Stay Cool Dad

Neil Gaiman and Ozzy Ostrich meet The Strokes by Simon Sharwood
January 17, 2006, 9:56 pm
Filed under: I like this band because, Just listened to ...

At least a decade ago, I remember watching an episode of Hey Hey It’s Saturday (in its evening incarnation) on which Molly Meldrum plugged the Sonic Youth single “100 per cent.”

“It’ll be huge,” he said. His co-hosts sniggered at the dissonant and strangely-tempoed song and wondered what the hell he was on about.

And they were right. Sonic Youth are definitely an acquired taste and the single grazed the charts at best.

I was reminded of this incident listening to The Strokes new album, First Impressions of Earth.

I like The Strokes a lot. Just last weekend I apparently made quite a prat of myself singing The Strokes VERY loudly while wearing an iPod and mowing the lawn.

But I do not think I will be singing their new album in the same fashion. The Strokes’ “Big Trick” is to have a very spare melody that floats above music that has its own complimentary melody. Eventually it all reconciles into a verse/chorus structure that is recognisable pop/rock with a very New York post-punk flavor.

But for a lot of the time many people wonder why the words are a different tune to the music, if you see what I mean.

I like their music because there’s a lot going on in the relationship between the melody and the music, although I lack the music vocabulary to describe it.

And that’s the point. The new album, First Impressions of Earth, is even more unconventional and forbidding to approach than its predecessors. It’ll take some listening to break down the barriers and begin to appreciate or like, I suspect.

But I am not dismayed by this, thanks to Neil Gaiman, the noted comics author and novelist. I was reading his blog a while back and he recalled how his son went through a phase of reading mainstream superhero comics. During this period, he kept asking his dad why he never wrote cool comics. Then one day, when he was about 17, he finally cottoned on to what his Dad had been writing and the respect returned … in a flood.

Music like The Strokes has the potential to do the same thing, I reckon. A time will come in my kids life where they listen to something I play and figure out I am not such a fogey after all – and that when it comes to having good taste in music I got there before them, even if it was a long time ago.

That will be a good day.


3 Comments so far
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I love this site!!!

Comment by Tamara

I like the strokes, but hadn’t noticed their ‘Big Trick’. I’m into trying to find said tricks. I used to be in a very amatuer band and one of my current projects (while being a stay at home dad for my nearly-2 year old) is to write songs based on particular artists. I’ve done Missy Higgins (same chords for verse and chorus, just different timing). But the Gorillaz (an accompanying melody with different parts played by different instruments, plus several very different sounding parts to the song plus heaps of production) has me stumped. Too hard. Also, I’ve done a bit of a Franz Ferdinand (prominent guitar hook) but run out of steam.

Stay cool.

Comment by David

This reminds me of my experience with Led Zep. When I was a young(er) hipster, obsessed with noise, I wrote off Led Zep as old people’s music.

Then, when I began learning to play, I started learning basic blues patterns, which lead me to listen to Led Zep …. and it was a damascus moment. The scales fell from my eyes and I realised what I’d been missing for so many years.

But the flipside is that if I’d started listening to Zep back in the day I’d have missed out on a lot then, and even more now. I’d never have had that sublime moment when the fat, bouncing bass in “How Many More Times” kicks into the dirty, broken Page riff.

Comment by JG

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