Monday, May 16, 2011

I remember when...

What's worse?

1) A band/musician that makes original music that is stylistically derivative and relies heavily on some sort of nostalgia from the intended audience.


2) The same, EXCEPT neither the band nor the intended audience lived through the time that one would have said nostalgia for, like the "swing" (read: "ska" bands that missed the "ska" movement) bands of the early-mid nineties.

I don't want to hate this way. It's fine, usually. It can be really good at times. And this "retro-" movement is no movement. It's been around forever. It's a convenient trick; it pushes certain buttons for the listener. And some folks do it well, and I'm not immune to the charm.

But at the same time, it's so fucking lazy. And it's genre blind. Pop, rock, jazz, and contemporary composers perhaps worst of all. Can't we do better than parrot styles and sounds that were new 10, 15, 20, 70, 200 years ago? There must be new sounds, or at the very least new ways of combining ideas across genres and media. I think so, anyway.

But if you were born in 1990 and are trying to channel 60's garage bands, I just...try harder, dude. Because that charm will last about one 45 minute set. Then I'm settling up and leaving the bar.

And if you're a fan of this sort of faux-nostalgia movement? This time warp dress-up game? I don't know what to say. It's true that I'm a pretty detached and cold listener (in terms of being swayed by forces outside of the sounds themselves), and I'm certainly in the minority. But when musicians, bands, and composers think they can pull one over on their audience by playing like 'Trane or sounding like early Pink Floyd or writing big simplistic "Romantic" orchestral usually works.

But not on me.

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