Monday, January 15, 2007


Clicking on MySpace links as a means to discovering new music is actually making me feel a bit down.

I remember when I first heard A Certain Romance by Arctic Monkeys. I remember exactly how I felt and what it prompted me to do afterwards. It made me buy gig tickets on Ebay. It made me go to the gig and turn down three times the amount I'd paid for the tickets. It has subesequently made me travel hundreds of miles and write thousands of words in the name of criticism. Here are a few:


Bristol Bierkeller - October 2005

It's sometimes difficult to know where to start. I Bet That... seems a good place. Maybe I don't go to enough gigs but rarely have I heard the assembled masses singing the hook so well it sounds like it's been rehearsed.

I'm confused.

I don't know whether or not to write a little or lots.

Arctic Monkeys are the next big thing right? A familiar blend of youthful exuberance and choons. I mean. At one and the same time they made me feel like I'm 17 and 70. Wanting to be young enough to be "involved". Wanting to claim that I was there. I might be a year late, then, in fact, looking around, I realise that I'm about seventeen years too late.

I knew what to expect. A blitzed set. A gig like a bank job. In and out. No fuck-ups. And so the gig was a blur. A million miles an hour mission statement. Tighter than tights and ten times sweatier.

After Fake Tales... and the double negative rant of Still Take You Home, I stopped remembering the tracks until the conversation that is From The Ritz To The Rubble. I was sucked into Monkey Mayhem. Wondering how anyone could get so good so quick. Thinking that I must have wasted my adolescence, knowing that I had. Reflecting in how utterly natural it all seems. How a voice can sound like another instrument. How its lilts and language and inflections can make you laugh and bounce and take a trip down its melody.

And at the end, or just before, we were told that "We ain't got owt else we can play." I was promised A Certain Romance half way through, and waited until the end before I fell in love.

No need for an encore, and nobody gave a shit.


Today I've listened to about half a dozen MySpace bands and a couple showed a bit of potential, a couple seemed quite accomplished, and a couple were completely dogwank. I actually had to wonder, "How on earth do these people get away with it?" Why are they playing gigs, why do people like them, why do people imagine other people will like them, why do other people have to inflict this on me?

Some of it is just a racket: barely discernable from noise. And I know that there isn't anything wrong with noise, but I'm going with unpleasant or undesired as opposed to sound of any kind, in this instance.

And yes, I know that [whinyvoice]everyone is entitled to their opinion[/whinyvoice] and [screwedupnose]you don't have to click on the link[/screwedupnose] but I quite like listening to good, new, accessible music. It genuinely seems to me that everyone just wants to be breaking the next big thing, or people want to be seen to be listening to music that is increasingly inaccessible. Like it comes with a Certificate Of Exclusivity or an I Heard Of Them First badge.

Why is this?

I don't think people exercise enough discretion when they're recommending music nowadays. I also think The Arctic Monkeys Phenomenon has had a lot to do with that, even in such a short space of time. I'm cool with the fact that people want other people to know what they like, and the fact that they want those other people to like what they like too, and to like them, in turn, for liking like things. I just wish people would try to remember how they felt when they heard something incredible for the first time, rather than touting every other band/artist they listen to who sounds 'okay'.

It's the equivalent of the boy who cried wolf. Or that's at least how it seems to me.


Anonymous said...

Encore! Encore!

Freddy said...

I remember being bitterly disappointed when I couldn't get tickets to see them (the Arctic Monkeys) when they toured last year. Everything sold out so quickly and I was in a 'I will not support touts' mood.
Then I saw them at Leeds Festival. Last but one act on the Sunday night. I was in the mosh when they came on.
How disappointing they were. How 'just like the CD'.
I still play the CD, still enjoy the music, but live, I want something extra when you play live for me. I want you to be gigging, showing me the full extent of your musicianship, letting me have the full force of your character.
Muse, on the other hand, Muse ROCKED!

Quote said...

I'm not about to compare the eighteen month career of Arctic Monkeys with that of Muse any more than I'm going to compare watching a band in front of 500 other people as opposed to 50,000.

This piece was about listening to music for the first time. The review was just flesh.