Friday, January 20, 2012

Have Radiohead killed rock music?

Earlier this week, it was revealed that sales of rock albums were in decline, having been overtaken by pop music for the first time in seven years.

The Jessie J-ification of the album charts has caused a lot of hand-wringing in the "serious" music press. Gigwise even printed a story headlined: How Can We Save Music?, thereby displaying more misplaced snobbery than a box set of Downton Abbey.

I reckon it's all Thom Yorke's fault. Practically every British guitar band is in thrall to Radiohead - holding them up as an example of a commercially viable rock group who've maintained their creative credibility.

As a result, there are hundreds of artists that try to emulate their heroes by noodling about with indistinct vocals and skipping drum tracks. The likes of Foals, Everything Everything and The Maccabees are lauded for their avant-garde compositions - but ultimately their records sound like the musical expression of a maths lesson.

Even Kasabian have stated their intent to make more textured, intellectual albums. Bless their hearts.

When did we all forget that Radiohead had two big, dumb albums full of bigger, dumber melodies? The Bends didn't just win the band a loyal audience, it bankrolls the experimental stuff (you may notice that The King Of Limbs doesn't feature in last year's Top 10 best-selling rock albums).

Or maybe Radiohead aren't to blame at all. Musicians are loathe to admit it, but it's really hard to write a proper rock anthem - a straightforward, power chord barnstormer that connects with people on a fundamental, emotional level. It's much safer to show off how great you are by playing obscure scales through an echo pedal. Perhaps the current crop of guitar bands just aren't good enough to write a High & Dry or a Creep.

So while we wait for a decent rock writer to come along, we'd better just buckle down and try to enjoy the math rock. And what better way to start than with Django Django (they drink it in the Congo).

They're a new band who met in Art School, live in Dalston and named themselves after a Belgian jazz guitar legend (please try to suppress your gag reflex). Their latest single is called Default and it's actually quite catchy - IE they remembered to include a hook. The video is an arresting watch, too, featuring a stop-motion collage, hand painted by the band themselves.

[end of rant]

Django Django - Default

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