Essentially, the reason I’m doing these ‘reevaluate’ things is that I need/want to cull my music collection every so often, and so I pull records that I own but haven’t been that taken by and, well, revaluate them.
My most formative musical experience has been within the DIY/punk scenes of Brighton and London, and a desperate search for them while living abroad. Particularly, the punk thing is very important to me, and so everything that’s labelled ‘punk’ by online and offline magazines is at least of interest to me. However, I feel there’s been a somewhat miscommunication in what should be called punk and what is called punk.
But, I’m becoming more and more confused by what some people term ‘punk’ as it frequently seems to me to be, simply, slightly-louder-than-normal indie. An easy rule, and one made up in an instant and probably doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, is: if it sounds weaker than the Pixies (and this is not dis to the Pixies), it’s probably indie.
Take No Age – sold as a punk band by whoever’s review I read of it. I enjoyed enough tracks, and was curious enough to indulge in owning it to really try and get to grips with it. And, this album has some fine tracks on it, particularly ‘Teen Creeps’ is a bit of a rolling indie driving wall-of-guitar number. But, punk it is not. It has none of the punk that the Pixies had, really. Or, it has some of it, but always in the shadows.
Is it experimental, another thing I believe I was sold on it? Not really. A brief description of each part will suffice. No Age are a two piece, drum and guitar, whose drummer plays generally quite standard indie-rock beats, and whose guitarist opts for a scratchy, highly reverbed, tone. The guitar is blurred enough to be a wall of sound-ish when strummed, generally lacking any definition. The vocals are a sort of mumbled, barely sung affair, a sound that seemed very prominent in indie a few years ago – barely bothering to sing. And then it has really boring moments of just slightly psychedelic sounds.
So, they make an enjoyable sound, they have some good songs, but I can’t help ask myself the question: how is this benefitting me? I’m not enjoying it enough for it to be beyond trying to bother with justification, but I’m not bored enough by it just to take it down to the local 2nd hand shop. The song’s just aren’t good enough, the experiments aren’t wild enough, and it sounds like they’ve buried all their indecisions in a world of reverb to disguise the fact it’s just not that good. It’s as if noise is an afterthought to cover up for a rather amateurish indie pop band who enjoy the Ramones occasionally – but just don’t have the balls/overies to be punk.
Rating: will I ever put this on just out of whim? Doubt it. Some good songs, just ruined by indecision, too much reverb, too much general noise, and not enough songs, or experimentation. It’s not really contributing anything new, or that exciting, to my music collection.