Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Postmusical Age II

Last year I wrote about what I mean by our living in a Postmusical Age, and then listed a lot of my favorite new music to exemplify the trend. I have a really hectic month coming up and won't have much time to blog (indeed I won't even be home most of the time), so one thing I thought I'd do is talk about some more new music I'm loving lately. Light fare, you know. Just consider this an appendix to my earlier blog on this same subject...

From a Korbel commercial I caught a tune I loved, hunted it down, and found the whole album rocks. That happens a lot lately: I hear something I love (often selling some product I hate), which I then hunt down and buy. It's as if corporations are using insipid videos of cheesy wares no one wants, just to sell cool music. Hey, works for me. In this case the group is Bitter:Sweet, and their premier album The Mating Game sounds like a 60's-70's James Bond movie groove band, with just a hint of naughty. What a perfect example of the postmusical genre!
Another is Melanie Horsnell. I also found her through a commercial, which used a song from her new group Forever Thursday (which rocks soft but isn't yet available stateside). But she also has a solo album, with a bit of a different sound, more acoustic, but folksy and cool. It's not really stuff I usually like, but it's good, so what can I say? Another example of the postmusical sound, you can hear echoes of the Beatles, Ditty Bops, and the best of the piano-and-six-string folk chick thing, but not quite like any of those. This is also part of a whole musical wave coming out of Australia that you should keep your ear out for.

I've also gotten into some of the recent stuff by Stereophonics. I know they've been around awhile but I never liked their earlier sound. But "Rewind," "Superman," "Moviestar," and other recent singles I like. "Dakota" is my favorite. They do sound a little too much like a 90's Highschool Football Hero Movie soundtrack, but apart from that they're okay.
And since they're Welsh, like my wife, I feel a certain kinship (yes, my wife is a first-generation British-American, and Canadian citizen, of Scottish, Welsh, and Cornish descent...I often joke that she isn't really British, she's a daughter of all the rebels who fought the British! Actually...how American. No wonder her parents came here).

Speaking again of the retro trend that is part of the postmusical sound, I also just discovered The Shins. They're another good example of new 60's retro, kind of like Belle & Sebastian but not as good. The postmusical genre isn't all about retro, though--if it were, it wouldn't be postmusical. Hence something else I really like, but didn't expect to, is Lupe Fiasco, who is (get this), a black Muslim philosopher rap artist. In fact, his music is so cerebral other rappers kept telling him to "dumb that sh*t" down, so instead he wrote a lyric making fun of them for saying so ("Dumb It Down"). I don't much like rap (since I've never much liked poetry of any sort), and hip hop is not usually my thing at all, but there are a few exceptions (on the poetry side, the freestyle rapped all through Gunner Palace was remarkably moving and brilliant, while on the music side I mentioned some stuff last time you can look into). Lupe's stuff is sometimes very creative and groovy. Some of it is actually, dare I say, music. And this isn't your gats and ho's bling parade, either. His work is disciplined and serious. I bought "Hello/Goodbye," "Superstar," "Daydreamin'," and "The Instrumental," and love them all. How radically different this is from Horsnell or The Shins or in fact anything else out there. Truly Postmusical.

And just to throw another wild postmusical turn your way, I'm starting to dig The Hives. Their earlier stuff not so much, but lately they've started to rock. "Tick Tick Boom" is about as close to Kinks-punk perfection as you can get. Again, nothing at all like anything above, and yet just as good. See what I mean? Sort of in the same ballpark, yet totally not, is the new Sons & Daughters, a neopunk group that has a sound that delightfully merges, what can I say, Mama Cass with The Who, Neco Case, Concrete Blonde, and Romeo Void. That's the best way I can describe it. Is there such a thing as punk country folk rock? Only in the postmusical age. I just discovered them last week, another of many examples of finds from the music section of The Week, a newsmag I highly recommend (and not just for this reason).

