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Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Abby's excellent (if a bit grandstanding) piece on the state of music is well worth a read, if you haven't already. While I'm certainly sympathetic (and lord knows I appreciate being shown how good my own pop environment is; at least I can successfully ignore the emo bands), I also wonder how productive it is to cast oneself as the aggreived party when we're all more or less exactly the same amount of aggreived, we picky music listeners, and the point is not what's underground and what's overground, but that we collapse the two into one. (If anything, this development would seem to help that mission along.) Maybe it would be more productive to ride the wave where it leads and prepare for the next shift. It's worth remembering that Europe and especially Britain were at the forefront of the early millenium's pop shift, picking up the pieces from the boyband crash of US '99, so it could easily happen again.

What may be more productive is a discussion of the culture of A&R, something Matthew and I have talked about a few times. What is that going to look like in 20 years? Are the things we're yelling about now going to have any effect, or are they still going to be pining for the next "real rock revolution"? I'm curious. These are the areas where criticism has a real effect.

I want to deny that things are shoddy right now, pop-wise, but then "Hey Ya!" came up on random play last night, the first time I'd heard it in months, and holy shit people. Do you remember how good it is? I know, it's very played out now, but holy shit! What can you do with that?

The thing that strikes me about Britain being so rock-centric right now is how nobody's ripping off what's arguably the biggest rock band in the world right now, the White Stripes. Sure, Britain had its own little "garage-rock" phase, but it was way more Strokesy, with all the bands landing somewhere on the Clash/Buzzcocks/Sex Pistols axis. Nobody was as heavy and weird as the White Stripes; nobody still is. It's very odd, and it's happened once before: Nirvana. Sure, there were British grunge bands, but I remember Bush being promoted as a weird exception, the only band aping Americans in the haze of Britpop's summer. Maybe this has something to do with the way certain American rock bands were promoted as noble savages, strange beasts from out the wilderness that have come to show us civilized folk the way to rawk out etc. etc.? Same deal with Modest Mouse, eh? Well, I don't really know.

Anyway, great little piece, wonderfully written, give it a read.