(and some more anti)
Including this review "Against Music's Reductive Obsession With the New"
Of course, what Tom Hawking really means is, "Against (Some) Music Critics's Reductive Obsession With the New"
Because, for those critics (whoever they are!), the problem is precisely that Music isn't Obsessed with the New... that in fact Music, most of it anyway, is overly comfortable with being not-new....
(that could have been the Retromania subtitle, actually - Against Music's Unproductive Obsession With the Not-New)
Like the band's manifesto, as daubed on the cover, and incanted at the start of this video
(Although, ironically, far from instilling "silence" they have managed to add greatly to the din of discourse. They are the proverbial hot new band making a lot of noise)
and the wo-manifesto falters with the bit about "an angry young tune" -- it's like, after the build-up, THAT's what you're brandishing? A tune?
Now, part of me thinks:
look - Malaria
sound - Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
it's WAY too early for a Post Punk Revival Revival
Another part of me thinks:
well maybe it's like Elastica or PJ Harvey, the form fairly familiar, the content new and fresh, the energy and urgency undeniable
(and the parallel there would be the trans-gender shift: Justine F's Hugh Cornwell impersonation, or Polly Jean insisting all her role model were male - Nick Cave, Beefheart, etc)
The pro and the anti reminds me of the debate-flurry earlier this year re. Peace and that NME rave review by Eve Barlow:
Quite a few people of my generation found risible both the band and Barlow's review (a sort of defensive-aggressive paean). (It's interesting that so many of these 'let the young have their music' articles are couched as defences - Hawking's piece above is subtitled: A Defense of Savage. Whereas actually self-evidently new music never needs an apologia or a justification -- it is proclaimed, exalted, the trigger for a manifesto or a sermon).
Here's a great tirade from only the other day by Neil Kulkarni that picks up from a taking-the-Peace Facebook discussion some of us were involved in April. He points out this this advance-apologetics tone of so many Peace reviews, preemptive defensive maneuvers against an imagined (and largely non-existent) army of curmudgeons.
The rhetorical stance taken by Barlow I actually thought was fine (in fact it reminded me of stuff David Stubbs wrote in his Melody Maker end-of-year 1988-Best-Year-For-Rock-Ever essay, the below-the-belt but brutally effective tactic of basically dismissing naysayers with "don't listen to them, these people are old")
What I thought was interesting was that Barlow seemed to be writing on behalf of an imaginary new-to-music teenage fan of Peace et al (while her own, better-informed, twentysomething viewpoint is clearly cogniscant of the abject derivativeness of Peace)
Indeed in this parallel post from her tumblr (a fierce defence of the "guitar music" resurgence) she repeatedly references an imaginary 14 year old
Now as it happened, as all this "blew up", I was in the UK, spending time with a non-imaginary 13 year old and her mother, a very dear and old friend, who I often stay with when I'm in London
Her daughter, who I've known since she was a baby and is almost exactly the same age as my son, is crazy about indie music
She is learning guitar and wants to be in band.
(And, what is hard to get one's head around, but I suspect is both quite common and indicative of something -- she and her mum share similar music tastes -- both adore the Smiths -- and often go to shows and festivals together)
Of course this girl looooves Peace and a bunch of others from NME's current batch of young hypefuls
Confronted by such enthusiasm up-close, all of one's heard-it-before cynicism melts away
So when she played Parma Violets, Foxygen, Temple, I couldn't help trying to hear it from her viewpoint, trying to see what could be loveable about them...
Okay, Parma Violets do a good Echo & the Bunnymen (better than Mighty Lemon Drops anyway, who I made allowances for in '86, until I interviewed them) while other songs echo The Clash, J&MC, Britpop. (Many of these comparisons were actually made by the 13 year old herself, so it's not like she's unaware of the debts and derivations). Foxygen are, what, Zombies-like or something? Temple: can't be arsed to identify the precise template but they are the most classicist and period-formalist of the bunch. I was struck by their incredibly fastidious recreation of Sixties psych, especially the drumming and the cymbal sound. .
When all is said and all is done, though, it is undeniable (contra Barlow's "this is their time") that these bands fail the test of their time.
One just wishes the ardour of young people (like the daughter of my friend), this excitement and joy of discovery - always beautiful to witness and, up to a point, unarguable -- one just wishes that there were objects far more worthy of their passion.