Sunday, April 1, 2012

Unique Poop Still Smells Like Poop

I find the new Creationist attitude in Rock music disturbing. Too many bands are trying to remake the world. A premium has been put on the idea of creating a sound that's wholly new, wholly unique, even revolutionary, at the expense of song. I realize that the redundancy police are probably already charging towards my house, ready to beat down my door and drag me away in cuffs for writing this, but this desperation to sonically separate yourself from anything that has come before you at all costs is driving me absolutely batty.

Tomorrow morning, I will expel the waste from the food I ingested tonight. It may smell different from any other BM I've ever taken, but in the end it will still just be a weird smelling piece of shit. Being different doesn't make you good, it just makes you different. I'm not saying that I don't respect attempting to take risks, and I'm not saying that a band who tries to make a record that sounds distinct is worthless or unlikable, I'm just sick of bands developing a sound and then writing songs to that fit within the confines of that sound. What happened to writing a song and then molding your sound around the atmosphere that that song generates?

If you ask me, bands shouldn't be focusing on imagining new existences and inventing new sounds. The wheel was already invented, you can't invent it again, but you can reinvent it. Elaborate on the past. Take what's happened before and tweak it, make it your own. Adopt the past and shape it into a new destiny rather than trying to give birth to the future.

The best records by the best bands (artists) of the last 20 years have done just that: Neutral Milk Hotel, The Flaming Lips, Jeff Buckley, Olivia Tremor Control, Radiohead, Ryan Adams, Foxy Shazam, Wilco, Andrew Bird, The Darkness, Okkervil River, The Mars Volta, Built to Spill, Arcade Fire, Lucero...they've all tried to expand on what's happened before. Sometimes they failed, but sometimes they succeeded. The failures were always admirable, the successes nothing short of genius. And even though they managed to create something the world's never heard before, what made these records brilliant was you could still hear their influences, those distorted yet somehow recognizable touchstones that helped shape the music.They loved music, their love compelled them to create music, the music they loved helped them to create something entirely new even though it felt like something we've heard before.

The development of a sound should be a natural and organic process. It should happen without force, without pretense, without ambition. It doesn't have to be accidental, but it should never be intentional. Let it happen on its own. Write songs and let them figure out how you should sound. Don't put the cart before the horse. Don't try to fit in, just fit in. Don't try to stand out, just stand out. Don't try to do anything, just do something. Make an innovative record that matters, not a record that matters because it's innovative. If more bands made the record they were supposed to make rather than than the record they sought out to make, the world would be a better place.  

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