“Why do we remember the past, and not the future?” – Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time
I was listening to Vanilla Fudge’s live version of their “Eleanor Rigby” cover
from Live: The Best Of Vanilla Fudge this morning. I wasn’t paying attention to the year
it came out or that it was a revived Carmine Appice helmed lineup that had
Derek St. Holmes in the band and a mercenary lineup instead of the real deal.
It was early in the day and I just wanted some coffee and jams as I started
work. One thing struck me, though. Even before realizing later in the day
that the performance was from 1991 and not the late sixties/early seventies
(as I’m not the most familiar with their stuff compared to, say, Sabbath),
the roaring crowd enthusiasm after the song ended caught my ear.
I’m not saying the version of “Eleanor Rigby” stunk. It’s no “You Keep Me
Hangin’ On” (their coolest cover and what they are most known for), the
Holland–Dozier–Holland song popularized by The Supremes. The Vanilla Fudge
version of the Beatles perhaps best known song from Revolver is plodding,
stripped of the nervy syncopation most people associate with the song, and
mostly cool because it sounds like a stoner rock song with traded off vocals.
Even now knowing the version isn’t as old as I thought, I can’t help but feel
like most young people wouldn’t now give a rat’s ass about it.
I get that popular styles change. That’s probably healthy. But our memories also suck.
These days rock is more about style points for some people. There is barely
even shame in rocking a corporate printed fresh off the Urban Outfitters
racks Rolling Stones tongue t shirt and rocking it to some garbage EDM
festival that has nothing to do with rock n roll. And as for checking out
other genres outside of your comfort zone? Forget about it.
“diversity” with the same old trick of booking Kanye alongside a few other
rappers and a scattering of indie bands and while there is a lot of
Starbucksy amalgamation even in mainstream rap (see the eternal Kanye/Bon
Iver bro down) people still mostly want only what they want.
If something is tacked onto a festival package you might grab some casual
attention as the experience of being in a big crowd makes people like things
they normally would skip over, but I just don’t see the sense of people
wanting to search things out, research or even EXPERIENCE anything that might
alter the footage on their Snapchat down a weird path.
Heck, half the bands we celebrate the most nowadays are actually tame as fuck
and look and sound the same. Even in metal.
And now they canceled HBO’s Vinyl, a celebration of real rock in the late 70′s.
Read more below and suck the last drop of blood from the stone.
In an early episode of the one season fated Scorsese love letter to rock n
roll, Richie Fenestra (played rabidly by the rabidly over the top Bobby Cannavale) says that people have
nicknamed his record label “American Cemetary” because they aren’t growing
with the times and taking enough risks, etc.
Mitch Sunderland at Broadly (I think it was) tweeted that it was pretty much canned for not being very good. While taste is subjective, I think it was mostly a lot of other reasons. I think, in some ways, it was too close to the truth for people how Fenestra both wanted to EXPERIENCE music but right away anything he soaked up he had to try to figure out how to commodify.
People don’t want to face they are cannibals guzzling Mountain Dew and one
It is telling decades later we now only pay for the hugest spectacle Festivals and stream all our music and expect that model to sustain itself. And the coke has only gotten worse.
have the illusion of intimacy and refuge from the outside world and a perhaps
false sense of exclusivity. Maybe that is elitist of me or maybe it is smart
to avoid crowds in Trump’s Amerikkka. I am not sure. But I will NEVER sweat
my ass off standing in line to see lame ass Father John Misty ruin Nine Inch
Crowds coming together used to feel like a shared awakening or experience.
Now it is secondary to Iphone footage. Watch the concert on Periscope. Kill
yourself. Who cares.
Bill Haley & His Comets will always sound exciting because they WERE excited. You couldn’t help but be pulled into it and that survives.
Props to Alicia Keys for taking phones away to foster being present. Or
Danzig for being passionate enough in a dead eyed age to be so ridiculous
(rad?) as to beat up annoying photographers, hahaha. I know that’s fucked up
but I can’t help but love Danzig no matter what (though wish Googy was part
of the Misfits reunion).
