violin sample kicked in before "Tannhäuser / Derivè," I felt goosebumps. Vocalist Dennis Lyxzén said many things on stage Saturday night, but there was an admittance to being young and angry, and that through everything, just do something. As the last chants of "Boredom won't get me tonight," rang through the crowd, I've put my formidable teenage years behind me for the moment and now realize that the future can be whatever I want it to.
|Tags: Show Review, Fun Fun Fun Fest
|Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012: Friday
|It's that time of year again. Remember when Ace Ventura says, "SUUPE PER BOWL TIME!" in part of his dialogue? Replace that with "Fun Fun Fun Fest," and that's how I feel about the seventh annual festival here in Austin. This is my Austin City Limits. The festival, albeit for larger acts like last night's RUN DMC reunion and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros closing out Sunday, is not about packing in large acts to sell tickets, Transmission Entertainment has been very vocal about booking who they want to book. Watching Against Me! then a bit of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and then X performing one of punk's staples, Los Angeles, this is about the outer sweet brine of punk, hip-hop, indie and comedies niche audiences - and it works.|
We got to the park early to check out Tia Carrera based on Wayne's World alone. (I know, different spelling.) While the gorgeous front woman of Crucial Taunt was not on stage, a three piece, loud jam session was a hell of a way to start the day of heavy acts to follow. I was able to catch Fidlar who impressed me with their sharp style of punk rock. They're not gritty enough for No Idea enthusiast, but have more swagger than the nu-pop punk gambit. Definitely an act many of you on this site should give a listen to. A band that is clearly a sharp, clean cut.
After catching a bit of Mustard Pimp, I thought I was running behind to see Torche, but ended up seeing the tail end of Kvelertak. Swedish metal that sounds like it was put together in the swamps of the South. Torche was next, and didn't disappoint. It's a shame this band isn't bigger. Tight rock and roll with amazing signatures and lush tones. Torche is great on record, and even I admit I should give the band more spins once and a while, but seeing them live is something else, and reminder of the word "underrated."
I'm not sure what I can say about Cursive that I haven't already. Each time I see them, their songs bloom new life. If you've never seen Cursive, go see them. If you've already seen Cursive, still go see them again. I caught the tail end of Napalm Death, but it didn't come close to the poise, technicality and intensity of Converge. It's a band that gives their all, and Jacob Bannon controls the crowd every time I see them. There is a reason Converge has earned their legacy, and if you've seen them live in any capacity, you know why.
I caught a few Tomahawk songs, but headed to meet up with Dustin Harkins and we met up with my other friend who was catching the end of El Ten Eleven. Then, out of nowhere, Val Kilmer, either acting in Doors-esque flashback of drunken swagger or just plain drunk, performed with The Black Lips as a special performance, which was just a filming for the upcoming Terrance Malick project. Entertaining, but the worst Refused reunion set ever.
I ended up missing Earth, which I'm still sitting here bumming about, but I did catch Against Me!. Tight, loud, abrasive and one of the biggest crowds of the day (even more so than the headliner X). Laura Jane Grace's voice towers over the Black Stage attendees, and really shows Against Me!'s music will not slow down anytime soon. My friend wanted to catch Bun B, so we left the set a few songs early and ended up catching the end of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Here's the thing, this is not my cup of tea by a long shot, but for a live show, it was pretty damn good. I didn't stick around for Bun B and headed to X.
I will say this about X's set. Considering how old the band is and the time when Los Angeles came out, they still rocked out those songs and vocalist Exene Cervenk had a ton of energy. The album and performance still held up after all these years. For those who saw Against Me! directly before, I hope you stayed around to see where the blend of punk rock, blues and rockabilly blended to create one of punk's most heralded records.
