Tuesday, August 29, 2006

But What's New About It?

It seems that every single genre of everything is in a perpetual waiting position for the next big thing: the record to define the decade, where video games are going next, whose the next psychotic hillbilly to be the boss of the country, etc. And within this chronic state of anticipating suspension, music takes the cake for being the most painful to watch, each new challenger stepping into the ring with claims of having "the best record of the last 20 years" (what record came out two decades ago that has stomped all other records? Joshua Tree? If so, I can think of some albums better than that, including a U2 album), only to be struck down with our banshee like margarita of snores and dick-yank claims of "This sounds exactly like_____, therefore it is terrible and I am awesome!".

Nirvana was probably the last leader of a movement of rock n'roll, not just musical style. The early '90s saw the monkeys taking over the zoo again, something that hadn't been seen since the late '70s. There was an air of the new, new ideas coming forth from all directions into all fields, a sense of optimism that things were going to get better despite everything being so shitty. And of course there were loads of generic shit everywhere, so much so that everybody was using the same quotes about music that we're using now ("It was never better than Zeppelin"), but there was that sense of change, danger in what people were saying, excitement. Now, just like all things, that excitement steered into the direction of stale consumerism, great ideas being molested by unoriginal receipt checkers, but despite this, the period still held onto some of its excitement, selling ridiculously well in the process.

The latest saviors of music have really amounted to, on a culture scale, nothing more than a new way to sell jeans. The "the" scene was the attempt by the starving for a jolt music journalism scene to create a scene, a movement of the new. And while the music was awesome, it wasn't anything new at all, it was incredibly safe, something your mom could embarrass with telling you she enjoyed so much when she heard it while picking out her new $2.99 capris at Target she bought it right there. The whole style of music was treated as a product rather than something that's human, something for us to touch and relate to. The Wally Street Journal like analysis of music as nothing more than a collage of sounds had officially taken over the mainstream. This music was strangled to death before we ever had a chance of hearing it, a style that the Gap could get hip with at the same time the rest of us all did, and The Strokes and White Stripes have "suffered" because of it. All this applies to every type of music as well, not just rock, but hip-hop, dance, pop, whatever, leading to every parent's new catchphrase on modern music: What's new about it?

So what is this next thing? Who the hell knows, we'll meet that beast when it comes, and it will come. This decade has been a giant transitional phase that those in music are still dumbasses towards (artists and suits (wait, are those the same?)). That new thing will come, you can bet your ass on it, but its going to take a lot more than just a guitar to make it happen. Actually striving towards building a base for a audience rather than a checkout line, not ripping off those who love your music, embracing new (or really old) recording techniques to lower the ridiculous costs of making an album, hopefully leading to less financial red alert countdown for an artist (and label, although they'll have to massively change), looking towards other ways to make money, rather than something that anybody can get for free and you're giving no reason for them to do otherwise, marketing that isn't some type of open wide and prepare to swallow garbage dump of stupidity that people can see through now, no longer as entranced by faces being on billboards, at least to the point where it leads to purchases. The list goes on and on and on with the things that need to change with this business as it continues to hurdle towards some cynical black hole of black rimmed glasses and boring looking clothes/facial hair. And it may come from somewhere we're not expecting, like Asia. A lot of the "danger" of music comes from this countries fascination/xenophobia towards other countries, and right now America's new age obsession with Asia (particularly Tokyo,Japan) could be a hurdle towards that next big thing. Or it could even hillariously end up actually being Candada, the rock prophets striking blogging truth. Until then, I'll sit in my rocking chair, knitting kit in hand, put Loveless on, and bark at little kids on my lawn about the good ol' days.

P.S. That crap about nobody striving to be great is a bunch of bullshit. There's a gazillion people dumping their souls into their tunes.

2X P.S. The Arcade Fire are the next thing (please Canada, don't fail me)


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