Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Being Honest With Myself...

So, in case you haven't noticed already, I am not the uber-cool, indie rock guy that every music blogger in the known universe seems to want to be. I really can be pretty geeky in my taste, and don't have a lot of interest in certain large sections of the indie rock world. I don't like Pavement, I don't listen to Conor Oberst, etc. I've made concessions to the indie rock world (I am officially a Robert Pollard fan, and things like the New Pornographers, The Hold Steady and Rilo Kiley/Jenny Lewis), but I don't hang out there exlusively. The truth is that many times I'd really rather listen to Frank Zappa or Phish, or maybe Led Zeppelin or the Who. Even more so, I really think that R.E.M. is a better band than many of the indie rock luminaries of the last ten to twenty years. I'd rather hear them than Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, or Vampire Weekend, or any of the newfangled indie rock darlings.

I've really been enjoying Frank Zappa lately. It's easy to forget sometimes how much certain things inspire you if you haven't experienced them in a while. My own aesthetic is really a lot closer to his than it is to someone like, say, Robert Pollard...Pollard's music is fairly one-dimensional by comparison (this is NOT an insult...I love Bob, and think what he does is fantastic, but when you compare it to Zappa's "utopian disregard for genre", it's not exactly diverse). Frank's music is kaleidoscopic, and I've always wanted to be...I've subdivided my work to keep each project within a certain set of parameters, but when you look at it as a whole the picture is large and there's a lot going on (I would never propose that my work measures up to Zappa's, but it's easy to see that he's been an inspiration).

The facts are that the music that has been the most inspiring to me has never been the hippest, except for maybe a brief moment around 1991 or so (or it could have been the fact that everyone I knew and thought was cool was listening to R.E.M. and They Might Be Giants, too). I've always been pretty eclectic, and quasi-picky at the same time. As I post more of the Soundtrack Spotlight mixtapes, you'll see this more and more...1996 is up next and it's a perfect example. There were things that came out in 1996 that I should have been just ga-ga over, but I either didn't like them or didn't catch on until later (I was at least a year late on Cibo Matto, possibly 2 years). Anyway, all of this to say that as I've been falling back into the Zappa zone of late, I feel like I really need to cut myself some slack. I've been very concerned the past couple of years about what I'm listening to, how it's affecting (or not affecting) the music I'm writing, and that maybe if the music I'm listening to isn't hip enough then by default the music I'm writing won't be hip enough...and the reality is that's a bunch of shit. You heard it here first, folks. A bunch of shit. It doesn't matter if I'm hip enough or not. If I'm ahead, or behind, one way or another the world will catch up; it'll come back around.

Go find Frank's album LATHER (there's supposed to be an umlaut over the "A", but I don't have an umlaut key) and bask in the grandiosity of his vision. There is where my inspiration and aspiration lie. At least today.

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