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  1. #1
    very clever with maracas Davey's Avatar
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    If this came out in 1979, it'd get five stars.

    That's the last line in the new review for the Futureheads debut at http://www.junkmedia.org/?i=1293. I haven't heard it (have it on order) but this post isn't meant to be about the Futureheads and their XTC-mimicking sound. It's about the tendency of music critics and many music fans to apply a different standard to modern bands because it's seemingly all been done before. Do you buy into this argument? Are all modern bands destined to be also rans in the music history books, no matter how well the music is crafted and performed? I know we've talked a little about this before around here, but I still have mixed feelings and sometimes dismiss an album or band because it seems too familiar on first listen, even if it is some very well done music. What about you? I have to admit that I do seem to be softening in this regard because I've noticed that quite a few highly derivative bands have been tweaking my joystick this year

  2. #2
    all around good guy Jim Clark's Avatar
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    I tend to think that good music is good music. I've never seen the sense in dinging a band based soley on the fact that it's similar to something I've heard before. Not that originality need be totally abandoned or dismissed, quite the contrary. I'm thinking more along the lines of bonus points for someone that can create a genre or take off in a direction here-to-for unknown. Besides, how can we ever attempt to describe a band to someone else if we don't have some points of reference along the way. These musicians didn't grow up in a vacuum, and neither did I. I don't see how it's possible to create music without some sort of influence creeping in along the way. Fortunately it's not a problem for me to deal with. It goes without saying that this applies only to bands relying on stuff I like. I can do without anyone ever borrowing from the Bee Gees.

    jc
    "Ahh, cartoons! America's only native art form. I don't count jazz 'cuz it sucks"- Bartholomew J. Simpson

  3. #3
    Close 'n PlayŽ user Troy's Avatar
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    I think it really depends on whether you actually like the band these new bands are mimicking or not.

    Being XTC boy, I guess I gotta bite on the Futurehead disc eventually too. (but just got a buncha stinky cheese prog and one from BarryL in the mail today to chew thru first)

    Remember that XTC (for example) got poo pooed in 1979 for being Beatles knock offs too. If you like the Beatles and hadn't grown tired of them by 79, XTC was the greatest thing in years. If not, it's derrivitive junk.

    It all comes down to taste: The Flower Kings or White Stripes. What's your poison? The argument goes both ways for either.

    As we wander down the track into the future and you get 2nd or third generation derivations, yeah, it starts to lose it's viability, regardless of genre. I like it more if bands bring SOMETHING new to the table.

  4. #4
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    I concur!

    Quote Originally Posted by Davey
    ...this post...[is] about the tendency of music critics and many music fans to apply a different standard to modern bands because it's seemingly all been done before. Do you buy into this argument? Are all modern bands destined to be also rans in the music history books, no matter how well the music is crafted and performed? I know we've talked a little about this before around here, but I still have mixed feelings and sometimes dismiss an album or band because it seems too familiar on first listen, even if it is some very well done music. What about you? I have to admit that I do seem to be softening in this regard because I've noticed that quite a few highly derivative bands have been tweaking my joystick this year
    Yup, pretty much. All music has already been done, and yet, I still find things that are relatively new and fresh sounding, and that still turns me on. Yes, odd time signatures, for example, are such a rare occurence, that every time I hear one, I tend to "get into it". Yes, but...also, bands that remind me of sounds that I am very fond of (e.g., squeaky synthesizers, crunchy guitars, etc. -- for the latter, Jeff Beck's album, Jeff is a tone masterpiece) also turn me on, so...yay, especially to the "I have mixed feelings" comment on the subject.

    I guess what it boils down to is that I haven't really nailed down what it is I like about music yet. As Jim said, Good Music is Good Music. It's probably some subconscious thing going on, and whether it's derivative or fresh-ish is irrelevant. Sure, I still analyze musics and try to determine what it is about them that I like, but I'm probably off in left field somewhere.
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  5. #5
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    If I like it I don't care what people think

    Let's face it how many bands have a truly original sound, not many. All music borrows a little from its older siblings but with a modern twist to make it a little fresh sounding and I'm happy with that. Like Jim said you need reference points and we do it with all kinds of things from movies to books it just helps you find your way about and personally without it I would be sunk. The current trend for 70/80's retro is fine by me and this year has seen so many fine releases from The Killers, Libertines, Interpol even Franz Ferdinand to name a few.

