Stay Cool Dad

When good bands go bad by Simon Sharwood
April 6, 2006, 11:27 pm
Filed under: I like this band because, I'm so old ..., Just didn't listen to ...

I listened, or tried to listen, to the most recent Weezer album today.

It is called Make Believe. And it is terrible. Just awful. Somehow this band that was once capable of being cute, satirical or delivering moving mini-epics has descended into bad three minute pop/rock songs that have no distinguishing features. I reckon they sound like Green Day album tracks, which is a huge insult so far as I am concerned.

So what’s happened here? Have my tastes moved on or has Weezer declined?

How can I tell? Should I recommend bands I like to my kids, knowing that they might be a good band gone bad? I’d tell my kids to listen to early Dylan or Stones. Anything in the last 10 years is probably an insult to their intelligence (although this is an interesting effort from the Stones).

But back to Weezer. Perhaps they simply ran out of ideas and are coasting on a decent brand. I hope not. Their early work gives me hope that they are a group I could share with people for some time to come. Unless, of course, it really is their problem and not mine that makes this album such a crock.


Deja vu all over again by Simon Sharwood
April 3, 2006, 4:58 pm
Filed under: I'm so old ...

Prince is no. 1 in the album charts.

(Strange rewindy noises taking us back 20 years)

Prince is no. 1 in the album charts!

Hmmm … not quite sure how to take this. I mean if this were The Stones and my kids were out buying the new album I’d say to them “for God’s sake go and listen to some objectionable and largely unintelligible noise will you please, not this dinosaur crap I listened to when I was your age.”

Maybe I better listen to it to see if it’s any good or if Gen Y is being sold a reputation instead of a record …

The Wiggles are in trouble by Simon Sharwood

Mashed potato, mashed potato is giving way to MashUps here at StayCoolDad central.

I’ve become addicted to DJBC’s two albums of Beastie Boys/Beatles mashups.

They are expertly done, as you’ll hear if you have a BitTorrent client and hit this link.

The experience has made me think perhaps I should re-evaluate my attitude to the whole dance music thing, which is best summarised by a conversation I had with a twenty-something waitress in a cafe last year that went like this:

(Imagine doof-doof music in the background)

ME: Crikey! Bit early for that kind of music isn’t it?

WAITRESS: Don’t you like it?

ME: Not really.
(Adopts ‘old granny’ voice)
When I was your age we had proper music that sounded like this.
(I make grungey, Nirvana-style noises)
Proper music should have lots of noisy guitars and scarcely-audible lyrics, not this silly modern doof rubbish.
The poor dear was rather perplexed, as you could imagine.

Anyway, “the kids” are into this electronic stuff so I feel a bit cool for having downloaded and listened to some, then liked it! Better do more of it to keep up the mission …

The sound by Simon Sharwood
February 22, 2006, 10:48 am
Filed under: I'm so old ..., Just listened to ...

I reckon the most important single sound of the last 50 years has to be the “scratch”, the sound that is made by rotating a (vinyl) record beneath the (diamond) needle of a record player.

it is incredibly patronising to say so, but scratching has created all sorts of new music.

Why mention this? Well … I was listening to some Husker Du yesterday (how the hell do you do umlauts in WordPress?) and some of the sounds in their Warehouse – Songs and Stories album are just incredibly lame.

Their snare drum in particular is just woeful. It’s a horribly thin and rattley thing.

Which gets me thinking. Which sounds of today’s music will sound incredibly bad some years hence. Will any sound sound as important 20 years from now as scratching?

And what the hell will anyone think of the whole Destiny’s Child reverb/vibrato/harmony/warble thing? I hope that sounds like the incredibly anachronistic musical dead end atrocity it deserves to become …

Emo by Simon Sharwood
February 20, 2006, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Dotmusic, I'm so old ..., Just listened to ..., Sounds like, Uncategorized

I met a 16 year old pseudo-relative* of mine yesterday and asked her what kind of music she is into.

“Emo,” she said.

I had no idea what Emo is but she explained it is “emotional punk” and named Green Day as a standard-bearer. The mere mention of Green Day and the word punk in the same month has always made me laugh, so I have since done some reading and downloaded some by a band called Evaline recommended at

The general idea seems to be that Emo is a post-punk genre that never made it mainstream. The label never died and now the content is goth-gloomy and the music is occasionally heavy, but also sufficiently quiet that the music can carry the miserable lyrics. In Evaline’s case this means that when they try to rock out, it is just laughable. Some other stuff I listened to has some metal-ish bits but the kids involved seem afraid to see what happens when you really start to treat distortion and feedback as your friends.

They are all “proper songs” too. There’s no experimentation with form I’ve encountered. This seems to be part of the Emo ethic.

All of which is harmless, but interesting for the co-option of the word punk.

Now maybe I’ve forgotten, but I thought punk was all about one emotion: rage. And true punks expressed their rage about everything, even though they knew it was ill-informed and often ill-expressed. They just expressed their rage anyway because … well … because they were punks.

And that’s why it was so offensive: a punk’s reaction to everything was to deny it with anger and rage, then force you to confront it aurally and in any other way.

Once they figured out this was an actually kind of interesting response: all previous attempts at making art had asked for a considered response. Punk became a kind of anti-art movement which, as Greil Marcus hypothesises in his extraordinary Lipstick Traces, is important because it is only anti-art that advances art overall.

Anyway … back to Emo.

I can’t see what the fuss is about, but I can see why kids care. Being able to label yourself in a taxonomy ignored and incomprehensible to anyone else is surely part of the teenage condition. As someone who was (and is, I suppose) proudly Sydney indie circa 1990 I understand the enjoyment that comes with affiliation to a tribe no-one else knows exists.

I suspect that by whenever it is my kids start to put themselves into one of these tribes I may not be able to connect so neatly to a progenitor like punk.

Maybe if I talk to more sixteen year olds** I will be able to make that connection.

*My way of describing anyone more remote than first cousin, as I have no idea how to describe anyone more obscurely related than that …

** And figure out a way to do it without getting arrested

Where are they now? by Simon Sharwood
February 14, 2006, 3:12 pm
Filed under: Dotmusic, I'm so old ...

I’ve been listening to old favorites Straitjacket Fits today, and enjoyed it so much I Googled a couple of the band’s members.

What surprised me was the dearth of MP3s it turned up.

Singer/Guitarist Andrew Brough, for example, comes up with some hits on the Flying Nun site. But there isn’t much else.
But in this age of GarageBand, I wonder why just about any muso worth their salt doesn’t at least bang up a demo of whatever it is they are working on in the hope some mad long tail goon like myself is interested in hearing what they are up to. One PayPal “donate” button later and they could even turn a quid.

Of course this assumes that musos keep making music.

As a writer I cannot imagine not writing. But I don’t know: do musos put down the guitar and go do something else?

And if they are still playing, is the blogosphere any use to them? Or is it all at with the young folk?

Clinging to youth by Simon Sharwood
February 13, 2006, 5:07 pm
Filed under: I'm so old ..., Uncategorized

A friend read this blog for the first time today and suggested I tune in to Vega, the new FM station that plays “40 years of music” and is aimed at the over 40’s.

I can’t bear to so so because tuning in to something designed to attract me seems the surest way to give up any chance of even pretending to somehow have a chance be in touch with “the stuff the kids are all listening to,” never mind the terrifying prospect of never hearing new music on the radio again …