At twenty-four, I probably feel like every other mid 20's male that is not single-handedly reinventing our country and sculpting our surroundings through the mediums of art and culture; lazy (and is therefore wasting precious time, letting all those hidden suppositories of energy and intelligence rot away). In my opinion, the twenties often construct that ultimate moment when the human body reaches perfection (as in any sport) or the mind develops often unique and challenging ideas, forging originality in some shape or form (any singer, writer, painter, etc). I am not sure what it is I myself could possibly possess. It's difficult to trace out a path when any 'talent' has apparently been so blissfully hidden for so long. I obviously find writing interesting but I am still to make any grand gestures into the world of literature beyond the folds of these websites. My only imaginary way out and into that world of fame and celebrity then would have me literally trying to write myself from these pages into NME or Rolling Stone it would seem. It is a huge leap, one huge lumbering intimidating ravine sized leap. I will not rally on here too long; my basic point is that, true or not, it would seem that there has also been a massive insurgence of music trends sprouting from an even younger class of music fans. Maybe the teenage years hold just as much weight as the 20's that I am so slowly sinking my way into?
True heroes and classifications of genres and sub-genres within the music industry were usually invented, reinvented and written about by those in their 20's. Terms from 'Shoegazing' to 'Goth', often originated by the music press, left the dress code and the true relevance of the actual scene up to the teenage fans themselves to sort out. But within the last few years, young teenage bands like the Arctic Monkeys, the Klaxons and We Smoke Fags (not a great title in this day and age) have crept up on us, becoming immediately embedded into the psyche of every musically inclined kid from 12 - 19. Not only did new scenes crop up aligning themselves with these bands, but scenes within scenes became prevalent inventing ever more esoteric covens that isolated themselves away to their very own particular space. So many new types of musical junkies have developed that it's often difficult to distinguish one from the other. The Klaxons became the antithesis of the 'new rave movement' and before long, the tints of old school rave could be found throughout many of their peers' music (the Ice Testicles, Datarock, Shy Child), some good, some terrible. The market for luminous hoodies and massive wrist bands exploded. Principle colours of slashed reds, yellows, oranges and pinks were soon the way to be, the way to wear. One only had to look through the pages of VICE magazine to see how quickly the British and Americans had lapped up these new 'fads' or these 'trends' or is this exactly the way music culture is going? Maybe it is not all just smoke screen, maybe there is some substance behind it all. Either ways, at the moment, it seems we will have to wait and see who survives and who truly disappears but before that a quick look at some of the trends lingering around to further these points.
Somewhere between 'Goth' and 'Indie kid' there grew the trend of the 'Emo' kids. It basically held onto the dark, slightly askew textures of deathly lyrics and depression, akin to that of the Cure, the Cramps, the Damned, mixed with today's 'essentials' the likes of; the Horrors, Hawthorne Heights or the totally forgettable My Chemical Romance. All of which were still, barely, pulsating on the miserably inclined 'singer/songwriter in turmoil with the world around him' vision. The image that followed was nail polished and black naturally but it encompassed black hoodies and slight tinges of skater-gear. It also combined metal rock idealisms with the always present piercings and tattoos. For the sake of this article, I will consider the issue of Goths also covered here within.
'Nu Rave' has been noted previously by the inclusion of the Klaxons above. It came, seemingly, from nowhere and could possibly implode in on itself at some point due to some restrictions of its own doing, i.e. it does tend to be aimed at a much younger audience. Anyone of my age wanting to listen to rave or proper dance would definitely go elsewhere (in the direction of the Chemical Brothers or anything the likes of Deep Dish have to offer for example). I heard also, not long ago of another scene, formed in England where the kids have given themselves the title of 'Indie Bohos'. I am guessing this stands for bohemians. As an image, it garnered a slightly homosexual/gothic tone, with a rather dapper dress sense consisting of dark hues being first and foremost for these smartly dressed fans. The bands mentioned in the same breath included Mystery Jets and Patrick Wolf. Try and imagine Adam and the Ants' 'dandy highway man' rocking out intelligently with a neat pair of slacks and hard school shoes on.