    What does suprise me though is the number of so called indie type bands who surface in the charts and are available down your local supermarket, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have had that kind of exposure a few years ago.

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  6. #6
    Rocket Surgeon Swish's Avatar
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    "All music has already been done"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Chalk
    Yup, pretty much. All music has already been done, and yet, I still find things that are relatively new and fresh sounding, and that still turns me on. Yes, odd time signatures, for example, are such a rare occurence, that every time I hear one, I tend to "get into it". Yes, but...also, bands that remind me of sounds that I am very fond of (e.g., squeaky synthesizers, crunchy guitars, etc. -- for the latter, Jeff Beck's album, Jeff is a tone masterpiece) also turn me on, so...yay, especially to the "I have mixed feelings" comment on the subject.

    I guess what it boils down to is that I haven't really nailed down what it is I like about music yet. As Jim said, Good Music is Good Music. It's probably some subconscious thing going on, and whether it's derivative or fresh-ish is irrelevant. Sure, I still analyze musics and try to determine what it is about them that I like, but I'm probably off in left field somewhere.
    You sound like that guy back in the 1920s (or was it the 1930s) who closed the US Patent office because he said "everything that will ever be invented has already been invented" or words to that end. Anyway, we all know that cars and airplanes were not the end of scientific creativity, which is what that guy was thinking when he made that statement, and I don't think we''ve seen the end of musical creativity either.

    You gave yourself a little leeway though because you mention that you still hear things that sound new and fresh. I just think that music has no boundries and that, eventually, someone will come up with something unique or that has never been done before...I guess that's redundant. I just think that, in 30 or 40 years or so, most rock music will sound very different than our music today, much like most the 60s and 70s music sounds very different that what we have today.

    Anyway, in response to Davey's thread, I don't hold it against a band when they play something that sounds derivative. Interpol's debut, hardly "original" music, was one of my favorites from last year, so that would be enough proof that I don't have a problem with it. On the other end of the sprectrum, I also liked Broken Social Scene's "You Forgot in People", which, in my opinion, sounded like nothing else I've ever heard, or at least most of the songs.

    Swish
    I call my bathroom Jim instead of John so I can tell people that I go to the Jim first thing every morning.

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  7. #7
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swish
    I just think that music has no boundries and that, eventually, someone will come up with something unique or that has never been done before.
    I guarantee you, I am already listening to it. The problem is, if it's too alien, then it doesn't sound like music to most people, and bombs.

    Have you noticed? All music is done in the 12-tone system and is written in 4/4. Certainly, you're not going to argue that anything that's written based on the 12-tone scale in 4/4 is going to be new in any way? The thing to do (as a musician), is to put it together in interesting ways. Interesting does not equal new (that's commutative, as well).

    And besides, the point about references is valid as well. If it's sufficiently alien (and I don't mean extra-terrestrial), we're not even going to recognize it as music, so it has to have been recycled somewhat, neh?

    I am deliberately being over-simplistic -- even I listen to music outside of the 12 step, 4/4 reference.
    Eschew fascism.
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  8. #8
    Rocket Surgeon Swish's Avatar
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    The 12 tone system won't change, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dusty Chalk
    I guarantee you, I am already listening to it. The problem is, if it's too alien, then it doesn't sound like music to most people, and bombs.

    Have you noticed? All music is done in the 12-tone system and is written in 4/4. Certainly, you're not going to argue that anything that's written based on the 12-tone scale in 4/4 is going to be new in any way? The thing to do (as a musician), is to put it together in interesting ways. Interesting does not equal new (that's commutative, as well).

    And besides, the point about references is valid as well. If it's sufficiently alien (and I don't mean extra-terrestrial), we're not even going to recognize it as music, so it has to have been recycled somewhat, neh?

    I am deliberately being over-simplistic -- even I listen to music outside of the 12 step, 4/4 reference.
    that applies to all music as we know it, or at least for the most part (jazz, classical, rock, etc...), but I don't know that the 4/4 time argument holds up except in rock and "popular" music. Look, I think you make a valid argument in that the tones and time will be much the same, but that doesn't mean it won't be new or different, at least not in the way I'm thinking. Doo wop music sounds nothing like today's rock to me, so why can't I believe that "rock" music will sound much different in 30 or 40 years? I can't help but think that it will, even if it still uses the same basic elements.

