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Wednesday, March 17, 2004
This morning I was listening to the first Space Ghost album (this is the point where you go, "Oh, it's going to be one of those overly enthusiastic things again, huh?"), and here's the thing: Brak is exactly what I always wished punk rock was but which it never managed to be--mainly, unselfconscious. Brak is unashamedly untrained but he's not trying to use that as a selling point, to throw it in your face or something, he's just going at it with every ounce of enthusiasm he has.[1] He's enthusiastic, which punk so rarely seems to be, ultimately.[2] And he's more than willing to be silly.[3] When I think about removing professionalism, that particular decorum is what I'm thinking about, not the prohibition on being good or chipper. When I want untrained music, I want music by musicians that are untrained but are so happy to be making music that they just had to anyway, not by gruff teenage boys trying to express their anger and frustration, etc. That just seems uninteresting. Punk always seemed to me to have such promise of glorious silliness, of a tearing away of seriousness and a liberation of music's true ecstatic, teenage possibilities. But of course, it rarely acheives that, which is why I never ended up actually listening to much punk.

This is why it saddens me to see pop-punk bands running away from the pop-punk label, you see--it's even more tragic than the already partially-lost indie rockers running away from pop. Sigh. Ah well.

[1] Think the absolutely mind-bending "hey-whoa-I'm-pretty-much-just-screamin'-here" "scat solo" Brak turns in for "Down to the River," for instance.
[2] Sometimes, honestly, I get kind of sad about punk's descent into needlessly moribund post-punk of the PiL variety, although of course it's all redeemed by the dance-punk aspects thereof.
[3] One of the great acheivements on that album, for my money, is that some of the comedy is so pure that it's funny to almost anyone. "Don't Touch Me" is 50% silly voices, 25% silly noises and 25% pure genius, and I think most people would find it funny. There's no references to miss, nothing to "get," it's just silly. I always kind of wanted punk to do the musical equivalent of that.