11 December 2005

(EMO)tional Tourism

Spent a lot of today searching for Christmas Cds for my eldest son - think a 14 year old with half an eye on If? style rebellion and the other on the curious semi-permeable membrane between Busted and Jimmy Eat World - trying to find some new kind of kick that he'd get off on...

Now there's no point force-feeding him my crap - he's not altogether, er, down with The Ape of Naples or any of my Wooden Wand records or even the rockier bits of Nurse With Wound (okay, not all that rocky) - so I was trying to find something that fit with where he's headed musically... a kind of double-guessing that the parents out there will know only ever leads to mortal failure and, later, vindication but still, I tried...

Now, he's been through the whole Skatepunk thing, gone on and off Green Day ("too commercial" is breathed at me if not ever said), has gouging his way through some dreadful ska-punk (NEVER a good idea, EVER) and is presently settling on some rather dull EMO bands which seemed to have gone out of fashion even before they came out so...

My guess is he's about to enter the first stages of Goth; you can tell by looking at them in the eyes, can almost smell the greasepaint...it'll be tentative at first, the odd HIM track creeping onto his mini i-pod, maybe even Evanescence (a little piece of me will die at this point) but pretty soon he'll be swept away into the textspeek underclass of those 14/15 year olds who obsessively send in Lists to Amazon telling us all how Switchblade Symphony and Human Waste Project or Rasputina are gonna blow our mindz...

I started to investigate some of the bands on these lists and, weirdly, some of them are really okay... not groundbreaking, not in the least avant-garde but not spectacularly dull either, especially at the girl with bands like Scarling and Jack Off Jill and Queen Adreena (all of them kinda post-Riot Grrl shouters and squealers which, if they weren't so damnedly popular with the kids I might actually quite like).

Scarling - Alexander The Burn Victim

Scarling - Band Aid Covers The Bullet Hole

If they'd released just one record on zebra-skin vinyl in 1979 rather than all these well-produced, decent-selling albums, I might revere them as I do The Spastic Owls or French Gorilla Sandwich...

And this got me thinking: what was it about these kind of bands that makes me look on them with a vaguely patronising mindset?

Sure Queen Adreena are a little brutal with their symbolism and their lyrics are kinda one-dimensional but it seems heartfelt and seems real, whatever that means...

(and this seems a ridiculous criticism from someone who still loves Crass and still tries to sing along with Steve Ignorant while making scones)

Queen Adreena - Heavenly Surrender

Yeah, Jack Off Jill and Scarling are pulling at emotional cords that have probably been pulled in a million ways before but they do seem to make a decent enough racket about it and I genuinely love Jack Off Jill's versions of The Cure's - Love Song, even though they hardly fuck with the DNA at all and just make it a little meatier and more bouncy.

Jack Off Jill - Fear of Dying

And then it hit me... I find this music a little crap because it reminds me of how I was a little crap once. You hear lyrics like:

I crave your violent
acted upon me
set me free by your
weighted autonomy
I am so human
so small, so debased
jealousy and darkness roll over this place
I pray for the lover
a willing intender
to break down the girl
a heavenly surrender

I only make love to jesus
I only fuck god

I'm a lover of freedom
but I cling to the dusk
I'm blown by the wind
I'm a slave
I am lust
roll my face in the shit that I sleep in
tie and bind me up for your keeping
I'll make you a prayer
a heavenly surrender
to the one somewhere out there
the one who can mend her

I only make love to jesus
I only fuck god

and I guess I feel a little uncomfortable because I can't honestly say that these wouldn't once have said something to me. Now, my teenage years were more or less all spent fucking with other people's minds rather than my own - I've always been annoyed that I've not had a breakdown of some kind, even when I've had a good excuse - so if this kind of band would've meant something to me it must mean a lot to all the people who buy this kind of stuff and... well, I think that's a good thing and I'm gonna stop snarling at these kind of bands.

Yeah, I know what the arguments will be - making money out of fake disease etc etc (incidentally, why is it funny to laugh at people pretending to be disabled/mentally ill etc in Little Britain but not to laugh at the real disabled? I tried laughing at a whole bunch on the Sunshine Bus the other day and everyone around gave me Paddington Bear Stares as if I was mad) but I think that the (mostly) adults who run these bands are genuinely attempting to reach out to the troubled kids, to give them something to grasp.

I mean, what's a fucked-up, chicken-scratched, goth girl gonna get from your average Wooden Wand warblings? What's she gonna get from Nurse With Wound? And what the hell is she supposed to do with all the 'irony' out there: there's a reason why no one uner 16 wants to hear LCD Soundsystem.

She wants Katie-Jane Gartside* from Queen Adreena to yell at her awhile and then switch to the soothing voice of the sister she never had...

"Scritti Politti says nothing to me about my life (yet)" Discuss, with reference to at least two socio-political trends.

So, for a limited period only I'm going on a mission to discover these bands, this underclass, these emotional cord-pullers. I'm gonna try out emotional tourism for a few days, try and kick ther habits of a lifetime. I'm may have to regress a little during this so I may be a little wired for a few days but, if you see me in the street, don't shake your head sadly at me like I'm some kinda emotional retard just look me straight in the eyes and try and understand that inside us all there's a little Goth guy with bright black eyes and painted on bruises just trying to understand what the fuck is going on...

And then slap me hard and tell me to pull myself together.

*Remember her? She used to be in Daisy Chainsaw? C'mon... LOve Yr Money was a MASSIVE hit... that bassline, man! That bassline!


shepherdofsharks said...

youre like the nicest parent ever, bridging gaps instead of jumping them. seen too many 15 year olds go off the deep end after being force fed herb alpert...good on you.

serafinafly said...

Nice post...I've been wanting to check out Scarling...just read about them in Venus, I think. Also, QueenaDreena is not the most profound lyricist, but her newest CD sounds amazing...good luck in the Christmas shopping...I'm a high school teacher and get bombarded with Manson and System of a Down like crazy! I have gotten some of those goth wannabes into some of the truer dark stuff like Dead Can Dance and they think the old Cranes stuff is "wicked and creepy"! :)

Psychbloke said...

Best get him a record token...?

N.E. said...

'Pop Party Vol.3' already in the bag for Kid Gutta. Looking forward to the more complicated teenage years - reckon there's def some Goth potential in him too...

Psychbloke said...

I think it's in all of us.......

Anonymous said...

French Gorilla Sandwich...

The "Shady Clam" Ep...blinking lovely: that bit where Wilma suddenly screeches: "Kneeeeeeeees!!!!" and all those guitars and trumpets come in behind her...

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