Saturday, March 20, 2010

Soapbox #1

So I heard Broken Bells on the radio and thought of two things:

    “The High Road” sounds like a pretty standard song from Ian Brown’s solo career, (but with better song-writing). And “The Ghost Inside” sounds like an outtake from the Dandy Warhols’ 2004 album “Welcome to the Monkey House.”
    Upon these comparisons, my initial reaction is- “Well,  it’s not bad, but I’ve heard other bands/artists do it better.”
    However, I thought about it a little bit more. Really, James Mercer and Brian Burton have some good music here - (honestly, I think it’s 75% Burton, cause this guy seems to have the Midas Touch nowadays)……{cue production credits of Danger Mouse}……. But I’ll also say that James Mercer’s song-writing is a near equal in this collaboration.
    But why that reaction of “I’ve heard this before from another band that did this”?
    Well, it’s simple…….  There’s nothing new. Everything is a rehashing of influences.
    Now, this isn’t exactly a bad thing.  The thing that frustrates me is that people fail to see/hear the history of the music they’re currently listening to. When people listen to a song they really love and fail to realize that it’s clearly derivative of another band from 10 years ago, it seriously irritates the crap out of me!
     Now, there are casual listeners who wouldn’t understand this, and that’s fine. But I’ve known people who have the same love of music as I do, who don’t even comprehend this concept. Every piece of music we listen to has some form of history behind it.
    Example:  Muse has a distinct Queen fetish and they clearly listened to a lot of early Radiohead, (if you haven’t noticed this, then chances are you’re probably deaf).  Now, Muse sounds derivative  of both of these comparisons, yet they don’t sound the same as them. That’s the beauty of those influences, maybe you haven’t listened to Queen or early Radiohead - then Muse can be your gateway-drug to some other amazing music…
    More Examples:

    I could make a longer list, but the point is this:  Whatever you’re listening to now, there are some really great artists/bands behind them that you should check out. Stop just listening to music and find out why you like it. Do a little research, and you’ll be glad you did.

(And this blog’s Song Of The Week is:     The Killing Moon”   by Echo and the Bunnymen )
For all you Donnie Darko fanatics - like me…


BrianV said...

I am probably as guilty as anyone--I just find music I like and listen to it. This is a good challenge for me--I need to do a better job of truly appreciating good art, and not simply exploiting it!

I did have to note your mention of Muse's influences. Awhile back, Liesl and I were listening to a few sound clips from their latest and I mentioned that I thought they sounded almost like a direct rip off of Queen! I'm sure the album as a whole isn't that extreme, though.

Bryan said...

Yeah, I'd say if you picked up the Queen influences with Muse, then you're definitely a step ahead of most people.. Some people can't even pick up on even that..
I appreciate your insights, Brian, thanks for joining in the conversation!

Scott said...

I definitely agree with your Muse:Queen comparison, and the overall commentary that the history behind the bands is a huge factor in their music today. I love seeing who my favorite bands listen to and looking for the trends. Speaking of history, what do you think of STP's new sound? I'm not a fan; I hate to be another "but they've changed too much" voice, but they have, and they blend in to the radioscape.

Bryan said...

Well, Scott... I've never been a huge STP fan, (although I own Purple almost entirely for the song "Big Empty"). But I've enjoyed their music enough to pick up a lot Led Zeppelin in the Deleo's riff-writing.
As for "Between the Lines", I can't say that it jumps out at me as a great STP tune, and I can definitely agree that it blends in more "with the radioscape." (good term for it, by the way! =-)
In regards to the "they've changed to much" standpoint... I know how you feel! It seems we all find bands that click with us at a certain point in our life, and when we try to follow them over periods of 10 years or more, their music changes, (sometimes not to our liking....).
I've thought the same thing with Wilco, Radiohead, etc... Do I wish Wilco was playing more country-inflected classic rock stuff? Yes.
Do I wish Radiohead would go back to using loud guitars? Hell, yes!
However, that's not gonna happen anytime soon. While I can still enjoy these bands' more recent output, I'm still always going to truly love a time-frame of their music from the mid-90's.
It seems that good bands change over time, and that crappy bands stay stagnant - and then disappear off the face of the earth.
I could be wrong on this, (this could just be early-morning speculation...), but I do understand your frustration - and unfortunately, there's not a damn thing we can do about it. =-)
What we can do is keep going back to those great albums that we truly appreciate and stick with those.