Posts from 5th April 2001

5
Apr 01

The more articles I read about nu-metal, the more I like nu-metal

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The more articles I read about nu-metal, the more I like nu-metal: this pretty much has me heading down the tattooists to get “Durst Rulez” on both forearms. Nu-metal pieces are starting to follow a set pattern: jaded twentysomething bitches wittily about how good or bad or funny or ironic old metal or grunge was, and then lays into nu metal for fakin’ it.

Yeah, yeah, fair enough, the records are crap. But the snickering seen-it-all insider tone of pieces like this smacks more of Boomers dissing punk than it does of useful criticism. Joey Sweeney has nothing new to say about nu-metal, he just wants the rock back. “This isn’t rock n roll” he keeps bleating. Well, you know, fuck rock n roll, it’s a junk nostalgia trip stuck in forty-year-old attitudes. The problem with Limp Bizkit is that they are rock n roll, its dumb bolshy bling-bling me-me-me essence dressed up in piercings and bleach and a stupid cap.

What’s more, who gives a shit whether Fred Durst means it? It’s like with boy bands – he means everything (or something) to the people listening, and that’s both more important and more interesting. But not to salaryman journalists who, you know, are so over all that angst stuff and can’t they have something Proper to review like Sleater-Kinney or the Go-Betweens?

Quick quiz

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Quick quiz: who do you think Glenn McDonald is talking about when he says “If Keith Moon had lived to hear drum-and-bass, I can imagine this being his response.”?

If you said “Found That Soul” by the Manic Street Preachers, have a banana.

THE MAGNETIC FIELDS – “I Don’t Believe In the Sun”

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THE MAGNETIC FIELDS – “I Don’t Believe In the Sun”

I put on Vol 1 of 69 Love Songs at work today. I thought it might sound deadpan and cynical next to the Top 40 we listen to. It sounded wimpier and sappier.

JOY DIVISION – “Glass”/”Digital”

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JOY DIVISION – “Glass”/”Digital”

There are those — I’ve met some, sad but true — who believe Joy Division songs might be lovely if only they’d turned the guitars up a bit and the drums and vocals down, if they’d turned down the reverb. But most of all, they’d find them just that much more palatable if Ian Curtis could sing, you know, hit his notes more often, strained less to show the underside of his vocal chords when going low, croaked once or twice less, maybe sung a little softer, a little sweeter. In short, they’d prefer Joy Division to sound like all the sweetly faceless slowcore covers of their songs. It takes all types to make a world, but such types are, simply put, wrong. For they ignore that Joy Division’s advances came in the starkness of the sound, the frustrated buried grind of the guitars, the factory echos. And they ignore that Ian Curtis sang perfectly, that Joy Division’s unique vision demanded a unique voice, one that strained to struggle, to rage above it all or to send grim despatches from behind.

Here are two perfect early pieces where the minimalism of punk is taken to its logical conclusion. Riffs nearly become drones, live beats grind mercilessly, guitars try to fight back. Even the handclaps in “Glass” become severe rhythm. And yet it is all possessed by a strange energy. Ian Curtis delivers two of his most forceful performances, bellowing prophetically. When I listen now, I wonder whether, if punk announced the death of classic rock, this didn’t announce the death of rock, pointing towards a time where beats and drones seem more compelling than anything rocking the present.