    Swish
    I call my bathroom Jim instead of John so I can tell people that I go to the Jim first thing every morning.

    If you say the word 'gullible' very slowly it sounds just like oranges.

  9. #9
    Close 'n PlayŽ user Troy's Avatar
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    This is pretty simplified, but it gets the point accross.

    Rock music happened because of the convergence of:

    1. Youth culture having money to spend on silly junk like records.
    2. The invention of instruments like electric guitars and synthesizers.
    3. The invention of recording technology.

    Until there is as big a shift in technology and culture as this was, you won't see popular music changing.

  10. #10
    Forum Regular audiobill's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Inundated By Music....

    We are so inundated by music, today, that one would be hard-pressed to come up with an entire day where music did not enter our lives. It may simply be the jingle in a commercial, the tin rasp from another's headphones, as you wait for the bus, the car radio,...but I'd be challenged to make it through one day without hearing music (quality of music is another issue).

    Now, as a musician, you would likely be bending an ear closer to the music than most -- how could you not be influenced??

    However, not too long ago (200 years ago), people were not as inundated with music. Indeed, it would have been possible for someone to go without hearing music for several days. I'd bet their attention spans for longer pieces of music were far greater, than ours are today and that more "non-derivative" music evolved, as a result. Ironically, the only cross-seeding of musical styles was occuring by classical composers who had opportunity and means to travel. When I read about Mozart's ragged, pot-holed travel to faraway places, I come to appreciate what we have today.........both, in terms of musical variety and (some times) smooth roadways.

    Good thread, Davey.
    audiobill

  11. #11
    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    I tend to think that time tends to even these sort of things out. Critics get obsessed with what's "happening" on the scene and all that, but ten years from now, if it holds up will often be the test. You see critics dismissing things because they are two years late or something, but really 10-15 years from now, will it make even the slightest bit of difference to listeners if a record was put out in 2000 as opposed to 2002 or something so silly.

    If something is so similar that you may as well listen to the original, then I can see a problem, unless you haven't heard ther original. But as long as it is differentiated enough to merit specific attention, that's fine enough for me.

    Originality is nice, but you have to be able to do something that is both original and listenable to do something really special. I could record a sound collage using a bunch of pop bottles and meat grinders that would sound like nothing else, but it would likely be crap. Of course, sometimes experimentation is necessary in a broader sense to keep things moving, but there are far more failed experiments than successful ones.

    Oh, and by the way, the big cultural and technological change in music beyond rock has already happened. It was called hip hop and it happened with more white and black kids growing up together than ever before, the turntable being turned into an instrument and social forces of upheavel in the inner cities. If you just wanna group it into rock, feel free, but to my ears, it's a very different beast with a totally different lexicon that has changed music forever.

  12. #12
    very clever with maracas Davey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nobody
    Oh, and by the way, the big cultural and technological change in music beyond rock has already happened. It was called hip hop and it happened with more white and black kids growing up together than ever before, the turntable being turned into an instrument and social forces of upheavel in the inner cities. If you just wanna group it into rock, feel free, but to my ears, it's a very different beast with a totally different lexicon that has changed music forever.
    Huh, where did that come from? I think you're in the wrong thread

  13. #13
    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    see Troy's post above, talking about how rock came about...

  14. #14
    Close 'n PlayŽ user Troy's Avatar
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    Wonderful avatar davey, where'dja get it?

    Hip hop is simply a derivation of R&B and rock.

    Saying the implementation of the TT as an instrument is tantamount to the invention of amplified guitars or the synthesizer or modern recording tech is ridiculous. Apples and oranges.

  15. #15
    very clever with maracas Davey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy
    Wonderful avatar davey, where'dja get it?


    http://www.adelaide.indymedia.org.au...0479/index.php

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    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    No way. There are major differences. Using turntables and samples is a whole new way to construct music. Guitars were not indigenous to rock 'n' roll. The synthesizer wasn't used by rock exclusively when it was invented. Rock took existing instruments, guitars, and adapted them. Synths were brought out well into rock's run and were incorporated into it as they were many other types of music, like experimental electronic music, new age and others.

