In fact, the update might be a little short this week because I just got back from a big-deal indie band’s reunion show (I’m not kidding). As you can imagine, I made a special effort to maintain eye contact with band members at all times and to sneer at them as if to say “I am suspicious of your motivations for this reunion tour and am therefore unable to appreciate your music fully. I am also well aware of the fact that not all of the original members of the band are involved in this reunion. Also, your music is significantly less artistically relevant now than it was when it was first released.” Chances are they got the message, because all I have to do is stand in a room and be silently cynical about something and everyone instantly stops having a good time. I’m a big hit at weddings.
In case you haven’t opened a music magazine lately, let me rattle off some of the evidence that every single old-school indie act is desperate for cash:
Hey, J. Mascis works for NASA too! You can't get one of those hats unless you work there.First up, how about the ridiculous Dinosaur Jr. reunion? I can’t even begin to fathom why this is getting any press whatsoever; they’ve only been broken up since 1997, and the singer’s solo albums sound fundamentally identical to the band’s records. The hype revolves around the fact that singer/guitarist J. Mascis is reuniting with former bassist Lou Barlow, who played on the first couple Dino Jr. albums. Barlow later became famous (relatively speaking) for founding Sebadoh and Folk Implosion as well as various side projects and spin-offs. These projects are mainly characterized by Lou warbling like a pathetic man-child who lives with his mom at thirty and fakes sick so she’ll coddle him and bring him soup. He’s also known for recording his albums through one of those tin-can-on-a-string contraptions in order to make them sound “lo-fi.” You see, music is more authentic when it sounds like the band can’t afford studio time. So anyway, why is the hype around this Dinosaur Jr. reunion bullshit? Because Lou Barlow was the fucking bassist, and he wrote maybe two songs during his stint in Dino Jr., which lasted about three years. The whole reason he left the band in the first place is because Mascis didn’t let him write any songs, so it’s not like this is return of some fertile fucking artistic collaboration. This is two guys getting back together because it will generate some hype and remind people that they were semi-relevant twenty years ago. Yeah, I’m sure seeing a b-list indie band reunite live will be greatly enhanced by the presence of a c-list indie pussy on bass.Imagine him singing about a cat.Oh, and speaking of Lou Barlow, he just released a solo album called “Emoh,” which is probably the worst album title since that time Fiona Apple pretentiously shat out words all over the cover of her second record. Aside from the title, I don’t know what’s more disappointing about Emoh: the fact that he throws in a “hilariously ironic” cover of Ratt’s “Round and Round,” or the fact that the single “Holding Back the Year” isn’t a cover of that Simply Red song. I would also like to point out that the album’s final track, “The Ballad of Day Kitty,” contains the lyrics “where’d the kitty come from / where’d the kitty go / the kitty’s always hungry / I told the kitty no.” I don’t think it’s even possible to make fun of that shit. It’s like he headed me off at the pass by making it so transparently lame that I ran out of things to snap on, like when Eminem totally turned the tables on that guy in the rap battle at the end of 8 Mile by admitting outright what a queer he was.What? What are we looking at?The English post-punk band Gang of Four is cashing in all their commie credibility with another suspiciously-timed reunion. Even though they haven’t released an LP in ten years, they’re at virtually the pinnacle of their fame right now, thanks to lazy “journalists” like me comparing all these new bands with thin ties and angular riffs and new wave haircuts to Gang of Four. It may sound unbefitting of a band of Marxist intellectuals to get back together just because they’ve been getting posthumous press attention, but it shouldn’t come as much of a shock. These are the same guys who, after having a minor club hit with “I Love a Man in Uniform,” got all excited and re-tooled their sound to appeal to the type of people who love minor club hits. They’re going to be playing Coachella later this year along with Bauhaus and the Cocteau Twins, so if you attend the festival you’ll surely see plenty of balding, malnourished ex-college radio DJs standing stock still due to a morbid fear of social dance (and, let’s face it, due to being really, really white).I just went and saw these dudes, but they had shirts on. Luckily.Slint is currently out on a reunion tour. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve heard a million hipsters name-drop them over the years. This tour will finally give all those hipsters a chance to hear the band, since none of them actually have. Their guitarist, David Pajo, was also in Zwan, so it might be worth the price of a ticket just to go laugh at him for that. Remember how I said the Pixies made loud-quiet-loud half-tunes? Well, shortly after that, Slint one-upped them by making loud-quiet-loud records, but they didn’t bother with the tunes at all. And thus “post-rock” was born.So how fucking fortuitous is it that the first google image search result for "House of Love" has "Where Are They Now?" plastered across it?And what the fuck is with The House of Love getting back together? First of all, they bitterly hated each other. Secondly, how could they even get a record deal this time around? At least Gang of Four’s name has been dropped by some hot acts lately. House of Love is so over that they’re practically wiped from history. Seriously, how many of us were sitting around going “boy, House of Love sure was great, let’s hope there’s a House of Love reunion album”? None of us, because who even remembers them? Even big-time rock nerds like me who’ve actually heard their records devote about 0.000000001% of our mental energy to thinking about House of Love. If you’re reading this and thinking “hey, that’s nice, House of Love is getting back together. I remember them,” congratulations: you’re the biggest House of Love fan in the known universe. It’s appalling to me that their reunion is even being mentioned by magazines, because it’s illustrative of just how little there is going on these days. There must be such a vacuum of happenings in the music world that literally anything will get press coverage. Here’s an experiment: go take a shit in Paul Westerberg’s driveway. I’ll bet you ten bucks that Uncut Magazine will have a full-page feature on your crime. Even if they don’t, hey, at least you shit in Paul Westerberg’s driveway, and nobody will ever be able to take that away from you.
