Life Just Bounces don't you get worried at all. (A weblog of music and otrogenerica)

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Metal vocalist: "everyone else is fake but me!"

This morning i read an article in which Keith Buckley, singer for "metalcore-with-Southern-rock-elements" band Every Time I Die, blasted the bands he's currently on the Warped Tour with for being fake, for such crimes as having regulation haircuts and dress sense, using autotune and drum machines, and being liked by teenagers.

Where to even start?

1. Keith: YOUR band (right) have regulation haircuts and dress sense. If it makes it easier for you, try to imagine your complex bad-ass tattoos, denim 'n' band t-shirts as merely the equivalent of "a deep swoop [of hair] that crosses your entire forehead". It's just that you work in a paradigm deemed "cool" by the tastemaker rock establishment, rather than one whose fans who have developed/are engaged in their own trends and don't care what the Metal Police™ think of them.

2. "What is it that drives you [i.e. fans of, e.g., 'crunkcore'/'glow pop'] to assemble in masses and sing along to lyrics about “shots” when you are easily five years under the legal drinking limit? Why are you buying shirts that say “Fuck Bitches, Get Money” when most of you have never: a) fucked or b) gotten money?"

Right on, bro! And why did that guy Shakespeare – y'know, that old dude who was your major in college – write about a Jewish money-lender in Venice? He'd never been a Jewish money-lender and he didn't live in Venice! WHAT A PHONY! i guess he should be condemned as a fraud and his plays discarded as false and useless from now on, right?

3. Autotune and drum machines aren't indicators of "realness" or "fakeness", they're tools designed to achieve certain sonic effects, much like distorted guitars and screaming are. Presumably you wouldn't slag off a saxophonist or a marimba player for playing a "fake" instrument. So where's the official list of Proscribed Musical Techniques, please? i'd like to check that my band is correctly following the regulations, so we can be like everyone else and not stick out. (What's so fucking great about guitar-drums-bass-vocals anyway?)

4. Technically, anyone who uses a PA or amplification, or indeed anything more than basic acoustic instrumentation is as "fake" as one another, as these are artificial processes. And hell, instruments are innately fake, even acoustic ones. They don't occur in nature. Someone had to cut a coupla trees down to fashion them lovingly into that spruce/maple soundbox so we could enjoy these campfire bro-fi jamz. And nylon doesn't grow on trees! (i touched on some of these issues in an earlier piece on – yes! – Milli Vanilli.)

5. Teenagers like your stuff too, Keith. i see that to get over this problem, you have conveniently subdivided them into "smart" or "dumb" ones, claiming that fans of stuff you don't like are mere sheep-like marketing victims, "[eating] up the music that media push on [them]", too stupid to make aesthetic judgements for themselves (unless they learn the error of their stupid teenage ways and "correct these mistakes", possibly through internment in a Humourless Hardcore Bros Gulag), whereas ones with suss and intelligence will naturally gravitate towards Hot Damn! or New Junk Aesthetic. Well that's terribly convenient, isn't it! How lucky for you that all the ones that like your band happen to be the smart, thinking-for-themselves ones! It couldn't possibly be that people make their own informed choices that you happen to disagree with, could it? Oh no.

6. "Most “artists” don’t even write their own songs."
Neither did Frank Sinatra. Nor do most classical string quartets or orchestras. And i've heard that some jazz groups play what's called "improvised" music – that stuff's not written by anyone! Scary stuff, huh?!

i can't believe it's 2010 and people are still using this knuckle-dragging, myopic redundancy as an argument.

7. "This “Glow-Pop” that has contaminated music like poison in the well simply needs to be seen for what it really is--a shameless exploitation of inexperience... It has given kids a focus, an place to assemble, an anthem and much like religion, it has given them a unifying symbol and convinced them that the more people “hate on it”, the more right they are in standing tall in the face of opposition."

Again, please explain how the above differs from your scene, except in the sense that yours has more approval from meatheaded crypto-jocks who give it the thumbs-up in irrelevant categories like "realness"? Except now you've been forced on to the other side. You're no longer the ones who get to assume the edgy outsider rebel mantle, and it's eating you.

8. Oh: and why the fuck are you still on the Warped Tour profiting from the same kids you deem to be stupid, tasteless plebs if you hate it so much? Surely you should start your own tour, the Unerringly Authentic Real Music Oh Quick Someone Suck My Dick I'm So Amazing Tour, instead? Surely to do otherwise would make you a wholly insincere hypocrite?

In conclusion: listen to Every Time I Die's turgid metalcore grunting if you want, but don't bother using the supposed 'superiority' of this as a weapon. Your group-of-choice's protestations about how much more real and unmarketed they are compared to others is, ironically and amusingly, mere marketing. But you knew that, right? After all, you're "the smart ones".

