Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saw The Artic Monkeys and Black Keys

So, last night we (my wife and I) saw the aforementioned bands at Merriweather Post Pavillion  . I have start with how great the venue was. Picture a great, natural park; Giant Trees, a babbling brook or two, nice shady grass bits, you get the idea. Now, put an Amphitheatre in the middle. Ring the place with homespun looking installation Art and Carnival style Food and vendor booths. Yeah, that's a nice place for some Rocknroll, huh? I thought so.
A lot of people were there, and not my usual crowd, to be sure, The Black Keys seem to draw a lot of  Baby Boomers, Meatheads and Neo-Hippies. However, there were also a fair number of indie hipsters, and a few Punkers, who, while not my usual crowd, either ( I'm more of an Aging Slacker type)  made it feel a little less alien.  Still, Rocknroll, good site, and my wife, it's all good.
I will say that The Arctic Monkeys finally make sense to me. The live sound was turbo charged retrorock. They're not so very different from some bands I've liked in the past, at least in intent. They're fueled by the bands that obsess them, and trying to cram in all the magic from that into their lives. It's not like being in a tribute band- it's being fully charged by incredible rock music, and trying to convey what that gives to you, filtered through who you are.  So, ultimately what you're sharing isn't a tribute to the bands, but your perspective.
The Black Keys on the other hand, while a great band, are trying to actually be the bands and music they love. I don't have anything against that, but that doesn't affect me as much, either. Of course, the best of all possibilities is when the band  is trying to bring something entirely new into the world, and I'm sure all bands think they are, but all fail, most of the time. Why I like the Arctic Monkeys more than the Black Keys is how much closer they get to doing something really new. It's subtle, I know, and what's not so subtle is the difference in fashion and tempo, so I can see why people in the audience seemed to prefer the Black Keys- the comfort of the familiar trumps the thrill of exploration- and the equation for the Black Keys leans heavier on the familiar, whereas even the familiar elements of the Arctic Monkeys are familiar to a much smaller, much stranger group of people, and I'm one of them

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Cribs -In the belly of the Brazen Bull

I hear about all kinds of stuff that is supposedly in some sort of 1990's "revival', and usually, it just sounds reminiscent of 1 or 2 bands, or of 1 microgenre. This new CD by the Cribs really does sound like the 1990's- I hear echoes of everything from The Pixies, Pavement, Guided By Voices, You Am I, Teenage Fanclub, Shellac, and Nirvana to The Vines, and Dinosaur. Add all that up, and try to stick with 1 or 2 years in the 1990's, I dares ya!
Of course none of that would mean much if they didn't have killer songs, but they really do- I can totally see what both Johnny Marr and Lee Ranaldo saw in these kids.
It's poppy loud alt rock, and I like it. Look, if you like about half the bands I listed above, listen to it. If you like more than half, buy it. I don't see any point is deconstructing it, it's just a really good, really smart, really catchy rock record with a slightly skewed perspective. It's wonderful.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Whole Tom Gabel Thing

I don't really have much of a comment. If he's serious, and he wants to be a she, for sincere and honest reasons, well, then,  don't let any of us stop you, go forth as you will. I still have my doubts that this is the case. Beardly Folk-punks gone pop punk married with small children don't exactly fit the demographic of the Trans folks I've known, but it's a big world, I could be wrong. I've also never known a trans who didn't "experiment" first, then make the transition quietly. Considering there are no photos I've seen where Tom is showing any feminine traits, nor is there a known history of sexual experimentation, and there's this big announcement, out of the blue, with only 1 verse in 1 song as a "sign", I really do have my doubts about the reality of this.
So, if this is some kind of stunt- maybe even well-intentioned- I'm not the biggest fan of Against Me!, so I can't say I'd care all that much. But, it would pretty much rule out your Career, as an earnest "authentic' musician.

That having said, I'm posting this more or less because of the massive reaction this announcement has created.
Everything from really extreme antipathy, to dogmatic expression of faith. What I haven't seen in all that is anything like my reaction. So I'm adding it.

 I'm totally comfortable being a dude. I don't think I'm exactly a Manly man, nor am I a boy, nor am I a guy or a bro, I'm what gets called a Dude, and I'm good with that. I'm married, with a grown son,  and all that, and I also know what it's like to kiss a man, and to wear a dress. I also have many family members and friends who lives totally different lives from me- and yes, that includes transgendered people. Mostly, for those who choose different paths from me, I understand at least a little bit about why they would choose differently from me. As for being judgemental, well, that's more about the individual than whatever group they might be identifying. ( This is reason  #486 why I hate the whole "identity politics" thing. Just because you're a "Queer Afro-Asian Person of Colour" doesn't mean a thing about how smart, or right, or nice you are, all of which is far more important than what gender, orientation, or race you happen to be labelled) . But, the path I understand the least is the "transformer"- I don't just mean transgendered, or coming out of the closet as gay later in life, although they're part of this- I mean anyone who follows first one life then, abruptly, exchanges it for another.  I'm not saying that I am judging such changes, because I've made a few changes myself, I'm saying I am mystified by them. To this day, I couldn't tell you why I gave up running a radio station, and leaving the west coast for life in the rural east. I don't fully understand it, myself.  I can point to a couple of specific things, and I can give you an over generalization, like I just didn't feel like it was the life for me, but I cannot claim to understand. So much the more then, that I cannot understand why someone who's a husband and a father would want to change their gender. I just don't understand it. I could understand with someone like, say- ok, here's a scenario- Kurt Cobain. Let's say he, instead of shooting himself, came out as transgendered, at that time in his life. It would make some sense to me- the self-loathing, the identification with -ahem- "strong" women like Courtney, the obvious dissatisfaction with his own body- all of it would click into place. But, with this guy, by all accounts, he appears to be in a good place. There's no suicidal impulses, no self-destruction, and so on. This would seem like a sudden turn, and that I don't understand.
You can call me every name in the book, but that won't make me understand.  So this is the comment that I'd like to see addressed in our media- Why?