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'Is a Nirvana-style breakthrough looming w/90's revival?'
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Alan Hague



Joined: 05 Sep 2008
Posts: 621
Location: http://askthedead.bandcamp.com
'Is a Nirvana-style breakthrough looming w/90's revival?'  Reply with quote  

Great, great article here. It's kind of a long one, but well worth the read. You can check out the entire thing at the link below. I only put most of the 1st page here.

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/2012-09-27/news/is-a-music-breakthrough-looming-in-90s-revival/


Is a Nirvana-Style Breakthrough Looming with '90s Revival?
By Chris Parker Thursday, Sep 27 2012


We've almost weathered the '80s revival without anybody rear-ending the morons stalled at the intersection listening to Spandau Ballet, but it's official: The ladle's scraping barrel when it comes to that decade's nostalgia.

The Winona Ryder/Christian Slater movie Heathers is getting turned into a series on Bravo. (Bitchy fictional teens, the perfect lead-in for their older Real Housewives counterparts.) Already, pouf skirts, neon colors, and the most horrific of '80s fashion crimes shoulder pads have returned like a cold sore. (At least now we have Valtrex.) On a similar, even more foreboding note, Bret Michaels released a chart-topping album two years ago and has another on the way.

If I'm Nickelback or any other conventional "active rock" band, I'm frightened. Staind's Aaron Lewis saw the signs and made a country album. You could just ask Michaels. One minute you're comped at the Hilton, the next you're crashing at Motel 6. It happens quicker than you can say grunge. I've got my fingers crossed.

It's not even out of spite. The late '80s through early '90s was an exceptionally fertile period for underground rock. (Much like the same period 20 years earlier.) Kurt Cobain led the way for dozens of bands that spilled over into the mainstream. The funny thing is that circumstances are remarkably similar in the underground today. Only this time, maybe David Geffen won't need to open his wallet to find Nirvana.

Of course, broach the idea of another underground rock revolution to a major-label record exec today, and he'll laugh you out of the room. All the label money goes to the Nicki Minajes and Brad Paisleys of the world. Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell finds this a travesty.

"I have a torn ligature in my hip, torn meniscus in my knee. I have double hernias and might have a third hernia on the way all from performing, but that's not what bothers me. To be honest with you, I take all that in stride. What bothers me is the way the music industry has just abandoned musicians and gone for this quick, pop commercial buck," Farrell says. "I understand, back in the day, they thought the rock 'n' roll kids were all downloading. So they didn't want to invest in them. They knew that they could get little kids to buy coffee mugs and nail polish."

That hasn't stopped the pot from simmering. Indeed, unwatched the underground rock scene is beginning to boil. You can hear it from long-standing grass-roots iconoclasts like Lightning Bolt and Neurosis through more recent pop experimentalists Dirty Projectors, Yeasayer, and St. Vincent to the clamorous, hooky sounds of Japandroids, No Age, and Ty Segall. Less attendant to commercial concerns, people are doing their own thing. And the cream's rising. Farrell points to his own annual Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, one of many similar destination rock events (Coachella, Hopscotch, Fun Fun Fun Fest) that have popped up across the country over the past decade.

"We don't book pop. We're booking the real deal, and guess what? Hundreds of thousands of people are coming out to see that," he says. "They're still the coolest. They're still the ones you really want to get behind and say, 'They're representing me.' These commercial crappy contest winners, they have nothing to do with my life. If you say I'm hungry and I need something, I don't go to a box of Pringles; I want some steak."

Nobody's arguing that things aren't tough for rock musicians today. No more than 10 percent of their income is from album sales, forcing bands to earn their keep on the road. Everyone's in the same situation, filling the clubs with established acts all competing for a shrinking dollar.

But, years ago, David Bowie made an observation that really rings true today. He suggested that downloading would squeeze out all those for whom making music was a choice and not a necessity.

For all the moaning you hear from musicians, they have little reason to complain. Things are much better than they were 25 years ago. Computers and the Internet make touring much easier. Bouncing Souls bassist Bryan Kienlen recalls frantically handwriting postcards in the back of the van to alert fans of their upcoming shows. Heck, before Black Flag trail-blazed across the country in the early '80s, there was no underground touring circuit. Back then, you were DIY because there was no other alternative...
Post Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:36 pm
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Neuro
A champion of Kurtis SP


Joined: 19 Jul 2002
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i have been waiting for a lot of underground rap to become mainstream and labeled as alternative hip hop or grunge rap, i know its right around the corner
Post Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:23 pm
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Captiv8



Joined: 25 Aug 2006
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Location: Third Coast
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I thought it was a decent read, but at the end I thought it never seemed to answer the titular question. The inference is even that the industry is just to chock full of idiosyncratic music that the divide between commercial and independent is unbridgeable. Fans are also even more finicky because not only is there more music on offer, but more ways to access it, and continuously at that. The iPod and other MP3 devices (or more to the point, the "shuffle" function) has reduced fan attention spans to approximately 3-4 minutes per band. This is of course at the user's discretion, but the option does increase the likelihood that your band is just one band among thousand's in the listener's ear.

