Sunday, June 24, 2007

Oh so tired of the bore blands at Glastonblurry

This is a pure indulgent rant about the banality of so-called Indie music.

Before anything else, it’s male dominated and masculinised. On top of that, it’s bland, dull, repetitive and boooooring. I’m so bored of the Indie bore blands… I mean Indie boy bands; of The Arctic Flunkeys, The Boretomatic, and Razorfright. I’m sick of their smug guitar riffs, and shouty lyrics about ‘you’. I’m completely bored with The Plaquestones, The Fillers, and The (should be in) Holloways, and their predictable looks: the scruffy-sometimes-preppy-post-punk skinny arses in jeans with dirty pumps, and shirts with ties and neck-length brown hair with the over-long fringe that brushes to one side.

And I’ve had it up to here with The Spewtons and The Bore-all and their faux-rock-n-roll energy and purely performative, lazy-cos-we’re-being-ironic-innit, machismo on set, as they either swagger drunkenly around the stage, or bounce around, running at each other like lemmings on heat, and droop their shaggy hair and under-fed shoulders over their instruments.

They’re all poor replicas of far classier acts – they’re totally without originality and therefore without any identity, relegated to post-post-punk-post-indie-mostly-floundering non-entities, somehow garnering fans mainly, I think, ‘cos we are informed we like them – we are told we like them – the insistence put behind how good we apparently do think they are – convinces us that if we do not like them we are definitely not cool. Argh!!!

How can anybody go to Glastonblurry and pay good money for the privilege of standing in slime and listening to the dregs of our current music scene as we drag everything that’s been good about alternative music, very literally, through the mud?? If I was going to part with a couple of hundred quid to drive down the road and sleep in a damp tent in a muddy field and share toilets with several thousand randy alcoholics, I’d far rather go see Björk and then go home. Since she possesses more creativity, musicality and true ‘Indie-ness’ in her little luminescently-painted fingernail than any of those over-hyped, over-indulged and under-talented little boys, even if you put them all in a juicer and squeezed every rotting drip of talent out of them… Now that I’d pay to see!

There. Now I feel much better! Normal services will resume…

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goosefat101 said...

To be fair there are a lot of other acts apart from the headline acts that you can see at Glastonbury.

Most of the bands you mention are rubbish and you are right about a general malaise and problem in the Indie scene. However The Arctic Monkeys and The Kaiserchiefs are both excellent bands and we live in a time when indie and rock in general are becoming less and less male dominated in band terms with more and more groups like The Arcade Fire having mixes of gender.

You are right that Bjork is truly amazing and comes at things from a completely different angle and would be ace to see (shes played Glastonbury hasn't she?). That said she is pretty hit and miss. I haven't heard her new album but the one before was not very good at all. Hyperballad is one of the best songs ever written though and Verpertine one of the greatest albums so we can let her off.

Glastonbury is certainly over priced and the music scene is manipulated and manipulative but I think there is a danger with writing off whole sections of pop culture and not properly trying to understand why it works the way it does, what is its appeal to its audiences (audiences are not as sheep like as people think, they need to be given stimulation of some kind in order to be happy etc...)

I would question whether any of the bands and trends you are talking about are alternative anyway. They are pop surely. They may call themselves alt. but we shouldn't think of them as such. The real alternative music scenes are either the new and generationally inaccessible such as Grime (or whatever its being called now) and "world" music. However alternative music gets absorbed even quicker than it used to by the main stream, so we get Dizzee Rascal and Gogol Bordello becoming popular and others like Lilly Allen who take the alternative sounds right to the top of the charts, by dumbing them down and mixing them with traditional pop.

The Arctic Monkeys say a lot of interesting things about class and even better they do so with cracking tunes. The Kaiserchiefs write clever and witty lyrics which shrug off cliche and even better they have such energy and ambiance, they are one of the few dancible guitar bands around at the moment. The Rakes seem pretty interesting as well but I haven't seen much of them.

You do audiences a great disservice in this blog and you also do many of the bands a disservice. There is a lot more "new man" feeling in these bands than you suggest. I get annoyed by the sensitive mail cliches to be honest and the way they alternate between PC and "look at the pretty girls" but they have evolved in some positive ways.

Certainly regardless of the content many women enjoy these guitar bands and many women aspire towards playing in them. They enjoy them for the same reasons as the men: the energy, lyrics, momentum, etc... and because they are formulaic and most people want formula's, Bjork has only ever been excepted into the mainstream pop culture when she has written popsongs that are a mixture of formula and her own uniqueness (It's Oh So Quiet), sadly most people want to consume stuff without much thought.

This doesn't mean what they consume is valueless and it doesn't mean they can't be brought to consuming interesting stuff (like Bjork).

jennifletzet said...

Ok, I was being deliberately belligerent in this post, I admit it, but I would like to reserve the right, as it is my blog (she says petulently!!) just once in a while, to 'go off on one'!! And if you look again, you'll see I did make some unspoken (so albeit unspecified) exceptions to the rule: I didn't mention either Arcade Fire or the Kaiser Chiefs in my rant, even though they, losely, come under the same genre.
Having said that, I don't count the fact that Arcade Fire have some women doing background stuff as being a demonstration of a gender-equal band. If you only heard Arcade Fire, and didn't see them, you wouldn't know there were any women there necessarily. They are still part of rock and pop's masculinised culture.
And I know you argue that it is, but I'm not convinced that rock and indie are becoming less male dominated. I've seen nothing to convince me otherwise. There is a current positive surge of single women artists - like Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse - but they are an exception rather than a rule. They stand out because their presence is unusual.
I believe that the 90s indie and grunge scene was more equally distributed through the genders, with bands like Elastica, Echobelly, Portishead and Garbage. I cannot think who their contemporaries are in the present alt. scene.

Though I appreciate that my apparent dismissal of large sections of society is dangerous and seemingly uncritical, I don't share your optimism in people's ability to think and act for themselves. In fact, you hint at a certain pessimism yourself when you say that people tend to want to consume things without much thought.. I do believe that music scenes, but especially music festival scenes, depend upon the 'tribal' aspects of society (in other words, our tendency to 'flock' as one body) in order to hook and exploit a market. I believe that most of today's music, regardless of genre, is entirely about marketing and the ability to appeal to 'tribes' in order to milk them...

Although I don't agree that I'm not trying to understand certain sections of popular culture (indeed, I think I'm quite dedicated to the cause!!), perhaps I am being too dismissive and not taking into account some of the more positive things that you allude to. Like what you said about more marginal music, such as Gogol Bordello (that I like very much by the way!), being drawn into the mainstream. You are right. Youtube and myspace, and semi-legal downloading engines mean that alternative music (in its broadest sense) is getting larger audiences and more of the attention it deserves. I hope this is a trend that will continue.
You're also right that women are more equally represented in the audience than in the bands they buy into. There's no doubt about it, women are a huge portion of the market keeping these bands where they are. This is important - perhaps I'll do a seperate post on it sometime...
But I do still believe that, regardless of its audience, what the public is presented with - and what that presentation means for gender, race and class - speaks somewhat for itself.
I will 'come out' now and confess my absolute adoration for Bjork. I am a HUGE Bjork fan, so I wouldn't be able to concede to her being 'hit or miss', though I will concede that Medulla was a very very strange album indeed and I don't listen to it very often! But that's the only one. The most recent is very different from Vespertine (which, as I'm very happy to agree, is sublime!!), but is probably closer to Post and Homogenic.
And I would definitely be at the head of a campaign to get audiences to listen to interesting stuff if it meant securing Bjork the respect she deserves!!!