Saturday, March 26, 2011

Confessions of an Anglophile

Yes, I think I'm ready to come out of the closet as an Anglophile. "What the fuck does that mean?", you may ask....

Well, my favorite bands are Arctic Monkeys and The Libertines.

Despite the fact that I am American, I have not only heard of The Stone Roses but actually like them (and seeing Ian Brown doing Stone Roses songs in Tokyo a couple years ago was a real highlight of my concert-going life).

When I look at the current American charts, I see artists I never heard of, and they're full of rap, R&B, and pop that I don't care about. When I look at the British charts, I see several guitar-oriented rock bands that I have heard of, downloaded, and like. (This is also true to some extent of the CMJ charts and most of the stuff on Pitchfork but NME is still my go-to for music info.... was recently told I should check out The Guardian's expanded music section more often. I read Rolling Stone, Spin, and a bunch of other mainstream and not-so-mainstream sites. I know what I like and I know it when I hear it.)

Some of the new releases I was most excited about include The Verve's Richard Ashcroft, The Vaccines (a buzz band who deserves the buzz), The Chapman Family, Yuck, Beady Eye (Oasis without Noel), Miles Kane (Rascals and Last Shadow Puppets w/Alex Turner), and Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner's soundtrack to the film "Submarine" - all of them British (well, Yuck have an American drummer, Johnny with the magnificent 'fro...)

Oh and this band called Radiohead also released a new album all of a sudden.

I was excited about downloading "King of Limbs" but was not very excited to listen to it. Seems like a snooze-a-thon to me, but I really should give it a few more listens before condemning it to hell (by the way, listening at this moment to a new single by The Meat Puppets that really rocks -  "Damn Thing").

Loved Radiohead at Coachella in 2004 (playing right after The Pixies) and love love love their classics "Karma Police" (remembering hearing someone sing it at Union Square, the night of 9/11 "...this is what you get, when you mess with us..." still sends chills up my spine), "Creep" (which may as well be my personal theme song), "Paranoid Android", etc.... but I feel that success led Thom Yorke and Co. to be deliberately obscure, arty, and self-indulgent in their latter releases, in an attempt to sabotoge their success? or defend their artistic integrity or whatever.

I did like Thom's solo album (he performed some of it at Coachella 2010 with his LA band "Atoms for Peace" feat. Flea from the Chili Peppers). Most memorable to be riding in a moto-rickshaw through a torrential downpour in Delhi, listening to "Eraser" on a cheap portable CD player (downloaded at an Internet cafe then burned to CDs), It's mopey speacey sounds and lyrics seemed to fit the occasion perfectly. The motor kept stalling out and the driver had to push start it. The rain lapped onto the floorboards. I realized that if the water was a little swifter, we could capsize and drown on the spot. That's how the lyrics made me feel too.

So anyway, yeah I love Radiohead too but I think they are overrated and undeserving of the cult-like attention paid them by some (Morgan). And since "Kid A" (uh oh), they have been, to some extent, taking the piss out of their audience. This new album simply continues the pattern.

By the way, does anyone else think that Richard Ashcroft's delivery and sound on the new album owes a lot to Black American music - hip hop, funk, soul, R&B, all of it....Or is it just my imagination?

So what does being an Anglophile mean, besides automatically assuming everything from England is great and everything from America is not?

It means being partial to music that is British or British-influenced, especially early 60s British invasion bands like The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Who, The Yardbirds, and The Animals. A little blues reference, a little psychedelic keyboard, a crisp British accent, and a certain sensibility define the sound, which overlaps to some extent with "Nuggets" and garage music genres (sub-genres?). T. Rex. David Bowie. Pink Floyd. Led Zeppelin. In the late 70s, The Sex Pistols and The Clash continued this British-domination of what was cool and new in rock music (yeah, yeah, I know.... The New York Dolls and Ramones were first, etc etc. Hey, where do you think all those British dudes got their blues references from? Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Brian Jones... they were all listening to Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters.... then famously selling American blues to American teenagers by disguising it as new British rock... even claiming some old blues songs as their own compositions (Stones, Led Zep)... it's all a big cycle, dude....)

The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, Gang of Four, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Stone Roses/Ian Brown, Franz Ferdinand, Oasis, Pulp, Blur, Gorillaz, Paul Weller, UK-raised M.I.A., Billy Bragg, Art Brut, Spiritualized, Klaxons, Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, Libertines/Babyshambles/Dirty Pretty Things/Peter Doherty/Carl Barat....

Add to that, the fact that Brits like DJ John Peel recognized all the good American music - Pixies, White Stripes, Strokes - WAY before Americans did.... even Jimi Hendrix had to go to England to be "discovered" (thanks to The Animals). Har Mar Superstar is a big star in England and only starting to be appreciated in his native America.... (Oh, remember when Antony and the Johnsons won for best new British artist? haha, we got you there. He's American, dudes....)

So anyway, yeah, I'm an Anglophile.... you got a problem with that? I didn't think so....

1 comment:

  1. Hello! I hope that you and your readers may enjoy this song I just wrote for a songwriting challenge, expressing an American's appreciation for Britain.