Thursday, December 09, 2010

I have always taken great pride in remaining on good terms with my musical past. On some level, I know that I act in cultural retaliation. I do not like it when people diss the bands they used to like, in the same way that I do not like it when people chastise themselves for their poor decision-making ability. Personal and musical empathy is important, which is why I encourage everyone to keep a diary. It's harder to diss tastes and motivations when it's penned with Winston Churchill's pen, with purple ink: 1994-2010.

I mention this because I haven't been getting on well with one aspect of my musical past, Britpop. It may seem a baffling revelation, given everything I've just said, but I have been feeling uneasy about it for a while. For all the genres I do like, there is nothing as contentious, nothing as contextually provocative as Britpop. To produce podcasts on the subject introduces so many questions of clarification and classification. What was once a rolling field for discovery has since become a place where we argue about the purported breadth of the genre.

I understand that if I am to be a purveyor of decent music, I should present it in a way that is true and accurate. Slapping the descriptor "Britpop" on a product generally suggests that said product should contain moderate chunks of actual Britpop. Blur. Oasis. Supergrass. Pulp. Elastica. There is that implicit freedom of showcasing lesser known Britpop artists. Salad. Gene. Menswe@r and the like, but it all seems so insipid to me. Why should I feel compelled to put you through that? Simply because they reveled in the latter-day popularity of the coveted Britpop tag?

Rough Trade West

The prospect of finding a song that fits into the narrow definition of Britpop has put me off constructing that kind of podcast altogether. Perhaps it is the prospect of getting told off by those who know more than me. Perhaps I have grown tired of the genre. In truth, I certainly hope I don't really mean that. It was the genre we once swooned over. We analysed it endlessly and we understood it to encompass far more than that handful of bands in the mid-90s. We saw the tag as descriptive, not prescriptive.

I am not really bothered to make any more Britpop podcasts, not for a little while yet anyway. I'm sorry if this disappoints listeners, but I am not so inclined to promote that what everybody seems to know about already. Neither I am so inclined to include token obscurities to fit the bill. In its place, I will produce a broader, "Indiepop" podcast which will obviously betray my Britpop tendencies but also contain memorable pop from other locales and eras. I do so in a cursory acknowledgement of that thankfully unexplored argument of "what is indie?".

I hope I will restore my relationship with Britpop in time, only because it is important to remain on good terms with it. I don't wish to be so caught up in the definitional issues of the genre anymore, just as I don't wish for it to be a platform to assert cultural superiority. That's not how we should listen to music. For all of the misdefinitions, misrepresentations and misunderstandings, all I ever wanted to do was share good music with you. I'm sorry if it caused offense.

Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Indiepop Podcast #26
Ingeborg Selnes - Open Your Heart
The Drums - Let's Go Surfing
Indochine - Miss Paramount
Mason Proper - A Chance Encounter
This is Ivy League - London Bridges
Malajube - Montréal -40C
The Chills - So Long
Cut Copy - Take Me Over
The Bird & The Bee - Man
Gyllene Tider - Det är över Nu

Download (49.9 MB)


Don said...

I followed you from a comment on Music Ruined My Life and could not ignore the need to compliment your writing. It's very expressive and I feel as though I'm in the room having a conversation. You describe personal experiences that evoke similar memories in the reader. In me at least.

These blogs aren't just the usual "Here's this record by the this band. Bye" You understand WHY we are driven to track down these snippets of sound.

I have some blogs of my own, I didn't come here to publicize them. I feel the same way about music as you, but have a great deal of trouble expressing why I feel that way and what it was really like to experience the band first hand. I hate writing the texts. Sometimes I make the effort, sometimes I just copy AllMusic.

I'm going to add Cassettes and Chocolate Milk to the blog list on my site because I love it. I never require reciprocation. Enjoy your life and your music.

Eleanor said...

Thank you so much for your kind comments, Don. I'm aware that what I do is different from the AllMusics, NMEs and Pitchforks of the webworld. I worry about that sometimes, but I work towards the ideal that there is some value in C&CM. I struggle with the same things you speak about. I am inclined to write about music in a personal fashion in spite of the fact that I have difficulty detecting value in that which is personal. That may have something to do with my personal or educational background, but I think it has an awful lot to do with current trend of musical journalism. There isn't much value in the personal, unless it masquerades as authority.

I know that it's hard to get motivated to write when there are sites like AllMusic, but I want you to write about music as often as you can. Although it is easy to look at a well-considered opinion which is purportedly objective, it is so divorced from the manner in which we personally engage with music. There's the risk of drowning in a vat of hyperbole, but it's worth the risk if it means producing something you're happy with!

Please keep motivated with your updates and your writings. It is worth it just to hear back from people like yourself.

Take care and thanks so much, once again!