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As Bjork once sung: Where is the line for you?
Interesting piece: http://flavorwire.com/389692/against-musics-reductive-obsession-with-newness-a-defense-of-savages
they're one and the same thing.
I think some bands incorporate nuances/tropes/sounds from their influences or a certain period, and some just try to replicate a certain sound and aesthetic. for the bands that fall into the latter category, i think most spend way more time on the aesthetic than the music. there are good and examples of each so i guess it really doesn't matter. shiiiiiiii
do they sound like a tribute band, or is there something more going on? Savages are so utterly, hilariously derivative that I find them impossible to take seriously (I literally LOL'd at their Later appearance and was convinced Chris Morris had something to do with it). Same goes for the likes of Editors or Peace. But then you have bands like, say, Parquet Courts, where you can still identify the influences but there's enough of their own personality & inspiration there to make it sound fresh.
John Peel once said the Smiths blew him away as "you genuinely couldn't tell what records they'd been listening to". That was rare enough in 1983 & it's even rarer now.
So, is it better to rip-off obscure stuff then? I mean, I've heard a lot of electronic music that just sounds like Kid606/Squarepusher/Aphex fan-wank. I mean, there are plenty of examples of acts recycling lesser known stuff to a mainstream audience (I'm looking at you White Lies)
(Not that Interpol/Joy Division are that unknown, but they probably aren't bands your average T4 on the Beach/V Festival music lad would know)
And probably whether you'r drawing influences from one genre.
if you're in a punk band and you're influenced by the Sex Pistols and the Clash you're probably going to sound shit and derivative. If you're an electronic act that's influenced by the Sex Pistols and the Clash you might make something interesting from that...
Don't let Fatboy Slim confuse you...
OK - bad example...
There's no point sounding like, say, Guided by Voices if you're just going to do a bunch of shit Guided By Voices rip-off songs that add literally nothing to the world. But if you can write that style of song and write something genuinely good then fair enough.
Similarly it's great if you can do something new and original but pointless unless you're doing something new and original that's also good.
Somehow some people seem to be dishonest and cynical, rather than celebratory of the things they love. Honesty is the key (although there's also a great book called Faking It that's well worth a read)
If you talk in terms of sitting down with an acoustic guitar and writing something classic then "yeah, probably".
If you just mean composing something that sounds awesome on whatever medium you choose, not necessarily...
fitting into a technologically defined limit of 3 and half minutes on a single or whatever, plus 'song' is explicit to mean singing which means lyric etc.
similarly even if you use the much more neutral word 'composition' instead then you are continuing to define music in terms of objects or parcels which itself is informed and shaped by perceived consumer practices and technological limits and market traffic and so on
I am over egging the pudding here in order to make a point that even in discussions such as these a lot of people are blind to the fact that they naturally tend to limit themselves to considering the colours & shapes on the canvas - whether they are new or old or conservative or progressive or degenerative in form and style - but very rarely do people even notice that they have filtered out discussion of the dogmatic tradition of the canvas, the frame & the gallery wall
and I'm sorry but I think the notion of 'good songwriting' is very much part of a conservative and retrogressive rockist framing
I'm sure we disagree here, which is fair enough, but I don't think structure in itself limits creativity or bounds someone to something traditional. It just provides a wall which you need to play against and try to expand the boundaries of. I think creativity exists as part of a struggle against limitations (either unavoidable or self-imposed) and if you don't limit yourself within a structure, it's hard to create anything in a meaningful way.
but you're rather alluding to fitting your creativity into a predefined structure
whereas I'm saying at least part of your creativity, if you are consciously seeking new forms of expression, should be in rejecting that predefined structure and creating one of your own that sublimates the text or experience you are wishing to create
to give an example, I'm fairly convinced that Factory Floor have failed to release an album yet because what they do simply doesn't fit into that structure as it's a fairly freeform and open-ended tribalistic assault on the senses
equally it's really hard to point to a 'classic' dance album for the same reasons yet it easy to list hundreds of classic rock albums - the context is everything
the irony and contradiction of me writing all this of course is that most of the ideas I'm bringing forward are informed by the wealth of discourse in the post-punk era - precisely the era that Savages are *ahem* influenced *ahem* by
but one might argue (if one were inclined) that an alternative reading of the chronology is not that 2013 is looking back but instead that 1978-1983 was looking forward
as the borderline between writing a rip off and writing something 'in the style of' is fairly blurred. Obviously everything's subjective so a lot of it comes down to whether or not you like it, rather than how much of a rip off it is.
