There's something odd about the various forms of late-'90's/ early '00's "indie-rock." Something that reminds me a bit of the "where do we go now?" in critical-dialogues post- post-structuralism and post- deconstruction? This seems to me to be a bit of an "elephant-in-the-room" right now in the current vogue media-conversation about "what is the hipster"... where does the lethargy, near-fetishistic interest in irony, "lost-generation"-esque nihilistic pompous-non-chalance come from, particularly for the late-20's/ early-30's demographics that most closely fit the stereotypes of that label, yet most fervently hate being associated with it? I'll give you a hint- most of those people, between '97 and '03, were all either playing or avidly listening to some form or another of the "indie-rock" of the time... emo, screamo (before those terms meant what they do now), post-punk, the early-incarnations of "metal-core," melodic-pop-punk... etc. And prior to that? Most of those kids were in punk and hardcore bands in high-school, witnessing the final death-kicks of (the pre-commercially-viable later-incarnations of) those scenes.
I'm reminded of this by quite a few things lately that are unrelated, but tend to weave in and out of each other, nostalgia-wise.
First, there's been a strange superfluity of seminal bands the we all listened to in that era either suddenly getting back together or releasing their first record in countless years within the past couple of months. And there's the constant question at play with all such projects- what SHOULD the new record sound like, when all of the current "hipster" acts are all influenced by your back-catalog, but your "sound" is very conspicuously date-stamped.
I present as example two acts that chose very different answers to this problem.
1) The Get Up Kids are back together. If the handful of tracks that I've heard are any indication, they've taken the "extreme-update" approach-
Sure, this sounds like a whole bunch of what I listen to in 2011. But it certainly doesn't sound like the Get Up Kids... so I'm totally torn on it. There's definitely a bit of the odor of "trying too hard" lingering around this one.
2) The new Bright Eyes record is coming out soon. It's currently streaming in its entirety via NPR- http://www.npr.org/2011/01/31/133278431/first-listen-bright-eyes-the-peoples-key . I'm not sure yet that it lives up to the tall-order tag-line the NPR blurb bestows on it: "This is the best record Bright Eyes has ever made".... but it's pretty good (it always takes me a few listens for a Bright Eyes record to REALLY sink in). And there seems to be a complete indifference to the date-stamp issue here, either in terms of recreating past records (which they certainly don't do) or "updating" too conspicuously or exaggeratedly.
Other things that bring this disconnect to mind include the occasional random flare-ups of sudden nostalgic interest in online content related to an emo-pop-punk band I used to play bass for, called Rusted Tricycle... or that, still, for some reason, regardless of how many projects I've played with since, when I go out at night in New Hampshire, I'm most likely to get "aren't you the guy from Rusted Tricycle?" than any other recognition (If anything, I would expect it to be the high-visibility management position I held with an unnamed adolescent-targetted retail store for years prior to moving to Arizona and going to college, but nope. It's that random band that never toured, never recorded a real album, and broke up ten years ago. Strange.)
(photo via Macalastair Ming of Tipsy Cougar.)
For some reason recently, I had a strange impulse to download a whole lot of old Saves The Day material. I have no idea why. And I'm thinking about throwing a random throwback-emo/ pop-punk track into the middle of my forthcoming ironic-"hip-hop" record with LeVautourEnsemble... just for fun. There's something odd about the music of that time (maybe that time in general?) for us, for sure.