Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Y Is a Crooked Letter

Noise rock can save the world. Not "noise"; noise rock. My thing is, why isn't everyone just super into noise rock? Why don't all the bands play noise rock?

Noise rock is like punk minus the punk, plus metal, minus the metal, plus rock, minus the guitar solos, plus noise, but like, the sound noise, not the genre "noise". It's all riffs, all structure, lots of melody, delivered exuberantly, with lyrics heavy on the absurd and clever, buried under the instruments so you can hear that there's goofy ecstatic voice but you can't tell what it's saying. No guitar solos, ever. No jamming, all compositions planned. Lots of yelling. Sometimes instead of songs it's just crazy awesome-sounding experiments like banging on stuff or making animal noises - usually that's just the breaks in between the songs to put you in the world.

I know, right? It's perfect. No annoying poetry, no hippy jazz, no telling you what to do, no brooding. Just joy. It's like playground music.



Yes. This is, in fact, a genre. It's not just one awesome band. It's a whole genre, and it's called noise rock, at least that's what I always call it - there's never been a clear consensus on what to call it and no one's even sure it's actually a genre and there's not usually a scene of bands doing it, cause instead it's usually just a few bands that hang around in a sea of punk and metal and other underground-ness, cause I guess most people prefer, you know, "musicianship" in the form of, like, poetic-sounding, non-absurd lyrics that you can hear over the music, guitar solos that showcase your ability to mindfully participate in a jazz-like collective making of music, and like, I dunno, being told what to do. And brooding. And metal. Angry, crunchy riffs. And smooth, funky beats, and butter voices silkily sexing your mind.

Well, I do like that last bit. Maybe noise rock can save the world, with the help of R&B. Also I like rapping sometimes. And pretty songs played on cellos and stuff. And symphonic music, so long as no one's singing all opera style over it. Sorry, digression.

What I mean is, this post here, it's about noise rock. Noise rockers don't have a costume, except for band T-shirts of bands like Ponytail, and they don't have a hair style, except "unkempt", and they don't really piss anyone off, except maybe punk rockers occasionally, and their parents. Noise rock is this awesome perfect thing in the negative space between well-defined movements.

Sometimes I forget it, what with all the music archiving and multiculturalism and inclusivity I'm trying to achieve through my records, but damn, just damn. The best bands are always the noise rock bands, always and forever. Mae Shi, Melt-Banana, Lightning Bolt, Deerhoof. It just doesn't get any better! For real, y'all.

The Lowdown are as noise rock as it gets and I'm super psyched Frances picked out this CD Y Is a Crooked Letter (yo that's a listen or buy link y'all, you know what to do) by them cause I hadn't listened to it in forever and it's so freaking awesome. They have a shitty sounding keyboard that anchors every song with a catchy riff, a hysterical male singer who sounds like a female half the time, bashy bashy drums, and a blanket of noise over everything. They play medium fast. Every once in a while there's a song that's just them chanting some nonsense or banging on something, instead of being a song. They sing this:

This ain't no fuck you revolution
This ain't no bullshit solution
This ain't no fuck you revolution
This ain't no final conclusion

And this:

Before metaphor, we swept irony out the door
Now we hide, our rides have all left & left us behind
Our egos born, we try to pin our balloons down to the ground
Present, future, past, we're left clinging to the mast
Whoa, the storm, desperately we grasp form
We're not lost! Everything that surrounds us is right there...

And you can listen to the CD a million times and still never make those words out cause of all the noise and the freaky chirping wails the dude does instead of singing.



It opens with harmony ooooing directly copped from the maybe best band ever in the whole world, Monoshock, who ruled the Bay Area five years before the Lowdown came up. Monoshock was more of a psych band. I'm kinda wary of these modern psych bands, Boris and Purling Hiss and Birds of Maya and stuff, cause even though it's loud and leviathan, they kinda rely on repetition and, yeah, guitar solos, which puts me to sleep after a while, and is just a little bit hippyish. Sorry y'all. But Monoshock, different story. They were like a noise rock psych band.

Wait why am I talking about psych? Oh yeah so there's this little Monoshock nod on the Lowdown CD, and also this one guy from Lowdown is in one of the biggest psych bands from the aughts, Comets on Fire. I guess that's a pretty good band, but I'm gonna play this Lowdown CD a lot more. That's just me.

Noise rock. Save the world. How? Joy, exuberance, for one thing. Keeping your brain active, for another. Meaning through inference, artful implication. Obliqueness. Don't say it, spray it!

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