Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blackmail II

So, speaking of EuroAlt music, I also have the new one by Germany's Blackmail, II . It's a frustrating mixed bag. For every really pretty good song like The Rush, Day of Doom or Dual, there's some pretty awful song like Impact or Shine.  There's probably no better argument than this record for A la Carte music buying at Itunes or Amazon, and there is a school of thought for music blogs exactly like that- that I should be telling you which tracks to buy, and which to skip. My problem with that is that I respect other people too much for that. I think you can easily make up your own mind as to what you like. What I'm doing, instead is just pointing out what I like, in case you may have missed something.  So, what do I like about Blackmail? I like how they take American and English influences and screw them up into something different. Case in point: The Rush. We start out with American Indie guitars along the lines of Sonic Youth or maybe Pavement. Then we add sweet high male vocal harmonies, like Crosby Stills Nash and Young, then, for the chorus the distortion roars in like Afghan Whigs. About two minutes in, they have a bridge section with a slide guitar solo straight out of the George Harrison playbook, while Deep Purple organ swells underneath.  Get the idea? Combinations that would be contradictions in an American or British band ( The Australians aren't afraid to mix it up, either, but they tend to go heavier) and it works very well. In America, the stalwart radio condition is "Classic Rock". Since the early 1990's, the one constant is a station that plays the hits from about 1968 through 1978. Never mind that what would constitute "classic rock" for a guy my age would either be hair metal or punk rock. Never mind that, if we were to apply the same formula, in 2013, classic Rock should be Goo Goo Dolls and Live. Nope, we have to preserve the Baby Boomers' false mythologies. So,  how dare a band mix slacker indie with  psychedelia, or grunge and punk into glam, right? The result is stultifying. It's why hip hop has degenerated into rap, pop into boy bands, and rock has gone from something vital to a punch line. Don't believe me?  Dave Grohl  shows up in Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny. As does Dio. Get the picture? I'll be digging into this topic when I get around to talking about the Sound City soundtrack, but this is why, apart from the underground, I'm looking to Europe and Australia- they haven't suffered nearly the same "Freedom Rock"( a great coinage from Black Francis)  shackles as has America. There's a reason why The Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age have become a kind of canon for Rock- they're the last of the Americans who understand that the whole point of rock is to be a hybrid of past present and future, and a hybrid of genre and flavor. So, yes, I would suggest you pick up Blackmail's latest record so you can pick out what bastardizations you like.

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