December 19, 2009
Welcome to another edition of Brook Pridemore’s The Nineties-ist. This edition discusses 1997, the evils of an ironic Goo Goo Dolls cover, Jan Wenner being solely responsible for the downfall of the music industry, and Mr. Pridemore listing his top five 1997 albums. For earlier installments, go here.
So, my interest in music — which, we established a few weeks ago began in 1993 and immediately escalated to zealotry — has kept me interested in the aural side of popular culture long after many of my early peers (folks who got to play in the cool bands in high school, and such) dropped off the radar and stopped taking in new music. Over the last year or so, I’ve even noticed the kind of ironic nostalgia from people younger than me over songs that I (and most other self-respecting people) never wanted to hear again in the day, and certainly don’t want to be reminded of ten or more years after the fact. Younger bands I play shows with have started doing ironic covers of Goo Goo Dolls songs, the same way that the cool bands I knew growing up did ironic covers of Eddie Money songs. Get it? It’s circular.
And I’m befuddled by this kind of ironic nostalgia in the same way that hipsters ten years my senior must have been befuddled by my ironic nostalgia for the 80s at the time. This kind of detachment is thrice problematic:
1. The ironic cover of a passé pop song idea jumped the shark in 2002. It’s true: Dynamite Hack’s (remember them? Me neither)’s white boy acoustic ballad version of the NWA classic “Boyz in the Hood” was the last nail in the coffin.
2. All nostalgia is at least somewhat poisonous. Jan Wenner and David Geffen are still trying to get you to buy repackaged Doors collections, rather than invest emotionally in current artists. This is not because the Doors are a better band than, say, the Smoking Popes. Rather, this is because it is much easier (read: cost-effective) to sell the same old shit to each subsequent generation than spend energy cultivating new artists. Plus, when you get down to it, Jan Wenner couldn’t give a shit less if you like the stuff you consume, just so long as you pay through the nose for it. Keeping overhead low is priority number one for guys like Wenner. Never forget that.
(Folks, I don’t entirely know why Jan Wenner’s my particular scapegoat here. There are a lot of people responsible for the current industry slump. My only guess is that Wenner’s refusal to allow the Monkees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has something to do with it (further, if the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame really had anything to do with Rock and/or Roll, wouldn’t the “and” be shortened to an “‘n”? Just asking.))
3. Ironic nostalgia gets in the way of a lot of the good stuff that happened. I know I personally didn’t discover any of the truly great, groundbreaking bands that came out in the 1980s (Black Flag, the Minutemen, the Replacements, the list goes on) because I was too busy banging my head to Goldfinger’s version of “99 Luftballons.” Would my life have been so much better, so much sooner, had I eschewed the Goldfinger record for, say Black Flag’s blistering semi-cover of “Louie, Louie,” (an afterthought on their seminal The First Four Years) or the Minutemen’s jammy take on CCR’s “Don’t Look Now” (ditto on the band’s magnum opus Double Nickels on the Dime)?
Yes. Jesus Christ. I would probably also have been spared obsession with Mustard Plug’s punk-ska take on The Verve Pipe’s “The Freshman.” Which, to be fair, was actually pretty funny, and not really nostalgia at all: the two versions were released a year apart-than one band paying cheeky tribute to their friends.