    If anything turntables are more specific to rap and hip hop than guitars and synths are to rock. Turntables were used soley as a playback machine until rap used them as instruments themselves. Sure, the first uses were rudimentary and merely took R&B grooves and replayed them, but cutting vinyl beyond recogniation and using turntables to create new music was not far behind.

    Secondly, singing was always extremely important to R&B, rapping is a totally different animal. You can't honestly compare the vocalizing in let's say Grandmasetr Flash with something from Earth Wind and Fire, can you? Those are two completely different uses of the voice, certainly as large a difference as jazz singing and rock singing. I'd say quite obviously larger.

    If you just use "rock" as the catch all term for any popular music, well, yeah, you can just say it's all rock. But, there are very real and substantial leaps in music that were made with the birth of rap.

  17. #17
    Close 'n PlayŽ user Troy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nobody
    No way. There are major differences. Using turntables and samples is a whole new way to construct music. Guitars were not indigenous to rock 'n' roll. The synthesizer wasn't used by rock exclusively when it was invented. Rock took existing instruments, guitars, and adapted them. Synths were brought out well into rock's run and were incorporated into it as they were many other types of music, like experimental electronic music, new age and others.
    Sure. The invention of this new technology changed ALL music. ALL music changed radically in the 60s because of it. That's my point!

    But comparing the synthesizer or amp or 16 track to the TT (as used to make music) for being a reinvention of music itself is a terrible analogy. The synthesizer alone's far reaching uses as you note completely overshadow the use of the TT by one facet of music. As you say, "experimental electronic music" wouldn't exist without the synthesizer. There's just no comparison.

    Quote Originally Posted by nobody
    If anything turntables are more specific to rap and hip hop than guitars and synths are to rock.
    Yes, and that is why they are inconsequential when compared to synths and amplification and studio recording making quantum leaps in music.

    Remember, I didn't say rock music in my original post, I said popular music. This encompasses jazz, newage, show music, etc. ALL music changed with the synthesizer, amp and 16 track. The TT changed R&B.

    Quote Originally Posted by nobody
    Secondly, singing was always extremely important to R&B, rapping is a totally different animal. You can't honestly compare the vocalizing in let's say Grandmasetr Flash with something from Earth Wind and Fire, can you? Those are two completely different uses of the voice, certainly as large a difference as jazz singing and rock singing. I'd say quite obviously larger.
    It's merely a derivation of the old "call and response" spirituals. Again, it's still JUST singing. It's not a reinvention of, a new way to perceive and design music the way the 3 things I keep mentioning were.

  18. #18
    very clever with maracas Davey's Avatar
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    I know that I said this thread wasn't really meant to be about the Futureheads new album, but since I did say that I had it on order, just thought I'd follow up and say this thing is a blast. They really do sound like early XTC mixed with just a smidgen of Gang of Four and/or Buzzcocks (or substitute your own favorite). I'm surprised at how accurately it can be described. Some of that same sound as on the Hot Hot Heat album we did the big Rave Recs group review on (that was fun ), but I think with a more unified sound. At least on first listen. Not as quirky as XTC, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, because some of the quirk didn't always work for me. The catchy "Carnival Kids" is a standout on first listen, although to be honest, they don't really deviate much from the core sound. Of course, if this kinda punky-pop stuff isn't part of your normal music diet anymore you might wanna approach with caution. Too early to know for sure how I will rate it, but not 5 stars
    Last edited by Davey; 11-10-2004 at 12:41 PM.

  19. #19
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    Well, you are lumping basically everything outside the experimental realm and classical into the same broad catagory now, so OK, if you wanna say that, sure we can link things up all over the place. Hell, we could even link jazz to classical for that matter and toss in some african tribal stuff. We could argue that music is music and that type of circular logic is pretty hard to pull apart.

    I'd still say you're talking about a host of disperate genres, but I am a fan of music's music and hate getting too tied up in seperating stuff into catagories and don't have time to argue more...maybe tomorrow...

    Personally, I see modern music as it has evolved in the US as encompassing three major movements thus far....jazz, rock, and hip hop


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