But as the other rightly says, it's more difficult to make money by making music, and perhaps that's the way it should be. Actually turning music into a career is a serious investment of time, sweat, and emotional well-being, and those that are most tenacious in this pursuit will earn the respect of peers, fans, and even critics. The article also had two really great quotes:

1) "The mainstream notices it sometimes, and then they don't . . . For me, releasing albums was a fun thing I've always wanted to do, and now I do it. It's almost more about me." I like the idea of music as not only self-expression but selfishness. The distinction obviously must be made between greed and catharsis, with the latter trumping the former in any respectable group.

2) "It's about sharing something rather than selling it." This speaks for itself.
Post Sun Sep 30, 2012 5:01 pm
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benjy compson



Joined: 01 Feb 2008
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Location: cliffs of opal
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YES.
Post Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:21 pm
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Oh Daesu



Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 1848
Location: Vancouver
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Access to so much more music, and more importantly information about music (x sounds like y, etc..) means that there is less likely to be one big monolithic mainstream music breakthrough. Scenes are so fractured and countless, that everyone can like what they like without it needing to "break big" for recognition.
Post Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:20 pm
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anomaly
Loserface


Joined: 22 May 2008
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We had Nirvana.
They have dubstep.


And cat pictures.
Post Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:32 pm
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futuristxen



Joined: 01 Jul 2002
Posts: 19363
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Do people even still illegally download shit? It's so much easier nowadays to just keep that shit off your hard drive and pull it off the cloud.

I'm surprised there's still enough of a "music industry" to even bother using the term.

Also like Oh Daesu said, the extent to which people have access to any music they want instantaneously, means that it is very unlikely that you'll see a major big time scene evolve around any one band like Nirvana.

Heck even these "big bad pop acts" aren't exactly moving units.

Music as an industry is pretty much circling the toilet as near as I can tell. The people making music thesedays I hope aren't under the delusion they'll be rich. Because most likely what they'll get is a little fame, and some extra couches to sleep on while on tour.

Which I think is most art these days. If you are making it, it better not be because you want to be a superstar and live large. It's going to be a van gogh situation AT BEST.
Post Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:29 pm
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GrantherBirdly
D&D addict


Joined: 05 Jun 2004
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what will it be at worst?
Post Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:54 pm
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anomaly
Loserface


Joined: 22 May 2008
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I'm so afraid of illegal downloads I literally record Spotify streams w/ ads and all, cut it up in Sound Forge, ID3 tag it, and throw on iPod.

Ghetto fabulous.
Post Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:07 pm
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Jesse Custer



Joined: 01 Dec 2006
Posts: 1258
Location: London
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futuristxen wrote:
Do people even still illegally download shit? It's so much easier nowadays to just keep that shit off your hard drive and pull it off the cloud.




I still illegally download a bunch of music from blogs and stuff. And I definitely spend a lot more on music than anyone I know who uses stuff like Spotify as their main source of music, so I don't feel bad about it. Also the kind of stuff I'm downloading is mostly out of print so even if I bought it it'd be second hand and the artists wouldn't be making any money.

I know you were bigging up Spotify in another thread the other day, but there's so much music it doesn't have it was pretty useless to me.. I haven't bothered to reinstall it when I got a new laptop and I don't miss it.
Post Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:30 pm
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futuristxen



Joined: 01 Jul 2002
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Jesse Custer wrote:


I know you were bigging up Spotify in another thread the other day, but there's so much music it doesn't have it was pretty useless to me.. I haven't bothered to reinstall it when I got a new laptop and I don't miss it.


What kind of music do you listen to? So far it's had pretty much everything I want to hear on it. And the stuff it doesn't, is usually up on soundcloud or youtube. Or the artist's webpage.

I find downloading music to be too much work.
Post Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:03 pm
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tommi teardrop



Joined: 12 Apr 2007
Posts: 2216
Location: Las Vegas
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anomaly wrote:
I'm so afraid of illegal downloads I literally record Spotify streams w/ ads and all, cut it up in Sound Forge, ID3 tag it, and throw on iPod.

Ghetto fabulous.
Why do you do all that? Why do you not just get a premium account and stream whenever you want to listen to something? That sounds like more work than it is worth.

The only things I don't really find on Spotify are the Beatles, Zepplin and rap mixtapes. But then you can just stream most of those from other sites.

I'm amazed at some of the shit that is on Spotify.
Post Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:40 pm
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anomaly
Loserface


Joined: 22 May 2008
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I actually have to listen to an entire album all the way through. If I like it, I save it w artist and album title only. If I REALLY like it, i bother to chop tracks and set ID3 tags. Nowdays people download like 10 albums and eventually forget they have 7 of them, so they have a harddrive partially full of shit they haven't listened to. I love every album I have so I can honestly put my ancient iTunes on shuffle and like what I hear...every song.

I go places in the world where there aren't such great internet connections. I simply like having physical copies of mp3s (local copies) and being able to drag drop onto my iPod.

Some albums i can lot locate to buy (like some instrumental albums) so this is my only avenue. Don't get me wrong, i still buy most of my digital albums. I only buy cds at shows.


Last edited by anomaly on Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:51 am; edited 1 time in total
Post Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:21 am
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Captiv8



Joined: 25 Aug 2006
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I tried Spotify for the first time today so that I could listen to albums in full before buying them. I'm tired of getting an album that sounds good in the snippets but then ends up being mediocre when you hear the whole thing. Other than that, I can't see much use for it. I see the playlist option as cool, and the I listened to _________ popping up on facebook appeal, but the whole site just doesn't feel right. I'll stick to my legal downloading and give my crumbs to the artist.
Post Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:38 am
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Captiv8



Joined: 25 Aug 2006
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Your comment makes me think about another sort of trend happening in music these days, anomaly: the over-saturation of music libraries. What I mean is, and based on your 7/10 forgotten albums, the consumer has so much music in their collection that (for the sake of this argument) 70% has become virtually meaningless. I'm guilty of this myself, having something like 600 albums in my collection at present (of which 85% is in some form of digital storage), and having probably had over 1000 albums throughout my life. So this get me thinking: is it possible to reach a maximum music threshold where you either have really every sort of diverse musical experience you can possibly imagine, or you become so numb to the tidal wave of musical options that it all just sounds like a sliding scale of shit? Or both?

I've seen folks post on here about how they were only able to purchase one or two (if they were lucky) albums a month, and as a result you fucking treasured each album (or tape, or whatever), learned all the words, and really immersed yourself in its sonic landscape. I can speak of this personally, as I still know all of the words to albums that came out 15 years ago, but I'll be damned if I can say the same for releases in, say, the last 10 years. The easy availability of music has totally altered the way music is experienced, let alone accessed. This is obviously a personal choice, but it's hard to resist the temptation of downloading a ton of music (legally or otherwise) and discover new bands, new sounds, new sub-genres, and so forth. For us obsessive compulsive types, it becomes as much about the collection, and the act of collecting, as the music itself. Reflecting on it now, this cheapens the listening experience and the abstract value of the music itself.

And this is the double-edged sword, it strikes me (haha), of the music industry's current state of affairs. On the one hand, you have more available options as an artist for exposure, distribution, and accessibility than ever before. Tunecore, Bandcamp, soundcloud, Amazon, iTunes, Emusic, Spotify, Pandora, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, vinyl. The list goes on. It wouldn't seem out of place if 10 years from now music was injected into the brain in some kind of chip. You can make flyers and phonecalls to venues, and you can also promote yourself and book shows online. It has never been easier to get your music "out there" and into the hopefully adoring arms of the public, one way or another. And yet, on the other hand, the sheer number of people able to do this make it really difficult to succeed and make yourself known without either pandering to the lowest common denominator or developing some sort of esoteric hipster cred (which aren't mutually exclusive, I know). In this way, it has never been more difficult to get yourself out there in a way that is meaningful.

Then again, this is what separates the wheat from the chaff, the cream from the dregs, the excellent from the atrocious. The bar is raised higher to the greater benefit of the discretionary listener. The bar is also raised higher for the artist with integrity. It's not enough to just put out a good album. You need to put out an album that is (hopefully) simultaneously try to your particular artistic ethos AND has staying power for the listener. Outside of the commercial arena, it's not enough to just have a handful of dynamite singles and an album that is otherwise a total dirty diaper. You need an end-to-end banger no matter your genre. Or do you? Is it enough to develop a name for yourself and then bank on fans coming out to tours? Can you tread the middle ground between good and great? It seems like it to me, for the majority of artists, anyway.

Which brings me to me closing thought. There are truly very few artists out there that continue to put out continuously meaningful and excellent records in succession. I can think of only a handful of bands that have continued to impress me record after record. Even my favorite bands whose albums I cherish end up putting out a dud, something out of touch, or poorly evolved. Is this just me? Am I too finicky with what I expect out of a record or an artist? Is this just how making music works, in a sort of you can't please everyone so you have to please yourself nod to Ricky Nelson? Is it that there is simply too much music to choose from, so the vast majority of listeners don't take the time to unpeel the sonic onion of an album upon repeated spins? I'm sure it's a mixture of all of those things. But I do know one thing for sure: there is too much music out there. This is a bane and a boon. You have to wade through a lot of shit, but at the end of the day finding that single unsullied gem is so much more rewarding. Then you can tell your friends about it and seem like an asshole who only listens to trendy-because-its-not-trendy music.
Post Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:59 am
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