People would rather see a hologram of Jim Morrison’s dick doing a helicopter
than the real, reincarnated thing. (Ok, maybe people would want to see
reincarnation. We aren’t THAT jaded yet).
But seriously, while VINYL was getting gratuitous with the coke and the
sexism surely wasn’t going to change anytime soon since we weren’t anywhere
near the advent of Riot Grrrl, the first thing I saw about the show’s passing
was from a ‘bro bible’ site lamenting never being able to see Olivia Wylde
fully nude on coke again.
I guess that’s a step up from her being too old to be seen as DiCaprio’s love interest in a movie? FML.
Another site The Wrap had a great quote from breakout star Juno Temple:
The advantage of a show about music, she added, came in the way it connected
with fans. “Rather than saying, ‘Oh, my God, I love your show,’ people come
up to me and say, ‘Do you want to know the first vinyl I bought and why?’”
she said. “It’s cool to get to know people through what music they like.”
However read the clickbait title of the article in the URL link below:
People are just grosser and grosser or more entrenched in their divisions. Do
you know how weird it feels sometimes to be a bisexual metal writer who is
about to crack open Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood? Budweiser is changing their name to America.
This is not much of an environment for critical thinking when even marginalized groups target one another.
Thankfully there are also
allies. And some issues are being debated, if often like Ash debating with
the Undead with a Chainsaw hand.
There was just a controversy between N.W.A. and KISS over the N.W.A. rock n
roll hall of fame induction. It boils down to the spirit of rock n roll
versus actually playing rock, as well as a barrage of racism between fans of both groups.
I have no problem with N.W.A. being in the rock or better if it was renamed
MUSIC Hall Of Fame. Or maybe it is good to keep the name and loosen
restrictions so we all see mixing things up is good. They DESERVE to be there.
KISS vs NWA turned into people mostly hating and trolling one another instead
of trying to actually break ground or bread. What happened to RUN DMC and
When MC Ren followed me on social media I thought it was cool as hell!
Anyway…With more at our fingertips than ever, we have nonetheless become both
refreshingly empowered as well as shackled by identity politics to the point
of constantly battling and drawing lines instead of coming together.
We should’ve had an actual age of Aquarius a looooong time ago but are way too dumb.
The best we can do is Broachella? With Kanye as token ringleader for every
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all against a successful black man. I just
think Pablo was a hot mess with shit lyrics and people are way more focused on the drama than
realizing the music and lyrics went way downhill. I think we need to
recognize race and gender and differences and even similarities in critique,
but also don’t forget to critique.
Ice T tweeted the other day:
ICE T @FINALLEVEL 18h18 hours ago
The Press now days would rather talk about an Artist’s personal Drama than
their music or art…. SMH Sucks.
Yes, I know that Ice T wrote “Evil Dick” but the OG has a point.
There is a lot of unearned cynicism these days from Millennials, even as they
tout positivity constantly. They might feel the Bern but many will be quick
to burn you down. I hate generalizations but in this ADD age, I’m gonna stick
by that for now.
Meanwhile, bands that are more and more bland are celebrated. Riskier artists
are pushed to the side while we love the most mundane drama instead of the
edgier art. And no one explores that far anyway.
We will likely never get a good show about Arabrot, or even many bands like them.
I used to not be so into the retro rock revival. It seemed like grasping at
the past. I’m more into an act like Prince Rama who see all time, including
the future, as a sort of clay we can mold and pull from all at once. That
clicks with me more than just, say, bringing back bellbottoms and hoop
earrings. Fashion brand Gucci posted on their IG today:
“I’m against the future, I think for a long time fashion was supposed to be
projected in the future to be contemporary or modern, but I believe that it
can be found in the now and from the past,” #AlessandroMichele.
That gives me mixed feelings. You have to want to explore the past but also
make sure you are not just recycling. The enthusiasm has to be there,
like…at the risk of offending someone…a Sunny Leone porn. She seems
really into it. I’d rather see that than some objectifying sex thing where
people seem mentally ill or self-hating or whatever the heck. And music truly
sucks when you can tell the band is bored or doesn’t want to rock the boat
I love meeting a band like Kristin Kontrol and her group and hearing from Andrew Miller how they
were excited to translate the sounds from the record live and blend the
organic with the mechanical. Or meet The 69 Eyes from Finland and see the
drummer do crazy stuff and kick doors for more beer at Gramercy years back
when I wrote for Crusher Magazine.
