Monday, March 14, 2011

Pure self indulgence

I'm glad if I can help people find more music than what they already listen to, and I'm even more happy if I can slightly tweak someone's perception of pop culture. I do really believe that the narrow spectrum that so many fall for is so utterly unsatisfying, so shallow, so thin as to be useless- and that so many alternatives exist that it's entirely possible to have something that's been unavailable since the beginnings of the mass consumer media age- a shared, but completely individual culture. By that I mean, with all that's available, it's now possible to simultaneously follow your unique aesthetics and tastes, and still find some community in the world at large, in that pursuit. That's something that simply amazes me, and I think it should amaze everyone, but I understand that for teens into twenties, this is the cultural world they were raised within. So, I've always followed my individual tastes- but now, a significant portion of what I'm talking about, I realize, concerns antebellum icons- artists, and arts from before the Flood that is the Internet. I'm doing so primarily out of self indulgence. No offense to those who might read this, but my audience here is small enough that I might as well just be talking to myself, and I like it that way. I find the notion of the back country crank with an outsider library in the shed to be a romantic and praise-worthy lifestyle. Yes, I know I'm a crazy old hermit- but the point is that, in this new age, even crazy old hermits have a slot to fit in the grand design of culture.
So, with the obligatory "meta" discussion out of the way- here's what I'm talking about this week-
First, Grunge. Well, not exactly. I think that grunge was a misnomer to begin with. I still prefer "alternative rock" to most of the terms available (from "underground" to "college" to "proto/Post Punk" to "stoner" to ye gads, I don't care) simply because it's the broadest, most meaningless term- that still conveys that I'm not talking about the "classic" rock that still dominates this backcountry's radio, and I'm not talking about the "Punk" that teenagers with dyed hair think is relevant. I'm talking about stuff from the new Mark Lanegan single, to the new Twilight Singers release, to old Radio Birdman records, to pre-major label Jawbox, to the last two Government Issue records- all of which is what I've been listening to this week. It all still sounds amazingly fresh and vital to me. Mark Lanegan, as you might know, could sing the Phone book in that velvetty rumble of his, and it'd sound like poetry sung by the devil, himself. Greg Dulli has spent the past 20 years making a body of work every bit as important as Leonard Cohen, or Nick Cave, but based on a hard RnB instead of a flinty folk base, and the new Twilight Singers is no deviation, but is on a more electronic/shoegaze base than previous. I dig it, a lot. "Radios Appear" and "Living Eyes" you should own already and understand. If you don't and do not understand what Radio Birdman means- here's the deal- Deniz Tek and company made what Punk rock should have been, if it hadn't gotten sidetracked by The Ramones' forced simplicity. As for Jawbox, J Robbins is a genius, and always has been. "Grippe", the particular CD I've been listening to this week, is the record he made after leaving Government Issue, and, no one else will tell you this, the record that Fugazi spent a decade trying to emulate. I just listened to Government Issue's "You" and "Crash"- which both are basically an East Coast version of what TSOL perfected on "Dance with Me" and "Beneath the Shadows"- an American hardcore version of the Damned's "Goth" phase, mixed with the aforementioned Radio Birdman- based mostly upon Robbins.
On top of that, with TV, I've been watching a lot of the Palladia channel. Yes, it's a VH1, hence Viacom, hence mass media product- but it's allowing me to get a small taste of things like the 2010 Oxygen festival, and bits of Glastonbury, and so on- there's several five minute segments that get played that are worth your time. Still, I would warn the weak minded- if you don't know what you're doing Palladia could leave you feeling that something horrible is worthwhile- I even was very briefly charmed by the Kings Of Leon, until I noticed that their hair never was anything less than coiffed, which broke the illusion that they are anything other than bland corporate rock. So, much like painkillers, take Palladia with great care- you might just be accepting an unacceptable situation. The discomfort you feel might be a warning that you have an Arcade Fire infection, and should seek immediate assistance- preferably involving something with some power....
But, my TV has been reserved for watching a fair amount of wrestling, as well. If you don't know Shimmer, you should. Mention that you enjoy Pro-wrestling, and you get sneers and sidelong looks. Mention that it's Women's wrestling, and you get expressions of outright disgust. So, Shimmer doesn't involve hot oil, mud, or silicon. It's not about a corny soap opera. It's an athletic exhibition, much like has gone on at carnivals and circuses for over a century. I think it's only marketing that makes people think of Cirque du Soliel as "art", and Pro-Wrestling as trash- they're the same thing. Athletic shows formed around contrived stories, derived from the jugglers, acrobats and performers that have entertained people for thousands of years. So, if you can open your mind to wrestling, Shimmer is an excellent place to start.
OK, I'm going back to enjoying, now...

No comments:

Post a Comment