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Fear, Loathing, and Garage Rock

Submitted by AnthonyS on March 30, 2010 – 10:57 pmComments

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Photo courtesy killpalmtrees.blogspot.com via flickr

Many people place a large part of their cultural identity in the type of music they like, and with the preponderance of independent musicians and the availability of new (and free) music, it’s easier than ever to tailor a musical collection to your exact tastes.  But how unique are you?

Paradoxically enough, with more choices comes less choosing.  What you really choose are filters: is your news from Fox or MSNBC? What blogs inform your opinions (hint: thechoiceeffect.com)? And, of course, who is telling you what music is ‘cool’ right now?

Well, all of my filters are telling me garage-y rock/lo-fi a la Vivian Girls or Dum Dum Girls or just Girls is cool right now.  But that’s only if you fall into the “20 something and white” category.  Why is this stuff popular?  Really it’s overproduced to sound like it was made with poor quality equipment.  The lyrics are generally sparse and unchallenging.  The worst of it is boring and repetitive.

Ultimately, today’s garage/lo-fi movement reflects the fear of many generally smart and talented people: perhaps they aren’t as able to take the world by storm as they once thought.  The way to combat this fear is by stripping down your abilities to their most basic state.  If you don’t say or do much, no one can criticize.  Young people (I sound like a grandfather) relate to these bands because they are successful without being the best at what they do.

Maybe I’m looking too deeply at a small sub-section of modern music.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot of it.  In fact, let me be your filter for a moment: check out The Strange Boys at http://www.myspace.com/thestrangeboys.  They’re great.  And yes, this might be a ploy to have you look up “strange boys” on MySpace in the hopes that your significant other/family/roommates will see your computer and leave the room horrified.

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