Throughout 2005 I've watched the "independent" music scene more as an outsider then as a participant. I seize to play in a band, do a label, or run a distro, and rarely go to shows anymore (the only one of which is a product of my geographical location). Maybe this is because as we get older we remove ourselves from things in our life that seem petty and frivolous and begin to focus on the important things (This is not saying I don't miss my involvement, don't get me wrong). Regardless, I continue to be as much of a part of the 'scene' as I can stomach and I continue to support bands and labels I enjoy. The following Top 5 list consists of five principle reasons I see the scene as a parody of itself and why I've removed myself from the gears of the beast in 05'.
(In no particular order)
Most everyone that has been a part of the dare-I-say 'indie' music community has had either a band profile or a personal one. With an onslaught of media coverage recently relating to murders, rapes, child pornography and a most insipid record label it's hard not to be familiar with the Internet's not-so-secret garden. I almost feel like I can rest on the fact that murder and child pornography are occurring because of this website but it seems like the music community is suffering a bigger blow in the quality of music being produced by the kids on these sites. One cannot browse for music without coming across, gender bending mosh metal, or meandering and mediocre 'heartfelt and honest' rock music. Yes, there are good bands that are using Myspace. But, I'm sure they'd be hard pressed not to say that it is a necessary evil in the hyper-culture that we are living in. I only ask that you please use Myspace accordingly if you're a musician. If your intent is to augment your love life, leave the music to musicians.
Oh, the sardonic humor the young people of today embrace! The mustaches, grandpa and grandma clothes, black on pink screen-printing, insincerely enjoying a style of music (i.e. those people listening to Iron Maiden and Manowar, you know...), wearing girls jeans when you are actually a boy (get it?), and the 80's (possibly the soul source of many peoples personalities) haven't we gotten enough of these things through pop culture, television and mainstream movies? Haven't we been creative victim's to these aphid-like institutions long enough not to give into them? Oh, the irony of it all!
3. The Lack of Regular People
I can't remember the last time I went to a show and saw another regular guy or girl who was sincerely into the music going on. Can you? The last time I looked around I saw myself in a sea of propaganda-fueled-activists (crimethinc crusties), Audrey Hepburn look-alikes, Transgender stick figures, and muscle bound tough guys. Don't get me wrong; this is not an attack on fashion (that comes later), but rather the fact that you are hard pressed to find a regular guy or girl at a show that just enjoys the music and doesn't play into the veritable circus environment surrounding it.
Have you ever been a regular ass person at a scene party or show and got the stare down? It's definitely not rare. Some people can't seem to get over the fact that people, outside of their indie-rock utopias enjoy the same music as them. And we've all been both on the receiving and giving end of the 'oh, you haven't heard _______?' conversation, but we could do without the condescending tone of your voice when we haven't heard the latest lo-fi pop record that we 'wouldn't get'.
Who doesn't like a cool t-shirt or a nice new pair of jeans? Fashion has always been a part of everyday culture and always will. The questions I ask is when does what bands wear define them more then the music that they make? Has anyone else noticed the amount of image hocking some of these groups are doing now? Turn on your television to any youth-oriented channel and you'll see a couple of sissies dancing around in skirts (I'm not talking about Nirvana folks) and screaming into their guitar pickups. Dress however you want, believe me I don't care, but when your music is defined by what kind of clothes you are wearing it's gone too far. To the bands just playing music for themselves, I salute you; you're brave to put your image on the line in front of today's music media.
