Friday, 8 February 2008

Blank Canvas - Staying Power

"It’s always better on Holiday". I worry about the bands who have flooded our charts with un rivalled venom and totally horrendous harmonies and melodies. I worry for their future not as bands but as people. I worry for the pretenders to the crown, and I worry for when the big boys come back and start to play again. I worry for the likes of The Hoosiers, The Enemy and The Wombats, not because I care, but I can imagine how badly they will fall.

You see, these days bands have very little staying power for some reason, and also have a very slack work ethic. The Beatles released albums at least once a year in their heyday and to be honest almost all of them are total classics and seriously have titles and tracks that could be seen as some of the best music of any generation. These days it is very hard to get any band to make an album every two years. A good example of this is Coldplay, who seem to protract three years between albums. This is probably based on the fact the Mr Martin and Co. are busy touring the world, seeing millions of fans and playing hundreds of gigs and sure, I can see why that limit the time taken in the studio. But, as an amateur musician, I love to play and love the idea of playing in a band – and cannot see why I would ever stop writing, play, singing, recording at any point during success.

There are a few bands that seem to buck this trend, and in time will probably show themselves to have true staying power. Two bands such like this are my derided Arctic Monkeys, who whilst I commend them for being the Oasis of now, they are no where near are far reaching or as influential as Oasis, nor will they ever be. They just don’t have the zeitgeist that Oasis had. One band who did is Franz Ferdinand.

Released in 2005 their first record is a startling piece of all most perfect pop mixed with a great knack for a great tune and some brilliant drumming. It is music you can dance to and music that I can imagine listening to for years to come. But do they have staying power?

The quick release of the follow up album should probably not come as a surprise – if you had been playing the same 10 or 12 tracks for a year before the big break you would surely have some more music up your sleeve – and this is probably also why Arctic Monkeys also had a barrel of new riffs and lyrics hiding in their locker so soon after their album. I prefer this approach – not quantity over quality, but a measured, enthusiastic approach.

The problem I have with these new breed of bands is that they are identikit. They are the same band, just with different names and PR companies. I truly doubt that they will last longer than a few years in the limelight, and then have to play benefit gigs for a few years. It is worrying, as they probably have delusions of grandeur and think they are pretty good.

A recent band that caught my eye was Goodbooks – a band with an eye for a melody and for a good chorus, but they have not picked up in the way I expected. Also, Delays from a few years ago are excellent, but missed the boat in terms of fame, and I would much prefer it that way – it means they have the drive to continue to work, without the complacency that some bands who are “THE NEXT BEST THING” from the NME.

What I am trying to say is that sure, enjoy the pop, but think how many actual good and unusual bands that miss out when the world pays attention to three bands that are all the same. Why do they do this? It is quick consumption, over quickly, and if a band was as unique as they should be will last three to four times longer, because the exposure their music would have got would have kept the momentum going. The over exposure and eventual dismissal of the sudden explosion of music that all sounds the same mimics the full lifetime of a band, but plays out within a few months.

Hence, why Franz Ferdinand, whose contemporaries, have stayed clear of being mainstream (The Rapture), or why Muse have survived (who sounds like them now?), or even why Girls Aloud have survived (who is as good looking or has catchier tracks than them?) - their uniqueness sets themselves apart from all pretenders.

Also, see why Coldplay, Radiohead and Oasis have stayed at the top of the world – they have paced them selves as such to miss the extensive numbers of “me-toos” like Keane and The Feeling, to allow them time to burn up then burn out before returning with another solid album.

I will say good luck to them, these young bands – their own flaw is to be the same as others. "That's why we only work when we need the money."

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