What’s going on…
I don’t write for Time magazine so I’m not one to predict the next musical wave (remember when they said the swing revival was the next big thing? Squirrel Nut Zippers? Big Bad Voodoo Daddy? Royal Crown Revue? If you blinked you missed it..and count yourself lucky), but it seems that we are seeing a movement towards guitar-driven bands that mix retro-pop hooks with too-clever lyrics. Best of all, these groups are taking their cues from some of the brighter lights of the 80’s and 90’s like XTC, Talking Heads, The Clash, The Stone Roses, and the not-so-much-a-bright-light but still-fun Oingo Boingo.
Witness the growing popularity of bands like Franz Ferdinand, Dogs Die In Hot Cars, The Futureheads, Fountains of Wayne, The Shins, the vastly overrated Killers, the brilliant but quirky Modest Mouse (who recently sold out two shows in San Diego so fast even I couldn’t get tickets to see them…and I have connections), and Kasabian. Half of the fun with these bands is playing name the influence, although it’s a real wake-up call to mention to a younger co-worker that the first cut on Dogs Die In Hot Cars’ Please Describe Yourself sounds like Oingo Boing-meets-XTC and have her ask, “Who are they?”
It’s at times like this that I console myself by remembering that, way back in the day, some people thought the Clash’s I Fought the Law was an original.
And please don’t email me to point out that I missed Arcade Fire. I’ve tried and I’ve tried and maybe I’m missing the point, but, like PJ Harvey, I don’t get them.
On a slightly different musical note (get it? “musical note”?…groan), Mrs. Tbogg and I went and saw the wonderful Aimee Mann at a sold-out Belly Up show last Friday night, where she previewed quite a few new songs from her upcoming CD, The Forgotten Arm. Usually, at a live show, I’m kind of lukewarm to new material, particularly for an artist whose strength is their lyrics. But I thought that what I heard from the new CD was some of her best work ever. You have no idea how high of praise that is coming from me. Along with Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Paul Simon, Stephen Sondheim, and Jim Webb, I consider Aimee Mann to be one of our best American lyricists.