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Friday, September 05, 2003
Kind of a questionable claim in this pitchfork review:

"Despite this record's spazcore conviction-- the antithesis of traditional, hipster-defined "cool"-- Neu rages and rants in total style."

This is a weird thing to say, that spazcore (sure, I'll go with that one) ain't cool, given that the writer mentions that it's all the rage in Williamsburg right now. (And after he slags off the other Billyburg trend, electroclash.) Oh, but it ain't cool in the way that "cool" is supposed to mean, like, cool man. Like, you know, jazz guys. That's where it comes from, after all, so he's really talking about Norman Mailer's version of cool, i.e. the "white negro." But the spazzy version of cool, the "white cracker," has been pretty prominent, too. It's a mixture of various cultural condescensions, towards groups like the poor and the rural and the insane, who have some sort of special unspoiled knowledge that is so all-consuming that it just has to burst out however it can. Isn't Bill Monroe spazzy? Bob Wills? Hell, William Blake? But, like boho cool, the spazzcore attitude can turn out some pretty awesome and valid cultural artifacts (c.f. Devo), but it can also be used as a pose, the I'm-an-artist-because-I-act-artistic thing.

I've seen what feels like a lot of spazzcore bands, because, well, because I live in Williamsburg, among other things. And at first they really confused me, because they seemed like ironic hardcore bands, which, on paper, sounds like the worst possible thing you can be, and holy christ, there were so many of them--I saw like three at three separate parties over one weekend. But according to this review, and I think it's right in this regard, they're descended more from Braniac, and in this light it kind of makes sense (and is less utterly despicable). But it's still kind of weird to see them open for Deerhoof, as I did a few weeks ago, because Deerhoof has an unbelievably alert ear for hooks and melody and arrangement, whereas a band like the Ex-Models basically makes a noise like WHAMWHANNNNNNNGSCREEEEEEEEEE for a half hour or so. Maybe, given the female voices at the forefront of both the 'Hoof and Braniac, this just represents the masculinization of spazzcore? Wow, did I really just say that?

So anyway, the point is that, jazzbo-laid-back or not, spazzcore--which, were I feeling less kind, I would classify as a kind of wannabe Tourettism[1], of "tic envy" if you will--is very much what's "cool" right now, maybe as an outgrowth of ironic metal appreciation and early-90's punk-yoot nostalgia or as a backlash against dance couture, and given the remarkable ease with which any moron can make this music--"flailing away like monkeys" is how more than one of my fellow concert attendees described the Models' set--it becomes, sigh, a bit of a pose. You want to be in a band and you can't really write a melody but you look kind of cool and it's easy to be loud and fast and you've got a good drummer, so spazzcore it is.

Still, the band in question here, Japan's Polysics, sound actually pretty good, melody-and-keyboard-wise, so I'll give it a listen at some point.

[1] Whereas Jonathan Lethem fans know that Tourettic music actually sounds like the 12" mix of Prince' "Kiss."