Today, the new Paramore album, Brand New Eyes, is officially available in its intended quality. MTV has a pretty big crush on this band, and spent some time with them kicking around Franklin, riding bikes, thrifting and generally noting how they don't act like rock stars even though they could. But what really struck me was this statement:
....no other band could've made Brand New Eyes. It's an inherently Southern record, and not in the Skynyrd way. Rather, there is an antebellum charm and grace to it, a refined (and admirable) restraint, even when the guitars are interlocking to the heavens, the backbeat is walloping against the walls, and Williams is singing for the rafters. There's small-town sentiment and big-town ambitions. [Emphasis added.]
Not in the Skynyrd way? Fine. But "antebellum charm and grace"?
Never mind for a moment how problematic the phrase "antebellum charm and grace" is, because that's a whole other jar of chow-chow. Let's focus (for once, I know!) on the music. Now, I don't think a band has to sound like Skynyrd* to be Southern, I'm all for expanding the whole notion of "Southern" and I don't think anyone should be pigeonholed as having to be this or that because they're from the South. But I'm just not sure how "Paramore" and "antebellum charm" got into the same thought.
If you haven't already, watch the video for Paramore's song "Ignorance," then tell me how "inherently Southern" it is, on any level. Maybe I'm just missing something. There are times when we music writers confuse the music we're talking about with the people who make it--and the better the performer, the easier it is to make that mistake. So maybe that's what happened here.
* Nearly 100% of all people (in my very informal email/Twitter research), when asked "When I say 'Southern Rock,' you say...." responded with some variation of "Skynyrd," "Fuckin' Skynyrd!" or "FREEEEE BIRRRRD!!!"