My current musical crisis…is that there are a lot of bands that sound good to me….like Tyvek or Weekend or whatever…the first Crystal Stilts LP for example… Sic Alps...but it's not enough, something is missing like The Comet Gain song says.
The recent revelation that Moe Tucker is a spokesperson for the Tea Party means the VU style floor tom/bass drum pounding beat is no longer the sound of the revolution to my ears. I'm playing drums and I'm hearing Fox TV bullshit suddenly. It's disorienting.
Ever since that whole preppy/African trend happened in indie rock, the question is no longer "is this band radical or complacent" in my mind, but "could this band actually be made up of right wing, racist republicans"? And with "gentrification punk" and the boutique-y/cupcake climate spreading like condos, is it really enough to make a cool sounding record? Was it ever?
I remember thinking about this the first time when Pavement were popular in the early 90's. It's not that their music was bad (some of it was good I thought) it was that they didn't seem to stand for anything. Then I saw Clinic in the late 90's and I really thought it was over. This band sounded cool, sonically referenced Wire and other great post-punk guitar bands I love, but they seemed to mean nothing, they didn't matter. Or at least not to me.
So now when I hear a record I like, I don't know, I just don't really care as much as I used to. I want to know what the lyrics are, who the people in the band are…what does any of it mean to them? So they like Joy Division, the first Jesus and Mary Chain LP…so do I. But do we have anything else in common? I find myself asking people "do you think this band votes, are they liberal or conservative?" and then I'm like, what the fuck...it's the mainstreaming of indie rock...I mean whatever happened to real political discourse...I miss the anarchists and socialists of my youth. And it feels like cultural appropriation...or like something has been taken away in the buying and selling of independent music...the context changed.
So this suspicion cumulated into a general distrust of today's independent/underground music scene. And I'm back to listening to punk/hardcore again. There's a cool local punk scene and lately it's been awesome to see a lot of girls/women getting involved and starting bands (have you heard The Hysterics demo??? Hell Woman? Blood Bones? Weird TV?!!! Son Skull???), but punk has to matter too. At least the people in the bands have to believe in what they are doing. Does being in a band mean anything to these kids or are they just killing time until they decide to get back to their "real lives" or whatever? I don't want to be some old geezer who is like "when I saw Black Flag or The Wipers" bla bla bla like a nostalgic Bruce Springsteen song about nostalgia, but seriously, where is the sense of purpose? What does it mean to be in a band right now? And if your band is an exception to this climate, by all means send me your demo! My ears are dying for it. In the meantime I will be over here listening to Mecca Normal and Comet Gain and trying to write songs worth sharing with you.
But of course even when things get bleak there are musical moments to get us through…in the past few weeks I saw Weird TV play a great show at a house party, walked a few blocks and saw Joey Casio perform his poetic revelry to punk perfection. Last weekend I saw a pretty cool sounding band called Dragging an Ox Through Water (pdx). Helll (Tokyo) also played, a drone/noise band in the vein of Deerhoof/The Punks, though not rocking at all, they were contemplative and sounded interesting. Then Tara Jane Oneil played a mind blowing set, an improvish/loop station-y droning soundscape of abstract shit, interrupted by a stunning cover of The Rainbow Connection (Kermit!!!!!??!!!). She ended the show with a cool rendition of her song Dig In, where she threw bells and shakers out into the audience and we were all stomping in time with the amazing Danny Susaki on drums. Seeing these shows was great fun and reminded me that what I like about living here is that there is a community of people who play music and support each other and it doesn't have to be "genre specific" or closed-minded at all. You can go see different kinds of shows and get something out of it. Part of what is rad is that it's not consumer based, everyone participates.
I'm really looking forward to seeing Wild Flag on Wednesday and The Need/The Gossip at The Capitol Theater on Saturday. I know that music matters to these folks and I'm sure that music will mean something to me for those few fleeting moments and this is still what I hold on to and live for when I'm trying to come up with new sounds.
What means the most to you? It means so much to me!
1 month ago