I will say this about the RUN DMC performance: it was shorter than expected, but still a blast. I got emotional twice last night. Once when Exene Cervenk gave a shoutout to not only Austin, but New Orleans as well, and when it was announced by Rev Run that it was Jam Master Jay's kids on stage spinning the ones and twos. The group played all the hits, everyone had a blast, I even danced a bit to "Tricky," and all and all it was a great time.
|Tags: Show Review, Fun Fun Fun Fest
|Consequential Apathy: The Total Request Live Programme Was A Hoax
|"The biggest lie about punk rock is that anyone can do it. Sure, anyone can do crap punk rock, but there is a fine art to taking a music fueled by destructive impulses and building it to last." - Stuart Berman, "Album Review: Metz' Metz" Pitchfork. 2012|
Berman makes a bold statement at the beginning of his review for Metz' self-titled which was released earlier this month to glowing praise. The album does hold water to said critical justification just as much as Berman's statement about punk rock. While listening to Metz' latest record this week alongside cloakroom's EP and revisiting New Plastic Ideas and Nevermind as fodder between them, 2012 has been the year that time remembered. We once again felt the dirt wedged between our fingers and our nails and the music which accompanies it. It's now a time of idol worship and nostalgia, and the fine line we ride between the two varies from elitist to even more elitist publications back to the even more elitist culture of listeners who have their head so far up their own ass, they've traveled back to the adolescent discovery of all things they consider to be "true."
Between seeing At the Drive-In continue to deconstruct the sound they more than disassembled a decade prior and the beauty and sprawl of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's out of body experience, one can say that most of our musical notches are still in tact. (I say that knowing that there is much dispute about the former.) Between a new Hot Water Music record and Texas is the Reason entering the studio with J. Robbins, it seems we just can't let go of the '90s-core musical landscape of pre-Internet showmanship.
But there's still one reunion, one time in my life I've yet to revisit, and this weekend I feel like the last decade of my life will come to a close and I will have more than a better understanding of what punk rock truly is and not what I was told it was in 2002. While it was four years after the release of The Shape of Punk to Come, I discovered Refused for the first time after seeing the video for "New Noise" on an MTV affiliated rock channel. Like videos for "One Armed Scissor" and "Understanding (In a Car Crash)," this was my first dive into "hardcore" music as I knew it to be at that point. Dead Kennedys and Black Flag were still just "punk bands" and Operation Ivy was "ska" when I was sixteen and didn't know any better and lacked any sort of back story to the bigger picture.
I didn't have ten years of research and discovery under me. Now all the pieces fit. Now I understand how we went from The Sex Pistols to Public Image Ltd. to Black Flag to Fugazi to Blink 182 to Fall Out Boy to metalcore numbness and now past 'GO,' collecting $200 through Web funding.
Just as I grew up in the suburban landscape of America, I'm not alone in how I wedged my way into the punk rock lifestyle. My story is no different than many others. I've always been an angst ridden child. I wasn't good at sports. I was very self conscious about myself throughout high school - and still am to an extent. Like many of you, at sixteen, music was the escape of emotions. But I'm not going to sit here and tell you I didn't own a copy of Significant Other years prior, or still listened to NOFX, Reel Big Fish and Blink 182 around the same time - bands some Refused fans would find "below them."
The Shape of Nu-Metal to Come.
That was my environment, and I can only be a product of it. I think that's the thing overlooked when discussing The Shape of Punk to Come. In 1997-98, it was reinventing and "new," but in 2012 it's idol worship. I didn't know who Nation of Ulysses were when I was sixteen, but now I do, and when I hear people denounce the record because of it, it's like they're ripping out a piece of what made me who I am today. It's taking a sledge hammer to the foundation of my grade school punk history 101.
All you uptight pricks just stomped on my diorama. Thanks.
The funny thing about our youthful "know-it-all" attitude is that some of us grow out of it and open ourselves to broader ranges of music, and some can't quite shake what we've always been attracted to audibly. The Shape of Punk to Come is an album centered around the expansion of what music, particularly the genre of "punk rock," could be. Beyond the references borrowed from the early hardcore scene, down to the cover for Rye Coalition's Teen-age Dance Session, the band turned it into their own for the next generation.