I hope I’ve made my point. And if you’re still with me:
Five Records from 1997 for My Children (and my Children’s Children):
More on #14: 1997
Belle and Sebastian Tease at New Album On Their Website; Everything About this Tease is Completely Twee, From a Cute Little Pun, to a Cute Little Hat on Cute Little Stuart Murdoch’s Cute Little Head [Tiny Mix Tapes]
Stream Will “Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy” Oldham Playing I See a Darkness Highlight “Death to Everyone” Live; Oldham’s Live Album, Funtown Comedown, Released December 15, But Instead of Purchasing It, You Should Probably Just Re-Realize Just How Great I See a Darkness Is, Play it Several Times, Grow Depressed, and then Listen to Phoenix to Get Over It [Pitchfork]
Okkervil River Spin-off/Grandiose Folk Band Shearwater Announce Sixth Album, The Golden Archipelago, Released February 15 [Matablog]
Yeasayer Pioneer Technically Advanced Way of Making a NSFW Music Video, By Allowing You, the User, to Interact With Tripped Out Naked People; It’s Web 2.0, People…I Refuse to Be Impressed Until the Web Itself Conjures Up the Kind of Nudity I’d Like to Interact With While Listening to “Ambling Alp” (Hint, Internet: It’s Shania Twain) [Stereogum]
Jelly’s Pool Parties (Those Free Concerts at the Williamsburg Waterfront) Are in Trouble – But Where Else Will Jay, Solange, and Beyonce Go During Those Hot Summer Months? Where Else Can You See Music in Williamsburg?! Someone Think of the Children! (But Seriously, These Things are a Blast…Show Your Support and Email Senator Charles Schumer) [Brooklyn Vegan]
Watch Pleasantly Surreal Video for Beck and Charlotte Gainsbourgs’ “Heaven Can Wait,” Which Features Boxing, a Deformed Pygmy Gorilla, a Half-Shaved Beard, Astronaut Pancakes, and a Man Bathing in Fruity Pebbles (Perhaps Most Surprisingly, Proves Gainsbourg to Have Quite the Tennis Backhand; Good Form, Charlotte!) [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Lou Reed, Mo Tucker, Doug Yule, and David Fricke to Lead Discussion at New York Public Library on the History of The Velvet Underground on December 8, and Tickets Are Already Sold Out. This is All Well and Good, But Where’s John Cale? I’m Waiting For That Man (C’mon! Gimme a laugh; I’m Desperate Here) [NME]
Remember Those Poor Members of Jay Reatard’s Band Who Left Due to Jay’s Tyrannically Obnoxious Personality? They Joined Equally Tyrannical and Obnoxious Wavves. Elsewhere, I Believe I Have Proof of an Innate Human Desire for Masochism. [Pitchfork]
compiled by Max Sebela
August 27, 2009
Belle and Sebastian
If You’re Feeling Sinister
1996 | Matador
Can a record like If You’re Feeling Sinister, Scottish-college-project-turned-twee-wunderkinds Belle and Sebastian’s 1997 breakthrough album, ever exist again? Spring 1998, this album (reportedly made by a band that consisted of eight people but sounding like it was made by about three) fell into my lap at my college’s radio station. Interest peaked at first by the band’s name, sparking memories of the British cartoon series that was broadcast occasionally on Canadian television in my childhood home, I was immediately hooked on the band’s sound – and I was not alone.
If You’re Feeling Sinister was an enigma: bandleader Stuart Murdoch and the rest of his crew refused all interviews and rarely played concerts, sticking to their native Glasgow when they deigned to play live at all. Yet the band’s first fully-conceptualized album (their debut, 1995’s Tigermilk, is a rushed, occasionally brilliant mess that Murdoch has described as a “product of botched capitalism”) made its way onto the Matador label and, slowly but surely, into the hands of college radio jocks and other discerning audiophiles like me, based on word of mouth alone. Kind of nice, when you think about it, but also kind of depressing: less than fifteen years after Sinister’s release, the current promotional norm of internet blasts and the slow and steady decline of college radio suggest that, were Belle and Sebastian to pop onto the scene in 2009, they would quite possibly be swept under the rug before anyone got around to digging on the record.
More on Belle and Sebastian | If You’re Feeling Sinister
New Air France Song is Really, Really Hot [Gorilla vs. Bear]
N.E.R.D. Release Videogame With Completely Inexplicable Plot [Spin]
Summer of Wu Continues: New Wu-Tang Compilation Chamber Music Sees Release June 30th [Pitchfork]
TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone Announces Solo Project, “Rain Machine” [Pitchfork]
Stream Belle and Sebastian Leader Stuart Murdoch’s God Help the Girl [Matablog]
Broken Social Scene Debut New Song at Secret Show in Toronto [Stereogum]
Philly Dream-Poppers A Sunny Day in Glasgow Announce Second Album, Ashes Grammar [Pitchfork]
Emo Pioneers Sunny Day Real Estate Book First Shows in Nearly a Decade [Idolator]
compiled by Max Sebela