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A Friday Thought

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I don't know how many of you on this board have heard the latest album by Modest Mouse, but if you haven't and are able to give it a listen you should. Perhaps it's not so remarkable as an individual album (though it's worth at least a thoughtful listen) but is more notable when grouped together with much of the music that's come out in the underground over the past 10 years or so. It's no great revelation that rock music has changed much over the years, but when listening intently to its latest purveyors I'm genuinely struck by how far it's come. I wonder how Chuck Berry et al. would feel about the degree to which the necessary re-invention of rock songwriting and techniques of modern production have allowed for the deconstruction of the music itself. How strange, and yet how completely logical, that a music born of a simple form (the blues) has evolved into such a varied sonic landscape. And yet one has to wonder if the increased introspection of modern rock hasn't left it a bit out of touch with its communal roots: the fish fries or house parties that incubated so much of its early spirit. What does rock even mean anymore? And how much of its innovation of late is owed to the actual songwriting instead of to modern production: the most innovative stuff I've heard from bands like the Flaming Lips or Radiohead has had more to do with reinterpreting the music through the lens of modern production than by making any great strides with the songwriting itself. (Though that's being a bit cynical)


Rock and Hip Hop both emerged as fundamentally social forms of music. But with people increasingly spending time in forums like this one or by flipping on TRL, our calendars crowded with movies, video games, the internet, TV etc., what will serve as the wellspring of future movements? I know I'm being awfully simplistic, but I think it's an interesting question nonetheless. I think Hip Hop was arguably the last big thing to happen in modern music but it was born of a culture in 1970's America that doesn't really exist anymore in the wake of these myriad modern media choices. Will these media provide the same rich environments for the planting of new musical ideas? Of course the history of music exists more on a continuum and not as a set of discreet movements, so all of this is a bit facile. Still, I wonder what effect our individual choices about how we spend our time will, in aggregate, impact our cultural output.


Just a Friday thought for ya.

Support bacteria: they're the only culture some people have.


- Steven Wright


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