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Song of the day: #15 Kishore Kumar – "Bom Chik, Bom Chik"

Lachlann found today's Song of the Day, "Bom Chik, Bom Chik" by Indian playback singer, actor, lyricist, composer, producer, director and screenwriter Kishore Kumar, on Spotify, and it fills me with great joy.

i love everything about this song, from the opening Indian-language1 spiel and Kumar's bypass of the usual counting in favour of an enthusiastic "A, B, C, D!" to the sudden ending, marked, bizarrely, by a cuckoo clock going off. The gleefully onomatopoeiac vocal rides an insistent shuffling rhythm, occasionally answered by serene brass arrangements, until at 02:43, a completely unexpected speed change-up leaves Kumar just enough time to spit out a few more rapid lines before the song ends. i don't know what any of this means, but it's great.

Some of Kumar's high-spirited whoops and howls also reminded me a little of the vocalisations of American roots music (ok, i admit it, the first thing i thought of was the dancing chicken from Stroszek,2 as soundtracked by Sonny Terry). His Wiki bio indeed reveals that in developing his own style instead of emulating his hero K. L. Saigal, Kumar incorporated a yodelling style copped from country blues pioneer Jimmie Rodgers.

The bio also reveals KK to have been quite the practical joker:

Kishore Kumar had put a "Beware of Kishore" sign at the door of his Warden Road flat, where he stayed for some time while his bungalow  was being done up. Once, the producer-director H. S. Rawail, who owed him some money, visited his flat to pay the dues. Kishore Kumar took the money, and when Rawail offered to shake hands with him, he reportedly put Rawail's hand in his mouth, bit it, and asked "Didn’t you see the sign?". Rawail laughed off the incident and left quickly.[15]

According to another reported incident, once Kishore Kumar was to record a song for the producer-director G. P. Sippy. As Sippy approached his bungalow, he saw Kishore going out in his car. Sippy pleaded him to stop his car, but Kishore only increased the speed of his car. Sippy chased him to Madh Island, where Kishore Kumar finally stopped his car near the ruined Madh Fort. When Sippy questioned his strange behavior, Kishore Kumar refused to recognize or talk to him and threatened to call police. Sippy had to return. Next morning, Kishore Kumar reported for the recording. An angry Sippy questioned him about his behavior on the previous day. However, Kishore Kumar insisted that Sippy must have seen a dream, and claimed that he was in Khandwa on the previous day.
In the light of this song, the above makes total sense.

mp3: Kishore Kumar – "Bom Chik, Bom Chik" [YSI]

1 i'm aware there isn't an "Indian language" as such, but Kishore sang in Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Assamese, Gujarati, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Malayalam and Oriya if not more, and i don't speak any of those so i can't tell which one this is in.
2 And i forgot how funny the kick drum-playing duck and fire-truck driving rabbit are in that sequence.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Song of the day: #14 Daniel Johnston – "Some Things Last a Long Time"

Yeah, yeah, you all know who Daniel Johnston is and need no introduction from me. Three points i will note, however:

– Though Daniel's greatest musical love and influence were The Beatles, i'd be hard-pushed to think of any Beatles song that matches the tenderness, fragility or honesty of this.1

– The vocal echo is just heartbreaking.

– The parent album, 1990, was recorded at one of the lowest points in Daniel's mental health. On the hymn-like "Careless Love", recorded live, he actually breaks down in tears in the middle. The faltering of his voice in the incredibly sad line "i won't forget all the things we did", starting at 1:55, sounds like it could possibly be another such moment. The emotion is palpable.

Apparently some band called Beach House also covered this, but from descriptions i've heard of them it sounds like exactly the sort of thing i never want to hear.

mp3: Daniel Johnston – "Some Things Last A Long Time" [YSI]

1 Or, as a YouTube user put it with classic brevity: "DJ > The Beatles".

Some good fucking dishes in this thing

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Song of the day: #13 The Chaplin Band – "Dancing on Townsquare"

i'm not usually a big disco fan (i don't actively dislike it, just don't know or encounter it a lot), but i appreciate the way it applies equal focus to both the dancefloor and the part of the brain that digs melodies and songcraft, unlike a lot of contemporary dancefloor fare which solely prioritises the dancefloor at the expense of putting any interesting bits in, and consequently, ironically, fails at both (oh hi, majority of dubstep!)

"Dancing on Townsquare" probably isn't a great or classic record (even my friend Jack, who introduced me to it, thinks it's "rubbish") but it has a certain charm nonetheless. Perhaps hearing it first on a sunny Brighton morning in the aftermath a night of extreme alcoholic carnage, surrounded by a group of similar recovering burnouts, was the charm. Plus i also like the sense of "everything-is-grim, together-we-will-overcome-it, possibly-through-funky-dancing" grift in the detail about the people "trying to keep their dreams afloat". If we're going to have an 80s government, we might as well also have soulful 80s solidarity anthems.

The Chaplin Band seem to have been a Dutch disco group from the early 80s (this might explain why no-one has ever heard of them). They're most noted for the A-side of this particular 12", "Il Veliero" ("The Sailing Ship"), which is a pretty great little overlooked gem of its own.

mp3: The Chaplin Band - "Dancing on Townsquare" [YSI]