I was reading an article the other day about the supposed rebirth of alternative music. Suddenly, eager to rid the world of the dime a dozen alt rock bands like Nickelback and Puddle of Mudd, the industry is all a buzz with a new era of sound. Leading the pack are bands such as Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand, The Killers and the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s.
It’s too early to say, but already I’m feeling torn. While I’m all for good, new music (cause God knows it has been awhile), I’m still a little reluctant to call this “new” stuff revolutionary. Maybe it’s my disgruntled twenty-something self talking here, but new bands that are ALSO original at this point, seem to be a bit of a myth.
Let’s break a few down a bit, shall we?
Yeah Yeah Yeah’s- Songs like “Tick” obviously owe their sound to the likes of eighties bands i.e. Berlin and with their breakout hit, “Maps” Chrisse Hynde called and wants her mojo back.
Franz Ferdinand- Is already doing The Strokes who are ALL doing early eighties rock/new wave (insert various names of artists here).
Modest Mouse- “Float On” and others, is The Talking Heads revisited with a bit of Squeeze’s pop sensibility thrown in for good measure.
And let’s not stop at the sound… have you seen pictures of these bands? It’s like it’s 1983 all over again complete with Flock of Seagulls inspired hair “creations” and the lead singer who has mastered the indiferrent stare.
There’s also this little talked about concept called backlash. Eventually, these bands are bound to feel the pressure 1. from their underground fans who hate when indie becomes mainstream and 2. by reviewers and listeners who are eyeing them suspiciously, waiting for them to become the one hit bargain bin drop offs of a new generation.
I can remember about ten years ago when Dave Matthews had just started to become huge. Before then, their fan base was predominated by yuppy college kids making bootlegs of the 99th live version of “Tripping Billies”. Fast forward some and those same yuppy college kids are now upper middle class, yuppy newlyweds shopping at Baby Gap instead of Aeropastle. There are even cover bands devoted to covering purely D. Matthews tunes. Suddenly, Matthews is the elder statesmen, the James Taylor of Generation X if you will.
Not that this is a bad thing. It’s inevitable. Every generation needs their pop princess, their bad boy garage band, their eccentric, strangely loveable pop trio. All I’m saying is don’t pass it off as fresh. The reason YOU like it so much falls into one of the following three categories:
1. The older generation. There’s a familiarity to it. It reminds you of your own youth.
2. The younger generation. You identify with its rebelliousness, devil may care, (calculated) indifference.
3. You live under a rock. Didn’t hear it the first time and you’re just discovering this type of music. Yet since it was once a hit because it sounded good twenty years ago, everything old is new again.
All this being said, I do find myself bopping to a lot of these new tunes. I’m also constantly in the state of new artists making good music, despite what it sounds like here (so if you have any suggestions, please send ’em.)
Call it a comeback. Call it a tribute. Call it whatever you want.
Just don’t call it new.