Somewhere, at some point in the first decade of the millennium, a line was drawn between holding our elders sacred and handing down old ideas to create new ones. There are more listeners and critics (including my guilty self) who would rather blame the next batch of bands for turning a trick than doing their best at reinventing the wheel over time. It really bothers me at this point that some of us are still in this mindset.
Tim McTague said something that just blew me away this past week in an interview with Alternative Press about the disbanding of UnderOath and about their legacy. He said, "It was this effort of a bunch of small things coming together, that obviously, we can’t take credit for—people we don’t even know probably played a massive part. It was just this thing that came out and I just kind of smiled for the fallen great bands, for the Froduses and the At The Drive-Ins, or Refused—who are obviously back and destroying everyone in their path. But at the time, all those bands that almost got there but didn’t. [Underoath] will never be dropped in the same conversations. No one from Refused will ever care about our band. I’m sure Justin Beck from Glassjaw hates our band—and that doesn’t matter. We know we’ll never connect with or inspire [the members of those bands]. They inspired us. Our music career is in honor of what they started."
It's sad to read that quote considering how far UnderOath pushed themselves as a band, the fact that they brought These Arms Are Snakes out on one of their first big tours and that like Poison the Well, UnderOath is that band that drew up the blueprint for the next wave, only to blow past them with their last three records. For some, even in the UnderOath's stride forward, they were just "ripping off Isis, etc."
The biggest tragedy to come out of The Shape of Punk to Come is that in the years to follow, we got so attached to the past that we forgot about what the future could hold. It's 2012 and we're finally digging ourselves out of the rubbish of 2005-2009's most popular hardcore, post-hardcore and punk acts to grace a Hot Topic display case.
You can sit here and bitch all you want about how Refused borrowed a few tricks from early hardcore's elite, but they also borrowed from European house music, jazz records (a genre based on ripping off other musicians and turning it into something all its own), classical string arrangements and even the blues. No one ever talks about those references. No one is defending the Bo Diddley or Igor Stravinsky allusions.
No matter the genre or sub-genres that make up punk rock, it's always been about dismantling the standard. With punk rock, there's no standard within the genre, if there was, and you're playing it, then you're not even really punk rock then, right? Punk rock's an excuse to be a rock star without having to know how to play an instrument, right? It's about being the toughest person in your crew, right? It's about cascading the most "fuck it" attitude in your lyrics, right? These standards sound familiar? That's because they're all made by us. In a genre without rules, there sure as hell seems to be a lot of them.
The Shape of Punk to Come is an album without rules. Worship and Tribute is an album without rules. Relationship of Command is an album without rules. You see where I'm going with this? But those records are references to the Bad Brains and Fugazis and Drive Like Jehus alike. So what separates their worth in history? Without Coltrane, there would be no Monk. Without the Kinks there would be no Spoon. Without the Talking Heads there would be no amount of great acts such as St. Vincent and Grizzly Bear. To put this all in a better perspective, I'll pull from what I know. To quote Roger Meyers Sr., "TV is built on plagiarism! If it wasn't for The Honeymooners, we would of never had The Flinstones! If someone hadn't made Sergeant Biko, there'd be no Topcat!" I'm ten years older than my first listen to The Shape of Punk to Come. News flash to younger readers out there: everything is built on everything. Some bands will disassemble an idea, and others will cook a pot of gumbo with many ingredients and influences.
You'll know when something is "crap," because when you move forward and backwards in time through its references, it all sounds the same. When you take a linear path through a timeline and similarities exist, but different landscapes are painted using different techniques and bases, you'll find yourself being able to sift through said "crap." It takes time and it takes growing up. You never have to grow out of punk rock, but you should learn how to use its insights to further progress.
If not, you're spending all your time on stage bitching about what's hardcore and what isn't and giving me something to laugh at on the Internet besides the "Darren Sharper 'Hold my dick!'" video.
Thanks Refused, for putting the team on your back.
- love and respect
|Tags: Consequential Apathy, Refused, Punk Rock, Hardcore, History