Rock was “Killed” on purpose. It is easier to make money on watered down crap and they finally have perfected it enough that they could kill all the rock stations.
There is a Devin Townsend album KI that was pretty genius in that he tried to
build up tension but never let the songs really reach a breaking point (The
Melvins The Bootlicker was also kinda like that). It was an experiment. Kind
of like a cock tease but with great song fragments. A lot of the indie or
“rock” bands today look great if you are walking in Brooklyn and want to not
be able to differentiate them from ANYONE else, but they are vanilla as fuck.
It basically is place holding and stealing time. These bands make music that
doesn’t know HOW to crescendo.
We need bands who LOVE rock n roll and want to keep playing the old styles
even as much as we need innovators. I recommend The Golden Grass for a band
that sound like they could be from the Seventies and who have relentless
positive vibes but who are a great example of a killer, actual rock trio in
2016 (even if most of their signifiers are far from modern). But maybe rock
will become more like a viewmaster where you drop in the card you want and
see the dinosaurs or a space world or the Muppets or whatever.
We are getting this new show Roadies which is like Almost Famous but more
bland. It looks like a drama about millennials who never heard “We Are the
Road Crew” in a time when people don’t even give a fuck about real shows or
rock n roll, so what’s the point?
I’ll always love Cameron Crowe for Singles cuz the soundtrack was awesome at
the time even if I barely remember the movie, it helped make me a little baby
grunge kid and thus opened a lot of doors for me. So yeah, things don’t
always come to us through elitist channels or dusty record store bins,but at
least I was LOOKING for cool music already.
We have some cool moments in today’s music, sure. Deerhoof redoing Def
Leppard has suitable irony in a post cock rock age, though it just as easily
could’ve come out in the nineties (even if it is
The always brilliant and vital Portishead covering ABBA in tribute to Jo Cox
is interesting in that it is the most innovative and melancholy trip hop
group covering one of the sunniest pop groups ever who’s arrangements were
pirated by a small handful of horrible pop music writers to ghostwrite most
of the hits we have today.
Sia is awesome and plays with the idea of privacy and Vowws are one of a
handful of my favorite current bands that are edgy while still recalling the
past here and there.
You can’t say rock is a failed experiment but it certainly has collapsed on
on itself and broken up into various houses. There is no Nirvana reclaiming
Winterfell at the moment. And I don’t know if there is even enough curiosity
in the odd mix of complacent, overpopulated yet at one another’s throats
world of hashtag armchair activists and Tinder surfers.
I’ve written a lot recently on how nothing lasts. Does this mean write
shorter, more immediate songs or try and make something epic? Led Zeppelin
tried with “Carouselambra”, their longest song (I believe). Hardly anyone
remembers that one!
But if you care enough to dig into record crates, check stuff out, keep an
open mind and chip off your shoulder like I have (to be fair) not been able to this whole
article, you might discover Page’s midsection Gibson EDS-1275 double-necked
guitar in glorious low end form that almost sounds like classic rock
predicting shoegaze (albeit with the least shoegaze frontman ever singing,
At the same time, if you somehow weren’t poisoned by predisposed attitudes
towards Bono, I dare anyone to not hear “One” for the first time and not be
moved by the lyric that ,“it’s too late tonight to drag the past out into the
As I wrote in this recent Kingston Times article, it is also ok to let
younger people have their own access points to the past. But do they even
give a fuck about discovering it? I feel like we are already living in WALL-E
only the Festival circuit has replaced the spaceship for lazy gluttons.
The best rock has immediacy, no matter how old. This is why VINYL should have
worked. Why “All Along The Watchtower” was powerful even when used in the
uneven Watchmen movie.
Maybe once you are a critic or musician or sociologist you pick things apart
and hear them differently. Remembering Ray Manzarek played on the first X
album becomes so quintessentially L.A. that it adds more dimension and
enjoyment to the record someone who had no idea the meeting of worlds and
eras that represented wouldn’t experience while hearing classic “Nausea”, but
you’d hope the energy would still kick their ass.
