Every [two weeks?] Jamie Hale takes a long, hard look at the music industry and the blog scene that feeds it. Here, he releases those findings and makes snarky, sarcastic remarks. Admittedly, both Jamie and Knox Road are a part of this scene. So sue us.
I was in the Gap last weekend when it happened. I don’t know that anything could have prepared me for it. As I came out of the sales rack empty-handed (the Gap really sucks sometimes), I looked around and noticed something odd. Gone were the brightly-colored polos and glove-tight jeans. In their place were drab, grey long-sleeved shirts and thin, burgundy sweaters. Jeans were saggy and dark. Real flannel shirts replaced the rainbow-colored faux-flannels of the past. Could it be? So soon?? It was then that it hit me–the ’90s are back.
I couldn’t believe it, I just couldn’t. Weren’t people still throwing ’80s parties? Weren’t neon leotards still hip? We pulled into a gas station and a girl walked by with bleach-blonde hair, streaked with a rainbow of colors. It seemed gaudy to me, but remember when Gwen Stefani had awful bubble-gum-pink hair?
We got back in the car and turned on NPR. “Twenty years ago, it was hard to imagine a grunge album unseating Michael Jackson for the number one position at the top of the Billboard charts …” A look back at Nirvana’s breakthrough album, Nevermind?? While the other signs could be false omens, this really did me in. It’s official, folks, the ’90s are back and they’re back with a vengeance.
Let’s not get all weird about this, ok? It’s just the 20-year rule that every decade since the ’70s has been through (Happy Days, anyone?)–it’s inevitable. We’re all going to feel a little bit older now that college kids are going to start throwing ’90s parties, complete with dudes in brown corduroy pants and flannel, and girls in belly shirts with baby blue hair. Hey, let’s focus instead on the potentially good news for the world of indie music!
The influence of ’90s music has actually already started to seep into indie. Earlier this year, Destroyer released his well-hyped ninth album Kaputt. While we got a healthy dose of the chill, indie basics, we also got an interesting surprise: saxophone, and a lot of it. But it wasn’t the hectic sax of punk music or the fast-paced sax of ska, it was the smoothest of the smooth jazz saxophone straight out of the ’90s. This is some Kenny G shit, you guys!
If the smooth jazz of the decade can be done artfully and beautifully, what else can we expect from the ’90s influence? Here’s what I like to imagine: Some musician comes by who wants to take an artistic look at the overwhelming and dramatic sadness that oozed out of bands from the early ’90s, with some kind of indie flair. That musician becomes totally popular and a some kind of new-wave grunge (Carles will think of some dumb name) will emerge.
Let’s face it, 2011 has been a pretty bland year for indie music. What’s really out there today? What’s exciting people and moving them? Not a lot. Liberal, city-dwelling indie kids need something to get passionate about. Young people in the Middle East are overthrowing governments right now! Europeans are rioting in the streets! Meanwhile in America, old white people in tricorner hats are complaining about “small government” while trying to make gay marriage unconstitutional. Those people are our best and only revolutionaries.
I think the youth of the 2010s have something to learn from the youth of the 1990s. Those dudes were straight up ANGRY. When Kurt Cobain screamed “rape me” over and over, he wasn’t being ironic–he had a message. Maybe all the younger generation needs is a cocktail of hopelessness, anger and flannel. Maybe that will be enough to kick-start a revolution that will take America by storm.
Because, honestly, this Kenny G-inspired shit is ridiculous.