Okay. Another 180. You know whose sound I'm also grooving to now? Blake Lewis. Honestly. Who knew? This American Idol runner-up just put out an album that is, I have to say, the most brilliant pop I've heard in a long time. As my wife suggested, and I agreed, and was explaining to some of my wife's friends at a recent party when, to my surprise, they actually beat me to the exact same observation: on Audio Daydream, Blake sounds just like Prince would have if he were ever as good as everyone thought he was. But there's a hint of Duran Duran in there, too, and other influences, past and present. Nearly every song rocks, which is rare for any album, especially in the mainstream "popchart" genre, which, again, is usually something I hate. But true to the postmusical age, it transcends the trend it plays to. This is what all the wannabes want to be.

Just when you didn't think you could turn another 180 and actually end up yet another place nothing like anywhere else before (we're, like, twisting around a hyperspace of possibilities here, man!), I also like Eagles of Death Metal. Who have nothing to do with eagles and don't play death metal (I suppose they think they're so roadhouse wicked that they pounce and devour loser death heads, just like...I dunno...eagles or something?). How to describe them? The Eagles of Death Metal sound like George Thorogood hopped up on steroids, gummy bears, and cheap tequila. Their lyrics are either a joke or belong in a new genre I'd call pathetimacho (they'd sound a lot edgier coming from a woman, which I sometimes imagine as I listen), but if you get past the silly, the sound rocks.

Last but not least, there was some discussion last time about new musicians trying to fill the void left by Tangerine Dream, my favorite eerie instrumentalist of the 70's and 80's (then Edgar Froese started getting laid, and let his girlfriend play sax, and it was all down hill from there--from brilliant to elevator in one show, and forever--sad). I didn't like the stuff that was recommended. I found much better stuff on my own. Two in particular. One I mentioned before, in comments last year, was Solar Fields. I have since explored more of their catalogue and I am a convert. More ambient than Dream, but still really good. But a near reincarnation of (80's) Dream is Schiller. I bought a lot of his stuff recently.

That's it for now. Party on.


Tomasz Kaye said...

Interesting list. Did you already check Greydon Square? He's a rapper rhyming about critical thought, science, religion, atheology.


freethoughtguy said...

Wow. And I thought I had some obscure stuff in my iPod. These are good times, a "listener's market" with so much good music out there, old and new.

What's your opinion on Tangerine Dream's Phaedra? Believe it or not, that was my background study music back in college in the '80s. It put the fear of something in me and helped me concentrate.

Ben said...

Hey, thanks for the heads up on the music again. I just bought The Mating Game and Audio Daydream albums on itunes. Very clever marketing scheme you got going on there Carrier. Let me guess, you ghost write for all these bands? lol

Richard Carrier said...

CBit: Yes, I know of Greydon's work. But it tends to be more straight rap (i.e. less music, more poetry), which I don't like (not that I don't like his lyrics, it's just not my sound).

FreeThinker: I like Phaedra. But Exit is among their top work. Though if you want creepy, try their Alpha Centauri. You have to listen to the whole thing straight through. It could easily be the soundtrack to a Mythos movie (Cthulhu fans will know what I mean).

Eric D: I deleted your post (and Solon's uninterpretable reply) as it was off topic (by a large margin indeed!), though the subject is fascinating and the question warranted (and I did save the text of both comments if you want it). In future, either post such comments in a blog entry that relates to the fact (see the index on the right margin of my main blog page and explore), or email them to me (no guarantee of any timely reply, but I read everything thoughtful that comes my way: my permanent email address is rcarrier@infidels.org).

But this time around, see my added comment to my Defining the Supernatural blog entry (which actually contained something like the argument you refer to, an example of a relevant blogpost to append your comment to). That, in effect, responds to your query (I think).

David Cortesi said...

Try the purest voice in folk: Sarah Harmer. Listen to "Oleander" on her website: http://www.sarahharmer.com/

Will said...

There is only one rapper I've come across over many years that I really liked, Saul Williams.

With his taoist/atheist background, I think you might find his lyrics particularly insightful - especially in comparison with any other artist in the genre.

Good places to start: