Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The return of "thoughtful" blogging (or, how I learned to stop worrying and write any old bollocks that came to mind)

While attending high tea with occassional Caps and Spelling commentor (commentator?) "Dog in Water," a conversation broke out about the Rolling Stones. Various notions were forwarded with regard to their talent and the breadth of their catalogue. Eventually we were lead to discussing the album Their Satanic Majesties' Request, which was concluded by both parties to be a very good record (especially the track "She's a Rainbow"), though it demonstrated that the Rolling Stones could not necessarily best the Beatles at their own game. However, if my poor short-term memory serves, it was also concluded that the attempt by the Stones to expand their sound was laudable.

Of course, such debates naturally lend themselves to application to present day circumstances, and it was decided that, whereby the term "mature" (as in "the band seems to have really matured since their last record"), once applicable to cases by which an artist's work grew to include a wider range of influences or became more interesting, has now come to mean simply that a musician "seems more comfortable doing the things he/she/they have already done." Even I have fallen into this trap in terms of commenting on the output of a band such as Coldplay, and while there is no harm "perfecting" what one does best, this kind of fiddling (or, possibly more damningly, "spinning of one's wheels") eventually leads to stagnation. Such seems to be the case with alarmingly popular bands like Franz Ferdinand (whose latest album is, in my opinion, hardly stellar) and the Strokes.

Obviously, there will always be individual musicians, or artists in any form, who push the boundaries of the "known" or "prevailing" standards of the day, but very few manage to consistently transcend their own prior output (without, might I add, belittling or rendering irrelevant that same output by wholly abandoning the elements that made it successful). Bob Dylan is probably an example of such a feat. An argument could be made that U2 achieved true "maturity" as well, evolving as they did from their first trio of New Wave-inspired albums, through to The Unforgettable Fire and the almost too sincere The Joshua Tree, and then ironic posturing of Achtung Baby and Zooropa.

Regardless of what other musicians/bands (popular, or of a more independent spirit) one may be able to cite given the above, desperately unscientific "definition," it strikes me that it is an achievement that is becoming all the more difficult nowadays, given the apparent repurposing of the term, and acknowledging the commercial mandate that is almost never fulfilled when bands radically change their sound. For example, it's an inarguable fact that Radiohead has never regained the level of popular appeal they seemingly rebuked with Kid A.

All of this is basically a circuitous (and potentially suspect) way of saying "I wonder what existing bands will manage to be truly innovative in the foreseeable future?" I would tell you, but that would be too easy (ha ha).


Blogger the man with no name said...

tis a good question. my new one man band 'macchio' might just be the answer. stay tuned.

9/27/2005 11:44 p.m.  

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