Friday, 23 September 2011

Things I really really love #1: Rock 'n' Roll and variations thereof

Quite often I get told that I spend too much of my time complaining about things. Personally I don't think it's possible to spend too much time complaining about things, I think it just shows that I'm observant. There are plenty of things to complain about in the world after all. Man's inhumanity to man, corrupt governments, illegal invasions, bullshit laws, slow internet connections, pens that don't work properly .... you see where I'm going with this. But of all the things in all the world that I could complain about, there is one thing that irks me more than anything on the face of the entire planet, possibly more than anything on the face of any other planet, even. Even the ones we haven't explored yet. There could be nothing, on any planet anywhere in the entire solar system, that could irritate me on the same level as...


Now I know what you're thinking. 'But, handsome and intelligent blogger, it's all subjective. Terrible music to you might be great music to other people'. But this is wrong. If you like Justin Bieber, you are big fat wrong, and if you've ever paid money for his music i hate you and you should be ashamed of yourself.
I like lots of different genres of music, and in every single genre you can imagine there is music that I love more than anything else except other music, and there is music that I hate more than anything else except peas and nazis. There's also music I just don't get, overhyped bands and artists that just never really struck a chord with me (The Beatles. There I said it). Mostly the stuff I hate is modern popular stuff. It tends to be unintelligent, quickly churned out, devoid of real emotion and talent, soulless, uninspired and uninspiring. It just drops off the end of a big manufacturing conveyor belt over and over again, raking in the pennies, most of which never reach the recording artist let alone the criminally uncredited songwriters. And people buy it. This irritates me.

But that's enough complaining. This was supposed to be a positive post, and I've clearly wandered astray. What I'd like to do is try to convey why I love rock music, but I'm not sure I'm an accomplished enough writer to put that into words. It's something, maybe the only thing, that I'm really passionate about. I never go anywhere without my ipod*, recently my earphones died and I was almost reduced to tears on a crowded commuter train. (that's another thing that annoys me, my earphones always break in exactly the same place. Do yours do that? Why haven't they made them bombproof yet?).

Rock music is the main love of my life, until further notice. Most guitar based stuff is fine by me**, whether it's heavy metal, punk, blues, folk, classic rock, even some country stuff. And it doesn't even have to be a normal guitar either, have you ever heard somebody properly play a banjo? I mean properly? It's fucking AMAZING. Same with the ukulele or the mandolin. These stringed instruments are capable of making noises that just make me grin with the kind of inexplicable joy usually reserved for post-coital naps or a session with some really good brie and crackers. Look at this:

Now tell me that's not awesome. If you don't appreciate the talent involved in that, I'm afraid you might have hearing problems. You should probably have yourself checked over. The skill involved in decent rock music blows my mind maaaaaan. Any idiot can spend a few years mucking about with Autotune and Cubase and knock out some mediocre club song or chart track, but if you want to do this sort of thing:

You need to put in the graft. For years and years. And years. Non-stop. I once tried to learn to play guitar, and do you know what I learned? It's really fucking hard, that's what. You have to make your hands do completely different things simultaneously, you have to make sure the fingers on your fretting hand are pressing the right strings in the right frets, and at the same time you have to make sure your other hand is strumming the right strings without hitting the ones you don't need and just fucking it all up. It's MENTAL I tell you. I'm 100% convinced that the likes of Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan were born with some kind of extra 'awesome' gene that means they can just do what the fuck they want and make it look as easy as cracking one off to Baywatch.
And then if you want to sing at the same time, you're into a whole new chapter of madness. And writing your own songs... how the hell do people do this stuff? People write music and write lyrics and play instruments and sing, and some do all of this stuff AND are awesome at multiple instruments. IT DEFIES LOGIC. Look at Dave Grohl. 

Go on. Look at him.
Drummer in Nirvana, one of the biggest rock bands of all time. Amazing drummer. And when Nirvana ceased to be, did he just move on to drum in another band? Did he fuck. He (apparently) said 'fuck that noise, I'm gonna form my own mega huge band, and I'm gonna write all kinds of awesome songs, and I'll be the singer and guitarist and I'll just record most of the first couple of albums all on my own'.

What a PRICK. But you can't even say that, because he's officially recognised as one of the nicest famous people in the entire world.

The lyrical content in rock music is often pretty special too. It's quite rare than a rock song has no lyrical content at all. Rage Against the Machine are the only reason I have a fleeting interest in politics, for example, and I bet you all the coins in my sofa I'm not the only one. Even tunes by bands like Blink182 and the Bloodhound Gang are at least amusing in a childish way, even if they don't really mean anything. Not like the stuff you kids are listening to these days, where it's either soppy romantic rubbish being sung by teenagers too young to understand romance, or rap songs about how people spend their vast fortunes on pink champagne and massive jewellery, written by folk who should really be acting their age by now. I was tempted to include a couple of video links so you lot could see the kind of dross I'm talking about here, but to be honest I don't want to give any of these people any free advertising***. You're probably familiar with the sort of thing anyway, I won't subject you to any more.

Essentially there are many reasons to love rock music, and it baffles me that some people not only don't understand it, but some even claim to hate it. People actually actively dislike the showmanship, energy, passion and talent involved in rock music, and prefer to instead spend their pocket money on songs about bitches and bling and private jets.
Well, for anyone feeling adventurous, here are some rock artists I think you should listen to (as well as the ones mentioned above of course), just plucked out of thin air. Some are old, some are new. They differ greatly in styles, some are heavy and some are not, but personally I love them all equally in different ways and I think you should love at least some of them too. Turn it up loud!

Frank TurnerThriceCounting CrowsChuck RaganTimes of GraceCity and ColourFeed the RhinoThe Joy FormidableBlood Red ShoesClutchPearl JamPropagandhiTool

*other personal music devices are available
**except Nickelback and boring indie rubbish 
***just remembered the Bieber picture. Shit. 

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