Thursday, March 18, 2010

Not Everything is a total Winner

I try to keep what I write about, here, on the positive end. After all, I'm a bit misanthropic, and I've got a fairly narrow taste, even if it doesn't conform to music magazine labels, so I could talk endlessly about the pop culture stuff I don't like. What would be the point of deconstructing Gossip Girl? Even more, why would I want to force myself to watch an entire episode just to complete said deconstruction? As a friend once wrote- I should listen to music just to hear how vacuous and inane it is?
Still, not everything I lend my time to has as much merit as other things. I like a lot of stuff that might not be "A grade" quality, but appeals, nonetheless. I also listen to stuff that has a lot of quality, but only fits a niche of limited utility to me. Actually, the majority of what I consume, media-wise fits into those two categories. On TV, that'd be shows like Burn Notice (the former category) and Lost ( the latter category). In reading- well, I read too many magazines, and no, not all are even up to the quality of a mass market rag like Time or Newsweek (though, not quite tabloids. Ever since the weekly world news folded, I'm done with tabloids).
In music? There's a lot. I probably listen to more music than any other kind of pop culture. So, I'd include known bands like Jimmy Eat World, and Nine Inch Nails, but also more unknown bands, like Hell, Flawless and Mandate of Heaven.
On top of that, I know my tastes are narrow, so I don't expect even you, my few readers, to agree.
So, it's pretty rare for me to hear a new band, of very young musicians and think "These guys will be Big". But, this is one of those rare moments. The band is Victori4. The new CD 21st Century Samurais? Wow. It's got enough pop hooks, and easily heard harmonies that I could see them cracking the top 20. It's got teenage angst, it's got some musicianship, and I can see teenage girls thinking these boys are cute. Seriously, not everything wins, but I can see these guys winning. Yes, I like them, and no, I don't think all my friends will. Musically, they're somewhere between an "Emo" band and an Anthemic middle of the road band like U2, Coldplay, or yes, Jimmy Eat World (who they sound closest to) but with a serving of Americana, mostly courtesy of some pretty tasteful slide work. So, I know some of it is that I'm a sucker for a good pop hook with plaintive vocals, and I live and die by a good guitar. But, still, they are of a higher quality than a band like My Chemical Romance, or latter-day AFI, and blow away some of the third-tier bands of similar ilk in the UK - Snow Patrol, I mean you, but not only you. The main reason why they might not be huge would be location- they're from Geneva, Switzerland, and Lyon, France- quite a long way from Los Angeles or London. Heck, that's even a bit far away from a city like Baltimore.
But, I've heard them, so their music is spreading. Maybe someday they'll be on Top of the Pops, eh? Then, of course, we'll have to hate them, won't we? But, if you have an open mind for commercial pop rock, I think there are some rewards to be had, here, and, no, I won't apologize for liking what makes me smile. There's enough that I hate, and there's enough that I feel guilty for liking, but a good pop rock band? That's got value, even if it flirts with Mass culture...

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