So yeah, my girlfriend Rebecca is the cellist in exceptionally cool Leeds based post- Arcade Fire contemporary indie rock band Grammatics and the whole thing has stepped up a gear now alt. rock Phil Spectoresque guitarist/singer/songwriter Owen R has decided that the band have sufficiently mastered the infinite complexeties of HIS ART enough for them to GIG and generally, y'know, Be A Proper Band. What this basically translates as is: a whole buncha hassle for me. Just when I figure I'm ideally positioned to make the welcome transition from Melody Maker reading, Strokes worshipping, Ramones badge pinned to a suit jacket indie kid into Mojo reading, David Axelrod worshipping, Stax badge pinned to a fringed Buffalo Springfield jacket music snob crank...I suddenly find myself required by events beyond my control to seriously engage with a Contemporary Indie Rock Music Scene that has hitherto intruded on time I have specifically set aside for listening to Black Sabbath records only via reports I occasionally read and shake my head at disapprovingly in the New Musical Express. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
CLUB GRAMMAR: Paul Fuzz's Indie Heart Of Darkness
These kids represent The New Eclecticism: theirs is "a conceptual approach that does not hold rigidly to a single paridigm or set of assumptions, but instead draws upon multiple theories," they exist outside and beyond history, the true New Wave Of New Wave, their fashion a wild pop culture smash and grab of conflicting styles, girls dressed not like Debbie Harry doing punk trash 50's Hollywood Babylon but instaed like an army of Electrified Karen O's doing Debbie Harry doing punk trash 50's Hollywood Babylon, all polka dots and cheap plastic stage jewellery, infact all is cheap and plastic, they are the glorious Heat Magazine What's Hot & What's Not Generation realisation of Warhol's pop art Factory famefor15minutes dream, all is disposable, and oh, the poor girl need never worry again what she shall wear for all tomorrow's parties now that glamour is something you buy for £20 in H&M on a Saturday afternoon, all is pose and surface, junkie thin boys with thatkidfromBloc Party fringes, one dandy kid with a bright turquoise feather hanging from an ear stud like Adam Ant, ties and trousers thin like Joy Division but dancing to day glo acid house, they are a context-free explosion of quotations, a patchwork of half-remembered style mag references, they are Cold War post-punk revisited, the rehabilitation of the Never-Cool into the cool enough for now while I'm hopped up on cigarettes, shots-that-glo-in-the-dark and cheap amphetamines...the DJ is decked out in a lab coat, very Buggles, very New Wave Takes GCSE Chemistry, and they've even got a globe sat on the stage 'cos the whole thing's so CLEVER, like: If You Don't Know The Capital Of Every Eastern Bloc Country You're Too Dumb To Party Here, Dumb Ass, and the set list is pure democracy in action, a levelled playing field of pop which refuses to recognise genre or accepted rock n roll standards, it is an explosively irreverent smorgasboard of New Rave, Hip Hip, 80s wedding favourites, 'Good' Pop and Now! That's What I Call Indie Disco, from The Smiths to The Gossip to NWA, the canon has been toppeled and everything is up for grabs; it is the End Of History and all you can do is dance...Grammar represents the willfull, systematic destruction of Mojo Magazine orthadoxy, a Stalinist re-writing of history, may the records now state that The Year Zero of Rock Music was not 1956 0r 1966 but was infact the year of our Lydon 1976, No ElvisBeatlesRollingStones, infact nothing recorded pre-The Punk Revolution, thinkin' back 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' mighta slipped through the net as a sole acknowledgement of The -URGH- "Sixties" TM, but The Stooges don't really count as rock and roll Hall Of Famers on account of 'em bein' considered part of the alternative Velvets-punk-glam-sleaze-art school rather than the Serious White Macho Sexist Blues Musician School so Iggy get's spared while Jim Morrison & Led Zep are shoved up against a wall and machine gunned by The Slits, and I'm imagining this Cock Rock Massacre as I find myself a dark corner in the club in which to hole up for the next two hours for an evening of muttering darkly to myself and sneering at hipsters, and I begin to wonder about the extent to which irony plays a part in this whole scene; is this the democracy it appears to be? Do these cats really have no pop heiracrchy? Do they REALLY think the Top Gun Theme is 'AS GOOD' as I Wanna