Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dance, Dance, Dance!

ok, I know that I focus pretty heavily on hard rock of the "alt" variety. I suppose that does make up a goodly percentage of my listening habits. But, I hope I've been clear that I do listen to other stuff, as well. Specifically, in this case- Disco, or if you prefer- Dance music. I'm fine with calling it disco, though, because that's what I think of it. Heck, there was a time (specifically 1992) when I did some gigs as a DJ at raves. I was more into House, Acid House and a little Techno than anything else as a DJ- but I did fit in some grind right in the middle of a disco track. (Ask anyone who saw/heard my non-legendary "Walls of Jericho" mix- it was based around a sample from Ministry, but featured everything from small blips of Gary Numan- My Centurion, to some extended bits of Sly & the Family Stone- a sped up sample of the main bass riff for "if you want me to stay") Further, I'd argue that Disco has advanced pop music more than most rock music in the past 25 years.
But, I'll save that argument for another time. I'm here to revise a few things.
See, in the last post I mentioned Oh Land as somewhat Bjorkish- and I was wrong. It's more caberet-styled traditional music meets disco, than the wild avante gardisms of Bjork. However, Bjork has been known to do that same experiment- a mix of show tunes and hard electronica, so I wasn't entirely wrong- just mostly wrong. Still, I prefer it to most of the "indie girl Trad pop" stylings you hear like Sara Bareilles. I find most of that stuff to be cloying and annoying, and Oh land is more Kitsch than Cloying, and more obnoxious than annoying. Still not great, just good.
Much better disco is coming from the same old sources. With all the other old 80's bands releasing new records, did you know that Shriekback had a new-ish one out? Yes, they put out "Life in the Loading Bay" back in December. I think it's worth your time, and here's my reasoning: Remember Michael Mann? Did that iconic TV series "Miami Vice"? Well, outside of that he's responsible for some ultra-gritty modern Noire movies like Thief, Manhunter and Heat. Well, he was a major league Shriekback fan, and used their music several times in his movies. That means the downbeat, burbling kinda greasy dance jazz that people use as a cliche for Crime scenes in movies? Yes, Shriekback invented and perfected that. No less a figure than Leonard Cohen has bitten off chunks of the Shriekback sound ( If you tell me that the Whole "Future" album owes nothing to Shriekback's "Oil and Gold" I will call you a liar). It's still a very relevant sound, as 99% of what gets called "Trip Hop" is just a slightly more linear version of the Shriekback sound. So, I think it's a big miss to skip them. Here's what I suggest: put on a sophisticated outfit. Mess it up, a bit. Go to a formerly glorious bar at three in the afternoon, order some kind of hard alcohol. Drink it quick, but stay in the bar at least an hour, watching people. Then, listen to Shriekback on your way back home. If you're not in your own personal Noire by the time you get there, you did something wrong. Whether you listen to Rock, Jazz or disco, don't you listen to music to feel something? That's why Shriekback. ( oh, and do check the link for Shriekback. they have some excellent blog posts, one of which is the whole reason for this post)

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