I think it's a question of how far you take something - most rip-offs sound bad because they're never developed, which is essentially lazy and uncreative (someone find that thread about The Enemy album). Others are better - for example, the bass riff from I Am The Resurrection started out as an improvisation of the bassline from Taxman, but by working on it the Stone Roses took a section of someone else's song and created something of their own - but they might not have got there if they didn't have anything to get started with, and it wouldn't have been good if they didn't have their own sound. Similarly, White Lines is a fucking great song, but the bassline is just a sample of someone else's - the crucial thing is that it was used for a completely different sounding song.
There are only so many notes (if you're not making avant garde stuff) so you're always going to sound a bit like something else, I think the key is to make sure that no matter how much you lean on your influences, you always add something new. I think that's why the likes of Editors and that other Joy Division rip-off band whose name I can't remember annoy me so much - there isn't a single spark of originality in there, the singers even do Ian Curtis impressions, so even when they write the odd catchy song it rankles too much for me to like it.
I used to hate on rap since it was so built around samples of other people's work, which seemed basically like cheating to me at the time. However, now I can see how innovative sampling can be. Taking a 3-second soul sample and building a whole new song out of it takes vision and inspiration, pure and simple
the first time you hear them is pretty shocking - on first blush they do sound ridiculously derivative.
And yet..I've eventually falled for them hook, line and sinker. I think their songs are strong enough to get away with it and what is also important is that they are obviously absolutely 100% serious and committed. There is no element of self-conscious pastiche, which I find off-putting and no fear that their next record will sound like a completely new set of fashionable influences (hello Horrors).
I'm beginning to think that the time for expecting bands to truly sound like nothing you've heard before is probably past. Try too hard at that and you end up making Shaking the Habitual, and there is only room for one album a year like that.
should I listen to this Savages album or not?
This is one of my favourite musical debates I think.
Influence Vs. Revisionism Vs. Originality Vs. Innovation Vs. Newness Vs. Contemporariness Vs. Futurity
It is surely the internal debate that the creation of all new music has with itself when it is being made, whether the band/artist discuss it out loud or not.
Does any band make music to make themselves feel uncomfortable and alienated when they are doing so? If not, it's always going to have something comforting and familiar in it. But does it feel rewarding for the band to play? If it does, they're going to feel it has a sense of newness and futurity to it, because it satisfies the parts that need to be satiated in order to give them the motivating sense to keep going at it.
The artist capable of embodying the opposite position in response to those questions is a very rare bird indeed, and understandably so.
I think the new Fell Voices album sounds like nothing else, except their earlier work and contemporaries/label-mates/tour buddies Ash Borer. It's black metal, there's the template for what they do in there somewhere but the blast(ing/(Burst Beat *TM HH-H)) and tremolo riff have been expanded to such a degree that it's moved up on to a new plane. The music moves like nothing else. The speed of the drums and the torrent of guitar noise creates a calm central space.
some random thoughts, i guess.
Loud, and at least two or three times.
this is all making me want to follow The Manual to see what I come up with.
Next DiS Soundcloud Challenge, anyone?
and don't let any weakness show. They are committed to the bit. You can hear past artists in their sound but not in any self-concious way. And they make a change - at the moment there are too many Django Django/Everything Everything/ insert pleasant pop bands about. I like that Savages are prepared to fall on their faces.
Although reading the reports of the atmosphere in and around the group, I think it unlikely that they'll get to album two.
but I think this is the key point from the article:
''You get the impression that Foxygen wish more than anything that they could have magically been born into the generation who lived through adolescence in the 1960s; Savages, by contrast, feel utterly contemporary.''
That at least I agree with. Bands who reappropriate an old sound to fit into the current world are always more interesting than bands who act like they're still stuck in the past, even if the results don't always engage you personally