Be Your Dog, y'know, IN IT'S OWN WAY? Personally I don't buy it. I don't think these cats buy it either. A levelled playing field of pop might be an attractive concept, but it just ain't practical. The Grammar ideal is that of Anything Goes Anti-Snobbery, it is a space where Justin Timberlake and Gwen Stefani are played as a deliberate FUCK YOU to Rock Snob Mojo Magazine Orthodoxy, and the assembled fashonistas will merrily get on down safe in the knowledge that The New Pop Rulebook states that Justin & Gwen are GOOD POP and therefore OK TO LIKE, the sorta POP music you're supposed to quote when some old hippy gets all up in your face rantin' about how the Grateful Dead's Live In Europe '72 Triple Vinyl LP is the zenith of what can be achieved within the pop/rock milieu and how pop music just ain't what it used to be and you can be all like "Shut the hell up, Grandad! Put these fresh-ass sounds in your hash pipe smoke and smoke 'em! Pharell Williams is the new Phil Spector! Jay Z is the Hip Hop Sinatra! Girls Aloud are the ASBO Shangri Las! Just 'cos something was recorded 40 years ago doesn't make it better than something recorded last week! You wanna talk to me about Pet Sounds, old man? Dig this: Good Vibrations was the Shocking Super Creative Sound Of The New at one time too and a kick-ass POP RECORD to boot, y'know, just like the best Neptunes productions or Arctic Monkeys records are today, and presumably if you were around in 1966 you woulda been the sorta retrograde shlub bitchin' 'bout how Good Vibrations was too polished and overproduced and what's that wierd electronic "weee-eeee-eeee-oooo" sound and how it isn't as good as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band or Howlin' Wolf yadda yadda yadda and WE'D NEVER HAVE ANY EXCITING NEW MUSIC AT ALL IF IT WAS UP TO HIPPY MUSIC FACISTS LIKE YOU" and that's neat an' all except it reveals the dark dirty little secret of the Post-Everything Set - namely that they haven't done away with the canon, or indeed the very idea of "The Canon", at all, they've just come up with a new one; fer sure there is a wider acceptance here of supposed outre pop 'guilty pleasures' like Hollar Back Girl, and sure this music is sometimes chosen deliberately because it isn't dull bozo macho rock stuff, but it would be wrong to suggest that all pop music has been given the Grammar nod; Justin and Gwen make it past the velvet rope but if the DJ's dropped Matt Willis from Busted's new joint they'd be stomped to death beneath a hundred blood stained pairs of Converse, and rightly so. I want these cats to be snobs, and for them to be honest about it, not snobs like "We don't believe in canons" but snobs like "You're canon sucks. Here's our new canon. It's better." And I want their new canon to in turns violently enrage and confuse me and MAYBE, JUST MAYBE introduce me me to something I hadn't heard before and really dig (see: The Gossip's new single). I like sneering and growling at hipsters. I like slumping myself in the corner of sexy/clever indie discos and cursing under my breath the trendy music. Infact, sometimes I'm more in the mood to to sneer and growl and curse than I am to listen to music I like. I listen to music I like all day. My Booker T & The MGs records ain't going anywhere. I wanna feel affronted, my sense jarred and my sensibilities offended. Two worlds colliding. Cultures clashing. That's where the real interest lies. I want to feel out of place and dissorientated. I want these cats to shove their ungodly music in my face with avengance, and I want them to mean it. That's all I ask. "Get the hell out of our club, you bum! What, you think just 'cos nobody here has heard Dennis Coffey & The Detroit Guitar Band's all time classic 1970 funk rock monster 'Hair and Thangs' you're BETTER than them? You think any of these cats would WANT to hear it? Or CARE that they've NOT heard it? You're delusional! You're an anachronism! Look at the incredible fun these kids are having! Are you gonna be having fun in your living room later tonight playing your Vertigo Records Box Set and mumbling 'bout how these kids would realise how lame their music is if only they could hear and compare it to the progressive groove rock majesty of Aphrodite's Child's 'Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse? You woulda hated that tune yourself 10 years ago! And you woulda been right! You've lost it! You're over, dude! You're washed up! Come on in, David Crosby, your time is up!"
Labels: Indie Rock 'n' Roll
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To infinity, and beyond.