Saturday, April 30, 2005

Packed out

I think it was New York London Paris Munich that was speculating the other week about how this wave of bands who play guitars, often in an angular fashion, and yet have chart success doesn't have a catch-all title yet, and you have to say whoever wrote it has a point. The Strokes/White Stripes/Vines lot were the New Rock Revolution, and before that was an encyclopedia's worth of group groupings stretching right back to Dreampop and Stuart Maconie's attempted Lion Pop. Maybe this is why the Franz And Beyond brigade have yet to really break through as a proper British musical movement to the wider populace. Post-post-punk seems most apposite, but it's horribly ungainly and would put people off.

But... what of the Brit Pack? This was a term invented in autumn 2003 by the NME with a big group photo, used only by them for about six months and then quietly disposed of when they realised nobody else was using it. We were supposed to come to all these fresh as every band they picked out as your next big thing was yet to release a full scale single, which isn't unusual for the modern NME, but you could tell they were really running with this in its early stages. So, what became of the likely lads? This is what Conor McNicholas and co reckoned 18 months ago, and where we perceive them as up to now...

The Glitterati
They say: "Glam rock with Cooper Temple Clause haircuts"
We say: Released joyless debut album this week to little effect, despite videos shot in LA. Science still finds it impossible for listeners to judge haircut effects.

The Open
They say: "'A Northern Soul' via Walsall, Wolverhampton and Liverpool"
We say: Well, fair play to them from, like, coming from places. Actually sounded like Oasis getting completely the wrong end of the La's stick. Have disappeared. Anyone remember The Burn? The Crescent, then?

The Ordinary Boys
They say: "Classic English pop a la Blur, The Jam and The Kinks"
We say: Well, they've certainly heard Blur, Jam and Kinks records. Actually making classic records like theirs is quite another thing, reminding me of nobody so much as the JoBoxers. Now appear to have turned into a poor man's The Beat. Without Saxa.

They say: "Some are calling them 'the new Coldplay'"
We say: The emergence of Chiefs, K and Party, B have ensured the phrase "bands like Coldplay, Keane and Snow Patrol" has disappeared from the Word clipboard of every newspaper music journalist in the country.

Kid Symphony
They say: "Move over Hawkins - there are new codpieces in town"
We say: Wasn't there a Britpop refugee in these? Lumpen glam with the requisite amount of 'danger' (ie scantily clad woman in video). Must have been a tax loss.

They say: "Newcastle's grimiest noiseniks"
We say: From all that competition, of course. Ian MacKaye should be interested. Or suing. It's not the stuff of massive hits, but the album's full-on goodness. Singer sports cap, glasses and big curly hair, as if three frontman wrongs do after all make a right.

They say: "Screamadelica-era Primal Scream meet The Specials"
We say: Specials? Where? Countesthorpe's own now look like the proper New Oasis without really trying, but with listening to records made after 1972.

They say: "Think The Carpenters and The Beach Boys if voiced by The Bee Gees"
We say: Don't quite see the Gibb thing - is there a track of theirs featuring faux falsetto? Presumably nobody at the NME at the time had heard of the Byrds.

My Red Cell
They say: "Like four borstal kids who spent their release money on records by The Clash, The Datsuns and a case of Special Brew"
We say: Kids, ask your dads who the Datsuns were. Occasionally exhibited vague semblances of keeping one tune going at once, hamstrung by a singer keen on the faux-psychotic vocal register as if he were really Roky Eriksson. Isn't. Have also disappeared.

Eastern Lane
They say: "The Pixies duelling guitars with The Strokes"
We say: Which should make them tunefully full-on, not that they are, given they sound a touch like the Strokes, as many bands started to do before Take Me Out destroyed the lot of them in one minute flat, and nothing like the Pixies. But then, neither did King Adora, who used to go on about them a lot. And they were shit.

Well, two, three if you count the Ordinary Boys' stealth top 20 singles, potentially four out of ten ain't bad for launching a new movement. But it's shot itself in the foot already - we know what, to use the dread word, Britpop sounded like as the touchstones were all from round about the same place, whereas here you've got reheated glam and LA harmonies next to each other. Maybe not having a qualitative title is best so that when this era is redefined as backward musically in five years or so nobody gets put down as "ah, they were Brit Pack, weren't they? BRIIIIT PAAAAAAACK!"

Actually, we heard Alan McGee call it the scene of Death Disco recently, but that was more likely to be self-promotion.


Anonymous said...

I go for "NME-Xfm-Carling commercial-indie-art-rock", myself.

Matthew said...

Haha! Quality ranting. This is even better than your splendid sneer at the Brits nominations.

And, yes, I do remember The Burn. I even retain a single track by them from an Uncut sampler (or similar) about three years ago. It's actually not bad, but the album was mince.

ACB is right. This list of horrors pretty accurately depicts what XFM are into. *Sigh* I remember back when they used to be cutting edge...