Friday, February 03, 2017

Stop me if you've heard this one before

Rock is dead? Yawn. Well, not so much dead, as dying - according to Consequence Of Sound's Collin Brennan, at least. This, he argues, is due to a combination of factors including its slavish and outmoded focus on the album in the age of streaming and short attention spans, its modest and understated "stars" (while pop and hip-hop now boast the provocative hell-raisers), its inability to channel anger as effectively and authentically as rap, the commercial dominance of its heritage acts (both in terms of record sales and live tours) at the expense of newly emerging talent, and a depressing lack of diversity.

Brennan canvasses the opinions of several of those struggling to keep the flame alive, including Japandroids, Cloud Nothings and Real Estate, all of whom have released new albums in 2017 or are about to do so. Between them, they express little dissent as regards the statement that rock has become somewhat marginalised, its impact dulled - indeed, they often corroborate Brennan's claims. Moreover, they carefully avoid suggesting that it's a depressing situation, instead giving the impression of a stoic acceptance of the shifting sands of music and culture.

And yet they all still persist in representing a supposedly moribund tradition. Why? Because it's all they know? Perhaps. Because, deep down, it's something in which they stubbornly and passionately believe - and something that remains worthy of such stubborn and passionate belief. Yes. Cloud Nothings' Dylan Baldi is surely (hopefully?) right when he states, in the context of the digital age, that "I think rock as a genre will always be around ... Rock is going to find its own little pocket, and there's always going to be someone reviving it."

Any discussion of current keepers of the flame would be incomplete without reference to Ty Segall, whose in his sheer prolificity is arguably doing as much as anyone to reinvigorate rock. His latest effort is a self-titled album (his second), of which 'Break A Guitar' is the splendid second single, and he's been talking to the Guardian's Geeta Dyal about his upbringing as the son of a hair-metal-loving mother, his love of The Kinks and recording with Steve Albini. The article whets the appetite for hearing the album - though I haven't yet properly digested his last, Emotional Mugger...

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