Guess who else is apparently broke: Ian Brown from the Stone Roses is going to release a “Greatest Hits” album. Of his solo material. Two questions are probably coming to mind right now: first of all, yes, he did have a solo career. And no, he pretty much didn’t have any hits, nor any material that could be considered “great”. Now that that’s all sorted out…Bernard Butler indicates the arc of his career.Breaking up the bad-record juggernaut known as Suede must have taken quite an emotional toll on lead singer Brett Anderson, who had been happily stuck on auto-pilot for nearly ten years. Whenever he ran low on funds for foppish haircuts, crack, and designer jeans, he could just slap together another by-the-numbers Suede single and sell a modest number of copies. Amazingly, even after descending so far into self-parody that Aerosmith looked like avant-garde geniuses in comparison, Brett Anderson’s atrophied artistic conscience took momentarily took over and caused him to break up the band. Predictably, the weight of not knowing where his next paycheck would come from broke Anderson almost instantly, and he phoned up Suede’s critically-beloved original guitarist, Bernard Butler, with whom he’d had a well-publicized falling-out ten years earlier. “My career is dead,” said Anderson to Butler, “and getting back together with you is the only way the media will ever pay attention to either of us again.” “I agree,” replied Butler, “let’s make an album before the last of our former fans forget who we are.” Well, that wasn’t the exact conversation, but that was surely the subtext of it. Actually, for all I know, that was the exact conversation, so let’s make things simple and assume that it was. So anyway, Anderson and Butler are back together and calling themselves “The Tears,” which is the band name equivalent of how bad “Emoh” is as an album title. If I sound a little pissed off, it’s because their single is decidedly catchy and I desperately wanted it to be an appalling failure.Ready to buy another copy of Monster, dad?And how can fucking R.E.M. be broke? Well, I don’t actually know that they are, I’m just assuming they are because they’re re-releasing a bunch of their old albums in special highly-priced editions, knowing full well that a generation of lameness aficionados will have to buy every single one. Hey, this is good for a laugh, get this: each reissued R.E.M. CD will come with a DVD-audio mix of the album in five-channel surround sound. It’s not really funny until you think about some guy with a big wool sweater and a ponytail sitting in his goddamn living room with his eyes closed and his head back, totally into it. I mean, if they reissued Rush albums on DVD-audio, you can kind of imagine that some nerd somewhere would find the time to listen to the whole thing in his living room and really sink his teeth into it, but this is R.E.M. we’re talking about, they who did “Losing My Religion.” You don’t rock that in your easy chair with your eyes closed unless you’re really dedicated to turning into somebody’s lame dad.
I’ve been hearing some interviews with the guy from Scritti Politti lately, because he’s doing a half-assed promotional push for a collection of early Scritti material that just got released by Rough Trade. I have a soft-spot for Scritti Politti because they’re easily the worst fucking band of all time, but they’re so earnest and serious that making fun of them would be like criticizing a little kid’s letter to his dying mom. So anyway, these interviews have just deepened my pity for the poor lead singer, because he really has no choice but to be extremely apologetic about how bad this early material is. I saw a promo copy of the album, and there are even apologetic liner notes, in which he admits that he really can’t even listen to this stuff anymore, out of sheer embarrassment. Jesus, someday I should write up a history of Scritti Politti for you guys, because it’s one of the most sidesplitting artistic train wrecks of all time. Instead, I’ll just post some images from Scritti Politti videos, because they’re funny enough on their own:Notice the tracksuit and the fucking +1 Boots of SpeedI just want to canoe down his hair like a thrilling waterfall.The tilted back straw hat, the sexy pose: this is Scritti Politti.Nice hat, Fire Marshall Dipshit!
There you have it, kids: don’t go into rock and roll. Even if you hit it big initially and create a buzz, in a decade or two you’re going to be destitute and trying anything to cash in on your former glory. Instead, you should follow my lead and work for NASA, because then you get to hang out with scientists all day and high-five them whenever they come up with some rad new space-science. Also, you should get a sideline in making fun of bands when they go downhill and start doing lame things for money, because then you’ll never be out of work. As usual, questions, comments, and ridicule can be sent to [email protected], although I can’t promise that I won’t correct all the bad grammar with a red pen and send it back to you with a big fat “F” on it.
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