I'm so glad we live in the future now. When I was 21, I had all kinds of time to dig deep into the rock scene to find the good stuff, to pick up the first Green Day EP or Mercury Rev or The Flaming Lips before they hit with “Jelly.” And that’s what it took, if you wanted the really good stuff. You had to dig for it. If you were to turn on the radio back then, all there was to hear was the fading detritus of hair metal competing with the muffled guitars and high-calorie male vocals of “grunge,” whatever the hell that was. How exhausting. How banal.
But things are better today; diversity reigns. Now that the major labels are withering and A&R reps aren’t snatching up every band with a nose ring and throwing millions of dollars of payola after them, now that we’re in the future, it’s so much easier for the casual rock fan (even an old man of 34) to find exciting new sounds – even if they’re old sounds made new all over again. And that’s the key to the future. The future (e.g., now) is where a band can take a bit of Bo Diddley and a splash of Herb Alpert, and make out of them something that’s more meaningful than mere pastiche.
And the best part is, it’s (I swear this is true) so much easier to find the good stuff now that rock radio is dying. It is a very pleasing thing, living in the future as we do, this group over here can think Atreyu or Dragonforce are the bees’ knees, and that group over there can be all “Dragonwho? I sure love that Neko Case, she’s the best!,” and, because this is the future, they can both be right at the same time. That’s breathtakingly awesome.
So, let U2 and Kelly Clarkson and Nickelback have the airwaves – rock fans of every stripe have an embarrassment of riches right here in the future. There’s wonderful music everywhere you look, if you want it.
Case in point: Et Tu, Fluffy?, the second album from Boston's Hands and Knees, is an album of the future. Their deceptively simple, simply performed songs contain multitudes – Paul McCartney, Sonic Youth, X, The Banana Splits, The Heartless Bastards, Thee Headcoats (who?!?) and even shades of alt-country – specifically groups like The Jayhawks and Paisley Underground stalwarts Green on Red. They have a very postmodern low-fi sound, an unpretentious way that draws on influences decades old, but with songs that could only come from, yes, the future. Have I blown your mind yet?