too much typing—since 2003


which way Michael?

Over at Flasshe's blog, our man D. commented that one shortcoming, to his ears, of a lot of '80s revival bands is that unlike the '80s acts, the new ones aren't so much defying current musical convention as aping someone else's. I get that - but of course you can't import musical context as readily as musical style - and you certainly can't import specifically political context. So latterday attempts to create more examples of an older musical style will always fall into a different context - and will always seem, in some senses, a poor match for the original examples of that style, which have that broader context. In some cases, such revivals create their own context (the revival), but too often that becomes increasingly diminished - as the sequence Rolling Stones -> Aerosmith -> Black Crowes -> [etc.] illustrates.

On the other hand, I might argue that the quickest way to date music, and consequently a likely route to rendering it less relevant and intelligible to future audiences, is to be utterly au courant musically and socially. In fact, being retro can create a more context-free musical environment that dates less readily than the eight-millionth '80s orchestral hit or '90s two-bar drum loop. However...that usually works only if the retro signifiers are drawn from a range of sources, not all from one time - or if the songs are just plain good, of course.

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