It is not easy to differentiate all these areas of popularity and I myself even invented a name to group together another tribe of headless chickens - 'the nouveau-cuisine' kids (or 'nuvo-cuisine' kids). Before one jumps to silly finger wagging, I am well aware of what this title means. But think about it; Pop will eat itself right? The music market is folding in on itself, scrambling to get creative, scrambling to readjust the imbalances that sensationalism and hype and all these new trends have made. Now surely the title makes sense? But to which gang of music whores does one denote the title then? Well I decided it was most certainly apt for one very particular group of students actually. They were the art/media students, the ones that did graphic design or event management, the ones that side lined their studies with mixing and scratching. Their music always had a retro feel and yet remained new and always cool. I knew many of the likes over the last few years due to certain friends of mine entering these courses and our rings of friends increased upwards and outwards to mixed delight and horror. These kids loved all the obvious music but kept a backburner of indie knowledge hoping to sucker-punch any snobby enthusiasts, like myself, when the goings got tough. They had an affinity for underground techno and DJ sets, often immersing themselves in what I call 'the 5 corners of hip-hop' (rapping, scratching, break dancing, beat boxing and graffiti). They worked hard on their image, fashioning logo t-shirts, big hats, the baggy jeans, beads, hippy/retro footwear, floppy hair, nice backpacks and quite a tolerant view to anything rave or drug related. In comparison to the other scenes, these kids had a much larger spectrum of musical content. It covered a wider range, for the sake of it lets say anything from De La Soul and Gang Starr straight through to DJ Shadow, Razorlight and CSS. At least they were, if in my eyes only, clearly defined it seemed.
I digress perhaps. I would like to think that there is indeed more to all this than a dose of weekly sensationalism, nuvo kids included. It has often been cited how the music press, specifically that of NME magazine in many cases, has saturated the market by climbing all over the newest thing or the hottest image, taking advantage of youth and in turn then raising up these bands far too quickly on a pedestal only to have the exact instigators of these actions kick them to ground in a tired mess the following week. These young hopefuls in many cases barely survive past the first album; many others do but then get stumped at the infamous 'difficult second album' stage. As has also been noted, quite obviously, the market for music these days is indeed a very fickle one. The Internet has a lot to answer for though. Kids want everything yesterday, they want everything fast and new and shiny. Most bands simply cannot keep up with this. People get fed up much easier these days and one can become an automatic 'fan' of any number of bands simply by downloading their entire catalogue in one day. Not long ago, one had to have patience and become a fan through waiting and spending copious amounts of money but that is an issue for another article I feel. So is this clambering 'saturation' a measure of desperation by the media to sell papers or one of true searching only hidden by the lack of talent in today's industry?
There is no straight answer to this I am afraid but to anyone really that bothered with the industry today, it must feel like they have to delve quite deeply through a lot of material coming and going on the TV and the radio to find any lasting hope. I do. It is a race to attain anything good enough before it disappears. Even bands I am enjoying at the moment, Viva Voce, My Morning Jacket, Asobi Seksu, and The Dears are difficult to pin down for long enough before another new wave of hot new stuff comes through and owns the channels and airwaves. Many of these will carry the thumbs up from the likes of NME even after only one single. Remember the Vines? I even fell for that one, while the Arctic Monkeys did a fantastic job of riding a possibly crushing wave to gain a very loyal fan base, due mostly of course, to superior song-writing and a suave head for intelligent marketing. It must be said that despite writing on some of these teenage trends taking over, I myself find that if one really wants good music there are indeed reliables for us still to grasp to; Queens of the Stone Age, Arcade Fire, Interpol, Daftpunk, Kings of Leon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Muse, etc (or even older, more reliable stuff again, like Television, Led Zeppelin, Bowie and Young). These bands at least created much more than an easy image for kids to stick to. This may seem like a boring, possibly unadventurous avenue but in all fairness if bets were on as to which would be better in the forth coming year or two - Queens of the Stone ages' next album or The Cribs next one, my money is going towards the stoner desert rockers every time.
The teenagers may be forming their own messy styles of music, some prevailing for a year or two, others maybe much longer, we do not know as of yet. They have all that sticky glamour about them indeed, all the colour and energetic hope but as lazy as I am, those others writing and performing in their 20's and beyond, those bands I marked as reliable (and several others similar to them), still have that intelligent lasting stamp on them that merely hangs over the nu rave and emo scenes, teasing them. They have yet to earn their stripes. But at least it gives them something to aim for. Not since the 90's ended has there been anything in the way of significant movements. So much so, that the most we have witnessed in recent years has been the 'The' bands movement. Who could have imagined seven or eight years ago the media would be clasping at a 'single common word used to denote singular/plural nouns and noun phrases' for their guidance into the youth of today.
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