Posted by: daaavid | February 1, 2009

2009: Living in The Past in The Future, Pt. I

I’ve had this rotation of  new albums I discovered, that have been occupying much of my day-dreaming & late-night thinking time… It’s not that the songs are stuck in my head, but I can’t help myself from obsessing over our current timestamp in the world of music, in this modern world, with a far enough leap out of the 20th century and a comfortably far enough start into the 21st! Let’s take a look at where we, what is happening, and where we might be going…

Instead of trying to tackle the subject in one massive post, I’ve decided to break it up into several parts, each one about a particular album that was released (since 2008).

I wasn’t impressed by anyone’s end-of-the-year music lists, and I couldn’t even come up with one for myself. I could write you a rather powerful list of music that I happened to un-earth from the musical history books, but it’s not quite the same story for the releases of this year. It’s not that we are in an awkward period, so much as we are just getting things out of our system. It’s come to a point where any musical effect, sound, instrument, publication, or distribution can be easily obtained by the magic of laptop computing and wireless communication. Everyone is just having a field day, letting the music pour out, doing exactly what they want and how they want to do it. Any sound can be achieved — it’s not a matter of being a “guitar player” or a “song-writer” anymore — these are things of the past. Anyone can have any sound.

So, by saying that anything can be achieved, virtually without limitation, I am saying there is a certain excellence of execution happening in music. I think we’ve really hit a stride here in the past several years, that was much, much different than the few years even before that. We’re getting it all out of our system. Ideas come to us, and without much difficulty you can get them out of your head without much sacrifice. We’re flying through genres and mixing and matching however we feel like and it sounds brilliant! Right now, it’s our natural tendency to make music that sounds like the past, but really fucking good sounding, with a little modern twist for the sake of time. The formulas have been out there for decades, but not until recently was there a new element in the equation: digital technology.

Long gone are the days of four-piece bands having to come up with a gimmick to set them apart from sounding like every other four guys with guitars and drums in matching suits. The platform of music is such a vast plateau of expression now — shit! you don’t even gotta have a face anymore. Just go to the huge magical tree of music history, pluck off the pieces you like, and use them however you wish. It will be paradoxically old and new at the same time… but, soon enough, we are going to wear ourself out, and one of us will stumble upon a new musical path, without any history, and without any foot steps… it will be the new sound.

Now, considering all things said, let’s take a look at the first album up for review.

My Bloody Underground by The Brian Jonestown Massacre

click album to download

“Bring Me the Head of Paul McCartney On Heather Mill’s
Wooden Peg (Dropping Bombs on the White House)”

The Onion AV Club says,
“‘Nevertheless,’ [from Tepid Peppermint Wonderland] is a swirling pop nugget from 2001 that could have materialized intact from 1966, nudges up against 1995‘s dense, shoegazing “Evergreen.” The juxtaposition eventually feels like part of the scheme, though, since every song shares one element: [Anton] Newcombe’s undeniable ear for a pop song, no matter how it’s dressed up. A gift that allows him to not only get away with musical murder, but to make it seem like a good idea, Newcombe’s natural songwriting slope sends him barreling headfirst into places that modesty and lack of pretentiousness prevent others from going. He has no filter, but even the messes that emerge, like the ridiculous, faux-accented “All Around You (Intro),” feel strangely right.”

AllMusic says,
“[Anton] Newcombe’s key talent is his ability to take music from the past and project it as music for the future. Despite the fact that his quick mouth and serious ego might persuade you otherwise, he’s not a god or a superhero (too bad, because “Osmosisman” has a nice ring to it), but there’s no arguing that he has a supernatural ability to soak up his record collection and project his favorite elements spot-on, filtered as a unique vision.
The first couple songs feel a lot like the Brian Jonestown Massacre we’ve grown to know, love, and fear, with the expected psychedelic ’60s Stones/Kicks throwbacks, charmingly slopped up with a junkyard of instruments and the occasional out of tune guitar. As the album picks up, things get truly warped and a new angle is introduced when ’80s shoegazer aspects and ’70s Krautrock are thrown into the mix.”


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Responses

  1. A lot of the times, these songs end up turning into a melange of different styles (i.e. My Bloody Valentine and Velvet Underground). It’s when Anton goes off into the deep end like on the track “Auto-Matic-F*ggot for The People,” where this patchworking of older bands is easily forgotten, as it just and endless loop of ghostly “shoegazey” sounds. As for the originality of it that is another question, but original ideas are not always artistically better and vice versa. Perhaps what would set this band apart from other bands is that they already have prolific career prior to the release of this album. This career is strengthen by the erratic, drug-rattled Anton. His presence transcends the music in some ways, whether it’s his spectral voice or his sauntering guitar melodies. The end result for me: rockin’ song and interesting conversation topics!

  2. I love how he’s talking about old people at the beginning of the video, and then the next time they cut to him he’s got corny ass reading glasses on.

    Shine on you manic depriamond.

  3. Anton talking is hypnotic and engaging like how they say Charles Manson seduced people with his speech and body language and all that. it’s really strange…

    he’s a goldmine, too. the Onion writer hit the nail on the head with the bit about modesty and pretentiousness… there’s something kinda cheap feeling about it all, but there’s also a really heavy level of recognizing a good song when you hear one.

    I think it’s amazing, as a human achievement, to be able to absorb and project (Osmosis-man) in such an effective way, but at the same time it’s like, well, couldn’t anyone do this then? what’s the price?

    load yourself up with drugs, absorb, and release? clearly it doesn’t work for everyone, but it makes you wonder…

    all in all, I am really fascinated by this album, and I think it’s a particularly interesting note on the cosmic scale of music history.

  4. the same thing happening in the music world is happening with movies… perhaps, even more so!

    you know it to be true!!! it’s Re-Make City in 2009!

    everyone is looking to the past for the formula, and then polishing it up, so that it’s modern. soon enough, we’ll tire ourselves of it, or run out of things to copy, and then once again… find ourselves at an un-treaded path.

  5. I get what your saying, but you can’t forget that, on the other end of things, an ideal of originality without history can be problematic. I think in the past it was more helpful because it was a lot easier to sincerely think of oneself as outside history (the genius, the prodigy, etc), but in the information age, things like Wikipedia and Facebook and of course the vastness of music available (even music so previously marginal in the grand schemes of history and culture) makes it almost impossible for our generation to ever stop thinking about context and time and genre and history–all those elements of social and cultural location that defy any idea of originality even in the most aesthetically “modern.”

    So I guess I’m saying, obsessing over originality is itself an obsession with the past.

  6. indeed it is a curious path!

    I’ll throw up the next album soon. although, I don’t have quite as much to say, at the moment, all of the albums I have in mind for this article could be swapped out of either discussions, without stopping making sense…


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