Fine Young Cannibals once sang “Don’t Look Back”, but maybe we kinda have to sometimes.
But now people seem stuck in their own headspace, production preferences and
Twitter feeds (unless attacking others who are different).You could accuse me
of that except I do listen to some modern pop also. It doesn’t make me
superior just not a hypocrite and arguable I am having a more well rounded
life than the average blind consumer.
Shit, I know I am. It has been a rollercoaster.
Rock is def not a failed experiment. I often wish my life was MORE bland
because it ended up being so insane with rock shows, drugs, drama, and
legitimate ptsd. I also never thought I would get produced by one of the Bad
Brains, meet some of the NY Dolls, see Sonic Youth numerous times or
become friends with Sean Yseult from White Zombie, for example.
There are plenty of times it almost killed me. But if you hang in there and
stay a Fool In The Rain, great things can happen. It is super cool getting to
talk on IG with Jesse from Killswitch Engage about Full Of Hell and The Body
and relate our experiences (this happened today) and find common ground.
see my friend Andy Animal, who I have known since he was a little punk dude,
grow up to curate the Meltasia events and put his love of rock n roll as a
fan into a lifetime dream of hosting fun and variety filled events that show
off a range of fringe artists. This year’s line up rules even if I am no longer chuffed on Pentagram.
I keep thinking though about this one scene in Vinyl where Juno Temple tells
the Nasty Bits to stop playing a boring take on a cover and to go back to
being their crazy selves before they blow a showcase. As someone who has been
repeatedly told I was too edgy for the music industry or a problem case, I
can safely say that for most of the last twenty years it would’ve been better
advice if she told the band to only color so far outside the lines and to
conform as much as possible. Sad but true.
It seems the most lasting legacy of Vinyl will be the continued success of
Beach Fossils, the backup band who played the cute visually appealing and
hipsterized looking Nasty Bits for Jagger’s son to sing in front of. In real
life, no offense, but their own music is pretty shock free. It makes me feel
like seeing friends and having a moderately nice time but doesn’t hit me with
electricity like putting on ANY early Alice Cooper record.
Say what you want about Axl Rose but he tinkered so long to the point of
killing the potential vibes of Chinese Democracy because he actually in his
weirdo hermit heart cares about rock n roll and wants it to feel huger than
anything. Just look how much startling fire he still brought when he was
asked to fill in for AC/DC, even with a hurt foot!
But instead we get articles about Sky Ferreira being the “Slash of Hotness”
or the great punky Peach Kelli Pop having to talk in interviews about what a
drag it is they know some people only checked them out for their looks.
Rock is the harrowing of Hell at its best. A crash course on navigating the
dark or enacting social change at its best. Also an excuse for some of my
pals to do blow and listen to Slayer as an escapist way to release rage,
sure. Better than them going postal. Or a celebration of “The Spirit Of The Radio”.
But some of us NEED to go down with the rock ship! Even if the lessons fade.
We need people willing to still perform the rock SOUND and we might even
still need martyrs, albeit only if they manage to survive on the cross. We’ve had enough casualties you’d think people would remember.
I was writing a woman, a musician I really admire a few months ago about how it was scary
for me sometimes because I either feel too much or get uncomfortably numb and
feel nothing, how that is terrifying. too much or not enough.
I’m really trying to slow down a bit and experience and really feel every
moment, frame by frame again. I have pretty shot nerves and this way I can
handle it but still enjoy the ride and stay level.
But I think some people really are so lost in screen glare, Michael Bay
explosions and narcissism and feigned outrage that they don’t know they
already lost their taste buds and depth of feeling awhile ago. But at least we
have “Famous”, right?
Let’s put it this way. I’d rather hear “Fool In the Rain” from In Through The Out Door for the 675th time than be a fool standing in the rain for some $150 a ticket parade of “cutting edge” regurgitators on Molly.
Peace and love.
All we can do is keep trying to connect and create, I guess. Not all of us will be on the same page.
But you have to at least put your guts into it.
Emotional feedback on a timeless wavelength, yo.
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