Angels of Light - New Mother and How I loved You
God bless you Important Records, bringer of much joy and noise to my life. 2005 saw the release of the first two Angels of Light albums for the first time of vinyl. New Mother came out first, followed a few months later by How I loved You, offering Michael Gira fans the much overdue privilege of listening to these two fine post-Swans records on wax. Pull your record player up beside your favourite leather seat beside your window, dim the lights, fix yourself an overly large whisky and enjoy these two fine albums the way they were meant to be heard. http://www.younggodrecords.com
Boris - Boris At Last: Feedbacker
If I was to describe Boris in one word it wouldn't be "slow", "crushing", or any other adjective that commonly gets attributed to them, rather I'd call them Prolific. Seriously, take a look over at the sheer number of releases Boris have had this year: new albums on Southern Lord and Diwphalanx, Sun Baked Snow Cave with Merzbow, a trio of limited edition live albums, a dvd, the soundtrack to Mabuta No Ura, a new 7" on SuperFi... to name but a few. Tack onto this the fact they are working on several other releases to see the light of day in the next calendar year. While lovers of Boris appreciate so much new material to feast our ears on, the sheer amount of records meant that unfortunately the quality control waned on a few occasions. If you feel a little lost amongst its all then, fear not, help is at hand: this is the one unbeatably brilliant thing with Boris's name attached to it that has come out this year. Not to disparage any of their other releases this year (some have been great), but nothing comes close to the perfection they produced on Feedbacker. Pink Floyd who? http://www.inoxia-rec.com/boris/
Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane over the Sea
While continuing to be readily available in America through Merge, In the Aeroplane over the Sea had been unavailable in Europe for sometime until Domino made the wise decision to re-release this modern classic during 2005. Back in 1997 it was released to some mild acclaim and even more wide spread ambivalence, but mostly through word of mouth the popularity of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea continues to grow for the simple reason that it's one of those rare albums that you can totally, one hundred percent lose yourself in. From the feedback drenched faster tracks like "Holland, 1945" to the poinent, heart wrenching pseudo-folk of "Oh Comely" and "Two-Headed Boy Pt. Two" Jeff Magnum and Co. deliver one of the most rewarding albums of all time. If this had been released for the first time in 2005, it would be album of the year. http://neutralmilkhotel.net
Sonic Youth - Goo [Deluxe Edition]
Continuing on from the beautifully packaged deluxe edition of Dirty back in 2003, Sonic Youth's major label dï¿½but, Goo, now finds itself undergoing similar treatment fifteen years after its original release. Still featuring Raymond Pettibon's sublime neo-1950s pop culture artwork, the deluxe edition now features in total thirty one tracks over two disc's including some great b-sides ("The Bedroom", "That's All I Know Right Now") and 8 track demo versions of the classics ("Tunic (Song for Karen)", "Dirty Boots" etc) that we now all love along with a plethora of amusing photo's of the band and a rambling essay by Bryon Coley. Sonic Youth fan boys and girls around the world were left salivating. http://www.sonicyouth.com
Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run [30th Anniversary Edition]
For most this is one of those albums that need no introduction, however 2005 was the year that Born to Run and I became very well acquainted. Sure, I'd heard it before in passing but had always dismissed it in favour of a half handed "the only Springsteen anyone needs is Nebraska" style remark. God, I'm a moron, this record is fantastic and I have the 30th anniversary edition to thank. Two rocking DVD's here but most importantly the eight tracks which comprise the original album. If I ever actually learn how to drive then I guarantee I'll blast this on my stereo when I cruise around town looking to pick up some underagers. "Thunder Road" alone makes this worth owning. http://www.brucespringsteen.net
Honorable mention: Pageninetynine - Document #8
Official Site: http://www.roboticempire.com
This band has been sorely missed since they disbanded in 1996 or so. It was great seeing them on a small stage rather than a bloated "hardcore" superfest like Hellfest. Apparently they are together for the time being and will be writing new material
Yes, they had reuinited previously and have not been absent for that long, but their return proved one thing. Bands that attempt to mimic their sound fail miserably. The band has retired this moniker and intend on writing new music anew.
Many people have salivated over their return for years. These guys also shame any and all imitators of their sound. Apparently Lifetime is going to continue playing shows periodically and a double CD of singles, rarities, and their mostly out of print 1st full length is on the way in 2006.
4. Path of Resistance
Lord knows there aren't enough straightedge bands with gang vocals. A new album is on the way in mid 2006.
Dwid continues to expand n the deceit and myth that surrounds this band with half tours and cancelled shows. I only wish the Melnicks would rejoin the fold.