An immodest proposal
To say the least, the retro card has been dealt especially heavily over the past five years.
The band Jet, for example, is just one more pop act to benefit from retro’s cure-all, wearing ’70s dirt-rocking jeans and long, greasy hair while ripping-off Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” in the band’s hit single “Are You Gonna Be My Girl.”
One band that championed retro well was The Strokes with 2001’s Is This It?, yet they were criticized for being spoiled rich kids whose lead singer, Julian Casablancas, resembled Lou Reed too much in singing.
In hip-hop and rap, “old school” is usually a complement; just look at the method of sampling among the core foundations of these genres.
A new alternative rock band, The Fever, is buzzing. Predictably, they feature cute, ’70s-guy mop tops and song and stage antics resembling heroes from decades past.
Evidently, what makes The Fever (yet another ‘the’ band) distinct is a range of influences. Not only are they influenced by the Rolling Stones, but also hip-hop and more conceptual bands like Devo. According to the latest issue of Filter magazine, this makes The Fever “more than (the) 98 Degrees (of retro bands).”
Already, retro’s phenomenon has become an acceptable sensibility in pop music, and pop enthusiasts have noticed. In general, fans sit in one of two camps surrounding these acts. One says the obvious, which is ‘do something new,’ and the other recognizes that even Shakespeare had his influences. But when is something too much of an influence?
The Mooney Suzuki keeps a straight face while going all the way with creative influences. From mod black clothes to names such as Will Rockwell III the band’s drummer, it seems as though they’d seamlessly fit in with the famous garage-rock compilation of the ’60s, Nuggets.
In fact, this is not true. As opposed to Jet, who on MTV’s recent video awards accepted an award in a reserved — if not sedated — fashion, there’s something pathologically maniacal to The Mooney Suzuki’s business. Check out the reverent, romantic way the band treats its instruments next time they’re in town; it translates into the music.
In regards to The Fever, the best advice is, as always, to judge for oneself. Buyer beware, however — they don’t seem terribly original.
The music market is saturated with nostalgic bells and whistles, so why not simply look up a classic Stones album, which is sure to be good listening?
Furthermore, if you just can’t get enough of that far-out sound, or if you’re in a band that likes playing good music (but can’t create original material), my suggestion for you is karaoke. This party favorite has become a tradition because it has achieved the aim of all media — catharsis. The world would be a better place if everyone sang karaoke.
In the same light as Camper Van Beethoven’s “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” we should have a worldwide policy that demands a karaoke night before war is declared.
If nothing else, it would be nice to see president Bush dedicate a song to Dick Cheney, say Kenny Rogers’ “Through the Years.”
Contact Entertainment Editor Harold Valentineat firstname.lastname@example.org