Thursday, November 10, 2011

History Repeating

It's all just a little bit of history repeating. I love the resurgence of old music, when it takes on a new form - mixed and re-molded into a shiny new toy for us to play with again. The classics are just that - classic - and there's no questioning the inability to replace them. But it keeps the cycle of music alive and well when we re-invent. In fact, everything is kept alive and well when we adapt to change and pick from the past. Genres remain ever-transforming but borrow from founders and forefathers, honouring the cemented foundations of music but allowing new buds to sprout from the cracks and re-release memorable game-changing concepts into the universe and its airwaves all over again.

Take for instance, Americana music - modern alt-country and roots music that's perfect for the front stoop of a southern homestead, honouring everything from Bob Dylan's twangy folk-rock to Johnny Cash's blue-collar rhyming and country strums. The refurbished version? Wilco, Mumford and Sons, Ryan Adams and the Avett Brothers - bands that undeniably pull from the threads woven by these originators. Then, there's the electronica pop-synth from the 1980s, which was initiated by popular artists like Depeche Mode, Human League and Duran Duran along with funky keyboard effects, rave-like drug use, neon make-up and inexplicable hair. These days? You'll find popular Indietronica bands like Yeasayer, Cut Copy, CSS and Friendly Fires donning the exaggerated vocals and splashy strange sounds all over again, to modern-day hipsters' delight. Ah, and then there's classic rock. Rock that's meant for an open highway; guitar licks and howling vocals destined to coast out half-opened windows along with scraggly hair and cigarette smoke whipping in the wind - in the least Willow Smith of ways. That's where you'll find The Sheepdogs, chanelling Forgerty and his freedom-fighting harmonies; Sam Roberts chanelling Paul Simon and Wings' lovechild; and Cat Power taking a page out of The Rolling Stones and Joplin's co-written notebook. All thematic buckets of music have a shovel in them and are scooped, blended and stirred together in the most savoury of fashions when new artists emerge from the bottom of the chain. Consequently, and unrelated, we can't forget the Akons, T-Pains and Flo-Rida, who are....unfortunately, unprecedented phases of music which (fingers crossed) will just stop here.

These re-vamped sounds, just like covers, are nothing to complain about. They're fellow (not lesser) artists honouring an original idea and paying homage to a time and a place where a genre made sense; where instrument-use somehow managed to represent particular social or political situations. And the most "duh"-moment of truths - the influences which drive an artist into music are inevitably going to be driven hard into their individual sound. That's the thing about history; it repeats and will until the end of time - but the factors, players, faces and notes will always change, even if just a little. It's really the underlying beauty of it all, whether it lives on in a dusty old record or surfaces in a shiny mp3, it continues to make the world go 'round. And if you're not around for one piece of history, you're bound to catch the next wave.

Care to compare? Listen below:
                                                        Folk Rock

Classic Rock

Synth Pop


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