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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Album Review: The Strange Boys ...and girls club

I almost feel like this has to start with "The First Time I Met The Strange Boys was..."

It doesn't though. I'm going to skip all that, and also basically skip talking about the record.

I have been thinking a lot about rock and roll lately, as I sometimes do, and one thing I have decided for myself is that the bands and the scene that exists now is like a fulfillment of early rock. I think I get to be the first to say it (hopefully, I'd like the distinction...maybe someone else has already) but the band that this Strange Boys record instantly reminds me of is The Monks. The Monks were a fabricated band, much like many other bands of their time period. I'll skip the history lesson, just go rent the documentary, its great. But they were doing it sort of for fun, like, what crazies consider fun, and on some level, it just happened to be art. This Strange Boys record sounds fun, in the same way the way the cover art looks fun, and in the same way as long as you don't whine about it life is really fun, but the art element is all them, completely unfabricated, and because of that, its brings a very organic consistency to the whole record, and I think this is what people refer to as a "timeless" quality. Because people are always interested in other people...the journey outside the self so to speak...something basic to the human experience.


Some people will tell you there is no progress in music, like since the dawn of time, that it is just different. Some people think there will never be a band better than The Beatles (these people usually make me sick). Some people will say music is only relative to the society at the given time that it is created.

I may be the minority opinion, but I disagree with all of this. I can never seem to prove shit to the nihilists, but I use humanism as my definitional benchmark of what rock and roll ideally stands for, and I think we have come a long way. I also think that music is for the past and future. Its a comment on the past, and meant to be listened to in the future. Even on a microscopic level, how good a song is at any given moment is related to the form of the song aka, the immediate past and future of the song.

I think for the most part, American music is getting better, and that must mean there is something in American society getting better. I think the broad historical circumstances that would lead to this are pretty much a matter of record at this point....meaning, punk--->80s DIY---->rise of indie labels--->cheap recording---->internet/myspace booking etc. etc. etc.. That is not meant to be an exhaustive list. And I don't think that is going to revert, short of the apocalypse. ...I think the DIY community is going to continue to grow and strengthen, and lead to more great bands per capita.

At this point, its almost hard to believe a band used to need luck and/or connections to seriously pursue being a recording artist, and even then they still might not hit. DIY is so easy now. You may never get to the point where you can support yourself financially off what you do, but that is such a false idol of a goal in my opinion, anyways. Why do you want to support yourself financially off your music? So you can get wrapped up in this mental cycle where you think you need to continue to live off your music indefinitely, aka appeal to a market, in order that you can dedicate your whole time to music? It's an easy fallacy to fall into, but I think less common with the current DIY set than with previous incarnations of the national music scene.

This is all to say that the bands are better. The bands can focus on what they do as art, and can function in society that way. Like the name of an old Strange Boys song, it can be "Art For Art's Sake."


  1. I would argue against this music-getting-better-in-america-because-of-the-rise-of-DIY.

    Or at least, I would argue that it's going hand in hand with the disassembling of the big business of the 20th century recording industry which to some extent is a really bad thing; similar to how the death of analog is bad thing. Certain sorts of records simply will no longer be possible. Certain sorts of touring performances will no longer be possible without corporate sponsored festivals/tours (question: what's the difference between that and a record label in terms of what it does to the atmosphere?).

    It's not that i dislike digital ... I just wish the two could coexist. And I wish there were more full bands and less karaoke silliness. It's a change in consciousness that makes me hesitate.

    Partly this may be a nostalgia kick. For sure this isn't just an american thing. But the rise of digital production is doing some strange things to industry. And this is happening in like every medium: print, music, film/video.

    new forms of populism...

  2. also, i really enjoy the fact that you posted this at 5:04 in the morning.

  3. It's funny to me that you would compare the Strange Boys to The Monks... but I haven't even heard the Strange Boys record. However, as soon as I saw that documentary about the Monks (I hadn't heard them since high school otherwise) I couldn't believe how much it reminded me of "Master's Bedroom" era Oh Sees. The drumming and harmonic/rhythmic content is so similar, it's almost uncanny.

    My friend John said to me, "I don't know man, the Monks are so proto-everything that you could probably say that about a lot of bands". He was probably right but I still think the similarity is uncanny.

    Also, DIY isn't any easier now than it was in the 90s. If anything, it's exactly the same. It just seems like a renewed thing because "indie" has been so raped by the music industry. To quote Red, "I think what 'indie' used to mean should now be called 'DIY'".

    It's just semantics. It's not really a new thing. But I'm with you, there's no better time for music than the present.

  4. yeah im not qualified to dish on historical context...but thats the energy of youth, baby! one of the best things about the strange boys record is the sleeve is a lyrics sheet. the comparison will make a lot of sense i think if you read the lyrics