I know the feeling. When I was 16, before "emo" became a dirty word--and boy has it become dirty--if you'd asked me to recommend the record that best exemplifies the term I would have held up a copy of the band's Diary or LP2 (aka "the pink album"). And yes I'm aware that the genesis of the term starts with bands like Rites of Spring and Embrace, but it was SDRE who really codified the elements of post-grunge bloodletting, octave chords and Jesus that would leave a lasting impact on the now-maligned subgenre.
As a first generation fan of the band I was enraptured with excitement when they first reunited in 1998 with the solid offering How It feels to Be Something On. So excited, in fact, that I managed to see them seven times on the tours that followed over the next few years. I fondly remember attending the band's first proper show in California--a state that they had famously avoided for reasons that are a mystery to this day--I remember a dude who cried when Jeremy Enigk signed his bible, I remember meeting the band and having them tell me that their only musical influences were The Beatles, U2 and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, I even remember seeing a few different people who had tattoos of the cover art from Diary and HIFTBSO. I remember learning their first two records beat for beat on the drums. The point is that people lost their fucking shit over this band. I once lost my shit to this band when I was listening to them on headphones while on a plane that briefly fell from the sky and nearly crashed, for years making me sick to my stomach on any time I tried to listen to HIFTBSO.
You may remember Daniel Silver: He posted a follow-up to Richard Florida's post over at the Atlantic's Daily Dish blog about the "Nashville effect," of which Jack White's move to our music-saturated city is a shining example. If you missed it the first time, here's a quick recap:
Florida: Nashville attracts musicians disproportionately, sucking up musical talent from around the U.S.A. So, Nashville has become the Silicon Valley of music--for many genres.
Now Silver has posted a follow-up, where he makes the case that there's a difference between industry dynamics (studios, labels, publishing companies, etc.--the stuff Nashville specializes in) and scene dynamics (the social influence of fellow musicians and audiences). He takes the as an example the Punch Brothers, who moved to Brooklyn instead of living in Nashville, as mandolinist Chris Thile did as a member of Nickel Creek. And guess what? New York is cooler than Nashville! "In a rich, fast, omnivorous, energized music scene like New York, musical ideas, connections, and inspirations can occur that do not occur elsewhere," Silver writes. "Though Nashville's scene is certainly about more than the mainstream country and pop industry, it simply cannot compete with a place like New York on this level." OK, so we've heard this argument before--but Silver says he's not comparing Nashville to New York, just using the Punch Brothers example to make a point, which goes something like this:
The music industry might attract seasoned and ambitious professionals (like the White Stripes), session talent, and songwriters. There is likely a symbiotic relationship between recording industry infrastructure and music scenes, as scene members work session gigs by day and clubs by night. And yet, on the other hand, there may be a negative influence whereby heavy industry concentration creates an over-professionalized environment that is not open to some kinds of musical innovation. [My emphasis.]
And while I don't agree with Silver on every point (and I think that conflating Seattle and Olympia is a mistake), he makes a good one here. Nashville audiences, by and large, do not like to be challenged. We tend to overvalue chops and accessible songwriting. Our city is home to approximately 1,000 industry showcases for deodorized, mediocre, ready-for-a-close-up acts every week, and smaller bands that draw in other cities often find near-empty rooms here.
That isn't to say there isn't room for professionalism in art--there's no substitute for a well-executed recording delivered by seasoned session players. But it's also true that an overemphasis on professionalism sucks the life out of music. The only thing worse than art for art's sake is professionalism for professionalism's sake, and that might be the real "Nashville effect."
For more photos, check out the slideshow.
The Spin was pleasantly stunned to see a monstrous turnout for How I Became the Bomb and KinderCastle's tribute to Out of the Blue when we rolled up on Mercy Lounge Friday evening. The unmistakable chorus of "Turn to Stone" rang through Cannery Row as we joined dozens of others awaiting entry on the steps beneath an enormous ELO banner. Once we finally filed in, we were a little taken aback to see not only the usual Mercy patrons and a few gussied-up bros and femmebros, but also scores of septuagenarians seated on stools, their heads a sea of bobbing blue hair, their orthopedic shoes tapping as they mouthed every word.
We'd had our doubts that locals HIBtB and KinderCastle could pull off the undeniably daunting task of recreating Jeff Lynne's magnum opus--especially considering reports we'd heard that the megagroup was seeking a rehearsal space awfully late in the game--but our cynical traps were smacked shut the moment we heard their seven-piece string section launch into the intro for "Sweet Talkin' Woman." Besides, it turns out that the 15-member ensemble had been practicing somewhere in the neighborhood of six hours a day for two weeks straight.
The Spin arrived for night two of Blue Raider Alumni Weekend at the Mercy lounge still shocked that Lake Fever impresario and Out of the Blue lead guitarist John Baldwin had been seen without a pompadour. Last time we saw the boy, he looked like Morrissey and now he looked like Mr. Brady --it's amazing how the January death of "World's Most Badass Barber," Leonard Maynor, has sent shockwaves through the music community. Our pea-sized brains were still so overwhelmed that we were standing in line next to Richie Ghostfinger for a good five minutes before we recognized him --sans moustache! Minds. Officially. Blown. Seriously, folks, between the death of Michael Jackson, Baldwin's mini fro and Richie's freshly shorn upper lip, our entire world has been turned upside down.
Luckily for us, there was plenty of booze and rock 'n' roll upstairs just waiting to make everything OK. We arrived on the top floor of the Cannery building to find a packed house--any hope we may have had to not sweat our ill-defined genitalia off was quickly dashed. The Black Lips brought a crowd of rabble rousers out for the festivities, with keffiyeh-adorned hipsters crowd-surfing without irony at one point in the set. More importantly, though, the Lips made a perfect soundtrack for the veritable class reunion on the back porch. We saw Velcro Stars Keith Prat and Shane Spresser, Joey, Kelly, Bingham and Eric from Glossary, and a bunch Southern Girls Rock 'n' Roll Campers from way back --kinda like a Sir Pizza staff meeting except nobody smelled like sausage. And it was great to see everyone supporting their friends, even if we heard some grumblings of crab-ass bullshit through out the night. (Of course it wouldn't be Nashville if somebody wasn't complaining about some other band's success.)
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That is twisted, sister. We shouldn't have to take this anymore.