September 28, 2005

Me and You and Everyone We Know

Saw Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know last night; what a great movie. It's cute and hilarious much like her spoken word is. If you don't know anything about her I recommend that you get on that right now.

Yesterday, I went on a quest to find me some new bands to listen to. There always comes a point where I'm just not satisfied with what I have to listen to, or I get bored of whats going around. My sources being Epitonic and the Buddyhead mp3 blog, I managed to find some good bands that have been around that I haven't really listened to.

Anywho, I got listening to The Jesus Lizard's 1991 album 'Goat' and discovered that it rules. I'm not even sure but I'd guess Steve Albini produced it because of the flatly echoing drums sounds, and overall Shellac/Fugazi feel it has. I think Epitonic sums them up the best with: "Tight as a supermodel's stomach, The Jesus Lizard plays stadium rock for the mental institution." I'm going to have to check out more of their stuff for sure.

Another great band I found was Dianogah. I'm sure I've heard them before, but their obvious Don Cabellaro influence was probably not what I was looking for at the time. This time around I grew to appreciate the sounds off their 2001 'As Seen From Above' album, though the intentionally unpolished vocals aren't really my thing. Thankfully most of the songs are instrumental.

The Mercury Program is another band I'm enjoying. They're also mostly instrumental and play a smart indie-math sound similar to Tortoise. I like them a lot right now because their sound is relaxing, provocative and not at all boring, which is mostly the kind of music I've been trying to listening to lately when I'm not chair dancing to Botch in the living room.

Since we're on the topic of describing bands, over the summer I came to a few conclusions as to what I look for in a band's sound and structure. Simply, if we're talking your standard rock out harcore/punk/alterna-whatever band, one thing that's missing this days is guitar solos. That's all a band has to do to impress a guy like me when I'm at a show. Also, more breakdowns (preferably non-melodic), guitarmonies and of course a variety of rhythm changes. All I still hear at shows is the standard 4x4 rhythms, with either snarly or whiny vocals, and absolutely no soloing, improvisation or any general talent when it comes to knowing how to play an instrument.

I'm sure the consensus is that everyone who starts a band these days hides behind the punk and indie aesthetics of the DIY attitude, citing that they're in it just to have fun and if it sounds at least similar to all their favourite bands then everyone will like it. Now I know writing songs and playing them for people is always fun for the band, but the audience won't be as excited if they have to anticipate a dozen songs they've already predicted. If you're just out playing to provide a little entertainment that will get people out to the bars or venues then that's a job well done, but the recent compromise of truely artistic or political composition in turn for hyped reputation has seemed to suck up all the sugar from big city scenes.

I'm sure I've said enough already without really even making a point. If you think there's any other bands I'd like but may not have heard of then let me know. Thanks!


nict mark said...

hey stu. are you in toronto? cause i could give you a copy of the newfound interest in ct. full length. email me

Brendan said...

The Dinagah vocals might grow on you. They did for me. If you like their instrumental sound, check out Unwed Sailor. I think they have a couple songs on Epitonic. Other bands in the Jesus Lizard/shellac/fugazi realm: the shipping news, the paperchase, 90 day men, mog stunt team. I agree with most of your comments about the current state of rock bands except in regards to soloing. Solos are like what happens in a well ballanced conversation when someone all of a sudden starts to dominate the conversation using only big, complicated words. Impresive, but in the end they don't actually say anything.

Derek said...

Yeah I fully agree with your complaint about bands hiding behind the "I'm just in it for the fun of it" line and an aesthetic. But I think bands use that as an excuse because they're afraid to make serious music - they're afraid that they're not talented enough (another reason you don't hear many guitar solos), they're afraid that cynical crowds will turn their noses up at music that is made with genuine passion and skill. The prevailing spirit of the music scene these days is cynicism - nothing can actually be engaging IN ITSELF; All must be a mockery or an obvious take on something else, and it must be a light-hearted or "fun" or even mocking take, because it's no longer ok to be genuinely passionate about anything. This is true in fashion too: makeup-and-puffy-sleeve-shirt-wearing"goths" are looked-down upon. Why? Because they take themselves too seriously. To be fashionable, these days, is to mock something that people of another age took seriously: the ironic moustache, for example, or the ironic mullet. There is much of this spirit in music as well: think of all the metal bands that have shown up lately, simply playing on the over-the-top performance nature of metal (these generally include skilled musicians, granted - but my point remains).

In any case, I think the entire culture has to be turned away from cynicism and fear, and toward genuine passion and love of music and innovation.

Matthew said...

Has epitonic actually updated in the last ten billion years? if it has I should go back there, a lot of the electronic stuff there's good.

As for solos - every heard the term 'fretwanking?' heh. not my cup of tea...